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Tribesmen not joining lashkar over 'Pak military helping militants' suspicions


June 8, 2011 - Dir/ Peshawar

Pakistani tribesmen near the Afghan border would rise up in large numbers against infiltrating militants "if only they could be certain that the military would support them," according to a tribal leader from South Waziristan.

The Pakistan military says it is worried about trying to hold the recently cleared territory even as the United States pushes for a major new operation in North Waziristan.

Effective laskhars, or minutemen, could do some of that work of stopping militants from hopping from haven to haven, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

The problem is that most lashkars enlisted by the Pakistan government to aid in securing the border have been miserable failures, easily shut down by the militants, the report said.

"Where the government fails is that they do not back up the lashkars," says retired Brigadier Saad Mohammad.

"This is a full-time job, to be a part of a lashkar.... He has to be given a living. If no one gives him that, he'll put down his weapon and make it a part-time job," he added.

Mohammad also stressed that lashkars need to be formed before militants have had time in a region to kill tribal elders and scare tribesmen.

Tribesmen would rise up in large numbers against the militants if only they could be certain that the military would support them, a tribal leader from South Waziristan said on the condition of anonymity for fear of military authorities.

He pointed out that locals suspect that the military at times helps the militants, which discourages tribesmen from risking their lives by joining a lashkar.

"Just give them logistics, weapons - they will do the job for you because now the tribal people are sick and tired of this," the tribal leader said of rooting out militants. "It will be done like this," he added, snapping his fingers.

But any wide-scale effort to arm residents could backfire by creating a new set of warlords, Mohammad warned, adding that any use of lashkars should come with a timeline, a plan for disarming them, and a sustained strategy.

He also argued that the deficiency in this fight hasn't been in gunmen, but in civilian government engagement, the report said.

"Unfortunately in Pakistan and Afghanistan, there has been the overmilitarisation of the counterinsurgency effort," Mohammad said. "Counterinsurgency comprises of political reforms, economic packages, social reforms. [Instead] the complete effort has been given to the military."

ANI

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