Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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Part of President Pervez Musharraf's operational strategy in arriving at peace deals in Waziristan has been to drive a wedge between the local Taliban and foreign miliĀ­tants. Islamabad's policy in Waziristan remains a curious mixture of force, economic sanctions and political engagement. But none of these appears to be leading to order and stability in the region. Four years after Pakistani soldiers first entered FATA, there is very little to cheer about for Islamabad. The state has little effective presence in the area, and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan are nowhere close to governance or stability.

[Description of Source: New Delhi Political and Defence Weekly in English -- Weekly journal carrying various articles addressing political and strategic issues in India today and published by the Indian News Analysis Service. ]

Key Afghan Taleban figure said arrested in Pakistan
IAP20070821950094 Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News (Internet Version-WWW) in English 1254 GMT 21 Aug 07

Key Afghan Taleban figure said arrested in Pakistan

Text of report in English by Afghan independent Pajhwok news agency website
Peshawar, 21 August: Security officials in neighbouring Pakistan arrested a key Taleban commander during a raid last night.
The commander, called Mumtaz, is a resident of the eastern Nangarhar Province [in Afghanistan] and believed to be a loyalist of senior Taleban leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani.
A security official who wished not to be name told Pajhwok Afghan News Mumtaz was detained by intelligence officials in Saddar Bazaar of Peshawar at around 2200 last night.
The official said another colleague of the detainee managed to escape. Mumtaz had been taken to a secret location by intelligence officials for investigations, he added.
A former Hezb-e Eslami commander, Akhtar Muhammad, confirmed the arrest and said Mumtaz was one of the strong commanders loyal to Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Another security official in Peshawar told Pajhwok the commander had been under observation for a long time and security agencies were trying to arrest him. Pakistani security agencies had detained Haqqani's brother Haji Khalil and his son in Rawalpindi some ago. However, they were released later.
Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani was one of the key commanders of the late Maulvi Yunas Khalis during the jihad era. He was minister for border affairs in the Taleban regime.

[Description of Source: Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Pajhwok Afghan News, established in April 2004, provides daily news and features in Pashto, Dari, English and Urdu. Self-described as "independent," it often reports on security matters and the Taliban activities. It claims to be staffed, managed, and led entirely by Afghans. According to the site, it receives financial support from USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).]

Pakistan: Tribals Return to Waziristan as Situation Improves 'Considerably'
FEA20071018367590 - OSC Feature - Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) 17 Oct 07
[For a copy of the video clips, contact OSC at (800) 205-8615 or GSG_VSD@rccb.osis.gov; for assistance with multimedia elements, contact OSC at 1-800-205-8615 or oscinfo@rccb.osis.gov]
[Dawn, 17 Oct] Miram Shah: The government on Tuesday [16 October] said it was considering a 'request' by militants to cease-fire and negotiate an agreement to restore peace in the Mirali subdistrict after days of bloody clashes with security forces left over 200 people dead and many more wounded.
But residents of Mirali said a cease-fire agreement between militants and security forces had already been reached following mediation by a tribal jirga [assembly] from Hangu and Orakzai tribal regions.
They also said that security forces had reopened the Bannu-Miram Shah road and lifted the curfew that had been imposed on Mirali bazaar some time ago.
Military spokesman Maj Gen Wahid Arshad, however, denied that any cease-fire agreement had been reached with militants and said that the government was considering their 'request' for cessation of hostilities.
"The request is under consideration. Security forces and the political administration are discussing the issue and a decision to this effect may be announced in a day or two," he said.
He said the situation in Mirali had improved considerably after security forces fought back militants in three days of fierce clashes before Idd. "It's not like artillery duel across the Line of Control where cease-fire takes place."
Militants have said that they will not ask the government for a cease-fire but reports suggest that they may be changing their tactics after suffering heavy losses in recent clashes.
Maj Gen Arshad confirmed that authorities had allowed shops to reopen in the Mirali bazaar and also reopened the Bannu-Miram Shah road because of public demand. "We have done that to facilitate the people but security forces would continue to search vehicles for militants," he remarked.
A jirga [tribal assembly] of about 85 tribal elders and clerics of Dawar tribe met the Administrator of North Waziristan, Aurangzeb Khan, and assured him of full cooperation.
Mr Khan expressed regrets over the loss of innocent lives but said that people who used their territory to launch attacks on security forces were responsible for the losses.
He said that foreign militants could live in the area provided they abided by the law of the land and lived peacefully.
Some jirga members said that the government had agreed to abandon five checkpoints in and around Miram Shah, at Sargardan, Amin, Gora Qabristan, Stadium and Dattakhel and remove paramilitary troops.
But while the military spokesman denied that any permanent and old checkpoints had been abandoned, he did confirm that some temporary checkpoints had been closed down.
However, later reports suggested that paramilitary forces continued to man the checkpoints, although they were not actively searching vehicle.
As the dusk set in, Miramshah fort came under a barrage of rocket and missile attacks, suggesting that militants had decided to make the regional headquarters of Miramshah the main target of their attack.
The government says that over 200 militants had died in the fierce clashes and about 50 of them were foreigners.
Local residents have confirmed a report that a key militant commander, Eid Niaz, had been killed while a foreign militant commander, Abu Okasha, had been wounded.
Eid Niaz was appointed by the Taliban 'Islamic Emirate' to head the Shura in Miramshah. He was considered loyal to Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Mr Niaz, however, had to stand down as head of the Taliban Shura in Miram Shah after opposition from Hafiz Gul Bahadar.

