Newspaper Articles

Taliban threaten attack on Islamabad: Analysis by Hamid Mir, Nazir Naji and Abbas Ather

Taliban threaten attack on Islamabad
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: The local Taliban leadership has decided to send its fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the operations in Darra Adamkhel and Swat Valley and in this regard chalkings on the walls of Islamabad are already appearing, forcing the Islamabad administration to whitewash these messages quickly.

Many religious scholars in Islamabad have also received messages from the Taliban that they have only two options, either to support the Taliban or leave the capital or they will be considered collaborators of the “pro-American Zardari government” which, they claim, is not different from the previous Musharraf regime.

It is also surprising that the Taliban of Swat and Bajaur have included the names of some religious and Jihadi leaders, who are not ready to fight inside Pakistan against their own countrymen, in their hit lists.

The Taliban have accused some militant leaders of the tribal areas and some leaders of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen of trying to stop youngsters from fighting the Pakistani forces. Taliban have declared all these “pro-Pakistan” Jihadis as their enemies.

The names of Maulvi Nazir from South Wazirastan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Waziristan, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Farooq Kashmiri and Syed Salahudin have been included in the hit lists of the Taliban, who have threatened some Hizbul Mujahideen leaders in Swat and Dir to leave the areas as soon as possible.

Another Taliban leader in the Mohmand Agency Maulvi Omar Khalid has threatened boys belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba to leave the tribal agency or face death. Omar Khalid has claimed that these boys are only interested in fighting against the foreign troops in Afghanistan or against India, which means that they don’t want an Islamic government in Pakistan.

This complicated situation has forced the government to take some extreme steps against the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel and Swat, who had killed a Polish engineer as a reaction to the operations in their areas.

Some diplomatic sources have revealed that initially Pakistan was ready to release some arrested Taliban fighters in exchange for the abducted Polish and Chinese engineers but the US authorities raised objections and a deal could not be finalised.

The Pakistani authorities successfully negotiated the release of a kidnapped Pakistani diplomat Tariq Azizuddin in 2008 and the release of kidnapped Army personnel in 2007 by releasing some Taliban fighters. But this time the US pressure complicated the situation.

The Army authorities are facing a serious insurgency from the mountains of Darra Ademkhel to Swat but this time the Army is not ready to give up despite the fact that India is once again trying to exploit the situation by using threatening language against Pakistan.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad is under a lot of diplomatic pressure after the brutal killing of kidnapped Polish engineer Piotr Stannczak to “do more” for the release of a kidnapped Chinese engineer, one Afghan diplomat, one Iranian diplomat and one kidnapped UN diplomat in Quetta but the civilian as well as the Army leadership have decided not to bow down to pressure.

Sources have revealed that kidnapped Chinese engineer Long Xiao, who is in the custody of Taliban in Swat, is seriously ill. He was kidnapped in August 2008 with another colleague Zhang Guo. Both of them tried to escape but Xiao was injured during the escape attempt and was again arrested by the Taliban but Zhang Guo managed to flee.

Taliban have made it clear that they would only exchange the injured and sick Chinese engineer after the release of two dozen arrested fighters [of Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangavi] but Pakistani authorities are not ready to accept this demand.

Afghan Ambassador in Pakistan Abdul Khaliq Farahi was kidnapped last year but has not yet been recovered. Pakistani authorities are conducting a big search operation not only for the Afghan ambassador but also for Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh, who was also kidnapped from Peshawar last year.

A top Army official linked to the operation in Swat described the situation there as much more complicated than East Bengal in 1971 where they were fighting against the Indian-sponsored secular insurgents. Local population in East Pakistan was fully supporting the local insurgents but the ground reality in Swat is different from East Pakistan.

“We are no more fighting the secular insurgents, we are fighting with the Taliban and they are demanding the enforcement of the Islamic law in Swat and all the local secular political leaders are supporting this demand under public pressure.”

Chief Minister of NWFP Ameer Haider Hoti, Governor Awais Ghani and the Army high command have strongly recommended to enforce the long pending Sharia regulations, which will be called the “Nifaz-e-Adal regulation”.

District Police Officer of Swat Dilawar Khan Bangash said the Taliban will have no justification to fight against the state after the enforcement of the Islamic law in Swat.

Swat, which was a princely state till July 28, 1969, had Qazi courts operating when the state was finally merged into Pakistan. Residents of Swat think that it was easy to get justice before 1969 through the Qazi courts but after the imposition of the English law, the poor people of Swat are not getting justice.

Taliban have exploited this delay in justice and also instigated the poor people to rise against the big landlords. The Awami National Party swept the valley of Swat in 2008 election with the slogan of peace and justice and now this party is ruling the NWFP in collaboration with the PPP.

Sources have claimed that the ANP leadership has convinced President Asif Ali Zardari to promulgate the Sharia regulations in Swat and the president will announce the promulgation in a few days.

Maulana Sufi Muhammad of the Tehrik-e-Nafaze Shariat Muhammadi has assured the ANP leadership that he will start a long march from Dir to Swat valley after the imposition of the Sharia law and he will appeal to his son-in-law Maulana Fazalullah and other Taliban leaders to surrender.

He assured that he would try his best to open all girls’ schools in Swat because education was must for every male and female Muslim. He told the ANP leaders that if the Taliban did not surrender the arms after the imposition of the Sharia regulation, then he will also support the Army operation against them. (The News)

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(Nazir Naji)

(Abbas Ather)