The shifting alliances of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s militants

October 22, 2009

The Jihadica website has just posted an item about an apparent rift between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in the so-called Quetta shura led by Mullah Omar.

“Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and al-Qa’ida’s senior leaders have been issuing some very mixed messages of late, and the online jihadi community is in an uproar, with some calling these developments ‘the beginning of the end of relations’ between the two movements,” it says.

“Beginning with a statement from Mullah Omar in September, the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta-based leadership has been emphasizing the ‘nationalist’ character of their movement, and has sent several communications to Afghanistan’s neighbors expressing an intent to establish positive international relations.  In what are increasingly being viewed by the forums as direct rejoinders to these sentiments, recent messages from al-Qa’ida have pointedly rejected the ‘national’ model of revolutionary Islamism and reiterated calls for jihad against Afghanistan’s neighbors, especially Pakistan and China.”

Reports of rifts between different militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan have surfaced before, particularly between Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), over the latter’s insistence on targetting Pakistan. Mullah Omar, according to media reports earlier this year, wanted the TTP – which is believed to be close to al Qaeda – to focus instead on fighting western troops in Afghanistan.

Such reports of rifts are impossible to verify and may be deliberately designed to confuse – the talk of a break between Mullah Omar and al Qaeda comes as the United States has talked of stepping up pressure on the ”Quetta shura”, named after the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, where Washington says the Afghan Taliban are based. Islamabad says Mullah Omar is not in Pakistan.

But history would suggest that the Islamist militants do not always form a cohesive whole or even follow a common ideology. After the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the mujahideen who had driven them out became fragmented, leading to a bloody civil war.  In Kashmir too, where a separatist revolt began in 1989, different militant groups rivalled and sometimes fought each other.

The general picture is of many different Islamist militant groups which often make common cause, and sometimes co-operate opportunistically when this suits their many different objectives. 

According to U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal the three main insurgent groups in Afghanistan co-ordinate their efforts but have different command structures and work under separate strategic plans. These are the Quetta shura Taliban, the Haqqani network and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.

Within Pakistan, security forces appear to be fighting against a coalition of militant groups which include the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), based in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, and the sectarian anti-Shi’ite Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), both of which have been suspected of involvement in gun and bomb attacks in Punjab province in recent weeks. The banned LeJ was originally based in Punjab, but has been operating increasingly out of the tribal areas.

The Pakistan Army has launched an offensive in South Waziristan, stronghold of the TTP. It says around 1,000 foreign fighters, mainly Uzbeks, are also holed up there.

Punjab is also the base for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for last year’s attack on Mumbai. Lashkar differs from many other militant groups in that it is not believed to have launched attacks within Pakistan itself, focusing instead on Kashmir and India. Nor does it share the Deobandi religious ideology of many of Pakistan’s militant groups and of the Afghan Taliban, instead following a tradition more akin to al Qaeda’s Salafist views.

Jaish-e-Mohammed, another Punjab-based group which like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) originally focused mainly on Kashmir, is seen as much closer to al Qaeda than the LeT.  It is one of many militant groups which is believed to have splintered in Pakistan as a result of various crackdowns following 9/11, creating many dangerous offshoots.

In Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, rebels have long been waging a separatist insurgency which Pakistan says is backed by India – a charge Delhi denies. But these rebels are quite separate from the Jundollah Sunni militant group blamed for last Sunday’s suicide bomb attack in Sistan-Baluchestan province in neighbouring Iran.  Analysts argue that Jundollah, whose religious ideology is Deobandi, is increasingly following a sectarian anti-Shi’ite agenda, under the influence of Pakistan’s own Deobandi groups.

But according to French historian Stephane Dudoignon, quoted in this Reuters interview, the group does not share the Islamic internationalism of al Qaeda. Instead, its leader Abdolmalik Rigi had always stressed that he was a Baluch and Iranian patriot. And the rise of Jundollah, he says, coincided with an explosion of drug smuggling on the eastern fringes of Iran, from which it drew much of its funding.

Meanwhile on the subject of drug smuggling and to return to the original subject of the jihadica post, it’s worth noting that the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar appear to be considerably better funded than al Qaeda nowadays. That would suggest that if there is indeed a rift between a nationalist and internationalist agenda, the Afghan Taliban may have the upper hand.

(Photos: U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; the TTP, opium field)
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Comments

In spite of the continued fighting, the Pakistani state continues to pick middling fights with other parties. The US-Pakistan aid package is one such conflict that is covered in more detail at asiachroniclenews.com

Posted by Dersu | Report as abusive
 

Alliances keep shifting don’t they? Not long ago, the Taliban was Pakistan’s pet. Now Pakistan and Taliban are getting alienated. Not long ago Saddam Hussein was a staunch ally of the US. But then the US threw him out of power and had him executed. Americans and Pakistanis fought together against the Russians in Afghanistan. Now Americans and Russians are coming closer in dealing with Afghanistan. I see a rift opening up between the US and Pakistan. Kerry Lugar Bill seems to have touched some sensitive nerves. I’d like to see India and Pakistan allied together and wiping out Islamic terrorism from the region.

 

Its all crap…

They all are the same there is no rift between them, Bait ullah Meshud the leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who was killed in a drone attacks few months ago was indeed hand picked by Mullah Omer as the leader of alliance for Pakistan & all of them consider Mullah Omer to be the pious leader of all Taliban movement. His words are the last words.

They may not seem very cohesive at first glance but they are ideologically bound together which I believe is the toughest bond.

And Taliban can never be financially stronger then their Arab counter parts the Al-Qaeda. Opium doesn’t sell for much in Afghanistan & Taliban cannot traffic it further then Irans border. Al-Qaeda on the other hand is funded by a complex network of international funds which involve a lot of petro dollars….

 

Professional Pak Army fights Talibans .. Wholel Mehsud community suffers … women children not sapared ..

“Mehsud tribespeople, including women and children, are being punished on the roads as they flee simply because they belong to the wrong tribe,” said Sam Zarifi, director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific programme. “This could amount to collective punishment, which is absolutely prohibited under international law.”

“They made us walk back and away from the road, they also abused the driver, who was not a Mehsud but was from the Marwat tribe. He was first beaten by the soldiers and then they told him not to drive anyone from Mehsud tribe”

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updat es/news/army-pakistan-must-stop-harassme nt-mehsud-tribe-20091022

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

Taliban are in mountains, but Pak army would destroy all civilian houses!!!

For more urgent US aid?

Is there anybody to save the innocent civilians?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/83 16948.stm

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

Taliban are in mountains, but Pak army would destroy all civilian houses!!!

For more urgent US aid?

Who will save innocent Pak civilians?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/83 16948.stm

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

Chronic swindlers from birth and those Billions!

Over the years, the U.S. has unloaded massive amounts of aid to Pakistan, including $7.5 billion more earlier this month. But the money doesn’t always wind up where it’s supposed to!

U.S. officials accuse Pakistan of running a double game with the money, keeping the Taliban at bay just enough to persuade American benefactors to keep their wallets open, thereby ensuring a lifeline for the country’s mangled economy. All of which raises the question: will any amount of money produce results?

http://www.newsweek.com/id/218932

No conditions any new US aid Plezzzz! You can’t alter our DNA!

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive
 

This I guess is biggest Joke… I thought all terrorist groups, as they claim, had one thing in common, the great Koran and the great Sharia law and all are messengers of Allah.

Posted by JC Mulla | Report as abusive
 

“I’d like to see India and Pakistan allied together and wiping out Islamic terrorism from the region”
- Posted by KP Singh

Even though that would make a lotta sense, it’s still wishful thinking, Mr. Singh. The truth is that Pakistani leaders would rather let their country burnt down to the ground by the fire of terrorism, than accept help from their ‘sworn enemies’. They would any day prefer to be allied with the terrorists & fight India, than the other way around. In fact, even today most Pakistanis believe that India is behind most of the terrorism in Pakistan. Talk about delusion & denial!

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Perception is dramatically different from reality.

Talibans are trained, financed, nurtured and handled by the Pakistani military establishment. This serves a two pronged strategy:

1. It gives strategic depth to Pakistan against its arch enemy INDIA

2, It gives Pakistan the leverage to get money and military hardware from the Americans by demonising the Talibans.

Its a pretty old game and Pakistan is damn good at it!
About one-third of all money and hardware goes to Taliban while the rest goes to the Personal Coffers of the Army Generals.

I wonder why its taking so long for the Americans to figure it out or are they a party to it for a much bigger game which lies ahead?

Posted by Zain I. Syed | Report as abusive
 

U.S. officials accuse Pakistan of running a double game with the money…
-Andy

I suppose this is why Richard Holbrooke has not been in the picture recently. Each time he travelled to Pakistan to compliment the govt on their work, he was met with complaints about how light the Pakistani wallet has become.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

The chickens have come home to roose in Pakistan

 

Talibans are trained, financed, nurtured and handled by the Pakistani military establishment. This serves a two pronged strategy:
1. It gives strategic depth to Pakistan against its arch enemy INDIA
2, It gives Pakistan the leverage to get money and military hardware from the Americans by demonising the Talibans.
Its a pretty old game and Pakistan is damn good at it!
About one-third of all money and hardware goes to Taliban while the rest goes to the Personal Coffers of the Army Generals.
I wonder why its taking so long for the Americans to figure it out or are they a party to it for a much bigger game which lies ahead?
- Posted by Zain I. Syed

US Congress approves new restrictions on Pakistan aid.

-US lawmakers on Thursday passed a giant Pentagon spending bill that sets tough new restrictions on military aid to Pakistan.
The new limits include efforts to track where US military hardware sent to Pakistan ends up, as well as a warning that US aid to Pakistan must not upset ‘the balance of power in the region’ — a reference to tensions with India.
(DAWN, 23/10/2009)

Looks like game over…for now.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

Pakistani militants and terrorist groups sound like an alphabet soup, pretty soon they’ll run out of acronyms. How on earth and why were they allowed to crop up and by whom?

When thieves fall out………..it makes for an interesting albeit tragic side show. Will things ever change? One can only wish for better sense to prevail, its still not too late.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

Mortal: “Even though that would make a lotta sense, it’s still wishful thinking, Mr. Singh. ”

Agreed. Good things happen only when the hearts express them. I am sure there are some Pakistanis somewhere who can read my words and come forward to join hands. I am sure there are a sizable number of Indians and Pakistanis who’d like to get along and live well. Unfortunately they are all shouted down by the noise of venom from both sides. Even I have been quite vocal sometimes due to extreme frustration.

When I think about the situation in Pakistan, I am more and more convinced that it is not the country or its people who are the problem. It is their military that is the real problem. I see similarities between drug cartels in South American countries holding the whole country hostage for its drug operations and survival. Here a military establishment is doing the same thing. It has created an enemy and has made most of the nation’s subjects fall in line by threat and brain washing. It holds its people hostage by telling them that their nation is under threat and is pretending to be protecting them. In Iraq and other such countries, typically one finds a dictator like Saddam upon whose removal things become better. Here an entire military establishment has become a monster. It is like the Sky Networks in the movie Terminator. It begins to control everything after going out of control. If Pakistan can be saved from this monster, it will not only save this poor nation, but also the whole region. It never allowed democracy to take root in the country. It has messed up Afghanistan. It has misdirected its people by engaging with India on a constant basis. It engaged in genocide in East Pakistan that led to its dismemberment. It is armed to the teeth and is threatening peace in the whole region.

This is the reason why all of us should differentiate between Pakistanis and their military. Pakistanis are bearing the brunt of all militancy and the military is trying to save its own interests. It wants all foreign aid for itself. It is unfortunate. We must reach out to Pakistanis and help them understand the situation they are in. Many are in this mental warp where they are not aware that they are being controlled by this monster. We must all send letters to the US administrators about this reality.

 

With the rising number of attacks in Pakistan by the same monsters its state created, there is one specific person’s views which have disappeared from all media sources: Imran Khan.

Where is he?

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

upset ‘the balance of power in the region’ — Posted by Bulletfish

Both India and Iran are questioning US actions with which an earthworm (Pak) is metamorphosing into an anaconda.
The discontent among neighbors and the US lawmakers is uniform with regards to disbursement of huge amounts without regulation, it looks more like a bribe money to establishment than aid to feed poor. ALSO, Paradoxically, part of the US money is going to the very terrorist outfits which attack US soldiers. Part is going back to Chinese and US weapons industry. Who is cheating who here? The US taxpayer and innocent afghan bystander are cheated without any question.

 

“We must all send letters to the US administrators about this reality” – Posted by KP Singh

I’m a member of the NY Democratic party caucus & have been a part of discussions with senior members of the party regarding this issue. I can tell you that the administration & the congress members that I’ve spoken to, are fully aware of the corruption, propaganda & the duplicitous nature of the Pak army. The administration realizes that the foreign policy of empowering the Pak army for decades, has been counter-productive & put the entire region in a limbo. They are trying to correct this grievous mistake by trying to empower the civilian Govt of Pakistan & the restrictions in Kerry-Luger bill are a testament to that. But this monster (the Pak army) which was fed & empowered by successive US Govts over the years won’t relinquish it’s power that easily, as seen with the furor created by it over the KLB. We’re in for a long haul, that’s for sure!

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

An article on Pakistan’s youth:

‘Diet of negativity’ By Ayesha Siddiqa (Dawn)

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/colu mnists/ayesha-siddiqa-diet-of-negativity -309

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Mortal: “I’m a member of the NY Democratic party caucus & have been a part of discussions with senior members of the party regarding this issue.”

There in lies the problem. Pakistani military is the pet of the Republican party. Whenever the Republicans ruled, Pakistani military has thrived. Even after 9/11, the Bush administration had an “understanding” with Musharraf. He gave them what they wanted and they left him to do his own things in parallel. They fooled the American public by capturing some Al Qaeda criminals here and there, but allowed the rest of this group and the Taliban to diffuse into Pakistan and set up camp there. And they turned to Iraq which worked out in Pakistani military’s favor. India was still bearing the brunt of militancy until the democrats came back to the oval office again. I know that the democrats are more truthful in this regard. During Reagan days, they turned a complete blind eye to Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear bomb development and its activities in India like Khalistan militancy. They told India at that time, “We understand India’s sentiments. But Pakistan has a problem.”

Republicans like the fire and forget type of approach to geopolitics. Democrats are more humane.

 

I’d like to see India and Pakistan allied together and wiping out Islamic terrorism from the region.

- Posted by KP Singh

Mr Singh,

As much as I admire your idealistic thoughts, I cant help but smile on your naive gandhian philosophy.

You cant expect a carnivour to turn vegetarian overnight. Before you take away the main industry of Pakistan (terrorism)away, you might want to build an alternative for the country to survive.

Its amazing how our frail human nature makes us believe that every problem has a solution and if all the nation pool thier minds and resources together we can put humty dumpty (pakistan)back together.

Lets just accept the fact that pakistan in its current shape cannot function and it will require some radical changes instead of gradual slow transformation.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

I’d like to see India and Pakistan allied together and wiping out Islamic terrorism from the region.

- Posted by KP Singh
=======
KP Singh,
I agree with Indian1127.

I hope you are not Dr.Manmohan Singh! Just kidding.

Probably LeT terrorists and their ISI masters will smile when they read comments like this and say now is the time to launch the next terrorist attack on Indian people.

Belief in the concept of “moderate” paks is a serious mistake Indians have indulged in for 62 years. The “moderate” paks smugly looked the other way through 2 decades of paksitan army’s terrorist campaign in India. If Kasab had not been caught alive “moderate” paks could have claimed pakistan has no role in Mumbai.

Probably you think we are paranoid. I would say historical evidence is in our favor of our argument.

My advice to Dr.MMS would be keep the powder dry. Boost intelligence capacities, infrastructure, improve anti-terrosit human resource capabilities. At the same time be ever watchful with the paks and be prepared for any eventuality all the time.

 

indian1127:

I agree that Pakistan is dominated by the wolves which are driving the sheep along. And unfortunately the world has to deal with these wolves. I am looking at the sheep instead of the wolves. It only takes a pack of few wolves to drive a large number of sheep in any direction they wish.

“Lets just accept the fact that pakistan in its current shape cannot function and it will require some radical changes instead of gradual slow transformation.”

I’d be interested in knowing what those radical changes could be.

 

Mr. Raj: “Belief in the concept of “moderate” paks is a serious mistake Indians have indulged in for 62 years. The “moderate” paks smugly looked the other way through 2 decades of paksitan army’s terrorist campaign in India. If Kasab had not been caught alive “moderate” paks could have claimed pakistan has no role in Mumbai.”

I do not disagree with you. What we must realize is that whenever conflicts arise, be they in the form of wars or terrorism or cricket matches, people align themselves with their nation. Pakistani “moderates” have been exposed to these conflicts for all these years and as a result, their view is biased towards their nation. I am sure that is the case with all nationalities.

The wolves that I refer to, namely their military and intelligence establishment has exploited this emotional weakness in the people by constantly propping up conflicts with India. There has been a steady engagement with India in one way or the other. Over time, the people begin to fall in line. As soon as the dust settles on one issue, another one is started. Just go through the historical events in the sub-continent, you will realize that it is their military establishment that has resorted to a series of engagements with India to keep the public psyche tuned in their direction. Many Pakistanis have grown up in this environment. There is no awareness that they have been victimized all these years by emotional campaign. Create an enemy and sustain that enemy psyche by all means and slowly, with time, ordinary people will begin to fall in line. This is some kind of a mass Stockholm syndrome. The victim begins to align with the captor. Look at how some Pakistanis on this forum swear by their military. There is no faith in any other system.

We must try to break this spell somehow through whatever means possible. It is important to do this, otherwise we risk facing a much worse population as time goes on. New generation Pakistanis seem to be even more antagonistic towards India than those who really suffered from partition violence. The hatred is growing instead of subsiding with time. And the military establishment is sustaining and building that fire of hatred.

The worst weapon in this world is the human mind. Anyone who gains control over it can wreak havoc on other humans. We don’t have such a massive system in India. That is why Indians are not marching in terrorist training camps driven by some ideology. I’d equate the Pakistani military to a militant unit like the LTTE. It is disciplined, it has support and loyalty and it can wage wars against a much larger adversary. LTTE has been defeated and life is returning to normal in Sri Lanka. It is the Pakistani military that has to be dismantled and refilled with normal minded people who can just do what is necessary to defend a nation and not create enemies on a constant basis to survive.

We can only achieve that goal if we can reach out to those people who are under the spell of this evil establishment.

 

I’d be interested in knowing what those radical changes could be.

- Posted by KP Singh

Every situation throws up its solution, we will just have to wait for the solution to be obvious.

The world has seen bigger problems resolved over time either by war or through peaceful means. Failed concepts creep up every now and then but the world rejects them albeit slowly.

Colonialism, racism, slavery are some of the examples of failed unsustainable concepts that have have been kicked out in the past and now we face Religious extremism and State sponsored terrorism , This too shall pass.

Posted by indian1127 | Report as abusive
 

For those, who don’t consider the Punjabi Taliban as a serous threat:

‘Punjabi Taliban’ Dawn Editorial

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn -content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/09-p unjabi-taliban–szh-04

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Indian 1127: “Colonialism, racism, slavery are some of the examples of failed unsustainable concepts that have have been kicked out in the past and now we face Religious extremism and State sponsored terrorism , This too shall pass.”

Fully agree on this. We have had Conquests, Colonialism, Slavery, Racism, Nazism, Socialism, and now Religious Radicalism over the past few centuries that have caused tremendous sickness over the human minds. All are artificially imposed ideologies that have been used to collect people under someone’s influence and turn them against each other. These things have not disappeared entirely. They are still dormant in small pockets around the world and can surface again if the conditions become ripe for them. As the world is modernizing, some of these ideologies morph into different forms and still inflict damage to the human psyche. Islamic radicalism can only be destroyed by its own followers. Exposure to the modern world is very important in this regard. Sometimes colonizing by modern civilizations can provide that needed exposure. Turkey became a secular and modern nation due to its exposure. Afghans and some of the Pakistanis lack such an exposure. The powers therein want to exploit this backwardness to their advantage. Therefore eliminating those powers is the first step towards providing this exposure. Tribal mindset can be changed. Nothing is impossible. It is the power brokers who are hindering it. Probably that is why the US is forcing them to fight it themselves.

 

There is no point giving any comments here because this web site adminstrator does not want to show reality and deleted my previous post………..this shows how INDIANS think and how fair they are……………

Posted by Riz | Report as abusive
 

House rules only apply to INDIANS, because house thinks only INDIANS are sending so called MODERATE comments. If someone tries to show mirror, they close their eyes…….Because they dont want to see their own disgusting faces,…..Shame on administrators of this web site………………Be brave and try to be fair……….this is the media India uses to misguide its own people against PAKISTAN……………My previous post has been cleanly deleted……..wow…..look at these so called fair people and MODERATE people

Posted by Kha | Report as abusive
 

Instabilty and war are the primary factors responsible for increased opium production in Afghanistan. Before the Soviet invasion, and during the brief rule of the Taliban, opium production was either very limited, or deliberated curtailed. Soon after the war is over, production is likely to plummet.

http://watching-history.blogspot.com/200 9/10/opium-in-afghanistan.html

 

Riz and Kha:

@There is no point giving any comments here because this web site adminstrator does not want to show reality and deleted my previous post………..this shows how INDIANS think and how fair they are……………

Riz and Kha: how do you know how many Indians posts have been trashed? all you see is uploaded posts. Perhaps that tells the participation by Indians to begin with and 8-times larger population. Sorry size is mattering here too. Now, I have been trying to post on Sheikh Mushtaq’s recent Kashmir article on “India–a billion aspiartions” blog, but my 5 posts were not uploaded–may be technical reason or due to moderated out. I have no way to know.

There is nothing else to respond, except that many times a reasonable dialogue with a frequent Pakistani commenter has failed. if uou have any specific comment for whivh you expect a response from Indians, please do so and and let us have some conversation. there is no answer to “pakistan a nuclear power with 170million strong patriotic……”.

Do not unnecessarily blame the Indians if your posts were not uploaded.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

the american people are the top threatens for the peace in the world and also they are cruelty terrorist that invade emerge countries for theft natural richments. the islamism resist the afghanistan and pakistan war anywhere

Posted by Mahmmud Ahmadinejad | Report as abusive
 

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