Musharraf becomes civil president; Taliban insurgency spreads

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned Nov. 28 as Pakistan's army chief, will be sworn in today as civilian president, resisting calls from opposition leaders to step down as head of state. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, former ISI chief, now takes over as army chief, a post Musharraf held since Oct. 1998. (Bloomberg, Nov. 29; Dawn, Pakistan, Nov. 28) On the morning of Nov. 29, a roadside bomb killed five Pakistani soldiers and wounded four more outside Miranshah, North Waziristan. (Reuters, Nov. 29)

Tribal elders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas say the role of militant organizations will be critical in the 2008 elections, when 12 National Assembly seats from seven tribal districts will be up for grabs. In the 2002 elections, the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) won seven seats from Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, North and South Waziristan districts. Maulana Bashir Ahmed, cousin of local Taliban chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, has filed nomination papers for Bajaur district. Faqir Muhammad told a gathering on Oct. 30 that he is not against participating in the polls. Former FATA security chief Brig (r) Mehmood Shah said the counter-insurgency is fueling the Taliban movement: "One case is of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has been criticizing military operations against the Taliban... The JUI-F is the political face of Islamic militancy." (Daily Times, Pakistan, Nov. 29)

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