Tuesday, January 29, 2008



By Fatima Ahmed and Batoor Khanfatimakhan7699@gmail.com

(From Khyber Watch-- 5-9-2007)

In the backdrop of the Taleban resurgence in Afghanistan which has claimed more than 5000 lives so far and threatens to challenge the whole NATO/US mission in that country with obvious consequences for the world peace and security; there has been a renewed interest in the Taleban phenomena and the role of Pakistan therein worldwide.

The popular myth now a day being promoted by a number of players in the Pakistan-Afghanistan blame game is that the Taleban with roots in the Pashtun ethnic group, are in fact a manifestation of the ethnic and nationalist feelings and political aspirations of the Pashtun nation at large, living on both sides of the Durand Line. This is substantiated by a number of assertions by the Pakistani leadership in the recent past and media commentary. For example, while addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels in September last year, President Pervaiz Musharraf said that "the real danger...lies in the emergence and further strengthening of the Taliban, because they have the seeds of converting and drawing the population to them and converting this into a national war by the Pashtuns against maybe all foreign forces."

This shift in characterisation of the Taleban movement from a religious force to one representing the Pashtun nation may be taken as an attempt to give an entirely different outlook to the current insurgency in Afghanistan as well as the tribal areas of Pakistan.A peek at the events in the not so distant past will tell us that 'Religion' and the ‘Doctrine of Jihad’ and not 'Afghan or Pashtun Nationalism' was preferred to be used as slogan to fight and perpetuate the long drawn war against the ‘foreign forces’ of Soviet Union supporting the then Afghan government in the eighties and even afterwards during the brutal civil war of the nineties.

The question that arises is; what has changed in the equation now which suggests terming the current insurgency spearheaded by the Taleban against the Karzai led government and the NATO/US forces as a ‘national struggle of the Pashtuns’ against foreign forces. The answer to this question is simple: while internationally a lot has changed since 9/11, in Pakistan domestically nothing has changed. And this answer easily explains the current shift of language and the attempts to publicize the Talebans as representative of the Pashtun majority aspirations in Afghanistan and even in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

While the Afghan side spearheaded by President Karzai, himself a Pashtun, blames the upsurge in Taleban activities on continuous support by Pakistan and its intelligence agencies, the Pakistani side points to a number of issues inside Afghanistan which fuels the insurgency and sustain it. Chief among these, they argue is the inability of Karzai government to establish its writ beyond Kabul. Some amongst the intelligentsia have even termed President Karzai as the ‘Mayor of Kabul’ to scorn his lack of control over most of Afghanistan.

The failure of the Karzai government and the international community in sustaining the reconstruction process of the country, particularly in the Pashtun majority areas of the South and south- eastern Afghanistan is also quoted as the cause for the alienation of the local population and their increasing support for the Taleban. There are also muted pointers to the lack of proportionate representation of Pashtuns, who make up the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan, in the government institutions, decision making bodies and particularly the security forces.

Together all these factors seem to contribute to the ‘myth’ that Taleban’s struggle against the foreign forces is actually fuelled by Pashtun nationalism. Seen in conjunction with the current emphasis to include the Taleban in the political process in Afghanistan on the lines of the ‘peace deals’ signed by Pakistan with the militants in its own troubled tribal areas of Waziristan (FATA), this could mean a deliberate effort to empower the Taleban on both side of the Durand Line. Simply put, this strategy aims to drive home the point that the Taleban are not an aberration in the Afghan calculus but represent the political aspirations of the majority Pashtun ethnic group and have thus to be accommodated in any political dispensation in Afghanistan.

When analysed in the historical context, it is obvious that this strategy is the same in substance; only the form has been changed to suit the post 9/11 geo-political environment - in nutshell ‘old wine in new bottle’. During the Afghan War, for the USA and the west, the objective was simple: defeat of communism; however for Pakistan the question was much more fundamental and related to its own domestic problems.

Beside the defeat of Communism, there were three main objectives of the Afghan war strategy.

• Counterbalance the majority traditionally liberal and secular minded Pashtun nationalists with in Pakistan demanding greater share in resources and political rights in the backdrop of the 1971 debacle leading to the creation of Bangla-Desh and the bloody insurgency in Balochistan in 1974/75.

• Simultaneously, neutralize the nationalist elements in Afghanistan represented by the Soviet supported communist regime, which were likely to gain strength and thus exert more pressure on Pakistan with regard to the Pushtunistan issue if left untouched, leading to trouble in the Pashtun belt on Pakistan side.

• In the long term, use Islam to influence events in Afghanistan, which beside other benefits, will ensure that her western borders will be well protected. This was deemed vital to the survival and defence of Pakistan against the arch enemy India in the backdrop of the 1971 War and explosion by India of its first nuclear device in 1974. This notion was widely propagated and found expression in terminologies like ensuring ‘strategic depth’ and having a ‘friendly political dispensation’ in Afghanistan.

To pursue this strategy, General Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator thus supported, funded and empowered the fringe religious 'clergy' in the Pashtun areas within Pakistan against the majority, largely liberal nationalists, while across the Durand Line in Afghanistan, it shaped the struggle against the Soviet supported Afghan government as ‘Afghan Islamic Jihad’.

This strategy ensured a degree of local support to the Afghan Resistance by the politico-religious groups on the one hand, while on the other it wrested the political power away from the traditionally liberal, secular and nationalist elements in the Pashtun dominated areas and empowered the politico- religious parties which have always been far more supportive of the establishment.

Another reason and a more fundamental one which explains why the Afghan Resistance was fought on the basis of religion and not Afghan or Pashtun nationalism was that the use of religion as a political instrument is central to the survival of the Pakistani state itself. In the absence of a vision based on collective well being of all its citizens, democratic traditions which ensure equal share for all segments of the multi-ethnic society, and a system which ensures centralisation and perpetuation of power in the hands of the elite to the detriment of all the various ethnic groups; the only glue that binds the country together is Islam. Recourse to religion is therefore critical to hold the reins of power in this country.

In the absence of such an alternative, the various nationalities which have been kept on the periphery of political and economic power for more than half a century are bound to question the legitimacy of the state and demand greater autonomy and political rights for themselves, thus threatening the status quo and the interests of the dominant elite.

Much has changed in the world in the aftermath of 9/11; however, unfortunately, little has altered in Pakistan’s domestic situation which would allow some space to bring a shift in this strategy. In Pakistan, the use of religion to control the domestic problems as well as retain/regain a degree of influence across the Durand Line remains a compulsion and not a matter of choice. In fact, projecting the Taleban as representing the political aspirations of the Pashtuns, while still retaining their religious leanings, is an attempt to reassure the international community of their legitimacy as a group having popular support of the Pashtuns.

At the same time it aims to dilute the negative effects of the stigma of religious extremism and fanaticism attached to Taleban in view of their links with Al-Qaeeda and the brutalities they committed while they were in power in Kabul. And as before, simultaneously it aims to strengthen the politico-religious elements in the North West Frontier Province, tribal areas and Balochistan to neutralise the nationalist elements which are again gaining popular support due to the media explosion and unhealthy economic policies of the past.

The situation is further made explosive by the senseless killing of their Pashtun brethren in the name of the war against terrorism on both sides of the Durand Line. It was in this context that a grand Pashtun Peace Jirga was held in Peshawar on 20 Nov last year, organised by the nationalist parties and attended by a large majority of the liberal/secular leadership of the Pashtun ethnic group. This Jirga or ‘meeting of elders’ unanimously demanded an end to the bloodshed in the Pashtun lands on both sides of the Durand Line in the name of religion and the war on terrorism.

This situation is further exasperated by the simmering nationalist/separatist movement across the Balochistan province.This new characterisation of Talebanisation as Pashtun nationalism and terming the Taleban led insurgency as a demand for political empowerment of the Pashtun ethnic group in Afghanistan must therefore be viewed with a pinch of salt.

The Taleban was never a nationalist movement nor did they enlist support from the Pakistani or Afghan Pashtuns in the name of their ethnic identity. They were a natural outcome of the decade’s old policy of support to the politico-religious right, then were nourished and aided according to a strategy. That strategy still remains the same - political manoeuvring by the powerful elite in Pakistan to use religion to divide the Pashtuns, denying their political rights and at the same time to regain and maintain some degree of influence in Afghanistan.

Obviously this can not be achieved by siding with and supporting the largely liberal, secular and democratic minded majority of the Pashtuns; for the fear that the elite will have to relinquish the powers they hold over all ethnic minorities and give them their political rights and control over their resources.

The powers that be would therefore continue drumming the spectre of Islamic extremism in Pashtuns and frightening the world on the one hand and continue supporting the fringe clergy on the other, to continue reaping the benefits that such a strategy entails. The tragedy is that the religious extremism symbolised by the Taleban has no roots in Pashtun society or culture which may be culturally conservative but is predominantly liberal, non-violent and democratic in nature. The ultimate losers in all this are the poor Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line.


The rebel who opted for death ( From Khyber Watch)

Saturday, 04 August 2007

Amir Mir
Mohammad Noor Alam alias Abdullah Mehsud, an ex-Guantanamo Bay inmate who became one of the most wanted jihadi commanders resisting the Pakistani security forces in the South Waziristan region, blew himself up with a hand grenade in the wee hours of July 24 after the Pakistani security forces closed in on his Zhob hideout in Balochistan and asked him to surrender.

The Islamic rebel’s death comes amid intensifying American pressure on General Musharraf to take military action against al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. Abdullah Mehsud, 32, was one of seven Guantanamo detainees publicly identified by the US Defence Department as having returned to the fight against the US-led Allied Forces following their release. With the death of the one-legged militant commander, tagged as one of the most wanted militants by the Pakistan government for masterminding the October 2004 abduction of two Chinese engineers, a powerful chapter in the ongoing pro-Taliban resistance movement in the tribal areas is effectively over.

Before being killed, Abdullah Mehsud had gradually filled the shoes of his late comrade, Commander Nek Mohammad Zalikhel, to become the new hero of the tribal youth, who view with contempt the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and oppose the Pakistan government’s siding with the US in the war against terror.

Nek Mohammad, the jihadi mentor of Mehsud was killed in June 2005 in South Waziristan following a laser-guided missile attack carried out by the Afghanistan-based Allied Forces on a tip off by the Pakistani security and intelligence agencies. Shortly before being killed, Nek had claimed responsibility for the June 10, 2004 bloody ambush on a convoy of Corps Commander Karachi Lt. General Ahsan Saleem Hayat near the Clifton Bridge in Karachi that killed 12 people including several army men.

As far as the 32-year-old Abdullah Mehsud is concerned, he is believed to have earned General Musharraf’s ire for masterminding the abduction of two Chinese engineers, Wang Peng and Wang Ende, in October 2004. One of the engineers was killed in a commando operation carried out by the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army on October 14 while the other one was rescued. As soon as the operation was over, General Musharraf had publicly declared that he would personally shoot Abdullah Mehsud dead if he ever came across him. However, the militant commander used to defend his action by arguing that the kidnapping was only meant to embarrass General Musharraf internationally and to force him to stop the military operations in South Waziristan.“I am not against the Chinese people and I do realize that China is Pakistan’s best friend. But desperate people do desperate things and that is why I ordered the kidnapping of the Chinese engineers. I felt this act would hurt the Musharraf regime the most,” Mehsud had argued in an interview in July 2004.

The abduction episode apart, Mehsud had generated as much controversy among the tribal people of South Waziristan as his predecessor, late Commander Nek Mohammad. Massive military operations forced him to leave his sanctuaries in South Waziristan and move to North Waziristan to take refuge in the isolated and rugged terrain of Shawal. Shortly before his death, Mehsud had proceeded to the Helmand province of Afghanistan and was on his way back to his native South Waziristan, before stopping over in Zhob prior to entering neighbouring South Waziristan, where he was spotted.

Abdullah Mehsud was born in the mid-1970s to a humble Slimikhel tribesman Saidullah in the Nano village of the Sarwakai Tehsil in South Waziristan Agency. Coming from a comparatively educated family, his real name was Noor Alam but he preferred being known as Abdullah. He belonged to the Mehsud tribe and some of his family members, including his brother Major Asghar Mehsud and brother-in-law Colonel Yaqoob Mehsud, had served in the Pakistan Army.

Abdullah completed his primary education from a government school in Nano and went on to Karachi while his father was posted there as a security officer with PIA. After completing high school from Karachi, Abdullah was admitted to the famous Jamia Binori religious seminary for some time – the same madrassa where some leading jihadi leaders like the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar used to study.

A few years later, his father was transferred to Peshawar, where he completed his intermediate from Pakistan Air Force College. His family is known to have had links with the Jamaat-e-Islami from an early period and Mehsud himself was a member of its student wing, Islami Jamiat-i-Tuleba during his college years in Karachi. Since the Jamaat was an ally of Gulbadin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami, it never had a cozy relationship with the Taliban militia. Still Mehsud crossed over from Quetta to Kandahar in 1995 as part of a volunteer contingent deployed to beef up Taliban ranks before the student militia’s famous assault on Herat.

In Afghanistan, Mehsud was recruited for jihad by a Kandahari commander of the Taliban, Mullah Agha Jan. Although he fought against the forces of Ahmed Shah Masood on several fronts including Kabul, Bagram and Kunduz, Mehsud remained in touch with Kandahar, which used to be the headquarters of the Taliban.

In September 1996, when the Taliban militia marched on Kabul with the backing of the Pakistani military and intelligence establishments, a landmine planted by the retreating forces of Afghan Defence Minister Ahmad Shah Masood blew up, costing Mehsud his right leg. He was brought to Pakistan and taken to a Karachi hospital for treatment, where he got an artificial leg. But his never-ending urge to fight once again took him to Afghanistan. So motivated was he that he never let his physical handicap come in the way of what he thought was the right course — to fight in the way of Allah.

Five years later, in December 2001, when Mehsud surrendered along with several thousand Taliban fighters to the forces of Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum in Kunduz, he was still fighting for the Taliban. He was first lodged in the notorious Shiberghan prison in Jauzjan province of Afghanistan and later handed over to the US military authorities, to be shifted to Camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay.

Once in prison, Mehsud identified himself as an Afghan national despite being a Pakistani, belonging to the Slimikhel branch of the Manzai sub-tribe of the Mehsuds. He was eventually released in March 2004 after spending 25 months at Guantanamo Bay.

In an October 2004 telephonic interview with Gulf News, Mehsud was quoted as saying that he carried the identity card of an Afghan citizen while fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. “This was the reason that I was flown to Kabul after my release from the Guantanamo Bay prison along with other Afghan prisoners in March 2004. I managed to keep my Pakistani identity hidden all these years,” he had stated.

Till his release in March 2004, Abdullah Mehsud wasn’t well known even in his native South Waziristan. But the stint in an American jail and his artificial leg soon made him a household name in the area. His long hair and daredevil nature made him a colourful and interesting character. Stories were told as to how he rides a camel or horse to visit his fighters in his mountainous abode.

A time came when Mehsud started making speeches in mosques and madrassas of South Waziristan, preaching jihad and exhorting the young people to fight against the US and its allies. In his Taliban-style turban and with his flowing locks of hair, he recruited hundreds of young tribesmen and motivated them for a do-or-die struggle against the Army’s incursion into the semi-autonomous and lawless region bordering Afghanistan. He soon became a hero to anti-US fighters active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, the 2004 imposition of economic sanctions against the Mehsud tribe by the military authorities infuriated the religiously motivated tribal youth, who reacted strongly by extending their all out support to the Mehsud against the Pakistani security forces in the area. The economic sanctions were actually meant to force the Mehsud tribe to hand over the wanted foreign nationals being sheltered by them. As a punishment, the Mehsud tribesmen were coerced into closing their shops in Tank and a fine of Rs 10,000 was imposed on those who defied the ban.

The tribesmen’s refusal to give up the fugitives led to a bloody military operation in South Waziristan, which culminated in the June 2004 killing of Commander Nek Mohammad.It was not until October 2004 that Abdullah Mehsud’s name shot to prominence and hit the international media headlines following the abduction of two Chinese engineers working at a multi-million dollar multi-purpose water project in the Gomal Zam area. A stubborn Mehsud owned up to the abduction, demanded the government spoke to him and refused to listen to his military officer brother, family and tribal elders. The kidnapping ended on a tragic note as one of the Chinese workers was killed and Mehsud was declared the most wanted militant.

The abduction fiasco apparently had not gone down well with the Pakistani Taliban. Much to his disappointment, Mehsud was demoted to the No 2 position to become deputy to Baitullah Mehsud, the chieftain of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan.Abdullah became largely isolated, both politically and physically, after most of the renegade Wazir tribes including the Mehsuds struck a deal with the Pakistan Army. While signing a peace accord with the Army, Baitullah Mehsud gave his word that his tribe would not protect Abdullah Mehsud. As a reaction, Mehsud severed all contacts with leaders of his own Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan, while preferring to keep ties with Taliban commanders in southern Afghanistan.

Pakistani intelligence, which kept a tab on his whereabouts, had traced Mehsud to Musa Qilla in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in May 2007, fighting the NATO and Afghan forces. Before leaving for Afghanistan, Mehsud was accused of operating a suicide bombing training camp in Dela near the South Waziristan Agency, besides being held responsible for the April 28, 2007 failed suicide bomb attack on Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao. After the futile attack, Mehsud left for Helmand where he developed a problem with his second leg and was on his way back home when security forces caught up with him in Zhob, making him explode himself.

The baby-faced commander gave frequent telephonic interviews to journalists in Waziristan area, repeatedly saying that he is leading his fighters by example, taking risks and surviving in tough conditions. He said he never wanted to take up arms against the Pakistan Army but had to wage jihad against the government of Musharraf, who he accused of siding with infidels by carrying out US policies in the region to protect its vested interests. “There is no going back for me and my colleagues. We would fight the US and its allies, including the Musharraf regime, until the very end.”

Asked about the military authorities’ demand for his surrender, Abdullah said: Surrender is out of the question. I will never surrender and prefer to embrace martyrdom while fighting till the last drop of my blood.”Mehsud kept his word and remained defiant till his death on July 24, and was laid to rest on July 25 at his home town in the militant-infested tribal district of South Waziristan.

“Commander Abdullah Mehsud died a hero’s death,” the prayer leader told the gathering of mourners who had assembled to offer his namaz-e-janaza. “He did not surrender to the forces working for the infidels and preferred to die in an honourable way, setting an example for all mujahedin to follow.” An emotionally charged crowd of jihadi mourners carrying assault rifles and rocket launchers raised slogans of “Allahu Akbar”, “Allahu Akbar” and “Al-jihad, “Al-jihad!” as their rebel militant commander’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

The writer is the former editor of Weekly Independent, currently affiliated with Gulf News and the Spanish News Agency EFE as its Pakistan in charge.



(From Pakistan Policy Blog---22-1-08)

Ahmad Zaidan, al-Jazeera’s Islamabad bureau chief, interviewed Baitullah Mehsud in December. The video, provided above, was aired on the station a few days ago. It’s Mehsud’s first television interview.

