Daily Archives: December 5, 2017

Joint US-Afghan Operation Kills Top al-Qaida, Taliban Leaders

ISLAMABAD Afghanistan’s security forces, in joint counterterrorism raids with U.S. partners, this week have killed several high-profile leaders of al-Qaida, along with 80 other members of the terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency,

The Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), announced details of the operations Tuesday, saying Omar bin Khetab, also known as Omar Mansoor, was among the dead.

Khetab was the second-in-command of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent.He also was the most senior member of al-Qaida to have been killed in the country since 2001 when a U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban from power in Kabul for sheltering the leadership of the international terrorist group.

The joint security operations focused on the provinces of Ghazni, Zabul and Paktia, bordering Pakistan.They also destroyed five al-Qaida bases and arrested 27 militants, the NDS said.The agency did not give further details about the nationalities of Khetab and other high-profile slain commanders.

In a separate statement, the U.S. military confirmed the death of Khetab in operations it said were conducted on Monday.

The Taliban has rejected the claims as baseless, saying the Islamist insurgency has no links with any foreign organization.In a statement sent to media, the group’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, also denied any Afghan-U.S. operations this week in the three provinces.

The U.S. military in its statement also confirmed the killing of a top Taliban commander in a separate kinetic strike conducted in southern Helmand province. The Afghan spy agency announced earlier this week the death in a security operation of Mullah Shah Wali, also known as Haji Nasir, who commanded the so-called “Red Unit” elite force of the Taliban in the largest Afghan province.

Nasir and his “Red Unit” are responsible for planning numerous suicide bombings, IED attacks and coordinated assaults against civilians, Afghan and coalition forces,” stated the U.S. military.

The commander of U.S. troops and NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, praised the operations as a “testament to the real growth” Afghan forces have achieved over the past year.

“It is also another example of the lethality of the undefeated Afghan Special Forces and the success of working side by side with our Afghan partners.”

Borhan Osman, a senior analyst at International Crisis Group for Afghanistan, described Nasir’s death as a major loss for the Taliban insurgency. Osman wrote on his official Twitter account that the slain insurgent commander led decisive Taliban battles in northern Helmand and fought militants of the Afghan branch of rival Islamic State.

Tactical collaboration

Last week, General Nicholson spoke in detail about the presence ofal-Qaida remnants and its affiliates and their ongoing collaboration with the Taliban.

Even though the Taliban would not publicly acknowledge ties with al-Qaida, there is still a close relationship at the “tactical level” between the two, the general noted.

“They [al-Qaida] tend to provide some of the expertise, the training on specialized weapons or IEDs or bomb making. It is al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent fighters who are the ones who are training a lot of local Taliban, and in return for this, the Taliban affords them sanctuary,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson also said U.S. forces continue to hunt al-Qaida fighters and strike them wherever they find them, primarily in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

“And when you find them, they are existing within a friendly environment created by the Taliban,” Nicholson said.

U.S. forces two years ago located and destroyed a major al-Qaida camp in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, killing a large number of militants.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan 16 years ago to bring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his associates to justice, accusing them of masterminding the terrorist attacks on U.S. cities on September 11, 2001.

The U.S. military has since killed a large number of commanders and fighters of the group in Afghanistan. Bin Laden was located and killed by U.S. special forces in 2011 in a covert raid against his hideout in neighboring Pakistan.

Source: Voice of America

Protected but Stifled, a Pakistani Minority Feels Imprisoned in its Own Community

QUETTA, PAKISTAN Ali Haris dreamed of getting a college degree and a well-paid job. Instead, he had to quit his education after high school. Going to Balochistan University, the only public university in the area that he could afford, would require him to travel through areas unsafe for him, putting his life at risk.

At that time, around 2013-14, there was no chance that if we went there we would come back alive, he said. He wasn’t alone in giving up the prospects of a comfortable future.

Out of my class in school, almost 70-80 percent quit higher education, he added. Some who could afford it migrated to other cities or other countries. The ones left behind were doing odd jobs in the area.

The 21-year-old belonged to the Hazara community, a minority Shiite sect that primarily resides in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. For years, Sunni militant groups in Pakistan have targeted Shiites across the country for their faith, but the Hazaras seem to have an extra-large target blazed on their backs, and for good reason.

While it is usually hard to physically distinguish between Shiites and Sunnis, the Hazaras are an exception. Their distinctive facial features, a mixture of Mongolian and Central Asian ancestry, make them easily identifiable. In addition, many of them live in two large clusters in Quetta, the capital city of Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, making attacks easier to plan.

Over the last 10 or so years, hundreds have been killed in suicide bombings or targeted attacks. Stories of near death experiences are aplenty.

We were saved just because the car took a turn. If we were a few seconds late, we would be gone, said Daud Changezi, describing the day when a massive blast ripped through Quetta’s Alamdar road, killing more than 90 people. In the car with Changezi were his wife and four kids.

He now works from home, consulting for various NGOs, but feels his professional growth has stagnated.

The favorite part of my job was field work. Now I can’t go out, he said, although he still feels he is one of the luckier ones�at least he has a job. Many of his friends were less fortunate.

My friend Abdul had a mobile phone shop in the main bazaar, but he closed his business and left the country. He is now in Indonesia, in a transit center for refugees, Changezi said.

Protection for Hazaras

After several particularly heinous attacks in 2013, the government started providing Hazaras extra protection. A paramilitary force called the Frontier Corps set up check posts at main entrances to Hazara areas. Anyone going inside is now stopped, their identity documents checked. Peripheral entrances are blocked by thick walls.

While these measures have helped stem attacks on Hazaras, they have also stifled the community’s social and economic life. The designated safe areas for Hazaras mean the rest of the city is inherently unsafe for them.

We’ve been economically strangled. We had a lot of shops around town. Now there are none. We had a successful transport business across town. Now we are limited to our own areas, said Ahmed Ali Kohzad, a politician and a member of the Hazara Democratic Party.

Many have left their jobs because they feel unsafe traveling to work. Haris recalled how one of his friends was called for a job interview. It could be a lucrative career in a government office. But he was the only son and the family decided against sending him.

Others, like a local journalist Qadir Nayel, complained of social isolation.

While the city is multi-cultural, our kids are learning only one culture and one language. They are not getting ready for the world, he said.

The government says it has taken remedial steps and the situation has significantly improved as a result.

Since the beginning of the violence, several thousand Hazaras from Pakistan have tried to migrate to other countries, sometimes illegally. Several thousands of them are languishing, along with Hazaras from Afghanistan and Iran, in transit camps in Indonesia, waiting, sometimes for years, for the UNHCR to help them settle in another country. Meanwhile, since Indonesia does not recognize refugees, they cannot enroll in a school, work, or travel.

Meanwhile back in Pakistan, the young Hazara men who once hoped to support families are now struggling to support themselves.

Right now I am working here as a laborer, Haris said. The dreams I had, the prospects of income I imagined, they’re all gone.

Source: Voice of America

Peace prerequisite for development: Hafeez

Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman says peace is prerequisite for development and the government is utilizing all available resources for lasting peace in the area.

This he said while addressing a seminar held under title of role of media in peace and countering violence and extremism.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Afghan land being used in creating law & order problem in Pakistan

Home Minister Balochistan Mir Sarfraz Bugti has said that the land of Afghanistan is being used in creating law and order problem in Pakistan.

Addressing a news conference in Quetta on Tuesday, he said that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies are involved in recent terrorists attacks on police in Quetta.

He said that provincial government and law enforcement agencies have killed many terrorists and their facilitators involved in the terrorist attacks in Balochistan.

He asked people of Balochistan to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in arresting elements involved in terrorist attacks. The Home Minister paid rich tribute to martyrs who sacrificed their lives during performing their duties.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Jhagra lauds Pakistan Scouts’ services

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra says Pakistan Scouts have always rendered innumerable services in natural calamities and proved its worth in every hour of need in the country.

Presiding over a meeting of the Boy Scouts Council in Peshawar on Tuesday, he said the Scouts prepare youth to become best citizens and perform a leading role in the future of the nation.

Iqbal Zafar Jhagra appreciated the role of Boy Scouts Association for wellbeing of the humanity.

He stressed that concrete steps would be taken to overcome the shortage of Scouts budget. The meeting approved budget of the council for the fiscal year 2017-18.

Source: Radio Pakistan