Posts Tagged ‘Tailban’

By Zia Ur Rehman
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-08-01

KARACHI – Pakistani and Afghan Taliban members have teamed up to attack both countries’ border areas, killing innocent residents and aiming to disrupt security co-operation between Islamabad and Kabul, security analysts say.

”]More than a dozen cross-border terrorist incursions over the past four months in Pakistan’s border region have taken place, killing hundreds of civilians and security personnel, media reported.

Most of the attacks took place in the Dir region, from where Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, defeated by a military operation in Malakand Division, fled to Afghanistan. Other incursions have occurred in Bajaur Agency, Mohmand Agency and South Waziristan Agency.

Media reports from Afghanistan also suggest that the cross-border incursions run both ways, especially in the remote region of eastern Afghanistan. Afghan authorities, including the governors of Kunar and Nuristan, complain regularly about militant incursions from border areas.

The largest attack took place in Kamdish District of Nuristan July 5, where hundreds of militants, most of them alleged to be Pakistanis, crossed the border from an area near Dir, killing scores of people, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

“Pakistani militant groups and their leaders including Maulana Fazlullah, Faqeer Muhammad, Abdul Wali and Hakeemullah, all have found sanctuaries in bordering region from where they are now conducting cross-border attacks into Pakistani territory,” Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said in a recent interview.

A joint commission has been formed in Peshawar that will decide how to deal with the cross-border violence and the militants, he said.

Pakistan has 147,000 troops deployed at 900 posts along the border who have repelled numerous attacks, killing dozens of militants, Abbas said.

A disruptive new Taliban strategy

The violence on both sides of the border is a new Taliban strategy intended to disrupt the relationship between the two countries and create mistrust at the highest levels, Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar-based security analyst, told Central Asia Online.

Though the security forces of both countries have begun operations to repel further attacks, the Islamabad and Kabul governments should deal collectively with the issue of cross-border militancy, Hussain added.

“It is now imperative to establish a co-ordination mechanism among Pakistan, Afghanistan and (international ) forces in Afghanistan with a view to developing a joint strategy to push back the present cross-border terrorism, as an alliance among the leaders of al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and other militant organisations has been formed,” he said.

“It could be an al-Qaeda or TTP strategy to sabotage the growing trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan and co-operation,” said Afghan journalist Abbas Daiyar.

Al-Qaeda wants to destroy the friendly relationship between Islamabad and Kabul by creating war hysteria and an atmosphere of mutual distrust, Daiyar told Central Asia Online.

Fazlullah and other TTP leaders are trying to regain a foothold in Malakand Division and tribal areas but will not succeed, said Brig. (ret.) Shoukat Qadir, a security expert based in Islamabad.

Security forces have shattered the basic network of the TTP in Swat, Bajaur and other tribal areas during military operations, forcing them to flee to Afghanistan, Qadir told Central Asia Online.

Residents of the border regions have formed peace committees to protect their areas and help push back militants, Haji Talimand Khan, an elder of Nustrat Darra in Upper Dir, said.

“Taliban militants recently released a graphic video showing (them) barbarously executing 18 innocent policemen, which has created much hatred … among the people of Malakand,” he said. All of the policemen were from Upper Dir and captured in a June 1 cross-border ambush in the Shaltalu area.

“The Taliban are enemies of the Pashtun people, and they have nothing to do with Islam,” Khan said.

Security forces have sealed the Pakistani-Afghan border in Malakand Division to stop militant attacks and cross-border infiltration, said Dr. Fakhr-e-Alam, commissioner of Malakand Division.

