The Taliban attacked a village in Darra, killing five Qasimkhel tribesmen in Chargano, and then looting the town (I’ve been telling you that the Taliban are bandits and dacoits at heart all along – they pulled in flatbeds and took appliances.) The battle lasted thirty five hours, and the military did not intervene. A delegation of elders from another village who tried to intervene were chased off with gunfire from the Taliban.
Pemra closed another two illegal FM radio stations which were preaching insurrection, sectarian strife, and extremist foreign-influenced jihad in Mardan:
The transmission of two FM radiobroadcasts – Madrassa Tafheem-ul-Quran Parhoti, Mardan, which was being run by Maulana Faisal Bari and Madrassa Arabia Islamia Sahwal Dher, Mardan, ran by Maulana Hussain Ahmed – has been suspended.
16 Pakistani soldiers have been taken hostage by either Al Qaeda or the Taliban after an IED ambush on a convoy in North Waziristan near the Afghan border. The army responded, killing 12 but the soldiers are still missing.
UPDATE: Army attacks on Taliban camps continue as they search for the kidnapped soldiers.
Near the Iran border, some frontier corps forces came under fire and killed four militants.
As predicted yesterday here, the “state of emergency” and postponing of elections rumors in Pakistan have already been ruled out.
A meeting chaired by the president on Thursday again deliberated on the option of emergency rule, after a similar meeting the night before, and decided against it for now. “After a thorough discussion, it was decided that this option should be kept open but deferred for the time being,” sources told Daily Times. The meeting on Thursday included legal experts, security officials and officials from the ruling PML, a presidential aide told AP on condition of anonymity.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters in the evening that “the provision of emergency is only activated under certain circumstances. We do not see for the time being any need to proclaim an emergency,” he said. He said he held a series of meetings with the president on this issue. “We cannot say what the situation will be in future. I have not sent any advice to the president for imposing emergency so far,” he said
The Pak-Afghan Grand Loya Jirga has begun with the delegates arrival in Afghanistan.
KABUL: Pakistan and Afghanistan Thursday declared Al Qaeda and the Taliban “dark forces” and a “joint threat” to the two countries and said they should work together to defeat them, but differed on how to tackle the problem, as the four-day Afghan-Pak Peace Jirga kicked off in the Afghan capital without President Gen Pervez Musharraf.
“Terrorism, militancy, the violent creed preached by Al-Qaeda, extremism and Talibanisation represent pain, intolerance and backwardness in our societies and a phenomenon that has maligned our great and noble faith, Islam. We must fight these dark forces and must do it jointly,” Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, attired in shalwar-kameez, told the jirga delegates from the two countries, Kabul-based diplomats and civil society members.
Meanwhile a new survey done by a US NGO says that 47 percent of Pakistanis favor a Musharraf-Bhutto deal, while only 37% oppose it. The poll is also interesting in that it appears that Musharraf has enough public support to get re-elected, but only if he doffs the uniform and the dual role of head of army first. (48% positive is pretty good for a country with so many factions and parties.)
Overnight authorities everywhere were on high alert in response to the state of emergency rumors and the possible effects on the populace. The cities are also prepping for public safety amidst numerous threats of suicide attacks.
Unprecedented security measures have been implemented in places vulnerable to suicide attacks and terrorist activities in the federal capital. Security has been tightened around the Parliament House, Aiwan-e-Saddar, Supreme Court, Prime Minister Secretariat and Pakistan Secretariat. Bunkers have been set up at all important routes and rooftops of police stations around the city. Security has also been intensified in hospitals. The Police has constructed a wall around the parking area of the Aabpara Police Station. Responsibilities have been assigned to Punjab Constabulary and Elite Force personnel to help the federal police. Commuters entering the city are being checked to prevent acts of terrorism. According to government sources, the security measures are being implemented as preparations for the approaching Independence Day are being carried out and police patrolling has also been enhanced. According to officials, the government has taken these security measures only to ensure the safety of citizens.
Meanwhile foreigners and NGO’s call for more protection, but it appears that authorities are paying more attention to general public safety. My advice if you are over there would be to plan on taking care of yourself during any crisis, and prepare accordingly.