Sunday, March 14, 2010

The "Good" Taliban kill Pakistanis

From observing the Pakistani English newspapers, and Pakistani TV (the Urdu package on Dish Network), I assert that there is a sizeable Pakistani commentariat that seeks to stick its head in the sand regarding the Taliban.

This attitude seems to be predominant in people from Pakistani Punjab (Pakjabis) and representatives from the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz Sharif's faction, and much less so people from the other provinces or other parties - PPP, ANP, MQM. (One should note that Pakjabis constitute a majority in Pakistan. - Wiki).

The basic argument is that Mullah Omar's Taliban are good. The other Taliban are sponsored by the US, India or Israel and have taken the "Taliban" name in order to bring the Taliban into disrepute.

Well, one can make a good case that the "good" Taliban have no compunction in killing Pakistanis. Now, the Taliban have not claimed credit for the killings mentioned below, but I argue that they are the most likely culprits.

On March 4, five Pakistani construction workers were shot dead in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Jang
The Pakistanis worked for the Saita Construction Company, a Japanese joint-venture with a contract to repair the road from Kandahar to Panjwayi district.

On March 14, a roadside bomb killed another Pakistani construction worker and wounded six more. The Reuters news-item is instructive (excerpts):
"It was a roadside bomb that hit the vehicle of Pakistani construction workers, killed one of them and wounded six more," police officer Mohammad Asif told Reuters.

Last week, five Pakistani employees of the same Pakistani construction firm, CITA, were gunned down by unknown people in another part of Kandahar. {Not CITA, but SAITA, the Japanese company.}

No one has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack of last week or Sunday's one on the Pakistani nationals in Kandahar.

The Taliban mostly claim responsibility for attacks on Afghan government, foreign forces and anyone backing them, but the group has rarely targeted Pakistanis. (Reporting by Ismail Sameem; Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Jerry Norton)

The implication being that there is a mystery here, when there is none. This story from 2009 tells us what SAITA does:
The Times report states that Saita is "engaged in reconstruction efforts," a description that obscures their actual role in the Afghan war, which is akin to what Anthony James Joes calls "counterinsurgent force multipliers," ....

For several years, Saita has designed and constructed USAID's 'Southern Strategy Road,' (SSR) "to ensure a long-lasting transportation corridor between Kandahar City and the district center of Arghastan."

....The SSR "was declared by the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador, and the Commander of NATO forces as strategic to the success of the NATO mission in Afghanistan." The "anticipated impact" of the road includes "benefit[s to] the continued effort to control AGE forces in the southern areas of Afghanistan along the Pakistan border."

It seems obvious that given a NATO/US offensive to sweep Kandahar free of the Taliban has been announced that anyone building roads to further that objective will be a target; and in this case they happen to be Pakistanis. It also is interesting that the Taliban know enough about their targets to not claim responsibility for the killings - so that the cognitive dissonance inherent in "good Taliban" does not get any worse.