Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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By 2005, suicide attacks began in Pakistan and the Pakistani security apparatus was at a loss over how to deal with the militants - neither the military nor the political approach worked.
Then an ISI network based in Balochistan province succeeded in making a connection with now slain Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, who, after a lot of negotiation, agreed to play a role in South Waziristan. He acquired a letter from Taliban leader Mullah Omar in which he emphasized that all groups in South and North Waziristan should focus on the jihad in Afghanistan rather than become involved in other regional and global operations.
Then Pakistan-friendly and legendary mujahideen leader Jalaluddin Haqqani was announced as the military leader of the Taliban's spring offensive of 2006 and he led all factions into Afghanistan. Before this, he had signed a ceasefire agreement with Pakistani forces in the tribal areas. The upshot was that the Taliban had their most successful season since being ousted in 2001 and Pakistan saved itself from a major catastrophe.
Nevertheless, Uzbeks and a group of Egyptians under the uncompromising Sheikh Essa and his Pakistani adherents Sadiq Noor and Abdul Khaliq Haqqani were still obsessed in fermenting an Islamic revolution in Pakistan. They were not ready to move into Afghanistan to fight against NATO, they wanted to continue the fight against Pakistani security forces.
So Pakistan had little choice but to follow the American example of the Sunni Awakening Councils in Iraq and what the British did in Helmand province in Afghanistan: divide and rule.
Ideological affiliations and tribal rivalries co-exist in South Waziristan. While most support the Taliban, Wazir tribesmen were wary of the growing strength of the Mehsud tribe's new strongman, Baitullah Mehsud. Baitullah had the support of h is tribe, but his greatest support was several hundred Uzbek warriors who made Baitullah the biggest commander in the region.
The ISI exploited this situation and they tapped up Haji Nazeer, in particular playing on the fact that the Uzbeks did not fight in Afghanistan. Haji Nazeer was given US$150,000 to strengthen his network and also received truck loads of ammunition and a guarantee of free movement into and out of Afghanistan.
In January 2007, Haji Nazeer and his men carried out a massacre of Uzbeks, killing at least 250 of them and expelling the rest from South Waziristan. Haji Nazeer attracted many Arabs, such as Abu Ali Tunisi, who influenced scores of Pakistani jihadis to join Haji Nazeer, whose now-expanded network only fights against NATO.
A similar case is that of Haji Namdar, (See Taliban bitten by a snake in the grass Asia Times Online, April 26, 2008 and Taliban claim victory from a defeat Asia Times Online, May 3, 2008.) He is the biggest recruiter of warriors in Khyber Agency to fuel the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan and he raises funds for the Taliban. The ISI had to solicit his help, though, to break a Taliban network in the agency which was crippling NATO supply lines into Afghanistan (the attacks have since resumed).
NATO was aware of this contradiction but did not have any choice but to go along with the ISI.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. 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]

