Zawahiri: Pakistanis must fight US | News | Al Jazeera

Zawahiri: Pakistanis must fight US

Al-Qaeda number two urges aid for Swat valley fighters battling Pakistani army.

    The Pakistani army has been battling fighters in the Swat valley for several months [Reuters]

    Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Islamabad, said al-Zawahiri was hoping to provoke a reaction to Pakistan's campaign against Taliban fighters in Swat.

    "He's talking about the American 'occupation' of Pakistan ... Pakistan isn't occupied by anybody. What he means is the operations against the Pakistani Taliban by the Pakistani army.

    "He says that these operations are run by the US - that this is not a Pakistani war, this is a US proxy war. It's that kind of inflammatory language that he's hoping will get people riled up."

    Declining influence

    The al-Qaeda deputy last addressed a message in English to Pakistanis in August 2008, calling for a "jihad" in the South Asian nation.

    But many analysts in Pakistan say al-Qaeda has little influence in the country.

    "There is this idea that al-Qaeda is a diminishing force within Pakistani society," our correspondent said.

    "But that doesn't stop them from planning, gaining support networks and doing what the Americans say they are doing - which is attacking them abroad."

    According to the SITE intelligence group, which monitors material from such sources, al-Zawahiri's audio message was released on Tuesday.

    In it, al-Zawahri said: "[If] we stand by passively without offering due support to the mujahidin, we shall not only contribute to the destruction of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we shall also deserve the painful punishment of almighty Allah."

    US influence

    Under heavy US pressure to act, Pakistan's army launched a massive offensive in late April in Buner and Lower Dir, before focusing on fighters in Swat, where the Taliban concentrated a two-year campaign to impose its strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law.

    The conflict has displaced nearly two million people, but officials have said that the pace of returns to the area has grown, though many civilians are fearful about security in the area.

    Last week, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan's prime minister, unveiled plans to start sending home many of those displaced by the conflict and said the military had "eliminated" the fighters.

    Elsewhere in North West Frontier Province, two policemen were  killed and five wounded in a bomb explosion in the town of Bannu.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The State of Lebanon

    The State of Lebanon

    Amid deepening regional rivalries what does the future hold for Lebanon's long established political dynasties?

    Exploited, hated, killed: The lives of African fruit pickers

    Exploited, hated, killed: Italy's African fruit pickers

    Thousands of Africans pick fruit and vegetables for a pittance as supermarkets profit, and face violent abuse.