“Fazlullah will not surrender until Sharia implemented”

SWAT: The mother of militant leader Fazlullah said on Saturday that her son will not surrender until Sharia is implemented. Fazlullah’s mother and teacher were presented before the media in Swat.

His teacher, Waliullah Kabal-Girami stated that he had taught his former student that any kind of violence is against the teachings of Islam and had urged him to remain on the righteous path.

Fazlullah’s mother said that the Army was looking after her well and that she had no complaints. She also said that she had exhorted her son to not pursue the murderous path. However, he had refused to budge.

His teacher said that on numerous occasions he had taught his pupil that Islam prohibits suicide bombing and that it offers no mercy from the senseless blood shedding that is being wrought in the country’s north.


Militants blow up six shrines in Orakzai

KOHAT: Militants exhumed the body of a spiritual leader and blew up six other shrines in the Stori Khel area of lower Orakzai Agency on Tuesday.

Locals said heavily armed militants came to the area of the Stori Khel tribe, who have raised a lashkar against them, and dug up the grave of spiritual leader Anwarul Haq. They desecrated the remains and then took it to an unknown location.

The militants also blew up six other shrines in the Khwa area of Stori Khel.

The Stori Khel tribe has been fighting the Taliban for over a month to keep them away from their area.

Militant leaders — Tariq Afridi, chief of Darra Adamkhel and Khyber Agency Taliban, and Maulana Akhunzada Aslam Farooqui, head of Orakzai Agency Taliban — have been asking the Shia clan of the Stori Khel tribe to expel security personnel recently deployed in the area.

KHAR: Another government-run school was blown up in the Bajaur Agency on Tuesday.

Locals said an improvised explosive device had been planted at the Government High School for boys in the Malkana area of Nawagai tehsil, 30 kilometres from agency headquarters of Khar.

Sixteen rooms of the school were destroyed and five damaged, political tehsildar Ghulam Saidullah told reporters.

He said a group of about 50 persons had entered the school and planted the explosives.

Meanwhile, security forces defused two improvised explosive devices planted by militants on a road in the Raghjaan area of Salarzai tehsil on Tuesday.

The forces also arrested 12 suspects in different areas of Bajaur during a search operation.

The search was conducted in the Omari area of Mamond tehsil, Shago area of Khar tehsil and some areas of the Nawagai tehsil.

The forces also seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including Kalashnikovs, explosives and material used in bomb making, from the arrested persons.

The forces also targeted suspected militant hideouts with artillery, but no casualty was reported.

MINGORA: Three militants were killed and a security man was injured in a clash in Swat on Tuesday.

Military sources said the clash took place when the militants tried to enter the Banjeer village from the Morabanda area.

The forces also arrested 30 suspects and recovered a huge cache of arms in the Kabal tehsil and 60 suspects in the Mingora and areas on its outskirts.

Sources said the forces had imposed undeclared curfew in Kozabandai during the house-to-house operation.

The forces seized two hand grenades, two mortar shells, four remote-controlled bombs, 500 rounds of anti-aircraft guns and thousands of cartridges from the fields in Charbagh.

The forces also imposed curfew in different areas of the Mingora city.

BATKHELA: Two suspected militants were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in the Malakand protected area on Tuesday.

Sources in the security forces said the clash took place in the jurisdiction of Qaidabad Levies checkpost near Harichand, along the border of Charsadda district.

The bodies were later handed over to the Malakand Levies personnel, who buried them in the Dargai graveyard as identified.

LANDI KOTAL: Security forces on Tuesday arrested 11 suspected militants in Bara during a search operation.Sources said the operation was carried out in Akkakhel and Kambarkhel areas. The forces cordoned off the entire area after receiving information about the presence of militants.

Military officials said the arrested men included three commanders of the Lashkar-i-Islam.

In Dogra, militants targeted a military vehicle with a time device planted on a roadside. The vehicle was slightly damaged, but the security personnel escaped unhurt.

Car bomb blast kills 95 in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: A car bomb tore through a packed market in Peshawar on Wednesday, killing 95 people and trapping casualties under pulverised shops, in one of Pakistan’s deadliest attacks.

The explosion detonated in a crowded street in the Meena Bazaar of Peshawar, one of the most congested parts of the volatile northwest city, sparking a huge blaze and ending in carnage routine shopping trips for scores of people.

