Taleban Government Appoints Two New Ministers

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When militant groups signed peace deals with the government in South and North Waziristan, some armed groups tried to use Kurram for their activities in Afghanistan. Under the agreements, the militant groups operating in Waziristan were required not to infiltrate into Afghanistan.
Tension flared in the area when Baitullah Mehsud, the slain chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, deputed Hakimullah as 'commander' for Kurram, Khyber and Orakzai agencies in 2008 and tribal people in Kurram opposed TTP's activities.
Local tribes blamed Taliban for violence and insecurity in their area.
According to the sources, Taliban have told the elders that tension in Kurram has had an adverse effect on the 'Jihad' in Afghanistan and that they are interested in ending disput es among local groups.
But several tribes are sceptical about the initiative and suspect that the Taliban are interested only in securing a safe passage for their cross-border movement.
"Taliban are yet to show their cards, but we have already conveyed to the negotiators that people in Kurram are against the presence of outsiders in their area," a source said.

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn Online in English -- Website of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; URL: http://www.dawn.com]

Pakistan: US Drones Attack Taliban Positions Killing 21 in North Waziristan
SAP20100916118004 Karachi Dawn Online in English 16 Sep 10
[Report by staff correspondent: "Twenty-one militants killed in two attacks"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
MIRAMSHAH: US drones carried out two attacks on Taliban positions in North Waziristan on Wednesday. According to sources, 21 suspected militants were killed in the attacks.
In the first attack, which began at about 4.30am and continued for half an hour, 10 missiles hit a residential compound owned by Badshah Khan in Dandi Derpakhel area, north of Miramshah. Badshah Khan, the sources said, had links with the Haqqani group. The main compound was destroyed and 14 foreigners and so-called Punjabi Taliban were killed.
In the evening, drones carried out the second attack and fired missiles at a house in Datakhel area, killing seven militants.
Meanwhile, reports said a commander of the Haqqani group had been killed in a drone attack on Tuesday. Commander Saifullah was said to be a cousin of Sirajuddin, a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani.

[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn Online in English -- Website of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; URL: http://www.dawn.com]

Pakistan Article Says Al-Qaida, TTP Trying to Destabilize Afghan Peace Process
SAP20100927103002 Lahore Daily Times Online in English 27 Sep 10
[Article by Ali K Chishti: Of al Qaeda, reconciliation, Haqqanis and Af-Pak]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
Pakistani security agencies over the past few months have seized over 67,000 kilogrammes of explosives in Karachi and Lahore only. The agencies also revealed that they had found smart third generation bombs, anti-aircraft guns, grenades, suicide vests and lethal chemicals that could kill thousands of innocent civilians. A top intelligence and security chief reveals that major and timely crackdowns in Lahore and Karachi prevented massive attacks planned by al Qaeda and its affiliated groups to carry out what is termed "mass genocide and slaughter" of civilians. However, the official warned that al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks were still expected "from Karachi to the Tribal Areas". Pakistan is a regular victim of terrorist attacks, but the focus of al Qaeda and its allies until now has primarily been on the supply lines of NATO troops that pass through Pakistan to the Taliban-led insurgency across the border in Afghanistan. Daily Times can confirm that Pakistan is trying to solicit a deal between the US and Afghan Talibans with the help of certain friendly Arab nations while successfully partitioning Afghan Talibans, the TTP, Pakistan's version of Taliban, and al Qaeda. Plans are in place for an operation in North Waziristan, but Kayani has indicated that he will decide when to go ahead, if at all. "Our biggest concern is where Sirajuddin and Jalaluddin Haqqani will be post-US withdrawal as they are close to al Qaeda," a Western diplomat told Daily Times. While the Pakistani security establishment considers the father and son duo a "strategic asset" with influences in Ghani, Khost, Paktia and Kajtika provinces in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network, which has a base in North Waziristan, is one of the most powerful insurgent groups in Afghanistan. A Western military commander stationed in Afghanistan told Daily Times, "The Haqqanis fully supported, coordinated and facilitated attacks by al Qaeda, such as the ones in Kabul and on the Bagram air base this year." Top Pakistani security officials are hopeful that the deal will go through and that the Haqqanis will "behave if there was reconciliation". However, while Sirajuddin is al Qaeda's asset, his ailing father Jalaluddin is somewhat different as he has long-standing friendships with several high-ranking Pashto-speaking officers. Daily Times can confirm that post-9/11, when Pakistan had joined the US 'war on terror', Jalaluddin was invited to Islamabad to convince him to detach himself from the Taliban, as he was originally not part of the Taliban and only partially supported them, but he refused. Pakistani officials also suggested, possibly via the Americans, that Jalaluddin could become prime minister or even president in the new Afghan set-up in late 2001, but he reportedly refused. A top Pakistani intelligence chief told Daily Times, "With Saudi and UAE envoys coming in, Hamid Karzai dealing with the Pakistani establishment to strike deals with the Taliban, the Haqqanis might also join the coalition and there could eventually be a happy ending." While on the other hand, concerned with the negotiations and dealings, al Qaeda too is gradually shifting its base from its global nerve centre - North Waziristan - to urban areas of Pakistan. The group has also cemented alliances with the TTP and has given refuge to most of the Mehsuds in North Waziristan, its original base, while successfully linking with and even funding various sectarian groups in Punjab and Sindh. While Western diplomats and Pakistani security officials reveal that although negotiations are "on" with regards to Afghanistan, their real and immediate concern now is al Qaeda and the TTP, which might just organise a Mumbai-style attack or a "massive one" to try and destabilise talks and the reconciliation process. A Western diplomat commented, "Expect some fireworks."