“Any militant infiltration of Pakistani territory will be considered a violation of international borders and will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

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Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 9 Issue: 23
June 9, 2011 05:50 PM Age: 16 min

A diplomatic staffer of the Saudi Consulate in Karachi, Hassan al-Qahtani, was killed by unknown gunmen riding two motorcycles in Karachi on May 16 (Dawn [Karachi], May 16). A few days earlier, unidentified assailants had thrown Russian-made HE-36 hand grenades at the Saudi Consulate in Karachi, though there were no injuries in this case (The Nation[Karachi], May 11; Dawn, May 12). In both attacks, the assailants managed to escape. The consulate was defended at the time of the grenade attack by paramilitary Rangers and officers of the Foreign Security Cell (FSC – a police unit assigned to diplomatic security), three of whom were subsequently suspended and detained (The Nation, May 12). Privately-hired security also failed to take any action to prevent the assault or pursue the attackers.  Following the attacks, the Saudi government recalled non-essential staff and families of diplomats stationed at its Karachi office. The U.S. Consulate in Karachi also announced it had detected threats to its facility and urged American citizens in Karachi to keep a low profile and take precautions in their movements around the city (Pakistan Observer, June 3).



While it is believed that the attack on the Saudi Consulate and the murder of its staffer in Karachi might be retribution for the American May 2 Abbottabad operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, there is also speculation that the attacks may have been related to the Saudi troop deployment in Bahrain to suppress Shiite-led protests against the kingdom’s Sunni royal family. As such, one Karachi-based security official suggested they may be intended to reignite long-standing tensions between the Sunni and Shiite communities of Pakistan. [1]

This assertion was seemingly corroborated by Karachi’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) when they claimed the involvement of the Shiite Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) in the attacks on Saudi interests in Karachi. An official of the CID, which is responsible for operations against banned militant outfits in Karachi, announced the arrest of SMP militant Muntazir Imam, suspecting his involvement in the killing of the Saudi consulate officer as well as twelve other assassinations of rival Islamist leaders (The Nation, May 19; Saudi Gazette, June 8; Express Tribune, May 29). Local authorities said that it was impossible to rule out the diplomat’s assassination was part of a dispute between rival sectarian organizations composed of supporters and opponents of Saudi Arabia (The Nation, May 18). Calling Imam’s arrest a breakthrough, a CID official said that it would be premature to say the SMP was involved in the killing of the Saudi diplomat as the investigation is still underway (Central Asia Online, May 26).

While no group, including the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attacks, they might also have been related to the Saudi government’s reported refusal to accept Bin Laden’s body. Other reports have emerged in recent days revealing the Saudis have been providing intelligence to the United States (Express Tribune [Karachi], May 12). Saudi Arabia stripped Bin Laden of citizenship in 1994 after he criticized the royal family’s reliance on U.S. troops to protect the Kingdom after the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait. The Saudi government has also refused to accept the repatriation of the three widows and nine children of Bin Laden currently in protective custody in Pakistan. During his recent visit to Riyadh, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik made a formal request to Saudi authorities to accept Bin Laden’s family, but the Saudis declined (Express Tribune [Karachi], May 19).

The killing of the Saudi diplomat may not only be a mark of protest by al-Qaeda against the Saudi Kingdom’s indifferent attitude toward Bin Laden’s family, but also a warning to Pakistan against the possible deportation of the family to the United States. [2] One media report quoted an anonymous Pakistan security official who claimed that the murdered Saudi diplomat was an intelligence official who was looking into Saudi dissidents who have found refuge in Karachi and this is most probably why he was targeted (New York Times, May 16). Saudi authorities said al-Qahtani was involved in relief operations and facilitating the travel of Pakistani pilgrims taking part in the Hajj (Pakistan Times, June 4).

Saudi interests in Karachi have been targeted in response to the situation in the Gulf, specifically the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain in March to help the royal family quell the anti-state protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom. However, the deployment angered Shiite Pakistanis, with nationwide protests condemning the Saudi involvement. [3] Shiites were also angry about local newspaper advertisements seeking to recruit hundreds of former soldiers to work for the Bahrain security forces and help with the crackdown on protestors. The Fauji Foundation, a company which has strong links to the Pakistani Army, announced it was sending 1,000 Pakistanis to join the Bahrain National Guard (Weekly Humshehri [Lahore], March18).

