|Earlier, secret US talks were already in progress with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The independent status of these groups complicates issues as they are never on one page. In fact, the United States engaged Baradar because he has more supporters than Mullah Omar in Popalzai tribe. Brader and Omar belong to the same tribe. Agha is not a prominent personality among the Taliban factions. If the United States is really willing to talk to the Haqqani faction, it means it wants an exit from Afghanistan. Is the United States leaving Afghanistan, said Qadir commenting on Clinton's statement that good days are coming for Pakistan. He said good days can arrive in Pakistan only if the United States leaves Afghanistan. He said: "Our difficulties are due to the United States. Our difficulties will begin turning into advantages if the United States leaves Afghanistan."
Clinton, who arrived pursuing an agenda to hold talks with the Taliban, has once again handed over a list of demands to the Pakistani leadership against the will of our Parliament. The presence of Clinton and Mullen in Pakistan at the same time is not being considered a good omen. According to sources, the military leadership has refused to do more for the United States. Rather, it has made clear that it will not launch military operation in North Waziristan. Qadir said he did not know in what context Clinton has said that good days are being expected in Pakistan. He said it is premature to analyze this statement without details but the United States seems anxious to talk to Mullah Omar. Agha has been used as just a symbol to assure Taliban that they [US] are willing to talk to them.
At present, four groups are surviving in Afghanistan: Jalaluddin Haqqani, Mullah Omar and two of its sub groups, one is in Nangarhar and other is in Logar province. Talks with these groups would yield some results as they have been a nuisance for the United States. Remaining groups have been rendered ineffective. Hamid Karzai held a grand jirga [tribal council] to demonstrate his prowess but mostly unpopular personalities or those, who had lost their support, attended it. Sources said Americans have been disappointed now or perhaps the military leadership has never faced such public criticism. The attack on the Mehran naval base following 2 May incident has compelled the military leadership to adopt a tough stance.
[Description of Source: Karachi Ummat in Urdu -- Sensationalist, pro-Usama Bin Ladin Urdu daily. Harshly critical of the US, Israel, and India. Propagates Muslim unity to counter US/Western influence. Circulation 20,000. Editor-publisher Rafiq Afghan is an Afghan war veteran.]
UK Source Says Bin Ladin Planned 'Grand Coalition' of Pakistan, Afghan Militants
EUP20110531031005 London Guardian.co.uk in English 1529 GMT 30 May 11
[Report by Jason Burke in Kabul: "Usama Bin Ladin Tried To Establish 'Grand Coalition' of Militant Groups"]
Osama bin Laden [Usama bin Ladin] spent much of his last weeks alive planning a new attempt to bring the disparate factions among insurgents and militants fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan together under the umbrella of al-Qaida [Al-Qa'ida].
The terrorist leader, who had made repeated efforts to unify militant groups, was even considering risking leaving his safe house in Abbottabad, the northern Pakistani garrison town, to try to build a fresh alliance through face-to-face meetings, sources in Pakistan, Afghanistan and America have told the Guardian.
Western intelligence services and Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions committee, told the Guardian the reports that Bin Laden was planning a "grand coalition" were credible.
"Bin Laden found it pretty difficult to be marginalised and was making a huge effort to stay relevant. There was some indication that he was looking at re-energising links with (other local militant groups) to give himself a central role," Barrett said.
Mediating alliances and focusing the efforts of disparate groups has been a favoured strategy of Bin Laden since the late 1980s. Many experts say that, with the growing sophistication of local groups such as the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the role of international militants in the region has diminished.
"In recent years, al-Qaida has become increasingly marginal in the region, particularly in Afghanistan," said Thomas Ruttig, a Kabul-based analyst. "The Taliban have people who have been fighting for 30 years and who have little to learn from outsiders."
Western intelligence officials in Kabul told the Guardian they believe there are probably no more than 100 extremists affiliated with al-Qaida fighting in Afghanistan and that relations with the other insurgent groups there and in Pakistan are "variable and dynamic". "Most of the guys fighting in this region have a very local focus. That leads to friction with the internationals," one said last week.
Bin Laden had known key insurgent figures such as the cleric Jalaluddin Haqqani or the Islamist former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, for decades.
American investigators hope the trove of data seized in the raid on the Abbottabad compound this month, in which Bin Laden and his 22-year-old son, Khaled, were killed, will cast light on the relations of al-Qaida and other militant groups in the region and beyond.
Special forces seized dozens of computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks, DVDs and flash drives, from the safe house.
The data includes emails sent as recently as last month by a courier on behalf of the al-Qaida leader. The sheer size of the haul - described by one official recently as a mother lode of intelligence - has slowed the flow of information, however.
"My understanding is that we are talking about something the size of a small college arts faculty library," said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst and expert in south Asian Islamist militancy. "There is a huge amount that needs processing."
Almost all the data is in Arabic, and needs to be translated into English. A further problem, US officials have said, is that it is unclear whether many of the messages, instructions and notes written by Bin Laden were ever sent or ever reached their intended destination.
"They could have been just jottings. He probably got bored, like anyone else," Riedel said.
American former intelligence officials told the Guardian the immediate priority of the dedicated teams set up to work through the data would be to search for any operational information that could avert terrorist plot s, rather than to focus on more strategic issues.
So far, the investigators have found evidence confirming only that certain broad types of target - such as trains and planes - were still of interest to Bin Laden.
According to officials and an American law enforcement bulletin two weeks ago, Bin Laden was also interested in hijacking and blowing up oil and gas tankers.
Among the material seized in the compound, where Bin Laden may have been based for at least five years, are his notes on how many Americans he believed an attack needed to kill to force a change in Washington's Middle East policies and on who were the best senior political officials to target in the US.
There are also indications that Bin Laden was contemplating trying to negotiate some kind of pact with the Pakistani government.
Investigators are also looking for details of the financing of al-Qaida. Much of the money for the terror group came from personal contacts of Bin Laden's and what is believed to be a relatively small number of donors in the Middle East. One official with knowledge of the operation said last week it was hoped that the cache would identify these.
Of particular interest would be any communications with al-Qaida's Sheikh Sa'id al-Masri, believed to be the group's chief financial officer until he was killed last year, the official said. The key thing the investigators will be seeking to assess is the nature of Bin Laden's role in recent years within the al-Qaida organisation.
Since his death, US officials have described the 54-year-old Saudi-born militant leader as "central" to the group and "a micro-manager" linked to "every plot" in America and Europe.
However, some doubt Bin Laden could have been closely involved in day-to-day management, given that the compound where he lived was without internet access or telephones. Communicating may have involved a laborious process of writing messages offline, saving them to a USB key and then having a courier take them to a distant internet cafe or other terminal to be sent.
The two men who lived with Bin Laden, his three wives and up to 15 children and grandchildren put batteries in their mobile phones only when they were at least 60 miles from Abbottabad, for security reasons, according to one report. This will have limited Bin Laden's ability to run the group, officials told the Guardian.
The data retrieved has already shown that Bin Laden was in touch with a small number of senior al-Qaida figures, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian veteran militant who is now expected to succeed as the head of the group.
In a statement released in February this year, Zawahiri told followers to avoid "civilian casualties" in their attacks, saying he had been asked to issue the directive by Bin Laden himself.
According to news reports, Bin Laden's notebooks show his displeasure at a suggestion in the Islamist extremist internet magazine Inspire, published from the Yemen by an al-Qaida affiliate, that a farm tractor be converted into a "killing machine" by attaching blades to its wheels. This was not "representative of al-Qaida", he complained.
There is also evidence that Bin Laden had the final say in leadership appointments, pointing out the defects of potential candidates to close senior associates such as Zawahiri.
