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The Taliban in Pakistan Take Aim: The Punjab Region
The New Taliban Offensive
As my previous hubs on the deteriorating situation that Pakistan is facing with the terrorists and how indifferrent the authorities there seem to be, we have yet another flashing RED warning signal about things to come, this from the huge Punjab district, home to nuclear related programs at Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan,
Dera Ghazi Khan is home where the mining of uranium, a key component to nuclear weapons,occurs as well as a processing plant which produces the "yellow cakes". Multan, a much larger city, also plays a vital role to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
The Taliban insurgency is co-authored by Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, or one should say, being produced by them as they provide much of the infrastructure for them and monetary support. In return, Al-Qaeda co-exists among them, a sort of, Odd Couple. Since the Pakistani Army basically handed over the Swat District in the Northwest back in February, Pakistan's weakness in taking a hard line has allowed the Taliban to build three training bases and base up to 8000 fighters now. And the Pakistani Army had told the press then, the Taliban were gone. Government officials have chosen to largely ignore this development and have left it up to the police to deal with the growing presence of insurgents, but they're vastly understaffed, particularly in rural areas. A Taliban spokesman who openly admits the militants want to use Swat as a base to expand into neighboring areas.
Duh! It takes real intelligence to see what the next moves may be. If you want to destabilize Pakistan, you have to destabilize Punjab and that is what the terrorists and islamists are doing, sowing their seeds a little a time, winning the hearts and minds of locals and local governments, who are under the Taliban rule. Militants have gained strength considerably in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan, which is a gateway to the Taliban. Some villages in the Punjab are "no-go" zones for locals. They are akin to going to a "bad part of town". Multan has received threats regarding Internet cafes, barbershops and other western type businesses. The wolf is knocking at the door, simply waiting for its strength to be increased.
The Pashtun Taliban and Arab militants, who are part of Al Qaeda, have money, sanctuary, training sites and suicide bombers. The Punjabi militants can provide logistical help in Punjabi cities, like Lahore, including handling bombers and target reconnaissance. The Marriott bombing in Islamabad in September was their first jointly planned and orchestrated attack.
Dera Ghazi Khan is strategically situated at the intersection of two main roads. One is a main artery into Pakistan’s heartland, in southern Punjab. The other connects Baluchistan Province in the west to the North-West Frontier Province, both Taliban strongholds. Ghulam Mustafa Kaisrani, a jihadi who posed as a salesman for a medical company provided support for recent Taliban attacks in the town. Pakistani officials found that $11,000,000 had been transferred from his account to the Taliban. Out of 160,000 police officers in Punjab, fewer than 60,000 are posted in rural areas, leaving frontier stations in districts virtually unprotected.
The bottom line is that Pakistan must do more. The insurgency only grows if there is nothing opposing it or if corruption is too deep. The local population cannot fight it and will simply remain a silent, unwilling subject under the Taliban. God knows what will happen if the Taliban or Al-Qaeda obtains enough nuclear material for a dirty bomb. It is not rocket science.