SOUTH ASIA: PAKISTAN News Briefs
A fifth "package drama" since 1971 has now been announced by Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani. This comes after the October 2007 "comprehensive package" – introduced by then President Pervez Musharraf, purportedly to "help bring the region at par with the rest of the country" – failed to secure the slightest improvement in this unhappy land. It is significant that the Musharraf package came as a damage control exercise after the passage in the European Union Parliament of the devastating report by the EU rapporteur, Baroness Emma Nicholson, which, while deploring "documented human rights violations by Pakistan" declared unambiguously that "the people of Gilgit and Baltistan are under the direct rule of the military and enjoy no democracy". Nicholson’s report was scathing, both on sheer oppression of the people, on the complete absence of legal and human rights and of a Constitutional status, as well as on the enveloping backwardness that had evidently been engineered as a matter of state policy in the region
Over the past two years, echoes of the Nicholson report continue to reverberate in the international discourse, even as there are growing concerns regarding the re-location of Islamist extremist and terrorist groups in Gilgit-Baltistan, and a growing restiveness in the region's predominantly Shia population. It is against this backdrop that Prime Minister Gilani signed the "Empowerment and Self-governance Ordinance, 2009, for Gilgit-Baltistan", on August 29, 2009. Through the Ordinance, President Asif Ali Zardari explained to a delegation of leaders from Gilgit-Baltistan, the Government had given "internal freedom and all financial, democratic, administrative, judicial, political and developmental powers to the Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan."
How, then, does Manzoor Hussain Parwana, Chairman of the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement (GBUM), which demands ‘full autonomy’ for the region, describe the Gilani ‘package’ as an "Ordinance for Advancement of Slavery"? And why has the Ordinance been rejected as an outright fraud by virtually all political formations struggling for constitutional, political and human rights in Gilgit-Baltistan? Why do leading parties even in Pakistan condemn the Ordinance as a "unilateral decision of (the ruling) Pakistan Peoples Party", while others reject it as an attempt to "annex these regions through a presidential ordinance and by imposing governor’s rule"?
The reality quickly reveals itself in the most cursory examination of the provisions of the Ordinance. The Ordinance ostensibly gives Gilgit-Baltistan its own ‘elected’ Legislative Assembly and Chief Minister, but takes away with one hand what it endows with the other. It is in the Governor that all real power is vested, and this would be an ‘outsider’, appointed by the President of Pakistan. Significantly, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, since they have been granted no Constitutional status in Pakistan, do not vote to elect the President, the Prime Minister, or the members of the National Assembly. The Chief Minister may not select his own Council of Ministers, but must act in this regard on the ‘advice’ of the Governor. Critically, the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly cannot discuss or legislate on any issues relating to defence, foreign affairs, and crucially, finance, security and the interior. The ordinance awards no constitutional rights, guarantees or freedoms to the people. In effect, nothing has changed in what the region’s only weekly, K2, describes as ‘Sarzamin–be–Ain’, the "Land without a Constitution".
On examination, it is clear that the new ‘package’ only brings "a change in nomenclature rather than genuine political reforms". It offers little that is concretely different from the Musharraf ‘package’, and has quite rightly been dismissed as ‘old wine in new bottles’ by a wide consensus of political leaders across Gilgit-Baltistan. Indeed, premonitions of the puppet Assembly were already visible in the Emma Nicholson Report:
Creating a Legislative Assembly under an Islamabad-dominated Gilgit-Baltistan Council, and allowing the ‘election’ of a Chief Minister, cannot, consequently, conceal or alter the circumstances that have been closely documented in the Nicholson Report:
Indeed, the new Ordinance simply reinforces the Constitutional limbo within which Gilgit-Baltistan exists, continuing with the substantive provisions of the Musharraf package, in continuity with the succession of ‘Legal Framework Orders’ under which the region was ruled over the preceding four decades. The new order is just another attempt to perpetuate and conceal the "political atrocities on the people in the occupied region", and to "buy time and hide violations of human and political rights".
It is useful, within this context, to review the contours of the illegal occupation of Gilgit-Baltistan. When the British granted Independence to India, the 565 ‘Princely States’ – including Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) – technically became ‘sovereign states’. Consequently, following the collapse of British paramountcy in 1947, the entire Gilgit agency was restored to the then Dogra King, Hari Singh, who eventually acceded to India. Pakistan, however, fomented and supported a rebellion in the region, and seized control, consolidating its administration through a succession of illegal ruses, such as the Karachi Agreement of 1949, under which entirely unrepresentative officials signed ‘letters of accession’ and ‘ratified’ Pakistani administrative control over the region. Crucially, a Supreme Court judgement in 1999 took note of the legal and constitutional anomalies, as well as the denial of basic rights and development, in Gilgit-Baltistan and explicitly directed the Pakistan Government, among other things,
A decade later, Pakistan has failed to meet even the minimum requirements of the clear and specific direction of its own Supreme Court.
The region continues, consequently, to be "directly administrated by fiat from Islamabad… The bureaucracy, primarily drawn from the North West Frontier Province and Punjab, has intensified the sense of alienation and negated any semblance of self-rule in the Northern Areas." Balawaristan National Front (BNF) leader, Nawaz Khan Naji, notes, "In every department, the chief is from Pakistan, the other, secondary positions are locals."
These legal and constitutional anomalies have been compounded by what the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) describes as "a distinct pattern of brutality and violence towards citizens". The Pakistani administration has long been involved in a campaign that seeks to alter the demographic profile of the region, and to reduce the local Shia and Ismaili populations to a minority. In the Gilgit and Skardu areas, large tracts of land have been allotted to non-locals, violating the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) resolutions and the Jammu and Kashmir State Subject Rule, and outsiders have also purchased vast landholdings. One unofficial estimate suggested that over 30,000 Gilgit residents had fled the city and its suburbs just between 2000 and 2004, in the wake of orchestrated incidents of sectarian strife, followed by discriminatory and repressive action by state Forces.
