The AfPak Reader

September 11, 2009

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 4 – Volume 8

Filed under: Enemy Profiles,Summer 2009 — huntingnasrallah @ 11:39 pm

Mainlining Bill Roggio – Summer 2009 – Week 4 – Volume 8

Mullah FM back on the air in Swat
By Bill Roggio
July 18, 2009 8:38 PM

As the Pakistani government and military rush to declare victory against the Taliban in the war-torn district of Swat, Mullah Fazlullah has broadcast on the airwaves for the first time in months.

Fazlullah has not been heard on the radio for months after the military launched a major operation to clear the Taliban from Swat and the neighboring districts of Dir and Buner at the end of April.

Fazlullah’s broadcasts were infamous for the anti-government screeds and the radical interpretations of Islam. He was nicknamed “Mullah FM” and “Radio Mullah” for pioneering the use of illegal radio broadcasts to promote his radical agenda.

Residents of Swat would be glued to the radio as Fazlullah would issue lists of government and security officials, as well as tribal leaders, who were to be executed for opposing the Taliban. Fazlullah would also campaign against polio vaccination drives, insisting the shots were a Jewish plot to sterilize Muslims, and railed against young girls attending school. More than 200 schools have been torched by the Taliban in Swat since 2007.

Residents in Mingora said Fazlullah’s recent speech was subdued and lacking in invective against the military. “You can feel as if the operation has taken the sting out of him,” one resident told Daily Times.

Fazlullah’s re-emergence on the airwaves crushed the claim of the Pakistani government and the military that he had been gravely wounded during fighting in his home town. Fazlullah has been reported to have been killed, wounded, and surrounded multiple times since the operation began.

Last week, Swat Taliban spokesman Mullah Omar said Fazlullah was alive, along with all of the group’s senior leadership.

“Fazlullah is safe and the government claim is totally baseless,” Omar told Pakistani journalists. He also said the Taliban leadership had gone underground “as part of their overall strategy” once the Army launched operations in Buner, Dir, and Swat, Daily Times reported.

Both the government and the military have claimed that Swat is now over 90 percent cleared of the Taliban and have called an end to major military operations. The government is urging internally displaced people who fled the violence to return to their homes in Swat and neighboring Buner.

The military is also planning to build bases in Swat and Buner, and plans on remaining in the region for two years.

But reports from the region paint a less-than-positive picture of the security situation in Swat and Buner. The government is being accused of pushing the internally displaced people out of camps by providing poor services, and sending them back to regions where the fighting is still ongoing, according to Newsweek.

The Taliban are still able to control ground in Buner, where the military also claimed the Taliban had been defeated more than a month ago. According to local residents in Buner, the Taliban are active in many of the major towns, and have been seen setting up a checkpoint where they are seen “singling out government officials and their opponents,” according to The News.

A group called the Aman Tehrik, or Peace Movement, was highly critical of the military operation in Swat, Dir, and Buner. The group said the military operation was “nominal” and failed to kill or capture “third rank” Taliban leaders.

The Aman Tehrik “said terrorist leaders were still safe and their sanctuaries were intact in Swat and Buner,” according to Dawn.

The Amam Tehrik opposes the establishment of military bases in Swat and Buner, and said the building of these bases would inflame the situation.
Extended Notes (Roggio’s Links)

Sunday, July 19, 2009
Fazlullah back on Swat airwaves

PESHAWAR: Taliban leader Fazlullah addressed the residents of Swat via his illegal radio station a few days ago, the first such broadcast since reports emerged that the Taliban leader was injured during the military operation in the district. “Fazlullah was heard on his illegal FM radio channel three or four days ago,” residents of Mingora city told Daily Times by phone. However, they added, the Taliban leader seemed to have lost his drive and was not as aggressive when referring to the security forces as he had once been. “You can feel as if the operation has taken the sting out of him,” they said. The residents, however, were unable to confirm whether Fazlullah was broadcasting live or whether it was a pre-recorded message to keep the government confused about his present status. staff report



Taliban reject claim about Fazlullah
By Anwarullah Khan
Sunday, 12 Jul, 2009 | 05:19 AM PST |

KHAR: Taliban on Saturday contradicted a government claim that Fazlullah was injured during military operation in Swat.

Maulvi Omar, a self-styled spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, said the top leadership in Malakand had gone underground under a plan.

‘Maulana Fazlullah is safe and the government claim is totally baseless,’ he told local journalists on phone from an undisclosed place.

He said that Taliban leadership was secure and he had talked to Maulana Fazlullah on phone today (Saturday).

Maulvi Omar said that innocent people were being killed in the military operation in North and South Waziristan.

