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Army blockading Shias in Kurram to enforce their subservience to Taliban?

The ISI is notorious for its links with Jalaluddin Haqqani (Taliban) and the Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Related articles on LUBP:

Mr Zardari, Is Kurram Agency a part of Pakistan?

Genocide of indigenous people of Parachinar, Kurram Agency in Pakistan by Taliban

Innocent Shias and Sunnis of Kurram agency thrown to the Taliban wolves – by Tayyab Ali Shah

Parachinar Massacre of Innocent Shias and Sunnis: Designed and Implemented by Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Sipah-e-Sahaba and ISI

Why is ISI supporting the Taliban’s imposed blockade of the innocent people of Parachinar.

Is Parachinar a part of Pakistan?

Almost one million people of Parachinar remain stranded for more than a year by the criminals of Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba & Al-Qaeda, sponsored by ISI

Parachinar: the valley of massacre – by Riaz Toori

Pakistan’s Shia minority Muslims remain subject to attacks by terrorists of Al Qaeda, Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba. Is ISI a silent accomplice?

Parachinar: Pakistan’s Gaza Strip remains under siege by Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba

ISI supporting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the siege of Parachinar

Taliban-backed Bangash tribesmen attack Toori tribe in Parachinar

Taliban attack convoy in Kurram agency, killing 18

Hangu: Taliban attack a school van killing 3 Shia children, kidnapping 6 Shia children

SOS from Parachinar: Taliban adbuct 14 Shia in Hangua after attacking a Parachinar-bound passenger coach

An open letter to Talat Hussain: Will you lead a Freedom Flotilla to stranded Shias in Pakistan’s Gaza, Parachinar?

Our friends Marvi Sirmed and TLW have recently appealed to highlight the nexus of the ISI and Taliban against Shias of the Kurram agency as a part of Pakistan Army’s greater game in the region.

Here is a link to TLW’s excellent post on this topic:

It’s Time to Learn Who the Turis Are

TLW asked us to publicise the strange deal the khakis are trying to broker (force) between the Turi’s and Jalaludin Haqqani, under the threat of an invasion from Orakzai by Mullah Noor Jamal. Not only is it blackmail, a deal by the Turis with Haqqani would weaken them and lay them ready for further killings. The Taliban and the Army are blocking the Turi’s access to Peshawar from Parachinar, forcing them to go through Afghanistan. How to get the army to lift the barricade they’ve put on the Turis? There is a need to publicise this deal and put pressure on the Pakistan Army to cut ties with the Haqqanis, or go after the Maulvi Noor Jamals. Or at the minimum, transfer military protection to the Turis and act as a buffer between them (Shia Turis) and the (Deobandi) Bangashes.

This is what Marvi Sirmed, a journalist said on twitter:

Once again, my appeal to a hyper active media/civil society pair. Pl raise voice for the Turi tribe and opening Kurram’s bloackade by Army.

The Turi-Taliban (Haqqani Netork) talks resumed after PakArmy’s siege can prove dangerous if Turis surrender some of their powers to Taliban.

According to another commenter on Express Tribune:

Kurram is strategically the most important tribal agency. Thanks to the brave shia tribesmen Taliban barbarians have not been able to take control of Kurram so far. That is why shia areas are under the siege from three sides by talibans and paksitani military. Pakistani military establishment after receiving heat from US for its lack of action in N. Waziristan now wants safe passage through Kurram. It is not the shia tribesmen who approached Haqqani group, it was the intelligence agencies of pakistan who are trying to mediate some settlement so that when fake N.Waziristan operation starts they can relocate Talibans to Kurram and onwards to Afghanistan. (Source)

According to Pakistan Security Brief by the Critical Threats website:

On Monday, Colonel Tausif Akhtar announced that the Pakistani military has blockaded five points of entry into Kurram Agency while the Taliban responded by sealing off major entrances from the opposite side of the agency. The closures have effectively isolated the Turi people, an anti-Taliban Shia tribal group. The Turis ousted the Haqqani network from Kurram following a major battle in 2008 and the group recently announced that it would refuse to allow Afghan militants to cross the border into Pakistan. Colonel Akhtar stated that the agency was sealed off due to sectarian clashes that the military did not want “miscreants from outside to exploit the situation.”

According to ABNA, a Shiite news agency:

While the paths of the Shia region of Parachinar to the interior part of Pakistan are closed and insecure, Pakistan’s military has blockaded a strategically important district in the country’s north and because of that there is no way to enter the food, fuel and medicine to the region.

After Colonel Tausif Akhtar of the Pakistani security forces announced the move on Monday evening at a news conference in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram – Kurram tribal district, near the Afghan border-, five border crossing points- Terimangal, Spina Shaga, Khairlachi, Burki and Shahidano Dand- have been shut, with security beefed up.

“We have done this due to internal security concerns, because there have been sectarian clashes in Kurram and we do not want miscreants from outside to exploit the situation,” said Akhtar.

The blockade comes amid reports that the Turis have once again refused to allow the militants to enter Afghanistan via Kurram. But by this, the only way of entering the food, fuel and medicine to the region is blocked.

Tausif Akhtar is notorious among Shia Muslims of the region; he has killed and kidnapped many Shia.