The leader of Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) speaks in Pashto (translated by AJ into Arabic) while Zaidan presents the questions in Arabic.

Some key points are below.

On the Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan

The alliance took so long to form because of several challenges, including the assistance needed by the Arabs and Uzbeks and the attempts of the Pakistani government to divide the population. The biggest losers of the Taliban alliance, says Mehsud, will be Washington, Britain, and the other countries of disbelief.
Relations with the original Taliban and al-Qaeda

He and his group members have given their bayah, or oath of allegiance, to Mullah Omar, the amir ul mumineen. Omar leads not only Afghanistan, but the entire Muslim world. The Muslims, even in America, are “our” brothers.
Skirts issue of relations with AQ, particularly bin Laden and Zawahiri. Simply says a Muslim is a brother of a Muslim. Does mention that Zarqawi was among Mehsud & Co. prior to heading to Iraq.


First priority is the conducting of a defensive jihad. He says the Pakistani army attacks their homes on the orders of George W. Bush. Would like Pakistani forces out b/c of their displayed ‘barbarism’.

Secondary goal is the application of Islamic law throughout Pakistan. The movement will not just be in the northwest, but spread throughout Pakistan into Punjab and Sindh.

The Pakistani Army

It plays the different tribes and regions off of one another. In area X it is in peace talks or has a truce in place, and then in area Y it is in a state of war. Then the roles change, and it is in combat against area X and talking peace with area Y. He calls this a “policy of deception.”

The Pakistani army’s war in the tribal areas is an American war. He quotes the Qur’anic prohibition on taking Jews and Christians (5:51) as one’s protectors several times.

Musharraf is a slave of Bush, the West, and the disbelievers. He’s declared a war against them and the Arab and Uzbek migrants, who have come to defend Islam and Pakistan, under American pressure. He submitted them to the Americans, killed women and children.

Nuclear Weapons

Islam doesn’t permit the killing of women and children, which nukes would inevitably do. Don’t have thoughts about the use of nuclear weapons. America killed innocents in Japan–Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fear right now is the use of American bombs against the Muslims as they used against the Japanese. Says, we fear the American bombs, not the Pakistani bombs. At least the Pakistani bombs are controlled by Muslims.

Beyond Pakistan

“Yes, we send and will send our boys into Afghanistan for jihad.”
Denied links to India, Iran, etc. Says his successes are due to the grace of God. Skirts issue of funding source. Says their arsenal comes from booty taken from opponents.



Pakistan’s army continues to make gains in Swat, a settled, scenic valley in the North-West Frontier Province. According to Director General Military Operations Maj. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Operation Rah-e Haq has been successfully completed.

The army, he says, established its hold over the area in late December,2007, killing or apprehending major militants associated with Maulana Fazlullah, who remains holed up in a mountainous area packed in by recent heavy snowfall. It is now making steps toward issuing a compensation and development package for the area and has replaced Fazlullah’s FM radio station with several of its own. The speed and effectiveness of the government’s resettlement of internally displaced people and restoring the civil administration and political parties remains significant. Half-hearted measures will only result in local discontent that Fazlullah or a subsequent variant can feed off of.

In a marked contrast to the government’s military success in Swat, it continues to struggle in South Waziristan. This week, two forts were taken over by insurgents, who had little trouble combating the undertrained and ill-equipped paramilitary Frontier Corps. Their Wednesday night attack on a fort, which they held and then withdrew from, was made by a group of 200-1,000 men, overwhelming the 40 FC troops stationed there.

This large scale attack by neo-Taliban affiliated with Baitullah Mehsud is the first of its kind as guerrilla tactics are normally used. If this marks a strategic shift for Mehsud, it is both an alarming development for Pakistan’s military as well as a potential source of opportunity. Its success in Swat was partially precipitated by the overstretching of Maulana Fazlullah’s forces, though Fazlullah’s group is vastly smaller and less sophisticated and armed than Mehsud’s. And so if Mehsud’s forces press toward Pakistani military installations in large numbers, they provide an opportunity to be eliminated in larger numbers of them in a short amount of time with an aerial assault. That is why Mehsud group did not hold on to the fort in Wednesday night’s attack.

U.S. Special Forces’ counterinsurgency training of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps accelerates this year, but there’s no indication that any substantive progress will be achieved before the spring. In the interim, Pakistan could benefit by goading Mehsud into adopting more conventional and exposing tactics.

Tea with the Taliban

As the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan sat and drank chai with former Taliban leader and now Musa Qala governor Abdul Salaam, the strategy of dividing and containing (or incorporating) the Taliban continues in Pakistan. The federal government is exploiting the traditional and on-going rivalries between the Ahmedzai Wazirs and the Mehsuds in Southern Waziristan. It could be imposing a blockade of sorts on the Mehsuds, to the advantage of the Ahmedzais. Curbing the flow of drugs and other illicit contrabands will weaken the Mehsuds, but it’s unclear as to whether the Pakistani military is effectively declaring war on the Mehsud tribe or whether it’s trying to make them see Baitullah Mehsud as a source of their problems.

(From Pakistan Policy Blog)


New Taliban Chief Entering Limelight

By KATHY GANNON – 3 days ago (27-1-08)
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.
The banner was Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of murdering former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The move is an attempt to present a united front against the Pakistani army, which has been fighting insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. It is also the latest sign of the rise of Mehsud, considered the deadliest of the Taliban mullahs or clerics in northwest Pakistan.

Mehsud is based in the rugged, heavily treed mountains of South Waziristan, one of Pakistan's so-called tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, where Western intelligence says al-Qaida is regrouping. His organization has claimed responsibility, often backed up by videos, for killing and kidnapping hundreds of soldiers, beheading women and burning schools that teach girls anything other than religion. He also claims he has a steady supply of suicide bombers and strong ties to al-Qaida.

"Al-Qaida has succeeded in building a base in the last two or three years mostly with help from Mehsud," said Ahmed Zaidan, a reporter for Al-Jazeera Television in Qatar who interviewed Mehsud three weeks ago. "They are moving freely in the tribal areas where it is difficult for the Pakistan army to move."
During the interview, Mehsud said in halting Arabic that he had never met Osama bin Laden but knew Abu Musab al-Zarqawi well. Al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born head of al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in a U.S. air raid two years ago.

Al-Qaida gives Mehsud money and logistical advice, according to one of his Taliban allies, Maulvi Muslim, who spoke to The Associated Press in a voice that barely rose above a whisper and fell silent when a stranger walked by.
The Al-Qaida funds don't always come in cash. Rather, Afghan and Pakistani businessmen — usually in the United Arab Emirates — are given money to buy high-priced goods like cars. The goods are shipped to Pakistan and sold, often tripling al-Qaida's investment. The businessmen, with sympathies to al-Qaida, take a small cut while al-Qaida spreads the wealth among its allies.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan share ideological goals but have separate structures, Muslim said. The spiritual head of both is the one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of Afghanistan's Taliban before being ousted by the U.S.-led coalition in November 2001 and to whom Mehsud swore allegiance in 2001, according to Muslim.

Mehsud, thought to be in his 40s, is secretive and, like Mullah Omar, hates to be photographed. He is described as devoted to the Taliban and not well educated.
"They say he is free from all vices, walks around covering almost half his face all the time," said Mehmood Shah, a retired Pakistani brigadier who was the government's former point man for the tribal regions. "He is very modest in his manners and polite."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has also accused Mehsud's men of carrying out most of 19 suicide bombings in Pakistan over just three months. Newspapers quoted him as threatening Bhutto's life, but he denied it, and also denied Pakistani accusations that he was behind her Dec. 27 assassination.
Mehsud is also quoted as saying jihad is the only way to peace, a belief reflected in his history.

Muslim says Mehsud's first battlefield experience was in Afghanistan in the late 1980s against Soviet invaders. His mentor at the time was Jalaluddin Haqqani, a powerful commander in eastern Afghanistan backed by the United States against the Soviets. Now Haqqani is wanted as a terrorist by the U.S. and NATO.

According to both Muslim and another Taliban source, when the U.S. invaded in 2001, Mehsud fought with the Taliban in Shah-e-Kot in eastern Afghanistan. Scores of Uzbek, Tajik and Arab fighters are believed to have escaped from Shah-e-Kot to South Waziristan, where Mehsud rules. The Mehsud tribe is not the largest in South Waziristan, but it has a reputation for being the fiercest.
Mehsud's ascent reflects the failure of Pakistan's army with its U.S. funding to win control of its tribal areas.

When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Mehsud was not prominent among the Pakistani militants who supported Afghanistan's Taliban, according to Shah, the former army officer."Mehsud was a small fry, but I could see in time he could be of some problem," Shah said. "I was trying to get big tribal people onto the government side and religious people onto the government side to isolate these hard-core types like him."

It was a long process. Pakistan got tribal leaders to put up money or weapons as guarantees that they would keep peace __ a traditional tribal strategy that makes sure one tribe doesn't renege on its promise to another. If they misbehaved, Pakistan tried to strangle their businesses and hammer them with force.

Shah recalled destroying 80 shops belonging to a renegade tribal leader.
At the time, Shah said, Mehsud was not even the definitive leader of South Waziristan. At one point, he became embroiled in a power struggle with another in his tribe, Abdullah Mehsud, an Afghan war veteran who had spent time in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Abdullah Mehsud opposed any agreement with the Pakistani government.

Shah said he made a point of operating within the tribal structures and dealing with the tribal leaders and not the Pakistani Taliban commanders emerging at the time.

