Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Battle for Pakistan.

Date: Tuesday 30 October 2007
Subj: The Battle for Pakistan.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


THE BATTLE FOR PAKISTAN

On May 2007, WEA RLC released a News & Analysis posting entitled "Pakistan in Crisis: Situation Critical" (link 1), which examined Pakistan's escalating sectarianism (Sunni vs Shi'ite) and Islamisation (both of which fuel Islamic zeal and intolerance) and lawlessness (which facilitates criminal activity and intensifying religious persecution). The situation is most severe in the Taliban and al-Qaeda-administered and influenced tribal agencies and districts of North Western Frontier Province (NWFP). (Link 2)

WEA RLC's May posting also contained a section entitled "The Islamisation and Talibanisation of Islamabad" which focused on the stand-off at the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in the heart of the capital, Islamabad.

As was widely reported in mainstream news, rising tensions at the Lal Masjid mosque culminated on 3 July 07 in street battles between security forces and militants. On 4 July Pakistani security forces laid siege to the mosque, demanding an unconditional surrender and the release of hostages and human shields. The mosque's senior cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested as he tried to sneak out of the mosque dressed in a burqa and high-heels. (The government's televising of this image enraged Islamists!)

Aziz' brother, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, subsequently took over as mosque chief and the siege continued until 10 July when last-ditch negotiations failed and security forces stormed the mosque. Death toll estimates vary widely, from the official government estimate of around 100 dead to the Islamist claim that more than 2,000 were "martyred". Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed in the military operation.

As soon as the government forces laid siege to the Lal Masjid, jihadists in north-western tribal regions cranked up their terrorist actions against the Pakistani Army. On 16 July 07 the Taliban and al-Qaeda alliance in Waziristan terminated their "peace deal" with the government. The subsequent violence and terror has claimed hundreds of lives including those of at least 200 soldiers.

Army morale is low as this a very unpopular fight with many believing the army is fighting its own people at America's behest. Not only are the huge losses demoralising, but many soldiers find it difficult to feel motivated about killing fellow Pakistanis and Muslims. Several weeks ago 300 soldiers surrendered to a band of some 30 tribal mujahideen in South Waziristan without firing a single shot. Whilst a few have been released, virtually all of them remain captive.

Since the highly-organised bombing of Benazir Bhutto's motorcade on18 October the government has declared its intent to unleash all-out war on the militants.

A battle for Pakistan -- a nuclear armed state -- has commenced and the outcome is far from certain. Religious liberty and the security for Christians hangs in the balance and the prospects, especially in the short and medium term, are bleak.

WHAT WILL THE PAKISTAN ARMY BE UP AGAINST?
- the Taliban and al-Qaeda mujahideen of The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan.


Whilst the US bombing and invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 toppled the Taliban, most of al-Qaeda's core leadership survived and relocated to Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

In 2003 the Pakistani Army was given the responsibility of eliminating al-Qaeda and Taliban elements from the border regions of Pakistan. Over the years however a soaring death toll has included the loss of at least 1,000 soldiers as well as the execution-style murders of around 150 anti-Taliban tribal leaders. All this has taken its toll on Army morale and weakened public resolve. (Unofficial estimates are that Pakistan has lost more soldiers in the FATA than the US has in Iraq, i.e. over 3,000).

In a short-sighted attempt to extricate himself from a sticky position, President Musharraf brokered a series of "peace deals" with the Taliban-al-Qaeda-tribal alliance. In February 2005, South Waziristan was ceded to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance and on 5 September 2006, North Waziristan was ceded. While Musharraf's capitulation brought him some (temporary) peace, it also established the two Waziristans as the most secure Taliban and al-Qaeda-run terrorist sanctuary and administrative and training base in the world.

Tarique Niazi elaborated on the "peace deal" in Terrorism Monitor (5 Oct 2006): "The deal offers amnesty to Taliban militants and 'foreigners' (a reference to Afghan-Arabs who are members of al-Qaeda) in North Waziristan for a pledge that they would desist from mounting cross-border attacks into Afghanistan; assaulting Pakistani security forces, public servants, state property, tribal leaders and journalists; and carrying heavy weapons (DAWN, 6 September 2006). They will, however, be allowed to travel across the border into Afghanistan on a 'business trip' or a 'family visit' and carry 'light' weapons such as AK-47s.

