Pakistani military

Some reminders on Pakistan Independence Day

On March 26th, 1971, West Pakistan commenced Operation Searchlight, a series of military crackdowns aiming to restrict and contain the movements for Bengali independence. 250 000 to 3 000 000 people were killed at the hands of the Pakistani military and smaller militias. Up to 400 000 Bangladeshi women were raped during the 9 month war for independence. 

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Thousands of Pakistani Hazaras have been killed at the hands of anti-Shia extremist groups since 1998. Anti-Shia militant groups threatened to make Pakistan a “graveyard for Shia Hazaras,” should they refuse to leave the country. Regular target killings and sporadic attacks on the Hazara community have  received little attention from Pakistani authorities. Hundreds of Hazaras were killed in 2013 during a series of attacks on Shia communities. International and domestic human rights organizations like HRCP have accused the Pakistani government of looking the other way, and downright complicity, in the face of anti-Shia and Hazara-ethnic persecution. 

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In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, members of the region are faced with realities like unlawful detainments, kidnappings, and the regular practice of torture. The HRCP has reported on multiple incidents where Kashmiris belonging to pro-independence groups, and also members of the press, have been kidnapped, unlawfully detained and tortured at the hands of the ISI. Many of these torture sessions have resulted in death. The Asian Legal Resource Centre has reported tens of hundreds of residents have tracelessly vanished after being arrested by police personnel. 

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Upwards of 8000 Shia Muslims have been killed in Pakistan at the hands of militant groups like Lakshar-e-Jhangvi and the TTP since 2001. Though attacks against Shia Muslims and other minority-sect Muslims occur regularly, the response from Pakistani authorities has been minimal. The government’s involvement with, and the failure to capture and prosecute known militants and terrorists seeking responsibility for attacks against minority sect Muslims is well documented. Human rights groups have accused the government of displaying sympathy and complicity in regards to militant groups carrying out these attacks. 

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Today on August 14th, 2015, it is important to remember that there are many Pakistanis living within the state and abroad that may not find comfort in soft-served nationalism, in patriotic banners and songs and celebrations. It is important to remember that many people are still mourning, suffering and struggling to recover from acts of violence and state-administered abuse towards themselves and their families. It is important to remember how difficult it is to stand for a country that does not stand for you, to remain loyal to a country that does not maintain loyalty for you, to recognize a country that does not recognize you. As millions of people today celebrate on August 14th, 2015, it is important to remember and stand by those who are unable to celebrate a country that does not protect them and their loved ones. 

Next Up: Pakistan

By Justin Raimondo,, July 11, 2011
Suddenly Islamabad is on the verge of being classified as part of the Axis of Evil, with the head of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mullen, openly accusing the Pakistanis of “sanctioning” the killing of a journalist, and allying with a faction of the Taliban. Since when does a military man–the titular uniformed head of the US armed force, no less–speak out on such sensitive political matters? Why, when he has the full backing of the White House.

The new accusations add fuel to the fire started by the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad lair, where he had been hiding for years. The Pakistan-haters in the administration–of which there seem to be plenty–were quick to draw the conclusion that he’d been hiding with the knowledge and cooperation of the Pakistani military–because of the hideout’s proximity to an elite military academy. Which is odd, since it is well known that al-Qaeda operatives were living in the US for years, undetected, as they planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Heck, FBI agents in the field warned Washington after one of the terrorists took flight training lessons and was reported for suspicious activities–to no avail. What if someone in Pakistan had reported similarly suspicious activity in Abbottabad to the local authorities, and no action had been taken–in the view of the anti-Pakistan crowd, wouldn’t that constitute prima facie proof of Islamabad’s guilt?

The ultimate prize for US imperialism in the Middle East–the jewel in the crown of the emerging American empire–is Iran, long the chief target of the War Party’s attention. Yet they don’t have either the resources or the political support for such an attack, and so the strategy, for the time being, is encirclement. First, Iraq and Afghanistan, buttressing the substantial US military presence in the Gulf–and now, Pakistan.

Shorn of its obstreperous military leaders, who entertain delusions of autonomy, Pakistan will be fully integrated into the American orbit–and Iran will be surrounded on all sides.

While keeping the heat on for a direct attack on Iran, the powerful pro-Israel lobby–the driving force behind the anti-Iran crowd–is biding its time, confident they’ll win in the end. In the meantime, they are carefully building up momentum for the final push toward war, and a key part of that is agitating for a complete break in US-Pakistan relations.

The Lobby’s fingerprints are all over the latest anti-Pakistani agitprop. It was one Simon Henderson, described as the resident “expert” on Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), who recently released an alleged letter from a top official of the North Korean regime “proving” Pakistan supplied Pyongyang with nuclear technology. WINEP was founded by Martin Indyk, former research director of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as an “academic” adjunct to AIPAC, the primary conduit of pro-Israel propaganda in the US.

That this letter is a forgery seems almost beyond doubt: after all, why would a North Korean write a letter to a Pakistani in English? And, come to think of it, why would such a letter be written at all, given its highly incriminating content? Yet–as recent history shows–when it comes to disseminating US government propaganda, such outlets as the Washington Post and the New York Times don’t have very high standards. Nobody really cares if any of this is credible, let alone true: the idea is to hurl such a barrage of accusations that a general impression of Pakistan’s perfidy will be created. Where there’s smoke…

Signs of Iran’s warming relations with Pakistan culminated in the agreement to build a gas pipeline that will transport Iranian gas to Pakistani ports, throwing the hard-pressed regime in Tehran an economic lifeline. The pipeline is expected to be operational in six months. This does much to explain the recent flurry of anti-Pakistan rhetoric coming out of Washington.

As I have said repeatedly, US foreign policy is all about domestic politics. AIPAC is one of the strongest and most feared of the Washington lobbies. It exerts a dominant influence on US foreign policy in the “Near East” (one might ask WINEP: “Near to what?”) and has been relentlessly beating the drums for war with Iran. In this election year, President Obama–already beleaguered–can hardly afford to ignore their complaints that he isn’t moving decisively on the Iran front.

A war weary public can hardly be expected to begin clamoring for the invasion and occupation of a country several times larger and more populous than Iraq, yet that is hardly enough to deter the Obama administration from laying the groundwork for an attack. That’s what the sudden backstabbing of Pakistan is all about.

A suitable pretext will have to be established, naturally, before Washington can make any overt moves: perhaps the Pakistani military will be deemed a “threat” to “Pakistani democracy”–such as it is. In any case, the prospect of yet another military coup in Islamabad is hardly shocking–in which case, one scenario might involve the US military coming to the “aid” of President Asif Ali Zardari (popularly known by his nickname of “Mr. Ten Percent”). Another set up for US intervention could conceivably involve an alleged “terrorist threat” to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal: it’s well known the Americans have contingency plans in place already. Or–the easy route–would be to simply declare al-Qaeda had migrated en masse to Pakistan, and increase our military presence gradually but exponentially, which is the course we are presently on.

At this point, war with–or in–Pakistan seems almost inevitable.

Pakistani Pry school attack, 126 now dead, siege ends 

Pakistani Pry school attack, 126 now dead, siege ends 

Pakistani military has stopped today’s attack by Islamic terror sect, the Taliban, on a military run school in Peshawar, a Northwestern city in Pakistan. 126 persons, including 84 youngsters have been affirmed dead.

See photographs from the episode and a rundown of dead bodies got at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan.

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Why Pakistan is a mess, again

By Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, August 13, 2014

Pakistan’s Independence Day is on Aug. 14, but this year the occasion is marked by national crisis, not unity. The country is braced for heated protests on Thursday against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Key opposition leaders have called for protests and a march on the capital Islamabad from Lahore, leading authorities to set up barricades of shipping containers on the main highway connecting the two cities. Islamabad is under virtual lockdown, with shops closed and thousands of police and security forces deployed.

In the state of Punjab, Sharif’s traditional power base, some 1,000 opposition activists have already been arrested. Meanwhile, commentators are spying the long shadow of Pakistan’s military in the unrest. The army, of course, has precedent for intervention: the last time being in 1999, when none other than Sharif was the prime minister. How did it come to this?

Last year, Pakistan achieved the first successful and democratic transfer of civilian power in its history, with the party of Sharif, who returned from exile in 2007, surging to victory after a boisterous campaign. Prime minister now for the third time, Sharif had a strong electoral mandate and a comfortable majority in national parliament. It seemed he was in pole position to sort out Pakistan’s epic energy woes, lay the groundwork for its economic recovery and take on the larger struggle of strengthening its civilian institutions.

But the country’s fractious politics did not conform to the new script. Sharif has irked the military with, among other things, his attempt to jail the man who unseated him in a coup–Gen. Pervez Musharraf–on charges of high treason. (The case is ongoing.) “As Sharif attempts to hold a general accountable, there is a backlash not just from the army but also the political segments that think of the military as the savior,” says Raza Rumi, a prominent Pakistani journalist and senior fellow at the Jinnah Institute.

