April 27, 2010


Showdown looms in North Waziristan (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 4/27/10, Asia Times)

[A]l-Qaeda linked militants have informed Asia Times Online that a battle in North Waziristan is inevitable to avenge atrocities that the militants claim the military has inflicted on children in the tribal area. The incident took place last week in a brief clash between the army and militants.

The al-Qaeda linked militants are spoiling for a fight even though the chief of the Taliban in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, has said that last week's contact would not affect the ceasefire.

The militants also want to head off any attempt by the government to create a split in their ranks. In one effort, Islamabad has put in motion an operation that includes a former Iraqi intelligence official who now works for the Saudis, former officials of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and a former Taliban commander who was once a member of parliament.

"It is not an issue of whether the Pakistan army wants a military operation or not. The issue is related to their capacity," Muhammad Umar, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan, told Asia Times Online in a telephone interview. Muhammad Umar is an alias for a non-Pashtun from Punjab province.

"They [the army] are already under siege in North Waziristan. Troops are sitting at checkpoints and cannot even fetch water for themselves from a nearby stream if the militants, positioned all around the mountains, open fire on them."

The situation in North Waziristan is clearly highly volatile as the militants are not united. Many, especially those allied with the predominately Pashtun Haqqani network, want to concentrate all of their efforts on Afghanistan, hence the peace accord with the army. Al-Qaeda-linked militants, including Punjabis, see the state as their enemy, in addition to the foreign forces across the border.

The recent abduction of influential powerbrokers highlights the problem.

...and attack the last man standing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2010 11:28 AM
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