Three different sects of Islam, Shia, Sunni and Ismaili are prevalent in Gilgit-Baltistan, with the Shias dominating, unlike other parts of Pakistan, where Sunnis constitute the overwhelming majority. With the very small exception of Chilas, Darel and Tangir villages of the Diamer District, Shias constitute the clear majority across the rest of the region.
However, Islamabad’s direct rule has allowed Pakistan to engage in a vast campaign of demographic re-engineering, opening up the region for colonisation by Sunnis who are brought in with a number of incentives, including ownership of lands and forests. Following the construction of the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan to China in 1978, the region saw a swelling Sunni influx from the Pakistani ‘mainland’ – essentially Pathans. Sources in Gilgit-Baltistan indicate that large tracts of land continue to be allotted to Afghan refugees and Pashtuns from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). BNF’s Nawaz Khan Naji observes:
A sectarian polarization has been continuously encouraged in Gilgit-Baltistan since the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime in the mid-1970s. When Sunnis in Gilgit objected to Shia processions and the construction of a stage on the city’s main road, these activities were immediately banned. Shias subsequently protested the ban and the Police fired on them. The seeds of a sectarian polarization had been sown, but the situation worsened dramatically under General Zia-ul-Haq, when the military dictator encouraged cadres of the radical Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) to extend its activities to the Gilgit-Baltistan region. A local (Shia) insurrection broke out in Gilgit in May 1988, with people demanding wider rights. In order to suppress the rebellion, the Special Services Group of the Pakistani Army based in Khapalu was dispatched. Former President Pervez Musharraf, then a young Brigadier, was in charge of the operations, in which he used Sunni tribal irregulars to execute a brutal pogrom against the locals, earning himself the sobriquet ‘butcher of Baltistan’. Truckloads of Sunni tribals were sent in from the Afghan border to the region, and they indulged in anti-Shia brutalities unprecedented in Pakistan’s history. After eight days of sustained violence, the Army ‘stepped in’ to ‘restore peace’.
The anti-Shia pogrom resurfaced in 1993, when sectarian riots started again in Gilgit, leading to the death of 20 Shias. Later, the Shia population was further alarmed when large numbers of Sunnis were brought in from Punjab and the NWFP to settle in Gilgit. This Government-supported migration towards Gilgit-Baltistan has been hugely successful and, according to unofficial estimates, the 1:4 ratio of non-local to local people in the region, which prevailed in January 2001, had dipped to an alarming 3:4 by June 2004. The Shias retain a slim but continuously diminishing regional majority, but there are areas where concentrations of Sunnis already outnumber them. A cycle of sectarian killings has, moreover, become a continuous feature of the Gilgit-Baltistan political landscape, escalating repeatedly during religious festivals and periods of political tension.
Cyclical tensions and strife compound an extended campaign of intimidation, terror and inspired sectarian violence. There is cumulative evidence of an accelerated radicalization of Sunni organisations in Gilgit-Baltistan, especially since 2001, with the shifting of base of a number of terrorist groups – some affiliated with al Qaeda – to ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and to Gilgit-Baltistan. Abdul Hamid Khan of the BNF records:
There is, moreover, "evidence to indicate that the sectarian violence in the NAs, in particular at Gilgit, is being planned and orchestrated from other Pakistani provinces, especially the North West Frontier Province." Very significant quantities of weapons have also been seized in Gilgit-Baltistan, and are shipped in from the neighbouring provinces, even as "the tactics used by sectarian terrorists in places like Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and elsewhere are now being employed in the Northern Areas."
As the Nicholson Report clearly noted, moreover, the entire Gilgit-Baltistan region remains mired in extreme poverty and backwardness, with a pervasive absence of most basic amenities. Even the Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) Ministry, which is charged with the development of the region, conceded, in the late 1990s, that the ‘Northern Areas’ "have been neglected for the last 50 years… (and) still rank in the most backward areas of the country."
In late August 2005, a 10-member group from the HRCP visited the Northern Areas to assess the level of social services and infrastructure in the region. The mission was fiercely critical of the inadequate structures of governance, the appalling justice system, and the paucity of social services available to the people of the region.
An index of regional backwardness can be found in the Education sector. While current data for the region remains unavailable, in 1998/99 the overall literacy rate in the Northern Areas was estimated to be 33 per cent – substantially below the national rate of 54 per cent. There were significant disparities between the male and female population: the estimated literacy rate for males was 40 per cent, whereas the estimate for females was only 25 per cent.
More significantly, there are wide disparities even between the number of educational institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan and ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’, reflecting Islamabad’s peculiar orientation towards, and biases against the former: Thus we find a total of 787 educational institutions at all levels, servicing a total population of 870,347 in Gilgit-Baltistan, as against 6,094 institutions in ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’, servicing a population of 2.97 million (population figures: 1998 Census).
A comparison of the number of public health facilities in the Gilgit-Baltistan and ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ again reveals Islamabad’s partiality. Gilgit-Baltistan has a total of 305 public health facilities in all categories, hospitals, dispensaries and first aid posts. ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’, in sharp contrast, has a total of 4,585 public health facilities across a much wider range of categories. Most of Gilgit-Baltistan’s settlements lack proper sewerage and drainage systems, with the result that virtually all the water supply is contaminated with human and animal waste, leading to a wide range of diseases. In January 2000, for example, the Army Field Hospital at Gilgit reported that some 47,152 patients had been treated for cholera over a period of just four months.
