Editorial: Counter-terrorism in a divided land

6 04 2009

Sorce DAWN NEWS

The suicide-bomber who killed eight Frontier Constabulary men on Margalla Road in Islamabad two days ago was successful because the man appointed as guard in the camp thought he could leave his post during meals. In 2008, the truck that blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad had taken the heavily guarded “high-security” Margalla Road because the security force stationed there thought it could leave its positions to break the Ramadan fast. In both cases the force knew that an attack was imminent.

The state can multiply the police force manifold but unless the quality of its recruits is raised, counter-terrorism strategy will be a failure. Pakistan can get any amount of money if it wants to raise the quality of its security forces through better salaries and higher educational qualification. In Lahore at Manawan the police recruits said that they were not even properly fed during training. Only an educated and “rational” security person will know that he can’t leave his post during meals and that his religion allows him relaxation of namaz and fasting during a life-and-death emergency.

Today the fact is that Baitullah Mehsud can attack a Friday congregation in a mosque and still be trusted as a “good Muslim” by sections of the population and media but the security forces cannot be relied upon to prevent their faith from becoming an impediment in the fight against terrorism. When Baitullah Mehsud says he has not done a certain act of terrorism, he is believed, adding to the deception and savagery of the violence done in the name of Islam. The latest proof of his strategy of false propaganda came when he claimed the killing of 13 innocent people at a New York immigration centre this week. The killer was in fact a Vietnamese.

It has been observed in the wake of 9/11 that Muslim terrorists find it easier and strategically useful to attack and kill Muslims. Mounting a terrorist attack in the US after 2001 and in the UK after 2005 has been difficult. Attempts made by Al Qaeda since then have been unsuccessful although the terrorists succeeded in coming to Pakistan and taking their training and indoctrination here. Killing Muslims in Muslim lands produces sympathy rather than fear and loathing. Fundamentally it is public fear and loathing which leads to better counter-terrorism efforts. This has been proved by unsuccessful Al Qaeda attempts in the US, Europe and Russia.

As terror becomes widespread in Pakistan — another incident happened Saturday when some JUI activists closed down a dancing event in Larkana, and on Sunday morning at an Imam Bargah in Chakwal — sympathy for the terrorists has arisen in Lahore instead of declining. Sympathetic terrorist incidents aimed at closing down theatres and music shops have increased. The video showing the lashing of a 17-year-old girl has united civil society but divided the media and the intelligentsia. At least two leading journalists of a major newspaper group have illustrated the dilemma of a nation trapped in terrorism it can’t clearly define in moral terms.

Reacting to the Pakistan-wide condemnation of the Swat Taliban, the chief reporter of the said group warned that the nation was “thinking like America” and referred to Sura Nisa to prove that the whipping punishment meted out in Swat was right. By ignoring the question of “authority” — a fundamental condition under Islam — he asked the nation to accept the legal status of whoever it was who ordered the whipping. Another TV anchor who does a popular “monologue” programme pointed out that the Swat whipping had brought the “humanist-Islamic” divide in Pakistan. A pro-Taliban leader in Swat also said on TV that the “roshan khayal” (enlightened) elements of the country were aligned with America and their NGOs were leading the assault against Islamic values.

Despite the nation-wide condemnation, the whipping incident is gradually becoming victim of the national division over terrorism. Are we being killed because we are fighting America’s war; or are we dying because the terrorists want to take over the country? The media is heavily tilted along with the opposition politicians in favour of the first cause. Civil society is being heavily influenced by the TV channels and is becoming vulnerable to the rhetoric of retired army officers who say terrorism can’t be fought and the correct policy is to fight the Americans out of Afghanistan instead of fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Pakistan.

Terrorism has to be fought, if not as terrorism than as a law and order problem. If the state wants to survive it must raise a strong security force that will face the terrorists and lay down the law. *

Second Editorial: Uniting to kill Baitullah Mehsud

According to a reported intelligence source, “Pakistan and the US have agreed to stage a joint operation to kill local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud”. The effort will include intelligence from Pakistan about Mehsud’s movements, with the aim of guiding a missile attack from an American drone. It is said that it took Pakistan time to persuade Washington to target Mehsud and abandon its earlier drone policy of not attacking elements who are not directly involved in raids across the Durand Line.