But by the end of 2004, the Pakistani army had started negotiations with the militants, Shah said. The pressure to negotiate came from the provincial government of the frontier, a coalition of right-wing religious parties sympathetic to the Taliban and opposed to the Western troop presence in Afghanistan.

Musharraf, whose rule as both Pakistani president and army chief of staff was being challenged in 2004, agreed to talks in exchange for the support of the provincial government. As a result, the Pakistani government on Feb. 7, 2005 signed a peace agreement with Mehsud.

According to Shah, Mehsud's troop strength then went from less than 100 to about 20,000, or roughly half the total thought to be under Taliban command in the northwest region that straddles the Pakistan-Afghan border. The agreement gave Mehsud the time to consolidate his forces and kill pro-government tribal leaders.

"The government policy of appeasement gave Mehsud a free hand to recruit and motivate," said Shah, who described Mehsud as "very cool and calculating."
Within a year of the agreement, Shah said, 123 pro-government tribal leaders were gunned down on Mehsud's orders, accused of spying. Other suspected spies were publicly hanged or beheaded. In the Bajour region of the tribal belt, many residents say they buy Taliban protection by letting one son join its ranks.
Mehsud also negotiated a prisoner exchange with Musharraf in November. Mehsud handed over a couple of hundred soldiers who had surrendered to the Taliban without firing a shot. In exchange, Musharraf gave up 19 men who were in custody on terrorism charges, including a son of Mehsud's mentor, Jalaluddin Haqqani, who had been in Pakistan custody.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Editorial: The rise of Tehreek-e-Taliban (DAILY TIMES OF LAHORE,29-1-08)

The former interior minister, Mr Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, has been outspoken to the foreign press about the strength of Talibanisation in Pakistan, pointing to its penetration of Pakistan’s electoral process. He told The New York Times that the only way to confront it was through “swift and decisive action”, but, he added, “the police are scared; they don’t want to get involved” and the paramilitary Frontier Corps was “too stressed” to meet the challenge. He expressed his dismay over the fact that while the Pakistan Army had forces in the Tribal Areas where the militants have built their sanctuaries, “the soldiers have remained in their headquarters” and not out front fighting them.

Mr Sherpao then said something more frightening. He claimed that the Taliban were supported by elements determined to affect the electoral process in their favour: “the Taliban are well-financed, skilled in propaganda and paying political opponents to stay away from the elections”. Fearing “total Talibanisation”, he warned that unless political parties, civil society, and religious leaders unitedly acted against it, it was bound to overwhelm Pakistan.

As if on cue, the next statement on the continuing power of the Taliban came from the Afghanistan President, Mr Hamid Karzai, who told the Washington Post that his country along with Pakistan faced “gloom and doom” from Taliban insurgents, and called for the world to “join hands” to defeat the “Islamist” rebels. He said, without naming Pakistan, that the Taliban had “external backers”, but the US intelligence had made it clear that the Taliban “receive support from the tribal areas on Pakistan’s western border”. Like President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan he too referred to extremism as the dominant worldview in the region and asked for firm international opposition to it.

As Mr Sherpao spoke, the NWFP was getting ready to enforce a special judiciary of Qazis in the provincially controlled areas of Swat, Dir and Chitral. On the surface the courts would be presided over by normal judges but would be helpless to follow the verdict of the clerical “adviser” attached to the courts. Fears are being expressed that verdicts handed down by these “qazi courts” would simply supplement the extremism of Talibanisation which has so far waged war against the culture and economy of the region.

Reacting to the development, Mr Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), has stated that Islam had not laid down any edict in favour of “qazi courts”. It would clearly be a parallel system that the Taliban would support.

The area has already been primed for a parallel extremist system by illegal FM radio and in the federally administered Khyber Agency punishments like stoning to death are already being doled out.Meanwhile reports are circulating in the world that in the middle of this month, 40 different groups commanding an army of 40,000 gathered in Peshawar to unite under a single banner, Tehreek-e-Taliban under Baitullah Mehsud.

According to Al Jazeera TV, Mr Mehsud has facilitated the building of a base in South Waziristan for elements of Al Qaeda. During the TV interview, Mr Mehsud claimed he had never met Osama bin Laden but had known Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda leader who died in Iraq fighting the Americans, but sources inside the Tribal Areas say Mr Mehsud received funding from Al Qaeda: “Afghan and Pakistani businessmen — usually in the UAE — are given money to buy high-priced goods like cars. The goods are shipped to Pakistan and sold, often tripling Al Qaeda’s investment”.

What was the most important factor in the rise of Baitullah Mehsud? According to a former adviser to the government on Tribal Areas, Brigadier (Retd) Mehmood Shah, it was the conciliatory policies imposed on Islamabad by the clerical MMA government of the NWFP. “Peace agreements” were signed with Mr Mehsud because President Musharraf was under pressure to obtain the cooperation of the NWFP government, but within weeks tribal elders and dignitaries known to support the government began to be gunned down till there was no one left in the Tribal Areas to speak for Pakistan.

Because of Mr Mehsud’s personal allegiance, Afghanistan’s former ruler Mullah Muhammad Umar leads the Taliban on both sides of the Durand Line. A very transparent ruse was revealed last week when Mullah Umar actually “fired” Mr Mehsud for attacking Pakistan and not the Americans in Afghanistan.The US is supposed to have offered a wider CIA role in the Tribal Areas to President Musharraf earlier this month, which the president rebuffed. But there is need to focus on the issue of Tehreek-e-Taliban in order to protect the 2008 elections. It is only after a political consensus is reached through the elections that effective action to bring the writ of the state back to the region will be possible.


Baitullah is on his own, say Afghan Taliban

Bureau Report

PESHAWAR, Jan 28: The Taliban in Afghanistan have distanced themselves from Pakistani militants led by Baitullah Mehsud, saying they don’t support any militant activity in Pakistan.“We do not support any militant activity and operation in Pakistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Dawn on telephone from an undisclosed location on Monday.

The spokesman denied media reports that the Taliban had expelled Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.“Baitullah is a Pakistani and we as the Afghan Taliban have nothing to do with his appointment or his expulsion. We did not appoint him and we have not expelled him,” he said.

A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud has already denied the expulsion report in a Hong Kong magazine and said that the militant leader continued to be the amir of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan.“He has not been expelled and he continues to be the amir of Pakistani Taliban,” Baitullah’s spokesman Maulavi Omar said.

The Asia Times Online in a report last week claimed that the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had removed Baitullah from the leadership of the Taliban movement for fighting in Pakistan at the expense of ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan.“We have no concern with anybody joining or leaving the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Ours is an Afghan movement and we as a matter of policy do not support militant activity in Pakistan,” the Taliban spokesman said.“Had he been an Afghan we would have expelled him the same way we expelled Mansoor Dadullah for disobeying the orders of Mullah Omar. But Baitullah is a Pakistani Talib and whatever he does is his decision. We have nothing to do with it,” Mr Mujahid maintained.“We have nothing to do with anybody’s appointment or expulsion in the Pakistani Taliban movement,” he insisted.

Baitullah, who has been accused of plotting the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto, told Al Jazeera in an interview that he had taken baya’h (oath of allegiance) to Mullah Muhammad Omar and obeyed his orders.But the Taliban spokesman said the oath of allegiance did not mean that Pakistani militants were under direct operational control of Mullah Omar.“There are mujahideen in Iraq who have taken baya’h to Mullah Omar and there are mujahideen in Saudi Arabia who have taken baya’h to him. So taking baya’h does not mean that Mullah Omar has direct operational control over them,” the spokesman said.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Musharraf faces new militant challenge---Daily Times of Lahore, 28-1-08

Analysts say president must choose between fighting terrorists or letting them gain ground

ISLAMABAD: With militants now massing at the gates of Peshawar, President Pervez Musharraf faces a new challenge on his return from a foreign tour, analysts and officials have said.After a week-long charm offensive in Europe aimed at convincing Western allies he can tackle Al Qaeda, Musharraf will return home this week to find rebels clashing with security forces just outside Peshawar.Long-standing dilemna: Analysts said Musharraf must resolve a long-standing dilemma — go after the militant leadership and risk even more suicide attacks in the countryy’s major cities, or hold back and see the insurgents push further into the country.“These militants have been expanding their influence in the northwest, and it has been happening for quite a few days,” Brigadier Mahmood Shah, the former secretary for the Tribal Areas during 2003 and 2004, told AFP. “The government is reacting late to the threat and the situation,” added Shah, who was in charge of the Tribal Areas at a time of massive military operations to drive out the fighters.The army is denying that the clashes are linked to the situation in South Waziristan, the stronghold of Al Qaeda-linked radical warlord and former premier Benazir Bhutto assassination suspect Baitullah Mehsud.But Rahimullah Yousafzai, an analyst on tribal affairs and leading journalist in the country, said the current battles near Peshawar and in South Waziristan were linked due to a change in militant tactics.“It is a diversion, they are trying to help militants in South Waziristan by engaging the army elsewhere,” Yousafzai said.“The ammunition trucks were being carried by the army to Waziristan — this seizure was to help Baitullah Mehsud.” Yousafzai said Taliban and Al Qaeda militants were now present in most of the NWFP and were abandoning a defensive policy of launching suicide attacks in retaliation for military operations. afp

Thursday, January 24, 2008


PakDef Forums > PakDef.Info > Pakistan Military & Strategic Forum > Military History Archive > Frontier Corps
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SyedA03-28-2004, 09:01 PMFrontier Corps
It is an historical fact that the tribes living in mountainous area West of River Indus had preserved their independence against the forces of many invading forces/rulers. When the Sikh Empire collapsed and Punjab was annexed by British on 29 Jan 1849, the areas comprising the present North West Frontier Province, also came under their way. It was a difficult task to subjugate the tribes even by the active help/Support of the British. However, within another fifty years, many expeditions were sent against them and some sort of hold was established. The misadventure in Afghanistan by the British in the Second Afghan War of 1878-80 led to the demarcation of the Durand Line.
The demarcation of Durand Line increased the responsibilities of the British. By that time, they had already established Khyber Agency in 1878, Kurram Agency in 1892 and the Malakand, North and South Waziristan Agencies were established in 1895-96. These administrative agencies in the area had their own units of Militia and Scouts, namely, the Khyber Rifles (1878), Zhob Militia (1883) the Kurram Militia (1892), Tochi Scouts (1894), Chagai Militia (1896). South Waziristan Scouts (1900) and Chitral Scouts (1903). Various Frontier Corps Force (PIFFERS) units of the Frontier Army force also remained stationed at Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Mardan etc in support of the Scouts.

