Vol. 11 - No. 3


SOUTH ASIA: PAKISTAN                                                                                                                       News Briefs


(Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
         map are not members of SAARC)

Tribal Militia: Defenceless Under Fire

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

At least 56 persons were killed and 123 injured in a suicide attack during the Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid Madina in the Ghundai area of Jamrud tehsil (revenue unit) of Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), on August 19, 2011. According to locals, a young boy aged about 15 or 16 years, had entered the mosque through a window and blown himself up in the main hall during prayers. Officials confirmed that the blast was a suicide attack.

On August 20, 2011, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out in retaliation for local resistance against the outfit. TTP’s Tariq Afridi group spokesman, Muhammad Talha, released a statement asserting that the attack was directed against the Kukikhel tribe, whose members had killed four TTP fighters in Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on August 16. He also claimed that the tribesmen had demolished the houses of TTP members and warned that more ‘action’ would be taken against the members of Kukikhel tribe if they continued to resist to the TTP in Tirah Valley. The Tirah Valley is part of the primary NATO supply route, and consequently a prize target for the TTP.

Kukikhel tribesmen had therefore raised a lashkar (tribal militia) in June 2010, to force militants out of the area. Just a few days before the August 19, 2011, suicide bombing, some TTP cadres who entered the area had been forced to leave by the tribal elders. The teenage suicide bomber at the Jamia Masjid Madina, before detonating himself, reportedly shouted, “Who will throw me out of the area now?”

The latest attack is just one in a series of assaults by the terrorists targeting lashkar members. A senior member of the Chamarkand Peace Committee, Malik Afsar Khan and his son were shot dead by unidentified militants in Chamarkand tehsil of Bajaur Agency on August 17, 2011. On August 15, Baizai Peace Committee chief, Malik Sultan Kodakhel, and three volunteers suffered injuries when militants ambushed their car near Lakhkar Kalli in the Baizai tehsil (revenue unit) of Mohmand Agency.  On August 12, unidentified militants killed a senior member of a lashkar, Malik Jan Afridi, of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency. On August 11, five persons, including three women and two children, were killed and one minor was injured in a landmine explosion in the house of lashkar ‘commander’ Shah Jee in Zaka Khel village of Tirah Valley. Earlier, on March 10, 2011, a TTP suicide bomb attack on a funeral held by a tribal militia killed at least 34 people and injured more than 40 in the village of Adezai, about 15 miles south of the city of Peshawar.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal(SATP), at least 195 lashkar members have been killed and 199 others injured in 53 extremist attacks since 2005. In addition, at least 93 tribal elders have also been killed in 62 incidents during this period. Further, 126 lashkar members were abducted by the militants.

Significantly, when the state was finding it difficult to fight the terrorists in tribal areas, it called for help from the tribal people. On November 27, 2008, Mukhtar A. Khan, a Pashtun journalist, had noted that, after successive failed attempts to tackle the rising militancy in FATA and adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Government began to encourage local tribal people to stand up against the militants and flush them out of their regions. Lakki Marwat was the first District in KP to raise a volunteer militia on November 26, 2008, with the objective of evicting extremists from the area.

Numerous incidents of lashkar resistance to the extremists have come to light. Most recently, after the August 19 attack, an unnamed tribal elder in Jamrud area disclosed that TTP militants had come to the mosque a week earlier to recruit new members. Local residents refused to join them and declared they would not support the TTP or the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), another militant group operating in the Khyber Agency. Another unnamed tribal elder added, “Militants wanted to make their centre in the Rajgal area in the remote Tirah Valley of the Khyber Agency, which is controlled by the Kukikhel tribes.” Their attempt was thwarted.

Unsurprisingly, lashkar leaders and members are at the very top of the TTP hit list. After the December 6, 2010, suicide attack in Mohmand Agency, which killed 35 lashkar members, the TTP 'chief' of the Mohmand Chapter, Umer Khalid, threatened death to anyone who organised or joined a lashkar against the TTP. 12 Government officials and journalists were also killed in the attack.

