Monday, September 30, 2013

Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa to End Terror?

"Finally, the battlefield commander fights to win the battle. But it's the political will that determines success or failure in war. If the battlefield commander is let down by lack of political will or consensus, victory is impossible to achieve."  Sri Lankan Strategist Gotabaya Rajapaksa 

Sri Lankan military defeated the terrorists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers) in 2009 after a war that lasted 26 years.

This period from 1983 to 2009 included a long series of talks and peace deals, all violated by the LTTE. After many years of on and off half-hearted attempts to quell LTTE insurgency, it took the determined leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to declare an all-out war against LTTE with Pakistan's help to defeat the terrorist group in just three years. President Rajapksa made it his top priority. He built broad public support for his military campaign and followed through with ruthless execution of his plan.

Initially trained and supported by Raw, the Indian intelligence agency, in the 1980s, the Tamil Tigers met their bloody end at the hands of Lankan military using arms manufactured and supplied by Pakistan.

Alarmed by reports of Pakistani arms supplies to Sri Lanka in 2008, India said it wanted Sri Lanka to treat Tamils with dignity and also voiced concern that Colombo’s arms purchases may upset New Delhi’s “pre-eminent position” in South Asia. “We are facing a situation where the ceasefire (in Sri Lanka) could collapse. This could lead to a flashpoint,” National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said while delivering the 25th Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal memorial lecture.

India refused to supply what it considered "offensive weapons" to Sri Lanka and opposed any military solution of the "ethnic conflict" while urging Colombo to devolve autonomy to the minorities.

According the News quoting reliable sources in Pakistan, military cooperation between Sri Lanka and Pakistan has grown significantly in recent years as Islamabad, unlike New Delhi, has had no problems supplying Sri Lanka's army state-of-the-art weaponry to accelerate its counter-insurgency operations against the LTTE which finally ended with the killing of the most wanted Tamil guerrilla fighter Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The sources said it was in the first week of May 2008 that Sri Lankan Army Chief General Fonseka came to Pakistan with his shopping list of high tech arms for the Lankan armed forces, who were engaged in an intense battle with the Tamil Tiger rebels at the time.

After Fonseca's visit, Pakistan sold 22 Al-Khalid tanks to Sri Lanka in a deal worth over US$100 million. Sri Lanka also purchased Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System (MBRLS), cluster bombs, deep penetration bombs and rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Pakistan, according to various reports. In fact, Sri Lanka, along with some Middle Eastern nations, has now become one of the largest buyers of Pakistani arms in the last few years.

On Jan 19, 2009, in a meeting between Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali and his visiting Lankan counterpart Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the brother of Sri Lankan president, in Rawalpindi, an agreement was reached to enhance cooperation in military training, exercises and intelligence sharing regarding terrorism. The agreement came amid Sri Lankan media reports that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilots had participated in several successful air strikes against LTTE military bases in August 2008. These reports further claimed that a highly trained group of the Pakistani armed forces officers is posted in Colombo to guide the Sri Lankan security forces in their counter-insurgency operations against the Tamil Tigers.

LTTE was initially funded, trained and equipped by RAW, the Indian intelligence agency. Tamil-speaking LTTE terrorists used the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as safe haven. Palk strait separating Sri Lanka from India is just 33 miles wide. It is easier to cross than the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

 LTTE's vicious campaign of terror claimed over 100,000 lives in a country with a population of just 20 million, about the same as Karachi's population. It included aerial attacks, and use of gun boats and suicide bombings.

LTTE started using suicide bombings as a terror tactic well before Al Qaeda did. LTTE victims included Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India who was killed by a female LTTE suicide bomber. Another victim was former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga who lost an eye when her election rally was attacked by LTTE. The deaths include at least 27,639 LTTE fighters, 23,790 Sri Lankan soldiers and policemen, 1,155 Indian soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilians.

Some argue that the Pakistani Taliban are a much more difficult foe to defeat. Others argue that FATA can not be "conquered". They cite history of the Russians and the British to support their claim.  I see these as seriously flawed analogies.