The region also suffers from under-utilization of its natural resources. Although the Northern Areas have tremendous potential for hydropower generation, and are, indeed, seen as a primary source of both water and power for the rest of Pakistan, the region fails to meet its own energy demands. Gilgit-Baltistan currently has the lowest per capita rate of energy consumption in Pakistan and firewood is still the main source of domestic energy. Field surveys conducted by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) with German technical assistance revealed that 99.6 per cent of all respondents used firewood as fuel for domestic purposes. Kerosene is currently the second most widely used energy source in Gilgit-Baltistan. Even in its ‘electrified’ regions, kerosene is commonly used because of limited coverage of the population and frequent disruptions of the power supply. There is a large and rapidly growing gulf between existing supplies of electricity and regional demand.
Despite a long history of protests against Islamabad’s discriminatory policies, against growing sectarianism and violence, and against brutal state repression, Gilgit-Baltistan remains a neglected centre of inequity and widespread suffering. Pakistan has utterly and continuously suppressed the people of Gilgit-Baltistan; denied them the most basic constitutional and human rights; blocked access to development and an equitable use even of local natural resources; and repeatedly and brutally suppressed the local Shia majority, even as it seeks to violently promote Sunni sectarianism in the region.
Gilgit-Baltistan remains an ‘area of darkness’, of deep neglect and exploitation, and of the denial of political rights and identity – indeed, a violation of every conceivable element of the very ‘self-determination’ that Pakistan advocates abroad. Circumstances in Gilgit-Baltistan constitute an international humanitarian crisis. Yet, for decades, Pakistan has set a distorted international agenda of discourse, treating areas under its occupation – ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and Gilgit-Baltistan – as settled issues, even as it violently promotes and stridently proclaims a ‘dispute’ over the Indian-administered State of Jammu & Kashmir. Regrettably, the poorly informed international community has accepted this travesty of history.
The troubles of Gilgit-Baltistan, and the repeated cycles of state repression, have remained concealed behind an iron veil that has been pulled across the region by Islamabad, reinforced by international indifference to, and ignorance of, the plight of the people. It is now time to administer correctives and to deny to Pakistan the fruits of aggression and criminality that have accrued for over six decades, in the process creating immense suffering on a hapless sectarian minority in Gilgit-Baltistan.
[South Asia Intelligent Review]
54 militants among 55 persons killed during the week in FATA: Troops killed 10 Taliban militants and inured several others in the Nawaz Kot locality of Razmak in the North Waziristan Agency on September 25. Official sources said that the Taliban militants fired 12 missiles on the Razmak Army Camp, but no casualties to the Security Forces (SFs) were reported.
A suspected US drone strike on premises allegedly operated by an Afghan militant killed 10 suspected Taliban militants in North Waziristan, officials said on September 24. Two Taliban militants were wounded in the attack. According to reports, all of the dead belonged to the former anti-Soviet resistance commander Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Haqqani network is a powerful group based in northwest Pakistan closely linked to al-Qaeda.
A person, Saddam Hussain, was killed when an artillery shell fired by Security Forces hit his house in Musakhel area in Khwezai Baizai subdivision of Mohmand Agency on September 23.
At least 26 suspected militants were killed and several others injured, when helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in the Spina Tigha and Makeen areas of South Waziristan, Dawn reported on September 22. In addition, the Tehrik-i-Taliban spokesperson Azam Tariq claimed that the Taliban killed at least 45 SF personnel in the attack.
Eight suspected militants were killed in clashes with the SFs in the Razmak area of North Waziristan. Sources said a security check post in Upper and Lower Kofar in North Waziristan came under attack by some 600 militants. In the ensuing clashes, eight suspected militants were shot dead. Dawn; Daily Times; Times of India, September 22-28, 2009.
41 civilians and 23 militants among 70 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Two suicide bombers separately rammed their explosives-laden vehicles into a Police Station in Bannu and a military-owned commercial bank in Peshawar cantonment area of the NWFP on September 26, killing at least 27 people and injuring around another 200, officials said. At least 10 people were killed in the attack in Peshawar, while seven, including two Policemen, were killed in the assault on the Bannu Police Station. But a Police official in Bannu said 13 people had been killed. Authorities said the death toll could rise as many among the injured were in critical condition. Around 94 people were injured in Peshawar and 64, including 31 Policemen, in Bannu. Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the Bannu attack and threatened to unleash bigger attacks on the Government to avenge the killing of their leader Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in August.
Troops arrested 13 Taliban militants and 57 others surrendered before them in Swat on September 25. The Security Forces (SFs) conducted a search-and-clearance operation in Rema near Bar Shaur and arrested nine Taliban militants, while another four were arrested from Imam Dheri.
Suspected Taliban militants killed seven members of a pro-Government tribal lashkar (militia) at Janikhel area in the Bannu District on September 24. The victims of the Taliban ambush included tribal chief Malik Sultan, who was raising a militia against the Taliban in the region. In retaliation, members of the laskhar killed nine Taliban militants. Two Khasadar (a local Security Force) personnel were also killed in the skirmishes. Separately, Taliban militants killed seven tribal heads, according to sources. Their bodies were found from various parts of Bannu.
Further, troops killed eight Taliban militants while two volunteers of a local lashkar were killed during operations in the Swat and Malakand areas, sources said on September 24. Eight militants were killed by the SFs in the Palai area near Dargai. Two SF personnel were also injured in the firing. The Taliban attacked the SF personnel in Sar Colony and killed two lashkar members.
At least five militants were killed and four SF personnel wounded during a clash at Malakand Division on September 23. In addition, militants killed two members of an anti-Taliban citizen's group tasked with protecting their community at Swat on September 23, a local official said. Mayor Mohammad Ibrar Khan said the assailants struck as members of the ‘peace committee’ slept in Swat's Sertelegram area. Security Forces engaged the militants in a gun battle and Khan said several attackers were killed, though no bodies were found.
