Pakistani PoV, understanding how Pak intelligentsia sees the world and itself.

Vinod2070

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Guys, I am starting this thread to capture the viewpoints by Pakistani writers. As we know there are several excellent Pakistani writers, very sober and very realistic in their views and then there is the majority. Vitriolic, deep in conspiracy theories, shrill and vituperative.

I will start with some articles by a writer of the second kind.
 

Vinod2070

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Barbarism and a desensitised leadership

By Shireen M Mazari

Despite our shock-weariness, the past week has been a traumatic one for Pakistan. In a curtain-raiser to the visit of members of the MPH (Mullen, Petreaus and Holbrooke) team, Pakistan has been ripped asunder with acts of terrorism and barbarity – across the land. Following from the horrors of Manawan, we saw the almost helpless personnel of the Frontier Constabulary targeted in Islamabad, US drones killing more women and children in FATA and the gruesome spectre of sectarian terrorism raising its head once again with an attack in Chakwal.

As if all that was not enough, we were confronted with the abhorrent video of the flogging of a teenage girl in Swat. Tragically, the whole debate seems to have been reduced to the timing of the event – as if that makes the crime, for that is what it is even under the Shariah laws of this country, any less horrific – and to the authenticity or otherwise of the video itself. The fact of the matter is that regardless of these issues, such inhuman acts against women have been taking place across the land, not only at the hands of the Taliban.

Which brings up the real issue – that is, of the state showing tolerance for such brutalities against women. Apart from the Taliban, many others are guilty of such barbarism in Pakistan. We have seen the tribal leaders of Balochistan and the feudals of Sindh and Punjab, as well as the elite of the Frontier, conduct equally horrendous brutalities, and only the lack of a video prevented us from literally hearing the screams of the hapless women and girl victims, either buried alive or killed by dogs or shot by their own parents – to name just a few of the ways women are abused in this country, because the state is unable to show zero tolerance.

On the contrary, male politicians from across party lines defend such crimes on grounds of tradition and "culture," while the Taliban use a distortion of religion to defend the indefensible. Can one forget the so-called secular ANP refusing to raise its voice against honour killings because of "tradition" a few years back? Now, once again, we have seen the cowardly position taken by the ANP's provincial minister of information, Iftikhar Hussain, in targeting a dedicated Samar Minallah, instead of those who may actually be guilty of taking the law into their own hands in the now apparently sub judice case of the flogging incident. Of course, the fact that President Zardari is still sitting on the Adl Ordinance means that there is no clarity of actual law prevailing in Swat and Malakand, but then who will get the president to behave in a rational fashion – one way or another?

Unless the state shows zero tolerance for crimes against women – there are ample laws existing in Pakistan protecting women – and effectively exercises its writ, all elements of barbarism under many guises will violate women at will. We, as citizens, are also guilty of a selective approach to dealing with crimes against women. After all, the elite's and human-rights activists' consciences awaken to the barbarity of the Taliban but remain muted in so many other cases – after an initial hue and cry. That is why the present government has been able to have as cabinet members those who have been identified as perpetrators of abuse and violence against women no less repugnant than the flogging of the young teenager in Swat. And what of the physical and mental abuse of Dr Aafia from the time of her arrest to her surfacing in New York? Under what law and which state's political jurisdiction was she violated and remains incarcerated? And what of the elite businessman who shot his daughter in Asma Jehangir's office in Lahore? Either we show zero tolerance for all crimes against all women or we will continue to lose space to the extremists – be they religious, feudal, tribal or urban elitist.

In the present context the issue is not one of supporting or opposing the Taliban. The issue is one of establishing the writ of the state while negotiating peace deals. Unfortunately, the writ of the state is nowhere to be seen because the rulers seem scantly interested. They travel across the globe but will not visit the tribal belt or Swat or any other area where there is a need to show the presence of the state. Instead, in the increasingly windowless ivory towers of Islamabad, they negotiate dangerous deals with the US which has its own negative agenda towards Pakistan.

Obama's declarations that he is not at war with Islam may be correct in form but he is certainly at war with Muslims in this part of the world; and the new NATO chief, ex-Danish prime minister Rasmussen, has only now discovered his tolerant side towards Muslims, while earlier he defended the blasphemous cartoons despite Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Apart from the detrimental and intrusive US agenda for Pakistan, the reason why it is critical for us to create space between ourselves and the US is to alter the environment in our favour in which we have to tackle our issues of extremism and militancy. Let us also recall that the US in Vietnam destabilised three countries – Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It was only when the US fled Vietnam that the region stabilised. For Pakistan the US threat is even more acute because the growing spate of terrorism will move the US one step closer to seeking control of our nuclear assets.

Of course, if we do this distancing from the US, claim our airbases back and stop acting as a conduit for NATO military supplies, there will be no immediate halt to militancy and extremism. But, and this is the crucial point, the situation on the ground will alter in the state's favour, creating a more enabling operational environment in which to deal with extremism and the militancy that it is breeding.

There are many fronts on which this problem has to be resolved. A beginning has to be made with exerting the writ of the state, including through dialogue and negotiations. All forces that are prepared to vie for the hearts and minds of Pakistanis through the legitimate political process cannot and should not be denied space. Now that the army has opened up FATA, with all its pros and cons, it is time to bring FATA into the mainstream through the removal of the colonial Frontier Crimes Regulations and the implementation of the Political Parties Act.

A beginning that needs to be made immediately is to deny space to future militant/terrorist recruits by isolating the diehard criminal and militant elements from the vulnerable segments of society. Who are these vulnerable elements? The poverty stricken who inhabit our madressahs – the sleepers for future militancy unless they are weaned away. The suicide bomber of Pakistan, from the available data, ranges in age between 15 and 26 years and is not well-versed in any ideological commitment but is brainwashed, or simply purchased from his family, as happened in the Bhakkar case. So the focus has to be on the madressahs and a new approach has to be tried, rather than the old one of trying to register them and introduce some mainstream teaching.

Just the sheer numbers of madressahs/students (e.g. ,218/25,395 in Rahimyar Khan; 185/20,780 in Dera Ghani Khan; 105/8,502 in Rajanpur) show the enormity of the task ahead – even though not all the madressahs are "jihadi" in type, according to a detailed ground survey I conducted through a local field worker in three districts of southern Punjab: Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahimyar Khan and Rajanpur. But the background of poverty is rampant and even non-jihadi madressahs can in future produce militants.

Three issues need to be tackled in relation to madressahs: the educational aspect; the mainstreaming of the marginalised students; the funding issue, since revealed sources of funding include identified foreign funding which needs to be controlled and made transparent. Solutions have to be found from our own resources recognising the financial paucity of the state. Keeping all this in mind, a start can be made by our private, semi-autonomous sector, educational trusts and so on adopting or taking over different madressahs – especially those in the area of their operations. This will provide normal education to the children, plus religious education (as happens in religious schools abroad), healthier physical environment, including better food, and more transparent supervision of funding. While religious examinations can be those set by the different sects' madrasa boards, the state should back this Pakistani private sector madrasa "adoption" plan through legislation and enforcement so that they can be brought effectively in line with normal schools while not detracting from their legitimate religious education. Such a plan costs the state nothing in money terms and involves the nation as a whole in looking after the marginalised youth. Linked to this should be a job employment scheme again involving the private sector with tax benefits.

Undoubtedly, vested interests will object to such a scheme but at the micro level, small local madressahs, and there are many in these three districts with 50 or less students, could be persuaded individually. Tackling the madressahs and their poverty-ridden students has to be central to any indigenous strategy to deal with militancy in the immediate and long term. Sheer killing through military action, both US and local, is only aggravating the problem as we are seeing in Pakistan.



The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=171334
 

Vinod2070

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A Pakistani-centric understanding of militancy
By Shireen M Mazari
One was still recovering from the absurdity of referring to the much-touted Obama policy on Pakistan as "new" when his speech was simply a worn-out, scratched record we in Pakistan are being made to hear ad nauseam, when the ground realities of terrorism in Pakistan struck once again. This time it was the terrifying attack against the Police Training School in Manawa, a few kilometres from the border with India at Wagah. Certainly the target's location has a certain significance, but that seems to have been totally ignored, especially by officialdom.

However, by now it should be abundantly clear to anyone with an iota of rationality that it is not US money that will solve our indigenous terrorist problem, though such money may well line a few rulers' pockets. Also, as Obama made clear, the money is going to come with the usual absurd conditionalities which will involve yet more US intrusion in and distortion of our domestic polity. The hard fact is that the whole issue is not about money, despite the whining of President Zardari that he has seen no dollars yet. In fact, the US and its money have become a major part of the problem of terrorism in Pakistan.