UK Source Thinks Taliban's Haqqani Becoming Afghanistan's Biggest Threat To West
EUP20080622031001 London Independent on Sunday Online in English 22 Jun 08
[Report by Raymond Whitaker: "Warlord: My Encounter With Taliban Mastermind"]
In a month when Britain has lost nine soldiers in Afghanistan, including the first woman, and hundreds of Taliban fighters were freed by a daring bomb attack on Kandahar's main jail, the British public is only just becoming aware of the malevolent power of Jalaluddin Haqqani.
A man once known only to old Afghan hands is being credited with the resurgence of the Taliban since 2006. He is said to have introduced Iraqi-style suicide bombings to a country where they were unknown and are still considered by many to be un-Islamic. Wily and well connected, he is emerging as the biggest threat to Britain and its NATO allies in Afghanistan, where last month more Western troops were killed than in Iraq for the first time since 2003. He has experienced a comeback as spectacular as that of the movement he is now serving as principal military commander.
When I encountered Haqqani in March 1994, the fortunes of the legendary Afghan warlord were at a low ebb. He was a hero to the CIA and wealthy Arab backers during the fight against the Soviet invaders. As chronicled in the movie Charlie Wilson's War, torrents of money and arms had been channelled through Pakistan's intelligence service to resistance leaders like him. But, after the Russians pulled out in 1989 and the Communist regime collapsed in 1992, Haqqani and his fellow Pashtun chieftains had been outmanoeuvred.
Kabul had been seized by the Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who installed his party leader, Burhanuddin Rabbani, as President. Now Haqqani was sitting outside the President's office, waiting for an audience in which he would seek favours, and the photograph I took of him shows all the discomfort of a man who would have preferred to be meeting Rabbani on the battlefield.
Already in his late 40s, the mujahedin commander might have been expected to fade into obscurity, especially when Pakistan despaired of his ilk and decided to foster the Taliban instead. Yet 14 years later, he is regarded as the Taliban's most effective military leader. The former darling of the West's intelligence agencies is now their leading target after Osama Bin Laden [Usama Bin Ladin], his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Taliban figurehead, Mullah Omar.
Haqqani has shown his talent for psychologically significant blows, such as the attempted assassination of President Hamid Karzai during a military parade in the heart of Kabul in April, and January's attack on a luxury hotel that killed seven and sent shivers through the expatriate community in the Afghan capital.
This has accompanied the steady stream of suicide bombings that undermine NATO's military superiority and keep the civilian population on edge. On Friday, a suicide bomber on foot attacked a foreign military convoy in Helmand province, killing one NATO soldier and five civilians.
How did a man now in his 60s, who appeared to have been pushed to the margins, return to such a central role? Bin Laden himself, of course, was once seen as an asset by the US, and when the wealthy Saudi decided in the 1980s to take up the Afghan cause, one of the first Afghans he met was Haqqani. From a Pashtun clan with clout both in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal territories, Haqqani was able to provide Bin Laden with territory for his first camps. It was an association that later stood him in good stead.
As one of the few Pashtun commanders able to demonstrate effectiveness in fighting the Communists - he seized Khost, the first town to fall to the mujahedin after the Soviet pullout - the rough-hewn Haqqani was admired by Arabs who dreamed of jihad but lacked the nerve to go to war themselves. He visited the Gulf states frequently, learned Arabic and was always able to raise money in the Middle East after the American tap was turned off, enabling him to maintain large numbers of men under arms.
Even when Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) switched horses and backed the Taliban, he remained on good terms with the agency and was able to make a comfortable retreat to his stronghold, Miram Shah, in the Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan.
Haqqani was the first mujahedin commander to surrender unconditionally to the Taliban, and remained on polite terms with the movement. Although he was never part of the tight inner circle, he took various minor posts during Mullah Omar's five years in power, between 1996 and 2001, eventually becoming interior minister.
He also helped his old associate Bin Laden to set up training camps on his return to Afghanistan. None of this necessarily meant that he was fully committed to the alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida, in the view of his old contacts in the CIA and ISI - but after 9/11 it was time to put that theory to the test.
According to at least one report, Haqqani was summoned to Islamabad and told he could be installed as president of Afghanistan if he formed a breakaway "moderate" faction of the Taliban, excluding Mullah Omar. Presumably, the Al-Qa'ida leadership would have been expelled from Afghanistan under the deal. But the warlord declined and returned to his stronghold. According to Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars, a history of American involvement in Afghanistan, it was into Haqqani's territory that Bin Laden fled after he managed to elude the Americans in 2001.
Even then, Haqqani did not immediately assume a prominent role in the Taliban, although his forces were always ready to attack the Americans in eastern Afghanistan. It was only after the movement's 2006 spring offensive ran into trouble that he was asked to take command. The subsequent Taliban resurgence took NATO by surprise and spread dissension among its members over tactics and reinforcements.
NATO insists that it cannot be defeated in battle by the Taliban. That is certainly true - large numbers of Taliban militants freed in the attack on Kandahar jail were later killed when they tried to mass together to seize the city - but it is irrelevant. With a judicious mixture of hit-and-run attacks, suicide bombings and occasional "spectaculars", plus the constant vehicle bombings that claimed four British lives last week, Haqqani can destabilise nearly half the country and hold back economic reconstruction.
Recently, he appeared in a DVD to dispel rumours that he was dead, or that he had handed over to his 34-year-old son, Sirajuddin, who has assumed responsibility for military operations. He is a particularly formidable opponent for the West, with his long-standing connections to Pakistani intelligence apparently protecting him from any intervention in Waziristan, while his Middle Eastern links bring him money and recruits.
"This is not a battle of haste; this is a battle of patience," he says in the DVD. He speaks from experience. The commander I saw in the President's waiting-room 14 years ago appeared to be washed up, but he has outlasted his opponents. The Taliban, formed to get rid of old warlords like him, is now grateful for his help.

[Description of Source: London Independent on Sunday Online in English -- Website of leftist Sunday newspaper; has been consistently opposed to the Iraq war, often adopting a strong anti-US stance; sister paper of Independent Online; only available on Sundays; URL: http://www.independent.co.uk]

Pakistan: Son of Taliban Leader Haqqani Killed in Afghanistan's Paktia Province

SAP20080711098004 Islamabad The News Online in English 11 Jul 08
[Report by correspondent: "Haqqani's son killed in Paktia"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Friday, July 11, 2008
PESHAWAR: An 18-year old son of veteran Taliban leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani was killed in a firefight with the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan's Paktia province Thursday. Taliban sources said Mohammad Omar Haqqani, one of the several sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was killed during fighting at Satto Kandao, the mountainous area that links Paktia with the Khost province.

[Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English -- Website of the widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Hardcopy circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk]

Al-Qa'idah commander killed in Afghan east
IAP20080713950075 Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News in English 1126 GMT 13 Jul 08

Al-Qa'idah commander killed in Afghan east

Text of report in English by Afghan independent Pajhwok news agency website
Torkham: A top commander of the Al-Qa'idah terrorist network has been killed in southeastern Afghanistan, said a spokesman for the dreaded organization led by elusive Saudi dissident Usamah Bin-Ladin.
Abu-Hasan al-Sa'idi had been a key Al-Qa'idah commander in the southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika and Khost, which have been in the grip of spiking violence.
In a brief statement emailed to Pajhwok Afghan News, the network's mouthpiece Ahmad Sulayman said: We have lost our top military commander in southeastern Afghanistan.
Sulayman added the commander was killed in a clash with Afghan and American forces 48 hours ago. Abu-Hasan al-Sa'idi (48), hailing from Yemen, was chief of Al-Qa'idah training camps in Paktia and Khost during the jihad against the Soviet forces
Taleban member Mohammad Khosti, in a telephonic chat with this news agency, said he too had heard of the insurgent commanders slaying in a clash that happened in the Sato Kandao area of the volatile Khost Province.
Abu-Hasan al-Sa'idi was killed along with Umer Haqqani - a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani - in the firefight, Khosti revealed. Last week, another Al-Qa'idah commander named Abdallah Muhammad al-Abid (Shu'ayb al-Jaza'iri ) was killed in the Zabol Province.

[Description of Source: Kabul Pajhwok Afghan News in English Independent Afghan news agency]

Asia Times: 'Afghanistan's 'Sons of the Soil' Rise Up'
CPP20080713721002 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 1033 GMT 11 Jul 08
[Article By Syed Saleem Shahzad; headline as provided by source]

KARACHI - The resilient Taliban have proved unshakeable across Afghanistan over the past few months, making the chances of a coalition military victory against the popular tide of the insurgency in the majority Pashtun belt increasingly slim.

The alternative, though, of negotiating with radical Taliban leaders is not acceptable to the Western political leadership.
This stalemate suits Pakistan perfectly as it gives Islamabad the opportunity to once again step in to take a leading role in shaping the course of events in its neighboring country.
Pakistan's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi are thrilled with the Taliban's sweeping military successes which have reduced President Hamid Karzai's American-backed government to a figurehead decorating the presidential palace of Kabul; he and his functionaries dare not even cross the street to take evening tea at the Serena Hotel.
June (28 US combat deaths) was the deadliest month for coalition troops since they invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and fatalities have increased steadily since 2004, when 58 soldiers were killed that year. The total more than doubled to 130 killed in 2005, 191 in 2006 and 232 in 2007. One hundred and twenty-seven have died so far this year.
Pakistan's planners now see their objective as isolating radicals within the Taliban and cultivating tribal, rustic, even simplistic, "Taliban boys" - just as they did in the mid-1990s in the leadup to the Taliban taking control of the country in 1996. It is envisaged that this new "acceptable" tribal-inspired Taliban leadership will displace Taliban and al-Qaeda radicalism.
This process has already begun in Pakistan's tribal areas.
A leading Pakistani Taliban leader, Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan, who runs the largest Pakistani Taliban network against coalition troops in Afghanistan, recently convened a large meeting at which it was resolved to once again drive out radical Uzbeks from South Waziristan. This happened once before, early last year.
In particular, Nazeer will take action against the Uzbeks' main backer, Pakistani Taliban hardliner Baitullah Mehsud, if he tries to intervene. Nazeer openly shows his loyalty towards the Pakistani security forces and has reached out to other powerful Pakistani Taliban leaders, including Moulvi Faqir from Bajaur Agency, Shah Khalid from Mohmand Agency and Haji Namdar in Khyber Agency. Nazeer also announced the appointment of the powerful commander of North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, as the head of the Pakistani Taliban for all Pakistan.
The bulk of the Pakistani Taliban has always been pro-Pakistan and opposed to radical forces like Baitullah Mehsud and his foreign allies, but this is the first time they have set up a formal organization and appointed an amir (chief) as a direct challenge to the radicals.
At the core of their beliefs is a stress on traditional tribal values and following the tribal agenda of supporting the Afghan resistance against Western troops, rather than any global agenda such as attacks on Europe or the United States.
Soon after the announcement of the amir, two prominent Afghan Taliban commanders from eastern Afghanistan gave their support to the new Pakistani Taliban network. They are Moulvi Abdul Kabeer, a former Taliban governor in the province of Nangarhar before the US invasion in 2001, and commander Sadr-uddin. To date, the most important Afghan commander in the eastern region, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, has remained neutral, perhaps because of his close ties with Pakistan and also with the radical camp. Earlier, the Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another pro-Pakistan commander in Afghanistan, claimed several successful operations in the northeastern Kapisa and Wardak provinces - just a few score kilometers from Kabul. This is another significant development as it gives a boost to that segment of the insurgency which is more local than global.
This is the new picture emerging in eastern Afghanistan. If these groups, with Pakist an's support, can join hands with the Kandahari clans of the Taliban from the southwest, which already form a non-radical tribal resistance, it would give Islamabad the opportunity to make a proposal to Washington.
That is, the process of jirgas (tribal councils) should be restarted, this time only with the sons-of the-soil Taliban, to get them to lay down their arms and negotiate a new political role before the Afghan presidential elections next year.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com