"It binds the government to cease ground and air assaults against the Taliban and resolve all future disputes according to the Rivaaj (tribal customs). It further obligates the government to redeploy its troops from North Waziristan to their designated camps and forts, and dismantle all 12 checkpoints that were set up to hunt al-Qaeda and Taliban militants (DAWN, 6 September 2006)."

Niazi also reported that subsequent to signing the deal, the government set free 132 Taliban fighters who had been jailed for terrorist violence (Daily Times, 8 September 2006), returned their seized weapons (including 24 AK-47s), restored their impounded property and reinstated their forfeited privileges, including government allowances. Additionally, the government approved a cash compensation of 230 million rupees ($3.8 million) for the material losses suffered by tribesmen (DAWN, 9 September 2006). (Link 3)

Policy and military analysts Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Bill Roggio gave a bleak assessment to the Weekly Standard (2 Oct 2006): "Together, these events [ceding territory and releasing prisoners] may constitute the most significant development in the global war on terror in the past year." (Link 4)

Their article in the Weekly Standard describes the Waziristan Accord as the "unconditional surrender of Waziristan". Concerning the signing ceremony they write: "Taliban fighters searched government negotiators and military officers for weapons before allowing them to enter the meeting, which took place in a soccer stadium in the North Waziristan capital of Miranshah. According to three separate intelligence sources, heavily armed Taliban were posted as guards around the ceremony, and al-Qaeda's black flag hung over the scoreboard.

"Immediately after the Pakistani delegation left, al-Qaeda's flag was run up the flagpole of abandoned military checkpoints, and the Taliban began looting leftover small arms. The Taliban also held a 'parade' in the streets of Miranshah. Clearly, they view their 'truce' with Pakistan as a victory. It is trumpeted as such on jihadist websites."

Whilst President Musharraf and US President Bush portrayed the Waziristan Accord as a victory, it was in reality nothing less than the ceding of territory to a hostile enemy entity. As soon as the territory was ceded, al-Qaeda declared "The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan" and established a governing Shura council. The Waziristan Accord provided the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance an autonomous mini-state within a state, a safe-haven, a sanctuary from where they could consolidate, strategise, recruit, train, deploy, enforce their writ and expand their sphere of influence.

Eric Sayers, in a report for the Washington based Center for Security Policy, quotes Bill Roggio: "The destruction of al-Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan during Taliban rule has essentially been negated by the rise of Talibanistan in western Pakistan." (Link 5)

Sayers adds (writing in February 2007, link 5): "According to NATO statistics, since the signing of the Waziristan Accord in September 2006, attacks into Afghanistan along the border with Waziristan have increased by almost 300 percent. Consequentially, US military deaths in the region were almost double during this period, in comparison to what they were during the same period the previous year. Further emphasising the strategic importance of the sanctuaries, recent reports have indicated the al-Qaeda fighters wounded in Afghanistan are being treated for their wounds in Bajaur hospitals." [Bajaur, the suspected home of al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, has also been ceded to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance. The Bajaur Accord was signed on 17 March 2007. (Link 6)]

Bill Roggio of Long War Journal subsequently reported (23 October 2007): "Within months the North Waziristan Accord was followed by agreements in Bajaur, Swat, and Mohmand agencies. News from the tribal agencies of Kurram, Orakzai, and Khyber has gone dark. These tribal agencies are very likely under Taliban control. Open source reporting indicates all or portions of the settled districts . . . of Dera Ismail Khan, Laki Marwat, Tank, Khyber, Bannu, Hangu, Kohat, Charsadda, Dir, Mardan, and even the provincial seat of Peshawar are under Taliban influence to some degree or another." (Link 7 -- which includes a map showing degrees of Taliban control in NWFP.)

From its sanctuary in The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance has been able to progress from a position of besieged weakness to one of organised strength. Not only are they now having a profound impact on international terrorism and the jihads in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are also now able to launch a genuinely threatening insurgency in Pakistan.

"COME TO JIHAD, to the people of Pakistan."
- Osama bin Laden beckons.


In late September 2007, Osama bin Laden released an audio message entitled "Come to Jihad, to the people of Pakistan". (Link 8)

Replete with Qur'anic quotations, it informs the people of Pakistan that it is their moral and Islamic duty to respond to the "Lal Masjid massacre" by joining with the Muslims following "true Islam" and waging jihad against the kuffaar (unbeliever) government of Pakistan, the Army and their supporters.