The spokesman said that security forces did not make any gains in South Waziristan, where Baitullah Mehsud was present.

He said that raising lashkars (volunteer force) in Upper Dir district and tribal areas would create a civil war-like situation and warned that Taliban would take action against those who were leading the lashkars.



Saturday, July 11, 2009
Govt will not be allowed to restore writ in Swat: Fazlullah

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Swat Taliban chief Fazlullah on Friday said the government would not be allowed to restore its writ in Malakand and Swat, a private TV channel reported.

According to an audio message the channel claimed to have received from Fazlullah, the Taliban leader criticised the government for launching the military operation in Swat and Malakand, saying that for siding with the government, residents of the area should suggest their punishments themselves. Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan confirmed the authenticity of the message.

Meanwhile, the Online news agency said Fazlullah had also vowed to continue struggling for the imposition of sharia.

Fazlullah said he and other top Taliban leaders were alive and would continue their struggle.



Sunday, July 19, 2009
Army to prolong stay in Swat for two years
* Rs 25 billion for more police stations, personnel and better weapons for local law enforcers
* Swat may be included in ‘settled areas’

By Iqbal Khattak

PESHAWAR: The NWFP government is planning to spend around Rs 25 billion on revamping the security infrastructure in Malakand division, and the army will remain deployed in Swat for two years to allow for the capacity building of local security forces, Daily Times learnt on Saturday.

“We are looking to invest Rs 24.6 billion in Malakand, doubling the number of police officers and police stations there, arming personnel with state-of-the-art weapons and communication systems,” officials responsible for the post-conflict needs assessment told Daily Times.

In his visit to Peshawar on June 19, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani announced a grant of Rs 20 billion to support the plan, which he said was part an “exit strategy” for the army.

An army exit can only come once the provincial government builds a civilian force or enhances the capabilities of existing paramilitary forces, such as the Levies force, to a level where they can reclaim their position as the primary law enforcement bodies in the area. This will be a gradual process, the officials said, requesting anonymity.

The NWFP government and the GHQ have agreed to maintain a military presence in Malakand for the two years the provincial government estimates it will take the local security infrastructure to become fully operational.

They said though the ANP government had agreed to have a Swat Cantonment, it was still unclear whether the army would build a brigade-level or division-level cantonment in Swat.

At least seven more police stations will be added to the current tally of nine and the strength of the police force in Swat will be doubled, they said. The increased personnel will also be equipped with modern weaponry, such as machineguns, hand and rocket-propelled grenades and communication systems.

Better governance: A reconstruction and rehabilitation plan for the conflict zones has already been presented, and in the plan’s third phase, the structure of local governance will be reviewed and changes proposed, the officials said. There is also talk of repealing Swat’s status as a provincially administered tribal area, with officials saying that Pakistan, as one country, should have a uniform system of government. However, a final decision on whether Swat will be included in the settled areas of NWFP is yet to be made.



Fight Flub
Pakistan’s all-out offensive against the Taliban may already have failed.

By Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Jul 16, 2009

When Shamshir and his family of nine left the Shah Mansoor camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) early one morning this week, traveling aboard a government-hired bus along with 10 other families, they thought they’d be in their native village of Gorkand in Buner district by nightfall. But by late afternoon, they sat looking lost and forlorn at a dusty intersection called Daggar Chowk, where they and their modest possessions had been unceremoniously dumped, some 20 kilometers short of their destination.

The bus driver and their government escorts had deemed too dangerous the final leg of the journey to their village. Abdul Rashid, a 22-year-old local farmer lounging on a rope bed in front of a shuttered shop informed Shamshir that the Pakistani Army had not finished operations near his village. The Army is supposedly winding down a three-month offensive in the Swat Valley to root out the Taliban and other insurgents. But the more than 2 million civilians who had fled or been asked to leave during the battle are wary of returning home from the IDP camps. They know how hardy the guerrillas are, and they doubt the fight is over.

Only a few weeks after their resounding declarations that the insurgents’ “backs had been broken,” the Army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps are still hotly engaged in actions that seem to be much more serious than mere “mopping up” operations. In a mid-June briefing to journalists in Buner, Pakistani Army Col. Nasir Janjua said that the militants’ resistance had collapsed with the deaths of some 490 insurgents, and that “the area is fully secured.” The military has made similar claims about Swat, the center of the Islamist insurgency demanding the imposition of Sharia; the movement there was led by Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric who spread his extremist message via illegal FM radio broadcasts and brutal terrorist tactics ranging from assassinations and beheadings to the demolition of girls’ schools.

