ANOTHER JIHADI ATTACK ON FRONTIER GANDHI'S PARTY
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.368
Ten persons, including some leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) founded by the late Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, known as Frontier Gandhi, were killed in North Waziristan on February 11,2008, when a suicide bomber, estimated to be 17 years old, blew himself up near an election rally held at Eedak village near Mirali held in support of a local candidate for the forthcoming elections to the Pakistan National Assembly on February 18,2008. According to the US authorities, Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are operating from sanctuaries in the Mirali area.
2. While Al Qaeda, the IMU and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan cadres in North Waziristan have been observing an informal ceasefire against the Pakistani security forces in the area, they have been targeting the leaders and cadres of the ANP and their supporters in the local Dawar sub-tribe, who have been strongly critical of the presence and activities of foreign terrorists in the Pashtun homeland. In fact, the ANP has persuaded some of the Dawars to form a Lashkar (self-defence force) to protect the ANP leaders and to counter the foreign terrorists. While the ANP has been strongly critical of the foreign terrorists as well as the Americans and the Pakistan Army for misusing the Pashtun homeland for their attacks on each other, Al Qaeda and the IMU suspect that the ANP, which is secular and anti-Wahabi, has been passing on information to the Americans about the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and the IMU in the Pashtun belt.
3. Among those killed in the suicide attack were Haji Anwar Shah, President of the North Waziristan branch of the ANP, and Bakhtiar Khan Zeraki, President of the Mirali branch of the ANP. Nisar Ali Khan, the candidate for the election, reportedly escaped with minor injuries. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Only independents can. But most independents are indirectly supported by some Party or the other. Nisar Ali Khan belongs to the ANP, but he is projecting himself as an independent. Local ANP leaders as well as ANP leaders from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) have been canvassing for him.
4. For information on the Dawars, please visit http://ramanspashtunbeltdatabase.blogspot.com/ (12-2-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )