Having been caught flatfooted by the international community as a supporter of international terrorism, the Pakistan army and its collaborators have changed their tactics and terrorist training areas have been dispersed to many parts of the globe, although Pakistan army and ISI still remain their mentors and supporters. The blame is generally passed on to al-Qaeda, which though now much diminished in stature is still a name to throw counter-terrorist forces off the course. Led by strife-torn states of Iraq and Yemen many African countries are now emerging as new powerful bases for fundamentalist organisations. It is indeed now become a clash of ideologies that is not going to fade away easily.
“¦intrusions by American or NATO forces have led to escalation of tension between Pakistan and America.
A man from Stockholm, who spent some time in West Asia, was found to be responsible for the multiple blasts in central Stockholm in December 2010 that also killed him; this brought the danger right in the open. Ten minutes before the first explosion, Swedish news agency TT received an e-mail from an individual, addressed to the Swedish Security Service (SAPO), which warned of the impending attacks. In this e-mail, the suicide bomber claimed he was carrying out an act of jihad. The e-mail called on other jihadists in Sweden and Europe to come forward to attack the infidels to take revenge for Sweden’s role in the war in Afghanistan and Sweden’s silence over the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed published by Swedish artist Lars Vilks.3 The lenient asylum laws and relatively open immigration policies of Sweden, in comparison with other European states, makes Sweden an easier target but the other European countries under imminent jihadi threats are UK, Italy Germany and France. Various recent Jihadi attacks make it quite evident that the threats issued by them from time to time are no empty threats. This attack in Sweden was perhaps one of the few attacks where no one groomed and trained on Pakistan soil was found involved, showing the establishment of a new base area of jihadi groups nearer Europe.
US Special Operations in Pakistan-Afghanistan
An expanded campaign of US Special Operations ground operations across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas seems to be imminent; though a risky venture it seems unavoidable due to the growing disappointment with Pakistan’s efforts to confront militants in their north-western tribal belt. The plan if implemented would escalate military activities of NATO inside Pakistan and provoke a backlash damaging U.S.–Pakistan relations. The proposal has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders seem to be making fervent attempts to push it through as the date for the planned American withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches near. Despite the risks, many American military commanders feel that Special Operations are unavoidable under the circumstances. Announcing the results of a review of the strategy in Afghanistan, some US officials said they were considering expanded American operations to deal with threats inside Pakistan, without giving specifics details of the area of operations.
“In interviews in Washington and Kabul, American officials said that officers were drawing up plans to begin ground operations to capture or kill leaders from the Taliban and the Haqqani network. American officers say they are particularly eager to capture, as opposed to kill, militant leaders, who they say can offer intelligence to guide future operations.”4
Since September last, U.S. spy agencies have carried out more than 50 drone attacks in North Waziristan, compared with only 60 strikes in the preceding eight months. It has been reported that a militia called the Paktika Defense Force crossed the border into Pakistan and carried out a variety of covert activities in many parts of the country. In a raid, the Paktika militia attacked and destroyed a Taliban ammunition depot and returned to base, in most CIA-backed raids targeted compounds were, however, only a few miles inside Pakistani territory.
American commandos had carried out a raid in Pakistans tribal areas and killed several insurgents, there was outrage among Pakistans leaders and warnings were given to the American army not to try and enter Pakistan again.
The Paktika Defense Force is one of the six CIA-trained Afghan militias that serve as a special operations force against insurgents in Afghanistan; it is reported that this militia, based near Khost, was recently deployed in the mountains along the Pakistan border and where it spent the winter trying to intercept the Taliban movement. It is believed so far this force has proved effective.5
In the past, intrusions by American or NATO forces have led to escalation of tension between Pakistan and America. For example, when an American military helicopter killed a group of Pakistani soldiers during a flight over the border in pursuit of militants, it created a furore in Pakistan and for sometime Pakistan closed down American military supply routes across Pakistan–Afghan borders. Several trucks carrying fuel for U.S. forces were also set on fire at the border by unknown insurgents. The reaction only stopped once the American officials publicly apologised.
Earlier in September 2008, when American commandos had carried out a raid in Pakistan’s tribal areas and killed several insurgents, there was outrage among Pakistan’s leaders and warnings were given to the American army not to try and enter Pakistan again.6
Notes and References
- Pushpita Das. “Need to secure the Lakshadweep Islands.” , <http://idsa.in/idsacomments/NeedtosecuretheLakshadweepIslands_pdas_131210>. 13 December 2010.
- Stratfor. “Suicide Attack in Stockholm and Grassroots Jihad.” 11 December 2010. <http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20101211-suicide-bomber-sent-warning-prior-stockholm-blast-0>.
- Mark Mazzetti reporting from Washington; Dexter Filkins from Kabul, Afghanistan; and Eric Schmitt reporting from Washington. “U_S_ Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan.” 20 December 2010. New York Times. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/world/asia/21intel.html>.