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

Vinod2070

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Imran Khan's strange politics
Reality check

Friday, May 15, 2009
Shafqat Mahmood

It is in tough times that a nation's mettle is tested and we have not faced such challenges since 1971. Besides the rigours of war that our brave soldiers are fighting with grit and determination, we face a huge humanitarian crisis.

The government may be lagging behind in its relief effort but the ordinary people are coming through. From impromptu relief camps to truckloads of supplies from citizen groups, and an overwhelming urge to give cash, there is a visible anguish for the displaced people of Malakand.

Unfortunately, the state machinery is not moving as quickly. An announcement on behalf of the prime minister that all banks would receive donations has not been followed through. Until Thursday morning, even some of the more prominent Pakistani banks had not received instructions to open PM's relief account.

Incidentally, is it too much to ask that there be some coordination of the appeals for donations made by various government entities? If advertisements in the papers are any guide, at least four separate calls have been made and there may be as many as six.

There is the Prime Minister's fund and of the NWFP government. In Punjab, the governor and the chief minister have made separate appeals. (Why?). I am not aware of it but Sindh and Baluchistan governments may have also done something similar.

Is it impossible to have just one fund? If there were, it would be easier for people to give and for the banks to manage. But, then this would be asking our leadership to display some hidden executive talent. Let us face it; these people are good politicians but management is not one of their virtues.

On the battle field, our armed forces seem to be doing well. I am no military expert but they appear to be going about their task unhurriedly and with great care. Fighting insurgencies is not easy as it is not the conventional warfare armies are trained for. But, whatever evidence we have, of this and the earlier Bajaur operation, our armed forces are adapting and beginning to win.

On the political front, it is sad that even when we are in a virtual state of war, there are discordant voices. Some PML-N members continue to make speeches against the operation and against the army in the National Assembly. This is unhelpful considering that the both Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif have taken an unequivocal stand against the terrorists. Maybe these members should check with their leadership before holding forth.

However, no one has been more disappointing in this regard than Imran Khan. I have great respect for what he has achieved on the cricket field. He was an inspirational captain, a great player and his integrity was beyond doubt. His disdain for money in particular was something to admire in an era of match fixing and other shenanigans.

In social work, what he has accomplished in the shape of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital is truly stupendous. Not only is it the best-run hospital in Pakistan, it provides free medical treatment to thousands of poor patients. What is more, the lack of any VIP culture in hospital management is a personal tribute to the vision and leadership of Imran Khan.

When it comes to politics and policy though, the same Imran is unfortunately a signal failure. It can be truly said of him that he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. He could have teamed up with Nawaz Sharif in 1997 and got his party a presence in parliament. He did not.

He flip-flopped with Musharraf -- supporting him in the rigged referendum, opposing him in the ensuing general election -- and got the worst of both worlds. And, he boycotted the 2007 election when being in parliament (provided he won) would have made a great deal more sense.

These examples are of power politics and it may be argued that parliamentary success or power are no measure of a person's success as a politician. Fine, let us look at his policy prescriptions.

From the start of his political career, he railed against something called western culture, which was a straight forward rejection of modernisation. In a country that was being pulled back by obscurantist mullahs, this was a strange choosing of sides. I will not even go into the personal choices he made while doing this.

His second fixation was the idealisation of a Pakhtun tribal culture. Again, I will avoid psychoanalysing a Punjabi's identity crisis, but how a semi-literate and simple rural people could become a role model for a rapidly urbanising and complex Pakistani society was not easy to understand.

Granted that their inter-tribal dealings were egalitarian and perhaps the tribal councils or jirgas worked well, but how this model could be transplanted in other parts of the country, was neither explained by Imran nor obvious.

In between, he took some correct positions on the judiciary question and against Musharraf but badly fumbled while trying to prosecute Altaf Hussain in England. A politician should know which battles can be won and which are a lost cause. Imran vowed to go after Altaf Hussain in England and declared victory even before he had presented his case before the British government. As was expected, nothing has happened despite his various entreaties to the high and mighty in that country.

But, all these mistakes pale in comparison when measured up against his obsessive, single track refusal to understand that these barbarian hordes targeting FATA and Malakand division are a threat to our country. He has just one mantra that this is America's fault, America's fault, America… etc. America has contributed to it but is that the only problem we confront?

He cannot or does not want to understand that these people are linked up with Al Qaeda and actually do have an agenda of taking over our country. If he does not want to believe a 'westernised liberal' like me, he should read Saleem Saafi in Jang or others that know these people well.

In any case, how can he condone what these people are doing? Cutting people's throats, lashing women, destroying all schools not just girls', indulging in kidnapping and extortion and unleashing a reign of terror to subdue the people, are just some of their crimes. Above all, these people have taken up arms against the state. Why can't he see all this?

He should listen to the stories of the displaced people now that they are out of the Taliban fear zone. They describe the Taliban as bloody thirsty criminals. It is sad that Imran visualises them as some kind of higher beings or fighters of Islam responding to American presence in Afghanistan. Please!

In this difficult time for the country, he is on the wrong side of history. No one doubts that American presence in Afghanistan has seriously contributed to our troubles. There is also a possibility that the Americans may have an evil eye on our nuclear programme.

But, we must also remember that barbarian hordes linked to Al Qaeda also have designs on our country and threaten our way of life. We have no choice but to fight them.

Imran must stand by his people and the armed forces. He should rise above his prejudices and help in the fight for Pakistan.



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Imran Khan's strange politics
 

Yusuf

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'Many Pakistanis question if this is their war'

Salima Hashmi, the daughter of legendary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, is a patron of arts and one of the best-known rights activists in Pakistan. Sameer Arshad spoke to Hashmi about the Taliban threat and the role of Pakistan's civil society in countering extremism:

How real is the threat of Taliban spilling over into other parts of Pakistan?

The Taliban are more than one group. I consider Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e Mohammad to be an equal threat and they aren't restricted to one part of the country. They are firmly entrenched in areas like Muridke in Punjab. The Binori Masjid in Karachi is another centre of militancy.

Why has Pakistan's famed civil society failed to stand up to the Taliban?

Civil society is responding and demonstrations are taking place at various places. A signature campaign is in operation. But i think the drone attacks and the US's Afghan policy have made some people ambivalent towards the Taliban. Many people question whether this is 'our war'. At the same time, i think the recent events like the takeover in Swat and radical cleric Sufi Mohammad's statements are galvanising more people against the Taliban. However, the large number of civilian casualties in the army action is causing a lot of concern.

If Pakistan's civil society could oust military ruler General Pervez Musharraf and force President Asif Ali Zardari to restore the deposed judges, why can't it do the same vis-a-vis the Taliban?

The lawyers movement took an immense toll on the peoples lives. It led to loss of livelihood for so many young lawyers and civil society activists. It has exhausted the populace.

What keeps the civil society going?

The savagery of military ruler Zia-ul Haq decimated the political process, parties, labour, students, intellectual, artists, writers and media and civil rights groups. His legacy lives on through the laws enacted in that time. You can hardly understand the implications of Zia's 11-year rule. He transformed Pakistan in every way. It's there in the way textbooks were written, procedures altered and this continues till today. But it also strengthened the independence of the spirit of society and media in ways that surprise our friends from India. Our media is unlike that of India. I find Indian media to be more conformist and often eager to swallow the 'official' line as though it would be unpatriotic if they didn't do so.

Do you think India has a role to play in strengthening Pakistan's civilian dispensation?

Certainly one expects India to be supportive of a civil dispensation and give up eulogising Musharraf. He represented himself and the army, with great aplomb and we have to live with the consequences, the most frightening of which are the Taliban and the Lashkars of various kinds.
 

Vinod2070

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What next for America?

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
General David Howell Petraeus, the 10th Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), has negotiated, bargained and networked with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. General Petraeus, in his desperate search for an alternative supply route, went as far as Latvia. The top graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College -- class of 1983 -- and the winner of the General George C Marshall Award hasn't met with much success lately.

Yes, there have been minor -- strategically inconsequential -- delights. General Petraeus did manage a deal with Kazakhstan for oil and another one with Latvia for 100 containers a day on a 4,000 km journey to the Kandahar Air Base. On May 11, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan announced that his country has begun "shipping non-military supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan through its airport in the city of Navoi." Yes, there have also been major -- strategically consequential -- disappointments. Kyrgyzstan took a hefty $2 billion from Russia and in return put General Petraeus on notice to vacate the Manas Air Base (Uzbekistan had told the US to vacate the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base some four years ago).

What is General Petraeus now left with? Four things: one, Pakistan's National Highway N-5. From Karachi, Hyderabad, Moro and Khairpur a total of 671 km all of which is safe from outside attacks. N-5 then enters Multan on to Sahiwal, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi, a total of 1,021 km all of which is safe. N-5 then crosses the Indus River into Nowshera, Peshawar and then Torkham, a total of 127 km almost all of which is extremely vulnerable. Two, Pakistan's Indus Highway or N-55. From Karachi to Peshawar via Kotri, Dadu, Shikarpur, Kashmor, Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Kohat and into Peshawar. Three, Pakistan's RCD Highway or N-25. From Karachi to Chaman via Hub, Bela, Khuzdar, Quetta to Chamman and then into Kandahar; a total of 813 km almost all of it is secure except for when it crosses the border into Afghanistan (there has been a recent connection to Gwadar). Four, Pakistani refineries producing most of the jet fuel for NATO forces.

