Swat joins Talibanistan


NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/ districts openly controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat. Click map to view.

Maulana Fazlullah's TNSM violates the terms of its May "peace agreement"

As the Red Mosque standoff in the heart of Islamabad enters its fifth day, the mosque's supporters in the Northwest Frontier Province have attacked the government. In Swat, a settled district in the Northwest Frontier Province, Maulana Qazi Fazlullah, a 28-year-old radical cleric, has called for his followers to strike at government agencies for taking action against the Lal Masjid. "In broadcasts on his FM channel on Tuesday and Wednesday, [Fazlullah] asked his supporters to take up arms against the government to avenge the action taken against Lal Masjid and carry out suicide attacks," Dawn reported on July 4.

Fazlullah's followers have carried out his call for violence. In the five days since the Red Mosque standoff began, four major attacks were carried out against police forces in the district. Six have been killed and thirteen wounded in shootings, roadside bombings and ambushes throughout the region.

North of Swat in the district of Dir, four soldiers were killed, including two officers, and another was critically wounded in an IED attack. The army convoy was reported to be heading into Swat in preparation for a possible "showdown between supporters of Maulana Fazlullah and law-enforcement agencies."

Fazlullah is in direct violation of a "peace agreement" he signed with the provincial government. The terms of the nine-point peace deal required Fazlullah to "support the polio vaccination campaign and education for girls, as well as government efforts to establish law and order," the Daily Times reported on May 23. "He also agreed to wrap up all training facilities for militants and making of weapons, and support the district administration in any operation against anti-state elements." Fazlullah's followers were also to stop carrying weapons in the open. In return, Fazlullah was permitted to continue broadcasting his illegal FM radio programs and the government would "look for legal ways to withdraw cases against the cleric."

Maulana Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the jailed leader of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law). He is said to have "close links with the administration of the Lal Masjid," according to Sharif Virk, the chief of police for the Northwest Frontier Province. Fazlullah has successfully organized anti-polio and anti-girls schools campaigns throughout the region. The Swat region is believed to be a haven and training ground for the Pakistani Taliban. "Militants from Waziristan are present in Swat in great numbers," and being sheltered by the TNSM, The News reported just one day prior to the signing of the "peace treaty."

The TNSM is known as the "Pakistani Taliban" and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent over 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001. Faqir Mohammed, a senior leader of the TNSM in neighboring Bajaur agency who is wanted by the Pakistani government, kicked off a suicide campaign after the air strike on the Chingai madrassa in October 2006. Forty-five Pakistani soldiers were killed after a suicide bomber sent by Faqir struck at Pakistani Army recruits training outside of the Dargai base in the NWFP. The Pakistani government signed Bajaur over to the TNSM in March 2006.

The Swat administration is wringing its hands over Fazlullah's call for violence in the wake of the Lal Masjid standoff. "A peace jirga held on Friday condemned the recent attack on District Police Officer Mazharul Haq," Dawn reported. "The jirga presided over by Maulana Fazal Haq expressed concern over tension in the valley. It decided to hold a meeting with Maulana Fazlullah to defuse the tension."

But the peace jirga refused to hold Fazlullah accountable for his call for jihad on his radio stations and the subsequent violence. "Members of the jirga said it was not clear which party had breached the peace agreement between the government and the cleric," Dawn reported. "They said FM stations should not be used for promoting personal interests, but there should be no ban on using them to propagate Islam."

An anonymous American intelligence source has informed The Long War Journal that the Pakistani government is quietly negotiating a series of "peace deals" with the Taliban throughout the Northwest Frontier Province, much like the deal cut with Fazlullah. The Pakistani government is stinging from the international condemnation over the Waziristan and Bajaur Accords, which surrendered the tribal agencies to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

But the deal in Swat has done nothing to curb the rise of the TNSM, or prevent al Qaeda from training in the region. Fazlullah is still strong, as the recent attacks on the police demonstrates. Like in Tank and Bannu, the police in Swat have been intimidated by Fazlullah's TNSM.

Swat is clearly Taliban country.



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READER COMMENTS: "Swat joins Talibanistan"

Posted by Don Bistrow at July 7, 2007 3:31 PM ET:

As a whole the government of Pakistan has proven that negotiating, appeasing and placating terrorists, or illegal groups and their activities serves no long-term purpose.

If these groups decide they don't like the climate they make threats and forget any so-called "agreements" they may have had.

The Pakistani president has offered a deal with the people held up in the Red Mosque right after an attempt on his life. What purpose will this serve? I believe none of worthiness or positive effect.

Pakistan is a time bomb on a short fuse.

Posted by GK at July 7, 2007 4:15 PM ET:

While the assassination of Musharaff is cergtainly a real threat, I don't see the Taliban expanding beyond the areas shown in the map.

Punjab is a part of Pakistan very different from the NWFP or Waziristan. Punjabis are much more Indian-like, and are more interested in the pursuit of money, watching films, and cricket, than in the jihad that the Taliban offers.

Punjab will never allow the Taliban to penetrate.

Posted by Thanos at July 7, 2007 5:45 PM ET:

Someone really needs to destroy the two illegal FM transmitters in this region, it would do a lot, and they probably aren't that easy to replace.

Posted by Srirangan at July 7, 2007 11:27 PM ET:

Punjab is a part of Pakistan very different from the NWFP or Waziristan. Punjabis are much more Indian-like, and are more interested in the pursuit of money, watching films, and cricket, than in the jihad that the Taliban offers.

Punjab will never allow the Taliban to penetrate.

I'd beg to differ. The Talibanization emerged from heartland Pakistan i.e. Punjab & Sindh. Talibanization was the official policy of the Pakistani state well up to 9/11 and while the people in Punjab might not be so easily brainwashed as the tribals of Pakhtunistan, the peoples votes don't really matter, do they?

Posted by David M at July 8, 2007 11:24 AM ET:

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/08/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day so check back often. This is a weekend edition so updates are as time and family permits.

Posted by crosspatch at July 8, 2007 2:11 PM ET:

A lot of this needs to be put into the context of domestic Pakistani politics. Allowing the territories to have their religious fascist autonomy might be fine for the local regions but I seriously doubt a majority of Pakistan wants that kind of rule at the national level.

Offering these deals has little domestic political risk. If the tribes accept them and settle down, then everyone wins. If the tribes accept them and then use them to destabilize the rest of the country, then it gives the government a mandate to go after them. From Musharraf's perspective, he could be giving them either an opportunity for self government in the style they want, or he could be giving them the rope with which they will hang themselves.

All indications I have seen so far are that going against the extremists has served him well politically. His way of giving them a peaceful option to end confrontation has also served him well when the extremists refuse and decide to fight. It appears to me that this is turning public opinion away from the extremists and toward Musharraf.

Musharraf begins to appear to be the compassionate and reasonable party and the religious extremists appear to be brutal murderers who won't listen to reason and take advantage of any good will in order to cause further agitation and violence.

It looks to me like the extremists are quickly laying the groundwork for their own destruction and for it to be done with the public's blessing. If they keep doing what they have been doing, they are going to get little sympathy from the average person who is going to come to the conclusion that "they asked for it".

I would caution people not to attempt to place Musharraf's actions in the context of US or even Western global politics. This is mainly about internal Pakistani politics and should be viewed in that context.

Posted by Thanos at July 8, 2007 4:28 PM ET:

Just a heads up follow on to this, the Army appears to be very angry over the assassination attempts and the BBIED's they were hit with -- Four aids to Mullah Omar have been captured, Two more Lal Masjid sympathizers captured from the assassination attempt, and the army appears to be camping out in Swat now.

Posted by ATAL KHAN at July 15, 2007 1:08 PM ET:

It is not that much easy to blame the people of swat for the mis-doings of others. If you go into the depth of the problem, you will explore which elemenst are behind the scene. I mean pakistan army , & ISI, who are always working for their personal intersets , just to drag dollars from US economy & put them into their own pockets.

The game of talibenization emerged from, Punjab , the heart of pakistan. This game was served deviced,& supervised by the Punjabi Mafia, ISI & pak army. They were dreaming how to make greater pakistan , by creating their force in afghanistan(i.e taliban). The punjanbis (The cunning bastards) know that Pashthoonz love Islam, so how can these peacefull & brave people can be used as a raw-material for thier dirty plan. So the pashthoon terretories were chosen as the battlefield for this great-failed-game. While the master minders of this game are still dragging dollars from US economy to make USA as a fool stupid crow, but now people of USA knows that , they should kill the master mind, so that innocent people cannot be misused in the name of peacefull religion (ISLAM). The only solution to this problem is that , there should be no pakistan, and their should be greater Afghnaistan. People like Sufi mohamad & Fazlullah are the seeds grown by ISI & Pak army , for their personal gains. so Sufi Mohammad, Fazlullah, ISI & Pak army msut be killed , so that to protect the nice pretty pashthoonz of swat. The pakistan must dissolve so that SWAT may Join Afghanistan & USA. The world must know that The people of swat are very moderate, educated, and well cultured people. Punjab is the enemy of pakistan. The enemy of Islam. The enemy of the world. and the enemy of humanity. push them back to india, there will total peace in fghanistan.

SWAT is the paradize on earth.
Punjab is the master mind & creator of Taliban

Trully

ATAL KHAN
A true pashthoon from Pakhthukhwa (SWAT)

Posted by Muhammad Ajmal at July 16, 2007 10:05 AM ET:

If we look to the pre USSR assult on Afghanistan, we will see how peace ful and tranquil this area was. But for the ulterior motive of some mafia which comprises of army, and establishment ( control by punjabi) these straightforward and brave people were mis guided through Mullahs which are also army product. As a result two generation of puhtoon suffered utter miseries, and economically they lack behind far more from other contemporaries.
But one thing that must be noted that if the establishment does not change their policies regarding puhtoon then one day will come when puhtoon will again like their ancestors will stand up against these punjabi ( who have never ruled and also remain enslave of other), as if you push some thing for long time the reaction are then also disastrous . then the consquence will dire from punjab. Therefore i thinks that its time for establishment to change thier strategy, leave and let others to leave in thier homeland with peace .