Sunni groups have also jumped into the fray with demonstrations and rallies in support of Saudi Arabia, openly accusing Iran of being behind the unrest in Bahrain and other Gulf states. In a sign of local Shiite-Sunni tensions, walls across Karachi, Lahore and other Pakistani cities are filled with slogans and posters condemning Saudi Arabia and Iran, exacerbating the already tense atmosphere between Sunnis and Shiites. [4] In this campaign, banned sectarian organizations hailing from the both sects, including the Shiite SMP and the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) have become active in marking walls with derisory slogans and organizing sectarian rallies.

The attack on the Saudi Consulate and the killing of its staffer clearly show that the fight for Bahrain has shifted to Pakistan and could ignite the decade-long Sunni-Shiite rivalry in the country, especially in Karachi. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have funded hard-line Sunni militants groups in Pakistan for years, angering the minority Shi’a community, while Iran has channeled money to Shiite militant groups.  In the 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan was the scene of an effective proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Karachi being a particularly bloody battleground in the struggle. The involvement of hard-line religious groups from Afghanistan in Pakistan’s internal affairs has further complicated the sectarian conflict. Since 1989, sectarian fighting has engulfed the entire country, claiming nearly 7636 lives, mostly from the Shi’a community. [5] Sectarian violence is an unpredictable menace in Pakistan, but the recent activities of Sunni and Shiite religious groups could develop into yet another phase of proxy warfare on Pakistani soil.

Notes:

1. Interview with a Karachi-based security official who requested anonymity, May 26, 2011. See also Terrorism Monitor Brief, January 7, 2010.
2. Interview with Islamabad-based political analyst Zakir Hussain, May 26, 2011.
3. Interview with Karachi-based senior journalist and researcher Ahmed Wali, May 27, 2011.
4. Ibid.
5. Sectarian violence in Pakistan 1989-2011, South Asian Terrorist Portal,www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/sect-killing.htm. 

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TM_009_55.pdf

By Zia Ur Rehman and Javed Aziz Khan
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-06-07

ISLAMABAD – Security commentators and political analysts believe the death of Ilyas Kashmiri will be a major organisational setback for al-Qaeda, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremist groups in the region.

”]Among those sharing this view is security analyst Brig. (Ret.) Shaukat Qadir, who said Kashmiri was considered one of al-Qaeda’s most dangerous military commanders and was the suspected mastermind behind some of the worst attacks in Pakistan of late.

Kashmiri was accused of involvement in high-profile attacks and bombings inside Pakistan, including assassination attempts against former president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Qadir said. Kashmiri also allegedly co-ordinated a 2009 attack on Pakistan Army Headquarters and the assault on Mehran naval base in Karachi last month.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed the June 4 death of Kashmiri, leader of Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI) and al-Qaeda’s chief strategist, in a missile attack in South Waziristan.

“I can confirm that Ilyas Kashmiri has been killed,” SAMAA News reported Malik as saying June 6. The confirmation from Pakistani officials came one day after Malik said that despite lack of physical evidence he was “98%” sure Kashmiri was dead.

Media outlets have reported that Kashmiri, 47, was killed along with eight other militants in a missile attack on an apple orchard in Ghwakhwa town, not far from Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan Agency.

Others killed were identified as Ameer Hamza, Mohammad Ibrahim, Mohammad Usman, Mohammad Nauman, Farooq Ahmad, Qari Abdul Qudoos and Mohammad Imran. Authorities have not identified one of the dead.

Qari Idrees, a leader of the HuJI, confirmed the killing of Kashmiri and 12 other people, The News reported. Qari said the other slain militants were buried in a graveyard in Gundai village, near Wana, but he didn’t mention the location of Kashmiri’s grave.

Kashmiri’s rise in al-Qaeda

Central Asia Online exclusively reported Kashmiri’s rise within al-Qaeda ranks in November, noting the United Nations labelled him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in August. That put him in the same league with Osama bin Laden. Western sources have connected him to planning attacks in Europe, which was part of the reason the United Nations upgraded his terrorist status.

Kashmiri took control of al-Qaeda’s military forces in Pakistan after its prior leader, Abdullah Sa’ad al Libi, was killed in an air strike in late 2008, Qadir said, and Kashmiri was among the top five most-wanted terrorists.

Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban have suffered two serious blows in about a month; the May 2 death of bin Laden and now that of Kashmiri, he added.

The death of al-Qaeda leader bin Laden in Abbottabad May 2 and now the death of Kashmiri are good omens for peace in Pakistan, Senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour said.

“They were killing innocent people, and their deaths will be a turning point,” Bilour said.

The importance of Kashmiri within al-Qaeda is evident because he was the only South Asian and non-Arab attending high-profile meetings of the al-Qaeda leadership, said Ahmed Wali, a senior journalist who covers militancy-related issues. Some observers had mentioned Kashmir as a possible successor to bin Laden, he said.

Kashmiri’s activities scattered

Kashmiri’s subversive activities were not limited to Pakistan as he had reportedly played a major role in plotting suicide terrorist attacks against the Afghan government and security installations in Afghanistan, Wali said.

Kashmiri also led Lashkar-e-Zil (Shadow Army), a major offshoot of al-Qaeda, The Herald reported in its June issue. The Herald, a monthly magazine published by Dawn News, said the Lashkar-e-Zil consists of recruits from different nationalities. The group is believed to be scattered in the North and South Waziristan, and is thought to have conducted attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Kuner, Nuristan, Kabul, Wardak and other provinces of Afghanistan.

“The killing of Kashmiri is a major success in the ongoing war against the militancy in the region, and his killing is also a major setback for Punjabi militant groups operating in the tribal regions,” said Idress Kamal, a leader of Aman Tehreek, a regional civil society alliance formed against the militancy.

After the killing of bin Laden, al-Qaeda lost its leadership while Pakistani militants also lost their leader after Kashmiri’s killing,” Kamal told Central Asia Online. Kamal described the HuJI as an alliance of several Punjabi militant outfits that have carried out terrorist attacks against the government and killed hundreds of innocent people not only in Pakistan but also in Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries. Most of the HuJI’s recruits are from Punjab, Karachi and Kashmir, he added.

Death is good news for Pakistan

“The killing of Osama Bin Laden and Ilyas Kashmiri is welcome and good (news) for the region,” said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

He said the terrorists have suffered significant damage recently and said that is why they are on the run now. “But security forces and the government will chase them until end,” Iftikar said, adding that those killing innocent people have no religion, nation or ideology.

“The blood of the martyred people will not go in vain,” Iftikhar said. “We will eliminate the already fleeing militants and will restore durable peace in the region.”

He urged upon the public to show unity as a nation to better fight the terrorists and eliminate their network.

End

By Zia Ur Rehman and Qasim Yousafzai
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-05-25

KARACHI – Al-Qaeda’s Waziristan-based interim chief, Saif Al Adal, masterminded the May 22-23 Mehran naval base attack in Karachi, while chief al-Qaeda strategist Ilyas Kashmiri – with support from elements of the Pakistani Taliban – put final touches on its operational planning, the News International reported May 25.

”]Analysts consider the Egyptian-born Al Adal al-Qaeda’s interim leader since the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad May 2.

Al Adal’s reputed second-in-command is Kashmiri, one of the highest-profile al-Qaeda leaders operating from North Waziristan. He has a Pakistani bounty of Rs 50m (US $5.8m) on his head, the News reported. Central Asia Online exclusively reported on his rise in terrorist ranks in November.

Kashmiri was labelled a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” August 6, and the UN added him and his Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) organisation to its blacklist under UNSC Resolution 1267.

However, the preliminary investigation report says that the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) carried out the attack, Pakistan Today reported.

Terrorists armed with automatic weapons, rockets and explosives stormed the Mehran base late May 22, triggering gun battles that killed at least 11 Navy personnel and two Rangers and wounded 14 security officials.

Many militant groups, especially the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and al-Qaeda, have vowed to avenge bin Laden’s death.

The TTP, through spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan, has claimed responsibility. “We warned after the killing of Osama bin Laden that we will carry out even bigger attacks,” he said.

Taliban militants also have targeted Pakistan navy personnel in Karachi in the recent past. Three bombings of Navy buses killed nine in Karachi April 26 and 27.

A special inquiry committee led by Rear Adm. Tehseenullah Khan will investigate the Mehran attack, navy spokesman Commodore Irfanul Haq said. The committee includes officials from different intelligence agencies of Pakistan, including the Federal Investigation Bureau, Pakistan Air Force, Rangers and police, Haq said.

Navy sacks base commander

Naval leaders have suspended Mehran Base Commander Commodore Raja Tahir and replaced him with Commodore Khalid Pervez, media reported.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited hospitals at PNS Shifa and PNS Rahat where injured sailors are receiving treatment. He ordered concerned authorities to revisit and upgrade security at all defence and security installations.

“There is a need to upgrade security, keeping in view the intentions of terrorists,” Gilani said. “Whatever possible action is required should be taken and the government will extend its full support.”

Al-Qaeda has long reach

The Mehran attack “has underscored the extended tentacles of al-Qaeda and its supporters from Waziristan to Karachi,” said Islamabad-based security analyst Imtiaz Gul. “Commando strikes at chosen targets indicate that al-Qaeda or its local allied forces – such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, HuJI, and Jundullah – enjoy a strong support base in Karachi,” he said.

The capture of senior al-Qaeda leader Muhammad Ali Qasim Yakub, alias Abu Shoaib al Makki, May 17, also demonstrates al-Qaeda’s strong presence in Karachi, Gul wrote in the Express Tribune.

By Zia Ur Rehman
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2011-01-20

KARACHI — Thousands of devotees gathered at the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai shrine to participate in the three-day urs (anniversary) January 19.

Urs attracts tens of thousands of devotees every year from as far away as Europe to pay homage to the Sufi saint. Bhitai’s themes included love, religious tolerance and humanistic values.

”]

The Auqaf Department (AD) has set up a unique cultural village for artists and writers to display their work, said Shams Jafrani, an AD officer. Awards and shields will be given to the writers in recognition of their writing, creativity and texture of thoughts, he said.

Jafrani said they have also set up a literary conference for Sufi scholars from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab.

Sufi University Sindh to open soon

The 267th urs of Sindh’s famed Sufi saint and poet has started in Bhit Shah – the town where the Sindh government will establish Sufi University Sindh.

The university is scheduled to open in a few months at an initial cost of Rs. 65m (US $ 758,000). The curriculum will include music, literature, linguistics and religion but the study of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, will be the primary academic pursuit, said Dr. M. Abid Shah, head of Department of Sindhi at University of Karachi, who has also done his Ph.D. in sufism.

According to the university proposal, there will be three major wings of the University – Sufi thought and practice, mystic poetry and literature, and South Asian Arts (fine arts, folk music, performing arts and architecture). There will be a regional admission quota for all provinces to ensure geographically diverse admission.

Urs comes with increased security

Abdul Shakoor Bozdar, an AD official responsibile for urs security, told Central Asia Online that arrangements for the three-day festival include at least 2,400 policemen and Rangers.

Pakistani Sufi shrines have been frequent targets of militant groups whose hard-line interpretation of Islam clash with sufi spiritual practices. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks.

In the past three years, KP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas have witnessed attacks on different Sufi shrines by militants. A number of faith healers and caretakers have also been targeted.

“Sufism has been targeted by Tailbanisation, a new faith embedded by anti-mystic jihadi forces which has nothing to do with Islam,” said Muhammad Fayyaz Khan, Secretary General of Jamiat Ulema Pakistan, a pro-Sufism religious party, in KP.

Can Sufism solve militancy?

Adherents of Sufism said Sufism is the solution to today’s militancy.

“The menace of terrorism and militancy could be eliminated from the country by promoting the teachings of Sufi saints,” said Dilshad Bhutto, a renowned Sindhi intellectual and head of Pakistan Secular Forum.

Sufi religious leaders and poets like Bhittai, Rehman Baba and Bhulay Shah enjoy respect and influence over the local population, Bhutto told Central Asia Online.

“Islam spread in the Sindh region through preaching of Sufis, not by Arab fighters like Muhammad Bin Qasim,” Bhutto said. “Sufis came and spread the religious message of love, peace and harmony.”

He suggested that the KP government should also try to establish a Sufi university in that province as Sufism had made a deep impact on Pashtun society and Sufi shrines dot the landscape.

“Taliban militants now consider Sufism as a big threat to their radical brand of Islam”, Khan said, adding that Sufism adherents have always condemned the Taliban’s un-Islamic acts, like beheading the innocent and bombing mosques and shrines.

“In the last few years, first we are seeing them blatantly attacking the Sufi symbols like shrines by Taliban only in KP and FATA, but now they are targeting the shrines in Sindh and Punjab too,” Khan added.

The federal government formed a Sufi Advisory Council (SAC) in June 2009 to slow the spread of militancy and fanaticism in the country. A few days later, a suicide attack at a Lahore mosque killed noted religious scholar Allama Sarfaraz Naeemi, who was known for labelling the activities of the Taliban “un-Islamic.”

Naeemi was also struggling for establishing a Sufi studies institute in the country, said Maulana Ahmed Qadri, a religious leader in Karachi. He said the Sindh government is fulfilling the wish of Naeemi by establishing Sufi University in order to spread the messages of love and peace.

 


By Jane Perlez

Zia Ur Rehman Contributed Reporting

For New York Times

Published : Nov 18, 2010

KARACHI- Pakistan, The chaotic city of 18 million people on the shores of the Arabian Sea has never shrunk from violence. But this year, Karachi has outdone even itself.

Drive-by shootings motivated by political and ethnic rivalries have reached new heights. Marauding gangs are grabbing tracts of land to fatten their electoral rolls. Drug barons are carving out fiefs, and political parties are commonly described as having a finger in all of it.

Angry Pakistanis in Karachi, responding to a political killing, set a bus on fire in August; the city has had more than 1,350 such killings in 2010, a report says.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recently reported that more than 1,350 people had been killed in Karachi in targeted political killings so far this year, more than the number killed in terrorist attacks in all of Pakistan.

That tally has solidified Karachi’s grim distinction as Pakistan’s most deadly place, outside its actual war zones, where the army is embroiled in pushing back a Taliban insurgency.

Indeed, it is the effect of the war, which has displaced many thousands of ethnic Pashtuns from the northern tribal areas and sent them to this southern port, that has inflamed Karachi’s always volatile ethnic balance. For the most part, extremists who torment the rest of Pakistan with suicide bomb attacks exploit the turmoil here to hide, recruit and raise funds.

The attack last week on the police headquarters by a suicide bomber that killed dozens was the exception, the first attack by extremists against a government institution in the city. Far more common have been killing by gangs affiliated with ethnic-based political parties hunting for turf in a city undergoing seismic demographic change.

Karachi has long been dominated by ethnic Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who left India in the 1947 partition and who have been represented politically by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, commonly known as the M.Q.M.

The M.Q.M. has a long association with violence. In 1992, the army moved into Karachi to suppress it, accusing it of a four-year rampage of torture and murder. During what amounted to a two-year occupation by the army, “several thousand” people were killed, according to accounts at the time.

The latest challenge to the M.Q.M.’s hold is the influx of Pashtuns who have fled the war to seek work and shelter in Karachi’s slums. Though the Pashtuns number some five million here now, they remain politically underrepresented, and the frustrations of the newcomers have increasingly been channeled into violent retribution by the Awami National Party, or A.N.P.

The two sides have set their gangs on each other. In August, after a senior M.Q.M. member was shot to death at a funeral, more than 100 people were killed in a weeklong orgy of violence.

The army, asked by some political parties to move in again and keep the peace, declined. During the by-election last month to fill the provincial assembly seat left vacant by the murder, more than 30 people were killed.

