Saturday, June 25, 2011

A community under siege in tribal Pakistan

A community under siege in tribal Pakistan
As US prepares troop withdrawal, Taliban's strong hold on border regions reveals Pakistan's vulnerability.
Mujib Mashal Last Modified: 25 Jun 2011 11:45

At least 30,000 families have been displaced due to violence in Kurram, the UN says [EPA]
Parachinar, in Pakistan's tribal north west, remains under siege. The only road connecting this district bordering Afghanistan to the rest of Pakistan has been blocked by Taliban fighters since 2007.
The blockade was briefly lifted in March, or so the Pakistani government proudly announced. The road was open again and travellers would be protected, they said. Owais, a 25-year-old recent graduate of engineering, was one of the few who took the risk and decided to visit his family.
On March 25, his Toyota HiAce and two other vans were stopped on the Thal-Parachinar road by Taliban fighters. Owais and 44 others were kidnapped.
The Taliban freed the women and children, but killed seven - some claim ten - of the abducted passengers. A further 30 men remained in captivity for close to three months.
After protracted negotiations between tribal elders, the Pakistani government, and varying Taliban factions, 22 of the captives were set free on June 21.  Owais was one of the lucky ones.
"They have been handed to the government forces of the Frontier Corps and are on their way home," a friend of Owais told Al Jazeera.
Reports suggest the Taliban were paid a ransom of at least 30 million rupees, roughly $350,000. Eight men remain in captivity. And the road, though no longer described as "blocked", still remains highly insecure.
In his speech this week announcing the military transition in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama once again emphasised Pakistan's crucial role in combating extremism.
"Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan," he said. "No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will … work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments."
The siege on Parachinar is prime evidence to caution the "mission accomplished" rhetoric already employed by US policy makers. It speaks to the Taliban's tight hold on the crucial border region, the absence of Pakistani government forces, and the challenges that lie ahead in reaching any meaningful conclusion to the "war against terror".
"The whole Kurram region has turned into a detention centre for the people," says local journalist Zulfiqar Ali, referring to the tribal agency of which Parachinar is the administrative capital. Pakistan's tribal areas are divided into seven agencies, with Kurram bordering Afghanistan's Khost province.
On the road to Parachinar, passenger vehicles are frequently attacked and food convoys are torched. Since 2007, hundreds of people have been killed in Kurram due to the violence, while the United Nations says at least 30,000 families have been forced to abandon their homes and move to camps for Internally Displaced People.
But escaping the region has become a difficult task. For residents to make it to Peshawar, the nearest Pakistani city, they have to first go into Afghanistan. That route has often been closed due to military operations by the Pakistani army. And even if they make it through, they face tremendous risks in Afghanistan - because the same fighters are active across the border.
"People cannot even travel there to bury their dead," a local human rights activist told Al Jazeera in condition of anonymity, due to the risks involved in discussing the matter.

From sectarianism to militancy
The only road connecting Parachinar to the rest of the country has been blocked since 2007
The recent troubles in Kurram began as sectarian violence but analysts and local sources say the situation was hijacked by Taliban fighters who use the tribal areas to launch attacks against NATO in Afghanistan.
"Local sectarian groups do not have enough resources to block the road," says Ali. "It is purely a militant issue now."
The Shia are a slight majority in Kurram Agency, an area of about 500,000 residents. During the Afghan Jihad, when the tribal regions were used by the CIA as the training grounds for anti-Soviet fighters, the region saw an insurgence of Sunni hardliners.
"There have been sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia in Kurram for decades," says Reza Jan, Pakistan Team Lead at the American Enterprise Institute. "But in the past, Sunni-Shia clashes were usually minor. Clashes, when they did occur, were resolved fairly quickly by local leaders and authorities." 
After the fall of the Taliban government in Kabul, and Pakistan's crackdown on radical elements in Punjab, the tribal areas became the hub of both Pakistani and Afghan insurgents. But many among the armed groups consider Kurram's Shia tribes - who refused to shelter fighters - as apostates. And Kurram's Shia paid a heavy price as a result.
"The Tareek-e-Taliban's current leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, is known to be fervently anti-Shia," says Reza Jan. "Before he led the TTP, he was the TTP commander for Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber agencies where he made a name for himself through his brutality towards Kurram's Shia."
For the past three years, locals have desperately looked for help, mainly from Islamabad - but also from Kabul. In 2008, they accepted a peace deal with the Taliban. The exact components of the deal are seen differently by analysts, but the purpose was clear: they wanted an end to the violence and a lifting of the blockade on the road.
"The Mari agreement in 2008 gave the government full authority to use force against any militants blocking the road," says Ali. "Why has the government not been able to deliver?"
Failure of the state
With Pakistan's security apparatus always focused on India, the insurgency in the tribal areas did not recieve sufficient attention in its early years.
As sectarian violence began to be dominated by the Sunni Taliban, the Pakistani government relied on the Frontier Corps, a federally-controlled paramilitary force. But the Frontier Corps was ill-equipped in counter-insurgency and failed to stem the Taliban's rapid growth.
In 2009, two Pakistani generals told the Associated Press that, of $6.6 billion in US military aid provided during the previous six years for counter-terrorism measures, only $500 million had been used for that purpose. The rest of the funds were used towards Pakistan's "defence against India".
Since April 2010, the Pakistani army has reportedly paid more attention to the problem and launched operations in central and lower Kurram agency. But

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For how long will Parachinar humanitarian crisis persist?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Scores of young kids (some of them orphans) and students studying in local colleges, belonging to an under siege locality staged a rally to draw the government attention to the seething humanitarian crisis in the Kurram Agency. 

The people of Parachinar, who study or work in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar or elsewhere have been holding demonstrations and sit-ins in the capital city, but these failed to move those who matter. The protestors marched from the National Press Club to the Parliament House, braving extremely inhospitable weather. Drenched in perspiration, some of them carried water to quench their thirst: they continued their march towards the Parliament House, chanting slogans against militancy. 

They paid tributes to slain journalist Saleem Shahzad, who through his articles had effectively highlighted the problems emanating from the Parachinar siege. The rally participants, mostly teenagers, requested the president and the prime minister to take notice of their plight and order the launch of a helicopter service and set up army check-posts at Tal-Parachinar Road so that they could reunite with their parents for summer vacation in Kurram Agency. 

The militants had blocked the main roads to the region for the last four years triggering seemingly an unending misery. One of the students when asked why he was in the rally, he said all of them wanted to remind the Corps Commander Peshawar about his promise that within a month, the only road to Parachinar from Peshawar would be secured and the army check-posts be established on the Tal-Parachinar Road. 

Mussarrat Hussain, who organised the rally, joined in the young kid's talk with 'The News', and recalled Lieutenant General Asif Yaseen Malik during his visit to Kurram Agency last month had made this pledge to the locals: he had also hinted at a military operation there to flush out militants. These students included two souls, who had lost their close relatives to the militants, who had kidnapped around 44 persons and 33 of them were still with them: they were kidnapped over two months back on their way to Parachinar; at least eight of them were brutally killed. 

Mussarrat claimed they were also promised that those kidnapped would be recovered from the clutches of the militants. But unfortunately, there had been no progress so far, at least to their knowledge on this count as well. "This is the kids and students' second rally within a month but it is agonising to mention here that no minister or even a government functionary visited us to express solidarity with the participants," lamented Musarrat. 

He pointed out that entire 0.5 million population was hit hard by the shortage of medicines and food items. He added the other day Shoaib Khan, 11, and Akhtar Ali died due to non-availability of medicines. "Many young children are suffering from chest infection, dysentery, pneumonia and fever and doctors appear helpless in the face of paucity of drugs, as the roads are closed and manned by the militants armed with sophisticated weapons." 

