February 27, 2008


US must adopt a tough Al Qaeda policy (Harold Gould, February 27, 2008, Rediff)

The United States must henceforth adopt policies that treat Al Qaeda and the Taliban as a hostile state.

I have chosen my words carefully here: I am saying that Benazir Bhutto was executed, not assassinated.

What her death on December 27, as well as the previous attempt on her life after she reached Karachi, really exemplifies is the fact that the Taliban/Al Qaeda nexus has created the rudiments of a radical Islamic state in the mountain fastness of the Hindu Kush, with enough power, cohesion and political reach to ordain and carry out executions of its ideological enemies anywhere in the region. [...]

[I]t is a mistake not to believe that what has taken form in Waziristan and its montane environs is anything less than a form of nascent state-formation, which has already attained the level of a rudimentary governmental system capable of managing domestic affairs within its 'borders' and propagating its policies and decrees well beyond them; with a paramount leadership consisting of Osama bin Laden (who fancies himself as a medieval Caliph, indeed a reincarnation of Saladin); Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, the second and last 'emir' of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (who serves as Osama's lieutenant); and Mullah Mohammed Omar, a saintly Pashtun cleric (who provides the doctrinal and demographic link between the Taliban and al Qaeda).

'Taliban/Al Qaedaland,' ruled by this fanatical triumvirate and their true-believing followers, encompasses Northeast Frontier Area, Waziristan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Swat.

Within this domain lie two urban centres, Kandahar and Quetta whose cosmopolitan facilities are for all practical purposes at their disposal, affording connections with the global economy and international media networks.

They have mobilised the region's human and material resources sufficiently to raise an army able to not only conduct guerrilla warfare, including suicide bombings, throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan and across the frontier into India, but as well to engage the regular Pakistani army in direct military engagements.

"In two of the seven FATAs," says de Borchgrave (Ibid, December 27), "the Pakistan army in the past two years sustained more than 1,000 killed and 3,000 injured fighting Taliban guerrillas and their Al Qaeda allies."

They conduct their own foreign policy through their access to Al Jazeera and other mass-media outlets.

They operate their own 'educational system' in the form of the thousands of madrassas that dot the countryside.

Within the portions of the Afghan hinterland which they control, Taliban/Al Qaedaland harvests an abundant share of the capital-generating, opium-based agricultural economy which last year yielded 8,000 tons and "supplies Taliban with cash for modern weapons." (Ibid, December 31).

Finally, they promulgate their own 'judicial system' under the aegis of their arcane interpretation of Shariah law, which in their view affords them the legitimacy and sanctity to carry out 'public executions' of persons adjudged to be enemies of the state, as exemplified by their ordaining the execution of Bhutto.

The important idea here is that Pakistan has no claim to sovereignty over the region because it does not exercise same. It is, therefore, basically a free-fire zone that we can attack at will.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2008 7:38 AM
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