Archive for April 23rd, 2009

Pakistan in Danger or Pakistan is Danger

April 23, 2009

Pakistan in danger : Clinton

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updated 12:10 a.m. EDT, Thu April 23, 2009|| CNN

From Elise Labott
CNN

I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state,” Clinton said in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday.

“I don’t hear that kind of outrage and concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan,” she added.

In her first congressional hearing since being confirmed, Clinton told the panel the chief goal of the Obama administration’s strategy is to defeat al Qaeda and prevent it from returning to Afghanistan.

Taliban militants, who implemented Islamic law in Pakistan’s violence-plagued Swat Valley last week, have now taken control of a neighboring district 60 miles (less than 100 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad. Watch as Taliban is emboldened »

But Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, told CNN that the situation is not as dire as Clinton seemed to describe.

“Yes, we have a challenge,” Haqqani said. “But, no, we do not have a situation in which the government or the country of Pakistan is about to fall to the Taliban.”

Taliban fighters moved into the Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the government that has come under fire from U.S. observers. But Haqqani compared it to the deals U.S. commanders in Iraq made to peel insurgents away from Islamic jihadists blamed for the worst attacks on civilians there.

“We are open to criticism of that strategy, but to think that that strategy somehow represents an abdication of our responsibility towards our people and towards the security of our country and the region is incorrect,” he said.

Several members of Congress voiced concern about Islamic extremists gaining ground in Pakistan, including Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a California Democrat. He warned the United States cannot allow extremists to control Pakistan or operate with impunity along the border with Afghanistan.

Clinton said the international community is working closely to combat extremism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Pakistanis themselves need to take responsibility. Watch Clinton express her concerns on Pakistan.

“Not only do the Pakistani government officials, but the Pakistani people and the Pakistani diaspora — many of whom are extremely successful Americans here, in academia, businesses, the professions and so much else — need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents, to the Taliban, to al Qaeda, to the allies that are in this terrorist syndicate,” she said.

Last week, the Taliban imposed sharia law in the Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the government, which appears unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban’s steady advance.

On other topics, Clinton said that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is an “imperative” for the Obama administration, which is taking a more active role in diplomatic efforts toward Iran.

“We are deploying new approaches to the threat posed by Iran, and we’re doing so with our eyes wide open and with no illusions,” she said. “After years during which the United States basically sat on the sidelines, we are now a full partner” in diplomatic talks on Iran.

She was vague in response to questions about how long it would take to get results on Iran, but said the process in place — under which the United States is interacting more directly with allies and reaching out to Iran — has potential.

“It is going to be a more successful engagement if our partners around the world understand they must work with us,” including the need to impose tougher sanctions on Iran if diplomacy fails, she said.

Clinton took part in several tense exchanges with committee members about President Obama’s decision to release classified memos detailing the Bush administration’s role in torture of detainees held in the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, asked the administration to release other classified documents that former Vice President Dick Cheney has said will explain the Bush administration’s position on interrogation.

Clinton responded that she didn’t consider Cheney “a particularly reliable source of information.”

Talibans march ahead to Islamabad

April 23, 2009

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Pakistan, Taliban Back on Collision Course…..
Taliban Terrors control over Buner…. Now nearer to Islamabad.

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By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent || Thu. Apr. 23, 2009 ||IslamOnLine.net

ISLAMABAD – Reports that Taliban militants are extending their wings to nearby districts and the deployment of government reinforcements brought the two sides back on a collision course and is clouding the future of the peace deal in restive Swat.
“Taliban have entered Buner and Shangla districts,” Umair Ahmed, a local journalist, told IslamOnline.net by phone on Thursday, April 23.

“They are fully armed and have captured a police check-post in Shangla.”

According to Umair, some 30 armed Taliban in three vehicles trickled into Shangla, a small town located some 40 kilometers from Swat, earlier Thursday.

“They are not harassing the people. It seems their target is to dismantle the security forces and establish their control.”

But a spokesman for the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shari’ah Mohammadi (TNSM), the main Taliban group, played down the incident.

“Taliban have always been in the entire Malakund division,” Ameer Izzat Khan, a central spokesman of TNSM, told IOL by telephone from Swat.

Buner and Shangla were part of Malakand Division, a conglomerate of eight districts including Swat, until the reforms of 2000 abolished the third tier of government.

“I don’t know who has entered Shangla, but those who are in Boner are local Taliban. They have always been there.”

“They consider every bearded man a Taliban. If all the bearded men are Taliban, then every second person in the tribal and NWFP region is Taliban.”

The government deployed hundreds of paramilitary troops to northwestern districts to bring the deteriorating security situation under control.

Swat Deal

“Pakistan is a nuclear state. How can a militia capture its capital? That would be the biggest ever blunder even if Taliban think of that,” MP Wahab told IOL.
Izzat Khan, the Taliban spokesman, emphatically rejected the idea of creating a state within the state.
“After the implementation of Nizam-e-Adal regulation in Malakund division, there will be only one government,” he said referring to the Shariah reinforcement deal.

“And that would be the government of Pakistan. We totally reject the idea of a state within state,” contended the Taliban spokesman.

“We are not interested to set up our government in Malakand division, then why would we dream of Islamabad?”

Izzat Khan claimed this was a calculated conspiracy to foil the Swat peace deal.

“Those who have been spreading such misleading news want the peace deal to be scrapped,” he charged.

“These are aftershocks. We have to face them, because those who are against this agreement will try their level best to derail the whole process.”

The government signed a peace deal with TNSM on February 16 to bring an end to 18-month fierce fighting with the security forces.