The reality is that nobody is talking about "conquering" FATA. To the contrary, the people of FATA need to be rescued from a band of thugs and criminals who are terrorizing the ordinary people of FATA and using North Waziristan as their base of operations. The Taliban recruit and train bombers and send them out into various town of cities of Pakistan to kill innocent people. Pakistani military is not a foreign military attempting to occupy FATA. In fact, there are significant numbers of people from federally administered tribal areas who are part of Pakistani security forces.

It's also a fact that the LTTE terrorists in Sri Lanka were just as vicious and determined as the TTP terrorists  in Pakistan today. LTTE made and violated multiple peace deals over a long period. Sri Lankan leaders were as patient (clueless?) as Pakistani leaders are today. It all changed with the arrival of Rajapaksa who decided enough was enough. He disregarded the usual rights groups and other do-gooders to do what had to be done to rid his country of the scourge of terrorism by taking decisive action starting in 2006.

With daily carnage in the streets of Pakistan, the nation is suffering from extremely low economic growth rates of just 2-3% a year. Over 40,000 people have become victims of the Taliban terror. Foreign and domestic investments have dried up. There are widespread blackouts and energy shortages. Few new jobs are being created. Foreign investors, tourists, sports teams and business executives are shying away from the country.

Pakistan can not afford the continuation of the status quo. There will be more casualties in the short term if Pakistan decides to declare all-out war on the Taliban terrorists. Allowing the problem to fester will only make matters worse and lead to far more damage in the long run. It must act quickly and decisively to end the ongoing reign of terror by the Pakistani Taliban and their various affiliates who share their hateful ideology and collaborate to achieve their reprehensible aims.

Does Pakistan have a  Mahinda Rajapaksa? Alternatively, can Pakistani leaders learn from Rajapaksa's experience? Can Sharif Brothers in Pakistan do what Rajapaksa Brothers did in Sri Lanka?

Here's a recent video discussion of continuing terror attacks in Pakistan:

Attack on Peshawar church; Baluchistan earthquake; Should Taliban be allowed to open offices from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Sri Lanka Defeated LTTE With Pakistan's Help

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Taliban Terror in Inaugural Speech

Taliban vs. Pakistan

Yet Another Peace Deal and Shia Blockade

Taliban Insurgency in Swat

Musharraf's Treason Trial

General Kayani's Speech on Terror War Ownership

Impact of Youth Vote and Taliban Violence on Elections 2013

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

Pakistan Elections 2013 Predictions 

Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?

Viewpoint From Overseas-Vimeo 

Viewpoint From Overseas-Youtube 


Anonymous said...

one slight point you might have missed out

LTTE had a natural enemy in the cogress party(The matriach widow of Rajiv Gandhi).

It is because of this that India stood absolutely still(usual crocodile tears for Tamils aside) while the Sri Lankan military slaughtered ethnic Tamil LTTE.

Rajapaksa was ofcourse shrewed enough to seize the opportunity.

Taliban are funded by drug money and miscellaneous foreign factions.

As much as it is comforting to think a bold decisive leader can solve all your problems sometimes it is a lot better to grin and bear it till the right opportunity(US pullout in 2014?) presents itself...

Misbah said...

Seems tht evry chanel, othr thn Ejaz Haider & Nadeem Malik, R enthusiastic abut tlks. PTI ppl talk as if thy R TTP spokes prsns

Riaz Haq said...

Misbah: "Seems tht evry chanel, othr thn Ejaz Haider & Nadeem Malik, R enthicistic abut tlks. PTI ppl talk as if thy R TTP spokes prsns"

All-out war can be delayed at great human, economic cost. Eventually it'll have 2 b done to defeat #TTP

Anonymous said...

Very simple difference, when the Sri Lankan army launched its final decisive offensive to end the LTTE.. the pushed the LTTE to the shores of the sea where they had no escape.
By contrast, militants in Pakistan can escape to the following places to avoid death.

