Showing posts with label Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Show all posts

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Sick minds behind ban on polio campaign

Supporters of Hafiz Gul Bahadur - the leader of a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan faction in North Waziristan - on Saturday handed out pamphlets in Miran Shah, the capital of North Waziristan, threatening anyone involved in an ongoing polio vaccination campaign in the troubled region. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world were the polio virus is endemic.
An Urdu-language pamphlet entitled Mas’ul-o-Khadimul Mujahideen and handed out in the town said: "We announce a ban on polio vaccination campaign from today (Saturday)", and warned local residents that "violators will have no right to register a complaint if they are harmed".
The reason? "Chief of the Shura-e-Mujahideen, North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur sahab, has decided in consultation with his shura (council) to impose a ban on polio vaccination unless drone strikes are stopped in Waziristan," the pamphlet said. A spokesman for the faction later said that the impact of the drone campaign was worse than the spread of polio.
It also added that another reason for the ban was fear of espionage, mentioning the case of Shakeel Afridi, the government doctor who was recently given a 33-year prison term after being arrested for helping the CIA track Osama bin Laden last year.
"The well-wishers (the US) spend billions of rupees on the polio vaccination campaign. They know that polio could affect only a few among hundreds of thousands of people. At the same time, the well-wishers (the US), with the help of their Pakistani slaves, are carrying out drone strikes. As a result, hundreds of our Waziristani innocent children, women and aged men have been martyred," the pamphlet said.
"That is why we have announced a ban on polio vaccinations," it added.
This must be the most original form of protest ever thought up. Allow your sons and daughters to be infected by a deadly disease that will handicap them for life as a protest against drone strikes! How will the people of North Waziristan ever be able to thank Hafiz Gul Bahadur enough?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Pak Taliban factions unite under pressure

According to reports coming from Pakistan, a new organisation called the Shura-e-Murakbah, made up of the remnants of what was once the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has been created in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The factions include those TTP remnants led by Hakimullah Mahsud, the South Waziristan faction of the same organisation led by Waliur Rehman Mahsud, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group, Mullah Nazir's group and the Haqqani Network.
Its five members, according to Dawn newspaper, are Maulvi Azmatullah (representing the Waliur Rehman faction), Maulvi Noor Saeed (Taliban commander in Barwan representing Hakimullah), Maulvi Saeedullah (Haqqani Network), Maulvi Sadar Hayat (Hafiz Gul Bahadar) and Hafeez Amir Hamza (Mullah Nazir Group).
The Shura-e-Murakbah, besides dedicating itself to fighting the US-led forces in Afghanistan, has also promised to end kidnappings and other criminal activities in tribal areas, stating: “All Mujahideen, local and foreigners, are informed that they should desist from killing and kidnapping for ransom innocent people and cooperate with this committee in curbing crimes. If any Mujahid is found involved in unjustified killings, crimes and other illegal activities he will be answerable to Shura-i-Murakbah and will be punished in accordance with the Shariah law,” a statement issued on Monday by the new organisation says. It is a promise that is unlikely to be honoured for very long if past history is any guide.
It is well-known that Hakimullah and Waliur Rehman loathe each other and that other factions are also deeply divided. This meeting and alleged agreement looks more like a last-ditch effort to prevent serious fighting breaking out amongst the various factions.
According to a report in the Long War Journal by Bill Roggio, the deal was brokered by al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al Libi, along with Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Mansour from Eastern Afghanistan. Mullah Muhammad Omar is said to have played an important role in pressuring the factions to come to an agreement - although in the past his pleas have fallen on deaf ears - most notably, when Hakimullah went ahead with the killing of Colonel Imam, despite pleas from Mullah Omar and other jihadi leaders.
Despite press reports to the contrary, the new shura has not agreed to stop attacking the Pakistani armed forces. A spokesman for the shura said it would target "Americans and their allies in Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan."
The timing of the formation of this new organisation is clearly significant and reflects in part the growing dissatisfaction amongst many tribal fighters with Hakimullah Mahsud's leadership of the TTP. He is increasingly isolated and detested for his cruelty and poor leadership.
However, it is also significant that its formation was announced just as the Afghan Taliban have reached a critical juncture in their discussions with the Karzai government. It cannot be a coincidence that the Afghan Taliban announced this week the opening of a representative office in Qatar.
Three points should be drawn from this news: first, that al-Qaeda is still an important player - and, more importantly, financier - of the various jihadi factions in Pakistan. That is why they are at the table; second, support by Mullah Omar for this unification move may have more to do with unfolding events in Afghanistan than with a concern for uniting the notoriously unruly Pashtun tribes in Pakistan; and third, don't put any money on this agreement holding up for any length of time.
One final point: Murakbah is an Islamic term that is usually used within the Sufi community. It is an Arabic word which means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye on". In the Sufi context it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its creator. Thus Shura-e-Murakbah would mean something like 'the Oversight Committee'.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Pak Taliban flees in front of army offensive