His efforts so far to stabilize an economy that was on the brink of default have been positive, writes Ahmed Humayun, a South Asia fellow at the Atlantic Council, but “have yet to significantly impact the daily lives of most Pakistanis.” Electricity shortages remain a persistent fact of life, with many Pakistanis disappointed by the lack of progress made by Sharif, a politician celebrated for his business acumen.

All the while, Pakistan’s militant insurgencies continued to rage and Sharif’s political opponents sharpened their knives.

The two figures spearheading the Aug. 14 protests are, on paper, rather dissimilar. Imran Khan, the head of the Movement for Justice party (known by its acronym, PTI), is a former playboy and star cricketer who has turned into a firebrand politician. His party, buoyed by support from the urban middle class, emerged from obscurity to eventually win 35 seats in last year’s election, but Khan believes he was cheated of victory by Sharif’s party and is seeking an audit of the vote and early elections. Most independent observers acknowledge that there were irregularities during the election, but they affected many candidates and were not significant enough to have changed the final outcome.

The PTI plans a “freedom march” from Lahore to Islamabad on Thursday, despite warnings from Sharif’s government against such a demonstration. Its party workers were preparing fitfully, as this tweet from one of Pakistan’s leading dailies shows:

Separate from Khan, but equal in his opportunism, is Tahir ul Qadri, a moderate Muslim preacher with a home in Canada and a substantial following in Pakistan. Qadri’s political demands are less clear than those of Khan, though the Economist brands both their present activities as part of a “a shameless power grab.”

In January of last year, Qadri brought Islamabad to a standstill when his followers massed in anti-corruption protests. He now seeks a caretaker, technocratic government and a complete refashioning of Pakistan’s political system. His “Revolution” march will merge with that of Khan’s Movement for Justice.

There are real grievances, to be sure. Part of the problem, says Rumi, in an e-mail to WorldViews, is “the inability of political elites to develop rules of business, undertake wide ranging electoral and political reforms that would enhance the credibility of the democratic process.” There is also a palpable disillusionment within some sections of Pakistani society with the country’s civilian leadership. Says Rumi: “There’s a growing discontent among a rapidly-urbanizing Pakistan where expectations are high and old style politics of dynasties, bureaucratic management are viewed with suspicion.”

Such frustrations are hardly unique to Pakistan and were aired energetically this year during elections in neighboring India. But Pakistan does not have India’s relative democratic stability.

Instead, many fear the military coming to the fore in the coming days, particularly if Sharif takes a hard-line approach to the growing dissent. Humayun, of the Atlantic Council, suggests one possible scenario where the top brass could reassert itself:

This will especially be the case if Sharif overreacts and law enforcement authorities exhibit excessive force against demonstrators, creating political fodder for Sharif’s opponents. In such an instance, the army may put pressure on Sharif to hold elections early–either later in 2014 or early in 2015. However, if Sharif does not oblige, then direct military intervention followed by the installation of a caretaker government is not out of the question.

Despite its checkered history of meddling in the country’s politics, Pakistan’s military is still a widely admired institution. In recent years, it appeared to have retreated somewhat into the barracks, despite the fact that it retains a controlling interest in foreign policy and the administration of the country’s economy.

Given the complexities and challenges any entity would have in governing Pakistan, it’s likely there’s little appetite for a new coup. Michael Kugelman, a South Asia scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, sums it up:

I don’t think Pakistan’s military has any desire to be directly saddled with the unprecedented challenges the government faces now; it much prefers to influence matters from behind the scenes. In other words, the time isn’t right for the military to take over.

Narendra Modi pushes India to wage war against Pakistan

Narendra Modi pushes India to wage war against Pakistan

LONDON (INP)- Political and military officers in both countries and officials in New Delhi say the ceasefire violations that have killed nearly 20 civilians escalated because of a more assertive Indian posture under the new government of nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a report in International Business Times said Sunday.

“The message we have been given from the prime minister’s office…

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Pakistani Pry school attack, 126 now dead, siege ends 

Pakistani military has stopped today’s attack by Islamic terror sect, the Taliban, on a military run school in Peshawar, a Northwestern city in Pakistan. 126 persons, including 84 youngsters have been affirmed dead.

See photographs from the episode and a rundown of dead bodies got at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan.

