Posts Tagged ‘Haqqani network’

Tacstrat Analysis: The Haqqani question

March 1, 2013

Tacstrat Analysis

Many analysts have taken up various positions on the subject of the United States, Pakistan and the controversial Haqqani Network. Tough calls have demanded that Pakistan be declared a rogue state, all aid suspended to the country and sanctions imposed. Others digress and say sanctions on Pakistan did not really work. Not only did Pakistan successfully test its nuclear capabilities, the economic toll of the sanctions nearly led to the breaking up of the small state. Unemployment rose exponentially, political tensions led to the overthrow of a democratic government and resulted in a military leadership that ruled over the country for another 9 years. Setting aside the age-old debate on whether sanctions really do work, one must accept the fact that sanctions, in Pakistan’s case, are not a pragmatic option.

As recently as March 1, the United States government has flexed its muscle over the Iran-Pakistan pipeline deal and implied, with strong undertones, that Pakistan should avoid any activity that would invite sanctions. Realistically speaking, the United States in unlikely to impose any such sanctions, over Iran OR the Haqqani Network.

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Tacstrat: Getting Waziristan Right

November 27, 2012

Tacstrat Analysis

North Waziristan figures prominently on the entire terrorism scene. Every terrorist or would be terrorist arrested indicates some kind of direct or indirect link to North Waziristan making it a point of convergence for anyone contemplating a terrorist act. All reports confirm the presence of Afghan Taliban personified by the Haqqani Network, the ‘Pakistan Taliban- Tehrik Taliban Pakistan and an assortment of Chechens, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Arabs and even Western origin people in North Waziristan together with kidnappers, drugs and weapon smugglers and criminals from Pakistan who go there to rest and recuperate after their latest venture and before the next one. The outreach from this area into the urban centers of Pakistan links it to various extremist militant outfits that are ready to do whatever is required for a price and with the added benefit of furthering their own ethnic, sectarian, political or resource gathering agendas. It goes without saying that there may be, and probably is, external exploitation of this complex situation. This cauldron of criminal, subversive, insurgent and militant activity is the single most important reason for Pakistan’s image worldwide as the epicenter of terrorism and for the economic decline fuelled by a destabilized internal security situation. The combined threat that this situation poses now threatens Pakistan’s existence as a state.

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Afridi: whistleblower or traitor?

September 11, 2012

ZoneAsia-Pk

Shakil Afridi once again makes headlines with even more controversial statements. The doctor who headed a fake polio vaccination program was responsible for disclosing the hiding location of OBL to the US forces. The entire incident was a great source of embarrassment for the Pakistani government and especially the army. Rumors about ISI’s involvement with militants grew a spine.

Is Afridi a whistleblower or a traitor? Depends on which side of the fence we choose to stand on. For Pakistan Shakil Afridi is guilty of backstabbing his people. By working as a spy with the CIA, instead of helping Pakistan Army (equally involved, if not more, in the war on terror) Dr. Afridi has betrayed his people and nation on more than one level.

Let’s have a look at the background of this controversial interview conducted by FOX News, a news channel notorious for being biased, uninformed and presumptuous in its broadcasts. The interview, CNN claims, was taken inside Peshawar jail. For a detainee like Shakil Afridi who is ‘heavily guarded’ to have a chance to make such bold statements in the presence of guards is highly unlikely. The entire interview seems like a hoax. There is no audio or video footage available to the public yet. Furthermore, when contacted, prison official were unaware of any such interview.

Or perhaps Afridi, and Western media, are exaggerating the level of isolation imposed on Afridi, for even the most liberal democracies (like USA) have known better than to allow ‘traitors’ such liberties. We have the example of Bradley Manning, who was disallowed any contact with media, family or friends. Manning’s example opens us to a broader debate: where do we draw the line between ‘blowing the whistle’ and ‘backstabbing’ your country’?

The timing of this release is also very interesting. The news was introduced on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 which also happened to be the day when AQIP senior leader’s death in a drone attack was confirmed. A perfect way to exploit public emotions for more viewership, and support.

