Tahir-ul Qadri, a Canada-based Pakistani preacher and former politician leads a massive protest today from Lahore to Islamabad calling for regime change in Pakistan. If it is electoral change Qadri is looking for, he won't be the one to get it. Qadri's been politically irrelevant since he departed the scene in 2004, when he resigned from his post as a Member of the National Assembly. Qadri himself does not even occupy a seat in Parliament, nor does anyone in his party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek.
However, his religious organization Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran, is a force to be reckoned with. The organization has an expansive school network in Punjab and maintains massive support among Pakistanis attracted to his meshing of modern values with conservative Islam. But this following was not enough for Qadri to deliver the "millions" of protesters he promised.
Could Qadri be another Imran Khan prototype, informally sponsored by the military? At least Khan can deliver the people. Despite the lackluster showing at today's march, we should not overlook the meaning behind Qadri's interestingly timed, well-organized and well-funded return. He says he wants to put "true democracy on track," but Qadri comes at a time when the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) led government and the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), are near agreement on the timing of elections and the caretaker government setup, a process bolstered by the 20th amendment that mandates the government's cooperation with the opposition in setting up a neutral caretaker government in advance of elections.
In addition to seeking specific changes, such as ensuring electoral candidates pay their taxes before running for a seat, Qadri's push for a caretaker government in lieu of the current regime resonates with some in the security establishment who had been rumored to be informally floating the idea last year of installing temporary leaders a la Bangladesh in the mid-1990s. Supporters of the idea believe such moves are justified on by the PPP's poor performance and corruption.
Today's atmosphere is also reminiscent of the period before Senate elections in March 2011, when speculation arose that Pakistan's military was working to deny the PPP control of the upper house. This time, with elections expected before June and with the military openly displeased with both of the possible winners - the PPP the PML-N - there is a strong perception among political analysts that the military is up to its old tricks again. While we can't prove it, and the military claims to be just as surprised as the rest of us with Qadri's return, it has intervened in politics numerous times. The country has experienced over 30 years of military rule since independence in 1947. No reason it cannot happen again.
Or is there? Real regime change through Qadri, or through the military for that matter, is highly unlikely at the moment. He does have the ambition, political network and wealth to bring the long march into existence. But if Qadri has made a deal with the military, he may be overestimating its depth of interest and capability in shaping the election outcome in the current political environment. Political engineering by the Army and other branches of the military could exacerbate considerable domestic frustrations about the military leadership's failure to address Pakistan's growing terrorism problem. Furthermore, key foreign partners like the United States would be hard pressed to look the other way if Army chooses to meddle. Finally, the Supreme Court has been sending warning signs to the military to stay out of the elections process. Last year, it ordered legal proceedings against former intelligence and army officials, alleging they bankrolled politicians to prevent the PPP from winning the 1990 election.
Speculating on the military's connections to Qadri is unavoidable, but it is not the only issue Qadri brings to the fore. Something else much more tangible and visible is at work, and that is the desperate desire of ordinary Pakistanis for change - the change that Americans saw in 2008 when they elected their first African-American president; the change that the Arab world experienced when their military dictatorships collapsed; and the spirit of change infused within the international Occupy movement against social and economic inequality.
Qadri's message is appealing because it taps into the international sentiment of change associated with these and other developments over the past several years - sentiment that is clearly alive and well in Pakistan. But instead of potentially delaying the elections cycle, Qadri's ability to mobilize and influence would be more helpful after the PPP government completes its term this year in a historic moment for the entire country: the first time a government in Pakistan finishes a complete term.
Shamila N. Chaudhary is a South Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. She served as director for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the White House National Security Council from 2010-2011.
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Detained and accused: Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Thursday that the three widows of Osama bin Laden being held in Pakistan have been charged with illegally entering the country (AP, ET, CNN, Guardian, AJE, BBC). Malik said the children detained with the women have not been charged, and are currently living "comfortably" in a five-bedroom house in Islamabad. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has threatened attacks on the government if the three widows are not released (Reuters).
A video statement by al-Qaeda's media chief in Pakistan, Ahmed Farooq, released on jihadist websites on Friday confirms the death of Badr Mansoor in a drone strike last month (AP). Mansoor was believed to be one of al-Qaeda's top operatives in Pakistan, and the man behind many of Pakistan's deadliest suicide bombings. Taliban militants ambushed a military convoy in North Waziristan on Friday, killing seven soldiers (ET).
The Express Tribune reports that Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam may be announced later today as the next director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, replacing Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha (ET). The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella organization for Pakistan hardline religious and political parties, held a rally in Peshawar on Friday calling for the release of "missing persons" being held by the military and intelligence agencies (ET). And Pakistan's Senate on Friday passed the landmark Human Rights 2012 bill, under which intelligence agencies would not be permitted to detain Pakistani citizens illegally (Dawn).
Reuters' Sanjeev Miglani examines the budding relationship between Pakistan and Russia, as re-elected president Vladimir Putin has reportedly agreed to become the first Russian head of state to visit Pakistan (Reuters). The warming of economic and military ties between the two countries marks a shift from decades of animosity stemming from Pakistan's pro-Western Cold War stance. Now, Pakistan and the United States enjoy a less amicable relationship, which a gas pipeline deal with Iran threatens to worsen (LAT).
Afghan and U.S. military officials on Friday signed a deal promising the gradual transfer of detainees to Afghan custody over six months, a key breakthrough in the issues holding up a long-term strategic partnership agreement between the two countries (AP, NYT, LAT). However, the United States still holds ultimate veto authority over the release of any prisoners while U.S. forces are still in Afghanistan.
Afghan authorities are searching for a member of the Afghan Local Police, who was on late-night guard duty Wednesday night when he allegedly let a group of Taliban militants enter a checkpoint and kill nine Afghan policemen as they slept (NYT). The Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement posted on their website for the roadside bomb that killed six British soldiers in Kandahar earlier this week (Tel).
The Times' Matthew Rosenberg and Graham Bowley had a must-read on Thursday about the man at the center of a corruption scandal that could cost the Afghan government $900 million, former Kabul Bank chief Sherkhan Farnood, who is free and hosting lavish poker games in his Kabul mansion (NYT). President Hamid Karzai's administration has yet to prosecute a single high-level corruption case; indeed some of Karzai's closest advisors are participants at Farnood's poker games.
No men allowed
Afghanistan opened its first women-only Internet café in central Kabul on Thursday, which was also International Women's Day, providing Afghan women a safe place to surf the Web away from the eyes of their male counterparts (Reuters). The café was named after Sahar Gul, a 15-year-old Afghan girl who was tortured by her husband's parents when she refused to become a prostitute.