1) Cities in Pakistan
2) Afghanistan
3) Remote Areas in Pakistan

You can eliminate 1 & 3 perhaps by a massive quarantine of the area but cannot do the same for 2.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Very simple difference, when the Sri Lankan army launched its final decisive offensive to end the LTTE.. the pushed the LTTE to the shores of the sea where they had no escape."

Tamil-speaking LTTE terrorists used the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as safe haven.

Palk strait separating SriLanka from India is just 33 miles wide with lots of shoreline.

It is easier to cross than the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Hasan said...

Very informative & useful article. Political motives & interests prevent our leaders to take any such clear steps......!

Riaz Haq said...

Another downside of not controlling terrorism...Pakistani passport is ranked among the world's worst passports for travel...along with Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Eritrea.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a piece explaining how the Sri Lankans defeated LTTE after 26 years of fighting:

Gotabaya emphasises that political will is the supreme commander. He points to the successful Operation Liberation or Vadamarachchi Operation from May to June 1987 and Operation Riviresa from October to December 1995 to suggest that there was no deficiency in the SLAF.

The Vadamarachchi Operation led to the recapture the Vadamarachchi region in Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE control. This was SLAF's first conventional combat engagement in Sri Lankan soil after the British colonial rule. During Operation Riviresa (Operation Sun Rays) the SLAF launched a successful assault to wrest control of Jaffna and rest of the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE.

Using these examples, Gotabaya explains that if at all there was any deficiency then it was on account of inadequate, lax and effete political will.

Gotabaya says, 'When President Rajapaksa assumed office in 2005, we studied all previous war operations: Eelam War I (1976-1987); Vadamarachchi Operation; IPKF intervention; Eelam War II (1990-1995); Operation Sea Breeze; Operation Thrividha Balaya; Operation Balavegaya I, II; Eelam War III (1995-2002); Operation Riviresa; Operation Jayasikurui; Operation Rivibala; Operation Ranagosa; Operation Rivikirana; and Operation Kinihira I, II, III/IV, V/VI, VII, VIII, IX.

'The objective of our study was to arrive at conclusive reasons for our previous failures to comprehensively finish the war against the LTTE in the last 30 years. All four previous presidents had resorted to military means and yet had failed. So a political decision was made by President Rajapaksa to comprehensively study all previous war operations and arrive at a solution for every factor of failure or inability to win to the war. For every factor we found a solution,' he says.

'We found that there was really no 'failure factor' attached to the military. In fact, we realised a simple fact in 2005, that if we launched war operations against the LTTE then we would have to fight with the same military that had fought the LTTE in the last 30 years. We were confident of winning with the same military and its Special Forces and commandos. They were already there! Yet, what explained the inability of the previous governments led by four different presidents to utilize the country's military strength effectively?'

He adds, 'We came to the conclusion that the solution was to increase the force strength. The key factor of SLAF's previous inability to finish the war was inadequate numbers. We realised the expansion of military would have a definitive impact on LTTE.'

Therefore, the second decisive political decision was to expand the SLAF, he reveals.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another excerpt of a piece explaining how the Sri Lankans defeated LTTE after 26 years of fighting:

Finally, the battlefield commander fights to win the battle. But it's the political will that determines success or failure in war. If the battlefield commander is let down by lack of political will or consensus, victory is impossible to achieve.

'These decisions were taken by the Supreme Commander, the President of Sri Lanka and not by the Army Chief or Battlefield Commanders. It is the Head of State who can decide the course and trajectory of war operations,' says Gotabaya.

'All the four previous presidents could not take bold decisions. They were indecisive and were afraid that bold decisions might negatively impact our small economy. They were afraid that our country's economy could not sustain such a large expansion of the SLAF. In fact, the previous Presidents and political leaders were genuinely apprehensive of a rapid military expansion and its possible impact on the polity.'

'I remember distinctly the Security Council meeting in Colombo in 2005. I told the President that we must expand the Army by 50,000 as soon as possible. This was mandatory to win the war. The President immediately issued a directive that if that was required to finish the war for once and all times to come we must make the necessary allocation right away. It is this on the spot, tough decision-making that finally led us to victory.'