Another participant of the rally, who did not want to be named, said that the people of Parachinar widely believed they were being punished for resisting the militants entry into Kurram Agency, who wanted to take 'charge' of the region. He said that the militants made some of the rally participants orphans and these kids still carried grim memories of the day they were deprived of their fathers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bad investment: Continued terrorism in Kurram, the real facts

The Express Tribune

Bad investment: Continued terrorism in Kurram, the real facts

Published: June 20, 2011
Thousands of Upper Kurram Agency tribes are besieged and Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE/AFP
Thousands have people have been killed in Kurram Agency in the past five years. Property worth billions of rupees has been destroyed and the education system has gone to dogs.
In 2007, when Taliban marched towards Kurram from North and South Waziristan, the tribal elders wrote a letter and faxed it to the president, the prime minister and security officers. In the letter they expressed their concern about the activities and demanded the government to take action against them and stop them from entering Kurram.
But in a strange twist, the photocopy of that letter reached the Taliban' commander the next day, who sent Rs500 to each Shia-Sunni tribal leader, to buy shrouds for their coffins.
And so the Taliban erected check posts, opened training centres and started living in Lower and Central Kurram Agency. They were gearing to take Parachinar.
The elders approached the political administration with this fear on November 15, 2007, but were told that everything was under control. The very next day, after the Friday prayers, the Taliban attacked with hand grenades and rockets, killing many people of Turi-Bangash tribes.
The Thal-Parachinar Road was blocked, and continued to remain so for five years. Thousands of Upper Kurram Agency tribes are besieged and Parachinar has been cut off from the rest of Pakistan. The telephone lines seldom work, there are frequent power outages, development programs and supply of goods has stopped. The people here have been forced to purchase daily-use items imported from Afghanistan at a premium. People die for want of basic life-saving drugs.
But the little coverage that the region gets in the media is focused on sectarian disturbances, which cannot be further from the truth. The Shia and Sunni tribes in Parachinar are not at war. They have a common enemy, the Taliban.
A video shows the Taliban looting goods from trucks and coaches of Turi-Bangash tribes in the presence of Frontier Corps (FC) personnel. A body is lying on the ground while the FC personnel stand there doing nothing.
The Taliban have attacked convoys headed for Lower Kurram many times. Every time their target was to hit the Turi-Bangash tribes. The FC personnel or their conveyances were not harmed.
The road is re-opened
On February 3, 2011, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that they had reached a peace agreement in Kurram and that Thal-Parachinar Road will be opened by February 5. On February 8, members of Grand Tribal Jirga came to Parachinar by road. The road had been opened.
The tribes could not believe that they had been set from free. However, some reports in local and foreign media said that the road had been opened to facilitate the Haqqani Network to go to and come from Afghanistan (Kurram Agency has borders with three provinces of Afghanistan, Paktia, Nangrar and Khost).
Other reports said that the Taliban had some personal stakes in the deal and had just agreed to maintain peace for a month to test the waters. But the tribes insisted that they will not allow Taliban and terrorists to use the road.
A month later, the peace ended. Two children were kidnapped from Lower Kurram. Then people of Turi-Bangash tribes, travelling from Peshawar to Parachinar, were kidnapped along with drivers and coaches. The drivers were warned not to carry people belong from Turi-Bangash tribe.
On March 13, armed terrorists attacked a coach and killed 10 passengers, while three attackers were also killed when police retaliated. The attackers were identified to be from Mangal Tribe in Kurram, with one of them a former FC troop. The government did nothing.
Then on March 25, Taliban attached three coaches, killed three passengers and kidnapped 45 people from Turi-Bangash tribes. The kidnapped included women and children. The Taliban said they were retaliating against being cheated.
The government and Grand Tribal Jirga went to the negotiation table with the Taliban, who demanded a huge some of money and put forth a set of demands.
During negotiations, on April 21, the Taliban slaughtered and burned eight of the kidnapped passengers and sent the bodies to the tribes. They also released a video showing a kidnapped passenger being slaughtered and put on fire.
The tribal elders reiterated that they will not allow their land to be used by terrorists or other countries. This resulted in a retaliation from the Taliban and Haqqani Network. They have been attacking Sahlozan with missiles and mortars regularly.
The Taliban also attached Turi-Bangash tribe in Balash Khel village, killing four and injuring seven tribesmen. The tribes retaliated, killing 19 Taliban along with two of their commanders. Then a strange thing happened. The security forces reached Khar Kali and Balash Khel villages and bombarded the fortifications of Turi-Bangash tribes and picked up the bodies of the slain Taliban.
The tribes protested by holding a shutter-down strike in the entire city.
The elders say that this latest incident confirms that the Taliban are being supported by security forces, who are playing a double game and have warned the government of blocking their supply routes if they do not stop supporting the terrorists.
The writer is a journalist and works with Chinar News Agency
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A synthetic image