Police officers foiled a plan to assassinate the NWFP Education Minister Sardar Hussain Babak in Tatalai District on September 21, when they confronted four militants in a gun battle that ended with a teenage suicide bomber blowing himself up, Police said. An informant tipped off Police Officers that insurgents had gathered in a Government High School after midnight and were planning to kill the Minister and attack Government installations and the SFs, said Police Officer Noor Jamal Khan. Police confronted the militants and a fire fight ensued. A loud explosion rocked the building and three of the militants managed to escape, including one who was wounded, Khan said. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, September 22-28, 2009.
Pakistani and Iranian spy agencies are supporting Taliban, says US and NATO Commander Mc Chrystal: Factions of the Pakistani and Iranian "spy services" are supporting Taliban that carry out attacks on coalition troops, Washington Post quoted top US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley Mc Chrystal as saying on September 23. In a detailed analysis of the military situation delivered to the White House, the US military commander said he had evidence that the Taliban in Afghanistan were being aided by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He said they were contributing to the external forces working to undermine US interests and destabilise the Government in Kabul. "Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan," Mc Chrystal wrote, adding that senior leaders of the major Taliban groups were "reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s ISI." "There is a mixture of motives and concerns within the ISI that have accounted for the dalliances that have gone on for years" with insurgent groups, Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA counter-terrorism official was quoted as saying. Mc Chrystal’s report also said that Tehran was playing "an ambiguous role in Afghanistan, providing developmental assistance to the Government even as it flirts with insurgent groups that target US troops". "The Iranian Quds Force is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups and providing other forms of military assistance to insurgents," Mc Chrystal added. Daily Times, September 24, 2009.
Taliban movement stronger than ever, says militant ‘commander’ Qari Hussain Mehsud: The Taliban movement is stronger than ever, despite the killing of its top commander and will stage more suicide attacks if the Army launches another offensive against it, a top Taliban ‘commander’ Qari Hussain Mehsud said on September 25. Qari Mehsud, known for training Taliban suicide bombers, met with an Associated Press reporter at a secret location in North Waziristan. "Our movement has gained more strength after the martyrdom of Baitullah Mehsud," he said, adding, "We are united." Mehsud said he had been appointed the latest spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) new chief, Hakimullah Mehsud. He acknowledged leading a group of suicide bombers who, he said, would act if Pakistan proceeds with offensives in the Tribal Areas. Daily Times, September 26, 2009.
45 militants and 38 civilians among 84 persons killed during the week in NWFP: During continued operation in the Swat District, troops killed eight Taliban militants on September 20. Separately, a Taliban leader Sher Muhammad Qasab died in captivity from wounds sustained during a gun battle on September 16. Qasab, an active member of the Tehreek Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), and who had joined Swat Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah, had a head money of PKR 10 million.
Separately, five persons were killed and as many injured as unidentified assailants on September 20 opened fire in Pat Bazaar, where people were assessing damages to the shops blown up by a September 18 bomb blast.
Five persons were killed when Taliban militants opened fire on a on a pick-up van near Jerona village in the Malakand area of Swat District on September 19. In addition, two persons were killed in a bomb blast at a Security checkpoint in the Darra Adam Khel area.
At least 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide attack in the in the Kacha Pakka area, 17 kilometres from Kohat city in the Kohat District on September 18, hospital and Police sources said. At least 13 shops were also destroyed, and shockwaves were felt as far as a kilometre away, witnesses said. It is suspected the attack was carried out using an explosives-laden car, said senior Police officials. The bomb was believed to have contained about 150 kilograms of explosives. Locals put the death toll at around 40. Shopkeepers said most of the victims were Shias and coalminers waiting for buses. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was carried out to avenge the killing of one of their leaders. "We carried out the attack to avenge the killing of Muhammad Amin," said Usman Haider, claiming to be a spokesman for the outfit. Subsequently, unidentified militants opened fire at the funeral procession in Kohat, killing four people. According to the report, the assailants opened fire during the funeral of a person killed in suicide bombing in the Kacha Pakka area.
In addition, Hangu District Nazim (Mayor) Haji Khan Afzal was killed and three others injured in a bomb attack at a mosque in the Wajh area of Hangu. According to the channel, Afzal was entering the mosque when a remote-controlled improvised explosive device exploded.
Troops killed 10 Taliban militants, including a local Taliban ‘commander’, in a pre-dawn exchange of fire near a river at Swat on September 17. The Taliban militants were trying to cross a river at night and infiltrate Mingora when Police and troops intercepted them, said the military in a statement from Swat. Residents who identified the slain militants said they included an important local Taliban ‘commander’, identified as Amjad Ali.
A top Taliban ‘commander’, identified as Sher Muhammad Qasab, who was wanted for slaughtering the Security Forces (SFs), was arrested and three of his sons killed by troops in the ongoing counter-insurgency operation at Chaharbagh of Swat District on September 16. Qasab’s arrest followed earlier arrest of Muslim Khan and Mehmood Khan, two of his associates and close aides of Swat Taliban ‘chief’ Maulana Fazlullah. Qasab "was running a slaughter centre at Chaharbagh where he himself used to slaughter opponents and security personnel."
Also, three Taliban militants were killed and 18 others arrested in the ongoing military offensive at Swat and Malakand. The SFs conducted a search operation in Mangaltan, killing three Taliban militants.
At least 27 Taliban militants were killed in clashes with the SFs in the Malakand area on September 14, said official sources. The sources said that about 15 Taliban militants were killed in clashes in Charbagh. The dead bodies of four Taliban militants were also found from Charbagh, said officials. The sources said that Taliban fleeing Batkhela clashed with troops in Derai Jolgraham. At least eight Taliban militants were reportedly killed in that clash. A trooper was also killed in the fighting.
