Taliban Are Rising Again in Afghanistan’s North

Afghan security officials inspected the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kunduz last month. Credit Jawed Karger/European Pressphoto Agency

CHAHAR DARA, Afghanistan — The last time Afghans in the northern province of Kunduz felt so threatened by the Taliban was in 2009, just before President Obama deployed thousands of troops to push the insurgents back from the outskirts of the province’s capital.

Now the Taliban are back, but the cavalry will not be coming.

With just two months left before the formal end of the 13-year international combat mission, Western officials insist that the Afghan security forces have managed to contain the Taliban’s offensives on their own. But the insurgents’ alarming gains in Kunduz in recent weeks present a different picture. Continue reading

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A Review of Abubakar Siddique’s The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 12
June 13, 2014 03:24 PM Age: 7 days By: Brian Glyn Williams

For decades, works on the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan were limited to an aging generation of Western academicians tucked away in ivory towers. These scholars carried out their field research in the region prior to the 1979 Soviet invasion. Few of this generation of deskbound researchers took the time to learn an Afghan language, nor did they bother to renew their links to Afghanistan due to the perceived risks of traveling to this country.

Against this tradition stands The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan by Abubakar Siddique. Siddique is a Pashtun who grew up in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands speaking Pashto and personally experiencing the conflicts that convulsed his homeland from the 1980s through to today’s wars against the Taliban. As a Westernized Pashtun journalist who has worked for Radio Free Europe, Siddique is uniquely positioned to straddle the tribal world he grew up in and the modern Western world. The fact that he is able to critically analyze his own society using the skilled prose of a journalist (as opposed to the impenetrable “academese” of a scholar) makes his volume all the more useful. In fact the Pashtun Question is probably the most important work on the Pashtuns since Sir Olaf Caroe’s classic 1958 field study on the subject, The Pathans. Continue reading

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW Weekly Assessments & Briefings Volume 12, No. 38, March 24, 2014

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
ASSESSMENT
AFGHANISTAN

Critical Cusp
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

With less than a fortnight to go for the all important Presidential Elections scheduled to be held on April 5, 2014, a wave of terror strikes has enveloped the length and breadth of Afghanistan. In the most recent of major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) at least nine persons, including four foreigners and five Afghans (including two children and two women), were shot dead by Taliban terrorists inside the luxurious Serena Hotel complex in national capital Kabul, in the night of March 20, 2014. The attackers managed to smuggle pistols past security checkpoints and then hid in a bathroom, eventually springing out and opening fire on guests and hotel guards. All the four terrorists were killed in the subsequent operation by the Security Forces (SFs). The attack took place despite recent security reports rating Serena Hotel, guarded round the clock by dozens of security guards armed with assault weapons, among the highest-risk locales in the city. The hotel is frequented by foreign officials and the Afghan elite. Continue reading

Why the Haqqani network continues to escape US terror tag

Last updated on: October 31, 2011 13:45 IST

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The US is keeping the doors open for negotiations with the terror group as the Afghan endgame plays out, says Amir Mir reporting from Islamabad.

Despite being blamed for the September 13, 2011, attack on the American embassy in Kabul, the deadly Haqqani network is most likely to remain branded by the United States as an insurgent group rather than being officially designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ mainly because Washington simply cannot afford to exclude from peace talks a powerful Afghan militant group which has a key role in determining the shape of the Afghanistan that American troops will leave behind.

During her recent visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton changed the sharp edge of the much-touted US policy for a more conciliatory stance towards Pakistan’s aggressive response to demands that it attack North Waziristan and oust the Haqqani network from there.

Instead, she proposed that Pakistan facilitate American peace talks with the two kinds of Taliban (Pakistani and Afghan) and the Haqqani network, saying America had no evidence that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was hand-in-glove with the Haqqanis or that the ISI had encouraged them to attack US-Nato targets in Afghanistan.

Well-informed diplomatic circles in Islamabad say this is a significant change of attitude and Clinton’s powerful delegation stood guarantee to it: Central Intelligence Agency Director General David Petraeus, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor Lieutanant General Edward Lute who oversaw the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

A terrorist tag would make it impossible to hold talks with the Haqqanis

Last updated on: October 31, 2011 13:45 IST

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In a rather bitter-sweet message, Hillary Clinton asked Islamabad to start dismantling militant safe havens along the Afghan border within days and weeks, but said the United States respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and would not undertake any unilateral action against terrorists on its soil.

Continue reading

Two Visions Of Talking To The Taliban

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Taliban militants lay down their arms in the Baghlan Province in May

June 03, 2011 By RFE/RL

There are few things more divisive in Afghanistan today than the question of talking to the Taliban.
The issue has become a national hot-button since President Hamid Karzai created a High Peace Council in September to reach out to the Taliban and bring them into negotiations.
And it has only grown more controversial as Western powers, too, appear to increasingly back the effort.
A revelation in November 2010 that both Afghan and NATO officials were duped by an imposter into thinking they were talking with a high-level Taliban leader was not just taken locally as a measure of the allies’ gullibility. It was also seen as a measure of the intensity of their negotiations drive. The imposter turned out to be a Pakistani shopkeeper according to some news reports, a Pakistani spy according to others.

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IMU Announces Longtime Leader Dead, Names Successor

 

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Tahir Yuldash, leader of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), reportedly died a year ago.

August 17, 2010

By Bruce Pannier

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) says its charismatic leader, Tahir Yuldash, is dead.
The IMU announced on its website, furqon.com, that Yuldash was slain exactly one year ago, according to the Islamic calendar (on the sixth day of Ramadan 1430) or on August 27, 2009, by the Western calendar.
He is believed to have been killed in a predator drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal area near the Afghan border. The website said Yuldash died along with several of his supporters and published what it said were photographs of him both alive and dead.

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Afraid of the Dark in Afghanistan

Anand Gopal: An Inside Look at the Counter-Terror War


U.S. soldiers at an outpost in Afghanistan (CBS)

One quiet, wintry night last year in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a young government employee named Ismatullah simply vanished.  He had last been seen in the town’s bazaar with a group of friends. Family members scoured Khost’s dust-doused streets for days. Village elders contacted Taliban commanders in the area who were wont to kidnap government workers, but they had never heard of the young man. Even the governor got involved, ordering his police to round up nettlesome criminal gangs that sometimes preyed on young bazaar-goers for ransom.

But the hunt turned up nothing. Spring and summer came and went with no sign of Ismatullah. Then one day, long after the police and village elders had abandoned their search, a courier delivered a neat, handwritten note on Red Cross stationary to the family.  In it, Ismatullah informed them that he was in Bagram, an American prison more than 200 miles away. U.S. forces had picked him up while he was on his way home from the bazaar, the terse letter stated, and he didn’t know when he would be freed. Continue reading