More gruesome videos have been released showing atrocities of members of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror group in Iraq. The videos, posted on a militant website, showed several Iraqi men in plain clothes and army uniforms who were captured by the militants. The videos included a scene where militants belonging to the Takfiri group force the captured men to repeat their slogans, but one of the Iraqi officers refuses to do so and the militants killed him. On Sunday, pictures surfaced online showing the militants killing dozens of Iraqi men in Salahuddin province. Iraq’s military spokesman General Qassim al-Moussawi has confirmed the authenticity of the photos. He says there are more reports about the mass murder of captured Iraqi soldiers. Several witness accounts and video clips have been released showing the grisly crimes perpetrated by the Takfiri terrorists against innocent civilians in the crisis-torn country. Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups such as the so-called ISIL have been behind many of the deadly bomb attacks targeting both civilians and government institutions across Iraq in recent years. Recently, a similar gruesome video was released, purportedly showing members of the ISIL Takfiri group brutally killing Shia Muslims in drive-by shootings in Iraq. The ISIL militants have vowed to continue their raid toward Iraq's capital, Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul by militants a “conspiracy.”
Monday, June 16, 2014
US President Barack Obama is in a tough spot as Islamic militants sweep across northern Iraq, overtaking two major cities as tens of thousands of Iraqi government troops reportedly abandon their posts. Fighters from the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are reportedly beheading victims in a bid to instill fear as they sweep through the country's north, and have vowed to attack the national capital city of Baghdad. The mayhem puts Obama in a sticky position. After more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, trillions of taxpayer dollars spent and the deaths of nearly 5,000 US troops, war-weary Americans are wary of more involvement in the volatile region. But at the same time, foreign policy circles fret that Islamic radicals could gain a foothold in a country they could use as a base to launch terror strikes against the US, as al-Qaeda did when it used Afghanistan as a launching pad to strike New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. Obama said Friday he would decide in the days ahead whether to use US military force to hold off the tide of radicals, although he ruled out putting US boots on the ground. "This poses a danger to Iraq and its people and, given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well," said Obama, adding that his security team would provide "a range of other options." But despite promises not to use US ground forces, any type of US involvement in the embattled country, even if just from the air, will undoubtedly spark concern from critics who fret an air campaign could be the first action that will suck the US into yet another Mideastern conflict. Some observers argued that scenario is unlikely, as the president is concerned about his legacy at this stage of his presidency and wants to be known as the president who ended US involvement in Iraq. But others worry an air campaign could set the stage for the next administration to ramp up military involvement in Iraq. Indeed, air attacks are not a complete solution to ending militants' advances, and beating back the radicals will take a complex effort requiring ground forces, experts said. "As the president suggested, air strikes against ISIL without a ground game would not be all that effective," Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Middle East Intelligence Office, told Xinhua. Indeed, airstrikes would have to be accompanied by Iraqi forces ready to stand and fight, as well as efforts on the part of Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, to guarantee greatly improved treatment of the Sunni Arab community by authorities in Baghdad, White said. Such a political strategy could be used to win back key Sunni Arab tribes and constituencies so alienated by Maliki's harsh policies toward them that they either support ISIL or opt to stand aside and allow the militants to operate in their areas of influence, White said. But securing such concessions will be tough, as years of broken promises of fairness have left Maliki with little credibility, he added. While Washington is eyeing events in Iraq with growing concern, some experts said ISIL's moves in Iraq pose no direct threat to the US, at least for now. Moreover, White argued that ISIL's urban gains may have largely run out of steam, and further penetration into major northern population centers would require militants to move against far more Kurdish, Turcoman and Christian areas. Militants would also face elements of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, which would likely fight hard to defend its home turf, White said. Farther south, from the northern neighborhoods of Baghdad down to the Persian Gulf, the population is predominantly Shiite, and further moves by the rebels would involve fighting Shiite Iraqi Army units and tough remobilized militias such as the Mahdi Army also now defending their sectarian turf, he noted. Baghdad, which had a substantial Sunni Arab population through 2005, shifted toward a far more Shiite city as a result of the ugly sectarian cleansing of 2006-2008. If the US does take military action, experts said US forces need to tread lightly and carefully, and that the US should target ISIL and not Sunni Arab populations as a whole. "We (the US) cannot afford to be perceived largely as helping Maliki to carry out his politically destructive anti-Sunni Arab ethnic agenda," White said. "This means a very careful assessment of targeting data, and the avoidance of the destruction of important Sunni Arab real estate -- especially in heavily populated areas."