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dawn.com]

Asia Times: 'Pakistan Plans All-Out War on Militants'

CPP20071022715023 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1043 GMT 18 Oct 07
[Report by Syed Saleem Shahzad: "Pakistan Plans All-Out War on Militants"; headline as provided by source]
An all-out battle for control of Pakistan's restive North and South Waziristan is about to commence between the Pakistani military and the Taliban and al-Qaeda adherents who have made these tribal areas their own.
According to a top Pakistani security official who spoke to Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, the goal this time is to pacify the Waziristans once and for all. All previous military operations - usually spurred by intelligence provided by the Western coalition - have had limited objectives, aimed at specific bases or sanctuaries or blocking the cross-border movement of guerrillas. Now the military is going for broke to break the back of the Taliban and a-Qaeda in Pakistan and reclaim the entire area.
The fighting that erupted two weeks ago, and that has continued with bombing raids against guerrilla bases in North Waziristan - turning thousands of families into refugees and killing more people than any India-Pakistan war in the past 60 years - is but a precursor of the bloodiest battle that is coming.
Lining up against the Pakistani Army will be the Shura (council) of Mujahideen comprising senior al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders, local clerics, and leaders of the fighting clans Wazir and Mehsud (known as the Pakistani Taliban). The shura has long been calling the shots in the Waziristans, imposing sharia law and turning the area into a strategic command and control hub of global Muslim resistance movements, including those operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"All previous operations had a different perspective," the security official told ATol. "In the past Pakistan commenced an operation when the Western coalition informed Pakistan about any particular hide-out or a sanctuary, or Pakistan traced any armed infiltration from or into Pakistan.
"However, the present battle aims to pacify Waziristan once and for all. The Pakistani Army has sent a clear message to the militants that Pakistan would deploy its forces in the towns of Mir Ali, Miranshah, Dand-i-Darpa Kheil, Shawal, Razmak, Magaroti, Kalosha, Angor Ada. The Pakistani Army is aiming to establish permanent bases which would be manned by thousands of military and paramilitary troops."
According to the security official, an ultimatum had been delivered to the militants recently during a temporary ceasefire. The army would set a deadline and give safe passage into Afghanistan to all al-Qaeda members and Taliban commanders who had gathered in Waziristan to launch a large-scale post-Ramadan operation in Afghanistan. They, along with wanted tribal warrior leaders, would all leave Pakistan, and never return.
After their departure, under the direct command and surveillance of newly appointed Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani (who will replace President-elect Pervez Musharraf as Chief of Army Staff), fresh troops and paramilitary forces would be sent in to establish bases at all strategic points and disarm the local tribes. The Durand Line (the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan), would be fenced and border controls would be tightened.
The militants rejected the ultimatum.
What's at stake
A qualified estimate by intelligence officials is that Pakistani military pacification of the Waziristans would slash the capability of the Afghan resistance by 85% as well as deliver a serious setback to the Iraqi resistance.
The militants have little option but to stand and fight, rather than slip across the border or melt into the local population. Aside from the sanctuary and succor afforded them in the Waziristans, most of the fighters there are either Waziris, or from other parts of Pakistan, or foreigners. They would be unable to support themselves in Afghanistan, especially as most of the non-Waziris do not speak Pashtu - a fact that also prevents them from disappearing into the Waziristan populace.
Their presence in the Waziristans also has a direct bearing on their funding: money can be transferred through bank and non-bank channels, including th e informal fund transfer system known as "hawala".
Western intelligence that has been shared with Pakistan has determined that the two Waziristans alone provide the life blood - a steady stream of fighters, supplies and funds - for the resistance in all of southeast Afghanistan, including the provinces of Ghazni, Kunar, Gardez, Paktia and Paktika, as well as for attacks on Kabul. In addition, the Waziristans supply trainers to guerrillas in the Taliban heartland of Zabul, Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces.
According to intelligence sources, during Ramadan, the Taliban's entire top command, including Moulvi Abdul Kabeer, Jalaluddin Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Nasiruddin Haqqani, and Mullah Mansoor Dadullah were in North Waziristan to launch a post-Ramadan offensive in southeast Afghanistan. The Pakistani military engaged the militants well in advance to block their offensive plan, but the same militant command is believed to still be in North Waziristan.
In addition, the town of Shawal hosts the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's command. The Uzbeks are trying to reorganize themselves to stage an armed revolt against the government of Uzbekistan.
There is also a Kurd presence in the area, which has a direct bearing on the US's Iraqi occupation. A small number of fresh Kurd recruits come through Iran into Waziristan, get few months' training, and then return to Iran before infiltrating Iraq to fuel insurgency in Iraqi Kurdistan against this important US ally.
"If the planned battle is successful and Waziristan is pacified, the global Islamic resistance would be back where it was in 2003, when it had fighters but no centralized command or bases to carry out organized operations, said a Pakistani security official. "As a result, the guerrilla operations were sporadic and largely ineffective."
The safety of Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Waziristan is a matter of life and death and, therefore, the militants have devised a forward strategy to target the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, hoping to break the will of the Pakistani armed forces. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, is trying to break the will of the militants with ongoing bombing raids.
Underscoring the seriousness with which the military is planning for the coming battle, it is reported that Shi'ite soldiers from northern Pakistan are being sent to the Waziristans. In the past, the Pakistani Army has been plagued by desertions of Pashtun and Sunni troops who refuse to fight fellow Pashtuns or Sunnis.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Pakistan Bureau Chief, Asia Times Online. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English - - Hong Kong-based online newspaper with a Bangkok branch office focusing on political and economic issues from an "Asian perspective," with over 50 contributors in 17 Asian countries, the United States, and Europe. Successor of the Hong Kong/Bangkok based print daily Asia Times that closed in 1997, it claims an average of 100,000 daily site visitors as of Feb 2006, with 65% of the audience based in North America, and 22% in the Asia-Pacific region. Root URL on filing date: http://www.atimes.com]

