Friday, January 27, 2006

Islamabad’s Cloud Cuckoo Land

If one ignores the official claptrap from Islamabad – delivered by the likes of the ISPR, Sheikh Rashid and Aftab Sherpao – the picture in Waziristan looks distinctly unhealthy.

A couple of days ago it was reported in the US press (
Christian Science Monitor):
There is a growing perception that the Army, having
seen its strategies fail, has largely retreated to its barracks. "It has become more of a reactive force, mostly hitting when fired upon," says General Masood. The region remains closed to foreign journalists. But local journalists describe Army personnel as captives in their own barracks, unable to leave for fear of being shot at or kidnapped.
While the Army and its political flunkies will continue to deny these realities, one just has to look at the situation in Miranshah, the ‘urban’ capital of Waziristan district.

On the evening of 8 December, as
Dawn reported, members of the Taliban ‘summarily executed' two members from a rival group, beheaded them, publicly dragged the headless bodies on the road behind their pickup trucks before stringing the corpses up on power poles in the heart of Miranshah.

While all this was taking place there was no apparent sign of any ‘officialdom’ at that time and on the days that followed. The dead bodies were subsequently removed from the power poles 'as they were causing a traffic jam' and simply flung into some vacant space where they ‘remained unattended’. In the meanwhile, the Taliban continued with their overt ‘search operation’ for their rival gang members, raiding nearby villages and openly patrolling the roads around Miranshah.


Whoever insists that Waziristan is under control is currently divorced from reality, and this must certainly include the ISPR chief Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, who routinely insists that all is well with Waziristan.

Here are some excerpts from a recent
New York Times report:

  • The tribal areas are off limits to foreign journalists, but the Pakistani officials, and former residents who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said the militants - who call themselves Taliban - now dispensed their own justice, ran their own private jails, robbed banks, shelled military and civilian government compounds and attacked convoys at will. They are recruiting young men from the local tribes and have gained a hold over the population through a mix of fear and religion, the officials and former residents said.
  • They have embarked on a disruptive campaign of terrorism, particularly in North and South Waziristan: in the last year, 108 pro-government tribal elders, 4 or 5 government officials, informers and even 2 local journalists, have been assassinated by militants, local journalists say.
  • Qaeda operatives are the driving force behind the local militants and are influencing their tactics, the officials said.
  • Pakistan's military has become more cautious about emerging from its bases in the area and the civilian administration is so hamstrung that the senior government representative in South Waziristan does not even live in the district.
  • "We run a government on paper, but not on the ground," said one government official who has worked in North and South Waziristan, which have seen some of the heaviest combat of the past two years.
  • "The situation is going from bad to worse," the official said. "No one can raise their voice against the Taliban." Armed local militants come and go freely and have even opened offices in the main bazaar of Wana, in South Waziristan, from which they recruit new followers from the large, illiterate and unemployed youth of the area, one former resident said, asking not to be named for fear of retribution from the militants.
Ironically as Waziristan spins out of control the military equipment given to the Pakistan Army – in particular the TOW missile-equipped Cobra helicopter gunships - to deal with the Al Qaeda/Taliban threat is instead being used in Balochistan.

Your Blogger wouldn’t be surprised if the US doesn’t get mightly cheesed off at some stage – that is, if it isn’t already.

1 comment:

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