The battle between Islam's two major branches began centuries ago and is threatening Iraq's path to a stable democracy today.
The United States said it could launch air strikes and act jointly with its arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government, after a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents across Iraq that has scrambled alliances in the Middle East. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have routed Baghdad's army and seized the north of the country in the past week, threatening to dismember Iraq and unleash all-out sectarian warfare with no regard for national borders. The fighters have been joined by other armed Sunni groups who oppose what they say is oppression by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite. Joint action between the United States and regional Shi'ite power Iran to help prop up their mutual ally in Baghdad would be unprecedented since Iran's 1979 revolution, demonstrating the urgency of the alarm raised by the lightning insurgent advance. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the advance an "existential threat" for Iraq. Asked if the United States could cooperate with Tehran against the insurgents, Kerry told Yahoo News: "I wouldn't rule out anything that would be constructive." As for air strikes: "They're not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important," he said. "When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise." The Pentagon said that while there might be discussions with Iran, there were no plans to coordinate military action with it. Britain, Washington's ally in the 2003 war that deposed Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, said it had reached out to Iran in recent days. A U.S. official said meetings with Iran could come this week on the sidelines of international nuclear talks. Iran has longstanding ties to Maliki and other Shi'ite politicians who came to power in U.S.-backed elections. ISIL seeks a caliphate ruled on mediaeval Sunni Muslim precepts in Iraq and Syria, fighting against both Iraq's Maliki and Syria's Bashar al-Assad, another ally of Iran. It considers Shi'ites heretics deserving death and has boasted of massacring hundreds of Iraqi troops who surrendered to it last week. Its uprising has been joined by tribal groups and figures from Saddam's era who believe Maliki is hostile to Sunnis. ISIL fighters and allied Sunni tribesmen overran yet another town on Monday, Saqlawiya west of Baghdad, where they captured six Humvees and two tanks, adding to an arsenal of U.S.-provided armor they have seized from the disintegrating army. Eyewitnesses said Iraqi army helicopters were hovering over the town to try to provide cover for retreating troops. "It was a crazy battle and dozens were killed from both sides. It is impossible to reach the town and evacuate the bodies," said a medical source at a hospital in the nearby city of Falluja, largely held by insurgents since early this year. Overnight, the fighters captured the mainly ethnic Turkmen city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq after heavy fighting on Sunday, solidifying their grip on the north. "Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi'ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east," said a city official. Tal Afar is a short drive west from Mosul, the north's main city, which ISIL seized last week at the start of its push. Fighters then swept through towns and cities on the Tigris before halting about an hour's drive north of Baghdad. Iraq's army is holding out in Samarra, a Tigris city that is home to a Shi'ite shrine. A convoy traveling to reinforce the troops there was ambushed late on Sunday by Sunni fighters near the town of Ishaqi. Fighting continued through Monday morning. An Iraqi army spokesman in Baghdad reported fighting also to the south of Baghdad. He said 56 of the enemy had been killed over the previous 24 hours in various engagements. OBAMA WEIGHING OPTIONS President Barack Obama pulled out all U.S. troops in late 2011 and rules out sending them back, although he is weighing other options such as air strikes. A U.S. aircraft carrier has sailed into the Gulf along with a warship carrying 550 marines. The only U.S. military contingent on the ground is the security staff at the U.S. embassy. Washington said on Sunday it was evacuating some diplomatic staff and sending about 100 extra marines and other personnel to help safeguard the facilities. The sprawling fortified compound on the banks of the Tigris is the largest and most expensive diplomatic mission ever built, a vestige of the days when 170,000 U.S. troops fought to put down a sectarian civil war that followed the 2003 invasion. Iraqis now face the prospect of a replay of that extreme violence, but this time without American forces to intervene. Potential cooperation between the United States and Iran shows how dramatically the ISIL advance has redrawn the map of Middle East alliances in a matter of days. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate elected last year, has presided over a gradual thaw with the West, including secret talks with Washington that led to a preliminary deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. But open cooperation against a mutual threat would be unprecedented. A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that London had already made overtures to Tehran in recent days. A U.S. official said talks over Iraq between U.S. and Iranian officials could take place this week in Vienna, where both sides are attending nuclear negotiations. SAUDI FEARS Any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran over Iraq could anger U.S. allies Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's main Sunni power, said it rejected foreign interference in Iraq, and blamed Baghdad's "sectarian and exclusionary policies" for fuelling the insurgency. ISIL fighters' sweep