Who controls Pakistan’s militants?

March 9, 2009

The Pakistani state may be facing its most serious threat since its birth more than six decades ago, begging the question of who controls the militants who are expanding their influence across the country.

The question has arisen in the light of escalating violence inside Pakistan including the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team despite a call reported to have been made by the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, urging Pakistani militants to stop fighting at home and instead focus on Afghanistan.

The Guardian reported that Mullah Omar said in a letter to the commanders of the Pakistani Taliban that: “Attacks on the Pakistani security forces and killing of fellow Muslims by the militants in the tribal areas and elsewhere in Pakistan is bringing a bad name to mujahedeen and harming the war against the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.”

Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid wrote in the Globe and Mail that Mullah Omar also said in the letter that “If anybody really wants to wage jihad, he must fight the occupation forces inside Afghanistan.” The Taliban chief is presumably concerned about getting reinforcements in Afghanistan to offset the increase of U.S. forces in the country.

But his call seems to have been ignored as the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore showed. It was followed shortly after by the bombing of the mausoleum of a 17th century Pashto poet outside Peshawar.


So are there people operating outside the pale? The Pakistani Taliban are known to recognise Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, as their ultimate leader, although operationally they work independently.

What about the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is being probed for involvement in the Lahore attack? Are there some members of the banned group, which has faced some pressure after India blamed it for the Mumbai attacks, operating as freelancers, and isn’t that even more worrying?

The Dawn reported that investigators were zeroing in on the footprints of the LeT in the Lahore attack and that “sketch details of the initial probe suggest that a group of Lashkar activists who went underground and remained in hiding in Rawalpindi after the crackdown on Lashkar and the Jamaatud Dawa in December had acted on their own and carried out the attack.”

But according to this Reuters story, it seems more likely that it was a group linked to al Qaeda that carried out the attack. A government official said groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were highest on the list of suspects.

Which raises the question of why a group with ties to al Qaeda would go ahead and carry out a such a stunning attack, only days after the Taliban chief called for a halt in order to turn the militants’ firepower on foreign forces in Afghanistan. Is it now getting to a point where groups of individuals are operating at will and of their own accord ?

[Photo of Hafiz Saeed the head of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba after a court appearance in Lahore, March 9, 2009, and video grab of gunmen in Lahore]


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Pakistan’s militants are controlled by the various players:

Pakistani military and intelligence, that would be: Hamid Gul, Asfaq Kayani and Musharaf. The Saudis supply much money to them as well.

The liars and criminals in uniform are sitting in Islamabad, with their shiny black SUV’s parked outside. Ultimately, they control the heartbeat of the militant movement in Pakistan.

This is the same group of people that Obama and Clinton are going to give so much money to and Bush already gave 10billion USD to in aid, used to buy weapons against India.

Foolish americans and IMF are giving financial aid to the same guys that started the Taliban and to this day, direct them.

How many American lives are the U.S. willing to give up before they realize that they are being betrayed?

The only way to fix Pakistan is a complete regime change, that is remove its Military and destroy the terrorist infrastructure. The other alternative is to leave it alone, no aid, no military aid and let it rot into the ground.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

@Pakistan’s militants are controlled by the various players
– Posted by Global Watcher
-Plus militants do not need potty training anymore. They can be on their own with network among themselves. They can recruit and train budding terrorists without day to day help from any govt.
Let us not forget whose money it is. US’s. Wittingly or unwittingly US is helping terrorism.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I think the militants have begun to spin out of control. Earlier they were under the control of the ISI and Pakistani military. Their politicians have no value. For a long time the ISI was controlling everything – Taliban, LeT, LeJ and so on. I think they had long term plans for India with these elements. With the US involvement in Afghanistan there was no time to bury things quickly for a latter time. And the US is not going away soon. So the elements waited for the patrons to uncork the bottle. The patrons were busy dodging the Americans and the genie broke out of the bottle. Now it is growing in size and burning everything around. I don’t think that can put this out completely. If they tried, these elements will splinter up into further factions and grow from there again. Pakistanis who felt good when these elements were inflicting damage inside India are now beginning to see the reality of what these elements can do. And it is not a pretty site. This is the time for Indian and Pakistani establishments to get together and work towards wiping out these elements from the sub-continent. Otherwise they will eat up Pakistan first and then try to spread into India.

