Tribal Militias in Both Pakistan and Iraq?

Curiously, the deals that have just been made in Pakistan and Iraq with their respective tribal elements seem very similar:
Pakistan’s deal is with the Pushtun tribes in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (but not with its Baluch tribes, as indicated earlier), and Iraq’s is with the Arab Bedawin tribes of al-Anbar province. In both cases, the deal seems to entail the local tribes’ agreeing to control “insurgents” (who are presumed to be outsiders and Arab). And it appears in both cases that the deal represents an admission by the respective governments that they are not getting control of the situation in those tribal areas. I have already expressed doubt that anything much will come of the deal in Pakistan. Juan Cole has similar doubts about the deal in Iraq:“Some tribes may develop feuds with some fundamentalists, but the likelihood of it amounting to much on a province-wide scale strikes me as low” (Informed Comment, 9/18/06).


Iraq Chiefs Vow to Fight al-Qaeda
Published: September 18, 2006 (BBC)

Iraqi tribal chiefs in the so-called Sunni Triangle have agreed to join forces to fight al-Qaeda, and have pleaded for US supplies of arms. One leader said tribes in the city of Ramadi had assembled 20,000 men “ready to purge the city of these infidels”. Ramadi, in Anbar province, is one of the cities at the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US troops and Iraqis.

Pakistan ‘Taleban’ in Peace Deal
Published: September 5, 2006 (BBC)

Pakistan has signed a deal with pro-Taleban militants on the Afghan border aimed at ending years of unrest. The North Waziristan accord calls on tribesmen to expel foreign militants and end cross-border attacks in return for a reduced military presence.

The Duplicity of Pakistan’s “Tribal” Policy

I have come to admire the editors of The Friday Times (Pakistan) because they have continued to articulate the truth as they see it, despite the disapproval of the government, even to the point of (in more than one instance) going to jail. Because this weekly is not easily available to many people in this country I quote extensively from a recent article exposing the contradictions in Musharraf’s policies: clamp down on the Baluch insurrection, give the Pushtun tribes a free reign. It is precisely the withdrawal of Pakistan’s army from the Pushtun tribal area of Waziristan that Hakim Taniwal (killed a couple days ago, see my earlier entries on him) worried about: It would give the Taliban and Al Qaeda relief from military pressure so that they could concentrate on the damage they could do across the border in Afghanistan. He was right, and he was one of their targets. But as I indicated earlier, the army was not doing well in Waziristan: it is a rough place to fight a war. Baluchistan is easier and also the stakes for the Pakistan government are larger: gas well is there and the new, brand new, port at Gwadar is in place. So Musharraf had to deploy his resources where it would help him and the Pakistan government most. The result is to leave in place the Taliban-infested Pushtun areas. In the article quoted from below Sethi calls his bluff. Note that the popularity of the “mullahs” [“fundamentalists”] in the survey was no greater than 7%.

State of the Nation
Published: September 8, 2006 (The Friday Times)
What follows is a summation of the article “State of the Nation”

“The writ of the state”, thunders General Pervez Musharraf, “shall be enforced at all costs in Balochistan where tribalism stands abolished”. Then he blithely surrenders the same dubious writ of the state to resurgent Talibanism and entrenched tribalism in Waziristan and celebrates the retreat of the state as a “historic breakthrough”. The truth is that General Musharraf is selling pure opportunism as principled constitutionalism. …A May 2006 public opinion survey conducted in Pakistan by the International Republican Institute, a reputable research organization of the US Republican Party of General Musharraf’s best friend, President Bush, revealed that 66% percent of all Pakistanis wanted their exiled leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif back in Pakistan to contest the next general elections. Indeed, 77% thought that Pakistan needed a strong but popular leader – General Musharraf seems ‘strong’ by virtue of his uniform but he has admitted his popularity is waning, most respondents in the survey think he shouldn’t be army chief and president at the same time, and Ms Bhutto (18%) leads the pack for primeministership. Most interestingly, 60% want a parliamentary system instead of a presidential system, a majority believes that General Musharraf’s regime will not hold free and fair elections, and only 7% will want to vote for the mullahs and religious parties.…[H]e refuses to extricate himself from the clutches of the unpopular mullahs and embrace the popular political parties, he insists on strong presidential powers in a weak parliamentary system,…. The state has to sincerely enable the exiled popular political leaders to return and give them a transparent and level playing field in the next elections under a neutral caretaker government.