A synthetic image

By Syed Irfan Ashraf | From the Newspaper

June 9, 2011 (3 days ago
A FEW months ago, I asked a couple of television anchorpersons in Islamabad whether they knew about a restive Fata agency where half a million people have virtually been marooned for the past three years.
Both were unaware that the sectarian strife in Parachinar has displaced Sunnis by the thousands and cut off the area's majority Shia population from the mainstream. While visiting their own country, the latter group must perforce use a risky route through Afghanistan, which has resulted in the loss of over a hundred lives.
The lack of news from Kurram agency reflects the national media's widespread indifference towards tribal affairs and lack of
interest in reporting the area's problems. There is plenty to report upon: how have people been surviving since the sole route, the Thall-Parachinar road, was closed in 2007? Why did the authorities fail to protect a private convoy of 25 loaded trucks which were looted and set on fire in the presence of security forces on their way to Upper Kurram? What action has been taken to rehabilitate the people who fled Parachinar after scores of their sect were killed three years ago? Many such questions need urgent media attention, but for different reasons this is not forthcoming.
The problem stems mainly from the attitude of the establishment. A colonial background has led them to believe that the country's tribesmen live on a strategic faultline. The geographical sensitivity of the western border has destined the tribesmen, it is believed, for a sacred task: to act as a buffer against any foreign threat. This half-baked theory is considered enough reason to isolate Fata from the larger national interests. More dangerously, the approach has seeped down everywhere, including in the media, where highlighting Fata's problems is considered less important than the state's security concerns.
Media portrayal of Fata has tended to oscillate between total indifference and selective exposure. In the first instance, the people of Fata and their lives have generally been ignored. Whatever little attention they receive is laid within the framework of, and thus tainted by, stereotypes such as "tribesmen", "deeply religious society", "elaqa ghair" (no-go area) etc. Such terms associate the people with their terrain and geography, rather than as people of flesh and blood.
Under not-so-normal circumstances, meanwhile, media coverage has tended to be selective, with issues being defined in the wider regional context. This has shifted the focus away from the actual people.
Spearheaded by the state media, news organisations' security-centric approach has left the tribesmen with a severe crisis of image. The exercise of creating a tribal identity revolving around the 'awe factor' has helped the state, preparing tribesmen to serve as unpaid guardians of the north-western border.
However, representing them as 'tough' has distanced the tribespeople from the rest of the country. Physically, these people live in Pakistan, but psychologically the country has yet to assimilate their presence.
The situation worsened a decade ago, when Pakistan's private media boom coincided with the US sending forces into Afghanistan. A few thousand militants took refuge in Fata. Instead of holding official quarters responsible for their
failure to notice the problem, the media started identifying the tribesmen with the terrorists' cause. Glimpses of this shared vision — that the tribespeople are somehow different from and entirely unlike other Pakistanis — are seen everywhere.
It was much laughed about in Wana that a newly appointed commanding official inquired of a delegation of visiting elders whether children in South Waziristan play cricket. Another high-ranking official, upon return from South Waziristan, told me that he was surprised when some tribal elders demanded a school for their area.
Communications expert Dr. Altafullah Khan refers to the widespread apathy when he says that "our people must broaden their understanding of Fata. Beneath the gun-toting image there lies a human face: smiling children, parents wanting their children to have the best life possible." Dr Khan complains that "all this is missed out by the world when it regards Fata.
Innocent Pakistanis live in the troubled region but the national organism does not feel their pain."
Global powers have converged on Fata and imposed a state of war on the tribesmen, while military operations have badly affected the normal routines of the people. Yet the media and civil society have failed to raise a voice for the voiceless. Our television screens exploded into cacophony when civilians started being displaced from Swat. Yet the same channels are silent about the worries of 1.5 million tribesmen who are languishing in camps for the internally displaced or elsewhere. The damaged houses in the area, entire villages and bazaars that have been wiped out, speak of the huge losses suffered by the area's civilian population. Frightening visuals of civilians killed in the operations are sent from one cell-phone to another, but no television channel is ready to report such tragedies.
The closed administrative structure and synthetically-created identity might have helped officialdom in maintaining the status quo in Fata. However, the growing dimension of human tragedy witnessed over the past decade should now outpace covert strategic gains. What logic would officialdom offer for not letting any media outlet into Fata to raise a voice for the nine million tribesmen there?
How long will some sections of Pakistan's media continue to rationalise civilian deaths through archaic notions such as that those who live by the sword die by it too? This is a case of journalists serving the state at the cost of its people. Such queries are long overdue. Pakistan's tribesmen are dying unnoticed, uncounted and unrewarded. It is time to think about giving them their identity, and at least the right to speak for themselves.
The writer teaches at Peshawar University.