The attack underscored the scale of the militant threat in Pakistan just hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad for three days of talks with political and military leaders.

‘There was a huge blast. There was smoke and dust everywhere. I saw people dying and screaming on the road,’ witness Mohammad Siddique told AFP.

Angry flames leapt out of burning wreckage and smoke billowed in the air as a building collapsed into dust and rubble. Police evacuated panicked residents from the smouldering wreckage and firemen hosed down the flames.

‘It was a car bomb. Some people are still trapped in a building. We are trying to rescue them,’ bomb disposal official Shafqat Malik told reporters.

‘We have received 86 dead bodies, 213 people were injured, we are facing a shortage of blood,’ Doctor Hamid Afridi, head of the Peshawar’s main Lady Reading Hospital told AFP as staff declared an emergency.

A hospital official outside the casualty wing made a public announcement, appealing on people to donate blood as doctors spoke of harrowing scenes.

‘There are body parts. There are people. There are burnt people. There are dead bodies. There are wounded, I’m not in a position to count. But my estimate is that the death toll may rise to 70,’ said Doctor Muslim Khan.

Rescue workers and government officials had warned that casualties were trapped under collapsed shops at the bomb site, where a large blaze, a toppled building and the narrow streets hampered the relief effort.

‘I am counting the dead bodies, 86 are confirmed dead, the injured are more than 200, there are children and women among the dead,’ Mohammad Gul, a police official at the hospital, told AFP.

The area was one of the most congested parts of Peshawar and full of women’s clothing shops and general market stalls popular in the city of 2.5 million.

‘A building structure has collapsed… People are trapped in the fire and buildings. This is the most congested area of the city,’ Sahibzada Mohammad Anees, a senior local administrative official, told a private TV channel.

Peshawar, a teeming metropolis, is a gateway to Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt, where the military is pressing a major offensive against Pakistani Taliban militants blamed for some of the worst of the recent carnage.

Tensions have soared across Pakistan following a spike in violence blamed on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked extremists in which more than 240 people have died this month.

Afghan officials live in fear of Taliban assassins

KABUL: During his two years as a provincial governor in Afghanistan, Arsala Jamal survived four suicide attacks.

Once, a Taliban bomber dressed as a doctor struck as Jamal dedicated a hospital wing. Twice, car bombs slammed into his convoy. Another time, an attacker blew himself up at a funeral Jamal was attending for a fellow governor killed in another blast.

Jamal, 45, escaped harm each time, but he resigned late last year as governor of the eastern province of Khost and moved his family to Canada – a victory for the Taliban and its campaign to intimidate and assassinate Afghan officials.

Assassinations have intensified this year, with more than 100 officials and pro-government tribal elders attacked – half of them fatally. Echoing a strategy of insurgents in Iraq, such killings sow fear, undermine the already weak government and make it difficult to fill official posts with educated and competent Afghans.

‘The Taliban know that if you kill one guy in the government, it discourages another 10 from being in that job,’ said Jamal, who returned to Kabul this year to work for President Hamid Karzai’s re-election.

The campaign of fear is another indication of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, where a record number of US and NATO troops have also died this year. President Barack Obama must decide whether to send more American troops to a country already in political limbo because of the hundreds of allegations of fraud from the disputed Aug. 20 presidential election.

Top US and NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a confidential assessment that more troops are needed within a year to prevent ‘failure’ in Afghanistan. Even with more troops, McChrystal said the mission would fail unless Afghanistan reverses a ‘crisis of confidence’ in government.

Many Afghans blame the Karzai government for rampant corruption and the revitalized insurgency at a time when most people still lack basic services such as sewer systems and electricity. Reversing those trends is a mammoth task for the next administration, and the assassinations make it much harder. Fear of being targeted also cuts off many officials from the people they are charged with serving. Several district chiefs around Afghanistan told The Associated Press they’ve hired private security but still cannot leave the main towns in their district because insurgents control the countryside.

Even bodyguards, used by some Afghan officials, can offer little protection against bombings. One of the attacks on Jamal’s convoy killed two of his guards along with his driver.

More than 50 Afghan officials and tribal elders have been killed in more than 100 attacks targeting government leaders in 2009, said Sami Kovanen, an analyst with the security consultancy Tundra Group, which tracks violence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban seek to weaken local government authority, Kovanen said. ‘Then they set up their own system of Shariah law and they install their own shadow government.’