-- Jennifer Rowland
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When the U.S. Army and Marine Corps released their FieldManual (FM) 3-24, Counterinsurgency, in2006, key military leaders and civilian advisers promised a different kind ofwarfare. Written as Iraq crumbled, the manual institutionalized key tacticaland operational methods that were geared to fighting against irregular armedfoes, rather than the maneuver warfare most of the U.S. military had preferred.The new theory was based around several key principles, including proportionateand precise use of force to minimize civilian casualties, separating insurgentgroups from local populations, protecting populations from the insurgents, theimportance of intelligence-led operations, civil-military unity of effort, andsecurity under the rule of law.
Some of these methods had already been practiced in Iraq byinnovative commanders, but Gen. David Petraeus, who oversaw the process of writingFM 3-24 and later went on to command U.S. forces in the country, was key to theirinstitutionalization and broad implementation in the context of an overalltheater-level strategy.
As President Barack Obama decided to "surge" forces intoAfghanistan in late 2009, former Joint Special Operations Command head Gen.Stanley McChrystal was tasked to follow the Petraeus playbook in Afghanistan.When he was relieved, Petraeus, the man many saw as having helped bringstability to Iraq, was called upon to do it again in Afghanistan. However,success has eluded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), whichhas been unableto translate operational progress into strategic success. A number oftriumphant obituaries for counterinsurgency have since emerged, as it becomesclear that the campaign in Afghanistan is failing to deliver on its promises.
There are five inter-related drivers of this cauldron ofdiscontent with COIN: First, the rise of counterinsurgency as a standardpractice in the U.S. military left skeptical American officers and institutionswho preferred emphasizing conventional capabilities (large-scale armoredwarfare, for instance) feeling disenfranchised. Second, the common narrative ofthe war in Iraq viewed (and somestill view) Gen. Petraeus as the hero who brought counterinsurgency (andsubsequently stability) to the country. This narrative alienated some officerswho had already been using some counterinsurgency methods effectively beforethe introduction of FM 3-24. Third, among the commentariat, the caustic domestic political divisions from thefirst phase of the Iraq War, divisions that were aggravated in the lead-up tothe Afghan "surge", remain unhealed. Fourth, the military officers and thinktank scholars who became most closely associated with COIN's rise developed apartially-deserved reputation for cliquishness, self-reference, and conceit.And finally, there has been a dearth of clarity on the goals of the Afghancampaign on the policy and strategy levels.
Col. Gian Gentile (who represents the first, second, andfinal strands of anti-counterinsurgency discontent) presents one of his standardarguments in "COINis Dead: U.S. Army Must Put Strategy Over Tactics." He argues the UnitedStates military has failed in Afghanistan and Iraq because it allowed afascination with the tactical and operational methods of COIN to supersedeimplementation of an actual strategy in those conflicts. In fact, looking atoperations in Iraq and Afghanistan for lessons is a fundamentally misguidedventure, he argues. Rather, we can only view our experiences of the lastdecade as lessons in failure and return to embracing our conventionalcapabilities.
Others are preoccupied with the political battles behind counterinsurgency.Michael Cohen, a vocal critic ofthe war in Afghanistan, refusesto acknowledge that counterinsurgency lessons are worth keeping andinstitutionalizing until advocates of the population-centric approach inAfghanistan "loudly acknowledge - indeed even shout to the hills - that everytime someone recommends fighting a counterinsurgency this is [a] really,really, really bad idea...." This seems akin to arguing that we cannot updateour doctrine on nuclear warfare, expeditionary warfare, and other capabilitiesthat are far more costly until we "shout to the hills" that to use these wouldbe a "really, really, really bad idea." Advocates of maintaining counterinsurgencycapabilities have been happyto acknowledgethese campaigns tendto be long, hard slogs, but Mr. Cohen's criticism does not address the military'sneed to be able to adapt to contingencies as ordered. We cannot wish away theagency of our enemies.
Still others see those who support counterinsurgency's place inthe toolbox of American power as being part of a new "military-industrialcomplex." Major Mike Few, an armor officer (like Colonel Gentile) and editor ofSmall Wars Journal, arguesthat some think tanks and defense contractors have formed a "cottage industry"that champions counterinsurgency for ego and profit at the cost of "trillionsof dollars, thousands of lives and abandoned security projects elsewhere thatcould have benefited our republic exponentially more..."
For one thing, the weaponssystems, equipment, and capabilities necessary for modern "conventional"campaigns are far more costly and more lucrative for defense contractors (the2009 defense industry-subsidized congressional debateabout the F-22 reminded the world that the original military-industrialcomplex is alive, well, and costing the U.S. taxpayer for over-budget,malfunctioning weapons systems of questionable utility). Further, the use ofconventional capabilities against a major power may well take more militarylives than those we have lost in Iraq andAfghanistan. But this aside, our abilities to conduct counterinsurgencyoperations and major combat operations are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, aspeople like Maj. Few understand, John Nagl's Centerfor a New American Security -- the unnamed bogeyman in his critique andothers -- did not decide to go to war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nagl was merely oneof many in the U.S. Armed Forces who sought to make the campaigns of twoconsecutive Commanders-in-Chief work.
Indeed, the debate surrounding counterinsurgency has becomehighly personal, emotional, and angry. This has been most recently demonstratedby the snideand personalrejoindersto a recent articleteasing out the lessons of Iraq by Dr.David Ucko of the National Defense University. Increasingly for somecritics of counterinsurgency, their opponents are not just wrong, but immoralliars. Yet for all of the heat this debate, it has produced little substantivediscussion of the future of counterinsurgency after the wars in Iraq andAfghanistan, or more broadly the appropriate uses of limited funds andmanpower.
Before declaring the death of counterinsurgency and maligningthose who see value in some of its precepts, analysts should ask if insurgencyis dead. Indeed, the most significant failure of these anti-COIN arguments istheir shared focus on the response to a problem -- counterinsurgency tacticsand strategy -- at the expense of the problem itself. None of these articlesproclaim that "insurgency is dead" because to do so would be absurd. Insurgencylives, and has proven itself throughout history as the best means by which tooppose established political and military power. AsAndrew Exum recently observed, about 80 percent of all conflicts since theend of the Napoleonic Era have been insurgencies or civil wars. Futureinsurgencies are all-but-certain to challenge American interests to the pointthat our civilian political leadership will need to decide if our military willbecome involved in countering them. And if insurgency lives, then so must counterinsurgency.
Critics also make the mistake of particularizing a form of counterinsurgencydesigned during a specific historical period meant to counter a distinctiveform of insurgency known as popularprotracted warfare. If anything, the key failure of counterinsurgency inthe past decade has been the myopic view of the military and key counterinsurgencyproponents that counterinsurgency could only take the form advocated byscholar-practitioners like the French officer David Galula (who developed histheories in Asia before implementing them in Algeria) and the British officerSir Robert Thompson in Malaysia, who were both grappling with different, lessevolved forms of violent struggle than what we have seen in Iraq andAfghanistan. Thus, for critics to proclaim the death of counterinsurgencymakes them guilty of the same error that they often pin on their opponents: relyingon an expired intellectual framework.