What is America doing in Afghanistan? Operation Enduring Freedom was launched on October 7, 2001. The stated casus belli, or reasons for war, were: one, to remove the Taliban regime from power (because the Taliban had provided a safe sanctuary to Al Qaeda). Two, to capture Osama bin Laden. Three, to destroy Al Qaeda. Where does America stand now? The Taliban regime is no more but Osama continues to be on the loose and Al Qaeda is still ticking and kicking.

To be certain, America is confused, baffled and may be even disoriented. Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has reportedly opened up his channels with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Remember, in 2002, CIA-controlled MQ-1 Predator fired a Hellfire missile on Gulbuddin's vehicle but missed. Then on February 19, 2003, US Department of Treasury designated Gulbuddin a 'global terrorist'. And now, the special representative is negotiating with a 'global terrorist'.

Is America really puzzled? Over the past year, there have been a handful of reviews of America's Afghan policy -- one after another. On June 3, 2008, the Department of Defence ordered General David McKiernan to take over the command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). On May 11, McKiernan having served for less than a year was asked by Defence Secretary Robert Gates to resign.

General Petraeus, beaming from his success in Iraq, is adamant on replicating his Iraq experience. President Obama, on the other hand, does not want to make Afghanistan as the centrepiece of his presidency. There is evidence that Obama and Robert Gates are both at odds with Petraeus. Where does America go from here? Would America let the Taliban back to power in exchange for throwing Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan? Where would America go from here?

PS: The president of Pakistan was at Elysee Palace. The president of Pakistan should have been in Takht Bhai at the Jalala Camp. The president of Pakistan was at Number 10 Downing Street inside the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury. The president of Pakistan should have been in Sheikh Yasin Town inside the Sheikh Yasin Camp. The president of Pakistan is all over but not where he should be. The president of Pakistan is where he is not needed and not where he is really needed.

The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: [email protected]
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

Vinod2070

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Where is the Pakistan army?
By Dr Farrukh Saleem
Five thousand square kilometres of Swat are now under Taliban control -- de jure. Chitral (14,850 sq km), Dir (5,280 sq km), Shangla (1,586 sq km), Hangu (1,097 sq km), Lakki Marwat (3,164 sq km), Bannu (1,227 sq km), Tank (1,679 sq km), Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orkzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan are all under Taliban control -- de facto. That's a total of 56,103 square kilometres of Pakistan under Taliban control -- de facto.

Six thousand square kilometres of Dera Ismail Khan are being contested. Also under 'contested control' are Karak (3,372 sq km), Kohat (2,545 sq km), Peshawar (2,257 sq km), Charsada (996 sq km) and Mardan (1,632 sq km). That's a total of 16,802 square kilometres of Pakistan under 'contested control' -- de facto. Seven thousand five hundred square kilometres of Kohistan are under 'Taliban influence'. Additionally, Mansehra (4,579 sq km), Battagram (1,301 sq km), Swabi (1,543 sq km) and Nowshera (1,748 sq km) are all under 'Taliban influence'. That's a total of 16,663 square kilometres of Pakistan under 'Taliban influence' -- de facto. All put together, 89,568 square kilometres of Pakistani territory is either under complete 'Taliban control', 'contested control' or 'Taliban influenced'; that's 11 per cent of Pakistan's landmass.

Where is Pakistan army? To be fair, under our constitution law enforcement -- and establishing the writ of the state -- is the responsibility of our civil administration. Yes, under Article 245, the federal government can call in the army "in aid of civil power" but the overall strategy has to be devised by our politicians. Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency are very specialised operations. Textbook counter-insurgency has three elements: Clear-Hold-Build (C-H-B). The army may be required to 'clear' insurgents from a particular area but every army operation creates a vacuum that has to be filled by a civil-political administration. After the 'clearing' of insurgents it has to be the politicians to 'hold' that area and then fulfil the social contract -- dispensation of justice, municipal services etc -- between the ruled and the rulers (classic counter-insurgency is DDD, disrupt, dismantle and defeat).

At least 11 per cent of Pakistan's landmass has been ceded to the Taliban. Where is the Pakistan army? I Corps is in Mangla, II Corps is in Multan, IV Corps in Lahore, V Corps in Karachi, X Corps in Rawalpindi, XI Corps in Peshawar, XII Corps in Quetta, XXX Corps in Gujranwala and XXXI is in Bahawalpur, In effect, some 80 to 90 per cent of our military assets are deployed to counter the threat from India. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and sees its inventory of 6,384 tanks as a threat. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian air force and sees its inventory of 672 combat aircraft as a threat. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and notices that six out of 13 Indian corps are strike corps. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and finds that 15, 9, 16, 14, 11, 10 and 2 Corps are all pointing their guns at Pakistan. The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and discovers that the 3rd Armoured Division, 4 RAPID Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade have been deployed to cut Pakistan into two halves. The Pakistan army looks at the Taliban and sees no Arjun Main Battle Tanks (MBT), no armoured fighting vehicles, no 155 mm Bofors howitzers, no Akash surface-to-air missiles, no BrahMos land attack cruise missiles, no Agni Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles, no Sukhoi Su-30 MKI air superiority strike fighters, no Jaguar attack aircraft, no MiG-27 ground-attack aircraft, no Shakti thermonuclear devices, no Shakti-II 12 kiloton fission devices and no heavy artillery.

Pakistan is on fire and our fire-fighters are on the Pakistan-India border. To be certain, none of those Indian tanks can cross the Himalayas into China so Arjun MBTs must all be for Pakistan. Thus, the Pakistan-India border has to be defended. Then, what about this hyperactive insurgency that is snatching away Pakistani physical terrain -- bit by bit? There certainly is no easy way out. America wants the Pakistan army to neutralise threats to the mainland US. The Pakistan army, on the other hand, has to defend the Pakistan-India border. The need of the hour, therefore, is for all organs of the Pakistani state -- the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the military -- to put their heads together and devise a National Counter-Insurgency Policy.



The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: farrukh15 @hotmail.com
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

Vinod2070

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What does America want?

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
America is no one's friend and no one's foe. America has either common interests with other countries or its interests clash with other countries. America is neither our friend nor our foe. America has common interests with Pakistan in many areas and then there are areas where America's and Pakistan's interests clash.

What is America? A total of 50 states plus District of Columbia, 9.16 million square kilometres of land and 19,924 kilometres of coastline. A total of 307 million Americans producing more than $14 trillion worth of goods and services; less than five per cent of the global population producing some 25 per cent of global GDP. Reason for America's economic success: America is 50 states that vigorously trade with each other under an absolute free-trade regime.

What does America want? Two things: America wants to maintain its economic domination. Second, America wants to preserve its military hegemony.

What is America's national defence strategy? In the north is Canada and Canada isn't a threat. In the south is Mexico and Mexico isn't a threat. In the east and the west are the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, respectively. In order to protect its coastlines, America has over the years invested trillions to become the world's premier naval power. The US navy controls all major sea lanes and operates 283 ships in active service plus 11 Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered super-carriers (an additional super-carrier is under construction). The US navy has some 3,700 fixed and rotary wing aircraft and its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined (imagine, Admiral Kuznetsov with steam turbines and eight turbo-pressurised boilers is Russia's only in-service aircraft carrier).

What are America's vulnerabilities? One, a terrorist attack on the mainland. Two, a nuclear attack on the mainland.

Yes, America is vulnerable. The Mississippi River, for instance, originates out of Lake Itasca (north-western Minnesota), dividing the United States into two halves, travels south for some 3,770 kilometres into the Gulf of Mexico. Free trade between the eastern and the western US – the secret to America's economic success -- must cross the Mississippi River -- that means only a handful of bridges and rail links. And, that means vulnerabilities, both terrorist and nuclear.

What is America's foreign policy all about? Four things: first, to pre-empt a terrorist attack on the mainland. Second, to pre-empt a nuclear attack on the mainland. Three, to maintain America's economic domination. Four, to preserve America's military hegemony.

What is America's defence budget? There are 192 member-states of the United Nations and of the 192 America spends in excess of $500 billion a year on defence while the remaining 191 collectively spend around $500 billion a year.

How does America project power? The US navy's 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, nine Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESG) and the US army's 33 Combat Brigade Teams (CBT). These are America's tools to project American power way beyond America's shores.

What does America want from Pakistan? Answer: not much different from what America wants from the rest of the world. America wants to pre-empt any terrorist attack originating from Pakistan. And, America wants to preserve its military hegemony.

An even more important question is: what does Pakistan want from America? Pakistan is literally on fire and our understanding of fire chemistry is limited. America can teach us the science of extinguishment.