Kurram residents suffer owing to road closure

 Friday, June 10, 2011
PARACHINAR: The Turi and Bangash tribal elders here Thursday complained of acute shortage of commodities, medicines and fuel due to the continued closure of the main road in Kurram Agency. 

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Yousaf Turi and Shabbir Bangash said the residents were leading a miserable life due to the closure of the Thall-Parachinar Road.

They added the security forces had also stopped escorting the passengers and food convoys between Peshawar and Parachinar. They said the residents having jobs or other engagements in rest of the country had been stranded due to the insecure conditions on the main road.

They also criticised the government for not recovering the 32 kidnapped passengers who were in the captivity of the militants two months after the incident. 

The Turi and Bangash elders said the government and the human rights organisations were making efforts to recover the Pakistanis who were made hostage by the Somali pirates but no efforts were being made to rescue the residents of Kurram Agency.

They lamented that the only available route through Afghanistan was also closed by the security forces. "We are living like prisoners and no steps are being taken to facilitate us," Yousaf Turi said, adding that even life-saving drugs were not available in the local markets.

They asked the federal government and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor to take decisive steps for the reopening of the roads in Kurram Agency forthwith and end the people's miseries.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kidnapped passengers untraced even after 73 days

Our correspondent
Monday, June 06, 2011
PARACHINAR: Thirty-two passengers who were kidnapped by armed militants from the Baggan area in Kurram Agency on March 25 couldn't be recovered even 73 days after the incident, tribal sources said on Sunday.

The passengers were on their way to Parachinar when unidentified persons kidnapped them. The sources said the security forces and a and tribal jirga that brokered the February 2011 peace agreement between the warring tribes in Kurram Agency were unsuccessful in securing the safe recovery of the hostages.

Local residents said the families of the kidnapped persons were passing through mental torture as no steps were being taken for the recovery of their near and dear ones. They lamented that several passengers were abducted and killed after the reopening of the Thall-Parachinar Road following the Islamabad agreement.


Unrest ignored: After adults fail, children try to melt hearts of stone

The Express Tribune

Unrest ignored: After adults fail, children try to melt hearts of stone

Published: June 7, 2011
Children from Parachinar peacefully called on the government to help them. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID
Over four dozen children orphaned by the militancy in Parachinar on Monday held a protest demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad to press the government to meet their demands.
Having seen their older kith and kin fail to influence the Government of Pakistan to help them, the little children, some barely knee-high, were holding banners and placards while chanting slogans like "Death to the Taliban".
"We cannot go home in our summer vacations because the Peshawar-Parachinar Road is closed and militants try to hurt people on the way home," said little Asghar Ali, who has lived in Rawalpindi for the last year-and-a-half. He said that his father was killed by the militants and his mother sent him here to attend school with his cousin. "I have not been home in more than one year," he said with tears in his eyes, "I miss my mother. I miss my brothers and sisters."
Asghar was not alone.
"I cannot go to home like my classmates and I am missing it so much," said Qaiser Ali, a fifth-grader.
"I don't know why the militants killed my father. He was a peaceful man. He loved me. He wanted me to go to school. Now I don't even have the money to pay my school fee," said Muhammad Irshad. He was upset that the government was not taking any action to help the people of Parachinar.
Muzamil Hussain, another little student, described the Taliban as "very brutal and cruel" while noting that they even killed women and children.
"They hate children!" he maintained.
The children appealed to the president, prime minister and the interior minister to take immediate steps for the safety and the security of people in the besieged area, as they already face a life of uncertainty due to the blocked road and threats posed by the Taliban.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2011.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parachinaris condemn Daultana’s behaviour

