Saturday, February 28, 2009

Surging Towards Disaster in the "Afpak Theatre"

An essay well worth a read at Antifascist Calling.

With critical supply routes from Pakistan cut by Afghan Talibs and Pakistani Taliban fighters, who have launched coordinated attacks with Central Asian and Arab al-Qaeda guerrillas, the virtual closure of the Khyber Pass in the North-West Frontier Province has fueled a growing logistical crisis. Prior to last December's offensive by insurgents, some 75% of supplies for NATO forces flowed into Afghanistan along this route.


Meanwhile, on the "Pak" side of the "Afpak theatre" America's former "best friends forever," the Pakistani Taliban grouped under the banner of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM) have been doing some "surging" of their own.

Having successfully concluded a "truce" with the government of President Asif Ali Zardari in the North-West Frontier Province's Malakand District, the nominally secular Pakistan Peoples Party has ceded the political ground to Army and Inter Services Intelligence agency-linked militants with long-standing ties to international terrorist outfits and drug trafficking cartels. In other words, American allies.

Re: Swat situation:

In the aftermath of the TTP and the Army's bloody operations Swat lay in ruins, its people terrorized and its infrastructure all but destroyed. Describing the region as a "hell-hole of bodies and ruin," The Sunday Times reports that

In the former mountain resort of Malam Jabba, where skiing thrived when the surrounding Swat Valley was an international attraction, one can still see the remnants of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation's flagship hotel. The building was blown up by the Taliban because it was being used for "un-Islamic activities".

Hundreds of other hotels in the valley have been destroyed or forced to close after threats from the militants. (Daud Khattakis, "Into a Taliban wasteland of blood and fear," The Sunday Times, February 22, 2009)

But the destruction of critical infrastructure that fueled the region's economy is but the visible manifestation of a virtual reign of terror that grips Swat Valley. Khattakis writes:

What I found in Swat was a hell-hole. Suicide bombings, car bombs and artillery have scarred the valley's roads and buildings. The charred remains of hospitals and even a madrasah (seminary) litter the landscape.

Nearly 200 schools have been destroyed, all girls over the age of eight are banned from lessons and, in a symbol of the Taliban's hatred of learning, the public library in Mingora has been wrecked.

The Taliban have banned music and dancing, television and internet cafes. Women cannot leave home without wearing a burqa, the all-encompassing robe. Justice has been enforced with floggings and public executions. (The Sunday Times, ibid.)

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