But some officials seeking to divine the future direction of Islamist militancy point to the conclusions of Moroccan investigations into the bombing of a Marrakech cafe days before the al-Qaida leader died.
A government statement said: "The individuals were absorbed by jihadist ideology, and had allegiance to al-Qaida and had already made several attempts to join some of the hotbeds of tension, especially Chechny a and Iraq, before deciding to carry out terror in the homeland." There was no evidence of a direct connection with the al-Qaida leadership, the investigators said.
"The suspects learned on the internet how to make the two remote-detonated explosive devices," the statement said.
Shortly after the death of Bin Laden, al-Qaida's online al-Fajr Media Centre issued a statement telling every "mujahid [mujahedin] Muslim, if there is an opportunity, do not waste it".
"Do not consult anyone about killing Americans or destroying their economy," the statement continued. "We also incite you to carry out acts of individual terrorism with significant results, which only require basic preparation."
[Description of Source: London Guardian.co.uk in English -- Website of center-left daily with close links to New Labour; comment section covers whole political spectrum; read by well-educated, left-leaning urban professionals; URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk]
Author Cautions Pakistan Against NWA Operation, Calls Haqqani Islamabad 'Friend'
SAP20110603114005 Karachi The Express Tribune Online in English 03 Jun 11
[Article by Shaukat Qadir: "No Need for NWA Operations"]
Some readers might recall my explanation for US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Pakistan in which, quoting The Washington Post, I listed some of the messages he was carrying to us. The relevant one here related to the discontinuation of the US demand that the Pakistan Army undertake operations against the Haqqani Taliban, who are provided safe haven in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) by the Wazir tribe.
Well, even diplomacy is dynamic! Circumstances have changed; and now, media reports indicate that the demand is on the table again. I will attempt to explain here why it must not be obeyed, no matter how much the US protests.
To the uninitiated, there are many factions of the Taliban, Afghan and Pakistani. While all are/were loosely associated with al Qaeda, they did not always obey it. In 2007, when al Qaeda declared that its enemy number one was no longer the US but Pakistan, only two factions of the Taliban responded to that call, both Pakistani: Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) and Maulana Fazlullah in Swat. All factions of the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani group, condemned it.
In September 2008, when the Pakistan Army commenced its South Waziristan operation, its largest logistics base was in Razmak, a small town in NWA. In other words, we exposed our rear to the Wazir tribe and the Haqqani group with assurances of impunity; and we found those assurances to be gilt-edged. On the other hand, our so-called ally in this war, the US, vacated six (perhaps eight) posts on the Durand Line, across SWA. Whatever the reason, all it succeeded in doing was permitting Hakeemullah Mehsud and his followers to escape.
They are now back in the Orakzai Agency in Pakistan; the agency captured by the Taliban in early 2008, after killing almost all tribal elders in a suicide attack, during a jirga meeting. The Pakistan Army is now trying to get at them in Orakzai.
In an article titled "Understanding the problems of Kurram Agency", carried by this newspaper on March 29, I explained the significance of Kurram for military operations to succeed in Orakzai/Khyber. I also explained the strategic compulsions due to which Hakeemullah was compelled to ensure that the peace deal was scuttled by sending a raiding party which killed some Shia residents and kidnapped a few others in Kurram on March 25, thus ensuring this flank was not available for military operations.
Give you one guess, who came to our rescue?
That's right; Jalaluddin Haqqani! A week after the murder/kidnapping in Kurram, Haqqani warned Hakeemullah that if he tried to scuttle the peace deal again, Haqqani would take him on.
The US is, at best, a dubious and devious ally, only when our interests meet. Surely, the US could say the same about Pakistan, equally accurately! Haqqani, on the other hand, is not merely a reliable ally, but a friend of Pakistan.
We are already suffering at the hands of our misguided citizens who are avenging themselves against the US by killing us. Here is a group that has proven it means us no harm; why then should we multiply our own enemies to appease the US?
I do not believe that if we delink our war against our homegrown terrorists, it will suddenly cease, as many of my critics imply. I do, however, believe that if we do so, our war might not remain as open-ended as it presently is; and that an end to it might begin to be visible; it still might not, but that is the only hope that it might!
And I also believe that the US, our ally, is our ally only as long as it serves US interests and I believe the same should apply to us! If our interests are divergent, let us serve ours, not those of the US. Those who contend that by not undertaking an operation in NWA, we are merely postponing it may well be right. Even if they are, let it be at the time of our choosing a nd not at a time when it suits the US and puts us in an even worse situation than compared to the present.
Leadership demands the ability to absorb pressure, however great or weighty it might be; not succumb to it.
[Description of Source: Karachi The Express Tribune Online in English -- Website of a newspaper partnered with the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times. It is part of the Lakson Group, which includes Daily Express and Express News Television in Urdu and Express 24/7 Television in English. The group's media wing has no known political affiliations and operates as a moderate, independent commercial media organization. The newspaper claims its mission is to defend "liberal values and egalitarian traditions"; URL: http://tribune.com.pk]
Article: Pakistan Oblivious of Taliban-US Secret Talks; Success to Benefit Obama
SAP20110603381001 Karachi Ummat Online in Urdu 03 Jun 11
[Article by Asif Jilani: The United States Another Effective Blow to Pakistan]
Mark Sedwill, the United Kingdom's special emissary for Pakistan and Afghanistan, has disclosed that the process of indirect secret talks between the United States and the Taliban leadership has begun and that three rounds of talks have been held so far in Qatar and Germany. Pakistan has been kept totally oblivious of these secret talks that have commenced soon after the alleged killing of Usama Bin Ladin in Abbottabad - exactly in the same manner as Pakistan was kept in the dark about the operation of the special contingent of the US SEALS in Abbottabad. The disclosure about the secret talks between the United States and the Taliban has been made at a time when Pakistan has been badly reprimanded for hiding Usama Bin Ladin in Abbottabad and establishing secret contacts with the Taliban and has also been under tremendous pressure to begin a comprehensive military operation in North Waziristan. There was too much hubbub after the US attack in Abbottabad and there were excessive noises against the United States for violating Pakistan's independence, sovereignty, supremacy, and its frontiers. At a joint session of the Parliament, the military leadership was taken to task and in a resolution, an announcement was made in a challenging manner that the United States' unilateral action and drone attacks would not be tolerated in the future. The entire country, in one voice, had demanded that we should review our ties with the United States. However, after this, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen came to Islamabad, they, instead of dressing the wounds of Pakistani leadership, submitted a long list of insulting demands, which the Pakistani leaders acquiesced to forthwith in a very submissive way. It appeared as though all the noises against the violations of the nation's sovereignty and supremacy were nothing more than mere storm in a tea cup. On his return home after a day's visit to Islamabad, Admiral Mike Mullen without mincing words stated that Pakistan had agreed to launch a military operation in North Waziristan. Though the Pakistani Army has denied it, we are at a loss to understand as to had not this issue been decided, why would Admiral Mike Mullen make an announcement so openly like this? It has been confirmed through various sources that during the visit of Hillary Clinton and Mike Mullen to Islamabad, it was agreed that the military operation against the Haqqani Group in North Waziristan would commence with the bombing by Pakistani Air Force. After that the Pakistani Army would commence the ground offensive. The blueprint prepared for this operation airs an apprehension that more than 350,000 people will become homeless during the operation. In this connection, relief agencies have been alerted and asked to be prepared to deal with this problem.
Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose stronghold is in North Waziristan now-a-days, really belongs to the Jadran tribe in Paktika Province of Afghanistan. He became quite popular on account of his courageous and daring jihadi activities against the Soviet Union in the 80's. In those days, the Americans were so fond of him that President Ronald Regan specially invited him to Washington and hosted him a banquet in the White House. The irony is that in 2001, the very same Jalaluddin Haqqani's name was put on top of the CIA'S hit list. Currently, the septuagenarian Jalaluddin Haqqani is seriously ill and the command of his troops is in the hands of his son Sirajuddin Haqqani. The United States has carried out more than 90 drone attacks in the past few years to wipe out the Haqqani Group in North Waziristan, in which more than 1,000 people have been killed. It seems that the drone attacks by the United States failed in defeating the Haqqani Group. That is why the Pakistani Army is under pressure to launch a ground offensive.
Meanwhile, on the secret parleys between the United States and the Taliban, German journal Der Spiegel has confirmed that as a result of the conciliatory e fforts of the German Government, these secret talks began in Qatar toward the end of May and thereafter two rounds of talks have been held in Germany. On one side, Taiyyab Agha -- a close confidant of Taliban leader Mullah Umar - and on the other, officials of the CIA and the State Department are taking part in these parleys. Taiyyab Agha was the administrator of the Secretariat of Taliban chief Mullah Umar during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It is reported that Taiyyab Agha was in contact with the US Government way back before the assassination of Usama Bin Ladin. It has also been disclosed that Michael Stanes [name as transliterated] -- Germany's special emissary for Afghanistan and Pakistan -- is assisting in these talks. As three rounds of talks have already been held, it is reported that there is some progress in the talks. The basic question of the talks is: after the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, what guarantees can be given in regard to security and stability. In this connection, emphasis is laid made on Washington's proposal to set up permanent US military bases in Afghanistan. However, the Taliban, who are basically demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, are not prepared to talk on this proposal in any case. Nonetheless, the German Government is continuing its efforts to persuade the Taliban to abandon their military struggle, to recognize the Constitution of Afghanistan, and to end their contacts with the Al-Qa'ida. For the sake of building a trust between the United States and the Taliban, it has been proposed that the United States would delete the Taliban's name from its blacklist of terrorists. The recent withdrawal of US troops from Peach valley in Eastern Afghanistan has greatly helped in confidence building.
No doubt, these secret talks with the Taliban leadership are considered very significant for President Barack Obama's election campaign. If these negotiations prove effective and some deal is struck with the Taliban before next November, certainly it will be considered to be the greatest success of President Obama in bringing the war in Afghanistan to an end.
[Description of Source: Karachi Ummat Online in Urdu -- Website of the sensationalist, pro-Usama Bin Ladin Urdu daily. Harshly critical of the US, Israel, and India. Propagates Muslim unity to counter US/Western influence. Circulation 20,000. Editor-publisher Rafiq Afghan is an Afghan war veteran; URL: http://www.ummatpublication.com]
Pakistan: Conditions Not Conducive for Military Operation in North Waziristan
SAP20110601115005 Rawalpindi Nawa-e Waqt in Urdu 31 May 11 p 1
[Report by Sohail Abdul Nasir: "No Major Operation Is Likely in North Waziristan"]
Islamabad -- A major military operation in North Waziristan is neither possible nor are the ground realities conducive for any such decision. Any military operation will deprive a government of the support of the most effective local commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur. However, Maulvi Nazir, leader of the sWazir tribe in South Waziristan can review the peace agreement with the Pakistani Government.
Commenting on reports published in the Pakistani newspapers quoting US media, a responsible official said that security strictness is being eased in North Waziristan contrary to operation [like situation] as the situation is gradually improving there. According to the source [official], most of the check posts in the FR [Frontier Region] between Bannu and North Waziristan have been abolished, which was an old demand of the local population. A big check post near Bannu airport has also been abolished. Khajuri check post, which was causing problems to the people, also no more exists. However, a check post still exists at Saidgai. According to the source [official], a problem still exists in North Waziristan, which has created because of presence of cronies of Hakimullah Mehsud, an accomplice of Baitullah Mehsud. The colleagues of Hakimullah continue to create problems at local level, which is the cause of continued tension between militant groups.