[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online 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. URL: http://www.atimes.com]

NATO Forces' Build Up Along Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Frightens Tribesmen
SAP20080716101002 Islamabad The News Online in English 16 Jul 08
[Report by Mushtaq Yusufzai: "Nato build-up gives tribesmen the jitters"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR: After deployment along the Pak-Afghan border across the Kurram Agency, hundreds of Nato troops also took positions across the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Tuesday, creating panic among the already terrified tribesmen.
Official and tribal sources told this correspondent from NWA that the Nato troops started arriving near the border areas on Monday night. "Some of them had been brought in choppers and others by armoured personnel carriers. The troops had also shifted heavy arms and ammunition including tanks, heavy machineguns and artillery to the border," said Haji Yaqub, a resident of border town Ghulam Khan.
The troops had been deployed near the border towns of Ghulam Khan, Saidgai, Shawal and Mir Safar. "They started setting up bunkers very close to the border while gunship helicopters are continuously hovering over the border," said one Roohullah, a resident of the border town of Saidgai.
He said they had never before seen movement of foreign troops in such large numbers near the border. "For us, it's just unusual as they are on the zero point," said Roohullah, adding that so far the troops had not crossed the border.
The sources said the Nato troops dug trenches at Mughalgai near Zhawar camp, a famous training camp of Afghan Mujahideen commander, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, in Khost near Pakistan's Saidgai town.
Another bunker was set up at Gurbaz near Tarkhobi area of Khost, close to Pakistan's Ghulam Khan town. Similarly, the sources said, another trench was set up close to Mir Safar and Shawal towns of NWA.
According to sources, the Nato forces had planned setting up four new military camps along the border in the Taliban-dominated provinces of Afghanistan - Khost and Paktika. "They planned establishing four new military camps along the border and this latest deployment of the foreign troops was first step of their future planning," said the sources.
Senior government officials said the Nato forces were also misinformed about al-Qaeda training camps at Deegan, Mirali and Miramshah in North Waziristan. The sources said the Nato troops were also informed about the presence of senior Afghan Taliban commanders at the residence of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani at Danday Darpakhel, to condole with him the death of his son, Mohammad Omar Haqqani.
The 18-year-old son of veteran Taliban leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani was killed in a firefight with the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan's Paktia province on Thursday. It merits a mention here that Nato had already deployed a large number of troops close to the border between Afghanistan's Khost province and Pakistan's Kurram tribal region.
On the other hand, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's statement provided an opportunity to the US to deploy its troops near the tribal areas. "When a responsible person like the prime minister has himself said that foreign militants were hiding in Pakistani tribal areas and could cause another 9/11 like disaster then who will stop American forces from invading the country," Omar asked.
He said the Taliban would welcome the Nato forces if they entered into the tribal areas. (According to Reuters, the Taliban spokesman in Bajaur welcomed the build-up on the border as a chance to kill more Americans. "It's a gift that they're coming here on our land and making it easy for us to kill our enemies, the enemies of Muslims," Maulvi Omar said.
Meanwhile, the US-led Nato forces Tuesday night fired 30 mortar rounds from Afghanistan's Paktika province on Pakistan's Angoor Adda. A senior government official based in Wana, regional headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, confirmed the latest shelling on Pakistani territory, but said he had no further details about any loss. He said fearing airstrikers and shelling by the Nato forces on their villages, the residents started leaving their homes for safe and distant towns.
Agencies add: The Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said it was probably a routine movement and the media had created "unnecessary hype". Abbas told a private TV channel that there was no build up of Nato forces close to the Pak-Afghan border.
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