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anonymous WHAT'S HAPPENING IN PAKISTAN? June 28, 2008 2:26 PM

Late Friday, 700 troops from the paramilitary Frontier Corps moved into Kyber in preparation for the offensive, a round-the-clock curfew was imposed in the Bara area, and heavy contingents of troops blocked the main road from Peshawar into Kyber, local officials said.

By Saturday afternoon, the Frontier Corps began shelling suspected militant hide-outs in the mountains, local official Muhammad Siddiq Khan said.

Authorities blew up the headquarters of militant leader Menghal Bagh in a scene broadcast on national television. Bagh fled to the remote Tirah Valley along the Afghan border, a military intelligence official in the frontier said, speaking on condition of anonymity because identifying himself would compromise his work.

In recent weeks, Bagh's fighters waged attacks in Peshawar in what provincial officials say was an attempt to prove they wield influence outside the tribal regions and to intimidate the population. Bagh's followers also have been accused of threatening supply convoys bound for coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Alam Khattak, head of the Frontier Corps, said his troops destroyed three militant centers in Bara and killed one attacker in the operation, which was expected to last up to a week.

"We have occupied, captured all important heights, and we have taken control of the area," he said. Hinting the offensive would not be last, he said, "Other pockets of resistance and crime will also be visited."

The operation was also expected to target Haji Namdar, whose Vice and Virtue Movement is suspected of attacks against coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. Namdar has sought to impose his own strict brand of Islamic law in the region.

"If the government thinks there is any issue to address, that should be resolved through talks, not by the use of force," said Munsif Khan, spokesman for Namdar's group. "We are ready for talks with the government."

In response to the offensive and other confrontations with security forces, Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader in Pakistan, said he was suspending talks between his allies and the government. He implied his forces could cause trouble in Pakistan's main cities.

"Peace cannot be brought with force and aggression. This will be very unfortunate for the Pakistani nation if fighting starts again," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

The new government elected in February eclipsed former army strongman and U.S. ally President Pervez Musharraf. In a policy shift, the new administration supported peace talks with Taliban militants to try to curb an explosion in violence in the northwest.

But as militant activity grew, Pakistan's top political and military leaders signaled they would use force if necessary to combat militancy.

Concern has grown in recent weeks about militant threats to Peshawar. Two weeks ago, a Taliban force from Khyber entered the city and briefly kidnapped 16 Christians.

Mahmood Shah, a former security chief in the tribal regions, said the Taliban took advantage of a leadership vacuum in Islamabad, where the coalition government is paralyzed by infighting, to take control of the tribal regions along the border. Now, the Taliban "are on our doorstep" around Peshawar, he said.

"The situation is like water flowing into a field and until you have some obstruction to stop it, you will drown. We are drowning," he said.

Taliban have posted notices in some villages outside Peshawar telling residents to shun the judiciary and seek justice through their courts, he said.

Misrri Khan, who works for a tribal paramilitary force that patrols Khyber, said the militants kidnapped 16 of his fellow officers and threatened to behead them — and then to take more captives — if they did not abandon checkpoints in the area. Khan said the force refused.

Afrasiab Khattak, chief negotiator for the provincial government, said the province was considering a second operation in the Swat area, which is wracked by violence despite a peace deal between the provincial government and a radical pro-Taliban cleric.

Police in Swat found the bodies Saturday of four people apparently killed by militants and defused three bombs weighing a total of 45 pounds that had been planted along a main road, Swat police chief Waqif Khan said.


Associated Press writers Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Ishtiaq Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Habibullah Khan in Khar contributed to this report.

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anonymous  June 28, 2008 2:32 PM

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anonymous  July 16, 2008 9:22 AM

Girls in Pakistan Kidnapped, Allegedly Forced to Convert*

PAKISTAN A Christian father is in a legal battle with kidnappers for the custody of his pre-teen daughters, who allegedly have been forced to convert to Islam. According to Compass Direct News, when the father of the two girls, Younis Masih, was summoned to the police house to testify, police initially refused to file a case against the kidnappers who are known to belong to a powerful human trafficking ring. The kidnappers filed for custody of the girls at the local police house on June 28, stating that the two sisters had converted to Islam and that their father no longer had jurisdiction over them. Read More… 

Prayer Points:

  • Pray that the two young girls who have been kidnapped will be quickly returned to their parents. (Psalm 61:1)
  • Pray for God’s protection upon the hearts and minds of these two little girls. (Psalm 140:1)
  • Pray for the kidnappers to see the evil in their hearts, repent of their actions, and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. (Romans 15:13)
  • Pray that Younis Masih will have strength and wisdom from God to endure this time of being separated from his daughters. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
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    anonymous  April 26, 2009 7:34 AM

    Taliban reaches beyond Swat Valley in Pakistan

    Residents of Pakistani valley welcome respite from fighting, but west fears government's deal with militants may bring nuclear-armed state closer to disintegration and control by Islamists

    To reach the headquarters of the Swat Taliban, visitors jump into a metal cradle, much like a ski lift, that spans a broad river. After payment of a small fare the cradle zips across the water towards a sprawling new madrasa, still under construction, on the far bank.

    Back in the 1990s this chairlift was operated by a young man who became a charismatic preacher named Fazlullah. He has since become the leader of the local Taliban. But these days he rarely comes to the mosque, preferring a more secluded hideout further up the valley from Mingora, Swat's main town.

    So, journalists are welcomed by Muslim Khan, a burly man in a silky, jet black turban who speaks broken English with a striking American twang.

    Khan learned his English over four years in Boston in the late 1990s, where he juggled jobs painting houses and manning a petrol pump. Now he juggles media queries on three mobile phones, all sheathed in white rubber.

    The mission, Khan explains, is to forge an Islamic caliphate - a new religious state in Pakistan. After they take over, democracy will be unnecessary: Allah will run the elections. "Democracy is a system of European countries. It is not good for Muslims," he says.

    The Taliban's ambitions are not small - the caliphate would engulf not only Pakistan, but the entire Muslim world. "We want to make a unity of Muslims states, just like the United States of America," he says. But for now they will settle for Malakand - a vast area that comprises one-third of the North-West Frontier province, where the Pakistani government two weeks ago agreed to impose Islamic rule following a controversial peace deal with the Taliban.

    The Taliban achieved this victory after fighting the Pakistan army to a standstill in Swat. After 18 months of fighting, beheadings and suicide bombings, 850 people were dead and more than 100,000 had fled. The army has stood down, but tensions remain high.

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    anonymous  April 26, 2009 7:37 AM

    Khan stops speaking as a voice crackles over his radio. It is Mullah Fazlullah, speaking from his mountain lair. He announces some news: the Taliban have captured four soldiers, disguised as militants. In response the army has mobilised; he exhorts his turbaned fighters to be ready for a fight. "Come out on to the road," he orders. "You should not stop anybody, but be on red alert."

    After the interview dozens of men linger outside the mosque - mostly young men from the lower runs of Swat society. Photographs are forbidden but one, an older man with a grizzled face, agrees to speak. "Maulana Fazlullah is my leader," he says. "I follow his orders."

    But asked what the Taliban want to achieve, he appears stumped. Then an older man interjects, waving and shouting. Nobody has permission to speak to the infidel, he says, except for Khan.

    The loquacious Taliban commander is the sort of man that politicians in America, and Islamabad, have come to fear over the last week. Yesterday the US military chief, Admiral Mike Mullen, warned that Pakistan was moving "closer to the tipping point" - in other words closer to a nightmare scenario in which extremists cause the disintegration of this nuclear-armed nation of 170 million people.

    Mullen's comments followed several alarmed - some say alarmist - statements by senior Obama administration officials, who apparently believe that President Asif Ali Zardari and his government are treating the Taliban threat much as Neville Chamberlain did Hitler before the second world war. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, accused Zardari's government of "basically abdicating" in the face of Taliban aggression and said that the country posed a "mortal threat" to global security. The defence secretary, Robert Gates, spoke darkly of an "existential threat".

    The panic-tinged rhetoric was fuelled by events in Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad, where Taliban militants occupied government buildings and torched western aid agency offices. Even Pakistani politicians got alarmed; talk abounded of dams, motorways and even cities falling to the militants.

    The trail of blame leads to Swat, the adjoining district, where thousands of Taliban enjoy the run of a mountain valley. Critics blame the government for buying an untenable peace, and they blame the army for lacking the ability - or willpower - to rout the gunmen.

    Yesterday afternoon, amid rumours of imminent military action, the army's top generals held a crisis meeting. The army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, issued a statement that the army "will not allow the militants to dictate terms or impose their way of life".

    By last night, the Taliban had started to withdraw their fighters from Buner. Footage showed fighters clutching rocket launchers clambering into trucks and driving back to Swat. The threat appeared to have been averted, for now. But questions about the peace deal remain: about whether it is a stepping stone to peace or a terrible miscalculation that will allow a Taliban wave to unfurl across the North-West Frontier province, and engulf Pakistan.

    In Mingora, litigants streamed into the city court last Wednesday where Qazi (the title for an Islamic judge) Peerzada Noor Muhammad Shah was getting ready to hear their cases. But the Islamic courts have yet to formally receive authorisation, so Qazi Shah has no power to deliver judgments. Instead he instructs people to seek arbitration from a village elder. "That's all we can for now," he said.

    Many litigants held high hopes for sharia law - not out of concern for religion, but for efficiency and fairness. "The previous system was slow and corrupt. You had to want for 20 years," said Khan Maula, a vegetable seller with a long-running family dispute. "Now it can be done in days or months."

    Soon, though, the changes will bring a harsher side. Taliban courts have already started floggings: a video of a turbaned fighter lashing a 17-year-old girl caused outrage a few weeks ago.

    The bearded, long-haired fighters have vanished from the streets of Mingora but soon these punishments will come here, the Taliban promise.

    Gone for now, but the militants' indelible mark remains - a police station in rubble, bombed-out schools. Swat's political class has fled to Peshawar; the police are cowed into submission. The police chief, hiding in a guarded house, declined to be interviewed.

    Nobody seems sure who is in charge, but if anyone, it is the Taliban. Commanders give orders about the distribution of food aid, the movement of security forces, and what type of burka women should wearing. Shops are open but business is slow. Clothes trader Idriss Khan stood in an empty shop filled with rainbow-coloured dresses. "There is no real security," he said, waving a newspaper. "I read that the Taliban have kidnapped some people. I don't feel safe, and neither do my customers."

    Yet the peace deal has also brought positive developments. The schools that have not been bombed, including those for girls, have reopened. In one such institution, Aatiya Haq, 11, proudly declared that the controversial peace deal had made her happy. Her reasoning is simple. Only three months ago she feared the Taliban would kill her on the way to class. Now she is back at her books, with dreams of becoming a doctor. "Now we can make Pakistan powerful with our studies," she says earnestly.

    Her teacher, Ziauddin Yusufzai, who is also spokesman for the Swat private schools association, agrees. "Before we had a doubtful war, now we have a doubtful peace. I prefer this," he said.

    The Taliban war is also a cultural struggle. According to Muslim Khan, sharia is i

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    anonymous  April 26, 2009 7:42 AM

    The Taliban war is also a cultural struggle. According to Muslim Khan, sharia is incompatible with Pashtunwali, the proud, honour-bound Pashtun social code. In normal times Usman, a social activist, welcomes visitors to his hujra - a cosy room where Pashtun men gather to gossip, listen to music, and perhaps knock back a bottle of Russian vodka. But these are not normal times.

    If the Taliban knew that Usman's hujra was filled with paintings and books, they would burn it down. He knows this, he says mournfully, because his own brother has joined their ranks.

    Usman plays a video of the "dancing girls" - women with flowing hair and gold trimmed skirts, spinning elegantly before a crowd of admiring men. The colours are faded because this footage was shot decades ago. Now the dancing girls are extinct: the valley's most famous dancer was found shot dead last January; the others have since fled.

    On screen, the silent images of the spinning women acquire a haunting quality. "That is the old Swat," says Usman. "The one that has disappeared."

    The Taliban's political representative is the TNSM, or Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law. Its leader is Sufi Muhammad, a 78-year-old jihadi who led thousands of young men to fight American soldiers in Afghanistan in late 2001. Last year the government released him from jail to help rein in his son-in-law - Maulana Fazlullah.

    On Wednesday afternoon Muhammad met government representatives. Afterwards, the old jihadi - a wizened man with lively eyes - sat in the corner of a dimly lit room. Asked whether feels close to achieving sharia law in Pakistan, he answered: "When a man dies, his wealth and luxury are of no use. Only a man's acts are considered."

    The call to prayer rang out: he excused himself as his black turbaned followers stream into the mosque.

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    anonymous  April 26, 2009 7:46 AM

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    anonymous  April 26, 2009 7:48 AM

    Talibans are getting control of more areas in Pakistan which is really alarming.  They are just 60 Kilometers from the Capital of Pakistan.  Talibans are burning Churches, Bibles and killing Christians and looting Christian homes.                         Read More

    I am in America right now, and available to minister at Churches and groups all over the country wherever God opens doors and hearts.

    It is all about the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!
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    anonymous  April 28, 2009 4:24 AM

    WASHINGTON – There is growing evidence that battle-hardened extremists are filtering out of safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and into East Africa, bringing sophisticated terrorist tactics that include suicide attacks.

    The alarming shift, according to U.S. military and counterterrorism officials, fuels concern that Somalia is increasingly on a path to become the next Afghanistan — a sanctuary where al-Qaida-linked groups could train and plan their threatened attacks against the western world.

    So far, officials say the number of foreign fighters who have moved from southwest Asia and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region to the Horn of Africa is small, perhaps two to three dozen.

    But a similarly small cell of militant plotters was responsible for the devastating 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And the cluster of militants now believed to be operating inside East Africa could pass on sophisticated training and attack techniques gleaned from seven years at war against the U.S. and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.

    "There is a level of activity that is troubling, disturbing," Gen. William "Kip" Ward, head of U.S. Africa Command, told The Associated Press. "When you have these vast spaces that are just not governed it provides a haven for support activities, for training to occur."

    Ward added that American officials already are seeing extremist factions in East Africa sharing information and techniques.

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     June 21, 2012 3:01 PM

    Christians in Pakistan Allege Seizure of Graveyard
    Christians are fighting to save their decades-old graveyard from being seized for farmland by a retired military officer who is taking advantage of Christians’ marginalized minority status.
    Read More
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