5 years, 9 months ago
Pakistan’s planners now see their objective as isolating radicals within the Taliban and cultivating tribal, rustic, even simplistic, “Taliban boys” – just as they did in the mid-1990s in the leadup to the Taliban taking control of the country in 1996. It is envisaged that this new “acceptable” tribal-inspired Taliban leadership will displace Taliban and al-Qaeda radicalism.
This process has already begun in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
A leading Pakistani Taliban leader, Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan, who runs the largest Pakistani Taliban network against coalition troops in Afghanistan, recently convened a large meeting at which it was resolved to once again drive out radical Uzbeks from South Waziristan. This happened once before, early last year.
In particular, Nazeer will take action against the Uzbeks’ main backer, Pakistani Taliban hardliner Baitullah Mehsud, if he tries to intervene. Nazeer openly shows his loyalty towards the Pakistani security forces and has reached out to other powerful Pakistani Taliban leaders, including Moulvi Faqir from Bajaur Agency, Shah Khalid from Mohmand Agency and Haji Namdar in Khyber Agency. Nazeer also announced the appointment of the powerful commander of North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, as the head of the Pakistani Taliban for all Pakistan.
The bulk of the Pakistani Taliban has always been pro-Pakistan and opposed to radical forces like Baitullah Mehsud and his foreign allies, but this is the first time they have set up a formal organization and appointed an amir (chief) as a direct challenge to the radicals.
Pitiful, this plan was. It refused to acknowledge the conversion of the Taliban to the Next-Gen Taliban. This evolution has been one of increasing radicalization and focus towards global expansion. The plan also neglects to mention the tens of thousands of fighters that Mehsud has at his disposal.
The Captain’s Journal weighed in making Nazeer’s situation clear.
There it is in a nutshell – the Pakistan strategy for the war on terror. The Pakistani military isn’t concerned about Nazeer’s military actions against the coalition in Afghanistan. They are siding with one Taliban faction against another in the hopes of the stability of the Pakistani government. Afghanistan is the sacrificial lamb in this deal.
As for the brave Nazeer’s first actions in this deal? Yes, it’s driving out those powerful Uzbeks from Pakistan! Without them the landscape takes a turn for the idyllic according the Pakistani military strategy. As for Baitullah Mehsud who has around 20,000 fighters, he will likely have none of this. Nazeer’s life will be in serious danger very soon if he pursues this plan.
The Asia Times follows up a week later with the latest in this ridiculous tale (extensive citation is necessary).
Al-Qaeda was wise to the ploy, though, and the proxies were last Friday wiped out before they could even gain a toehold.
A senior Pakistani militant affiliated with al-Qaeda’s setup told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, “Pakistan and the Saudi establishment tried to create a conspiracy, taking advantage of some tribal feuds between Taliban commanders coming from [tribal] Wazir and Mehsud backgrounds, and planted their proxy network to hijack the whole Taliban movement.
“But on Friday there was a clash in Mohmand Agency in which Taliban commanders close to Baitullah Mehsud terminated the leadership [of the proxies], including Shah Khalid, the local leader of the pro-government Taliban. The move to hijack the Taliban movement vanished into smoke,” the militant said.
At least 15 people, including Khalid, the chief of a militant outfit known as the “Shah group”, and his deputy, Qari Abdullah, were killed in the fighting. (State-run PTV, however, reported that Khalid had been killed after surrendering to militants loyal to Mehsud.)
Khalid’s group had previously been involved only in fighting United States-led forces in Afghanistan and was not interested in local Pakistani affairs. But it recently became a part of a newly formed group headed by North Waziristan’s Wazir tribal commander, Gul Bahadur, to rival al-Qaeda’s franchise – Mehsud’s network …
Mehsud is now on the offensive, all too aware of the establishment’s schemes to undermine him and al-Qaeda.
Since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan has tried to drive al-Qaeda from the seat of the ideological throne of the Afghan resistance against Western armies by encouraging local Afghan commanders to structure the resistance on tribal lines.
In the broader picture, Pakistan envisaged this would improve the chances of reconciliation between the tribal movement and the Western armies, and the tribals would eventually be tolerated as the rulers of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s connections would in the process remain intact in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda would be alienated …
As a follow up, Mullah Omar’s delegates, including Ustad Yasir and Qari Ziaur Rahman, issued a strict warning that such intra-Taliban bloodletting was not acceptable and that in the future all fighters would work under one umbrella with no stand-alone activities tolerated. This is a clear message to the rivals of Baitullah.
Isn’t it odd that Pakistani ISI hatched a plot - for all of their alleged knowledge and understanding of the region and its inhabitants, their intelligence, and their skills in black operations and behind-the-scenes-deals - that collapses so badly within a week of birth, while The Captain’s Journal submits open-source analysis that nails the future with perfection? And TCJ supplies this analysis free to the DoD and CIA.
Perhaps now these anemic, cheap imitations of the Anbar awakening can be dismissed and operations begun against the Taliban.