A Taliban militant was killed by the SFs during another search operation in Dir area. Daily Times, September 15-21, 2009.
30 militants among 36 persons killed during the week in FATA: A civilian, identified as Hashim Ali, and a militant were killed during crossfire between the Security Forces (SFs) and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants in the Sur Dhand area of Bara at Khyber Agency on September 19.
The SFs shelled militant hideouts the in Khyber and Orakzai agencies, killing at least 13 militants on September 18. SFs also destroyed four vehicles and two militants’ hideouts during an operation in the Dabori and Sandapal areas of Orakzai Agency,
Two Taliban militants were killed and one injured in clashes with the SFs in the Charmang area of Nawagai tehsil in the Bajaur Agency on September 17. The sources said two SFs were also injured in the clashes, which ensued after a Taliban attack on a security post in Charmang.
Pakistani officials said an al Qaeda operations ‘chief’ in Pakistan and an Uzbek commander were believed to be killed in the US missile strikes in North Waziristan in early September 2009. The operations ‘chief’ was identified as Ilyas Kashmiri and the Uzbek as Nazimuddin alias Yahyo.
At least five Taliban militants were killed and four others wounded in air strikes on hideouts at Bajaur Agency, which also destroyed an illegal FM radio station and bunkers, said official sources on September 15. The strikes were carried out in Darra, Chinar and Jirga areas, the source said. Helicopter gun ships and long-range artillery were used in the offensive that targeted underground Taliban facilities, said the officials. "The death toll may go up, as underground Taliban facilities were heavily bombed," they said.
Eight militants and a solider were killed during fighting in the Kamarkhel area of Bara tehsil in the Khyber Agency on September 14, said security officials. The SFs cleared the area after intense fighting in Naraikarawal village, where militants were holed up in a house. The militants and soldier were killed in a gun battle, said the officials. A militant ‘commander’ was also killed in the gun battle.
In addition, a US drone fired a missile targeting a car in the Mir Ali tehsil of the North Waziristan Agency on September 14, killing four persons and injuring one. The missile hit the car around 5am (PST) when it was passing through Khushali Turikhel village – 30 kilometres east of the Agency headquarters Miranshah. According to unconfirmed report, there were two foreign nationals among the dead.
Troops destroyed six Taliban hideouts in the Charmag area of Nawagai tehsil and confiscated a huge cache of arms. The Security Forces also pounded Taliban hideouts in the Matak and Kamangarah areas of the same Nawagai tehsil.
Separately, militants killed an Afghan national at Dattakhel tehsil in the same North Waziristan Agency on charges of "spying" for the US.
A Taliban militant was killed and two others injured in a military offensive at Bajaur. The sources said the Taliban militant was killed in fighting that followed an attack on a security post in the Loyesam area. Daily Times, September 15-21, 2009.
79 militants and 19 civilians among 105 persons killed during the week in FATA: A blast targeting a Security Force (SF) convoy in the Mandi Kas area of Khyber Agency killed three troops. The roadside blast also injured two SF personnel and destroyed three vehicles. The SFs cordoned off the area following the attack. At least three people were killed when troops pounded the area.
The SFs backed by helicopter gunships killed at least 22 terrorists in the Tirah and Sandapal areas of Khyber Agency during the ongoing operation against Taliban-linked militants on September 12. Official sources said 12 vehicles and three Taliban hideouts were also destroyed in the operation. The SFs extended the curfew enforced in Bara for the eleventh consecutive day and continued targeting Lashkar-e-Islam hideouts in various parts of the Agency.
Unidentified militants shot dead three Shinwari tribesmen on the main road in Landikotal. Two of the deceased were brothers, identified as Arshad and Jamshed Shinwari. One of them was the son-in-law of former senator Hafiz Abdul Malik, who is a brother of Zakat and Ushr Minister Noorul Haq Qadri. The three men were driving from Torkham to Peshawar when they were attacked near Khyber Takya. The two brothers were killed on the spot, while the third person died on his way to hospital. Witnesses said the attackers were in a blue Corolla and after gunning down the three men, abandoned the car in the nearby mountains.
Separately, unidentified militants fired three missiles at the Jandola Scouts Fort in the South Waziristan Agency, killing two officials and injuring four others on September 10. The missiles, fired from the nearby mountains, landed inside the fort, official sources said, but did not disclose the identity of the officers killed or injured in the attack. Separately, three suspected Taliban militants were killed after they attacked a Police vehicle on patrol at an unspecified place in FATA. Police also seized six grenades, a Kalashnikov, a gun and a pistol.
A tribal elder, identified as Malik Amanullah Khan Wazir, was killed, and two others were injured in a remote-controlled bomb blast in South Waziristan on September 9.
At least 24 militants were killed and their hideouts destroyed in the counter-insurgency operation "Operation Bia Daraghlam" at Bara Tehsil (revenue unit) of the Khyber Agency on September 8, said security officials. The officials said troops targeted militants in Zao and Kamarkhel, killing 24 of them and destroying two hideouts. "Security Forces (SFs) killed at least 24 militants and destroyed two militant headquarters and two hideouts," according to a Frontier Corps statement.
At least seven people – including four children who were on their way to school – were killed when unidentified militants tried to abduct the schoolchildren in the Lower Orakzai area of Orakzai Agency. Elsewhere in the Orakzai Agency, six militants were killed and four hideouts destroyed in air strikes at a village east of Kalaya.
A US missile strike from a drone killed at least 10 Taliban militants in the North Waziristan Agency on September 8, said officials. "The strike targeted a Taliban compound in Dargamandi village of North Waziristan, killing 10 militants," a senior security official said. Another official confirmed the casualties, and said a US drone fired two missiles at the compound. He said it was not immediately clear whether any "high-value targets" were present in the area at the time. Residents said they had seen the drone hovering in the sky, and had been expecting the missile attack.