The real question is: what form will American counterinsurgencytake in the future? It seems reasonable to argue that "big footprint," "population-centric"counterinsurgency is dead, but "small footprint" counterinsurgency that focuseson security force assistance, Special Operations, and/or foreign internaldefense lives on (see Yemen,the Philippines,and Somalia).But is it really inconceivable that we will ever again conduct another large-scalepopulation-centric counterinsurgency campaign? Those who think it impossible mightconsider how the United States would respond to violence spilling over theborder from catastrophic state failure and humanitarian crisis in Mexico, forinstance.
As always, our choices will be structured by the agency ofour competitors. Therefore, we would be foolish to avoid learning the tacticaland operational as well as the policyand strategic lessons of the last ten years. We must maintain our capabilities and competencies for counterinsurgency,if only because history has shown that they will come in handy again.
How we do this is what we mustdebate and discuss.
Ryan Evans is anassociate fellow at the International Centre for the Study ofRadicalisation and Political Violence and served in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as a Human Terrain TeamSocial Scientist. The views and opinions expressed here do not represent those of theDepartment of the Army, Training and Doctrine Command, or the Human TerrainSystem.
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For Sherry Rehman, her birthday present may have come one month early.
In a move that surprised many (including myself) who were playing the Pakistan's Next Ambassador to the U.S. guessing game, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani appointed Rehman to the post, hours after Husain Haqqani resigned in the wake of the Memogate scandal.
A former journalist and now Chairperson of Jinnah Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad, 50-year old Rehman has been through a rough two years. After resigning from her post in 2009 as Minister for Information following the tussle between the government and the judiciary over the government's clampdown on television coverage, Rehman set up her think tank while retaining her position in the National Assembly.
But in 2010, all of that changed. Sherry Rehman campaigned for amendments to the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan, after Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death in Punjab.
Pakistan's right wing went into overdrive. Rehman received death threats, and a fatwa was issued calling for her to be killed. She was confined to her house, under a self-imposed house arrest. After Punjab Governor and flamboyant liberal Salmaan Taseer was murdered by his guard for supporting Aasia Bibi, and months later the Christian Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated by gunmen, fears for Rehman's safety became more urgent. A court case was filed against Rehman by Saleem Akhtar, a shopkeeper in Multan, accusing her of committing blasphemy; in fact, all Rehman had called for was a change in the laws.
Rehman was forced to withdraw her bill calling for amendments in the Blasphemy Law. She resumed work on a number of initiatives being undertaken by the Jinnah Institute including working on a Track II India-Pakistan peace process and publishing reports on the Afghanistan peace process.
Rehman comes from a prominent Sindhi family; her father was a well-known lawyer and judge, while her mother was the first female vice president of Pakistan's Central Bank. A graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts, she began her career as a journalist in the 1980s. Rehman went on to become at age 26 the youngest editor of the Herald magazine, a major Pakistani monthly. During her ten-year stint as editor, she was arrested and briefly held after the magazine ran a story critical of a government minister. After leaving the Herald, she wrote a book on Kashmiri shawls, The Kashmiri Shawl: From Jamawar to Paisley.
Rehman had met and became close to the late Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto during the former's time at the Herald. After Rehman left the Herald and published her book, she officially joined the party. In a 2009 interview with me, Rehman said, "A force of nature called Benazir Bhutto had decided that I would be in politics and it was virtually impossible to resist."
In 2002, she became a member of the parliament, taking one of the seats reserved for women, and was re-elected in the 2008 elections. In her own words, she describes the late Ms. Bhutto as "the guru." Rehman remained a close confidante of Bhutto, and as part of the core group of the PPP, helped formulate the party's election manifesto. Rehman accompanied Bhutto in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, when Bhutto was assassinated. It was in Rehman's car that Bhutto was rushed to hospital.
Rehman's relationship with the PPP has been an uneasy one in the years after Bhutto's death. She became Minister for Information in 2008 but resigneda year later after a clampdown on TV channels that were broadcasting the campaign to restore Iftikhar Chaudhry as Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court. In 2010, after she appeared on a television show for Geo News, rabid PPP supporters surrounded her residence in Karachi. The party issued a show-cause notice (asking her to explain herself) to her for appearing on the show against party orders.
While there are murmurs that her relationship with those controlling the PPP has taken a turn for the better, her appointment as ambassador has made many, including some in Pakistan's military establishment, heave a sigh of relief. A liberal, eloquent, politically suave and stylish, Rehman may just be the dose of stability required in Pakistan's civil-military relationship, and with Pakistan's relationship with the United States. However,her appointment has already made the religious right-wing parties scream bloody murder -- a leader of the religious party the
Sunni Tehreek said, "Rehman was already following "policies of the U.S. and the Jewish lobby as she tried to abolish the country's blasphemy laws." A petition has also reportedly been filed in a court in Multan against her appointment as ambassador, accusing Rehman of committing blasphemy in a TV show aired in 2010. How these objections play out in the coming days remains to be seen, but in the meantime, the Embassy of Pakistan awaits their new representative.
Huma Imtiaz works as a correspondent for Express News in Washington DC, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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This morning Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, resigned his post over the scandal known as "Memogate," whereby Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz alleged that he was asked by Amb. Haqqani to pass a memo to former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, asking for help in reigning in Pakistan's military establishment. But while Haqqani's resignation may signal an end to this episode, the prior evolution of events was nothing short of a witch hunt.
The ‘witch' in question varies depending on whom you speak to. If you're a member of Pakistan's opposition parties, Haqqani's actions were an act of treason, and his resignation is only a further admission of guilt. How dare he, they demand to know, ask for foreign (American) help to control Pakistan's military? How dare he be secretive about said actions?
If you're one of those in the ruling party, Mansoor Ijaz is a lying conspirator, a man not to be trusted. The revelation of the memo, they claimed, was really just an excuse to target democracy, to vilify the PPP government. Haqqani's resignation was not an admission of guilt, but a sacrifice in honor of said democracy.
In the serial drama also known as Pakistani politics, all the key elements have been in place - intrigue, cloak-and-dagger conspiracy, treason, and secrecy. From the outset, it plays out much like an episode of Game of Thrones, where in their thirst for power, the main actors all simultaneously destroy each other (or themselves). Except this is real life, and we've seen this episode numerous times before. Politicians are intent on leveraging "Memogate" for their own party ambitions in anticipation of the upcoming elections, while the military sits pretty on the sideline, their hands clean of the public mudslinging. As is often the case, dangling a threat to sovereignty or to Pakistan's security is enough to stir a feeding frenzy.
