Taliban Hit List: A Where’s Waldo? Pakistani Style
An interesting hit list has emerged from the Taliban in Pakistan. From Syed Saleem Shahzad in the Asia Times, see if you can guess who is missing from the list.
The initial skirmishes have already started in NWFP, where members and political allies of the ruling Pashtun sub-nationalist Awami National Party have been targeted. Four top leaders have already been killed and many homes have been gutted. Scores of anti-Taliban political workers have fled from the Swat Valley and other areas.
Taliban sources have confirmed to Asia Times Online that high-level targets are also planned, including army chief Kiani, the leader of the lead party in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan People’s Party’s Asif Zardari and Rehman Malik, the powerful advisor to the Ministry of Interior. Zardari has vacated his private Islamabad residence in favor of the prime minister’s house and he has also curtailed his public appearances.
On Wednesday, shots were fired at Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s motorcade, his spokesman said. The attack took place on the road to the airport in Islamabad. Gilani was not believed to be in the motorcade.
The Bajaur operation, which was intended to eliminate key figures in the “war on terror”, could end in leading figures in Pakistan being killed.
Why, whoever can the missing figure be? Here is a hint from Pakistan’s Daily Times:
Nawaz Sharif met Osama three times: former ISI official
Daily Times Monitor (23 June 2005)
LAHORE: Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official who was dismissed from the service by the late Gen Ziaul Haq because of his outspoken nature, has said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif met Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden thrice in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview to Asia Times Online on Wednesday, he said, “After Gen Zia’s death in a plane crash (1988), elections were announced and there was a possibility that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by Benazir Bhutto would win, which would be a great setback for the cause of the Afghan jihad against the USSR. The situation was discussed and all the mujahideen thought that they should play a role in blocking the PPP from winning the elections. I joined my former DG Hamid Gul and played a role in forming the then Islamic Democratic Alliance consisting of the Pakistan Muslim League and the Jamaat-e-Islami. The PPP won the elections by a thin margin and faced a strong opposition.”
Asian Times Online quoted Khalid as saying that Osama provided him with funds, which he handed over to Nawaz Sharif, then the chief minister of Punjab (and later premier), to dislodge Benazir Bhutto.
“Nawaz Sharif insisted that I arrange a direct meeting with the Osama, which I did in Saudi Arabia. Nawaz met thrice with Osama in Saudi Arabia. The most historic was the meeting in the Green Palace Hotel in Medina between Nawaz Sharif, Osama and myself. Osama asked Nawaz to devote himself to “jihad in Kashmir”. Nawaz immediately said, ‘I love jihad.’ Osama smiled, and then stood up from his chair and went to a nearby pillar and said, ‘Yes, you may love jihad, but your love for jihad is this much.’ He then pointed to a small portion of the pillar. ‘Your love for children is this much,’ he said, pointing to a larger portion of the pillar. ‘And your love for your parents is this much,’ he continued, pointing towards the largest portion. ‘I agree that you love jihad, but this love is the smallest in proportion to your other affections in life.’”
It quoted Khalid as saying these sorts of arguments were beyond Nawaz Sharif’s comprehension and he kept asking him ‘agreed or not’?
“Nawaz Sharif was looking for a Rs 500 million grant from Osama. Though Osama gave a comparatively smaller amount, the landmark thing he secured for Nawaz Sharif was a meeting with the (Saudi) royal family, which gave Nawaz Sharif a lot of political support, and it remained till he was dislodged (as premier) by Gen Pervez Musharraf (in a coup in 1999). Saudi Arabia arranged for his release and his safe exit to Saudi Arabia,” he told Asia Times online.