Despite the dangers the lashkar faces and the services they provide to the Security Forces (SFs), the Government’s apathy, neglect and abdication of responsibility remain inexplicable. Significantly, the leader of Adezai Qaumi lashkar operating in the suburban areas of Peshawar in KP, Haji Dilawar Khan, on August 18, 2011, alleged:

Elders of the area had formed the lashkar on the directives of Government. But Government didn’t materialise its promises (sic) to support them. These volunteers sacrificed their lives to defend their motherland and hundreds of their colleagues were injured by militants but they have not been paid proper compensation so far. Militants will get strengthened in the suburban areas of provincial metropolis Peshawar as Government has intentionally stopped supporting our volunteers and left them at the mercy of militants.

On March 3, 2011, Haji Khan had claimed that the Government was not providing the militia promised ammunition and rations, and had set a deadline of one week for the Government to respond. He had then argued that the Government was pursuing "an ambiguous policy" towards the TTP and accused local legislators of supporting the terrorist formation. "The local MPA [Member of the Provincial Assembly] and MNA [Member of the National Assembly] of the Awami National Party do not support the volunteers of the lashkar against the Taliban [TTP], as they don’t belong to their Party," Haji Khan alleged. Again, on March 10, after the Adezai suicide attack he stated, "What wrong have we done? We're getting neither bullets nor guns. When we demand bullets, the authorities ask us how many Taliban fighters we have killed. I want to ask the Government, how many Taliban fighters have they killed?" He warned that his lashkar would abandon its fight against the TTP if the Government failed to adequately equip his men.

In a display of extraordinary callousness reflecting the Government’s opportunism, KP Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Bashir Ahmad Bilour, declared, on March 20, 2011, that the lashkars were no longer useful. Earlier, on March 10, Bilour disclosed that the Government had ‘suspended support’ to the Adezai lashkar, because its members had allegedly been using their firearms to carry out kidnappings.

The state’s reliance in its counter-insurgency campaigns on armed militia is, in the first instance, a strategy fraught with risks; opportunistic support to such armed groupings is, however, infinitely worse, exposing vulnerable populations to extremist vendettas, and even driving them into the extremist fold, when state support is diluted or withdrawn. Political ambivalence towards the terrorist formations – despite the tremendous harm they have already inflicted on Pakistan – remains the principal source of vacillating policies that deepen the risks to both the population and the nation. The Pakistani state and its agencies have, for far too long, abdicated their responsibility to check the growth of Islamist terrorist formations, and have fitfully relied on people’s militia to bear a burden that should rightly fall on state agencies alone. Abandoning the lashkars after exposing them to unacceptable risk reflects a level of cynicism and folly that can only further undermine the state’s authority across the tribal regions of KP and FATA.

[South Asia Intelligent Review]

News Briefs

36 SFs and 21 militants among 68 persons killed during the week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 32 soldiers and 20 militants were killed when some 200 to 300 "terrorists" based in Afghanistan attacked seven paramilitary FC check posts in Chitral District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on August 27.

At least 12 persons, including some Army and Air Force personnel, were killed and 17 injured when a powerful explosion hit a hotel in Risalpur cantonment area of Nowshera on August 25. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 23-29, 2011.

28 militants and seven civilians among 35 persons killed during the week in FATA: 11 militants were killed and four others sustained injuries after the Security Forces (SFs) shelled their hideouts in Barlas and Akhun Kot in Mamozai areas of Orakzai Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on August 25.

10 Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants were killed when landmines planted in a bunker by militants of Tariq Afridi group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) exploded in the Tirah valley of Khyber Agency on August 23.

Three militants and four tribesmen from a same family were killed and three others injured when a US drone targeted a house and a vehicle in Mirkhunkhel area near Mir Ali in North Waziristan Agency on August 22. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 23-29, 2011.

25 persons killed in Sindh during the week: A total of 25 persons were killed in Sindh. 12 persons were killed on August 22; seven on August 23; one on August 25; two on August 26 and three on August 28. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 23-29, 2011.

Pakistan must curb flow of explosives material to Afghanistan, says US: US senator Robert Casey, visiting Islamabad, said on August 26 that he was pressing Pakistan to reduce the flow of explosives material used in roadside bombs that wound and kill hundreds of US soldiers in Afghanistan. He asked Pakistan to implement its strategy to cut shipments of ammonium nitrate or fertiliser. Daily Times, August 28, 2011.

Government machinery has collapsed in Karachi, says SC: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a five-member bench, on August 26 observed that for the last one month situation in Karachi had been out of control and there was a complete breakdown of the government's machinery. "People are being abducted for ransom beheaded dead bodies of innocents with tied arms and legs, wrapped in sacks, are being recovered in large numbers daily and street crime is rampant," the CJ observed during proceedings in Supreme Court (SC). Daily Times, August 27, 2011.