“Colonel Tausif Akhtar is a big liar. What he’s done is not to bring the security to the region, but to torture and hurt Shia in Parachinar. The government enters some amount of food to Parachinar, but it’s not enough for the people, so we have to get most of our food from Afghanistan. I believe the government blocked the border to bring Shia to their knees.” A Parachinari Shia told ABNA.

“By this, they blocked the only way to enter the food for Shia in Parachinar. After the victory of Shia over Taliban in Shaluzan and Khivas, it’s a trick by Colonel Tausif Akhtar for Shia to make them tired and bring them to their knees and do whatever he wants to, but we don’t.” Another Parachinari Shia told ABNA.

It should be mentioned that, it’s more than 4 years that all the paths to Parachinar is blocked and people have to use Afghanistan land to take to other cities of Pakistan. If the border remains blocked, by approaching the cold season in Kurram Agency, we should predict a new disaster against Shia in the region.

Here is a recent report from BBC:

Pakistan’s military has blockaded a strategically important district in the country’s north, sealing in a fiercely anti-Taliban tribe.

The Turi people have been keeping Taliban militants out of Kurram tribal district, near the Afghan border.

Many in Kurram suspect the government is pressurising the Turis to meet Taliban demands to cross their land.

Any deal between the Turis and the Taliban could have major implications for Nato’s operations in Afghanistan.

The Turis, who follow the Shia branch of Islam, have traditionally abhorred the Taliban, who adhere to a hardline Deobandi (a sub-sect of Sunni) form of the faith. Many Deobandis (Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba) consider Shias to be non-Muslims.

The blockade comes amid reports that the Turis have once again refused to allow the militants to enter Afghanistan via Kurram.

The Taliban have been trying to launch operations around Kabul through the district, whose western tip lies just 90km (56 miles) from the Afghan capital.

The blockade means that the Turis are hemmed in by the military on one side and by the Taliban on the other.

Col Tausif Akhtar, of the Pakistani security forces, announced the move on Monday evening at a news conference in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram.

Five border crossing points – Terimangal, Spina Shaga, Khairlachi, Burki and Shahidano Dand – have been shut, with security beefed up.

“We have done this due to internal security concerns, because there have been sectarian clashes in Kurram and we do not want miscreants from outside to exploit the situation,” Col Akhtar told the BBC News website.

But the BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad, one of the few journalists to have travelled to Kurram in recent months, says the move is baffling.

The Turis have kept members of the Haqqani network – a branch of the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan – away from Kurram.

The Turi community have had to defend themselves from Taliban attacks.

The tribe beat the militants out of the area during a major battle in September 2008.

In retaliation, the Taliban have blockaded the east of Kurram, effectively cutting off the area from the rest of Pakistan. The militants have been ambushing Turi commuters along a 10km stretch of road.

The tribe has been forced to rely on trade with Afghan towns and villages over the border.

But the government decision to block this route, too, places the Turis under an economic stranglehold, says our correspondent.

Haqqani network members last week held talks with Turi leaders in Islamabad about striking a deal for access to Kurram.

In return, the Taliban is thought to be offering safe passage for Turis travelling overland from Kurram to Peshawar.

But the Turis reportedly rejected the Taliban approach – for at least the fourth time since 2008

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  • Averting a doomsday scenario

    Taliban led by Mullah Toofan are allegedly planning coordinated attacks on the Shia community in Kurram. PHOTO: AFP

    ISLAMABAD: All key players in Pakistan’s tribal regions are maneuvering to avert what can be the bloodiest-ever sectarian conflict between the Taliban-supported Sunnis and the ‘besieged’ Shia community in Kurram Agency, officials and locals said.

    The North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, top military officials and religious leaders from across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are trying hard to convince Taliban commanders from neighbouring Orakzai Agency to reconcile with the Shias in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram Agency.

    Thousands of Orakzai-based Taliban, led by Maulana Noor Jamal, or Mullah Toofan, are allegedly planning coordinated attacks on the Shia community in Kurram to avenge the eviction of over 1,000 Sunni families by them two years ago.

    Kurram is the only Shia-dominated tribal area where the Taliban are now holding sway. It is a strategically important region because it borders Afghanistan and some important tribal regions.

    Residents from Parachinar told The Express Tribune that the Shia community has requested Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani, who supervises the Haqqani network operations in North Waziristan, to mediate between them and Mullah Toofan’s commanders.

    Toofan is a nominee of Hakimullah Mehsud, the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, for Orakzai and is notorious for his brutalities against those who oppose his rule in northern parts of the agency.
    The Pakistan military has time and again claimed to have cleared the agency of militants but local residents contradict this claim. The entire Upper Orakzai is controlled by Mullah Toofan and Commander Tariq Afridi, a militant leader who once controlled the semi-tribal Dara Adamkhel area before his men were chased out by the military.

    The pair have their base-camp in a seminary in the Arghanja area of Dabori sub-district. “It is a facility similar to the one Maulana Fazlullah (Mullah Radio) had in Swat. It is their nerve centre,” a local source told The Express Tribune.

    “It is from the Taliban network in Orakzai that the most serious threat to the Shias in Kurram emanates from,” said a Peshawar-based official.

    This was the reason the Shias from Kurram sought mediation from the Haqqanis, added a former parliamentarian from Kohat who has good terms with the Taliban. “They went there and asked Haqqani to get involved,” the former lawmaker explained, contradicting earlier media reports.

