News Digest: Pakistan at War

Posted on January 24, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Foreign Relations, Politics, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Yesterday, the headlines screamed of yet more US drone attacks within Pakistan leaving 18 dead. Today, they bemoan 11 killed in Swat in continuing fighting between military and militants. Meanwhile, following on earlier reports of extremists banning women from entering cloth markets in Swat, now we hear of restraunts in Quetta banning the entry of women after succumbing to the fear tactics of fanatics. The tragedy is that news of barbarism – men killed and hung in the public square because their shalwar was not hiked up to the right length – have become so common that one does not even register as unusual.

We at ATP do not want to be and cannot be a newspaper. But we must stand witness to what is happening. We can neither be silent at, nor accepting of, the mayhem around us.

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We create this post as a space where we will periodically update the outrage that is befalling our society. It is not possible for a blog to chronicle all that is happening, but lest we forget – or, even worse, we get used to – the outrage, let us at least speak out against it when we can.

  • February 5, 2009. 24 killed and more deaths expected in attack on Shia procession in Dera Ghazi Khan. The News: “Death toll has climbed to 24 while over 30 others were wounded in a bomb explosion that ripped through a mourners procession in Muslim Town here, IG Punjab confirmed Thursday. Talking to Geo News, IG Punjab Shaukat Javed said the explosion left no crater on the ground indicating the blast could be a suicide attack. The blast ripped through a mourners’ procession in Muslim Town outside Johar Ali Imam Bargah. Rescue teams arrived at the scene immediate after the explosion and shifted the dead and injured to the district headquarter hospital where many are said to be in critical condition. The explosion, which shattered the windowpanes of the nearby buildings, enraged the participants of the procession and they chanting slogans against the government.”
  • February 4, 2009. Editorial in The News:After Peshawar, the city of Quetta seems to be falling into the hands of militants. The kidnapping of the chief of the UNHCR in the city is the latest evidence of this. Past threats have led to the UN reducing activities in the province. The Islamabad government must wake up to the reality that it is in danger of becoming a state no one wishes to venture into. Something must be done to end this swift descent into anarchy.”
  • February 4, 2009. The News: “Militants in Swat on Tuesday warned that all lawyers and judges, being part of an ‘infidel judicial system’, would be killed if they did not quit their profession. Announced on their illegal FM radio, the threat from insurgents — intent upon forcing their ideology on residents of the restive valley — has obviously scared the legal fraternity. The Swat Bar Association president confirmed the lives of 300 of his co-professionals were under threat and he was trying to contact the fighters in an effort to assure them that the lawyers were ready to work under an Islamic judicial regime.”
  • February 4, 2009. The News: “Unidentified militants blew up two boys’ schools in Salarzai Tehsil of the restive Bajaur Agency on Tuesday. Sources said militants blew up the Government High School, Pusht, and a primary school in the Salarzai area with explosives. No loss of life was reported as both the schools were closed. The militants have so far destroyed 27 schools in the Bajaur Agency.
  • February 3, 2009. Daily Times: “The military on Monday claimed it had killed 70 Taliban and injured several others during its assault on a village in Chaharbagh tehsil of Swat, a private TV channel reported. Earlier on Monday, Swat police recovered eight bullet-ridden bodies from the restive region. “The bullet-ridden bodies of eight local residents were found on Monday morning in various areas of Swat,” said a police official, requesting anonymity. The official blamed the killings on the Taliban loyal to rebel cleric Fazlullah, who have executed dozens of government employees and pro-government supporters in the past year. Trapped amidst clashes between the Taliban and security forces, residents in Swat have begun a mass exodus from the area. Thousands of civilians were fleeing the fighting in the valley, Reuters reported. “We have been punished for no fault of our own,” said a man, trudging along a mountain path with his family and about 100 other villagers, laden with children and bundles of belongings.
  • February 2, 2009. The News: “Thirty-two persons, including three soldiers, were killed and 22 others sustained injures as the security forces intensified the operation in Swat valley on Sunday. The ISPR-run Swat Media Centre in Mingora claimed that the security forces have killed 16 militants during the last 24 hours. Locals said most of the people killed in Charbagh and Sangota during shelling were civilians, who were finding it difficult to move to safer places due to the perpetual curfew and escalating clashes.Two persons were killed in firing at ambulances belonging to Medicine Sans Frontiers and Edhi, which were shifting the injured to a hospital. Three officials also sustained injuries in the incident. Bodies of the slain officials were lying in Charbagh. The injured were writhing in pain but nobody could go near them. It could not be ascertained as to who fired at the ambulances as militants and security forces blamed each other for the incident. Three personnel of the security forces were killed in a clash with the militants in the Sar Banda area of Matta Tehsil. “
