Attack in Rawalpindi: are Pakistan’s militant groups uniting?

October 10, 2009

An attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the city of Rawalpindi has highlighted the country’s vulnerability to a backlash from Islamist militants in the Pakistani Taliban as it prepares an offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan. It follows a suicide bombing in Peshawar which prompted Interior Minister Rehman Malik to say that ”all roads are leading to South Waziristan.”

But what is perhaps more troubling about the attack is not so much the backlash from the Pakistani Taliban (the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP)  holed up in the Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but rather suggestions of growing co-operation between al Qaeda-linked groups there and those based in Punjab, the heartland of Pakistan.

Analysts have long argued that the biggest danger to Pakistan would come not from the tribal areas, but from the creation of a stregthening coalition of militant groups which brought together the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda, and militant groups based in Punjab – which include sectarian groups and those originally set up to fight India in Kashmir.

According to the New York Times, the militants behind the attack were a mixed group from across Pakistan. It quoted an unnamed military official as saying that some came from the tribal areas, some from Punjab and some from Pakistani Kashmir.

Pakistan’s GEO TV said it had received a call from the Tehrik-e-Taliban (Ajmad Farooqi) group claiming responsibility for the attack. The caller demanded, among other things, that former president Pervez Musharraf be held accountable.

Claims of responsibility are just that - a claim that remains to be verified. But I looked up Musharraf’s autobiography “In the Line of Fire” to see what he had to say about Ajmad Farooqi. According to Musharraf, Farooqi was a senior al Qaeda operative who had been involved in the killing of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, and subsequently was involved in two attempts to assassinate him.  Farooqi was killed in a shoot-out with Pakistani security forces in the town of Nawabshah in Sind province in 2004, after a manhunt held under the supervision of current Pakistan Army head General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani.

Here is what Musharraf had to say about Farooqi’s links to Punjab: In the manhunt, Pakistan started by tracking his phone calls. “In September 2004 we found that he was talking to two people in particular, in the Punjabi dialect of Faisalbad, the third largest of our cities in central Punjab.”

As discussed earlier on this blog, including here and here, the danger from Islamist militants in Punjab tends to be overlooked in the focus on tackling the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.  But if it turns out that those behind the attack on the Pakistan Army headquarters were not only from the remote areas bordering Afghanistan but also from the heartland of the country, then the risk to Pakistan’s stability has just got a lot bigger.

(Photos: Soldiers take position in Rawalpindi; and Pakistan army chief, General Kayani)


“Aides ask Zardari to get rid of Kayani

“Zardari had been a strong advocate of the bill, the Army Chief together with other senior Generals had rejected it saying it contained insulting clauses and was against the country’s sovereignty”

It’s interesting to watch, who preempts who!
- Posted by Andy ”

–>While Pak Army and Civilian Govt argues over cash, the Army is under seige and the civilians and being butchered at security checkpoints.

It is high time that Pak Army AND ISI comes under civilian rule and judiciary to make Pakistan into a coherent and more cohesive country.

To us non-Paks, we need to fix Pakistan, whether you are coherent or not. What happens there affects us. Either way, Pakistan must be fixed. It is in the interest of the Pak Army and ISI to surrender control over to Zardari and let the democratic process run Pakistan. The Army needs to step aside and do what the civilian government tells it to do.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

“Kiyani goes for the kill! Zardari next to be exiled again!

Sources told The News that President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and even Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar were caught off guard when the media reported the details of the secret meeting between the top leaders of PML-N with General Kayani.

These meetings with the army chief further led to speculations in the Islamabad circles that perhaps the history of 90s was being repeated when the military establishment used the opposition leaders to topple the sitting governments. il.asp?Id=24945
- Posted by Andy ”

–>It appears that Pakistan is for Punjabistan’s rule only.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

Salute to Fallen warriors;Shaheeds of “OPERATION JANBAZ”

Havildar Isthzar Hussain Shaheed
Havildar Zar Khan Shaheed
Lance Naik Qudrat Ullah Shaheed
Sepoy Rab Nawaz Shaheed t-press_release&id=929

“strategy was adopted as two brave commandos volunteered to come forward to face the terrorists to divert their attention, so that others could storm them. This strategy was said to have worked but not before two valiant commandos knowingly embraced martyrdom so that many others could live.” The News

-As the crisis is brewing, Army chief has informed Zardari that Kerry Luger bill in its current form is a charter of surrender document. Foreign minister Qureshi has been sent to Washington to revisit and take up with US authorities. Ambassador Hussain Haqqani to be replaced in few days according to some reports. Waziristan operation imminent, fresh wave of cowardly desperate attacks across Pakistan to deter the army from a decisive blow to the terrorists.
traitor Haqqani to be replaced with Dr. Maleeha lodhi as ambassador Haqqani, Kerry Luger bill rejected by the Army.
I guess Pakistan Army still calling the shots on vital national matters, some would have assumed an assault on a check post has weakened the Army, think again.

Next on the list will be blackwater mercaneries.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

What happened to your democracy? Zaradari overruled again!
Is army going to overrun Zrdari?

Posted by Sameer | Report as abusive

Questions about the soundness of the security at the military nerve center were offset by accolades for the commandos who rescued 39 hostages, some of them officers who had sat in a room with a suicide bomber for 20 hours.
-New York Times (13/10/2009)

Umair, looks like you just preached exactly what the aticle above stated.

Foreign minister Qureshi has gone to Washington on a ‘crying’ mission to complain about the KL Bill.

The problem here lies that the Pakistani establishment nor the Pakistani Army will ‘openly’ and ‘honestly’ admit that the terrorists who commited these acts were created and nurtured by their own hands using US aid money. Pakistan can play the victim of its own monster and keep claiming that it is not responsible and needs more aid in order to destroy it. However, the reality is that the Pakistani Army wants to ‘retain’ terrorists against India, while killing those it suspects are against Pakistan.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

It is starting to show that PA is quite weak from within. The U.S. needs to safeguard the interests of the world and draw up plans to rescue Pak Nukes from Taliban and AQ.
-Posted by GW

GW, the US only has to worry that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not hold the gun at the head of the guy who has his finger on the button. How are Pakistan’s Eat-Grass-To-Build-Nukes going to help them defeat the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other (domestic & foreign) terrorist groups?

You could have an Exocet missile under your bed, but it is completely useless against a few men shooting at your house with AK47 rifles.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive


Here’s the latest information about another fallen(?) warrior(he also belonged to SSG). 009/10/ilyas_kashmiri_survi.php

Strange that people of Pakistan believe their Army so blindly though the Army/ISI combo is the root cause of the current state of Pakistan.

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive


White house seems divide over Afghanistan though. There seems many ideas floating around and some of them include “talking to Taliban” since those who propose these ideas have discovered that Taliban is not a threat to the West and no global agenda and if it is willing to break ties with A-Q, it is OK. These white house thinkers find that it is OK for US to sign papers and have thumb prints of some Taliban and run away and ditch Afghans again.

Read this article in case you did not already: 0/13/reasoning-with-the-taliban/

“In the past few weeks, as President Barack Obama closes in on a decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan, a couple of alluring ideas have resurfaced in Washington.

“The first is that talks with the Taliban, or with members of the fundamentalist Islamist movement, might be worth pursuing more agressively, to advance the day that U.S. troops could begin to leave.

“The second is the suggestion the Taliban in Afghanistan might be willing to sever its ties to al Qaeda, or that growing Taliban influence there may not directly threaten the United States.”

Luckily “it is an idea that many Afghan experts see as dangerous. Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation described White House distinctions between the Taliban and al Qaeda as a “Shibboleth” and incongruous with the facts on the ground.”

But if US intends to flee, there have many ways to do so.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

15 October
Gunmen attack security targets in Lahore.

10 October
Militants attack the main army headquarters in Rawalpindi – at least 20 dead.

9 October
At least 50 killed in suspected suicide bombing in Peshawar.

5 October
Suicide bomber attacks UN offices in Islamabad killing five.

26 September
At least 16 people killed in two suicide car bombs, in Peshawar and Bannu.
(BBC South Asia News, 15/10/2009)

As for other news from Pakistan:

-Younis Khan resigns as Pakistan captain over match fixing allegations.

-’No change’ to Pakistan aid bill.

Once the South Waziristan assault starts then events will get a lot worst.

Please check out “Pakistani Voices” on BBC South Asia website. It certainly shows the true feelings of ordinary Pakistanis.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

It is clear to me that the US under Obama and its allies have a master plan to divide up our nation and take the nukes out.

Until GW Bush was President, Pakistan did not have any of what it is seeing today. Towards the end of his term, Musharraf was made to make way for BB to step in and form a puppet regime. Taliban saw what was coming. BB as PM would be executing American orders. So they removed her from the scene.

As soon as Obama took over, he changed the whole strategy and called it Af-Pak. Initially they were going to include Kashmir in the equation. But the Indians managed to wriggle themselves out of it by their usual devious means. And the whole Af-Pak has turned into Pak now.

No one knows who is supplying all the ammunition to the Taliban. This is a big mystery, figure it out. We can tell who is behind all this.

The Western plans are clearly obvious. Use the same Divide and Rule policy. Turn Pakistani citizens against each other. Now the Taliban is fighting Pakistani establishment. The plan is to spread the chaos into the hinterlands and then break the back of our military. Once that is done, go after our nukes.

The West made a mistake of using religious radicalism to bring down the Soviet Union. The flames never subsided. Now they are making another big mistake of forcing the flames to spread into Pakistan. This flame will not subside. It has the potential to burn the world.

We will finish the Taliban off, now that we started. But we are not going to get divided. Your plans will not work. I look forward to the day when the last American soldier leave Afghanistan, defeated and frustrated.

The last time a soldier marched out of Afghanistan, the Soviet empire fell. This time the other super power will fall. Do not burn Pakistan. It is the worst thing to do. Give up the Af-Pak plan and work towards a resolution in Kashmir. Go after the Indians. They are real crooks behind all this chaos.


So are these guys still to be characterized as troublemaker’s and miscreants? Or will Pakistan finally take the threat seriously and deal with them as terrorists?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

What is interesting about this spate of attacks is the lack of coverage in the western media. Especially when you compare the coverage of the Mumbai attacks. CNN covered that as though it was happening in New York or LA.

I believe this was because of two reasons:

1) It is now generally accepted that Pakistan is an unstable and chaotic place where terrorist attacks are routine.

2) The presence of foreign nationals (particularly Americans, Brits, Canadians, Aussies, Europeans) in Mumbai attracted global attention to the issue. Pakistan has no such sympathetic audience.

3) Owing to the regular news coverage about how bad the FATA is and about the complicity of the Pakistani military, intelligence and security service in the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, there is a perhaps a lack of sympathy in west…a sense that the Paks are getting their due.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Go after the Indians. They are real crooks behind all this chaos.
Posted by Mohammed Anjum

Well, well. Another pathetic, pointless, untruthful statement just blurted out with no tangible substance to support it by yet another madrassa educated, armchair conspiracy theorist.

I suggest you read ‘The Great Denial” by Nadeem F. Paracha in DAWN.

Here is an extract:
First of all, it is a fact that violence-prone extremism was ironically the creation of the CIA, with patronage provided by Arab petro-dollars and the local intelligence agencies such as the ISI. There is not an iota of doubt about the history of these agencies using the concept of jihad as a calling card to gather fighters for the so-called ‘Afghan jihad’ in the 1980s. A string of radical Islamic scholars were used along with the state-owned media and madressahs to fervently indoctrinate a huge number of young Muslims.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@ Keith: “What is interesting about this spate of attacks is the lack of coverage in the western media. Especially when you compare the coverage of the Mumbai attacks. CNN covered that as though it was happening in New York or LA”

Americans & westerners stopped looking at Pakistan as a civilized/normal/stable country quite some time ago. Over the last few years, Pakistan has been looked upon as a war-zone just like Afghanistan or Iraq.

@ Mohammad Anjum:
You never have any substantiated facts to speak of, just fictional tales & non-substantive rhetoric which you hear from your establishment’s propaganda machinery. Getting embroiled in conspiracy theories & delusions is not a good idea when your nation is imploding by the second.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

‘Pakistan Attacks Show Tightening of Militant Links’ asia/16pstan.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

No:1 University in the world to graduate as a Terrorist.
Geo specializations to choose from Kashmir, India, Chechen, Uyighur, America and those undecided sent to Afghanistan.
Note:- Personal guidance and mentorship from Pak Army part of std package.

Posted by Praveen | Report as abusive

@Mr. Mohammed Anjum,

You seem to keep asserting that Pakistan is to be divided and de-nuked, do you actually realize that this is what will happen, if you keep reinforcing this notion in your mind? Mr. Anjum, please be enlightened enough to know that your life and the things that happen to you are the result of the collective actions and thoughts you have. The dominant thoughts in your mind become real and unfold the events as you keep affirming them.

If you want Pakistan to be divided, please choose which part you will side with and wish to be a part of. All of you Paks are pre-occupied with being victims, you will constantly find a villain and a way to become the victim.

Your Army created the Taliban, not anyone else, your ISI and namely men like Hamid Gul created and trained them. Now the instruments of Hamid Gul, ISI and Pak Army are butchering the same agencies that created them, as well as the people of Pakistan.

The blame of Pakistan lies solely with the north punjabistani elites of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Most of them wear uniforms or suits, if you look on TV or the news paper, Mr. Anjum, you will know who they are.

You keep reiterating that India has involvement here and Balochistan…are we Indians so good at this sort of thing, that we have left not one shred of evidence behind of collaberation between hindus and muslims?

Please live in the land of reality and truth, not Ahmed Quaraishi’s mental farm conspiracy stories.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

It is just propaganda against Pakistan. Such a reaction and stories were quite inevitable after attack on Army’s general headquarters. It seems so stupid that terrorist can hit Pakistan’s nuclear assets and installations. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are not toy that are scattered on roads so any one can steal or target them. Pakistan has strong control and command system to secure its nuclear assets than many other countries. I could yet remember A B-52 U.S bomber armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already said that there is no threat of Pakistan’s nukes falling in hands of extremists. We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military’s control over nuclear weapons. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaking to reporters alongside Clinton, said that although Pakistan faces a “mortal threat” from extremists, there is no danger of its nuclear weapons being compromised.It is just a propaganda and part of attempts to de-nuclearize Pakistan.

Posted by Shehla | Report as abusive

@No one knows who is supplying all the ammunition to the Taliban. This is a big mystery, figure it out. We can tell who is behind all this.”
- Posted by Mohammed Anjum

Mohammed Anjum: You were a toddler when India was getting the terrrorism attack everyday and you 40Km away have no idea what was brewing in Amritsar. So enjoy it until itv lasts and you will get a lot considering your attitude.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Mr. Shehla said:

“I could yet remember A B-52 U.S bomber armed with six nuclear warheads and flown for more than three hours across several states. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already said that there is no threat of Pakistan’s nukes falling in hands of extremists. We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military’s control over nuclear weapons. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaking to reporters alongside Clinton, said that although Pakistan faces a “mortal threat” from extremists, there is no danger of its nuclear weapons being compromised.It is just a propaganda and part of attempts to de-nuclearize Pakistan.”

–>First of all, I think that the B-52 with nuclear warheads was not an accident, I personally believe that the “accidental” flyover was in fact a thinly veiled style statement from the U.S. against China over the Taiwan issue.

Next, sure the Taliban may not be able to use the nukes, if they ever came to power, but just the idea of a morally bankrupt and irresponsible state like Pakistan even having nukes, in the wake of their sponsoring terrorist groups and complacency in fighting the Taliban until now, makes the world angry that such a screwed up country is even tolerated to have nukes, I think that is the issue here.

If civilian governments and army are so corrupt there, what if these weaknesses are one day politically exploited by an extreme right wing faction that comes to power one day and has the political sympathy of the Pak Army to escalate terrorism upon India and doing so, because they are emboldened that they do not have to suffer retribution because they have nukes?

This is why the world wants to denuclearize Pakistan. You do not need nukes against anybody, they have not served you. I think since Kargil, we can all agree that war is not a good option for Pakistan and India to settle their differences. They have to reach consensus on a philosophy of peaceful neighborly existence and Pakistani’ nukes only complicate the issue severely for two main reasons: they are a magnet for the militants, politically speaking, and an artificial heel to embolden the Pak Army to misbehave and indulge in unprovoked misadventures with India, for the Army’s own self-serving selfish motives and business model and believe that they don’t have to suffer blowback or consequences.

India has nukes as a deterrent against China. India does not need nukes against Pakistan and historically has never started the fight first. India has only fought Pakistan over a defensive posture, we never agressed first, please take note of that. Everytime you attacked us, you got weaker and lost.

Indians do not want to hurt Pakistan, we don’t want your land and we do not want to conquer your country, you can keep it, you have nothing we want from you. You Pakistani’s must develop a more broader, moderate outlook on your national identity, outside a context of partition and hatred against others.

Pakistani’s please remember, Pakistan has nothing that India wants, you can keep your country. We ask you to think and act responsibly and honestly and always tell the truth. Telling the truth is one of the highest ideals of the Koran and truth telling is abscent in Pakistan, it is instead replaced with fables, conspiracy stories, lies and half-truths which are politically and religiously slanted to keep the public polarized as a tool of national unity.

We hope you Pakistani’s realize that when there are terrorist attacks Globally, originating from your country, we don’t feel you should be privileged to have nukes. Are we supposed to jump for joy that you are nuclear, while your state agencies train terrorists against India and terrorist attacks are planned on your soil? This is not a conspiracy, this just shows that Pakistan is lawless and nobody wants a lawless country to have nukes and that is a plain and simple concept that any sensible Pakistani should easily grasp.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive

Alas U all people sit in your offices and talk about pakistan and kind of insurgency their.

But you forget that, these were british and Nehru who put the

first(1) phase of clash by not solving the Kashmir issue [thus resulting in first kashmir war 1948]

secondly(2) it was india who waged wars against pakistan and divide pakistan and made people angry

thirdly(3) it was america who in 1980′s trained the militia in pakistan to defeat russians.

fourthly(4) western powers and specially india not want pakistan to be peaceful because pakistan can be a ease and safe passage for chinese products to international market.

Basically Uo people all around pakistan forced the people of this region to become iron-heart, it was your policies that certain people in pakistan are against western powers and india.

Indians and others should specially look into their collar first before condeming pakistan.

Lastly majority of pakistanis are really very keen about certain problems which have been mentioned above and they are trying hard to overcome those problems of militancy and others. But world need to cooperate with pakistan government and not to dictate as by sitting in your offices, you will never be aware the kind of problems and situation in pakistan.

Pakistanis love their country and making correcting measures.

Posted by Azad | Report as abusive

@secondly(2) it was india who waged wars against pakistan and divide pakistan and made people angry.”
–Posted by Azad

Azad: Is it you? Do you really mean that India waged wars against Pakistan? Which ones?

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

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