In that rampage, members of a self-styled people’s peace committee affiliated with the Pakistan Peoples Party, which leads the national government and considers this province, Sindh, its base, stormed an outdoor market on motorcycles and shot 12 Mohajir shopkeepers, the police said.

Hours later, seven men of ethnic Baluch origin were killed, apparently in revenge for the deaths of the Mohajirs, said Zafar Baloch, a spokesman for the peace committee.

Amber Alibhai, the secretary general of Citizens for a Better Environment, said: “If our government is not going to wake up, I fear Karachi will have ethnic cleansing like Bosnia. There’s no one to stop it. Who’s going to stop it? The police? The army? They can’t.”

The cost of Karachi’s violence hurts all of Pakistan. More liberal than the rest of the country in decorum and religious belief, Karachi is the economic engine of the nation, home to petrochemical plants, steel works, advertising agencies and high-tech start-ups.

The rich live in grand houses in gated communities paved with broad boulevards. The poor live in neighborhoods like Lyari, a slum with little sanitation, fleeting electricity and hardscrabble roads that sits under an expressway.

Other megacities in the developing world — like Shanghai and Mumbai — manage law and order through political leadership that is absent in Karachi, said Farrukh Saleem, a political analyst who writes in The News, a national newspaper.

A scared, understaffed and in some cases complicit police force compounds the problem. That was the message of a new report by a parliamentary committee that said 603 police officers had been assassinated since 1996. This year, 33 officers have been killed, the report said.

Many of these senior police officers were targeted, the report said, as retribution for the military action against the M.Q.M. in 1992, a sign of the long memory of the M.Q.M.

But it is the persistent lack of Pashtun representation in the city and provincial governments that underlies the troubles, said Abdul Qadir Patel, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report and a Pakistan Peoples Party member of Parliament. “The Pashtuns are frustrated and the A.N.P. says, ‘We’ll fight back,’ ” Mr. Patel said.

In rare candor for a Pakistani government document, his report said “ethnicity, sectarianism, perceived insecurity due to demographic changes, gang war between mafias and clash of interests among workers of political parties have been the real cause of violence in Karachi.”

Of 178 boroughs in the 18 towns of Karachi, only 4 are controlled by the Pashtuns. Of 168 seats in the provincial assembly of Sindh, where Karachi is located, the A.N.P., the party of the Pashtuns, has just 2.

Based on Karachi’s demographics, Pashtuns “could have up to 25 seats in the provincial legislature,” Mr. Saleem wrote. “That is political power way out of sync with demographic realities.”

As part of the push and pull in the demographic war, the major political parties use armed thugs to commandeer public land so they can gerrymander election districts, said Mrs. Alibhai of the citizens’ group. One of her group’s workers was killed last year trying to protect a park.

“Land grabbing is used by political parties to increase their electoral mandate and enhance their financial position,” she said.

A recent former M.Q.M. mayor of Karachi, Syed Mustafa Kamal, denied that his party, which has long been favored by Washington for its secular outlook, was involved in the killing of Pashtuns.

Mr. Kamal, who as mayor from 2005 until this year is credited with extending running water to several Pashtun neighborhoods, said Karachi was the rightful home of the Mohajirs. The Pashtun, he said, harbor the Taliban and foment terrorist attacks. “We are the victims,” he insisted.

The gruesome clash between the Mohajirs and the Pashtuns has spread recently to the stalls in Gulshen Town, a Mohajir-dominated area, where people sip tea and chat.

There, Pashtun waiters who deliver hunks of roasted lamb to truck drivers at curbside tables, have become targets, said Noorullah Achakzai, the chairman of a union of hotel workers.

In April, Abdul Rehman, 35, said he was eating lunch with a friend when six men on three motorcycles fired at them. “I got one bullet, my friend got one, the others were scattered,” he said.

Mr. Rehman showed a long scar across his stomach. His friend died, one of the first, Mr. Achakzai said, of 52 outdoor waiters killed in Karachi this year.