  • February 1, 2009. Daily Times: “Nine people, including three security personnel, were killed on Saturday in fresh incidents of violence in NWFP’s Swat district. Locals said three people were killed in a clash between security personnel and the Taliban in the Dherai area of Kabal tehsil. Three people were killed as helicopter gunships targeted Taliban positions in Kabal. The forces’ air attack also destroyed a self-proclaimed Taliban court building.”
  • January 31, 2009. Daily Times: “The Taliban on Friday distributed leaflets in Miranshah and Mir Ali in the North Waziristan Agency warning the Pakistan Army not to set up medical camps, open schools or hospitals in the area. The Taliban warned the army and the NGOs to stop their activities in the agency as ‘through these activities they were misleading the tribal people.’ ‘We warn the army and NGOs to refrain from mischief and carrying out such work otherwise they will be responsible for any losses,’ said the leaflet in Urdu, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.”
  • January 30, 2009. Daily Times: “Veteran ethnic Pashtun politician Muhammad Afzal Khan has refused to leave home in Swat, even though the Taliban have repeatedly tried to kill him, and says the people should stand up to the militants. Many families have fled, while residents say many policemen have either deserted or simply refuse to act against the Taliban, who have shot, blown up or beheaded numerous officers. But Khan, an 82-year-old former cabinet minister known as Afzal Lala, or Afzal the Elder, has chosen to stay on to try to rally resistance to the Taliban.”I’m from this soil. It’s my home. My tribe is here,” Khan told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I want to live among my people. I won’t run away.” The Taliban have tried to kill Khan three times and have placed him on top of a list of politicians and prominent residents they have demanded appear before their ‘courts’. Residents refer to the list as a ‘hit list’. Khan, who lives in a well-guarded house surrounded by fruit trees, said he had faith. “Being a Muslim, I have faith in Allah. Nothing can happen to me no matter if Fazlullah puts my name on his list or not.””
  • January 29, 2009. Dawn: “Taking a leaf out of their counterpart’s war on education in Swat, suspected militants blew up a government school for boys near a security post in the Nawagai subdivision of Bajaur Agency on Tuesday night. An official of the Fata education directorate said 20 government schools had been destroyed in the region since a military operation was launched last year.”
  • January 29, 2009. The News reports: “Sixteen more people, including seven militants, were killed and 23 others injured in Swat violence on Wednesday, as Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani vowed to establish the writ of the government. The militants’ commander and presenter on FM Radio channel, Maulana Khalil, who recently replaced Shah Dauran, claimed to have killed 35 security forces personnel in Qambar. Bodies of the victims were still lying on the road due to curfew.”
  • January 28, 2009. The News, “the Maulana Fazlullah-led militants on Tuesday blew up two more boys’ schools in Kabal, taking the number of destroyed schools to 188. A primary school was destroyed with explosives in Koza Bandai village of Kabal. Another school was reduced to rubble in Dherai. Official sources put the number of the torched or destroyed schools at 188, most of them girls’ schools.”
  • January 28, 2009. Daily Times, “Suspected US drones flew over various areas of North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday, a private TV channel reported. According to the channel, the pilotless aircraft made three to four flights over various parts of the agency, spreading panic among the tribesmen who are already concerned over the growing missile strikes in the Tribal Areas.”
  • January 27, 2009. Daily Times, “The body of Muhammad Hussain, resident of village Madda Khel in Datta Khel tehsil, was found by the roadside, 30 kilometres west of Miranshah. The Taliban had also chopped off the right hand of Hussain, who was abducted a week ago. A note found nearby said Hussain was a US spy and those spying for the US would meet the same fate.”
  • January 27, 2009. Daily Times, “The NWFP government has lost its writ in the volatile Swat valley, the ruling ANP admitted in the Senate on Monday. ANP senators Haji Adeel and Ilyas Bilour said the insurgency was spilling over to the rest of the country and would ‘reach Islamabad sooner than Lahore’. Bilour said Taliban had demolished more than 300 schools in the region once considered liberal. Senator Razina Alam said more than 80,000 children could not go to school and 8,000 teachers had lost their jobs.”
  • January 27, 2009. Dawn,Militants in Swat blew up another school and at least seven people were killed and several others injured as violence continued on Monday. Two people were killed in Manglawar when a shell hit their houses. Ten people, among them children and a woman, were injured when a shell hit their house in Charbagh. A civilian was shot dead for violating curfew in Charbagh. Local people reported having seen four bullet-ridden bodies in fields in Nengolai area of Kabal, but could not remove them because of curfew.”
  • January 26, 2009. Daily Times. “Swat Taliban have released a list of 43 people who they have declared ‘wanted’ and liable to punishment… The ‘wanted’ men also include former and current members of the national and provincial assemblies, district and local nazims, officials of political parties, local elders and other influential residents of the restive valley. The announcement that the leaders were liable to punishment and must appear in Taliban courts was made by rebel cleric Mullah Fazlullah on his FM radio channel on Sunday morning, locals said. The brazen announcement comes only two days after a provincial minister from the Awami National Party (ANP) and two members of the NWFP Assembly visited the valley to express support for the people of Swat against the Taliban.” The full list here.
  • January 25, 2009. Daily Times. “An increasing number of restaurants in Quetta have stopped serving women apparently after being pressured by religious elements, and the practice is being seen as a spill-over of the Swat problem to the rest of Pakistan. Certain popular restaurants have now begun to display boards saying, ‘For gentlemen only. Women not allowed.’ Located on the city’s most crowded Jinnah Road, Baig Snack Bar has been one of the most popular eating places in Quetta. Keeping in view its popularity among women and children, the bar had dedicated a separate room to women and families. But the restaurant has recently succumbed to pressure from the conservative religious elements after allegations that it was being used as a ‘dating spot’ for young boys and girls.
  • January 24, 2009. Daily Times. “Two suspected United Sates drone attacks killed 18 people in North and South Waziristan agencies on Friday, security officials said, the first such strikes since the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, AP reported. At least five victims were said to be foreign terrorists, an intelligence officer said. The strikes were the latest in a barrage of more than 30 US strikes since the middle of last year.”
  • January 24, 2009. Dawn. “Two security personnel and three civilians were killed in a suicide attack and a bomb blast near Mingora on Friday. A car laden with explosives blew up near the Fizagat checkpost, killing two security personnel and injuring 22 others.Three civilians, including a woman, were killed and two soldiers were injured when a security forces’ vehicle hit a roadside bomb near the Takhtaband bypass on the outskirts of Mingora.”
  • January 23, 2009. The News. “Militants gunned down Amjad Islam, teacher of a private school who himself waged a Jihad against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, for not hiking up his shalwar (trouser) above his ankles. However, the issue did not end here but the militants went to the slain teacher’s house and gunned down his father, Ghani Akbar, a lawyer by profession. The militants later hung Amjad’s body from a pole in the Matta College Square.”
  • January 22, 2009. The News. “Continuing their attacks on schools, the militants destroyed two more schools in Khwazakhela and Matta areas. A government boys school was blown up in Sherpalam area of Matta, while a primary school was torched in Mangaltan village of Khwazakhela. Some unknown assailants attacked a police armoured personnel carrier (APC) in Saidu Sharif, the capital city of Swat district. The attack caused injuries to an official, Chinar Gul.”
  • January 21, 2009. The News. “Militants issued another decree on Tuesday, asking the local people to wear caps and stop shaving beards after January 25. The militants set January 25 as deadline for keeping beards in the Matta Tehsil of the valley and also asked people to wear caps in order to implement their self-styled Shariah in the area. They had already stopped barbers from shaving and trimming beards in the valley while following their fresh decree all barbers displayed ‘shave is banned’ posters at their shops. Militants sources said after the expiry of the deadline, no one in Matta Tehsil would be allowed to trim beard as they were trying for the establishment of a complete Islamic society. ‘It is in the best interest of the people,’ they added.”
  • January 20, 2009. The News. “Suspected militants blew up five schools, including two girls, in Mingora city overnight while the deputy chief of Swat militants threatened the editor and staff of a local newspaper with action for publishing a story against them. The militants blew up the Government High School No 1 and Government Primary School No 1 Banr, Government Girls’ High School and Government Girls Primary School in Tahirabad and a middle school in Angordherai. The blasts destroyed the buildings of these schools, besides damaging the nearby houses and shops. The attacks came in the wake of expiry of deadline for closing down all government and private girls’ schools.

P.S. The dates listed are the dates when the event was reported, not necessarily when it happened.

126 responses to “News Digest: Pakistan at War”

  1. bonobashi says:


    Dear Sir,

    If you think your neighbours are standing by dry-eyed and stony-hearted, you have not been listening. There is one battle-line in this battle, and you are not alone. But tell us some practical way to help.

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