The Express Tribune

Parachinaris condemn Daultana's behaviour

Published: June 5, 2011
PML-N member allegedly rushed her vehicle at protesters. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/ FILE
The Youth of Parachinar (YoP) on Friday convened an emergency Supreme Council meeting where the abusive behaviour and political statement of PML-N member Tehmina Daultana were discussed.
According to a press release issued by the YoP on Saturday, the reality of the incident is that peaceful protestors from Parachinar blocked Shahrahe Dastoor near radio station during the budget session and no vehicles were allowed to use the route.
Dressed in burial shrouds and carrying coffins, the protestors were condemning the negligence of the government in lifting the siege of the area at the hands of the Taliban and pleading for the reopening of the Thal-Parachinar Road, something that Interior Minister Rehman Malik promised to do in two days, some 40 days back.
According to the press release, "During the protest, the so-called public representative and PML-N member Tehmina Daultana, instead of joining the affected people of Parachinar with words of sympathy, ordered her driver to rush the vehicle over the protestors to break the human obstacle and get…[to]…Parliament House."
According to the release, the parliamentarian later declared the incident was "an attack on her by the will of the budget presenters (ruling coalition)." The YoP strongly condemned her misbehaviour and misleading statement and demanded that the PML-N explain their anti-Parachinari behaviour.
Earlier, the Islamabad police baton-charged the protestors and used tear gas to disperse them. The Supreme Council of YoP strongly condemned the action against the already besieged people instead of letting them make their problems known. They said that the government must take action to release the 33 kidnapped people and open the road to Parachinar, as the people of Parachinar may decide to 'snatch their rights' if not provided.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2011.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Protest by Kurramites

Protest by Kurramites

Posted on June 4, 2011
F.P. Islamabad Office
ISLAMABAD: Despite teargas shelling and baton charge by the ICT Police, hundreds of youth belonging to Kurram Agency Friday managed to reach the Prime Minister Secretariat Chowk and block the crossing for hours by staging protest sit-in for acceptance of their  demands during the Budget session of the National Assembly.  Hundreds of Kurramites assembled outside National Press Club and staged a protest rally to condemn the intentional ignorance by the government in lifting the siege of the area by Taliban and to open Parachinar-Peshawar Road.

ANALYSIS: Military operation in North Waziristan? —Farhat Taj

Daily Times
Saturday, June 04, 2011
ANALYSIS: Military operation in North Waziristan? —Farhat Taj
The very fact that the operation has been announced prior to its commencement indicates that the generals are not serious in eliminating the Taliban

Conflicting reports are being seen in the media these days regarding a military operation against militants based in North Waziristan, under US pressure. One report even informs that the authorities have quietly asked aid agencies in Pakistan to be prepared for an influx of thousands of IDPs from North Waziristan in the event of an operation. Then the media reported on June 1, 2011 that no decision regarding a military operation in North Waziristan had been taken by the military and the government of Pakistan. 

North Waziristan is a stronghold of al Qaeda-linked militants from all over the world. One Mehsud tribesman described the ethnic diversity of the terrorists in these words: "They (the terrorists) are people with blue, green, brown and black eyes." From Waziristan they plan attacks all over the world, on anti-Taliban forces inside Pakistan and the security forces of the country. The militants have overpowered the tribes. The Pakistani state has abandoned the area to global terror networks, including the pro-military establishment militant groups, the Haqqani network and the Gul Bahadur Taliban. The area has been a target of most US drone attacks. There has to be a targeted military operation in the area to release the tribes from terror, restore the writ of the state and to eliminate the bases of global terrorism. 

