Are Taliban staging a comeback in Karachi?




By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: On December 8 a journalist from Manghopir posted photos of graffiti declaring Taliban’s comeback in the ‘Sultanabad’ area of the city. The graffiti read “Khalid Mehsud Sajna Zindabad Taliban Zindabad” and “we’re watching, we’re watching all, Tehreek-e-Taliban Waziristan.”

As the photos began to do rounds on social media, law enforcers swiftly moved to remove the graffiti. But the appearance of the Taliban’s message remains the talk of the neighborhood. Until 2013 Sultanabad – with a sizable population of Mehsud tribesmen having moved in after the military operations in South Waziristan – was a no-go area, controlled by the Pakistan Taliban. They had an office in the area as well.

Karachi police views the graffiti as nothing more than a hollow threat. “I do not see it as an indicator of Taliban’s come back,” said Omar Shahid, SSP Investigation in Counter Terrorism Department of the Sindh Police. No wall-chalking was reported in Kanwari colony, which was also one of the Taliban’s strongholds in the city few years back. At the peak of Taliban’s influence, Shahid says, prominent local elders had left the city for Peshawar and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) due to Taliban’s threat. In the last few years, most of them have come back.

“The first indicator of Taliban recurrence in the town would be if they are threatened or killed,” Shahid argues. He thinks that this time around, the local population will offer more resistance than before. Recalling the recent meeting of Pathan elders with former DG Rangers, Major General Bilal Akber, the police officer says that the community feels it suffered because of the Taliban.  “Until and unless Taliban undertake a sustained campaign of terrorism, such graffiti has little significance,” he concluded.

Informed locals offer two explanations for the appearance of the graffiti. Some locals link it to the politics surrounding the removal of the former Manghopir SHO Ghulam Hussain Korai. Korai was removed after a police encounter of an Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) leader Maulana Yousuf Quddosi. On his removal, locals staged a protest, insisting that Korai had a major role in wiping out Taliban from the area. “It’s said that it’s linked to the race for seat of SHO Manghopir, a vicinity where two major centers of drug peddlers – one owned by a Baloch and another owned by a Pashtun from Shangla Swat – are situated, providing huge share to ‘all’,” a local said.

Others suggest that it’s not just about the graffiti but that they have seen Taliban move around in the area. “Pro-Taliban graffiti are not the only alarming thing for us. For the last few weeks six men riding three 125 motorbikes have been seen roaming around the streets of Sultanabad,” a local driver Mubeen Khan told this scribe. “Few years back, Taliban courts would summon people here in this office ,” the driver told while pointing towards a house in the foothill.

Law enforcers remain vigilant. When the Taliban made inroads in the area in 2012, the Manghopir police station was closed down. The police station is only a few hundred meters away from the Taliban’s former neighborhood. Right now, it remains open and functioning. Soldiers of the Rangers also patrol the main Hub dam road.

Still, locals remain wary and concerned. Last month the Taliban posted a two-minute video message in Pashto, showing Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah announcing the appointment of Haji Daud Mehud as the new chief for Taliban’s Karachi chapter. Haji Daud Mehsud was an official in the Sindh police before defecting to the Taliban. Fazlullah instructed all factions of the Taliban to follow the directives of Mehsud. Mehsud is a resident of Quaidabad.

Published in The Frontier Post 


Affluent Afghans get Pakistani IDs as poor Pashtuns suffer


KARACHI: For the right price, any Afghan can obtain Pakistani nationality. In fact, hundreds of affluent Afghans have managed to obtain Pakistani IDs in exchange for handsome sums paid to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials, The Frontier Post has learnt.

While poor Afghan refugees and ethnic Pakistani Pashtuns take the hit in the wake of lapses by Nadra in granting CNICs – as was the case with the late Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s citizenship – those with enough money can easily obtain CNICs by greasing the right palms.

In 2012, Afghan business tycoon Abdul Rehman Alokozay’s family obtained over 150 computerized national identity cards (CNICs) against a payment of Rs20 million to NADRA officials close to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“It’s not the only well-off Afghan family enjoying nationality of its neighboring country, however, a big one, which is trading inside this country with Pakistani identity,” a source said. Alokozay Group of Companies (AGC), an Afghani conglomerate with its headquarters in Dubai, has presence in over 40 countries with distribution network in Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

“From the highly successful Alokozay Tea to the flourishing Alokozay Cooking Oils, Tissues, Evaporated Milk, Coffee, Biscuits, 3in1 Tea & Coffee, Sugar, Detergent Powder, Wet Wipes, Baby Diapers, Pasta, Corn Flakes, Engine Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Hand wash, Bar Soap, Toothpaste, Body lotion, Mouthwash and many more premium products, Alokozay continues to expand its horizon”, the website of company reads.

The group’s ABCo in Kabul, Afghanistan is the bottling and distribution plant of the entire range of carbonated Soft drinks, Energy drink, Juices & Water.

“PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, today signed an Exclusive Bottling Appointment (EBA) with the Alokozay Group of Companies to manufacture and distribute a broad range of PepsiCo beverages in Afghanistan. The beverages will be produced at ABCO (Alokozay Beverages Company), Alokozay’s beverage bottling plant, which will be set up in Kabul with an initial investment of US$ 60 million,” the PepsiCo’s official website announced on April 20, 2011.

Chairman of the group is Abdul Rehman Alokozay, whereas Jalil Alokozay is its Chief Executive Officer and managing director, who is also CEO of the Alokozay International Ltd based in Mississauga, Ontario L5C 2T1, Canada.

The amount, Nadra official, said, was paid by Abdul Waris Alokozay, Lahore based son of the Afghan business tycoon. Unlike his father Abdul Rehman Alokozay and brother Jalil Alokozay, Waris doesn’t carry the family name as he is Chief Executive Officer of Alokozay International (Pvt.) Limited, situated at Suite No 305, 3rd Floor, Eden Tower, Main Boulevard Gulberg III, Lahore Pakistan.

Besides, company in Lahore, the family has several restaurants on the motorways across, Pakistan. Korean made cigarettes Kent, which are sold in abundance in Pakistan, are also smuggled into Pakistan by this same family whereas FBR has been unable to find who to serve the notice with, a source in the Federal Board of Revenue told.

According to Nadra official, the family had shown themselves permanent residents of Mohmand Agency while obtaining Pakistani CNICs. However, the tribe Alokozay has never lived on Pakistani side of the Durand line Border.

The Alokozay, a sub-tribe of the Abdali Pashtuns of Afghanistan, are found primarily in Helmand, Kandahar, Kabul, Laghman, Kunar Sarkani District and Herat provinces in Afghanistan, and form the majority of the population in the Sangin District. “Jaldak, which is located 110 km northeast of Kandahar, is the original domicile of the Alokozay tribe,” according to “The hidden Treasure” (Pata Khazana), a biography of Pashtoon poets Mohammad Hothek.

Few years back, Abdul Rehman Alokozay was kidnapped in Pakistan. “The family secured his release by paying 25 million to the kidnappers” a source close to the family reveals.

A news published in this newspaper in 2012 had reported the issuance of Fake IDs after which the issue was taken up by Standing committee of the National Assembly but it never came to conclusion due to influence of the family in Pakistan’s political circles.

“Such examples of wealthy Afghans are in abundance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. These Afghans are not only rich in term of wealth but they are also very well connected with both the Afghan government and the Taliban,” a source said.

The reason why these Pakistan based rich Afghans keep good relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is because Taliban protect their crops back in Afghanistan – in most cases that of opium – and they help them with protecting their business interests in Pakistan as well, a Pashtun nationalist leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says.

“As they buy Pakistani identity with their wealth, the Pashtuns of Pakistan are humiliated in Punjab and Sindh to get their CNICs,” he adds.

Published in The Frontier Post on Jun 1, 2016

Cop who arrested Aafia Siddiqui tops LeJ hit-list


KARACHI: The arrested militants of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have revealed during interrogation that an official of the Sindh Police, they believed had arrested Dr Aafia Siddiqui, remained at top of their hit-list.

