Pakistan Thursday Update

We still have very mixed results coming from Pakistan, and things are definitely heating up. The Peace accords signed in the frontier regions have changed the status quo forever. The Taliban and AQ forces now appear to be overstepping their bounds with the citizenry, and people are not only speaking out, they are fighting back.

On the other hand, the weak hands-off approach of the government is failing the people who would be free of the yoke of Talibanization. Some of this might be by design, Musharaaf bided his time awhile before he stepped in against Bugti, and he might be playing this to rev up more anti-taliban support before the elections. It clearly could backfire on him however and you begin to wonder if he really does want to be re-elected.

UPDATE: Please stop by Little Green Footballs to see video from Wana area, location of the recent Uzbek/Taliban/AQ fight.

To stopper the bottle, the Pak army has deployed in layers on the Afghan border, imposed nighttime curfews near border, started building fences and more checkpoints, and they are working in conjunction with the Afghan Army and ISAF forces. (My translation of Gul Mohammed’s statements: If someone does get across the border, the Afghan / ISAF forces are going to know who, how many, and where.)

In Lakki Marwat, the Taliban interupted a wedding party, shaved the head and moustaches of a village elder, and the village called a lashkar and fought back. The Taliban took hostages, and the government has sent in federal police and frontier corps to mediate. Instead of mediation they should be putting the unsmiling Taliban bastards in the graves they yearn for. I’m not sure how this will play out but remember in this region before you kill someone it’s very much de rigeur to offer peace first. Where the Taliban got lucky here is that nobody from the village has yet died, because if that were to happen after Lashkar were called the entire village would be honor-bound to kill every one of the Taliban involved. From Frontier Post:

At least two people were injured and nearly a dozen were made hostage after a fierce fighting erupted between Taliban militants and villagers in Dhoda, Shah Hassan Khel area on Thursday morning. The clash, which lasted for more than three hours, started after local Taliban harassed a music party and destroyed their musical instruments here in Doda area of Shah Hassan Khail, some 20-kilometer away from Lakki Marwat. According to details, the clash started when the local villagers organized a music programme in a wedding ceremony. The local Taliban intervened and beat the eunuchs of dance party, shaved off their heads and also broke their musical instruments near Abdulkhel on Wednesday night as the dance party was moving to Dhoda village. They also beat a local elder Ishaq Khan of Jhangkhel besides shaving off his head and mustaches. The incident angered the villagers and they decided to take revenge in the same manner as well as to launch Lashkar against Taliban, a villager requesting not to be named told The Frontier Post. Soon after, tension gripped the whole area as the villagers and Taliban took positions against each other and resorted to heavy firing. Light and heavy weapons were used while Taliban also fired rockets during the course of fighting. City’s hospital received two inured identified as Sanaullah son of Quli Khan and Mir Abbas son of Faiz Muhammad resident of Dhoda, an official in the emergency ward confirmed. The Taliban militants also made hostages as many as twelve villagers including Sirajud Din, Akhtar Zaman, Rehmanullah, Muhammad Noor, Muhammad Salim, Manzoor, Habib, Amir Khan, Munir Ahmad, Muzzamil Shah, Fazal Ahmad and Wakil Khan. Seven hostages are still in the custody of Taliban while rest were freed, a religious leader and administrator of a madrassah Maulana Amanullah Khan told. Meanwhile, heavy contingent of police force and personnel of Frontier Constabulary led by District Police Officer Abdul Rashid Khan and SDPO Lakki Ashraf Zaman also rushed to the area to defuse the tension and stop fighting.

In the Lal Masjid situation, tense negotiations with the government are going on, with the madrassah still defiant. Keep in mind that known terrorists who are armed have been sighted in the madrassah, and there are many children here. Potential exists for another Beslan like situation so I can see why the government is treading lightly in this case. More on those negotiations now taken up by a frontier Senator, at Dawn.

In Wana Region the Taliban vs Al Qaeda / Uzbek war appears over now that the AQ forces have retreated from the region. The bad news is that the Taliban winners now swear firm allegiance to Jihad in Afghanistan, although the promised Spring offensive isn’t going well right now, and is under what they boasted of. This schism points out the difference in key strategies — it appears that AQ wants to work to destabilize Pakistan, while the Taliban want to stay true to the earlier cause of Jihad against the ISAF forces. I suspect that AQ realizes that all hope in Afghanistan is gone. Whether the Pak Taliban is merely posturing and more interested in local power in the tribal regions or Jihad in Afghanistan only time will tell. Update from Dawn:

WANA, April 10: Authorities in South Waziristan on Tuesday declared the Wana region clear of Uzbek militants and said steps were being taken to ensure that they did not return to the area.

“It’s now almost clear,” South Waziristan administrator Hussainzada Khan told Dawn. “Barring a few incidents, Wana region is now virtually free of Uzbeks,” he said. The claim could not be independently verified.Mr Khan said tribal volunteers had cleared Zyara Leetha after flushing out Uzbeks from their last stronghold of Azam Warsak.

Anti-Uzbek militant commander Maulvi Mohammad Nazir held a jirga in Azam Warsak on Tuesday.
The well-attended jirga announced that anyone found sheltering Uzbeks would be fined Rs1 million and his house would be demolished.
The jirga was marked by the beating of the drum and traditional dances, culture events banned since militants took control of the region about five years ago.
One source alleged that tribal volunteers searching homes occupied by Uzbeks had taken away vehicles and other belongings. “The houses were well-stocked,” the source said.
A spokesman for Maulvi Nazir, in a statement faxed to the media, accused the Uzbeks of killing over 200 tribal elders and committing crimes ranging from stealing cars to kidnapping for ransom and robbery.
The spokesman also accused Uzbek militants led by Qari Tahir Yaldashev of being agents of foreign powers, having killed 80 Turkmen ‘mujahideen’ in Wana and refusing to take part in the Afghan jihad.

In Parachinar the Sunni/Shia fighting that originated last fall in a fight over a local shrine continues even with government forces trying to keep the calm in the area. In clear indication that some of the fighters have either been pushed across the border, or that they are getting aid from Taliban across border missiles were fired from Afghanistan into Parachinar. From Dawn:

PARACHINAR: Several rockets were fired on Borki village from across the Afghan border on Wednesday, wounding three tribesmen, residents and officials said. They said that at least 15 rockets had been fired from across the border which hit houses in Borki village, some 20km west of here. Villagers said that rival groups had carried out the rocket attack.

The authorities denied that the Borki attack was of a sectarian nature. They said it might be a punitive action by allied forces against anti-Karzai forces. They said that the rockets, which gutted many houses and timber, might have been fired on militants crossing the border.