Aug 16 2008

Pakistan’s Awakening Is Beginning In The Buner District Of NWFP

Update: It appears there may be an Awakening movement starting in the Kurram Agency of FATA as well. – end update


There has been a very noteworthy event in one of the Districts inside the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP). The NWFP is one half of the Tribal Areas of Pakistan that runs along the border of Afghanistan. It butts up against the long disputed Kashmir region. The District is Buner District, and it has established anti-militant security forces reminiscent of the Awakening that started in the Anbar Province of Iraq:

In an unprecedented development, an armed Lashkar in Buner district recently hunted down and killed six militants allegedly involved in killing cops in Kingargali. The operation shows that the people of Buner, Dir Upper and Dir Lower have stood up against the Taliban militants sneaking into these hitherto peaceful areas after Bajaur and Swat military operations.

A grand Jirga of the elders of Maidan area in Lower Dir district’s headquarters, Timergara, asked more than 150 foreign fighters and their tribal Taliban supporters to leave the area or face strong action from the local people.

A similar Jirga in Barawal, a town of Dir Upper district, sharing border with Afghanistan, warned the militants to stay away from the area or they would take up arms against them. The Buner incident took place on Khel Mountain in Shalbandai when hundreds of local people picked up arms, locally called ‘Appa’, on information of the presence of the Taliban militants, who had brutally killed eight policemen in Kingargali last Friday.

The armed Lashkar of 200 locals threw a cordon around the militants and asked them to surrender but the Taliban challenged it. The official sources told ‘The News’ that the militants’ refusal triggered a gunfight and they hurled hand grenades at the Lashkar, prompting a retaliatory action from local armed men, which resulted in the killing of all the six militants.

As the story notes there have been local pronouncements in two other Districts of the NWFP (Lower Dir and Upper Dir). But the actual taking up of arms and hunting down the Taliban is one of those steps that cannot be undone. Once the Taliban and al-Qaeda cross a line and become the enemy of Islam, as they clearly have for some, there is no retreat or peace.  There can only by victory or defeat.  More here on other similar efforts in other Districts of the NWFP.

And the Pakistan papers are full of pronouncements to take their country back from the Taliban and their al-Qaeda cousins. For example:

t must also be hoped that the fierce fighting underway in Bajaur is able to achieve some definite purpose. Sadly, this has not been the case in the past. It is quite evident that militants in Bajaur, who laid siege to the town of Khar and security personnel posted in the area, triggering the start of the latest hostilities, are well-organized and ruthless. US intelligence reports have repeatedly identified the area as a base for operations by militants. The purpose of the effort now on must be to capture those who lead these men, so that they can be tried in courts of law. At the same time, people must not be made to suffer simply because these ruthless terrorists have taken hold of the region. The tactics currently being used in this respect by the authorities are rather disturbing. They will only harden feelings against troops and add to the problems of an area that has been allowed, by the official failure to act in the past, to fall fully under the control of militants who today terrorize its people and challenge the writ of the state.

A touch of anger at the government, but the realization that only a military response by the government can stop the Islamo Fascist thugs. Another example:

What I have suggested in earlier articles bears repetition. This is that the violent primitives whom we have permitted to be spawned within the Tribal Areas have consolidated themselves there and are erupting outward. Their war against the state of Pakistan has been carried into our major cities, from Lahore to Peshawar to Karachi. Their terror bombings have caused the mass murder of citizens everywhere. They are clearly implicated in the assassination of Pakistan’s major political personality, Benazir Bhutto, and the killing of over 170 of her fellow People’s Party workers.

Whichever combination of military COIN tactics is selected and applied, we need to bear in mind that, at bottom, the problem is a political one. As I suggested in an earlier essay in these pages, there is no simple solution. A complex approach is needed — a holistic process, comprising a mix of political, administrative, judicial, ideological and military initiatives. This last (the military dimension) needs to set the pace and provide an at least partially pacified frontier, within which the needed further measures can commence.

What I see is the realization that the cancer must be excised and force will be required. But that the local communities must be assisted into the modern era, they cannot be ignored. This is no different from the strategy in Afghanistan.

And the Pakistan government is sound dead serious, and claiming they are in this until they achieve a victorious end (see here, here, here and here for reporting on the government statements). One thing America should recognize, especially if the Pakistan efforts bear fruit, is how much safer President George Bush left the world at the end of his two terms. When his terms started al-Qaeda initiated the deadliest attack on US soil in the modern age and they were seen as the future of Islam. Today they and their Taliban allies are hiding out in the tribal areas of FATA and NWFP facing annihilation. That is success in any sane person’s book.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Pakistan’s Awakening Is Beginning In The Buner District Of NWFP”

  1. […] is taking root and spreading in the tribal regions of Pakistan known as the FATA and the NWFP. I noted in one post yesterday how tribes in one area of the NWFP province had set up security details and hunted down Taliban […]

  2. […] the winning strategy from Iraq to the region. I recently posted on the Awakening signs in Pakistan here, here and […]