FROM PNS MEHRAN TO UPPER DIR

PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER

Who is responsible for the recent worsening situation along the Pak-Afghan borders; Taliban, NATO forces, the Afghan government or the foreign sponsored miscreants ; surely not a difficult question to be answered. The so-called militant-attacks on a security check post in Upper Dir on the first of June, 2011 continued for more than thirty six hours and ended taking lives of many innocent local people as well as of people from security forces. The security forces of Pakistan did all their best to crush the insurgency and now the situation is under complete control. Meanwhile, a 5,000-strong lashkar consisting of the local people has been formed in Upper Dir which will conduct joint operations with the military against the insurgents. The members of the lashkar vowed to establish peace at all costs.

The unity of time and action always plays an important role in occurrence of any incident. The important thing to be noted with reference to the recent Dir insurgency is that the attacks on border check-post came at the time when U.S is stressing Pakistan to do more against militants. A few days back the NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen also stressed Pakistan to intensify the war on Pak-Afghan border. On the other hand the western media as well as the Indian media is reporting the incident as a militant attack but the reality seems altogether different. Various political and defence sections of Pakistan are taking these attacks as a very serious type of engineered insurgency, an attempt to violate the geographical boundaries of Pakistan; an effort nothing different from that which the US guided NATO drones have been doing for the last many years. Moreover this attack could be taken as an attempt to distort the Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir while conveying his concerns to the Ambassador of Afghanistan stressed the need for stern action by the Afghan Army, US and NATO/ISAF forces in the area against the miscreants and their hideouts in Afghanistan. He also condemned organizational support provided to the terrorists from within the Afghan boundaries.

Here the question arises; who were the attackers, Taliban militants or Islamist extremists or miscreants patronized by the so-called warriors of war against terrorism. According to the details provided by the media the well-equipped attackers were wearing military and police uniforms and they were 200 to 300 in number. They were in no manners tribal warriors; they were looking like trained military commandos. The involvement of attackers of the same commando get-up was also noted in the Mehran naval base attacks at Karachi and GHQ Islamabad as well. It would be nothing but a criminal ignorance if incidents like that of Upper Dir are considered simply an act of Taliban militancy and Islamist extremism. There could be so many other probabilities behind the scene. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, talking to the Afghan Islamic Press disowned the attacks in Upper Dir district. He said, “We have nothing to do with acts of sabotage in Pakistan. We are facing a big enemy in Afghanistan and fighting its forces. We are active neither in Pakistan nor any other part of the world. Our operations are restricted to Afghanistan.” Zabihullah Mujahid further stressed, “Not a single Afghan Talib took part in the Dir attacks. These are false and baseless allegations leveled against us. What happened in Dir is not a problem related to us.”

The crust of the matter is that no insurgency from the Afghan side into Pakistan is possible without the consent and support of the NATO troops. No such incident could ever have happened if the NATO troops were serious in stopping the miscreants. Pakistan has always been complaining of the irresponsible behaviour of the NATO hi-ups regarding the deployment of troops along the Pak-Afghan borders. It has been so many times in media that NATO doesn’t deploy enough troops along the Pak-Afghan border to avoid cross-border insurgency but on other hand it is always expected from Pakistan to put a strict check on the movement of militants across Pak-Afghan border. Though there is a long and tedious mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan that makes it easy for Afghan fighters to cross over for attacks but they rarely attack Pakistani side of the border as per their tribal traditions. The people living along the Pak-Afghan borders belong to the same Pashtun origin. They have centuries old blood relations based on a lot of cultural and religious similarities. So it is impossible for them to target their Pashtun brothers. The recent attack was not an attack on the security check-post because the attackers not only blew up at least five schools but also took lives of eight civilians including two teens, four women and a local religious leader. Moreover most of the security persons martyred in the attack also belonged to the Pashtun origin.

In short, it is something very illogical to held Taliban responsible for every act of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban have their own way and style of doing militant actions. They never disown what they do. If we want to seek the truth and trace the reality, we will have to review carefully all terrorist activities in Pakistan from the terrorists’ attacks on the GHQ to the attacks on Mehran naval base Karachi in which the terrorists had no other target but the P3C Orion aircrafts. But again it will be a grievous folly if we ignore the Raymond Davis episode which was simply an eye-opener we unfortunately turned a blind eye to.

The writer is a Pakistan based analyst on defence and strategic affairs.

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