For those of us who read the memo in question, who perused through the BlackBerry messages exchanged between Haqqani and Ijaz, and who have read every imaginable op-ed and interview on the controversy, one thing is abundantly clear: even with Haqqani's resignation, we still are not entirely sure what happened. It is possible that we may never know. We should concern ourselves not with asking hypothetical questions, but asking the right questions. What constitutes treason within the Pakistani narrative? And why are many challenges to the current civil-military status quo met with such accusations?
In the case of this incident, Haqqani's alleged actions were called treasonous and unpatriotic because he is said to have attempted to challenge the security establishment, to hand over Pakistan's sovereignty to America. As Fasi Zaka noted in his op-ed for the Express Tribune the memo sought to allow "another state a unilateral deal of internal policy actions without any legal authority [that] bypasses all codes of conduct." Extra negative points if that foreign hand happens to be American.
But shouldn't we then place other purported back door dealings under similar scrutiny? Why do we continue to be incensed by the alleged attempts by a civilian politician to undermine the security establishment but fail to express similar outrage if the same security establishment undermines a civilian government, whether it be through military coups, backchannel talks with militants to retain strategic depth in Pakistan, or even purported deals permitting a U.S. operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.
The civil-military imbalance, as also noted by Mosharraf Zaidi for Foreign Policy, is the primary reason behind this disconnect. Pakistan's military, despite its flaws, has historically projected a stronger and more resolute image than any civilian regime. The national sentiment has long bought into this perception. The charge of treason against former Ambassador Haqqani is, therefore, subjective, laced with emotion, and used conveniently in the semantics of political pot shots to desperately curry favor among the masses. Treason makes for a good sound bite. But in throwing around such accusations, we lose sight of the bigger picture.
Haqqani's resignation today will be viewed as an admission of guilt to some and a sacrifice to others. But the bigger issue has been left untouched. In terms of Pakistan's broader civil-military relations, the sign is clear -- cross the military, and you will get burned. And as the mudslinging continued, it became increasingly clear that the only players getting dirty and tainted were the politicians. Long live democracy.
Kalsoom Lakhani is the Founder/CEO of Invest2Innovate (i2i), a start-up that aims to grow the social entrepreneurship space in new markets, beginning in Pakistan. She is based in Washington, D.C., and blogs at CHUP, or Changing Up Pakistan.
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On November 2, 2011, the Pakistan government announced that it was ready to grant Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India. This means that Pakistan's tariffs on Indian imports will have to be the same as the tariffs it imposes on imports from its other trading partners. Why is MFN important? To answer this question one has to ask why India and Pakistan trade so little with each other despite the existence of common history, language, culture, and long borders. Economic theory predicts that trade between the two largest economies in South Asia would be at least five to ten times greater than its current level of around $2 billion. While both sides are fully aware of the advantages of trade, a variety of political, infrastructural, legal, and regulatory impediments have essentially paralyzed bilateral trade relations between the two neighbors.
One of the main constraints to trade has been that Pakistan did not reciprocate India's granting of MFN in 1996 to Pakistan. Thus, the approval to grant MFN to India by the Pakistan cabinet is clearly a major breakthrough in trade relations between the two countries, and finally fulfills Pakistan's obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is interesting to note that Pakistan and India were among the original 23 signatories to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) in 1947, which articulated the MFN principle. It has taken Pakistan some 64 years to finally start implementing what it signed on to do.
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Over the past two years, the Afghan military and police have grown from a poorly trained and ill-equipped force of 191,000 to an increasingly effective counterinsurgency force of 305,000 volunteers who represent all ethnicities and tribes. Afghans are now responsible for security in seven areas of their country, and will assume lead security responsibility for 50 percent of the population by year's end. To ensure Afghanistan has the capabilities and capacity it needs to assume security responsibility from the international community, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) personnel are working hard with Afghans to develop the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and help them overcome leader shortfalls and the barriers posed by Afghanistan's high rates of illiteracy. Due to unifying efforts under the NATO flag in November 2009, one-sixth of the world's countries are working together shoulder-to-shoulder to enable Afghans to achieve the security they deserve, the prosperity they desire and a future they determine for themselves.
Since the first day NTM-A began operations in November 2009, developing Afghan leaders has been and remains the command's number one priority. Over the past two years, officers and non-commissioned officers in the Afghan Police grew by nearly 20,000 and will grow another 22,000 by November 2012. The same is true in the Afghan Army; officers and non-commissioned officers grew by 26,000 and are on a path to grow another 20,000 in the next year. Partnering with coalition units is key to the professionalization of these units, but growth could not have been achieved without establishing an indigenous training base and a standardized training and education curriculum. Major General Zamary, who leads the Afghan National Civil Order Police, recently told me "we need leaders who are educated because educated leaders are the key to an enduring force."
British authorities Sunday chargedfour men in Birmingham with plotting a terrorist bombingcampaign in the United Kingdom, accusing two of the alleged cell members oftravelling to Pakistan for "training in terrorism including bomb making,weapons and poison making" at some point after Christmas Day 2010. The DailyTelegraph reportedlast week that British authorities suspect that al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistanmay have directed the plot.
Underliningthe seriousness of the plot, three of their number were charged with "beingconcerned in the purchase of components and chemicals for a home made explosivedevice," and "construction of a homemade explosive device for terrorist acts."
Thealleged Birmingham plot highlights the fact that despite mounting pressure from dronestrikes on al-Qaeda Central in Pakistan, Westernmilitants receiving terrorist training in the tribal areas of Pakistan arestill a significant homeland security threat to Western countries.
This was the conclusion of an in-depth study Iauthored for the New America Foundation in July, which included a comprehensivesurvey of all the serious terrorist plots against the West since 2004.
The study found that progress against al-Qaedain Pakistan had not yet been reflected in the metric that most counts, that ofreduced plots against the West originating with or involving the FederallyAdministered Tribal Areas, or FATA.
Last year, there were four serious Islamistterrorist plots against the West with training or operational links toestablished groups in Pakistan, the most in any year since al-Qaedaconsolidated its safe-haven in the FATA soon after the 9/11 attacks and theAmerican invasion of Afghanistan. The alleged Birmingham plot is the secondsuch plot thwarted in 2011. In April of this year, German police broke up an alleged plot centered on Dusseldorf by German residents trained and directed by al-Qaedain Pakistan.
Since 2010 there has only been one serious plotdirected against the West from Yemen. While al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)has garnered significant attention from Western officials and analysts, thepresence of several terrorist groups in Pakistan with a track record oftargeting the West, arguably makes the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region stillthe most dangerous terrorist safe haven in the world. For example, FaisalShahzad who attempted to bomb Times Square on May 1, 2010 was trained by thePakistani Taliban earlier that year, and was directed to launch his failedattack by the group.
While drone strikes in FATA have undoubtedlydamaged al-Qaeda, the organization has to some degree adapted by decentralizingits operations and training militants indoors inside small mountain shacks,according to the testimony of Western recruits who recently trained with militant groups in the region. As outlined inthe New America Foundation study, al-Qaeda has also promoted new recruits intosenior positions, including Western recruits with a keen understanding ofWestern vulnerabilities.
For example American-Saudi AdnanShukrijumah allegedly helped al-Qaeda orchestrate the September 2009 plot against NewYork's Subway involving Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi, and is still believedat large in the tribal areas. So is Abdullrahmen Hilal Hussain, an Austrian-bornmilitant of Syrian descent, who hasallegedly helped organize bomb-making instruction for Western recruits, according tocourt documents.
Some operatives who have been killed orarrested will, however, be very difficult to replace. Time will tell if thedeath of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the recent killing of several key alQaeda operatives in drone strikes the tribal areas of Pakistan, including Ilyas Kashmiri and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, aswell as the arrest of senior al-Qaeda operative Younis al-Mauretani in Quetta in August, will reduce the number ofplots being directed against the Westeach year with links to terrorist groups in Pakistan.
Hundreds of Western militants are currentlytraining or operating in Pakistan, according to an official report published by the U.K. Home Office in July.Western-counter-terrorism officials say recruits are still streaming into thetribal areas of Pakistan from the West. While most travel there to fight inAfghanistan, their transit through the area provides al-Qaeda withopportunities to launch terrorist attacks in their home countries.
Furthermore a Pakistani military operation toremove the presence of pro-al-Qaeda militants from North Waziristan -- theepicenter of plots against the West in recent years - appears as remote asever. While groups like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Haqqani Networkremain ensconced in these areas, they will likely continue to protect andharbor al-Qaeda.
In a survey of the 32 serious plots against theWest between January 2004 and early July 2011 the study found that 44 percentof these plots had direct operational ties to terrorist groups in Pakistan,throwing into sharp relief the danger posed by the FATA terrorist safe-haven.The proportion of serious plots in which cell members trained with terroristgroups in Pakistan was higher still - 53 percent of all such plots against theWest. By way of contrast, only 6 percent of these plots had operational ortraining ties to terrorists in Yemen, and only 3 percent to Iraq. In only 38percent of serious plots was there no overseas training.
The study categorized "serious" plots as allthose in which weapon components had been obtained without the assistance ofundercover law enforcement agents which had the capacity to kill at least ten.
The full New America Foundation study isavailable here
Paul Cruickshank, an investigative reporterspecializing in al Qaeda, is an alumni Fellow at the NYU Center on Law &Security and a terrorism analyst for CNN. The views expressed in this articleare entirely his own.
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During a Senate Armed Services hearing yesterday, Chairmanof the Joint Chiefs ofStaff Adm. Mike alleged what many of us have believed for some time: Elementswithin Pakistan's security services, perhaps most notably current and retired Inter-ServicesIntelligence Directorate (ISI) officials, provide operational support andresources for the Haqqani Network to wage their insurgency against U.S.,coalition and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan.
"With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conductedthat truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy," Mullen toldthe committee, referencing a massive bomb attack on a NATO base September10 as well as last week's attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul. "We also havecredible evidence that they were behind the June 28th attack against theInter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effectiveoperations," he added.
By my count, there have been at least 15 other high-profileattacks going back to 2008 that can be publicly linked to the Haqqani networkbesides the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul earlierthis month. These include several complex attacks in Afghanistan's southeastthat involved suicide car bombs and gunmen armed with explosives and AK-47s,the bombing of the Indianembassy in Kabul that killed 41 and injured over 130 in July 2008, amulti-pronged attack on Afghan ministriesand the prison directorate in Kabul that killed 26 in February 2009, an assaulton a Kabul Bank branch that killed more than 40 in February of this year, andperhaps most notably, a complex nighttimeassault on Kabul's Intercontinental hotel during the height of this summer'sfighting season. During the attack on the Intercontinental, Afghan intelligenceinterceptedcalls between the attackers and Badruddin Haqqani who was directingthe assault from Pakistan. Furthermore, the Pakistani military has assisted theHaqqani network's expansion from North Waziristan into neighboring KurramAgency over the past year. This will provide the network with even moresanctuary and additional infiltration routes into southeastern Afghanistan.
But what can the United States do about this support for theHaqqanis? While it is important to maintain a relationship with Pakistan, it'salso necessary to distinguish between the civilian and military component ofour support. Pakistan's civilian leadership is not the harbinger of adecades-long policy of support for proxy groups such as the Haqqani network.And although the civilian government nominally controls the military, that'snot the case in practice. Therefore, any restriction on U.S. aid should becareful not to punish civil society.
Senior military leaders, such as army chief Gen. AshfaqParvez Kayani and ISI head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, are the folks the U.S.need to be talking to. However, pressuring the military (of which ISI is apart) to take action against the Haqqanis is a non-starter. No possiblecombination of aidrestrictions, sanctions or public chastisement is capable of changing the military'srelationship with the Haqqanis at this point, not with U.S. forces inAfghanistan on the decline and the belief in Pakistan's military circles thatthe U.S. is not going to succeed in Afghanistan still prevalent. The onlyconceivable solution at this point is to go after high-value Haqqani targets evenmore aggressively than before. There is a senior leadershipcadre that, if removed from the fight, would have significant effects on thenetwork's command and control infrastructure. The Haqqanis are different fromother groups, such as the Pakistan Taliban, in this regard. The seniorleadership corps is based on familial relations, is extremely closely knit, is directlyresponsible for strategic, operational and often tactical guidance, and is theonly trusted group that liaises with elements of the Pakistani securityservices and the leadership of affiliatedterrorist groups in the tribal areas. The removal of the top-tierleadership, coupled with increased pressure on the group in easternAfghanistan, offers the best chance to degrade and possibly even neutralize thenetwork.
After Mullen's comments, it's pretty clear that some reallytough decisions will have to be made with respect to the Haqqani's sanctuary inPakistan -- despite Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik's recent remarksthat the country will never allow U.S. boots on Pakistani soil. Just today, Kayanistarkly rejected the allegations of a Pakistan-Haqqani relationship in responseto Mullen's testimony. Of course, any possible U.S. action in Pakistan willhave consequences -- but those consequences may not have as serious impact as somebelieve. Pakistan has the ability to shut down critical supply lines runningfrom their port city of Karachi to Afghanistan. However, given the military'sown economicinterests in keeping the lines open and the myriad criminal actors whoselivelihoods depend on taxing and extorting truckers, any long-term shutdown ismost likely a hollow threat. The United States has already explored increasing thecapacity of the northerndistribution network that has expanded significantly over the past severalyears.
Certainly, Pakistan has the ability to respond militarily tounilateral action in their tribal areas, but this would likely cause a completebreak in relations, and with that, an end to all militaryassistance that is critical not only for the Army's strength and survivalbut also their influence over Pakistan's civilian leadership. The United States withheld$800 million in military aid this summer which is only onethird of promised security assistance. Holding back or canceling the totalpackage would be a real blow to Pakistan's armed forces.
Additionally, limited U.S. unilateral action in Pakistan'stribal areas, at least conceptually, is not much different than the currentU.S. drone program that regularly strikes targets in Pakistan's tribal areas.Since the Pakistani military and government have largely ignored sovereigntyclaims and acquiesced to the drone strikes, it isn't a stretch to assume thatthey could treat limited, unilateral raids into the tribal areas in the samemanor -- even after Malik's statement. Speculation aside, the only thing that seemsclear amidst all the confusion is that if the U.S. doesn't follow through, ourwords will have even less meaning than they already do.
Jeffrey Dressler is a senior analyst at the Institute forthe Study of War and author of the ISW report, "The Haqqani Network: FromPakistan to Afghanistan."
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Twenty-six Shi'a Muslim pilgrims,en route to Iran, died at the hands of the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi(LeJ) in Baluchistan's Mastung area Tuesday evening. According to news reports and eyewitness accounts, attackers armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers stopped the busand forced passengers to get off. While women and children were reportedlyspared, they witnessed the execution. A car arriving to rescue the pilgrims was also fired on, and three people died in the second attack.
According to the bus driver "The attackers askedpassengers to step out of the bus and shot them after identifying them as Shi'as"
The attack was not an isolatedincident, but was instead part of a systematic campaign of violence in theprovince directed towards the Shi'a. In July, 18 people werekilled within 16 hours in Quetta in targeted attacks by the LeJ, including sevenpilgrims waiting for transportation to Iran. On the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, a suicide bomber reportedly intended to attack the congregation of 25,000 people prayingat a mosque in the Shi'a-populated area of Marriabad in Quetta. Hisexplosives-laden car still killed 12 Shi'aand injured 32.
The campaign of anti-Shi'a violence has largely been directed towards the predominantly Shi'a Hazaracommunity in Baluchistan. According to a recent report in Newsline, "at least 347 Hazaras have been killed in [targeted] killings andsuicide and other attacks since 1999. Of the 328 Hazaras killed up untilDecember 31 last year, as many as 105 had been killed in 2010 alone."And government inaction is only helping the problem spread. According toAmnesty International, "Successive [Pakistani] governments have failed toaddress the increasingly explicit threats faced by Shi'a Muslims from groupslike Lashkar-e Jhangvi, operating openly in the Punjab and Karachi andapparently striking their victims at will in Balochistan and other parts of thecountry.
The LeJ, the militant wing of the virulentlyanti-Shi'a Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), has claimed responsibility forseveral of the attacks, and has vowed to kill more Shi'a. The Deobandi group'sstronghold is in southern Punjab, and since its inception in 1985, it has spread its campaign of anti-Shi'a incitement and violencethroughout Pakistan.
The group is officially banned inPakistan, but the ban has been far from effective. The state supported thecreation of the SSP, as General Zia-ul-Haq's regime propped up Deobandi movements to counter its perceived rival Iran.
Zia's death in 1988 did not endstate patronage of such groups. Hundreds of Shi'a have been killed since then,and the state continues to support groups such as the LeJ, and has called onits leaders for assistance in times of crisis. For instance, LeJ leader MalikIshaq was reportedly flown out of jail by the Pakistan Army to talk to the militants that had stormed the army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009. Ishaq wasreleased this year after serving 14 years in jail. He was accused of killing 70 people and faced charges in 44 cases.
It was revealed after his releasethat his family was given a stipend by the Punjab government while he was in jail, and that he had been provided with police guards -- while the witnesses who testified against him lived in fear of possible repercussions. Ishaq's freedom -- after being acquitted in 34 cases and being bailedout on 10 -- was met with a display of adoration by his supporters, whoshowered rose petals on him.
Since then, he has embarkedon a public speaking tour, addressing crowds in Sindhand Punjab. His message has been consistent: he believes he was on the rightpath, and vows to work to further the SSP's mission. And despite knowing thatthe intelligence services and government are keeping an eye on him, the crowdsstill show up to hear Ishaq speak, helping validate the belief held by Ishaqand his followers that the SSP's mission is right.
In a letter to The Friday Times journal, the Pakistan Ulema Council has urged "different segments of societyto stop making assumptions about Ishaq's release and help him become a usefulcitizen" while heralding his services to the army in the 2009 headquarterssiege. But for anyone who has seen Ishaq's speeches, readily available onseveral social media platforms, it is hard to not foresee a bloody future aheadfor the Shi'a community in Pakistan. The speeches conclude with the crowdschanting anti-Shi'a slogans, while in Balochistan, a bloodied communitycontinues to mourn its dead.
Saba Imtiaz works as acorrespondent for The Express Tribune newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Because of a suicide attacker with a bomb in his turban, Afghanistan's dim prospects for peace just got dimmer. The assassination of strongman and key historical and present Afghan political figure Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the commission meant to negotiate with the Taliban, the High Peace Council (HPC), signals the massive challenges ahead in efforts to end the war.
For many in the Afghan government, Rabbani's appointment to head the HPC was seen as a way to involve the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, and in particular, Rabbani's Jamiat-e-Islami party, in the peace process. Jamiat, which has long been hostile to the Taliban, is an important force in northern Afghanistan, particularly among ethnic Tajiks. But many in the Taliban and in Pakistan met the appointment with derision. As the country's president in the mid-nineties, Rabbani presided over a brutal civil war that killed thousands and helped spawn the rise of the Taliban movement. In the late 90s, Jamiat was one of the Taliban's main foes in the latter's drive to conquer the north. Pakistan, meanwhile, has always viewed the India- and Iran-friendly Rabbani with hostility.
Rabbani, who likely saw the peace process as a way to re-inject himself into the national political scene, initially took to his duties with alacrity. But it was unclear whether he was pursuing a sort of managed surrender (reintegration) or genuine negotiations. In any event, the lack of progress, hostility from the Taliban side and a spate of assassinations appeared to have turned him against a peace deal. He recently told the Afghan newspaper Hasht-e-Sob that the Taliban are a "catastrophe-creating movement" bent on the destruction of the country. "The Taliban's acts have defamed religious scholars and this movement calling itself Taliban creates disaster," he said. "They recruit soldiers among the youth and claim that they are from madrassas."
In a stark message on the anniversary of the death of Afghan national hero and slain Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, he declared that:
The people are justifying the war they have waged and say that they are fighting the war because of the presence of the foreigners. This is not the case actually. This war was going on prior to the presence of the foreigners here and will continue after the foreigners go from here.
