US to hunt the Taliban inside Pakistan!

i could not resist sharing this news with you. which has been shared with me by FAIZAN( reporter, AAj NEWS)

Since last September, North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan have been pressing Islamabad for the right to conduct extensive hot-pursuit operations into Pakistan to target Taliban and al-Qaeda bases.

According to Asia Times Online contacts, NATO and its US backers have gotten their wish: coalition forces will start hitting targets wherever they might be.

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf is expected to make an important announcement on extremism during an address to the nation in the next day or two.

The ATol contacts in Islamabad say that coalition intelligence has pinpointed at least four centers in the tribal areas of North Waziristan and South Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan from which Taliban operations inside Afghanistan are run. These bases include arms caches and the transfer and raising of money and manpower, the latter in the form of foot-soldiers to fight with the Taliban-led insurgency.

Operations inside Pakistan might be carried out independently by the United States, probably with air power, by Pakistani forces acting alone or as joint offensives. In all cases, though, the US will pull the strings, for instance by providing the Pakistanis with information on targets to hit.

Musharraf has apparently already told his military commanders, the National Security Council and decision-makers in government of the development.

Officially, both NATO and Pakistan deny any agreement on hot-pursuit activities. Major John Thomas, spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, told Asia Times Online, “The ISAF would not strike any targets across the border. That is not part of our mission. We work with the Pakistani government closely on cross-border issues. The ISAF does not have a counter-terrorism mission that I know of.”

Similarly, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations of the Pakistani Armed Forces, Major-General Waheed Arshad, said NATO forces would not be allowed to intervene in Pakistani areas.

He conceded that Pakistan is wary of growing extremism in the country, but said there is no threat of Talibanization.

“The Taliban are a problem for Afghanistan, not Pakistan. There are a few extremist groups operating in Pakistan and we have our own indigenous mechanism to counter them through law-enforcement agencies, and through paramilitary and military deployment,” Waheed said.

Nevertheless, the ATol contacts are adamant that an agreement is in place for increased operations on Pakistani soil, given the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and US fears of al-Qaeda using Pakistan as a base for planning operations in the West. There are precedents.

Last month, US Central Intelligence Agency drones targeted a madrassa in North Waziristan, and 20 people were killed. CIA drones tried to take out al-Qaeda No 2 Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri in January 2006 in Bajur Agency. Zawahiri survived, but 18 people died. In December 2005, al-Qaeda leader Hamza Rabia was killed by a CIA predator aircraft in the town of Mir Ali, North Waziristan.

However, new operations, which could begin within weeks, if not days, are expected to be much larger in scale.

n recent meetings at both the policy and operational levels between Washington and Islamabad, it was acknowledged that Pakistan simply cannot control its border with Afghanistan. Pakistan has established numerous military posts in the tribal areas, but with distances of as much as 20 kilometers between them they can’t stop the cross-border flow, especially given the rugged nature of the terrain.

On the Afghan side of the border, NATO and the Afghan National Army have also established posts, but they are even less numerous than on the Pakistani side and, given their isolation, are open to enemy fire.

While most of the Taliban’s cross-border activity takes place from the Waziristans, it extends to Chaman, Zhob and Noshki in the southwest and Bajaur and Mohmand in the northwest.

In North West Frontier Province, the settled towns of Tank, Laki Marwat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan have all but been taken over by the Pakistani Taliban and they recruit from these areas. The circle is expanding up to the Valley of Peshawar, which includes Peshawar city and Mardan. However, the Taliban’s influence in the Valley of Peshawar is still basic.

On the other hand, a pro-Taliban force named Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) has spread rapidly, and its influence ranges from Bajaur, Malakand, Swat Valley and Mingora. The TNSM sent 10,000 men to Afghanistan in 2001 to fight against the US-led invasion. The organization is dedicated to the enforcement of Islamic laws. Like the Pakistan Taliban, the TNSM uses scores of illegal FM radio stations as a propaganda tool, and its popularity increases with every passing day.

All these pro-Taliban/al-Qaeda zones on the Afghan border have connections with the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, run by outspoken brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed. The brothers are openly pro-Taliban and also run large Islamic seminaries for boys and girls.

The Pakistani establishment believes Aziz is in fact the new leader of all the Taliban and al-Qaeda assets spreading through northwestern Pakistan, especially the zone commanded by the TNSM. Aziz delivers lectures by telephone every evening to TNSM members.