The deal, approved by the parliament and endorsed by the president despite extreme US pressures, is aimed at making reforms in the judicial system in Malakund division.

Under the newly introduced judicial system, there will be Qazi courts in Swat, Dir, Chitral, Kohistan and other districts of NWFP, which borders war-stricken Afghanistan.

The government issued a stern warning to Taliban that if they do not abide by the peace deal and lay down their arms, it will have no option but to scrap the deal.

“The peace deal can survive only if there is peace,” Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters.

“Now it is their responsibility to maintain peace there, because their demand has been entertained.”

But Izzat Khan says that as a goodwill gesture the TNSM will not put a deadline for the setting up of Dar-ul-Qadha in Malakand division.

“This shows how serious and sincere we are compared to the dilly-delaying tactics used by the government.”

Far-fetched

But some analysts believe Taliban is strengthening its positions in the region taking advantage of peace deal.

“I had always been against such kind of deals because it only benefits the militants rather than the government,” Lt General Hamid Nawaz Khan, a former interior minister, told IOL.

“This deal has provided a golden opportunity to the militants who had suffered huge setbacks in the wake of recent military operations. They are regrouping again and are strengthening their positions in the region.”

Brigadier rtd Mahmood Shah, a veteran security analyst and a former secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), agrees.

“Taliban will not restrain its. They will move ahead now.”

But Shah shrugs off reports that Taliban may capture the capital Islamabad.

“There are no such chances. Pakistan is a state and it cannot fall prey to a few thousands armed people,” he told IOL.

“They belong to the mountains and they can operate only there.

“Yes, they can terrorize the government and the people by carrying out terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, but they are not in a position to capture Islamabad.”

MP Fauzia Wahab, the information secretary of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), agrees.

“This can happen only in dream,” she told IOL, commenting about western media reports of a Taliban threat to the capital Islamabad.

“Pakistan is a nuclear state. How can a militia capture its capital? That would be the biggest ever blunder even if Taliban think of that.”

alertpak says : When the unholy spirit of Islam got the scope to get a free-hand out of the bottle of Swat and we signed a treaty with them for a Shariyati Law there, the entire situation of Pakistan will worsen day by day to enter a barbaric regime into the length and breadth of Pakistan. The Pakistani administration can think the use of nuclear weapon to control over the Talibani situation, but the Talibans also possess the dirty bombs to impose a dar-ul-taliban over the world. Pakistan is a very trifling thing to them. The Talibans want the entire world. Allah-ho-Akbar!


Taliban claims victory near Islamabad

April 22, 2009 — Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
By Ivan Watson
CNN

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Taliban militants who implemented Islamic law in Pakistan’s violence-plagued Swat Valley last week have now taken control of a neighboring district.

Control of the Buner district brings the Taliban closer to the capital, Islamabad, than they have been since they started their insurgency. Islamabad is 96 kilometers (60 miles) from the district.

“Our strength is in the hundreds,” said Moulana Mohammad Khalil, as heavily armed men openly patrolled the roads in pickup trucks, singing Islamic anthems.

The militants had taken control of the area to ensure that Islamic law, or sharia, is properly imposed, Khalil said.

The government called the advance into Buner a breach of a recently-signed peace agreement. Watch as Taliban is emboldened »

“Now Taliban are violating the peace agreement, and if they continue the government will take strict action and not allow the Taliban to create a parallel government in that area,” said Mian Iftikhar, a spokesman for the regional administration in the North West Frontier Province, where Buner is located.

Last week, the Taliban imposed sharia law in Swat Valley as part of a peace deal with the government. Under the Taliban’s strict interpretation, the law prevents women from being seen in public without their husbands or fathers.

Earlier this month, the militant movement made forays into Buner and clashed with locals before withdrawing.

Now the Taliban appear to have returned in force — a move that indicates the recent government concessions may have emboldened the militants to expand their reach.

The Pakistani government appears unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban’s steady advance deeper into the territory of this nuclear-armed country.

In the days after the government’s April 13 decision to implement sharia law in Swat, pro-Taliban clerics have staged rallies in Swat and Islamabad. They have demanded the imposition of Islamic law across Pakistan and beyond.

Speaking before an audience of tens of thousands in the Swat Valley town of Mingora on Sunday, cleric Sufi Muhammed declared democracy and Pakistan’s judicial system “un-Islamic.”

A Taliban spokesman in Swat went a step further Tuesday, calling anyone opposed to his strict interpretation of Islam a non-Muslim. IReport:Should the U.S. interfere in Pakistan?

“Let the judges and the lawyers go to Islamic university,” Muslim Khan said. After “they learn Islamic rules, Islamic regulation, they can continue to work.”

The rise of the Taliban in Swat has alarmed and frightened some members of local civil society there.

“This is a time bomb for the country,” said Aftab Alam, the head of the lawyers’ association in Swat district.

Meanwhile, in another Taliban-run region called Orakzai, details emerged of militants forcing a small community of Sikhs to pay a jaziya, or “minority tax,” of 10.5 million rupees (roughly $130,000) earlier this month.

Khan said if his vision of an Islamic society is fulfilled in Pakistan, terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden will be welcome to travel and live openly here. “Sure, he’s a Muslim, he can go anywhere,” Khan said.

Khan added that he would like to see sharia law implemented beyond Pakistan, even in America, a country he knows intimately. For four years, the Taliban spokesman lived in the United States, working as a painter near Boston, Massachusetts.

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that Pakistan is in danger of falling into terrorist hands because of failed government policies.

“I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear armed state,” Clinton said in Washington.

She added the international community is working closely to combat extremism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Pakistanis themselves need to take responsibility.