    Last week, some leading newspapers reported that the Haqqani network wanted to seize control of the region to mount operations inside Afghanistan’s eastern provinces.
    But the lawmaker denied these reports. He was part of a delegation the Pakistani military sent last week to convince the Shias to let the ousted Sunnis families return home in Parachinar.

    “The Shia community approached Haqqani with Rs200 million cash and 2,000 sheep,” the former lawmaker revealed, referring to a Pakhtun tradition of offering sheep to seek reconciliation, known as ‘nanavatey’.
    Another Peshawar-based official also confirmed that Shia community leaders from Kurram went to North Waziristan to seek support from the Haqqanis but it was to protect them against cross-border attacks from international forces based in Afghanistan.

    Last month five people, among them three paramilitary troops, were killed in attacks by Nato helicopter gunships in Kurram.

    The official said that before meeting Haqqani, a Shia delegation also visited Afghanistan to meet Nato officials but could not get an assurance that their region would not be attacked again.

    “That’s why they sought the Haqqanis’ help…they want the Taliban to stand by them in case of intrusions into their area by Nato troops,” he explained.

    Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2010.

  • Taliban in peace talks with Kurram’s Turi tribe

    * May demand access to roads leading to Afghanistan through Turi tribe’s territory in exchange for peace

    ISLAMABAD: The Taliban are negotiating a peace deal with a Pakistani tribe in the northwest, tribal elders said on Thursday, that could give militants access to remote strategic areas on the Afghan border.

    The talk of a deal between members of the Haqqani network – one of the most dangerous Taliban factions – and the Turi tribe in the Kurram region is likely to raise concerns in the United States which has been demanding Pakistan get tough with the militants fighting Western forces across the border. “We are holding talks to end violence and fighting in the region. People have become fed up with fighting,” Sajid Hussain, a member of parliament involved in the talks, told Reuters. Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between the Turi tribe and their rivals backed by the Taliban in recent months. The deal, which has not yet been finalised, could lead to the lifting of the siege of the Turi tribe and release of its members kidnapped by militants and their allies. But tribal sources said the militants would likely demand the use of roads passing through their territory to the Afghan border, though Hussain said Taliban had not yet made any such demand.

    “Even if they do so, we will not accept it,” Hussain said. Kurram is one of the seven Pashtun tribal regions in Pakistan on the Afghan border, an area widely considered the headquarters of al Qaeda militants and their allies from all over the world. The region is a strategic prize for Pakistan, the militants and even the United States. It lies opposite Afghanistan’s Paktia, Nangarhar and Khost provinces and is next door to North Waziristan, the main base of the Haqqani network in Pakistan.

    Its capital, Parachinar, is just over the mountains from Tora Bora, Afghanistan, which US and Afghan forces assaulted after the September 11 attacks in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. NATO forces in Afghanistan launched a cross-border air raid in Kurram last month, killing two Pakistani soldiers after mistaking them as militants. Most of the Pashtun who live on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border are Sunnis. But Kurram and neighbouring Orakzai region have a large number of Shias. Turis are Shias while the Taliban are Sunnis. The Turi have blocked Taliban militants from crossing their territory, preventing the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions from having an easy ride to Kabul. In response, the Taliban have blockaded Turi territory for more than two years, effectively cutting them off from the rest of Pakistan and laying siege to their lands. reuters\10\29\story_29-10-2010_pg7_3

  • 21 October 2010 Last updated at 09:30 Share this pageFacebookTwitterShareEmailPrint
    Taliban negotiates to gain access to key Pakistan area

    The Turi community and the Taliban have been bitter enemies
    Talks are taking place between the Taliban and the main tribe controlling a strategically important part of northern Pakistan, tribal sources say.

    Correspondents say the negotiations could result in the Taliban having access to the remote north-western Pakistani tribal district of Kurram.

    Its western tip is only 90km (56 miles) from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

    If a deal is reached it could have major implications for Nato’s operations in Afghanistan.

    Major battle
    Pakistani officials confirmed to the BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad that members of the Haqqani network – a branch of the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan – were holding the talks with representatives of the Turi tribe.

    Continue reading the main story

    Tribe that is taking on the Taliban
    The Turis are the main tribe of Kurram tribal region.

    Our correspondent said that the specific terms of any proposed deal were not known but the broad outline was simple – the Taliban guarantees the safety of Turis travelling overland from their Kurram heartland to Peshawar.

    In return the militants would be allowed access to Kurram to launch operations around Kabul.

    The Turi tribe, which belongs to the Shia sect of Islam, has traditionally abhorred the Taliban – who adhere to a hardline Sunni form of the faith. Many consider Shias to be non-Muslims.

    Two years ago, the Turis fought a major battle with the Taliban in Kurram and are now consolidating their hold on most of the region.

    A Taliban-imposed blockade of Kurram in the aftermath of the fighting – which effectively has cut the area off from the rest of Pakistan – has caused immense suffering to Turi people.

    Trade worth millions of dollars has been lost and Turi people are able to leave Kurram only in convoys which are regularly attacked.

    The Taliban have approached the Turis in the hope of making a deal four times since 2008 – each time upgrading the status of their negotiating team.

    But a deal so far has proved elusive.

    That is principally because Turi elders – while welcoming the prospect of the blockade being lifted – expressed inability to guarantee the safety of the Taliban if they travelled through Kurram.