Further on AFP: Explosion at Pakistan Militant Hideout, 9 Killed: Witnesses
JPP20071102969084 Hong Kong AFP in English 1240 GMT 02 Nov 07
[By Hasbunallah Khan]

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan, Nov 2, 2007 (AFP) - A missile strike destroyed an insurgent hideout in Pakistan's tribal belt at a house once owned by the late military chief of the Taliban, killing nine people, witnesses and sources said.

The attack happened in the North Waziristan tribal area, where US officials have said that Osama bin Laden's [Usama Bin Ladin] Al-Qaeda [Al-Qa'ida] network and its Taliban allies have regrouped to plot attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan and the West.
It was not clear who was responsible for the missile attack.
Residents and local sources said drones flew over the site in the village of Danday Darpakhel before two missiles hit the site, one of which exploded and destroyed the house formerly owned by Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah.
Mullah Dadullah was killed in May in southern Afghanistan. He was the most senior Taliban leader to be killed since the hardliners were removed from government in Kabul in 2001.
Drones are usually operated by US-led forces in Afghanistan and were used in a failed January 2006 attack on Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan's lawless tribal region.
"There was a roar in the sky, we feared it was an air raid but we saw no jets. Then there was a huge blast," Noor Mohammad, a student at a religious school in the region's nearby main town of Miranshah, told AFP.
Local sources said at least nine militants were killed and 12 others wounded in the blast. Two foreign militants -- usually associated with Al-Qaeda in the tribal regions -- were among the dead, they said, quoting injured rebels.
They said the house was used as a training camp and explosives store by insurgents loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistani-based Taliban militants who have been blamed for a string of attacks in this country.
"The blast was so big that pieces of flesh were stuck to the walls of surrounding houses," said local resident Faqir Mohammad.
It was next to a defunct religious school formerly run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a Taliban commander with a five-million-dollar bounty on his head who is said to be close to the regime's leader, Mullah Omar.
Pakistan's chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said his forces were not involved but added that local officials were checking the cause of the blast. "(The) army has not fired any weapon in the area," he told AFP.
The US-led coalition in Afghanistan said there was no activity reported on the Pakistani border, while the separate NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said they had no information.
The attack came as Pakistan's military ruler President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally in the "war on terror," held talks with visiting US Central Command chief Admiral William Fallon.
Musharraf is under growing international and domestic pressure to wipe out militancy amid a wave of violence that has killed at least 400 civilians and troops since July.
Missile attacks have claimed the lives of several suspected militants in Pakistan's volatile tribal belt.
In December 2005, Egyptian Al-Qaeda explosives specialist Hamza Rabia was killed in a blast in North Waziristan. Residents again said it was a missile strike but the military insisted he was killed by one of his own bombs.
[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]