Gotabaya says that he along with SLAF top brass 'read' and analysed the war operations every hour, every day. 'I could understand and gauge the need and requirements. Any military commander will ask for everything, every possible weapon, every possible inventory. My job was to understand the priorities, rationally organize those priorities in terms of what was really required for victory and flush out needs and requirements that had zero relevance to our objectives.

'When you go home, tell them of us that we gave our today, for their tomorrow' is the political mantra that fires the military imagination.

President Rajapaksa was determined to single-handedly absorb the pressure of deaths and causalities. This seventh political decision made all difference for the SLAF.

'In three and half years nearly 6,000 soldiers were killed. You can imagine the political pressure on the President when body-bags come home from the battlefield. The President was determined to absorb the political pressure generated by battlefield casualties. He committed his Presidency and his government to achieving the objective of winning the war. He demonstrated his courage to continue the war till the military objectives were completely attained. This is what made him different from all previous Presidents. After all, the President is responsible to the people and the fact is that he needs the support of the people to be elected back to power. He knew that he was risking his political career because any other President in his place would have succumbed to the enormous political pressure created by mounting casualties in war operations.'....

Riaz Haq said...

#ImranKhan 's #PTI is starving #KP bomb disposal squad of funds and people to do its job in #Peshawar #Pakistan

Anonymous said...

On Sunday morning, a bomb tore through a marketplace in the heart of the city of Peshawar. More than 40 people were killed and 110 injured.

Behind those horrific statistics lie appalling personal tragedies. What it did to the family of 61-year-old Sartaj, from the town of Shabqadar, was devastating in the extreme.

"At the site, someone found the mobile phone of my nephew, Sohrab," Sartaj tells us, in the mourning tent by his home.

"He called me and asked my relation to Sohrab. Then he told me my nephew had been killed in the blast."

'Lost my mind'
With his voice breaking, Sartaj told how he and his son had rushed to Peshawar to pick up the body of Sohrab, only to be greeted by a nightmarish scene at the hospital.

"In the emergency ward, first I saw the body of my youngest son, then my wife, then it seemed like the place was filled only with the bodies of my relatives.

"They were everywhere. I just lost my mind."

In total, Sartaj lost 15 members of his family. The youngest was his three-month-old grand-daughter, Zainab.

Five more of Sartaj's relatives, four women and a child, remain injured in hospital.

The driver who was taking them through the old city of Peshawar was killed.

Their packed people-carrier was passing alongside the car bomb as it was detonated. Police estimate more than 200kg (440lb) of explosives were used.

The bomb crater remains, deep and wide. Buildings of the historic "Storyteller's Bazaar" are charred, their facades blown open.

The day had started as a joyful one for Sartaj and his relatives. The women in the family in particular had been excited.

Sartaj's son Dilraj, 20, was engaged to be married, and as is the custom in the area his mother, sisters and cousins and their children were to visit other relatives together to invite them to come to the wedding.

They hired a vehicle and had decided to start with the relatives who lived in Peshawar's old city.

"There was so much happiness in our house," says Sartaj. "The ladies and girls bought new clothes. They were laughing as they left. But now they're all gone."

He talks of how he has been unable to enter his house since the attack.

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Anonymous said...

The outlook concerning terror across the sub-continent is bleak considering who is tipped ( and favored by all media) to be India's next Prime Minister. Remember Gujarat?

Anonymous said...

Is this cultural terrorism? A comment on the Net concerning Nina Davuluri - Miss America 2013

...Don’t really want to be a spoiler, but was there a popular vote segment to this contest? Are you aware that for over 30 years now there have been well over a million expatriate Indian workers out in the West?. Whenever there is any contest held by the social media, this seems to be the only group of people who sit on their computers or handle their cellphones to ensure that a person or entity connected with India wins the contest.

Prizes for Literature, the best hotels and game lodges, personalities of the year, beauty pageants have often gone to persons connected with India. It seems that there is a group of Indians who monitor such contests or awards and get to work to ensure an Indian victory. You may recall (if I remember this issue correctly) that at one of the American Idol series an Indian contestant was kept in the competition by “popular” vote even though the judges wanted him out.