But the battle obviously isn’t yet won. Even now, barely a day goes by without Army spokesmen announcing the deaths of dozens of militants in the continued fighting in Swat and Buner. For a defeated force, the insurgents seem to have incredible staying power.
And their leadership seems to be largely intact, despite claims that insurgent commanders have been killed and Fazlullah has been wounded. Having failed to produce evidence backing up these statements, many IDPs remain leery about security in their hometowns.
They have good reason for doubt. This was the third military offensive against Fazlullah’s rebellion since November 2007. In the previous two, the militants were driven out of the Swat Valley and into the mountains, where they holed up until a ceasefire was called. Then they came storming back. This time, the Army vows to fight until, in the words of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, it has achieved “the complete elimination of militants.” Few Pakistanis believe that will ever happen.

Civilians displaced from Buner and Swat by the government offensive told NEWSWEEK they quietly dread what they will find when they get home. Still, Islamabad kicked off its repatriation effort this week, with some 31,000 IDPs headed home from three months of living in camps, the houses of friends and relatives, and even the homes of welcoming strangers. The government says it plans to resettle them within 40 days, but it’s historically bad at managing massive projects that require expert planning, coordination, and execution among various agencies and the military.

Jahanzeb, who has been in the Yar Hussain IDP camp near Swabi for more than two months, has agreed to return in the next few days to Matta village in Swat, even though he is frightened. Matta was Fazlullah’s main base, and Jahanzeb is concerned that “the Radio Mullah,” as he calls him, will return. “I badly want to go home,” says the 35-year-old driver who wears a thin, well-trimmed beard. “But I also know that Fazlullah and his Taliban are still in the hills. As long as he is still there I’m afraid our problems will never cease.” He also complains that he still hasn’t received the $300 the government promised to all IDP families for their ride home.

Sherzada, 50, a day laborer from Khoza Khel village in Swat, not only doubts the government’s promises, he also blames the Army for the death of his mother, who, he says, was killed in a helicopter attack that destroyed their house in May. (A number of IDPs claimed that the military offensive caused more death and destruction than the Taliban ever did.) He is bursting with questions that no one has answered. “How will I rebuild my house? How will I eat? Where will I find a job? What if the Taliban come back?” he asks two NEWSWEEK reporters at the Yar Hussain camp, which houses some 31,000 IDPs.

A few IDPs even complain that they are being “forced” to go back prematurely by deteriorating camp conditions. Rashid Khan claims he and his family in the Yar Hussain camp have not received fresh water this week, and that he is constantly beaten by the police and camp officials during the daily scrum as refugees fight for food rations. “We are being forced back by this camp’s bad conditions,” says Khan, who came from Mingora, Swat’s capital. “If officials can’t run this camp property, what kind of help can we expect when we return home?” he asks.

To be sure, none of this means that Pakistan’s attack on the militants in Buner and Swat has failed outright. This was the biggest and most successful offensive ever: it drove militants deep into the hills and killed scores, perhaps hundreds, of them. But that hardly means Pakistan has crippled their highly motivated leadership or frightened them into permanent hiding. Even if the Army keeps its pledge to stick around for a while, it runs the risk of appearing as an occupying force in this region unused to centralized control. It is also unclear if the government could deliver better governance, and access to justice, relief, rehabilitation, and economic opportunity—the main agents in turning popular support away from the militants.

Ali Yousaf, for his part, is nervous but happy. The 27-year-old returned to Daggar, Buner’s capital, last week and reopened his textile shop along the one-street commercial section where fruit and vegetable markets and other shops were already open. “We are hopeful, but still quite frightened,” he said as busloads of IDPs roared passed his shop, where he used to sell music cassettes and CDs until the Taliban blew it up one night in 2007.

A few kilometers up the road, Bakhtiyar Khan wondered if it was a good idea to come home as he stood with his family on a country road just north of Daggar Chowk. A relative had just brought both good and bad news: the family’s house is still intact, but at night armed groups of up to 30 men still roam in his forest village, and several houses have been looted. “If there’s peace, I can rebuild my life,” said Khan. “But hearing this, I’m not so sure.” Then a car screeched to a top. Four men got out and told refugees not to travel any farther north. “There are still Taliban sympathizers in the villages nearby,” one said. He then warned that three political workers for the secular Awami National Party were abducted and beheaded three days earlier by militants near Pir Baba, less than 10 kilometers farther on.

Back at Daggar Chowk, Shamshir and his family of nine conferred with Rashid, still lying on the rope bed, as a dozen pickup trucks carrying Pakistani troops with their automatic weapons at the ready raced by. Suddenly, a loud explosion rang out, followed by the whistling of an artillery shell fired from a cannon nearby and bound for the area near Shamshir’s house. “The government told us we could return to our village in safety,” said the 50-year-old, white-bearded farmer. Glancing at his wife and children sitting on their bundles at the dusty roadside, he wondered, “Now we are without a home once again … Where can we spend the night? When can we return to our village?”

