Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The IMU in Pakistan: A Phoenix Reborn, or a Tired Scarecrow?

The people most famiar with the Uzbekistan situation have had many questions about how there could be such a large number of Uzbeks fighting an intense battle with local tribesmen in Pakistan. Where did they come from, given that they were effectively wiped out when the Americans attacked the Taliban forces. Could Uzbeks have revived themselves so quickly? Now we wonder if the whole story could have even been contrived for reasons suiting the Musharraf administration. Could it be that once again an administration in power has been giving journalists carefully crafted pieces of information that serves its own interests? The more we come to know, the more we wonder what the whole truth is. What's missing here? We would so much prefer a report by a disinterested source that has had a chance to check out the claims of the administration. Here is a comment on the questions that need to be answered in order for us to be convinced that such a war is actually going on in the tribal areas. RLC

The Roberts Report on Central Asia and Kazakhstan
By David Hoffman

"...since 2001, [there has been a] rise of a veritable cottage industry promoting the image of the IMU [the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan] as an immediate, virile and offensive threat to stability in Central Asia"
"... story has dominated the headlines as the violence that has gripped South Waziristan, fighting that pits local tribesmen against ... the IMU"
"[this] news may seem odd ... because, by 2002, the IMU was already understood to be a spent force: small groups ... were seen fleeing from the American aerial assault on northern Afghanistan in late 2001, after which verified sightings of the organization virtually ceased."
"Given the pitiful state of the IMU ... in 2002, and the organization’s ensuing silence, the fighting that has erupted in and around Wana has caught observers off-guard."
"According to ... the Pakistani press, “thousands” ... of Uzbek militants are engaged in pitched battles with local Pashtun tribal militias."
"A closer examination of the facts on the ground cast serious doubt on the current narrative being promoted through the Pakistani media, and – by extension – the international press."
"Pakistani news outlets have, as noted, been detailing the battle based on secondhand reports from government sources"
"Moreover, two separate sources insides Waziristan have confirmed that, in fact, they have not actually seen any actual Uzbeks, live or dead, during this latest conflagration."
"In battles whose casualty figures speak to its intensity, scale and duration, conventional military wisdom holds that hundreds of dead should be matched by several times as many wounded."
"Again, curiously – local hospitals and clinics have been unable to report the presence of large numbers of Uzbeks admitted for care."
"And while the press has dutifully reported dozens of captured IMU fighters, these prisoners have failed thus far to materialize."
"Finally ... the numbers just don’t add-up: barring a spectacular burst of recruiting, it would be difficult to imagine how an organization that numbered, at most, in the hundreds has, after suffering a crushing defeat and dangerous passage into remote exile in 2002, managed to blossom into an organization capable of fielding a fighting force several thousand strong in Pakistan five years later."
"...while the Pakistani press continues to produce an enormous amount of ... coverage on the situation ... No hard evidence has emerged to point to the presence of actual Uzbek IMU fighters in the recent fighting."

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