135 suspected terrorists arrested since March 2009, claims Islamabad Police: During the last two years, Islamabad Police arrested around 135 terrorists and more than dozen would be suicide bombers. Unremitting ingenuous efforts bore fruit and more than 135 terrorists have been arrested by Islamabad Police since March 2009. More than 41 officials sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and several got injuries. Daily Times, August 25, 2011.

Intelligence agencies claim banned militant outfits on recruitment drive in Punjab: Amid reports that militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has resumed full-scale public activity, intelligence agencies have said that other militant groups have also begun recruiting young men from Punjab to fight, particularly in Kashmir. These recruitments, agencies say, have begun following visits from Muttahida Jihad Council (MJC) leader Syed Salahuddin who also heads Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). Tribune, August 25, 2011.

No enforced disappearances in Balochistan, claims Balochistan FC chief IG Major General Ubaidullah Khan: Balochistan Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General (IG) Major General Ubaidullah Khan on August 24 categorically rejected the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report regarding the enforced disappearances in Balochistan. He said it was an attempt to encourage terrorists and at the same time discourage law enforcement agencies. Daily Times, August 25, 2011.

JuD collecting donations: Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD) has been holding gatherings at pre-dawn prayers in Lahore District of Punjab during the month of Ramzan to collect donations despite Government orders of August 2, 2011 barring it from such activities. The JuD has been organising speeches by its chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed at various places and advertising them through posters, pamphlets and mass text messages. Tribune, August 23, 2011.

63 civilians and 44 militants among 116 persons killed during the week in FATA: Three Security Force (SF) personnel and five militants were killed during clashes after militants attack on two checkpoints Laddah and Pash Ziarat area of South Waziristan Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on August 21. Also, six Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants were killed in renewed clashes with rival outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Dwa Thoe and Mehraban Kali areas of Tirah valley in Khyber Agency.

At least two Pakistani soldiers and five terrorists died in a shootout in Akakhel village in the Khyber Agency on August 20.

At least 56 persons were killed and 123 injured in a suicide attack during the Friday prayer at Jamia Masjid Madina in Ghundai area of Jamrud area of Khyber Agency on August 19. Also, four militants were killed when a US drone fired two missiles hitting a house in the Shin Warsak area of South Waziristan Agency. In addition, three SF personnel were killed and three others, including a tribesman, injured when their vehicle ran over a landmine in a border area in Kurram Agency.

At least 10 militants were killed as two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) exploded in Tarkhokas area of Bara tehsil (revenue unit) of the Khyber Agency on August 17.

At least 12 militants were killed in two bomb blasts in the remote Tirah valley of Khyber Agency on August 16. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 17-22, 2011.

111 persons killed in Sindh during the week: A total of 111 persons were killed in Sindh. One person was killed in Karachi on August 16; 39 on August 17; 25 on August 18; 27 on August 19; eight on August 20 and 11 on August 21. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 17-22, 2011.

Al Qaeda weaker in Pakistan, says US State Department annual report: The United States State Department annual report on August 18 said that al Qaeda in Pakistan has become weaker but remains capable of conducting transnational terror attacks, assisted by allied militant groups. In its annual report on global terrorism, the State Department pointed to increased resource-sharing between al Qaeda and Pakistan and Afghanistan-based militants, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Network. Times of India, August 19, 2011.

Leaders of five militant outfits top the list of 'most wanted': The leaders of at least 10 militant outfits - al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups operating under the umbrella of TTP, top the list of the most wanted in Islamabad. These militants are wanted for terrorism activities such as suicide attacks and kidnapping for ransom. Dawn, August 18, 2011.

Phased campaign for recovery of illicit arms, says Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik: Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik on August 17 said that the Government decided to reactivate a 20-year law and offer amnesty to those who voluntarily surrender illegal arms in a phased campaign to "de-weaponise" the country. Malik said the government would soon issue a notification asking people to surrender illegal arms to get indemnity against any legal action for possessing such weapons. Dawn, August 18, 2011.

'De-radicalisation' plan under study in Islamabad: The Government is considering starting a national de-radicalisation programme to combat rising fundamentalism and extremism in the country. A statement issued after a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet in Islamabad on August 17 said, "It was decided in the committee that special attention shall be given to a de-radicalisation programme to motivate youth to engage and isolate them from militancy and terrorism and bring them back to peaceful living." Dawn, August 18, 2011.