Siddiqui, a MIT trained Pakistani neuroscientist, was convicted on two counts of attempted murder of US nationals, officers, and employees, assault with a deadly weapon, carrying and using a firearm, and three counts of assault on US officers and employees.

She is serving her 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. According to reports in local media, Aafia was arrested by Karachi Police in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of the city and handed over to an American intelligence agency who took her to Afghanistan for showing her arrest there in order to make a case against her.

The LeJ members say the sectarian proscribed outfit  also believed that Aafia was arrested by a police officer, who later become spokesperson for the Sindh Police. The officer, they believed, handed her over Siddiqui to an American intelligence agency.

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah announced that Counter Terrorism Police of his province lead by in Charge CTD Raja Umar Khattab, have arrested two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorists involved in high profile cases, including that of Amjad Sabri Murder, killing of military policemen and firing on Majlis that had left five people dead last month.

The accused, CM Sindh said, were identified as Ishaq Bobbi and Asim Capri.

A day later the Sindh Government constituted a Joint Interrogation Team (JIT), that to be headed by SSP Intelligence Counter Terrorism Department, Omar Shahid Hamid, to interrogate the high profile cases of murder of Sufi Singer Amjad Sabri, attack on Shia Majlis, killing of Military Policemen and attacks on police personnel.

“On the recommendation of Inspector General of Police, Sindh Karachi a joint Interrogation Team is hereby constituted for the purpose of interrogation in respect of involvement in heinous high profile cases including incident of terrorism, murder of army, rangers and police personal in Karachi, resulting arrest of two personal namely Ishaq alias Boby and Asim alias Capri,” a notification issued by secretary home reads.

Sources said the militants have told interrogators that the they had been involved in  32 more cases including killing of people of Ahmadiyya community. The police will do a forensic test of the cases soon, an official told this scribe on the condition of anonymity.

The accused have further revealed that they believed a former spokesman of Sindh police of SSP rank was involved in the arrest and handing of Aafia Siddiqui to America.

“The officer has always been at top of the hit-list but couldn’t be attacked due to different reasons”. According to police, the officer has been advised to take extra measures for his security as threat still loom over his head.

It is pertinent to mention that last week the administrative judge of the anti terrorism courts in Karachi remanded Ishaq Boby and Asim Capri, both arrested a day earlier following a news conference by CM Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, into police custody for fourteen days here on Tuesday.

Both the accused were produced before the administration judge of ATCs, Naimatullah Phulphoto, which is situated in the remits of Sindh High Court (SHC) amid stern security arrangements.

The Investigation Officer submitted before the judge that the accused have been arrested in case under the charges of possessing explosive material and arms. He further told that the accused were wanted to police in the murder of Amjad Sabri, military policemen and other important case. The IO prayed that the accused should be given in 14-day police remand, which the ATC administrative judge granted.

Published in The Frontier Post 

Counter-terror experts give no credence to LEJ-A claim of Quetta police academy assault


Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Counter-terrorism experts have rejected Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Al-Almi’s claim of carrying out the Quetta police training academy attack, saying the banned outfit’s assertion meant for a mere re-branding.

The claim by Al-Almi, an offshoot of the LeJ – a Sunni sectarian outfit with its origins in Punjab – has not been established so far, says Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism official in Karachi, revealing that the claim by Afghanistan-based IS-Khurasan could be substantiated through evidences the outfit has provided with its claim on Tuesday. “Both organisations are, however, being operated from Afghanistan currently.”

Over 60 police cadets were killed when three heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the police training centre on the outskirt of the capital city of Balochistan on October 24.

Interestingly, both the proscribed groups, Islamic State and Al-Almi, claimed responsibility with the latter saying it was assisting the Khurasan branch of the Middle Eastern terrorist organisation. IG Frontier Corps Major-General Sher Afgun said calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the LeJ.

“We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan,” Afgun told reporters, adding, “The Al-Alami faction of LeJ was behind the attack.”

Read More: Elimination of Malik Ishaq no fatal blow to sectarian killings

The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency published the claim of responsibility, saying three IS fighters “used machine guns and grenades, and then blew up their explosive vests in the crowd”. A teenage attacker killed by security forces can be seen in IS media release, supporting the IS-Khurran’s claim.

