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Category — AfPak policy

American woman freed from Taliban captivity describes brutal treatment

Report in Pakistan Today, Nov 21, 2017
NEW YORK: A US mother held hostage by Taliban-linked militants for five years has detailed the violence and sexual assault she said she endured in captivity, and regretted that her young son was also beaten.

“This was an intolerable situation for a child to be in,” Caitlan Coleman Boyle, 31, told ABC News in a television interview broadcast on Monday.

Coleman Boyle gave birth to three children in captivity. She and her Canadian husband were abducted by the Haqqani network while travelling through a remote area of Afghanistan — for reasons that remain unclear — in 2012.

The family were released last month in Pakistan and are now trying to rebuild their lives in Canada.

She said their guards “could be very violent, even sometimes with the children,” assaulting their now four-year-old son with a stick, and hitting her and her husband.

“I would get beaten or hit or thrown on the ground,” she told ABC News. She broke a cheekbone and three fingers while intervening to protect the children, her husband, Joshua Boyle, 34, told ABC.

They made toys out of bottle caps and bits of cardboard and fearing the family could be beheaded, they made up a game based on England’s Charles I, who was executed in 1649, and Oliver Cromwell, she said.

“Obviously with people like this, the idea of a beheading is always on the table, so he certainly knew that this type of thing could happen to his family but then we would come up with games to make it not seem so scary,” she said.

“He had great fun pretending to be Oliver Cromwell and chasing Charles I around and trying to behead him,” she said. “We made it a game so that he wasn’t afraid.”

After the family returned to Canada last month, Boyle, 34, accused his kidnappers of murdering an infant daughter through a “forced abortion” and of raping his wife.

“They came into the cell, and they took my husband out forcibly, dragging him out, and one of the guards threw me down on the ground, hitting me and shouting `I will kill you, I will kill you’” she said.

“And that’s when the assault happened. It was with two men. And then there was a third at the door. And afterwards, the animals wouldn’t even give me back my clothes.”

November 21, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan’s two-faced game helped in Taliban’s return, Abdullah tells Halifax

By KHAAMA PRESS – Mon Nov 20 2017, 6:08 pm
The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah blames Pakistan’s two-faced game helped in return of the Taliban insurgency.
Speaking during the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Abdullah said the Taliban group returned and resumed its insurgency in Afghanistan due to the two-faced games of the neighboring Pakistan.
Abdullah further added that the decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan in 2014 also had a negative impact on security of Afghanistan.
In the meantime, Abdullah said the Afghan government is optimistic regarding the strategy of Washington about South Asia.
According to Abdullah, the new strategy announced by President Trump will hopefully increase pressures on Taliban and its supporters to opt for the reconciliation process.
The Afghan and US officials have long been insisting that the leadership councils of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are based in the key cities of Pakistan where from they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.
The United States has also increased pressures on Islamabad to take immediate steps in dismantling the safe havens and sanctuaries of the Taliban and Haqqani network in its soil and in its latest move restricted the future military aid to Pakistan to certification of the country’s steps against the two groups.http://www.khaama.com/pakistans-two-faced-game-helped-in-talibans-return-abdullah-tells-halifax-03887

November 21, 2017   No Comments

Ex-Pak senator links FATA’s wounds to Pakistan’s support to Taliban

By KHAAMA PRESS – Mon Nov 20 2017, 7:18 pm
A prominent former Pakistani senator Afrasiab Khattak has linked the wounds of Federally Administered Tribal Agency (FATA) to support to the Taliban group by certain security circles in Pakistan.
Published in local Nation media outlet, Khattak has mentioned regarding the recent military operations launched in South Waziristan area as he expressed his concerns regarding the thousands of families displaced since the operations were launched earlier this month.
The article titled ‘FATA’s wounds’ mainly focuses on the miseries the residents of the region faces in the past 15 years as he warns that the security circles will continue to use the area as launching pad as long they support the Taliban against the Afghan state.
According to Khattak, FATA needs serious change in the misguided policies but the area is hostage to Pakistan’s Afghan Policy.
“As long as the country’s security establishment supports Taliban’s war against Afghan state it will continue to use FATA as a launching pad. Put in simple words that means that the decades old war will continue to rage in FATA. This is a situation which can’t be changed without revisiting Pakistan’s bankrupt Afghan policy designed and executed by the security tsars of the country,” the article states.
Raising questions regarding the situation of the FATA in the aftermath of the recent operations and lack of oversight of military operations regarding possible human rights violations, Khattak said “The peaks of Rajgal mountain in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency were reported to have been cleared from terrorists connected with the so called Islamic State.”
“Actually the IS operating in eastern Afghanistan is mostly manned by former TTP fighters who actually belong to FATA and still have widespread connotations with the networks on Pakistani side of the border,” he noted in his article.
According to Khattak, Pakistani mentors of Afghan Taliban are at pains to explain the distinction between TTP and Afghan Taliban. But fact of the matter is that they are two sides of the same coin.
“TTP fighters have always pledged allegiance to every new Amir of the Afghan Taliban and without support from their Afghan comrades they would never have been able to maintain their bases on the Afghan side of the border. It’s simply reciprocal. Afghan Taliban also operate from Pakistani side,” he concluded.http://www.khaama.com/ex-pak-senator-links-fatas-wounds-to-pakistans-support-to-taliban-03888

November 21, 2017   No Comments

FC man injured in cross-border attack: report in Dawn, Nov 21, 2017

LANDI KOTAL: A personnel of Frontier Corps was injured in an attack from across the border in Bazaar-Zakhakhel area of Khyber Agency here on Monday.

Security officials in the region said that some miscreants fired at the security checkposts in Mishtara area in Bazaar-Zakhakhel, bordering Afghanistan.

An FC man identified as Faqir Gul received bullet injuries in the unprovoked attack from across the border. He was immediately taken to the military hospital in Peshawar.

FC men present in the region responded to the fire and forced the suspected militants to run away to their sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

Security at the border checkposts was beefed up and surveillance also enhanced in the areas near the Afghan border to prevent such attacks in future, officials said.https://www.dawn.com/news/1371830/fc-man-injured-in-cross-border-attack

November 21, 2017   No Comments

Trust deficit: edit in Daily Times, November 19th 2017.

The trust deficit continues to impact Pak-US relations. US Central Command (Centcom) Commander General Joseph was in Pakistan on a two-day visit and met senior military officials including COAS Gen Bajwa. However there have been reports that the meeting was anything but constructive; with both sides reportedly blaming each other over failing to stop cross-border terrorism.

The US Embassy stated that General Joseph had reiterated Washington’s stance that urges Pakistan to prevent all militants from operating within and across its borders. Thus, the Americans have yet again demanded that Pakistani officials ‘do more’ against so-called terrorist safe-havens in the country.

It had been hoped that the bilateral relationship would get a boost when President Trump and other officials thanked the Pakistani government and military for safely recovering the Canadian-American couple who had been held hostage in Pakistan’s tribal areas; as a result of effective intelligence sharing. But these sentiments proved short-lived. Pak-US ties are unlikely to improve until there is an alignment of interests between the two countries, at least on the critical issue of terrorism. But this does not seem to be happening anytime soon.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement about ‘putting our own house in order’ — in the wake of Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy — suggested that at least Pakistan’s civilian leadership wants to end the flawed foreign policy trajectory of the past in a bid to avoid international isolation. However, the FM’s statement has not been translated into a meaningful plan to fix the mess at home. The US will not take our claims about fighting terror seriously if the state continues to carry out ‘mainstreaming’ proxies. Indian influence or lobbying alone cannot always ‘justfiy’ American officials’ periodic outbursts.

To begin with, the patronage of extremist groups regardless of their good or bad status should be dealt with. For this is in Pakistan’s own interest. And once we have completely disowned the militants within our ranks — the country will be able to convince the international community about its sincerity in eliminating terror. Having said that, the US should also acknowledge that Pakistan has been taking many steps to combat terror yet it cannot fight all the groups at the same time. Open communication and mutual cooperation are essential to finding a way forward. The blame game, howsoever tempting it might be for mass media consumption, can never be the answer. https://dailytimes.com.pk/142617/trust-deficit/

November 20, 2017   No Comments

TTP sanctuaries: edit in Dawn, November 18th, 2017

MERE acknowledgement, especially belated, of the existence of a problem will not necessarily move both countries in the direction of addressing the issue. But so dire have Pak-Afghan ties been in recent times that small improvements could augur bigger changes. On a visit to the US, Afghanistan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah was asked about the presence of TTP sanctuaries in his country and his response was one of refreshing candour. Admitting the existence of banned TTP elements on Afghan soil, the Afghan CEO blamed it on ungoverned spaces, so-called insecure areas, and not on any policy decision by the National Unity Government. It remains to be seen if the verbal candour on his part leads to actions against the TTP sanctuary problem in Afghanistan, but it does appear that the recent high-level diplomacy and military engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan has helped improve the overall mood in the relationship. In particular, army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s trip to Kabul seems to have helped the two sides positively reassess the relationship and perhaps create the space necessary for meaningful reciprocal actions. As ever, pragmatic engagement has proved to be more beneficial than rancour and threats.

For Pakistan, the challenge remains twofold: addressing the Pak-Afghan cross-border militancy problem on both sides; and helping restart an Afghan dialogue process that was halted by American indifference and Kabul’s hostility. Patience will necessarily be required, but there is no known or foreseeable alternative to a strategy of gradual trust-building and peaceful engagement. Since both sides have legitimate grievances, an atmosphere where each side can express its priorities and seek compromise and a middle ground can help break the impasse. But courage and boldness will also be required. Gen Bajwa’s direct approach and intensive diplomacy appear to be a good complement to the hard-line approach of the administration of US President Donald Trump on Afghanistan. If there is an area in which Pakistan should consider tweaking its approach, it is internally on the civil-military front. The outreach to Afghanistan has been almost wholly handled by the military and the civilian government appears to be merely rubber-stamping the security establishment’s preferences in forums such as the National Security Committee. A lopsided civil-military approach may limit the improvements that can be brought to Pak-Afghan ties, especially in civilian-led areas such as trade and people-to-people contacts.https://www.dawn.com/news/1371163/ttp-sanctuaries

November 20, 2017   No Comments

Attack on border checkpost repulsed: report in Dawn, Nov 20th, 2017

GHALANAI: Unknown miscreants attacked a security checkpost near the Afghan border in Mohmand Agency here on Sunday morning.

The security personnel repulsed the attack on the checkpost in Safi area, some 75 kilometres from the agency headquarters Ghalanai. It was manned by Mohmand Rifles personnel.

An official of local administration told mediapersons that terrorists from Afghanistan side attacked the Pisto Kando checkpost at Sheikh Baba area at 10.50am on Sunday with heavy weapons.

The security forces present at the post effectively responded and repulsed the attack. However, no loss of life was reported.

The firing continued till 11.30am, they said.

It merits a mention here that Mohmand Agency shares long border with Afghanistan and such attacks take place routinely.

Meanwhile, two security personnel were hurt when a checkpost manned by Mohmand Rifles at Garhai area of Safi tehsil collapsed due to recent rains.

According to political administration officials, two security personnel identified as Lance Naik Mohammad Khan and Sepoy Zia Khan received critical injuries. The injured were shifted to a local hospital. https://www.dawn.com/news/1371674/attack-on-border-checkpost-repulsed

November 20, 2017   No Comments

‘Peace committee’ slaps Taliban-style curbs on Wana

Report in Dawn, November 15th, 2017
WANA: A faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana, South Waziristan Agency, under the guise of a peace committee and placed a ban on cultural and social activities and put restrictions on movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

The so-called peace committee has issued tough guidelines through pamphlets in Wana town and warned local people to abide by these rules otherwise violators would face repercussions, according to sources.

The committee has banned music, athan, a traditional dance which is performed in wedding ceremonies or other festive occasions, and use of narcotics.

According to the committee’s guidelines, those activities which promote immorality or violate Islamic teachings would not be permitted on these occasions.

Movement of women outside their homes has been restricted. The pamphlets said that women would not be allowed to visit market and clinic or faith healers without adult male members of their family, including husbands and brothers.

Salahuddin alias Ayubi, a successor of Mullah Muhammad Nazir — an influential Taliban leader — heads the committee.

Mullah Nazir was killed along with his 10 associates in a US drone strike in the Birmil area of South Wazi­ristan Agency in January 2013.

South Waziristan Agency became a hotbed of Talibanisation in 2003 that spilled over to other tribal agencies of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Local leaders of various Taliban factions had established parallel administration in the area.

Nek Muhammad emerged as the leader of these factions. Security forces carried out multiple operations in the area to crush Taliban and establish the writ of the state. Finally Nek Muhammad signed a peace deal with the government in Shakai. He was killed in a missile attack in 2004.

According to the pamphlets, residents are not allowed to stay outside their homes at public places after 10pm. This step would prevent disturbance and noise in the area, it said.

A leaflet issued by the peace committee claimed that elders and Ulema of Karikot, Ghwa Khwa, Sha­heen Warsak, Doog, Dabb Koat, Zari Noor and Sherna had agreed to these steps.

A committee comprising elders and Ulema has been set up to ensure implementation of the ‘code of conduct’ and to identify violators of the guidelines. A local cleric, identified as Ameer Ainullah, has been appointed head of the committee.

The secretary of Fata’s law and order, Hassan Mehmood Yousafzai, when approached in Peshawar, expressed ignorance about the activities of the peace committee in Wana. “I do not have such reports. The political agent is in a better position to talk about the matter,” he said.

Political Agent Zafar Islam and other officials of the administration were not available to comment on the matter.

Fresh displacement

Meanwhile, the Fata Disaster Management Authority has confirmed fresh displacement of civilians from Shaktoi area of South Waziristan Agency.

The displacement took place when the authorities are planning to send all internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their homes in Fata. Around 17,000 displaced families mostly belonging to North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Khyber agencies are waiting for their return.

An official of the authority told Dawn in Peshawar that 208 families had been displaced from Shaktoi area that belonged to Mehsud tribe. He said that these families were evacuated when security forces launched operation in the area adjacent to North Waziristan Agency.

The official said that displaced families had been settled at Bakakhel Camp in Frontier Region Bannu where all basic facilities, including cooked food were being provided. The army has been managing the camp which was established for IDPs of North Waziristan Agency after the launching of Zarb-i-Azb military operation in June, 2014.

“Newly displaced families would be returned to their homes very soon,” said the official, but declined to give a specific date for their return.https://www.dawn.com/news/1370585/peace-committee-slaps-taliban-style-curbs-on-wana

November 15, 2017   No Comments

Da’ish claims responsibility for killing Pakistani diplomatic staffer in Jalalabad

PESHAWAR: The local franchise of an ultra-violent Middle Eastern terrorist group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the killing of a Pakistani diplomatic corps member in eastern Afghanistan.

The Khorasan chapter of the Islamic State (IS), also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish, claimed credit for the murder of Rana Nayyar Iqbal in an Arabic-language message released on its website, Aimaq.

Iqbal, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad, was shot multiple times outside his residence on Monday evening.

He died before he could be transported to hospital.

Earlier today, his body was handed over to Pakistani security officials at the Torkham border crossing from where it was taken to Islamabad for final rites.

In July, two officials of the Pakistani Consulate General in Jalalabad went missing while returning to their home country by road. They were later rescued.

Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, is a busy trading hub about 70 kilometres from the main border crossing with Pakistan, from which landlocked Afghanistan imports much of its goods.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1552458/3-daish-claims-responsibility-killing-pakistani-diplomatic-staffer-jalalabad/

November 8, 2017   No Comments

ISIS graffiti appears on wall in Rawalpindi

by Israr Ahmad in The Nation, Nov 3, 2017
RAWALPINDI – Graffiti supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), commonly known as Daesh, appeared on the wall of a building on Mall Road, sources and police told The Nation on Thursday.

According to the sources, vandals had scrawled the word ISIS on the building of State Bank of Pakistan before it was removed by the police. A heavy contingent of the police, the Counter Terrorism Department, and other intelligence agencies rushed to the scene and removed the wall-chalking, the sources said. The law enforcement agencies have started an investigation into the incident to track down the mischievous elements, the sources said.

Potohar Division Superintendent of Police Syed Ali said that the piece of the graffiti was spotted daubed on the wall of a building. He said that an investigation was underway and a case would be registered against unknown offenders. He said police were clueless to ascertain as who carried out the graffiti in the sensitive area.

On September 24, a Daesh flag was also spotted hanging on a bridge on Islamabad Expressway. The ISIS flag was removed immediately after a citizen alerted the police.

The graffiti supporting the ISIS was also seen on the wall of a house adjacent to a mosque in Wah Cantonment on February 10 earlier this year.

November 3, 2017   No Comments