    Our correspondent say that there are no signs they have eased their views during the latest two rounds of talks in Peshawar and Islamabad.

    Even if a deal is made, our correspondent says, elders will find it hard to sell it to Turi tribesmen who want revenge against the Taliban, not concessions.

  • 21 October 2010 Last updated at 15:13 Share this pageFacebookTwitterShareEmailPrint
    The Pakistani tribe that is taking on the Taliban

    The Turi community and the Taliban are bitter enemies
    The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan is one of the few journalists in recent months who has been able to travel to the remote north-western Pakistani tribal district of Kurram, where members of the Turi tribe are waging a war of attrition with the Taliban.

    A couple of miles east of Alizai town in the Kurram tribal district, north-western Pakistan, boundary walls of two large compounds are rising fast.

    Elders of the region’s largest tribe, the Turi, say they are building homes for eight families from western parts of Kurram who have volunteered to resettle here.

    “Apart from a house, each family will get four acres of land for agricultural use,” says Haji Hashim Ali, a Turi elder and in charge of the community project.

    “We hope to attract more than 200 families to this colony in a year’s time,” he says.

    Community volunteers
    The idea is to boost Turi presence in an area that belongs to the tribe but where the population has thinned out.

    That has allowed others to step in and bring Taliban militants with them, Mr Ali explains.

    The Turi tribe, which belongs to the Shia sect of Islam, has traditionally abhorred the Taliban – who adhere to a hardline Sunni form of the faith and many of whom consider Shias to be non-Muslims.

    Two years ago, the Turis fought a major battle with the Taliban in the surroundings of Alizai.

    They are now consolidating their hold on the region.

    To the south of Alizai, across the Kurram river, the tribe is building a 14km (8.6 miles) road to link Alizai with the Turi stronghold of Parachinar in the west.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    When [the Taliban] went away, I looked around. My grandson was dead. He had fallen on me. I had fallen on my wife. She was also dead”

    Syed Abid Jan
    The Shurko road detours the Sunni-dominated town of Sadda, which is located on the region’s main road that links Parachinar with Alizai and the rest of Pakistan.

    In Parachinar, the district centre, and all along the Shurko road, community volunteers man checkpoints and also guard the region’s airport.

    There are no military checkpoints anywhere in the Turi lands from Parachinar to Alizai – and no Taliban.

    To a casual observer, this comes as a surprise because Kurram is the most important strategic site from where to launch guerrilla attacks inside Afghanistan.

    Its western tip is only 90km (56 miles) from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

    Local people say that Taliban started pouring into the area in 2006 and set up base at a mosque in Parachinar.

    “When we came to know of their presence, we took up the matter with the authorities, but they refused to expel them, saying the decisions were taken at a much higher level,” says Ali Akbar Turi, another local elder.

    Fighting between the locals and the Taliban erupted in April 2007, and dozens of people were killed over the next year.

    The Turi community have had to defend themselves from Taliban attacks
    Devoid of local support, the Taliban were forced to retreat to their bases in Sadda and Alizai in eastern Kurram, but from there they enforced a blockade of Kurram’s only road link to Pakistan.

    “Our traders lost millions of dollars worth of merchandise when our trucks were bombed and burned down, and dozens of our people were beheaded,” recalls Haji Hashim Ali.

    In August 2008, local elders decided that if the army wasn’t prepared to deal with the Taliban, it was time to raise a tribal force and storm the militant bases themselves.

    Najib Hussain, a Kurram resident, fought on a front that finally led to the fall of Bugzai, a village that housed the Taliban’s main base in the region, just across the river from Alizai.

    “We had about 100 to 150 fighters. We would rotate them in four hourly shifts,” he says.

    “Fighting was intense. During the first 27 days I only came down twice from my position on the hill to take a bath. On the 27th day, I was hit and had to be carried away to the hospital.”

    It took the tribal force 46 days of fighting – and the loss of around 400 fighters – to inflict a final defeat on Taliban.

    Nearly two years after the war, this entire area remains free of Taliban.

    But further east, the Taliban continue to block their exit route.

    Kurram is one of the few tribal districts in Pakistan where the Christian population lives in peace
    People can only leave Kurram in convoys, and only when the government provides security. Even then, they are regularly attacked.

    In the last attack in July, suspected Taliban gunmen killed 18 people travelling in a passenger van from Parachinar to Peshawar, the regional capital.

    Syed Abid Jan, 75, was one of four survivors.

    “We started in the convoy but our van fell behind,” he says.

    “In Charkhel area, some 20km (12.4 miles) east of Alizai, about 10 gunmen fired at the van, causing it to overturn. Then they came closer and fired at the passengers trapped inside from all sides.”

    Mr Jan was hit in the back.

    “When they went away, I looked around. My grandson was dead. He had fallen on me. I had fallen on my wife. She was also dead.”

    After three years of road blockades, the intensity of war has left a mark on the people of Kurram.

    Trading and development work have come to a halt, much of the infrastructure of health, education and agriculture has been destroyed, and there is of course the emotional toll.

    “A friend of mine told me to beware of going mad. I think that warning has kept me from going mad entirely,” says Aqeel Hussain, the owner of a petrol station in Alizai.

    “But sometimes I think I’m half mad. My blood pressure shoots up sometimes. It never used to happen before.”