Unidentified gunmen killed Qari Iqbal, chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and a close aide of Maulvi Faqir, in Khar, headquarters of Bajaur Agencyon, on September 8. Political administration officials said that unidentified gunmen fired at Iqbal before sunset, killing him on the spot. Iqbal was Bajaur TTP chief Maulvi Faqir’s deputy and was wanted by the Government. After the killing, the administration imposed a curfew for an indefinite time in Khar.
At least 15 persons were killed in SF’s operations and a drone strike in Khyber and North Waziristan Agencies on September 7. SFs killed 10 militants in the remote Tirah Valley on the seventh day of "Operation Bia Daraghlam". Security officials said that 12 houses being used by militants had been destroyed in the Akakhel, Shalobar, Malikdin Khel and Sipah areas of Bara, while a militant stronghold and five hideouts were destroyed in the Tirah valley. Separately, a missile fired by a US drone hit a house and a madrassa (seminary), killing at least five persons and wounding six others, security officials said. "The strike targeted a madrassa and an adjoining house in Machikhel village in North Waziristan," an unnamed security official said. "At least four people were killed and six others injured," the official said.
Five soldiers were killed when a remote-controlled bomb exploded in South Waziristan on September 7, a day after troops killed 33 Taliban militants as part of a weeklong campaign in the Khyber Pass, officials said. The blast struck a routine military patrol en route to Wana from Tayarzai. "The patrol was sent ahead of a military convoy to check the security on the road and a bomb planted by the Taliban went off and killed five soldiers," an unnamed intelligence official said. Daily Times, September 8-14, 2009.
54 militants among 59 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Two Taliban militants and a soldier were killed in the ongoing operation in Swat, Security Forces (SFs) said on September 13. Troops conducting a search operation in the Kuz Bamakhela near Matta were attacked by the Taliban militants. One soldier and two Taliban militants were killed in the ensuing battle.
The SFs shot dead eight Taliban militants, including three Afghans, and injured nine others during operations in Swat and Malakand areas on September 12. A security officer was also killed and another was injured in the clashes, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. Sources said that the SFs arrested nine militants, while 12 others surrendered. In addition, five militants and a trooper were killed when the troops carried out a search operation at Samter near Banjot. One soldier was also injured, while nine militants were arrested during the operation.
Troops killed two Taliban militants in the Swat District on September 11.
At least 21 Taliban militants, including six foreign nationals, were killed and 14 others were arrested by troops in the Swat District on September 10. Security sources said the Taliban militants were killed during a search operation in Banjot. Six of those killed were suspected to be Uzbeks holed up in a house. The Swat Media Centre confirmed 15 deaths in the area. The sources said there had been reports about the presence of senior Taliban ‘commanders’ in Banjot on the outskirts of Mingora.
Separately, an ISPR statement said that troops conducted a search operation in the Takhtaband and Batkhela areas, killing one Taliban militant and arresting seven.
Troops killed 15 Taliban militants during operations in the Swat District on September 9. "15 Taliban were killed in Banjut, Jambil and surrounding areas during a search-and-cordon operation," according to a military statement. A huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives was also seized during the raids. The ISPR said a soldier was also killed in the fighting.
On September 8, masked gunmen abducted a Greek national, Athanasee Laironaise, from Bamboret valley of Chitral, killing one of his Police guards and injuring another. A Chitral Police official said that the incident took place some 22 kilometers southeast of Chitral, when over 25 masked men broke into a compound and abducted the Greek national. The slain Police guard was identified as Zafar. The official said Athanasee was supervising the construction of Kalash House, which is being built by a Greek NGO for Kalash tribesmen.
Unidentified militants killed a leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid party, Tahir Khan, at Kanju in the Swat District. Daily Times, September 8-14, 2009.
UK airline bomb plot reveals Pakistan’s links: A plot to blow up at least seven transatlantic aircraft of a UK airline, using liquid explosives, was masterminded from Pakistan, British intelligence services said, as more details emerged on September 8, of the complex planned attacks. British Police were forced to go to extraordinary lengths to build their case against the men who, prosecutors said, were hoping to cause more deaths than the September 11, 2001, attacks. The trial, which ended in the convictions of three British Muslims on September 7, was peppered with evidence that members of the London-based gang were frequently in contact with figures linked to al Qaeda in Pakistan. "In terms of al Qaeda involvement, there is a large part of this plot that has been thought through or invented in Pakistan," one senior counter-terrorism source said after the trial. "This was a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of global proportions," the Crown Prosecution Service said after the verdict. The jury was shown intercepted emails in which Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar asked Pakistani contacts for advice on building bombs in drinks bottles to detonate on flights over the Atlantic. Prosecutors believed the absence of evidence establishing these links had led to a jury in the first trial in 2008 failing to reach a verdict on the plot to blow up the planes, forcing a second trial. Reports said the men’s main point of contact was Rashid Rauf, a British-born Muslim, who had fled to the Tribal Areas in 2002 after the murder of his uncle, and developed strong links with al Qaeda. Intelligence services also reportedly believed he was a key contact of the gang in the 2005 bombings of the London transport system, which killed 52 people. The trial heard that Ali had already been identified as a dangerous radical when he was stopped at London’s Heathrow Airport in June 2006 on his return from a trip to Pakistan. Over the next few months, they monitored Ali and his colleagues experimenting with injecting drinks’ bottles with a mixture of the explosive liquid hydrogen peroxide, which they planned to carry on to flights and detonate with a bulb filament. But what was reportedly the biggest counter-terrorism operation ever mounted in Britain, costing $57 million, was almost thrown into jeopardy by US intervention. Daily Times, September 9, 2009.