[Description of Source: Lahore Daily Times Online in English -- Website of the independent, moderate daily, run by Media Times (Private) Ltd., owned by Salman Taseer, the incumbent governor of Punjab province. Veteran journalist Najam Sethi is the editor-in-chief. The same group owns and publishes weekly newspaper The Friday Times and Urdu daily Aaj Kal. Strong critic of radical and jihadi elements. Provides extensive coverage of activities of jihadi/militant groups. Caters to the educated middle class, with an estimated circulation of 20,000.; URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk]

AFP: Islamist Extremists Based in Pakistan Said Plotting Attacks in Europe

SAP20101004018005 Hong Kong AFP in English 0928 GMT 04 Oct 10
[AFP report: "Pakistan's Terror-hit Waziristan at Centre of New Plot Claim"]
ISLAMABAD, Oct 4, 2010 (AFP) -- Islamist extremists are believed to be plotting attacks on Europe from Pakistan's tribal Waziristan region -- a militant-riddled remote border zone that is frequently pummelled by US drones.
The hostile region known for its battle-hardened fighters, bomb-making factories and suicide attackers has been dubbed by Washington the most dangerous place on Earth and a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.
Western intelligence agencies have uncovered an Al-Qaeda plot by extremists based there to launch attacks in Britain, France and Germany, security sources and media reports have said.
The plot is thought to have been inspired by Al-Qaeda's fugitive leadership in the deeply conservative and fiercely independent region, although Pakistan has rejected the notion of a plot on its soil.
The terrain, split into North and South Waziristan, is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which comprise seven administrative units located along the Afghan border.
Waziristan is bigger than Lebanon and its mountains are dissected by goat tracks, caves and thick forest which provide perfect sanctuary to militants. North Waziristan has also been named as a likely hiding place of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
A potent vortex of Afghan, Pakistani, Uzbek and Arab militants, Waziristan is described by Pakistani intelligence officials as a black hole.
It was thrown back into the limelight last May when New York bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad told US interrogators he received bomb making training there.
It is the headquarters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leader Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in two videos made earlier this year threatening to attack US cities.
The group also made a widely disputed claim for the New York bomb plot.
Pakistan launched a sweeping offensive into South Waziristan last October in a bid to wipe out the nerve centre of the country's main Taliban faction, blamed for a campaign of suicide attacks and bombings killing thousands.
Much of the TTP leadership is believed to have fled, but the military has so far stopped short of ordering a similar offensive into North Waziristan, which has been seen as the ultimate fortress of foreign and Pakistani militants.
The region's pull for diaspora Pakistani youth living in the West who have fallen into the clutches of radical Islam is well documented.
Five Americans were sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Pakistani anti-terror court in June for plotting militant attacks. Pakistani investigators said they had planned to travel to South Waziristan but were instead arrested last December.
The mastermind of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, Muktar Said Ibrahim, also travelled to a militant training camp in Pakistan, but it was unclear where.
The local population, largely Mehsud and Wazir tribesmen known for their warrior culture who famously resisted the British in the 19th century, is around one million -- 600,000 in South Waziristan and 355,000 in the North.
Before the army offensive, the TTP was believed to have 10,000 to 12,000 followers in South Waziristan including Uzbek and Arab fighters.
The number of militants in North Waziristan is not clear, but the region is a headquarters for the Haqqani network, locked in fighting with the Americans in Afghanistan.
The network is led by former mujahedin commander Jalaluddin Haqqani's son Sirajuddin Haqqani who claims to command 2,000 fighters.
Taliban-linked Afghan warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur is also reputed to control up to 2,000 fighters in the region.
North Waziristan in particular has been at the forefront of the US drone war, in which TTP founder Baitullah Mehsud was killed last year.
Pakistani officials have reported that more than 20 US drone strikes since early September have killed 133 people.
More than 1,150 people have been killed in 139 drone strikes in the tribal areas since August 2008.
The bombing raids fuel anti-American s entiment in Muslim Pakistan and draw public condemnation from the government.
But officials in Washington say drone strikes have killed several high-value targets and help protect troops in Afghanistan from attacks plotted across the border.

[Description of Source: Hong Kong AFP in English -- Hong Kong service of the independent French press agency Agence France-Presse]