US declares Haqqani Network 'commander' as terrorist: The Obama administration on August 16 designated Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a key 'commander' in south Eastern Afghanistan as a terrorist, freezing any assets he has in the United States and barring Americans from doing business with him. The State Department said Zadran is the shadow Governor of Paktika and a commander of the Haqqani Network based in North Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Daily Times, August 17, 2011.

US continue to fund Pakistan military: Despite the US declaring a cut in funding to Pakistan, it continues to fund Pakistan military. US President Barack Obama administration has asked for an additional USD 1.5 billion in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) for the 2012 financial year. According to US sources, Congress appropriated USD 1.6 billion for FY2011 and the Obama administration requested USD 1.75 billion for FY2012, in additional CSF for all its coalition partners. Pakistan has in the past received over 75 per cent of these additional funds which are technically meant for all of US'' allies. Times of India, August 17, 2011.

55 militants and eight SFs among 70 persons killed during the week in FATA: A soldier was killed when a landmine planted by terrorists exploded, while six terrorists were killed in a retaliatory attack in Orakzai Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on August 14. In addition, three paramilitary soldiers were killed and 25 others injured in a rocket attack on their camp in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency (NWA).

Six militants were killed and five others injured during a search operation conducted by Security Forces (SFs) in Sholaam area of Sarokai tehsil (revenue unit) in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) on August 13.

Five persons, including three women and two children, were killed and one minor was injured as a result of a landmine explosion in the house of peace lashkar (militia) commander Shah Jee, in Zaka Khel village in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on August 11.

A US drone strike killed at least 25 suspected Haqqani Network militants near Miranshah in NWA on August 10. Also, nine persons, including five militants, were killed in clashes between local tribesmen and militants in the Shawal area of SWA.

A United States (US) drone fired two missiles killing at least seven militants of the Haqqani Network and injuring three others near Miranshah in NWA on August 10. Separately, five Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants were killed and two others received injuries in a roadside explosion in Mamozai area of Orakzai Agency.

Six militants were killed and four others injured when SFs targeted their hideouts in upper tehsil of Orakzai Agency on August 8. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 9-16, 2011, 2011.

49 persons killed in Sindh during the week: A total of 49 persons were killed in Sindh. Seven persons were killed in Karachi on August 8; another five on August 9; nine on August 10; one on August 11; five on August 12; eight persons on August 13; six on August 14 and eight on August 15. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 9-16, 2011, 2011.

28 civilians and three SFs among 31 persons killed during the week in Balochistan: A blast at a hotel on the National Highway close to Dera Allah Yar town in Jaffarabad District of Balochistan killed 15 persons and injured 23 others on August 14.

Four people, including to two Bugti tribesmen, were killed in a gun battle between two groups in the Eastern Bypass area of Quetta on August 8. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 9-16, 2011, 2011.

168 children killed in drone attacks, reveals Bureau of Investigative Journalism: EAmerica's covert drone war on al Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has killed up to 168 children in Pakistan over the last seven years, an independent study released on August 11 said. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism said its research showed there had been many more Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) attacks on alleged militant targets, leading to far more deaths than previously reported. It said 291 CIA drone strikes had taken place in Pakistan since 2004, and that under President Barack Obama there had been 236 strikes - one in every four days. Dawn, August 12, 2011.

Over 3,000 terrorists arrested over the past three years in Pakistan: Pakistani Law Enforcement Agencies arrested 3,143 terrorists over the past three years, with a majority of the arrests being made in the restive northern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. A total of 4,240 weapons were seized from the arrested terrorists, including rocket launchers, missiles, suicide jackets, bombs, grenades, mines and anti-aircraft guns. Times of India, August 12, 2011.

Security agencies struggle to dismantle Hizb-ut-Tahrir network: Security Agencies are trying to dismantle a 'multi-faceted' communication network of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) but there has been little headway so far, an unnamed senior military official said on August 8 after some mid-ranked army officers were detained for alleged links with the organisation. The revelation came three months after Brigadier Ali Khan, a serving army officer, and some other unnamed personnel were detained for their alleged links with the HuT, an organisation that seeks to establish a caliphate in Pakistan by overthrowing the democratic Government. Tribune, August 9, 2011.