US funds were diverted to strengthen defense against India, says former President Pervez Musharraf: Former President Pervez Musharraf has said that military aid provided by the US to Pakistan for the war against terror during his tenure had been used to strengthen conventional defences against India, the first such admission by any top Pakistani leader. Musharraf admitted that he had violated rules governing the use of the military aid, and justified his actions by saying he had "acted in the best interest of Pakistan." In an interview with Express News channel, he said he "did not care" whether the US would be angered by his disclosure. He said that he was not ready to compromise on Pakistan's interests.
Musharraf, who is currently living in London, said that if he had not supported the US in the war against terror after the 9/11 attacks, American forces could have entered Pakistan to capture its nuclear assets. He said it was also possible that the US and India could have jointly attacked the country. Musharraf said Pakistan's nuclear programme was so advanced during his tenure that scientists had not only begun enriching uranium but had also developed plutonium-based weapons. Asked about scientist A. Q. Khan's claim that he had been forced to make a confession about running a nuclear proliferation network, Musharraf said Khan "had done a lot but he was lying that he was forced to apologise before the nation". Times of India, September 14, 2009.
99 militants and 20 soldiers among 124 persons killed during the week in NWFP: Security Forces (SFs) on September 6 killed three Taliban militants and arrested 12 others from various parts of Swat. "On a tip off, Security Forces conducted a search and cordon operation in Liluani near Alpurai. In an exchange of fire, three Taliban militants were killed and two were apprehended," an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said. Dead bodies of two Taliban militants, identified as Anwar Shah and Zahir Shah, were also found from Nawagai.
Suspected militants shot dead two Frontier Constabulary (FC) troopers in Nasir Bagh suburbs of Peshawar, the NWFP capital, early in the morning on September 4. An official of the Nasir Bagh Police Station said that the FC personnel were on routine patrol when, at around 3 AM, unidentified people armed with sophisticated weapons attacked them. He said the troops also returned fire. In the encounter, FC soldiers, Mula Jan and Arbab, residents of Bara in Khyber Agency, were injured. They later died at the Khyber Teaching Hospital. Cantonment Circle Superintendent of Police Nisar Khan Marwat said the incident appeared to be a targeted killing.
SFs on September 4 killed one terrorist in the Swat District. "Security forces conducted search operation at Peochar and killed one terrorist," the ISPR said in its daily update.
A militia (Qaumi Lashkar) killed three militants in an exchange of fire in the Kabal sub-division of the Swat District, while seven militants were arrested in the area during a search operation by the SFs on September 3. Sources said the militiamen traded fire with the militants in the Galoch area in Kabal, killing three unidentified militants. Besides, bodies of two militants, identified as Rozi Khan and Ansar, shot dead by unknown persons, were recovered in the Panr and Haji Baba areas.
Two girls were killed in a grenade attack on a house in the Sokri Hassankhel area of Bannu District on September 2. Police said unidentified persons lobbed a hand grenade at the house of Dil Faraz in Sokri Hassankhel area, killing his two daughters, 13-year old Mahala Bibi and eight-year old Sania Bibi, on the spot.
SFs killed 15 Taliban militants in fresh clashes in the Swat District on September 1. According to the Swat media centre, 15 militants were killed in clashes in Kokari and Jameel on the outskirts of Mingora, while two SF personnel were wounded.
SFs killed at least 15 Taliban militants in various clashes in the Swat District on August 31. One soldier was also killed in crossfire between the Army and the Taliban. "The Security Forces conducted a search operation in Allahabad near Charbagh. In an exchange of fire with the terrorists, five Taliban and one soldier was killed," an ISPR statement said. The SFs also killed seven Taliban militants and arrested 11 during a search operation in Maira. Further, three Taliban militants were killed during an operation in Lundai Sarand. In addition, the SFs conducted search operations in Gulkanda and Aman Kot and arrested seven militants. In another search operation in Sangota and Ahingora Cham near Fatehpur, the Army apprehended four militants.
At least 36 bodies, believed to be of militants, were found dumped in various locations of the Swat valley on August 31. Official sources said 30 bullet-riddled bodies were found dumped in the Manglawar and Banjot areas, while the body of another militant, identified as Bacha Rahman, was recovered from the Nawagai area in Barikot. Three bodies were found in the Kanju area while two were recovered from Akhund Killay. Bodies of the Taliban militants were dumped on roadsides after being killed in mysterious circumstances, the sources said. So far a total of 230 bodies have been found dumped on roads and riversides in the Swat District.
The Army-run Swat Media Centre said two militants were killed in the Kabal area during an encounter and arms were recovered from their possession. According to the Centre’s updates, several areas in Charbagh sub-division, including Banjot, Mangultan and Bashbanr, were cleared of militants. The media centre also said that, in the preceding three days, 30 Taliban militants had been killed during various operations against the militants. In the exchange of fire, one soldier was also killed, the media centre added. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, September 1-7, 2009.
148 militants and 9 civilians among 158 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 33 militants were killed when the Security Forces (SFs) targeted two militant centres – Tarkhokas Camp and Narai Baba Markaz – on the sixth day of ‘Operation Bia Daraghlam’ in the Khyber Agency of Federal Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) on September 6, said security sources. The sources said that both the centres had been destroyed in the offensive. "Security forces ... targeted Tarkhokas Camp [and] Narai Baba Markaz," said the Frontier Corps in a statement. "Both centres and six vehicles ... [were] destroyed. Thirty-three militants ... [were] killed." Frontier Corps spokesman Major Fazl Rehman said that helicopter gunships and fighter jets strafed the militant boltholes, with the strikes targeting the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI).