Does America want our bomb? Why would it; America has 5,400 active nuclear warheads of its own. Is our bomb a threat to America? Well, New York is 11,089 km away from Islamabad and all we have is Hatfs, Shaheens and Ghauris none of which can reach New York. Does America want to destabilise Pakistan? Well, if America wanted to destabilise Pakistan General Petraeus didn't have to pursue the IMF into lending Pakistan $7.6 billion. If America wanted to destabilise Pakistan America didn't have to pursue the Friends of Pakistan consortium into pledging $5.5 billion for Pakistan. If America wanted to destabilise Pakistan Senators Kerry and Lugar didn't have to go out of their ways to pledge $7.5 billion for Pakistan.

We must be honest with ourselves. No one is conspiring against us. No one is trying to break Pakistan. All we have got to do is to put our house in order -- and no one else would do it for us.



The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: [email protected]
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

Vinod2070

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Another gem from the beghairat duo from the Paki land.


I am not posting the gruesome images, you may follow the link for that if you want to. The images are gruesome so be forewarned.


This when it was clearly published some time back that there are many Pakistani tribals who don't undergo circumcision in Pakistan.

These friggin idiots are as filthy as it gets. No honor, no sense of dignity, just pure filth and garbage.


ALERT: Indians Fighting In Swat

Published : May 20, 2009 | Author : Ahmed Quraishi
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Indians Fighting In Swat

Warning: Explicit & Disturbing Pictures
Pictures below contain nudity and are gruesome.
Please do not proceed beyond the written description if such material is offensive to you.

By Zaid Hamid And Ahmed quraishi
Wednesday, 20 May 2009.
WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pictures of Uzbek and Gurkhas non-Muslim militants killed during the Pakistani military sweep of the SwatValley. These exclusive pictures show that they are uncircumcised. Their facial features prove they could be Gurkha fighters whom the Indian and the British militaries use to fight in mountainous regions. The Americans have also hired some of them. The pictures also show that some of theses killed terrorists could be Uzbeks from Abdul Rasheed Dostom’s murderous militias in Afghanistan that are allied with the U.S. occupation army and Kabul’s puppet government.

The question that arises here is this: Why is the Pakistani military’s media arm, the ISPR, not releasing these pictures to the Pakistani media? This is the biggest proof that Indians are not only sending trained butchers and terrorists from Afghanistan disguised as Taliban to kill Pakistanis, but there are actual Indians fighting within the ranks of this so-called Pakistani Taliban in Swat?

Is the Pakistani military afraid of the pro-U.S. government in Islamabad and does not want to cross the line? It is the responsibility of Mr. Rehman Malik, the Federal Interior Minister, to bring such evidence to the notice of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Foreign Minister so that the elected government could raise this issue with the United States and NATO and take a stand on the reason why these supposed allies of Pakistan are letting Afghanistan be used as a base for anti-Pakistan activities, especially by the Indians and their paid agents in the Kabul government. So why is this not happening? And why is Pakistan letting the United States and its allied government in Islamabad get away with the murder of Pakistanis at the hands of terrorists sent from Afghanistan?

The pictures are posted below. [PLEASE SKIP THIS IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY NUDITY OR GRUESOME IMAGES].
If the pictures don’t appear here, please click here to watch them at the PakNationalists forum.
Ahmed Quraishi.com
 

Vinod2070

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Lahore attack: Pak blame fails Waziristan circumcision test!

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN



Islamabad: In the past, jubilant Pakistani authorities have announced that foreign, read Indian, agents were involved in explosions and attacks in the restive Swat region based on examination of the corpses of the killed attackers.
But the acid test cops and officials used to determine whether any of the dead ones was Indian was to check whether the man had been circumcised. If not, they would summarily dub him Hindu and therefore an Indian agent.

But as more such cases showed up, in places where there was not a ghost of a chance of any Indian involvement, doctors and officials began to worry about the methodology. It’s then that they stumbled on a little-known anthropological fact about Pashtun tribes in Waziristan, from where many of the Tehreeke-Taliban or Pakistani Taliban come.
It appears that many in the backward tribal areas of the country like Waziristan don’t undergo the mandatory circumcision that all Muslim males should undergo. The story took a rather comic turn when some of government’s own injured paramilitary soldiers, when examined, were found to be uncircumcised. This was especially true of wounded soldiers of the Frontier Constabulary from Waziristan, engaged in fighting Taliban militants.
Kamran Khan, a legislator from Waziristan in Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament, told TOI that many in the poor tribal areas fail to undergo circumcision because it is either not mandated in their tribal codes or because in many villages there are neither hospitals or even barbers, who perform most circumcisions in rural areas.
“People are either circumcised in hospitals or barbers do the job. Neither we have hospitals in Waziristan nor institution of barbers,’’ Khan said, adding that poor people of Waziristan can’t afford to take their male children to other areas for circumcision.
“I don’t deny there are uncircumcised people in Waziristan but it doesn’t mean that there are no circumcised ones.’’
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Repeating a previous post to expose these idiots.
:blum3::2guns:
 

Vinod2070

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The Indian election
By I.A. Rehman
Thursday, 21 May, 2009 | 03:50 AM PST




Indians celebrate the Congress victory - Reuters photo.
PAKISTANIS should find a proper study of India’s latest general election quite rewarding — that is if they can abandon their utterly irrational resolve to learn neither from friends nor from foes. One of the most peculiar features of the Pakistani mindset is an incredibly strong sense of self-righteousness.

As the chosen community we do not have to learn from any other people. Indeed, the world, especially the non-Muslim part of it, has nothing to offer us. The ‘godless communists’ apart, we ignore even the believers in the West because of their ‘obscene practices’ and their high divorce rates. If a country had questioned our credentials to lead the Muslim ummah or failed to vote in our favour at a world forum it was to be put down in the list of permanent enemies.

In this regard, India has been selected for the worst possible treatment. Since we have designated this closest neighbour as our most inveterate foe, the question of looking at its ways of dealing with issues of statecraft, development, public welfare et al simply does not arise. So strong is the Pakistani elite’s aversion to India that it barely acknowledges its South Asian identity. Most Pakistanis would like to believe that Pakistan is located somewhere between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

We become jealous of Bangladeshis if we find their taka has become a stronger currency than our rupee or that they have radically slashed their population growth rate, but we have no interest in examining as to how all this has been possible. (An exception is some rudimentary attempts to imitate the Grameen system of micro-credit.)

This mindset prevents Pakistan from studying Indian strategies to deal with the various issues that also plague us. Faced with problems of stagnation in agriculture we have invited experts from the western countries that have little knowledge of our soil, our land tenure system and the strengths and weaknesses of our peasants but we have made no serious attempt to analyse how India, a food-deficit country in the early 1950s, is now groaning under stocks of surplus grain. The destruction of Pakistan’s railway system is a most painful scandal but it is doubtful if we have tried to find out what keeps the Indian railways running. We have subcontinental diseases and we insist on applying Middle Eastern cures, quite unmindful of the disastrous results.

This habit of ignoring Indian efforts to grapple with the problems that afflict Pakistan also must be given up as the cost of persisting in this folly has become unbearable. This does not mean that whatever the Indians have done is wholesome and worth emulating because the mistakes made by them are legion. What is implied here is that when different communities address identical matters they can all learn from each other’s experience, their failures as well as their successes. It is in this context that one should like to urge state functionaries, public representatives, academics and students of politics to take a hard look at the latest general election in India.



First, the mechanics of an election. India is the only country in the world where polling in a general election is spread over several weeks, the basic reason being the keenness to ensure availability of the necessary personnel in sufficient strength in each sector. Till some years ago ballot boxes used to be kept under strict guard till counting could begin at the end of polling. It was no small achievement that in a country that was among the first to report incidents of booth-capturing no serious complaint of tampering with ballot boxes was heard.

But in 2004 India took a revolutionary step by switching over to vote-recording machines. The success of the system has silenced all those who had argued that the poorly educated rural communities could not use machines. True, there have been minor problems here and there but on the whole voting by machines has yielded huge benefits.

The entire hassle involving the printing of ballot papers, the dispatch of these ballots, stamps and papers related to polling to faraway polling stations and arrangements to guard against pilferage has been done away with. Counting can be done easily and speedily. The need for hard copies of electoral rolls can also be eliminated. All that a voter is required to do is to go to the polling station for his residential area and gain admittance by establishing his identity and his place of residence. True, those who can storm polling stations — and this species is not absent in Pakistan — will use the machine as effortlessly as they can stamp ballot papers, but that is a law and order issue, not an electoral problem.

The electoral contest was prolonged and bitter. The ruling coalition was visibly nervous and the challengers were smelling victory. But considering India’s vast territory, its mammoth electorate and the presence in considerable numbers of criminal elements among voters and candidates both, incidents of violent disruption of the electoral proceedings were negligible.

Some improvements in India’s political culture were evident in the promptness with which the losers admitted defeat and the manner of their doing so. In the main they held themselves responsible for their poor showing instead of blaming the system or the winners for wrongdoing. It is evidence such as this that convinces everybody of the election having been free and fair.

The electorate in any country derives immense pleasure from proving the poll forecasts wrong, and the more underprivileged a people the greater their happiness in surprising sophisticated mind-readers. Indian voters have once again enjoyed proving themselves to be masters of the moment. Now all the experts can indulge in semantics to their hearts’ content over why the people in a part of India preferred a party/candidate to another, why someone won and somebody else lost. The voters have spoken and moved on — replacing a dissection of the past with hopes of turning the corner in the future.