Al-Jazirah Program Discusses Reports on US Talks With Haqqani Network, Taliban
GMP20101007615004 Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 1830 GMT 07 Oct 10
Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic, an independent television station financed by the Qatari Government, at 1830 GMT on 7 October broadcasts live a 25-minute episode of its "Behind the News" program. Moderator Layla al-Shayib, in Al-Jazirah studio in Doha, hosts Abdul Salam Zaeef, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, via satellite from Kabul, and Marvin Weinbaum, former US diplomat in Afghanistan and a researcher in Afghani and Pakistani affairs in the Middle East Institute in Washington, via satellite from Washington, to discuss reports that the United States and the Afghan government are holding talks with Haqqani insurgents in Afghanistan. Weinbaum speak in English with superimposed Arabic translation.
The episode begins by a three-minute report over video in which reporter Amir Sadiq suggests that nine years after the "easy" US invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans have failed to accomplish their mission in that country. "The Americans turned a deaf ear to every call for dialogue with Taliban and let weapons alone deliver the messages in what was seen as a mission that would not end without eliminating Taliban and Al-Qa'ida, once and for all." The reporter says that "to achieve this objective, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent and thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of other allied troops were killed in the war, but the objective was never achieved." He notes efforts to "persuade Taliban" to engage in talks. He adds: "The facts in Afghanistan say that Taliban controls or maintains effective presence in 33 out of the 34 Afghani provinces. The dreams of settling the battle against the movement militarily are no longer entertained even by the most hard-line US military leaders." He notes reports that a dialogue with Taliban has already started, and that this will ultimately lead to "an agreement that will bring all parties, primarily the United States, out of the current crisis."
Moderator Al-Shayib then gives some information about Haqqani Network, which "works independently from the Taliban Movement although there is an alliance and strong coordination between them in the fight against the Western forces." She says the network is led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and its daily operations are managed by his son Sirajuddin. She says the network has its headquarters and training camps in northern Waziristan in Pakistan. She says the network has between 3,000 and 4,000 fighters. She says the movement controls a large part of the tribal region on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and that the US intelligence believes the network has close relations with Al-Qa'ida and the Pakistani intelligence agency. She says the recent US attacks in northern Waziristan targeted this network, "which boasts high organizational abilities."
Al-Shayib then asks Zaeef in Kabul about the significance of the US dialogue with Haqqani Network. He begins by denying that Haqqani Network is separate from Taliban. "They are Taliban. They are under the leadership of mujahid Mullah Mohammed Omar," obeying his orders, he says. He says Haqqani fighters "work independently in independent regions where they have influence" but "they are not a separate team isolated from Taliban, as the Americans think."
He casts doubts on reports that Haqqani group or Taliban have contacts with the Americans or with the Afghan government. "These are exaggerations. They want to create confusion among the Taliban by suggesting that some of the Taliban leaders contact the government or talk to it or want a settlement with it while other Taliban leaders do not know about this. This is an attempt to create confusion among the Taliban."
