Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Quetta on Radar Nowadays

According to latest reports from Quetta, Pakistan, more than five suicide bombers have been killed by paramilitary forces. The area is reportedly Kharotabad, which is marked with its dense population and close geography. Previously there were reports suggesting that members of Taliban's Quetta Shura were living there. But later it was clear that the bombers, three of whom were women and two men, were basically Uzbeks. Afterwards, Pakistani media outlets changed the report by quoting Quetta security officials as saying to identify them as Chechens. Finally, Frontier Corps found out that the bombers were not Chechen or Uzbeks, but Iranians as per their passports.

The killing of five foreign suicide bombers in Quetta suggest that the city is not just infamous as home to Taliban's leadership council, but also a center for Al-Qaeda fighters and suicide bombers. Kharotabad is a dense residential area where locals can easily identify and make trouble if you understand that someone visiting had not intervened. The other fact which should be worrying for all is that there are thousands of Afghan refugees living in suburbs of Quetta, and Taliban's Quetta Shura leadership hide mostly in these towns.

The issue with identification of the five suicide bombers which took Pakistan's Frontier Corps so long to name shows the shortcomings in terms of intelligence and lack of communication among different branches of security forces.

Since last couple of days, local media from Quetta report heavy military air movements at nights in Quetta. Local people are worried about a military operation, and rumors in local newspapers have already givens dates for unilateral US raids to pick Mullah Omar. And such reports also suggest that Pakistan's security agencies are on a hunt for Mullah Omar after the Abbottabad debacle on death of Osama bin Laden.
Recently, another report said former ISI Chief General Hamid Gul had asked Mullah Omar to leave Quetta, as the US would make arrest. The report could not be confirmed, but it is not at all baseless. There have been such moves in the past.

The US needs to increase ground intelligence gathering in Quetta and deploy more intelligence officials from Islamabad to Quetta, as the city is the hottest spot not only for Afghan Taliban leadership, but also Al-Qaeda members. However, a direct military operation in Quetta will neither be useful from military point of view, nor successful in terms of objective. Taliban leaders and Al-Qaeda operatives can only be arrested if ground intelligence is strong.