Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The aftermath of Maulana Dadullah's death


It appears that Maulana Dadullah is actually dead.

When the reports first emerged, I did not know whether to believe them, the US campaign in Afghanistan has been marked by many claims and counter claims and the Pakistanis for their part have kept the picture cloudy with deliberate leaks of juicy information. It is nearly impossible to trust a media report in this environment coming from the region.

This action is incredibly provocative and will spark a serious bout of violence inside Pakistan. The Pakistani ISI asked the remanents of the Taliban to fight the Americans in Afghanistan. In return the ISI promised that it would give them shelter in Pakistan. It was under this contract that the Neo Taliban was raised and it was Pakistani military support that enabled the Neo Taliban to become an effective challenge to the US in Afghanistan.

Now the Pakistanis are suggesting that Mullah Dadullah was killed in an airstrike at night. The Afghans are disagreeing with this account and claiming the kill for themselves. The Coalition forces are keeping very quiet about who exactly did this. This confusion caused me to wonder if this was some morale boosting psyop by the Americans, given the hammering they have been taking recently over Iraq and the "War on Terror", it would not have been entirely unexpected.
What should however have been expected is that the lack of information has compounded the ignominy of the Kakar tribe now having to bargain for the release of Maulana Dadullah's body.

Though Maulana Dadullah was killed in Afghanistan, the Neo-Taliban probably suspect that his death could only have been caused by accurate intelligence on his movements having been leaked from Pakistan. Taliban friendly elements of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammedi (now led by Maulana Fazlullah) and a number of Waziri tribes have had occasion to see how the Pakistani ISI and Pervez Musharraf periodically let the American surge across the Afghan border and attack the "sanctuaries". It is said that in the past Mullah Omar, Maulana Dadullah's boss, indicated that he did not believe the "sanctuary" idea put out by the ISI.

I feel that reflexively the Neo Taliban will place blame for this incident on the ISI and on Pervez Musharraf. The current environment with Khatib of Lal Masjid pouring scorn on the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf does not help ease the situation. Islamists everywhere, even those not connected with the Neo Taliban are more likely to believe that the ISI sold Maulana Dadullah out under Musharraf's orders.

We have already seen a gunfight at a Pakistan Afghanistan border post, and we have seen an bombing of the Marhaba Hotel in Peshawar. In the gunfight at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border post, an officer of the Pakistan forces suddenly got up and shot an american officer sitting in front of him to death. The suicide bomber in Marhaba blast is believed to have been a member of the Maulana Dadullah's Kakar tribe and he was supposed to be targetting "American spies" in the hotel. It may be recalled that the Kakar clan are one of the few Afghani tribes that weilds considerable influence inside the Pakistan Army.

Though the immediate burst of violence seems to be targetting Afghans and American/ISAF troops in revenge, it is only a matter of time before the Kakar tribesmen make their displeasure felt elsewhere. It is going to take some serious footwork on the part of the ISI and Gen. Musharraf to ensure that the Kakar angst is deflected on to someone other themselves.

The crises seem to be multiplying rapidly.

Each crisis strengthens the call for a reform of the political contract between Musharraf and the Pakistani people. It is often hard at times like this to remember that open discord in society strengthens the case for dictatorship.


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