Musharraf and Waziristan Update

Sorry for the long delay in this report, I’ve been holding out for more names and information, but that’s not forthcoming at the moment.

I’ve been holding out hoping that I could announce that Hamid Gul was one of the arrests in the round-up after the Coup attempts, but by then this could be stale.

In earlier posts you’ve seen the Musharraf asassination attempts, and the lead up to them: the Waziristan accords as well as the closing of Jihadi ISI-sponsored camps. This is a move towards better relations with India, as well as a turn-out of the Taliban / Al Qaeda -affiliated old guard of the ISI. With the recent rumors of Bin Laden’s death, Zawahiri’s takeover, and other portents you can see that there has been a shift. It’s likely that the Al Qaeda leadership is no longer in Pakistan.


From a Pak tribune article detailing a new Jihadi group in Kunar:

The purported spokesman said the new group would independently operate in the name of Jamat-ud-Da`awa Al-Salafia Wal Qitaal in the eastern parts of the country.

In a telephonic call to Pajhwok`s correspondent, the spokesman said they had 90 fighters at the moment.

“We are going to start armed resistance against foreign forces and the government,” said Rahman, adding: “The resistance will be carried out in the eastern parts, especially the two provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.”

This old guard in Pakistan is partly of our forming – we helped create the Taliban through the ISI to overcome the Soviets in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda walked in and twisted them towards us during the Clinton Administration after we abandoned the theatre.

In polls the Afghan and Pakistan people hate the US first, and Al Qaeda second, but both are considered foreign and not well-liked. That’s a Pashtun region cultural norm, probably developed over centuries from the un-countable times they’ve been invaded and over time through persistence repelled foreign invaders. There’s little doubt in my mind that Al Qaeda received as much training from the Pashtuns in asymetrical warfare as they gave. With a few brief respites the Pashtun have been at war or have been insurgents since Alexander’s times.

But back to current events. In the post-coup response, forty Taleban have been captured, and it appears that there will be more to come from the papers. The hard-line elements have been isolated from the Waziristan accord, and they are responding.

Now the rest of the deal: Pakistan is starting registration of foreigners, and the Loye Jirgas to cement full cross-border tribal agreements are to come soon. The Nato forces in Afghanistan are making peace  of a sort with some of the Taliban in their region as well, and NWFP is suddenly rich with a lot to lose if Peace fails. We also have mixed results, like the coup attempt, alleged Afghan spies killed, and reports like this:

ALIZAI, Kurram Agency: At least five Taliban militants were killed when they reportedly attacked and set ablaze an Afghan checkpost — Babrak Thana — near the Pak-Afghan border late on Saturday night. The Taliban, however, claimed killing 28 Afghan soldiers but Afghan forces confirmed the death of only three soldiers in the incident. Sources said Taliban militants attacked the post at about 12 midnight Saturday and set it on fire due to which one room of the post was reduced to ashes.

A gunbattle between the Taliban and Afghan soldiers erupted which continued for about three hours resulting in the death of five Taliban and three Afghan soldiers. Afghan forces shifted the body of one of the slain Taliban to Khost. They brought four more bodies of Taliban to Kurram Agency near the Pak-Afghan border on Sunday morning. However, Taliban forces intervened and shifted two of the bodies to Miramshah, headquarters of North Waziristan tribal agency and two to Buland Khel, an area between North Waziristan and Tall.

Meanwhile, Kurram Levies arrested four Taliban suspects at Shaheedan Dandai checkpost near here and handed them over to the personnel of special branch in Parachinar for interrogation. Afghan aircraft continued hovering over the area till morning, while coalition forces also arrived there and cordoned off Chargoi area. They also took at least 50 people of the area into custody on suspicion.

This might seem insane, many will think it’s just a ploy so they can re-equip and come back stronger. It could go that way, but eventually we have to make some form of peace with the moderate Taliban elements in the region. The only other option is genocide and I don’ think that’s viable in light of historic evidence.

Alexander tried it, sweeping across the high plains of Afghanistan with four divisions in column with a brutal killing campaign all the way to Kazakhstan. That didn’t work, and he ended up next season buying off tribal leaders and marrying his officers into some tribes to make the peace. After that he took his armies south with a secure supply line behind him and conquered India.

We won’t be able to leave that region and expect good outcome if we do not make a form of peace with some moderate Taliban elements, and isolate or eliminate the hardliners in the bargain.

That seems to me to be in good progress, with some exceptions. E.G. pockets of Taliban are still killing spies, notably ones entering Pakistan from Afghanistan, and there are still camps reported to be in operation near Quetta. Who knows however after these recent raids?

The bad news in this is all the negative press. Pakistan has ancient enemies: they have been invaded by Iran, Russia, and India innumerable times. All three countries are trying their best to destabilize the government in Pakistan and the Western Press is not helping.

A good example is the recent Telegraph report that the Nato commander was visiting Pakistan to indict them for terror training camps and to point out the address of Mullah Omar. In fact he arrived, thanked the Pakistan Government for their aid in the war on terror, and none of the agitprop printed as news by the telegraph materialized. [UPDATE: 12/10/08: The Telegraph was correct on this one, new information shows that US military and Karzai provided GPS coords and the Telephone number where Omar was staying, Pakistan failed to act. Boy was I hopelessly naive and optimistic about Pakistan at this point.]
For a good overview of the Pakistan government position on Taliban, and their sympathizers in-country here’s a good article. After reading it, you can see that it will take some time, but Pakistan is really interested in getting the Afghan refugees, and the Taliban that live with them back to Afghanistan for they are definitely impacting the economy of Pakistan from their many years of stay. Reading between the lines, you can see as well that there are still hard-line Taliban in Pakistan, but as they come to surface they are being rounded up. Some characterize the refugee camps as “training camps” but the truth lies somewhere between refugee and taliban.

The bottom line is that the Pakistan government is doing the best they can to stabilize all in front of the upcoming 2007 elections, in which even Benazir Bhutto might resurface in-country. They appear to be taking a mercenary approach, I do believe they are forcing the foreign elements out over time, but in light of that Nato better be ready for another heavy Spring campaign. If they want to stay ahead of the game, the Nato command will fight through the winter as well, which would be unexpected and unprecedented.

Over time both Pakistan and Afghanistan will need to decide: do they allow terrorist foreign elements to war in their land, or do they turn out the foreign miscreants who draw the war to them? I think they’ve chosen, but only time will do the tell.