After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden returned to his native Saudi Arabia. He founded an organisation to help veterans of the Afghan war, many of whom went on to fight elsewhere and comprise the basis of Al-Qaeda..

AFTER THE terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda surpassed the IRA, Hamas, and Hezbollah as the world’s most infamous terrorist organization. Al-Qaeda— ‘the base’ in Arabic—is the network of extremists organized by Osama bin Laden.

Al-Qaeda has its origins in the uprising against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Thousands of volunteers from around the Middle East came to Afghanistan as mujahideen, warriors fighting to defend fellow Muslims. In the mid-1980s, Osama bin Laden became the prime financier for an organisation that recruited Muslims from mosques around the world. These “Afghan Arab” mujahideen, numbered in the thousands, were crucial in defeating Soviet forces.

After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, bin Laden returned to his native Saudi Arabia. He founded an organisation to help veterans of the Afghan war, many of whom went on to fight elsewhere (including Bosnia) and comprise the basis of Al-Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden also studied with radical Islamic thinkers and may have already been organizing al-Qaeda when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Bin Laden was outraged when the government allowed US troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. In 1991 he was expelled from Saudi Arabia for anti-government activities.

After his expulsion from Saudi Arabia, bin Laden established headquarters for al-Qaeda in Khartoum, Sudan. The first actions of Al-Qaeda against American interests were attacks on U.S. servicemen in Somalia. A string of terrorist actions suspected to have been orchestrated by Al-Qaeda followed and in August 1996, bin Laden issued a ‘Declaration of War’ against the US

Al-Qaeda also worked to forge alliances with other radical groups. In February 1998, bin Laden announced an alliance of terrorist organisations—the ‘International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders’ that included the Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Harakat ul-Ansar and other groups.

In 1994 Sudan, under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the US, expelled bin Laden, who moved his base of operations to Afghanistan. Laden was the ‘guest’ of the Taliban until the US drove them from power in Nov 2001. Al-Qaeda set up terrorist training camps in the war-torn nation, as it had in Sudan.

Although Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have become virtually synonymous, bin Laden does not run the organization single-handedly. His top advisor is Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s theological leader and bin Laden’s probable successor. Al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian surgeon from an upper-class family. He joined the country’s Islamist movement in the late 1970s. He served three years in prison on charges connected to the assassination of Anwar Sadat, during which time he was tortured. After his release he went to Afghanistan, where he met bin Laden and became his personal physician and advisor. He was likely instrumental in bin Laden’s political evolution.

Al-Zawahiri is suspected of helping organize the 1997 massacre of 67 foreign tourists in the Egyptian town of Luxor and was indicted in connection with the bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. In 1998, he was one of five Islamic leaders to sign on to bin Laden’s declaration calling for attacks against US citizens. He is wanted by the FBI and has been sentenced to death by Egypt in absentia. In March 2004 the Pakistani military began an assault on al-Qaeda troops along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. These troops were believed to be defending al-Zawahiri, who managed to escape.

Al-Qaeda’s leadership oversees a loosely organized network of cells. It can recruit members from thousands of ‘Arab Afghan’ veterans and radicals around the world. Its infrastructure is small, mobile and decentralised, each cell operates independently with its members not knowing the identity of other cells. Local operatives rarely know anyone higher up in the organisation’s hierarchy.

Al-Qaeda differs significantly from more traditional terrorist organisations. It does not depend on the sponsorship of a political state, and, unlike the PLO or the IRA, it is not defined by a particular conflict. Instead, al-Qaeda operates as a franchise. It provides financial and logistical support, as well as name recognition, to terrorist groups operating in such diverse places as the Philippines, Algeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kashmir. Furthermore, local groups may act in the name of Al-Qaeda in order to bolster their own reputation—even if they are not receiving support from the organisation.

The principal stated aims of Al-Qaeda are to drive Americans and American influence out of all Muslim nations, especially Saudi Arabia; destroy Israel; and topple pro-Western dictatorships around the Middle East. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs.

According to bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa (religious decree), it is the duty of Muslims around the world to wage holy war on the US, American citizens and Jews. Muslims who do not heed this call are declared apostates (people who have forsaken their faith).
Al-Qaeda’s ideology, often referred to as “jihadism,” is marked by a willingness to kill ‘apostate’ —and Shiite—Muslims and an emphasis on jihad. Although ‘jihadism’ is at odds with nearly all Islamic religious thought, it has its roots in the work of two modern Sunni Islamic thinkers: Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Qutb.

Al-Wahhab was an 18th-century reformer who claimed that Islam had been corrupted a generation or so after the death of Mohammed. He denounced any theology or customs developed after that as non-Islamic, including more than 1,000 years of religious scholarship. He and his supporters took over what is now Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism remains the dominant school of religious thought.

Sayyid Qutb, a radical Egyptian scholar of the mid-20th century, declared Western civilization the enemy of Islam, denounced leaders of Muslim nations for not following Islam closely enough, and taught that jihad should be undertaken not just to defend Islam, but to purify it.

In response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to dismantle al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure in the country was destroyed and their military commander, Muhammed Atef, was killed. Abu Zubaydah, another top operative, was captured in Pakistan. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, however, escaped and are presumed alive. They release audio and video messages to the Arab media from time to time.

In March 2003, the US widened the war on terrorism by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein and his Baath party (see Iraq profile). The decision to encompass Iraq in ‘the war on terror’ has been highly controversial. Although President Bush asserted that there was a working relationship between Hussein and al-Qaeda, no solid proof of collaboration between them, specifically on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, or on any other terrorist activities, has emerged.

As the Iraqi insurgency has continued, however, suspected al-Qaeda terrorists have moved into the country and are likely responsible for kidnappings and a string of suicide-bomb attacks. In February 2004, US forces intercepted a letter believed to have been written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian radical. The letter outlined plans to destabilize Iraq by igniting sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Al-Zarqawi is thought to have been the mastermind behind the 1,000 to 3,000 foreign insurgents fighting in Iraq. For a time, al-Zarqawi appeared to position himself as a rival to bin Laden, but in Oct. 2004 he officially declared allegiance to al-Qaeda, changing the name of his organization from Unification and Jihad to al-Qaeda in Iraq. In an audiotape a few months later bin Laden declared that “the dear mujahed brother Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the prince of al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and announced that “we, in al-Qaeda organization, welcome him joining forces with us.”

Despite the US ‘war on terror’, Al-Qaeda continues to be a threat worldwide. There have been more than a dozen major attacks by Al-Qaeda terrorists since September 11, 2001. Both Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, although in hiding, still play an important role in shaping the group’s mission. In April, 2004, bin Laden offered a truce to Europe, saying that al-Qaeda would not attack any country, with the exception of the US, that withdrew its troops from the Islamic world within three months. European leaders quickly rejected the offer.

In December 2007, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, reported that Al-Qaeda in Iraq remains the greatest threat to Iraq’s security. Indeed, in January 2008, the US military reported that in 2007, Al-Qaeda in Iraq was responsible for some 4,500 attacks against civilians that killed 3,870 people and wounded almost 18,000. By September 2008, however, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been sharply weakened, if not diminished entirely. The success in routing out the terrorist group has been attributed to Sunni Awakening Councils, former tribal leaders and insurgents who turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq as it became increasingly sectarian, and sided with the U.S.

While the war on terror has cost the United States some $1 trillion, Al-Qeada remains a global threat. In fact, in August 2008, Ted Gistaro, the U.S. government’s senior terrorism analyst, said in a report that by forging closer ties to Pakistani militants, al-Qaeda is more capable of launching an attack in the United States than it was in 2007. The Pakistani militants have given al-Qaeda leaders safe haven in remote areas to train recruits.
Taliban

The Taliban (Students of Islamic Knowledge Movement) ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. They came to power during Afghanistan’s long civil war. Although they managed to hold 90 per cent of the country’s territory, their policies, including their treatment of women and support of terrorists—ostracized them from the world community. The Taliban was ousted from power in December 2001 by the US military and Afghani opposition forces in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the US.

The Taliban are one of the mujahideen (“holy warriors” or “freedom fighters”) groups that formed during the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-89). After the withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Soviet-backed government lost ground to the mujahideen. In 1992, Kabul was captured and an alliance of mujahideen set up a new government with Burhanuddin Rabbani as interim president. However, the various factions were unable to cooperate and fell to fighting each other. Afghanistan was reduced to a collection of territories held by competing warlords.

Groups of Taliban (religious students) were loosely organised on a regional basis during the occupation and civil war. Although they represented a potentially huge force, they didn’t emerge as a united entity until the Taliban of Kandahar made their move in 1994. In late 1994, a group of well-trained Taliban was chosen by Pakistan to protect a convoy trying to open a trade route from Pakistan to Central Asia. They proved an able force, fighting off rival mujahideen and warlords. The Taliban then went on to take the city of Kandahar, beginning a surprising advance that ended with their capture of Kabul in September 1996.

The Taliban’s popularity with the Afghan people surprised the country’s other warring factions. Many Afghans, weary of conflict and anarchy, were relieved to see corrupt and often brutal warlords replaced by the devout Taliban, who had some success in eliminating corruption, restoring peace, and allowing commerce to resume.

The Taliban, under the direction of Mullah Muhammad Omar, brought about this order through the institution of a very strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law. Public executions and punishments (such as floggings) became regular events at Afghan soccer stadiums. Frivolous activities, like kite-flying, were outlawed. In order to root out ‘non-Islamic’ influence, television, music, and the Internet were banned. Men were required to wear beards, and subjected to beatings if they didn’t.

Most shocking to the West was the Taliban’s treatment of women. When the Taliban took Kabul, they immediately forbade girls to go to school. Moreover, women were barred from working outside the home, precipitating a crisis in healthcare and education. Women were also prohibited from leaving their home without a male relative, those that did so risked being beaten, even shot, by officers of the “ministry for the protection of virtue and prevention of vice.” A woman caught wearing fingernail polish may have had her fingertips chopped off. All this, according to the Taliban, was to safeguard women and their honor.

In contrast to their strict beliefs, the Taliban profited from smuggling operations (primarily electronics) and opium cultivation. Eventually they bowed to international pressure and cracked down on cultivation and by July 2000 were able to claim that they had cut world opium production by two-thirds. Unfortunately, the crackdown on opium also abruptly deprived thousands of Afghans of their only source of income.

Although the Taliban managed to re-unite most of Afghanistan, they were unable to end the civil war. Nor did they improve the conditions in cities, where access to food, clean water, and employment actually declined during their rule. A continuing drought and a very harsh winter (2000–2001) brought famine and increased the flow of refugees to Pakistan.

In the context of Afghan history, the rise of the Taliban—though not their extremism—is unsurprising. Afghanistan is a devoutly Muslim nation—90 per cent of its population is Sunni Muslims (other Afghan Muslims are Sufis or Shiites). Religious schools were established in Afghanistan after Islam arrived in the seventh century and Taliban became an important part of the social fabric: running schools, mosques, shrines, and various religious and social services, and serving as mujahideen when necessary.

Most of the Taliban’s leaders were educated in Pakistan, in refugee camps where they had fled with millions of other Afghans after the Soviet invasion. Pakistan’s Jami’at-e ’Ulema-e Islam (JUI) political party provided welfare services, education, and military training for refugees in many of these camps. They also established religious schools in the Deobandi tradition.

The Deobandi tradition originated as a reform movement in British India with the aim of rejuvenating Islamic society in a colonial state, and remained prevalent in Pakistan after the partition from India. The Deobandi schools in Afghan refugee camps, however, are often run by inexperienced and semi-literate mullahs. In addition, funds and scholarships provided by Saudi Arabia during the occupation brought the schools’ curricula closer to the conservative Wahhabi tradition. Ties between the Taliban and these schools remain strong: when the Taliban were defeated in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif one of Pakistan’s largest religious schools shut down for a month and sent thousands of students to Afghanistan as reinforcements.

While the Taliban present themselves as a reform movement, they have been criticized by Islamic scholars as being poorly educated in Islamic law and history—even in Islamic radicalism, which has a long history of scholarly writing and debate. Their implementation of Islamic law seems to be a combination of Wahhabi orthodoxy (i.e., banning of musical instruments) and tribal custom (the all-covering birka made mandatory for all Afghan women).

