United States Action
Pakistan and the Growing Threat of a Sharia Mini-State
By Jeffrey Imm
The American national security challenge in the nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Pakistan includes the Taliban, but is not limited to Taliban efforts to create a Sharia mini-state. What these current efforts by the Taliban highlight is the larger, national challenges with a Sharia ideology supported by many of the Pakistani people and by members of the Pakistan government that affects their vision towards fighting Jihad and also that affects Pakistan international relations on peace and on freedom itself.
1.1. Ongoing Negotiations with Taliban towards Sharia Mini-State
Recently, there have been negotiations and agreements between the Pakistan Taliban (or tribal leaders including Taliban representatives) and Pakistan governments in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), both of which are in the northwestern area of Pakistan. Pakistan has seen 4,500 killed in terrorist attacks over the past year and a half, and the Pakistan NWFP and FATA governments view agreements with the Pakistan Taliban as the solution to end the violence and find peace in their areas.
One of the central agreements over the past month has been for Taliban-managed Sharia within the NWFP area of Swat. Most recently, on June 9, 2008, the Pakistan federal government expressed frustration with Taliban's continued jihadist activities and has threatened to nullify the Swat agreement. The Pakistan NWFP government that made this agreement with the Taliban is denouncing such comments by the Pakistan federal government, and ensuring the Taliban that their Swat agreement is still valid. Should the Pakistan federal government disregard the NWFP-Taliban agreement, the Pakistan Taliban has promised to "turn cities of settled areas into battlefields" and would "open new fronts against the government."
The issue remains unsettled within Pakistan, but this article will show the extent of the Taliban's current progress in creating Sharia courts and punishments within NWFP and FATA which may not quickly be undone, as well as the frequent nurturing and appeasement of the Taliban found within Pakistan government history that questions whether any near-term change in policy against the Taliban will have effective long-term results.
Pakistan NWFP and FATA negotiations with the Taliban have included plans for the Taliban to enforce Sharia law throughout various parts of Pakistan northwest. Should the Taliban ultimately succeed in its efforts to create a Sharia-based mini-state within Pakistan based on the NWFP and FATA northwestern regions, it would have a population equivalent to the state of Florida. It is likely that the Taliban would use such a base for further assimilation of Pakistan and for larger jihadist activity both within Pakistan and around the world. The Pakistan Taliban leader has sought the use of nuclear weapons to use against its enemies: "the Jews and the Christians." But such Taliban military activities are only one aspect of a multi-level threat from Pakistan.
1.2. The Strategic Issue of Sharia in Pakistan and America's National Security
Regardless of whether the Taliban is successful or not in its near-term efforts towards building a Sharia mini-state within Pakistan, the larger strategic issue that American political leadership must face is the massive support for "strict Sharia law" within Pakistan as an anti-freedom ideology. The Pakistan Taliban and their supporters are drawn from among the Pakistan people. While some may disavow the Taliban's terrorist tactics as "extreme," the Sharia ideology that the Taliban is fighting to enforce in Pakistan remains a shared value among the majority of Pakistanis. An assumption that such Sharia support is only from the "mad mullahs" of the Pakistan Taliban would be very mistaken.
In consistent national polls in August 2007 and January 2008, nearly 75% of the Pakistan population stated that they seek the government to implement "strict Sharia law." Pakistan has Sharia courts in its federal government, and it must never be forgotten that Pakistan is an Islamic republic - a nuclear-armed Islamic republic, with an estimated 60 nuclear weapons. While the current Pakistan law for "blasphemy" has resulted in the death penalty and torture of non-Muslims, this approach towards Islamic "blasphemy" is one that the Pakistan government has repeatedly sought to export to the international community, including the United Nations, calling for an international death penalty for Islamic "blasphemy".
This widespread support of "strict Sharia law" is even seen in
Pakistan government ambassadors to other nations, with the Pakistan
ambassador to Denmark
stating, in effect, that the Danish embassy bombing is the fault of
its people, and the Pakistan ambassador to Norway
stating that cartoons represent "an act of terrorism." Moreover, the
Pakistan government is
demanding that the European Union restrict freedom of speech and
press to prevent such future "blasphemy." Such an ideological position
by Western-dressed, fluent, and globe trotting Pakistan government
leaders and diplomats represents a deeper challenge within Pakistan than
merely the Taliban. They represent an anti-freedom ideological challenge
that American national leadership refuses to even acknowledge or define,
let alone address from a national security perspective.
1.3. Planning, Not Patience, Needed in Fighting Growth of Pakistani Jihad and Sharia
American national leadership is calling for "patience" in the view of these developments, and ignoring the larger issue of widespread Pakistan national support for Sharia, as an ideological view of the Jihadist threat is not clearly understood. As the RAND Corporation is reporting on Pakistan intelligence providing support for Taliban operations in Afghanistan, various U.S. military and government leaders are urging "patience" with Pakistan in its dealings with the Taliban.
On June 9, 2008, AKI reported that U.S. Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff "stressed the need for strong relationships with coalition partners such as Pakistan." On June 6, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley "has urged patience with Pakistan, as the new government develops a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy." On June 6, 2008, Pakistan Dawn reported U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen stating that "Pakistan's army is 'fighting bravely' against terrorism." On May 31, 2008, Pakistan News reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Gates stating that "Pakistan and the US remain steadfast allies, and Pakistan's military is fighting bravely against terrorism."
While supporting the effort of the Pakistan military, Admiral Mullen was also reported in the June 11, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times as stating: "I believe fundamentally that if the US is going to get hit, it is going to come out of the planning of the leadership in FATA...That is a threat to us that must be dealt with." This will certainly require more than "patience," and will also require that American government leadership honestly assess the ideology of the enemy.
The challenge remains, however, that the reactive U.S. policy towards Pakistan and towards a global war against jihad in general lacks a strategic plan that defines the enemy, defines the enemy's ideology, and provides a comprehensive approach towards both a physical war and a war of ideas. The calls for patience should instead be calls for strategic planning, especially towards an Islamic republic like Pakistan where American taxpayers have been providing $1 billion a year. The repeated polls showing massive Pakistani public support for "strict Sharia law" are not even considered as a factor in American national security planning in Pakistan.
In addition to such government calls for "patience" with Pakistan by these U.S. government leaders, the May 29, 2008 Washington Times published an editorial "Hear out Pakistan" that references its May 29 interview with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, where he makes a series of apparently unrebutted points that: (1.) U.S. is to blame for Pakistani "extremists," (2.) Pakistan is only engaging tribal leaders, not the Taliban in peace talks, (3.) Pakistan has "zero tolerance" for terrorism, and (4.) U.S. should respect its "shared values" with Pakistan. The unfortunate fact is that none of these points are accurate, as I will detail in the following paragraphs.
The American public must face the larger challenges of a pro-Sharia, nuclear Pakistan, without illusions or denial, and make sound decisions based on the facts of Pakistan's past support for the enemy Taliban, current support for the Taliban in some parts of Pakistan, and widespread Pakistan public and government support for the ideology that is the objective of the Taliban's jihad.
In his May 29, 2008 Washington Times interview, Pakistani politican Asif Ali Zardari states: "In this young century, dictatorship has been sustained under the guise of a so-called war on terror. All that has been accomplished is to strengthen the extremists and turn the people of our nation away from the United States."
Certainly, it requires no logical strain to imagine that the definition of the word "extremist" would differ among people, especially between a member of a political party in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and a citizen in a pluralistic democracy such as the United States. But because most Americans want to believe that other people in the world think like they do, many readily assume that everyone agrees on what and who is an "extremist." As discussed in a previous article, Osama Bin Laden is also against "extremists"; this demonstrates the uselessness of a foreign policy based on fighting or containing "extremists." In fact, the use of the word "extremists" by Westerners is a massive dodge to address the issue of Jihad or Islamic ideologies. This state of denial is especially convenient for Pakistani politicians.
But when we honestly look at the issue of growth of Jihadists in Pakistan, this is not the blame of the American "war on terror," as Mr. Zardari asserts to the Washington Times. The blame lies clearly at the feet of the Pakistan government and its people, including his political party, the PPP.
Unclassified U.S. documents revealed over the past several years
in the National Security Archives show:
This shows that Pakistan's support in establishing the Taliban that is the root of their current problems today, as the Taliban also believes that Pakistan itself is insufficiently "Islamic." Pakistan nurtured the Taliban Jihadists that it currently must appease. As has been reported for some time, the Taliban's initial goal in Pakistan is to implement and enforce Sharia law throughout all of Pakistan.
Mr. Zardari's claim that a U.S.-sponsored "dictatorship" in Pakistan is the source of "extremists" is also less than forthcoming regarding the administration of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, in the 1990s, and its role in supporting the Taliban. The leader of the Pakistan political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Maulana Fazl ur-Rehman, was a political ally of Benazir Bhutto and the PPP of which Mr. Zardari is co-chairman. According to Tahir Amin in his "Case Study on Pakistan's Recognition of Taliban", under the Benazir Bhutto administration: "The Deeni Madressahs led by the JUI (F) provided the manpower. Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, a close ally of the PPP who had been made the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs, also played a key role in garnering the support for the Taliban in the corridors of power. Various Pakistani governmental organisations like the PTCL, Railway, PIA and Ministry of Communications provided the infrastructural assistance to the Taliban. The ISI began to provide military supplies, logistical support, technical know how and the extensive knowledge of the Afghan situation."
This same political ally in the Bhutto administration, Maulana Fazl ur-Rehman, has been reported in January 2008 stating that he would continue to lead "efforts for the implementation of a true Islamic system" in Pakistan and cited his "achievements" in the NWFP, and promotion of Sharia. Per Global Security, Maulana Fazlur Rehman is a well-known "defender of the interests of the Taliban in the grand Deobandi alliance mostly spearheaded by the jihadi militia."
During Pakistan President Musharraf's period in office, the
position of the Pakistan government and its people regarding the
Taliban has also been inconsistent, and such inconsistencies have
certainly not been any part of a "war on terror" as Mr. Zardari
tells the Washington Times. Examples of such inconsistencies
In fact, the history of Pakistan's nurturing and frequent appeasement of the Taliban is troubling, at best. In between waves of fighting Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and other jihadists in Pakistan, a series of Pakistan government moves to accommodate and appease the Taliban have taken place. What is most worrisome is that this approach to appeasement of the Taliban is fast becoming the primary approach of the Pakistan government towards them, based on goals to reach "peace deals" with the Taliban in the northwestern areas of Pakistan.
From an American national security perspective, based on the U.S. September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the Taliban organization clearly should be viewed as an enemy of the United States. Under the AUMF, "the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
The definition of the "Pakistan Taliban" as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) organization does not change the nature of their link to the same Taliban enemy organization, which would have fallen within the AUMF war guidelines as an enemy of the United States. The January 2008 Combating Terrorism Center report on the Pakistan Taliban references how "Pakistan's indigenous Taliban" are engaging NATO forces. If the Pakistan government effectively provides a "harbor" for the Taliban in its northwestern regions, the U.S. government has the authority (and the moral responsibility) to act on this, according to the AUMF.
In addition, another report states that Pakistan intelligence officials have been directly helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Consistent with pro-Taliban support within Pakistan, a recent study also states that the Pakistan ISI intelligence organization has also provided intelligence to Taliban in Afghanistan to thwart U.S. and NATO efforts. This June 9, 2008 study "Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan - RAND Counterinsurgency Study -- Volume 4" was written by Seth G. Jones of the RAND Corporation.
In this study, Mr. Jones states on page 56 (page 76 electronic copy) that:
"Some active and former Pakistan government officials from organizations such as the ISI and Frontier Corps provided logistical support to the Taliban and helped secure medical care for wounded insurgents in cities such as Quetta. They also helped train Taliban and other insurgents destined for Afghanistan and Kashmir in Quetta, Mansehra, Shamshattu, Parachinar, and other areas within Pakistan. To minimize its visibility, these individuals appeared to supply indirect assistance -- including financial assistance -- to Taliban training camps. NATO officials uncovered several instances in which ISI operatives provided intelligence to Taliban insurgents at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. This included tipping off Taliban forces about the location and movement of Afghan and coalition forces, which undermined several U.S. and NATO anti-Taliban military operations."
It has been frequently reported that Pakistan Taliban members are engaged in military operations in Afghanistan. What the RAND report states is that such Pakistan Taliban are also getting the Pakistan's government intelligence support.
As recently as June 7, 2008, the Pakistan News reported that 18 of Pakistan Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud's men were killed in a recent Afghanistan bombing.
The challenge of Pakistani jihad also has roots within Islamic ideologies that Pakistanis and Muslims around the world must address. The excuse used by Mr. Zardari, of a U.S. supported Pakistani "dictatorship" as the reason for Pakistani jihad, also fails the scrutiny of what Jihadists actually seek in Pakistan and why. An Islamic republic like Pakistan cannot continue to ignore the basis of such calls for Jihad, when they are based on references to the Qur'an and references to Sharia law within Pakistan.
In an interview with a BBC Urdu-speaking reporter, Pakistan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud stated that "Allah on 480 occasions in the Holy Qur'an extols Muslims to wage jihad. We only fulfill God's orders. Only jihad can bring peace to the world. We will continue our struggle until foreign troops are thrown out. Then we will attack them in the US and Britain until they either accept Islam or agree to pay jazia (a tax in Islam for non-Muslims living in an Islamic state)." Then Mehsud provided the BBC reporter with a copy of his Urdu language book "Why Jihad is a must."
As both BBC and NBC have reported, the Pakistan Taliban has repeatedly used their calls for jihad based on a goal of enforcing Sharia law throughout Pakistan. However, appeasing Taliban Jihadists by expanding the implementation of Sharia in Pakistan will not end such calls for Jihad. Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud was quoted on June 2, 2008 "Islam does not recognize boundaries," and NBC has reported that Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah uses his radio programs to call for the restoral of the Islamic caliphate. Osama Bin Laden has also stated this goal as "The greater state of Islam from the ocean to the ocean, Allah permitting."
In addition to the Taliban, other Pakistani Jihadist groups base their goals on furthering Islam, not frustration with U.S. supported "dictators", as Mr. Zardari claims. On April 23, 2008, MEMRI provided translations of Roznama Khabrain news on the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Islam group, whose goal is to "spread Islam throughout the world."
The report quotes the Lashkar-e-Islam leader as stating: "Allah revealed the Koran, which was not sent for any one particular region of the world. It was revealed for all of humanity. We are out to spread Islam throughout the world. Our objective is to impart the teachings of the Koran. There are 180,000 mujahideen in our organization.... If Islamic laws were followed in Pakistan, we would have to accept it. [But] if the laws of the Jews were followed, we would not accept it....Pakistan can progress only when the government and the people together work for the religion of Islam."
Clearly those trying to influence Pakistanis to take jihadist action also leverage Islam in Pakistan. In the September 20, 2007 Osama Bin Laden message to Pakistanis to "Come to Jihad," Bin Laden calls to Pakistani Muslims to adopt Jihad based on verses in the Islamic Qur'an. In Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri's July 11, 2007 message to Pakistanis, where he states "Muslims of Pakistan: your salvation is only through Jihad," Zawahiri calls to jihad the entire "Pakistani Ulema, and indeed, the Ulema in the rest of the Islamic world." Furthermore, a month before Pakistan President Musharraf called for the development of a "mainstream" Taliban political party, in his July 14, 2007 message, Osama Bin Laden calls for jihad based on quoting Muhammad based in Hadeeth Sunnah Sahih Bukhari, Book 52. Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihaad), specifically in Volume 4, Book 52, Number 54.
To pretend that Pakistan's Jihadist problem has nothing to do with Islam in Pakistan is to ignore documented facts and reports that proves that it does.
Mr. Zadari's claim that Pakistan Jihadism is America's fault is shared among other Pakistanis who use this wild claim as propaganda to avoid the obvious problems among Pakistani Muslims. In August 2007, Dawn reported that the Pakistan Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi called Pakistan's effort to fight jihad as nothing more than "appeasement," and "said that events which followed the 9/11 incident proved that it was the brainchild of Jews. He said that according to holy Quran, Jews and Christians could never be friends of Muslims." Dawn also reported that Dr. Niazi was supported by comments for Pakistan to withdraw from the "war on terror" by Dr. Kausar Firdaus, Senator Shahid Bugti, and others.
On May 31, 2008, Pakistan's chairman of Pakistan's joint chiefs of staff committee Tariq Majeed told Reuters that, regarding the United States, "[w]e have common objectives, shared goals and common commitments, therefore I find no reason why we should not be close," but on May 28, 2008, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jasarat reported that "Pakistan's Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid has said that Pakistan's cooperation with NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan and the military operation in the tribal districts of Pakistan has led to militancy in the country." Even Pakistan's military leaders, while claiming to be our allies, are publicly blaming NATO (which includes America) for its own jihadist problem.
That's our "ally" Pakistan - who is certain to blame jihadist growth in Pakistan on the U.S., NATO, or anyone else but itself. The first part of a coherent U.S. foreign policy with Pakistan would be to end this denial. As long as the U.S. government and the American media continue to enable this denial, the problem will only continue to grow.
In the May 29, 2008 Washington Times interview, Asif Ali Zardari states: "The government of Pakistan will never negotiate with terrorists, but we fully intend to engage tribal leaders who have been abandoned by the previous government and have been co-opted by extremists by intimation and coercion." This statement is clearly refuted by repeated reports on Pakistan negotiations with the Taliban, past and present.
Per MEMRI's report, on May 16, 2008, the Pakistani NWFP government, Pakistani Taliban, and the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammad finalized an agreement for the implementation of Sharia in the NWFP province's seven districts: Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Kohistan, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Chitral, with "Taleban Ulema to Guide Police Stations, Shari'a Courts." On June 2, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the "Taliban in Swat on Sunday set up their own court in the Piochar village of Matta tehsil."
On May 22, 2008, the Pakistan Daily News reported that "Govt, Swat Taliban sign peace deal." On May 25, 2008, Dawn reported that "Government officials and local Taliban held a meeting on Saturday to monitor post-agreement developments in Swat... [where the] Taliban side was led by Muslim Khan, the spokesman for Maulana Fazlullah." On May 25, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times continued its reporting on "a [Swat] peace agreement between the government and the local Taliban." On May 26, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that: "Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on Sunday that they intend to sue President Pervez Musharraf in the Federal Shariah Court for being responsible for the deaths of people at Jamia Hafsa and in the Tribal Areas, if their peace accord with the government succeed." On May 28, 2008, the Associated Press reported that "the government has signed a peace deal with a small Taliban militant group" regarding the Mohmand tribal region.
Just what part of "[t]he government of Pakistan will never negotiate with terrorists" do these actions represent, Mr. Zardari? How could either he or his interviewer be that unaware of world-wide reports on such Pakistan negotiations with the Taliban? Such negotiations certainly did not just start in 2008, as shown in previous paragraphs.
In addition, perhaps Mr. Zardari could also explain why some Pakistanis are angry with the Pakistan government for negotiating with the Taliban terrorists. Per the May 30, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times report, the "Swat Peace accord signed between the NWFP government and the local Taliban led by Maulana Fazlullah is a compromise with those challenging the writ of the state and responsible for killings of innocent people, speakers at a conference focusing on peace in the country concluded on Thursday." The report continues: "Veteran politician and leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) from Swat district Afzal Khan said that locals were not consulted before the signing of the agreement with the Taliban. Khan was injured and two of his family members were killed in an attack by the militants a few months ago. He said, 'It is strange that the situation is same in Swat, while jirgas are being held in Peshawar.'" Is this Mr. Zardari's idea of making sure the tribal people are fully engaged in such negotiations?
Denying the reality of such Pakistan negotiations with terrorists is dangerous for both Pakistan and the United States. Per Daveed Gartenstein-Ross' May 31, 2008 article, "the current negotiations are likely to bolster the Taliban and al-Qaeda -- and create a more dangerous situation for Pakistan, for coalition forces in Afghanistan, and for U.S. citizens who will face an elevated risk of a catastrophic terrorist attack." Accepting Pakistan's denial on such negotiations only compounds the challenge in developing an American security strategy on this matter.
In the May 29, 2008 Washington Times interview, Asif Ali Zardari states: "There will be zero tolerance for terrorism anywhere. We have tried confrontation; we have tried battling them; we have also tried ignoring them. It is now time to engage them." It is amazing that such a clear contradiction was not readily confronted by the Washington Times. How can Pakistan have "zero tolerance for terrorism" when it chooses "to engage" terrorists?
Earlier in this article, I have described the Pakistan government's and Pakistan people's "tolerance" and even support for the Taliban, both past and present. How does Mr. Zardari explain this as part of Pakistan's "zero tolerance"? How does such a history warrant calls for "patience" by the National Security Advisor Hadley, U.S Defense Secretary Gates, the Washington Times, and others?
As the New York Times reported on June 2, 2008 regarding Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, "the Pakistani government, which at times has considered Mehsud an ally and is now fearful of his power, appears reluctant to hunt him down. Days before his news conference, Pakistani forces pulled back from his realm in South Waziristan as part of the peace deals. Local Pakistani authorities say they are helpless to deal with Mehsud's group. In a measure of their despair, on Wednesday the authorities in the Mohmand district, where the conference and public execution were held, announced a truce with the Taliban." Does that sound like "zero tolerance for terrorism anywhere"?
As a reminder, this is the same Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, whose Taliban will be enforcing Sharia law in Pakistan NWFP districts (and likely in FATA as well), who calls for Jihad based on the Qur'an, who seeks to restore an Islamic caliphate, whose Taliban calls for Pakistanis to join them against the United States, who seeks jihad attacks on the United States. MEMRI has also translated a recent Al-Jazeera report which suggests that Mehsud seeks to use Pakistan's nuclear weapons against their enemies "the Jews and the Christians." Mehsud decries that the Pakistan "army does not adhere to its nuclear weapon," and that "Pakistan should use these weapons… to challenge the enemies… the Jews and the Christians are among our sworn enemies and Allah willing, we will fight them to the end." This Taliban leader, who holds public press conferences in Pakistan, represents the fallacy of Mr. Zardari's claim that Pakistan has "zero tolerance for terrorism."
While AKI reports that in Pakistan "support for al-Qaeda is reportedly broadening, not only among the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribes that deny Bin Laden's presence in the area," other media suggest that Pakistani people are growing impatience with jihadist violence.
In its June 9, 2008 edition, Newsweek's religious news section reports that "[m]any states, even those like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia that have tolerated radicalism in the past, have come to see that their own stability depends on encouraging greater moderation," and "in Pakistan... support for Muslim radicals has plummeted." It is noteworthy that this is the same Newsweek, whose news division on October 29 reported its cover story on Pakistan as "Where the Jihad Lives Now," and that "Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation." Not surprisingly, Newsweek's religious news writers in the June 9 issue make no mention of the growth of Sharia in Pakistan or the growing influence of the Taliban.
What might have influenced the June 9, 2008 Newsweek religious news report is an updated national poll of the Pakistani people by Terror Free Tomorrow in January 2008. A similar national poll was done in August 2007. The headline of the results of the January 2008 poll was that titled "Pakistani Support for Al Qaeda, Bin Laden Plunges." When looking at the detailed poll results, however, the conclusions are much less clear. The differences between "favorable" results alone on the Taliban and Al Qaeda are significant. In August 2007, the poll showed Pakistani favorable support of 37.7 percent for the Taliban (Q17b), and favorable support of 33.2 percent for Al Qaeda (Q17a). In January 2008, the poll showed Pakistani favorable support of 18.7 percent for the Taliban (Q13k), and favorable support of 18 percent for Al Qaeda (Q13a).
The surface conclusion is that such support dropped by half during this period. In fact, while some support definitely did decrease over this period, a significant increase was also made in the "Refused/Don't Know" categories of these polls. In August 2007, the poll showed Pakistani "Refused/Don't Know" answer to the question of support of 23.8 percent for the Taliban (Q17b), and 23.5 percent for Al Qaeda (Q17a). In January 2008, the poll showed Pakistani "Refused/Don't Know" answer to the question of support of 43.9 percent for the Taliban (Q13k), and 33 percent for Al Qaeda (Q13a). While the January 2008 poll's headline could have been "Pakistanis who won't respond to poll on Taliban doubles," the perception is only that Pakistanis are turning against the Taliban ideology, while at the very same time the Taliban continues to grow in strength and influence in Pakistan. The presumed 50 percent decrease in support for the Taliban is actually based on a response from barely over half of those polled in January 2008. Moreover, to provide context for the presumed minimum 18.7 percent of Pakistanis that the poll states support the Taliban, this would translate into between 31,659,100 and 33,660,000 individuals.
With 250 bombings in Pakistan already in 2008, it may indeed be "logical" that some Pakistanis may not wish violence to continue in their country, affecting their fellow countrymen. This could explain the perception of decreased support for the Taliban, due to their tactics. However, this does not necessarily mean the lack of support for the Taliban's ideology or lack of support for Jihad against non-Muslims elsewhere.
Western reporters on Islam and on Muslim views in Pakistan regarding "terrorism" fail to grasp that their Western views of subjective terms such as moderate, radical, extremist, terrorist -- may have a very different meaning (if any) and perception to citizens of an Islamic republic like Pakistan. MEMRI provides a translation of Roznama Jang's Urdu report on this very issue. The report quotes Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) Islamist leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad: "We are not progressives, democrats, moderates or extremists; but [we are] those Muslims who have been discussed in the Koran and Sunnat."
Another missed headline of the
January 2008 Pakistan national poll remains that nearly 75% of
its population polled consistently seeks the implementation of
"strict Sharia law." This has remained a
cornerstone of the Taliban's goals for Pakistan.
In the May 29, 2008 Washington Times interview, Asif Ali Zardari states: "The U.S.-Pakistan relationship must be more than a military marriage of convenience. It must be based on shared values and mutual respect." But the starting point of Mr. Zardari's argument, that the United States and Pakistan truly have "shared values," remains an open question at best and is more likely the product of wishful thinking. The most critical national security issue for America on this subject is an honest assessment of the support for "strict Sharia law" within Pakistan, and what that means to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in dealing with groups like the Taliban.
The Council on Foreign Relations' (CFR) March 2008 study "Islam: Governing Under Sharia" states that Sharia law is based on 4 primary sources: (1) the Islamic Qur'an; (2) "the hadith, or record of the actions and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, whose life is to be emulated"; (3) "ijma, the consensus of Islamic scholars"; and (4) "qiyas, a kind of reasoning that uses analogies to apply precedents established by the holy texts to problems not covered by them."
Robert Spencer further defines Sharia law as follows:
The CFR's March
2008 study also states that:
National polls in Pakistan consistently show that the vast majority of the Pakistani people favor implementation of "strict Sharia law". Yet in today's Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Pakistan government currently has a division between secular law and Islamic law, including secular courts and Sharia courts. The Pakistan Taliban seeks to exploit this fault line in Pakistan's national identity to leverage terror as a tactic to first develop a Sharia mini-state in Pakistan, then to assimilate the rest of Pakistan into this Sharia-state, and finally to provide a reconstituted all-Sharia Pakistan as a base for further global jihad.
In Walid Phares' book "The War of Ideas," he states that [t]o the radical Islamists, it boils down to no laws other than the Sharia laws, and no Sharia laws except as interpreted by their ulemas and imams." In addition, Walid Phares states that "[t]he jihadist perception of the judicial branch is clear: it is an agency at the service of a higher authority, the caliphate, or whoever represents it until it is reestablished." (War of Ideas, Chapter 6, page 90.)
Polls consistently state that the vast majority of the people in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan seek to be governed by "strict Sharia law." This is a fundamental value difference with the United States. So while Mr. Zardari may insist that the United States and Pakistan should recognize their "shared values," the fact remains that our nations have widely divergent values that are not compatible. To start with, the United States is not an "Islamic republic."
Polls have shown that "strict Sharia law" truly represents the "shared values" among the majority of the Pakistani people. Polls in August 2007 and January 2008 have consistently shown that 75% of the Pakistani people seek the Pakistan government to implement strict Sharia throughout Pakistan.
In August 2007, Terror Free Tomorrow's Pakistan poll found that 76% of Pakistanis felt that "implementing strict Sharia law throughout Pakistan" was "important" for the Pakistan government (page 34, Question 16e). In January 2008, Terror Free Tomorrow's Pakistan poll found that 73.6% of Pakistanis felt that "implementing strict Sharia law throughout Pakistan" was "important" for the Pakistan government (page 31, Question 12g). Not surprisingly, there is no large percentage of "Refused/Don't Know" in this poll's category - only 6 to 10%. The views of the Pakistani people and the Pakistani government are quite clear on this.
If these poll numbers of individuals supporting "strict Sharia law" in Pakistan represented the actual Pakistan population count, this would be between 132,480,000 and 136,800,000 (based on the projected mid-2008 population of Pakistan of 180,000,000) -- equivalent to nearly half the population of the United States, and nearly double the entire population of Iran.
As an Islamic republic, Pakistan's constitution views its principles of freedom, equality, and justice to be "enunciated by Islam," so that "Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah." Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Islamic law and Sharia are already part of Pakistan's governance as an Islamic republic; according to the Pakistan constitution "Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan."
The Pakistan Constitution, Part VII, Chapter 3A requires a Federal Shariat Court in Pakistan. The role of this Pakistan federal court is to "examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, hereinafter referred to as the Injunctions of Islam." In addition, Pakistan has a Sharia Appellate Bench within the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Yet in addition to such Sharia courts, Pakistan also has "secular" courts and laws, which currently represent the majority of the Pakistani legal system. As reported by the Voice of America, the Pakistan Federal Shariat Court has unsuccessfully challenged Pakistan secular law in the past, arguing that it should have sole jurisdiction under some cases which it felt should be tried under Sharia law. As an Islamic republic, Pakistan's current division between Islamic and secular law is representative of the larger challenges in determining Pakistan's national identity and its role within the international community.
Another example of a key "value" difference between Pakistan and the United States is Pakistan's Sharia-based blasphemy law, which also provides an insight into the different world-views between the Pakistan and American people. Sharia-based laws within Pakistan include penalties for "blasphemy." The Pakistan Federal Shariat Court has ruled on issues of "blasphemy". Such laws have been used to oppress religious minorities in Pakistan and have resulted in their torture and sentencing to death.
On May 16, 2008, Dr. Robin Sardar was arrested for blasphemy after a mob attacked his home in Pakistan's Punjab province. Sardar's wife reported that the mob chanted "The punishment of the blasphemer is death." Section XV, Article 295-C of Pakistan's penal code states: "Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."
On April 8, 2008, AP reported that Pakistani Muslim workers beat a Hindu man to death in Karachi for alleged blasphemy. Then less than a week later, the Times of India reported that his Hindu co-workers were prevented from going back to work at the Karachi factory.
Nor are these isolated incidents - many other reports attest to abuses under Pakistan's blasphemy law, and more importantly, the ideological world-view behind it, such as: "Mob and police torture Catholic man accused of blasphemy", "Seven Christians arrested in false blasphemy cases and men tortured to extract false confessions", "Muslims torture for hours Christian "blasphemer" now in jail", "Christian sentenced to death, lawyer threatened", "Pakistan's Christian Community Terrified Amid Calls for Execution".
On April 14, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times interviewed Pakistan Sunni scholar Mufti Sarfaraz Naeemi who stated that regarding the Pakistani blasphemy law: "We want such laws to exist at the international level so that anyone who commits blasphemy can be given the harshest punishment."
On April 29, 2008, the Urdu Roznama Express reported that the "Emir of Pakistan-based Islamist group Jamatud Dawa Professor Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has said that there is a need to wage jihad against the Western countries guilty of blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad." It quoted him as stating: "Hindus, Jews and crusaders have risen against the Muslims by publishing cartoons and films blasphemous of Islam's Prophet" at a conference attended by members of Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ahle Hadith, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and organized by Jamatud Dawa, which is the new name for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group. (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) leader Maulana Fazl ur-Rehman was a member of the Benazir Bhutto administration, as mentioned in previous paragraphs.)
On June 2, 2008, Jihadists bombed the Danish Embassy in Pakistan. The Pakistan Daily Times reported that Pakistan government officials linked the embassy bombing with Danish press' publication of "blasphemous" cartoons of Muhammad: "This attack was not linked to any event in the country or the region, rather it was part of widespread outrage throughout the Islamic world against publishing blasphemous caricatures." Such officials also told the press that this attack was done by local Taliban "and would not impact the new government's talks with local Taliban." (On June 5, 2008, NEFA reported that Al-Qaeda's Abu al-Yazid released a communique claiming responsibility for the embassy attack, and threatened more such attacks.) Regardless of who was actually responsible for the bombing, the point here is that Pakistan government officials interviewed by the Pakistan Daily Times suggest that this Jihadist attack was self-inflicted by the Danish people.
The June 4, 2008 Copenhagen Post reports that the Pakistan ambassador to Denmark told them: "'It isn't just the people of Pakistan that feel they have been harassed by what your newspaper has begun,' she said. 'I'd like to know if your newspaper is satisfied with what it has done and what it has unleashed?'" In the world-view of the Pakistan ambassador, the embassy attack is the Danish press' blame, not the Jihadists' blame. Nor is the Pakistan ambassador to Denmark the only one using Pakistan's Islamic rules for "blasphemy" as the basis for international relations.
On June 7, 2008, the Islam in Europe blog summarized several June 6 Norwegian press reports on Pakistan's ambassador to Norway, Rab Nawaz Khan states that cartoons regarding Muhammad are "terrorism." Norwegian television channel 2 provided an online video of this Pakistan ambassador to Norway. In the June 6, 2008 TV 2 video report, the Pakistan ambassador to Norway states (in English) that regarding such cartoons "in a way I think it is an act of terrorism... [and that] it puts the life of Norwegian citizens in danger around the world."
One of the values of the TV 2 video is that it shows a clearly refined, western-tailored, well-spoken Pakistani who makes the argument (in English) that such "blasphemy" (in the form of a cartoon) is equivalent to "terrorism." Such comments by members of the Pakistan government, including globe-trotting diplomats, should be a wake-up call to American political leadership on Pakistan's values. Such comments are not just those of "mad mullahs" in the Pakistani streets. These are on-the-record comments to the press by representatives of the Pakistani government, described as America's "ally."
Such "anti-blasphemy" mentality is not only part of Pakistan law, it is also part of the view of international relations by members of the Pakistan government. On April 16, 2008, Dawn reported that the Pakistan National Assembly called for diplomatic and trade sanctions against the Netherlands for the online video "Fitna" by a Netherlands legislator, including demands for action by the United Nations. As one Pakistani legislator was quoted: the "West was intent on instigating the Ummah through blasphemous moves." In addition, the Pakistan National Assembly also sought to obtain United Nations action on Danish cartoons. As reported by the Pakistan Daily Times, the Pakistan National Assembly unanimously passed a government "resolution [that] condemned the reprinting of the controversial cartoons in Danish newspapers and demanded that the UN make a law suggesting capital punishment for blasphemy."
On June 8, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times also reported that "Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad." The Pakistan government's approach to international relations is to bully Western nations into abandoning their freedoms. This shows once again the pervasive influence of Sharia throughout all of Pakistan, not only among the Taliban and the territories they seek to conquer.
Pakistan has long been a leading member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) seeking to influence the United Nations to pass a resolution against "Islamophobia" and "defamation of Islam." As I addressed in February 2008, the OIC further attempted to shape a U.N. resolution on "Islamophobia" to resolve that individuals did not have the right to change their religion, and when this effort failed, the OIC nations abstained from this December U.N. resolution, as accepting such freedom of religious rights were against Sharia law.
The Taliban has longed stated its objective within Pakistan to remove what remains of secular law in Pakistan and enforce Sharia through Pakistan. With Pakistan as an Islamic republic, and with polls consistently showing that nearly 75% of Pakistan people are in favor of "strict Sharia law," this does not seem like an improbable objective. While the Western press reports on Pakistan government negotiation with Taliban for peace treaties in specific regions of Pakistan, few have focused on the Sharia aspects of these negotiations.
In fact, in the January 2008 Combating Terrorism Center report on the goals of the Pakistan Taliban, "enforce shari'a" is first on the list. In October 2007, BBC reported that "Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's troubled northern district of Swat have told the BBC they will continue fighting until Islamic law is enforced." In May 2008, the Taliban won the surrender of Swat, and seeks to enforce Sharia throughout all of Pakistan.
On April 22, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the Swat government released Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad. He was arrested in 2001 while leading "thousands of Muslim volunteers" in the Taliban fight against the U.S. in Afghanistan, in operations after the 9/11 attacks. Under the April 2008 agreement with the Pakistan Swat government, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the "TNSM will continue to pursue a peaceful struggle for the enforcement of Shariah", noting that the Swat surrender was forced by Taliban suicide bombings and attacks in the region.
Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah has helped lead Taliban and TNSM efforts in the area while Maulana Sufi Muhammad was imprisoned, and is Maulana Sufi Muhammad's son-in-law. The April 23, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times commented that the "TNSM as a movement has not died down after being banned and has been carried forward with more strength by [Swat Taliban leader] Maulana Fazlullah who is still around and has been granted a kind of amnesty by the agreement. The linkage of Maulana Fazlullah with the Taliban and Al Qaeda is known to everyone and the NWFP government is not oblivious of it. Peshawar knows very well that the Lal Masjid cause was taken up by Al Qaeda through its leader Aiman Al Zawahiri after which the Taliban and their foreign warriors were seen in Swat beheading innocent people to intimidate the population into obedience."
MEMRI reported on May 16, 2008 that the: "the Pashtun nationalist government in the NWFP, which came to power last month, had vowed to talk to the Taliban in order to establish peace in the region. The talks were held between the government, Pakistani Taliban and the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e- Shariat-e-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Shari'a). The Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi [TNSM], led by Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the Islamist leader recently released from prison under a deal with the government, is the dominant Taliban group in the NWFP. It is also a constituent of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is led by Baitullah Mehsud. Under the deal between the NWFP government and the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi, which is controlled by Sufi Muhammad's son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, a shari'a system of administration and justice will be implemented."
MEMRI also reported on May 16, 2008 that "Pakistan's top Islamist leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who was released from prison by the Pakistani government under a Shari'a-for-peace deal, has vowed to work for the implementation of Shari'a across the country." Per the TNSM, "Our struggle is purely for the implementation of Shariah in the country."
This report also stated: "The Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Mashriq quoted Sufi Muhammad as saying that after the implementation of Shari'a in the Malakand-Swat region of the North West Frontier Province as agreed under the deal, he will start the Shari'a movement in different parts of Pakistan."
As BBC has reported, a key part of the Taliban's objectives for Pakistan is its campaign for Sharia throughout Pakistan. In October 2007, BBC interviewed the Pakistan Taliban stating that "they will continue fighting until Islamic law is enforced." For the Taliban, this includes all of Sharia and all of law based on the Islamic Qur'an, Hadeeths, etc.
This Taliban goal for enforcement of Sharia throughout Pakistan has been a negotiating point in each of the areas in efforts to assimilate northwestern Pakistan into a Sharia mini-state within Pakistan. As reported in the May 23, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times: "'We have accepted to give up the armed struggle because the government has agreed to the complete enforcement of Shariah law,' Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told AFP."
The Taliban has been aggressively pursuing a campaign for Sharia enforcement throughout the Pakistan North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This has included: negotiations on Sharia enforcement through NWFP, plans to expand Sharia enforcement in FATA, negotiations on NWFP Malakland region, surrender agreement on NWFP Swat (and most recently dispute between the NWFP and federal governments on this agreement), campaigns in FATA Mohmand, Bajaur, and Darra Adam Khel areas, in FATA North Waziristan, and in FATA South Waziristan.
A map shows the proximity of the NWFP and FATA areas to each other, which makes them a desirable area for the Taliban to exploit to create a Sharia base of operations. The Long War Journal provides an online map which highlights the progress of the Taliban's campaign for control. In this Long War Journal map, the color code is described as follows: "red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is de facto control; yellow is under threat."
This translates into the following conclusions:
- NWFP Taliban Campaign:
- FATA Taliban Campaign:
In fact, almost all of the NWFP and all of the FATA is either under threat of the Taliban or currently under its control. This Taliban campaign is a critical national security issue for the United States.
MEMRI reported on May 16, 2008 that on "May 11, 2008, the secular government in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) finalized a deal with the Taliban groups for the implementation of shari'a in the province's seven districts" -- Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Kohistan, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Chitral. This initial effort to create a Taliban mini-state within Pakistan will have Taliban individuals guiding NWFP police stations and Sharia courts. As the MEMRI report concludes: "While the seven districts in which shari'a is to be implemented represent roughly 45% of the NWFP, if the Pakistani government also succeeds in its efforts to reach a similar deal with [Taliban commander] Baitullah Mehsud in the FATAs, the shari'a administration's contiguous geographical area will expand by approximately 120 percent."
The Taliban's Sharia march began in the Pakistan's Malakland region (which includes Chitral, Dir, Swat, Buner, Shangla and Agencies like Malakand Agency, Muhmand Agency.) This was reported on May 1, 2008 by the Pakistan Daily Times that stated that "Taliban have demanded the imposition of Shariah law in Malakand division, an end of all cases against the Taliban and amnesty for the local Taliban of the region." By May 14, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the "NWFP government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat agreed on Tuesday to the implementation of Shari Nizam-e-Adl Regulations 1999 in Malakand division within one month."
On May 28, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the NWFP sought a total of three months to implement Sharia in Malakand division. In this report, it stated that "Rahimdad Khan, who was a member of the government committee that engaged the Taliban in peace talks, also said the government had agreed to implement Shariah in Malakand not only because the Taliban had demanded it, but also because it represented a demand from the people of the area." On June 5, 2008, the Pakistan Daily times reported that 75 Taliban would be released from a Malakand jail, stating that "[t]he release of all Taliban prisoners was agreed to in the pact signed on May 21 in Peshawar between the NWFP government and Swat-based Taliban."
The Malakand division has been ground zero for efforts to build a Sharia mini-state within Pakistan for over a decade. As Arif Jamal reports: "TNSM has been waging an unrelenting struggle for the imposition of sharia in the Malakand division. In 1990, they announced that they had imposed the Islamic law and forbade the people from going to courts of law. As TNSM grew in numbers and influence, they started using violence for the acceptance of their demand. In one instance, tens of thousands of its followers blocked the highway for nearly one week." In 1994, the local government entered into an agreement to impose Sharia throughout Malakand, but when it failed to be implemented, violence, kidnapping, and murders were the result. While the government temporarily quelled this 1990s' effort at enforcing Sharia, the Taliban have no intent of letting this happen again.
Since then, the Pakistan NWFP government reached a peace deal with the Taliban in Swat. As reported by the May 23, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times regarding the surrender of Swat, the Taliban stated "[w]e have accepted to give up the armed struggle [in those areas] because the government has agreed to the complete enforcement of Shariah law."
The May 22, 2008 Pakistan Daily News reported on the government's peace deal with the Taliban in Swat. The report stated that: the "NWFP government inked a 15-point peace accord with Swat-based militants on Wednesday. Under the agreement, the government will release Taliban prisoners in the coming two weeks while the Taliban will relinquish control of Imam Dheri, headquarters of Mullah Fazlullah, where an Islamic university will be set up." The May 22, 2008 Dawn reported this story as the "NWFP government and militants led by Maulana Fazlullah signed an agreement on Wednesday to restore peace in Swat. 'Taliban have accepted government's writ in the region and will help the local administration in maintaining law and order in the district,' NWFP's Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour told newsmen." The Dawn report added that the "Taliban will help the action taken by local authorities against kidnappers, robbers and other criminals", that "militants were represented by Maulana Fazlullah's aide Muslim Khan, Maulana Mohammad Amin and Ali Bakht", and that Swat Taliban leader "Maulana Fazlullah has been allowed to run his controversial FM radio station with the permission of the authorities concerned."
After the May 21, 2008 surrender agreement of Swat, the Pakistan Taliban became the law and the government-approved voice of Jihad on the airwaves. Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah's radio station, nicknamed "Mullah Radio" and "FM Maulana" broadcasts calls for Jihad against America, demands for enforcing Sharia, and calls for restoral of the Islamic caliphate. As the Times of India reports: "Groups of villagers often gather around small portable radios to hear the broadcasts by the clerics, which usually comprise readings from the Koran and fiery sermons." NBC News has reported: "Fazlullah has had an eager audience. America was bombing them, he screamed from astride his white horse and on the airwaves of portable FM radio transponders. America was killing innocent women and children. The locals listened. The entire valley, he said, would now be governed by Islamic laws known as Shariah. And what's more, taking his cue from Osama bin Laden, he wanted to restore the caliphate, the Muslim dynasties that ruled the known world for centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD." Nor is Swat Taliban leader Fazlullah's radio station alone - in 2007, the Times of India reported that "there could be over 100 illegal FM stations in the tribal areas, strategically located between the NWFP and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border." The difference now in 2008 is that the Taliban's jihad radio station in Swat is government sanctioned -- led by a Taliban leader who regularly beheads civilians and who teaches children to become suicide bombers.
Regarding the Swat peace treaty with the Taliban, the June 5, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reports that NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain "said the release of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi [TNSM] leader Sufi Muhammad on April 21 and the signing of a peace deal with militant cleric Maulana Fazlullah on May 9 would 'pay dividends' to bring about peace in the region."
On June 2, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that the Taliban "set up their own court in the Piochar village of Matta tehsil."
Based on the May 21 NWFP government - Swat Taliban agreement, on
June 6, 2008,
Dawn reported that there were "64 Swat 'militants' freed in
Timergara... [including] key figures of Taliban." The
June 6, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that Taliban
prisoners would be released in three phases, the 64 released on June
5 were just the "first phase," and "[a]ll prisoners would be
released within two weeks." This report followed the
June 5, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times report that 75 prisoners were
being released. The
June 8, 2008
Dawn reported that an additional 6 prisoners were released, and the
June 10, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that "more Taliban
prisoners from Taimargara Jail" that day.
7.4. Pakistan/NWFP Governments Diverge on Swat Surrender Agreement
On June 10, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that due to ongoing violence, Prime Minister's Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik stated that the "Swat agreement is scrapped as the militants have [continued] their attacks on security forces." As the basis for this pronouncement, "Malik said law-enforcement agencies had averted a 'big tragedy' after arresting three 'students' who were allegedly on a suicide mission in Islamabad on Sunday. He said the alleged suicide bombers were ready to strike within an hour, but did not disclose their identities and intended targets."
In addition, Malik may have been influenced by a reported attack in the Peshawar area on June 9, 2008, allegedly by the Taliban, that resulted in the death of 4 Peshawar policemen, although the June 10, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times states that the local investigator blamed this on local criminals.
The Pakistan NWFP government had a very different view on the Swat surrender agreement, stating that it was still in force, and that they had no intention of following Adviser Malik's comments.
June 10, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that:
June 9, 2008 Long War Journal, Bill Roggio reports that:
In addition, the Taliban responded to Malik's comments with threats of their own.
June 10, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported:
June 9, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times also reported that
Taliban planned to take action in "new fronts" should the government
agreement be invalidated:
The June 9, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reports on Peshawar as "turning into [a] walled city....[with] most roads blocked as part of increased security and anti-terrorism measures."
The June 4, 2008 Roznama Jasarat reported, per MEMRI translation, that Peshawar was a city under siege likely to fall to the Taliban soon: "The police chief in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has said that if the government failed to take action against the local Taliban, the provincial capital of Peshawar will soon be in their control. The Pakistani Taliban are also described as local Taliban." The report also stated that: "NWFP's Inspector General of Police Malik Naved Khan [stated] that Peshawar faces threats from the local Taliban's activities in its vicinity."
On June 9, 2008, four policemen were killed in Peshawar, as previously mentioned, this is believed to have prompted the Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik to threaten to scrap the Swat surrender deal, due to the belief that the Taliban was behind this Peshawar attack on the police. The June 10, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported it differently, however, stating that the "[i]nvestigator claims local criminals, not Taliban, responsible for ambush... [police officer] Mulk said that local criminals were behind the attack, adding that they had disguised themselves as local Taliban."
Taliban in FATA Mohmand
On May 28, 2008, the Associated Press reported that "the government has signed a peace deal with a small Taliban militant group" regarding the FATA Mohmand tribal agency. On May 28, 2008, BBC reported that these "latest talks - in the Mohmand tribal agency - are part of ongoing negotiations between local administrations of tribal districts and the militants."
On June 4, 2008, MEMRI translated the Urdu-language news Roznama Mashriq report that the Taliban has set up Sharia-based courts and jails in the Mohmand tribal agency. Per this report, Mohmand Taliban leader Qari Shakeel Khan states that "about 25,000 fighters work for him." The report states that the Taliban's "Qari Shakeel Khan said that jails have also been established where criminals are given Islamic punishments such as lashing with a whip."
Taliban in FATA Darra Adam Khel
In its May 28, 2008 report, BBC also stated that: "[s]imilar talks between militants and local officials are reported to have taken place in the [FATA] Darra Adamkhel tribal agency. A local tribal elder, Fazal Manan Kodakhel, told the AP news agency that Mohmand deal enjoyed the backing of Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the umbrella Taleban movement in Pakistan."
A day later, on May 29, 2008, Dawn reported that the Taliban announced a truce in FATA's Darra Adam Khel, and Pakistani military would "stop operations" there. A week later, on June 6, 2008, the Taliban announced their 12 point demands for FATA's Darra Adam Khel's submission. Dawn reported the Taliban demands included: "withdrawal of security forces from Darra Adam Khel, payment of compensation for damage caused to houses of militants, release of their men, health and education facilities, special quota for Darra tribesmen in engineering and medical colleges, payment of royalty for the Kohat Tunnel, exemption from toll tax, reduction in CNIC and passport fees, establishment of a medical college in Darra Adam Khel, construction of small dams, afforestation of the area and unhindered supply of electricity." The Taliban seek to make Darr Adam Khel into another self-sufficient Taliban-ruled area.
The June 7, 2008 Dawn report stated that "the local [Darra Adam Khel] administration had directed officials not to wear uniform or perform their duty following threats by the Taliban two months ago." This same Dawn report stated that "[s]even officials of the local political administration were kidnapped at gunpoint from their houses."
In Bajaur Agency, the local member of the Pakistan National
Assembly welcomed the Swat peace agreement with the Taliban. As
reported in the
May 25, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times: "Shaukatullah Khan on
Saturday welcomed the Swat peace accord signed between the
government and the local Taliban...He expressed the hope that the
agreement would help in restoring peace in the province, the press
release said, adding that the peace agreement was a positive step
towards the restoration of complete peace not only in the Swat
region but also in the province."
Furthermore, the Daily Times also reported that Khan said "if the government tried to use force in any tribal area, including the Bajaur Agency, he would strongly oppose and resist it."
In the June 9, 2008 update of Long War Journal's map of Taliban-controlled areas, Bill Roggio has included Bajaur Agency.
7.7. Pakistan Agreement in FATA North Waziristan
On February 18,
2008 Dawn reported that:
February 20, 2008, Bill Roggio reported on his Long War Journal
On June 8, 2008, additional reported details of the North
Waziristan agreement became available and were published by the
Pakistan Daily Times and the
Long War Journal, including:
The Taliban is also in negotiations with the government for further implementation of Sharia throughout FATA. As mentioned earlier, the Pakistan government has previously signed peace agreements with the Taliban in FATA's North Waziristan (September 2006).
The May 28, 2008 BBC report also stated that "[t]he government is also seeking a comprehensive peace deal with Mr. Mehsud, who is based mainly in the South Waziristan tribal area."
On June 6, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported on a draft "truce agreement" between the Pakistan government and the Taliban regarding FATA's South Waziristan. This is stronghold of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. According to the report, the Pakistan "military will 'withdraw completely' from the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud frees the remaining captured army and paramilitary soldiers, and the government and Mehsud tribes sign a peace deal."
The South Waziristan governor claims that this "truce" will be between the "Mehsud tribes" and the government, not the Taliban, but it is Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud who clearly has brought this Pakistani surrender to pass through successful military operations against the Pakistani military, terror attacks, and kidnapping of Pakistani soldiers. The jihadist tactic of terror is gaining the Taliban a victory in South Waziristan, where Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has held a public press conferences reported by the June 2, 2008 New York Times and by the BBC on May 27, 2008.
The Pakistan Daily Times reports on a key aspect in the draft surrender agreement in South Waziristan - that the "draft agreement does not include the condition of a commitment by the Mehsud tribes that they would not allow militants to continue cross-border movement for attacks on the United States and NATO forces inside Afghanistan." The Pakistan Daily Times reported in 2007 that a "UN report says 80 percent of suicide bombers in Afghanistan came from the Waziristan agencies."
As reported by the June 2, 2008 New York Times, "In South Waziristan, they run training camps for suicide bombers, some of them children, according to the former Taliban member. Their realm is so secure that in April Mehsud's umbrella group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, held a conference of thousands of fighters that culminated in a public execution, according to a local resident."
In the BBC report, Mehsud makes it clear that the Taliban campaign for Sharia and takeover of northwest areas of Pakistan has the goal of seeking to get Pakistan to disassociate with United States. He is quoted as stating: "[t]he onus is now on the government - whether they hold to their word, or remain in the alliance with the US." This is a consistent strategy shown by the Taliban; the Pakistan Daily Times reported on May 14, 2008 that "[m]embers of the Taliban delegation holding talks with the NWFP government on Tuesday distributed pamphlets asking the government, military and people of Pakistan to join hands with the Taliban against the United States."
The Daily Times report states that this South Waziristan "peace deal" is likely to be reached "in weeks."
June 10, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that Taliban
commander Baitullah Mehsud would provide protection for local
The Taliban is also in negotiations with the government for further implementation of Sharia throughout FATA. As mentioned earlier, the Pakistan government has previously signed peace agreements with the Taliban in FATA's South Waziristan (February 2005).
The Taliban surrender negotiations for Pakistan's Mohmand were true-to-form; as reported by the New York Times, the Mohmand authorities announced a "truce" on May 28, 2008, where the Taliban held a conference of thousands of Jihadists and a "public execution" in April.
The Taliban's campaign for Sharia has a very clear message: submit or die.
This message and the Taliban's tactics of terror have been effective in defeating areas of northwestern Pakistan as it works to create its Sharia mini-state from conquered territories, such as NWFP's Swat, FATA's Mohmand, and soon-to-be FATA's Derra Adam Khel.
In the now Taliban-ruled area of NWFP Swat, four months ago, the February 3, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that the Pakistani "Interior Ministry report says 104 suicide, bomb and rocket attacks took place in valley since January 1, 2007. The report said that 292 people - 195 officials from the army, the Frontier Constabulary, and police and 97 civilians - had been killed in the same period." The story also states that "militants have established four 'major' and 14 'small hideouts' in four Swat areas."
Prior to surrender to the Taliban, the people of NWFP Swat
suffered such terror attacks on a frequent basis:
Jihadist terror attacks on FATA Darra Adam Khel have included a March 2, 2008 suicide bomb attack on tribal peace jirga of 1000 members. The suicide bombing attack killed 42, and injured 58 per Dawn report. It provides an illustration as to the type of "peace" that the jihadists are seeking in Pakistan. Three months after this attack, Dawn reported on May 29, 2008 that the Taliban announced a truce in FATA's Darra Adam Khel, and on June 6, 2008, Dawn reported the Taliban's announced 12 point demands for FATA's Darra Adam Khel's submission.
Other references sources available on the South Asia Terrorism
Portal provide a summary of impact of such attacks to
Taliban-conquered or Taliban sought areas in the NWFP and FATA:
As the Pakistan Taliban continues to gain safe havens in northwestern Pakistan, other parts of NWFP and FATA can expect to be terrorized into submission as well.
With most of the American media's monofocus on Iraq, the many
thousands killed in nuclear-armed Pakistan as a result of Jihadist
terror is largely unrecognized by many Americans. The Taliban has
played a significant leadership role in such terrorism in Pakistan.
January 2008 Combating Terrorism Center study of the Pakistan
Taliban estimates that Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud "commands
a force of around 5,000 militants," to use in intimidating the
Pakistan government and its people.
Other reference sources include:
As previously discussed, Pakistan government peace negotiations with the Taliban have occurred every year from 2004 to present, including the 2005 South Waziristan peace treaty, 2006 North Waziristan peace treaty, during which time thousands of Pakistanis were still being killed by Jihadists. During 2006 and the first half of 2007, prior to the July 2007 Lal Masjid mosque crackdown, nearly 1800 Pakistanis were killed in terror attacks. Since the July 2007 crackdown on the Lal Masjid mosque Jihadists, and the subsequent August tribal assembly (jirga) in 2007 where Pakistan President Musharraf sought political mainstreaming of the Taliban, another 2700 have been killed in terror attacks (August 2007 to present), including 139 in the October 2007 first assassination attempt against Benazir Bhutto.
MEMRI's translation of the June 3, 2008 Roznama Jasarat report states that, in 2007, there were 57 suicide blasts that killed 700 people. Of these, a significant portion of Pakistan jihadist attacks have been against the Pakistani government. The January 2008 Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) study on the Pakistan Taliban reports on these year 2007 suicide bombings that: "36 were against military related targets, including two against the ISI; two against the army headquarters in Rawalpindi; one aimed at the air force in Sargodha; and one directed at the facility of the Special Services Group (SSG) in Tarbela. For many of these attacks, the government blamed [Taliban commander] Baitullah Mehsud and his associates."
In addition to two assassination attempts (one successful) on Benazir Bhutto in 2007, Pakistan terror attacks in 2007 on the Pakistan government included: February 17 attack on Quetta court; February 20 female minister for social welfare assassinated; April 28 assassination attempt on Interior Minister; July 6 attack on military convoy in Dir; July 12 attack on police in Swat; July 14 attack on military convoy in Miranshah; July 19 attack on military personnel in Kohat, July 19 attack on police academy in Hangu; August 2 attack on police in Sargodha; August 26 attack on police in Machaar area of Shangla district; September 4 attack on Pakistan defense ministry bus and near General Headquarters, September 11 attack on security personnel in Dera Ismail Khan, September 13 attack on commandos and army officers' mess in Tarbela Ghazi, Haripur; October 1 attack on police checkpost in Bannu; October 25 attack on troops in Swat district; October 30 attack on high security zone of Rawalpindi near President Musharraf's camp office; November 1 attack on Pakistan Air Force bus; November 24 attack on ISI bus and attack on Pakistan General Headquarters; December 10 attack on Pakistan Air Force bus in Karma; December 13 attack on army checkpost in Quetta; December 15 attack on military checkpost in Nowshera; and December 23 attack on army convoy near Mingora.
Per Bill Roggio's Long War Journal, the December 10, 2007 attack on the Pakistani Air Force base in Kamra had serious implications: "The Kamra complex is a likely location for Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Global Security notes the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra is one of the Air Force sites likely associated with Pakistan nuclear weapons development."
The Roznama Jasarat report on 2008 terrorist attacks also states that "most of the blasts targeted government and security officials." Terror attacks on the Pakistan government in 2008 included: January 10 suicide bombing outside Lahore High Court; February 4 attack on armed forces near General Headquarters in Rawalpindi; February 25 attack on Pakistan Army's near Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi; February 29 attack on police funeral in Lakki Marwat in NWFP; March 2 attack on meeting of tribal elders and local officials in Darra Adam Khel; March 4 attack near Pakistan Navy War College in Lahore; March 11 attack near Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore; April 25 attack on police in Mardan; May 16 attack on security officials in the Kohat Cantt area; and May 18 attack of Army's Punjab Regimental Center in Mardan.
Pakistan President Musharraf has had numerous attempts on his life or attacks on the Pakistan presidency. On June 6 2008, the foiled Islambad / Rawalpindi suicide bombings were intended to strike at President Musharraf's camp office. On July 6, 2007, President Musharraf escaped an assassination attempt on his aircraft from a submachine gun in Rawalpindi. Muharraf has previously survived known assassination attempts on his life on May 2002, June 2002, September 2002, December 14, 2003, and December 25, 2003.
While the Taliban's violent history of tactical terror attacks, beheadings, and suicide bombings receive reporting by wire news services, one far less reported tactic is the Taliban's approach to subjugating Pakistanis through their demands that businesses and individuals act in accordance with Sharia. Such Sharia bully tactics against music stores, video stores, barbers, and others get little press coverage when such stores are bombed, destroyed, or threatened by the Taliban. They lack the mass media interest of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks. But reports of Taliban Sharia bully tactics provide an "early warning" of growing inability of Pakistani authorities to defeat the growing support for Sharia in areas of Pakistan.
Using such Sharia bully tactics, on June 4, 2008, the Taliban continued its reign of terror in other parts of the Pakistan NWFP and FATA to force business owners to adapt to their Sharia values. In NWFP's Kohat province and in FATA's Miranshah (North Waziristan), Taliban jihadists blew up two dozen music shops by planting bombs in businesses and destroying them in the areas. As one business owner told the Pakistan Daily Times on June 5, "We received a letter one week ago from the Taliban that we must close down our business and not sell any music, videos or photos." AKI reported on June 4 that these bombings killed three people, and the Pakistan Daily Times reported 4 were injured. The Daily Times report concluded "[t]here have been numerous attacks on video and music shops in remote northwestern border regions by militants who see all music, film and television as un-Islamic. Last year, hardline religious students from a mosque even tried to press video shops to close in the capital, Islamabad." As Reuters reported on the June 4 attacks, "[a]uthorities have largely turned a blind eye to the attacks on markets, and similar attacks on girls' schools...analysts say peace pacts are unlikely to stop the militants' efforts to impose their austere version of Islam."
The Taliban's Sharia campaign includes the banning of music, as
reported in the
May 6, 2008
Pakistan Daily Times: "The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has
banned musical alerts on mobile phones in the Tribal Areas, Geo News
reported on Monday. The channel quoted a TTP spokesman as saying
that TTP Naib Amir Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had banned playing music in
vehicles as well as on cell phones. He said that violators would be
punished according to the Shariah law."
June 6, 2008, AFP reported that the Taliban gave the music shop
owners in the FATA North Waziristan's city of Mir Ali 10 days to
close "or face the consequences." The
AFP report stated that "[u]sing megaphones, the hardline
Islamist rebels drove through Mir Ali town in the semi-autonomous
tribal region of North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan to deliver
the chilling warning...Militants have bombed dozens of entertainment
shops in the region in recent years, saying that music and movies
are against the teachings of Islam."
AFP reported one Mir Ali shopkeeper who felt bound to follow the
Taliban's orders, saying "We will follow their order. We don't want
to take the risk, we will change our business to survive."
Taliban attacks in their Sharia-based campaign against music, film, television, barbers, have been, in fact, the "canaries in the mine" showing the growing Taliban intimidation, and eventual assimiliation, of parts of Pakistan in its efforts to make Pakistan into an all-Sharia nation. The stories related to the regions below show how the Taliban's Sharia campaign grew from controlling public behavior and businesses to the Taliban controlling entire populations of areas of Pakistan.
In the Taliban-controlled Swat area of NWFP:
In the Taliban's soon-to-be Sharia-governed Malakand of NWFP:
In the NWFP Peshawar area:
In the NWFP Swabi District:
In FATA's Khyber Agency, a Taliban-inspired organization, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) ("Army of Islam"), is also carrying on this campaign for Sharia. Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh started with the Taliban in the 1980s and now is supporting the Sharia campaign in Pakistan's Khyber Agency. MEMRI reports that "there is ongoing fighting for the control of the region - with occasional phases of truce - between the militant Islamic tribal group Lashkar-e-Islam and rival fighters from the Kukikhel tribe."
The Bara-based Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) group has also made efforts to eliminate music, singing, and movies in this part of Pakistan, as well as threatening attacks on Peshawar movie theaters in the Pakistan NWFP. The group has also threatened factory operations in the NWFP.
The June 7, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reports that Bara tribesman are trying to plead with the Pakistan government to do something about Lashkar-e-Islam, stating "Lashkar-e-Islam has established a parallel government in Bara." Desperate Bara tribesman are quoted as saying that "Peshawar is not immune to what is happening in Bara and repercussions will affect the city if the government doesn’t put an end to this parallel government."
MEMRI translates that the April 18, 2008 Pakistan news Roznama Jasarat has an interview with the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) leader where he lays out a 26 point offer of surrender to the Khyber Agency, stating that this group is fighting for the "Islamic laws... [to be] followed in Pakistan". In the 26 point surrender terms, Lashkar-e-Islam claims that it will have a "ban" on the activities of "terrorists in Khyber Agency." The May 27, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that "[t]he LI had attacked a shrine with rocket launchers in the limits of the Badhaber Police Station on March 3, in which 12 people were killed and several others injured." The May 23, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported that "Lashkar-e-Islam of outlaw Mangal Bagh has attacked four relatives of an MNA [Member of National Assembly] and done them all to death in the Khyber Agency." The May 5, 2008 Pakistan Daily Times reported on "LI activists kill man for not praying."
It was in this same Khyber Agency that U.S. National Security
Advisor Stephen Hadley proudly inaugurated a USAID-funded school to
try to change the mindset of tribesman; a year later in 2006, the
Pakistan Daily Times reported on how such FATA colleges were
becoming "breeding grounds for militants."
(Imtiaz Ali also provides a study of the growing militancy in Khyber Agency in the May 29, 2008 Jamestown Foundation.)
April 2007, the leaders of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in
Pakistan sought to implement a Taliban-style campaign in Pakistan's
capital, with threats of suicide bombings if stopped. While the Lal
Masjid jihad efforts were stymied in
July 2007 by the Pakistani military, the Taliban has since
successfully achieved victories in this jihad in the northwest
FATA areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan has had 250 bombings in 2008, and the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is ready to surrender parts of Pakistan to the Taliban for "peace."
In effect, the Taliban is building a Sharia-based autonomous "mini-state" within Pakistan, with the same nation-building goals that former Indian Muslims (now Pakistanis) had in what was once India to create the state of the current Islamic Republic of Pakistan out of parts of India. It was the northwest and eastern parts of India in the 1940s that in 1947 became Pakistan (and then "East Pakistan" became Bangladesh in 1971).
As the Taliban continues its efforts at Sharia nation-building in Pakistan, August 2007 and January 2008 polls show that many Pakistanis have no ideological debate with the Taliban's "strict Sharia" campaign. According to CFR study on Pakistan, population estimates for NWFP are 17.744 million people and for FATA are 3.176 million people (based on a 1998 Pakistan population census). Should the Taliban conquer both NWFP and FATA to create a Sharia mini-state, this would represent nearly 20 million people, or a state approximately the size of New York or Florida in population.
But implementing Sharia in NWFP and FATA, or creating an autonomous Sharia mini-state in Pakistan, will not be the end goal of the Taliban. The goals of the Taliban and its supporters are not only just to build a new nation, but also to enforce Sharia law throughout all of Pakistan. The campaigns in the northwest areas of Pakistan are the starting point for a base to train, educate, and prepare Pakistani jihadists to accomplish similar campaigns throughout other parts of Pakistan. They seek the submission and assimilation of all of Pakistan, not merely the northwest regions.
These goals for expansion of Sharia and Islamic supremacist ideology throughout Pakistan are echoed by polls that reflect the overwhelming majority of the Pakistani people seek their government to implement "strict Sharia law." Diana West stated in her November 2007 column, "In fact, this popular desire for Shariah dovetails nicely with Taliban plans to turn Pakistan into an all-Shariah state."
The Taliban's campaign for Sharia law in Pakistan is just a stepping stone as part of a broader commitment toward jihad in building a global Islamic caliphate that would use Sharia law as its basis. As previously mentioned, Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud was quoted on June 2, 2008 that "Islam does not recognize boundaries," and NBC has reported that Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah uses his radio programs to call for the restoral of the Islamic caliphate. As mentioned above, Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud demands that Pakistan use its nuclear weapons to defeat any "enemies" that would prevent such a goal.
A primary American national security issue that must be recognized is the role of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a nation with nuclear weapons; this must be factored into any U.S. security strategy regarding Pakistan. The one certainty is that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is undoubtedly a nation with "weapons of mass destruction" today. The numbers of nuclear weapons, their yield, and their security remain points of contention.
A February 2003 study by the US Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict states that "Pakistan could have enough fissile material to produce between 35 and 95 weapons, with 60 as the median estimate." This number of 60 nuclear devices was also included in a June 2007 news report by ABC News. In 2000, a U.S. military report estimated that Pakistan may have between 25 to 100 bombs. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) states that the yield of Pakistan nuclear weapons include devices with announced yields of up to between 12 and 36 kilotons. Pakistan is not a signatory of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
On June 21, 2007, ABC News reported on a new study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) that satellite imagery showed that Pakistan was building a new nuclear reactor near its existing reactor in Khushab. The Khushab reactor is reported to be used for Pakistan nuclear weapons' production. According to ABC News, "Pakistan's facilities at Khushab are not subject to safeguard inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)." The ABC News report on the new Khushab reactor suggested that "Pakistan may be planning to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal," and quoted ISIS' David Albright as saying "[w]ith large stocks of plutonium, Pakistan can build a new generation of lighter, more powerful weapons that can more easily be launched via missiles and can cause far more damage." In the ABC report, Albright suggested that with the new reactor, "the number of produced weapons could easily reach at least 10 each year."
On January 9, 2008, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that United Nations "International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has voiced concern over the possibility that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal could fall into extremist hands." The Pakistan Foreign Office quickly denounced this the following day as a "Western media... propaganda campaign"; this is the same Pakistan Foreign Office that has also denied government negotiations with the Taliban. The Pakistan Foreign Office also stated that the IAEA should stay out of issues regarding Pakistan nuclear weapon security because the IAEA's "main concern is with safeguards related to civilian nuclear facilities."
On January 27, 2008, the Hindu reported that Pakistan's Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai in charge of nuclear weapons security stated that "[t]here is no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to the extremists of the Al-Qaeda or the Taliban." Lt. Gen. Kidwai also stated that internal procedures existed to keep such weapons secure by the Pakistan National Command Authority (NCA). This report was published about the time that Terror Free Tomorrow completed its nationwide poll of Pakistan stating that 73.6% of the public sought implementation of "strict Sharia law," and three weeks before the February 2008 signing of the North Waziristan peace agreement with tribes where the Taliban was represented. On December 10, 2007, a month before the Kidwai interview, Jihadists attacked near the Pakistan Karma complex where nuclear development is believed to be performed.
On May 28, 2008, Pakistanis rallied in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of its first nuclear weapon testing on May 28, 1998, promising "jihad" until Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's "father of the Islamic bomb", was released from house arrest. Two days later, on May 30, ABC News had an interview with Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, where Khan recanted that his earlier confession that he ran "a rogue network that sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya." In the ABC report, "Khan said he was told by Musharraf that it would get the United States 'off our backs' and that he was promised he would be quickly pardoned. 'Those people who were supposed to know knew it,' Khan said about his activities. If true, it would mean Pakistan lied to the U.S. and the international community about its role in providing nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya." Since his 2004 confession, President Musharraf has previously refused to allow international nuclear experts to ask Khan questions about his activities. BBC has reported that CIA director George Tenet has described Dr. Khan as being "at least as dangerous as Osama Bin Laden."
On January 23, 2008, a BBC report included an interview with Pakistani nuclear expert Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy on the nuclear threat in Pakistan. In this interview, Dr. Hoodbhoy stated: "As far as the weapons themselves are concerned, I don't believe they can be obtained by fundamentalist groups like al-Qaeda. "'As far as the weapons themselves are concerned, I don't believe they can be obtained by fundamentalist groups like al-Qaeda. [But] even though the weapons themselves are secure, that is not as true of the fissile material.' He believes small amounts of enriched uranium or plutonium could be smuggled out of Pakistan's nuclear facilities. 'You need about 25kg to make a device the size of [that used at] Hiroshima,' he says, adding that making the actual bomb is relatively easy." In the BBC interview, Dr. Hoodbhoy also stated: "[a] renegade, or set of renegade Pakistan nuclear scientists could help al-Qaeda or another such group develop a device."
There is little concern publicly reported within the American government or by most of the American news media regarding the growth of "strict Sharia law" within Pakistan. Therefore, the ideology behind the Taliban's efforts to create a mini-state within Pakistan is not being strategically discussed with the American people.
The June 2, 2008 New York Times even refuses to use the word "Sharia" when describing it is as a goal of the Taliban, describing Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud's "goal of an extreme form of Islamic rule." Another article by Associated Press on October 20, 2007, calls the Taliban's support for Sharia as nothing more than serving as "self-declared standard-bearers of Islam"; once again, the word "Sharia" is nowhere to be found. The Wall Street Journal organization sponsored seminars to promote Sharia finance.
newspeak efforts to remove words like "jihad," "caliphate," and
"mujahideen" from the national security debate, discussion on Sharia
ideology and American national security is also something that the
American government and the press won't discuss. However, even worse
"terror lexicon" issue, the ideological debate on Sharia has
rarely ever reached the surface of public discussion.
Part of the problem is that there is no American reference for a national security debate around religious concepts. Those speaking on issues vital to America's national security simply can't get their mind around such an unknown, alien issue as religious ideologies posing a threat to national security. It simply has no frame of reference in American history.
Yet, from a national security perspective, Islamic theocracy does
represent a political ideology, and most importantly to a
pluralistic, democratic nation as the United States, such a
theocracy is an anti-liberty ideology. It may be alien to the
American national security debate, but the ideological challenge
remains. Within an Islamic theocracy, Sharia is a fundamental
anti-liberty component of that ideology. The enemy Pakistan Taliban
utilizing this ideology to develop a
totalitarian state using portions of northwestern Pakistan to
create a Sharia-based mini-state. Should the Taliban conquer both
NWFP and FATA, this would represent nearly 20 million people.
Moreover, polls show that the majority of individuals in
nuclear-armed Pakistan agree with this ideology. This is a national
security priority that Americans cannot allow political correctness
Americans cannot blindly fund Pakistan with the growing travesties of Pakistan Sharia beheadings, torture for "blasphemy," calls to "adapt" freedom of speech, fascist-like bombings of businesses that don't accept Sharia, and other Sharia outrages to continue in an "ally" nation such as Pakistan, where American taxpayers are providing $1 billion a year. Beyond the fundamental national security issues, there are also the moral issues of not funding nations that allow totalitarian ideologies to grow.
As Diana West stated in her
February 23, 2008 column:
If America seeks to continue to be a beacon of liberty to the world, it cannot continue to remain silent about the creeping Sharia in Pakistan or in any other part of the world. It is part of America's national identity to confront such anti-freedom ideologies, just as repeated polls state that it is part of Pakistan's national identity to support them. When Pakistani government officials call for an international death penalty for Islamic "blasphemy" and assert that cartoons are "an act of terrorism," it is clearly time to assess the anti-freedom ideologies that are pervasive throughout all of Pakistan, not just within the Taliban alone.
In Robert Spencer's June 4, 2008 article, he quotes Stephen Coughlin, the Defense Department expert on Islamic law as stating: "Never understanding the enemy means never being able to generate an effective strategy to defeat him. At the operational level, this means never having the ability to convert tactical successes into strategic victories."
Polls of the Pakistan people showing an overwhelming majority seeking the government to implement "strict Sharia law" indicates that the majority in Pakistan do not share the pluralistic, democratic values of the United States. Despite the trappings of electoral process shown in the February 2008 elections, Pakistan and the United States have very different values.
The larger, strategic challenge that the American political leadership must face is the inability of any nation that seeks to be governed by Sharia law to truly be an "ally" of the United States in fighting jihad. American democracy and "strict Sharia law" (as supported by most Pakistanis) are not compatible ideologies.
What should America do?
Clearly an approach based on reactive tactics is not working. While Americans legitimately are concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan not only has such nuclear weapons now, but continues to pose a serious threat to American national security. What American political leaders should "do" is take less reactive "action," and spend more effort in strategic "thinking" - by making a serious commitment to honestly identifying the ideology behind the Jihadist threat in Pakistan and developing a multi-layered strategy to deal with it from a U.S. national security perspective. Continuing to throw money at reactive tactics in Pakistan, without a larger strategy for addressing the enemy ideology, can only lead to a deteriorating national security posture with that nation.
By ignoring the ideological basis for Jihad, and the role of Islamic supremacist thought, writings, and Sharia law in inspiring jihadists, American political leadership continues to paint itself into a corner where it is assessing all jihad-related national security decisions on tactical measures only. A ready indicator of a war strategy that is tactical, rather than strategic, is the frequent references to the need for patience when tactical efforts don't look like they are being successful.
In a strategically planned war, the very definition of the enemy and the threat defines the need for your actions and timeline. In a tactics-based war, measures and counter-measures are gauged by the patience of the public to tolerate them. In the global war against jihad, the root of this problem remains the stubborn unwillingness of American political leadership to do the strategic planning necessary to honestly define the enemy, honestly define and acknowledge its ideological basis, and develop a long term strategic approach towards defeating the enemy.
Appeals for "patience" continue to blur the problems and rough spots in tactics that should be red flags to warn the American people that something isn't working. Instead of seeking "patience" with Pakistan, the American people should be demanding a strategic plan from its leadership that fully analyzes the ideology of Jihadists, and determines a clear direction for those nations that are Islamic republics, that adopt Sharia law, and that provide a foundation for Jihadist thinking based on ideologies of Islamic supremacy.
Most importantly, in the legitimate and grave concern over Iran and other Islamic nations' attempts to develop nuclear weapons, let us never forget that Pakistan already has them now.
Summary Web Links to Sources and Related Documents:
S.1. Chronological List of Key News
and Blog Articles