In his so-called interview, Afridi labored on and on about the brutal torture he had to bear at the hands of the ISI. I am pretty sure a traitor is not given the red carpet treatment anywhere in the world especially in the nation which Afridi loves and respects so much. Guantanamo Bay prison is well known for their techniques too like waterboarding. Just because the US chooses to torture prisoners does not make the methods acceptable. Human right activists have protested against interrogation techniques used by security agencies across the world. But let’s face it traitors are never welcome.

Shakil Afridi also stated that the ISI has links with militants including the Haqqani Network, and instead of taking punitive actions chose to release them. Haqqani Network was only recently placed on the list of foreign terrorist organizations by the US. By linking the Haqqanis to the ISI, Afridi has made a strong statement regarding the motives of our government. This is something that is bound to leave an impact on both Americans and Pakistani. Already a US Senator is propagating to shut down US aid to Pakistan.

Afridi also accused Pakistani government for eliciting US funds under the excuse of fighting in the War of Terror. Pakistan has lost too many lives, displaced millions of its people and suffered financially from this war. Having lost more than 35,000 civilians, 4,000 soldiers in the war, it is true that no other country has suffered more in this war against terror than Pakistan. If the war on terror is in itself disputed, then America’s own motives in this campaign are without doubt questionable.

Afridi’s part in the OBL operation is still fuzzy. He refrained from disclosing his recruitment in the CIA or the vaccination program, claims he was unaware that he was collecting DNA samples of OBL. But at the same time feels proud for helping the CIA “out of love for the US”. So which was it Afridi: Did you know or did you not?

The nation he expresses his love for so ardently could have smuggled him out of Pakistan or even arranged some diplomatic status just like the US did in Raymond Davis’s case. However, they left the “hero” doctor in Pakistan and only protested against his imprisonment. He claims to have helped the CIA against OBL. The bigger question is: was his loyalty to America or the cause of anti-terrorism ? Or just the money that we can assume he was getting for the job. Poor Afridi. Hit by a triple whammy. First used and discarded. Then identified and betrayed to add credibility to the US operation and now ‘ interviewed’ and confirmed as a traitor. Finally in tandem with this as if on cue we have the article by C.Fair in Foreign Policy magazine exhorting the US to declare Pakistan a terrorist supporting state.

Why is it that when US war crimes are leaked the man is reduced to impregnable confinement, for his words threaten ‘national security’ and the lives of millions. Is Pakistan less sovereign than the United States? Perhaps poor nations are only on the wrong side of the fence.

Daily Brief: Two thousand attend Pakistani militant’s funeral

October 18, 2011

By Jennifer Rowland

Show of support

The funeral of a Pakistani militant killed yesterday in a U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan alongside Haqqani commander Janbaz Zadran (also known as Jalil Haqqani) was attended today by around 2,000 people, reportedly including foreign militants and a local member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) (AP). One local political leader called the slain militant, Maulana Iftikhar, a “martyr” and said he participated in “jihad” in Afghanistan. A Pakistani official reportedly said today that top leaders who met separately with U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman yesterday reiterated Pakistan’s willingness to participate in reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and to take action against the Haqqani Network, once the country’s “legitimate concerns” such as India’s growing influence in Afghanistan are addressed (ET).

President Asif Ali Zardari has instructed Pakistan’s Interior Ministry to clamp down on those behind targeted killings and ethnic violence in Balochistan, such as the two brutal attacks in recent months on the Shi’a community (ET). A parliamentary committee specially designated to confront the violence in Karachi and Balochistan will travel to Quetta next week for talks with provincial leaders, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik said yesterday that he would also travel to the provincial capital every week to assist the effort to restore law and order (ET, Dawn). In Karachi, members of the police, Frontier Corps and Rangers conducted a search operation last night, and destroyed the offices of the banned Sunni Tehreek group (ET). And major political parties in the province of Sindh have criticized a proposal from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) concerning local governance rules and the redistricting of Karachi, as an overstep into political matters that are outside the HRCP’s humanitarian scope (Dawn).

