Token effort or something else by Pakistan?

November 25, 2006 at 4:46 am (Afghanistan, Blogs, Culture, Islamism, Languages, Pakistan, South Asia, War, Websites)

Inspired by “More token efforts by Pakistan?” by geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions, wherein he quotes a Pakistani police official:

They were real Taliban fighters.

As opposed to fake Taliban fighters? (Just being sarcasting: most likely he meant that those captured were determined to be actual members of the Taliban rather than suspected members thereof.)

They could not speak Urdu

Strange. Most people who speak Pashto can speak at least a little Urdu. I’ll grant that some mnilitant Islamist terrorists of the Taliban could have been in an isolated all-Pashto environment.

and had no knowledge where they are

Where they are or where they were? I’d imagine a Taliban terrorist to be quite aware of where he is and why. Taliban terrorists are from that region.

These statements make me quite suspicious. It seems these were more like “Arab” terrorists (that is, terrorists from around the world allied with militant Islamist terrorist networks operating in and from the northwest and far western region of South Asia). These descriptions make it sound as if those captured were completely alien to the region when, in fact, the northwest region of South Asia, where the Taliban predominate, is adjacent to Balochistan.

Before mentioning these remarks, geoff links to the article these comments came from: “Pakistan hands over Taliban suspects to Afghanistan” by Reuters, courtesy of Yahoo! News. The article said:

Pakistani police have arrested hundreds of Taliban suspects in recent months in a series of raids in Quetta and other parts of the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

Now, I mention this in the context of questioning Pakistan’s resolve to crack down on militant Islamist terrorists operating in and from its sphere of influence (which could include Kashmir and some parts of Afghanistan, in addition to the official borders of Pakistan). Notice where these operations took place: Balochistan. The entirety of the northern border of the Pakistani province of Balochistan borders Afghanistan, just like the eastern border of the Pakistani province of the North-West Frontier Province. (Although, to be accurate, most of the NWFP’s border with Afghanistan falls within the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas.)

I would not be surprised if militant Islamist terrorists were working with militant Balochi nationalist terrorists in Balochistan. Both have common enemies. But this would mean that Pakistan’s recent operations were not so much to round up militant Islamist terrorists as much as to round up and eliminate any sort of terrorists who may threaten Pakistan, which would include militant Islamist terrorists along with militant Balochi nationalist terrorists. Rather than kill or imprison the Islamist terrorists, it would have been easier (and diplomatically advantageous) to simply hand them over to Afghanistan.

Yet I see no indication in the comments made by Pakistani officials or in the article that those rounded up were indeed members of the Taliban. Perhaps they were. Maybe they were “Arab” terrorists (that is, not South Asia). Maybe they were Islamist Balochis. It all depends on how closely the Pashto Taliban are working with the Balochi nationalists.

In other words, I need more convincing before I believe that Pakistan is doing something for the War on Terrorism. (Sorry, geoff. I wish I could as optimistic as you are.)

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