Is MQM working in cahoots with Lyari Gang?

My cousin calls me. I don’t recognize his number on the cellphone so I ask him why has he changed his number. He says he is receiving extortion threats. He runs a School in Federal B Area (an MQM strong hold). He tells me that all other private schools in the area have received a similar threat. I ask him is it MQM? He said MQM are nicer people, they have minimum monthly donation of 20k per month and that is it. So I asked if it is notorious Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP)? He says, “No! it’s Lyari gang.”

Now my cousin lives in a neighborhood that is self contained in terms of his needs i.e. all his near and dear ones live in the same locality and kids study in same school so it’s not like that he is afraid that he or his family will be targeted when he travels out of that MQM stronghold because he rarely has any need to. And a threat is not useful unless TTP can enforce it at short notice.

Now if you have lived in MQM area, you know that MQM has local on the ground intelligence i.e., guy smoking cigarette at the street barricade all day long, Sabzi wala, corner shop wala, hardcore MQM supporters that is your neighbor etc. To send threat and then to enforce it in MQM area, Lyari people need local intelligence to not only to gather info but most importantly to enforce their threat. It is hard to fathom how they would have been able to gather this information without being noticed by local MQM intel.

Anyway my cousin and other private school owners in the area go to meet IG Sind Shahid Hayat but according to him Hayat wasn’t willing to listen and with non-Urdu speaking people around him as officers and advisors kept on saying that it’s the Urdu speaking people who are to be blamed. Where can one go to seek redress if the police keeps on blaming the victim? So my cousin is shifting rather opening a new school in Lahore and starting there from April session.

I live in Korangi_another MQM stronghold. Shopkeepers in our area get MQM “donation” slips every month depending on the size of the business from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000. Last month, the meat shop walah refused pony up Rs 5,000 when every one around him did. Following week he, and him alone among 100s of shops, receives an extortion demand from Lyari Gang and he pays up Rs100,000 to get them off his back.

This is all anecdotal. With all the caveats that go along with such statements, my conclusion is bloody MoFos MQM is either in cahoots with Lyari Gang or they pretend to be Lyari Gang when it suits them. Bastards pretend to be the last stand against Lyari gang and Taliban but are not above working with them or pretending to be them when it suits them.

Nothing surprising here because our chowkidaars (the army, police) have already been stealing from the till but it hurts slightly more when your ethnic brother saviors also engage in similar tactics.

 

Polio leads to infertelity: a myth

Every few weeks, we come across articles in the newspaper that locals or the tribal elders not allowing polio vaccination in their area because people think it will render their kids infertile. Then there are efforts from government side to educate the people that it is just a myth but the myth isn’t getting destroyed. From Guardian

Now religious scholars have joined the campaign to dismantle the myths and battle the resurgence of polio. A campaign led by National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) in partnership with Unicef has brought together more than 5,000 of them, working on provincial and district levels, to tackle the issue. The group comprises of scholars belonging to the Deobandi sect, a school of thought followed by the majority of population in the tribal belt.

In Fata, clerics helped resolve 8,120 vaccine refusal cases during a week-long campaign in March this year. Another 160 religious scholars from Swat have issued a Fatwa in favour of the vaccinations. A campaign, starting this month, will be led by Shia scholars as it expands to the Parachinar valley, where the majority of the population are Shia Muslims.

Now if “polio drops leads to infertility” was a Taliban ploy, then we would not need to convince Shias as they are arch enemies of Taliban and would not have bought Taliban ploy hook, line and sinker. It doesn’t help the case that CIA used fake polio campaign to hunt for Osama Bin Laden leading to some polio administering NGOs to fly their staff outside Pakistan immediately as they would’ve been threatened.

But resistance to polio has been in the region even before Taliban took over. Where did the myth that it leads to infertility arrive. I came across this passage in the book Poor Economics talking about similar resistance to polio drops in India which gives some background:

India had had a long history with family planning, starting in the mid-1960s. In 1971, the state of Kerala experimented with mobile sterilization services, the “sterilization camps” approach that was to be the cornerstone of Sanjay Gandhi’s plan during the Emergency. Although most politicians before him had identified population control as an important issue, Sanjay Gandhi brought to the problem both an unprecedented level of enthusiasm and the ability (and willingness) to twist as many arms as necessary to implement his chosen policies.

In April 1976, the Indian Cabinet approved a formal statement of national population policy that called for a number of measures to encourage family planning, notably, large financial incentives for those who agreed to be sterilized (such as a month’s wages or priority on a housing list), and more frighteningly, authorization for each state to develop compulsory sterilization laws (for, say, everyone with more than two children). Although only one state proposed such a law (and that law was never approved), states were explicitly pressured to set sterilization quotas and fulfill them, and all but three states “voluntarily” chose targets greater than what was proposed by the central government: The targets totaled 8.6 million sterilizations “for 1976–1977.

Once laid out, the quotas were not taken lightly. The chief of the Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy wrote by telegraph to his principal field subordinates: “Inform everybody that failure to achieve monthly targets will not only result in the stoppage of salaries but also suspension and severest penalties. Galvanise entire administrative machinery forthwith repeat forthwith and continue to report daily progress by crash wireless to me and secretary to Chief Minister.” Every government employee, down to the village level, and not excluding railway inspectors and school teachers, was supposed to know the local target. Parents of schoolchildren were visited by teachers, who told them that in the future, their children may be denied enrollment in school if they did not agree to get sterilized. People traveling by train without a ticket—a widely accepted practice among the poor until then—were handed heavy fines unless they chose sterilization. Not surprisingly, the pressure occasionally went much further. In Uttawar, a Muslim village near the capital city of Delhi, all male villagers were rounded up one night by the police, sent to the police stations on bogus charges, and sent from there to be sterilized.

The policy appears to have achieved its immediate target, although the incentives probably also led to some overreporting in the number of actual sterilizations. In 1976–1977, 8.25 million people were reportedly sterilized, 6.5 million of them during just the period July–December 1976. By the end of 1976, 21 percent of Indian couples were sterilized. But the violations of civil liberties that were an integral part of the implementation of the program were widely resented, and when in 1977, India finally held elections, discussions of the sterilization policy were a key part of the debate, as captured most memorably by the slogan “Indira hatao, indiri bachao (Get rid of Indira and save your penis).” It is widely believed that Indira Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 elections was in part driven by popular hatred for this program. The new government immediately reversed the policy.

In one of those ironic twists in which historians delight, it is not inconceivable that in the longer term, Sanjay Gandhi actually contributed to the faster growth of India’s population. Tainted by the emergency, family-planning policies in India retreated into the shadows and in the shadows they have remained—some states, such as Rajasthan, do continue to promote sterilization on a voluntary basis, but no one except the health bureaucracy seems to have any interest in it. In the meantime, however, generalized suspicion of the motivations of the state seems to be one of the most durable residues of the Emergency; for example, one still routinely hears of people in slums and villages refusing pulse polio drops because they believe it is a way to secretly sterilize children.

 

The complicity of security agencies in terrorism in Pakistan

This subject is very close to my heart. After Osama Bin Laden’s hideout was successfully raided in Abbotabad, questions were raised whether Pakistan (meaning Pakistan Army and its agencies) is “complicit or incompetent” that it was not able to find Osama Bin Laden who was hiding right under their nose.

Deutsch: Soldat der Special Forces beim Abseil...

The media was swayed towards incompetence, however, I personally believe Pakistan Army has been complicit, if not at top brass level than at least under the various wings and departments it espouses of its intelligence agencies. This will continue to hold as long as Pakistan (read Pakistan Army) maintains the fiction of Good Taliban, Bad Taliban.

Below are few excerpts from news articles. I don’t know about others but they confirm to me that security apparatus of Pakistan is hand in gloves with these terrorists.

Usman Kurd, the man who caused fall of Raisani govt

The sectarian attacks in Quetta had virtually been stopped following the arrest of Kurd and Badini. But quite unfortunately, both the LeJ men managed to escape under mysterious circumstances on January 18, 2008 after breaking the jail located in the high-security zone of Quetta Cantonment where no one can go without a pass.

The sectarian attacks in Quetta had virtually been stopped following the arrest of Kurd and Badini

This is not some small civilian jail. This is a high security prison in the garrison town of Quetta located in its high security military cantonment area. I believe no one was tried or court martialed for this escape.

From the same news item

Kurd and Badini were not the only LeJ leaders to have escaped from custody. Two other undertrial LeJ hit men, including a key suspect in a 2005 high-profile murder of Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, hoodwinked jail officials and made good their escape on December 13, 2012, even though they were kept in separate barracks of Cheeta sub-jail in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Intriguingly, Shakirullah Jan and Arifuddin had escaped after intoxicating the security personnel on duty despite the fact that 50 staffers of the Frontier Corps (FC) and police were guarding the prison.

Hazara continue to die in Quetta. Those who can manage it, try to run out of Pakistan as refugees or asylum seekers which itself is a precarious route. According to one such Hazara trying to make his way to Australia “I’d rather die in the boat than in a bomb blast,”

Yet the state continues to leave Hazara to fend for themselves.

Quetta has witnessed a recent surge in incidents of violence, with sectarian militants repeatedly targeting the Hazara Shia community in several bombings and gun-attacks.

On Monday, two youths belonging to the minority community were gunned down in an apparent targeted killing on Shahrah-i-Iqbal.

On July 15, four men belonging to the community were killed when gunmen sprayed bullets on their vehicle on Masjid road area.

On June 30, a deadly suicide bombing at an Imambargah killed 30 members of the minority community. The banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility for the blast, one of a series of bombings this year by the extremist sectarian outfit targeting the Hazaras.

The city also saw the country’s two bloodiest attacks so far this year.

A giant bomb planted in a water tanker being towed by a tractor killed 90 Shia Hazaras in February, while another suicide bombing at a snooker club in January killed 92 others.

The above stats are excerpted from the following news item:

Hazara Town residents shoot down suspected suicide bomber

QUETTA: An alleged suicide bomber was killed by residents of Hazara Town in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan on Saturday.

Capital City Police Officer Quetta, Mir Zubair Mehmood told Dawn.com that a suspected suicide bomber traveling on foot was killed by residents of Hazara Town shortly before Iftar.

He said residents tried to stop the suspected bomber from approaching a mosque they were guarding but he refused to do so. “Residents then fired and killed him on the spot,” he said.

Mehmood said a suicide jacket and a hand grenade were recovered from his possession. “A major terrorist attack was averted,” he claimed.

Another police official, DIG Operations Fayyaz Sumbal, said the bomber, who had strapped explosives around his body, could not explode himself because of timely action by the volunteers.

A large number police and paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached the spot and started investigation into the incident.

Despite the fact that Hazara have been killed in large numbers this year, no intel is being gathered on attacks on them neither any security has been provided to them. As you can read, there was no military or police check post. It was volunteers themselves manning these places.

Makes you wonder what the large number of police and FC that reached the spot after the incident normally do if not provide security to residents.

Recently, there was attack on ISI headquarter in Sukkur. Regardless of the question that what is ISI office doing in Sukkur when its mandate is to guard against external threats, below is an analysis of how their internal conflicting objectives are leading to this situation:

Caught in no-man’s land

Many defenders of the ISI have attacked its critics and say that the agency is solely responsible for protecting the country from those that seek to harm it be they ‘foreign powers’ or Al Qaeda or most notably the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

They credit the agency with almost all terrorist ‘kills or captures’ and point out the example of one Karachi police unit that has had major ‘successes’ against the TTP but in effect only owns up to ISI arrests of militants and does the legal/court work so the agency remains behind the scenes.

The idea here isn’t to comment on, condemn or condone the agency’s political role but to assess if the country’s premier security agency, which has also lost physical assets and personnel, in the war against terrorism is now geared up for the challenge.

When you ask knowledgeable professionals their response is mixed. This simply reflects the confusion at the policymaking level. Sources familiar with the workings of the agency suggest that its counterterrorism wing is clued in and knowledgeable.

However, the pulls and pushes of the agency department entrusted with ‘running’ the Afghan operation often tend to work at cross-purposes with the wing. The sad bit is that the elected political leadership has so far either been incapable of taking charge or hasn’t been allowed to.

And the military leadership finds itself in a sort of ‘no-man’s land’ between the defence doctrines of Ziaul Haq’s (suicidal) international jihad and Musharraf’s (hypocritical and equally ineffective) enlightened moderation calling for duplicitous support to the West.

“Till these contradictions are resolved. Rest assured all of us are condemned to live with uncertainty, murder and mayhem casting an ominous shadow over our future,” says one former military officer.

Now we come to Karachi which has largest intelligence apparatus both in numbers of agencies as well as numbers of officers assigned. Yet killings and lawlessness in Karachi continues unabated.

June was Karachi’s deadliest month with 313 killings: HRCP

There was no respite from killings in the city during the first six months of the year 2013, as 1,728 casualties were reported in different incidents, according to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report released on Monday.

Based on data from the past six months, the HRCP report declares June as the deadliest month of the year so far with 313 people killed. The highest number of political killings, which is 50, also took place in this month.

There has been an alarming increase in the crime rate as compared to the six-monthly figures of 2012, when over 1,200 people died. In 2011, the count was even lesser with 1,110 such tragedies.

Makes you wonder what is the whole security apparatus in Karachi doing. Below is based on a chat with my friend. You may or may not like to believe it but I know him to be pretty reliable and honest.

Just had the privilege of meeting ISI, MI, Chaudary Aslam, Brigade 303 and 306 officials in the recent past and was shocked at how easily these guys state kay itnay maray gay (how many people were killed), itnay maar diya jaaye gay (this many will be killed). No value of human lives in their views at the moment. These and other agencies using People’s Amn Committee (PAC), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM goons (through black mailing). You have no idea kay yeh salay kitno ko paal rahay hay (that bastards have how many goons on their command) just to get the goals achieved of the higher ups and foreign elements as well.

Its mostly about real estate but there are other objectives as well. They use scare tactics, which includes murders, which was the only way to get people leave the old city area. it is working for them at our expense. Ashura planted blast plus burning down the buildings (here and here) in aftermath wasn’t enough to drive the traders away. They rebuilt the buildings.

Shershah traders were not emptying their places and not moving to Northern Bypass (Traders demand justice for Shershah victims) so were people from Juna Market, Kaghazi bazaar and Ranchore line. Already Textile Plaza, Kharadar market traders have left and settled in DHA Phase 2 commercial area, and Sharae Faisal. Properties prices in these areas have crashed and now being bought at throwaway prices by PAC who will eventually sell to builders or government of bypasses or road. If only the traders had agreed to move to Northern Bypass during Mustafa Kamal’s time (which is easier said than done), we wouldnt have seen whats going on nowadays. Lyari Expressway remains incomplete in MQM areas of Lyari ie where Kutchi Memons live and are being killed nowadays.

A friend of mine, his younger brother in a dare from his friends, was involved in some crime. He was picked from home at 3 am by Chaudry Aslam’s guys, beaten all night hung upside down. His brother and I didn’t know he was involved. We got him released using our influence through CID but when we went to release him, he had confessed in front of Chaudry Aslam of all his crimes. One of Chaudry Aslam’s man said that he will now be always used by agencies and he would comply to avoid arrest and being beaten up by the cops so the best is to move him away from Karachi. My friend could afford so he did but many can’t and are being used by the agencies when needed to create chaos etc its business in Pakistan.

Obviously the security officials were drunk and might have exaggerated but I believe there is an element of truth in it. A rich resource on dynamics of Karachi’s Urban violence can be found at the bottom of page here.

When US raided Abbotabad, one can say that they used stealth helicopters and we didn’t have our radars pointed towards western front as we never expected an attack from that side

Pakistan’s Air Force Learned About the Bin Laden Raid on TV

The Pakistani air force learned about the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden from a television news report about a helicopter crash in Abbottabad. Belatedly, they scrambled fighter jets. But by then, the Americans were long gone.
In other words: Pakistan had virtually no chance of detecting U.S. choppers as they flew into the Pakistani equivalent of West Point. And if they raid was done all over again, they still wouldn’t catch the aircraft. That’s according to a leaked report from Pakistan’s independent Abbottabad Commission that was charged by the Pakistani government to investigate the raid. The commission says the Pakistani military never saw the raid coming because of the American choppers’ stealthy, noise-reducing equipment, the skill of their crews at flying below radar, and the fact that Pakistan’s air defenses are focused on its border with India, not Afghanistan

Anyway, military kept releasing such information to press that our airspace was being monitored implying if we had sent fighter jets, they would have been brought down by US’s much advanced air force.

US AWACS planes monitored PAF jets

Throughout the operation, US AWACS aircrafts remained airborne over Afghan airspace to ward-off of any reaction and monitor Pakistan Air Force jets.

Fine. Lets buy it. It was a failure of our military intelligence as well as superior capability of US that held us back from taking any action. What about last nights attack by Taliban

TTP claims attack on central jail in D I Khan

Pakistani Taliban militants in police uniform attacked the Central Jail in Dera Ismail Khan late on Monday and managed to free around 247 inmates, as more than 25 explosions were heard and at least 11 people were killed and nine others wounded.

Our response was exemplary

230 prisoners escape in TTP’s DI Khan jail attack

K-P prisons chief Khalid Abbas said the gunfight raged for three hours, with militants wearing police uniforms entering the facility after bombing its outer wall and throwing hand grenades at prison guards. After the battle abated, security forces searched the prison which was plunged into darkness with an electricity outage, and counted inmates by flashlight to determine how many had escaped, he said. Spokesperson for the K-P government Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed the army had been called in to quell the militant attack.

So they fought for three hours and then around 300 (100 attackers and 200 prisoners) of them escaped. They would not be escaping on foot or hiding in trees. They would be making their escape in cars. This time there was no AWACS in air. Why couldn’t we scrambled army gun ship helicopters or even fighter jets over the area.

They would have made a run for it in cars and assuming 20 militants per car, it makes for a convoy of 15 cars at least which is easy to spot in the night and we could have dropped a few small bombs or fired from helicopter guns. Whereas information from Pakistani state was found wanting, TTP was giving hour by hour update of their success on twitter

I find it hard to believe that our security and intelligence apparatus wasn’t complicit in this. And if it weren’t, then we have pretty incompetent security and intelligence agencies.

Karachi : Economic growth in Wild Wild West of Pakistan [Further reading links on dynamics of violence in Karachi]

centre

I have always believed that stock market is not the barometer of an economy or general well being of population. A few big players or institutional players can manipulate it and the effects may not trickle down to general population. In US case, a rising stock market has the impact of increasing confidence of the people thus resulting in more investments which leads to more employment etc and thus a virtuous cycle may start. However, the same is not the case in Pakistan where Karachi stock exchange has been generating significant returns for last two years but the misery of people and their general well being is not improving.

This is what Bloomberg said in November 2012:

Pakistan Stocks Best as Violence Ignored: Riskless Return

Pakistan is handing equity investors the world’s best risk-adjusted returns as terrorist attacks, power blackouts and a war with Taliban insurgents fail to curb gains in consumer spending that sent profits to a record high.

The KSE 100 Index, the benchmark for Pakistan’s $43 billion equity market, rose 7.3 percent in the past three years when adjusted for price swings, the top gain among 72 markets worldwide, according to the BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING. Pakistan had lower stock volatility than 82 percent of the nations including the U.S. (SPX) Over five years, Pakistan’s risk- adjusted returns ranked eighth.

We all know how the economy spiralled downwards in last 5 years of PPP government but if we are to go by Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index, we were the 8th best performing market (mind you, on risk adjusted basis) in the world.

This from yesterday’s DAWN. (DAWN has a tendency of changing its website addresses frequently so if the link becomes dead, please let me know in comments and I will try to update it]

Equities yield staggering 52pc return

(June 29, 2013) For the investors in equities, it is time to celebrate. He who may have invested Rs10 million in the Pakistan stocks on July 1 of last year, would have additional Rs5.2 million in the kitty.

It marks a mouth-watering return of 52 per cent in a year unmatched by any other asset class. During the year, the benchmark KSE-100 index added staggering 7,204 points to settle at the dizzy height of 21,006 points on Friday, the last trading day of the year.

Stock market is not the only growth story. The extortion racket is also growing at an breakneck pace. From Reuters

Pakistan’s commercial hub faces growing extortion menace

Businesses in Karachi are facing a surge in extortion demands from criminal gangs, forcing many owners to delay new investment or to relocate their families to escape the sense of insecurity gripping the urban heart of Pakistan’s economy.

The worsening law and order situation in Karachi, which generates 25 percent of Pakistan’s economic activity, presents one of the many challenges new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must overcome to fulfill promises to set Pakistan on a path to faster growth.

An expanding middle class is fuelling consumer spending but extortion is hurting confidence among thousands of family-run firms that form the backbone of the economy.

With the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan due to start in July, a traditional time for extortionists to come calling, Karachi traders and shopkeepers are braced for what police say will be a record year of demands.

“The extortion racket has blown out of all proportion with the previous year,” said Ahmed Chinoy, chief of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), a Karachi body set up to help police by providing crime statistics and technical support.

The growing demands reflect the shifting dynamics of a city of 18 million people where new challengers, including Pakistan’s Taliban movement, are locked in an increasingly violent, neighborhood-by-neighborhood battle for control.

Professionals, not just shopkeepers, are also targets.

When Javed Hanif, a doctor, answered his cellphone in June the caller reeled off a list of Hanif’s personal details: his work in a government hospital, the registration number of his car, and preparations for his son’s wedding. The man demanded 500,000 Pakistani rupees.

In spite of the climate of fear, business sentiment is not universally bleak. Retail is booming in Karachi, symbolized by the opening of a flashy modern shopping centre called Dolmen Mall Clifton in 2011 which showcases international brands such as Debenhams and Fatburger.

There is a class of people, I wouldn’t say they are immune, least bothered by increasing lawlessness. They are rich, reside in gated or posh communities, live for conspicuous consumption and to cater to their needs such flashy international brands are coming to Pakistan.

Despite all of the above, population growth rate of Pakistan has not staved off. If things do not improve, the large youth population will be a ticking time bomb. However, for now, they represent a huge, increasing in size and lucrative consumer goods segment. With population moving to urban centres, though it represents a growing segment of consumer goods now, it is taking the creaking infrastructure of cities like Karachi to breaking point.

Consumer goods: P&G sets eyes on expanding Pakistan operations

Changing demographics support growth

“One of the factors driving our growth is the enhanced ability of semi-rural consumers to participate in the economy,” Sabzwari said. “If you compare the urbanisation rate in Pakistan with other developing countries, you will see that we are getting urbanised faster than others,” he pointed out.

A growing middle class and the overall demographics of the population are critical factors driving consumerism. “We have millions of consumers entering independent disposable income space in their lives every year,” Sabzwari pointed out. Pakistan is one of the top countries adding 20-year-olds to the world, and these are the people establishing new families and helping market sizes grow. “Market size here grows in terms of volumes, without taking the pricing into account,” he explained.

All of the above news items point out to fast growth happening in Karachi. But we still haven’t touched upon the fastest growing sector: Target killing. The growth in this murderous business has been phenomenal. If one is in Bori (jute or gunny bags in which dead bodies are occasionally found) business, the prices would have skyrocketed leading to lucrative profit margin.

100pc rise in number of killings over past five months

June 29: Nearly 100 per cent increase has been witnessed in the number of killings across the city during the first five months of the year as compared to last year’s corresponding period, it emerged on Saturday.

While 750 people had been killed between January and May last year, as many as 1,450 people were killed in the city over the past five months, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Now only if we could establish a murder or target killing stock exchange in Karachi like in Somalia for Piracy, the benefits of this growing business can be distributed to common population. From Wall Street Journal

Today’s Pirates Have Their Own Stock Exchange

The world’s first pirate stock exchange was established in 2009 in Harardheere, some 250 miles northeast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Open 24 hours a day, the exchange allows investors to profit from ransoms collected on the high seas, which can approach $10 million for successful attacks against Western commercial vessels.

While there are no credible statistics available, reports from various news sources suggest that over 70 entities are listed on the Harardheere exchange. When a pirate operation is successful, it pays investors a share of the profits. According to a former pirate who spoke to Reuters, “The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials. . . . We’ve made piracy a community activity.”

Think about it, this could be the first target killing or murder stock exchange of the world.

Below is link dump of studies of violence in Karachi. Must read if you want to understand the dynamics of violence in Karachi.

Counter Insurgency Pakistan II : Laws of “Revolutionary War” favor the insurgent

Pakistan Army is in for a long haul or rather very long haul against TTP if the following characteristics of an insurgency excerpted from Counter Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, David Galula, are anything to go by

This is where Mao Tse-tung is misleading. What he calls “the laws of revolutionary war” are in fact those of the revolutionary side, his side. The one who directs a war against a revolutionary movement will not find in Mao and in other revolutionary theorists the answers to his problems. He will surely find useful information on how the revolutionary acts, he may perhaps infer the answers he is looking for, but nowhere will he find them explicitly stated. Some counterrevolutionaries have fallen into the trap of aping the revolutionaries on both minor and major scales, as we shall show. These attempts have never met success.

Theories and formulas abound for counterinsurgency
What, then, are the rules of counterrevolutionary warfare? Here we can observe another curious fact. Although analyses of revolutionary wars from the revolutionary’s point of view are numerous today, there is a vacuum of studies from the other side, particularly when it comes to suggesting concrete courses of action for the counterrevolutionary. Very little is offered beyond formulas—which are sound enough as far as they go— such as, “Intelligence is the key to the problem,” or “The support of the population must be won.” How to turn the key, how to win the support, this is where frustrations usually begin, as anyone can testify who, in a humble or in an exalted position, has been involved in a revolutionary war on the wrong—i.e., the arduous—side.

Counterinsurgency is a thankless job
The junior officer in the field who, after weeks and months of endless tracking, has at last destroyed the dozen guerrillas opposing him, only to see them replaced by a fresh dozen; the civil servant who pleaded in vain for a five-cent reform and is now ordered to implement at once a hundred-dollar program when he no longer controls the situation in his district; the general who has “cleared” Sector A but screams because “they” want to take away two battalions for Sector B; the official in charge of the press who cannot satisfactorily explain why, after so many decisive victories, the rebels are still vigorous and expanding; the congressman who cannot understand why the government should get more money when it has so little to show for the huge appropriations previously granted; the chief of state, harassed from all sides, who wonders how long he will last—these are typical illustrations of the plight of the counterrevolutionary.

Insurgent will not fight in open
Afflicted with his congenital weakness, the insurgent would be foolish if he mustered whatever forces were available to him and attacked his opponent in a conventional fashion, taking as his objective the destruction of the enemy’s forces and the conquest of the territory. Logic forces him instead to carry the fight to a different ground where he has a better chance to balance the physical odds against him.

Control of population is key
The population represents this new ground. If the insurgent manages to dissociate the population from the counterinsurgent, to control it physically, to get its active support, he will win the war because, in the final analysis, the exercise of political power depends on the tacit or explicit agreement of the population or, at worst, on its submissiveness. Thus the battle for the population is a major characteristic of the revolutionary war.

No decisive battles but a long war
In the conventional war, the aggressor who has prepared for it within the confines of his national territory, channeling his resources into the preparation, has much to gain by attacking suddenly with all his forces. The transition from peace to war is as abrupt as the state of the art allows; the first shock may be decisive. This is hardly possible in the revolutionary war because the aggressor— the insurgent—lacks sufficient strength at the outset. Indeed, years may sometimes pass before he has built up significant political, let alone military, power. So there is usually little or no first shock, little or no surprise, no possibility of an early decisive battle.

In fact, the insurgent has no interest in producing a shock until he feels fully able to withstand the enemy’s expected reaction. By delaying the moment when the insurgency appears as a serious challenge to the counterinsurgent, the insurgent delays the reaction. The delay may be further prolonged by exploiting the fact that the population realizes the danger even later than the counterinsurgent leadership.

The protracted nature of a revolutionary war does not result from a design by either side; it is imposed on the insurgent by his initial weakness. It takes time for a small group of insurgent leaders to organize a revolutionary movement, to raise and to develop armed forces, to reach a balance with the opponent, and to overpower him. A revolutionary war is short only if the counterinsurgency collapses at an early stage, as in Cuba, where the Batista regime disintegrated suddenly, less under the blows from the insurgents than through its own weakness; or if, somehow, a political settlement is reached, as in Tunisia, Morocco, Cyprus. To date, there has never been an early collapse of an insurgency.

War is many times more expensive for counterinsurgent than insurgent
Promoting disorder is a legitimate objective for the insurgent. It helps to disrupt the economy, hence to produce discontent; it serves to undermine the strength and the authority of the counterinsurgent. Moreover, disorder—the normal state of nature—is cheap to create and very costly to prevent. The insurgent blows up a bridge, so every bridge has to be guarded; he throws a grenade in a movie theater, so every person entering a public place has to be searched. When the insurgent burns a farm, all the farmers clamor for protection; if they do not receive it, they may be tempted to deal privately with the insurgent, as happened in Indochina and Algeria, to give just two examples. Merely by making anonymous phone calls warning of bombs planted in luggage, the insurgent can disrupt civilian airline schedules and scare away tourists.

Because the counterinsurgent cannot escape the responsibility for maintaining order, the ratio of expenses between him and the insurgent is high. It may be ten or twenty to one, or higher. The figure varies greatly, of course, from case to case, and in each situation during the course of the revolutionary war.

Insurgent is fluid whereas counterinsurgent is fixed
The insurgent is fluid because he has neither responsibility nor concrete assets; the counterinsurgent is rigid because he has both, and no amount of wailing can alter this fact for either side. Each must accept the situation as it is and make the best of it.

If the counterinsurgent wanted to rid himself of his rigidity, he would have to renounce to some extent his claim to the effective rule of the country, or dispose of his concrete assets. One way of doing this, of course, would be to hand over everything to the insurgent, and then start an insurgency against him, but no counterinsurgent on record has dared apply this extreme solution.

In the revolutionary war, therefore, and until the balance of forces has been reached, only the insurgent can consistently wage profitable hit-and-run operations because the counterinsurgent alone offers profitable and fixed targets; only the insurgent, as a rule, is free to accept or refuse battle, the counterinsurgent being bound by his responsibility. On the other hand, only the counterinsurgent can use substantial means because he alone possesses them.

Fluidity for one side and rigidity for the other are further determined by the nature of the operations. They are relatively simple for the insurgent promoting disorder in every way until he assumes power; they are complicated for the counterinsurgent, who has to take into account conflicting demands (protection of the population and the economy, and offensive operations against the insurgent) and who has to coordinate all the components of his forces—the administrator, the policeman, the soldier, the social worker, etc. The insurgent can afford a loose, primitive organization; he can delegate a wide margin of initiative, but his opponent cannot.

It may never become a conventional war
Once the insurgent has acquired strength and possesses significant regular forces, it would seem that the war should become a conventional one, a sort of civil war in which each camp holds a portion of the national territory from which he directs blows at the other. But if the insurgent has understood his strategic problems well, revolutionary war never reverts to a conventional form.

For one reason, the creation of a regular army by the insurgent does not mean an end to subversion and guerrilla activity. On the contrary, they increase in scope and intensity in order to facilitate the operations of the regular army and to amplify their effects.

For another reason, the insurgent has involved the population in the conflict since its beginning; the active participation of the population was indeed a sine qua non for his success. Having acquired the decisive advantage of a population organized and mobilized on his side, why should he cease to make use of an asset that gives his regular forces the fluidity and the freedom of action that the counterinsurgent cannot achieve? As long as the population remains under his control, the insurgent retains his liberty to refuse battle except on his own terms.

Counter Insurgency Pakistan I : Insurgency doctorine or How Pakistani Taliban are taking on the state

The purpose of this post is to understand insurgency doctrine of terrorist outfit Pakistani Taliban aka Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan aka TTP in light of the insurgency doctrines described in classic counter-insurgency book “Counter Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice“, David Galula.

Obviously all wars are different and its pretty hard to squarely fit terrorists in one category or other as terrorists may use every available trick (cheating, lying, exaggerating etc) to gain advantage whenever they can. However, based on certain characteristics and traits of terrorists and their activities, we can broadly classify as following on of the following two patterns:

  1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern
  2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

The first one is a long and arduous one which communist parties followed in China and Vietnam wherein they indoctrinate the inductees in their cause through training and brainwashing and then subsequently send them out to fight. Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan which has pretty good network of schools, charities and training facilities follows this method.

The second one is short one wherein their is no overarching cause as such other than to create disorder and chaos to gain control over land. They may use certain slogans as religion, sect or ethnicity but other than that they do not have any fixed plan for governing and administering the acquired piece of land. They use terrorizing tactics as explained below. TTP is clearly following this methodology.

1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern

In this step, the first objective is the guerrilla’s survival: the final one, the acquisition of bases in which an insurgent government and administration will be established, the human and other resources exploited, and regular forces created. Guerrilla warfare with no bases, says Mao Tse-tung, is nothing but roving banditism; unable to maintain links with the population, it cannot develop and is bound to be defeated.

Objectively, there is no difference between ordinary, everyday bandit activity in almost every country and the first guerrilla actions. What makes it possible for the guerrillas to survive and to expand? The complicity of the population. This is the key to guerrilla warfare, indeed to the insurgency, and it has been expressed in the formula of the fish swimming in the water. The complicity of the population is not to be confused with the sympathy of the population; the former is active, the latter inactive, and the popularity of the insurgent’s cause is insufficient by itself to transform sympathy into complicity.

The participation of the population in the conflict is obtained, above all, by a political organization (the party) living among the population, backed by force (the guerrilla gangs), which eliminates the open enemies, intimidates the potential ones, and relies on those among the population who actively support the insurgents. Persuasion brings a minority of supporters—they are indispensable—but force rallies the rest. There is, of course, a practical if not ethical limit to the use of force; the basic rule is never to antagonize at any one time more people than can be handled.

MQM in its early days and 90s used this strategy on an ethnic card. However, it has since matured and become pretty mainstream and distanced itself from it urban warfare past of 90s.

Where to operate? In the areas that the counter-insurgent cannot easily control and where the guerrilla gangs can consequently survive and develop. The factors in selecting the first areas of operations are:

  1. The strength of the insurgent’s organization among the population that has been achieved in preliminary work.
  2. The remoteness of the areas from the center of the counter-insurgent’s power.
  3. Their inaccessibility due to terrain and poor communications.
  4. Their location on both sides of administrative borders, which makes it difficult for the enemy to coordinate his reaction.

The North West region of Pakistan where TTP is currently based fits the above location descriptions pretty well.

Demoralization of the enemy’s forces is an important task. The most effective way to achieve it is by employing a policy of leniency toward the prisoners. They must be well treated and offered the choice of joining the movement or of being set free, even if this means that they will return to the counterinsurgent’s side. Despite its setbacks in the early stages, this is the policy that pays the most in the long run.

A colleague of the author visited a camp at Hsuchow in central China, where the Nationalists kept 5,000 Communist prisoners.
“Where were they caught?” he asked the Nationalist general in charge of the camp.
“Between you and me, we have no more than ten real Communist soldiers among these prisoners.”
“Who are the others then?”
“Nationalist soldiers caught and released by the Communists. We don’t want them to contaminate our army.”
Thus, the Communists had achieved the trick of having the Nationalists themselves watching their own men!

The first clear sign of the Chinese influence on the Vietminh came in 1950, when the Vietminh suddenly changed their attitude toward French prisoners. Instead of slaughtering them, they undertook to brainwash them.

This is where TTP is deviating clearly from Orthodox doctrine. Being a roving band of bandits with nothing but a garb of religion, they definitely do not have superior moral or psychological basis to indoctrinate the captured soldiers. As such, they slaughter them even releasing videos of the slaughtering.

The insurgent must solve a problem created by what we have considered a tactical asset: the scattered nature of his operations. Although this makes it difficult for the counter-insurgent to cope with them, the insurgent must also reconcile the dilution of his forces with the need for unity of action. The solution is a clear, common doctrine widely taught and accepted.

The expansion of the insurgent movement raises the problem of political and military cadres. They are selected on the basis, above all, of their loyalty and, secondly, of their concrete achievements in the field. How important the Communists consider the loyalty of their personnel, cadres, and troops can be seen from the following story. In 1952, a Vietminh regimental commander, hard pressed by French troops in the Red River Delta, pleaded for replacements. The answer from the Vietminh command: “Impossible to send you replacements now; they have not yet received full political indoctrination.”

If we ever overcome TTP insurgents, it will be relatively easier to rehabilitate the captured soldiers as most of them would not have been indoctrinated. True TTP brainwashes them into fighting for them in the name of religion. However, their target is the state because it is “infidel” and may be insurgents join them for their love of religion. The rehabilitation should comprise of teaching the captured TTP warriors that the picture painted by TTP of the state and religion is completely wrong and misguided.

What is very different from past insurgencies and probably what the author is describing in his book is that TTP has made inroads into Karachi which is at the other end of the country. It does not provide the location advantages of North West Pakistan neither does it provide as steady a stream of local recruits. Yet still they have been able to mark their presence. This is something that needs to be further analyzed.

As the overall strength of the insurgent grows while his opponent’s decreases, a balance of forces is reached at some point. In the assessment of the insurgent’s strength must be included not only his military assets but the solidity of his political structure, the fact that the population is mobilized in his areas, the subversive activity of his underground agents in the counter-insurgent’s areas, and finally, the insurgent’s psychological superiority.

From then on, the scope and scale of the insurgent’s operations will increase swiftly; a series of offensives aiming at the complete destruction of the enemy will constitute the last and final step.
At any time during the process, the insurgent may make peace offers, provided there is more to gain by negotiating than by fighting.

Now we come to the second method. As you read through it, you will realize that how neatly it fits the recent pattern of TTP

2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

First step: blind terrorism
The purpose is to get publicity for the movement and its cause, and by focusing attention on it, to attract latent supporters. This is done by random terrorism, bombings, arson, assassinations, conducted in as spectacular a fashion as possible, by concentrated, coordinated, and synchronized waves.

(See Pakistan Faces New Wave of Attacks, WSJ)

Second step: selective terrorism
This quickly follows the first. The aims are to isolate the counterinsurgent from the masses, to involve the population in the struggle, and to obtain as a minimum its passive complicity. This is done by killing, in various parts of the country, some of the low-ranking government officials who work most closely with the population, such as policemen, mailmen, mayors, councilmen, and teachers. Killing high-ranking counterinsurgent officials serves no purpose since they are too far removed from the population for their deaths to serve as examples.

See (Suicide attacks in Mohmand kill 104; peace jirga main target, Dawn; A young suicide bomber dressed in school uniform has blows himself up at an army compound, BBC; Deadly attack at Pakistan funeral procession attended by many anti-Taliban militiamen, BBC)

The early supporters are set to work collecting money from the population. Although money, the sinew of war, is interesting in itself, this operation has important side effects. The amount of money collected provides a simple standard to gauge the efficiency of the supporters and to select leaders accordingly. It also implicates the mass and forces it to show its revolutionary spirit. “You give money, you are with us. You refuse money, you are a traitor.” A few of those unwilling to pay are executed.

See (Taliban Spread Terror in Karachi as the New Gang in Town, NYTimes; Creeping threat: Taliban in Karachi, DAWN)

In order to involve the population further, simple mots d’ordres are circulated, such as “boycott tobacco”; a few violators caught smoking are executed. These assassinations have value only if they serve as examples; therefore they must not be hidden or committed on the sly. The victims are generally found with a tag explaining that they have been condemned by a revolutionary tribunal and executed for such and such a crime.

See (Blast in Sohrab Goth kills 4 near drug den, The News. The report does not state this but it was reported at the time that Taliban asked the drug dealer to shut down his business but he didn’t so the bombed his place.) There are other videos available online of Talibans carrying out beheadings in Karachi for breaking their laws but due to gruesome nature, I am not linking to them.

The insurgent has to destroy all bridges linking the population with the counterinsurgent and his potential allies. Among these, people (generally the liberal-minded) inclined to seek a compromise with the insurgents will be targets of terrorist attacks.

ANP has been talking about negotiating with Talibans and even organized an All Parties Conference to agree on a strategy (see APC supports peace talks with Pakistani Taliban, DAWN) yet Talibans continue to kills it workers nationwide (See Over 700 ANP activists slain to date. Recently they have expanded their hitlist to include other secular parties such as MQM, PPP (See Pakistan election: Taliban threats hamper secular campaign, BBC)

When all this is achieved, conditions are ripe for the insurgent guerrillas to operate and for the population to be mobilized effectively. From there on, this pattern rejoins the orthodox one, if necessary.

Conclusion

Following the news trail and statements of Taliban attacks in Pakistan and mainly urban centres, it is quite clear that TTP is following the short cut strategy. As mentioned in the beginning that classifications are not mutually exclusive so they may use certain strategies that were classified under the orthodox strategy. Any way, the objective of both strategies is the same. To have a piece of land where to set up government, impose your ideology and laws.

This is where TTP is extension into Karachi is hard to fathom. Being the lifeline of the country’s economy, TTP should face immense opposition for threatening it. Yet has been taking over slowly and so far successfully. Whereas running an insurgency in North West of Pakistan with its porous border with Afghanistan and rough terrain is easy, trying to establish a base in Karachi which is an urban landscape covered on one side by sea, flat land on the others with the rural areas of south Baluchistan and Sind not really offering any welcome to Taliban neither in terms of shared ideology, culture nor language. So the question arises, how TTP intends to establish their base and government in Karachi in a region surrounded by relatively inhospitable land for them as well as population which overwhelmingly votes in the secular parties in elections.

Yet TTP has been able to not only infiltrate Karachi but is now engaged in turf war with existing stake holders and even going so far as to eliminate them one by one. They have already unseated ANP from their strong holds in Karachi, their extortion racket now reaches all suburbs of Karachi and they are now openly challenging PPP and MQM for a larger share of the pie.