Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Pakistan: Breaking it down

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    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Pakistan: Breaking it down

    More of our INTEL

    Composite post:

    US VIEW:
    Washington has long accused elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of maintaining ties with the Haqqani network, an issue that Mullen said he would again raise in talks Wednesday with Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani.

    Pakistan has long demanded a say in any peace settlement in Afghanistan. Analysts believe Islamabad sees groups such as the Haqqani network as a way to ensure it can influence any future deal -- and check any rival advances in Kabul by India, Pakistan's arch-rival.

    But the Haqqani network is only one of the irritants in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, along with Pakistani concerns over U.S. drone attacks and espionage that have dominated headlines recently and intensified anti-American sentiment there.
    The case of a CIA contractor, Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistanis brought anger to boiling point and challenged the CIA's campaign of aerial drone strikes against militants hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas.
    Pakistan is also seeking a cut in the number of U.S. Special Forces trainers working in sensitive regions, an issue raised by the ISI chief, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, at talks at CIA headquarters last week.

    ( While Pasha was in his round of meetings US did a drone attack in Pakistan, the General canceled further planed meetings and went back to Pakistan. G )

    An interior ministry report states that a secret meeting of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Masjlis e Shura, recently held in South Waziristan was attended by the leaders of the Haqqani group, the Al Haq Brigade, the Fidayi Force, the Allah Dad group, the Lashkar-e-Islam, the Jaish-e-Islam, and the Mujahid Khalid group. The militant leaders had gathered to decide how to respond in the event of a Pakistan Army attack on North Waziristan.

    The meeting was more akin to the board of directors meeting of a large corporation, with a presentation of cash flows, a review of past operations and perceived threats in the coming year as well as a strategic plan for 2011.

    Another interior ministry report revealed that the TTP has created four terrorist groups, collectively known as the Lashkar e Kharaji, under the command of the TTP’s South Waziristan commander, Qari Muhammad Idrees, also known as Ilyas. The groups are likely to target United Nations offices in Islamabad, Saudi diplomats, and vehicles of law enforcement agencies.
    The report adds that Qari Dadullah has been assigned the task of targeting government training institutions in Lahore that are frequented by senior officials.

    Another secret meeting of groups working under the name of the Al Toheed group was reportedly held in Charsaddah, at the house of a local militant, Hafiz Naseerullah Maavia, alias Master Jee. The group decided to conduct suicide bombings against shrines in Multan and Lahore, especially the shrines of Shah Rukn-e-Alam and Bahauddin Zakaria.
    The leaders of the Fidayi (Suicide Bombers) Force of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi met in Nowshera at the house of Ahmedullah, alias Rahman Bhai. They reportedly decided to target police officers’ residences throughout the country. Qari Zafar, alias Bahader Khan, was assigned the task of bombing the Iranian Embassy in Islamabad.

