How ISIS Could Undermine Zarb-i-Azb

ISIS militants in Iraq

At first glance, fighting in Iraq and Zarb-i-Azb seem to be completely unrelated. Iraqis are fighting over control over their own country, and Army is fighting to retain control of ours. What is being missed however is an important connection that could undermine any success Army sees from operations in North Waziristan. It is a threat that we would be very mistaken to ignore.

Continue reading

‘Good Taliban’ Hafiz Gul Bahadur Declares War – Any Surprise?

One of the recurring themes of the discussion about anti-Taliban operations is that the so-called ‘Good’ or pro-Pakistan Taliban be protected. This point of view believes that jihadi militants who target Afghanistan, India, or the US but not Pakistan are not Pakistan’s enemy and should not be targeted because it could turn them against us. It is a belief that is often heard from PTI leaders like Imran Khan and Arif Alvi, but is also voiced by PML-N leaders like Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar who termed majority of jihadi militants as ‘patriots‘.

One of the jihadis whose name often arises as an example of ‘Good Taliban’ was Hafiz Gul Bahadur.  Today, Bahadur has crossed the line from ‘Good’ to ‘Bad’ however when he openly declared war against Pakistan. Before that, though, he was often discussed as someone that the Army could work with, often quoting a 2006 peace agreement. Should it be a surprise that he has turned around and declared war though? The answer is no.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur was believed to be ‘Good Taliban’ because his main target was not Pakistan but Afghanistan, as was accepted by the Army before the last ‘all out assault’ against the Taliban.

In preparation for the assault, the army made ceasefire deals with several influential Taliban warlords who run large networks against coalition troops in Afghanistan. They include Mullah Nazir, the chief of the Taliban in Wana, South Waziristan, who operates the largest Taliban network in the Afghan province of Paktika. Mullah Nazir is neutral in this Pakistani conflict and agreed to allow passage to the army to enter Mehsud territory.

In North Waziristan, two top Taliban commanders, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Moulvi Sadiq Noor, also agreed to remain neutral. They are members of the Shura of the Mujahideen and a main component of the Taliban’s insurgency in the Afghan province of Khost.

Instead of dealing with Bahadur five years ago, he was given that time to recruit, train, and grow his forces stronger only to have them openly turn against Pakistan in the end. Again, it should have been no surprise.

Though considered a “good Taliban” commander, Bahadur is known to have provided sanctuaries to foreign militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Al Qaeda. His friendly attitude towards anti-Pakistan militant groups and special affiliation with the ETIM was frustrating for the security establishment.

So-called ‘Good’ Taliban or ‘Patriotic’ jihadis are only ‘good’ and ‘patriotic’ as long as it serves their purposes. Eventually, however, they will turn against Pakistan because their final goal is to replace Pakistan with a pseudo-Khalifat of their own designs.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur is the latest ‘Good Taliban’ to show his true colours, but he will not be the last. How long until Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, and other supposedly ‘patriotic’ jihadi leaders turn their sights inwards? If Zarb-i-Azb is to be a decisive action against terrorists, let it be a decisive action against ALL terrorists. Otherwise, will we find ourselves facing another ‘surprise’ in 5 more years?

Zarb-e-Azb: Decisive Action or Delaying The Inevitable?

Zarb-e-Azb

Zarb-e-Azb is a welcome news to everyone who is tired of waiting for a response to the plague of terrorism and wondering just how many innocents must be killed before decisive action is taken against the jihadi networks that have taken root in our country. Our hopes have been renewed by Nawaz Sharif’s promise that operation would continue ‘until terrorism is eliminated from the country’. It is worth noting that even PTI has given its blessing after years of dragging its heels and claiming that the military can never succeed against Taliban.

Even with this renewed hope, still there is some small worry that clings to my mind however, which is whether these new military operations represent a new direction or merely a bigger version of the same incomplete strategy that has been the tale so far.

The worries are based in some details of reports from the operations. For example, many of the first reports emphasised targeting of foreign terrorists.

Local security officials put the death toll far higher, saying that about 150 militants died in the air strikes, which primarily targeted Uzbek militants in a remote area of the tribal agency.

Following these reports, ISPR issued statements that also suggested that despite being larger and louder, the new operations were still targeting only certain militants.

The operation is not targeted against our valiant tribes of North Waziristan but against those terrorists who are holed up in the Agency and have picked up arms against the state of Pakistan.

Such ambiguity raises the question in my mind whether PTI has endorsed the operation after receiving assurances over their concerns about the protection of so-called ‘Good Taliban’.

He also said that groups such as the Haqqani network have no war with Pakistan and are being isolated without reason. “Does the government want to burn all cards for the incoming government in Afghanistan?” 

Trying to remove only the ‘anti-Pakistan’ jihadis while protecting the ‘pro-Pakistan’ jihadis is like trying to swat only the mosquitoes that bite your self while protecting those that bite your neighbors.

Pakistan can no longer afford to accept this false belief in ‘Good Taliban’ and ‘Bad Taliban’, and no operations based in this lie can be successful. Inshallah our military has finally begun decisive action that will finally remove the plague of terrorism from our borders. Otherwise, no matter how impressively named the operation, it will only be delaying the inevitable…

No such thing as ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism’. All terrorism is unjustified.

Blast kills 24 at Islamabad fruit market

The terrorist attack that tore through a fruit market near Pir Wadhai on Wednesday morning killed at least 24 innocents going about their daily lives. Hundreds were injured in the blast. TTP was quick to condemn the attack, terming the killing of innocents as haram. However, such statements by Taliban terrorists can be understood as only a cynical ploy to hoodwink the masses when those same Taliban terrorists have confessed to the same crime of bombing markets and killing innocents themselves. This time, responsibility for the blast was claimed by a group of Baloch militants, and was condemned widely. Today, the Interior Ministry has rejected this claim, terming it as ‘ridiculous‘. Meanwhile, another attack has taken place in KP where gunmen attacked NATO container trucks killing a driver. Will this be condemned as strongly as the Islamabad bombing? Too often whether or not an attack is condemned depends on the justification behind the attack. Balcoh separatists are condemned, but those killing truck drivers are excused. Hafiz Saeed condemns terrorism inside Pakistan, but supports terrorism outside Pakistan.

We need to stop picking and choosing which terrorism is condemned and which is excused. There is not such thing as ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism’. All terrorism is unjustified and should be condemned equally.

Imran Khan, Chaudhry Nisar Share Responsibility For Sibi Attack

sibi railway attack

At least 16 were killed and dozens more injured in a blast at Sibi railway station today. This is not the first terrorist attack in Sibi. Actually, it’s not even the first this week. According to Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, terrorists fired on the same train earlier this week. Before that, there were attacks in 2008, 2012, 2013, and January of this year. Additionally, while no one has claimed responsibility for today’s attack, the timing coming the day after reports that FC men killed more than 30 Baloch separatists leads many to suspect that today’s attack was an act of revenge by the same.

Continue reading