After all, when our rulers take US largesse and allow the Pakistan army to go in and kill Pakistani citizens, more space is created for violent extremists using terror as a strategy. When the Pakistani state allows its territory to be used for drones that kill Pakistanis – and it is irrelevant whether they are killed deliberately or as "collateral damage" – more space is created for future recruits who want to fight the US and its collaborators. In addition to this, when the Pakistani state is unable to establish its writ within its own territories and also unable to provide the basics of social welfare and justice to its people, space is created for those who seemingly offer these basics even if at a ruthlessly stifling price.

And when the professionalism of its security and intelligence institutions is undermined by political inductions, it is unable to undertake timely assessments of threat and evolve proactive responses. To make matters worse, once again, in the latter context, US interventions in this domain, both official and non-official, are proving to be counter-productive.

Ever since the falling out between the ISI and the CIA, the US mantra against not only the ISI but also the police and other intelligence agencies has undermined trust between these organisations, the government and the people and demoralised them to a dangerous level. The results have been before us for the last year in the terrorist attacks across the country. It may suit US long-term interests of putting our nuclear assets under their control to continue to target our security and intelligence institutions, but it is extremely harmful for Pakistan. The irony is that the "jihadis" the ISI supported, along with the CIA and the Saudis, are either long dead or too old to be active – just as their institutional handlers have left office decades ago.

There is the present reality of a new generation of militants that have evolved especially as a result of US military killings in this region post-9/11. So to blame Pakistani institutions for the failure of US military and intelligence outfits is not only irrational but also churlish, given how many Pakistani lives have been sacrificed for the United States' misdirected strategy in this region.

So what is our terrorism issue today? We have three identifiable strands of militants who use terrorism as a strategy and all three have been compounded by a fourth type of terrorism: the state terrorism unleashed by US military attacks against our people. The first are the sub-nationalists operating primarily in Balochistan, who feed on the genuine grievances of the Baloch people – deprived of their own resources and neglected by the state. Their issues are purely political and can easily be resolved by a responsive state. But the centre's sluggishness is allowing foreign detractors to fund, supply weapons and offer refuge to the militants, thereby aggravating the problem. The issue has become further complicated because the US, in cahoots with the terrorist outfit Jundullah, is being allowed to use the area around Juzuk and Shamsi base to destabilise Iran and to use the Bandari airfield south of Kharan to fly its drones for killing Pakistanis in FATA. To deal with this militancy, a national strategy is required focusing on provincial autonomy and economic development – and ejection of the US and other foreign presences.

The second batch of militants are the religious extremists, primarily centring on the Taliban who really came into their own post-9/11 in Pakistan. The pre-9/11 problem of sectarian violence has therefore become exacerbated as it has become enmeshed with the US military action in this region and its occupation of Afghanistan. Here the challenge to the Pakistani state lies in its inability to provide security, access to effective and quick justice and economic and political stakes to the people. As the state abdicates its role and presence, the vacuum is filled by these militants. Sending the military into FATA, instead of using the Frontier Corps, was one major strategy error but we continue to compound this by failing to revert to alternative strategies like socio-economic development and political mainstreaming through operationalising of the Political Parties Act in FATA and removal of the imperial Frontier Crimes Regulations.

This is not just an issue for the tribal areas anymore, but for the whole country, where the state machinery is becoming increasingly corrupt and ineffective. And, if the number of madrassahs are anything to go by, there is a silent but disgruntled, poverty-stricken youth that are "sleeper" Taliban. Again, in this context, the US is seen as an enemy and a major reason why militants continue to find space when the state should be focusing on space denial. External detractors also find easy prey here in terms of funding and weapons' supplies, although funding also comes from within the country from sympathisers. It is this lot which provides suicide bombers, although the young age of most of these bombers reveals subjugation to physical brain washing rather than cause indoctrination alone. This category poses the greatest threat to the state because it is deceptive in the politico-religious alternatives it seems to be offering but to counter this group the state has to be seen to be acting in the national interest and has to provide justice and economic opportunities to all its citizens. Linkages to the US are not only counterproductive in dealing with this category of militants but provide more space for new militants.

The third group of militants now clearly arises from the growing army of the dispossessed, the poverty stricken and those who see no hope for the future. They are prepared to send their youth to die in a suicide attack if the family is provided substantive financial remuneration – the dreaded phenomenon of the suicide bomber for hire that we saw recently in Bhakkar. These marginalised people are fair game for all takers and any strategy to deal with these people has to focus on a fast track approach to poverty alleviation and again, provision of justice. It is not the US military or its grand NGO-funded designs that are needed, but the perception of a responsive state and leadership that is there for its people and that will end the brutality of the "thana-kutchery" millstone around the necks of the ordinary Pakistani citizen.

Yet again the wheat harvest looks bountiful but like the sugar barons and the wheat smugglers, all in high places, will succeed in depriving this nation of its bounties. As long as the rulers follow US and IMF diktat and make spiralling prices put basic food out of the reach of the ordinary Pakistani, militancy and violence will gain more space. Grassroots justice must move in through indigenously devised plans rather than NGO-devised solutions not grounded in Pakistani realities.

Also, if our rulers could resist trappings of grandeur, including wasteful travels abroad, the resources could be diverted to the nation. President Zardari's ridiculous explanation of his last visit to China – that he went to buy anti-terrorism equipment – makes a mockery of this nation's plight. How many heads of state go on such shopping sprees – which is what he made it out to be? Now, as the nation mourns its dead after Manawan, he is off again – this time to Turkey!

It is not an issue of liberals versus rightwingers, but of status quo versus change; of the rulers' reliance on external support versus reliance on the people; of corrupt and weak institutions versus strong and responsive state structures; and, finally, of a US-centric state agenda versus a strong nationalist people-centric agenda. As history has shown, the people will always win in the end but a rational leadership can make this victory less bitter and costly.



The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=170132
 

Vinod2070

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Pakistan's major threat: US ignorance
By Shireen M Mazari

US ignorance regarding the ground realities of Pakistan is a source of major threat to Pakistan, both in terms of its internal dynamics and external security concerns. Taking the internal dynamics first, there were the crude US interventions during the nation's reassertion of its self in the context of the long march and the demand for the restoration of the constitutional chief justice – with members of the US Administration trying to bulldoze the opposition political leaders into abandoning the march to Islamabad and into making unholy compromises with their present favourite Pakistani – President Zardari. It is a testimony to the Pakistani people that the US failed in its nefarious designs and at the end of the day had to make conciliatory statements regarding the restoration of Chief Justice Chaudhry. But imperial hubris could not resist sending the CIA chief to Islamabad to coincide with the CJP's date of restoration of office.

But these were only the most recent examples of US ignorance muscling itself into Pakistan's domestic domain. Not to be left behind, the Brits through their rather brash Miliband also hopped on the US bandwagon (and we thought that was only Tony Blair's problem!) and gave bizarre statements about Pakistan's imminent descent to chaos as a result of the long march. Given how millions took to the streets of London to protest the Iraq war, why should the Brits assume that the Pakistani nation's march for justice would cause a descent into chaos? On the contrary, it showed the growing vitality of the Pakistani nation to seek its own destiny against the machinations of its rulers and their foreign sponsors. Of course, being rather tiny now, the British can be and were chastised severely by different Pakistani quarters but the US seems to send fear into the hearts of our ruling elites. Not so our masses mercifully!

Coming back to how US ignorance poses a threat to our internal dynamics, there is the issue of Dr A Q Khan who seems to have sent the US Establishment into a permanent trauma. So once again we heard the mantra of linking aid to Pakistan with access to Dr Khan. Only this time, the "threat" was the withholding of military assistance. Now the US knows that there is no reason, even legally, to let them have access to Dr Khan but they still do not realise that even the most obliging of Pakistani leaders will not be able to do the needful on this count and survive in power. Dr Khan, rightfully, is a national hero and as we in Pakistan know only too well, he has never contravened any of Pakistan's international legal obligations since we are neither members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.

But the threat should have shown the Pakistan military the futility of seeking US military assistance – which we have done well without for many decades. In fact, the army's offensive weapon systems have no US linkage or dependency at all, so why create it now? In any case, this absurd demand of the US does expose US intent and the military would do well to do a major rethink of its present close collaboration with the US.