“The calls may definitely be from Afghanistan as both the IS and LeJ Al-Almi are being operated from other side of the border,” the police official said. “Though LeJ and Al-Almi claimed the responsibility, the one IS-Khurasan with evidently true claim hasn’t mentioned any assistance from the sectarian outfit,” Khattab told The Frontier Post.

This is not the first terror act with multiple claims. In August, Quetta hospital was attacked that left 70 people, mostly lawyers, dead was claimed by the IS, and also by the banned Pakistani Taliban faction, Jamaatur Ahrar. However, according to Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, India’s premier spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was involved in the attack.

Though, Al-Alami earlier claimed responsibility for the targeted assassinations of four women of the Hazara Shia community in the provincial capital and the attack on a Shia Imambargah in Karachi, experts believe that the trend of attacking Shia community and law enforcement agencies by IS has emerged, without any role of the LeJ.

“Currently, several terrorist outfits, including IS, AQIS and TTP are found involved in sectarian-driven bloodletting,” the official said.

According to the police official, LeJ has the capability of target killing but it doesn’t seem to be capable of carrying out major terror attacks. “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed in 2004 by Abid Mehsud, a mastermind of Hasan Turabi murder, but the group has never excelled.”

Currently, Yousuf Mansoor is running the organisation from Afghanistan whereas its Sindh chapter’s head, Safdar alias Abu Sufian, who is also the outfit’s spokesperson, is admitting most of the terror acts to remain in the news for attracting youths with militant and sectarian tendencies.

“The organisation’s claims haven’t been verified,” Khattab told this scribe, adding that the group has been unable to establish its own camp inside Pakistan or Afghanistan and has been sending its members to camps of other terrorist outfits.

According to security experts, the Al-Alami’s mother organisation, LeJ, has almost become dysfunctional after two of its most notorious leaders, i.e. Malik Ishaq, the chief of the terror outfit, and Usman Saifullah Kurd, the head of its Balochistan chapter, were killed in encounters with law enforcers.

Moreover, Hafiz Naeem Bukhari, the head of LeJ’s Karachi chapter; Asif Chotu, the commander from southern Punjab, and Qari Ramzan Mengal, the Quetta-chapter head, are in jail.

Read More: Writing on the wall

Reports suggested that the killings and arrests of its top leadership have hampered LeJ’s operational capabilities and dented its organisational infrastructure. “LeJ has never claimed responsibility,” the official added.

Meanwhile, Balochistan government on Wednesday formed an investigation team to probe into the Quetta carnage. “The support of Punjab’s forensic agency will also be sought,” Deputy IG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema said. The team will visit the incident cite, speak to survivors and present its report soon, added Cheema.

Published in The Frontier Post

‘Death squads backed by Muslim neighbor operate in Karachi’


KARACHI: As the Rangers’ led operation against political killers and terrorist outfits like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda has been successful, the law enforcers are facing hardship in dealing with at least one lawlessness factor due to religious resistance and sectarian leanings within police force, it has reliably been learnt.

A report by a sensitive agency, a copy of which is available with The Frontier Post, has cited “constant power struggle between various political, religious and sectarian segments of the society” as a core of Karachi problem. “The power struggle is essentially geared towards having control over the financial resources”.

“Land grabbing, china-cutting and control over water hydrants and lucrative contracts in industrial areas remains the core of such confrontations,” the report reads. According to intelligence agencies, the problem is compounded by corruption and collusion of Sindh police coupled with lacunas in criminal justice system which are effectively exploited by such mafias.

Read more:  Writing on the wall

As much has been done on this front, including effective operation against political killers, operation against TTP, Al Qaeda and IS-Inspired Jihadi network in the city’s suburbs, a problem is unresolved due to some factors, yet to be overcome, a source told this scribe. “The city is also the target of international intelligence agencies being a port city”.

According to report Karachi has been the recruitment base of Al-Qaeda traditionally. “The presence of vast number of Deobandi and Ahle-Hadith Madressahs provide a rich recruiting base for terrorist organizations”.

According to security sources, bringing Madressah registration laws is part of the efforts to overcome this issue. “But there is another issue, which is far from being addressed,” a law enforcement officer told on the condition of anonymity.

“The presence of large Shia majority in areas such as Abbas town, Jaffer-e-Tayyar Society Malir, Ancholi Rizvia, New Golimar, Shah Faisal provides an excellent operational area for Iranian intelligence to make inroads”, informs the report. Multiple Shia death squads operate in Karachi and due to significant presence of Shia officers in police and law enforcement agencies the operations against such death squads could hardly ever be successful, the report reads.

“Furthermore, being financially well off and being a well connected community any arrests of target killers in past met with immensely powerful street agitations,” according to the report, informing that the Shia death squads are cleverly operating under the garb of Shia NGOs such as Jaffria disaster cell (JDC), PYAM, OYAM and Baqiatullah.

According to the report, Majlis-e-Wihdat-ul Muslimeen (MWM), the new political face of Shia community in Pakistan – which has been contesting elections in Karachi – has also formed its own death squad.

“Target killing has been a rampant phenomenon in Karachi. MQM-A has been the prominent political party using target killing as its favored tool. Atleast 12 death squad teams operated in Karachi further assisted by sector target killer teams”.

According to report the intelligence based operations have seriously reduced MQMA’s death squads’ capabilities however there are other actors using the same tool with resilience. “MQMA started to face serious fissures within it due to its Shia members breaking away from MOMA towards MWM.

“Latest reports indicate that MWM has also created its own death squads”.

According to a report by  Samaa News channel , Police have revealed that a man recently arrested on the suspicion of target killing had been working as a translator for the neighboring country’s consul general.

The man, identified as Mehdi Moosvi, was arrested by police from Shadman Town area of Karachi.  “Officials claim the suspected hit-man, allegedly involved in sectarian killings and terrorism, has made shocking disclosures during the investigation”, news channel reported and added, “He [the accused] disclosed that he has worked as translator of a neighboring country’s consul general, and has also accompanied his country’s diplomat during meetings with former Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and other high officials”.

The accused has also worked in the cyber crime cell of FIA after he helped the agency’s deputy director Kamran Ata in recovering fake degrees. Prior his association Mehdi was officer in the Axact.  On May 21, 2016, this newspaper reported anti-IS graffiti in Shia neighborhoods of the city amid reports of several youths having joined the Assad’s battle against the Middle Eastern terrorist group, IS, in Syria.

“Thousands of Shia youths have left for Iraq and Syria from different parts of the country, including Karachi whereas anti-Islamic State (IS) sentiments are touching its highest edge in Shia neighborhoods of the seaside city,” a senior official told then on the condition of anonymity.  On other hands the experts told this scribe that the growing trend of anti-IS wall-walking in Shia vicinities indicated that the community had been exposed to recruitments by the groups who are sending youths to Syria and Iraq for anti-Daish fighting.

On May 2, 2016 Iran passed a law to grant citizenship to families of Pakistani ‘martyrs’ fighting in Syria and Iraq. It’s also pertinent to mention that an earlier report published in this newspaper informed that thousands of Pakistanis have left for Syria to fight alongwith Assad’s forces. In its letter on 13th August, 2014 National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) wrote to provincial governments that over 2000 Pakistani Shia students were studying in Madaris of Najaf, Iraq where they are “brainwashed and motivated against Sunni on sectarian line and Pakistani government for alleged killing of Shia in Pakistan.”

Tariq Habib, an Islamabad based journalist, told The Frontier Post in May 2016 that known faces of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who are being placed in fourth schedule, had been advised by leadership to leave for Syria via Balochistan.

“The Shia youth recruited under the banner of ‘Al-Zainabun’ and Sunni youth fighting alongwith Diash are sent to Syria and Iraq for three and seven months, respectively. If proper strategy wasn’t adopted to counter them the sectarian violence will break all past records of Pakistan,” Habib told.

Fighting the Taliban: Bad medicine


Naimat Khan

State-backed fighters may seem like a good idea to fight insurgents, but the formula has not always worked


The romantic notion of the Pashtun fighting for his homeland against homegrown and foreign extremists was embodied by the lashkars that started to push back in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at a time when good news was desperately hard to come by. These groups of fighters and peace committees were formed to fight the Taliban as early as 2004. Since then, the Fata secretariat estimates that more than 1,400 of them and anti-Taliban elders have been killed for doing just that. The latest casualty was a former Awami National Party MPA, Muhammad Shoaib, in Swabi on July 18 this year. Many of them have, as a result, either fled to Islamabad or left the country given the threat to their lives.

This is, however, one side to the complex story of lashkars. For if history teaches us anything, it is that when states fight terrorists through private militias it has almost always been counterproductive. And while one does not mean to belittle their sacrifices, it is worth highlighting how this mechanism can also come with its own blow back. In the case of some lashkars and peace committees it has come in the shape of abuse of power.

Some committees ended up being headed or populated by men with a history of crime. An elder, Haji Imran Afridi, gives the example of the Adezai peace committee run by a former contract killer, Dilawar Khan, and the Badhbair committee that was led by a man named Fahim Khan who was found to be involved in land grabbing and extortion. These criminals now had legal cover and were provided money, arms and vehicles by the government. “The ones previously reigning through illegal arms had the government’s arms in their hands, which increased their strength manifold,” said another elder, who did not want to be named.

The police came to rely on committees. According to elder Haji Imran Afridi, the Badhbair police station would refer cases to the committee daily. A shopkeeper, who did not want to be named, corroborated this by narrating an incident in which a man who was unable to return a loan found himself facing the peace committee’s wrath after a police complaint was lodged. The police had refered the case to the committee. “[The victim] was with the women and children of his family when [the committee members] dragged him to the main bazaar,” said the shopkeeper. “I, like other shopkeepers, came out of my shop. But no one could dare question them.”

This formula for the dispensation of justice meant that committees were acting as recovery officers and judges at a jirga. “The committees soon started to pressure people by holding jirgas in which their orders would be final,” Afridi says.

Several family members of former goons-turned-committee leaders rode the crest of their power and even entered the political arena by contesting local body elections. The brother of Adezai anti-militant lashkar chief Dilawar Khan, who was later killed, stood from the platform of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The party’s provincial chief, Amir Muqam, had even attended his corner meetings.“Since the committees were close to police officers and politicians, they tried to enter politics,” explains Afridi, adding that dozens of committee members with bad reputations even won in the last local government polls.

“Peace committees, typically in Pakistan, have been formed by politically motivated individuals to put themselves in the spotlight,” says Khalid Muhammad of the think tank Command Eleven, who hails from Swat himself. “And it’s no surprise that some of the committee members have protected and provided cover for terrorists in their own communities due to the threats made against them if they were to leak information.” Take the example of Muslim Khan, the TTP Swat spokesman, who was hiding in the home of one of the peace committee members in Qambar, he adds.

147 is the number of pro-government tribal elders who have been killed in the tribal areas May 2005 to Nov 2015 (source: South Asia Terrorism Portal)

This problematic behaviour did, however, come to the notice of the authorities eventually. According to one security official, when the committee members started oppressing locals, those at the helm of affairs realized they should be checked before they turned into another Taliban force. Another security official, based in Peshawar, added: “When some of those crossed their limits a ‘safai mohim’ (cleansing drive) had to be kicked off both to get rid of them and to warn others others.”

It does seem to be counter intuitive, however, to have to discipline a force that is supposed to be on your side. “When it comes to dealing with armed groups on its soil, Pakistan stands where it stood post 9/11,” argues Asfandyar Mir, a Chicago-based scholar and counter militancy expert. “The state fights groups that are averse to its ideological project … puts up with those who deploy agreeable symbols and ideas while offering tactical utility within or outside the borders, and neglects the rest.” For him, this violence management strategy is fraught with serious risk of blowback. Remember the case of Abdullah Mehsud who had formed a peace committee against Baitullah Mehsud back in 2004?

According to one view, lashkars and peace committees have at least in many cases minimized the fatalities of the security forces and police and something must be said for that. But as the Swat-based analyst Sardar Ahmed Yousafzai puts it, how productive could they be if they are being targeted themselves?

Peace committees: who, when, how

Swat: In Swat the committees were formed directly by the army after the start of the operation in 2009 and have remained under its supervision. They had no lashkar or active fighting force and were never on the offensive. Instead, they assisted with information sharing. They would not go on patrol unlike the committees in FATA and troubled parts of settled districts. Between 40 and 90 of these members have been killed in the last seven years.

Settled districts: Unlike in Swat, the committees in the settled districts were formed by police (though the security agencies had given clearance for all of them). The committees in the settled but troubled districts of Charsadda, Nowshera, Peshawar, Lakki Marwat, DI Khan and Bannu mostly comprised men with criminal backgrounds or a bad reputation. There was no direct presence of the army, so they were on the frontlines against the Taliban’s attacks. More than 500 of these members, including 97 killed in the Shah Hassan Khel blast on January 1, 2010, have paid with their lives. They were mostly killed by militants but some recently as part of the “Safai Mohim”.

FATA: The peace committees were formed as far back as early 2004. The committees and Amn Lashkars were abolished by former KP governor, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, in 2015. He replaced the lashkar with jirgas, which were already a part of tribal culture. The committees were indigenously formed by elders and worked according to the tribal hierarchy of governance.

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist


Is Wadh becoming another Waziristan?

Wadh Balochistan 

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Considering it a huge threat to the security of upper Sindh, a law enforcement agency has urged upon the Sindh government to convince center and Balochistan for a massive crackdown against a ‘mix of different terrorist groups’ hiding in Wadh and Jhal Magsi areas of Balochistan, The Frontier Post has reliable learnt.

According to credible sources, Additional Inspector General of Police, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Sanaullah Abbasi, has written a letter to the provincial government of Sindh and other relevant quarters, in which they have been warned of more terrorist acts in upper Sindh from Balochistan areas of Wadh and Jhal Magsi in absence of decisive action them.

According to sources, the CTD after intelligence gathering has identified that a mix of separatist and religious terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, Sipaha-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and BLA, based in Wadh area of Balochistan is posing a great security threat to the upper districts of Sindh, which itself are very much vulnerable due to mushroom growth of madarasah of the same school of thoughts.

“In small villages, even those with around six houses, a madarasah has been established with ten to fifteen students studying therein,” an official told this scribe, adding that there was no record with local police regarding the number, identity of teachers and nature of curriculum being taught in these madarasah.

Even these religious seminaries, mostly established by persons having returned from Afghanistan’s trip for military training, are not registered with the Wifaq Ul Madaris Al Arabia Pakistan – the relevant Deobandi madarasah board, which keeps a check on the curriculum of registered seminaries, the official added.

The law enforcement agency has not only suggested a massive operation in Wadh and Jhal Magsi but also made it clear that without hitting Shafiq Mengal and Amanullah Zehri, who are gathering different groups at one place, no success can be achieved against the killers and terrorists.

“These groups after mixing uses expertise of each others,” an intelligence officer told, adding that hitting Mengal and Zehri to mandatory for peace.

Sources say that one wanted terrorist in Safoora Bus shooting case is also hiding in Wadh area of the Balochistan province. “Abdul Qadir aka Anwar aka Haji Baloch, a prime suspect in Safoora case, is nephew of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, an accused of World Trade Center bombing on 9/11 and brother of Yousuf Ramzi,” a source told, adding that the Indian agent Kulbhushan Yadav has also admitted to have made contacts with Haji Baloch.

It’s pertinent to mention that at least 8 people, including two cops, were injured after police foiled two separate suicide blasts during Eid prayers in Shikarpur’s Khanpur Tehsil last month. One of the cops, namely Shafiq later succumbed to his wounds during treatment in hospital.

According to reports four suicide attackers infiltrated Khanpur during Eid prayers. One of them, namely Usman, was arrested; who revealed before the interrogators that he was a resident of Swat’s Qabal tehsil and had studied in Karachi’s Abu Huraira seminary.

Usman told that he had come from ‘Wadh’ area of the Balochistan.

Published in The Frontier Post