In his message bin Laden likens Musharraf's invasion of and "massacre" at the Lal Masjid to the destruction of and slaughter at the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India, by Hindutva forces in 1992. He says the events at the Lal Masjid demonstrate that Musharraf is aligned with infidels against the Muslims. Therefore, he says, rebellion against Musharraf is obligatory. Bin Laden beckons those who have been "led astray" and are now supporting Musharraf or democracy or peace, particularly the Pakistani Army, which he says is supposed to be protecting the Muslims against the kuffaar (unbelievers), not allowing themselves to be tools and weapons in the hands of the kuffaar against the Muslims.

In his speech bin Laden condemns Muslims who spill the blood of fellow Muslims, warning that there is never any excuse: "Compulsion is not legally valid as the soul forced to kill is not better than the soul of the one killed." He appeals directly to soldiers, recommending they resign from their positions in the Pakistani Army, disassociate themselves from Musharraf and enter "true Islam", because, he says, "the government and army have become enemies of the Ummah [community of Muslims]. . . all of them have pledged to the cross worshippers to fight true Islam and its people. . . and permitted American cross worshipper forces to use the air, soil and water of Pakistan, the country of Islam, to kill the people of Islam in Afghanistan and then in Waziristan."

He concludes with an ominous promise: "We in the al-Qaeda organisation call on Allah to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of Maulana abd al-Rasheed Ghanzi. . ." and other slain Muslims, "champions of Islam in Waziristan".

THE BATTLE FOR PAKISTAN
- The prize: the Intelligence Services (ISI), the Army, the state, the nuclear arsenal.
- The outcome: that will depend primarily on Army and government resolve.

Mark Sappenfield writes for the Christian Science Monitor (22 October 2007): "Bowing to international pressure, President Pervez Musharraf has restarted an offensive in the remote tribal areas that are rapidly becoming a hub of global terrorism. Yet early indications are that, no matter who is in charge, the Pakistani Army is ill-suited -- and perhaps incapable -- of doing the job." (Link 9)

As noted by M K Dar (Former Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau, India (Link 10)) for more than two decades now powerful elements within the Pakistani Army and intelligence services have supported Sunni fundamentalist organisations and employed Islamic militants as proxies in their conflicts against India in Kashmir and against Soviet and now Western-backed forces in Afghanistan.

It must also be noted also that foreign forces with their own agendas have encouraged and assisted this for the purpose of fighting proxy wars, including the Saudis (to subdue the Shiites) and the US (to fight the Soviets). Consequently, over the past more than two decades, the well trained and supplied ISI, the rank and file military, the Mullahs and the militants have become very close knit.

Because the conflict in the north-western tribal regions is unpopular and a high casualty rate is guaranteed, many experts do not expect the government's renewed offensive in the north-west to continue long term. Sappenfield writes: "If it does, the Army 'will get divided vertically', with officers remaining loyal to headquarters and the rank and file becoming increasingly alienated, says Ayesha Siddiqa, author 'Military Inc.', a book about the Pakistani Army. 'Cracks are appearing,' she adds."

While officers might see this as an opportunity to further entrench military control over Pakistan, an alternative scenario could be that if officers feel that military domination of Pakistan is under threat because genuine democracy is in sight, they might desert Musharraf for the Taliban for pragmatic as much as ideological reasons. There are many unknowns.

Syed Saleem Shahzad writes for Asia Times Online that a Pakistani security official, who spoke to Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, said the goal of the government's counterinsurgency is "to pacify the Waziristans once and for all". (Link 11)

Shahzad writes: "Lining up against the Pakistani Army will be the Shura (council) of Mujahideen comprising senior al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders, local clerics and leaders of the fighting clans Wazir and Mehsud (known as the Pakistani Taliban)." He quotes the Pakistani security official as saying, "If the planned battle is successful and Waziristan is pacified, the global Islamic resistance would be back where it was in 2003, when it had fighters but no centralised command or bases to carry out organised operations."

Shahzad reports: "The safety of Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Waziristan is a matter of life and death and, therefore, the militants have devised a forward strategy to target the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, hoping to break the will of the Pakistani armed forces. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, is trying to break the will of the militants with ongoing bombing raids.

"Underscoring the seriousness with which the military is planning for the coming battle, it is reported that Shi'ite soldiers from northern Pakistan are being sent to the Waziristans. In the past, the Pakistani Army has been plagued by desertions of Pashtun and Sunni troops who refuse to fight fellow Pashtuns or Sunnis." [Shi'ites will supposedly have fewer problems killing Sunnis. The sectarian element could however, just introduce another layer to the conflict.]

This issue of a morally conflicted and fracturing army is without a doubt one of the greatest threats as increasingly more and more soldiers are questioning the Islamic credentials of their mission. After a major army offensive in South Waziristan in 2004 in which some 500 officers and soldiers refused to fight, "500 leading religious scholars signed a fatwa, a religious judgment, ruling that militants killed in the action are 'martyrs'. The same fatwa forbade the public to pray for the dead government soldiers." Earlier this year the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistani Army attempted to solicit a fatwa to its own advantage from the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) but was unable to do so. (Link 12) How many soldiers will heed bin Laden's call?

In July, Ayesha Siddiqa (author of 'Military Inc.') wrote an article entitled "Life after Lal Masjid" where she ominously likened the siege and storming of the Lal Masjid to the "Indian army's June 1984 attack against the Golden Temple and the dissident Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. In both situations," she says, "the rebels were created by the establishment to be later killed at the government's hands. . . It is hoped, however, that the Lal Masjid operation does not result in the assassination of a leader and the killing of hundreds of innocent people like it occurred in India in October-November 1984." (Link 13)

On 18 October, Benazir Bhutto narrowly escaped assassination and more than 130 people were killed and hundreds were wounded when her motorcade was targeted by terrorists. This is doubtless only the beginning of the terror. Al-Qaeda will seek to eliminate all bulwarks against Sharia and Taliban control of Islamabad. We can expect to see terrorist incidents and assassinations proliferate in Pakistan. Christians ("cross worshippers" as bin Laden calls them) are destined to be targeted, as the militants view them not only as expendable kuffaar and stains to be removed, but as the targets most likely to attract Western attention, breast beating and pressure for more "peace deals".

Al-Qaeda's goal is nothing less than control of a nuclear-armed Islamic state, complete with intelligence services and an Islamist Army, for the purpose of administering and waging international Islamic jihad. A long and bloody battle for Pakistan has begun.

Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Pakistan in Crisis: Situation Critical
WEA RLC News & Analysis, 22 May 2007
By WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

2) Pakistan: War and unprecedented persecution in NWFP
WEA RLC News & Analysis, 29 Oct 2007

3) Pakistan's Peace Deal with Taliban Militants
By Tarique Niazi for Terrorism Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 19 (5 October 2006)
http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370153

4) Pakistan Surrenders. The Taliban control the border with Afghanistan.
by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio. 2 Oct 2006. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/738ijawx.asp

5) The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan and the Bajaur Tribal Region:
The Strategic Threat of Terrorist Sanctuaries. By Eric Sayers, Feb 2007
http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/modules/newsmanager/center%20publication%20pdfs/waziristan.pdf

6) Pakistan signs the Bajaur Accord
By Bill Roggio (Military analyst) 17 March 2007
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/03/pakistan_signs_the_b.php

7) Crunch Time in Pakistan, By Bill Roggio, 23 October 2007
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2007/10/crunch_time_in_pakis.php
(Includes a map showing areas of Taliban-al-Qaeda rule and areas under threat.)

8) Come To Jihad, To The People Of Pakistan
26 Sept 2007. Translated From Urdu By Ahmed Al-Marid | Jihad Unspun
http://www.jihadunspun.com/intheatre_internal.php?article=109033&list=/home.php

9) Pakistan's Army: Unprepared to tackle terrorism? 22 October 2007
By Mark Sappenfield , Staff writer, The Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1022/p04s01-wosc.html

10) Militants' sway in tribal areas. 23 Oct 2007
M K Dar (Former Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau)
http://www.centralchronicle.com/20071023/2310301.htm

11) Pakistan plans all-out war on militants
By Syed Saleem Shahzad 19 Oct 2007
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IJ19Df01.html

12) Troop Defections Threaten Pakistan's Operations in Tribal Regions
By Tarique Niazi, for Terrorism Focus, Volume 4, Issue 4 (6 March 2007)
http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370270

13) Pakistan after Lal Masjid
Ayesha Siddiqa, 17 July 2007
http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/jul/17guest.htm

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pakistan: War and unprecedented persecution in NWFP.

Date: Monday 29 October 2007
Subj: Pakistan: War and unprecedented persecution in NWFP.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


Persecution of Christians has long been intense right across Pakistan's highly Islamised and Talibanised North West Frontier Province (NWFP). However Islamic zeal, tension, intolerance and belligerence has escalated dramatically over recent years as the Pakistan Army has been engaged in an unpopular war against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan.

PEACE, LIBERTY AND PERSECUTION

Heavy troop losses and plummeting troop morale has led President Musharraf to strike "peace deals" with Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates in several regions of NWFP. South Waziristan was ceded to Taliban and al-Qaeda control in February 2005 and North Waziristan was ceded in September 2006. Since then the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance has had sanctuary in the "Islamic Emirate of Waziristan" -- an autonomous mini-state and terrorist sanctuary from where they have been able to freely consolidate, strategise, recruit, deploy, enforce their writ and expand their zone of influence.

This year the government signed similar "peace deals" (surrenders) in the NWFP tribal agencies of Bajaur and Mahmoud, as well as Swat district. As would be expected, in all areas under Taliban and al-Qaeda control a policy of zero tolerance towards everything "non-Islamic" is being violently imposed.

The "peace deals" have provided peace for the government, liberty for the Taliban and al-Qaeda and unprecedented persecution for Christians and all other non-Islamists.

(A detailed examination and assessment of the political and security situation in Pakistan -- a News & Analysis posting entitled "The Battle for Pakistan" -- will be released tomorrow.)

CONFLICT RESUMES

On 10 July government troops stormed the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. In response, the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in Waziristan terminated its "peace agreement" with the government and resumed terrorist actions against the Pakistan Army. Further to this, the Taliban and al-Qaeda appear to be waging an insurgency that is aimed at expanding Taliban and al-Qaeda control throughout NWFP on their way to Islamabad.

The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jahangir, told DAWN (7 Oct 2007): "The NWFP presents a disturbing picture of religious militancy that is increasingly manifesting itself in vigilante actions against the population and creating widespread fear. The government has chosen to look the other way when the militants have blown up girls' schools and video shops, threatened teachers, students, doctors, nurses, NGO workers and barbers." (Link 1)

SWAT DISTRICT

Swat district fell under Taliban control when the government struck a "peace deal" with the militants in May 2007. As noted by Hameedullah Khan in DAWN (21 September 2007), "Violence intensified in the Swat valley after the signing of the agreement."

Basically, the "peace deal" enabled the terror to be re-directed. Militants who had been consumed with battling the Pakistan Army were freed-up to wage a violent campaign of forced Islamisation across the district: destroying evidence of Swat Valley's ancient Buddhist heritage and eliminating all practice they deem non-Islamic. Swat Valley is home to around 1,000 Christians, a tiny and vulnerable minority amongst 1.5 million Muslims.

Asma Jahangir (HRCP) told DAWN that in Swat Valley the education department has asked girls to comply with Taliban demands and wear burqas to school after threats from militants. Jahangir adds that the only Christian missionary school in the area had shut down after receiving threats. Jahangir also reports that security forces have been abandoning their posts after coming under consistent militant attack, leaving people at the mercy of the militants.

A Compass Direct (CD) news release entitled "PAKISTAN: Taliban militants force burqa on Christian women's school", details the persecution on the above mentioned Catholic-run Public High School and exposes the shocking intensity of the persecution being directed at the Christian community as the Taliban works to subjugate or even eradicate Christianity from their turf. (Link 2)

"PEACE" ENDS

The "peace deal" signed in Swat in May was scrapped on Friday 21 September when the "caliph" of the parallel religious government in NWFP, Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked cleric Maulana Fazlullah, announced he was terminating his agreement with the government. Fazlullah's army of some 4,500 militants immediately resumed violence and terrorism (including suicide bombings) against the Pakistan Army.

On Wednesday 24 October, the interim caretaker government of the NWFP deployed more than 2,000 paramilitary troops, police and helicopter gunships into Swat Valley "to provide security to the people" and "negotiate" with the militants. (Link 3)

On 25 October a powerful bomb blast destroyed an army vehicle travelling through Mingora, Swat's main town, killing around 30 people including 17 soldiers. The militants are not negotiating.

Fazlullah's madrassa-stronghold came under heavy attack on Friday 26 October. Fazlullah retaliated by kidnapping six security personnel (3 soldiers and 3 police) and seven civilians whom he accused of being government spies. While some remain missing, others were publicly executed and their decapitated heads were reportedly put on display in a local bazaar. (Link 4)

According to government-issued Pashtu-language leaflets reportedly dropped from a government helicopter on Saturday 27 October, the government intends to "eliminate extremism and terrorism from the Swat valley". However, in a shameful betrayal of the people, the government attempted to appease the militants with the words: "You must remember that establishing Islamic courts, implementation of Shariah (Islamic law) and bringing peace is the first priority of the government." (Links 4&5)

ISLAMISATION, TERROR AND WAR MAKE FOR A TENUOUS FUTURE

In those areas of NWFP where the government has ceded control to the Taliban (South and North Waziristan, as well as Bajaur and Mahmoud agencies and Swat district) Christians are not only facing unprecedented persecution and forced Islamisation, they are now on the frontline of a battle for Pakistan -- a life and death battle with high-stakes, being waged between the government and the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance. This will push persecution amidst insecurity to unprecedented levels. Thousands are reportedly fleeing the area.

The battle for Pakistan commenced with the government conquest of the Lal Masjid on 10 July 2007. The al-Qaeda insurgency, which is administered from the Waziristans and aimed at Islamabad, is casting a very dark shadow over NWFP and sending ill winds sweeping across all Pakistan. Religious liberty and the security of Pakistan's Christians hangs in the balance. Short and medium-term prospects are bleak. Please pray for the Christians of Pakistan.

Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Militants targeting civilians
http://www.dawn.com/2007/10/08/top3.htm

2) Compass Direct News, 27 Sept 2007
PAKISTAN: Taliban militants force burqa on Christian women's school
- Extremists violently enforce Islamization in unruly northern district.
http://www.compassdirect.org/content/index.php?id=27 (search: Pakistan)

3) Swat cleric 'ends' peace deal
By Hameedullah Khan, 21 Sept 2007
http://www.dawn.com/2007/09/22/top9.htm
AND
Editorial: Recapturing Swat from Fazlullah
Daily Times, Pakistan, Friday 26 October 2007
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C10%5C26%5Cstory_26-10-2007_pg3_1

4) 11 men kidnapped were executed in Pak, militants claim
SWAT (Pakistan) (AP) 27 Oct 2007
http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200710271522.htm

5) Leaflets urge Malakand people to help govt
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007\10\29\story_29-10-2007_pg7_5

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Southern Sudan: On the path to war.

Date: Wednesday 3 October 2007
Subj: Southern Sudan: On the path to war.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


On 31 December 2004, Sudan's ruling National Congress Party ((NCP) formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF)) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), bringing to an end 21 years of civil war and Islamic jihad.

FORMULATING THE CPA

The process of formulating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been fraught with difficulties as the secular, inclusive, equitable, democratic "New Sudan" vision of Dr John Garang's SPLM and the ruling NCP's vision of an Arab Islamist Sudan with racial and religious apartheid were totally incompatible.

Dr Garang's vision of a New Sudan with "unity on a new basis" attracted followers from amongst the marginalised non-Arab, non-Muslim and non-Islamist majority all over the nation, causing the south-based SPLM to blossom into a truly national movement.

Of course such a vision was (and still is) anathema to Sudan's ruling Arabist Islamist regime which was (and still is) driven not only by Islamist ideology and ideas of racial and religious supremacy, but by the knowledge that it could never survive in an open and free environment. The NIF has never had a mandate from the people to rule or implement divisive Sharia: its power was obtained and is held by force.

Further to these difficulties of SPLM-NCP incompatibility, the SPLM was itself divided between those who supported Garang's New Sudan vision with its national agenda and those southerners who supported self-determination.

The CPA, with its six-year interim "one nation, two systems" confederation period, was a pragmatic attempt to secure peace in the short term whilst providing steps towards a long term solution.

The CPA appeased both SPLM camps by providing for elections in 2009 and a referendum on self-determination for the south in 2011. Meanwhile the central government of national unity had the interim six-year period (2005-2011) to "make unity attractive" and thus prevent the dismemberment and/or disintegration of Sudan.

Garang knew that separatism was a recipe for war. He hoped that full implementation of the CPA and elections that routed the NCP, along with positive momentum across the nation and improved living conditions in the south, could convince the southerners that Sudan was a state worth staying in – that is, they might choose unity with nation-building over separatism and a return to war.

Today, the New Sudan faction, which is south-based but geographically, ethnically and religiously diverse, advocates a national solution and sees the CPA as a roadmap to national reform via elections. The southern self-determination faction, which is tribalist and south-focused, sees the CPA as a roadmap to the 2011 referendum where they will "exercise their right of self-determination".

The self-determination faction fails to address the fact the north will never let such oil-rich territory go and will return to war, with the NCP flying the flag of jihad, to retain it. Furthermore, for the NCP there are not only economic considerations but also their Islamic ideology which cannot let the south succeed.

