Friday, December 11, 2009


Allegory about Afghan Shura and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan

by Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Like the myth of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda headquartered in FATA, which I discussed in a previous write up, another absurd claim has now come up from America that Mullah Omar along with his Shura is based in Quetta.

This story woven by spin doctors has caught the imagination of policy makers in Washington who are playing it impishly. Pakistani leaders already harassed by never ending allegations are at a loss how to respond to this latest assault since denials make no impression on accusers.
After repeating their story several times, US officials laid bare their actual motive by mentioning their flaming desire to employ the horrible drones in Balochistan including its capital.
Let us carryout a dispassionate appraisal of this claim. It is now a well known fact that Afghan Taliban hold control of nearly 80% Afghan Territory and hold complete sway over southern, eastern and to some extent western Afghanistan. These regions provide a safe and secured base to them; to operate into western, central and northern Afghanistan and return. Had their hold over southern and eastern Afghanistan been weak, it would have been quite logical to assume that they have made FATA or Pashtun belt of Balochistan adjacent to Helmand Province as their bases of operation.
Now that over 30000 troops of Pakistan Army have taken full control of South Waziristan and a division plus force is in North Waziristan, part of which is in Makeen area, any possibility of Afghan Taliban operating from these regions is ruled out. Same is applicable to Al-Qaeda. The only possible space which still requires further scanning is the countryside west of Ladha and Makeen towards Afghanistan border. Using boots on ground strategy, our troops are gradually clearing these areas as well.
Within Afghanistan, morale of US-NATO forces has considerably sunk and bunker mentality has crept in. Karzai regime has no control over state affairs and his credibility after last August (fraudulent) elections has eroded further. He is now seen more as an American stooge, who  is at the mercy of non-Pashtun Northern Alliance. Afghan National Army and Police too are in bad shape and operationally unfit to confront the Taliban. Afghan Pashtuns who are a predominant ethnic entity in Afghanistan, hate Americans because of their discriminatory attitude and are supportive of Taliban. Gulbadin Hikmatyar led Hizb-e-Islami and Jalaluddin Haqqani are also anti-American and anti-Karzai.
Given the favourable operational environment in Afghanistan for Taliban, it should be utterly foolish on part of Mullah Omar and his Shura to abandon the fully secured bases in Afghanistan and opt for an insecure base like Quetta where CIA, FBI, US marines, Blackwater, MI-6, RAW, BLA, BRA, BLF command strong influence. Target killings by BLA in Quetta have become a norm. Jacobabad and Pasni air bases are still under operational control of US troops as revealed by Lt Gen ® Shahid Aziz and confirmed by Defence Minister.
Shamsi base near Kharan had been in use for launching drones. Quetta being the capital city of Balochistan is too open and conspicuous for Mullah Omar to hide particularly when a heavy head money is the prize and the success or failure of Taliban resistance movement depends upon his survivability.
Pashtun areas in Balochistan have not only kept themselves dissociated from RAW backed Baloch insurgency (now turned into a separatist movement) but also kept both Afghan and Pakistani Taliban at bay. Under such insalubrious environments, it is preposterous for the US to keep insisting that Afghan Shura is in Quetta. Latest fabrication is that Afghan Taliban Shura has shifted to Karachi under the supervision of ISI where Omar has established a Madrassah.  
If for discussion sake we accept the wacky claims of presence of Afghan Shura in Quetta and that of Osama led Al-Qaeda in FATA theoretically; it implies that as far as US is concerned, the battle for Afghanistan is almost over. The news should have logically transported Gen McChrystal and his team to celebrate that the entire Taliban leadership and Al-Qaeda have fled to Pakistan and it is now much easier for them to get hold of few thousand rag tag Taliban fighters and not more than 100 Al-Qaeda fighters abandoned by their leaders or to win them over? The only precautionary measure required to be taken was to prevent re-entry of Afghan Shura and Al-Qaeda leadership by enhancing border check posts and surveillance means along the entire Afghan-Pakistan border (as frequently requested by Pakistan). In addition, he needed to fence and mine the entire length of border as repeatedly proposed by Pakistan but refused by Karzai and USA for reasons best known to them. No such thing has happened since Chrystal is depressed because of Osama phobia. Within Pakistan, once US intelligence agencies acquired credible intelligence, shouldn’t they have carried out joint raids on suspected locations without wasting a single minute? CIA, FBI and US diplomats would not have encountered an obstruction as they move about in Pakistan unchecked and enjoy full cooperation of all law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Otherwise too, was it wise on part of US leadership to broadcast the locations of Omar and Osama prematurely thereby giving them full chance to runaway??