The Industry from Hell

A suicide bomber killed Hakim Taniwal and two colleagues two days ago, and then at his funeral yesterday another suicide bomber killed seven more, including two boys aged 10 and 12, maiming forty more. Suicide bombing is not typically Afghan; it is an import from elsewhere. And it is not Islamic. But wherever it was invented it was never natural; it is a cultural product: it has to be produced. And as a cultural product it is never the only possible solution to a situation.

It is now an industry: Suicide bombing has come to be practiced – not just as an occasional act of a few (as in London) but as a way of life -in several places: Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Kashmir; and it seems to have been practiced in such places as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines.

For such an industry to exist it has to be conceived and formulated, discussed, promoted. People have to meet and plan and organize. Funds have to be provided. Buildings have to be built or rented for training, teachers have to be trained, explosives and equipment have to be bought and collected, photographs and videos of “martyrs” have to be made, copied, circulated, promoted. Children have to be socialized over a period of years – that is, fed, housed, clothed, trained, taught to believe that to blow themselves up is the highest form of spiritual service. Officials have to turn a blind eye; neighbors have to remain silent. Hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, are implicated in this practice. Although secluded, it is not being done in a corner.

Some crimes are so heinous that one recoils from even describing them. It is too easy to condemn – can this be ourselves? Human beings? What an image of humanity is displayed in such hideous practices. We pray for God to save us from such a scourge. But I also pray for the whole industry with all its ugliness to be exposed for what it is. The ancient wisdom is still true: “men love darkness because their deeds are evil and they will not come into the light lest their deeds be exposed.” And a voice with terrifying authority still speaks to the authors of such monstrous practices: “Woe to you teachers of the law … for you traverse sea and land to make a single disciple and when he becomes a disciple you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

Musharraf – Karzai Forum

What follows is someone’s summary of the public statements by Musharraf and Karzai after their conference on September 7. Note that Musharraf spoke for 70 minutes — it must have been a huge drain on the attention span of those present. Karzai spoke for 15 minutes only. There are many interesting details here, reflecting the ways that the two leaders see the world. Musharraf offers to help build a railway from Quetta to Kandahar. A rail system in Afghanistan is inevitable; will it really materialize now? And for it to come into Kandahar, where it is much easier and from where it can continue on to Herat [not Kabul] will be much easier and of course from there into the ex-Soviet Central Asian states, mainly Turkmenistan? — that will shift the transport focus from Kabul to Kandahar. A road to Jalalabad will be on the way to Kabul, but a railroad will be much more difficult and expensive. Musharraf also renounces support for the Taliban. And for Al Qaeda. We’ll see.