The extent to which the election commission has contributed to the development of electoral processes and conventions in India merits study by Pakistani experts. India has avoided reserving the chief election commissioner’s office for the judiciary and succeeded in establishing the institution’s credibility. Differences have been noticed between the commission’s working under a stern and authoritarian Seshan and a gregarious and media-loving Gill and there have been occasions when observers have wondered at the commission’s laziness or else but on the whole the system has continued to deliver.

No doubt Indian democracy is far from perfect. The ordinary citizen’s participation in governance is largely restricted to periodic elections of his representatives with little control over the latter’s performance. But Pakistanis will do well to appreciate a poor Indian’s feeling of fulfillment when he recalls that it was he who threw out prime ministers or reinstated the discarded ones, that he has been part of the process of change. It is this heady feeling that enables the ordinary Indian citizen to own the state and to be proud of it in spite of all his grievances about being neglected, abandoned and exploited.

The greatest misfortune of the Pakistani people has been that the repeated disruptions of the democratic journey by authoritarian adventurers have deprived them of the joy of owning the state. The Indian election needs to be studied in Pakistan in order to settle the question of the state’s ownership — whether it belongs to an oppressive, incompetent and corrupt elite or the dumb, exploited multitude.

DAWN.COM | Columnists | The Indian election
 

Vinod2070

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Capital suggestion
Realpolitik

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
The government of Pakistan is high on cocaine. It spends a whopping Rs500 billion more than it earns. We are also high on cocaine. Our imports are $15 billion more than our exports. The government must beg, borrow or both. In November, we begged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more cocaine so that we could maintain our high for a few more months. Then we went to Abu Dhabi for even more begging. We begged the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, China, Japan, Australia and the European Union. The US, China and the world are all sure that we will keep coming back for more. Who's going to give us $20 billion worth of cocaine every year, year in year out?

In November, the IMF promised a $7.6 billion Stand-By Agreement (SBA) only because General David Petraeus, the current commander of the US Central Command, personally intervened on our behalf. In Tokyo, Friends of Democratic Pakistan pledged $5 billion because Uncle Sam persuaded them to do so.

Washington, the District of Columbia, is exactly 11,388 kilometres from Islamabad. Washington has jurisdiction over five per cent of humanity and that human capital produces some 25 per cent of global GDP year in year out. And, that means that Uncle Sam is the only uncle on the face of the planet who has the cocaine to keep our obsession with cocaine alive and kicking.

It so happens that some 72,000 of Uncle Sam's favourite GIs are trapped in the midst of the 'graveyard of empires' exactly 11,152 kilometres away from home, sweet home. And, the GIs need breakfast sandwiches, cereal, crackers, peanut butter, jam and muffins. And, the only way that all those GIs can get breakfast sandwiches, cereal, crackers, peanut butter, jam and muffins is through the Karachi Port Trust.

Uncle Sam is scared, fearful and panic-stricken; terrified of Al Qaeda, its very own Frankenstein. Too bad, almost all of Uncle Sam's Combat Brigade Teams (CBTs) are currently deployed meaning that the United States Army is fully deployed (Iraq, South Korea and Afghanistan). But then there's the 7th largest army in the world. The problem is that the 7th largest army's Al Khalid Main Battle Tanks, Hamza Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Talha Armoured Personnel Carriers, all of its infantry regiments, its artillery, armoured corps regiments, machine guns, projectile launchers, self-propelled Howitzers and 81 mm mortars are all aiming east.

Uncle Sam has sent in the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Regiment and 6th Field Artillery Regiment. The GIs have been away -- away from the land of milk and honey -- for a bad seven years. They have little or no intelligence on the Frankenstein that Director Casey created some 28 years ago.

Uncle Sam is short on military manpower, low on intelligence and lacks an alternative supply line. We are up against an enemy in the east which is eight times bigger and an enemy within. We are beggars all right but have the surplus military manpower and the intelligence. What we need is lots of cocaine plus counterinsurgency training and equipment. Uncle Sam has what we need. And, we have what the Uncle needs.

America is confused like never before. There have already been a handful of strategic reviews of America's Afghan policy. There was a time when the Vice President's Office used to control the Pakistan policy (which has since been hijacked by the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan). America is confused like never before. President Obama does not want Afghanistan to remain the centrepiece of his presidency for the following four years. General Petraeus, on the other hand, wants to replicate his Iraq success but Secretary Gates is at odds with General Petraeus (Gates was the first civilian in the past 50 years to have fired a top general). In 2003, the United States Department of State had declared Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as a 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist' and the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan has now opened up communication channels with the same 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist'. And, that's realpolitik.



The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: [email protected]
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

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India’s RAW Tries To Kill Hafiz Saeed, Bomb ISI Building, Payback For Blowing Up Indian Embassy In Kabul?


Highly credible sources within the Pakistani security community confirm that a strong lead indicates the Indians might have tried to assassinate a leader of a Kashmiri resistance group in yesterday’s Lahore attack. This was a sophisticated attack whose links go to the fake Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest who are heavily backed from inside Afghanistan. In addition to the Kashmiri resistance leader, the attack targeted the ISI regional headquarter. India is out to avenge Mumbai and the destruction of the Indian embassy in an attack in Kabul last year.

A AHMEDQURAISHI.COM Report
Thursday, 28 May 2009.
WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

LAHORE, Pakistan—Information coming in from security officials in Lahore suggests the actual target was the Lahore High Court building where Hafiz Saeed from Jama’at Al Da’awa [more widely known as Jama’at-ud-Dawa] was attending his court hearing at the time of the terrorist explosion, reveals an exclusive report posted by our affiliate PKKH. [PakistanKaKhudaHafiz.com]

“It appears the target was Hafiz Saeed. The attackers drove around the area but could not get close enough to the Lahore High Court building due to the barricades in place,” says one official.


The most fascinating aspect of the Lahore attack is that Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the foreign-sponsored so-called Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility.

It is ironic because Mehsud threatened last year to kill Saeed because the Kashmiri group refused to heed Mehsud’s call to fight Pakistan and Pakistanis, just as these fake foreign-supported Pakistani Taliban are doing.

The question is: Why would someone who calls himself an Islamic fighter want to kill the leader of a Kashmiri resistance group who is fighting Indian occupation soldiers [aka ‘The rapists’ for using rape as a preferred tool of Kashmir occupation]?

Another question is: Why is it that everything that Mehsud and his so-called Pakistani Taliban do [terrorizing Pakistanis, abducting the Chinese, attacking the ISI, etc.] matches the objectives of the Americans and the Indians?

Pakistani officials have piles of circumstantial evidence that shows the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, being provided sophisticated support from someone in Afghanistan. CIA spy planes and drones are known to avoid killing leaders of the so-called Pakistani Taliban that attack Pakistani targets and avoid fighting the American occupation forces in Afghanistan.

The real Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, restrict their activities to their country as part of a legitimate armed resistance to an illegitimate U.S. occupation of their country. The Afghan Taliban do not support the so-called Pakistani Taliban because of the latter’s suspected links to Indian intelligence operatives inside Afghanistan who are facilitated by Karzai’s security setup.

Mehsud’s involvement confirms again that the mess inside Pakistan is not isolated from the larger agenda of weakening Pakistani military that Washington, or at least some influential players in Washington, is pursuing as part of its Afghan strategy.

Unfortunately, neither the Pakistani government or the Pakistani military are willing to pull back the concession given to CIA to establish outposts and networks inside Pakistan.

Mehsud’s threat to the Kashmiri leader overlaps with India’s failed attempts in the past to attack the offices of the Al Da’awa inside Pakistan. The Indians were ready to do it and the pro-U.S. elected government in Islamabad was ready to go along by refusing to put the Pakistani Air Force on high alert. The plan didn’t work when the Pakistani military sent clear signals to the Americans that India will get a bloody nose if it tried to cross the international border. PAF was quietly put on war alert despite the elected government’s inaction.

According to the PKKH, on December 14th last year, Indian Air Force jets voilated Pakistani airspace in Kashmir and Lahore in a failed attempt to attack Jama’at Dawa offices in Azad Kashmir and in Muridke, a small town near Lahore.

The Indian jets were promptly ensnared by Pakistani fighter jets and were pushed back into Indian airspace. Pakistani military officials presented to Admiral Mike Mullen a photograph of one of the Indian jets locked within the firing range by a PAF F-16 as a warning.

The following is a report written by Tabish Qayyum and Hammad Qureshi and is posted at PKKH:

Once again Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India has failed to fulfill its agenda of avenging the self created Mumbai wounds by eliminating leadership of Jamat-ud-dawa (JuD). They are working on two primary objectives:


  • To eliminate JuD leadership,
  • To damage trust between JuD, Pakistani Government and Law Enforcement agencies, that has naturally built over the years due to the pro-Pakistan policies and defense of Pakistan that JUD has carried out over the years.

