Posts Tagged ‘Pakistani military offensive’

AfPak war claimed over 12,500 lives in Pakistan during 2009

January 14, 2010

By James Cogan, wsws.org, January 14, 2010

The Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) report published on January 10 makes clear that the carnage from the fighting between the Pakistani military and anti-government Islamist and tribal militants more than matches that taking place in neighbouring US-occupied Afghanistan. In 2009, the low-level civil war in Pakistan cost the lives of at least 12,632 people and wounded another 12,815, as compared to an estimated 6,500 deaths in Afghanistan.

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Pakistani army offensive devastates tribal communities

October 28, 2009

By James Cogan, wsws.org, Oct 28, 2009

The ongoing Pakistani military offensive into the tribal agency of South Waziristan is having a devastating impact on the entire civilian population. Villages and towns are literally being bombed into rubble and tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee for their lives.

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Sequential Destruction of Muslim Nations: Now Pakistan

October 21, 2009

Liaquat Ali Khan, Counterpunch, Oct 21, 2009

A conspiratorial view of the world is frequently inaccurate, exposing more the paranoia of the view rather than the reality of the world. The sequential destruction of Muslim nations — Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (and Iran is on the list) — may or may not be a conspiracy hatched in Washington D.C., but it is becoming an international reality.  It is no secret that the United States and Europe, with varying degree of mutual cooperation and some make-believe internal discord, superintend the sequential destruction of Muslim nations. This War of Sequential Destruction (WSD), despite Nobel-Laureate Barack Obama’s denials, refuses to go away.

The WSD is multi-frontal. It crosshairs Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Bashir,  Ahmadinejad, Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Many Western policymakers rarely see Muslim nations, including allies, with any inherent respect.  Vice President Dick Cheney described the Muslim world as “brute and nasty.” Obama advisers, though more guarded in their word choices, see Muslim nations no differently. The idea that Islam is inherently violent, openly expressed during the Bush administration, continues to animate foreign policy. The White House holds a new President but Congressional leadership and Washington policymakers are more or less the same. Anti-Islamic policies of warfare and destabilization are intact.

Therefore, the WSD will continue and gather momentum. The picture is not pretty. Palestinians are penned in misery and their territorial cage is constantly shrinking to meet the “natural growth” of vociferous settlers. Oil-rich Iraq is under American occupation and its communities have been torn apart with irreversible harm. Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world, is placed under the boots of Western armies. Thousands of Afghans have been murdered, their houses bombed, their villages devastated. The International Criminal Court headquartered in Holland has indicted the first sitting head of the state, the Muslim President of Sudan. The United States and Europe, themselves armed with thousands of nuclear heads, are strategizing to punish Iran for asserting a treaty-based right to produce nuclear energy, leaving open the option of attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.

After razing Iraq and Afghanistan, the WSD has now turned to ravage an ally, Muslim Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation that the British, in 1947, carved out of India and that India, in 1971, broke into two, liberating Bangladesh from the murderous clutch of the Pakistani military. Over the past sixty-two years, Pakistan’s military and civilian rulers, one after the other, and without exception, have turned to America for military training, weapons, money, and strategic instructions.  Eager to send their sons and daughters to Western cities for education and employment, Pakistani politicians, generals, and bureaucrats all look for ways, and create the ways, to oblige Western capitals, particularly Washington D.C.  Partly for personal interests and partly out of faulty readings of geopolitical situations, Pakistani rulers, like most rulers in Muslim nations, frequently compromise national sovereignty and public welfare.

The Pakistani orientation for self-destruction serves American interests. Facing a failing campaign in Afghanistan, Obama advisers decided to expand the war into Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan.  The United States desperately solicited the Pakistani military to join the Afghan war. Pakistani rulers, this time a democratically elected government, listened to the American call. They first permitted the CIA to fly drones armed with missiles, which killed a few militants but hundreds of civilians in the tribal areas. The United States later urged Pakistan to invade Swat to kill militants. Pakistan did. Millions of civilians were made homeless.

The reaction to drone attacks and the ground offensive in Swat was fierce. Pashtun and Punjabi militants began to attack soft and hard targets. They attacked police stations, military trucks, and even the military’s fortified headquarters in Rawalpindi. Citing these counter-offensives as a threat to Pakistan’s national security, the United States urged the Pakistani military to launch a ground offensive in Waziristan. The rulers listened to the call and sent 30,000 troops to Waziristan. Muslims fighting Muslims have been efficacious in weakening the Iraqi militancy. The same formula, Obama advisers are betting, will crush the Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan.