Posted by Mauryan | Report as abusive

@ Sanjeev
“Which raises the question of why a group with ties to al Qaeda would go ahead and carry out a such a stunning attack, only days after the Taliban chief called for a halt in order to turn the militants’ firepower on foreign forces in Afghanistan.”

– Are we not inadvertantly putting our belief in Taliban’s words?
Its the basic law of war to cut supply lines of enemy. If Taliban has to win war in Afghanistan, it has to choke NATO of supplies. Destabilization of Pak govt is the first step in that direction. Just look at the benefits Taliban will reap by controlling pak. 1) A modoern Army equipped with NATO Arms 2) WMDs 3) Brainwashed foot soldiers (Though there is no derth of these in Pak even today) 4)Strategic dept

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive

Primarily InterServices Intelligence.This composes of personnel who belong to one party or other.Depending on who comes to power, particular group becomes active and powerful.Also there are moderate Muslims and hard liners.This is another mix.There is another group which wants the Army to control the country.
Hardline fundamentalists have a field day by projecting themselves as Martyrs of Islam.They command the loyalty of a section of Politicians.
Politicians have time only to be corrupt and wheeling and dealing; they will take any line to bring them to power.
To this medley is Pakistan’s strategic location and its proximity to China. West and US play a part in stirring the cauldron.Any or all the elements combine with any or all of the other groups.Depending on expediency and their writ runs.
The calyst and eventually the controlling force is terrorists.They are not a separate class. Any of the groups or a combiantion of the groups, control Pakistan,aided and abetted by the terrorists.
In effect, no body, least of all Pakistanis, know who is controlling Pakistan.

Posted by S.V.Ramanan | Report as abusive


You have raised some very valid points, especially in light of recent statements by Pervez Musharraf when he asked Indians not to malign ISI and Pak army,they are the protectors of Pakistan, raising issues relating to credibility of ISI and Pak army . What do they want and resorting to violence and proxy terror attacks ,what do they want to achieve?

In the same vein, Musharraf also issued veiled threat to India that if J&K issue is not resolved , incidents like Mumbai will be repeated ? A point to be noted that none of the terrorists involved in Mumbai terror attacks were Kashmiris ?

All the issues make the situation very complicate, there are people like Hamid Gul and Musharraf who promote hate among people to sub serve their narrow objective , the question ” who controls the militants ” is here for anybody to guess ?

Posted by anju2008 | Report as abusive

all these militants in pakistan are controlled and aid by india without any doubt. to keep engage and disturb pakistan and divert its attention from solving kashmir issue. i think all the tension in this region is due to kashmir issue and its up to india to give rights and independence to kashmiri people and make peace in pakistan and sub continent.

Posted by farrukh | Report as abusive

It is india, the enemy of Pakistan, a peace loving country. There was and still today nothing like Pakistani Taliban, it is all created by mad and uncontrolled media of india. india want to defeat PAKISTAN economically and politocally and this is one of its cruel intention for dismantling PAKISTAN, previously india got defeated in defaming PAKISTAN by self-created mumbai incident and now this.
But in order to put the things in the right perspective,i would like to tell you that It was CIA which created Al Qaeda and Mujahedeen(Talibans) for Afghan Jihad in 1979.Osama bin Ladin was and is still on the pay role of CIA.they both(Osama+CIA) are working closely with RAW to destabilize Pakistan.By the way, may I ask my Indian Counter parts that what 18 x Indian consulates are doing on Pak-Afghan border?are they issuing visa to Afghans???If you have read the history you must be aware of the fact the India supported/trained/ provided weapons and shelter to “muktee bhani” in 1971.Later on India even backed out from its promise,which it made with Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman,that India will cede West Bangal to Bangladesh,and Bangladesh will be a united West+East Bengal).
Once you the Indians talk of extremism in Pakistan ,may i draw your attention towards RSS/Shiv Sehna….. so what do you call them?Hindu fascist or extremist?as you the Indians must be well aware that Somjotha express bomb blast was not conducted by LET etc but by your own?Made in India RSS(RAW)”. Babu Bajrangi, world knows what he did to muslims and he was then and now supported by indian govt. So i will advise all Indians to stop worrying about Pakistan and save your own country falling into the hands of”HINDU EXTREMISTS” search youtube for this term and you’ll see true face of HINDUSTAN(india hypocratic version of fooling world)

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

What you have stated is completely baseless. If what you state is the case please provide us with proof. If the world took your words as truth and weighed them against gold than Pakistan’s economic problems would be over and it would be richer than Dubai. However, the opposite is the case.