    After the fall of Bugzai, the Taliban twice offered to guarantee the safety of the road from Kurram to Peshawar in return for access for their militants through Kurram into Afghanistan.

    But this is an offer which the people of Kurram say they are determined never to accept.

  • From LWJ:

    Members of the Turi tribe, a Shia tribe in Kurram, as well as members of the Bangash tribe attempted to resist the influx of Haqqani Network fighters into areas run by rival tribes, and clashed with the Haqqanis. Also, the Turis were moving against a stronghold operated by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami faction in Spina Shaga.

    The Pakistani media characterized these clashes as local sectarian fights over a water dispute, but US and Pakistani officials said this story was cover to allow the Pakistani military to intervene on behalf of the Haqqanis and Hekmatyar, who are viewed as “good Taliban” as they do not fight the Pakistani state. In September and October, multiple accounts of Pakistani helicopter gunships intervening in the “water dispute” were reported in the Pakistani media. The Pakistani military claimed that more than 70 “militants” were killed in the strikes.

    The Haqqani Network is now said to be “mediating” between the rival tribes. Khalil and Ibrahim, two sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, have appeared in Peshawar and Islamabad, to “bring peace to the area,” Dawn reported.

    The Turis have battled the Taliban for years, and have fought them to a standstill [see BBC report, The Pakistani tribe that is taking on the Taliban, for more information on the Turis’ struggles in Kurram]. Despite driving the Taliban out of their area, the Turis remain cut off as the Taliban continue attacks along the single road that connects the remote area to the rest of Pakistan. The Turis have not received support from the Pakistani military.

    Both the Taliban and the Haqqani Network have maintained a presence in Kurram for years. The tribal agency borders the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Nangarhar, and is an ideal launchpad for attacks into Afghanistan. Allied Pakistani terror groups such as the Sipah-i-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Lashkar-e-Taiba also have used Kurram as a transit point to support their activities in Afghanistan. In 2006, the Sipah-i-Sahaba took control of a mosque in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram, and used it as a forward base for its fighters in Pakistan, but were driven out by the Turis.

    Fazl-e-Saeed Haqqani is the local commander for Haqqani Network fighters in Kurram. Hakeemullah Mehsud, the current leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Paksitan, led Taliban forces in Kurram prior to his promotion in 2009. Mullah Toofan, who is considered to be a successor to Hakeemullah, currently leads Taliban forces in Kurram.

    Kurram is also thought to be a possible safe haven for al Qaeda’s top leaders. Last week, a NATO official told CNN that Osama bin Laden was hiding in an area between Kurram and the northern district of Chitral in Pakistan’s northwest. Bin Laden is said to be living comfortably and is being aided by members of the ISI.

    Read more:

  • Thank you Nishapuri sahab.

    I wrote about this on my own blog before I mentioned it to Sarah Khan.

    Along with this urgent post, many others and I hope that you can contact someone in the PPP hierarchy, who can contact someone in the government or the media to publicise or block this. It must be possible that someone on your team has direct contact with someone in the mainstream press who can highlight what is going on.



  • “Let Us Build Pakistan” has again won the hearts of those people who want to build Pakistan according to the liberal policies of our founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    Yes it is true. The nexus of the ISI and Taliban against Shias is a part of the Pakistan Army’s greater game, and unfortunately some Shias especially the Abbas Brothers are doing more harm to this minority community than anyone else…

    The “Uks secret brotherhood” under the ISI, reportedly led by daily Dawn’s Editor Zaffar Abbas has turned the media against the elected govt… showing that it is led by “moron” Shias: President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani as they see themselves super intelligent like Aristotle… to keep their jobs and get promotions, their colleagues say, they can do anything, even sacrifice national secrets… This point should always be kept in mind that there are enemies within!

  • TLW, shouldn’t you ask the bloggers who you defended so strongly as being anti establishment and on the same side as the PPP in the fight against the right wingers to highlight this issue as well?

  • Dear Dil Dil Pakistan and Anonymous,

    Thank you for your biting comments. How about we do something? I can contact Marvi Sirmed, and you guys ask the LUBP folk to contact someone inside the government so that we can get on the Army and ISI’s tail to not support the Haqqanis.

  • @TLW
    We don’t have any contacts inside the government.

    Marvi is the initiator of this topic.

    Hence it may be useful if you contact your ‘friend/s’ who may wish to pay some attention to this topic (or perhaps it is not as important as the save Jolie movement!).

  • We don’t have any contacts inside the government

    Any contacts in the media?

    save Jolie movement

    Bitter much?

  • Bhaion aur Bhen(on?) ghar bahtay wa-waila karna ka koi faida nahi hoga, mein Ms Sirmed ki blog par likhta hoon, magar agar aap log kahien aur say bhi shuroo kar saktay hain; acha rahay ga.

    Abdul Nishapuri sahab, I don’t have a twitter account or a following but you do, a media friend of the PPP could be Nadeem Paracha, and I believe follow Ambassador Haqqani and Governor Taseer. How about contacting them?

    And then of course, there is Minister of the Interior, Mr Rehman Malik sahab.

  • @TLW

    Bitter it might sound but it IS a fact that those who immediately decided to write on Talat Hussain’s op-ed on Jolie have in the main ignored the Kurram agency blockade. You are a valued exception.

    This pattern of pseudo-liberals may be a revelation to you, not to us. Let me repeat, ‘the pattern’!