Afghanistan’s civil war continued until the end of 2001. The Taliban’s strongest opposition came from the Northern Alliance, which held the Northeast corner of the country (about 10 per cent of Afghanistan). The Northern Alliance comprises numerous anti-Taliban factions and is nominally led by exiled president Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Generally, the factions break down according to religion and ethnicity. While the Taliban is made up mostly Sunni Muslim Pashtuns (also referred to as Pathans), the Northern Alliance includes Tajiks, Hazara, Uzbeks, and Turkmen. The Hazara, and some other smaller ethnic groups, are Shiites. The Ismaili community, which suffered in Taliban-occupied areas, also supports the Northern Alliance.

Although the Taliban called for a negotiated end to the civil war, they continued to mount new offensives. In September 2001, the leader of the Northern Alliance, Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, died from wounds suffered in a suicide bombing, allegedly carried out by al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization with close ties to the Taliban.

The Taliban regime faced international scrutiny and condemnation for its policies. Only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

The Taliban allowed terrorist organisations to run training camps in their territory and, from 1994 to at least 2001, provided refuge for Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization. The relationship between the Taliban and bin Laden is close, even familial—bin Laden fought with the mujahideen, has financed the Taliban, and has reportedly married one of his daughters to Mullah Muhammad Omar. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions demanding that the Taliban cease their support for terrorism and hand over bin Laden for trial.

The Taliban recognised the need for international ties but wavered between cooperation—they claimed to have drastically cut opium production in July 2000—and defiance—they pointedly ignored international pleas not to destroy the 2000-year-old Buddhist statues of Bamian. However, they made no effort to curb terrorist activity within Afghanistan, a policy that ultimately led to their undoing.

Even after their ouster, the Taliban’s brand of Islamist radicalism threatens to destabilize other countries in the region including Iran, China, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. The Taliban’s relationship with Pakistan is especially problematic. A high percentage of the Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns; Pashtuns are a sizable minority in Pakistan and dominate the Pakistani military. Public support for the Taliban runs very high in the Pashtun North-West Frontier province where pro-Taliban groups have held uprisings and sought to emulate Taliban practices by performing public executions and oppressing women.

In September, 2001, the US placed significant pressure on the Taliban to turn over bin Laden and al-Qaeda in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On October 7, after the Taliban refused to give up bin Laden, the U.S. began bombing Taliban military sites and aiding the Northern Alliance. By November 21, the Taliban had lost Kabul and by December 9 had been completely routed.

An interim government was agreed upon by representatives of Afghanistan’s various factions during talks held in Bonn, Germany. On December 22, 2001, Hamid Karzai, an Afghan tribal leader, was sworn in as interim chairman of the government. Karzai initially supported the Taliban and is respected by many former Taliban leaders. In January 2002, the Taliban recognized the interim government.

While many of the Taliban’s most radical leaders and supporters were killed, taken prisoner, or fled the country, many former Taliban returned to their homes and continue to work for the Taliban’s goals. The Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, has continued to elude capture.

In 2003, after the United States shifted its military efforts to fighting the war in Iraq, attacks on American-led forces intensified as the Taliban and al-Qaeda began to regroup. President Hamid Karzai’s hold on power remained tenuous, as entrenched warlords continued to exert regional control. Remarkably, however, Afghanistan’s first democratic presidential elections in Oct. 2004 were a success. Ten million Afghans, more than a third of the country, registered to vote, including more than 40 per cent of eligible women. Despite the Taliban’s threats to kill anyone who participated, the polls were reasonably peaceful and the elections deemed fair by international observers.

In 2005 and 2006, the Taliban continued its resurgence, and 2006 became the deadliest year of fighting since the 2001 war. Throughout the spring, Taliban militants infiltrated southern Afghanistan, terrorizing villagers and attacking Afghan and U.S. troops. In May and June, Operation Mount Thrust was launched, deploying more than 10,000 Afghan and coalition forces to the south. In Aug. 2006, NATO troops took over military operations in southern Afghanistan from the U.S.-led coalition, which put a total of 21,000 American troops and 19,000 NATO troops on the ground. In September NATO launched the largest attack in its 57-year history. About 2,000—the vast majority Taliban fighters—were killed in military operations during the year.

In September 2006, Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf signed a controversial peace agreement with seven militant groups, who call themselves the “Pakistan Taliban.” Pakistan’s army agreed to withdraw from the area and allow the Taliban to govern, as long as they promise no incursions into Afghanistan or against Pakistani troops. Critics say the deal handed terrorists a secure base of operations; supporters counter that a military solution against the Taliban is futile and will only spawn more militants, contending that containment is the only practical policy.

The Taliban rescinded the cease-fire in July 2007 after clashes between government troops and radical Islamist clerics and students at Islamabad’s Red Mosque. After the initial violence, the military laid seize to the mosque, which held nearly 2,000 students. Several students escaped or surrendered to officials. The mosque’s senior cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz was caught by officials when attempting to escape. After negotiations between government officials and mosque leaders failed, troops stormed the compound and killed Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who took over as chief of the mosque after the capture of Aziz, his brother. More than 80 people died in the violence. Fighting in remote tribal areas intensified after the raid.

In 2008, after more than five years as Afghanistan’s leader, President Hamid Karzai still has only marginal control over large swaths of his country, which is rife with warlords, militants, and drug smugglers. The Taliban now funds its insurgency through the drug trade. An August 2007 report by the United Nations found that Afghanistan’s opium production doubled in two years and that the country supplies 93% of the world’s heroin.

In February 2008, the US Secretary of State Robert Gates warned NATO members that the threat of an al-Qaeda attack on their soil is real and that they must commit more troops to stabilize Afghanistan and counter the growing power of both al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

In August 2008, the Pakistani military launched a three-week-long cross-border air assault into Afghanistan’s Bajaur region, which resulted in more than 400 Taliban casualties. The continuous air strikes forced many al-Qaeda and Taliban militants to retreat from towns formally under their control. However, the Pakistani government declared a cease-fire in the Bajaur region for the month of September in observance of Ramadan, raising fears that the Taliban will use the opportunity to regroup.

Taliban threat to Pakistan

The noted journalist, Hamid Mir of Pakistan who had interviewed Osama Bin Laden reports that the Taliban have become a threat for the Pakistan army like the Mukti Bahini in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971.

A furious Taliban leadership has decided to send their fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the army operations in the Swat valley on the troubled border with Afghanistan. The Taliban have already started painting walls in Islamabad with its threats, compelling the administration in the capital to erase these messages quickly.

Many religious scholars in Islamabad have received messages from the Taliban that they have only two options: They must support the Taliban or leave the capital else they will be considered collaborators of the ’pro-American Zardari government’ which they consider not different from the previous Pervez Musharraf regime.

It is also astonishing that the Taliban in Swat and Bajour have included the names of some religious and jihadi leaders in their hit-lists only because they are not ready to fight against their countrymen.

The Taliban have accused some militant leaders in the tribal areas and some leaders of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Harkat-ul Mujahideen and the Hizbul Mujahideen of trying to stop youngsters from fight against Pakistani forces. The Taliban have declared all these pro-Pakistan militants as their enemies.

It is learnt that the names of Maulvi Nazir from South Wazirastan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Wazirastan, Lashkar founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Maulana Farooq Kashmiri and Syed Salahudin of the Hizbul Mujahideen have been included on the Taliban hit-list. The Taliban have threatened some Hizbul Mujahideen leaders in Swat and Dir to leave the area soon.

Another Taliban leader in the Mehmand agency, Maulvi Omar Khalid, has threatened Lashkar militants to leave the tribal agency, because they were only interested in fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan or against India. According to Khalid, this meant they do not want an Islamic government in Pakistan.

This complicated situation has forced the Pakistan government to take some extreme steps against the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel and Swat. The Taliban killed Polish engineer Piotr Stannczak as a reaction to a big operation in the area. Some diplomatic sources have revealed that Pakistan was ready to release some arrested Taliban fighters in exchange for the Polish engineer and another kidnapped Chinese engineer, but the US raised some objections and the deal was not finalised.

The Pakistani authorities successfully negotiated the release of kidnapped Pakistani diplomat Tariq Azizudin in 2008 and the release of kidnapped army personnel in 2007 by releasing some Taliban fighters. This time, US pressure complicated the situation.

Though it confronts an East Pakistan-like situation from Darra Ademkhel to the mountains of Swat, the Pakistan army is not ready to surrender despite the fact that India is once again trying to exploit the situation by using threatening language against Islamabad. The Pakistan foreign office is under diplomatic pressure after the Polish engineer’s brutal killing to ’do more’ for the release of the kidnapped Chinese engineer, an Afghan diplomat, an Iranian diplomat and a UN diplomat kidnapped in Quetta, but the civilian and army leadership have decided not to bow down.

Reliable sources have revealed that kidnapped Chinese engineer Long Xiao is seriously ill in the Taliban’s custody in Swat. He was kidnapped last August along with another colleague, Zhang Guo. Both men tried to escape. Long was injured and recaptured by the Taliban, but Zhang escaped. The Taliban want two dozen arrested fighters in exchange for Long, but the Pakistani authorities are not ready to accept this.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Khaliq Farahi was kidnapped last year and has still not been found. Some sources allege he was kidnapped over a personal issue at the behest of his in-laws. The Pakistani authorities are conducting a big search operation not only for him, but also for Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh who was kidnapped from Peshawar last year.

After the army intensified its operations in Swat, half a million people out of the estimated 1.5 million have left the area in the last month.

A top army officer linked with the operation in Swat said the “situation in Swat is much more complicated than East Bengal in 1971 where we were fighting against Indian-sponsored secular insurgents. The local population in East Bengal was fully supporting the insurgents, but the ground reality of Swat is very different. We are fighting the Taliban and they are demanding the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat and all the local political leaders are supporting this demand under public pressure.”

North West Frontier Province chief minister Ameer Haider Hoti of the Awami National Party, Governor Awais Ghani and the army high command have strongly recommended that the fedaral government enforce long pending Sharia regulation, which will be called Nafaz-e-Adal regulation. Swat district police officer Dilawar Khan Bangash said the Taliban will have no justification to fight the state after the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat.

Swat was a princely state till July 28, 1969. The Islamic state of Swat was established in 1849 by Sayyed Akbar Shah. The state of Swat was kept in abeyance from 1863 to 1926, but Sharia law prevailed through Qazi courts during this period. The courts were restored by the British in 1926. Qazi courts operated till 1969 when Swat finally became part of Pakistan.

Residents of Swat think it was easy to get justice before 1969 through the Qazi courts, but after the imposition of Pakistani law, the poor do not get justice. The Taliban have exploited the delay in justice and instigated the poor to rise against big landlords.

The ANP swept the 2008 election with the slogan of peace and justice and now rules the NWFP in collaboration with the Pakistan People’s Party. Reliable sources say the ANP leadership has convinced President Asif Ali Zardari to promulgate the Sharia regulation in Swat and the promulgation will be announced in a few days.

It is learnt that prominent rebel leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad of the Tehrik-e-Nafaze Shariat Muhammadi has assured the ANP leadership that he will start a long march from Dir to the Swat valley after the imposition of Sharia law. He will appeal to his son-in-law Maulana Fazalullah and other Taliban leaders to lay down their arms. He told ANP leaders that if the Taliban does not surrender its arms, then he will support army operations against them.

Al Qaeda and Taliban’s threat to India:

Al Qaeda has already threatened India that they would carry out more Mumbai style attacks against India if India attacks Pakistan. In fact, Al Qaeda and Taliban are just as far away from the Indo-Pak border as Lucknow is from Delhi. Moreover, these Taliban killed 20 people in Kabul in Mumbai-style attack.

The Times of India says in its report that in an assault reminiscent of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, Taliban militants unleashed a wave of terror in Kabul, storming government buildings and leaving 20 people dead. The deadly attack came a day before special US envoy Richard Holbrooke’s visit to the country. Separate groups attempted to storm three government buildings at around 10 a.m. All had assault rifles and wore suicide bomb vests. Their aim appeared to be to shoot dead as many people as possible before blowing themselves up.

In view of the difficult terrain of Afghanistan and NWFP of Pakistan, it is very difficult to contain these Al Qaeda and Taliban. The only people who have been successful against the Afghans were Sikh people under the generalship of Hari Singh Nalva during the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. Hence, USA should make a request to India to send its Sikh Army to Afghanistan to fight the Afghans. May be the Sikh Army would be really successful against Arab-Afghan terrorists who go by the name of Al Qaeda and Taliban.

Source: http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15710654

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