Musharraf – Karzai Forum

Ø Afghanis and Pakistanis need each other more than ever before – there is no other option.
Ø There is a need to turn our region into a Tiger economy and this can only happen in the environment of peace and stability.
Ø We need to establish an economic zone in Central Asia /South Asia. Pakistan is willing to help in the following areas:
o Railway link between Quetta and Kandahar
o Jalalabad – Peshawar Road
o Health Sector
Ø He acknowledged Pakistani support of the Mujahideen and then the Taleban (up until 9/11). Pakistan had a need to support the Taleban.
Ø Pakistan no longer sees the Taleban representing the Pashtoons.
Ø We have to somehow forget the past and look to the future.
Ø Pakistan’s historical ties to Afghanistan ie Jihad, refugees etc
Ø Afghans continue to blame the Pakistanis for their woes. He is saddened by this accusation as this is not true.
Ø Pakistan would be a fool to support the Taleban as they totally oppose the Talebanisation of their country (like Afghanistan)
Ø No doubts that Al Qaeda / Taleban are active in Pakistan. As they are in Afghanistan.
Ø Pakistan is against terrorism as
a) it will help in the Talebanisation of Pakistan
b) it goes against its `coalition’ agenda and
c) it will decrease the likelihood of economic development (or economic zone mentioned above).
Ø Pakistan has limitations in controlling/clamping down on these groups because of a lack of
a) capacity and
b) capability.
Ø Afghans should not doubt the intentions of Pakistan.
Ø Don’t blame us for what is going inside of Afghanistan.
Ø Pakistan is willing to wire the border areas (an experience that has worked well between India and Pakistan)
Ø The people of Pakistan too blame Afghanistan for
a) internal Pakistani strife
b) Baloochistan
c) training camps inside of Afghanistan and
d) foreign powers attempting to destabilise Pakistan (meaning India).
Ø Both nations should stop this blame game.
Ø We need to fight terrorism together.
Ø We need to remain united in this fight (blaming each other will lead to defeat)
Ø We need to look at each other’s allegations and then eliminate them.
Ø Pakistan acknowledges that there are hundreds of Al Qaeda (foreign) members operating out of Pakistan’s major cities ie Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi etc. Already many have been arrested and locked up (some kicked out of the country).
Ø The Taleban are different as:
o They have roots
o They have command structures
o They have better organisation
Ø There are three types of Taleban:
o Moderate religious types (extremists but not terrorists)
o Hard core Taleban
o Charsi Taleban (thugs who are now Talebs) – `Charsi’ means hashish smoker
Ø Tactics are adopted to win battles while strategies are utilised to win wars
Ø Pakistan favours talking to the moderate Pashtoons (in order to get them onside so that they fight the Taleban) while isolating the more extremist elements within the group. Pakistan’s strategy will entail:
o Defeating the Taleban militarily
o Bolstering its civil administrations in the hot spots
o Raise agency councils through tribal chiefs (or Maliks)
o Massive economic development projects
o Political solutions – cited the recent appointment of General Orakzai (briefly mentioned that locals are tired of fighting in Wazirstan)
Ø Recent agreement (in Wazirstan) entails:
o The expulsion of foreigners from these regions.
o No training camps
o No Taleban infiltration into Afghanistan
Ø Longer term strategy should be to find the root causes of terrorism
Ø Short term strategies will include:
o Curtailing the use of loud speakers that spread hate
o Stopping hate literature ie night letters
o Having a comprehensive Islamic curriculum at school
o Reforming the Madrassa system.

Ø Afghans remain appreciative of Pakistan’s hospitality during the Jihad years
Ø Our intention is to have a peaceful and brotherly relations with our Pakistani neighbours
Ø Afghans will never allow foreign elements or regimes to use the Afghan soil for anti Pakistani activity (or incursions into Pakistan)
Ø The Taleban don’t represent the Pashtoons – on both sides of the border
Ø Afghans are happy about the deal between the Pakistani gov.’t and N. Wazirstan Taleban – in particular as it may stop Taleban incursions into Afghanistan.
Ø Recognition of the need for stronger ties between the two countries.
Ø We are hurt by extremist activity.
Ø We are seeking Pakistan’s assistance as a brother.

Hakim Taniwal

September 11, 2006

The memory of losses on this date five years ago is now overlaid with grief and shame at what our leaders did with the goodwill the world had for us at that moment. In Iran they had vigils in memory of the people lost in the World Trade Center, and all across the world there was broad sympathy for what our country had experienced. Now it is gone. Not only our wealth and the lives of many brave Americans (not to mention the many innocent civilians) but also the world’s sympathy, trust, and respect have been squandered. God help us.