The remarks echo a deep resistance to a peace deal from erstwhile Northern Alliance elements, ranging from former National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Amrullah Saleh to the powerful governor of Balkh province, Ustad Atta, who denounced efforts at negotiations on Afghan television yesterday.
From the Taliban and Pakistani side, Rabbani and other Northern Alliance figures appear to be seen as impediments to a deal. "These people don't represent Afghanistan," a Taliban official in Quetta told me earlier this summer. "We can't ever have peace with them around." In fact, the spate of assassinations in northern Afghanistan in recent months-Kunduz governor Muhammad Omar, Kunduz Police Chief Abdul Rahman Sayedkheli, head of police for Northern Afghanistan Daoud Daoud, and others-could be seen as the steady elimination of elements standing in the way of a deal favorable to the Taliban.
But it could all backfire. Remaining Northern Alliance figures will likely close ranks and conclude that any sort of rapprochement with the Taliban is impossible. Some, like strongman Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf, have reportedly looked to cultivate ties with India as a counterweight to what they see as an assassination drive spurred by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Ex-Alliance commanders, aided by U.S. programs to create local militias, will likely accelerate their drive to rearm, possibly setting the stage for a future civil war.
For now, the immense divides that plague Afghanistan will be on full display. Among some communities, Rabbani will be hailed as a hero, a wizened Islamic scholar and hero of the war against the Russians. In others, he will be remembered for scores of human rights abuses and widespread devastation during the last civil war. Either way, a peace deal in Afghanistan remains as unlikely as ever.
Anand Gopal is an independent journalist covering Afghanistan and the Middle East, and the author of the New America Foundation paper "The Battle for Afghanistan: Militancy and Conflict in Kandahar."Follow him on twitter @anand_gopal_
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The monsoon rains have historically brought mixed fortunes to Pakistan. While they help spur the cultivation of crops, changing demographics and population distribution have given rise to recurring catastrophes the rains leave in their wake. As Pakistan suffers from another cycle of floods in both rural and urban areas, recent weeks have seen the explosion of a dengue fever epidemic in central Punjab. In the past two weeks alone, more than 6,000 cases have been reported, with the majority occurring in Lahore. At least 40 deaths have now also been reported. The extent of the epidemic is such that schools in Punjab have been closed for the last ten days.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection. While most cases present with non-specific symptoms such as fever and muscle aches, in about 1 percent of cases, the disease progresses to a more dangerous condition called "dengue hemorrhagic fever." In this condition, the normal human clotting process becomes deranged, resulting in spontaneous bleeding in patients, leading in some cases to death. In the appropriate context, dengue can be diagnosed without the help of any advanced laboratory tests. However, treatment options are limited only to supportive measures, such as providing anti-fever and pain medication, as well as using transfusions to combat platelet deficiency, though no "cure" or vaccine exists.
Dengue fever epidemics have become a cyclical nightmare in Pakistan over the last several years. The infection was quite rare in South Asia before the turn of the century, but starting in the last decade, dengue epidemics have become a regular occurrence, usually peaking in September and October. As the population in Pakistan grows or people move around in search of economic opportunity or safety from militant violence, settling in many places into overcrowded urban slums on the outskirts of cities like Lahore.
These slums are hotbeds of contamination, given that the proliferation of these ramshackle neighborhoods outpaces that of adequate infrastructure development. With hygienic practices already poor, they grow worse in such settings, where public sanitation is often subpar. The best measure to prevent dengue can be by halting the reproduction of mosquitoes or preventing mosquito bites. Mosquitoes reproduce in stagnant water, and unless widespread measures are taken to drain such collections or fumigate mosquito-prone areas, the insects continue to proliferate, helping spread infections.
The current armed conflict in Pakistan has also been a key driver of disease. The plains of Punjab provide a home to millions of internally displaced refugees who have moved away from the war-torn northeastern and tribal regions, bringing with them an increase in disease. Furthermore, war itself is known to be one of the most potent fomenters of infectious disease: Studies have shown that "complex emergencies" can cause a several-fold increase in infection rates.
But aside from these direct environmental factors fueling the spread of dengue, another potential cause of the infection's appearance might well be climate change. Like most other infections spread by an intermediary organisms (like mosquitoes), dengue transmission increases with atmospheric temperature and humidity, since higher temperatures and moisture optimize mosquito breeding.
Complicating this problem further is emerging evidence that Pakistan's mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticide that is used to eliminate them.
Unfortunately, many of the factors contributing to dengue outbreaks, from poor hygiene and sanitation to climate change, are risk factors common to most infectious diseases. If no major changes occur, Pakistanis could be exposed to a host of epidemics, such as measles, pneumonia, and cholera.
One important reform would be to empower public health specialists to develop overarching strategies to reduce factors leading to transmission. However, the medical community in Pakistan is focused on other things, with young doctors in Punjab on strike for long periods of time this year protesting low wages. Given that there is such resentment among trainees, who form the backbone of the clinical work force, it is likely that these protests are also adversely affecting the response to the current epidemic, as there are fewer doctors available to try and stem the crisis.
Since neither cure nor vaccine exists for dengue fever, prevention is the only option to control the human and economic cost of the epidemic. While the local media has criticized the government's response, one has to consider that they are over whelmed by several public health crises spanning the length and breadth of the country simultaneously, such as the widespread floods, ongoing polio transmission and rampant malnutrition. Nevertheless, improving hygiene and sanitation, in addition to helping better-manage public infrastructure development and population growth, remain the only long term solutions for preventing dengue, and other infections, from breaking out.
Haider Warraich, MD, is a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is a graduate of the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, and the author of the novel, Auras of the Jinn.
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The successful conviction in Manchester, Northern England,of Munir Farooqi, Matthew Newton and Israr Malik, highlighted once again (as ifmore proof was needed) the existence of the dark connection between Britainand the war in Afghanistan. A former Taliban fighter who had returned toManchester after being picked up on the battlefield not long after the U.S.invasion by Northern Alliance forces, Farooqi ran a recruitment network inNorthern England that fed an unknown number of fighters to the fight alongsidethe Taliban in Afghanistan. What was most striking about the case, however, wasthe way it exposed the method by which recruitment cells operate in the UnitedKingdom, following a model that is likely emulated elsewhere in the west.
MunirFarooqi first came to the United Kingdom when he was about five years old.Born in Pakistan, he is part of the community of migrants from Pakistan whocame to the West during the first large-scale migrations in the 1960s fromtheir homes in South Asia. Brought up largely in the United Kingdom, he speakswith a pronounced regional British accent and is married with three children. Astrong part of him, however, remained attached to his community in South Asia,and following the American invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 heimmediately headed back to join the Taliban. His experience on the battlefieldwas short lived, and by November he had been captured as part of a NorthernAlliance operation in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Held in one ofGeneral Rashid Dostum's prisons, he was fortunate enough to be moved to aPakistani jail, from where his British wife was able to come and fetch him fora fee in May 2002.