FLOUTING THE CPA


It is nearly three years since the CPA was signed. The central government is not implementing its provisions and is not making "unity attractive" because it is still advancing its Arabist Islamist vision for Sudan which is not attractive for any non-Arab, non-Muslim or non-Islamist.

The southern oil fields are still over-run with northern Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and their associate militias though the deadline for their withdrawal passed on 9 July 2007. (Link 1)

Even before the deadline passed there was a serious military confrontation in Malakal. (See WEA Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin 408, "Southern Sudan: Serious clash threatens peace", 13 December 2006: Link 2)

Because the CPA's security protocols are not being implemented, northern troops are still facing off against southern troops that are now supposed to be in charge of the south's security. Tensions are escalating.

Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times describes the situation in the southern town of Abyei: "The two sides were supposed to have been integrated by now into a single army -- marching, living and fighting together for one Sudan. Instead, the soldiers eyeball one another across the narrow divide, with thousands more massing to lay claim to the contested oil fields nearby, seemingly bracing for another long separatist war.

" 'We're on a path back toward war,' said David Mozersky, the Horn of Africa project director for International Crisis Group (ICG), which researches conflicts around the world. 'We're seeing a military build-up on both sides,' he said, '(and) the partnership between the two sides has broken down.' " (Link 3)

Furthermore, the NCP has been consistently obstructing work towards border demarcation, a national census and electoral law, thus jeopardising the 2009 elections. As the International Crisis Group notes, "While free and fair elections may worry the NCP, it would welcome quick and dirty ones." (Link 4)

NCP THREATENED BY 2009 ELECTIONS

The NCP has no intention of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), because that would be political suicide. Therefore it is in the NCP's interests to keep the nation destabilised and the SPLM as divided and conflicted as possible.

Since Dr John Garang's death in a helicopter crash on 9 July 2005, the SPLM has, in the words of International Crisis Group (ICG, July 2007) "had trouble maintaining focus on national issues. . ." (Link 4)

Under the leadership of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar the SPLM has been retreating from the New Sudan vision and national agenda of Dr John Garang. Instead of cultivating its partnerships with all the Sudanese pro-democracy groups, repressed and marginalised peoples and SPLM associates across the nation -- groups that seek the ousting of the NCP and reform at the centre to create a liberal democratic secular New Sudan -- the SPLM is pursuing secession and partnership with the Arab Islamist NCP in Khartoum, believing this will actually enable them to secure it.

Does anyone else have a sense of déjà vu?

During his two decades as SPLM/A (Army) leader, Dr John Garang (a Dinka) opposed making southern self-determination the political aim of the rebellion. Garang saw Sudan as a diverse nation, with numerous peoples, cultures, histories, traditions and beliefs. He saw the forced imposition of Arabism and Islamism, and Islamist Arab hegemony, as conducive to endless conflict. Political and religious repression and persecution only generate resistance and separatism which in turn spurn further political repression, racial and religious persecution and Islamic jihad. Dr Garang believed that peace could only come through secularism and democracy that guaranteed inclusion, equality and liberty for all Sudanese, and a commitment to nation-building.

In 1991, the SPLM/A split when Commander Riek Machar (a Nuer, and now the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan) led a breakaway faction into a fight for independence. The Arab Islamist NIF regime in Khartoum was never going to be threatened by Machar's mostly Nuer SPLA-United faction, not like it was (and still is) threatened by the New Sudan vision which has the potential to unify national opposition. So the NIF, doubtless delighted by the SPLM split, partnered with and armed Riek Machar's faction in support of his personal, tribal, political and military conflict against Garang's New Sudan faction. In other words, while the SPLA-United was fighting for independence, Khartoum was using the faction as a proxy militia in its own war against Garang's SPLM. (Realistically, when the enemy supports your strategy you really should reassess your mission!)

In light of this, the present scenario is starting to look very familiar. The SPLM has expressed its frustration over the lack of CPA implementation. Meanwhile the Arab Islamist NCP knows that it cannot win a free and fair election. Furthermore, like all dictatorships everywhere, the NCP leadership has no intention of relinquishing the privileges and spoils of power, and like all committed ideological Islamists everywhere they have no intention of secularising, for that would be akin to apostasy.

Commenting on the NCP's signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi says: "The SPLM had the African and the international community support, and the government was isolated and weak. I think that once you sign a contract you have to abide by it but I think they (NCP) did not read it, and when they read it they found the agreement was too much for them. . . These people now realise they have signed the wrong thing . . " (Link 5).

NCP AIMS TO DIVIDE THE SPLM

International Crisis Group (ICG) reports that the biggest blow to the CPA has been the NCP decision to "actively undermine core CPA elements and try to divide the SPLM" (Link 4, page 3).

According to ICG's July report, at high-level talks in late April 2007 "the NCP offered to implement some key CPA areas if the SPLM would commit to an electoral partnership.

"The NCP strategy is twofold: partnering with the SPLM would strengthen its chances to survive democratic elections and, perhaps more importantly, eliminate the possibility of an SPLM-led alliance of marginalised political groups, including from the South, Darfur, the East, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, which could challenge its supremacy." (Link 4, page 4)

When the ICG report was being written in July, the SPLM was "resisting an electoral arrangement". ICG notes: "A serious internal contradiction in its view of the CPA affects the SPLM's ability and willingness to consider a real [electoral] partnership. For its northern members and supporters of Garang's New Sudan vision, the central purpose of the peace deal is to dismantle the NCP government and reform the centre. This requires a program focusing primarily on national reforms and is inconsistent with a partnership with the ruling party. Instead, the natural choice would seem to be an alliance with the other marginalised regions and opposition parties.

"For its predominantly southern majority, however, the primary purpose is to deliver the self-determination referendum. This opens a possibility for a political deal with the NCP, including even an electoral partnership, since many SPLM members believe the best way to protect the referendum is to allow the NCP to keep control of the North, while their party focuses on the South." (Link 4, page 4)

However, as ICG notes, "SPLM leaders seem inclined to the second line."

On 10 September, the Sudan Tribune reported: "In his speech at the opening of the second session of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Salva Kiir [President of the Government of Southern Sudan] expressed his deep concern and worry about the status of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation. 'I am alarmed, worried and deeply concerned about the status of CPA implementation. I'm worried Mr. Speaker that it is likely that Sudan will [revert] again to war if we do not act now with our partner NCP." (Link 6)

Kiir enumerated the CPA violations by the National Congress Party. (The full text of his speech is in the linked article.)

In his address Kiir clearly articulates his determination to pursue self-determination, adding, "It is regrettable that there are some voices in the Sudan who are agitating and would like to [tamper] with this constitutional right."

While talking about his visit to China Kiir says: "At least China is now aware that most of the oil produced in Sudan is from Southern Sudan and that people of Southern Sudan will exercise their right of self-determination in a referendum to be conducted by 2011."

If the SPLM forms an electoral partnership with the Arab Islamist NCP with the view that this will safeguard the 2011 referendum and enable the southerners secure independence then they are mistaken. If the NCP retains power in the north in the 2009 elections then multiple Darfur-type rebellions are likely to erupt across the north as repressed, persecuted and politically marginalised peoples seek liberation. This will scuttle CPA implementation and the 2011 referendum. The electoral partnership will have enabled the NCP to retain power over a destabilised state where the CPA will not be implemented and the referendum for self-determination will not be guaranteed. The SPLM will be left critically conflicted, divided, without its northern allies and weakened. The hope of a New Sudan will fade. The Old Sudan -- an Arabist, Islamist military dictatorship -- will remain with the power, the oil, the biggest guns and no interest in human rights, liberty or change.

Does anyone else sense an NCP conspiracy?

Forced Arabisation and Islamisation, and Islamist Arab hegemony, are a recipe for endless conflict, and so too is separatism. The only hope for peace in Sudan is full CPA implementation leading to free and fair elections contested by a strong, united opposition with a vision for a secular, equitable, inclusive, liberal democratic New Sudan. The Arab Islamist dictatorship must be confronted sooner or later. As long as it survives, there will be no peace.

Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Sudan misses withdrawal deadline
By Amber Henshaw, 9 July 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6284894.stm

2) Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 408 | Wed 13 Dec 2006
Southern Sudan: Serious clash threatens peace
http://ea.org.au/default.aspx?id=c4bfacc8-9055-4cfb-8d5f-75df7a95c3c0

3) Cracks in the Peace in Oil-Rich Sudan as Old Tensions Fester
By Jeffrey Gettleman, 22 September 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/22/world/africa/22sudan.html?pagewanted=all

4) A Strategy for Comprehensive Peace in Sudan
Africa Report N°130. 26 July 2007
http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4961&l=1

5) Interview with Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi.
By Ahmed Elzobier. 10 September 2007 (KHARTOUM)
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article23687

6) Salva Kiir says "Sudan will likely reverse again to war"
11 September 2007
http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article23697