through the Tigris valley north of Baghdad included Saddam's hometown Tikrit, where they captured and apparently massacred troops stationed at Speicher air base, once one of the main U.S. troop headquarters. A series of pictures distributed on a purported ISIL Twitter account appeared to show gunmen from the Islamist group shooting dozens of men, unarmed and lying prone. Captions said they were army deserters captured as they tried to flee fighting. They were shown being transported in the backs of trucks, led to an open field, laid down in rows and shot by several masked gunmen. In several pictures, the black ISIL flag can be seen. "This is the fate of the Shi'ites which Nuri brought to fight the Sunnis," a caption to one of the pictures reads. ISIL said it executed 1,700 soldiers out of 2,500 it had captured in Tikrit. Although those numbers appear exaggerated, the total could still be in the hundreds. A former local official in Tikrit told Reuters ISIL had captured 450-500 troops at Speicher and another 100 elsewhere in Tikrit. Some 200 troops were still believed to be holding out in Speicher. Washington has urged Maliki to reach out to Sunnis to create unity, but the prime minister has spoken more of retaliation than reconciliation. He was shown on television on Monday meeting military chiefs, vowing to crush the uprising and root out politicians and officers he blamed for betraying Mosul. "We will work on purging Iraq of the traitors, politicians and those military men who were carrying out their orders," he said. "Betrayal and treason have made us more determined and strong, and I swear a sea of men will march to put an end to this black page in Iraq’s history." Shi'ites, who form the majority in Iraq based mainly in the south, have rallied to defend the country, turning out in their thousands to join militia and the security forces after a mobilization call by the top Shi'ite cleric, Ali al-Sistani. A leading Sunni cleric, Rifa al-Rifaie, said Sistani's call amounted to sectarianism. Sistani is known as a moderate who never called his followers to arms during the U.S. occupation. "Sistani, that lion, where was he when the Americans occupied Iraq?" Rifaie said. He gave a list of Sunni grievances: “We have been treated unjustly, we have been attacked, our blood had been shed and our women have been raped.” ISIL emerged after Saddam's fall, fought against the U.S. occupation as al Qaeda's Iraq branch and broke away from al Qaeda after joining the civil war in Syria. It says the movement founded by Osama bin Laden is no longer radical enough. Its cause has also been taken up by many other Sunni groups who share its view that Maliki's government oppresses them. Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni who was vice president until fleeing the country in 2012 after Maliki accused him of terrorism, said Maliki must go: "What happened is an uprising by the Sunni Arabs in Iraq to confront oppression and materialization," Hashemi told the BBC. "Resolving the conflict in Iraq comes through excluding Maliki from power."
The US backs the military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ against the Taliban militants, spokesman US Embassy said here on Monday. The Spokesman said the US supports every step of Pakistan taken for the establishment of peace. Pakistan army launched operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ against the local and foreign terrorists in North Waziristan Agency, days after the deadly attack on Karachi airport claimed by the Taliban militants.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has extended full support to military operation against terrorists in North Waziristan and appealed the nation to stand solidly behind the soldiers. This is the time to save our country, and our people from destruction at the hands of beasts who have already taken over 50,000 lives of our people, injured and ravaged many more lives.
Polio virus detected in a sewerage line in Quetta on Monday was traced to Sukkur, an official said. An official of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), who requested anonymity owing to sensitivity of the matter, told Dawn.com that the samples found in a sewerage line in Western Bypass area of Quetta were linked to Sukkur city of Sindh province. "We collected the sample and are investigating it," he said. He said scorching heat in Sindh had forced many people to migrate to Balochistan every summer. "Chances of polio virus double after migration of people from Sindh," he added. The Secretary Health government of Balochistan called an emergency meeting of Unicef and other stakeholders to discuss all ways and means to eradicate the polio virus from the province. The Unicef official said the government decided to re-launch an emergency anti-polio campaign in Quetta, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Bolan, Jhal Magsi and Dera Bugti districts of Balochistan starting from June 23. He said a three-day campaign would be launched in the aforesaid districts to ensure provision of polio drops to children below five years. The Balochistan government has also directed the administration to beef up security arrangements during the anti-polio campaign in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan to avert any untoward incident. "This year a total of 75 polio cases were reported from across the country," he said, adding that 57 cases were reported from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), 12 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and six from Sindh. However, the Unicef official said that no case of polio virus was reported from Punjab or Balochistan this year. Militants in the past have targeted polio workers in Quetta, Pishin and Loralai cities of Balochistan. Pakistan currently stands at the top in the last three polio endemic countries in the world, which also include Nigeria and Afghanistan.