    It is no longer uncommon to read about attacks on progressive Pakistani intellectuals and politicians.  Islamic scholar Muhammad Farooq Khan, who hosted a popular TV program on the Quran, was gunned down in his office late last year. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who challenged Pakistan's oft-abused blasphemy laws, was killed by a member of his own security detail this past January. And Minority Affairs Minister Shabbaz Bhatti, who was quietly working to improve the standing of Pakistan's small minority religious population, was brutally killed outside his home in Islamabad in March.
    These killings are tragic, but they are also intelligible. They fit a familiar narrative of liberals versus extremists in Pakistan, reformers versus reactionaries. The militant fringe, we have repeatedly been told, is threatened by intellectual argument, and kills its opponents to intimidate public figures into silence. Each gruesome episode is just the latest battle in the ongoing "war of ideas" in Pakistan.
    This story is true, but it is also incomplete. It is not just the liberals who are threatened in Pakistan. To the surprise of many, several high-profile Islamic political figures have been (unsuccessfully) attacked over the last few weeks. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, a pro-Taliban figure and leader of the largest faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) political party, narrowly missed two separate suicide attacks in the span of two days, in which several of his party members and supporters were killed. Days later, Shabbir Ahmed Khan, a senior provincial official in the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party, was apparently targeted when a bomb was planted outside his residence in Peshawar. These leaders, and the parties that they represent, are not "liberal." Rhetorically supportive of Taliban ideology, they are strong advocates of expanding the scope of shariah, and fierce critics of the United States. The recent attacks have thus raised a host of questions: Are extremists now turning on their own supporters? Who is being targeted, and why? And does this represent a trend?
    The JUI-F and the JI, as Pakistan's two largest Islamist parties, have a great deal in common. They both promote an agenda of legal, social, and economic Islamization. They both have political and rhetorical influence that far exceeds their consistently mediocre electoral showing at the national level. They both have been inclined to defend calls for jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and blame the United States for most of Pakistan's problems. And they both defend their commitment to the electoral process, and to the proposition that Islam is indeed compatible with democratic ideals.
    These similarities aside, the two parties are in fact quite different. The JUI-F is a clerical party, Deobandi by tradition, rooted in the madrassah religious school system, largely ethnically Pashtun and rural, primarily lower and lower-middle class, and poorly organized. It was closely associated with the Taliban in the 1990s, and retains ties to certain Pashtun Taliban leaders today. The JI, by contrast, is a highly organized modernist party with similar intellectual roots as the Muslim Brotherhood, and is focused on the Islamization of Pakistan's legal system, with a support base that is multi-ethnic and largely urban and middle class. It has a long history of supporting jihadi groups in Kashmir and in Pakistan's Punjab, and in recent years has for political reasons increasingly turned its attention to the conflict in Afghanistan (as can be seen in its awkwardly-titled campaign against the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, "Go, America, Go!").
    But why, despite their Islamist leanings, are these parties now being targeted by militants? In the first place, attacks against the JUI-F are not new, but are evidence of the slow deterioration of the party's relationship with Taliban groups over the last five years. While the Jamaat-e-Islami has done an impressive job of insulating itself from criticism by Islamic militants by opposing both former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and the current civilian government, the JUI-F has been far more accommodating to state elites. Fazlur Rehman, notwithstanding his heated rhetoric, is known to be a shrewd and pragmatic politician. His party has a history of allying with all manner of governments and parties, including the left-of-center Pakistan People's Party (PPP). And although he is currently chairman of the Kashmir Committee in the National Assembly, the clerics who form his party's base of support have long shown an interest in playing upon their sect's  origins in the Indian city of Deoband to pursue a mediating role between Pakistan and its rival India. Beginning in 2005, these policies started to become liabilities for the JUI-F, as new Taliban groups in Pakistan's tribal areas staked out positions opposed to the state, and to any Islamist organizations that endorsed democratic means.
    Living in Peshawar in 2006, I witnessed this change first-hand: party workers in the JUI-F were becoming nervous about "new Taliban" leaders who didn't seem to appreciate the party's long-standing contribution to the Taliban cause. An RPG narrowly missed hitting Fazlur Rehman's house, but party members were reluctant to talk about it. And the party came under pressure from some Taliban elements near the tribal areas to boycott the 2008 general elections (they did not).
    Disillusionment with the JUI-F among militant Islamists is therefore not a new story. What is new, and disturbing, is the brazenness of the attacks on the party leadership, and the willingness of the attackers to target public rallies that would kill not just party functionaries but also unaffiliated supporters of Islamist causes.
    Second, the new moves against Islamic political leaders may be related to infighting within the so-called Pakistani Taliban. Fazlur Rehman has often had to contend with decidedly mixed support from Taliban groups; during the 2008 elections in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan districts adjacent to the tribal areas, for example, both pro-JUI-F and anti-JUI-F Taliban factions were out in force trying to influence the balloting. And after the recent attempts against JUI-F leadership, Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur issued a statement condemning the attacks, going so far as to suggest that the Taliban in North Waziristan "appreciate the role" that Fazlur Rehman plays in protecting religious clerics. The JUI-F is also said to be on good terms with Taliban commander Wali ur-Rehman in South Waziristan, who reportedly once belonged to the JUI-F or one of its affiliate organizations. Taliban politics in the tribal areas is frustratingly opaque, but it seems likely that the attacks on the JUI-F reflect a division among Taliban groups, with opposition to the party coming from Taliban leaders most critical of the state, such as Hakimullah Mehsud and remnants of the Taliban in the Swat and Malakand regions.
    Third, the proximate cause of the attacks on Fazlur Rehman can perhaps be traced to the release of a Wikileaks cable reported in India's The Hindu newspaper. The cable, dating from 2007 but leaked in late March of this year, suggested that Fazlur Rehman offered to serve as a mediator between the United States and the Taliban. While the JUI-F chief's purported offer is impossible to confirm, it would not be inconsistent with the attitudes of some prominent figures within the party. In conversations with JUI-F leaders over the last year, I have heard a range of views about Taliban "reconciliation" in Afghanistan. On one end of the spectrum, some JUI-F members echo the Afghan Taliban's negotiating position that the United States must withdraw immediately and unconditionally for a political solution to take hold. Others, however, take a more realistic line, suggesting that there must be an arrangement under which the U.S. can withdraw "with honor." Setting aside the party's anti-American rhetoric, there does seem to be a recognition among some leaders of the JUI-F that the clerics whom they represent might be able -- in the interests of Pakistan -- to support a political "reconciliation" process with the Afghan Taliban in the near future.
    Fourth, and finally, these attacks on Islamic political leaders may signal a growing ideological divide amongst militants concerning the legitimacy of the Pakistani state. The JUI-F, while strident in its demand for Islamization, is already seen by some militant Islamists as having sold out to a democratic system that is irredeemably "un-Islamic." But the Jamaat-e-Islami has thus far been modestly more successful in balancing its interest in democratic participation with its criticism of the state -- in part by boycotting the 2008 elections (a decision that some senior party members now regret). If indeed the attack on the JI provincial leader proves to be the first in a series of assaults on the party, it will be a sign that the rift between anti-state and pro-state groups has deepened dramatically. The last two years have done much to clarify this debate: On the one side are Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), along with al Qaeda ideologues Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, all of whom have written works denouncing the Islamic legitimacy of the Pakistani state. On the other side of the divide are parties like the JUI-F and the JI, joined by groups that are known to be sympathetic to the Pakistani state, such as Jamaat-ud Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Taiba).
    Not surprisingly, the parties have opted -- at least for now -- for the latter approach, blaming everyone but the Taliban for the attacks. If anything, we should expect from them in the coming months more intense invective against the West, and more fervent defenses of the Taliban. They can, after all, hardly afford to appear conciliatory on matters of Islam and politics in the face of increased violence against them. But that rhetoric should not obscure the fact that they are no doubt worried, and that they still overwhelmingly prefer a future in which politicians, and not militants, determine the course of the state.
    ISLAMABAD: The US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman,
    Without mincing his words, he made it clear that ISI’s continued links with the Haqqani network were at the core of Pakistan’s problematic relations with the United States.
    He said ISI’s relationship with the network was unacceptable to the American leadership.“The ISI has a rich history of how they operated in this part of the world, to protect their own country; I understand that some of the aspects of that we strongly disagree with and that is something that we continue to address.”
    The Haqqani network had fuelled the Afghan insurgency by supporting, training and funding fighters who were killing American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, said the admiral, who views himself as a soldier-statesman.

    Though the Haqqani network’s presence in the tribal areas and the army’s reluctance to go after them has been a sore point in Islamabad-Washington relations for some time now, Admiral Mullen’s words indicate a hardening of the American stance.
    Rarely in the past have American officials been this open and categorical about links between the ISI and the network.
    It is also noteworthy that Michael Mullen did not just press for military action against the militants in North Waziristan, but also said that ISI’s links with the Haqqanis were unacceptable.

    Though President Obama’s top military officer was in Pakistan for discussions with the military leadership on tensions between the two countries that are said to have virtually put the entire relationship on hold, it was unclear what prompted him to reproach the ISI this openly.

    He indicated that there would be probably no reduction in CIA’s footprint in Pakistan or in the drone attacks, which are mostly aimed at North Waziristan, the base of the Haqqanis, until the ISI dissociated itself from the Haqqanis.
    Admiral Mullen said: “I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that” the network is no longer able to support insurgents in Afghanistan.

    The Americans consider the Haqqani network and its role in the insurgency in Afghanistan as the most difficult challenge in the fight against the militants there. That they are ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan is not surprising.

    The top US military official’s interview indicated that in his meetings with Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, he would discuss US concerns about the Haqqani network as well as the growing outreach of terror networks allegedly operating from Pakistan, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaatud Dawah and Tehrik-i-Taliban.
    He depicted a destabilising scenario in which terror groups such as LeT, JuD, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network would become increasingly interlinked.
    “What I worry about all these organisations, whether it is Haqqani network, Al Qaeda, JuD, LeT… there is a syndication which has occurred in the region here over the course of last three years, which is more and more worrisome and increasingly so TTP, under [Hakimullah] Mehsud, has espoused aspirations outside the region,” he maintained.

    The situation, Mullen said, led to the conclusion “that this area… the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the epicenter of terrorism in the world”.
    But more damning were his comments that “it [the terrorism in the region] breeds and breeds more and more in terms of capability over time”.
    On more than one occasion during the interview, he suggested a close collaboration between India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to deal with the terror threat emanating from the tribal areas.

    Mullen acknowledged that "we've had a very turbulent time," but added that despite the tensions, all sides acknowledged the relationship was vital.
    "I think that all of us believe that we cannot afford to let this relationship come apart," Mullen said, referring to U.S. and Pakistani military and intelligence chiefs.
    "It's just too dangerous. It's too dangerous, in each country, for each country. It's too dangerous for the region."
    But we never hear the Paki's say the relationship is vital.
    The Paki economy relies on US support, and would face
    US has been fast tracking their relationship
    with Russia to develop alternate support
    routes to support Afghanistan.
    The drone attacks on the Taliban infrastructure
    have been successful beyond any expectations.
    And the Paki Taliban blame Paki military for not
    stopping the drone attacks and have in effect
    The Taliban have also mounted a very successful
    infowar with in Paki under the guise of nationalism,
    which the Paki Gov has gone along with.

    Ahmed Quraishi

    Note Staged Paki demonstrators signs all in English, 

    Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Paki Info War for Middle class
    The primary target of this Infowar is of course
    the Drone attacks, and spinning civilian casualties
    The Paki military have the US pressuring them
    on one side to engage the Paki Taliban.
    And on the other side the Paki Taliban attacking
    the Paki HR infrastructure.

    Inside the Paki Paradigm

    And the Paki Government remembering the US
    abandonment of Afghan after the Russian war.
    And looking at US pulling out of Afghan in the near
    Paki is trying to act in its self interest, wondering
    if they will be left to the Taliban tender mercy's
    after US leaves Afghan.
    Paki is trying to walk the middle ground,
    in case they have to face the Taliban insurgents
    alone after the US leaves.
    US isn't known for its long term support
    in the region.
    Paki is trying to keep all options open
    in view of this unfavorable contingency.
    Caught in the middle Paki is getting the
    hell kicked out of it.
    While it is a nuclear state, its impotent.
    To use a nuclear weapon against the US
    would start a war of massive retaliation 
    destroying the entire Paki military and
    Government. Or worse.
    If Paki mil goes after the Taliban
    what assurances do they have of 
    US support down the road, after
    US leaves Afghan. NONE.

    Problem solved.
    Our sources say US to give Paki
    85 drones, and training to use against
    Taliban for when US leaves Afghan.
    Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Most effective weapon against Taliban...

    War Anthropologist



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