New Pakistani Parliament Meets

The new Parliament of Pakistan has assembled for the first time post-election, and they have an ambitious list to tackle. Some of the priorities are:

  1. Ask for a UN probe to investigate the Asassination of Benazir Bhutto
  2. Strip President Musharraf of the power to dismiss Parliament and the new Prime Minister
  3. Re-instate the Judges Musharraf dismissed and put in detention

 This is political, and items two and three are ways to limit Musharraf. They make sense, and most in Pakistan support them, with the likelihood being that Musharraf’s Presidency will be called into question if the Wardi, or Uniform case against him is brought back.

I would say the parliament needs to focus on other urgent things immediately as well:

  1. energy
  2. Al Qaeda / Taliban insurrection
  3. Rising food prices
  4. Trade Agreements and other Economic stimuli

Behind the scenes you still have factions and frictions within the largest party of the ruling coalition, the PPP. Note this.

UPDATE:

[Note about the government in flux: post-election designation of the PM candidate for PPP has caused a schism in the party between Zardari and Fahim factions over who’s going to which position, as Zardari’s corruption cases are set aside it appears more likely that Fahim will be set aside. There’s also behind the scenes jockeying — if the Justices are re-instated, then it’s possible that Musharraf could be removed from the presidency, thus opening another position. Handicappers on what’s going on here are all over the map.] UPDATE TO POLITICAL NOTE: Fahim Scuppered.

Also note this interview with Musharraf – it comes close to a “setting up a legacy” discussion, a possible sign that he might resign in good faith before all of the above comes to a head.

This article paints the grim picture of how Pakistan is learning to live as a state under siege from extremists.

Adil Najam has excellent analysis here, I agree with most of what he says but for one thing.

The two greatest living enemies of the US and their organization are hosted in Pakistan. Either Pakistan needs to get them, or we will, and that’s the end of that discussion. We will neither forget or give up, and this isn’t going to go away if you ignore it until 2009.

Taslima Nasreen to Leave India

Taslima Nasreen, an exiled Bangladeshi writer, says she will leave India. She’s grown tired of living in hiding after publication of her sixth book caused muslim riots and issuance of a death fatwa against her. From Malaysia Sun:

Controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen on Monday told Indian officials that she is planning to leave India.

“I could not endure it anymore,” Nasreen said from her undisclosed location where she has been given shelter by the Indian Government following violent protests against her in Kolkata last year.

“I am leaving because there is no other option left for me,” she said after a meeting with External Affairs Ministry officials.

It’s a sad state of affairs if your faith is so weak that you must kill people who disagree.

Waziristan Strike Updates and Corrections

There’s a bit more information out on yesterday’s strike, so here’s an update on facts accompanied with my usual speculations/musings. Don’t worry, I will always let you know when I am making wild-assed guesses before I do to separate that from the facts.

Stratasphere has a write up here with more details, and I’m going to politely & respectfully disagree with AJ in a couple of areas.

First things first, there are two Rahims. The Wiki entry pointed to is a captive who has been in custody at Guantanamo since at least 2004 when the wiki entry states he had a tribunal hearing that he refused to attend. 

Our new guy has a new wiki entry with his name mis-spelled as “Muhammed” Rahim which contains only scant information. The new entry uses the standard Pakistani spelling for Mohammed instead of the particular way our perp spells his name: “Mohammad.” This might be an Afghanistan variation, I don’t know, but I’m sticking with it because that’s the way it is in all newspaper accounts.

From my previous post you can also see that he was captured by Pakistani authorities on 8/7/2007 in Lahore, and you can see the picture I believe to be his from the Afghanistan “12 Most-Wanted” poster.

In my previous post I said that this is the third strike, but that’s wrong. This is now the fifth strike in Pakistan this year. Previously I did not count the cross border artillery strike, and this operation turns out to be two strikes on two separate walled compounds. (Typical for Tribal leaders in the area.)

The other correction is to the original reports from Pakistan – they stated this was “two Kilometers” south of Wana, new reports have it “five Kilometers” south of Wana. The Google-earth pic I posted still fits the area, and the difference could be “as a crow flies” vs “by road”.

UPDATE: From Dawn, an interesting article where they’ve interviewed multiple people from the area, so you have conflicting tales:

 Sunday’s attack targeted the house of Mohammad Yousuf who had rented it out to Arabs about a year ago. The house was completely destroyed.

Initial reports said that three missiles fired from an aircraft had destroyed the house. These reports also said that 18 people had been killed and 14 injured.

Most of the victims were non-locals and belonged to Arab countries, an official said, adding that the house was being used as a training camp for militants. There were no women or children in the house.

Witnesses said that militants cordoned off the area immediately after the attack. Eight charred bodies were taken out of the rubble of the house.

“Parts of bodies were stuffed into bags and buried in a nearby graveyard by local militants,” a tribesman said.

One of the injured told a local doctor at the hospital that some 42 people had been in the house at the time of the attack.

Our Tank Correspondent adds: A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud on Sunday warned of fresh attacks if the government did not stop military operation in the region.Maulvi Umar described suicide attacks in Lahore and Islamabad as a reaction to the ongoing army operation in the area and said that security forces should halt the operation.

Here comes some speculation: The US stated that missiles were not fired from “military aircraft.” This statement carries just enough truth to mislead. AJ speculates on Predators, but… both Predators and Reapers are military aircraft.

Which then leaves us with a new variety of GLCMs (very unlikely,) or ship-fired TLAMs. The turbofans from TLAMs would also explain the villagers reporting that they heard drones. Wana and the rest of Pakistan is in easy range for TLAMs fired from the Arabian Sea. (One other potential would be non-nuclear ICBM’s, but that’s not likely and doesn’t explain the “drone noise” reported.)

On who we got in each of these last four strikes – it’s going to remain a mystery awhile, but I would wager this as an attempt or hit on Baitullah Mehsud and his commanders rather than Zawahiri or Bin Laden. In the previous post I linked above I state why, remember that it’s a logical stack of flaming pixy sticks, I could be wayyyyyy wrong.

Matt Dupee also has a good write-up at The Long War Journal, it contains the details of whose house was hit, etc. One other note: In the picture accompanying the newstory Matt links to there are a lot of clean-shaven faces.

UPDATE: Interesting note for intel types here from the Malaysia sun, Jihadis shifting to Sufi Khanqahs

UPDATE: Daily Times reports that we did not get Maulvi Nazir. Also note that Daily Times doesn’t mind designating Taliban as Taliban.