The arrival in India of Lord Curzon as Viceroy and Governor General in 1899 brought at a change in the policy about the border tribes. He entrusted the job of the PIFFERS to the Scouts and Militia Units. According to a unique tradition, the PIFFER Units and Scouts, used to accept LRC (Last Ration Certificate) of each others personnel despite different accounting systems. These units had been raised in different areas and organised according to local requirements.

With the new role, an organisation for coordination was felt necessary. As such a separate Headquarters was created in 1907. The new organisation that was called the Frontier Corps initially comprised the above-mentioned seven units. An inspecting officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel was appointed as head of the Frontier Corps. His job was to coordinate the activities of the Militia and Scouts and also to re-organise these units in the light of new responsibilities. The offices of the Inspecting officers and IGFC’s used to be in a building near the present Provincial Assembly Hall. These were later shifted to Bala Hisar Fort in 1949. The first Inspecting Officer was Colonel W.C Barrett, DSO.

In 1943, the designation of Inspecting Officer Frontier Corps, was changed to the Inspector General and Secretary, Frontier Corps (NWFP), with the rank of a Brigadier whose jurisdiction stretched from Skardu in Northern Area to NWFP, Baluchistan and down to sea coast of Mekran. By then, the First Mahsud Scouts, raised in 1937, had also been included in the Frontier Corps. In later years, the Second Mahsud Scouts (1944), the Pishin Scouts (1946), the Thall Scouts (1948), the Northern Scouts (1949), the Bajaur Scouts (1961), the Karakoram Scouts (1964), the Kalat Scouts (1965) and Dir Scouts (1970) were also added. The Kohistan Scouts, were raised on 31st December 1977 at Fort Milward by Major Abdul Qadir Khan but disbanded in 1981. When as a result of one-unit, the province of West Pakistan, was created in 1955, the word "Secretary" was dropped.

By 1947 the Frontier Corps had further increased in strength and had become a very big force looking after the area from the Karakoram in the North to the Mekran Coast in the South. The area of responsibility was well over 2500 miles in length. It was, therefore, decided to bifurcate the Frontier Corps. The units stationed in Northern Areas Skardu/Gilgit directly came under the Army, and Baluchistan province came under Frontier Corps (Baluchistan) with Headquarters at Quetta and headed by its IGFC. These units included Zhob Militia, Sibi Scouts, Kalat Scouts, Mekran Militia, Kharan Rifles, Pishin Scouts, Chaghai Militia and First Mahsud Scouts which were re-named as Maiwand Rifles, Ghazaband Scouts, Bhambore Rifles, Kharan Rifles and Loralai Scouts were also raised later on. Mekran Militia which had ceased to exist in early sixties was also re-raised. The units serving in the North West Frontier Province came under Frontier Corps (NWFP) with Headquarters at Peshawar. Second Mahsud Scouts became Mahsud Scouts. Mohmand Rifles and Shawal Rifles were raised later on. The following Pakistani IGFC’s have commanded so far:
Brig Ahmad Jan, MBE (1950-51)
Brig K A Rahim Khan (1951-53)
Brig Bakhtiar Rana, MC (1953-55)
Brig Sadiq Ullah Khan, M.C (1955-58)
Brig Rahman Gul, SQA, S, K, MC (1958-63)
Brig Sadiq Ullah Khan, MC (1964-64)
Brig Bahadur Sher, MC (1964-66)
Brig Mahboob Khan, TQA (1966-69)
Brig Mahmud Jan, SQA (1969-71)
Maj. Gen. Sherin Dil Khan Niazi (1971-72)
Brig Iftikhar e Bashir (1972)
Brig Nasir Ullah Khan Babar, SJ & Bar (1972-74)
Brig Ghulam Rabbani Khan, HI (M), S.Bt (1974-78)
Maj. Gen. Agha Zulfiqar Ali Khan, HI(M) (1978-81)
Maj. Gen. Mian Muhammad Afzal, HI(M) (1982-84)
Maj. Gen. M. Arif Bangash, S.Bt (1984-86)
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Shafiq, HI(M), S.Bt (1986-88)
Maj. Gen. Ghazi ud Din Rana, S.Bt (1988-90)
Maj. Gen. Humayun Khan Bangash, T.Bt (1990-91)
Maj. Gen. Muhammad Naeem Akbar Khan (1991-92)
Maj. Gen. Mumtaz Gul, T.Bt (1992-94)
Maj. Gen. Fazal Ghafoor, S.Bt (1994-97)
Maj. Gen. Sultan Habib, HI(M), (1997-todate)

It is worth mentioning that Brigadier Sadiq Ullah Khan, MC had the distinction of serving twice, as IGFC from 1955 to 1958 and 1963 to 1964. Similarly Brigadier (Now Lt. Gen. Retd) Bakhtiar Rana (1953-55) and Major General Ghazi ud Rana (1988-90) were the only father and son to have remained IGFC’s of the Frontier Corps.

The Militias and Scouts of the Frontier Corps are as such: (Click on them to get more info)
Chitral Scouts
Khyber Rifles
Kurram Militia
South Waziristan Scouts
Tochi Scouts
Zhob Militia
Chaghai Militia
Sibi Scouts
Kalat Scouts
Makran Militia
Kharan Rifles
Pishin Scouts
Maiwind Rifles
Ghazaband Scouts
Bambore Rifles
Loralai Scouts
Mahsud Scouts
Mohmand Rifles
Shawal Rifles
SyedA03-28-2004, 09:02 PMThe Chitral Scouts

On occupation of Chitral by the British in 1895, an Infantry Battalion with two guns garrisoned the district. The force was considered inadequate for the area which was still in the grip of uncertainty owing to the developments between 1892 and 1895 in which three Mehtars (Princes) were assassinated by their own brothers in a bid to get the throne.

It was also felt that in an emergency it would become very difficult to get timely re-enforcement from Gilgit or down country. Therefore, the use of local resources was considered essential. On recommendation of Captain A.H. Mac Mahon, GSI, CIE, Political Agent Dir, Swat and Chitral, a local Corps was raised in 1903 and named as Chitral State Scouts. Captain Orrady was the first Commandant of the Corps. When the Army moved out of Chitral in 1942 the Corps was re-designated as Chitral Scouts and with this new designation, came under the control of Frontier Corps.

During the third Afghan War of 1919, the whole force was mobilised for active service against the Afghans on the Arandu-Birkot front. They compelled the Afghans to retreat from Chitral border which they had captured prior to the arrival of the force in the area. They also captured Birkot and brought back as a booty considerable arms and ammunition including two Russian guns of 2.75” calibres. These guns are at present placed in the Quarter Guard of Chitral Scouts.

A force known as Chitral Body Guards under the direct control of Mehtar of Chitral also accompanied Chitral Scouts in the above battle. The strength of the Corps was raised to nine companies in 1914 on the outbreak of World War I. The Corps was raised to the strength of 10 companies in 1973 and 16 companies in 1986. In February 1987, its strength was raised to 6 Rifle Wings, a mortar battery and a Headquarters Wing.
SyedA03-28-2004, 09:02 PMThe Khyber Rifles

The Khyber Rifles is one of the oldest historic units of Militia of Frontier Corps NWFP. Khyber Rifles originally known as Khyber Jezailchis, were raised in Nov. 1878 by Captain Gais Ford. It was a sort of semi Khassadars Force carrying their own rifle (Jezail). This force was to prevent the tribes molesting the line of control of the Second Afghan War expeditionary force (1878). Captain Gais Ford commanded Khyber Rifles upto 1881 when he handed over command to Sardar Mohammad Aslam Khan (First Muslim Commandant). Sardar Mohammad Aslam Khan, who later became Lt. Col. Nawab Sir Mohammad Aslam Khan, commanded the Corps from 1881 to 1897. He has seen the longest period of command i.e. 16 years. Upto 1887 the Khyber Jezailchis served only in Khyber Agency. In that year they were redesignated as the Khyber Rifles and their role changed from serving within the Khyber Agency to serving anywhere required. This major change in the conditions of their service enabled the personnel of the Khyber Rifles to distinguish themselves in various expeditions and operations in which the troops took part.

In the troublesome period of World War II, the British Government appreciating the fighting qualities of the Frontier tribes, realised that they could not achieve their aims without the support of important tribes whose recruitment had been stopped in 1921 due to their hostile actions. As a consequence, in addition to some other tribal battalions, the first Afridi Battalion was raised in 1942. This Battalion, served in Iraq, Iran and Syria upto 1946. In appreciation for the helpful response in successfully raising the first Afridi Battalion and gallant actions of the Battalion during the War, it was decided to re-raise the Khyber Rifles.
SyedA03-28-2004, 09:02 PMThe Kurram Militia

The conquest of Punjab was completed by the British in 1849, but with in the British also acquired the perpetual and insolvable problem of North West Frontier. The high mountains of the area were an effective barrier against invasion, provided the passes were held. The rugged and mountainous nature of terrain made the administration of the area is very difficult, and the freedom loving characteristics of the tribal people of the area made government by foreigners almost impossible. By tradition, in some cases, they were predators through economic necessity and as fanatics they fiercely resisted only rule by the Sikhs or Christians. It was also difficult to make them hold to any agreement, because they would not acknowledge a master. After the annexation of Punjab, the British found the tribesmen on obstacle to the effective management of the vulnerable border with Afghanistan and ultimately Russian. Initially the British followed the “Closed Door Policy”, but by the end of the nineteenth century they switched to “Forward Policy” i.e. of occupying and administering the country right upto the “Durand Line”. This policy was adopted once the British failed to conquer and subjugate the Pathans. To this end a new province by the name of North West Frontier was created to help in the administration of the area. They also found a novel way of solving the problem, and that was to recruit the locals in the Frontier Brigade of the Indian Army. Later on the British raised the Frontier Scouts and assigned the responsibility of security of the region.

Traditionally Afghanistan claimed suzerainty over the Kurram Valley, but apart from an occasional revenue extorting expeditions, they were unable to enforce their writ until the mid nineteenth century, when they occupied the valley with a military force and established their own Afghan Governor. They were finally driven out in the Second Afghan War 1878-80.

The Turis tribe in Kurram Agency, except for their initial troubles in the year 1850-55, always enjoyed cordial relations with the British. They had helped them against Kabul Khel Wazirs in 1859 and against the Zaimukht Tribe in 1879. It was neither the policy of the British government to annex the Kurram Valley nor did they want to get physically involved in the area. However, what the British wanted was to inculcate a spirit of self-reliance, self-protection and self-governance by the Turis themselves. However when the Turis took over the country, due to intense hatred between various factions of the area, complete anarchy resulted, Kurram was occupied by Chikai, the famous Zaimukht leader, and the Turis of Upper Kurram had great difficulty in repulsing the attacks of their Sunni neighbours. Finally as the various tribes of the area would not combine amongst themselves, they came, at their own request under the protection of the British government in the year 1892. In September of that year regular Army troops arrived in the valley and Mr. Merk, I.C.S was appointed as its first British Governor. However, it was soon realised that maintaining regular Army to guard such a far-flung Frontier, bordering on hostile and troublesome tribes was a very expensive affair. A new policy was therefore chalked out. The Turis themselves were to be made custodians of the Frontier. The regular Army was to be replaced by the local Turis Militia, as a well trained and lightly equipped infantry force, fully acquainted with local conditions and amply conversant with the country side. The formation of Turis Militia was initiated under Captain C.M. Dallas on 18 Oct. 1892, with a view to avoid the serious commitment of regular Army units for the protection of borders as well as to provide protection to Turis Shia Community in the valley. The raising of Turi Militia was later on completed by Captain E.W.S.K Maconchey of the 4th Punjab Infantry. The headquarters of the Militia was originally located at Balish Khel about 30 kilometers east of Parachinar but was soon shifted to Parachinar itself. Initially in 1899 an experiment was made of dividing the Militia into two separate battalions under separate commandants. The first battalion with a strength of 957 was to be mobile force for defence against foreign aggression, while the second was for garrisoning the valley. However, when this arrangement proved impracticable, the two battalions were amalgamated under one commandant in 1902. About this time the Turi Militia was renamed as Kurram Militia.
SyedA03-28-2004, 09:03 PMThe South Waziristan Scouts

In 1878 an irregular Corps had been raised from local tribesmen i.e. Afridi in Khyber to protect traffic moving through the Khyber Pass, picquetting the hills on either side, protecting the route between the Afghan Frontier and Jamrud at the Eastern end of the pass. The Khyber Rifles (old Khyber Jezailchis) through practical experience, were reckoned on all accounts, to be a success, and if Afridis could be made into a useful local militia, surely this could be done elsewhere too.

To the Britishers the core of the Frontier problem was Waziristan and in particular its two largest tribes the Mahsuds of South Waziristan and Wazirs of the North Waziristan. The Political Agent of North Waziristan from his Headquarters in Bannu and the Political Agent of South Waziristan from the Headquarters in Tank, employed local levies who were quite useless but retained on the pay with the hope that they could thereby be kept out of mischief.

Wazirs and Mahsuds are related but were seldom on good terms. Both tribes were very difficult to handle. It was against this background that the North Waziristan Militia and South Waziristan Militia were formed in 1900. Each Corps consisted initially of 850 men, soon increased to 1850, half trans-­Frontier, half cis-Frontier divided into two wings of approximately battalion strength each, and 150 mounted infantry (MI). They were armed with Martini rifles. Each Corps had six British Officers, two in each wing, the Commandant and the Adjutant/Quartermaster who also commanded the MI.

The South Waziristan Militia with Headquarters at Wana had to protect two routes form Murtaza to Wana. The nearest military garrison was in Jandola. First Commandant of the South Waziristan Militia was Lt. Col. R.H. Harman D.S.O who took over as the Commandant on first 1st July 1900 and continued commanding it till he was stabbed to death by a Shabi Khel Mahsud Sepoy Shabir Khan in January 1905.

For quite some time South Waziristan Militia kept supporting the regular army in its operations in the Agency from its Headquarters at Khargai. In March 1923 their Headquarters were shifted to Jandola.

In 1921 South Waziristan Militia was replaced by South Waziristan Scouts. For which additional manpower was made available from Mohmand Militia which had been disbanded in December 1921.

In 1924, the Corps was reorganised into wing. The primary responsibility of the Scouts was to occupy such dominating features all along the Lines of Communications and those nodal points which, if occupied by hostile tribes, would hinder regular army's movement in the Agency. Slowly and gradually the Scouts succeeded in establishing their authority along almost all the roads in the Agency. By 1937 complete Agency was under the effective control of the British.

The Jandola Mess acquired a reputation for hospitality and served numerous guests. Among the earliest in 1924, were a party of VIPs including Arlfred Mond, Chairman of ICI and Lord Incheape, Chairman of the P and o Line, touring India, during the cold weather.

Another early visitor to Jandola was, Lawrence of Arabia. He visited the area in 1928 in the guise of an Aircraftsmans Show; benighted there by a broken down truck and accommodated in Officer’s Mess. He kept them enthralled by tales (some, perhaps, almost true) of far Arabia and left them a volume which is still treasured by the South Waziristan Scouts officers. “This book, he inscribed on the flyleaf (see photograph), was written by me, but its sordid type and squalid blocks are the responsibility of the publisher. It is, however, the last copy in print of Revolt in the Desert, and I have much pleasure in presenting it to the officers of the South Waziristan Scouts in memory of a very interesting day and night with them”. This book today is lying in the South Waziristan Scouts Officer’s Mess, Wana.
SyedA03-28-2004, 09:03 PMThe Tochi Scouts

When, in 1849 British completed their conquest of the Sikhs, they acquired not only the Punjab, but also its problems, most notably the ungovernable North-West Frontier. The Frontier tribesmen, the Pathans, though loyal to their family and friends, were well known for their savagery in battle and their fierce independence. Their rebelliousness was the obstacle to the effective management of the vulnerable border with Afghanistan and ultimately, Czarist Russia.

The British solution to the problem was ingenious. They could not conquer the Pathans, so they recruited them instead. The tribesmen offered the benefits of joining the government service, became the Frontier Scouts, responsible for the security of the region. “The poachers became same keepers” as the Charles Chenevix Trench says in his book The Frontier Scouts”. The Tochi Scouts were also the ultimate result of the same background in North Waziristan Agency.

Upto 1904 regular troops occupied the out-posts in Tochi valley with a view to replace the regular troops, the North Waziristan Militia was raised on 1st June 1900 at Idak by Captain A. Fergusson Davie of 53 Sikhs (FF-Now 5 FF). At the time of raising the North Waziristan Militia consisted of 50 Mounted foot infantry and 800 Infantry. In 1901 the strength was increased to 70 Mounted Infantry and 1000 Infantry. The Headquarters of the Corps was transferred to Miranshah in October 1904. In October 1912 the strength of the Corps was increased to 150 Mounted. Croixde Guerre Darim Khan lived to become one of Frontier’s most famous characters.

The name of Faqir of Ipi was Mirza Ali Khan. His followers used to call him ‘Haji Sahib’. Ipi is a village, from where Faqir of Ipi started Jehad against British government. Village lpi is located near Mirali Camp in North Waziristan Agency. He was born in 1897 in Shankai Kairta, which is located near Khajuri Post in North Waziristan Agency. He belonged to Haibati Madi Kheil, which is one of the sub tribes of Tori Khel Wazirs. His father was a religious man, named Arsala Khan. Faqir of Ipi was basically peaceful, religious preacher. He performed his first Hajj in 1928. He got married with the daughter of Qazi Hayat Ud Din, famous by the name of “Sheerzad”. He migrated from Bannu to Afghanistan during Khilafat movement. On arrival from Afghanistan back to his village, he adopted complete religious life. Being religious minded, he became popular among the Wazirs and all other tribes in the surroundings. He neither joined any political party, nor participated in any kind of political movement. Physically, he was slim with short height. He spent maximum time in the caves, busy in his prayers. In old age he became the patient of asthma.

Faqir of Ipi died at night on April 16, 1960. During his last days, he became so sick that it was not possible for him to walk for a few steps. People from far away used to come to him. His Namaz-I-Janaza was held at Gurwaikht led by Maulavi Pir Rehman. Thousands of people from different places came for his Namaz-I-Janaza. He was buried at Gurwaikht. In September 1922, the strength was decreased to 100 Mounted Infantry and 887 infantry and was given the name Tochi Scouts. Later on further increases/decreases in strength have been made in the establishment of this Corps in accordance with the exigencies of service.

Eversince the raising of this Corps is has remained on active service: always on its toes. Its long bloody and chequered history is the history of North Waziristan Agericy. It requires piles of books to be written if one has to do justice to the glorious services. Ithas rendered in North Waziristan Agency in particular and to the Frontier Corps in general.

On 7 January 1915 Captain Eustace Jotham of North Waziristan Militia and 12 Mounted Infantry rode out of Miranshah to locate raiders from Khost, in Afghanistan. Captain Jotham was a romantic officer, who while on leave, won newspaper fame by rescuing passengers from a blazing railway carriage and now he was furious at being stuck in mud-hut in Waziristan. At Spina Khaisora, fifteen miles west of Miranshah, he along with his small patrol were ambushed in a deep nullah and almost surrounded by some 1500 tribesmen. Jotham and his men galloped for safety, but just as he was getting clear, the horse of one of his sawers was shot down. He turned back to rescue him using sword, and killed many tribesmen before he was shot dead riddled with the bullets and bleeding with dozens of slashes. Almost at the same time his daffadar a Wazir named Darim Khan dismounted to give covering fire to the remainder of the patrol and remounted and got away safely. Jotham was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Darim Khan received the Indian Order of Merit.
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Pentagon Wants More Funding For Pakistan Frontier Corps

By Ron Synovitz
November 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military wants to nearly double its funding to train and equip Pakistan's Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force with members who are the same ethnicity as pro-Taliban tribal fighters near the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan's Frontier Corps is responsible for protecting the country's western regions along its more than 1,500-kilometer porous border with Afghanistan.
With a reported 60,000 paramilitary troops, the force is comprised of 14 units based in the Northwest Frontier Province and 13 units in Baluchistan. The troops operate under the orders of Pakistan's Army Headquarters as well as the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions.
The Pentagon's proposal for more funds calls for a training center to be built in northwestern Pakistan.
It also calls for surveillance centers to be constructed on Pakistan's side of the border with Afghanistan in order to monitor movement by militants. There is a similar post on the Afghan side of the border.
The Pentagon says it also needs the additional money to help purchase equipment for Pakistan's Frontier Corps -- including helmets, bulletproof vests, and night-vision goggles. The plan would not provide weapons or ammunition to Pakistan. That task would be left up to Islamabad.
Altogether, the U.S. Department of Defense has asked to spend $97 million in support of the Pakistani paramilitary force in 2008, nearly double the amount for this year.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says the U.S. military believes it is more effective to work with a paramilitary force like the Frontier Corps within Pakistan's tribal region than with Pakistan's army.
Morrell says the Frontier Corps commands more respect from tribal leaders in the border region than the Pakistani army because the Frontier Corps is recruited from locals who know the region, who have similar language abilities, and who have the most credibility with residents of the tribal areas.
Threat Of Instability
The Pentagon's budget request comes amid political instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan under President Pervez Musharraf and amid increasing U.S. concerns about the spread of Islamic militancy in the tribal areas.
Despite the imposition of emergency rule across Pakistan by Musharraf, violence in the Afghan-Pakistan border region continues to escalate.
The upsurge has some former military officials in Pakistan concerned about the long-term impact of the U.S. proposal.
Mahmood Shah, a retired army brigadier general who also had been in charge of security in Pakistan's tribal regions, tells RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that U.S. support for Pakistan's Frontier Corps seems uncomfortably similar to the situation in Afghanistan during the 1980s, when the United States used Pakistan as a conduit for support to Afghan mujahedin commanders who were fighting Soviet forces.
"This will have far-reaching negative consequences," Shah says. "In Afghanistan [during the Soviet occupation in 1980s], there was a weak [central] government and the country was occupied by foreign forces. People objected to the formation of armed Afghan resistance groups at that time and voiced concerns that these groups would eventually undermine Pakistan's security. The current situation proves that those concerns were justified."
Shah claims the Pentagon proposal "is not smart thinking." He warns that it could backfire and eventually strengthen renegade militia forces in Pakistan's tribal regions.
"In Pakistani society and state structure, it is very difficult to prop up such structures without the government's help," Shah says. "Even if such armed groups are formed, they will turn into a militia which will greatly contribute to undermine security. Even if it helps in the short term, in the long term such measures will have grave consequences."
There also are concerns among U.S. lawmakers about how long Pakistani troops can continue to battle the pro-Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who are known to be hiding in the mountainous border region.
Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Washington November 15 that there were no indications that Pakistan's political crisis was jeopardizing the security of the country's nuclear weapons. And he said Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule had not had a negative impact on relations between Pakistani forces and the U.S. military.
Morrell says the Pentagon would not try to proceed with a plan to support Pakistan's Frontier Corps unless there was some degree of confidence in Washington that the results would be fruitful.
Morrell describes the support program as a joint venture with Pakistan's government. Musharraf has said that his government will provide Frontier Corps fighters with tanks and guns so they can take a lead role next year in any fighting within the tribal regions -- allowing Pakistan's army to take a more supporting role.
(RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Najib Aamir contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan)
A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

By Hassan Abbas CTC Sentinel, Vol 1, Issue 2, January 2008

The organizational strength,military strategy and leadership quality of the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal territories has qualitatively improved during the last few years. At the time of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, allies and sympathizers of the Taliban in Pakistan were not identified as “Taliban” themselves. That reality is now a distant memory.

Today, Pakistan’s indigenous Taliban are an effective fighting force and are engaging the Pakistani military on one side and NATO forces on the other.The transition from being Taliban supporters and sympathizers to becoming a mainstream Taliban force in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) initiated when many small militant groups operating independently in the area started networking with one another. This sequence of developments occurred while Pakistani forces were spending the majority of their resources finding “foreigners” in the area linked to al-Qa`ida (roughly in the 2002-04 period).

Soon, many other local extremist groups, which were banned in Pakistan, started joining the Taliban ranks in FATA — some as followers while others as partners.During this process, the Pakistani Taliban never really merged into the organizational structure of the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar; instead, they developed a distinct identity.

From their perspective, they intelligently created a space for themselves in Pakistan by engaging in military attacks while at other times cutting deals with the Pakistani government to establish their autonomy in the area.1 By default, they were accepted as a legitimate voice in at least two FATA agencies—South Waziristan and North Waziristan. During this process, the Pakistani Taliban effectively established themselves as an alternative leadership to the traditional tribal elders.

By the time the Pakistani government realized the changing dynamics and tried to resurrect the tribal jirga institution, it was too late. The Taliban had killed approximately 200 of the tribal elders under charges of being Pakistani and American spies.These developments explain the genesis of a new formation: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The TTP refers to the Taliban “movement” in Pakistan that coalesced in December 2007 under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud—a wanted militant leader from South Waziristan. This analysis discusses the origin, nature, capabilities and potential of this organization.

Formation of Tehrik-i-Taliban PakistanThe name “Tehrik-i-Taliban” had been used prior to the latest December 14 announcement. An organization with a similar name emerged in FATA’s Orakzai Agency in 1998.

2 Some reports also mention a similar organization by the name of Tehrik-i- Tulaba (Movement of Students) also operating in Orakzai Agency that even established an active Shari`a court.

3 The name and idea, therefore, is not original. More recently, on October 23, a credible newspaper in Pakistan disclosed that five militant groups joined hands to set up an organization named Tehrik-i-Taliban in Mohmand Agency with a goal “to flush out gangs carrying out criminal activities in the name of Taliban.” Its spokesman, who was identified under the Arab name Abu Nauman Askari, even mentioned the formation of a 16-member shura (consultative committee) to coordinate the activities of the groups.

4 The statement, however, sounded like an initiative that benefited from government involvement since Islamabad has been attempting to create rifts between the different Taliban and militant factions. The rise of Maulvi Nazir in 2007, for instance, was such an operation as he had received government support in challenging Uzbek militants operating in South Waziristan.

5 Furthermore, the news was not carried by any other major newspaper in the country, indicating that no general press release was issued by the supposed new formation. In this context, it is possible that it was a planted story by Pakistan’s intelligence services to gather support for the group. Such leaks are not uncommon. Nothing has been heard about this organization since.Less than two months after this announcement, another group claiming to be Tehrik-i- Taliban Pakistan announced its formation. The December 14, 2007 announcement was viewed suspiciously in terms of authenticity, since it followed after the October 23 announcement. It soon became clear, however, that the December 14 announcement was unique and alarming. It showed that the authentic Taliban were quick to establish their ownership over the title “Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.”Structure, Activities and Goals of the TTPA shura of 40 senior Taliban leaders established the TTP as an umbrella organization. Militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was appointed as its amir, Maulana Hafiz Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan as senior naib amir (deputy) and Maulana Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur Agency as the third in command.

6 The shura not only has representation from all of FATA’s seven tribal agencies, but also from the settled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) districts of Swat, Bannu, Tank, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Buner and Malakand. This reach demonstrates the TTP’s ambitions. Since its establishment, the TTP through its various demarches have announced the following objectives and principles:

1. Enforce Shari`a, unite against NATO forces in Afghanistan and perform “defensive jihad against the Pakistan army.”

2. React strongly if military operations are not stopped in Swat District and North Waziristan Agency.

3. Demand the abolishment of all military checkpoints in the FATA area.

4. Demand the release of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) Imam Abdul Aziz.

5. Refuse future peace deals with the government of Pakistan.Initially, the TTP gave a 10 day deadline for the government to stop military action in FATA and Swat District, but then extended the deadline in lieu of the country’s mourning of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s death on December 27, 2007.

