Taliban and Pakistan

Loaded as received…

“Sheep” cannot be expected to live in peace………

This “war against terror of the Taliban” in Pakistan cannot be won without the Pakistanis.

Government and/or the Army cannot win this war when 18 crore awam is not helping. The 18 crore awam is rather encouraging the Taliban. “How?” you say?

Pakistan was created for Muslims and not for Islam – Islam was never in danger in India, the Muslims were.

The Mulla pre-Pakistan was against Pakistan but now he owns it and has taken it over – demonstrated by the Committees that were ordained to determine the future of Pakistan with Mulla “burqa” Aziz and Mulla “sandwich” Sami backed by Mulla “diesel” Fazal and Molana Munawar deciding how we should live. These are our new leaders.

Islam is big business in Pakistan and millions are making a very decent living from it.

There is no ‘regulator’ for nor any tax on this business.

Government seems to have left its ‘regulation’ to God.

Just as Coke or Pepsi and McDonald or KFC market their brands, both essentially selling the same product, Mosques are mushrooming – within yards of one another – each selling their brand

These retail business outlets are multiplying as enterprising “madrassa graduates” aspire to be “career maulvis” in their own masjid.

It is a great business cum pension plan and the first investment each makes is in loudspeakers to start attracting a clientele to his new masjid

His office (pulpit) and accommodation (in the mosque) follow.

The Taliban are capitalizing on this farce to gain power and control.

It is not about Islam, it is about power and control – in case you had not figured it out yet.

They have murdered most “Maliks and tribal elders” in FATA to get rid of competition

The slogan is Islam and the “power base and infiltration safe house” is the masjid.

Every Friday Pakistanis go to masjids and listen to essentially, the Taliban version of Islam.

Why don’t these Pakistanis demand of their Masjid Imam/Maulvi to condemn the Taliban in the Friday sermon?

Till the Taliban is not discussed and condemned in the local mosque, terrorism will flourish and attract more support.

Only when the Taliban – and their ilk – are condemned in every local mosque every Friday, will Pakistan begin to see the end of their reign of terror.

If 18 crore awam have chosen to be ‘sheep’ – they can’t even decide what happens in their local mohalla mosque – the ‘qasab’ will keep feeding on them – OR – if they like and approve of the Taliban – then why are we even discussing the issue.

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How the Taliban gripped Karachi

BBC 21 March 2013 Last updated at 00:55 GMT



March against Taliban in Karachi - 2009

Political groups have warned of Taliban influence in the city

For years there have been fears that the Taliban were gaining ground in Pakistan’s commercial capital, the port city of Karachi. There is now evidence that the militants’ influence in the city has hit alarming new levels, reports the BBC’s Ahmed Wali Mujeeb.

More than 20 people are gathered outside a ramshackle house in a suburb of Karachi – Pakistan’s largest city.

They say a plot of land, which was the property of a local businessman, was forcibly occupied by a local mafia last September, and they are here to complain.

The difference now – and a source of much alarm to those in the know – is that this group of Karachi residents are choosing to bring their complaint to the Taliban.

After a two-hour session, the Taliban judge adjourns the hearing to another date and venue which he says will be disclosed shortly before the hearing.

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I do not know about the Taliban’s presence – however if they come here I will welcome them”

Mohammed Yusuf Mehsud Karachi resident

This mobile Taliban court does not limit its interests to this one shanty town on the outskirts of Karachi. It has been arbitrating disputes across many suburbs in the metropolis.

The Taliban largely emerged in poor areas on the fringes of the city, run-down places with little or no infrastructure for health, education and civic amenities.

Their mobile courts have been hearing complaints for quite some time, but in recent months they have also started administering punishments – a sign of their growing clout.

In January, they publicly administered lashes to an alleged thief after recovering stolen goods from him. The goods were returned to the owner who had reported the theft.

Suburban Taliban

But the picture is complicated.

There is a tussle under way between mafia groups (becoming more prolific and powerful in Karachi) who seek to seize land and militant groups who are also grabbing land. This includes the Taliban, for all their willingness to arbitrate in these disputes.

It is clear that they want to tighten their grip in Pakistan’s biggest city, its commercial centre. And they appear to have great influence in those suburbs dominated by the Pashtun ethnic group.

Protest in Karachi against operations cracking down on the Taliban in the north-west of Pakistan

There are also demonstrations protesting against crackdowns on the Taliban

These include many of the districts on the edge of the highways and roads leading to neighbouring Balochistan province.

They have long had a power base in the north-west of the country but this entry into Karachi is a more recent phenomenon.

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Karachi’s East District/West District

Districts East and West in Karachi, with shops and street stalls selling chapli kebabs, fruit, sweets and clothes, have a very traditional Pashtun feel.

Many people earn their money as day labourers with a daily wage. They work in construction and in factories. Their income level varies from 7,000 rupees per month ($71; £48) to 20,000 rupees per month.

Pashtuns have been here since before the creation of Pakistan in 1947, but a major influx began in the 1960s. After the Afghan war of 1979 and military action in recent years in Swat and Waziristan, many more came.

There are many slum homes with poor infrastructure, amenities and low literacy rates.

People here express fears about "bias" on the part of the local administration towards this area and many attribute the area’s poverty to such perceived attitudes.

Indeed while impromptu Taliban courts are increasingly settling small disputes over property, financial theft, robberies and feuds in Karachi, residents say major issues are decided in Pakistan’s northern tribal areas – where Taliban strongholds abound.

And when they think their authority is being encroached on, they act with deadly force: The MQM lawmaker Syed Manzar Imam was killed by Taliban gunmen in January in Orangi town, which borders a Pashtun area.

One former leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) – a party of the ethnic Pashtun nationalists – recently left Karachi and said more than 25 of his party offices had been forced to close because of threats from the Taliban.

A senior police officer who does not wish to be named told me simply: "Taliban are swiftly extending their influence.

"There needs to be a strategy to stem the Taliban’s rise, otherwise the city will lose other important and central parts to them," he says.

Taliban ‘gangs’

Muhammad Usman is a 26-year-old Taliban commander from the Swat valley. He came to Karachi after the Pakistani army started an operation in Swat in 2009.

He says he was first part of a group of Swati Taliban in Karachi and was offered shelter and safety by them.

After some time, he gradually got involved in what he calls "eliminating rivals" in the city.

Woman sits outside her home after violence swept across neighbourhood

Violence and targeted killings across Karachi can bring people’s lives to a standstill

When questioned about extortion and kidnappings done in the name of the Taliban, he said there were several criminal gangs involved and that the Taliban were trying to put them out of business.

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The police are scared of the Taliban and are therefore reluctant to take action against them”

Haji Afridi Trader

But the response of the public is the ultimate test for them. One resident of Kanwari Colony, Muhammad Yousuf Mehsud, says: "I do not know about the Taliban’s presence in the locality, however if they come here I will welcome them."

Another, a 45-year-old resident in Landhi, Haji Afridi, says: "The Taliban have created discontent amongst Pashtuns."

He says that every Pashtun trader is threatened with extortion by the Taliban and whoever refuses to pay is killed. "The police are scared of the Taliban and are therefore reluctant to take action against them," he adds.

A 25-year-old Taliban foot soldier, who identified himself as Hussain, describes his mission in Karachi and his comments highlight the nature of the violence that has riven the city.

"First, my task was to work with groups that sought to eliminate members of the ANP party and people who spied for the police. I am now in a group that is fighting the MQM activists."

Volatile ethnic mix

The MQM, which is the dominant political party in the city, was one of the first groups to voice concern over the growing Taliban presence in Karachi.

But Karachi’s ethnic and political landscape is complex.

The city has long suffered outbreaks of violence, some of which is down to militancy, but the bloodshed is also about turf wars between rival ethnic and indeed political groups.

boats at karachi

Karachi is a port city and Pakistan’s commercial hub

In recent years the Pashtun community in the city has grown, and they are seen as competition for land and jobs with the Urdu-speaking community.

The MQM has long argued that there is a link between the growth of the Pashtun community and the "Talibanisation" of the city.

But there have also been separate battles over turf between the city’s Baloch community – the original inhabitants of the city – and the MQM.

This violence also makes itself felt politically and there is profound antagonism between the local chapters of three political parties: the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the mostly Pashtun Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).

So while many point to the increasing presence of the Taliban, the rate of targeted killings and spontaneous confrontations between supporters of these rival ethnic and political groups has not let up either.

Karachi’s network of violence

Intelligence sources say that there is one Taliban chief for the city, and heads of groups operating in different areas answer to him.

"Though the government has expressed its resolve to eradicate militancy, other state institutions are not co-operating," analyst Professor Tauseed Ahmed Khan says.

He argues that the security forces are losing morale when it comes to the battle against the militant groups and adds that this is not improved when rebels find it easy to get released on bail by the courts.

Pakistani Shiite Muslims carry coffins during the funeral procession of bomb blast victims in Karachi on March 4, 2013

Shia Muslims have frequently been targeted by militant groups in Karachi

Prof Khan says that if the government fails to recognise the threat, the city will descend into chaos.

But Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inaam Memon says the government is planning an operation to clamp down on the Taliban. He adds that the government has already arrested a large number of militants.

The figures are sobering: at least 2,350 people were killed in violence in Karachi in 2012. Over the last six years, more than 6,000 people were killed, say police.

The fear for many observers is that the Taliban are drawing their strength from the continuing silence of the government and a lack of focus by the security forces

Organized Crime in Pakistan Feeds Taliban

Michael Kamber for The New York Times



A laborer worked on a security wall being constructed by a local business association in Karachi, Pakistan.

Published: August 28, 2009

KARACHI, PakistanTaliban fighters have long used this city of 17 million as a place to regroup, smuggle weapons and even work seasonal jobs. But recently they have discovered another way to make fast money: organized crime.

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At War

Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era.


Michael Kamber for The New York Times

Pashtuns fleeing violence have flocked to Karachi areas like Sorabgoth, where poverty may bolster crime and militancy.

The police here say the Taliban, working with criminal groups, are using Mafia-style networks to kidnap, rob banks and extort, generating millions of dollars for the militant insurgency in northwestern Pakistan.

“There is overwhelming evidence that it’s an organized policy,” said Dost Ali Baloch, assistant inspector general of the Karachi police.

Jihadi-linked crime has surfaced in other Pakistani cities, like Lahore. But Karachi, the central nervous system of Pakistan’s economy, and home to its richest businessmen, is the hub. It has been free of the bombings that have tormented Pakistan’s other major cities this year, and some officials believe that is the result of a calculated strategy.

“This is where they come to hide, where they raise their finances,” said a counterterrorism official in Karachi. “They don’t want to disturb that.”

The danger is not of a Taliban takeover — Karachi is run by a powerful secular party that despises the Taliban — but of an urban sanctuary for financing and equipping the insurgency from this southern port.

These criminal syndicates helped drive kidnappings in Pakistan last year to their highest numbers in a decade, according to the police, and they have also generated a spike in bank robberies. Eighty percent of bank heists are now believed to be related to the insurgency and other militant groups, authorities say.

“The Taliban are a group of thieves,” said a currency exchange owner here who was robbed of nearly $2 million last year and who did not want to be identified for fear of further trouble. “If it was God, they’d steal from him, too.”

Pakistani counterterrorism officials say they believe that kidnapping for ransom may have been the single largest revenue source for the Taliban’s top commander in the country, Baitullah Mehsud, before he was killed this month in an American drone strike.

Last year, Mr. Mehsud’s network may have held as many as 70 hostages, said a Pakistani counterterrorism official who did not speak for attribution for reasons of protocol. Control over these criminal networks and the money they generate may have been at the center of what seemed to be the struggle over who would succeed Mr. Mehsud.

“The world thinks this is about religion, but that’s a mistake,” said Sharfuddin Memon, director in Karachi of the Citizens Police Liaison Committee, a crime watch group run by members of the business community. “It’s about money and power. Faith has nothing to do with it.”

The kidnappers who took Shawkat Afridi, a prominent businessman, last year, did not make a single mistake, the family said. A caller breathed his demands into the phone in a bewildering array of accents. First he sounded like an Afghan. Then like a Mehsud tribesman. After more than 50 phone calls over five months, Mr. Afridi’s family finally agreed to pay $2.5 million for his release.

“We understood he was not an ordinary kidnapper,” said Gul Afridi, the victim’s brother. “There was no way out.”

Typical of such cases, the group, which the police said was Taliban-related, had chosen its target carefully: the Afridis are rich businessmen who supply fuel to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Other recent cases include a prominent film distributor, the owner of a textile mill and a personnel manager at a pipe manufacturer.

Though just 10 percent of kidnappings are connected to the Taliban, according to the police, the ransoms they generate — generally $60,000 to $250,000 each — collect more money than all the other cases combined.

“They’re real professionals,” said Ahmed Chinoy, a textile manufacturer who is the deputy head of the citizens committee, which was established in 1989 by the business community to protect against encroaching crime. “They know for sure that whoever they take can afford to pay.”

The same goes for bank robberies. Raja Umer Khattab, a senior police officer in Karachi’s Special Investigations Unit, noticed something strange early last year. The robbers had beards and bigger than usual guns, and, unlike ordinary thieves, they tended to kill the security guards. They were taking the banks’ surveillance systems, along with the cash.

“We started seeing a different kind of crime — more professional, more aggressive,” he said in an interview. “We realized these criminals were linked to jihadis.”

Mr. Khattab dug further. These criminals switched cellphone SIM cards like bus tickets, and had a code word for every neighborhood. Last August he made a series of arrests and a bomb exploded under his car. Shrapnel scars still mark his neck.


At War

Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era.

A recent influx of people in Karachi displaced by the military’s offensive in the northwest has expanded opportunities for the Taliban. Many are Pashtuns, the ethnic group most closely associated with the Taliban. Fanned by local politicians, ethnic tensions erupted in clashes that killed dozens this spring in Karachi. The authorities say Taliban-related crime has dropped greatly since then, with the arrests of the crime leaders breaking networks, among them, the gang that kidnapped Mr. Afridi.

But many of the networks are still in place, crisscrossing the city like a web, with strong links to Taliban sanctuaries in the northwest.

In the case of the heist at the money exchange last year, two security guards, who were from the Mehsud tribe, carried out the robbery. The exchange’s owners believed the men were working directly for Mr. Mehsud. They were uneducated and had been told that the exchange was taking money from the C.I.A. and that its dollars were the proof.

“They were brainwashed,” said one of the owners, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “They were told, if you do this, it’s good for Islam.”

In many ways, it is the Pashtuns who suffer most. Militants extort money from the biggest oil traders to the smallest house servants, and Pashtuns can do little to resist, because their families remain in areas that the militants control.

Shahid, 22, a shy servant in Karachi, squirms when he describes how half of his $100 monthly salary goes to the local militant commander in his village, near the Afghan border. He did not want his full name used for fear of Taliban retribution. The commander was once a bus conductor, but has grown rich in his position, hoarding more than 200 sport utility vehicles, Shahid said.

Refusing has consequences: Four who recently fought the extortion turned up dead, Shahid said. Their bodies were not allowed a burial in the village, a sign of shame.

“If we give, we’re in trouble, and if we don’t give, we’re in trouble,” said Abzal Khan Mehsud, a member of the Oil Tanker Owners Association, who said he had not been able to go to his village for years out of fear of the militants who control it. “We’re being ground down in between.”

In a gritty industrial area of north Karachi, businessmen have taken matters into their own hands. Idrees Gigi, a textile manufacturer, is building a tall cement wall along the edge of his property. On the other side is Sorabgoth, a bone-poor Pashtun neighborhood.

The hope is that the wall will help shield his factory from crime, but security precautions do nothing to address the real problem, which Mr. Gigi believes is poverty. Parts of Sorabgoth lack roads and running water.

On a recent Saturday, young men scrambled past the wall over a river of red wastewater across a footbridge made of drainage chutes. Mr. Gigi employs thousands of residents, and has built four schools, but it is not enough.

“The worse the economy is, the more jihadis it will create,” he said. “This is a money war.”

Sir, About these Jehadis

by Khurshid Anwer, My letter to the press:

June 11

Reference above letter of B A Malik, Nation June 11, what is being overlooked in all the brouhaha is that the Taliban are fighting a battle of life and death against the foreign occupation of their country.

Whereas Pakistan had supported them to free their country from the Russians, now Pakistan is supporting the American occupation by fighting the latter’s proxy war. It is only by accepting this reality that the anger of the Taliban at Pakistan can be understood.

There are those in the country who feel that people cannot be subdued by the use of force, perhaps temporarily but never permanently. If installing a few cantonments can do the trick, the British would have done it. They even had to let go India, the ‘jewel’ in the British crown.

Israel has not been able to subdue the Palestinian people with the use of brute force in sixty years, neither has India succeeded in Kashmir. The lessons are writ large. We have to accept the Jehadis as they are and then reform them internally over a period, and not externally as we are trying to do.

It is obvious the present military operation was launched under US pressure and in haste on the eve of president Zardari’s visit to US. This is further proved by the laudatory statements now ensuing from there.

US is least worried what happens to Pakistan as long the Jehadis, their own creation, the equivalents of America’s founding fathers, are not left free to upset their game plan in Afghanistan. Pakistan unfortunately has become the front line state in fulfilling US aims. A policy started by Musharraf and being followed faithfully by Zardari. 

Teenager describes how youths are indoctrinated by extremists: paper

DAWN By Our Special Correspondent
Monday, 18 May, 2009

LONDON, May 17: TheSunday Times has come out with an unbelievable story of a 15-year-old who is said to have claimed that he and about 50 teenagers were recruited by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists and encouraged to travel to Pakistan to be groomed to carry out suicide attacks in Britain.

In what is called the first insider account of how radicals are preying on vulnerable Muslim youths, the teenager of Algerian descent is said to have disclosed how boys of his age group are being approached by Islamists at a mosque in south London that was used by the failed 21/7 bombers, and indoctrinated at a secret network of squats.

He was the youngest of about 50 recruits who were shown “martyrdom” videos and encouraged to travel to Pakistan to receive terrorist training.
The youth, who is called Adam, told The Sunday Times: “They showed us a jihadist video with the martyrdom flags behind the guy speaking, and the message I got was that I should prepare myself for martyrdom.

“I know a few of the others accepted that they would go (for training in Pakistan). Some of the young people said, ‘I’m going to go.’ That was the ultimate purpose of what these men were doing: what they were doing was training people up to carry out operations in the UK.”
Adam, who is now 18, quit the group after a year. The whereabouts of most of the other recruits is unknown.

“It was quite shocking to me,” he said. “I started to think, ‘well, hold on a second, I don’t want to kill anybody. Yeah, I’ve got anger inside me, but this isn’t the right way to deal with this’.”
Adam, whose real name is being withheld to protect his safety, is now enrolled in a rehabilitation programme for would-be terrorists.

When Adam fell under the spell of extremists at the Stockwell mosque in Lambeth in 2005, he was floundering at school, had few friends and was desperately in need of some direction.
He was the eldest of seven children whose Algerian father had died when he was just eight, and his new friends’ talk of Muslim brotherhood seemed to offer the stability he craved.

“A lot of people think that terrorists are recruited in special recruiting grounds, but the truth is that it actually goes on in mosques a lot of the time.”
Adam was told that more advanced recruits had been sent on training exercises to the Lake District and the New Forest in Hampshire, as well as paintballing sessions in the home counties.