Lal Masjid has had numerous high-profile run-ins and standoffs with the government, but Islamabad has never risked an outright confrontation, given the power and influence of the brothers and their standing in the jihadist world.

They can be expected to organize sustained resistance should NATO/US forces launch attacks into Pakistan. Some reports claim that about 70 suicide bombers are waiting to be unleashed from the mosque. But any attack on the mosque could set off a chain reaction all the way from Islamabad to the Afghan border and beyond, in the process throwing Pakistan further into turmoil

At this point in the “war on terror”, this is something the US does not want, at least not until it has had one more crack at rooting out the Taliban and al-Qaeda from Pakistan. Washington has paid Pakistan about $1 billion a year for the past five years for its efforts in tackling terrorism. Now the US administration wants more return on that money.

Musharraf already faces intense opposition over his suspension of his chief justice on charges of malfeasance. Both political and religious opponents are riding the bandwagon with a vengeance, especially as the country faces presidential elections this year.

Senior US officials, including John Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, and Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state, recently visited Pakistan to spell out to opposition leaders that the US is still behind Musharraf, although it will support the participation of secular, democratic political parties in government.

This development occurred even as Washington voiced its dissatisfaction over Musharraf’s performance with regard to the Taliban: it pointed to Pakistan’s clear involvement in supporting the insurgency in Helmand province since last year.

Indeed, the US was even prepared to withdraw its support of Musharraf, who seized power in 1999, but after a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney to Pakistan, the general remains in favor. Cheney’s office is believed to run the United States’ Pakistan policy.

The reasons are probably twofold: the US needs Pakistan’s support should it attack Iran (covert operations into Iran are reportedly already taking place from Pakistan), and the US is concerned over the revival of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan. With regard to the latter, the head of the US Central Command, Admiral William Fallon, followed up Cheney’s visit, warning Islamabad that the US needs Pakistan’s assistance and approval to confront the bases.

He also made it clear that any delay on the part of Pakistan to allow NATO operations could result in another major terror operation in the West. And if that happens, Pakistan will face the music.

Musharraf has already agreed to take some prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay . Now he’s opening his doors to the United States’ soldiers. It’s a move fraught with danger for Musharraf and Pakistan, and one that could influence the direction of both the war in Afghanistan and the “war on terror”.

4 Comments so far

  1. Farhan (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    No offence, but i come to this site just for reading about islamabd city and non political news. There are plenty of other places i can read these stuff.

    But lately there have been too much posts that are’nt much related to the city and well if that carries on you’ll be sure to loose atleast one regular visitor.

    I don’t mind the post on lal masjid as most of them are concern us islamabadians, but if we can have less of rest of the unrelated stuff that’ll be good.

  2. Phil (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 11:30 am

    Well, I feel a little different here, but I am willing to change my ways for the only reader we have.

    Farhan, scene yeh hai key Islamabad is more known for its trees, parks, roads, and politics. Politics finds its way back into the blog someway or the other.

    But sure, lets try posting something eccentric. I don’t think there is any other city that is so open about the political misdoings of the city. They all want to project a ‘look good look happy’ image.

    I do however feel that there is no need for reproducing the entire article here, just a link, an excerpt, and a few comments would be just fine.


    p.s. How about we link back topics to our blogs where we are little more free to discuss these main stream topics?

    p.p.s. Keeping on topic, I haven’t read the article in full. Who is to blame for this, I dont know. But I for one have nothing to hide, and they can come up and ask me questions ‘if I am free’ and I am willing to help eradicate extremist fanatics from the face of Pakistan. If external force is what it takes, so be it.

  3. A for [pine]apple (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

    @phil’s PS: well sure you can give back-link to personal web spaces of yours … something centric to city can come here.

    @Farhan: we value your comments & Feedback but as phil said earlier, being the capital of country, isn’t Islamabad center of all politics?? So on and off, politics will make its way in this blog. And specially in backdrop of what’s going on in Pakistan now-a-days.

    And if our readers feel, we’re neglecting some side of the metropolis then You’re always welcome to Suggest us your story.

    And we’re all humans ;-)

  4. Aamir Ali (unregistered) on July 6th, 2007 @ 6:26 am

    This article appeared in Asia Times Online, a garbage online paper with no credibility.

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