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Pakistan army wants Zardari out but not a coup

By Michael Georgy, Reuters, Dec. 21, 2011
ISLAMABAD (Reuters)–Pakistan’s powerful army is fed up with unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari and wants him out of office, but through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country’s 64 years of independence, military sources said.

Tensions are rising between Pakistan’s civilian leaders and its generals over a memo that accused the army of plotting a coup after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

“Who isn’t fed up with Zardari? It’s not just the opposition and the man on the street but people within the government too,” said one military source who asked not to be named.

“But there has to be a proper way. No action is being planned by the army. Even if we tried, it would be very unpopular and not just with the government and the opposition but most Pakistanis too.”

General Ashfaq Kayani has pledged to keep the military out of Pakistani politics since taking over as army chief in 2007.

Any coup–Pakistan has had three since independence in 1947–could further tarnish the military’s public image which has already taken a battering after the bin Laden operation, widely seen in Pakistan as a violation of sovereignty.

But the army remains the arbiter of power and analysts say it has plenty of ways to pressure Zardari to step down, especially if a link is established between him and the memo, which sought the Pentagon’s help in averting a feared coup.

Friction between Pakistan’s civilian government and military have bedeviled the nuclear-armed South Asian country for almost its entire existence, with the military ruling for more than half its 64-year history after a series of coups.

In the past the army has asked Pakistani civilian leaders to resign and influenced judicial proceedings against them.

One of the military sources suggested that no direct action would be needed against the government because it had already made so many mistakes.

“If the government is digging its own grave, we are not going to look for spades,” the source said.

Pakistan Quake Death Toll Rises To 356

Pakistan Quake Death Toll Rises To 356

Islamabad, Pakistan – The death toll from the strong earthquake that struck southwestern Pakistan this week has risen to 356 as rescue workers struggle to reach victims, authorities said Thursday.
Further complicating relief efforts, two rockets were fired at — and missed — a…

Islamabad, Pakistan – The death toll from the strong…

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US drone strike kills eleven in northwest Pakistan

A US drone strike targeting a Pakistani Taliban compound on Saturday killed eleven insurgents in the country’s restive northwestern tribal region near the border with Afghanistan, officials said. The attack came in North Waziristan, where for the past month the Pakistani military has been fighting to wipe out longstanding bases of Taliban and other militants. “The drone fired eight missiles on the compound around 2:00am (2100 GMT) on Saturday killing eleven members of the Punjabi faction of the Pakistani Taliban,” a senior security official in the region told AFP. The official said the dead included two “important” commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, but he refused to reveal their identities.
Source: AFP
Pakistan's Government Steps Down, a Milestone

By Declan Walsh, NY Times, March 16, 2013
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan–Pakistan’s fragile democracy reached a milestone on Saturday when the government stepped down at the end of its five-year term, setting the stage for elections due to take place by mid-May.

The action was a first in a country where the powerful military has regularly ousted civilian governments, either directly through coups or indirectly through constitutional maneuvers, and it offered hope that the parliamentary system was maturing.

Still, a faltering economy and widespread militant violence have left many Pakistanis grumbling about the lack of tangible dividends from democracy, and the governing Pakistan Peoples Party, whose performance has been widely criticized, will face a strong challenge from the opposition leader, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Recent polls indicate that the party of Mr. Sharif, who was ousted in a military coup in 1999, is the favorite to win the vote. A Gallup poll in February gave his party 27 percent support, with the Pakistan Peoples Party running a distant second. Since analysts say he is unlikely to muster an outright majority, a range of ethnic, regional and religious parties could hold the balance of power in determining a coalition government.

Other personalities and factors are also expected to play a role. The cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who has campaigned heavily against corruption and in opposition to American drone strikes, hopes to eat into Mr. Sharif’s support base in Punjab Province, which accounts for over half of the 272 elected seats in Parliament.

The former military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has vowed to return from exile on March 24 to contest the election, even though he faces criminal prosecution in court cases related to his rule between 1999 and 2008.

And Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, a charismatic preacher who led thousands of supporters into central Islamabad for a protracted sit-in last January, says he will help ensure the integrity of the election.

In a crucial development, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has emphasized that he fully supports the elections, and there are few indications that the military is backing any one party. “The military is apparently standing aloof and letting the battle be fought among politicians, which is a rare thing and a healthy one,” said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency.

We are sick of military action in FATA as it has not eliminated the Taliban but killed, injured and displaced innocent people.

