Leaving Waziristan

A force of 28,000 Pakistani army personnel is at the moment conducting an operation in South Waziristan. The operation was preceded by months of aerial bombing, and as the following Al Jazeera reports show the human cost in terms of lives lost, and displacement is high. A BBC crew earlier found the refugees so outraged with the Pakistani military’s operation that they were chanting slogans in support of Hakimullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, and Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and other TTP leaders.

Thousands flee Pakistan conflict – 22 Oct 09

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Hakimullah Mehsud: US is our enemy, not Pakistan

Looks like the drone attack which purportedly eliminated the Taliban leadership killed yet more innocents. Hakimullah Mehsud is alive and well, and gave a press conference right in Srarogha.  ‘In truth we don’t want to fight the Pakistan Army’, said Mehsud, ‘Our aim is to remove the Americans from this region and to fight the Americans’.

AlJazeeraEnglish — 06 October 2009 — This week, Pakistan’s interior minister said that military operations carried out against the Taliban in the Swat valley, and North and South Waziristan had “broken the back” of the Taliban.

However, South Waziristan is home to an estimated 10,000 Taliban fighters and it was here that Hakimullah Mehsud, the new Taliban leader, ended rumours that he had been killed by a recent drone attack.

Kamal Hyder reports from Islamabad.

Imran Khan on US Drone Attacks in Pakistan

Democracy Now’s important interview with Imran Khan on the recent drone attacks and the general failure of US policy in Pakistan. Khan is the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement), and is one of the very few politicians who dissented from the military operation in Swat which has now displaced more than 3 million people. (He is of course also a retired cricketing legend who led Pakistan to world cup victory in the early 90’s.) He offers a useful antidote to the otherwise unbroken parade of native informers who spew nonsense on mainstream media, progressive or conservative. Khan on the other hand provides useful context and realist alternatives to the present impasse. (Also see Pankaj Mishra’s excellent piece on the failed US policy that we ran here earlier).

The video clips for parts two and three and the transcript over the fold.

Part One (7.57)

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