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Reader comment on item: Decision Time on Iran
in response to reader comment: No real negotiations for Iran; they've burned this bridge. Onward to jihad!

Submitted by Murali (India), Nov 6, 2006 at 15:21

By B. Raman

The GEO TV, a private television channel, received on October 9,2006, a videocassette showing Taliban forces fighting the coalition forces in Afghanistan. The videotape consists of three parts. The first part shows Taliban commander Mulla Dadullah Khan and his associates. It also shows the Taliban transporting ration and weapons and Mulla Dadullah baking bread for his cadres in a cave said to be in Kandahar. The video also shows Dadullah leading prayers and the Taliban drinking water from ponds, washing clothes and bathing. The second part shows the Taliban fighting the US and coalition forces and damaged vehicles of the NATO forces, arms and ammunition and a coalition helicopter retreating after a battle with the Taliban. The video also shows Mulla Dadullah beheading two persons, described as British soldiers, two Afghan women and 27 Afghan soldiers. The third part shows Mulla Dadullah meeting would-be suicide bombers inside a cave. He writes them a chit that he calls ‘admittance to paradise'. (Agency reports, 11-10-06)

2. Taliban militants have launched 78 suicide attacks across Afghanistan this year, killing close to 200 people, NATO said on October 8, 2006. Violence has increased sharply across Afghanistan the last several months, and the Taliban has acknowledged adopting the suicide bombings and remote-controlled attacks commonly used by insurgents in Iraq. Seth Jones, an analyst for the U.S.-based RAND Corp., said there had been an "extraordinary change" in the lethality of attacks in Afghanistan in 2006, indicating that militants are using "more sophisticated" techniques. "There have been more suicide attacks in Afghanistan in 2006 than in the entire history of the country combined," Jones said. "That is one reason that the fatality numbers are so large — the suicide attack." NATO said 142 Afghan civilians, 40 Afghan security forces and 13 international troops have died in suicide attacks since January. The military alliance also said it has detained 10 would-be suicide bombers, in addition to 17 would-be bombers that Afghanistan's intelligence agency last week said it has detained.
"Our capability to learn about who is bringing this death and destruction in the form of suicide bombs and roadside bombs grows every day," said Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force. (Associated Press, 8-10-06)

3. More than 3,000 people, mostly militants, have been killed nationwide in 2006, according to an Associated Press count, based on reports from U.S., NATO and Afghan officials. The tally, also including Afghan security forces, officials and civilians, is about 1,500 more than the toll for all of 2005. Western casualties have been rising, too - 152 foreign troops killed this year, according to the Web site icasualties.org that tracks foreign troop fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's almost triple the number of deaths in 2003 or 2004.Of the 280 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 69 have died in nine months this year. NATO countries Britain and Canada are reeling from recent losses, including 10 Canadians killed last month. The war's cost for U.S. taxpayers: $97 billion, and Congress just appropriated $70 billion more for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Xinhua news agency of China, 8-10-06)


4. Three Taliban fighters ---two Pakistani nationals and one Afghan--- who have been captured by the Afghan security authorities , have told them how they crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan to carry out a "jihad" against Afghan and NATO troops after some mullahs said it was their duty as Muslims. They were captured after a fierce five-hour battle in Paktika province on October 18,2006, , just a few kilometres from the border. During the battle, 24 of their fellow fighters were killed. The dead were mostly Afghans but included an Arab, Chechens, Pakistanis, Turks and a man from Yemen, an officer said, citing information from the captured three, identity cards and, in one case, a name on a bullet belt. "Mullahs in Pakistan were preaching to us that we are obliged to fight jihad in Afghanistan because there are foreign troops -- there is an Angriz (British) invasion," one of the captured men told reporters. "A Pakistani Taliban commander, Saifullah, introduced us to a guide who escorted us to Barmal," he said. "Then he left and we joined a group already here and came to the ambush site." Both the captured Pakistani nationals were from Miranshah in North Waziristan. They were told that the British, who left the sub-continent in 1947, are back and that it is the duty of the Muslims to wage a jihad against them just as their forefathers used to do before 1947. (Agency reports, 19-10-06)

5. Two Pakistani militants identified only as Mohib and Amir have told the Reuters news agency in an interview that the recently-concluded peace deal between the Pakistan Army and the tribal elders of North Waziristan did not worry them and would not affect the jihad against the NATO forces in Afghanistan. They said the arrangement was an inconvenience rather than a barrier to their goals to wage a jihad against US-led forces in Afghanistan. "The border is not just in Waziristan," 25-year-old Mohib, who declined to give his full name, said with a smile as he sat in a market stall in Miranshah. "If you can't go into Afghanistan from Waziristan, you can go from other areas. There are many, many other ways to go," he said. These days, Pakistani forces are nowhere to be seen and Government officials keep low profiles in their offices. Instead, long-haired, bearded militants wearing skull caps and with AK-47 rifles slung over their shoulders, roam Miranshah and the nearby town of Mir Ali. Some wear badges on their chests reading "Appointed by the office of the Taliban, the mujahideen of the North Waziristan Agency". Near Miranshah's main bazaar, the militants have opened an office in a madrassa, where their officials settle disputes among Pashtun tribesmen. "We are responsible for maintaining law and order in the bazaar," Eid Niaz, the deputy head of the office, told Reuters. Residents said crime had fallen since the militants took over security responsibilities in the region, though several people accused of being "American informers" had been killed. The situation is similar to that in adjacent South Waziristan, where militants virtually took over after months of fighting with Pakistani forces. Before the latest deal was reached, Taliban commanders in Afghanistan urged their allies in North Waziristan to stop fighting Pakistani forces and concentrate on jihad in Afghanistan instead, militant sources told Reuters. Maulana Abdul Khaliq Haqqani, a member of a militant council, or shura, said his followers were strictly abiding by the pact, though he said the Government had yet to keep its promises, such as compensation for families of those killed in the fighting. Haqqani, who is also a firebrand cleric, said they were not sending militants into Afghanistan but still offered "moral support" to those fighting jihad there. "There is no doubt that we support this jihad against infidels, against these Christians who have invaded a Muslim land ... We support oppressed people in Afghanistan and we pray for their success," he said. ("Daily Times", 23-10-06)


6. Up to 1,549,242 students are enrolled in a total of 12,153 seminaries (madrasas) across the country, according to the educational census report released in Islamabad on October 6,2006.Apart from these 12,153, there are 826 other seminaries that refused to provide a record of their students and teachers to the census conductors. Punjab topped the list in terms of concentration of seminaries, housing 5,459 seminaries with more than 674,281 students. Most of the seminaries in Punjab did not reveal institutional data to the census conductors. Out of 1,935 religious schools in Sindh, 1,816 provided the Government with their data, showing 313,693 students as enrolled there. The North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) has a total of 2,843 religious schools and 275 of them refused to reveal census data. The remaining 2,568 religious schools accommodate 336,983 students and 12,058 teachers. There are 769 seminaries in Balochistan. The Government could collect data from 670 of them while the other 99 refused to cooperate. Over 65,000 students are enrolled in these 670 seminaries. There are 77 seminaries in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), out of which 15 refused to reveal their official records to the surveyors. The remaining 62 seminaries have an enrolment of 10,557 students. In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), only 92 seminaries, out of a total of 135, cooperated with the Government. These 92 seminaries have an enrolment of 14,162 students. In the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), there are 1,193 religious schools out of which 39 refused to give data. The 1,154 seminaries that did cooperate with the Government have a student enrolment of 88,540 students. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir--POK) has 568 seminaries out of which 491 provided data to the Government, showing 46,429 students as enrolled there. Up to 3,686 (28.4 percent) of the total seminaries are registered with the Wafaqul Madaris, 2,829 (21.8 percent) with the Tanzeemul Madaris, 973 (7.5 percent) with the Rabitaul Madaris and 999 are affiliated with other religious instituitions, while 4,491 seminaries are not affiliated with any religious board. ("Daily Times", 7-10-06)

7. The Government has decided to expel all foreign students staying in Pakistan without no-objection certificates from their own countries, Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah said on August 8, 2006.Speaking at a press conference after returning from a two-day visit to Iran to attend a Joint Working Group meeting, the Secretary said about 700 foreign students were studying in religious schools and universities in the country. About a half of them had not obtained NOCs from their countries and, therefore, they would be repatriated. "The Government has made it mandatory for foreign students to get NOC from their countries prior to their arrival in Pakistan for seeking admission to madressahs and other educational institutions," he said. Recently President Pervez Musharraf had pledged to expel an estimated 1,400 foreign students from the country's religious schools. The Interior Secretary said almost a half of them had returned to their countries and about 700 were still in Pakistan. "Almost 350 of them will be repatriated in the near future for not having NOC from their countries," he said. ("Daily Times"9-8-06)

8. The Interior Ministry has asked the Punjab Government to update its records on the latest status of foreign students in various religious schools in the province, it is learnt. The Punjab Government sources told "Dawn" the Ministry, through a letter, had sought the latest status of the foreigners in seminaries. In December last, they said, the Federal Government had asked all the four provinces to expel 1,400 foreign students for their return to their respective countries. By December 30 — the deadline given by the Ministry— half of the students were returned to the countries of their origin, the sources said. However, the sources added, the remaining half could not be repatriated due to resistance from the seminaries and their field organizations, which had refused to expel these students until the completion of their courses. The sources said the latest Ministry letter had asked the Punjab Government to document all the foreigners, especially those without NOCs. Steps should also be taken to repatriate immediately all such foreigners who did not have the NOCs, the sources said quoting a part of the letter. The letter added a total of around 700 foreign students were studying in Pakistani seminaries, half of them without the NOCs. The letter asked the Punjab Government to collect latest details of all the foreign students studying in seminaries in the province, and furnish it to the Interior Ministry. The Punjab Government sources say the Home Department has contacted the provincial Auqaf Department for setting up teams to visit the seminaries to check the status of the foreign students. Meanwhile, the Punjab Government in Dec last had listed 91 foreign students of seminaries in the province, who were required to be deported to the countries of their origin. A Punjab Government document made available to "Dawn" says the 91 foreigners are admitted to various seminaries in the Punjab, mainly in Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Lahore and Sheikhupura divisions. The document has also named the seminaries where the foreigners are getting education, which include Madressah Arabia Masjid Westlodge-II, Rawalpindi, Madressah Arabia Makki Masjid, Sahiwal Road, Gujrat, Madoodi Institute, Multan Road, Lahore and Madressah Arabia Raiwind, Lahore. The document says the students belonged to Thailand, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, China, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Jordan, Portugal, Chad, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Tunisia,
Macadamia and Bangladesh. ("Dawn" 11-8-06).

9. A top official of the Ittehad Tanzeematul Madaris-e-Deeniya Pakistan (ITMDP), a confederacy of five religious education boards running over 14,000 seminaries across Pakistan, said on August 12,2006, that the Government had agreed it would not pressure madressahs in the aftermath of the great London plot (to blow up US-bound planes) that was foiled by the UK authorities with active help from Islamabad. Seminaries across the country have been worried and pushed the ITMDP leadership to secure assurances from Islamabad that they would not face action as they did after the 7/7 London bombings. "We have been assured that the recent London incident would not create pressure for us," Hanif Jalandhari, chief of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris, the largest of the five religious education boards, which controls more than 9,000 seminaries, told Daily Times. Insiders said in the first ever meeting of the ITMDP with the Interior Minister Friday (August 11) the two sides remained confined to the concerns about possible action against seminaries. "The Government has agreed not to take any action against the seminaries for the time being," said an insider, but Jalandhari has insisted that it was not "a matter of time" but the Minister had assured them that no action was in the offing against seminaries because unlike the 7/7 incidents no clue was leading to Pakistani seminaries in the latest incident. Jalandhari said that despite some clues leading to Pakistani seminaries in last year's London bombing investigations, no seminary was involved in the act and time had proved this. "And even this time no clues are there to justify any Government action against our seminaries," he said. He said he was satisfied with the assurances given by the Government according to which foreign students enrolled at Pakistani seminaries would be given re-entry visas once they returned after their vacations and none of them would be expelled before they completed their studies. However, the Government has not agreed on visas to fresh students and Jalandhari said talks would continue to settle that issue. A source in the Interior Ministry said that the Government would not issue re-entry visas to foreign students without thorough investigations and would decide this on a case-to-case basis. ("Daily Times", 13-8-06)


10. A UK-based Islamic charity organisation remitted a huge amount of money to three individuals in three different bank accounts in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, in December last year with the sole purpose of helping its recipients and their organisations carry out the aircraft bombing plan in the UK, insider sources told Daily Times. An investigation carried out by Daily Times showed that Muslim Charity of UK remitted not so long ago a huge amount of money under the head of "earthquake relief" to the accounts of three individuals in three different banks — Saudi Pak Bank, Standard Chartered and Habib Bank Ltd. One of these banks is UK based and has its presence in Azad Kashmir because of a huge number of British citizens of Kashmir origin in UK. The money was transferred from UK to banks in Azad Kashmir through Barclays Plc.. Two of the recipients of the transaction are British citizens of Kashmir origin while the third is an Islamabad-based builder, also of Kashmir origin. They were arrested in the last two weeks at three different places in the country. One of them was arrested in Karachi, the "builder" was arrested in Islamabad while the place of the arrest of the third suspect is still not known. There are no available details about these three suspects with regard to their links with organisations such as Al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba or both. Pakistani FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) investigators were apparently tipped off by the British authorities about the fund transfers and asked to investigate. Following their arrests, the three suspects revealed some key elements of the aircraft bombing plan during interrogations by various agency personnel, who were also aided by at least one expert specialising in money laundering. The Pakistani and British investigators were able to discover how operatives at both ends had raised and moved their funds around. These investigations also established that it was due to the prompt and successful operation of Pakistan's intelligence agencies, particularly the FIA, that the world was saved from a fate worse than 9/11."Had we been even slightly complacent, the perpetrators of this plot might have been able to carry out their operations without little or no problem in the UK because of two broad reasons," said a senior Government official, who was privy to the inquiry carried out by Pakistani agencies following the receipt of a tip from UK's National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit (NTFIU) in June this year. First, he said, "Pakistani anti-terrorism agency counterparts abroad have been showing a lot of trust in our skills and abilities and none of our reports has so far been challenged by them." Second, he added, any delay on the part of the Pakistan agencies in acquiring and relaying this information would have cost the NTFIU dearly for it was desperate to know the outcome of Pakistan's inquiry report in order to determine whether or not to ask the UK authorities to declare a "red alert" in the country. Giving details, the official said the NTFIU, which reportedly plays a central role in informing and implementing British Government policy on terrorist finance and is an integral part of the UK's intelligence structure targeting terrorist finance, had asked Pakistani authorities to carry out a "highly discreet" inquiry on some money transfers. According to the NTFIU, a huge amount of money had been transferred from Britain to Azad Kashmir for quake relief efforts two months after the quake caused devastation. "Neither the amount nor the purpose for which money was sent caused any concern in the British investigation unit," said the senior official. "What raised alarm among British sleuths specialising in finances was the fact that the entire money was remitted to three individuals, not to any organisation or organisations involved in the relief work." ("Daily Times", 12-8-06)


11. A security agency has detained a Turkman leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in North Waziristan. The man in his late 20s has been detained along with his wife. Both would be deported to their native Turkmenistan, officials told Dawn. Officials said that Abdur Raheem, 28, from Ashgabad had admitted to training militants from the Central Asian Republics including Uzbeks, Khazaks, Turkmen and Tajiks at a training camp run by an IMU offshoot Islamic Jihad Group (IJG). Raheem, who used different names including Qasem and Abdul Kareem, said the training facility had to be relocated frequently due to the security situation and military operations and the last course was conducted at Degan in North Waziristan. "He is an expert at handling explosives", the official said. The Turkman militant said he had initially trained at Al- Qaeda-operated Al Farooq training camp in Khost in southeastern Afghanistan for three months and later moved to Takkhar in northern Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. According to investigators, Raheem returned to receive further training at Khardhand or Khaldan as the Arabs used to call it and had gone back to Takkhar in 2001 to fight under the command of the IMU leader Late Juma Nimanghani. The IMU leader was killed in an aerial bombing when the US invaded Afghanistan forcing Raheem and scores of other militants drawn largely from the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan to flee to the relative safety of Pakistan's tribal regions. Investigators believe that the group led by Mr Yaldashev comprises largely of fellow Uzbeks, but also includes Khazaks, Turkmen and some Tajiks. Another relatively smaller group called the IJG led by a young Uzbek known as Mansur Sohail is operating in North Waziristan.( DAWN 11-8-06)

12. Four suspected militants were arrested in Karachi on August 21, 2006, for alleged involvement in terror plots in the country. Two suspected militants, Anwarul Haq and Usman Ghani, were arrested for their alleged involvement in a suicide attack on the US consulate on March 2 that killed US diplomat David Foy, his driver Iftikhar Ahmed, Rangers official Zafar and security guard Hasan Shehzad. Forty-nine other people were injured in the attack. The car used in the bomb attack was packed with explosives and transported from Waziristan to Karachi, sources told Daily Times after the police held a press conference to announce the identity of the suicide attacker and the arrests of the two accomplices. Addressing a press conference, Sindh Inspector General of Police Jehangir Mirza said the suicide bomber had been identified earlier as Raja Mohammed Tahir. Mirza said that the mastermind of the plot, Qari Zafar, was still at large. Police sources said that Anwarul Haq and Usman Ghani told the police during their interrogation that all of them had fought against the coalition forces in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the men developed links with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Qari Zafar of Waziristan led the group and planned the attack. ("Dawn" 23-8-06)

13. Security and intelligence agencies have arrested eight people allegedly involved in the Ayub Park blast and for planting anti-tank rockets at different locations in Islamabad last week. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao told reporters in his office on October 13,2006, that the eight people had been arrested from different areas, including the federal capital. He said a mobile phone connected to one of the recovered rockets had lead to the arrests. The Minister did not mention the names of those arrested and added that preliminary investigations had revealed that the arrested people had links with Al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and had visited Afghanistan many times. He said law enforcers had also seized a huge cache of ammunition from various locations and added that the Russian 107mm anti-tank rockets found in Islamabad had been used by the Taliban against the International Security Assistant Force (ISAF) in the past.
He said the rockets had been planted to foster unrest and insecurity in Islamabad. He added that banned militant outfits could be involved in these attacks. ("Daily Times" 14-10-06)

14. The son of a retired Pakistani Brigadier is among three Al Qaeda-linked "terrorists" arrested for masterminding attempted rocket attacks near the President's house and Parliament, police said on October 24,2006.The suspects were arrested on October 23 based on information provided by eight alleged militants detained earlier this month after the three foiled attacks, Islamabad's Inspector General (IG) of Police Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry said. "They are educated. One of them is the son of a retired army Brigadier, one of them is an engineer who was technically aware of making circuits," Chaudhry told AFP. "They are hardcore terrorists." Police said they picked up the men - named as Mohammad Khalil, Mohammad Munir and Ali Ahmed Gondal-- in the industrial sector of the capital Islamabad when officers intercepted a car. They were still being interrogated. The trio were the driving force behind the plot and the eight others arrested previously were only facilitators, Senior Superintendent of Police Sikandar Hayat said. "This is the core group. We can call them masterminds," he said. The men "appear to be Al Qaeda-linked militants," Hayat added. "They were inspired by Al Qaeda. They had Al Qaeda literature in their car," Hayat said without elaborating. He did not specify which was the Brigadier's son, but said Ali likely had a master's degree in engineering. One rocket exploded late on October 4 in the Ayub public park in Rawalpindi, near Musharraf's army residence. Another three were found nearby. Two more rockets were found close to the official presidency building and Parliament in Islamabad on October 5, followed by another two near the Inter Services Intelligence headquarters in the capital two days later. Militants had planned to launch all of them simultaneously, but only the one in Rawalpindi worked, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao has said. Security forces traced the suspects by decoding mobile phones attached to shells. Police seized more of the Russian-made rockets plus grenades, explosives and hundreds of sniper rifle rounds at the same time as they detained the initial eight suspects. ("Daily Times" 25-10-06)

15. In an editorial titled "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi: a convenient catch-all name?", the "Daily Times" of Lahore wrote as follows:
"The Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, told reporters on Saturday (October 14) that eight people allegedly involved in the Ayub Park blast and in planting anti-tank rockets at different locations in Islamabad last week have been arrested and they have links with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and Al Qaeda. The agencies apparently got to them through a cell-phone which they found connected to one of the rockets. The men yielded a huge cache of ammunition from various locations. The rockets they were planning to use were Russian 107mm anti-tank rockets and are the same as those used by the Taliban against the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). They confessed that they had travelled to Afghanistan to get training for their acts of terrorism by Al Qaeda. Is this the full story? Somehow, the Pakistan Government has always tended to pin sectarian killings on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as if the other militant non-state religious outfits are not involved in it. But the truth is that the LeJ is an amalgam of several Deobandi outfits with volunteer killers floating freely between their lightly partitioned organisations. It is quite possible that the LeJ's name was reported as the sole Shia-killer to deflect suspicion from some of the other jihadi militias which have also got up to mischief domestically. That is how the LeJ alone is supposed to have killed more than 70 doctors and 34 lawyers, various religious scholars, teachers and students of seminaries, religious-party leaders and activists and officials of various Government and private institutions between June 2000 and June 2002. The mayhem has continued after 2002. This year the Shia scholar and leader, Allama Turabi, was killed by a boy who was brainwashed into doing the cruel deed by another Deobandi organisation. But after hardly a week the name of this organisation was changed to LeJ. Meanwhile, the Sipah-e-Sahaba, which is equally hostile to the Shias, was allowed to stage a rally in Islamabad some months ago as if it had been washed clean of its past crimes. On Saturday, the arrested LeJ boys were not earmarked for sectarian terrorism, but were apparently used to send another message, possibly to President Pervez Musharraf. Why name LeJ? It could be the Sipah-e-Sahaba or the Jaish-e Muhammad which was also set up by a pupil of the same sectarian Deobandi leader, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, as LeJ. The men who nearly killed President Musharraf earlier had trained with Jaish-e Muhammad just like the jihadis who attacked the Indian Parliament in 2001. The President took no action against Jaish and its leader, Azhar Masood, the man for whom an Indian plane was hijacked by someone with Al Qaeda's help. Therefore this time too the terrorists might belong to the general category of those who have fought in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The problem is that if someone has been or remains part of the ‘Kashmir option' then he can't be named. That is when the hold all name of LeJ comes handy. Al Qaeda is after President Musharraf and there are people around him who love Al Qaeda and its Deobandi and Ahle Hadith minions. Al Qaeda also kills the Shia, an activity on which it kept a tight lid for many years, until its most favoured son, Abu Musaab Al Zarqawi, went to Iraq and started the history's most bloody Shia slaughter. At first Al Qaeda tried to distance itself from him, but after his death it owned him, saying he killed only Americans. Anyone who has read Zarqawi's letters against the Shia on his website will know how the man was propelled by Shia hatred. President Musharraf should know who wrote the columns mourning Zarqawi's death, who observed his ghaebana (in-absentia) funeral and who proposed that the National Assembly say a kalima for him. Now LeJ has been named, or maybe those arrested have named LeJ to save some other jihadi militias from being scrutinised and punished. But if the President wants to take action against the terrorists who once again came near to taking his life, he has to focus on all the militant non-state religious actors and not just pretend that it is something called LeJ that is the problem. He has been pointing to unnamed ex-ISI officers who could be involved in mischief, but the fact may be that the killers are hiding in his ‘other' options. ("Daily Times" 16-10-06)


16. Three more people were killed and two others were critically injured in a rocket attack on Saturday (October 7), the sixth day of sectarian clashes between the Sunnis and the Shias in the Orakzai agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Ahl-e-Tashai, a local Shia organisation, blamed local Taliban and foreign militants for the sectarian violence in the agency. "These are Taliban and Al Qaeda men who have pressured the Sunni leaders and the political administration to dishonour the agreement reached in 2000 between the Sunni and Shia leaders and the political administration regarding the maintenance and reconstruction of the shrine of Hazrat Mir Anwar Shah," Syed Hamayun and Nazir Khan, members of the Ahl-e-Tashai, told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club on Saturday. The organisation demanded the NWFP Governor and the Federal Government bring the Taliban to justice. Syed Hamayun accused the Government and political administration of giving a free hand to the Taliban against the Shia. They urged the Government to give control of the shrine to the Shias and stop the local Taliban from conducting raids. They claimed that the shrine, which originally belonged to the Shia, was handed over to the Sunni community during British rule. Later, through an agreement between the two sects, the Shias were allowed to visit the shrine and ensure its maintenance, they said. The local Taliban in 2000 declared the agreement un-Islamic and warned the Shia community to stop coming to the shrine, they said. The rockets were fired in Layda, in Kalaya, early on Saturday. The death toll from the sectarian clashes soared to 27 on October 7 and the number of injured to over 48, including women and children. The authorities have declared an emergency in all hospitals of the town and schools in the area have closed. (Agency reports, 8-10-06)

17. Ahl-e-Tashai, a Shia organisation, said on October 20,2006, that Taliban insurgents from Afghanistan and Arab nationals were "involved" in the recent sectarian clashes between Shias and Sunnis over a disputed shrine in lower Orakzai Agency in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Around 50 people were killed in violence before a ceasefire deal could be brokered between the two sides. "We (Shias) have proof that foreign Taliban and Arabs fighters joined the local Taliban against Shias in the dispute over the shrine of Mir Anwar Shah in Kalaya tehsil," Syed Hamayun Shah and Rafique Hussain, members of Ahl-e- Tashai, told a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club. "We noticed Arab nationals and foreign Taliban at a nearby madrassa of Sunnis," they said, and demanded that the Federal Government take action against foreign militants "who compelled the local Taliban to violate a peace accord between the two sects, and disrupted the agency's peace". "The ceasefire deal will not work if action is not taken against the foreign militants," said the Shia leaders. "If the Government is serious about a permanent solution to sectarian violence in the agency, it will have to clear the area of foreign militants," they added. They accused Sunni leader Aslam Farooqi of agitating the local Taliban against the Shias of the area. A jirga had given a month's time for the dispute to be resolved, they said, warning that Shias would continue sacrificing their lives if the shrine was not handed over to them, and local Taliban were not stopped from attacking Shias. The shrine and an adjacent graveyard were part of Shia property during the British rule, but these became a part of Sunni property when the British divided assets of the two sects because of certain reasons, they added. They said that an agreement with Sunnis allowed Shias to visit the shrine and graves of their ancestors, but in 2000, foreign Taliban and militants "compelled the local Taliban to declare the agreement un-Islamic and bar Shias from entering the shrine". A jirga brokered a ceasefire deal on October 9 between the two sides, after 50 people had been killed in clashes. ("Daily Times" of Lahore 21-10-06)

18. Pukhtoon militants who fought against the US-led invasion of Afghanistan have formed a new anti-Shia militant group, according to investigators inquiring into the assassination of Shia leader Allama Hassan Turabi. Sources told "Daily Times" that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials had learnt of the new group from interrogations of three men arrested for suspicion of involvement in the prominent Shia cleric's murder in Karachi. The FIA team, headed by its Director-General, Tariq Pervaiz, has sent a report to the Interior Ministry detailing its findings. The suspects - Sultan Mehmood alias Saifullah and Muslim, Mohammad Amin alias Khalid and Abdullah, and Mohammad Rehman alias Mani – told investigators the group was planning suicide attacks against Shia leaders, says the report. The new militant group is led by Mufti Ilyas and Hazrat Ali of Darra Adam Khel. Its members include men who recently fought against US forces in Afghanistan, and have links with Abdullah Mehsud, the militant leader responsible for the attack on Chinese engineers at the Gomal Zam Dam site, and other militants from Waziristan and Afghanistan. It also includes some women members. The report says that the new group has no links with any other militant organisation, including the banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and is active in Quetta, Karachi and other major cities in Pakistan. It also says the group has established a supply line of weapons and ammunition between Darra Adam Khel and Karachi.("Daily Times", 4-9-06)


19. A powerful bomb exploded in a crowded market of Peshawar on October 20,2006, near the headquarters of a paramilitary force killing seven people and injuring more than 30.Hospital and police officials have said that 13 people were in a serious condition. The bomb had been left in a fruit cart, Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Iftikhar Ahmed told Daily Times. "This is terrorism," Ahmed said, referring to the deadliest explosion in Peshawar since the MMA ( the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal---the fundamentalist religious coalition) came to power in November 2002.The blast is the fourth in a little over a month and police appear clueless about the perpetrators of the crime. A fifth explosion damaged a gas pipeline. ("Daily Times" of Lahore, October 21,2006)

20. Two soldiers were killed and another three were injured when militants attacked a check post in South Waziristan, security officials said on October 20,2006. "Militants fired mortars at the Ganji Tekri check post in the Shakai Valley," officials said, adding that the soldiers returned the fire and the clash continued until dawn, but there were no reports of any militant casualties. In Bajaur Agency, security personnel escaped unhurt after their check post came under rocket attack while an explosion destroyed a video shop in the agency's headquarters. Two rockets were fired at a levy check post in Loye Sam, 13 kilometres off Khar, but no one was hurt. ("Daily Times" of Lahore, 21-10-06)


21. Mobile phone operators are still reluctant to render stolen cellphones dysfunctional despite clear instructions from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in this regard issued on September 30, 2006. The PTA had directed all the Cellular phone companies to start using the mobile phones jamming device from September 30 to render dysfunctional any cellphone reported stolen, snatched or missing in order to help recover the set and effectively curb crime. The PTA has stated that only about 5,000 such phone sets have so far been blocked. According to the latest statistics, 40,769 cellphones have been taken away by criminals from January to October 20. Of these, 14,935 were snatched at gunpoint and 25,834 were stolen. The police claim that only 1,600 cellphones have either been snatched or stolen in the Karachi city during the first nine months of this year. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, during his recent visit to Karachi, chaired a meeting on law and order and directed the law-enforcement authorities to apprehend any cellphone dealer found involved in buying and selling stolen phone sets. He directed the authorities concerned to take stern action to curb this crime. During the course of a random check of the records of the cellphone service providers, the authorities found instances where more than 8,000 cellphone connections had been issued in the name of a single applicant. This was in violation of the law which lays down that no individual can have more than 10 connections in his or her name. Mobile connections are being sold on roads and autoroutes without any background and residence verification. Officials in the law-enforcement agencies apprehend that such irresponsible dealings would add thousands of untraceable SIMs that could be used for committing crimes. As the SIMs are often not issued in the name of the actual user, the police face difficulty in their investigation of crime. ("Dawn" 21-10-06)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)


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