Third consecutive incident of Police under attack but failure to achieve objectives is a continuation of RAW’s agenda to create a hostage situation where Indian terrorists posing themselves as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) will demand for the release of LeT leadership – that drama failed in the initial attack on Sri Lankan team, then in Police training center, where the Indian indoctrinated terrorists failed to consolidate and hold ground to show heart in fight and eventually were not able to produce desired results.
In this third attempt which was an act of desperation, showed a change in RAW’s strategy which could be described as direct approach by trying to eliminate JUD leader Hafiz Saeed under police custody to create an impression to JUD supporters that Pakistan could not protect their leader and Pakistan has staged a drama to murder Hafiz Saeed in an attempt to rectify relations with Indians.

Had these attacks were successful, JUD would have broken into factions of people who would consider Pakistani government and army as their enemy and then a new series of attacks would start by planting another enemy in Pakistan right at its heart.

A dirty political game is being played in Sindh, North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is already burning and Baluchistan’s insurgency is not new – thanks to our admirers in shape of our enemies – given in circumstances, Punjab and Azad Kashmir are the only areas where the RAW has failed to spread its virus of terrorism only because of the JUD’s influence which is in absolute support of Pakistan.

JUD’s ideology paves way for curing the misguided jihadist elements that are being reigned by RAW and being continuously funded by enemies of Pakistan.

Hafiz Saeed also survived a assassination from bomb blast in 2000 at Urdu Science College in Karachi where he was about to deliver a speech – the blast left many injured and three dead. Blasts not deterring Hafiz Saeed delivered his speech on the same spot right after half our and people remained in the congregation chanting slogans of takbeer “Allah-o-Akbar”. During his speech, Hafiz Saeed, neither blamed government nor asked his followers to block University Road to call an strike instead he said, “we will avenge the blood spilled here in the mountains of Kashmir”.

This is a well known fact in that that JUD is an asset to Pakistan, whether be it charity and aid work to help people in natural disasters or to defend ideological borders of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan because if India comes up with any adventurism it is going to be very sorry in days coming ahead.
Ahmed Quraishi.com
 

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Pakistan on the Brink

Pakistan on the Brink


By Ahmed Rashid

To get to President Asif Ali Zardari's presidential palace in the heart of Islamabad for dinner is like running an obstacle course. Pakistan's once sleepy capital, full of restaurant-going bureaucrats and diplomats, is now littered with concrete barriers, blast walls, checkpoints, armed police, and soldiers; as a result of recent suicide bombings the city now resembles Baghdad or Kabul. At the first checkpoint, two miles from the palace, they have my name and my car's license number. There are seven more checkpoints to negotiate along the way.

Apart from traveling to the airport by helicopter to take trips abroad, the President stays inside the palace; he fears threats to his life by the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda, who in December 2007 killed his wife, the charismatic Benazir Bhutto, then perhaps the country's only genuine national leader. Zardari's isolation has only added to his growing unpopularity, his indecisiveness, and the public feeling that he is out of touch. Even as most Pakistanis have concluded that the Taliban now pose the greatest threat to the Pakistani state since its cre- ation, the president, the prime minister, and the army chief have, until recently, been in a state of denial of reality.

"We are not a failed state yet but we may become one in ten years if we don't receive international support to combat the Taliban threat," Zardari indignantly says, pointing out that in contrast to the more than $11 billion former president Pervez Musharraf received from the US in the years after the September 11 attacks, his own administration has received only between "$10 and $15 million," despite all the new American promises of aid. He objects to the charge that his government has no plan to counter the Taliban-led insurgency that since the middle of April has spread to within sixty miles of the capital. "We have many plans including dealing with the 18,000 madrasas"—i.e., the Muslim religious schools—"that are brainwashing our youth, but we have no money to arm the police or fund development, give jobs or revive the economy. What are we supposed to do?" Zardari's complaints are true, but he does acknowledge that additional foreign money would have to be linked to a plan of action, which does not exist.

The sense of unrealism is widespread. As the Taliban stormed south from their mountain bases near the Afghan border in northern Pakistan in late April, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told the parliament that they posed no threat and there was nothing to worry about. Interior Minister Rehman Malik talked about how the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai was supporting the Taliban and how India and Russia were sowing more unrest in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the inscrutable, chain-smoking army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, remained silent. By the time Kiyani made his first statement on the advance of the Taliban, on April 24, the army was being widely and loudly criticized for failing to deploy troops in time.

Pakistan is close to the brink, perhaps not to a meltdown of the government, but to a permanent state of anarchy, as the Islamist revolutionaries led by the Taliban and their many allies take more territory, and state power shrinks. There will be no mass revolutionary uprising like in Iran in 1979 or storming of the citadels of power as in Vietnam and Cambodia; rather we can expect a slow, insidious, long-burning fuse of fear, terror, and paralysis that the Taliban have lit and that the state is unable, and partly unwilling, to douse.

In northern Pakistan, where the Taliban and their allies are largely in control, the situation is critical. State institutions are paralyzed, and over one million people have fled their homes. The provincial government of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) has gone into hiding, and law and order have collapsed, with 180 kidnappings for ransom in the NWFP capital of Peshawar in the first months of this year alone. The overall economy is crashing, with drastic power cuts across the country as industry shuts down. Joblessness and lack of access to schools among the young are widespread, creating a new source of recruits to the Taliban. Zar-dari and Gilani have spent the past year battling their political rivals instead of facing up to the Taliban threat and the economic crisis.

ccording to the Islamabad columnist Farrukh Saleem, 11 percent of Pakistan's territory is either directly controlled or contested by the Taliban. Ten percent of Balochistan province, in the southwest of the country, is a no-go area because of another raging insurgency led by Baloch separatists. Karachi, the port city of 17 million people, is an ethnic and sectarian tinderbox waiting to explode. In the last days of April thirty-six people were killed there in ethnic violence. The Taliban are now penetrating into Punjab, Pakistan's political and economic heartland where the major cities of Islamabad and Lahore are located and where 60 percent of the country's 170 million people live. Fear is gripping the population there.

The Taliban have taken advantage of the vacuum of governance by carrying out spectacular suicide bombings in major cities across the country. They are generating fear, rumor, and also support from countless unemployed youth, some of whom are willing to kill themselves to advance the Taliban cause. The mean age for a suicide bomber is now just sixteen.

American officials are in a concealed state of panic, as I observed during a recent visit to Washington at the time when 17,000 additional troops were being dispatched to Afghanistan. The Obama administration unveiled its new Afghan strategy on March 27, only to discover that Pakistan is the much larger security challenge, while US options there are far more limited. The real US fear was bluntly addressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Baghdad on April 25:

One of our concerns...is that if the worst, the unthinkable were to happen, and this advancing Taliban...were to essentially topple the government for failure to beat them back, then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.... We can't even contemplate that.
Pakistan has between sixty and one hundred nuclear weapons, and they are mostly housed in western Punjab where the Taliban have made some inroads; but they are under the control of the army, which remains united and disciplined if ineffective against terrorism. In his press conference on April 29, President Obama made statements intended to be reassuring after the specter of Pakistani weakness evoked by Clinton, saying, "I feel confident that that nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands."

A week earlier Clinton had accused the Pakistani government of "basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists." Leading US military figures such as General David Petraeus and Admiral Michael G. Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have chimed in with even more dire predictions. Clinton's statements have provoked increasing anti-Americanism in the Pakistani army and public, and thus will complicate the effectiveness of any future aid the US may give. On April 24 General Kiyani said that the army was fully capable of defending the country and went on to strongly condemn "the pronouncements" by outside powers that criticized the army and raised doubts about the future of Pakistan.

The Obama administration has promised Pakistan $1.5 billion a year for the next five years, but the bill is stuck in Congress with a long list of conditions that the Pakistanis are unwilling to accept. In early April other countries pledged a miserly $5.3 billion in aid, even as Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to the region, told me that Pakistan needs $50 billion. None of this money is likely to come immediately.

The Current Crisis

The present scare was set off in mid-February when the North-West Frontier provincial government signed a deal with a neo-Taliban movement in the scenic Swat valley, a major tourist resort area about a hundred miles from Islamabad, allowing the Taliban to impose strict sharia law in Swat's courts. (The creation of a new Islamic appeals court was announced by the Pakistani government on May 2.) In return for the Pakistani army withdrawing, the Taliban agreed to disarm, then promptly refused to do so. The accord followed the defeat in Swat last year of 12,000 government troops at the hands of some three thousand Taliban after bloody fighting, the blowing up of over one hundred girls' schools, heavy civilian casualties, and the mass exodus of one third of Swat's 1.5 million people. The Taliban swiftly imposed their brutal interpretation of sharia, which allowed for executions, floggings, and destruction of people's homes and girls' schools, as well as preventing women from leaving their homes and wiping out the families that had earlier resisted them.

Despite dire warnings by experts and Pakistan's increasingly vocal commentators in the press and elsewhere that the accord was a major capitulation to the militants and a terrible precedent that contradicted the rule of law as stipulated by the constitution, Zardari and the national parliament approved the deal on April 14 without even a debate. Within days the Taliban in Swat moved further, taking control of the local administration, police, and schools. On April 19 Sufi Mohammed, a radical leader who the government had released from prison in November 2008 and termed "a moderate" and whose son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, is now the leader of the Swat Taliban, said that democracy, the legal system of the country, and civil society should be disbanded since they were all "systems of infidels." Having won Swat, the Taliban made clear their intentions to overthrow the national government.

The Taliban in Swat quickly grew to more than eight thousand fighters, including hundreds of foreign and al-Qaeda militants, seasoned Pashtun fighters from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and extremist groups from Punjab and Karachi. They invited Osama bin Laden to come live in Swat. In fact al-Qaeda and the Taliban had targeted Swat three years earlier in their search for a safe, secure sanctuary that would be at a good distance from the Afghan border, with better facilities for an insurgency than FATA, as well as far away from the US drone missiles that have been falling on the tribal areas, killing Taliban leaders. Several top Taliban commanders from FATA have already moved to Swat. The valley also has income from lucrative emerald mines and timber businesses that the Taliban seized from their owners.

It was also obvious that having taken possession of Swat, the Taliban would expand beyond it; yet the army failed to deploy any troops in neighboring areas to deter them. On April 21 the Taliban moved into the adjoining districts of Buner, Shangla, and Dir, from which they threatened several key sites—Mardan, the second-largest city in the North-West Frontier Province; Nowshera, the army's major training center; several large dams; and the Islamabad–Peshawar highway. In Buner they were now just sixty miles from Islamabad.

Finally, on April 24, after much criticism from the Pakistani public, politicians, and Washington, the army began to attack Taliban positions in the three districts. Another 100,000 people fled the army advance. The original deal with the Taliban is now virtually dead since Swat has become the Taliban's main base and will also soon be attacked by the army.

What has shocked the world is not just the spread of the Taliban forces southward, but the lack of the government's will and commitment to oppose them and the army's lack of a counterinsurgency strategy. This disarray makes them all the more vulnerable in view of the apparent cohesiveness of the Taliban's tactics and strategy. Although the group has no single acknowledged leader, it has formed alliances with around forty different extremist groups, some of them with no previous direct connection to the Taliban. Moreover, the Afghan Taliban have become a model for the entire region. The Afghan Taliban of the 1990s have morphed into the Pakistani Taliban and the Central Asian Taliban and it may be only a question of time before we see the Indian Taliban.

Who are the Pakistani Taliban?

The US failure to destroy the al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leadership in the 2001 war that liberated Afghanistan allowed both groups to take up safe residence in the tribal badlands of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas that form a buffer zone between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where some 4.5 million Pashtun tribesmen live. Other Afghan Taliban leaders sought sanctuary in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. Their escape from Afghanistan and their move into FATA were aided by local Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen who had fought for the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s but had now become richer, more radicalized, and more heavily armed in the process of playing host to their guests.

The Pakistani military under former President Pervez Musharraf tried to hunt down al-Qaeda, but never touched the Afghan Taliban, whose regime the Pakistanis had supported in the 1990s and whose presence was now considered a good insurance policy for Pakistan in case the Americans were to leave Afghanistan. Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and their Punjabi extremist allies were seen as potentially useful counters against India —both in any future struggle for the contested region of Kashmir and also to tame the growing Indian influence in Kabul. George W. Bush seems, at least, to have gone along with this Pakistani strategy, urging action against al-Qaeda but never pushing Pakistan to deal with the Taliban threat.

In Pakistan, the radicalized Pakistani Pashtun tribal leaders in FATA began to organize their own militias in 2003 and to draw up their own political agenda to "liberate" Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban had reconstituted their insurgency in Afghanistan, aided by their Pakistani Pashtun allies and the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which looked the other way as arms and men flowed into Afghanistan from FATA and Balochistan. Only after Taliban attacks on US forces in Afghanistan increased in the summer of 2004 did Washington force Musharraf to send troops into FATA and clear them out.

The Pakistani army, however, was promptly defeated and a vicious cycle ensued. After every setback, the army signed peace agreements with the Pakistani Taliban that allowed them to consolidate their grip on FATA. In 2007 the separate tribal militias, led by a variety of commanders, coalesced into the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Movement of the Pakistani Taliban, led by the charismatic thirty-four-year-old Baitullah Mehsud from the tribal area of South Waziristan. A close ally of both al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, he was later linked to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and to hundreds of suicide attacks in Pakistan.

At the same time, other separate but coordinated jihadi movements—some supported in part by radical madrasas funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries—sprang up. In the spring of 2007 radical mullahs took over the Red Mosque in Islamabad and announced their intention to impose sharia in the capital. The Musharraf government declined to intervene when the movement numbered hardly a dozen activists. Six months later, thousands of heavily armed militants including Pashtun Taliban, Kashmiris, and al-Qaeda fighters fought a three-day battle with the army in which a hundred people were killed. The extremist survivors vowed revenge and became the core of a new group sponsoring suicide bombings as they fled to FATA to join up with Baitullah Mehsud.

hree years earlier, in 2004, Maulana Fazlullah, the son-in-law of Sufi Muhamed, who was at the time an unknown former ski-lift operator and itinerant mullah, had set up an FM radio station in the Swat valley with a handful of supporters and begun broadcasting inflammatory threats both to local people and to the state of Pakistan. The Musharraf government never shut his station down. Fazlullah soon attracted the attention of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who poured in men and weapons to support him. By the time the Pakistani army finally went into Swat in November 2007, Fazlullah himself had an army and several radio stations.

In Punjab, extremist Punjabi groups who had been mobilized to fight in Indian Kashmir in the 1990s by the ISI found themselves at loose ends when Musharraf initiated talks with New Delhi and agreed to stop militant infiltration into Indian Kashmir. With no resettlement or rehabilitation programs in place, these Punjabi jihadi groups, who until then had only focused on Kashmir and India, split apart. Some went home, others rejoined madrasas, but thousands of them linked up with the Pakistani Taliban and were able to mount suicide attacks in Pakistani cities where the Taliban themselves had little access.

None of these groups could have survived if the military had carried out a serious counterterror strategy; but the Pakistani army never shut down any of them. Even though they were all openly opposing the Pakistani state, the army still considered them part of the front line against India and continued to stay in touch with them.
 

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Continued here...

The Army and Politics

The army has always defined Pakistan's national security goals. Currently it has two strategic interests: first, it seeks to ensure that a balance of terror and power is maintained with respect to India, and the jihadis are seen as part of this strategy. Second, the army supports the Afghan Taliban as a hedge against US withdrawal from Afghanistan and also against Indian influence in Kabul, which has grown considerably. Containing the domestic jihadi threat has been a tactical rather than a strategic matter for the army, so there have been bouts of fighting with the militants and also peace deals with them; and these have been interspersed with policies of jailing them and freeing them—all part of a complex and duplicitous game.

The Bush administration pandered to the illusion that the Pakistani army had a strategic interest in defeating home-grown extremism, including both the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. Under Bush, the US poured $11.9 billion into Pakistan, 80 percent of which went to the army. Instead of revamping Pakistan's capacity for counterinsurgency, the army bought $8 billion worth of weapons for use against India—funds that are still unaccounted for, either by the US Congress or the Pakistani government. Not a single major public development project was initiated in Pakistan by Washington during the Bush era.

Despite US military aid, anti- Americanism has flourished in the army, public opinion, and the press and television, fueled by the idea that Pakistan was being made to fight America's war, while the Americans were unwilling to help Pakistan regain influence in Afghanistan. The US is accused both of helping India gain a strong foothold in Kabul and of declining to put pressure on New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Bush's signing of the nuclear deal with India last year was the last straw for the Pakistani army. In military and public thinking, Pakistan was seen as sacrificing some two thousand soldiers in the war on terror on behalf of the Americans, while in return the Americans were recognizing the legitimacy of India's nuclear weapons program. Pakistan's nuclear weapons got no such acceptance.

any in Pakistan had enormous hopes that the general elections in February 2008 would bring in a civilian government that would be a counterweight to the army and redefine Pakistan's national security as requiring support for the economy and education and improvement in relations with Pakistan's neighbors. Pakistanis, fed up with Musharraf's eight years of military rule and stung by Bhutto's assassination, voted for two moderate, pro-democracy, semi-secular parties—Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), now led by her husband Zardari, on the national level, and the Awami National Party (ANP) as the provincial government in the North-West Frontier Province. It was a resounding defeat for the Islamic parties that Musharraf had placed in office in the NWFP and Balochistan in the heavily rigged 2002 elections.

Here was the last opportunity for the politicians to concentrate on two vital needs: reviving the moribund economy and working with the army on a decisive strategy to combat Talibanization. The world looked for leadership from the PPP, and foreign donors promised financial aid if it could deliver. According to many polls, the Pakistani public wanted the politicians to unite and work together. Instead Zardari and the main opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League that holds sway in Punjab province, have spent the last year battling each other, as the economy sank further, Talibanization spread more widely, and the army and Western donors became more and more fed up with the politicians. General Kiyani has said that he is willing to take orders from the civilian government but clear orders were never forthcoming.