Certainly, the United States can kill hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns on both sides of the AF-PAK border, even if no more troops are dispatched to the region.  Killing militarily weak populations requires no sophisticated military strategy. The convenient but thoroughly demonized label of “Taliban” provides the rhetorical shield to justify the ghastly massacres of civilians. Since Pakistani military has joined the war, killings on both sides of the border will become even more robust. These killings will carry an air of logic, even legitimacy, since no military presumably kills is own people unless it sees a threat to national security.

Under coercion, Pakistan has started a civil war that will consume its economy, national security, and tear apart its social fabric. The civil war will spill into many parts of Pakistan. It already has arrived in some parts of Punjab. Militants are unlikely to confine this war to sparsely-populated Waziristan. They are taking the war to the most populated cities, including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, and Lahore.  Karachi, which appears to be quiet, is sitting on a tinderbox. Karachi can erupt any minute as its ethnic rivalries are primed for a civil war. It is sheer foolery and a grave analytical mistake to presume that the Pakistani military offensive will provoke no one but only a few misguided militants in the North.

It is not yet too late for Pakistan to return from the precipice of national suicide. Pakistan must take a U-turn and preempt the civil war. Pakistan must say an emphatic no to President Obama who must also carefully weigh the stakes of expanding the WSD to Pakistan. If the NATO forces cannot subdue the militancy in Afghanistan, adding one more military into the battlefield will not solve the problem of occupation and resistance. Furthermore, an internally torn Pakistan does not weaken but empowers militants.  Obama advisers must ponder over one thing more: The people of Pakistan, like the people of Iran under the Shah, might rise to oppose the US hegemony over their internal affairs.

Ali Khan is professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, and the author of the book, A Theory of International Terrorism (2006).

Swat valley could be worst refugee crisis since Rwanda, UN warns

May 20, 2009

The human exodus from the war-torn Swat valley in northern Pakistan is turning into the world’s most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the UN refugee agency warned.

Almost 1.5 million people have registered for assistance since fighting erupted three weeks ago, the UNHCR said, bringing the total number of war displaced in North West Frontier province to more than 2 million, not including 300,000 the provincial government believes have not registered. “It’s been a long time since there has been a displacement this big,” the UNHCR’s spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva, trying to recall the last time so many people had been uprooted so quickly. “It could go back to Rwanda.”

The army reported fierce clashes across Swat, a tourist haven turned Taliban stronghold. After a week of intense aerial bombardment with fighter jets and helicopter gunships the army has launched a ground offensive to drive out the militants to rout the militants from the valley. Commandos pushed through the remote Piochar valley, seizing a training centre and killing a dozen Taliban, a military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said. Gun battles erupted in several villages surrounding Mingora, Swat’s main town. Abbas said the military had killed 27 militants, including three commanders, and lost three members of the security forces. The figures could not be verified, as Swat has been largely cut off since the operation started.

The Taliban leader in Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, remains at large. His spokesman vowed the rebels would fight until their “last breath”.

The operation continues to enjoy broad public support. Opposition parties endorsed the action at a conference called by the government, dispelling the notion that the army was fighting “America’s war”.

But that fragile unity could be threatened by heavy civilian casualties or a further deterioration in the conditions of the 2 million displaced. Returning from a three-day trip to Pakistan, the UNHCR head António Guterres termed the displacement crisis as “one of the most dramatic of recent times”. Relief workers were “struggling to keep up with the size and speed of the displacement,” a statement said.

The main difference with African refugee crises such as Rwanda, however, is that a minority of people are being housed in tented camps. According to the UN just 130,000 people are being accommodated in the sprawling, hot camps in Mardan and Swabi districts, while most are squeezed into the homes of friends or relatives, with as many as 85 people in one house.

Nevertheless aid workers and political analysts warn that if international aid to ease the crisis is not urgently delivered, the strain on the displaced and those helping them could lead to political destablisation. Acknowledging the scale of the crisis, the prime minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani, said: “The displaced men, women and children should not feel alone. We won’t leave any stone unturned in providing them help and protection.”

The UN is expected to launch an international appeal for aid running into hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming days.


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