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Militants’ threats cow U.S.-aided Pakistan
Question of the Day
The Mujahedeen Shura of North Waziristan is really the name for the dominant Pakistani Taliban group in the district led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and the Haqqani Network.
The pamphlet is unusual because the Gul Bahadur group had been considered pro-Pakistani government and was not linked to terrorist or militant attacks. But the group has been regularly recruiting, training and sending militants to fight U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Similarly, the Haqqani Network is not known for conducting attacks inside Pakistan.
In the region, the Gul Bahadur group also shields the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and other Central Asian and European fighters, particularly German Islamists.
A tribal leader from the Utmanzai tribe of North Waziristan told The Washington Times that the Haqqanis are feeling the heat for the first time.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, the leader said the Haqqanis fear a military offensive will make them scapegoats for Pakistani authorities. To pre-empt the offensive, the Haqqanis are warning Islamabad of an “endless war” through their ally Gul Bahadur.
The tribal leader said the Haqqanis did not make a direct threat in a bid to avoid upsetting Pakistani decision makers. “However, they have made a veiled threat by telling Islamabad that if the offensive in North Waziristan is launched the militants would shift to Afghanistan and launch huge attacks against Pakistan,” the leader said.
The threat to cross the border into Afghanistan appears to be a psychological tactic by the militants to play on Islamabad’s traditional worries about its vulnerability from a hostile Western neighbor in Afghanistan.
Afghan rulers traditionally have harbored separatist Pakistani Pashtuns and Baluch ethnic groups, including militants. Former Afghan ruler Sardar Daud Khan was the architect of “Pashtunistan Movement” that sought to seize Pashtun areas of Pakistan, such as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), to form “Greater Afghanistan.”
Since 1973, Pakistan has pursued a policy of cultivating Afghan mullahs on its soil as a counterweight to hostile Afghan nationalists. As a result, Islamabad has supported the Afghan Taliban, the Hizb-e-Islami of warlord Gulbadin Hikmatyar and the Haqqanis.
“However, this policy has had a huge blowback effect on Pakistan in the shape of a rise of religious extremism and unimaginable proliferation of militant groups in the country,” said Ashraf Ali, a Pakistani analyst on the Taliban.
Mr. Ali said that “wrong choices” by Islamabad have caused the Haqqanis and other otherwise pro-government Pakistani Taliban groups to begin threatening Pakistan.
The North Waziristan-based militants also signaled to Pakistani authorities through the pamphlet that they would conduct a fundraising effort to collect $2 billion for the Pakistani army so that Islamabad would not have to launch an offensive for U.S. aid.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that he was assured by Pakistan’s army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, that there will be an offensive in the tribal region along the Afghan border.
“He has committed to me to go into North Waziristan and to root out these terrorists as well. … He clearly knows what our priorities are. … North Waziristan is the epicenter of terrorism. … It’s where al Qaeda lives,” Adm. Mullen told Bloomberg Television.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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