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The South Asia Channel

New details emerge on cross border raid

The death toll of Pakistani soldiers who were the target of a cross border Taliban raid into Pakistan on Sunday has risen to 13 (ET, Reuters, WaPo, NYT, BBC). Of those killed, seven are now said to have been beheaded according to Pakistani officials who discussed details of the violence on Monday. In response to ...

AFP/Getty images
AFP/Getty images

The death toll of Pakistani soldiers who were the target of a cross border Taliban raid into Pakistan on Sunday has risen to 13 (ET, Reuters, WaPo, NYT, BBC). Of those killed, seven are now said to have been beheaded according to Pakistani officials who discussed details of the violence on Monday. In response to the attack, which was conducted by at least 100 Taliban fighters in the north-western district of Upper Dir, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has lodged an official complaint with a senior Afghan diplomat, calling the episode an "intrusion of militants from the Afghan side." New Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said he would also raise the matter soon with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Pakistan’s claim of terrorist safe havens emanating from Afghanistan offers a counter-narrative to the frequent U.S. and NATO complaints about militant networks purported to be operating out of Pakistan’s border lands whom they see as responsible for much of the violence in Afghanistan.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a banned organization made up of a number of different militant groups, claimed this week that it is operating out of the Afghanistan border areas and using the area as a launching pad for attacks into Pakistan (ET). A spokesperson for TTP’s Malakand chapter going by the name Sirajuddin claimed that Maulana Fazlullah — one of the top TTP leaders who Pakistani officials claim fled Swat in 2008 after a Pakistani military crackdown — is currently commanding over a thousand dedicated fighters in Afghanistan.

Elsewhere, on Monday, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters attacked a Pakistani TV station in Karachi, injuring two people (Guardian, Dawn). TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan justified the attack by saying "we had informed the management of Aaj TV to include our view on issues, but the channel had become a mouthpiece of the government." He went on to threaten further attacks on TV stations should they not adequately represent the Taliban point of view.

Another roadblock for anti-polio efforts

A top Pakistani Taliban commander in the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan said on Monday that he would not allow any polio immunizations to take place in his territory until U.S. drone strikes ceased in the area (Guardian, ET, Dawn). According to a leaflet distributed by Maulvi Nazir’s militant group, the anti-polio regimen is considered a Western front. The leaflet mentioned the case of Dr Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who was running a bogus vaccination program in Abbottabad to help the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. The warning from Nazir comes less than a month after another Taliban commander in North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, issued an almost identical ultimatum about polio and drone strikes. Pakistan remains one of the three countries in the world where polio is endemic.

Meanwhile, General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is scheduled to travel to Pakistan on Wednesday to meet with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Dawn). He is expected to conduct negotiations aimed at restoring NATO supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan. It is also expected that Allen will press the Pakistanis to take action against the militant Haqqani network, whose safe haven in the Pakistani tribal areas has recently become a thorn in the side of U.S.-Pakistani relations (ET).

Reincarnating Swat’s Buddha

Through a joint project of the Italian Archaeological Mission and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology and Museums, a 20-foot tall sculpture of Buddha that was defaced by the Taliban in Swat in 2007 has been restored (ET). The project in Jahanabad was completed using a debt-swap agreement between the Italian and Pakistani governments.

–Tom Kutsch

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