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Is there an Al Qaeda – NATO connection?

The al Qaeda connection?

NWFP was hit by another terrorist attack on Tuesday afternoon when a suicide bomber blew up his car in Charsadda bazaar. More than 30 people were killed and nearly 100 others injured, including several women and children. It was the third suicide bombing since Saturday in the battle-ridden province. Suicide attacks have become a routine occurrence during the past few weeks all over Pakistan, especially in NWFP. A spate of terror attacks in recent days is obviously a backlash against the military operation in South Waziristan against the militants. According to a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman, the militants have retreated from various areas in South Waziristan as part of their war strategy and its fighters will launch a guerrilla war once the Pakistani military enters deep into all areas of South Waziristan. If the Taliban have actually managed to retreat from South Waziristan, they have either gone to North Waziristan or crossed the border into Afghanistan. When the Pakistan army was deployed for the first time since independence in FATA in 2004, the US and Pakistan agreed upon a hammer and anvil strategy whereby the US-led NATO forces were playing the role of the hammer in Afghanistan while the Pakistani forces played the role of the anvil in our tribal areas. The roles have reversed now. Successive military operations against the local Taliban have crippled their organisation, which is why they could now be crossing the border to safeguard their interests. The alarming factor is that the ‘anvil’ is nowhere to be seen as the NATO forces have vacated more than half a dozen key security checkposts on the Afghan side of the Pak-Afghan border opposite South Waziristan. In these trying times when Pakistan is in the midst of a civil war, the international community needs to come forward and help it. Instead, the NATO forces are leaving the door open for the TTP to cross over to the Afghan side without any repercussions. This would obviously undermine the military operation.

The Afghan Taliban, on the other hand, have strongly denied any association with the TTP’s campaign, strategy or tactics. Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Mannan condemned suicide bombing and termed it un-Islamic and wrong to target innocent people in blasts. He said the Afghan Taliban leaders have not crossed the border and are not hiding in Pakistan, but are targeting coalition and NATO forces from Afghan soil. With these remarks coming from the Afghan Taliban, it seems as if there is some other force helping the local Taliban and from the pattern of suicide bombings, it could well be the al Qaeda network. It is quite apparent that the TTP is getting massive funding from some source and proper training to carry out successive terror attacks all over Pakistan. The al Qaeda leadership has on a number of occasions declared war against the state of Pakistan, which makes it all the more probable that this global terror network could be supporting the TTP in its fight against the state of Pakistan.

The military is trying to eliminate the militants from the tribal region but it seems as if the country does not have enough funds for the purpose. This can be gauged from Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that the government is now using development funds for the capacity building of law-enforcement agencies in a bid to improve security. If al Qaeda is actually helping the local Taliban, it is not only alarming for our country but for the whole world. Fighting the militants on this scale requires heavy-duty finances; it is time the international community, especially the US, rises to the occasion and helps Pakistan in this common cause. Peace and stability in this region, once achieved, will translate into peace all over the world. Source