In Balochistan yesterday, nine people were killed and five injured when an explosion caused part of a mine to collapse (ET, Dawn). The death toll from dengue fever continues to climb in Pakistan, reaching 225 in the province of Punjab today, while two new cases of polio have been reported in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (ET, Dawn, ET). A lack of media attention and a belief amongst donors that Pakistan harbors terrorists may be contributing to underfunded flood relief efforts in Pakistan, which will be critically needed as winter weather hits the country (ET). Two of the 27 boys abducted last month by militants after crossing the Bajaur border into Afghanistan reportedly escaped from their Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) captors yesterday (ET,Dawn). Finally, the Interior Ministry has declared a mandatory two-day holiday per week for all public and private businesses, and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) approved an increase in the tax power companies can impose on electricity (ET, ET).

Roughed up

An Afghan preacher who was detained for nearly two weeks by Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was admitted to a hospital Wednesday having been badly beaten and suffering kidney failure (NYT). NDS agents arrived at the hospital yesterday to prevent reporters from speaking to the man. Bonus read: Chris Rogers, “Time to Tackle Torture is Now” (FP).

NATO and Afghan forces Thursday night killed 13 insurgents during a raid in the northern Afghan province of Faryab (AP). And in eastern Kunar Province, local police reported that at least five artillery shells were fired across the border from Pakistan, but did not result in any casualties. The Times’ C.J. Chivers reported yesterday on the difficulties facing U.S. troops as they prepare to hand security over to Afghan forces in the northern province of Paktika (NYT).

Rock on

Underground rock bands make an impression at the 10th Annual Performing Arts Festival that opened in Lahore on Tuesday (ET). In addition to writing their own songs, many of which are showing a shift toward harder rock sounds, the bands have chosen to perform covers of Sufi-rock and English bands.

US strike kills Haqqani commander in Pakistan

October 13, 2011

AFP

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan – A US drone strike on Thursday killed a logistics commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and three other militants in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, officials said.


A US drone strike has killed a commander in the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and three other militants (AFP/File, Bonny Schoonakker)

Covert CIA drones are the United States’ chief weapon against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who use Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas as launchpads for attacking US troops in Afghanistan and plotting attacks on the West.

The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, about seven kilometres (four miles) north of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district.

“Jamil Haqqani, an important Afghan commander of Haqqani network was the target and was killed,” a Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

A Pakistani intelligence official in Miranshah confirmed the killing and said Jamil was in his thirties.

“He was working as a coordinator of the Haqqani network in North Waziristan,” the official said.

The official said the three other people killed in the strike were Haqqani’s fighters, guarding the commander in the compound.

Jamil is understood to have been responsible for logistics in North Waziristan, where the group’s overall leadership is believed to be based.

Officials said he was not a relative of Jalaluddin, the Afghan warlord who founded the Taliban faction, or his son Sirajuddin who now runs the network but that he was “very close to the top commanders including Sirajuddin”.

The United States blames the Haqqanis for fuelling the 10-year insurgency in Afghanistan; attacking US-led NATO troops and working to destabilise the Western-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Washington last month significantly stepped up demands on Islamabad to take action against the network and cut alleged ties to the group.

US missiles have destroyed dozens of other Haqqani network compounds and a sprawling madrassa in 2008, killing dozens of fighters, officials say.

Mohammed Haqqani, brother of Sirajuddin, was killed in a US drone attack in Dandey Darpakhel, the same North Waziristan village as Thursday’s strike, in February 2010.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this week the United States is waging “war” in Pakistan against militants, referring to the covert CIA campaign that the US government declines to discuss publicly.

Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, the former CIA director said the relationship between Washington and ally Islamabad was “complicated”.

“And admittedly, there are a lot of reasons for that. We are fighting a war in their country,” Panetta said.

Around 30 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since Navy SEALs found and killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near the country’s top military academy in Abbottabad, close to the capital, on May 2.

Last month, the outgoing top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency and accused Pakistan of supporting attacks on US targets in Afghanistan.

Islamabad officially denies any support for Haqqani activities, but has nurtured Pashtun warlords for decades as a way of influencing events across the border and offsetting the might of arch-rival India.