He adds: "I do not think that the dialogue has started. The Afghan government wanted to contact Haqqani Network and talk to it. But what was the answer? Haqqani's reply was: 'We take orders and we have war leaders. We cannot dis cuss these things. If you want to talk about the issues of peace and settlement, you must go to the leadership, and you know this leadership.' This was their reply. I do not think a dialogue between them has started."
Al-Shayib asks Weinbaum if there is a new US strategy in Afghanistan prior to the July 2011 withdrawal. He says reconciliation with Taliban serves Afghan President Hamid Karzai's "personal purposes". He says the Afghan president is concerned over what will happen after the start of the US withdrawal next year. He explains that July 2011 is the date set for the start of the US withdrawal, not the date of the final withdrawal. The number of the troops that will be withdrawn has still not been specified, and this will be determined by the facts on the ground, he says.
Asked how Haqqani Network sees the principle of negotiations, Zaeef reiterates that "so far the movement and all the mujahidin have not drawn up any plans for dialogue with the Americans. They believe that the Americans do not want peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and that they are still sending reinforcements to Afghanistan and working to intensify wars in Afghanistan and the operations in their regions." He adds: "Taliban is sure that the Americans do not want to solve these problems through understanding and negotiations. This is why Taliban always says there is only one option: the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan and then we can sit together and talk."
He says if the Americans really want peace and settlement, they must prepare for it by stopping the war and the bombings. "They cannot solve this problem through war and pressure."
Asked what made the CIA chief, who a few months ago expressed his belief that Haqqani group was not willing for or serious about dialogue and peace, change his position, Weinbaum says: I do not know if he really changed his position or not. There is much skepticism around Haqqani Network and its real desire to achieve reconciliation. The feeling here is that Haqqani Network wants the United States to surrender. He says any negotiation to achieve peace in Afghanistan does not mean a NATO defeat. He says the Americans and NATO are "looking for alternatives because they realized that in the long run there must be a kind of political settlements."
Weinbaum notes there has been controversy over the decision to announce a date for the withdrawal from Afghanistan and whether the announcement decision was wise or not, even if this is only the date of the start of the pullout. He says the American public is fed up with this long war, "but I do not think the public is ready to accept any deal because much was invested in this war." He says the US strategy advocates reintegration but the question is: to what extent are the insurgents ready to make concessions or accept power-sharing? So far, he says, there are no indications that Taliban or Haqqani are ready to share power.
Asked how Taliban benefits from American announcements such as setting a date for the start of withdrawal, Zaeef says the Americans were wrong from the very beginning, when they decided to invade and occupy Afghanistan. He says Taliban believes the announcement of a withdrawal date is a "conspiracy." He says Taliban "is not sure that the Americans sincerely want to withdraw from Afghanistan. It believes the Americans want to pull out of some regions and stay in some other important regions." He says Taliban wants to "intensify the resistance against the Americans until they leave Afghanistan." He expresses his belief that "some countries," not Taliban, politically benefit from such American announcements. He says he does not want to name these countries.