Do you really think that once Kashmir is independent then all will be peaceful? At the moment there is respite is Kashmir the moment Pakistan Army surrendered to Taliban in Swat. If this can happen in Swat then the Kashmiris certainly do not want that. Kashmiris do not want Taliban-style rule that Pakistan has given in to in Swat.

Why don’t you remove all your terrorists and give better protection to visiting cricketers.

These terrorists are YOUR (Pakistan’s ) creation. Time you stopped blaming others for the situation that YOU are in and took control of what YOU let loose on to the world. The world has isolated you; the attack on the Sri Lankan team was another nail in your country’s coffin.

You will have no tourists and will soon not host any international sports events. On the back of this you will receive no foreign investments. So, keep begging the USA that you need money to fight terrorism that you created.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@Peace Aka Paki
“India got defeated in defaming PAKISTAN by self-created mumbai incident and now this.”

Pakistan has already admitted that Pakistani terrorists were involved in Mumbai attack and it was planned from Pakistan. You must be reading three months old newspapers and writing comments here. Let me tell you the date, its 10th of March 2009.

Now coming back to your questions.

What 18 x Indian consulates are doing on Pak-Afghan border?

There are 5 Indian consulates in Afghanistan. Mazar-e-sharief, Jalalabad, Kandhar, Kabul and Herat.
You are misinformed by Zaid Hamid, Even if its 18 or 180, Whats Pakistan has to do with it.

Are they issuing visa to Afghans?

Yes you can get a visa if you an Afghan. India is involved in big construction projects in Afghanistan and there are hundred other things related to these projects, which a consulates does apart from issuing Visa. 41 Afghans standing in VISA queue got killed outside of Indian embassy in the bomb attack planned by ISI.

Draw your attention towards RSS/Shiv Sena….. so what do you call them?

Hindu organisations are not planning terrorist attacks anywhere in pakistan. They are not blamed for bringing down WTC or bombing in UK subways. Neither of them is blamed by your Govt. Officially for anything happened in Pakistan.

Search youtube for this term and you’ll see true face of HINDUSTAN ?

Do you think you are the only hate filled idiot in the world. There are plenty of fanatics like you out there. BTW also search Muslim terrorist.

Here is the youtube results
“HINDU EXTREMISTS” results 1 – 20 of about 340

“MUSLIM EXTREMISTS” results 1 – 20 of about 3,730

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

You are just copying and pasting the same text into each topic.

What is the matter with you? Does a poor little Porki like you not have anything else to state?

YOU ARE LIKE BROKEN RECORD THAT EPITOMISES PAKISTAN’S CIRCULAR HISTORY: corrupt PMs > military dictators > corrupt PMs > military dictators.

We (India) were not proved to be hypocrites over the Mumbai attackes. Pakistan denied, denied and denied that the one suriving attacker is from Pakistan. Then finally admitted that the one suriving attacker is from Pakistan. What did Pakistan do? Sack the minister who admitted it!

Why don’t you be HUMBLE and go and do the HONORABLE task of RESPECTFULLY apologising to the Sri Lankan cricket team for not providing the presidential level security that you had promised.

Read this list of articles of how screwed up your so-called peaceful country is:

Pakistan funeral bomb ‘kills 25 (20/02/2009)
Anger at Swat journalist killing (19/02/2009)
Pakistan’s evolving sectarian schism (20/02/2009)
Pakistan stares into economic abyss (15/10/2008)
US concerned over Pakistan deal (20/02/2009)
Taleban bring new fear to Peshawar (13/11/2008)
Children in Swat face bleak future (28/01/2009)

The Times [UK]:
Dangerous double game that mirrors Pakistan’s identity crisis (18/02/2009)
Violence still a threat in Swat Valley despite Sharia deal (19/02/2009)
Pragmatism and Appeasement – Pakistan cannot fight extremism while giving in to the militants’ demands (18/02/2009)