Karachi will be de-weaponised in phases, says Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik: Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik on August 8 said that no arms licences, except issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), would be valid after August 31 while all the arms licences issued by the Ministry of Interior would stand cancelled with effect from September 1. He said that Karachi would be de-weaponised in phases and extensive measures would be taken for the purpose. Daily Times, August 9, 2011.

70 persons killed in Sindh during the week: A total of 70 persons were killed in Sindh. 40 persons were killed in Karachi on August 1; another 13 on August 2; six on August 3; two on August 4 and nine on August 6. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 2-8, 2011.

20 militants and seven SFs among 31 persons killed during the week in FATA: Five militants and a passer-by were killed when cadres of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) clashed in a bazaar (market) in Mehraban Kali area of Kukikhel in Khyber Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on August 4.

Six militants were killed and 12 others injured in Security Forces (SFs) action during the ongoing Koh-i-Sofaid (White Mountain) operation in different areas of central Kurram Agency on August 3.

A US drone strike targeting a vehicle near Qutab Khel village, five kilometres east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency, killed four militants on August 2.

Four militants were killed when a US drone fired two missiles on a vehicle in Azam Warsak, 15 kilometres west of Wana, the main town of the South Waziristan Agency on August 1.

Unidentified assailants killed three persons in Munda area near the Afghan border in Kurram Agency. Dawn; Daily Times; The News; Tribune, August 2-8, 2011, 2011.

800 people killed in Karachi in 2011, reveals HRCP Report: Ethnic and politically linked violence in Pakistan's financial capital, Karachi, has killed 800 people so far this year, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on August 5. "About 800 people have been the victims of violent shootings in the last seven months," Zohra Yousaf, chairwoman of the HRCP said. Daily Times, August 6, 2011.

Plot to target ministers and high profile personalities with perfume bomb foiled, says Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik: Federal Minister of Interior Rehman Malik on August 4 said that a plot to target ministers and key figures with perfume bombs has been foiled. "Terrorists had devised a perfume bottle like bombs as gifts to target ministers and key political figures in the month of Ramazan," said Rehman Malik in his report. Dawn, August 5, 2011.

Navy battleships moved away from Karachi due to security concerns: The Pakistan Navy is keeping its main battleships away from Karachi, and has moved them to another port in Ormara of Balochistan, as security threats continue, sources in the navy reported on August 5. The Navy sent its warships away from its main base in Karachi as a "precautionary measure" after a 16-hour siege of its main naval airbase, PNS Mehran on May 22. Tribune, August 5, 2011.

Pakistan is the second most at risk from terror attacks, says Maplecroft report: According to a report by global analysts Maplecroft, Pakistan is the second most at risk from terrorist attack. Somalia is most at risk from terrorist attack, followed by Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan and the new nation of South Sudan. Dawn, August 5, 2011.

Pakistani intelligence officer passed the information of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts to US, says report: A Pakistani intelligence officer, who wished to secure American citizenship for his family, gave details of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts to the US, in a deal worth USD 25 million, a Daily Mail report said. The Pakistani officer also informed the US officials that Saudis were paying off Pakistan and ISI to keep bin Laden hidden in the Abbottabad compound. Indian Express, August 4, 2011.

Over 3,000 terrorists arrested in three years, claims Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik on August 3 informed the National Assembly that the Security Forces (SFs) arrested 3,143 alleged terrorists in the country and recovered 4,240 weapons from them during the last three years. The data presented by the Minister showed that 67 per cent of the arrests had been made in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa whereas 84 per cent of the weapons had been seized from Balochistan. Dawn, August 4, 2011.

Islamabad bans LeT and JeM from taking donations: Authorities in Pakistan's Punjab province on August 2 barred 23 banned organizations, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), from collecting donations for their activities. The Punjab Government warned that those found providing donations or aid to the banned organizations will be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, the Government did not include the Falah-e-Insanyat, a front for the Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD), in the list of groups barred from collecting donations. Times of India, August 4, 2011.

Pakistan Army's focus on countering India self-destructive, says The New York Times: The New York Times on August 2 said that the Pakistani Army's use of militants to counter Indian influence in Kashmir is "self-destructive." In the editorial titled 'India and Pakistan, Talking: Even modest progress is to be celebrated and urged forward,' it said that homegrown extremism and not India is the real threat to Pakistan's survival. New York Times, August 3, 2011.

[South Asia Intelligent Review]

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