On September 10 Hakim Taniwal, governor of Paktia province in Afghanistan was killed by a suicide bomber. I met him when he was involved in the Afghan Writers Union in Peshawar. He was a sociologist and used his knowledge to write
about the Afghanistan situation in critiques of the Afghanistan Communist regime, mostly in Pushtu. He was one of the few scholars who did not leave the area for better opportunities elsewhere. He stayed, along with several other scholars, to represent the war effort as a scholar.

The times were different when I knew him. The Soviets were pulling out their troops and the Afghanistan peoples were exultant. But the mujahedin organizations were on the verge of fighting each other, creating such confusion and grief that the Taliban defeat of the mujahedin would be welcomed a few years later, in the mid-1990s. Taniwal went to Australia in disgust. When Karzai was made provisional head of the Afghanistan government in 2002 he turned to Taniwal as well as other progressives to help him. Taniwal served the new government as governor of Khost, then as Minister of Mines, and in the present post – replacing a particularly culpable “warlord” – in Paktia.

There have been 47 suicide bombings in Afghanistan this year. The name of the one who killed Taniwal is unknown to those on the government’s side, but there is no doubt that his name is known and valorized somewhere, probably just across the border in Waziristan. Somewhere there is a place where the pictures of “martyrs” are displayed and their stories told as great exploits in the name of God; videos made by them before their deaths are available. They will be shown to another generation of young men eager to serve God. From this “hero” they will learn how they can give their best, their all for God.

Hakim Taniwal
Published: September 12, 2006 (The Herald)

Governor Hakim Taniwal, who died aged 63 on September 10 in a suicide bombing outside his office in Gardez, Paktia, was very different from the caricature of a rugged Afghan tribal leader.

A sociology professor, educated in Germany and fluent in five languages, Dr Taniwal was a gentle Afghan intellectual with the courage to instil order and spearhead development in the lawless Paktia province, bordering Pakistan.