Pakistan: US Drone Missile Attack Kills Five Near Mianshah, Pentagon Denies

SAP20071103099001 Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English 03 Nov 07
[Report by correspondent: "Drone Missile Kills Five Near Miramshah"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
MIRAMSHAH, Nov 2: Five people were killed and six others wounded when a missile, allegedly fired from a US drone, hit a suspected militant compound near the Pak-Afghan border in the restive North Waziristan agency on Friday.
Residents said a pilotless US drone fired two missiles into the compound in Dandi Darpakhel in the outskirts of Miramshah at around 1.30 in the afternoon.
They said that one of the missiles did not explode while the other hit the target, razing the compound. "It looked as if nothing had stood there before," a resident of the area said.
The identity of the people killed was not immediately available, but residents said that the compound was used by a militant commander. At least two of the wounded were said to be of Uzbek origin.
The wounded were given first aid and taken away by men associated with the militant commander from South Waziristan.
One of those wounded in the attack included the compound's caretaker Noor Khan Mehsud. A vehicle and two motorcycles parked inside the compound were destroyed.
The compound is located near the madressah of Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Militants sealed off the entire area and did not allow anyone to get to the compound. Some residents put the death toll at 10 and the number of wounded at 12.
Reuters adds: The Pentagon said the US military did not carry out a missile strike on Friday in the Waziristan region.
"There was no indication that there was any US military asset," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman after speaking with US military officials in Afghanistan.

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dawn.com]

Asia Times: 'Death by the Light of a Silvery Moon'
CPP20071113721002 Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English 1056 GMT 12 Nov 07
[Article by Syed Saleem Shahzad ; headline as provided by source]

NAWA PASS, Pakistan border with Afghanistan - Sitting with four key Taliban commanders deep in a labyrinth of lush green mountains, I could see the Sarkano district of the Kunar Valley in Afghanistan, which is the provincial hub of the American military and a base for the Afghan National Army and Afghan intelligence.

Scores of guerrilla groups, each comprising a few dozen men, hide on the fringes of the Kunar Valley and launch daily operations into Kunar and Nooristan provinces, and with each passing day they receive new recruits and their attacks grow in intensity.
A year ago, I spent two weeks with the Taliban in Helmand province (including a few days in captivity - see A 'guest' of the Taliban , Asia Times Online, November 30, 2006 ), but since then there has been a sea-change within the Taliban.
Without legends such as the slain Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Akhtar Osmani, and with an extremely ill Jalaluddin Haqqani, a neo-Taliban movement has emerged with a new leadership, new zeal and new dynamics. The revitalized and resupplied Taliban are geared to enter a new phase of war without borders to fight coalition forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistan army.
In a way, all that has gone before in the "war on terror" in the past six years since the Taliban were ousted from Kabul has been a dress rehearsal.
For its part, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders are preparing to take up the fight. According to Asia Times Online contacts familiar with developments, a joint Pakistan-NATO operation was approved at a meeting of Pakistan's corps commanders at the weekend. Significantly, they agreed that the boundaries would not necessarily be drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Whether a conventional force such as NATO can contain the Taliban is another matter. Obviously, the Taliban are confident. I asked Shaheen Abid, the Taliban's head of guerrilla operations in the strategic Sarkano district, what was behind the group's revitalization.
Shaheen smiled in response and turned his gaze to three of his subordinate commanders - Zahid of the Nole region, Mohsin of the Shonk Karey district and Muslim Yar of the Barogai region.
"I only know how to fight. Answering complicated questions is beyond my ambit," Shaheen said apologetically, and immediately signaled for the Taliban's media relations officer of the Kunar Valley, Dr Jarrah (a jihadi name), to respond.
Jarrah began, "Before answering you, I will ask you a question. Who is qualified to claim that he has actually seen world?" Before I could reply to this rather strange question, Jarrah answered himself, "The one who has experienced true love, the one who has lived in an alien atmosphere and place, and the one who has spent time in captivity.
"The mujahideen have experienced all three things in the past seven years. We have been reared on a true love for our global struggle, we were forcibly displaced from one place to another and we spent lots of time in the detention centers of Cuba (Guantanamo), in Pakistan, Bagram (Afghanistan) and Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and braved the brutalities of the CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency), the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence) and Afghan intelligence," Jarrah said.
"We actually see the world now. We are seasoned and therefore you will see actual fireworks against the one which claims to be the global superpower."
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