In the unlikely setting of an opening ceremony of the much needed Lahore-Faisalabad motorway passing through Shiekhupura in Punjab, President Pervez Musharraf took the opportunity to explain the lethal air attack on the Bajaur madrassa.
He claimed that they had been under observation for over a year and charged Maulana Liaqat of the Bajaur madrasa for training suicide bombers. Liaquat was believed to have been killed and it is alleged that Faqir Mohammed who was in the mosque on site was also killed , but this (which would have been a major coup) has not been confirmed.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan have been isolated for centuries and been resistant to the efforts of Afghan kings, the British Raj, Pakistani generals, the Soviets and American Green Berets and assorted "elite" forces in recent years.
The size of Wales, with a population of some 3 million Pashtun, it has very strong ties to Afghanistan and has long been a centre of Al Quaeda activity . There are 7 FATA Agencies,and North and South Waziristan and Bajaur play the most significant role in the war on terrorism - Bajeur has played host to Al Quaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden and it's proximity to Kunar in Afghanistan makes it a regular route in and out .
Consequently military activity against AQ has been intense and in May 2005 in Mardan, in the SE of Bajeur bin Laden's secretary / sidekick Abu Farraj al-Libbi was arrested. 2 days later Pakistani security forces arrested thirteen alleged AQ operatives including Uzbek and Afghan nationals.
On January 12, 2006 suspected U.S. aircraft fired missiles at houses in the village of Damadola in the Bajaur Agency and killed 18 people where it has been subsequently claimed al-Zawahiri along with Mullah Omar were invited to a feast in the village.
Faqir Mohammed leader / founder of the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Sharia, (Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)) certainly was there and escaped - this group had (and still has) forcibly imposed Islamic religious laws in the Pashtun tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan in the 1990s. Whilst not claimed to be affiliated with AQ or the Taliban they have a common enemy and undoubtedly act in concert.
Qazi Hussain Ahmad, president of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and amir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, addressed an anti-U.S., anti-Musharraf rally in Bajaur after the Damadola strike in January 2006. Qazi Hussain derided President Musharraf's government as an ally of the invaders and termed the political administration of the frontier region as spies for the allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Naturally the attack on the Madrassa at which a US drone was seen prior to the attack of Pakistani helicopter gunships is blamed on the US - Efwit has an interesting and it appears a well informed note on how the US pressured President Musharraf to act.
"They loaded us with evidence. The strike was absolutely inevitable," said a senior intelligence official, also speaking on condition of anonymity. Another official called the attack a "major test" of military and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Pakistan. "We thought about other options, but the Americans weren't ready to take any chances," he said. "We were caught between the devil and the deep sea." ...
Ansar Abbasi, the Islamabad bureau chief for the News International newspaper is quoted calling the attack "outrageous" and in a column pointed out that whilst it raised Musharraf's tough-guy image in the West, there was no national interest and it would simply exacerbate conflict between the army and the civilian populace. "Have we not fallen into a U.S. trap?" he asked.
The way the US sell it, they have 80 dead embryo suicide bombers dead.
The well informed CIA mouthpiece Bill Roggio at Fourth Rail ponders about the role of "the U.S. special operations terrorist hunter-killer teamsTask Force 145". This shadowy set up has (he claims) been ultimately was shown to be responsible for the April2006 raid in Danda Saidgai on the al-Qaeda training camp which resulted in the death of of Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah. He also points out that as the raid happened at dawn (5.00am) it would require night flying by the Pakistani's and hint that this is not their MO.
Earlier this week a suicide bomber killed 42 army recruits on an army parade ground at Dargai which has been claimed is a reprisal.a second unsuccessful bomber is also being sought. ( For those interested in these sort of things the Gulf News today quotes British junior foreign minister Kim "Rentagob" Howells saying there could be "no justification" for the bombing)
The Pakistani Parliamentary opposition in Islamabad led by the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) alliance (An Islamist political party that supports the Taliban and al-Qaeda)said it had planned a Fateha khawani prayer for the 82 dead from Bajaur and 42 dead army recruits in Darga (now 45 dead 20 wounded) Speaker Amir Hussain Chaudhry on Friday blocked the prayer and adjourned the House until Monday.
A bumpy ride ahead for President Mushariff.
For some recent background material read Lord Patel ...
Wednesday, September 13
Hekmatyar .. reports of his capture premature ... Afghanistan collapse continues
Sunday, September 10
Kim Howells is both mad and ignorant ... Taliban triumphant
British Minister hails Pak-Taliban deal in Waziristan
See this reference also .. Afghan.cc
"It is very well known that Mullah Omar lives in Quetta and conducts the Taliban operations in southern Afghanistan provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Oruzghan, Pakitiya, Paktika and Zabul while Gulubuddin Hekmatyar, another ISI old hand is in Bajaur agency to keep his Hizb-e-Islami fighters operational in Khost, Nangarhar and Nooristan and even his home province Badakshan."