Well knowing that Pakistan Army is deeply committed in fighting sponsored terrorists in various parts of NWFP and FATA and achieving fruitful results, the US instead of feeling mighty pleased and encouraging it to further stabilize these vital regions, has once again begun to chant their nauseating mantra of ‘do more’ and that too in new areas. Areas in Waziristan which are presently quiet and neutral are being provoked through drone attacks to make them restive. Orakzai Agency is being developed into another bastion. The US is pressing Pakistan to shift more troops from its eastern border and to start operations in Wazir inhabited South Waziristan and in North Waziristan, where it alleges most runaways have fled. It is trying to create conditions wherein Pakistan Army would be compelled to fight the combined force of Maulvi Nazir, Hakimullah Mehsud and Gul Bahadur. United front would ease up pressure on Hakimullah led TTP, which is in disarray. The US also want the Army and the FC in Balochistan to shift its focus from Baloch held areas where RAW-CIA-MI-6 backed separatist movement is raging and to concentrate towards peaceful Pashtun areas including Quetta, where it suspects Afghan Shura is hiding. The US-NATO forces, after their failed operation in Helmand are expected to launch another operation there once additional US troops arrive so as to force the militants to flee to neighbouring Pashtun belt of Balochistan and turn it volatile.
Having fully committed the army in fighting a futile US war on terror, RAW sponsored terrorists duly aided by Blackwater elements are playing havoc into major cities of Pakistan - through almost daily bomb blasts and suicide attacks. Focus is on such targets which hurts the military the most. Attack on a mosque during Friday prayers in Rawalpindi on 27 November, frequented mostly by army senior officers and their sons, was most gruesome. ISI set ups have been repeatedly struck since they frustrate the designs of enemies of Pakistan. Focus is now towards destabilizing the Punjab, after which emphasis will shift to Sindh to upturn main economic base of Pakistan. While CIA and FBI along with its shady outfits are fully involved in this destabilization game, the US leaders are hypocritically harping on the same old tunes that Pakistan is a key ally and the US seeks its stability and prosperity. Our leaders having been provided with clinching evidence of involvement of RAW in terrorism have still not picked up courage to expose India and to forcefully ask USA to bridle its strategic ally.          
Fact of the matter is that Omar, Osama and nuclear cards are being played with devious intentions. The real purpose behind it, is to cast aspersion on Pakistan that Pakistan Army and the ISI are aligned with Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda and sheltering them. It implies that there is a nexus between Pakistan-Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda and Pakistan is fully supporting Taliban and Al-Qaeda in their war against US-NATO forces in Afghanistan. With leadership of the two deadly organizations based inside Pakistan, it becomes a fit case for the US to mount an offensive against Pakistan (to root out safe sanctuaries and turn the corner). Cambodia model is on the cards. Indian forces have begun to mark time in concentration area. Desire for hot pursuit operations inside Pakistan and to extend the radius of action of drones too has again been expressed.
The US civil and military leadership instead of wasting time in superfluous blame game and monkey tricks is ought to concentrate on its work in Afghanistan and put things in order so that Pakistan gets back to peace again. After Pakistan Army having done their job admirably, it is now the turn of Gen McChrystal led US-NATO forces to perform at their end, by doing more - creating suitable conditions for safe and honorable exit from the quagmire called Afghanistan.     

Brig Asif Haroon is a Member Board of Advisors, Opinion Maker and writes on defense and security issues. He is based in Rawalpindi,  Pakistan.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.


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