Monday, February 22, 2010

Terrorism: bin Laden and Zawahiri now calling Karachi home?

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Sources in the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party headed by Mr.Altaf Hussain, who lives in political exile in the UK, have been alleging for some months now that many leaders of the Afghan Taliban have shifted from Quetta in Balochistan to Karachi and that, similarly, the absconding leaders of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), including its Amir Maulana Fazlullah, have shifted from the Swat Valley to Karachi.

2. Their allegations were not taken seriously till now by US officials. Those allegations were attributed to the MQM's political tussle with the Awami National Party (ANP), which enjoys the support of the majority of the Pashtun community of Karachi, and dismissed as motivated by this political rivalry.

3. However, the recent arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the supposed No. 2 of the Afghan Taliban, and some middle-level leaders of the organisation, in Karachi have lent credibility to the allegations of the MQM. Sources in Mr.Altaf Hussain's organisation are now alleging that not only leaders of the Afghan Taliban, but also many absconding elements of Al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, and his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, have shifted to Karachi from North Waziristan to escape the intensified Drone (unmanned planes) attacks by the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and that they have been given shelter by their Pashtun sympathisers in Karachi. They further allege that the Pakistani authorities and some of the political leaders are aware of this.

4.Mr. Ansar Burney, Chairman of the Ansar Burney Trust and a former Minister of the Federal Government, who was among the first to make allegations about the shifting of the Afghan Taliban leaders from Quetta to Karachi, has now gone public with allegations regarding the shifting of Al Qaeda leaders from North Waziristan to Karachi. In a statement issued on Februar

y 21,2010 carried by the "News" on February 22, he has been quoted as saying as follows: "The recent arrest of one of the close allies of Osama bin Laden and Mulla Omar from Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi, has proved that my previous statements about the presence of terrorists in Karachi were true. " He expressed his grave concern over the information that Abu Riyan al Zarqawi, also known as Abu Musa, reportedly told the security agencies that Osama bin Laden and Mulla Omar were in Pakistan and that just a month ago he met them personally and added: "It was shocking to know after the reports that Osama bin Laden and Mulla Omar were in Pakistan under the patronage of some political parties and supporters in the Government. After the arrest of Abu Musa, it is now confirmed that the leadership of the al-Qaeda and Taliban are in Karachi and enjoying their life in safe havens. The President and the Prime Minister should take stern action against the increasing Talibanisation and Al Qaeda activities in Karachi.Talibanisation is a conspiracy to undermine peace in the entire region and I urge the patriotic Pakistanis and national security agencies to curb this menace or the solidarity of the country would be at stake.

I had already confirmed reports and recently issued statements that after the Army operation in Swat and tribal areas, terrorists had taken refuge in Karachi and were spreading terrorism throughout Pakistan from the country’s largest city." He condemned some politicians and religious leaders for their criminal silence on the Talibanisation in Pakistan. ( 22-2-10)

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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