The Americans have likely agreed to cooperate on Mehsud after twice ignoring precise triangulation of Mehsud’s movement by Pakistan. The earlier American policy of letting Mehsud wreak havoc in Pakistan was flawed. His men literally drove NATO supply logistics out of Pakistan by attacking the truck convoys outside Peshawar. His men also spread from Khyber to Orakzai to Kurram and were able to increase Mehsud’s capacity to challenge America in Afghanistan and, finally, inside the United States. He is in his early 30s and dangerous precisely because he has acquired power without the maturity to use it judiciously. Before he goes down, he is bound to do a lot of damage to both Pakistan and America.

What Baitullah Mehsud is doing together with his master organisation Al Qaeda is global terrorism. If he is killing Pakistanis today, tomorrow he will be killing others all over the world. Pakistan can tackle him but lacks the technological capacity and funds to prepare itself for the job. It is joined with the advanced nations of the world in the fight against global terror, more or less like it is united with the world against such endemic diseases as polio and smallpox. Had Pakistan refused to join the world against the latter two diseases, a large percentage of its population would have died by now. *

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Blasts target Pakistan forces

6 04 2009
Blasts target Pakistan forces

Volunteers helped take those injured in a suicide
attack in Islamabad to safety [AFP]

At least 15 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks targeting security forces in Pakistan.

A suicide attack in Islamabad on Saturday killed at least eight people, while an earlier car bomb exploded in North Waziristan, killing seven people, including two children, officials said.

The Islamabad attack targeted a police checkpoint in the capital, the second such attack in the capital in less than two weeks.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Islamabad, said paramilitary forces opened fire after the attack, which occurred in an upmarket residential area close to some of the capital’s most prestigious addresses.

The AFP news agency reported Aziz-ur-Rehman, a witness, as saying: “After the blast, there was intermittent firing but since it was dark I was unable to know who was firing.”

‘Wave of terrorism’

The bomber was believed to have targeted members of the Frontier Constabulary, part of Pakistan’s paramilitary force, used to protect diplomatic missions and the homes of prominent figures.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, told reporters that Pakistan’s security forces were being targeted by a “new wave of terrorism”.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, and Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, condemned the attack.

The second attack occurred in Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous North Waziristan tribal area.

“At least seven civilians, including two children, embraced martyrdom in a suicide attack. Thirty-nine others were injured, including six security forces,” the AFP news agency quoted an unnamed security official as saying.

Saturday’s bombings were the latest in a wave of attacks that have killed more than 1,700 people across the country since government forces battled with fighters holed up in Islamabad’s Red mosque in July 2007.





Pakistan bomber targets Islamabad protectors

5 04 2009

Karachi News.Net
Saturday 4th April, 2009

A lone suicide bomber in Pakistan has targeted the residential camp of a group of paramilitary forces.

The forces, which were put in place to guard the capital, Islamabad, were attacked in an area of the city which houses foreign missions and the homes of Pakistani officials.

The suicide bomber attacked after dark, when the soldiers were preparing to eat.

He entered one of the canvas tents that serve as soldiers barracks and detonated his explosives.

Officials had earlier received intelligence about a general threat against the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, but were unable to pinpoint the potential incident.

The bombing is latest in a series of attacks against security forces in recent weeks.

More than 20 people, including nine paramilitary troopers, were killed in two sucide bombings in Pakistan Saturday, officials said.

At least six members of Pakistan’s paramilitary, the Frontier Corps (FC), were killed and four others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a check post in Islamabad when the soldiers were having dinner, Senior Superintendent of Police Tahir Alam said.

The blast occurred in the upmarket residential area of F-7/3 near the Jinnah Supermarket, nearly four kilometres from President Asif Zardari’s office.

Deputy Inspector General Bin Yamin told reporters at the blast site that at least six security personnel were killed and 11 were injured.

TV channels said the blast was followed by loud gun shots and there was an exchange of fire between security forces and militants. One report said some attackers had taken shelter in one of the houses of the F7 neighbourhood, one of Islamabad’s upscale areas.

A TV report said at least eight attackers were holed up in the area.

However, Alam denied any exchange of fire, saying the security men fired in the air to scare away any other attackers. He said no militant was holed up.

Alam told a TV channel that body parts of the suicide bomber were found at the site.