[Description of Source: Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic -- Independent Television station financed by the Qatari Government]

Pakistan said engages militant network for tribal area peace - PTI
SAP20101012950014 New Delhi PTI News Agency in English 1530 GMT 11 Oct 10

Pakistan said engages militant network for tribal area peace - PTI

Text of report by Press Trust of India news agency
Peshawar, 11 October: The Pakistani government has engaged top leaders of the Haqqani militant network to initiate negotiations between rival rebel factions in the Kurram tribal region in order to usher in peace and normalcy in the region affected by sectarian strife, sources said Monday [11 October].
An important personality from North Waziristan Agency played a key role in getting Ibrahim Haqqani and Khalil Haqqani, brothers of militant warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, to agree to play the role of peace mediators between rival factions in Kurram Agency, the sources said.
The Haqqanis have conditionally agreed to broker the talks between the rival groups.
The sources said parliamentarian Sajid Turi, who represented the Shi'i group Ahle Tashih, and lawmaker Munir Orakzai, who represented the Sunni group Ahl-e-Sunnat, participated in three-day peace talks held in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The jirga, after detailed deliberations, has now reached Islamabad and the draft of a possible peace agreement is expected to be finalized in the next few days.
The sources said that both Shi'is and Sunnis have agreed to deposit a surety bond of 6 crore [one crore equals 10m] rupees to prevent further violence and bloodshed.
The Haqqani brothers agreed to get the local Taleban to stop their subversive activities in Kurram agency to pave the way for lasting peace in the area.
Hundreds of people have died in fighting between heavily armed Shia and Sunni tribesmen in Kurram Agency over the past three years.
The situation was exacerbated after Taleban fighters infiltrated the area and began backing the Sunnis.
Roads connecting most parts of Kurram to the rest of Pakistan have been closed for over a year and local residents have to been forced to travel to Pakistani cities like Peshawar via Afghanistan.

[Description of Source: New Delhi PTI News Agency in English ]

Asia Times: 'The Foreplay of an Afghan Settlement'
CPP20101012715076 Hong Kong Asia Times Online in English 0114 GMT 11 Oct 10
[Asia Times Report by M. K. Bhadrakumar: "The Foreplay of An Afghan Settlement"; headline as provided by source]
When "well-placed Pakistani and Arab sources" sing like magpie robins, you never get tired of hearing them. There is a lot of variety to their songs. The magpie robin gives voice to a range of motifs: loud songs to establish territory and pair formation; soft, aggressive songs to defend territory; or, haunting resting melodies.
Remember how such well-placed sources sang without a break from the mid-1980s in the run-up to the Geneva talks all the way to February 15, 1989, when the last Soviet soldiers, led by General Boris Gromov finally managed after 10 years to leave Afghanistan on foot over the Hairatonbridge across the Amy Darya River? Well, they are singing again.
But they are very combative - less bird-like and more like kung fu masters ready to do battle. Are they establishing territory or merely defending it? Most certainly, these are not haunting resting songs.
Highly tendentious themes have appeared in rapid succession over the past week: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in talks with the Taliban's Quette shura (council) about a "comprehensive" Afghan settlement, with the latter participating in government; Karzai is also talking with the Haqqani network thanks to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This follows the ISI setting up a meeting "on the Afghan-Pakistan border in the spring" between Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, and the ISI escorting Sirajuddin's brother and uncle to Kabul. The Haqqanis realize that the time has come to "make the transition from the IRA to Sinn Fein" and that "This is the end of the road for al-Qaeda in Waziristan", as diplomatic sources have been reported as saying.
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