Sunday, April 23, 2006

BBC on Waziristan (Part Two)

Continuing the series of articles written by BBC's Aamer Ahmed Khan who made a clandestine trip to Waziristan to ascertian the realities on the ground vs. Islamabad's continued line of propaganda declaring 'all is well'.

In this one he talks about the leader of the local Taliban Haji Mohammed Omar, who met him openly in the Pakistan town of Wana without any shadow of fear.

During this meeting Haji Omar made obvious that he has publicly declared a violent Jihad against the US Forces based in Afghanistan and all US supporters, including Musharraf and his regime. And he made it abundantly clear that he and his men would willingly provide shelter and protection to any foreigners (aka Al-Qaeda) at the cost of the lives of his family and his men.
Pakistan Taleban vow more attacks
By Aamer Ahmed Khan

BBC News, South Waziristan, Pakistan

The head of the Taleban in Pakistan's tribal areas has warned that there can be no peace in Afghanistan for as long as US forces remain in that country.

"We will not stop our jihad [holy war] against the Americans," Haji Omar told the BBC News website.

The Afghan government has repeatedly complained that militants in Pakistan are freely crossing the border to carry out attacks.

Pakistan denies that it is helping the Taleban fighters.

Haji Omar was chosen to lead the Pakistani Taleban after their first declared leader, Nek Mohammed, was killed in a US air strike in 2004.

This was Haji Omar's first face-to-face interview with a Western news organisation.

"The easiest way to end this very violent conflict is for the US to pull out of Afghanistan," Haji Omar said.

"We are not even willing to discuss anything with the Americans. We just want them out."

The interview was held in Wana, the main town in the South Waziristan tribal area where the Pakistani Taleban have established their control.

Haji Omar now commands thousands of tribal militants who call themselves Taleban, a name normally used for the student militia that took control of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.

The Afghan Taleban were bombed out of power from Afghanistan by the US after 9/11.

Their fall inspired thousands of armed Pakistani tribesmen in the areas bordering Afghanistan to call themselves Taleban.

Based largely in the Pakistani tribal belt of North and South Waziristan, the Pakistani Taleban joined their Afghan counterparts in the latter's battle against the US-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Hundreds of Pakistani troops have been killed fighting the Taleban in the tribal areas since 2004.

Pakistan accuses the Taleban of harbouring al-Qaeda members who are also fighting US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Haji Omar said the Taleban have no quarrel with the Pakistan government.

"We understand that Pakistan attacks us only under American pressure."

He alleged that the Karzai government was sending a regular stream of spies into the Pakistani tribal areas to seek out Arab and Central Asian militants.

"They go back and provide false information to the Americans who then put pressure on Pakistan to attack us.

"Pakistani forces bomb us and destroy our houses, so naturally we have to fight back," he says.

While denying that the Taleban are harbouring foreign militants in the tribal belt, Haji Omar says they would not hesitate to do so if there was a need.

If any foreigner, a Muslim, came to us looking for protection, we are bound by our religion to protect him," he says.

"We are willing to lose our homes and even our families to protect such people."

Haji Omar said the government had made an offer to the Taleban to set up special camps for foreign militants where they would be well looked after.

"They said they were willing to house the foreigners, provide them with food and all their basic needs and even to give them a monthly stipend," Haji Omar said.

"But we rejected the offer because it is up to the foreigners to decide where to live and who they want to live with."

He said there was no question of handing over any foreign militant to the government.

"Instead of bombing its own people, Pakistan should tell the Americans to leave Afghanistan," he concluded.



Anonymous said...

The fact that the Pakistani Army is militarily fighting Pakistan Taleban in Waziristan and militarily supporting Afghan Taleban in exile elsewhere is still boggling my mind.:)

As an aside, IMO, excessive drinking and womanizing by leaders has often been a sign of a deeper malaise in their regimes such as their avoidance of hard reality, increasing ambiguity in decisionmaking, and hence of an approaching turning point for the regime. Dunno if this military regime is there yet, but feel the need to point this out anyway.

Onlooker said...

There are some people who consider the word military intelligence to be an oxymoron.

saad said...

As far as i kno..the main concern of terrorism is wid al-qaeda..not taleban...
Pakistan has supported the u.s. against al-qaeda, but they've remained quiet on the pakistani taleban issue.

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