By: Mirwais Jalalzai Al-Qaeda fighters and supporters are a big threat to peace and stability of Afghanistan and it will affect the region soon. Al Qaeda affiliates from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Uzbekistan are participating regularly in attacks on Afghan military forces and pose “a direct terrorist challenge” for Afghanistan, south and central Asia and the global community, UN experts said in a new report. The UN experts says that Afghan and international officials believe these Al Qaeda affiliated groups are unlikely to leave Afghanistan in the near future, which would keep them in the country as the US withdraws most of its troops. Fighters from several Al Qaeda linked groups in Pakistan “are regularly encountered by the Afghan forces in eastern and – to a lesser extent – in southern Afghanistan,” the experts said. “In northern Afghanistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan continues to gather strength among local Afghans of Uzbek origin and continues to operate in several provinces including Faryab and Sar-e-Pul.” The Al Qaeda linked groups “therefore present a worrying, long-term security threat” spreading from Afghanistan into the region and beyond, especially for south and central Asia which have already faced terrorist violence from individuals or groups that have trained or planned attacks in Afghanistan. Report also says that, some hardliner elements from China’s Xinjiang province which are in close contact with Al-Qaida related groups are also active in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan which is in the border with Pakistan, China and Tajikistan. In another development the mastermind of the Karachi airport attack, Abu Abdul Rehman al Maani was killed during the overnight air strikes carried out by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets and the Pakistan Army jointly in North Waziristan early morning Sunday, military sources said. According to the report Abu Abdur Rehman Almani is considered a key commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), also now famous by the name of Islamic Movement of Turkestan. The IMU, an organization of militants mostly from the central Asian Uzbek state, had claimed that its suicide bombers carried out the attack on the Karachi airport. There are also reports of some East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terrorists also killed in the strikes, considered a big blow to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the ETIM network in the North Waziristan Agency. However, there was no confirmation from the military on the identity of the deceased. The ETIM is a separatist militant outfit blamed for numerous terror attacks in China’s restive western region of Xinjiang. On the directions of the government, the Pakistan Army has launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency, a week after a brazen insurgent attack on the country’s busiest airport in Karachi. “The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb,” said an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement on Sunday. “Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.” “They had also paralysed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorized the entire peace loving and patriotic local population,” the statement quoted DG ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa as saying. He said, “Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and color, along with their sanctuaries.”
At least 27 more suspected militants were killed in airstrikes on Monday in the North Waziristan Agency, taking the total toll to 167 since Sunday evening when operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched. Six soldiers were also killed in the Agency when a roadside bomb hit a convoy. The operation was launched against foreign and local terrorists hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan, a week after a brazen insurgent attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi.Six soldiers killed ISPR said Monday that six soldiers have been killed and three injured due to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion between the Afghan border and Ghulam Khan Tehsil in North Wazirsstan Agency They added that a security forces convoy was targeted on Bane Dar road in Ghulam kgan Tehsil on the Pak-Afghan border. Forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.
Key opposition parties of the Parliament have announced to support much-awaited military offensive in North Waziristan, SAMAA reported Monday.
Pakistan People Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) declared that they support the full-fledged action launched on Sunday.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain, in an exclusive chat with SAMAA live from London, welcomed the launch of a fresh military offensive, “Zarb-e-Azb” in North Waziristan tribal region against Taliban militants.
“I welcome this operation and I am glad that government is supporting the armed force,” Hussain said.
General Raheel Sharif says menace of terrorism will be wiped out from the society by destroying terrorists' hideouts.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has said that operation Zarb-e-Azb will continue till the elimination of terrorism. Addressing participants of security and war course at the National Defense University in Islamabad on Monday, he said the menace of terrorism will be wiped out from the society by destroying terrorists' hideouts. The army chief also briefed the participants regarding operation in the North Waziristan Agency.
let us build pakistan
by Sarah Khan
In the aftermath of Pakistan army’s operation against TTP-ASWJ and other takfiri Khawarij terrorists, Uzbek terrorists in Pakistan have decided to merge in the banned Deobandi terror outfit ASWJ (formely Sipah-e-Sahaba). This confirms that ASWJ is the single major terror outfit that enshrines and unites all terror outfits including AlQaeda, LeJ, ASWJ-SSP, Jundullah, ISIS etc. Only today (16 June 2014), ASWJ Multan Chapter kidnapped a Sunni Barelvi official of Military Intelligence Umar Jilani who also happens to be a nehphew of Chief Justice Tasadduq Jilani. In order for the Zarb-e-Azb to be effective, Pakistan army, police and government agencies must expand the Operation to urban centres, particularly targetting ASWJ’s strongholds in Karachi (Aurangzeb Farooqi Gang), Mastung and Quetta (Ramzan Mengal Gang), Jhang (Ludhyanvi Gang), South Punjab (Ghulam Rasool Shah and Khadim Dhillon Gang) etc. Unless and untile, TTP-ASWJ terrorists hiding in ASWJ-held mosques and offices are not rounded up and neutralized, there is a major risk of blowback in Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and other areas of Pakistan. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/314948#sthash.wpV9pvXD.dpuf
According to Pakistan Christian Post, President of Pakistan Christian Congress, Dr Naszir Bhatti, has very strongly condemned killing of Hendery Masih, Member of Balochistan Assembly by his security guard in city of Quetta.
Hendery Masih was Member of Balochistan Assembly from ruling National Party on minorities reserved seats who shot dead by his own security guard when he was coming from his home. According to sources, his nephew was severely injured during firing. Hendry was immediately rushed to nearby hospital where he died due to loss of blood as bullet hit his neck and made a hole. The Nephew of MPA had bullet injuries who is in the critical condition in hospital. The guard, who fired bullets on Hendery Masih, escaped from scene and other fellows of Security Squad did not bother to arrest their fellow guard who opened fire and murdered Christian Member of Balochistan Assembly. PCC Chief called for speedy action and arrest of Security Guard who murdered Hendery Masih and insisted government to adopt security measures for Pakistani Christians who are repeatedly being targeted by Muslims. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/pakistan-christian-congress-pcc-condemn-the-killing-of-hendry-masih/#sthash.II0PMbUH.dpuf
قومی اسمبلی میں قائد حزب اختلاف سید خورشید شاہ نے شمالی وزیرستان آپریشن کی حمایت کا اعلان کر دیا، ان کا کہنا ہے کہ آپریشن پر
سید خورشید شاہ کا کہنا تھا کہ آپریشن شروع ہونے پر پوری قوم اور عسکری قیادت کو خراج تحسین پیش کرتا ہوں، ہم نے پہلے بھی مذاکرات اور آپریشن کے حوالے سے ٹائم فریم مانگا تھا، آپریشن اچھا اقدام ہے دیر آیا درست آیا۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ سندھ، کے پی کے اور اسلام آباد سمیت ملک بھر میں سیکیورٹی کے انتظامات سخت کئے جایئں، ان کا کہنا تھا کہ فتح عوام کی ہوگی اور دہشت گردوں کا قلع قمع ہوگا، آپریشن کے فیصلے میں حکومت، عسکری قیادت اور قوم کے ساتھ ہیں۔ سماء
Millions of Afghan civilians have for decades taken refuge in Pakistan to escape war, and now the fighting in North Waziristan has created a movement of Pakistani families into Afghanistan. Most of the exodus is not voluntary; the Taliban have been announcing that people should leave or join them. If they don’t, they will face punishment and be seen as supporting the Pakistani forces that increase ground and air operations. Jabar Nahimi, governor of eastern Afghanistan's Khost province where most of the migrants are headed has said that Afghanistan has provided aid for 100 of these families and the rest will be helped soon, alongside being provided with polio vaccines. North Waziristan has had the most polio cases in Pakistan. The Taliban fighting against the state is a mutual treat for Pakistan and Afghanistan but relations between the two are strained and full of suspicion. Karzai has accused the ISI of disrupting the presidential election. Afghan Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has made some signs of future cooperation with Pakistan after initial accusations that the ISI was behind his assassination attempt. On a diplomatic note, Islamabad needs to make sure that it extends a hand of peace and cooperation to Afghanistan like it has to India. Abdullah placed first in the initial round of the latest election and seems to be playing it smart with all the power players. He said that he would sign an agreement with the United States to maintain nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of most combat forces this year. Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, saying it may allow US troops to enter Afghan homes. It is often argued that if Pakistan could guarantee the sovereignty of the autonomous regions, peace could be possible. But this would require that the Pakistan autonomous regions control the Islamic terrorists, including themselves, like the rennet bid by the tribal Jirga to expel foreign fighters and talk to the Taliban Shura. Additionally, this would mean that the Taliban would have some sort of political representation and voice. This peace is dependent on a lot of “Ifs” and seems unlikely. In the current political environment of violence and revenge, the tribal areas can’t be ensured their autonomy at all. It may be too late for demands of autonomy and promises of cease fire. Damage control and containment however, is the responsibility of the Sharif government and the military; they have to make sure that the violence does not further spread from North Wazirstan, like it did to Karachi. Sadly, the army and government have been at loggerheads and their face-off, including the Musharraff case, is a distraction from more pressing national issues.
The murder of Hendry Massih at the hands of his own guard in Quetta on Saturday has been widely condemned by government and opposition politicians, who seem genuinely aggrieved by the killing. Mr Massih was a Christian minority seat holder in the Balochistan Assembly from the Baloch National Party (BNP), part of the province’s ruling coalition. Reports say he was attacked in front of his residence in Quetta by his security guard of 15 years, Agha Moinuddin, who then fled the scene. Mr Massih’s nephew was with him and was injured but survived. Angry mobs blocked Quetta’s main thoroughfares on Saturday, pelting stones at traffic and burning tyres and the Christian community has announced countrywide protests and declared three days of mourning. Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif and other leading politicians were quick to condemn the murder and called for an investigation. While their compassion is undoubtedly heartfelt, they are certainly also worried by the emerging trend of political figures being betrayed by their own security teams, which is becoming a feature of Pakistan’s security landscape. The motive behind this murder remains unknown and it may be that Mr Massih’s guard had personal reasons for attacking his employer. Some reports allege that Mr Massih fired Moinuddin and then rehired him some days later when the man pleaded for his job back. Whether it was this incident that triggered his violent response we do not yet know. However, the fact that a trusted member of his household could so betray Mr Massih leads to troubling questions about the efficacy and reliability of the people responsible for VIP protection. In this case the lapse in judgment appears to have come from Mr Massih himself but in other cases, most notably that of Salmaan Taseer, the offices charged with vetting and assigning security personnel have showed their laxity, with tragic results. That lawmakers and politicians seem to be fair game for murder is cause for concern and indicates that the security apparatus in Pakistan is far from the efficient and well-trained machine required to do the job. Mr Massih’s death cannot be seen as an isolated incident and indicates several areas for reform. First, the loyalty of security personnel needs to be to the institution they serve and the duty they are obliged to fulfil. Too much of the security apparatus, especially the police, is politicised by hiring personnel based on personal recommendations or ‘bharti’. The loyalty of these individuals is then to the people that hire them and not to the institution. Personal loyalty is also cause for personal vendetta if the relationship turns sour, as apparently happened in this case. Affiliations to political parties, religious groups, or ideologies that contradict their duty to institutions of state often trump the latter, as was seen in the case of Mumtaz Qadri. Very rarely are personnel tested to see if their worldly affiliations are stronger than their respect for their country. The training process, which in other countries embeds loyalty into the minds of police and security personnel, is here haphazard, ill conceived, and might not even be considered training in many places. Most police officers begin their real training when they hit the streets where they usually learn how to terrorise citizens rather than guard them. There is also little fear of being caught: while the government has said it will find the killer, the chances of this happening are slim. Large parts of the country are uncontrolled by the state, the police has a dismal record in catching and prosecuting criminals, and in this instance there are groups that will shelter the alleged killer simply because he murdered a Christian. Mumtaz Qadri was hailed as a hero by some in the legal community itself, a fact that stands in the way of his being put to death as he should be, while the late Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti’s killers remain at large. Hence the murder of another respected community member and legislator should be a wake up call for the government and security apparatus, which is clearly full of holes that show why Pakistan is having such a hard time beating terrorism.
Facing its own Shia problem, Saudi Arabia is now moving to counter this ‘pernicious’ influence by creating Sunni fiefdoms all around the Islamic world. Saudification of Sunni Islam worldwide in any event has been a long-standing project of the Kingdom.