The tribal population has been facing a hard time since the Pakistan army took control of FATA in 2004. The army, primarily sent to fight Taliban militants, has caused a mass exodus from the conflict area. The insurgents stay unharmed.

About 2.1 million people from FATA are now living in the nearby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. They are in deep distress as they have had to give up their jobs, businesses and farming activity.

—  Khan Bahadar, president of the FATA Students Federation (FSF) (via Inter Press Service)
Musharraf arrest tempts clash of powers

By Richard Leiby, Washington Post, April 19, 2013
ISLAMABAD–Pakistani Police arrested former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and confined him to his opulent farm house Friday in what he criticized as “politically motivated” case that centers on his 2007 suspension of the constitution and mass firing of senior judges.

The former autocrat’s arrest, after he dramatically fled from court Thursday to avoid detention, pits an increasingly assertive judiciary against a powerful military leadership that considers Musharraf one of its own.

If successfully prosecuted, he would be the first former army chief to go to prison in Pakistan’s 65-year history, which includes long stretches of military rule and coups such as the one Musharraf launched to gain power in 1999.

While some political analysts said they could foresee a destabilizing battle between the courts and the army if the retired general is put in the dock, others predict a clean and quick resolution that avoids seeing Musharraf humiliated.

That also would damp down the tumultuous nation’s temperature at a time when it is heading into a national election on May 11 that will bring an unprecedented handoff of power between elected governments.

“Some say if it opens a Pandora’s box then let it be,” military analyst Ejaz Haider said of the prospect of a Musharraf trial on what amounts to treason charges.

“But a more politic thing to do would be, instead of dragging this whole thing on, to not physically punish the man but punish him symbolically and therefore punish symbolically all the usurpers and abettors.”

The case also is sure to suck in other leaders in the civilian and military branches who were entwined in Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule in his futile bid to cling to power.

“It was not his sole effort” said Khalid Ranjha, a former law minister under Musharraf. “There is a skeleton in every body’s cupboard, unfortunately. … He is being scapegoated. And many of us are hiding our own vices in his prosecution.”

anonymous asked:

What about the Pakistani military?

R u seriously saying the pak military is different than the American military

The pak military which has single handedly destroyed the nation that has kept the nation in absolute poverty

Ppl literally eating grass because of the military
In Pakistan, big perks and big risks to being a journalist

By Taha Siddiqui, CS Monitor, November 27, 2012
Islamabad, Pakistan–Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist known for being antigovernment and antimilitary, escaped an assassination attempt yesterday when a bomb planted under his car failed to explode.

“It is a message to me … and the journalist community,” Mr. Mir said on air to Geo News, where he works.

That message is clear: You’re reporting something we don’t want you to report.

Although he received threats from the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the death threat because he spoke against the group’s attack last month on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, many within the journalist community here believe it was Mir’s criticism of the Pakistani military that may have made him a target.

“These are dirty tricks orchestrated by the security agencies,” says Matiullah Jan, who hosts a daily television show for Waqt News in Islamabad on media accountability. “When they cannot pay [bribe] someone, they attack the journalists. There are many journalists who are mouthpieces of [the security] establishment. There is obvious corruption.”

Mr. Jan was himself attacked a few years ago and suspects Pakistan intelligence agencies were behind it.

“I was doing a story on the chief of ISI then–Gen. Pasha and a military trial wrongly conducted under his watch–and that is when I was attacked by a brick that hit my car while I was driving in Islamabad,” Jan says.

Pakistan was ranked as the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists this year in a report released by the United Nations. And the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent international body to defend press freedom, ranked Pakistan as the most dangerous country in both 2010 and 2011.

More than 90 Pakistani journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 2000, and none of the cases have been solved. Journalists say they face threats not only from terrorists, but also from the powerful military establishment.

“It is hard for us to report without pressures in a balanced, fair way with military on one side and the Taliban on the other,” says Safdar Dawar, president of the Tribal Union of Journalists. He recently received an international human rights award for his reporting from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

“Some selected journalists even receive monthly payments from the intelligence agencies,” Jan says, adding that it’s common for prominent journalists to be offered property from the government at cheaper rates with the expectation that they report favorably of the government or military. Indeed, there are “media colonies” in every major city of Pakistan, where the Pakistani government has allocated land to journalists on subsidized rates.

He says nobody dares approach him because they know he will expose them.

“The military, the Taliban, and other stakeholders … now know the importance of media coverage. They know [that] without journalists, they cannot achieve their desired objectives, and hence we are sometimes threatened and other times offered bribes,” Mr. Dawar says.