Alam said one attacker was arrested. ‘We have one suspect in our custody. His interrogation is on,’ he said.

Separately, another suicide bombing Saturday on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, killed at least 17 people, including five children.

Over 40 people, including six Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers, were also injured in the attack which targeted security officials at a check post in the town, the Online news agency repoted. One soldier died later in the hospital.

Security forces took retaliatory measures and have cordoned off the entire area. The Miranshah Bazaar was also closed, the report said.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the terrorist attacks and vowed that his government would root out terrorism.

‘Such acts cannot deter the government’s determination to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,’ he said.

Violence in Pakistan has surged in recent months with a wave of attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

The latest attacks come five days after the March 30 terror assault on the Manawan police academy on Lahore’s outskirts when heavily armed militants held over 400 trainees hostage for over eight hours before Pakistani security forces recaptured the complex.

At least 18 people, including two civilians, eight policemen and eight militants, were killed and 95 injured in the terror attack owned up by Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Mehsud vowed in a telephone interview with reporters early this week to carry out an attack in Islamabad, as well as in the US, in retaliation for American missile strikes by Predator drone aircraft in the Pashtun ethnic belt of western Pakistan, near the Afghan border.

Last month, eight people, including policemen, were killed and several were injured when terrorists ambushed Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore.





Bomb Explodes at Sufi Shrine in Pakistan

26 03 2009
Bomb Explodes at Sufi Shrine in Pakistan

05 March 2009

A corner of the mausoleum of Sufi poet Rehman Baba damaged after an explosion in Peshawar, 05 Mar 2009
A corner of the mausoleum of Sufi poet Rehman Baba damaged after an explosion in Peshawar, 05 Mar 2009

Suspected Islamist militants in Pakistan have bombed the mausoleum of a 17th century poet revered in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

People regularly visit the marble shrine on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar to pay respects to Rehman Baba, a renowned ethnic Pashtun poet.

The blast damaged the structure of the shrine but there were no reports of injuries.

Days ahead of the attack, hardline Islamic militants had warned women against visiting the shrine. Muslim extremists such as the Taliban oppose men and women mingling together unless they are married or close relatives.

In another attack Thursday, one person died and at least 15 others were injured when a grenade was hurled during evening prayers at a mosque in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan.

Militant attacks have plagued Pakistan in recent years, especially in the Pashtun-dominated northwest.


Three terrorism attempts foiled

PESHAWAR/DI KHAN/ QUETTA: Law enforcement agencies on Sunday foiled three separate terrorism attempts, including two attempted bombings, in various parts of the country.

Peshawar police seized 10 kilogrammes of explosives packed with 400 ball bearings from a car on PAF Road and arrested two suspects. According to APP, the trigger mechanism was remote-controlled with a cell phone. Further investigation is underway to determine the intended target of the bombing.

Separately, Dera Ismail Khan city police defused a homemade 15kg bomb. The police, with the aid of the army and a bomb disposal squad, were responding to reports of a suspicious bag found near CRBC Chowk. DI Khan District Police Officer Iqbal Khan told Online the bomb was planted along the route of an army convoy.

Also on Sunday, Frontier Corps (FC) recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition and arrested seven people in Rakhani. The FC, on a tip-off, raided a house in Rakhani and recovered seven rifles, four sub-machine guns, two pistols, and 545 rounds of ammunition, Online reported.

Separately, unidentified men fired four rockets in Sui, however no casualties were reported. In another incident, a bomb blast occurred near a security forces camp in Khuzdar. While no casualties were reported, security forces injured two people during retaliatory fire. agencies

Police station attacked in Islamabad
Mon, 23 Mar 2009 16:08:29 GMT

A suicide bomb blast has rocked a police station in Islamabad and marred celebrations for the 69th anniversary of Pakistan’s Republic Day.

A Press TV correspondent on the ground in Pakistan has learned that the late Monday blast killed one policeman and two civilians.

Reports put those injured up to three.

The bomber blew himself up at the entrance of a special police branch office used by police intelligence and bomb disposal units close to the Sitara market in the center of Islamabad.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

The number of the casualties is expected to rise. Police officers have cordoned off the area and rescue operations are underway.

Violence in Pakistan has surged in recent months amid a wave of attacks attributed to the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists.

A week ago, 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber struck a bus depot on the outskirts of the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi.

RZS/AA