Pakistan Army News

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Pakistan's Ambitious Program To Re-Educate Militants
April 01, 2013 3:15 AM

Pakistani men who worked for the Taliban attend a class at Mishal, an army-run rehabilitation center in Pakistan's Swat Valley, on July 5, 2011. This and similar centers are trying to re-educate men taken in by the Taliban, who ruled Swat before the military drove out the insurgents in 2009.

Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images

A Pakistani army officer named Col. Zeshan is giving a tour of a jihadi rehabilitation center secreted in the hills of northwest Pakistan's Swat Valley.

"This place was also captured by the Taliban," he says, walking me around the heavily guarded complex. "The army took over this place from them ... when the war was going on."

When they are provided an opportunity to come back to the society where they have a livelihood and a family, what's the point in going back to [the Taliban]?

- Col. Zeshan of the Pakistani army

The war against the Pakistani Taliban in Swat began in 2009. It was a military offensive that took a year to drive most of the Pakistani Taliban out of the valley. And while the military action is considered a success, even today the Taliban's ghostly presence is everywhere in Swat.

Last year, Taliban militants stopped a bus just outside Swat's main city of Mingora and shot three girls returning home from school. One of them was Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl who has become a force for promoting girls' education.

Even today, for the young men of Swat there is the constant fear of Taliban fighters, who press whomever they want into service.

"The Taliban just grab these kids and take them into the hills," says Hussain Nadim, a professor at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad. He is part of an effort to re-educate these young men at a number of jihadi rehab centers in the valley.

"These kids have no exposure, they have no education, there is no media to speak of, and the lack of these types of things in Swat breeds ignorance ... and fear," Nadim adds. "It makes it easy for the Taliban to recruit them and radicalize them."

Vocational School For Jihadis

That explains why the Pakistani army decided to make Swat ground zero for a quiet experiment: a little-known program aimed at re-educating thousands of young men who were taken in by the Taliban.

Classes such as this one at the Mishal center in Swat on July 5, 2011, teach former jihadis skills that will help them return to their families and be productive members of society.

Farooq Naeem /AFP/Getty Images

Using international funds and a contingent of army officers, Pakistan has tried its hand at turning would-be terrorists into law-abiding citizens. It has opened two jihadi rehabilitation centers — one called Mishal, for teenage militants, and another called Sabaoon, for younger ones — to see if they can return the young men of Swat back to their families.

The two campuses are like vocational schools for jihadis — only with high walls, barbed wire and armed guards.

Zeshan takes me into an electronics class — it looks like a high school science lab, all electrical meters and alligator clips. A computer lab has rows of flat-screen PCs.

"We teach them very basic things, like how to use MS-Word and things like that," Zeshan says. I ask if they go on the Internet, and Zeshan looks surprised, saying, "Yes, of course."

Before coming to the army centers, very few of the young men even knew what the Internet was. Parts of the Swat Valley are that cut off from the rest of the world. And that isolation, rehabilitation center officials say, is one of the reasons the Taliban prey on young men from this area.

"We bring them here to make them productive members of society," says Zeshan. "The Taliban has put ideas in their heads, and we work to undo that and set them right."

There are different theories on how to re-educate violent jihadis and an even greater number of doubts about whether reverse indoctrination actually works. In Saudi Arabia, a 12-step program includes art therapy and helping young men find a job and a wife. In Singapore, jihadis are taught less violent interpretations of the Quran.

But in Swat, the approach is different — and simpler.

Schoolgirls pray for Pakistan's child activist Malala Yousafzai in Mingora in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley on Nov. 10. The teenager was shot by the Taliban for promoting girls' education.

A. Majeed /AFP/Getty Images

The focus at the centers is not specifically about jihad. Instead, it is more about skills.

"We tell them, you need to get your life back in order. We tell them that their mothers or their sisters are at home waiting for them ... waiting for them to take care of them," Nadim says. "We don't confuse them with ideas of what is a good jihad or a bad jihad. We tell them their focus should be on their families."

'The Taliban Had Misguided Me'

Farooq, 24, is a typical charge. I met him in a wood-working classroom at Mishal. He was putting the finishing touches on a wooden rubab, a Pakistani musical instrument that resembles a lute. He had graduated from Mishal only a couple of months earlier; now the army employs him as a wood shop teacher at the center.

It was the rubab that got Farooq involved with the Taliban in the first place, he says.

"I was playing it outside my shop, and they said it was haram [forbidden] to play this," Farooq says. "And this is how they caught me and then they forced me to join their ranks. The Taliban just took me away."

The Pakistani Taliban considers music evil. Farooq's punishment for his rubab playing: to run errands for the group for years. Eventually, the Pakistani army captured him and transferred him to its school at Mishal. After six months of classes, Farooq says he now understands that the Taliban used him.


Sabaoon, another center for re-educating former militant recruits, was held by the Taliban before the Pakistan army took it over during the offensive to clear the Taliban from Swat.

Dina Temple-Raston/NPR

"The Taliban had misguided me," he says. "They told me I had to wage jihad against the Pakistani army. But now I understand that they used me. They told me lies. The army and this school helped me understand that."

For the most part, these men — like Farooq — aren't driven by religious fanaticism. They stayed with the Taliban because they didn't know any better.

"The Taliban told me that the Pakistani army was just a puppet of the United States," Farooq says. "They said that we should fight the Pakistani army, wage a jihad against them. And so we did."

Since 2010, several thousand young men — and a handful of women — have graduated from the program. The funding for Mishal, Sabaoon and a couple of other rehab centers in Swat comes from the Pakistani army and from international aid groups. Zeshan says the recidivism rate is near zero.

"When they are provided an opportunity to come back to the society where they have a livelihood and a family, what's the point in going back to those people?" says Zeshan, referring to the Taliban.

A Jihadi On Parole

The army offered several handpicked graduates for interviews, but we wanted to find one independently. We met him in a Pashtun house in the middle of a field, hours from Mishal.

Newly constructed, the house was made of solid brick on three sides, with glass facing into a courtyard. The front door was made of steel.

We were escorted to a room where the men of the house sleep. Five double beds were pushed against the walls, and a single candle flickered on a table. There was no electricity. The recent graduate — who said his name was Fandula — came in from the darkness wearing a soft wool hat and a cape.

"I stayed with the army for two years, and I was accused of being one of the accomplices for the Taliban," he said in Pashtun.

Two years is a long time in the army's rehab program, and it suggests that Fadula was a hard case. He said that in addition to taking vocation classes and sitting down with a psychologist at the center, he was asked to talk to religious leaders.

"In the afternoon, the religious men told us whatever happened in the past was not good and killing in the name of religion is not good," Fandula said. "I know what they were trying to do: They were trying to undo what the Taliban did."

We asked if it worked. He nodded.

"Yes," he said quietly. "It worked."

Fandula checks in with the army once a week. He's on a kind of jihadi parole. And he says he isn't tempted by the Taliban or the group's ideas anymore. He said he occasionally sees some of the students who were with him at the center, and, he says, they don't have any interest in the Taliban now, either.

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Many gave some; some gave all.  May Allah bless these heroes and may our nation come to realize and cherish their sacrifices and heroism. Ameen



The martyrs of the Tirah Valley

Published: May 17, 2013

Mustafa was associated with the 8 Punjab regiment while participating in a military operation in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley, which fell to the combined forces of the Tehrik-e-Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Islam. PHOTO: FILE


“For me, Mustafa is everywhere, he never left us. Our 7-year-old daughter Rameen is proud of her father’s martyrdom,” says Sadia Mustafa, widow of Major Mustafa Sabir, who embraced martyrdom last week during clashes with militants in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency among other 23 military personnel. Rameen talks tirelessly about her father, and misses him badly, especially when she remembers how he would take her for ice cream. 

Mustafa was associated with the 8 Punjab regiment while participating in a military operation in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley, which fell to the combined forces of the Tehrik-e-Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Islam. It is considered to be a crucial battlefield in Pakistan’s war against both foreign and local terrorists.

The wounds are still raw, but this brave woman dares to share her pain. “We are proud of his martyrdom; Allah granted him what he always prayed for. In accordance with Mustafa’s wish, I want to give my children a quality education so they can also serve their homeland just like their father.”

The valiant Mustafa who had served on key posts such as Siachen, South Waziristan and Swat, was born on September 19, 1978 in Faisalabad. He had joined Pakistan army in 1998 as a commissioned officer and was also part of United Nations peacekeeping mission for Congo.

Sadia said her husband was a brave soldier like his colleagues, adding that she calls up her husband’s unit officials on a daily basis to inquire about their well being.

A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men. Scores of militants have also been killed.

According to statistics released by ISPR, around 2,400 personnel lost their lives and another 6,500 were wounded just in 2009-2010. In comparison, US/Nato forces in the region combined had a casualty figure of approximately 1,600. This shows the high price being paid by the Pakistani nation to eliminate terrorism. Sadly, it is a sacrifice that is rarely acknowledged and even in Pakistan, we rarely hear of the names behind the numbers.

One such name is of Captain Waseem -u- Din Razi. Just about a month ago, on the 5th of April, this brave son of Pakistan embraced martyrdom in the Tirah Valley.

Born 29 April 1987 in Karachi, Captain Waseem was a gutsy young commando of the SSG who, since his passing out, had participated in many furious military actions including the Swat operation.

As if guided by an inner intuition, Waseem this time paid a short visit to his ancestral home in Islamabad to seek permission for going for Jihad in the line of duty, before the last mission of his life. “It is binding upon us to seek permission from parents before proceeding for Jihad,” he had said. After acquiring that permission from his mother, he loudly said goodbye to all, briskly walked to the vehicle waiting outside his home, and never looked back.

He had promised his mother to call when he reached the operational area. When he did, his mother asked where he was. He replied, “I have reached the place where I was supposed to be”.

During the Swat operation, says his family, Waseem had moments where he questioned what he was doing: Is it okay to fight against our own brothers? He would wonder. But when he encountered the opponents on the ground, he found that the militants, who claimed to be fighting for Islam, were themselves violating Islamic injunctions. Waseem was disturbed at their brutality, their executions and hostage-taking and their acts of forcing young girls to marry them against their will.  Since then, Capt Waseem Shaheed very devotedly started seeking inspiration from the guiding principles of religion, and had a clear understanding of the concepts of martyrdom and Jihad. He knew that this was his war, and in the valley of Tirah, he gave his life fighting it.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2013.




For the sacrifices these men are making, I personally do not have words worthy of paying tribute to them, but listen to 0:40 - 1:30 minute of this youtube video (whether you like Zaid Hamid or not), and it makes you realize how difficult it is for these men to go on fighting for Pakistan without getting the support they deserve.  May the Almighty reward them a thousandfold for taking on the fight when the entire nation is in a state of despair and confusion and may the Almighty make them victorious over the Takfiris.  Ameen.


S.Q, Sultan and Z... like this

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Chairman Senate, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum and Good Afternoon,

It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to address this remarkable gathering representing experts in a wide variety of disciplines and from a number of countries. The diversity, background and expertise of the guests has made this symposium a truly rewarding and successful event. The participation of representatives from 28 countries is a vivid expression of the desire of international community to fight terrorism. It is also reflective of the international community’s willingness to play a greater role in the region in dealing with the multiple issues associated with IEDs. We welcome your keen interest and hope that this event will help you understand our peculiar environment, our abilities and most importantly our constraints.

As a nation we are peace loving people. Overwhelming majority of our people is moderate, resilient and extraordinarily hardworking. In the recently conducted General Elections, we have amply demonstrated that as a nation we can withstand any challenge. In these elections, people of Pakistan not only courageously withstood the threat of terrorism; they also defied unfounded dictates of an insignificant and misguided minority. As a nation, our commitment to moderation, prosperity and Rule of Law is total and unwavering. We have the resolve and a firm belief to overcome the challenges towards attainment of these goals.   

One of these challenges is the threat of terrorism. In fighting this menace, we share the experience of many other nations. We have a rich experience of dealing and succeeding against the faceless enemy who employs highly innovative means of destruction. In pursuit of global peace, we have to respond to this enemy equally innovatively while always staying a step ahead.
Over time, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have posed a new dimension of threat to the public as well as the Law Enforcement Agencies. This threat is multidimensional and complex. Factors like prompt availability, ease of manufacture, low production cost, innovative use and resultant devastating effects have made the IED, a weapon of choice for the terrorists. Their use has unfortunately gained wider currency.

The threat and impact of these weapons is not Pakistan specific. IEDs have caused devastation at both regional and global levels. These have been used with unfortunate consistency in Iraq and Afghanistan and thankfully, somewhat inconsistently, in other countries of the world. The recent Boston bombings involving use of homemade IED manifests the international dimension of this threat and serves as a stark reminder that even the most developed nations of the world remain vulnerable to this threat.

Contrary to prevalent perceptions, Pakistan has come a long way in fighting this menace over the past 2-3 years. Pakistan has taken significant policy initiatives to counter the IED threat. Pakistan Army, aware of the seriousness of the threat, is leading the drive to create a pragmatic, cost-effective and efficient C-IED Strategy. This strategy aims at creating awareness, assisting legislation, adopting best practices from across the world, suitably equipping the forces and effectively training them. The strategy thus aims at developing a proactive, rather than a reactive response at the national level.

The underlying complexity of the issue, forces us to adopt a multinational, as well as whole of the Government approach. I will take the example of just one of the precursors of IEDs i.e. Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (commonly known as CAN). Pakistan, being an agricultural country, is heavily dependent on fertilizers.  5% of the fertilizers used in agricultural sector of Pakistan are based on CAN. Production of CAN has come under national and international focus, to the extent of creating a perception that controlling CAN alone, can remove the menace of IEDs and our arguments against that perception were almost taken as unwillingness to act against IEDs. However, CAN is only one of the precursor of IEDs. There are dozens others which remain readily available. Moreover, Pakistan is not the only country producing CAN. Other countries in the region also produce CAN which has a higher degree of nitrogen content than what Pakistani CAN possesses. For example, Ammonium Nitrate, produced in certain regional countries has 34-35% of nitrogen content as opposed to 26% contained in the Pakistani product.

This is not all. There is evidence that as Pakistan tightened the control on sale and distribution of CAN, terrorists simply switched to other precursors, like Potassium Chlorate, not produced in Pakistan. The predicament thus clearly reflects the necessity of an approach which is comprehensive, in terms of (One) involving all countries of the region, (Two) covering the complete range of possible hazardous materials and (Three) very importantly, mitigating the effects of policy restrictions on the common man. We don’t want to end up making our citizens dependent upon black marketers and criminal elements, thus strengthening rather than weakening the terrorists’ support network. There remains a need to explore, with the help of the more technologically advanced among us, how best to replace the hazardous materials with economically viable alternatives, or to mitigate their destructive capacity through chemical treatment or, even if that is not possible, development of necessary monitoring mechanisms.

I am hopeful that with the support and collaboration of international community, Pakistan and the region will overcome the menace of IEDs. Our success will hinge upon adopting a focused and multilayered approach, improving upon the ability to work with partners around the globe and at all levels of government as well as the private sector; to monitor, protect against and ultimately reduce the threat of an IED being used successfully. We must continue to coordinate our efforts, commit the required resources and maintain the hard-earned counter-IED experiences for our collective use.

The Symposium has provided us a forum to sit together and seriously debate upon the issue and find solutions to the problem. I am sure that it would strengthen our resilience in defeating IEDs in an effective and responsible manner. Benefitting from the regional and global presence of distinguished guests of diverse expertise, I would like to propose formation of a Regional Military C-IED Forum supported by a wider international forum to benefit from experiences of all countries involved. I am hopeful that this proposal will receive serious consideration from the participants and their countries.

I extend my sincerest tribute to the Pak Army’s Shuhada and their families without whose sacrifices we would not be where we are today. I would also ask you to remember all the victims of IEDs in Pakistan, as well as those who have suffered in other countries of the world. We all owe a collective debt to them which can only be repaid by exterminating the menace of IEDs. The reduction in this menace, I am sure, would help in defeating terrorism as a whole.
In the end, I would thank the worthy participants of this Symposium. Your participation has enhanced our resolve and would hopefully prove to be a stepping-stone towards improved regional and global cooperation.

I Thank You



Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressing the participants of Counter Improvised Explosive Devises (C-IEDs) International Symposium on Saving Lives by defeating IEDs held at General Headquarters on Monday.  (20-5-2013)

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Pakistani army to form counter-IED units

Staff Report


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ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani army is considering creation of a Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) force within its ranks to deal with what it called the "cheapest assassins," an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said February 11.


Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Rashad Mahmood chaired an inter-agency meeting in Rawalpindi February 11 where conferees discussed ways to control the movement of explosives and calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser from regional and extra-regional countries, the statement added.

Pakistan has been the top victim of IEDs with 33,150 explosions during the past 10 years killing at least 11,250 people, according to the ISPR.

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Countering cold start: Military to adopt new war concept
Published: June 4, 2013

Three services to become integrated force. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan’s military is all set to adopt a “new concept” of war for fighting future conventional threats, specifically pre-empting India’s cold-start military doctrine, revealed security officials.

The new war concept, developed after four years of war games and military exercises, seeks to improve the mobilisation time of troops and develop an integrated response from the combined fighting arms of the army, navy and air forces, in case of a conventional military threat.

It will formally be put into practice with the culmination of the “Azm-e-Nou” war-games series this month. The exercises, which started in 2009, have been part of the army’s new concept of war fighting, designed to respond to the threat posed by India’s Pakistan-specific cold-start doctrine.

The cold-start doctrine is intended to allow India’s conventional forces to perform swift and unexpected holding penetrations within the first 72 hours of hostilities.

The doctrine has been designed to give India an edge in the first few days of combat operations, before international pressure could be brought to bear on India and before the Pakistani military could respond effectively.


The Indian military, however, publicly denies the existence of any such doctrine. The final series of ‘Azm-e-Nau IV’ kicked off in Islamabad at the National Defence University on Monday to validate operational plans prepared in view of the emerging threat environment, said a senior military official.

All services chiefs are being hosted by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for the finalisation of the new concept.

“The army war games are the culmination of a series of such exercises and aims at validation and crystallisation of operational plans prepared in view of the emerging threat environment,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Operational plans of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy are also being finalised in close coordination with the army.

The war games will continue for two weeks, the statement added.

Unveiling details of the concept, the military source said that after the implementation of the new war fighting strategy, the Pakistan Army would be able to mobilise its forces faster than India.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2013.

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After three weeks' basic airborne training, which included exit, flight and landing techniques, the new paratroopers completed their first jump on Sunday. - ISPR photo
Published 2013-07-14 16:06:36

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's first group of female paratroopers completed their training on Sunday, the military announced, hailing it as a “landmark achievement” for the country.

Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch of 24, the military said in a statement, while Captain Sadia, referred to by one name, became the first woman officer to jump from a MI-17 helicopter.

Women have limited opportunities in Pakistan's highly traditional, patriarchal society. The United Nations says only 40 per cent of adult women are literate, and they are frequently the victims of violence and abuse.

But in 2006 seven women broke into one of Pakistan's most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots -- perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to the fairer sex.

After three weeks' basic airborne training, which included exit, flight and landing techniques, the new paratroopers completed their first jump on Sunday and were given their “wings” by the commander of Special Services Group, Major General Abid Rafique, the military said.

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Great achievement. Do we know which unit these female paratroopers belong to? As there is no dedicated para unit in the PA orbat it would be interesting to see who their parent unit is? In theory given the number of personnel who have earned their wings would it be feasible to form one? Or are the financial and administrative costs to great to bear?

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They have done the basic para course.  It is offered to officers as part of the "adventure" qualifications among other things.  The lady officers are probably all from different arms.  Doubt PA would realistically allow women to be inducted in combat ready formations.

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Corps of Artillery to be modernized to prepare for future threats, says Pakistan Army chief


RAWALPINDI, Dec 31 (APP): Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif Tuesday said that Pakistan Army would do all that was possible to modernize the Corps of Artillery as part of its overall drive to prepare for the future threat.

He made these remarks during his visit to the regimental centre of Corps of Artillery at Attock, on the occasion of annual commanding officers conference.The COAS laid wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada on his arrival at Artillery Centre and later addressed the commanding officers.

He appreciated the gunners for displaying the highest standards in all professional pursuits, including their befitting participation in operations, said an ISPR press release issued here.  

Speaking on the leadership traits, the COAS emphasized cardinals of character, courage and competence as the core ingredients of a military leader to inspire his subordinates and accomplish his assigned mission.

Earlier on his arrival at the regimental centre, General Raheel Sharif was received by the Colonel Commandant Corps of Artillery, Lieutenant General Tariq Nadeem Gilani and Inspector General Arms, Lieutenant General Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry.


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