The Pakistan Army announced today that four weeks after the start of Operation Rah-e-Nijat, its forces had entered into the town of Makeen in South Waziristan, having already routed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan from a whole swathe of the region. This is no small feat. The militants had been left largely to their own devices in this region of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for many years and had built up huge stockpiles of weapons and hidden arms dumps.
The last time the army attempted to enforce its writ in this area, in 2008, it was forced into a humiliating retreat. Then, in order to ensure the safe extraction of 300 of its soldiers holed up in a fort at Ladha, a few miles to the south of Makin, the army agreed to withdraw from the area and cede the fort to Baitullah Mahsud and his militants to be used as a "dispensary".
This time it is different. The speed of the Rah-e-Nijat offensive against the much-feared Mahsuds and their TTP and al-Qaeda allies has been truly astounding. The three-pronged Army offensive has captured just about every major town and village in the region, including Sherwangi, Kotkai, Kaniguram and Sararogha.
What is different this time? According to the Army itself, it has been done by adopting the very tactics used successfully in the past by the tribesmen. Instead of moving slowly and cautiously along the few roads in the area, where they would always be sitting targets for ambushes and IEDs, the troops have stuck to the hills, taking over ridges and commanding features before moving down to enter a built-up area.
"We have beaten them at their own tactic. This has been the classic Mehsud tactic, encircling and ambushing the enemy from the ridges and commanding features and we did the same to them. They were not prepared for this,’ one official told The Dawn newspaper .
In addition, the army has sent in 30,000 troops, many more than in previous incursions into the area. But probably the most important factor was air power from the Pakistan Air Force and the Army's aviation wing. Recently supplied with American high resolution cameras and night vision goggles - and using its own unmanned aerial vehicles (see my posting below) - the jets and helicopters were able to pick off their targets. The Taliban suddenly found that they no longer "owned the night", as they had done in the past.
In each engagement, the militants found themselves outgunned and outsmarted. Before long, even the allegedly tough Uzbek fighters had had enough and many have now decamped to other FATA agencies, including North Waziristan and Orakzai. The Pakistan Army claims to have killed around 500 militants for a loss of only 40 soldiers.
The TTP claim that they are making a tactical retreat only to draw in the army so that it can be better destroyed. However, this is merely talk. As several army officers have already asked, what kind of force that is intent on fighting leaves its weapons and arms dumps behind?
"When somebody retreats, he takes his weapon to fight another day. He does not flee and abandon his weapons. What has happened is that they have left behind huge cache of arms and ammunition", said one officer.
The real question is what happens next. If the Mahsuds and the TTP really are comprehensively defeated and sue for peace, it will have a dramatic impact on the fighting across the border in Afghanistan. We can expect a massive fall-off in attacks in eastern Afghanistan and perhaps a haemorrhage of the more ideologically driven fighters (including many of the foreigners) into Baluchistan.
The Paksitan government is likely to support the formation of tribal lashkars in South Waziristan to restore power to the traditional tribal leaders at the expensive of Hakimullah Mahsud and his clan.
However, the following points should be borne in mind. First, the successes so far are due in no small part to the decision by the Ahmadzai Wazir militant commander Maulvi Nazir in Wana and Hafiz Gul Bahadar to stay neutral and not join the fight.
Second, lashkars will only be formed once the non-TTP tribesmen are certain that the TTP will not be returning to impose their will (and take revenge) on the region.
Third, and most important, Pakistan's military has still not given up on the Afghan Taliban. It only acted against the TTP because it had begun to challenge the writ of the state. Until the Army accepts that the whole Taliban project on both sides of the border is doomed, the conflict is likely to continue. We are still a long way from that.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Pakistan Taliban's tribal rivals

Guardian reporter Declan Walsh has a fascinating half-interview with Misbahuddin Mehsud, leader of the Abdullah Mehsud group, one of at least four factions in Pakistan's Pashtun tribal areas that is opposed to the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) of Hakimullah Mehsud.
Walsh met Misbahuddin in the frontier town of Dera Ismail Khan, but after initial pleasantries, the tribal fighter declined to answer any direct questions, referring them all to an aide. The aide confirmed that the Abdullah Mehsud group is helping the Pakistan Army in its campaign against Hakimullah's TTP by sealing off the southern border of South Waziristan.
Like the other groups in the region that have come to an agreement with the Pakistan Army - the Turkistan Bhittani group, Maulvi Nazir's group and Hafiz Gul Bahadur's group - the Abdullah Mehsud group is primarily opposed to Hakimullah's TTP because of recent attacks on civilians and the Pakistan Army.
All of these groups are strongly in support of cross-border actions against the Afghan Army and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. In this aspect they neatly reflect the schizophrenic outlook of many in Pakistan's military and political elites, who only began to worry about the fundamentalist Islamists when they focussed their attention on introducing Wahhabism into Pakistan.