Hitting back: Jhelum operation ends with little to show

Published: November 13, 2011

Pir Chunbbal shrine sealed, elite force stationed on roads leading to the shrine. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

LAHORE: Security forces launched a dragnet against suspected terrorists in Jhelum district that ended the same day, as law enforcers were unable to capture the men responsible for the killing of four intelligence operatives and their local informant on Friday.

The operation was launched in the Pir Chunbbal area of the Pind Dadan tehsil, about 25 kilometres from Jhelum district headquarters. At least three suspects were arrested, including the operator of a public telephone office, though it is unclear how they are connected to the case.

Meanwhile, two collaborators, as well as 30-odd militants involved in Friday’s incident were reported to be still at large.

The only clue that the security forces have about the militants whereabouts – said to belong to the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi extremist group led by “Dr Arshad” – are two covers of cell-phone SIM cards, the numbers of which do not work.

Even though the spies killed belonged to the Military Intelligence, the dragnet itself was not conducted by the army. Local residents said that six vehicles of the Punjab Police Elite Force, including 25 personnel, as well as six local police officers were seen patrolling the neighbourhood of Friday’s attack.

“We are operating under orders from top officials,” said Sub-Inspector Akram, without clarifying what he meant.

An operation gone wrong

Meanwhile, details emerged on Sunday of what exactly transpired on Friday. Two weeks ago, a man from Mandi Bahauddin had been kidnapped by LeJ militants, but then later released after being threatened and tortured. He approached Army Major Afaq Ahmed through some relatives, seeking protection against the terrorists.

On Friday morning, Major Ahmed went after the militants hide-out, near the old salt mines and an abandoned shrine known as Pir Chunbbal. He was accompanied by Havaldar Mazhar Abbas, Naik Fayyaz Ahmed, their driver and a local informant named Mehmood Ahmed.

The militants, it seems, were prepared for them. As they reached the hilltop, the terrorists ambushed the military vehicle and, despite their resistance, managed to take the five men hostage, said one eyewitness requesting anonymity.

Around 2.30 pm, just as the area residents were leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, they heard gunshots. When they raced to the top of the hill, they saw five dead bodies.

A known hideout

What is perplexing to most residents is why the government took no action against the militants hideout even though it was an open secret that terrorists were using it. Locals said that the militants used to hide in the abandoned salt mines and used to steal cell-phones from the few people who still visited the Pir Chunbbal shrine.

“We’ve been seeing suspicious activity here for the last four to five months,” said Aurangzeb, a resident of the nearby village of Sihundi. He admitted, however, that nobody had informed the police because they were afraid of the militants.

Law enforcement officials who have visited the shrine and its attached mosque reveal elaborate living arrangements being used by the militants, including a kitchen, clothes, a weapons stash, and even a laundry and bathing area.

The security in the area has now been beefed up, with elite force and local police stationed on roads leading to the shrine.

Who is Dr Arshad

The militant chief Dr Arshad, whose outfit is blamed for Friday’s incident, is a known entity to law enforcement officials. He is blamed for the killing of eight Ahmadis in Mong, a village near Mandi Bahauddin. There is also a case against him for using a rocket launcher against Shahtaj Sugar Mills, as well as attacking a local elected officials, said sources in intelligence agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Gul Khan
    Nov 13, 2011 - 1:51PM

    Seems to me it is a plan to discourage people visiting shrines.

    Recommend

  • Mj
    Nov 13, 2011 - 2:26PM

    Not a good omen that such elements have made inroads into the urban centers. Bravo for taking timely action and not allowing terrorists to entrench themselves.

    Recommend

  • Adeel759
    Nov 13, 2011 - 2:38PM

    Security Forces should be commended and deeply appreciated when they take on the scourge of society. People, I only see two comments, dont be shy to commend their sacrifice.

    Recommend

  • Maryam
    Nov 13, 2011 - 3:00PM

    When we have to negotiate with the terrorists of North Waziristan then why not negotiate with the terrorists of Jehlum. We should have one policy, “Give peace a chance”.

    Recommend

  • Nisar Hussain
    Nov 13, 2011 - 3:20PM

    is army operation a solution? the govt should negotiate with militant and insurgent

    Recommend

  • Eymaad
    Nov 13, 2011 - 3:26PM

    @Gul.i wish what you said is true, it is the main reason of the country’s downfall.. worshipping the dead…

    Recommend

  • Farrukh Siddiqui
    Nov 13, 2011 - 3:57PM

    commendable operation.. criminals must be pursued. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a criminal outfit

    Recommend

  • Salman
    Nov 13, 2011 - 4:07PM

    LeJ ideology is evil. Haqqannis just care about their power in Afghanistan, they have nothing to do with religion much. LeJ types are 10 times more dangerous than likes of Mullah Umer or Haqqannis since they live among common people, brainwashing innocent brains into an extremist nut case unlike the ones who are hiding in the caves or mountains. I hope security forces able to clean this area.Best of luck jawans.

