Taliban attack on power grid station in Peshawar kills 8

The Taliban killed three policemen and five power utility workers in an attack today on a power grid station in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The Taliban attack team, which is estimated to have been comprised of more than 40 fighters, fired rocket-propelled grenades and planted explosives at the substation, and also captured and tortured the police and utility workers before killing them, according to Dawn. Four more workers are missing and presumed to be in Taliban captivity:

Wajahat, a local native of the area told Dawn.com that the cops and the Wapda [Water and Power Development Authority] officials were brutally tortured by the militants.

“We saw that some of the people were first thrashed with axes and then their bodies were badly broken into pieces, after which they were shot to death many times.”

Four Wapda officials are still missing and the search is on for them, he added.

The Commander Tariq Afridi Group, one of the most dangerous Taliban factions, operates in Peshawar, as well as in Arakzai, Hangu, Khyber, and Kohat. On Dec. 30, 2012, the Tariq Afridi group executed 21 Pakistani policemen after capturing them during raids in Peshawar. Although Tariq Afridi, the group’s emir, is rumored to have been killed, his death has not been confirmed by the Taliban.

Security in Peshawar has deteriorated over the past several weeks. The Taliban have launched two suicide attacks in Peshawar since mid-March, and several other attacks have been reported in and around the city.

The Pakistani government insists that it has “broken [the] Taliban’s back,” but as recent events in Peshawar show, nothing can be further from the truth.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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13 Comments

  • Adam says:

    Once again, Tariq Afridi’s death was confirmed by the Taliban’s official spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan last month.
    //www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-21157-TTP-confirms-death-of-Tariq-Afridi
    Afridi is 100% dead. He is, as you say pushing up daisies.

  • mike merlo says:

    While the “Fighting Season” in Afghanistan appears to have gotten off to a sputteringly slow start Pakistan on the other hand appears to be on the receiving end of the beginnings of a ‘Taliban’ offensive.
    With Pakistani National & Provincial Elections to be held in early/mid May I would hazard a guess that the Pakistani Taliban & their allies are casting their ‘votes’ early.
    I wonder where Musharraf is ‘hiding?’ I wonder if those desiring his ‘demise’ will ‘get’ their ‘wish?’

  • Neo says:

    One would think such a blatant provocation would be pushing things too far, inviting some sort of retaliation by the Pakistani government. After seeing many such brazen provocations pass without response, last years prison break comes to mind, I doubt we will see more than a flaccid non-response to this one as well. Part of the problem is support that the Taliban has within the ranks of the Army, but that support is hardly universal. Sympathy seems to range from enthusiasm on one end, to hostility at the other end, and a great deal of ambivalence between. I have always been of the opinion that self preservation is the greatest factor, with the Pakistani government and army refusing to engage because they fear the results of any long term engagement. I am sure the Pakistani army is capable of giving the Taliban a good sharp kick, but it is long term engagements that worry them. If the Army had a major set back and got bogged down in the mountains, the loyalties of many of the troops might come into question.

  • Jeff Edelman says:

    In Pakistan, there are only soft targets and softer targets.

  • wallbangr says:

    @mike merlo: I’ve been saying (hoping, perhaps) for a long time that once the Americans withdraw the Paks are going to bear the brunt of things. You can’t house and feed vicious dogs and expect that they won’t one day turn on you. All of the groups that the ISI and PakMil have quietly supported and abetted as a rear garrison against India aren’t just going to lay down their arms once the hated Americans are gone. Already the groups who have rejected the Pak government’s support (i.e., the so-called “bad taliban”) are reaching out to and conspiring with the so-called “good taliban.” As much as we have all tried to lampoon the Paks for this ridiculous distinction, I suspect that as we draw down, the Paks themselves are going to realize what a mistake it was to assume that these groups would somehow stay within the arbitrary label that was affixed to them. Once they no longer have the Americans to blame for all that ails them, or a convenient Western enemy against which to wage their jihad, the militants are going to turn their rage against the Pak government. Once can hope, at least…
    @Neo: Sure the Paks could give a good swift kick, but the real reason they fear a long term engagement in the mountains probably has less to do with attrition/morale/ambivalence than that it does with taking assets off line from the border with India. Pakistan’s India Complex informs most every military decision it makes, even to its own detriment.

  • gb says:

    I still believe in the containment approach. Limit their ability to wage war on far away enemies and they will kill each other.