Even when UNESCO held a contest for the best national anthem it was India that walked off with the prize; even though it’s national anthem is in Bengali – a language that 90% of the population does not understand.

Is Nina the most beautiful woman in the USA? Ask the gang-voters!...

Hopewins said...

^^Anon: "Even when UNESCO held a contest for the best national anthem it was India that walked off with the prize.."

Yes, and Elvis is still alive.

Anonymous said...

Blogger HopeWins Junior said...

^^Anon: "Even when UNESCO held a contest for the best national anthem it was India that walked off with the prize.." ---------

Yes, and Elvis is still alive.
October 8, 2013 at 5:33 PM
Elvis may well be alive and enjoying life in India. Some years ago I saw posters pasted in an Indian town which proclaimed:"Subhash Chandra Bose is alive! Netaji will return and save India!..."
So even if there was no UNESCO contest, they won the contest!

Riaz Haq said...

NY Times on Afghans seeking TTP alliance:

A bungled attempt by the Afghan government to cultivate a shadowy alliance with Islamist militants escalated into the latest flash point in the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, according to new accounts by officials from both countries.The disrupted plan involved Afghan intelligence trying to work with the Pakistan Taliban, allies of Al Qaeda, in order to find a trump card in a baroque regional power game that is likely to intensify after the American withdrawal next year, the officials said. And what started the hard feelings was that the Americans caught them red-handed.

Tipped off to the plan, United States Special Forces raided an Afghan convoy that was ushering a senior Pakistan Taliban militant, Latif Mehsud, to Kabul for secret talks last month, and now have Mr. Mehsud in custody.

Publicly, the Afghan government has described Mr. Mehsud as an insurgent peace emissary. But according to Afghan officials, the ultimate plan was to take revenge on the Pakistani military.

In the murk of intrigue and paranoia that dominates the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Pakistanis have long had the upper hand. A favorite complaint of Afghan officials is how Pakistani military intelligence has sheltered and nurtured the Taliban and supported their insurgency against the Afghan government.
Another Afghan official said the logic of the region dictated the need for unseemly alliances. The United States, in fact, has relied on some of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords to fight the insurgency here, the official tartly noted.

“Everyone has an angle,” the official said. “That’s the way we’re thinking. Some people said we needed our own.”

Afghan officials said those people included American military officers and C.I.A. operatives. Frustrated by their limited ability to hit Taliban havens in Pakistan, some Americans suggested that the Afghans find a way to do it, they claimed.

So Afghanistan’s intelligence agency believed it had a green light from the United States when it was approached by Mr. Mehsud sometime in the past year.

After months of negotiations with Mr. Mehsud, the intelligence agency struck an initial deal, two Afghan officials said: Afghanistan would not harass Pakistan Taliban fighters sheltering in mountains along the border if the insurgents did not attack Afghan forces.

Still, the Afghans decided to keep their relationship with Mr. Mehsud a secret and did not tell American officials.

An American official briefed on Mr. Mehsud’s case said there was “absolutely no way” any American would encourage the Afghans to work with the Pakistan Taliban or do anything that could result in attacks on Pakistani forces or civilians, the official said.

“If they thought we’d approve,” the American official added, “why did they keep it a secret?”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's DefenseNews on Pakistani drones Burraq and Shahpar:

Shahpar is a tactical canard pusher UAV that was developed by the Advance Engineering and Research Organisation, which is part of the state-owned Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) conglomerate.

It was revealed to the public for the first time during IDEAS2012, Pakistan’s biannual defense exhibition, in November last year.

It was claimed to be an autonomous UAV with an endurance of seven hours and which could relay data in real time out to a range of 250 kilometers.

Observers have said the Burraq appears to be a Pakistani variant or development of the Chinese Rainbow CH-3 UCAV, but little else is known beyond speculation based on the CH-3’s specifications.