Once back in Britain he maintained his passion for the causein Afghanistan, and travelled back and forth to Pakistan. In 2003, borderagents stopped him as he returned from Pakistan and searching his luggage foundpicturesof him posing alongside armed men in the Swat Valley. Using such images andhis own personal experience as a former Taliban fighter with injuries to showfor it, Farooqi was able to conjure up the joy of jihad to disenfranchisedyoung men he would encounter amongst Manchester's Muslim community. Ashe put it when asked by an undercover officer whether he would want tofight again, "you know when you've tasted the honey....then you only wantmore...until Allah takes you from this earth."
He used two bases of operations to draw young men to hiscause. In public, he ran dawah(propagation) stalls in Manchester and nearby Longsight city centers. Herehe would welcome individuals in and try to share with them information on hisview of the world -- and it was at both of these that on separate occasions inNovember 2008 and January 2009 two undercover officers (who were unaware ofeach other) approached the stalls to make contact with the group. ApproachingFarooqi at the Longsight location, undercover officer "Ray" made contact onNovember 26, 2008. Over the space of the next couple of months, "Ray" convertedto Islam, and then on January 4, 2009, undercover officer "Simon" also madecontact with the cell approaching a stall being run in central Manchester byFarooqi and co-defendent MatthewNetwon, a convert who came across Farooqi in 2008 soon after he became aMuslim. Claiming to be a recovering alcoholic seeking meaning, "Simon" alsoconverted to Islam with the group, and slowly gained their confidence.
In bringing the men gradually into his web, Farooqi wouldtake them to his home from where he ran a massive operation churning outradical videos and books -- he was caught with some 50,000 items of literatureand 5,000 DVDs. Here he would weave them tales about jihad, drawing on his ownexperiences to gradually persuade them of the glory of fighting in Afghanistan.A charismatic figure, he was able to quickly persuade individuals to come tohis views, as characterized by Newton, who was rapidly drawn to Farooqi's wayof thinking after the two met. Newton, like Farooqi, was convicted of of "preparingterror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature"and was sentenced to six years in jail.
Having drawn people in, Farooqi ensured that they stayedwithin his orbit, telling them which mosques to go to and following up withthem when they got into trouble. When another co-defendant, Israr Malik, wasincarcerated on unrelated charges, Farooqi made a point of visiting him in jailwhere he passed him radical material to share amongst fellow prisoners. A lost soulwho had become involved in criminal activity after breaking up with his girlfriend,Malik was drawn to one of Farooqi's stalls in 2008, only to become another inthe production line of radicals he was helping develop, with the intention ofpersuading them to go and fight in Afghanistan. He was also incarcerated fortwo counts of soliciting murder and preparing for acts of terrorism.
This model of recruitment was one that has been seen beforein the United Kingdom: Mohammed Hamid, the self-proclaimed "Osama bin London"who helped take over hook-handed radical imam Abu Hamza's mosque after he wasincarcerated, used to run dawah stalls in London, where he would make contactwith dispossessed young men and, eventually, another undercover officer. Areformed drug addict himself, Hamid ran discussion groups out of his home, hadbeen to Pakistani training camps, and offered connections for aspiring fighterswho wanted to go abroad. Most prominently, Hamid ran training camps in theU.K.'s Lake District that a number of the July 21, 2005 attempted bombersattended. He is currently finishing up a sentence in prison alongside a networkof young men he recruited, including some who were attempting to go to Somaliato fight and others who did in fact go.
It remains unclear exactly how many people Farooqi was ableto persuade to go and fight in Afghanistan. Oneestimate published in the local press said some 20 people had been sentover, A figure that seems quite low for an operation that could have been goingon for as long as eight years. However, this small number likely reflects thereality of how large the actual number of British citizens being persuaded togo and fight really is. As author and journalist JasonBurke put it recently, quoting British intelligence officials, "the yearsfrom 2004 to 2007 saw the highpoint of the flow of volunteers from the UK to[Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA]. Never more than afew score in any one year, their number has now been reduced to a handful." Butgiven recent stories of Britishmartyrs being praised in jihadi videos, former British prisoners turning up assuicide bombers in Kabul, and a small number of former Taliban fighterscontinuing to live in the United Kingdom, it seems likely that this trickle maycontinue for some time.Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) andthe author of the forthcoming WeLove Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen.
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The world shook when Osama bin Laden was killed, but it has taken less notice of reports that a CIA drone in Pakistan reportedly killed Atiyah abd al-Rahman al-Libi, now ubiquitously referred to as "al-Qaeda's number two." And while there is no doubt that bin Laden's death was the more significant blow politically, Atiyah's death may have a larger impact on how the al-Qaeda network functions.
Since 2001, al-Qaeda has evolved from being structured hierarchically -- with bin Laden at the top -- into a network with bin Laden as one branch of the overall organization. Bin Laden's continued authority was a function of his reputation within the network and, critically, his ability to communicate effectively. That ability to communicate is where Atiyah came in: if bin Laden was the most politically important branch of the al-Qaeda network, Atiyah was the node that connected his branch to the others. That also meant coordinating between al-Qaeda's central leadership and potential al-Qaeda operators, such as Bryant Neal Vinas, in Europe and the United States.
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On Aug. 18, Pakistan's most powerful man, Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, secretly flew to Kurram agency in the country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and declared it free of "miscreants."
No doubt the Pakistani Army did a great job clearing militants from Central Kurram, the focus of the operation, as it did in areas like the Swat Valley. But Kayani's visit and announcement raise the following question: What do "clear" and "miscreants" mean for a Pakistani Army fighting to regain control of the area from a discreet force that can shift, hit, kill, and target anywhere, any place, and any time? And if the area had been successfully cleared, why did Kayani not travel by road, and why did he not meet the open jirgas of tribal elders in that area, as was the tradition when top Pakistani officials visited the tribal belt before 2001?
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month's violence in China's
Xinjiang province, perpetrated by minority Muslim Uighurs against Han Chinese
settlers -- blamed by local officials on Pakistan -- trained militants -- some analysts have claimed that Sino-Pak
relations are under serious strain. But such assessments prove to be
presumptuous when China's
challenges in Xinjiang and its relations with Pakistan relations are more
First, experts on Xinjiang doubt that Pakistan-trained militants are responsible for the violence in the first place. Most likely, the statements by Chinese officials in Xinjiang are attempts to avoid discussion of the domestic causes of Uighur militancy, including religious and ethnic discrimination and a systematic campaign to dilute the native Uighur presence through a deluge of Han Chinese.
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