  • Moose says:

    @Neo
    How do you know the Bannu prison break wasn’t a deal b/w the TTP and Pakistani state? If they seriously wanted Rasheed in custody they would have held him outside of insurgency-plagued Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province… in Rawalpindi or Karachi or maybe even a mansion in Abbottabad. Arresting high-level insurgents to exert pressure when needed and then letting them “break out” is common in Pakistan.
    @wallbangr
    Pakistan has used Islamo-fascism as an ideology since the Partition. It’s how they have maintained an ethnically divided country in the face of a militarily superior enemy (India) for decades. They’ve survived challenges like this before, such as the Baluch insurgency in the 70s. They have also lost as in the case of Bangladesh (IMO, that should have been expected from the beginning). Pakistan plays the divide-and-conquer game very well and has survived quite well up until now.
    I also believe the “India complex” is the biggest red herring Pakistan has thrown our way, especially vis-a-vis Afghanistan. It’s true that this complex was Pakistan’s main priority in the past, but its acquisition of nuclear weapons has changed that calculus dramatically. Note that when Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998, it was followed by the Kargil incursion into India led by Musharraf. Pakistan knows it can conduct attacks like the one in Mumbai, for instance, which in its pre-nuclear days probably would have led to war b/w the two countries.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the notion that India building a few roads or a dam in Afghanistan means that it is somehow encircling Pakistan is laughable. If India had any intention of making Afghanistan a battlefield, the Taliban would have never conquered 90% of the country in the 1990s. Pakistan simply wants a vassal state, with or without India on its southern border.

  • mike merlo says:

    @Moose
    calling the Baloch Insurgency a “challenge” at the very least is laughable.
    “Pakistan plays the divide-and-conquer game very well and has survived quite well up until now.”
    “Divide & conquer” what? Unless of course you’re talking about their own country. With all due respect “D’ing & C’ing” ones own country is an oxymoron. Presently Pakistan is facing a full-blown secessionist movement from their Pathan minority in FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(NWFP) & a low intensity insurgency, criminal/terrorist in ‘nature,’ throughout its major urban centers & other parts of its country.
    The above is also ‘peppered’ with ‘foreigners’ & Religious Fundamentalist, who by the way have significant numbers of Punjabi’s ‘populating’ their ranks, and have over the last few years matured into a Force capable of challenging the Pakistani Government.
    The “Taliban” never conquered 90% of Afghanistan. At best they had ‘firm’ control over maybe 40% to 45% of Afghanistan, at their brief height of power, with the other 25% to 35% in nominal control which was the byproduct of alliances(?) & arrangements. The Taliban’s tenuous control over Afghanistan was further evidenced by the rapidity in which US Forces in the wake of 911 ‘ejected’ the Taliban, Pakistani Benefactors & Muslim Mercenary’s from Afghan territory. The aforementioned is further supported by the lack of near nonexistent support from the General Population. Even in the so-called Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, parts of Helmand & parts Eastern Afghanistan “partisan” support failed to surface/emerge/materialize in any significant manner,shape or form.
    I am of the opinion that Pakistan isn’t anywhere near as secure as it might perceive itself to be
    vis-a-vis India & the fact that they both have nuclear weapons. While Pakistan has certainly demonstrated its ability to sow chaos in India via terrorist tactic’s or criminal enterprises I believe India’s Intelligence Operations targeting Pakistan are much more wide spread & sophisticated than what their counter parts in Pakistan have ‘organized’ against them.
    I believe that India’s Intel Community has developed a very ‘intimate’ relationship with their counter parts in Afghanistan(NDS) & as such
    has further expanded their capacity to monitor Pakistan & indulge themselves in Pakistan at Pakistan’s expense. I believe that India had a very ‘strong’ presence in ‘aiding’ the NDS in identifying & locating bin Ladens presence in the Mansehra area. India since the Kashmir debacle following the ’47 Partition has devoted a tremendous amount of time, resources, ‘energy,’ focus & manpower on Azad Kashmir & the adjoining areas

  • Moose says:

    @Mike Merlo
    “calling the Baloch Insurgency a “challenge” at the very least is laughable.”
    I’ll let readers judge that for themselves.
    In regards to divide-and-conquer, I was referring to Pakistan’s policy of sowing discord and infighting b/w the Pashtun tribes in FATA. If Pakistan is facing a full-blown Pathan secessionist movement as you claim then the Pakistani state sure isn’t acting like it. Dividing the Taliban into good and bad and setting up training camps and supplying the ‘good’ Taliban is a horrible COIN strategy… or maybe they’re not too worried about it.
    Pakistan feels extremely threatened with the U.S. on its border and that’s where they’re focusing their efforts. Dealing with the TTP is much easier than dealing with a strong and independent Afghanistan. When the U.S. leaves, Pakistan will simply flood Afghanistan with all the groups you mentioned and go back to being their benefactor.
    Using your own logic, Pashtuns don’t even want groups like the TTP b/c they can’t hold territory in large parts of FATA.
    Much of what you said regarding India’s intel ops in Afghanistan is based on conjecture. What I’ll say is that there’s a huge difference b/w sharing intel, which the two nations have every right to do without asking Pakistan’s permission, and full-blown support for insurgencies which Pakistan is doing. If you can show large-scale support by India and Afghanistan for the Baluch insurgency inside Pakistan, for example, then I might agree with you.

  • Neo says:

    Moose said:
    “How do you know the Bannu prison break wasn’t a deal b/w the TTP and Pakistani state? If they seriously wanted Rasheed in custody they would have held him outside of insurgency-plagued Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province… in Rawalpindi or Karachi or maybe even a mansion in Abbottabad. Arresting high-level insurgents to exert pressure when needed and then letting them “break out” is common in Pakistan.”
    I assume there is plenty of stuff going on that we don’t hear about. However, I don’t latch onto anything specific unless there is some decent evedence to support it. Otherwise you just drive yourself insane chasing after shaddows. I haven’t heard anything a deal on the prison breakout beyond a fairly local level and the usual suspects in the ISS. Would Pakistani Army staff help free those who would kill them. Stranger things have already happened in Pakistan, but my bet would be that any conspiracy stops short of top staff. In other words “Where’s your evidence?”

  • mike merlo says:

    @Moose
    the Balochi’s comprise around 3% of Pakistan’s population. They’ve never been nothing more than a minor nuisance in the “big scheme” of events. Why do you keep referring to them?
    Concerning a Pathan secessionist movement just because Pakistan is behaving otherwise doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place. The Pathans have long advocated for an independent Nation. Even in the years preceding the ’47 Partition both the Balochi & the Pathan’s were quite clear on their desire to have nation’s of their own. Much of the rhetoric emanating from FATA & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ‘speaks’ of an independent entity.
    Its not necessary for the Pakistani Federal Government to devote too much energy to sowing discord among the Tribal’s. The Tribals do quite well on their own in disagreeing with each other & expressing those ‘feelings’ via violence.
    Pakistan will not ‘simply’ be able to do anything in regards to Afghanistan when the US ‘leaves.’ As long as the US supplies Afghanistan with the necessary War Fighting Material’s & some other necessities Afghanistan will fare quite well. Pakistan can’t even get the insurgents in their own country to adhere to a ‘policy’ suitable to their own interests. What makes you think a smaller US/International military presence in Afghanistan will automatically translate into Afghanistan falling under the sway of a Force that never really was that big of threat prior to the US invasion.
    The TTP has never really been nothing more than a “Debating Society.” They’ve yet to demonstrate themselves capable of maintaining the level of cohesiveness that’s required of an insurgency to not only impose their will but holding the ‘territory’ they’ve ‘targeted.’ To date all they’ve managed to do of consequence is agree to cooperate with each other if one or the others’ traditional Tribal Boundaries is being compromised or threatened.
    Of course what I said on India & Afghan Intel ‘Communities’ is conjecture. Last I checked I ‘saw’ no evidence of me being part of the chain of command or sitting in on operations discussions. You know that if would be near impossible to produce evidence of Afghan or India support for Insurgent activity targeting Pakistan. The fact that a ‘homegrown’ Insurgency is targeting Pakistan is at the very least empirical proof that both Afghanistan & India have on the ground presence monitoring ‘activities.’ The 3 principals, Afghanistan Pakistan & India, have been at ‘odds’ with each other; particularly Pakistan vis-a-vis India &
    Pakistan vis-a-vis Afghanistan. So to now suggest based on past histories the 3 protagonists are engaged in every conceivable activity targeting each other short of War is disingenuous.

  • Moose says:

    @Neo
    Just like no one had specific evidence of the ISI harboring bin Ladin in Pakistan, but if you didn’t think he was there then I have a mansion in Abbottabad I want to sell you. Common sense questions like why an HVT like Rasheed was imprisoned in Khyber-Pakhtunwa guarded by the second-rate Frontier Corp are extremely important to ask.
    Using common sense when dealing with a two-faced enemy like Pakistan will get you further than taking things at face value.
    @Merlo
    “They’ve never been nothing more than a minor nuisance in the “big scheme” of events.”
    Again, I’ll let the readers at LWJ judge that for themselves.
    “What makes you think a smaller US/International military presence in Afghanistan will automatically translate into Afghanistan falling under the sway of a Force that never really was that big of threat prior to the US invasion.”
    Amazing.
    The TTP has never really been nothing more than a “Debating Society.”
    Again, amazing.
    And I never said India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan aren’t involved in ops against each other. What I did say was that the notion that India is using Afghanistan as a battlefield to encircle Pakistan is a red herring and laughable. My original statement that the Taliban would have never conquered 90% of Afghanistan if that were true still stands. Again, intelligence sharing b/w the two countries can occur without Pakistani permission.
    Evidence for large-scale support like what Pakistan provides the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network is easily produced. The fact that so little evidence exists to support your claim and that you have to rely on conjecture proves my point. Does it exist on some level? Of course, just like India’s contacts with the Northern Alliance in the 1990s. But it’s a matter of degrees that you don’t seem to understand. If India and Afghanistan were seriously colluding against Pakistan, the Pakistanis would be in a world of hurt.
    Everything you said can be refuted by a simple, but extremely important principle: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.
    Learn it.

  • mike merlo says:

    @Moose
    with all due respect whats “amazing” is one such as yourself who obviously devotes much attention to whats transpiring in the AfPak Theater and is yet unable, for whatever reason(s), to arrive at conclusions that don’t defy ‘gravity.’
    By any standards of ‘measurement’ the Balochi have never amounted to nothing than a “minor nuisance” TLWJ ‘audience’ withstanding.
    If the Taliban were anywhere near the Threat you & others have imagined ‘them’ to be they would have never succumbed to the US Invasion so rapidly. Support from the Afghan population was desultory to say the least. Even throughout the Taliban stronghold in Kandahar, parts of Helmand & parts of Eastern Afghanistan partisan support was near nonexistent.
    Taliban manpower at its zenith was estimated to have been around 50,000 of which, depending on ones sources, 15% to 20% was non-Afghan.
    In spite of the supposed Grand Alliance as expressed via the TTP the AfPak Theater has yet to witness or experience any sustained cohesive effort on the part of the TTP’s ‘signatories’ that offers up evidence of anything more than the occasional raiding party. As I ‘said’ earlier the TTP is nothing more than a Debating Society. At best they’re a Mutual Aid Society designed to organize themselves as a cohesive force in lieu of possible incursions by the State into Tribal Lands.
    The Taliban as I said earlier never conquered 90% of Afghanistan. The 80% of the country they did come dominate at the height of their power was in many parts of the country tenuous at best.
    While at one time “large scale” support of the Haqqani Network & the Afghan Taliban may have existed such a scenario is no longer true. Much of what you many others interpret as “large scale” support is nothing more than the Pakistani Military, parts of the Gov’t, Independent Support ‘Groups’ & parts of the Pakistan Intel Community simply adhering to a “hands off” policy. ‘Outside Sources,’ other than the aforementioned’Combine,’ & Criminal Enterprises are the Haqqani’s Network & Afghan Taliban principal source of Funding.
    The “easily produced” evidence you speak of is mostly hearsay, innuendo, & supposition. Most of what those in the know are alluding to are intercepted communications that indicate The Combines support but not one that necessarily translates into material support. Its simply acknowledging positive support for ones existence & as such will not subject one to hostile targeting.
    Besides the aforementioned the only other qualifier of significance is Pakistan manipulation of its side of the border allowing selected parts of it to be used as a safe ‘point’ of transit for those using Pakistan as sanctuary. You obviously like many others have fallen under the spell of the Taliban myth & many other instances of bloated estimations or ideas have come to dominate discourse & debate on the AfPak Theater.
    Actions have & continue ‘to speak’ louder than words. The Afghan Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan, besides parts of Nangarhar, Konar & Nuristan, is transitory at best forced to stay hidden. TTP has yet materialize as anything more than Tribal Federation(that’s nothing new) that is 95% or more exclusively confined to activity in its traditional Tribal territory. The Pakistani Combine of the Military/Government/Intel Community is on its heels & has been for quite some time.

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