A militant was killed and nine arrested and two hideouts destroyed in the Bara Tehsil (revenue division) of Khyber Agency, said security officials. The officials said that houses and centres had also been destroyed in Narahaybaba and Darkho areas.
At least 43 militants were killed and several others were injured in a military operation in Tirah valley and Kambarkhel areas of Khyber Agency in FATA on September 5, said security sources, Daily Times reports. Troops pounded LI bases in Gogrina and Sandapal areas of Tirah valley. An LI centre – being used as a hideout and training facility – was destroyed, and at least 35 militants killed in that attack. The sources said that six militants were killed in Kambarkhel area of the Bara tehsil (revenue division), while two suspects were arrested from Shakas area. Security sources added that 15 houses were also demolished in Kambarkhel area of Khyber Agency’s Bara tehsil.
Five terrorists were killed and 24 were arrested during a clash with the Security Forces (SFs) in the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
SFs claimed to have killed two militants in the Ambar area, while one Mohmand Rifles trooper was killed and two others sustained injuries during a search operation in the Baizai sub-division of Mohmand Agency on September 4. Sources said the SFs exchanged fire with the militants for about three hours in Ambar area early in the day, killing two militants. There were reports that military helicopters bombarded and destroyed suspected hideouts of the militants in Atam Killay, Lakhkar Killay and Tani area in Baizai near the Afghanistan border.
Two persons, identified as Namdar Khan and Beldar Khan, were killed when an explosive device planted near their house in Ambar area went off.
During a search operation in Tani area, a Constable of the Mohmand Rifles, Shahab, was killed while two troopers, Ashiq Afridi and Mansoor Khan, sustained injuries. About 15 suspected militants were also arrested from the Tani area.
SFs killed two militant commanders and injured five others on September 3 during their offensive against militants in the Nawagai sub-division of Bajaur Agency. Official sources said that the SFs targeted positions militants with artillery in the Charmang area of Nawagai. They said that the slain militant commanders belonged to Ambar sub-division of Mohmand Agency.
A girl was killed when a mortar shell hit a house in the Ghongat Johar area of Safi sub-division in Mohmand Agency on September 3.
16 militants were killed and 35 arrested on the second day of Operation Bia Daraghlam in different parts of the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency on September 2, Frontier Constabulary (FC) sources said. Two explosive-laden vehicles, houses of six commanders, including those of Abid Murad, Tayyab and Sabeel, and six hideouts of militants were destroyed in the operation. At least 59 militants have been killed and 78 others arrested during the operation so far. The Khyber Political Agent, Tariq Hayat Khan, told reporters that the operation would continue till the neutralization of all terrorists.
Five persons were killed when artillery and mortar shells hit a residential area in the Mohmand Agency on September 2. Three persons, identified as Gul Mohammad, Sher Mohammad and Welayat, were killed when stray shells fired from an unknown direction hit their houses in Musa Kor. Two persons were killed in shelling in Ghaljo Dara.
At least 40 militants were killed as SFs launched a massive operation in the Bara sub-division of Khyber Agency on September 1. The operation, codenamed Bia Daraghlam (here I come again) was launched in the aftermath of a spate of beheadings in the region, sources said. Locals said, nearly 35 beheaded bodies were recovered from different areas of Bara over the preceding one month. Briefing journalists about the operation, sector commander of the SFs, Brigadier Faiz, and Political Agent of the Khyber Agency Tariq Hayat Khan said 40 militants had been killed and 43 arrested. The arrested militants were produced before the media along with the arms seized during search operations. The two officials said four militant hideouts were destroyed during the operation. They also said the ground forces were supported by military helicopters that targeted the hideouts of militants. The officials said the operation was not against a particular group or individual, but to purge the area of the miscreants.
Locals said the banned Lashkar-e-Islam activists did not offer any resistance to the operation, which was launched in the morning. They had reportedly already vacated their areas to take refuge in the nearby mountains. Sources said the Frontier Corps (FC) and Army troops were taking part in the operation and reported to have captured all important militant posts at around 3 AM.
A pro-government tribal elder, Malik Walayat Shah, was shot dead by unidentified miscreants in the Haleemzai sub-division of Mohmand Agency in the night of September 1. Malik Shah was reportedly ambushed when he went out of his house after breaking the Ramzan fast in the evening at Shanikhel village. He was considered a pro-administration elder and used to visit the office of the political agent on regular basis.
The SFs arrested four suspected militants and set ablaze two houses during an operation on September 1. The SFs conducted a search operation in the Kamalkhel area of Safi sub-division and torched houses of Ikram and another suspected person for links with militants. Four suspected persons, including Liaqat, Ali Khan and Syed Ahmed, were also arrested. The troops also targeted militant hideouts in different areas of the sub-division. However, no casualty was reported.
Three militants were killed when two groups of Taliban exchanged fire in the Ferozkhel area of Orakzai Agency on August 31. Tribal sources said a group of militants belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) unit in Darra Adamkhel allegedly attacked a seminary at Mehmoodabad in Lower Kurram, triggering retaliation by the Orakzai-based TTP. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, September 1-7, 2009.
LTTE paid for attack on Sri Lankan team, reveals Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani revealed on September 6 that the terrorists who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3, 2009, were financed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Talking to reporters after visiting Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi at the Al-Shifa Hospital, Gilani said that he had been told by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse – during his recent visit to Libya – that the LTTE had funded terror attacks in Pakistan, including the commando-style attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore’s Liberty market roundabout. The PM said that both countries were investigating this possibility, adding that the LTTE may have funded other attacks in Pakistan as well. The Prime Minister also said that Interior Ministry officials will visit Sri Lanka to follow up on this lead. Daily Times, September 7, 2009.
[South Asia Intelligent Review]