Thousands attend funeral
of militants in Waziristan July 16, in a show of anti-US feelings
Government in Pakistan, Set up With Musharraf's Help
Khawar Mehdi Rizvi
August 9: Despite tall claims of eliminating Al-Qaeda from the
troubled Northern areas, Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf
has, in practice, handed over the once hotbed of foreign militants,
the South Waziristan Agency, to a former Taliban Commander, until
recently a wanted terrorist by the Army.
Mahsood, who had a head money of several hundred thousand rupees
is now running his own Government in the Agency, and in Taliban
to facilitate ‘Commander’ Baitullah Mahsood, General
Musharraf has withdrawn all Pakistan Army troops from the area
Under Mahsood’s control.
is another episode of the many double games being played by General
Musharraf with the Western world and specially the US which is
providing millions of dollars to the Pakistan Army to control
and eliminate these terrorists. Instead, Musharraf is not only
pocketing the money, he is allowing declared terrorists to return
Taliban militia is back in power, now inside Pakistan and is transforming
the area into its fiefdom,” a tribal elder told this correspondent
from Dera Ismail Khan on telephone. The elder, who wanted to remain
anonymous for obvious reasons, described the situation in the
agency as “atrocious” like it was in pre-September
2001 Afghanistan, under the Taliban rule.
Baitullah Mahsood has banned,
television, satellite dishes, music and videos declaring them
un-Islamic. Kids cannot play cricket as it is described as the
game of infidels. Shops are forced to close during the prayer
timings, and those who try to skip the prayers are forced to proceed
to the mosques.
Women have been asked not to dress
other than the local traditional cloths. Common people are asked
to contact the local Taliban commander to resolve their personal
disputes. Groups of Taliban carrying AK-47 rifles and rocket launchers
are being sent to remote villages with the orders of their hard
line leaders. These Taliban call jirgas in village mosques and
do not tolerate defiance.
have also been issued to criminals. “Any one found involved
in a crime including theft, robbery or drug trade will face cutting
of the hand, the punishment prescribed in Sharia laws.”
are reports that some of the criminals were arrested, paraded
in public and taken away to unknown place.
What has stunned the local population
is the sudden transformation of fortunes of the former Taliban
leaders and supporters and how those who were until recently hunted
by the Pakistan Army for months, had gained legitimacy and returned
The Army operation in South Waziristan
had claimed hundreds of lives and Pakistan Army had suffered heavy
casualties as well. The summer operation last year caused losses
of millions in damaged or destroyed property alone. Thousands
of inhabitants were displaced from their native villages and are
still forced to live in tough conditions elsewhere, either in
Tribal Areas or adjacent cities of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.
marginally started improving in Mahsood territories of South Waziristan
Agency when Baitullah and his followers entered into a peace
dialogue with the Pakistan Army, responding to a general amnesty
offered by General Musharraf. A ceasefire was announced on February
the 2nd this year in a crowded signing ceremony attended by Corps
Commander Peshawar and Baitullah Mahsood
Both sides stopped attacking each
other. Army started pulling back the troops as displaced locals
started returning to their homes. Tribal leaders guaranteed law
and order in their part of agency. Tribesmen also gave a commitment
not to provide shelter to illegal foreigners and to hand over
wanted individuals to authorities. Earlier the military authorities
had made a similar agreement with Taliban and Al-Qaeda supporters
from Wazir Tribes.
militants were also given millions of rupees that they demanded
to pay back their Al-Qaeda masters, the advance they had taken
to resist the Army operation. In an indirect way, Pakistan Army
paid millions to Al-Qaeda which could be used at other places,
at another time.
all this is now coming to a naught. According to tribal sources
despite the agreement with the Pakistan Army, Baitullah Mahsood
helped the most wanted militant in Waziristan, the fugitive and
defiant Abdullah Mahsood, to escape from South Waziristan
a returnee of Guantanamo Bay, was the 1st among Mahsoods who joined
the Al Qaeda bands to organize armed attacks against the Army.
He was also wanted for the kidnapping of the Chinese engineers.
One engineer was killed during the rescue operation last year.
the Administration of Baitullah Mahsood, targeted killings of
many of those who helped the Pakistan Army during the summer operation
have been reported. More than 36 such killings have been witnessed
only in South Waziristan and many others have received warnings.
same trend was observed in North Waziristan where bodies of victims
were found on road side or deserted places with messages that
“those who will spy for infidel Americans will meet this
fate.” The killers did not even hide their identities but
authorities did not arrest a single person.
Mahsood is gaining power with the help of the Army. Abdullah Mahsood
is at large. Al Qaeda has got its millions back to organize further
terrorism in Northern Pakistan. Some of the wanted foreign militants
have now been spotted in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan.
General Musharraf keeps claiming victories against Al-Qaeda and
terrorists. He even had the audacity to declare that Pakistan
had been cleansed of Al-Qaeda.
is he trying to fool is obvious but here in Washington, those
who deal with Pakistan and those who are monitoring the country
at US outposts, know the General’s game and they are just
waiting for the right time to get even.
writer is the Pakistani journalist who was arrested by Pakistan
Army along with two French journalists on bogus charges of faking
a video filming of a militant training camp. He later left Pakistan
and is now based in Washington DC.