Nov 16 2007

More Evidence Pakistan Is Going Through Controlled Chaos

Published by at 12:02 pm under All General Discussions,Pakistan

I posted a recently that I felt it seemed to me Musharraf was controlling his transition out of power in such a way that he could call on US military support in a final battle to take out the large build up of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the lawless areas of Pakistan. I was hoping this would allow Bhutto (or someone else) to take up the leadership position after the growing terrorist threat was take care of in Pakistan.

Yesterday I was pulling back from this scenario a bit because I felt Bhutto was not cooperating with the plan and was actually trying to blow it apart with her zero sum demands. Her ties to Islamists were of great concern to me (one reader noted she was one of a handful of heads of state to recognize the Taliban prior to 9-11) .

It seems both observations may have some truth to them given this reporting:

A few days after President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 10, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the secret service agency, met with leaders of the opposition parties to decide on a roadmap for a caretaker administration leading to general parliamentary elections in January and then to a post-election government.

At the same time, the ISI had a separate meeting with the Pakistan People’s Party and assured its leader, Benazir Bhutto, that she would head a caretaker administration as prime minister.

As a result of these meetings, the opposition response to the declaration of the state of emergency was relatively muted – most reaction came from the legal profession, outraged at the sacking of Supreme Court judges, as well as the chief justice, and the suspension of the constitution.

But this week, the day that Pakistan finalized the details of a visit by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, starting on Friday, it also announced an interim government – and without Bhutto.

The message from the government to Bhutto was that it wanted a “non-controversial” premier. Bhutto’s reaction was immediate and cutting – she called on Musharraf to step down as president, something she had not done before. But again the reaction of her supporters and those of other opposition groups was muted and they were unable to mobilize a significant show of strength on the streets.

Well, it looks like Bhutto has fumbled her way back into irrelevance. But it seems the general plan is still progressing. The only question is whether there will be the final thrust at the building Isamist forces that could be streaming in from Iraq and other failed battlefields al-Qaeda tried to win. We shall see. But I can understand a scenario where Marshall Law is used to freeze and lock down forces that might try and take advantage of a final grand battle in Pakistan.

In the meantime, perhaps as a show for Negroponte, Musharraf has switched on the “war on terror” in the Swat Valley in North-West Frontier Province. Over the past few days there has been a surge in military operations in the area against militants, including the Pakistani Taliban.

Some reporting shows that the influx of foreign fighters into Pakistan is settling in around Swat:

In Swat, the activities of Fazlullah and his followers intensified following the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) siege in July. Fazlullah’s men launched a crusade against film and music venues, television broadcasts, girls’ schools, national and international charities and barbers who prune men’s beards. Recently, they derailed a government-sponsored polio vaccination program, captured a cleric opposed to them and seized public buildings, including police stations. In September, Swat’s Buddhist heritage came under attack for the first time when militants assaulted an important 23-feet tall Buddha statue in the valley. Failing to inflict damage, local Taliban mustered a second attempt in early November with well-placed explosives, destroying the statue’s head, shoulders and feet (ANI, November 6).

Equally disconcerting, but perhaps explaining in some measure the new brutality witnessed in Swat, are the reports of foreign militants joining Fazlullah. As North and South Waziristan have witnessed intense fighting, many foreign fighters have moved to safer areas, including Swat. Fighters from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan among others reportedly have joined Fazlullah’s forces—a claim denied by Fazlullah. Locals claim that the foreigners perpetrated the recent beheadings of four troops (Daily Times, November 7).

Over the last few days fighting as been focused on these areas where supposedly the foreign fighters have fled:

akistani gunship helicopters launched fresh attacks on pro-Taliban bunkers in the troubled northwest on Friday, as clashes that have left nearly 100 militants dead entered a fourth day, the army said.

The army launched a major operation on Tuesday against followers of a firebrand Islamic cleric who took over a large swathe of the scenic Swat Valley, a former tourist spot until an insurgency erupted in July.

A separate army statement said that militants retreating from Saidu Sharif airport were “threatening innocent civilians of dire consequences” if they did not give them refuge.

It added that militants “disguised some of their dead bodies in the uniform of the Frontier Constabulary” to make it appear as if they were soldiers.

One cannot help but note the concern of locals at being brutalized and killed by these Islamo Facists, just as we saw in Iraq when the Sunnis rose up against the extremists there. We shall see, but it looks to me like the circle of operation for al-Qaeda and the Taliban is shrinking fast.

Comments Off on More Evidence Pakistan Is Going Through Controlled Chaos

Comments are closed.