  • Pakistan, US at odds over definition

    Islamabad identifies certain groups for negotiations, including the Haqqani network but the US does not agree.
    ISLAMABAD: Behind-the-scene efforts to seek peace with insurgents fighting Nato troops in neighbouring Afghanistan have made little or no progress because of differences between Pakistan and the US over the definition of ‘reconcilable’ Taliban.

    The Express Tribune has learnt that Islamabad, as part of the reconciliation efforts to find an end to the years of bloodshed in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, has identified certain groups for negotiations. One such group is North Waziristan-based al Qaeda-inspired Haqqani network.

    But the US does not agree. “This is the real contentious point. Pakistan believes the Haqqani network is reconcilable but the US certainly does not think that is the case,” a senior American diplomat told The Express Tribune.

    Requesting not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, the diplomat questioned the wisdom of Pakistan over considering a group reconcilable, which has strong links with al Qaeda.

    Led by aging Jalauddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group has strongholds in Afghanistan’s Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces. But, it has also foot soldiers in several parts of the war-ravaged country to fight the US-led Nato forces. And that is the reason the Obama administration has been pressing Pakistan to eliminate ‘safe heavens’ of the group from the tribal areas.

    But, Pakistan’s policymakers think differently.
    “The US policy is really confusing at this stage. They want reconciliation yet they ask Pakistan to target groups who can be helpful for a political settlement,” remarked a military official. “We have been telling the Americans that don’t alienate all elements of the Afghan Taliban by using force against them,” said the official, who requested not to be identified.

    He said Pakistan does not believe that launching an offensive against the Haqqani network at this stage will be in the ‘national interest.’

    “The Haqqani network has to play a major role in any future political settlement of Afghanistan,” he added. And this is why, Pakistan is very careful about going after them, he maintained.

    A senior foreign ministry official talks more candidly. “We do not consider the Afghan Taliban as Pakistan’s enemies. They never threaten us, they are our assets,” was the blunt response of the official when asked to share Islamabad’s perspective on the Afghan Taliban.
    US officials say this confirms their fear that Pakistan has a ‘hands-off’ approach towards certain groups.

    “Pakistan has nurtured groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba as their assets and now the same militant organisations are haunting you,” said a senior US diplomat. “Gen Patreaus and Gen Kayani have been discussing these issues regularly,” he said.

    He said the Obama administration is in favour of reconciliation but not with groups identified by Pakistan.

    “It is a known fact that the Haqqani network is closely-linked with al Qaeda and this is a disqualification,” he said.

    Former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand said Pakistan would have to pay “a heavy price” if it goes after the Haqqani network.

    “If Pakistan, for the sake of $2 billion in US aid, goes after the Haqqani network, it will have to face (serious) consequences over the next 50 years,” warned Mohmand, who is part of the Pakistan-Afghanistan jirga and considered to be linked with the military establishment.

    Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.

  • Allegations against the ISI

    The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata

    Hillary Clinton, Matt Waldman of the London School of Economics and Wikileaks have blamed the ISI for their active support for the Taliban. This is not the first instance that an official of the US administration or a western research institute has directly, or indirectly, accused the ISI of having links with the Afghan Taliban and the al Qaeda leadership. This is a widespread impression, not only in the western media but also in the local media and the public of this country. Primarily, this perception is based on lack of information and ignorance about the role and functioning of the ISI.

    A number of terrorist groups are operating in this region. The CIA, through the ISI, trained the Mujahideen to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Muslims from all over the world were encouraged to come to Peshawar and Quetta. The ISI and CIA imparted training to these jihadis to fight Russian troops. In February 1989, Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan. More than 90 per cent of these foreign jiahdis left Pakistan for their own countries in 1989-90, including Osama. Therefore, the al Qaeda militants now fighting against the army are not those trained by the ISI in the 1980s.

    The second group of militants is from Central Asia. They were not part of the Afghan jihad, since these states came into existence in 1991. These militants are mostly from the Islamic Movement of Uzbeks (IMU), formed in 1998. They came to Afghanistan, to train terrorists in camps, return to their countries and topple their regimes through violent means. In the post 9/11 scenario, they crossed over to South and North Waziristan. They received no training from the ISI.

    The local Taliban first appeared in North Waziristan and Orakzai agency in 1998-99. The presence of foreign militants in Fata and their raids against coalition forces in Afghanistan, motivated people living in the tribal areas to raise a Taliban force in other agencies, in 2003-2004. The people, then at the helm of affairs, did not take this threat seriously. There was no consensus on how to tackle the local Taliban. Dialogues were preferred over army action. Various peace agreements, enacted between 2004 and 2006, enabled them to spread their influence to all agencies in the tribal areas. Operations by the army against the TTP prove that the latter had no links with the ISI.

    The other group, known as the ‘Punjabi Taliban’, comprises members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and various factions of Harkat. Once banned, groups from these outfits joined other terrorists in tribal areas. They are responsible for most of the terrorist incidents executed in Punjab.

    The ISI was not involved in the creation of the Afghan Taliban, but established links with them once they captured Kandahar. The perceived presence of Indians in Afghanistan, the resurgence of the Taliban, the failure of coalition forces to secure Pashtun areas, the expected withdrawal of Nato forces, and offers of negotiation to the Taliban by Hamid Karzai are some of the factors which may have compelled Pakistan to review its Afghan policy. Even now, Pakistan would not like the Taliban to return to power and establish a radical regime in Afghanistan since this would promote Talibanisation within Pakistan.