© 2009



Taliban fighters resurface in Swat valley: report

Islamabad (PTI): Taliban fighters have resurfaced and begun conducting armed patrols in Buner district near the restive Swat valley, months after the Pakistani army claimed that the region had been cleared of militants, a media report said on Saturday.

Taliban cadres have been carrying out armed patrols on roads in Buner district and established a check post at Pacha Killay over the past few days, local residents were quoted as saying by The News daily.

People of the area said militants established a check post beside a stream at a spot between Pacha Killay and Balo Khan a few days ago. They checked people at the post, singling out government officials and their opponents.

“The checkpoint was set up a few days ago but removed after shelling by security forces. However, they have set it up again and checked people here on Friday,” a resident said.
People also said some 250 to 300 Taliban fighters stormed Pacha Killay a couple of days ago. The militants reportedly took away cash cards given to displaced people to obtain Rs 25,000 from state-run banks.

Local residents said militants were active in many parts of Buner district, including Pir Baba, Mula Banda, Dokada, Malikpur, Balo Khan, Hisar and Gokand.

However, the Frontier Corps, which is leading anti-militancy operations in Buner, denied reports that the Taliban had set up a check post. It also played down concerns about the regrouping of militants.



Peace committee opposes garrisons in Swat, Dir
Saturday, 18 Jul, 2009 | 11:39 AM PST |

PESHAWAR: The Aman Tehrik, an organisation of political activists, traders, lawyers and students, has expressed dissatisfaction over the ongoing military operation in the Malakand division and said even ‘third rank’ militant leaders had not been arrested or killed during the offensive.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Friday, Aman Tehrik convener Idress Kamal, Mriam Bibib, Aimal Khattak, Tariq Afghan and Dr Said Alam Mehsud opposed establishment of new garrisons in Swat and Dir districts fearing it would aggravate the situation in the region.

They said security forces had failed to nab or kill top militant leaders in Malakand, Mohmand, Bajaur and Waziristan agencies and in Janikhel, Frontier Region of Bannu.
They also claimed that no operation was being conducted in the Janikhel area, terming it only a drama.

The militants, according to them, had left the areas where security forces were carrying out a ‘nominal’ operation.

They said terrorist leaders were still safe and their sanctuaries were intact in Swat and Buner.

They said instead of eliminating militancy, the government had engaged itself in setting up two new cantonments in Swat and Buner.

They contradicted the government claim about the clearance of 90 per cent areas in Swat and Buner. They said the government should have ensured the presence of police, health and education staff in the valley before starting the return process of displaced people.

They feared that militants were in a position to stage a comeback, adding: ‘If any mishap occurs, the provincial and federal governments will be responsible for it.’

They alleged that step-motherly treatment was being meted out to displaced tribesmen from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly Waziristan.

They claimed that Mehsud tribesmen were even being arrested in Tank and Dera Ismail Khan under the Frontier Crimes Regulations. They condemned the arrest of the Mehsud people and urged the government to halt this practice.

They called upon the NWFP government to ensure transparency in distribution of relief funds among the displaced people of the Malakand region.

They proposed that ministers and lawmakers from Swat, Buner and Dir should accompany the caravans of IDPs on their journey back home.

APP adds: NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has said his government will fulfil its responsibilities in implementation of the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation, establishment of administrative and services setup, permanent repatriation of the affected people and reconstruction of the war-torn infrastructure.

He was speaking at a representative jirga from Swat at Chief Minister’s House on Friday. Provincial ANP president Afrasyab Khattak presided over the jirga.

The chief minister said those disturbing peace in Swat again would be dealt with strictly, adding effective steps had been taken for security of the lives and properties of people.

He said the number of tehsils in Swat had been increased from three to seven and establishment of a cantonment had been approved in the district.

He said a jirga of local elders would nominate members for community police to be appointed for the area. He gave an assurance that the process would be transparent and free of political interference.

All available resources, Mr Hoti said, would be utilised for reconstruction of the Malakand division and rehabilitation of the affected people.

He said Nizam-i-Adl was a longstanding demand of the people of Malakand, which would be fulfilled at any cost.

All cases in Malakand, he said, would be heard under the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation within the given timeframe.

The facility of the Final Appellate Court would also be provided in the Malakand division, he added. Members of the jirga assured the chief minister to fully support the government’s steps for restoration of peace in the area.


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