In one recent attack, a Taliban suicide bomber killed the country’s deputy intelligence chief, Abdullah Laghmani, and 22 other people as they were leaving a mosque in Laghman province.

‘Once you are in a government position, you have many enemies,’ Jamal said. ‘My daughters couldn’t go to school. The teachers told me the whole school was in danger because of my daughters.’

Sitting in a courtyard garden where caged parakeets chirped and armed guards stood outside, Jamal ticked off on his fingers the assassinations last year in Khost province: one of his district chiefs killed by a bomb, a judge slain by a sniper, another district chief who escaped one suicide attack in 2008 only to be killed by another this year.

Hundreds of local leaders have been threatened. Tribal elder Khaki Jan Zadran said militants from the powerful Haqqani network vowed to kill him last year for serving on Paktia’s provincial council. He left his village five months ago and now stays in the eastern province’s capital, Gardez, living more like a fugitive than an elected official.

‘I don’t stay in one place more than two or three nights,’ Zadran said. ‘And I can’t go back to my village.’

Zadran, 55, is a member of the same Pashtun tribe as militant leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, and both fought against the 1980s Soviet occupation. He was disillusioned by the 1990s Afghan civil war and the Taliban’s harsh rule.

He said he was elected to the provincial council after the Taliban’s ouster in the 2001 US-led invasion, but has been disappointed by the government he is part of, decrying the bribe-seeking by everyone from passport clerks to judges.

‘There is too much corruption. We need to have more honest people in government,’ he said.

Jamal said hiring honest, effective civil servants is difficult because of the decades of war. One of his frustrations as governor was finding people willing to work as district- and village-level leaders, he added. –AP

Pakistan, Taliban still together: Krishna

WASHINGTON: New Delhi has charged that Islamabad’s disruptive role in the Taliban insurgency alongwith aid for the Afghan Taliban provided by Pakistan’s spy agency has complicated the military situation in Afghanistan, with India’s foreign minister asserting ‘they are still together’.

‘They are a tandem,’ External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Krishna asserted that the Pakistan government has been unable to break the ties between its spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Krishna also said India felt ‘vindicated’ after former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said recently that some US anti-terrorism aid had been used to bolster traditional defences against India.

‘We have always been cautioning our friends, the United States, that please, please for heaven’s sake make sure that the aid you are giving to Pakistan is not directed and misappropriated to be used against India, a friend of yours,’ the foreign minister said. -Online

Troops kill six Taliban in Swat as displaced return

PESHAWAR: Troops have killed six militants in the Swat valley, where the government has started bussing home thousands of those displaced by a military offensive, officials said Wednesday.

Officials say the pace of returns to the northwest district has quickened in recent days although many civilians are fearful about security after two months of fierce fighting between government troops and Taliban militants.

‘Six militants were killed when troops retaliated and returned fire after a militant attack on an army checkpost in Kabal town on Tuesday night,’ a military official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A senior police official in Swat confirmed the incident and said there were no army losses.

On Tuesday, the military reported killings in Swat for the first time in days, announcing that nine militants were shot dead in the last 24 hours.

Pakistan says more than 1,700 militants and around 160 security personnel were killed in operations to crush the Taliban in northwest districts since late April, but the death tolls are impossible to verify independently.

The army launched a massive offensive in late April in Buner and Lower Dir, before focusing the fight on militants in Swat, where the Taliban concentrated a two-year insurgency to enforce sharia law.

Last week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani unveiled plans to start sending home the nearly two million people displaced by the conflict and said the military had ‘eliminated’ the extremists.

Taliban reject claim about Fazlullah

KHAR: Taliban on Saturday contradicted a government claim that Fazlullah was injured during military operation in Swat.

Maulvi Omar, a self-styled spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, said the top leadership in Malakand had gone underground under a plan.

‘Maulana Fazlullah is safe and the government claim is totally baseless,’ he told local journalists on phone from an undisclosed place.

He said that Taliban leadership was secure and he had talked to Maulana Fazlullah on phone today (Saturday).

Maulvi Omar said that innocent people were being killed in the military operation in North and South Waziristan.

The spokesman said that security forces did not make any gains in South Waziristan, where Baitullah Mehsud was present.

He said that raising lashkars (volunteer force) in Upper Dir district and tribal areas would create a civil war-like situation and warned that Taliban would take action against those who were leading the lashkars.

Taliban, Pakistan at odds over peace deal

.PESHAWAR: A peace deal in Pakistan appeared close to unraveling Monday as authorities threatened to resume military action and armed Taliban patrolled a key town in defiance of a curfew, AFP reported.

Tensions are soaring between the government, which is under US pressure to extend an offensive to crush militants, and Taliban hardliners, who rejected a new Islamic appeals court created in a bid to pacify their brutal uprising.

Analysts said the shaky three-month-old deal — establishing sharia courts in the northwest Swat valley in the hope the Taliban would stop fighting and disarm — was now hanging by a thread.

Authorities slapped a curfew on Swat’s main town Mingora, where witnesses said armed Taliban were openly patrolled the streets in defiance.

‘It is the first time that Taliban have again started armed patrolling in Mingora,’ one resident told AFP.

‘Do not give my name because the Taliban will find me and kill me,’ he said, adding that ‘once again fear is gripping the entire town.’ The government’s decision to sign the February pact, ratified by President Asif Ali Zardari last month, was heavily criticised at home as well as abroad, with critics charging it would merely embolden the Taliban.

Those fears were heightened when Taliban militants moved into neighbouring Buner district.

For 10 days now, military helicopter gunships and ground troops have fought hundreds of armed Taliban who thrust further south and east into the districts of Lower Dir and Buner where the deal also theoretically holds sway.

A provincial cabinet minister from Swat threatened the Taliban with renewed military offensives after they rejected the Islamic appeals court.

Forestry minister Wajid Ali Khan said that Taliban patrols were ‘an open violation of the peace accord aimed at challenging the writ of the government’ in the area.

‘We will try to resolve issues through negotiation, but if they refuse to abide by the peace agreement, the government will have no option but launch an operation against them,’ he added.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan threatened to retaliate and pointed out that the fighters were not signatory to the February agreement.

‘We do not have any agreement with the government. If security forces attack us, we will respond,’ Khan told AFP.

On Sunday, local authorities found two beheaded bodies in Khwaza Khela, an infamous Taliban bastion in Swat, which are believed to belong to two of four paramilitary personnel.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were wounded Monday after militants ambushed their convoy in Kotta village in Swat, a military official said.

‘The peace agreement is almost finished now, because the military operation has been launched and the Taliban have also renewed their attacks,’ northwest affairs expert Rahimullah Yousafzai told AFP.

In Buner, where the military claim to have killed 80 militants in the latest offensive, residents said fighting was ongoing.

‘Intermittent small arms fire and mortars continued overnight,’ Hashmatullah Khan told AFP. ‘There is a curfew break from 10am to 12pm, but hardly anybody has come to the market,’ he said.

Zardari, who is hoping to secure a massive US aid package, will discuss the deteriorating situation with Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

Washington has expressed concern, with President Barack Obama acknowledging Zardari’s government was ‘very fragile’ and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying Pakistan was ‘basically abdicating’ to the Taliban in the area.

The United States sees Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other militants in Pakistan as the biggest terror threat facing the West.

According to the New York Times, the US government is increasingly worried about the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and is less willing to accept blanket assurances from Islamabad that the weapons are safe.

Taliban behead two government officials in Swat

MINGORA: Pakistani Taliban have beheaded two government officials in the northwestern Swat Valley in revenge for the killing of two insurgent commanders by security forces, a militant spokesman said on Sunday.

The two government officials were kidnapped and beheaded on Saturday evening in Khuwaza Kheil, a village 18 km north of the valley’s main town of Mingora, said town police chief Danishwar Khan.

Their bodies were dumped beside a road.

‘They beheaded the officers. We’ve sent an ambulance to pick up the bodies,’ Khan said.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the beheadings were revenge for the killing of two low-level Taliban commanders earlier on Saturday.

Taliban, banned outlawed outfits, Al Qaeda make trio: M

ISLAMABAD: Interior Advisor Rehman Malik said Taliban, Pakistani outlawed outfits and Alqaeda have established a triangle.

In an interview to an Arabic channel, Malik stated that Taliban is a face of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Taliban chief Fazalullah and other leaders are operating under one leadership. All the clues of investigations ended up in Waziristan. The planning of suicide attack at Danish embassy in Islamabad is a proof of it, he added.