    What Pakistan would most likely desire is that any future Afghan regime should not be hostile to Pakistan. The ISI is a disciplined organisation in which no individual or group can run his own agenda. Therefore, those who talk of individuals from the agency knowing Osama’s whereabouts are not familiar with the functioning of this organisation.

    Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.


    PESHAWAR: After an attack by Nato forces in Kurram Agency, the Pak-Afghan border has been completely sealed, DawnNews reported on Sunday.

    When militants had difficulty in taking control of Upper Kurram, they sealed all routes leading in and out of the area, due to which residents of the area had to travel through to Afghanistan in order to reach any other part of the country. Basic commodities and utilities were also being transported through this way.

    Recently, the Pak-Afghan border was sealed when Nato helicopters attacked a checkpost in Pakistan.

  • Taliban, Karzai hold secret talks to contain Haqqanis

    * Former Taliban governor Maulvi Aqbdul Kabir, Sedre Azam and Anwarul Haq Mujahed, who were flown to Kabul from Peshawar, attended the meeting

    * Washington and Karzai want to try and sap some of Haqqani’s tribal-based strength by bringing Kabir on board

    KABUL: Three Taliban leaders secretly met with Afghanistan’s president two weeks ago in an effort to weaken the US-led coalition’s most vicious enemy, a powerful al Qaeda linked network that straddles the border region with Pakistan.

    Held in Kabul, the meeting included a wanted former Taliban governor and an imprisoned terrorist who were flown to the capital from Peshawar, according to a former Afghan official.

    The talks were not directly linked to the Afghan government’s efforts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban and find a political resolution to the insurgency. Rather, they were part of an effort to weaken the Haqqani network, the former official said over the weekend. A Western official confirmed that a meeting between President Hamid Karzai and Taliban figures had taken place, but did not know its full details or the names of all the participants.

    Led by the ailing Jalaluddin Haqqani and controlled by his son, Sirajuddin, the network is thought to be responsible for most attacks against US troops in eastern Afghanistan and has been a key US terrorist target.

    The network is linked to al Qaeda and is believed to be sheltering its second-in-command, Ayman al Zawahiri. Weakening the network would take the pressure off US forces and bolster Karzai’s efforts to broker some kind of peace with the Taliban in portions of the country.

    The Taliban leaders who met with Karzai are Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the governor of eastern Nangarhar province during the Taliban rule and the current head of the Taliban’s Peshawar council, his deputy governor in the Taliban regime, Sedre Azam and Anwarul Haq Mujahed, a terrorist leader from eastern Afghanistan credited with helping Osama Bin Laden escape the US assault on Tora Bora in 2001, the former official said.

    They spent two nights in the Afghan capital. Kabir is on the US most wanted list.

    The men were brought by helicopter from Peshawar and driven into Kabul. Mujahed has been in Pakistani custody since June last year when he was picked up in a raid in Peshawar, where one of several Afghan Taliban shuras, or councils, is located.

    They spent two nights at a heavily fortified hotel in the Afghan capital before returning to Peshawar by helicopter, where Mujahed was placed again in custody. The US earlier this month acknowledged facilitating some Taliban trips to Kabul but provided no specifics. The Pakistani military has not commented on such reports.

    The former Afghan official, who asked not to be named because of his relationship with both the government and the Taliban, described Kabir and his associates as “midlevel” contacts because they have little, if any influence over the more powerful Quetta and Waziristan shuras. Those two shuras provide leadership for the majority of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and are overseen by Mullah Omar.

    The Haqqani network straddles Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area and the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika.

    The provinces’ residents are mainly Pashtun, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan that is the backbone of the Taliban. But in Afghanistan, where power and strength are measured by tribal influence, Washington and Kabul are seeking to capitalise on Kabir’s position in eastern Afghanistan’s powerful and dominant Zadran tribe. Both Kabir and Haqqani belong to the tribe.

    Both Washington and Karzai want to try and sap some of Haqqani’s tribal-based strength by bringing Kabir on board and dividing tribal loyalties, the Afghan official said.

    Karzai has formed a 70-member High Peace Council in an effort to try to reconcile with the Taliban and find a political solution to the insurgency. The Taliban deny that any of their representatives have been involved in talks. ap\11\01\story_1-11-2010_pg1_1

  • Tricks and game plans

    The most recent of the games being played between the US/Nato-Afghan government and our military establishment has been a meeting held two weeks ago between the Karzai government and three Taliban leaders who were shuttled into Afghanistan from Peshawar. Considering that one of the participants was Anwarul Haq Mujahed, a terrorist leader who is in custody in Peshawar, it is not likely that the Pakistani establishment was not aware of the movement of these men who were taken by helicopter from Peshawar. The other two men were the former Taliban governor of eastern Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, and his deputy governor Sedre Azam. Such high-profile men crossing over into Afghanistan for two days under security is only possible with the cooperation of our own intelligence.