fwd: Where liberals love a dictator

Dalrymple has given us some helpful and insightful reports on Pakistan. This is
another helpful formulation of the situation. The real world seems ever to
resist simplicity. RLCSubject: Where liberals love a dictator
Date: May 17, 2005
–> Where liberals love a dictator
> Pakistan’s experience of democracy as a kind of elective feudalism is
> a reminder that the ballot box by itself is no panacea
> William Dalrymple
> Tuesday May 17, 2005
> The Guardian
> If it has achieved little else, George Bush’s “war on terror” has at
> least succeeded in mating some unlikely bedfellows. Who, a few years
> ago, could imagine the strange coupling of the Labour party and the
> neocons? Or the love-in between the House of Bush and the House of Saud?
> An equally bizarre alliance is now to be found in Pakistan. The
> liberal elite, somewhat to its astonishment, has suddenly found a new
> affection for the military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf. Travel
> through the country today, talk to the journalists and opinion-makers,
> and you will find surprisingly little enthusiasm for the resumption of
> full democracy, which – under US pressure – looks likely to take place
> in 2007.
> Article continues
> ——————————————————————————–
> ——————————————————————————–
> It is not that Pakistan’s liberals approve of military dictatorships.
> These were the people who took to the streets to resist General Zia
> ul-Haq. But the democratic politics of Pakistan throughout the 1990s
> proved so violent, so corrupt and so socially and economically
> disastrous that Musharraf’s rule is now widely regarded as the least
> awful option. Pakistan provides a depressing, but highly significant,
> example of just how flawed a democracy can be in a developing country
> – and a useful reality check at a time when Bush and Tony Blair seem
> to have persuaded themselves that democracy is a magic wand that can
> provide an instant solution to all the ills of the Islamic world.
> Certainly, few middle-class Pakistanis have much relish for the return
> of Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif, the leaders who took Pakistan to
> the brink of collapse in the 90s. There are good reasons for this. Ten
> years ago, at the height of Bhutto’s rule, the corruption monitoring
> organisation Transparency International named Pakistan as the second
> most corrupt country in the world. At the same time, Amnesty
> International accused the government of massive human rights abuse,
> with one of the world’s worst records of custodial deaths,
> extrajudicial killings and torture. Moreover, Bhutto and her husband
> were charged with plundering the country to buy European estates and
> townhouses.
> It was difficult to imagine Bhutto’s successor, Nawaz Sharif, making a
> bigger hash of things, but he quickly succeeded, harassing his
> political opponents, dismissing judges and threatening journalists.
> The Friday Times editor, Najam Sethi, was abducted from his home on
> Sharif’s orders; the police denied all knowledge of his arrest until a
> series of demonstrations eventually forced them to release him. Such
> was the harassment suffered by the leading newspaper, Jang, that it
> was able to produce editions only one page long. Sharif and his
> brother bussed in hundreds of thugs to ransack the supreme court. Soon
> afterwards the chief justice was forced to resign under a barrage of
> threats.
> Sharif also moved Pakistan closer to Islamist policies, entrenching
> sharia in the legal system. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s ISI intelligence
> agency presided over the growth of jihadi groups, believing them to be
> the most cost-effective way of tying down the Indian army in Kashmir
> and exerting Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the
> economy teetered towards collapse.
> Behind this succession of crises lay the bigger problem of a
> fundamentally flawed political system where land-owning remains the
> only social base from which politicians can emerge. The educated
> middle class – which in India seized control in 1947 – is in Pakistan
> still largely excluded from the political process. As a result, in
> many of the more backward parts of Pakistan the local feudal zamindar
> can expect his people to vote for his chosen candidate. Politicians
> tend to come to power more through deals done within Pakistan’s small
> feudal-army elite than through the will of the people.
> In contrast, Musharraf’s record in bringing the country back from the
> brink has been impressive. Under the urbane eye of Shaukat Aziz,
> formerly the vice-president of Citibank and now Musharraf’s prime
> minister, Pakistan is enjoying a construction and consumer boom, with
> growth approaching 7% – although some of this has been generated by
> the mass repatriation of Pakistani drug fortunes after the tightening
> of money-laundering regulations in the US and the Gulf. Sectarian
> violence is down, the jihadis have been restrained and the ISI, which
> encouraged them, has been partially reformed. Press criticism has been
> tolerated and the airwaves freed up.
> It has certainly not been an unblemished record. Musharraf has made
> many unwise compromises with the Muslim ulema, and in two provinces
> has entered into an alliance with the hardline Islamist MMM. Musharraf
> has failed even to attempt sorting out the country’s disastrously
> inadequate education and health system; instead the army is spending
> money on a fleet of American F-16s. The Pakistani human rights record
> remains abysmal. But few can really dispute that Musharraf’s rule has
> brought Pakistan better economic governance and a greater degree of
> stability and press freedom than it has enjoyed for many years.
> The wider lesson to be drawn from this is that while US support for
> democracy is preferable to its previous policy of bolstering client
> autocracies, electoral democracy is not on its own an automatic
> panacea. As Pakistan shows, rigged, corrupt, unrepresentative and
> flawed democracies without the strong independent institutions of a
> civil society – a free press, an independent judiciary, an empowered
> election commission – can foster governments that are every bit as
> tyrannical as any dictatorship. Justice and democracy are not
> necessarily synonymous.
> In Pakistan, democracy has meant a kind of elective feudalism. In
> Lebanon, the eccentric electoral system, rigged in the Maronites’
> favour, has made it impossible for the majority Shia community to
> achieve power. In Iraq, the electoral system fails to reflect the
> popular mandate, and the means by which it was imposed – down the
> barrel of an American gun – has led many of the Sunni community to
> disfranchise themselves.
> It is a similar situation in Afghanistan, where the elected government
> of President Hamid Karzai has as bad a record of torture and custodial
> deaths as any of its predecessors (although much of the worst torture
> is taking place in US bases, outside Afghan sovereignty). As Dr Sima
> Samar, the leading human rights activist in Afghanistan, put it in the
> New York Review of Books, “democracy and freedom are simply
> meaningless without justice and the rule of law”.
> · William Dalrymple is the author of White Mughals: Love and Betrayal
> in 18th-Century India
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