NY Times [USA]:
Pakistan and Taliban Appear Near Deal (15/02/2009)
From Pakistan, Taliban Threats Reach New York (16/02/2009)
Pakistan Agrees to Enforce Islamic Law in Violent Region (16/02/2009)
Pakistan Makes a Taliban Truce, Creating a Haven (16/02/2009)

International Herald Tribune (part of NY Times) [USA]:
Pakistani journalist is killed covering rally (19/02/2009)

Guardian [UK]:
Pakistan suicide bomber kills dozens at Shia funeral (20/02/2009)
Peace or appeasement in Pakistan? (18/02/2009)
A risky deal in Swat (17/02/2009)

At least 27 dead in Pakistan suicide bombing (20/09/2009)
Commentary: Pakistan gives in to terrorists (17/02/2009)
Pakistan: 20 dead in drone attack (14/02/2009)
Reports: Kidnapped Polish engineer executed in Pakistan (07/02/2009)
Militants attack Pakistan checkpoint (07/02/2009)

Reuters [international]:
Journalist covering “peace march” in Pakistan killed (19/02/2009)
NATO says Pakistan deal with militants a concern (17/02/2009)
Pakistan State Oil posts H1 net loss 10.5 bln rupees [$131.3 million] (17/02/2009)
Swat a threat to all of us: US envoy (16/02/2009)

Govt dismisses international criticism over sharia deal (20/02/2009)
Textile exports drop creating fear of big layoffs (20/02/2009)
Oil import bill soars by 26 per cent (20/02/2009)
US ‘troubled and confused’ about sharia deal: Holbrooke (20/02/2009)
Justice in Swat? (20/02/2009)

Gulf Times [QATAR]:
Pak journalists protest at killing of colleague (20/02/2009)
Sufi Mohamed urges Taliban to declare peace in Swat (20/02/2009)
Nato voices concern (17/02/2009)
Militants hail Shariah pact (17/02/2009)
Cleric who signed peace accord hates democracy (17/02/2009)
Will Islamabad’sgamble pay off? (17/02/2009)

Saudi Gazette [SAUDI ARABIA]:
Taleban urged for peace in Swat (20/02/2009)
Bomb destroys Pak press club (19/02/2009)
2 schools blown up, 8 rebels killed in Pakistan (19/02/2009)
Pak deal with TSNM high-risk affair (18/02/2009)
Cup organizers told to plan for switch from Pakistan (18/02/2009)
Pak car bomb kills 5, hurts 13: Officials (18/02/2009)

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Well said punjabiyaar!

When I visit Wagah border in the future I will see the likes of Peace frantically waving the Pakistani flag as their country crumbles behind them. Yet they will keep waving the redundent flag singing, “Hum hai Pakistani toh hum jeete geh!”

With no tourism, no hosting of cricket in the near (or far) future and no foreign investments. Soon everything will run out.

With unemployment in the USA at 8%, Obama should not provide any aid to Pakistan. You want something you EARN it! No hand outs and thereis no such thing as a free lunch!

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@Punjabiyaar, Rajeev, Bulletfish, Peace,

I am looking forward to the day when dismantled Paki-nukes are sitting on display in an Indian museum.

Paki’s are truly in trouble. They care more about cricket than fighting extemism? Is it me, or is there something wrong here? I think cricket goes hand in hand with extremism, sure they love the sport, but for Paki’s, it is merely another outlet that allows them to channel, their energy, hate, rage and superiority complex. This way they also don’t have to deal with real problems.

I figure this is a hall mark time to shut down some madrassas with all that time on their hands.

Any American money should be publically contigent that Pakistan tears down the Madrasa system and the terrorist network and hands over a number of ex-military Pak soldiers to goto an American jail in the U.S. for good.

If Pakistani’s want to eat roti, it has to come at a price, you only get roti if you shut down a madrasa or lockup terrorists. The mentality of Pakistani’s must change.

I blame, directly the problems of Pakistan on the complicity amd inactivity of its citizens.

@Peace, what do you think? I will put money in your begging bowl, if you turn in terrorists?