    It seems that a game plan is afoot to deal with the Afghan Taliban who have taken refuge in Pakistan’s North Waziristan (NW) Agency. Considering that for reasons of geography, strategy and their alleged links with al Qaeda, it is the Haqqani network that is creating massive hurdles for Afghan and NATO forces in the relatively developed and Pashtun-dominated eastern Afghan provinces, the Afghan government and, of course, the US would be looking for ways to disable the network. In addition to applying pressure on the Pakistan Army to launch an offensive in NW, they seem to be employing Petraeus’ favoured tribal in-roading technique to create splits in the Haqqani network — a method used by the NATO commander to enlist Sunni tribes in Iraq to fight the resistance to US occupation. The fact that Kabir belongs to the same Zadran tribe as Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani suggests that by using tribal links against the Haqqani network, the US and Afghanistan are employing another tactic to wrestle Afghanistan into a position where smooth US withdrawal will be possible. It is an attempt to destabilise the Haqqani network from the inside by increasing the chances of intra-tribal conflict.

    Why should Pakistan allow this to happen, when one considers the lengths our establishment has gone to nurture the Afghan Taliban? Although in the murky world of intelligence things are unpredictable, it may be ventured that the Pakistan establishment may be investing in the virtue of patience for its ultimate goal. In the past, we may have trumpeted high hopes of an all-Taliban government in post-US Afghanistan but US pressure for an operation in NW and our own fight against the local Taliban may have lowered the establishment’s aims. Making it clear that it expects to be centre-stage in any Afghan talks, Pakistan may very well facilitate this kind of tribal fractioning to take the heat off itself without having to launch a full-scale offensive in NW. When the US leaves, however, the Taliban that we have nurtured could very well be used to tackle an Afghan government and army that may be no better than sitting ducks. The Pakistan Army is not about to abandon the strategic advantage it has been trying to cultivate in Afghanistan; this could just be yet another ambiguous policy.

    Meanwhile the explosives found stashed in passenger planes bound for the US have revealed themselves to be of Yemeni origin. Al Qaeda has been spreading its tentacles broadly in the region since 9/11. While the central leadership may be bottled up in the Pak/Afghan border areas, autonomous al Qaeda offshoots are refining their techniques and are aiming to mount attacks against the west. That reinforces the logic of the moves against the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, a tactic that may suit our military establishment and help strengthen Mulla Omar’s position in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan.\11\02\story_2-11-2010_pg3_1

  • The fission of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

    Militant outfit splinters into smaller cells for effective coordination of terror activities

    ISLAMABAD: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the homegrown sectarian-jihadi outfit with strong links to al-Qaeda, is in the process of splitting its strength into at least eight small cells to better coordinate its activities from Karachi to Waziristan, according to sources in Kohat, Hangu, Peshawar and Lahore.

    “Each sub-group is responsible for carrying out activities in a specific geographic location,” disclosed one of the sources on condition of anonymity. Individuals having connections within the group and intelligence officials tackling them said the move appeared to be an attempt to outsmart Pakistani law enforcement agencies.
    “It looks like they [LeJ strategists] don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket,” explained a local intelligence official. “It’s a typical guerilla warfare and urban militancy technique. With scattered cells, they have better chances of survival by diverting the focus of law enforcement agencies,” added the official.
    The LeJ—an anti-Shia terror icon dominated by militants from Punjab —has established safe hideouts inside North Waziristan, the area controlled by the network of veteran Afghan jihadist, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.
    While there are hardly any significant signs suggesting that the Haqqani network is directly supporting anti-Pakistan LeJ activists, security officials contend the two groups have one strong commonality that keeps them connected—both take pride of being staunch allies of Arab al-Qaeda.

    The LeJ’s cell for Karachi and Balochistan has been named ‘Jundullah’ but it operates separately from an existing organisation of the same name, led by separatist Iranian Sunnis, that is also active in the region.
    “That’s where intelligence agencies’ personnel are often mistaken. They sometimes confuse activists from one group with the other,” an official in Sindh’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) said.
    The LeJ is the biggest group operating in Karachi and of 246 terrorists arrested from the city since 2001, 94 belonged to LeJ, according to a secret report by the CID.

    Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi
    This group, headed by Maulana Abdul Khalil, a fugitive militant leader from central Punjab, operates mostly in central parts of Punjab and the tribal areas. The group works in close connection with al Qaeda and its activists are used as foot soldiers for Arab-dominated terror group’s plots inside Pakistan.

    Asian Tigers
    This group emerged after the recent disappearance of a British journalist of Pakistani origin and two former pro-Taliban personnel of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in North Waziristan. Officials believe it is one of the offshoots of the LeJ and is using a different name to spread confusion.
    Like the LeJ itself, the Asian Tigers are dominated by Punjabi militants but some Mehsud militants are affiliated with it as well.

    Junoodul Hafsa
    This group comprises militants that aim to exact revenge for the storming of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and its affiliated female seminary, Jamia Hafsa, in a military operation in 2007.

    The group operates in close coordination with Ghazi Force, a network named after one of the two clerics of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, who was killed in the operation.

    The outfit, led by a former student of Lal Masjid, Maulana Niaz Rahim, operates out of Ghaljo area of the Orakzai Agency and the adjacent Hangu district and targets military installations and personnel in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and upper Punjab, especially Islamabad.

    Punjabi Taliban
    Several small cells operate under this umbrella outfit including those belonging to Usman Punjabi, Qari Imran, Amjad Farooqi and Qari Zafar. These cells generally target Punjab.

    Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2010.

    Zia Khan
    November 17, 2010

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