8 On January 4, 2008, however, TTP spokesman Ghazi Ahmed called journalists to inform them that a one week extension of the ultimatum would begin on January 5 and threatened to attack the city of Peshawar if their demands were not met.

9 The TTP was also quick to deny their involvement in killing Bhutto after the government of Pakistan claimed that her assassination was conducted by associates of Baitullah Mehsud and even produced a transcript of Mehsud’s telephone conversation proving his involvement.

10Mehsud’s spokesman responded by maintaining that the transcript was “a drama,” and that Bhutto’s death was a “tragedy” that had left Mehsud “shocked.”

11 A purported spokesman for Mehsud, Maulvi Omar, later told Reuters: “Tribal people have their own customs. We don’t strike women.”

12 This shows that the organization has a media cell, a public relations policy and is quite serious about its plans. The Pakistani government has been slow to respond to these developments as the TTP has not yet been officially banned, and the government maintains that “a decision to this effect will come only after a thorough examination of all the aspects concerned.”

13 Although the TTP is young as an organization, there is no dearth of operational capabilities at its disposal. Baitullah Mehsud already is an established leader—with the command of some 5,000 fighters—and has been involved in militant activities for the last few years in FATA and the adjacent areas. Many other militant groups seem anxious to join in. On December 23, 2007, for instance, five soldiers and six civilians were killed in the Mingora area of the Swat Valley when a suicide bomber targeted an army convoy. Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariate-Mohammadi (TNSM) quickly claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the TTP.

14 TNSM, another banned terrorist outfit, is led by Maulana Fazlullah and had re-emerged in 2006. The group made headlines for taking control of large areas in the Swat Valley of the NWFP. The army, after a large operation in late 2007, recaptured the district, but TNSM militants (numbering in the hundreds) are still operating in parts of the district. The TTP’s demand for halting government military action in Swat appealed to TNSM members and will predictably lead to more collaboration between the two groups in terms of manpower, logistics and intelligence. TNSM leader Fazlullah is known for the mobile FM radio stations that he managed until recently, on which he would broadcast his radical ideology. A TTP radio broadcast in the future would be one potential sign of more cooperation between the two terrorist groups. The TTP’s denial about its involvement in Bhutto’s murder has little face value, but it is too early to reach any conclusion since the Pervez Musharraf government may be trying to shift the blame and divert attention from its own failure to provide adequate security for Bhutto. The TTP’s involvement in the killings of nine tribesmen associated with pro-government leader Maulvi Nazir on January 7 in South Waziristan, however, is near certain.

15 The Pakistani government has also circulated a list to law enforcement agencies of about a dozen important Shi`a political leaders who, according to its intelligence services, are on Baitullah Mehsud’s hit list.

16 Brief Profiles of TTP’s Senior Leaders

Baitullah Mehsud—The 34-year-old warrior belongs to South Waziristan Agency and hails from the Mehsud tribe. He did not attend schooling or religious madrasa. He shuns media and has refused to be photographed, indicating that he stands by the fanatic Talibanized version of Islam. His worldview is evident from his statement that “only jihad can bring peace to the world.”

17 He came to prominence in February 2005 when he signed a deal with the Pakistani government that it termed as his surrender, although he interpreted it as a peace deal in the interests of the tribal regions as well as Pakistan.

18 As part of the deal, he had pledged not to provide any assistance to al-Qa`ida and other militants and not to launch operations against government forces. The deal was short lived, and since 2006 he has virtually established an independent zone in parts of South Waziristan Agency, which is widely believed to be a sanctuary for al-Qa`ida and the Taliban. In private discussions, Pakistani officials also blame the United States for direct military operations in FATA, leading to the collapse of some deals. Mehsud commands a force of around 5,000 militants and has moved aggressively against Pakistan’s army in recent months, especially when he captured around 250 army soldiers in August 2007.
19 The soldiers were returned only when the government released 25 militants associated with Mehsud.

20Maulana Hafiz Gul Bahadur—Belonging to North Waziristan Agency, he has been a member of the local Taliban shura since 2005. He was also a member of the threeman signatory team, representing North Waziristan tribes, that signed the wellknown peace deal between the Pakistani government and North Waziristan in September 2006.

21The deal collapsed in July 2007. Currently, some negotiations are being held again between the government and the agency, and Bahadur is involved in these discussions. Bahadur in fact recently chaired the meeting of militants that extended an ongoing cease-fire until January 20, 2008.

22 It is noteworthy that on one hand he is part of the TTP leadership—which is openly challenging the government—while on the other hand is negotiating with the government on behalf of his home agency. It is possible that the government is trying to create a wedge between the top leaders of the TTP—a smart move if this is indeed the motivation.

Maulana Faqir Muhammad—The relatively well-profiled 39-year-old Faqir Muhammad belongs to Mohmand tribe and is known as a facilitator for al-Qa`ida.

23 He is a resident of Bajaur Agency, but was educated in the Salafist tradition in various madrasas of the NWFP. This brought him closer to the Arabs operating in the area, which also benefited him financially. This perhaps allows him to afford the personal security team that he is known to have. He came into prominence in 2005 when government forces raided his house in search of some “high-value” al-Qa`ida operatives. He was a target of a U.S. missile attack in 2006, but he escaped unhurt. He also remained close to TNSM’s founder Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who is currently in jail.Conclusion

Of the 56 suicide bombings in Pakistan in 2007, 36 were against military related targets, including two against the ISI; two against the army headquarters in Rawalpindi; one aimed at the air force in Sargodha; and one directed at the facility of the Special Services Group (SSG) in Tarbela. For many of these attacks, the government blamed Baitullah Mehsud and his associates.

This reveals the TTP’s potential now that it has additional resources and geographic reach. This new organization in fact is expected to increase the capacity of militant forces in the area and exacerbate the political instability that has gripped Pakistan in recent months. This internal engagement also perhaps largely accounts for the 40 percent decline in insurgent attacks on NATO forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas.4 The TTP, however, is bound to refocus on Afghanistan if and when its position strengthens in FATA and the NWFP. There are signs that the government is now targeting the TTP leadership, but it lacks the human intelligence required on the ground. Musharraf’s waning support within the armed forces also complicates the country’s “war on terrorism” strategy. There are many indications that some former intelligence agents and serving junior level officials of the army apparently are in league with the militants. Borrowing the words of leading Pakistani scholar Pervez Hoodbhoy, “a part of the establishment is clearly at war with another part.” In this troubling scenario, dismantling the TTP and bringing its leadership to justice is critical for Pakistan’s internal security as well as for tackling the Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

Hassan Abbas is a fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a doctoral candidate at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. Previously, he served in the administrations of Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. He is also the author of Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s War on Terror.

Notes:1. They began cutting deals with the government in 2004.2. 2 Hassan Abbas, “The Black-Turbaned Brigade: The Rise of TNSM in Pakistan,” Terrorism Monitor 4:23 (2006).3. The Herald [Karachi], February 1999.4. “Militants Form New Group,” Dawn, October 23, 2007.5. For details, see Hassan Abbas, “South Waziristan’s Maulvi Nazir: The New Face of the Taliban,” Terrorism Monitor 5:9 (2007).6. Mushtaq Yusufzai, “Militants Seek End to Military Operations,” The News, December 16, 2007.7. “Second Editorial: Tribal Areas Under Centralized Control,” Daily Times, December 16, 2007.8 Alamgir Bhettani, “Taliban Give Two Days for Swat Pullout,” Dawn, January 3, 2008.9 “Tehrik-i-Taliban Threatens Attacks in Settled Areas,” The News, January 5, 2008; “Taliban Set 7-day Deadline,” The Nation [Lahore], January 5, 2008.10 “Transcript of Alleged al-Qaida Intercept,” ABC News, December 28, 2007.11 “Mehsud Denies Killing Bhutto: Al-Qaida,” NDTV, December 29, 2007.12 Laura King, “Taliban Blamed for Attack on Bhutto,” Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2007.13 Azaz Syed, “Taliban Outfit Faces Ban,” Daily Times, December 21, 2007.14 Claude Salhani, “A Grim Year 2007 for Pakistan,” Middle East Times, December 28, 2007.15 “Nine Aides of Maulvi Nazir Killed,” Daily Times, January 8, 2008.16 Personal interview, Pakistani government official, January 5, 2008.17 Syed Shoaib Hasan, “Profile: Baitullah Mehsud,” BBC, December 28, 2007.18 Shamim Shahid, “Baitullah, Supporters, Lay Down Arms,” The Nation, February 8, 2005.19 Amir Mir, “The Most Wanted Pakistani Talib,” Pakistan Post, December 10, 2007.20 Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, “Al Qaeda’s Newest Triggerman,” Newsweek, January 14, 2007.21 Rahimullah Yusufzai, “Peace Accord with Militants,” The News, September 14, 2006.22 “Five Killed in S Waziristan Clashes,” The News, January 9, 2008.23 Sohail Abdul Nasir, “Al-Zawahiri’s Pakistani Ally: Profile of Maulana Faqir Mohammed,” Terrorism Monitor 4:3 (2006).24 Jason Straziuso, “US: Afghan Border Attacks Drop 40 pct.,” Guardian, December 16, 2007.For a Pdf file of the article, click hereAlso See:47 Killed as Insurgents Take Key Fort in NW Pakistan - Washington Post, January 17, 2008Another Waziristan Fort Falls to Militants - Dawn, January 18, 2008