Pakistan Update

In Parachinar the class and sectarian warfare has settled quite a bit, and a peace accord has been reached through a Jirga, let us watch a bit and hope that holds. The curfew has been lifted, story at Dawn.

In North Waziristan Taliban terrorists fired ten rockets at a military camp without injury, and these attacks are increasing over the past week. This is not keeping to the agreement in the Jirga, so I would not be surprised to see some retaliation eventually from the army; but it might wait until past the elections.

  Frontier Post reports:

 PESHAWAR (NNI): Ten rockets were fired at an army camp in North Waziristan tribal region early Thursday but no one was hurt, official sources said. The rockets were fired at a camp at Dukoye area, some 60 kilometers West of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, but all missed target. Pakistani forces returned fire at the direction from where rickets were fired but there had been no information about any casualty. Rocket attacks on army camps have increased in North Waziristan over the week. Attacks have increased after a mysterious explosion at Saidgey village in North Waziristan on Friday last which had killed at least two persons and injured two others. Locals had claimed that fighter planes had bombed a house but the military had stated that the explosives inside the house had caused the blast. Three rockets were at a military check post in Miranshah 24 hours after the explosion. Local Taliban had warned to reconsider a peace deal with the government if attacks like Saidgey continued. But later council of the local Taliban that the will honor their deal in the best national interest. The government and the militants had signed a peace deal in Miranshah in September last year

On the Jamia Hafsa / Lal Masjid negotiations there isn’t much news — the madrassa has toned down rhetoric lately, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of papers reporting news on this, I’m not sure if this is government suppression due to interests in calming the matter or not. Jamia Hafsa was posting video pretty regularly to Youtube, but that stopped about two weeks ago. [the videos posted by Jamia Hafsa are pretty boring unless you speak Urdu, in the two “protest videos” there you will see women in white martyr headbands, and some child abuse as they dress a young child as a martyr.]

I do know the average Pakistani is very upset. It seems to run about like america, between 25% and 33% percent of the country supports them in spirit, while the rest are very much opposed. Some are still trying to stir the pot, Dawn reports this:

KARACHI, May 2: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has blamed “religious extremists” of Lal Masjid, Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia for the suicide attack in Charsadda, saying they had threatened to carry out suicide attacks across the country.
According to an MQM press release, Mr Hussain called Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on Wednesday and assured him of his party’s cooperation in efforts by the government to eradicate the menace of extremism and terrorism from the country.
Without naming the Pakistan Muslim League and its president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the MQM leader criticised the top leadership of the ruling party and said that instead of taking action against those threatening to carry out suicide attacks, they were supporting these fanatics and trying to prove them innocent.
One section of the ruling party, he said, was openly supporting the extremists.

I don’t doubt that there is a call not to proceed with operations against the mosque since there are several children from prominent ex-government members and current government members attending this madrassa. Much the same as Tianamen Square, where the Communist party in China held off due to prominent families having students demonstrating, this could errupt into a worse situation by not addressing it directly. I also suspect that there is a lot of rhetoric flying due to elections coming up, everyone wants to keep their party stalwarts energized.

The real assassin and cause is still a mystery, although the other day ADN Kronos reported unknown Pakistani intelligence sources as stating that it was Uzbeks from the NWFP who had attempted the assassination. This makes sense at the same time it doesn’t — why would the Al Qaeda aligned Uzbeks who are on the run raise their profile high again?

The cross-border Grand Jirga, which was agreed to last year is now shaping up, it looks like Sherpao will be one of the leaders, and the list of three hundred attendees is complete. The Jirga will specifically address how to combat growing Talibanisation, the insurgency, and cross-border fighting.  From The Nation:

Afghanistan and Pakistan have finalised lists of about 350 people each to attend a joint “jirga,” or gathering of influential people, to tackle the Taliban insurgency, Interior Minister said Thursday.
The two sides are now working on the details of the agenda for the meeting, the first of its kind, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told reporters in Kabul.
The jirga, to which the Afghan and Pakistan leaders agreed at talks with US President George W Bush in September, was first scheduled for early in the year. Sherpao said no date had been fixed.
Those on the invitation lists include tribal elders, parliamentarians and intellectuals, said the minister, who survived a suicide bombing on April 28 that killed at least 24 people.
The jirga, a tradition in Afghanistan, is intended to involve local people more closely in efforts to end the Taliban insurgency, which has grown steadily since the extremist movement was driven from government in late 2001.