The Pakistani military says it is too over-stretched fighting local Taliban to acquiesce to American demands to launch an offensive against the Haqqanis, a battle that not all observers think the Pakistani military would win.

But the humiliation of the bin Laden raid is thought to have contributed to debate within the military about the merits of traditional support for jihadi groups.

Clinton declares US-Pak Relations of “Paramount importance”

August 23, 2011

Tacstrat

During a debate focusing on the situation in the Pak-Afghan region, at National Defence University (NDU), Washington, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton declared the relationship with Pakistan as of “Paramount importance.” Mr Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, seconded Ms. Clinton and said that US has no choice, but to maintain its relationship with Pakistan, to safeguard its vital interests there. He said that, “there is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan. Because we are fighting a war there. Because we are fighting Al Qaeda there, and they (Pakistanis) do give us–some cooperation in that effort.” We thank these two very significant policy makers of United States for their recognition of Pakistani significance for this sole super power in the region. A very significant feature of this recognition of Pakistani role by these hawks is limited to Pakistan’s serving the US interests only. Beyond that, both were very critical to Pakistan role, even to the level of accusing it for having linkages with militants and terrorists.

Indeed, here lies the fault-line in the Pak-US relationships. U.S gives credit to Pakistan for that portion only, where it serves its interest. Nevertheless, once it (Pakistan) tries to secure its own interest, US get annoyed and allege it with multiple charges. For example during the same vary debate in NDU-Washington, Defence Secretary Panetta said that relations with Pakistan have been complicated owing its (Pakistan’s) linkages with the Haqqanis, who cross the Pak-Afghan border to attack ISAF troops in Afghanistan. He said that, “It’s pretty clear that there’s a relationship there.” As if this accusation was not enough, he further charged Pakistan with its alleged relationship with Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). In this, Mr. Panetta was perhaps pleading the Indian case. He categorically said that, “There’s a relationship with LeT. And, you know, this is a group that goes into India and threatens attacks there. It has conducted attacks there.”

The statement by a very responsible policy maker of US who has been the head of CIA too, clearly exposes the nature of Indo-US alliance and their collective designs against Pakistan. This indeed is a US strategy to compel Pakistan to simply go by its dictates and accommodate Indian desires too. Pakistan can accept neither US dictates nor the Indian hegemony, it believes in the principle of mutual co-existence. Though the following day, US State Department clarified the statement of Secretary Panetta, once the spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, dismissed the speculations, as if U.S consider Pakistan, a state sponsoring the terrorism. In response to a question by a US based Indian journalist, Victoria said, “I think Secretary Panetta spoke to our concern about how these two organisations operate and any relationship that they may have with Pakistan, which is a subject that we talk about with Pakistan, which is a different issue than a state being a sponsor of terrorism itself.” Nevertheless, for a Pakistani, Mr Panetta’s statement in NDU-Washington has a lot of meaning and indeed, the real US mindset.

United States understands that, for any success in Afghanistan, it needs Pakistani support. On its part, Pakistan has been supporting the US cause with devotion. The only issue is that US has always been discrediting the Pakistani support and sacrifices that it has rendered for this coalition over the years. US always got the credit of Pakistani contributions for any success; it got in Afghanistan and accused Pakistan for its own failure. Besides, US always tried to accommodate the Indian interests at the cost of Pakistan. This biased US attitude has always irritated Pakistan, which would like that its interest too be secured at its immediate neighbourhood, rather of a none-contiguous country.

This difference of opinion then creates mistrust between Pakistan and United States. U.S prefers serving irrational Indian interest for many other reasons, one being preparing it to contain China, the peer competitor of US in the global politics. Pakistan perhaps cannot serve such a US purpose against its all weather friend, China, thus repeatedly faces US infuriation. Secretary Clinton accepts this reality once she said, “There are certain attitudes or beliefs that the Pakistanis have which are rooted in their own experience, just like we have our own set of such convictions.”