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  • Ahmad
    Nov 13, 2011 - 4:10PM

    Salute to the Martyrs of Pakistan Army

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  • The truth
    Nov 13, 2011 - 4:39PM

    As you sow so shall you Reap….…..it’s their internal issue….they knew each other very well (using or being used)… May Allah keep safe other innocents from these both big role players?

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  • Parvez
    Nov 13, 2011 - 4:58PM

    …..and still we do nothing about the Madrassas and their sponsors.

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  • Adil
    Nov 13, 2011 - 5:07PM

    Somewhere in the dark those RAW people are enjoying another victory over ISI but i
    warn them Allah’s wrath is near. By God each and every man who is involved will be hanged.
    InshAllahRecommend

  • Adil
    Nov 13, 2011 - 5:13PM

    I will always support my Pakistan Army

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  • a
    Nov 13, 2011 - 5:20PM

    @maryam peace should be given a chance but IF these pathetic mullahs kidnapp people you have to act.bravo to all the people who are fighting these deluded mullahs and prayers for those who were killed just for being pakistani {{ p.s these servicemen are as much muslims and humans as those terrorist only if better.}}.infact anyone who harms anyone innocent should be excluded from islam…..

    Recommend

  • ABdul
    Nov 13, 2011 - 5:44PM

    @Nasir Husain, Please also suggest what shod the security forces must have done when the terrorists were sitting in that shrine. They were obviously armed as well.
    PPL shod stop saying lame abt the forces that work day and night to protect us.
    Long Live Pak Army. Recommend

  • menteliscio
    Nov 13, 2011 - 5:45PM

    Maryam, are you being sarcastic…Recommend

  • Khan
    Nov 13, 2011 - 6:20PM

    @Eymaad:
    Can you please explain how is that reason for downfall of the country?
    What ever other people do its their right .. why force them to think like us? they all know its a sin if they worship dead so let them face their sin in after life whats bothering you?.
    The reason for country’s downfall is mismanagement, uncontrolled population, illiteracy, not having control on all areas called Pakistan, obsession with hatred for others, fascism, and also exactly the thing you were doing, forcing others to follow your belief by any means possible.

    Recommend

  • Nadir
    Nov 13, 2011 - 9:04PM

    Launch an operation in FATA and you are an American stooge. A hint of terrorist activity in a settled area, near a military cantonment and security operations begin. But for the people of North Waziristan, we are supposed to believe that they actually want to live under the reign of the Haqqanis.

    Recommend

  • WoW
    Nov 13, 2011 - 9:33PM

    @Asil: You ‘warn’ RAW while they enjoy another victory over ISI?.

    Recommend

  • ishtiaer hussain
    Nov 13, 2011 - 9:46PM

    We need to create strategic depth in Jehlum now.

    Recommend

  • Dan
    Nov 14, 2011 - 12:40AM

    Huuummmm, Terrorists fighting terrorists, interesting………….

    Recommend

  • Jadugar
    Nov 14, 2011 - 3:40AM

    Any action against these terrorist is a good action. Pakistan Army is the only institution that is capable of cleansing Pakistan of these evil doers. I fully support them.

    Recommend

  • Soho
    Nov 14, 2011 - 6:49AM

    @Jadugar:
    I absolutely agree with you. Unfortunately, our army doesn’t seem to be interested in “cleansing” them. I hope they soon realize that they are enemies of Pakistan with their own agenda. In fact, some of their factions(like the haqqanis)are seen as ‘assets’ by the army.

    Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 14, 2011 - 7:05AM

    So, the story has changed. First it was reported that Dr. Arshad was killed and now he has escaped. The terrorists have won once again.

    Recommend

  • Chulbul Pandey
    Nov 14, 2011 - 7:49AM

    When our commandos in Bombay were trying to get rid of the Pakistani terrorists, it took them a couple of days to get rid of them, keeping the hostages safe. The safety of the hostages was of utmost priority and the operation was inherently very difficult.

    I remember how Pakistani TV channels started showing programs/chat shows talking down our commandos in a derogatory manner and how they should not have taken so long time.
    I wonder if these channels would show any programs highlighting the “success” of their own much hyped security force in this operation. Any guesses?Recommend

  • Malik
    Nov 14, 2011 - 8:45AM

    Gentlemen What we’ve got here, is failure to communicate.

    Recommend

  • Shakky Pir
    Nov 14, 2011 - 8:49AM

    Folks, this is not about Pakistan and India beating up on each other. Lets remember that this was a terrorist operation by LeJ militants. I think I’m safe in saying that these LeJ dogs (no insult intended to the canine species) bear ill will to both India and Pakistan. Our two countries are much better off cooperating to eradicate these militants. This is exactly what the LeJ wants – to derail improving relations between India and Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Basit
    Nov 14, 2011 - 10:35AM

    @Dan:

    Are you talking about CIA and Al Qaeda?

    Recommend

  • anybodyagree
    Nov 14, 2011 - 12:17PM

    another failed operation . . . !!!!, my condolence to the martyrs families. . .

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