By Zia Ur Rehman and Javed Mahmood
For CentralAsiaOnline.com
2010-11-12

KARACHI – Four officers of the Sindh Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who shattered the network of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other banned organisations in Karachi, were key targets of the November 11 bombing of the CID building but escaped injury, Central Asia Online has learned.

”]The deadly attack began as an armed assualt and ended with a truck bomb that killed at least 20 people and wounded about 100 others, including women and children. The police reportedly used the building to detain and interrogate suspects accused of belonging to TTP and other banned organisations.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudry Aslam Khan, SSP Fayyaz Khan, SSP Omar Shahid and SP Mazhar Mashwani were the main targets, a CID official told the Central Asia Online.

That four-man team oversees the anti-extremism cell and runs counter-terrorism operations in the city. It arrested hundreds of key leaders of the TTP, Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) and other banned jihadi organisations in a massive crackdown in Karachi, the official added.

“At the time of attack, luckily the four officers were not present at the building,” said the official.

First four attackers’ fates unknown

The four terrorists who entered the building before the blast might be dead, police officials said November 12.

“Four attackers penetrated the CID building by jumping over the wall a few minutes before the blast, and they exchanged bullets with the police,” Iftikhar Tarar, deputy inspector general of investigation in the CID of Karachi, told Central Asia Online.

“We believe that all the four attackers have also lost their lives in the bomb blast,” he said. “It would be premature to say anything about the attackers who remained outside the building.”

So far authorities know of nine policemen among the dead, he said.

He said the death toll could rise if rescue workers recover more bodies under the debris.

The initial investigation showed that ten attackers hit the building, Sindh inspector general of police Salahuddin Babar Khattak said. Investigators are tracing the culprits’ identities, he added.

Counter-terror team had solid resume

The four-man CID counter-terrorist team had arrested six LeJ activists November 10. It linked the suspects to Asif Ramzi’s faction, which allegedly was involved in deadly attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. The arrested suspects allegedly were planning sectarian killings in the city during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.

On the same day, Aslam Khan arrested Iqbal Bajauri, a militant leader from Bajaur Agency and a close aide of Maulana Faqir Muhammad, TTP’s central leader, from Minghophir.

In 2002, militants sent parcel bombs to some senior police officers, including then-Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil and Fayyaz Khan.

Fayyaz Khan was critically injured. Some credit him with arresting more than 100 high-profile terrorist suspects linked to the TTP and LeJ this year.

The CID has largely broken the TTP’s network in the city by arresting several consecutive amirs (heads) appointed for Karachi, including Akhter Zaman Mehsud and his successors, Bahadur Khan Momand (alias Sadiq) and Maulvi Saeed Anwer, a CID official said. The official said Aslam Khan and his team snatched them all.

The TTP swiftly took responsibility for the blast, saying it was meant to avenge “the arrest” of its comrades. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik November 12 disputed that claim, saying the LeJ committed the bombing.

“By attacking the CID building, they want to give us a message that they are still alive and could strike back,” Shahid told Central Asia Online, adding that the CID will continue its anti-militant crackdown.

The militants raise funds through extortion, armed robberies and kidnappings and send the money to tribal areas where the TTP-linked militants plan terrorist acts, Shahid said. Dozens of arrests by the CID have disrupted militant fund-raising in the city, he added.

Some police sources theorise that the militants were trying to free Bajauri. However, he was not in the building.

CID attack harms civilians

Civilian casualties in the neighbourhood were numerous. A dozen houses in the nearby Civil Lines residential neighbourhood sustained damage, Moqeem Alam, a local MPA, told Central Asia Online. Most of the civilians injured were women and children, he said. Authorities have suspended gas, electricity and water service because of damage to pipelines.

Police, military and paramilitary contingents have closed off public access to the area. Authorities are searching the neighbourhood for any attackers who escaped.

“We were watching the news on TV when the firing started, then suddenly lights went out, and we heard a massive blast,” said Zarshad, a local resident who is hospitalised after a concrete slab hit him.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, accompanied by provincial Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, visited the blast site to review the rescue and relief work. Shah gave assurances of the government’s all-out support for the victims and said the government would keep fighting terrorism.