Panetta: Al-Qaeda Effectively Disrupted; Yemeni Killed in Drone Strike; Nearly 6,000 Pakistanis Killed in Terrorist Incidents since 9/11

CIA director Leon Panetta said Wednesday that US strikes against targets in northern Pakistan have left al-Qaeda in disarray and without the command and control necessary to plan and carry out major operations.

The US is claiming a big success in a precision strike on the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan, saying that it killed Husain Yemeni. Yemeni is said to be a liaison between al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arabs holed up in North Waziristan, north Pakistan. He is also said to have been involved in the bombing of a CIA forward base in Afghanistan in late December, which killed several CIA operatives along with some contractors.

The News reports that: since 9/11 (102 months), Pakistan has suffered a major terrorist bombing roughly once every 10 days. Over these years, there were 332 ‘terrorism-related incidents,’ which killed 5,704 persons (substantially more than died in the September 11 attacks). By city, terrorist bombings clustered this way:

Peshawar: 58 terrorist incidents
Rawalpindi/Islamabad: 46
Karachi: 37
Lahore: 21
Swat Valley: 21
Karachi: 21

In the troubled Northwest of the country, the Taliban of Miranshah in North Waziristan on Wednesday affirmed their commitment to an ongoing truce with the government. The truce is observed by Pakistan as it campaigns in South Waziristan, so as to be able to concentrate on one tribal area at a time. The truce is shaky, and was annulled last summer briefly by the Taliban.

Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus cautioned Pakistan that another terrorist attack on India such as Lashkar-e Tayyiba carried out on Mumbai could spark severe conflict in South Asia. Radicalism in Punjab of the Lashkar sort is an increasing concern among Pakistanis, as this Dawn editorial shows.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s two big rival parties, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN), have been roiled over comments earlier this week by Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab Province, who said that Taliban should not hit the Punjab, since Punjabis had been more or less on the same page in their opposition to military dictator Pervez Musharraf. On Wednesday, the Taliban showed interest in a truce with Sharif. The Pakistani public is outraged at the remarks, seen as cowardly and/or collaborationist.

Female member of parliament Nighat Orakzai (PML-Q) taunted Sharif that if he is so afraid of the Taliban, he can borrow her neck scarf (dupatta), which many Pakistani women wear on their shoulders instead of covering their faces. She dropped hers on the floor of Parliament.

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2 Responses

  1. America's war ON terror has become America's war OF terror in Pakistan. But, the Zardari governement has knelt to American wishes and the Pakistani civilians are suffering unmercifully. Pakistani politician, humanitarian, and former cricketer Imran Khan is America's worst nightmare.

  2. interesting, prominent article in today's NYTimes: Taliban Hit Back In Marja With A Campaign Of Intimidation : “The Taliban have begun waging a campaign of intimidation in Marja that some local Afghan leaders worry has jeopardized the success of an American-led offensive there meant as an early test of a revised military approach in Afghanistan… “After dark the city is like the kingdom of the Taliban,” said a tribal elder living in Marja, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of the Taliban. “The government and international forces cannot defend anyone — even one kilometer from their bases.” Journalists have still not been allowed to visit Marja independently, they must be embedded with the American military; NATO and Marine Corps spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the situation in Marja – meant to be a template for a similar campaign aimed for spring in neighboring Kandahar Province. The tribal elder declared that in his area, called Block 5, the Taliban had complete freedom of movement after dark. He said he believed that was true in many other parts of the city of ~80,000 as well. He and the governor were among five community leaders in Marja who expressed similar concerns about the Taliban intimidation campaign… Walid Jan Sabir, the Afghan member of Parliament for Marja and the surrounding Nad Ali District, said he had heard reports from Marja elders visiting his office in Kabul this week of two beheadings of pro-government elders, both members of the government’s Community Development Council. Mr. Sabir was critical of American and Afghan forces for ‘surrendering the night’. “At night the local people are the hostages of the Taliban,” he said. Since many tribal leaders have fled out of fear, and many of the Afghan officials coming in now are not from Marja, it is difficult for them [ie., Generals Petraeus and McChrystal's "government in-a-box"] to know who the Taliban activists are. “The Taliban and the Marja residents all have beards and turbans, so it’s impossible to distinguish them,” he said. “If it goes on like this I’m sure the situation will deteriorate and we’ll find it’s chaos there again.

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