Former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail said additional information will be difficult to obtain for now because sources will be “wary about leaking what is considered confidential stuff.”

Reports that Pakistan was developing an armed UAV named Burraq date back to 2009. Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said he first became aware of the existence of the Burraq some years ago when it was still in the design stages with NESCOM.

The two may be related, but he believes Burraq is armed and Shahpar unarmed.

“Shahpar can carry about a 50-kilogram payload and has around eight hours endurance. Burraq, based on Chinese CH-3 specs, would carry around a 100-kilogram payload and 12 hours endurance,” he said.

The given payload of the CH-3 is a pair of AR-1 missiles, or a pair of FT-5 small diameter bombs.

The ability of Pakistan to field an armed UAV has great benefits when faced with time-sensitive targets, he said.

“It is important in a sense that it greatly cuts the gap from detection to shoot,” he said.

Adding, “Earlier, once you detected something and wanted it taken out you had to pass on the imagery to higher ups, who had to approve and allocate resources like aircraft and by the time the aircraft got there the bad guys were long gone. Now detect, make decision, shoot and go home — all in same loop.”

He does not believe there is any real significance in the systems being named for use with both the Army and the Air Force, however, as “both have been operating their own UAV squadrons for a while now.”

“The Army has been using German EMT Luna X-2000 and the British [Meggitt] Banshee UAVs, while PAF as we know has a lot of faith in the Italian [Selex] Falco,” he added.

The Luna was also ordered by the Pakistan Navy in June 2012.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's National Internal Security Policy (NISP) Strategy; three tiers of strategy (short-, medium- and long-term); fire-fighting (short-term; police reforms/CT efforts); overhaul of laws and the criminal justice system (short- to medium-term); narrative-building (short-, medium- and long-term). The the policy has been approved by the federal cabinet and some of its salient points have come into the public domain

Riaz Haq said...

Here's National Geographic on comparison of Pakistan with Colombia:

Few Pakistanis get to visit Colombia, a country quite physically and culturally distant from their land of abode. Yet as I discovered from my visit to Colombia’s capital Bogota this week, there is much which Pakistanis can learn from this land of coffee, cocaine and coal. So what are the similarities between these two ostensibly disparate lands, separated by geography, ethnicity and religion? A troubling common thread between Colombia and Pakistan pertains to the issue of terrorism and guerrilla insurgency. For the past few decades, both countries have been fighting locally grown, ideologically driven, terrorist militias, which receive some degree of foreign support but also thrive on drug money and various forms of extortion and kidnapping. Both countries are also currently involved in controversial peace processes with the insurgents that remain far from achieving their aim but are likely to continue.

Colombia’s experience with fractured politics and terrorism predates Pakistan’s predicament. The country achieved independence from colonial Spain in 1819 — long before Pakistan was even dreamed of. Yet soon thereafter, the unified territory of “Gran Colombia’ fell apart, and Venezuela and Ecuador seceded from the land as independent states in 1830 – the same year that the great revolutionary and colonial liberator Simon Bolivar died in the northern Colombian city of Santa Marta. Like Colombia, Pakistan also has experience with secession – Bangladesh’s independence in 1973, only 26 years after independence from Britain.
Pakistan has to also learn from the Colombian experience that negotiations are only workable with such groups if there is some unified negotiation hierarchy and influence across the guerrilla population who are involved in terrorist activity. Unlike the FARC, the Taliban have so many factions that negotiations over specific actions become hard to enforce. Once there is some clarity on the enforcement power of the negotiators, it is worth considering whether the terms of a peace plan might undermine the overall functionality of the Pakistani state. For example, any points of negotiations regarding marginalization of minority sects such as Shias who constitute 20% of the population would lead to ruin. The FARC are willing to join the political process within Colombia if their basic demands for land and resource management regimes are met. Would the Taliban be willing to do so if given limited degree of governance in particular parts of the country so as to prevent imposition of their worldview in some form over all of Pakistan? How might there be enforcement of their sphere of influence under a peace plan? Expansionary tendencies will need to be monitored carefully in both peace processes.

Disparate as they may seem on the surface, Colombia and Pakistan have much to gain from exchanging notes with each other on dealing with their intractable insurgencies. In a globalized world where arms and drugs can flow freely across the miles, surely lessons on governance and peace-building should find no barriers.

Riaz Haq said...

For a decade now, the tribal town of Miram Shah in North Waziristan has been a slow-burning embarrassment to the Pakistani military.

Right at the gates of an army base, Taliban kidnappers used the town telephone exchange to make ransom demands. Suicide bombers bided their time in high-walled compounds there before attacking Pakistan’s major cities. Notorious militants like the former Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud kept houses a few miles from the base.

Those factors made Miram Shah a magnet for jihadists from across the region, and the world — Punjabi sectarian killers, Uighurs fighting China, Al Qaeda commanders plotting mayhem in the West. “The bazaar is bustling with Chechens, Uzbeks, Russians, Bosnians, some from E.U. countries, and of course our Arab brothers,” David Headley, an American who joined the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, wrote in a 2009 email.

The Pakistani military moved to erase that blemish early Monday, when soldiers fanned out across the town, occupying bus stands and shops as they began wresting the town from militant control.

Infantry and special forces units moved from house to house, uncovering networks of tunnels and bomb factories, the military said in a statement. At least 15 militants were killed and three soldiers injured in sporadic exchanges of gun and rocket fire, it said, in an account that could not be independently verified.

The sweep through Miram Shah marked the second phase of a broader operation against the Pakistani Taliban and allied militants in North Waziristan. For the past two weeks, the military unleashed air and artillery strikes as up to 500,000 civilians fled the area for neighboring districts.

More than 30,000 troops are said to be involved in the North Waziristan operation, ostensibly prompted by a deadly militant assault on Pakistan’s largest airport, in Karachi, on June 8. But military officials said the offensive had been in the works for months, as government-led peace talks with the Taliban faltered, then collapsed.


The potency of that challenge was underscored by the June 8 attack on the Karachi airport, and, more recently, an attack on a landing passenger jet at Peshawar airport that killed one passenger and caused several airlines to suspend their services to the area.

Monday’s assault on Miram Shah included the mobilization of tanks, artillery and gunship helicopters in support of infantry forces, a senior security official said in Peshawar, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “This is the beginning of the search, eliminate, clear and control phase,” he said. “There is no turning back.”....

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan sends 30-bed field hospital to #SriLanka, 17 doctors coming to help flood victims- The Hindu …

Hospital has operation theaters, and x-ray laboratories, two special cargo aircraft carrying relief items also expected.

Even as relief and rescue operations continued in Sri Lanka, the government of Pakistan sent a 30 bed fully-equipped field hospital and relief materials.

A release of the Pakistan High Commission here stated that the field hospital had operation theaters and x-ray laboratories. Two special cargo aircraft, carrying relief items, were also expected to reach Colombo shortly. Besides, 17 Pakistani doctors would be arriving in Sri Lanka for providing health care assistance.

Oz announces contribution

The Australian government said it would contribute $5,00,000 to UNICEF for humanitarian assistance, including the provision of clean water and sanitation for children in shelters.

On Sunday afternoon, the number of deaths in the country went up to 84 with the recovery of 11 more bodies. Toll in Aranayaka, the site of last week’s landslip, stood at 32 and the district of Kegalle accounted for 50 deaths. As of now, 2.37 lakh persons were kept at relief camps. President Maithripala Sirisena visited Wellampitiya, Meethotamulla and Kolonnawa, all located in Colombo district, and met the flood-affected people.

3.4 lakh people affected

Of about 3.4 lakh affected people in the country, the Western Province accounted for around 2.43 lakh persons. There were about 94,151 persons hit by the floods in the Kolonnawa division and 24,824 – Kaduwela, both in the district of Colombo. In the neighbouring Gampaha district, Wattala had 35,407 affected persons; Biyagama – 21,302 and Kelaniya – 16,202, according to a report of the government’s Disaster Management Centre.