By Fram Dinshaw
This place is one of the most lawless on Earth – a land of tribal vendettas, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs, weapons smugglers, and al-Qaeda terrorists who’ve basically been allowed to run riot as they plot attacks across an entire country – and the wider world.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was somewhere like Lebanon or Iraq – places in the news all the time for similar reasons – but you’d be wrong. Welcome to Waziristan, Pakistan’s North West Nightmare next door to Afghanistan.
President Musharraf’s Government was by no means the first to try and fail miserably to bring this anarchic frontier under some sort of control. The British faced a similar problem before 1947 when Pakistan was a part of British India.
The English Tommies and Royal Air Force managed to save us from Nazi Germany – its what they were designed to do – but try as they might, they could not secure the Afghan border against Pashtun Tribesman waging guerrilla warfare against what was the world’s most powerful country.
What’s new in all this is that the British faced only a localized guerrilla revolt by disgruntled tribesmen. Today, Waziristan and the North West Frontier is a haven for al-Qaeda terrorists, including perhaps Osama bin Laden himself, along with Taliban militias who are in the process of imposing strict Islamic Sharia rule on the area.
They are now extending their tenticles to all of Pakistan, with the seizure of Islamabad’s Red Mosque being the start of what’s to come. With control of Pakistan, they’ll have control of its nuclear missiles.
All this is thanks to Pakistan and America’s pre 9/11 policy, who sponsored Islamists to battle the Soviets who invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Pakistan continued by supplying the Afghan Taliban with weapons and soldiers from its own frontier region.
It could now be too late to bring Waziristan and the North West Frontier under any sort of central control. Pakistani government soldiers have been captured or killed here by the hundred since the 9/11 attacks. It just goes to show that there’s holes dug all over the North West Frontier for outsiders who think they can take on the tribesmen in their home turf.