Fair deal? Food for terrorists is a fair deal, I think.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Pakistan;s nuclear weapons are under a strict command and control system headed by the SPD(Strategic Plans Division), Lt. Gen(r) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai is the Director General SPD. Anyone having any doubts regarding the professionalism of Pakistan military must put to rest any doubts regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. These weapons are both safe and ready to be used in the time of need.
The US has provided billion of dollars specifically for PALs(Permissive Action Links) a nuclear safeguard technology so that no one can trigger nuclear warheads without unauthorized permission.

Going forward, Pakistan is seeking civilian nuclear technology from China

I hardly see Pakistani nukes ending up in Indian museums. For now, Indian museums must carry pictures from 28 May 1998 and Baluchistan mountains, when Pakistan became a nuclear power. .

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Global watcher
begging bowl?
Americans are begging Pakistan Army to fight the millitants, they fear the next attack on US homeland will come from the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America. 10 billion dollars, F-16s, C-130s are just some of the things they have already given. Training Pakistan Army in counterinsurgency, propping tup the paramilitary FC(Frontier Corps) are just another.

If anyone, it is America that is begging. Pakistan is a huge agricultural country, possessing natural resources and a talented work force. While global recession has reduced many world economic heavy weights to nothing. Pakistan will definitely succeed in creating a strong economy.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive


Don’t we already know which agencies in Pakistan actively recruit, train, fund and nurture the Pakistani militants?


The US is fearful of the nuisance value – cocktail of nukes, terrorists, instability – of Pakistan. Like it or not, Pakistan stands on feet of clay. It has a begging bowl in one hand and an AK-47 in other.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

If the USA needs Pakistan more then why were the USA looking for alternatives routes for supply lines?

Even with all the firepower the USA could supply, you could not stop the Taliban from taking over Swat and you could not protect the Sri Lankan cricket team. Who will come to Pakistan to play cricket now?

If Pakistan has such great agriculture then why is it not suppling its people with food at reasonable prices? Pakistani wheat was being sold across the border in India because the Pakistanis’ could get a higher price for it.

Should I even bother to mention the load shedding.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Thanks for pointing out that PAKISTAN is the source of food to india….higher price being paid by india is also another assault from india to ecomony of PAKISTAN.
I think you indians are “paid bloggers” and are being employed by indian media, because only a person with no other work could do such blogging as being done by you….how much you are being paid?

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive

I apologise for not replying sooner. I was at work you see. I am not being paid to be a blogger. Everything I type I support with irrefutable information. I could reverse the tables on you by stating that you are a poor person who cannot find a job with his Madrassa diploma because no international company will recognise it. Instead you work part-time for your uncle Ali in his fruit & vegetable market and the rest of the time you are hired by GeoTV to spread rumours about RAW, Mossad each time a disaster occurs in Pakistan. I have a well paid job because I studied in India and UK; I speak 2 European languages too. How much I earn is none of your business and I would not ask the same of you.

FYI, Pakistani wheat sellers only started to sell wheat across the border to India when they could not sell it to gain a profit margin in Pakistan because the Pak Rupee fell in value.

I saw a very depressing story, on You Tube, of a Pakistani woman who walked infront of a moving train with her two young children because she could not afford to feed them. The look on her family’s faces could destroy the most hardened of hearts.

I will reply again in 7 hours.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

“Who controls Pakistan’s militants?”


Posted by anup | Report as abusive

Pakistani militants are controlled by their financiers and commanders. Their publicly declared allegiances are not to be taken too seriously. An example is the Pakistani taliban, which swears allegiance to Mullah omar even though he has disowned them.

Posted by Aamir Ali | Report as abusive

Ahh… uhhh…
Democracy, Armycracy, whatacrazy….
Well the Big brother making some comments & movements…
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/Dawn %20Content%20Library/dawn/news/world/tal iban-operate-freely-from-quetta-us–za

Bad time guys, you shouldn’t have hit Taj in Mumbai, and shouldn’t have invited Sri Lankans to play….
— Mercy

Posted by Blogger | Report as abusive


You should worry about next event at Taj…..

Posted by Aamir Ali | Report as abusive

You should worry about next event at Taj…..
– Posted by Aamir Ali

–Meet my friend Aamir Ali, a peaceful Pakistani who wishes India more terrorism from Pakistan…

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive