I use the Dawn ePaper's headlines as a sign of what to check out for. As scary as headlines may look to some people when they read them in Google News bites, if you read all the planet changing headlines all at once on the frontpage, you are forced into grabbing the overall theme.
And the thing I saw were that PM Gillani and the foreign office both re-affirmed their reputations as adjuncts of Army Headquarters, by parroting Kayani's position on not attacking North Waziristan. No surprise about Gillani to us. What I am interested in is what President Zardari is doing in Turkey. Maybe he has a plan to make some sort of US Puppet's independent, secular survival deal? Possibly using Turkey's influence and reputation as a bulwark against political attacks? Or maybe the Turks are slowly unveiling an action plan to take over leadership of the Muslim world. I for one, would welcome our new Turkish overlords; the faster Saudi Arabia and Iran lose their pretensions to leading the Muslim world, the better. If it's Ankara pulling Zardari's strings, rather than Aabpara or GHQ, that would make me feel better. I am sure the military is also sending Zardari out there, but as long as there is any halfway decent power centre (even President Zardari's own initiative, money driven as it may be) besides GHQ involved, all is good with the Zardari plan.
The more serious news is of course the attack on the Mohmand FC posts. This is a Maoist tactic that the Taliban used, to suddenly amass a great number of people in one area and then attack an outpost of the govenment. The Talibs are disputing the number of their own dead. They said it`s something around 2. More serious is that they`ve carried away 2 Frontier Corps members, and there isn`t any comment by the government on those Talibs who attacked. One important fact is that Mohmand is on the border with Afghanistan so it may be easier for the Talibs to slip back and forth across the border. It may be likely that the Talibs who attacked are from the Mohmand Agency, but I would find that a little questionable. If the FC and army are operating there, it would be a tactical and operational theatre to have not established contacts with local Mohmandi`s. If they haven`t already (I doubt it), then they should. Strengthening intelligence is what is required, and I am not talking about grabbing a bunch of people and then torturing/disappearing them. This is also a failure in terms of the fact that the FC had to call in Helicopter Air Support, like the US forces in Afghanistan. Good to see, at least there is that much co-ordination between the FC and Army Air Aviation. I remember when Sararogha was taken by the Taliban from the FC, they called in air support and it never came.
And I don`t want to come of all like a xenophobe or something, but I think this may have been an attack from Afghanistan. It would be easier to call in hardened fighters from Kunar, Paktia or Nangarhar. Anyway, I found this Dunya TV clip on the attack.
In this clip, the political agent named the locations where 7, 4 and 3 corpses of the attackers are located. The obvious question is where are the bodies of the other 10 dead when the political agent says that 24 are dead? Did the Taliban carry them away? And what about Taliban claims of capturing a few FC men? Ah well. Improve intelligence in Mohmand and the neighbouring Afghan territories.
As for the retired Brigadier who begins speaking after 3:00, he directly goes to blaming the lack of NATO troops in Kunar and Paktia. He also blames Omar Khalid, but says that he's in Afghanistan. However I feel he ended up blaming Afghan Intelligence the way India blames Pakistani intelligence. What about local factors in the tribal agency itself? At this point, I would like to remind anybody who's still reading this that you have to keep the wider Order of Battle of Jihadi Islam in mind, and the Lashkar-e-Islam/Ansar-e-Islam/Criminal/TNSM/Bajaur/Mohmand killer groups in particular in mind. In particular the Omar Khalid group. Now the retired Brigadier Shah claims that Omar Khalid is in Afghanistan, but the Americans are unable to find or kill him? Very strange.