Bombing, rockets found near Musharraf residences a harbinger of things to come in Pakistan
The bombing near President Pervez Musharraf’s official residence in Rawalpindi, coupled with “two rockets rigged with mobile phones and primed to fire toward Pakistan’s parliament” in Islamabad have sparked speculation about the stability of the Musharraf regime. As Syed Saleem Shahzad postulates, someone has issued “two quick warning signals to Islamabad.” The targets are not the only concern. The parties who detonated the bomb and planted the rockets were able to penetrate Musharraf’s inner security zone.
Syed Saleem Shahzad states that the Taliban are the perpetrators, possibly in conjunction with the ISI. The Musharraf regime is being warned about violating the Waziristan Accord by failing to release al Qaeda prisoners and arresting other suspects. This is also a warning from the pro-Taliban elements of the ISI (or Inter Services Agency, Pakistan’s intelligence agency), both active and retired, as they fear Musharraf act against them based on pressures from the West. Hamid Gul, the former director of the ISI, recently warned Musharraf that he risked opening “Pandora’s box” by taking action against him and the ISI. Gul is the architect of Pakistan’s ‘strategic depth’ strategy that led to the rise of the Taliban.
B. Raman reports the Pakistani police are looking elsewhere. “The present suspicion is that the conspiracy might have been hatched either by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) in retaliation for the murder of the Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti by the Army in August, 2006, or by the Jundullah (Army of Allah), a jihadi terrorist organisation which is associated with Al Qaeda,” reports Raman. However, the fact that Musharraf’s inner security cordon was breached leads to suspicion of police and military involvement.
The Islamabad/Rawalpindi plot came just before NATO issues a report directly implicating the ISI in Taliban operations in Afghanistan. “Nato’s report on Operation Medusa…. demonstrates the extent of the Taliban’s military capability and states clearly that Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence (ISI) is involved in supplying it,” reports the Telegraph. Pakistan is serving as a command, control and logistical base for the Taliban, as well as a recruiting and training ground. Quetta is the base of operations for the Taliban launching attacks in southern Afghanistan.
Nato officials now say they killed 1,100 Taliban fighters, not the 500 originally claimed. Hundreds of Taliban reinforcements in pick-up trucks who crossed over from Quetta – waved on by Pakistani border guards – were destroyed by Nato air and artillery strikes.
Nato captured 160 Taliban, many of them Pakistanis who described in detail the ISI’s support to the Taliban. Nato is now mapping the entire Taliban support structure in Balochistan, from ISI- run training camps near Quetta to huge ammunition dumps, arrival points for Taliban’s new weapons and meeting places of the shura, or leadership council, in Quetta, which is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the group’s leader since its creation a dozen years ago.
Nato and Afghan officers say two training camps for the Taliban are located just outside Quetta, while the group is using hundreds of madrassas where the fighters are housed and fired up ideologically before being sent to the front. Many madrassas now being listed are run by the Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam, a political party that governs Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province. The party helped spawn the Taliban in 1994.
Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam is the same political party in control of the Balochistan and North West Frontier Provinces, and the only political party in operation in Waziristan. Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam was behind the Waziristan Accord, and is essentially the polical party for the Taliban and al Qaeda in western Pakistan.
Musharraf’s delicate balancing act between the ISI, the Taliban, al Qaeda and affiliated Islamist groups, Balochi rebels and Afghan and Western pressure is showing signs of strain.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.