Zaman Khan, an activist working for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, adds, “The government and intelligence agencies have billions of rupees of secret funds as reported by the press itself. This money is used to buy allegiance of journalists and therefore to silence them against the authorities.”

Mr. Khan points, also, to the unsolved case of Saleem Shahzad, who was abducted from Islamabad and found dead last year.

“Except for Daniel Pearl, who was a foreign journalist, none of the journalist murders have been solved,” Khan says, adding that the underlying reason is monetary corruption in the ranks of media, which creates divisions.

India - the only external threat: Pakistani military - Economic Times:
Zee News

India - the only external threat: Pakistani military
Economic Times
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan military has told a parliamentary committee that India is the only external threat to the country and the situation with regard to ties was volatile in the wake of the suspended Indo-Pak dialogue. The Senate defence committee led by …
India is the only external threat, says Pakistani militaryFirstpost
Pak Army says India only external threat to nationBusiness Standard

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A Long History of Rebellion in the Mountains of Pakistan

By Douglas Schorzman and Kiran Nazish, NY Times, June 30, 2014

The North Waziristan tribal agency in northwestern Pakistan has been the focus of a lot of firepower: The C.I.A. has made it ground zero for its drone strike campaign, the Pakistani military has sporadically unleashed raids and barrages there, and now it has been stormed by Pakistani infantry forces trying to clear out entrenched militant groups.

But long before Al Qaeda and the Taliban found shelter in the forbidding mountains of the tribal region, Waziristan was a wellspring of guerrilla insurgency and resistance to whatever power had tried to bring it in line. The Pashtun tribes of Waziristan have never been truly conquered, and courting them as allies has almost always ended up backfiring on whoever has tried–ask the British, Pakistanis, Afghans and, for that matter, the Americans.

From the mid-19th century until their departure in 1947, British forces fought Pashtun rebels in Waziristan at huge losses of life to both sides. Then, as now, the tribesmen knew the mountains and treacherous pathways better, and were never completely jarred loose, even by the 20th-century dawn of airstrikes, delivered by British biplanes.

In the strategic maneuvering of “The Great Game,” the British imposed the Durand Line border with Afghanistan in 1893, and in the process divided the Pashtun population. To this day, that border is an irritant to governments and a fiction to inhabitants.

In the decades after, Pashtun fighters waged a new jihad that spanned governments: first against the declining British Empire, then against the Pakistani government founded in the partition of 1947. One of their goals was an autonomous Pashtunistan, spanning the Durand Line, and at times they were aided covertly by the Afghan government.

Even as the fledgling Pakistani government fought the Pashtuns, they also sought to employ them, paying tribal fighters to deploy against India. That effort reached new heights in the 1980s, after the Soviet invasion next door in Afghanistan.

Suddenly, Pashtun jihadis were the allies of choice for Pakistani, Saudi and American officials who were trying to bloody the Soviets, and Waziristan–rugged, impregnable, close to the border–was the perfect training ground for them. Money and arms, and thousands of volunteers from the Arab world, flowed into North and South Waziristan under the watch of the Pakistani military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, and with the blessing of the United States.

The relationships and expertise forged in the fight against the Soviets became the foundation for new militant movements after the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, this time in the Taliban insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in the global terrorism campaign directed from the tribal areas by Al Qaeda against the United States and Western world.

The Pakistani military struck a tenuous peace deal with the Waziristan-based factions a few years later, but as it fell apart, many of the army’s former allies among the militants turned against it and the Pakistani government. Crackdowns on the tribal areas intensified, and a military offensive in South Waziristan and other areas of the northwestern frontier was waged in 2009. The assault sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing, including militant commanders, who moved north to join their comrades in the even more rugged terrain of North Waziristan.

Since then, drone strikes have cut into the militants’ leadership ranks. But for the most part, the militant groups sheltering in the mountains of North Waziristan were able to kill or force out resistant tribal leaders, share resources and grow stronger together for years. “There is no militant group in the world that you won’t find here,” one tribal leader said in a telephone interview. “From Uzbeks, to Chechen, to Chinese and Turkish militants, everyone is free in N.W.”

Now, the Pakistani military has marched into Miram Shah and Mir Ali, the main towns in North Waziristan. Again, a huge wave of refugees has been created, with many crossing the gossamer border into Afghanistan, where the political process is struggling and the American military is withdrawing. With those refugees, many officials say, are again a number of militant commanders and fighters.