Like all other Americans, Defence Secretary Panetta was not able to digest the presence of only deterrent; Pakistan has in the form of nuclear weapons. While recognizing Pakistani position, he showed US concern with its nuclear weapons. He said that, Pakistan “happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons.” This again speaks of a malevolence mindset of US about Pakistani nuclear programme. This creates lot of concern in Pakistan, as to what plan US has for Pakistani nukes. We feel that Pakistani nukes are safest in the world with a very effective command and control system.

About Haqqanis, Pakistan has offered US, many a time to bring them on to the negotiating table. United States should have welcomed this offer, if it is seriously considering this group so hostile and effective against its forces in Afghanistan. US, however, seems fixed on the only option to push Pakistan for a military operation against this group, which is not possible for it under the prevailing situation. Otherwise, as a common sense, if the matter can be resolved through talks, why to go for the use of force. Even after the use of force, issues always settled on the negotiating table.
Unfortunately, U.S and Pakistan have different prisms to see the world. The Secretary of State even has recognized this fact during the same debate once she said, “They (Pakistani) are partners, but they do not always see the world the way we see the world. They do not always cooperate with us on what we think, and I will be very blunt about this-is in their interest.” Surely American interest cannot match Pakistani interest. We are two different nations with different cultures, values, religions and different histories.

American sees the world through the prism of hegemony and imperialism, whereas, we believe in the sovereignty of nation states, their independence and right to live as per their own desire, as determined by UN Charter. It would be in the interest of US to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan through negotiations with the Afghan stakeholders; rather playing politics of imperialism for a long term stay there in the garb of combating militancy. It could not bring stability and peace in that country through its military campaigns in last one decade and would not be able to achieve that with the same mind set in another decade.

Furthermore, antagonism with Pakistan would not serve US interest too, as Pakistan is not its subservient state. It should consider Pakistan an equal partner and give weightage to its peace proposals seriously, and talk with Afghan factions for a consensus. Such an approach would bring long-term peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan only desires to see a stable Afghanistan, as its people have suffered a lot in last thirty-four years. Afghan sufferance is a Pakistani sufferance, as we are brothers.

Near Kabul, 2 provinces see security slip away

August 9, 2011

BY ALISSA J. RUBIN

The devastating attack on a U.S. helicopter in eastern Afghanistan over the weekend has underscored the harsh reality that even now, at the height of the NATO troop presence and not far from the Afghan capital, large stretches of the country are perilous and heavily infiltrated by insurgents.

Logar Province, which lies to the south of Kabul, and Wardak Province, which lies to the west, are gateways to the capital. Yet it was there, in a valley traversing the two provinces, that insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter in the early hours of Saturday, killing 30 Americans, including 22 members of an elite Navy Seal team, 7 Afghan commandos and an interpreter.

Both provinces have become increasingly insecure even as NATO has stepped up its troop numbers nationwide.

”It was not as bad in Logar two years back, but recently it has deteriorated dramatically,” said Nafisa Hejran, a member of the Logar Provincial Council, who two weeks ago received a death threat from insurgents telling her to quit her job. She said most members of the provincial council in Logar no longer attended council meetings either because the journey from their homes was dangerous or they had nowhere safe to stay once they arrived.

”The Taliban are setting up checkpoints on the main road, searching people’s pockets for I.D. cards and documents that indicate they work either for Afghan government or the international forces,” she said. ”If they find something, then they behead the person on the spot to create fear and terror among the people.”

The attack on the helicopter was a reminder of the insurgency’s ability to entrench itself almost anywhere that the Afghan government is weak, absent or hated for its corruption. Despite all the increases in NATO forces, those troops cannot assert themselves in every village and valley, and too often when they do, their night raids and intrusions into people’s homes stir up resentment, said a number of people interviewed in Logar in the past week.

”The reason the security situation began to deteriorate is that the international forces were not paying attention to the customs and traditions of the people,” said Abdul Hakim Suleiman Khail, 51, a member of the Logar Provincial Council. ”They were doing night raids, and since they don’t know the area well, they are mistreating the people, which increased the gap between the government and the people; and they were detaining innocent people.”

He added that in his native Charkh district, which he said was so violent that 20 percent to 30 percent of the residents had fled, ”the international forces say they are there to help us, but they are there only to endanger our lives and destroy our property.”

He noted that an eminent Charkh family of more than 300 people had to leave its ancestral village because of cross-fire. The Americans then destroyed the family home so the Taliban would not use it. The family has yet to be compensated, said Nasir Ahmad Yusufzai, the clan elder, who now lives in Kabul.

Afghan government officials, U.S. military officers, and residents in Logar and Wardak repeatedly said that several districts in both provinces – including Saydabad district in Wardak Province, where the helicopter went down – were no longer under government control, except in the district centers.

In a June 27 report on the rising insurgency around Kabul, the International Crisis Group described insurgents as having ”a stronger hold” in Logar, Wardak and Ghazni than in any other provinces around the capital. It also noted the pervasiveness of Taliban courts in Wardak, which crowd out the government’s judicial function.

Local officials are loath to discuss the depth of the problem and insist that the situation is bad primarily because U.S. and Afghan forces have searched out the insurgents in their mountain redoubts for the first time, provoking them into striking back.

”There are fewer Taliban this year, but they are more active,” said Shuja Oudins, the Logar deputy governor.

The Wardak provincial governor, Halim Fidai, said his forces and U.S. troops had been fighting the Taliban in the most rugged areas. In response, he said, the insurgents were striking back. While that appears to be true, there is no tipping point in sight when the government and the Americans can claim they have the upper hand.

Wardak and Logar share a border and a similar insurgent profile. Both have an unsavory brew of Taliban, Haqqani network operatives, criminals and, in Wardak, Hezb-i-Islami fighters, said Capt. Kirstin Massey, the assistant intelligence officer of the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which has responsibility for the two provinces.

The insurgents share in the lucrative business of raiding NATO supply convoys traveling on Highway 1, which runs through Wardak, helping finance the groups, Afghan and U.S. officials said. The Tangi Valley, where the helicopter went down, is not far from the highway.

The Haqqanis, who have long had some presence in Logar, seem to be extending their reach into more of the province and moving into Wardak, U.S. officials said.

”We are seeing some pockets of Haqqanis, people linked with that family mafia, since the early spring,” Captain Massey said. ”I think they are trying to expand.” The Haqqanis’ trademark is their brutality: Beheadings, summary killings and intimidation, and all three have begun to appear regularly in Logar. A suicide bombing in a usually peaceful district of western Logar killed 30 to 35 people at a hospital in June, and that was probably undertaken by the Haqqani network, Captain Massey said.

At least three bodies of engineers who worked for a nongovernmental organization showed up in the Logar hospital morgue in June. Those killings, along with a recent one of a headmaster at the Porak school, suggest that the Haqqanis are active in the region, Afghan and U.S. officials say.

The day after news of the engineers’ bodies got out, 800 Afghans working at the U.S. base did not come to work, Captain Massey said. The provincial council member, Ms. Hejran, said the same thing happened in government offices, which were deserted for several days. The rumor in the city was that 15 people had been decapitated. Most people returned, but others did not, she said.

The governor of Wardak, Halim Fidai, said he had also seen signs that Haqqani operatives had begun to work in Wardak during the spring. He hypothesized that they were coming from Logar. He began to get reports from elders ”that they were there brainwashing suicide bombers,” he said.

The bazaar was busy on a recent Monday morning here in Porak, with men buying rice and bags of cement. Four young boys stood by the side of the road, the main route from Kabul to Khost, their heads cocked, listening to the pop of distant gunfire. The home village of the Taliban shadow governor is nearby, Captain Massey said. Two minutes later, a bomb went off.

The windows in cars about 45 meters, or 150 feet, ahead on the road trembled, and moments later, the target, a pickup truck full of police officers, sped by unharmed. The bomb had missed them. A couple of younger police officers brandished their guns in the air.

Such attacks have become nearly daily occurrences here, though this one would never be recorded in the NATO list of ”significant violent acts” because it neither harmed anyone nor was aimed at NATO forces. But it is part of an eerie picture of a province that is slipping away.