The most recent ignorant remark relating to Pakistan has come from an Australian consultant to Centcom commander General Petraeus, David Kilcullen, that Pakistan could collapse in six months. Clearly wishful thinking by our detractors as the nation now stands revitalised after the successful challenge to dictatorial state authority on the judiciary issue. But what is of concern in Kilcullen's remarks is his claim that the military, intelligence agencies and the police (this last category is a new addition to the diatribes coming from the US and its allies) did not follow the civilian government but were a "rogue state" within a state. Honestly, talk about a total lack of comprehension of how the police force and the civilian intelligence agencies work in Pakistan! They are certainly inefficient and corrupt but that is another issue all together! Of course, we also know that since the ISI and the CIA fell out about a year ago, there has been an insidious campaign against the ISI and the Pakistan military but now it seems the police and FIA and so on are also on the hit list. In other words, all security and law and order forces must be scrapped, if Kilcullen is to be believed – and presumably reconstituted with US loyalists or what the US would term "secularists". Clearly, in the case of the US relationship with Pakistan, ignorance is certainly not blissful for the latter.

But for their ignorance, the US would realise that while most Muslim Pakistanis see themselves as easy-going, tolerant – also referred to as "moderate" – Muslims, very few regard themselves as "secular" in the US context. Which brings one to the constant mantra from the US and its allies about how Pakistan is about to be taken over by the Taliban. If this was to be true it would certainly be the fault of the Pakistani rulers, their image as US surrogates and their inability to deliver to the people on all counts – especially justice, equity and a dignified existence. But if one looks at the electoral patterns, one can see the standing of religious parties within mainstream Pakistan. However, it is true that the inability of the Pakistani state to deliver may well allow the more extreme religious groups to make inroads – after all, there are a phenomenal amount of madressahs across the country if my date collection for southern Punjab is any guide. And we do know that the Taliban have begun a peaceful campaign to make inroads into crucial cities in Punjab like Lahore and Faisalabad. In the latter city they have passed pamphlets to the trader community asking them to close their shops at prayer times, shun television and DVDs, ask their ladies to observe purdah and take their conflicts to the ulema rather than the civil courts. Has the state taken any action against these pamphlets or sought to provide quick justice and security for the population at large?

Add to this the US insistence on the killing of Pakistani citizens – whether as "collateral damage" or deliberate targeting – through drone attacks, and the perception of a corrupt and US-driven Pakistani state becomes ever more widespread. This is where the US ignorance impacts both our external security dynamics and internal processes. Our external security becomes aggravated as the military loses credibility within its own people, especially in FATA. Now the US is threatening drone attacks in Balochistan which will offer new space for the religious militants in that province. The provincial leadership has wisely already condemned this policy pre-emptively. Perhaps it can actually move to close the Bandari drone base about 87 kilometres from Kharan southeastward – since the federal government seems unable or unwilling to do so.

Certainly nothing has impacted the Pakistani populace against the US as the drone attacks have, and US ignorance about the functioning of our society has made them continue with this negative policy. So a few militants may have been killed in the process – look at the number of future militants these attacks create!

In terms of Pakistan's external security, the US using Jundullah through Balochistan to destabilise Iran undermines the socio-historical, cultural and political Pakistan-Iran relationship and creates its own destabilising dynamics within Pakistani society. Perhaps the absurdity of the US ignorance is reflected most clearly now in the statements coming from Obama's Special Envoy for this region, Richard Holbrooke. He showed it after his visit to Pakistan when he talked about people not being able to walk their dogs in Peshawar. More recently he declared, with his usual arrogance, that the 9/11 terrorists, the killers of Ms Bhutto, the Mumbai attackers and the perpetrators of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team were all one and the same lot.

What a lethal mix of arrogance and ignorance! After all the 9/11 perpetrators were rich Arabs educated in the west and living there; we do not yet know who killed Ms Bhutto; the Mumbai trail spreads across many countries; and, our foreign minister has also now referred to a "foreign hand", probably India's RAW, in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers. So while it may comfort the Americans to forget such distinctions, it will not resolve the global terrorism problem – especially when in all probability the threat of terrorism across the US and or Europe will tend to come from the marginalised Muslims of Europe rather than our madressah-bred extremists. That is, for better or worse, our problem for which we have to find our own solutions. In this context, US ignorance has a lethal cost which we cannot afford.



The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=168980
 

Vinod2070

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Lahore terror: blow to friends, opportunity for foes
By Shireen M Mazari

There can be nothing but condemnation for the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. Both Pakistanis and Sri Lankans have been living with the effects of terrorism in their countries and perhaps that is why only the Sri Lankans had the magnanimity to come and play cricket in Pakistan at a time when no other cricketing team was willing to take the risk. And to the eternal shame of all Pakistanis, we failed to protect them. In the process we have gone back to square one and it is unlikely that any international sporting event will take place in Pakistan in the near future.

But there are disturbing questions that arise in the immediate aftermath. The first is the targeting of the Sri Lankans – a nation that has been close to Pakistan and a state that has had a quiet but firmly entrenched relationship with us. Like the attacks on the Chinese working here, who has the most to gain by targeting the Sri Lankans? Certainly no Pakistani. But India and our other enemies certainly will make political gains. Interestingly, the incident has come soon after the Naval Chief's statement casting doubts on the Rehman Malik investigation dossier on Mumbai, which upset the Indians. So is this attack a mere coincidence in terms of timing?

The second issue is the absurd response of the Governor Punjab who immediately declared that this act of terrorism was also carried out by the perpetrators of Mumbai. Now how could he have had this information in such a definitive form in the immediate aftermath of the attack? This is almost the same behaviour he showed earlier when he declared that the Punjab government would go and three days later it went! Is he simply prone to premonitions?

The more disturbing issue is the security lapse even though Taseer declared that was not the case. But given the way he was transferring security officials and focusing the local intelligence gathering solely on political opponents, this was a clear security breach and intelligence lapse. When you stack state institutions, especially security organisations, with political and often inept favourites, this is what will happen – especially when every security organisation is without clear and responsible leadership.

The question that must be examined honestly is whether this is a natural follow-on from the terrorism linked to FATA and Swat, or is it a continuation of Mumbai or is it something new that is conveniently being linked to the former two? It is too early to give a definitive answer but it does not seem to have any linkage or bearing to FATA or Swat – otherwise why was the first match not targeted? In connection with Mumbai, the only connection is the role of RAW given the timing of the attack and the setback to Pakistan's image recovery after Mumbai.

This act of terrorism also gives more opportunities to the US to conduct more direct military operations within Pakistan on the pretext that the Pakistani government is unable to deal with the terrorist menace. Of course, their role in exacerbating the terrorist problem in the first place is never touched upon.

But even more disturbing is the suspicion that apart from our enemies outside, who could possibly benefit from this action? Again the timing is interesting given that only a day earlier PNL-N supporters in the spectators, who chose to raise political slogans were targeted by the police. Link this up to the whole design of thwarting the long march through administrative changes in Punjab and Taseer's interview on Monday with the press where he stated that there is no two-month limitation on governor's rule. Add to this the presentation before the terrorist court of the Rawalpindi political demonstrators and the Mobile Courts Ordinance ("gashti courts" as one TV analyst aptly translated) and one can see where the government seems to be headed. While surely no government can use such murderous means to clamp down on political protest, certainly such an incident gives a government hell-bent on brooking no political dissent ample opportunity now to place curbs on political protest and democratic rights. Ironically, that too, at the end of the day, benefits the enemies of Pakistan and they are bound to have their own fifth columnists here.

Before this shameful act of terrorism hit Lahore and killed the wonderful Sri Lankan gesture towards the beleaguered people of Pakistan, it had been a week of Pakistan's political tradition on display in all its sordid glory and there seemed to be no let up for the coming days. From "decision foretold" of the Supreme Court regarding the Sharif brothers; to the murder of the democratic (albeit full of feudal decadence) mandate of the people of Punjab; to the lies and revelations of deals being offered, made and rejected; to the accusations flying across the political divides; to the brazen declarations of dictatorial defiance and a humiliating slap in the face of all democratic norms by that lethal combo of Zardari and Taseer; to the mobile or kangaroo courts; there has been simply no end to the reckless and nationally debilitating behaviour of our rulers – and the Taseer statement in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack at Gaddafi stadium shows that even such a crisis cannot bring them to a level of sanity.

In the face of serious threats of terrorism (both state terrorism from the US and the threat from non-state actors), the growing financial burden on the ordinary people and the increasing law and order deficit, the Zardari-Taseer duo are more interested in pushing through party instead of national agendas, even at the cost of provincial stability.

That is why there is a free-for-all going on, on all fronts – from the political chaos to the economic hardships being meted out to the people on a daily basis to the complete destruction of all state institutions. Once again a Citibanker is causing havoc with the people. Utility prices have risen with gas bills simply doubling since January and now we are being told that electricity prices will also rise. If there is such a shortage of funds, where are the luxury cars and facilities for officialdom coming from and where is the money for the UN probe into Ms Bhutto's murder coming from? If our state can probe Mumbai why not the brutal murder of the ruling party's leader especially since we already know the limited mandate of the UN probe? Certainly cancelling the 23 March Parade is a sensible austerity move but not in isolation surely? Perhaps Shaukat Tareen should move out of his cosy socialising in the Serena and touch base with the people of this country.

Meanwhile, with all attention diverted to Punjab and the political chaos, who is noting the continuing killings of Pakistanis by the US through increased drone attacks and missiles fired from Afghanistan? While everyone correctly linked the Supreme Court decision to the long march, no one seemed to recall that only recently Shahbaz Sharif had categorically refused to allow NATO supply depots to be established in Punjab? Does that help to explain why the US has accepted this attack on democracy in Pakistan, or even that the move had US blessings? So Zardari targets the long march and the US gets its NATO depots in Punjab!

Clearly, the repression of the people has only just begun. It was ridiculous to see Zardari apologists accusing Nawaz Sharif of treasonable statements while a leading PPP ally, despite his public incitement to provincial hatred, was not censured at all. Now the ante has been upped and the stakes have become, literally murderous in the wake of the latest act of terror in Lahore. The long march to restoration of an independent judiciary and rule of law has just moved on to a road paved with violence, state repression and terrorism. As our hearts go out to the brave Sri Lankans who extended their hand of friendship to the Pakistani nation in their hour of trial, we hang our heads in shame as once again we see our friends suffer for their support to this nation. Through it all, there is a sense of dire foreboding that now prevails as we confront the growing shadows of a ruthless civilian authoritarianism.



The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=165517
 

Vinod2070

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How much sovereignty has Pakistan conceded?
By Shireen M Mazari
The writer is a defence analyst

It certainly did not take Holbrooke long to reveal his arrogant ignorance about Pakistan. Hysterical over the Swat agreement – clearly it undermines the US efforts to expand the destabilisation of Pakistan and thereby seek a rationale for sending troops into Pakistan and eventually targeting the country’s nuclear assets – he made some absolutely absurd remarks. First he chose to declare the 9/11 perpetrators as being similar to the Swat militants and to the groups of militants in FATA. Only his arrogance would push him into displaying such ignorance since we all know that the perpetrators of 9/11 were well-off Saudis educated in Western institutions (not madrassahs) and living in the West. Unlike them, the Swat militants are a motley group comprising various shades of Pakistanis, primarily madrassah educated and certainly not from the financial elite of the country. As for FATA, the militants comprise several groups ranging from Al-Qaeda offshoots, religious zealots, Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, local groups and criminal elements. But for Holbrooke it would appear these crucial differences are irrelevant and all that is relevant is the religious identity! Talk about bigotry and prejudice. As for his understanding of the security situation in the NWFP, it was defined in terms of people not “being able to walk their dogs!” Now how many ordinary citizens of Pakistan actually keep dogs as pets and walk them every evening a la New York style? And this is the best Obama could muster as a Special Envoy!

But for us Holbrooke is a secondary issue. Far more critical is the lying and cheating the governments of Pakistan have been indulging in with their own people as they have gradually conceded more and more sovereignty to the USA. We now know that the drone attacks have not only been done with the complicity of the Pakistan government (with both the military and civilian components giving their assent) but also with the provision of a special drone airbase at Bandari, about 87 kilometres from Kharan in Balochistan. There has been a deliberate effort to confuse the issue by citing the Shamsi base close to the Iranian border, built by an expansion of the old Juzzak airport, which is actually primarily being used by the US to destabilise Iran. The drone airfield is a separate clandestine one that does not figure even in the international list of the 22 restricted areas identified in Pakistan – because the drone base is not controlled at all by the Pakistan military – it has simply been handed over to the US to do with as they please. Even more pathetic is the news that our air defence personnel are now embedded in the US embassy in Islamabad to ensure the safety of the drones as they go about killing fellow Pakistanis.

As for our Defence Minister declaring that the US drones have been given rights to land only after they have killed Pakistanis; this is so ridiculous a claim one cannot waste time critiquing its irrationality. In any case, the Foreign Minister declared that the statement was based on a misperception – such is the dysfunctional nature of the state. But then when lies and cover ups are to be maintained this is what happens!

Nor is the drone issue the only major relinquishing of state sovereignty by Pakistan. The New York Times has revealed what many of us had been writing about for some time now, that the US has around 70 military advisers and technical specialists who are training our military to fight Al Qaeda. That is comical given the lack of success the US is having fighting this beast in Afghanistan! Apparently this secret task force has been in Pakistan since summer 2008 – although there have been sightings of the odd foreigner much earlier in the area around Warsak!

Then there is the access given to the FBI to accompany our security forces as they make their arrests. Why? Is it because the US does not trust our security forces? There are also revelations coming in of how the British were part of the torture machinery of Pakistani prisoners alongside our agencies. Now where will all this go? Will we soon simply hand over our nuclear assets to the US also for “security” reasons – if we have not already done so! After all, with all the duplicity going on, who can trust the state anymore to tell the truth?

Meanwhile we continue to hear statements that external sources are funding the militants in parts of Pakistan and now the ISPR head, General Athar Abbas has declared that the military cannot control the “external elements” being funded by hostile sources. But the point is why is no one in the state identifying these elements and sources of funding? Why is it being kept so vague? What is the pressure and where is it coming from?

As the deceit by the state continues, the peace in Swat seems to be holding for the present and the nine points for maintaining this peace that have been given by Sufi Mohammad are interesting because they make demands from both sides. Incidentally, the Taliban have also declared a unilateral ceasefire in Bajaur. Since our rulers look up to the West for almost everything, perhaps they should study the Good Friday Agreement which ended the Northern Ireland conflict and in which concessions were made by all parties. Just to inform some judgemental but ignorant critics, the British Army was also unable to go into areas of Northern Ireland controlled by the armed IRA – the many “no-go” areas but eventually control by the state came through dialogue, not military force! And many prisoners were also released as part of the deal.

Coming back to the issue of the Pakistani state’s deception of its own people, the net result is that there is no credibility left. That is why interlocutors like Sufi Mohammed become necessary. If the credibility of the government and the establishment is to be re-established, they must first come clean on the extent of the sovereignty already surrendered to the US. Then they must delink from the US and claim back the lost sovereignty before it is too late. Whether one likes it or not, unless Pakistan creates space between itself and the US, there will be no peace and security and the space for moderates will continue to shrink.

Study the history of US-backed regimes – be it in Iran, Vietnam, or the many examples of Latin America. US leaders like Obama will not alter the strategic vision the US has of itself – and Obama’s first moves vis-à-vis Pakistan have hardly been encouraging. So let us break our leadership’s psychological dependency on Washington. The rest will follow. Otherwise, the threat our ruling and miniscule westernised elites are seeking to avert will surely become a reality.

Tailpiece: It is sad that Farhat Taj has had to resort to using my columns out of context to counter my arguments but then since she is giving me so much time, I feel my writings must be hurting in the right quarters! Just to clarify some points: the sectarian problem in Pakistan was there much before there were any Pakistan Taliban. Secondly, since I have always made a distinction between the situation in Swat and FATA, I am well aware that there are no drones in Swat – though the US could move in that direction if it felt threatened by the peace and stability being re-established there! But that does not mean our leaders should not visit the area instead of remaining barricaded in their ivory tower residences. Not wanting to waste space on the diatribes of Ms Taj, let me simply say that if she is as intolerant of opposing viewpoints what is the difference between her and the Taliban that she accuses of intolerance – just the weapons? But if she wants to devote her columns to critiquing my writings, I have no complaints. It seems it is not just the Taliban and the US that have intolerance endemic in them!



Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=164407
 

Vinod2070

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Drones are a red herring!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Anjum Niaz

The writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting

"The drones don't fly out of Pakistan," grandly declares President Asif Zardari. It makes headline news. On the same day our army chief expresses similar sentiments. Earlier Prime Minister Gilani and Nawaz Sharif make brave declarations against the drones. Are Pakistanis meant to jump up with joy when our leaders – civilian and military make such statements? Listen, the drones are a red herring. Don't get embroiled in them. It's mere public posturing. We have mixed up our priorities. Outsiders think this country is in its death throes. Pakistan is lurching towards chaos. Our rulers are numbed into inaction. Meanwhile the Don Quixotes of our media are tilting at windmills, riding with their lances to kill the giant who is their perceived enemy. Little do they know that this giant whose other name is the United States of America has our rulers' license to kill. Al Qaeda is their target. If the drones fail to eliminate these foreign thugs, America will hunt them down with boots on the ground.

Will then our armchair jihadis, mushrooming in our television sets, go out and fight the Americans man-to-man?


"More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country's lawless tribal areas," according to American military officials quoted in the New York Times. The paper claims that they are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops, "providing them with intelligence and advising on combat tactics." This "secret task force" is being overseen by the "United States Central Command and Special Operations Command" according to the paper. The Times further goes on to claim citing an unnamed senior Pakistani military official that a "new Pakistani commando unit within the Frontier Corps paramilitary force has used information from the CIA and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking commanders, a senior Pakistani military official said."

So what's the brouhaha about?

Holbrooke, 67 is the brouhaha. "Admiral Mullen, cerebral and soft-spoken, often seemed more the diplomat, and Mr. Holbrooke, brash and overbearing, the one with four stars," is how the New York Times describes the duo's engagement in the region recently. It's being said Holbrooke is badly shaken hearing the people in this region support the Taliban. He's flummoxed.

Who can deny that the militants have infiltrated all across Pakistan. They are threatening Islamabad. But our blinkered media continues to drone on about drone attacks not questioning their rulers why they speak with forked tongues. Why are they not taking the citizenry into confidence? Vigilantism is our only survival. The initiated must move beyond the drones and fight to save Pakistan. A nuclear country of 170 million does not "disintegrate" or does it? We're being reminded that we are on artificial respiration and the plug can be pulled out any minute. The Americans and the British have their finger on the hot button. It will be a three-way war, between the US, Taliban and our military guarding our nuclear assets. "The Americans will take out the nuclear arsenal, throw us to the Taliban and calmly walk away," is the common perception among people whose hearts and heads are in the right place.

Red lines, cyber trenches, surveillance satellites, predator reapers, boots on ground, arm-twisting, carrot and stick stories, backchannel negotiations and media leaks dominate our days and nights. Global recession has taken a back seat. Individual bankruptcies are passé. Who cares if families have lost their savings and homes? Who cares if the world is throwing up starving people by the second? Instead all eyes are on Pakistan. The word "disintegration" is pandered across the Atlantic. Pakistan has become the "sick man of the world" just as the Ottoman Empire had become the "sick man of Europe" in the 19th century because it had fallen into a state of decrepitude. Eventually it collapsed.

Will Pakistan also collapse?

When the American administration plans action against a country, it first tests the waters in its own media. "The year 2009 is the year of delivery by Pakistan. If that doesn't happen, the Americans have their own plan of action," Shaheen Sehbai reports from Washington. The countdown has begun. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi can holler down Holbrooke at the press conference or Geneal Kayani can be best friends with his counterpart Admiral Mike Mullen, but Godzilla is getting ready to trample all over our sovereignty.


Today, the Taliban and the Americans appear in charge of Pakistan's future. Not the bulky finance adviser Shaukat Tareen who should be exercised, as the Americans call it, about the impending budget. Should he not be sweating over his figures unless he plans to duck the budget speech next month? Or like Zardari, does he await the largesse promised by the Friends of Pakistan later this month in Tokyo. Those 'friendly' billions will put food on our tables, so to say. And if they don't come in time, will the poor eat grass? Or will Zardari government sign on the dotted line as ordered by America to get that promised $1.5 billion?

War rooms have been erected across Pakistan and the world. We are in the eye of the storm. Life plays out moment to moment. The media has the best war rooms. In Pakistan their guns are aimed at America. And in America, the US media's guns are aimed at Pakistan Army and its ISI. In Britain, Pakistani youth of Pushtun origin are being watched. They are accused of being Taliban supporters. A popular TV host of a late night show in Islamabad insists that we go to war against America. It's the Americans we should fight, not the Taliban, he insists. Many of his callers agree with the jihadis. General (r) Hamid Gul cites the RAW, MI 5, Mossad and CIA working in tandem to destroy Pakistan. He continues to push his plan of forming a lashkar and attack India (the source of all our ills including insurgency in Balochistan). Baitullah Mehsud has offered to command the lashkar.


"It's looking increasingly difficult to save ourselves from the mess we have created," writes a Pakistani from abroad. "The Israelis are professionals at what they do. I remember how we Muslims used to defend the suicide bombings in Israel and now we are getting the taste of the same medicine. How times have changed! We need to reflect on our society and the hatred that we breed for each other in the name of God."

Gen Petraeus, commander for Iraq and Afghanistan, has told a Senate panel recently that militants in Pakistan "could literally take down their state" if left unchallenged. "How does this end?" asks a weary senator. Michele Flournoy, the under-secretary of defence for policy, replies: "a key point of defining success is when both the Afghans and the Pakistanis have both the capability and the will to deal with the remaining threat themselves." Gen Petraeus "echoes" Ms Flournoy. "The task will be for them to shoulder the responsibilities of their own security."


The latest impression leaking out from Washington DC is that neither President Zardari nor General Kayani are willing to embrace serious counterinsurgency measures being forwarded by the Americans. The army chief meanwhile is in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates holding important meetings.

Will our General bring back a blank cheque from the Saudis and the wealthy Gulf States or will he bring back a tacit agreement from them that US drone attacks must only target the Taliban/Al-Qaeda insurgents? If we get real lucky, the army chief may bring back borrowed drones to shake off America. Let us kill the militants ourselves.



Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=172291
 

Vinod2070

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An open letter to Gen Kayani
View from the other side Col (r) Harish Puri

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Dear Gen Kayani,

Sir, let me begin by recounting that old army quip that did the rounds in the immediate aftermath of World war II: To guarantee victory, an army should ideally have German generals, British officers, Indian soldiers, American equipment and Italian enemies.

A Pakistani soldier that I met in Iraq in 2004 lamented the fact that the Pakistani soldier in Kargil had been badly let down firstly by Nawaz Sharif and then by the Pakistani officers' cadre. Pakistani soldiers led by Indian officers, , he believed, would be the most fearsome combination possible. Pakistani officers, he went on to say, were more into real estate, defence housing colonies and the like.

As I look at two photographs of surrender that lie before me, I can't help recalling his words. The first is the celebrated event at Dhaka on Dec 16, 1971, which now adorns most Army messes in Delhi and Calcutta. The second, sir, is the video of a teenage girl being flogged by the Taliban in Swat -- not far, I am sure, from one of your Army check posts.


The surrender by any Army is always a sad and humiliating event. Gen Niazi surrendered in Dhaka to a professional army that had outnumbered and outfought him. No Pakistani has been able to get over that humiliation, and 16th December is remembered as a black day by the Pakistani Army and the Pakistani state. But battles are won and lost – armies know this, and having learnt their lessons, they move on.

But much more sadly, the video of the teenager being flogged represents an even more abject surrender by the Pakistani Army. The surrender in 1971, though humiliating, was not disgraceful. This time around, sir, what happened on your watch was something no Army commander should have to live through. The girl could have been your own daughter, or mine.

I have always maintained that the Pakistani Army, like its Indian counterpart, is a thoroughly professional outfit. It has fought valiantly in the three wars against India, and also accredited itself well in its UN missions abroad. It is, therefore, by no means a pushover. The instance of an Infantry unit, led by a lieutenant colonel, meekly laying down arms before 20-odd militants should have been an aberration. But this capitulation in Swat, that too so soon after your own visit to the area, is an assault on the sensibilities of any soldier. What did you tell your soldiers? What great inspirational speech did you make that made your troops back off without a murmur? Sir, I have fought insurgency in Kashmir as well as the North-East, but despite the occasional losses suffered (as is bound to be the case in counter-insurgency operations), such total surrender is unthinkable.

I have been a signaller, and it beats me how my counterparts in your Signal Corps could not locate or even jam a normal FM radio station broadcasting on a fixed frequency at fixed timings. Is there more than meets the eye?

I am told that it is difficult for your troops to "fight their own people." But you never had that problem in East Pakistan in 1971, where the atrocities committed by your own troops are well documented in the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report. Or is it that the Bengalis were never considered "your own" people, influenced as they were by the Hindus across the border? Or is that your troops are terrified by the ruthless barbarians of the Taliban?

Sir, it is imperative that we recognise our enemy without any delay. I use the word "our" advisedly – for the Taliban threat is not far from India's borders. And the only force that can stop them from dragging Pakistan back into the Stone Age is the force that you command. In this historic moment, providence has placed a tremendous responsibility in your hands. Indeed, the fate of your nation, the future of humankind in the subcontinent rests with you. It doesn't matter if it is "my war" or "your war" – it is a war that has to be won. A desperate Swati citizen's desperate lament says it all – "Please drop an atom bomb on us and put us out of our misery!" Do not fail him, sir.

But in the gloom and the ignominy, the average Pakistani citizen has shown us that there is hope yet. The lawyers, the media, have all refused to buckle even under direct threats. It took the Taliban no less than 32 bullets to still the voice of a brave journalist. Yes, there is hope – but why don't we hear the same language from you? Look to these brave hearts, sir – and maybe we shall see the tide turn. Our prayers are with you, and the hapless people of Swat.

The New York Times predicts that Pakistan will collapse in six months. Do you want to go down in history as the man who allowed that to happen?



The writer is a retired colonel of the Indian army who lives in Pune. Email: [email protected]
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=172290

A letter by an Indian army man to Kayani to show some spine! :)
 

Vinod2070

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EDITORIAL: The India factor

Commentators in Pakistan have their hackles up after Mr Richard Holbrooke, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in New Delhi Wednesday: “The US has no plans to mediate between India and Pakistan. We cannot negotiate between the two countries. Our trip was designed to move forward a process in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We stopped here to inform and consult the Indian government”. He and his fellow traveller, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, however, called for cooperation between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US to fight the “common threat” and stabilise the region.

What galls the Pakistani commentators is that, instead of making a tough statement about how India must resolve its Kashmir problem with Pakistan, Mr Holbrooke tried to involve India in Afghanistan: “We cannot settle Afghanistan and many other issues without India’s full involvement.” TV channels poured scorn on the American pronouncements of “friendship” with Pakistan; and some even referred to a joint Indo-US strategy to destabilise and “reduce” Pakistan in order to allow India to establish its hegemony in the region. The deficit of “trust and understanding” between the US and Pakistan evident in Islamabad is thus linked to how India is viewed by Pakistan on the one hand, and the world on the other, including the US.


The US and its western allies now represented in the NATO forces in Afghanistan favour India’s participation in the “nation-building” process in Afghanistan for a number of reasons. They think it is a democracy functioning in the same region of SAARC as Afghanistan with long-standing historic close relations with Kabul. They view with respect India’s investment in Afghanistan — $1 billion as against Pakistan’s $300 million — and do not take seriously Pakistan’s fears that Indians could be doing mischief inside Balochistan from their consular “offices” in Afghanistan. They think Pakistan must seek normalisation of relations with India through a bilateral dialogue to defuse the tensions emanating from India’s presence in Afghanistan.

There are other reasons too for this thinking, apart from the fact that the US doesn’t have the same kind of leverage on India as it does on Pakistan. There is no doubt that the world wants Pakistan to make the needed adjustments in its revisionist nationalism vis-à-vis India in the Indo-Pak normalisation process. It takes a dim view of Pakistan’s misadventure at Kargil in 1999 and an even dimmer view of the Pakistani non-state actors who attacked Mumbai in November 2008. It is fearful of the prospect of Pakistan not punishing the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks after owning them up. No neighbour of Pakistan in the region abutting on Afghanistan minds that India is there with big money rebuilding its infrastructure.

On the other hand, for Pakistan, the war in Afghanistan is an extension of the Indo-Pak covert war for an upper hand in Afghanistan. India also remembers the 1999 hijacking of its airliner to Kandahar where the Taliban had pressured India into releasing two terrorists from an Indian jail with close contacts to the ISI. The Pakistan army has always thought of providing against the day when NATO-US forces quit Afghanistan and leave behind a power vacuum that could be filled by India, thus exposing Pakistan to a two-front situation. This of course is a purely military formulation but it has popular acceptance because of Pakistan’s textbook anti-India nationalism made more lethal when linked to Pakistan’s widespread anti-Americanism.

For its Afghan policy to survive and to be able to face up to the challenge of terrorism, Pakistan needs to normalise relations with India quickly. Its nuclear deterrence — and thus its security — is of no use unless it quickly completes the process. We know that the terrorists don’t want this to happen and wish to distract Pakistan with a new Indo-Pak conflict that would lift the pressure from them in the tribal areas. Pakistan has tried to start a low-intensity conflict in the past with the help of non-state actors and has not succeeded. Its “strategic depth” policy against India has failed too. It is because of these background facts that the world wants Pakistan to normalise with India as a means of shoring up its security. The India factor is therefore the most pivotal aspect of the war against terrorism. *
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\04\10\story_10-4-2009_pg3_1
 

Daredevil

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We need to get some Irfan Hussain articles. He is one of the saner minds among Pakistani journalists. I will do time permitted.

Also we need to get some Ahmed Quereshi articles which reflects the mind of PA.
 

Pintu

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Thanks and Regards for you for starting such a thread timely, needed:

Vinodji , I find two articles posted by you, advocating the facts, first the open letter written by respected Col(r) Harish Puri of Indian Army which can be the eye opener for Head of Pak Army, but sadly if the Gen Kayani only pays heed to it, but the things going like the appeal in open letter by respected Col(r) Puri is going unnoticed by intentionally. If somebody tries to dig his/her own grave, then I believe Divine human suggestions are of no importance, to him/her. Second, the editorial in daily times , Pakistan is a rude shocking truth in eyeopener to the readers in that nation written by the media of that country, and alas may be in future the article may be branded as 'hostile to Pak interest' and draw sharp criticism,by thus ignoring the truth born by the article. The others are nothing but mess, Shireen M Mazari started but later lost all , messed every thing in later in articles and went to play the crap old broken records played by Pak Administrations accusing us in Terror attacks there making her article her crap, while, I could not figure out why Anjum Niaz mentioned Zaid Hamid, she avoids commenting, it is not clear wheather she supports clown like Zaid or oppose him. She seems to me confused herself. She could not show the way the Pakistan like to move to eradicate terrorism by themselves.


A very good thread , Vinodji, please continue,

Regards
 

Daredevil

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The high cost of surrender

The high cost of surrender

By Irfan Husain

Saturday, 11 Apr, 2009 | 06:56 AM PST |


IMAGINE that a neighbouring country had killed a leading Pakistani politician, blown up a popular hotel in the middle of Islamabad and killed thousands of security personnel and innocent civilians in a series of bombing raids.

Imagine too that the enemy’s stated goal is nothing short of the capture of state power. Surely these acts would have constituted a declaration of war.

In this scenario, all political parties would have united to face this aggression. The media would have been full of patriotic songs and messages to urge the nation to support the government and the military in defending Pakistan. And above all, the armed forces would not have hesitated in playing their role.

Anybody suggesting a dialogue with the invader, or justifying the attack, would be denounced as a traitor and a defeatist.

So my question is why isn’t all this happening now? True, the aggressors are mostly home-grown terrorists, but the damage they have been inflicting is just as lethal as any bombs dropped from the skies. Their acts must, under any definition, count as an open declaration of civil war. And yet, wide sections of public opinion and the media are sitting on the fence. Many leading politicians have yet to publicly denounce the Taliban as enemies of the state. And the army has yet to demonstrate that it is serious about fighting this war.

Talking about the situation in Lahore last week, Aitzaz Ahsan came up with a unique solution. He cited an incident from Mughal history where the emperor had his elephant tethered to the ground to send out a signal to his forces that he would not retreat. His wavering army rallied to protect him and won the day.

According to Aitzaz, this is what the president should do: instead of staying in his bunker in Islamabad, he should set up his office in Fata, as these are federally administered territories, and he is the symbol of the federation. Simultaneously, the chief minister of the NWFP should shift his office to Swat.

According to Aitzaz, the army would then be forced to protect them and move forces to the battle zone.

Aitzaz is an old friend, and I respect his intellect and his integrity. However, I pointed out a fatal flaw in his proposal: it presupposes that the army would want to take the fight to the Taliban and protect political leaders. Thus far, our armed forces have not shown that they take the extremist threat seriously. According to a recent article in Der Spiegel, the respected German daily:

‘The (Pakistan) military avoids serious confrontation with the extremists. Many officers still do not see the Taliban as their enemy. Pakistan’s true enemy, in their view, is India… Quite a few officers say that the fight against terrorism in the north-western part of the country is being forced upon them by the Americans and that they are fighting the wrong war…. A Pakistani two-star general candidly explained the mindset of his fellow military commanders … noting that although the army is fighting the Taliban at the instructions of politicians, it also supports the militants….’

Given this ambiguity and duplicity, the success of Baitullah Mehsud and his fellow terrorists should come as no surprise. In fact, this military mindset mirrors what we see in the media, and reflects the confusion that has characterised and dogged our efforts to combat the extremist threat. In this, Aitzaz Ahsan is right: our security forces have a bunker mentality that has them cowering in their barracks while the jihadis mount a series of attacks. If we are to save Pakistan, the army will have to take the fight to the Taliban, and not simply wait for the next attack.

So far, with the exception of the PPP and the MQM, most political parties have avoided taking a clear position. While they may occasionally condemn individual atrocities, they fall short of openly identifying the enemy. One senior journalist in Islamabad told me that when reporters seek an interview with Nawaz Sharif, they must first agree not to ask any direct questions about the Taliban. If this is true, it shows that the PML-N leader does not want to either condemn or support the jihadis openly. Being a canny politician, he does not wish to alienate his core support among reactionary elements. Nor does he want to upset Washington. But wars are not won through such tactical hedging.

While this jockeying for advantage goes on among politicians, millions of Pakistanis are paying the price for this procrastination. Thousands have died in terrorist attacks because the state has failed in its duty to protect its citizens. If somebody wants to know the cost of defeat, he has only to view the video of the 17-year old girl being flogged in Swat. Many have questioned the timing of the video’s release, claiming that it is an attempt to sabotage the ‘peace deal’ between the NWFP government and the Taliban. If it is, I would be happy to see this disgraceful instrument of surrender torn up.

One positive outcome of this atrocity coming to public knowledge is that it has opened many eyes to the reality of the Taliban, and what they represent. The flogging has ignited protests across the country. I participated in one in Lahore last week. I was glad to see that apart from many old friends, a large number of young people and students also took part in the march. One popular slogan was: ‘Pakistan kay do shaitan: fauj aur uskay Taliban’ (‘Pakistan’s two demons: the army and its Taliban’). My favourite banner at the rally asked: ‘$12 billion in aid to fight terrorism. Where is it?’ Where indeed?

During Richard Holbrooke’s recent visit to Pakistan, our government responded to the new Obama plan to fight the Taliban with an ill-concealed resentment.

Clearly, the establishment is not enjoying having its reluctance to fight held up under a spotlight. As in the past, it wants the promised flow of dollars to remain unimpeded by any serious questions about its will to carry the fight to the Taliban. Our television warriors echo this sentiment, and demand that the country should not follow ‘American dictates’.

But as we are about to discover, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.

[email protected]

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...nists/irfan-husain-the-high-cost-of-surrender
 

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‘He who pays the piper calls the tune'

‘He who pays the piper calls the tune'

By Irfan Husain

Wednesday, 01 Apr, 2009 | 06:28 AM PST |


Hardly had the implications of Obama’s new approach to the war in Afghanistan sunk in that the carping began in Pakistan. The words that most stuck in the establishment’s craw were those that warned our generals that they could no longer expect a blank cheque from the Americans. Thus far, the Pentagon has been underwriting our less-than-robust attempts in the frontier region to the tune of around 80 million dollars a month.

From the American perspective, they aren’t getting enough bang for their buck. Our armchair generals think we are already doing too much. Now, the choice is going to be stark: if the army wants its shiny new toys and its perks, it will have to re-think its posture, and do some serious fighting. This is not to deny the bravery of the soldiers who have laid down their lives thus far. But the fact is that the Frontier Corps is too ill-equipped and too poorly trained to take on Baitullah Mehsud and his Taliban. What are needed are the army’s crack troops currently in barracks along our eastern border. These are the soldiers the Americans want for the heavy fighting on our Afghan frontier.

The truth is that the Taliban currently have the upper hand on both sides of the Durand Line. But whereas the Americans recognise this, and are sending in more troops to Afghanistan, our government is still in denial. As our army’s defeat in Swat showed, it is facing a tough, ruthless foe who is highly motivated and well armed. To pretend that the Taliban can be beaten by the police or the militia is to shirk the state’s primary responsibility of protecting its citizens.

The world is appalled by the ease with which the Taliban and various Islamist terrorists operate within our country. Attacks in Lahore like the ones at the police training centre and against the Sri Lankan cricket team leave foreigners shaking their heads in amazement and despair. And yet the Punjab police and sundry intelligence agencies are galvanised into action to crush any legitimate opposition. Actually, this is what they are trained to do. Thus, they are really no match for jihadis who are just as happy if they are killed.

While we Pakistanis are hardened to the daily mayhem in our midst, the West values its soldiers in Afghanistan more highly than we do our citizens who fall victim to the Taliban. So when we cannot control the madness within our borders, and as a direct result, NATO and American soldiers die in Afghanistan, the pressure on our government and our forces to ‘do more’ is bound to increase. At NATO’s 60th anniversary’s summit in Strasbourg this week, there will be calls to press Pakistan to commit more forces. Already, the chorus of criticism directed at the ISI for its alleged role in supporting the Taliban is swelling.

How will our military establishment cope with this pressure that is going to grow in coming weeks? While they are happy to ignore the voices of ordinary Pakistanis who just want to live in peace, they will find it harder to reject the demands made by the Americans, especially when they are shelling out $1.5 billion a year. Although there are many Pakistanis (several of whom seem to live in TV studios) who are shrill in their denunciations of American pressure, none of them have any suggestions of where the financial assistance we need so urgently is to come from. The Saudis and the Chinese have clearly indicated that they are not willing to help. This leaves just Washington, and as the old saying goes, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.

Most foreigners cannot grasp our army’s preoccupation with India. For them, our neighbour is a large, powerful state that is playing an increasingly global role. By comparison, Pakistan is seen as an insignificant and troublesome player. The recent BBC/Gallup survey placing Pakistan among the bottom five of the most popular countries in the world should put things in perspective. Of the 13,500 people polled in 21 countries, only 20 per cent had a favourable view of our country. In the rankings, we were only one place above Afghanistan. India, on the other hand, was favourably viewed by 64 per cent of those surveyed.While such views are painful, they should shake us out of our state of denial. Instead of analysing why the world perceives us as it does, and trying to change this view, we seem determined to stick our collective head firmly in the sand. Indeed, these opinions only serve to strengthen our paranoia, and confirm that the whole world is against us. Most of the talking heads on our many TV channels attribute our negative image to ‘Indian propaganda’, and gloss over the frightful state of our nation.

In the ongoing civil war – and make no mistake, this is what it is – far too many powerful opinion-makers continue to sit on the fence. Some even indirectly support the enemy by dividing public opinion. While we should be forging a consensus, many politicians and journalists continue to question the fact that we are fighting the Taliban at all. By labelling the conflict as ‘America’s war’, they are diverting attention from the fact that it is Pakistan that is first at risk should the Taliban prevail.

Outsiders cannot comprehend this duplicity. In many countries, ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ is a crime. Surely every patriotic Pakistani should condemn the various attacks that are taking place around us almost every day. After all, the victims are Pakistanis, not Americans. When drone attacks kill (mostly foreign) militants in their hideouts in the tribal areas, there is an orgy of denunciation. But when the Taliban (or their various partners in crime) slaughter our people, there is little condemnation. For instance, when over 70 people were killed in a suicide attack at a mosque last week, I heard very few politicians fulminating against those behind the attack.

We are now in the unhappy position of being prodded into action. A combination of inertia and ideology prevents our army from launching a concerted campaign against the Taliban. But very soon now, it will be forced to choose between a more robust military posture and being completely sidelined. As Obama implied, if our forces won’t do the job, the Americans will, one way or another.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...lumnists/he+who+pays+the+piper+calls+the+tune
 

Daredevil

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Zia’s revenge I

Zia’s revenge

By Irfan Husain

Saturday, 28 Mar, 2009 | 01:53 AM PST |


ON my all-too-brief visit back to Pakistan, I have been flipping local channels to catch up on events. I have found new ones to watch, although not necessarily for any length of time, given the generally low quality of the fare on offer.

The other evening, I caught a panel discussion featuring a gentleman who used to be in the foreign service, together with a couple of other talking heads. The discussion was about last November’s lethal terrorist attacks in Mumbai. When I switched on my TV, the gentleman was confidently asserting that the knowledge of downtown Mumbai the terrorists seemed to possess made it clear that they could not have been Pakistanis. From this shaky theory, he leaped to the conclusion that they must have been Indians who had been trained in their country, and then brought to Pakistan before being put on a boat that took them to Mumbai.

I had scarcely managed to digest this brilliant argument before another panellist, a senior lawyer, chipped in with his stunning contribution. According to him, the killers could not possibly have been Pakistanis because had they been, they would not have attacked Mumbai, but would have gone for Delhi’s Red Fort. 'Why would young Muslims from Pakistan be interested in Mumbai?' he demanded. 'They don’t know the language there, and surely they would not have gone there to ogle Bollywood actresses.' Both expressed their outrage that our government had accepted that the attacks had been launched from Pakistan.

In one discussion on minorities, a Pakistani Sikh guest told the audience how he had once been forbidden by a local maulvi from dangling his feet in a stream as Muslims downstream might use the water to perform their ablutions before they prayed. He also complained that he was not served tea at roadside dhabas because other customers might object to drinking from cups that had been used by a non-Muslim. An angry maulvi on the panel tried to reassure the poor Sikh that Islam enjoined its followers to treat minorities well.

On another evening, I caught a bit of a solo discourse by a gent who thundered: 'Allah’s curse be on those who criticise Pakistan! I want to tell all Pakistanis that before long, their current trials will be over, and we will soon re-conquer India!'

During such surreal discussions, many anchors fail to challenge the outlandish views being expressed by their guests, or ask them to produce evidence for their assertions. On the contrary, they are invited to explore their bizarre notions at length.

I have begun to realise the extent to which our media has become an active player in Pakistani politics and society. During the recent movement to restore the chief justice, millions of viewers across the country were mesmerised by the sight of the black-coated lawyers poised to take on the power of the state.

The problem with this kind of in-your-face TV journalism is that moving the camera into the action makes the crowds seem much bigger than they are. Also, in a competitive, pressured environment, there is little time to reflect on events and what they mean: the audience wants to know what’s happening every minute of every day. And to offer opinions, there are armies of pundits waiting to get invited to TV studios to hold forth. Most of them are retired diplomats, generals, judges and civil servants who are happy to leave the tedium of their lives for the glare of publicity. Unpaid, and with no professional reputation to protect, many can (and do) get away with the most absurd views.

In most cases, we do not really know who is behind which channel. Judging from the extreme views being pushed on many of them, the source of funding takes on a slightly sinister overtone. For years, question marks have hung over several journalists, and whispers have done the rounds tying them to our ubiquitous intelligence agencies. Given the role of these organisations in Pakistani politics over the years, I would not be surprised to learn that they are financing some of the channels that have proliferated recently.

Another problem is to do with the qualifications of the anchors and hosts of the many talk shows on offer. Selected for their looks and fluency rather than for their knowledge and education, they are ill-equipped to challenge their loud and self-confident panellists. When somebody voices an opinion as a fact, the anchors let him get away with it because they just do not know any better.

My personal theory is that their lack of a grounding in politics, economics and current affairs is a direct result of the poor education they have received. Without wishing to be lofty or patronising, I can safely point to the poisonous brainwashing an entire generation has been subjected to during the Zia era. Already reeling from Bhutto’s nationalisation of education, millions of Pakistani children then had years of religious studies rammed down their throats by Zia. This was supplemented by reactionary propaganda aired by state television and radio. In those days, there were no private channels to break this monopoly of the airwaves.

The current generation of Pakistanis reaching positions of authority and influence is the product of this brainwashing. Of course many have escaped its worst effects, but unquestionably, public discourse in Pakistan has moved to the right, and we now wear religion on our sleeves to a greater extent than ever before. Secularism is now a label few are willing to accept, even though many privately agree that it’s the only way Pakistan can rejoin the rest of the world.

When private channels first began operating in Pakistan’s stultified environment, I had hoped it would be a liberating force, opening a window to the world for millions of Pakistanis. In reality, it has worked to serve the opposite end by reinforcing existing prejudices, rather than challenging them. Owners of channels have their own concealed agendas, and poorly educated producers and hosts do little to separate opinions from facts.

[email protected]
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/zias-revenge
 

Pintu

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Great article, great find by daredevil my thanks and regards for that, at least the silver lining is that there is hope persists for when at least a single voice that came out with the fact rather than ride the usual stream of rhetoric against us.
 

Daredevil

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Irfan Hussain portrays the true psyche of a Pakistani and where the common Pakistanis stand on the Talibanisation of Pakistan. At least from his articles, it is clear for me what ails Pakistan in their fight against Taliban, it is the ambiguity in fighting Taliban as they treat them as one of their own.
 

Daredevil

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Great article, great find by daredevil my thanks and regards for that, at least the silver lining is that there is hope persists for when at least a single voice that came out with the fact rather than ride the usual stream of rhetoric against us.
Pintu, the hope is only that of a glimmering one. How many actually listen to his words?. It is the people like Zahid Hamid that are popular with the common Pakistani not the people like Irfan Hussain.
 

Vinod2070

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US to seek joint Fata operations in trilateral talks
By Anwar Iqbal
Tuesday, 14 Apr, 2009 | 05:48 AM PST |


The US administration expects Holbrooke to use his diplomatic skills to convince Islamabad to accept joint military operations.—AP/File
ISI chief in US

ISI chief Shuja Pasha in US on two-day visit

Call for joint operations rejected

‘No’ to joint operation in tribal areas



WASHINGTON: Efforts are being made to elevate the next trilateral meeting of the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan to a summit level, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The meeting is expected to be held May 5-7 in Washington. The first trilateral meeting, also held in Washington in late February, involved the foreign ministers of the three countries. But now all three governments are seriously considering a proposal to bring together their leaders.
Afghanistan and Pakistan also sent their intelligence officials to the first meeting to sort out contentious issues. Later, US Secretary of State Clinton told the media that all three countries had agreed to hold trilateral meetings on a regular basis.

The need to hold a summit meeting, however, stems from the realisation that differences among the three key allies in the war against extremism are too serious to be resolved by their foreign ministers.

While Pakistan and Afghanistan have always differed with each other over how to fight the extremists, last week the United States and Pakistan also went public with their differences.
Pakistan openly rejected a US proposal to conduct joint operations in the tribal areas and also criticised certain conditions being attached to a proposed legislation to triple US economic assistance to the country.

Later, US State Department’s spokesman Robert Wood told a briefing in Washington that the United States and Pakistan too had differences but said such differences were not unexpected in a complex and difficult issue like fighting the extremists.
In the second round of the trilateral meeting, the United States may once again raise the issue of joint military operations in the tribal areas.

The Pakistanis are likely to emphasise on the regional approach that the United States had initiated before announcing its new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan last month.
The US administration expects its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to use his diplomatic skills to convince Islamabad to accept joint military operations in Fata.

The Pakistanis, however, view the proposed operations as potentially disastrous and have rejected the US proposal. They argue that the political cost of such operations will be so serious that it can bring down the government in Islamabad.
In an area as difficult as Fata, the operations cannot bring a major military victory either, the Pakistanis argue.

However, the Pakistanis believe that they will have to offer an alternative plan to combat the extremists hiding in Fata to satisfy the Americans
Pakistan is also urging the US to go back to the original idea of a region approach, which required Pakistan, India and Afghanistan to work together to resolve major problems facing the South Asian region.

The Pakistanis claim that the original plan for the original approach also stressed the need to resolve bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, such as the Kashmir dispute.
The Americans, however, shelved the plan when India refused to participate in any meeting where the Kashmir issue is discussed.

The Pakistanis say that they do not understand the new US approach, which requires Pakistan to recognise India as a major player in Afghanistan without seeking any assurance from New Delhi.

Islamabad opposes another US proposal for forming a contact group for dealing with the problem of extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The Pakistanis complain that this proposal requires them to compromise their sovereignty by involving other nations in an internal issue, the Fata insurgency.

Pakistan is also urging the Americans not to make any major move at this stage when three neighbouring countries — India, Iran and Afghanistan – are holding elections.

‘What you hear during the election season is election rhetoric,’ said a Pakistani diplomat while explaining Islamabad’s position. ‘You cannot expect a breakthrough during an election season.’

Yet, the Pakistanis welcome the next round of trilateral talks, hoping that it would help reduce tensions among the three allies, the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Acknowledging that there were tensions between the US and Pakistan over how to counter the insurgency, Mr Holbrooke said: ‘We have had a long and complicated history, our two countries, and we cannot put the past behind us but we must learn from it and move forward.’

But the Afghan ambassador in Washington, Said Jawad, does not seem very optimistic about improvement in Kabul’s relations with Islamabad.
‘Pakistani security institutions do not see extremism and terrorism as a serious threat to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the world; they see India as the main threat,’ he said. ‘We have not seen any indications that the support’ by these institutions to militant groups ‘has discontinued’. The support is going on.’

Lisa Curtis, a scholar of South Asian affairs at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, backs the Afghan position. ‘Pakistani security officials calculate that the Taliban offers the best chance for countering India’s regional influence,’ she said.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...seek-joint-operations-in-trilateral-talks--bi
 

johnee

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Irfan Hussain portrays the true psyche of a Pakistani and where the common Pakistanis stand on the Talibanisation of Pakistan. At least from his articles, it is clear for me what ails Pakistan in their fight against Taliban, it is the ambiguity in fighting Taliban as they treat them as one of their own.
DD,
irfan hussian seems to be giving some straight talk in his article these days, but I thought earlier he used to sing the same tune like rest of the pakistanis: 'india is the enemy, RAW is the harbinger of all probs', isnt it? or was he always like this?
 

Daredevil

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DD,
irfan hussian seems to be giving some straight talk in his article these days, but I thought earlier he used to sing the same tune like rest of the pakistanis: 'india is the enemy, RAW is the harbinger of all probs', isnt it? or was he always like this?
He has always been logical in his arguments. I never seen any articles blaming RAW or India in any of the attacks on Pakistan.
 

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