The situation in Iraq should give pause to our ‘strategic’ deep thinkers. The group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has taken Mosul and, as a result, the future of the nation state formerly known as Iraq is now in doubt. It is a situation that will likely escalate into a full-blown Shia-Sunni conflict in the Middle East. Will Iraq disintegrate? The thing with nation states, as these were formed in the 20th century, is that they had attempted to draw borders around diverse people. This is truer of certain states more than others, especially Iraq, but to some extent also states like Turkey and Pakistan. A lot will depend on whether the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region will now choose to take advantage of the current Shia-Sunni war and go its independent way or stand with the central government in its hour of need. Statesmanship demands that Kurdish leaders maintain the status quo and stick it out. If there has to be a move for Kurdish independence, it cannot be at this time. The idea of an autonomous Kurdistan within Iraq can be a model for many countries around the world but a separate Kurdistan will only serve to create similar impulses in other countries. In the digital age, the demise of the very idea of the nation state has been brought about by the globalisation of ancient religious feuds. Saudi Arabia, which has for long seen itself as the vanguard of Wahabi-Sunni Islam, has been alarmed since the early days of the Iraq War by Iran’s growing influence in Iraq and indeed states like Bahrain. Facing its own Shia problem, Saudi Arabia is now moving to counter this ‘pernicious’ influence by creating Sunni fiefdoms all around the Islamic world. Saudification of Sunni Islam worldwide in any event has been a long-standing project of the Kingdom, which has poured in huge sums of money into religious madrassas (seminaries) and mosques all around the world. The US’s shortsighted policy in Syria and its colossal miscalculation of what the Arab Spring meant for the larger Middle East has directly contributed to this scenario. It is a case of the Arab Spring chickens coming home to roost. The problem that this situation poses may have ancient origins but the problem itself is a very modern one: how does religion interact with established markers of modernity? Muslim modernism, which now is a century and a half old, sought to reconcile Islam with modern ideas by arguing for ijtihad (independent reasoning). Ultimately though, especially after the end of the Cold War, it was global Islamic revivalism that won the day. Muslim modernism was shunned as being intellectually shallow and, in some ways, apologetic. In comparison, the revivalist Islamic groups and the federated global jihad are unapologetic about what they want: world domination and an end to all creeds other than their own narrow-minded interpretation of Islam. A common thread between all Saudi-funded Islamist militants, be they in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, is their desire to create an ‘Islamic caliphate’. The names they use — for example the Levant or more locally Khorasan — are an implicit rejection of the existing nation states in these regions. This implicit rejection is not always recognised for what it is and sometimes is an objective shared by the ruling elites. Erdogan for example seems to fantasise about resuscitating the Ottoman Empire, encouraging his followers to refer to him as ‘Sultan’. Policymakers in Pakistan’s establishment have long had the fantasy of a Pakistan extending all the way into Central Asia, united by Islam and Pakistan’s army. What these would-be Islamic Napoleons forget is that they are playing with a fire they cannot possibly hope to control. These violent Islamist insurgencies everywhere will attempt to overthrow civil institutions and governments. Erdogan at the end of the day owes his legitimacy to the constitutional electoral process that elected him. If the cynical great gamers of the Pakistani establishment feel that they would be able to bring the Taliban and the Islamists under their control, it is a calculation that will cost them dearly. The time to reach out to Kabul and pledge complete unconditional cooperation is now. Pakistan is in perpetual search for a non-hostile actor in Afghan politics but somehow it fails to consider the possibility that the non-hostile actor may be the elected government of that country and not the Taliban. The reason for this analysis paralysis on the part of Pakistan’s security establishment is that they are still caught up in the Cold War era and are unable to realise that the investment we made 30 years ago has now become a cost centre. If Iran gets involved in Iraq, and it has already sent troops in some parts of the country, Pakistan will risk getting sucked into that predominantly sectarian conflict. That is the last thing Pakistan can afford to do given that it is home to the second largest Shia population in the world. Pakistan’s leadership should stand decisively out of this war and concentrate on putting its own house in order. The first step would be to tell the Saudis to stop meddling in our affairs. We should not countenance even a single dirham from that country that may force us to take sides in the coming conflict.
Pakistan said it launched a major ground offensive Sunday to clear out the Pakistani Taliban and other local and foreign militants from the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) tribal area, a move long sought by the U.S. The news followed predawn airstrikes Sunday by Pakistan in the northwestern tribal areas that the military said killed 105 militants. A U.S. defense official said Sunday that the Pentagon wasn't aware of Pakistan's decision to launch a new offensive in North Waziristan, said a report published in Wall Street Journal. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the attacks on the Karachi airport were a stark reminder of the constant dangers Pakistan faces from militants. "The Pakistan military and the government understand the threat, and they continue to go after that threat," he said. Javed Hussain, a retired brigadier from the Special Services Group commando unit of the Pakistani army, said the army should have first tackled the militants' presence in the cities before moving on to North Waziristan. "Those in the urban areas are completely at the mercy of these monsters," said Mr. Hussain. "They have sleeper cells all over." The Pakistani Taliban and its militant allies are believed by security officials to have members and sympathizers in all major urban areas, including the suburbs of the capital Islamabad. In Karachi, the Taliban has influence over a vast area on the city's periphery, police officers there say. Washington has pressed Islamabad for years to clear out North Waziristan, a sanctuary for Pakistani militants, Afghan insurgents and al Qaeda operatives. Militants based there claimed responsibility for the June 8 attack on Karachi's Jinnah International Airport that left at least 35 dead. North Waziristan, along the border with Afghanistan, is the only one of Pakistan's seven tribal areas that is still largely under militant control. "Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists have waged a war against the state of Pakistan and have been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property," said a statement from the Pakistani military. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had attempted to negotiate a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban, but that effort reached a stalemate in recent weeks and completely collapsed in the wake of the Karachi airport attack. The Pakistani Taliban operate separately from the Afghan Taliban. The military said it was acting "on the direction of the government" and that it had "launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan." Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the defense minister, warned that the country should expect retaliatory attacks by the militants. "Our enemy is a coward. They will try to target the civilian population," Mr. Asif told. Residents in North Waziristan didn't see any immediate signs of ground fighting. The military said that it had isolated North Waziristan by deploying troops to seal off its boundaries with other parts of Pakistan and its border with Afghanistan. Cordons were also thrown around the two main towns of Mir Ali and Miranshah, the military said. A military official said that between 14,000 and 20,000 soldiers, depending on rotations, were normally stationed in North Waziristan before the operation. He expected the offensive would require no more than 30,000 soldiers altogether. North Waziristan has been under curfew for the past two days, including Sunday, giving the civilian population no chance to escape the fighting, local residents said. "Even our water has finished. Food is running out. Our children are ill," said Malik Faridullah, aged 45, speaking from the Mir Ali area. "Eighty percent of the people are still here."
Pakistan on Sunday launched a military operation in a restive province near the border with Afghanistan in an attempt to "finish off" militants in the area "once and for all," Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told CNN. Asif said the operation, which included airstrikes early Sunday, was the government's second option, but negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban failed. Earlier the military released a statement that said 50 suspected terrorists were killed in the strikes. The air raids were based on intelligence about the presence of foreign and local militants who were linked to last week's deadly attack on the Karachi airport, the military said. Asif said the Karachi airport attack was the "straw that broke the camel's back." Pakistani Taliban sources said jets dropped five bombs on the Degan area of North Waziristan. The target was a meeting of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan members, the militant group said, but added that the number of casualties is unclear. "In this operation we will not differentiate between foreign and local militants," Asif said. "We are determined to finish them off, once and for all." Most of the fatalities in the strikes were Uzbek fighters, the military said. The raid took place in Degan and Datta Khel. Asif said the military hopes to conclude the offensive -- called Zarb-e-Azb in Urdu, which translates to "Strike of the Prophet's Sword" -- by the beginning of Ramadan on June 28. But it may take two or three months, he said, until "our land ... is free of this menace." He said it is a Pakistani-only operation and the United States hasn't been asked to assist with drone strikes. Northwestern Pakistan is home to loosely governed tribal areas. It's also a base for foreign fighters and a refuge for members of the Islamist militant Haqqani movement. Last week, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan claimed it carried out the airport attack, which resulted in an hours-long siege and left dozens dead, including the assailants. The militants said the attack was carried out with the Pakistani Taliban. There were reports that travelers were congregating in hotels and restaurants in towns like Bannu after being stranded due to a curfew that began Friday. Asif said the government will help out residents. "We are at war now. There will be inevitable fallouts," he said. "If there is blowback, we are ready and prepared to assist people who have had to flee from their homes."