Before the operation, a strategic shift has come in the security paradigm of Pakistan. The strategic depth that seeks to impose a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan through jihadi adventures has to be given up. There is nothing in the national scene that suggests so. Parliament has surrendered to the generals in the aftermath of bin Laden's killing in Abbottabad by the US and its joint resolution is no more than, in the words of human rights activist Asma Jahangir, "a toilet paper" that fails to demonstrate control over the security establishment that has landed the country in the jihadi mess. The PPP-led government has no political will to assert itself and, in the words of journalist Jugnu Mohsin, is "laying like a dead body" in front of the generals, who are running the security show like a mafia. The generals' obsession with strategic depth has not disappeared. The pro-military establishment journalists, who dominate the Pakistani media, are spreading conspiracy theories implicating the US, India and Israel in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. 

A military operation in such a context will be just like the previous operations in FATA — useless, devastating for civilians and the Taliban safely relocated elsewhere. In previous operations in FATA, no leading Taliban commanders were killed or their networks disrupted but thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers of the army and FC were killed, properties worth millions of dollars destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced from the region. The generals seem to accept all this as 'collateral damage' in pursuit of state 'interest' that only they have a right to define, not the 'bloody civilians'. 

In 2007, the Waziri tribesmen in South Waziristan clashed with the Uzbek terrorists in the area. Pakistan Army weapons were freely used against the Uzbeks. And yet, instead of killing all the Uzbeks with the help of the Waziri tribe, they were allowed by the military to flee to North Waziristan. In other words, the Uzbek terrorists were pushed into the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network so that their terror energies could be directed towards the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

The very fact that the operation has been announced prior to its commencement indicates that the generals are not serious in eliminating the Taliban. Quoting "highly placed sources", news reports even disclosed the strategy of the military operation, i.e. the Pakistan air force would start the operation through aerial bombardment to 'soften' the militant targets, and would then be followed by a ground offensive. Is this a signal to the North Waziristan-based Taliban and al Qaeda to relocate elsewhere before the operation? The previous operations in FATA were announced before their commencement and, consequently, the terrorists relocated to areas outside the ambit of the operations. 

People in FATA wonder why the security forces of Pakistan cannot launch operations unannounced against the Taliban. Why is it so important to announce the operations before they are launched? The Pakistan Army launched sudden and unannounced assaults on Indian positions in Kargil. Even the Indians were taken aback. In the initial phase of the war, the Indians suffered great casualties. Why can similar unannounced and prompt assaults not be carried out against the Taliban in FATA by the security forces of Pakistan? It is thus no wonder that the tribesmen doubt the intentions of the authorities to combat the Taliban. 

Negotiations under the auspices of the ISI were already underway in 2010 with the tribal leaders of Kurram to relocate the Haqqani Taliban to the Kurram Agency. The Haqqani Taliban, part of al Qaeda's global terror syndicate and close to the Pakistani generals, might have been relocated to Kurram or elsewhere. Leading Haqqani family members live in the big urban centres of Pakistan. They cannot do so without the consent of the military authorities. 

Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, is one of the terrorist leaders wanted by the US and the country has recently asked Pakistan to provide intelligence about his whereabouts to capture or kill him. Will he be handed over to the Americans? Will Hafiz Gul Bahadur, another North Waziristan-based Taliban leader close to the military establishment, be arrested or killed? Only time will tell. Any future military operation will be fake unless all the Taliban are assaulted without 'good' or 'bad' distinction, including the Haqqani Taliban. 

Pakistan's jihadi proxies for strategic depth in Afghanistan have become part and parcel of the global terror syndicate led by Arab terrorists. They are part of the terror threat to global peace and are killers of the FATA people as well as other Pakistanis. Pakistan's allies in the war on terror should reject any military operation in North Waziristan as elsewhere in FATA before the generals give up their idea of strategic depth in Afghanistan via jihadi proxies. In the meanwhile, the US drone attacks must continue on terrorist positions in Waziristan.

The writer is a PhD Research Fellow with the University of Oslo and currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban