Qaeda silence on Pakistan significant
* Stratfor says Qaeda deflecting attention from Pakistan, despite major successes, to protect its leadership
By Khalid Hasan
Washington: The latest video communiqué from Al Qaeda, notes a commentary, makes no mention of Pakistan, keeping itself confined in general to the Middle East and in particular to Iraq.
Stratfor, the Texas-based news intelligence service, points out that unlike in Iraq and most other places, Al Qaeda can actually claim a significant degree of success in Pakistan. However, the last time Al Qaeda issued a statement on Pakistan was on September 20, 2007, when Bin Laden vowed to retaliate against President Pervez Musharraf for the killing of the cleric who led the uprising at Islamabad’s Red Mosque. Since then, the jihadists in Pakistan have successfully staged multiple suicide attacks against army and air force installations and personnel, as well as those of the ISI. In addition, Pakistani Taliban have consolidated their hold in the Waziristan region. The Taliban phenomenon has also spread to Swat where Pakistani forces are still battling to regain control.
According to Stratfor, more recently, insecurity and instability in Pakistan increased sharply because of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The deterioration of political stability in Pakistan is forcing the United States to re-evaluate its options. Chaos, weakening of government control, and the entry of the US military into the fray – are conditions in which Al Qaeda thrives.
“Yet there is an odd silence from Al Qaeda regarding these victories. Despite its relative success in Pakistan, the group continues to expend its precious resources on producing statements that either rehash its usual standard rhetoric, or that focus on areas in which it is facing defeat. Why would a group that thrives so much on media attention make such a bad PR move? Al Qaeda’s apex leaders are many things, but they are not stupid. … Therefore we tend to prefer the simple, obvious explanation: They are focusing everywhere but Pakistan because they want to draw attention away from Pakistan.”
Stratfor believes that Al Qaeda “prime” is headquartered in Pakistan. With Washington’s focus shifting from the chaos in Iraq to the chaos in Pakistan, it might be that the spotlight is shining uncomfortably close to the apex leadership. From Al Qaeda’s point of view, the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre is perhaps the only area of opportunity left for the jihadists to exploit, and the area where the final battle of the US-jihadist war will be fought. But Al Qaeda may not be eager to fight it just yet.