Saturday, December 27, 2008

The same story from both sides

The Daily Pioneer, New Delhi:
Three elements in Pakistan — the Army, the Taliba-Al Qaeda combine and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba — are all using each other. None of the three is in absolute control. This makes the Pakistani Army even more unpredictable. It also terrifies the Americans, who have held the belief, since the Cold War, that they understand and can somehow manage Rawalpindi’s top brass. That theory is now obsolete.

Indeed, each time the Tehreek-i-Taliban — the collective of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups, based in Pakistan’s tribal regions — announces that it will fight a potential Indian invasion shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistani Army, it actually enhances the global fear factor.

In the popular perception, the divide between Gen AP Kayani’s Army and its jihadi auxiliaries is being erased. This will make Washington, DC, far less trustful of the one institution in Pakistan that it thought was cynical but ultimately rational — the military.
(emphasis added)

The Daily Jang, Pakistan:
Pir Samiullah of Swat was reportedly encouraged by the army stationed in Swat to raise a lashkar against the Taliban. This invoked the rage of the Taliban who besieged him for days in his village. The army never showed up to help and finally he was killed. The Taliban exhumed his body and hung it in a public place for several hours.....What happened to Pir Samiullah's body is a dangerous symbolism, because to many people in Swat the disrespect to it was wilfully permitted by the Army. One person said: "The Army did not fire a single bullet while 300-400 of Taliban were firing at the Pir's supporters in Matta tehsil. When the Army knew that Taliban fighters had gathered in their hundreds, why didn't they take action?'

I have been in contact with a number of people from Swat, who complain that the Taliban terrorise and slaughter people and exhume dead bodies, but the Army is nowhere to protect them. They argued that the army is backing the Taliban. One person even said that the commander of the military operation in Swat sends Rs10 million every month to the Swat Taliban leader, Maulana Fazalullah, so he would not harm the army, and do whatever they want with the people and culture of Swat.

Many people who know the geography of the area believe that the military is capable of beating the Taliban by simply besieging their headquarters from three different directions--from the Matta and Madyan tehsil and from lower Dir. This will disrupt the Taliban's logistics and ultimately force them to surrender. The people of Matta had distributed sweets when the military arrived there.

Local residents complain that while the military has killed hundreds of civilians, it has killed only a few hardcore Taliban. The brother of a serving minister of the NWFP, who was in the police and was well-known for standing up to the Taliban, was killed in broad daylight in Mingora, and the perpetrators succeeded in escaping. How then can the people believe that the military is serious in its operation against the Taliban? The result is that an increasingly people in Swat see the Taliban and the Army as two sides of the same coin.
(emphasis added). (The article also has counterpoints from the army and a journalist, which switch the responsibility to the politicians.)