Pakistan’s War against Terrorism – Al Jazeera TV Report – By Rageh Omaar

Pakistan’s War
Rageh Omaar speaks to those who say Pakistan is paying the ultimate price in the
so-called ‘war on terror’ [GALLO/GETTY]

As the fallout from last month’s bloody siege in Mumbai focuses the world’s attention on Pakistan’s ability to control insurgents within its own borders, Al Jazeera investigates Pakistan’s role in the so-called ‘war on terror’.

In this exclusive two-part series, Rageh Omaar travels from the capital, Islamabad, to the tribal heartlands to chart the spread of suicide bombings and the escalation of violence that has turned Pakistan into a war zone.

Pakistan’s War: The Battle Within

In the first part of Pakistan’s War, Rageh Omaar revisits the scene of the military assault on the Red Mosque, which he witnessed in July 2007.

Rageh and his team had been the last television crew inside the mosque before the siege began and filmed the last interview with mosque leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi before his death.

The showdown at the Red Mosque marked a turning point in Pakistan’s war [EPA]

Rageh learns that the showdown for control of the Red Mosque marked a turning-point in Pakistan’s war with the insurgents – the moment when the Taliban-backed insurgency moved from the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan to the heart of the capital, sparking an ongoing wave of violence inside Pakistan.

Al Jazeera hears Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, claim that his democratically-elected government has opened up a ‘new dialogue’ with the US.

He denies that he is fighting a proxy war for the West in the so-called ‘war on terror’.
Instead, Zardari argues that his determination to defeat the insurgents and bring democracy to the tribal areas of Pakistan is part of a comprehensive home-grown programme to strengthen legitimate institutions, build state capacity and create a new relationship between the government and the army.

“I will take the writ of law to the ends of the last border post of Pakistan,” pledges Zardari.

A Taliban fighter in Pakistan’s Swat Valley [GALLO/GETTY]

“That means there will be police stations, there will be judges, there will be civil society and civil law. We have to make people understand that they cannot challenge the writ of the state and they can not blackmail the world into listening to their point.”

During his investigations Rageh Omaar learns that Pakistan’s efforts to crush the insurgents in the tribal areas are compromised by US cross-border drone strikes, which violate Pakistan’s fragile sovereignty.

In the three months before Al Jazeera’s crew arrived, 20 US drone strikes killed more than 100 people.

Corps Commander General Masood complains: “The majority of people in this area perceive the US presence in Afghanistan as occupation forces. So when the US starts acting inside Pakistan and any innocent civilian is killed by any of these attacks, it reduces the credibility of the Pakistan army to be doing something good.”

Pakistan’s War: The Battle Within airs on Sunday, December 28 at 0000GMT and will be repeated on Sunday, December 28 at 1400GMT, Monday, December 29 at 1000GMT and 1900GMT and Tuesday, December 30 at 0600GMT.

Pakistan’s War: On The Front Line

In the second part of Pakistan’s War, Rageh Omaar joins the Pakistani army in their full-scale military offensive against insurgents on the frontier with Afghanistan.

In Bajaur province – where Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, is believed to be hiding – Rageh witnesses a decisive moment in the army’s campaign.

In the second part of the series, Rageh Omaar follows the Pakistani army [GALLO/GETTY]

He follows infantry from house to house in their advance on the Taliban stronghold of Loe Sam and is forced to retreat when the army unit he is filming comes under fire from Taliban fighters.

Throughout his five-week journey, Rageh Omaar discovers the cost of the campaign for Pakistan.

He visits Colonel Zahid at a military hospital as he recovers from surgery to amputate his foot, which was injured in the fighting in Bajaur.

He speaks to Major General Janjua, who says: “We are suffering the maximum, we are contributing the maximum … we are sacrificing for the sake of the world.”

Al Jazeera hears from the widow of a Pakistani officer killed by Nato ‘friendly fire’ and the daughter of a senior officer killed by a suicide bombing, who sees her father as a martyr.

Al Jazeera also talks to the insurgents themselves, who oppose Zardari’s ambition to bring democracy to the tribal areas and instead are fighting for the imposition of Islamic law inside Pakistan.

Rageh Omaar speaks to refugees displaced by the fighting [GALLO/GETTY]

A spokesperson for the insurgency in Swat, Muslim Khan, delivers a message for American viewers, saying: “The views of the new president that is coming, Barack Obama, are not good.

“I would like to send a message to the American people that their money that is being sucked out of them in the form of taxes is being used for bombs and killing innocent people … If the jihad continues in the way at present, I also believe that America will become zero power not superpower – only God is superpower.”

Rageh Omaar’s timely journey raises fundamental questions about the future of Pakistan.

Video links: Rageh Omaar’s Pakistan’s war- a battle inside by Al Jazeera

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Amir Hameed Says:
January 1st, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Thanks for posting the links. My take-away after watching these videos is:

– Moshe was a SOB (a well known and established fact) and he should have been advised/stopped by the top millitary leadership from invading the Lal Mosque. There was no justification of invading the mosque and killing all the people that died there.

– Maulana Rasheed was no angel. There was no justification for him to start burning the shops in the name of implementing his brand of Shariah. He was a nut-case and was responsible for putting a lot of his followers in harms way and getting them killed in the name of some Jihad that was no more than suiside.

– I was disgusted by watching the execution of a soldier and a person from the hands of little kids. These MoFo beardos are creating killing machines in the name of fighting their brand of “Jihad”.

– As long as the occupied forces are present in Afghanistan, these events will only intensify and I see no fading away of the foreign forces from Afghanistan and hence ….
– Per the beardo fagg0t from Swat, they were NOT killing innocent people but that is exactly what they are doing.