In the NWFP, the Awami National Party failed to stand up to the Taliban after they began an assassination campaign against ANP ministers and members of parliament, forcing the ANP leaders to disappear into bunkers while capitulating to the Taliban. The Swat deal was initiated by the ANP, which naively believed that the Taliban could be contained within Swat. The party is now divided, weakened and unpopular among the Pashtuns who voted for it in overwhelming numbers just a year ago. Its failure has wider consequences, for the ANP is the only Pashtun party that could counter the Taliban claim that the Pashtuns are pro-jihad and extremist. The ANP version of Pashtunwali—the tribal code of behavior—is nation-alistic but moderate and in favor of democracy. Right now the extremist Taliban ideology is winning out as Pashtun cultural leaders, aid workers, teachers, doctors, and lawyers are cowed by the Taliban adherents.

Now that the army has moved into the districts around Swat and is battling the Taliban, it is seen by the public as a two-edged sword. Although people want the army to drive back the Taliban, the army lacks both a counterinsurgency strategy and the kind of weapons that would be needed to carry it out. In early May, extensive fighting was reported in Swat after the Taliban reiterated their refusal to surrender their weapons, fortified their positions, and ambushed a military convoy, killing one soldier. In response, the army imposed a curfew in the valley's main city of Mingora and ordered the civilian population to move out. On the night of May 7, following an announcement by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani that the government was going to "eliminate" the Taliban militants, the army launched a major air and ground offensive in Swat, dropping bombs and firing artillery around Mingora, where an estimated four thousand Taliban fighters had dug in and planted landmines.

In FATA and Swat, villages have been flattened by the army's artillery and aerial bombing; many civilians have been killed, and local tribal leaders who have tried to resist the Taliban have not been supported by the army. Meanwhile, on May 12, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported that it had registered more than 500,000 displaced people from the conflict in Buner, Dir, and Swat since May 2 alone, joining another 500,000 that have been uprooted in the NWFP since last summer, and others who have not yet registered with the agency. According to a spokesman for the Pakistani military, the total number of refugees has risen to 1.3 million. But by mid-May, the Pakistani government had no adequate plans to look after this influx—only a fraction of which had been given temporary shelter in camps—or to provide aid.

ince 2004, practically everything that could go wrong in this war has gone wrong. Most important of all, the army and the government never protected the Pashtun tribal chiefs and leaders who were pro-government—some three hundred have had their throats slit by the Taliban in FATA, and the rest have fled. Even though there was significant local resistance to the Taliban in Swat and Buner, tribal councils begged the army to cease its operations because they have been so destructive for civilians.

The insurgency in Pakistan is perhaps even more deadly than the one in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan there is only one ethnic group strongly opposing the government—the Pashtuns who make up the Taliban—and so fighting is largely limited to the south and east of the country, while the other major ethnic groups in the west and the north are vehemently anti-Taliban. Moreover, more than a few Pashtuns and their tribal leaders support the Karzai government. In Pakistan, the Pashtun Taliban are now being aided and abetted by extremists from all the major ethnic groups in Pakistan. They may not be popular but they generate fear and terror from Karachi on the south coast to Peshawar on the Afghan border.

In Afghanistan the state is weak and unpopular but it is heavily backed by the US and NATO military presence. In addition, the Afghans have several things going for them. They are tired of nearly thirty years of war; they have already suffered under a Taliban regime and don't want a return of Taliban rule; they crave development and education; and they are fiercely patriotic, which has kept the country together despite the bloodshed. The Afghans have always refused to see their country divided.

In Pakistan there is no such broad national identity or unity. Many young Balochs today are fiercely determined to create an independent Balochistan. The ethnic identities of people in the other provinces have become a driving force for disunity. The gap between the rich and poor has never been greater, and members of the Pakistani elite have rarely acted responsibly toward the less fortunate masses. The Taliban have gained some adherents by imposing rough forms of land redistribution in some of the areas it controls, expropriating the property of rich landlords. Education and job creation have been the least-funded policies of Pakistan's governments, whether military or civilian, and literacy levels are abysmal; there are now some 20 million youth under age seventeen who are not in school. The justice system has virtually collapsed in many areas, which is why the Taliban demand for speedy justice has some popular appeal. Moreover, the Pakistani public has to deal with the differing versions of Pakistani policy put out by the army, the political parties, the Islamic fundamentalists, and the press and other components of civil society. There is confusion about what actually constitutes a threat to the state and what is needed for nation-building.

The last two years have bought some hope in the growth of the middle class, an articulate and increasingly influential civil society made up partly of urban professionals and publicly involved women. Most Pakistanis are not Islamic extremists and believe in moderate and spiritual forms of Islam, including Sufism. However, Pakistan is now reaching a tipping point. There is a chronic failure of leadership, whether by civilian politicians or the army. President Zardari's decision to invade Swat in early May came only after pressure was applied by the Obama administration and the army and the government had been left with no other palatable options. But with the Taliban opening new fronts, it will soon become impossible for the army to respond to the multiple threats it faces on so many geographically distant battlefields. The Taliban's campaigns to assassinate politicians and administrators have demoralized the government.

The Obama administration can provide money and weapons but it cannot recreate the state's will to resist the Taliban and pursue more effective policies. Pakistan desperately needs international aid, but its leaders must first define a strategy that demonstrates to its own people and other nations that it is willing to stand up to the Taliban and show the country a way forward.

Pakistan on the Brink - The New York Review of Books
 

Vinod2070

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Capital suggestion


Peking Man


By Dr Farrukh Saleem
"The Gwadar Port Project does not make much sense for China", says Professor Zha Daojiong, China's premier energy expert and a leading light at Peking University's School of International Studies. According to Dr Yang Jiemian, president of the prestigious and influential Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, China's Pakistan-policy is under active review.

I am indebted to Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung, Beijing office, for sponsoring my interactions with Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Department of South Asia Studies, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, Peking University's Women's Law Studies and Transition Institute. According to my colleague, Imtiaz Gul, the "China myth now stands demystified".


The 'Peking Man', the 500,000-year old fossil evidence of human presence in China, has transformed. Alas, Pakistanis are still in love with the Peking Man -- 'our friendship higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the Indian Ocean'. The Peking Man, in the meanwhile, has moved on. The new Peking Man is pragmatic and commonsensical, earthly and wise -- all those things and perhaps to a flaw.

China's foreign policy establishment now relies heavily on academics -- like Professor Zha Daojion -- and members of the think-tank community, like Dr Yang Jiemian. Over the past decade, China has invested heavily into the development of think-tanks; human capital, plush research offices along with superior perks and privileges.

There is evidence that the old Peking Man was "able to control and use fire'. There is evidence now that the new Peking Man has a singular goal -- to double, triple and quadruple China's $4 trillion GDP by 2050. And, any country that can help China go where it wants to go is a friend -- or you are on your own (in FY 2008, total Foreign Direct Investment into Pakistan stood at $5 billion and of that China invested a paltry $13.7 million or 0.27 per cent of the total). Yes, China has over the past few years invested $198 million into the Gwadar Port Project but there's evidence aplenty that China is in no mood to take America head-on and if America develops a serious interest in a particular region China backs off right away.

Yes, 722 soldiers of the People's Liberation Army were killed in the Sino-Indian War but that was 47 years ago (more than 3,000 Indian soldiers were killed in the Sino-Indian War of 1962). In 2000, President Narayanan visited China. In 2002, Premier Zhu Rongji was in India. In 2003, PM Vajpayee went to China. In 2004, India and China agreed to open up Jelepla and Nathula trading posts. In 2005, Premier Wen Jiabao was in Bangalore. In 2006, ONGC Videsh Ltd and China National Petroleum Corporation signed an agreement to undertake joint bids. Sino-Indian trade now exceeds a mammoth $52 billion a year (Pakistan-China bilateral trade is around $7 billion a year).

Yes, America and China may in effect be long-term strategic adversaries but Sino-US trade now exceeds $333 billion a year (1992: $33 billion). Furthermore, almost all of $1.9 trillion worth of China's foreign exchange reserves are dollar denominated. China, as a consequence, has an intrinsic interest in the health of the US dollar and by extension in the well-being of the US economy. Additionally, US companies have established more than 20,000 joint ventures in China while 100 of the top US-based multinationals have ongoing projects in China.

Yes, there's a strategic angle to Pakistan-China relationship. Pakistan, for instance, can become a geographical impediment to America's China-containment policy. China also uses Pakistan to cap India's geo-strategic ambitions. And then, China is very concerned -- and seeks Pakistan's help -- in containing the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (the militant organisation that wants to create an independent Islamic state out of China's Xinjiang region). For Pakistan, China is a major supplier of military hardware, nuclear reactors and a counter leverage to the US.

Shanghai and Beijing have very little 'Chinese' left in them -- both are concrete jungles with American-style webs of freeways, grade separations and interchanges. Shanghai is all about dollars and cents while Beijing is more political.

Where does Pakistan fit into this new game of dollars and cents? We are all about emotions and commotions, about pride and rage. The new Peking Man is pragmatic and realistic, astute and hard-boiled. We ought to trade some of our emotionalism in exchange for some of their pragmatism. The question is if they would be willing to do that.
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

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^^ A good read. Pakistanis are finally getting disabused about the so called "special relationship" between the "Godless communists". The Chinese have been using them to contain India and will drop them like a used toilet paper once they are past their expiry date.

Good that at least some of them are coming to their senses finally.
 

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Crises that loom beyond the military action
By Shireen M Mazari
Despite the very effective censorship on the media regarding the military operation in Swat, tales of despair are coming through – especially of those who have lost their families in the artillery and aerial bombardments and of those over two million still trapped in the war zone. Then there are the images of wheat crop lying unharvested and interviews that do manage to find their way into the electronic media of IDPs in schools receiving absolutely no official aid despite having registered themselves. Perhaps the most lamentable fallout has been the reaction of the Sindh government to the IDPs alongside the PPP spokespersons like Fauzia Wahab who brazenly displayed her ignorance by comparing the IDPs to the Afghan refugees. Is she truly not aware that Swat has been a part of Pakistan for many decades and the IDPs are Pakistani citizens with the right to move freely (without registration) throughout Pakistan? Clearly the Sindh government is trying to push through a policy of racial profiling on one pretext or the other.

Such shameful treatment of our own people by the state shows the sharp contrast between the nation and its massive support for the IDPs and the state with its "ifs and buts". At this rate we will be confronting a mass of IDPs growing more frustrated and angry with each passing day – so they will present ideal breeding grounds for the extremists who prey on the dispossessed and marginalised segments of our society. But the rulers never learn and the operation has been expanded to FATA, so more IDPS will continue to flow without any provisions having been made properly for their accommodation by the state. That is one major reason why the military action will have a socially and politically negative fallout in the long run. The question is whenever the military action ends in Swat and the FATA region, what then? Will the Taliban have been finished off? What is the political strategy that the government has formulated to takeover where the military action ends? Somehow there seems to be no visible clarity on any of these counts, which again undermines the viability of the military action especially in a political vacuum.

Meanwhile, with all attention focused on the ongoing military operation, Balochistan seems to have been pushed onto the back burner which will cost us dearly. We do not have the luxury of time in dealing with Balochistan and the sense of deprivation amongst the Baloch people. The solutions for Balochistan are political and are more a matter of political will than money resources – although the latter will be required if locally-centred development is to be pushed. But it is the political will at the Centre that is lacking and sending the negative signals.

Coming back to the issue of religious extremism, one fallout of the military operation is going to be a dangerous coalescing of this brand of extremism with the political and economically marginalised segments of our society – the numbers now growing because of the manner in which the IDPs are being treated by the state and its various entities. Unless there is a qualitative change in the state's approach to this issue of violent extremism, we are not going to rid ourselves of militancy – whatever label it is given. The military action does not resolve the issue of good governance and justice. Nor does it solve the issue of the marginalised population with its youth seeing no life for itself beyond the madressah – which offers them no gainful employment. A few weeks ago, I gave details of the madressahs and their students in just one district of southern Punjab – D G Khan. And I stated that the numbers and details for Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur districts were on a similar fashion. That is why, in order to deal with the issue of bringing in these marginalised youth into the mainstream, the private sector would have to be involved through an "adopt a madressah" scheme. Or must we wait till the situation reaches crisis proportions and the state simply throws up its hands and sends in the military – which is no solution in the long term?

My contention is that it is not so much that all the madressahs are "jehadi" – they are not – but that the student population in most of the madressahs in these outlying areas is the poorest of the poor with no hope of a future at all. So they can be exploited as they are being already to come into the militant fold willy nilly. In a television discussion one of the leaders of the Wafaq ul Madaris was simply not prepared to accept that madressah students were ready fodder for extremists, especially in terms of suicide bombers. However, the little data that I have managed to collate from official sources, shows that it is exactly these poor, marginalised youth often from ordinary non-jehadi madressahs who are taken and brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers.

For example, the profile of Mohammed Siddique of the Karachi Nishtar Park bombing of 11 April 2006 shows that he was 21 years old, with no formal education, but having been in a madressah could read and write Urdu, and read the Quran in Arabic without understanding it (Nazra Quran). He lived in Karachi and worked as a helper in a bookstore near Binori Town Mosque while his family cultivated five kanals of lands in Mansehra. While most of his family lived in Mansehra, one of his brothers worked as a labourer in Rawalpindi. Simple-minded, far from home and family, he was vulnerable and poor and thereby an easy prey for brainwashing. The case of Sana Ullah, resident of Akora Khattak, Nowshera, who carried out the suicide attack on Ameer Muqam on 9 November 2007, is similar. His brothers were labourers in Peshawar and Taxila and his formal education was till 4th grade in the government primary school in Kati Maina, Nowshera. Then he left school to become a Hifz-e-Quran at the Madressah Tahfeez-ul-Quran in the same village but in 2004 he moved on to Madressah Dar-ul-Uloom Rehmania in Swabi and then in 2006 he went on to Turangzai Madressah in Charsadda and finally left even his madressah studies and returned home temporarily. He returned to Swabi and was part of the planned suicide attack on Ameer Muqam. Once in Swabi where he met up with "friends", he told his father he had found employment in Bannu.

More information is always collated by the authorities from suicide bombers who are caught before they can carry out their attacks. One such bomber was Sohail Zeb from Khano Kal'e, Tehsil Sarokai, Tank. Born in 1979, he was one of the few bombers who was college-educated (FA) and was associated with Sipah-i-Sahaba and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi along with his Mehsud friends. He went through their organisational structures and was motivated to join the Taliban by Abid a resident of South Waziristan and went through formal training at the Kiza Phange camp in South Waziristan where the Pesh Imam was an Uzbek. From all accounts the camp was formally organised with proper martial arts and weapons trainers. Again, as in the other two instances, the potential bomber was cut off totally from his family and familiar surroundings.

Then there was the only bomber who left a simple video behind – an exception to the Pakistani pattern of young brainwashed suicide bombers. This was Abdul Kareem, 20 years old, involved in the Allama Hasan Turabi case. He was enrolled in Hanfia Madressah, Moosa Colony Karachi but left in the middle. His family had migrated from Bangladesh and was extremely poor – father was a pushcart vendor – and wanted him to become a Hafiz-e-Quran. The guilt built in him and in his video he declared that since he had failed his family on this count, he had decided to blow himself up and kill "infidels" so he could go to heaven.

These are just four case studies but there is a pattern – madressah-educated, poor families and, apart from the last case, away from families and familiar surroundings. All these add to the vulnerability; but what is the state doing? Will the state simply wait for things to reach a crisis point and then send in the army? Can such action actually rid us of the menace of extremism? No. There has to be a more rational approach to winning back our lost people, especially the youth.



The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]
The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899
 

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Little time and few choices

Little time and few choices
By Irfan Husain

Saturday, 30 May, 2009 | 09:13 AM PST |


AS Lahore reels from the shock and horror of yet another vicious attack, Pakistan has to brace for more such violence from the likes of Baitullah Mehsud.

He and his fellow killers have repeatedly shown that they have no compunction in taking innocent (and usually Muslim) lives.

If any good can possibly come from such terrorist acts, it is to further unmask these murderers. For far too long, there has been unnecessary confusion about their means and goals. To a large extent, this ambiguity was caused by the army’s legitimisation of jihadi outfits. Used to further the establishment’s agenda in Kashmir, India and Afghanistan, they were allowed to recruit and raise funds openly. In many simple people’s minds, they were heroes.

But ever since Fazlullah and his father-in-law Sufi Mohammad were allowed to take over Swat, the country has been able to watch these thugs in action. Once allowed free rein in a peaceful, settled area, they have beheaded, flogged and slaughtered unarmed men and women. Many of these atrocities have been widely reported by the media. And as the flood of displaced people flees, many have recounted their tales of horror under the Taliban.

Earlier, many Pakistanis ascribed the actions of these killers to America’s ‘war on terror’, defending the Taliban by saying that they were reacting to western forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s support for this operation. Some of us have been roundly abused for arguing that the war against these extremists was, first and foremost, our own battle for survival.

Even today, there are voices that suggest that if western forces were to pull out of the region, things would somehow return to normal. They ignore the fact that even before 9/11 (an attack, let us not forget, that was planned and launched from Afghan soil), the situation was far from normal. A full-fledged civil war raged in Afghanistan in which Pakistan covertly supported the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. Jihadi outfits like the Jaish-i-Mohammad sent terrorists into Indian-held Kashmir. Within Pakistan, Sunni groups routinely targeted Shias.

Supporting this terror network were allegedly the ISI and the army. Even when Musharraf made his famous u-turn in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the establishment made a clear distinction between Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Members of the former were scooped up and handed over to the Americans, while the latter were treated as distant relatives in distress. Rather than being seen as our enemies, they were viewed as potential allies who, while presently out of favour, could be useful again.

However, this policy of duplicity and ambiguity could not be sustained for long. As the Taliban sought to establish their control over large swathes of the tribal areas, our American allies began putting pressure on Musharraf to act against them. Reluctantly, the army launched a few half-hearted operations and suffered heavy losses. Emboldened by their success, militant groups ventured deeper into Pakistan, attempting to terrorise people into supporting them.

Soon after the 2008 elections, Swat was pushed to the brink. A panicky ANP government in the NWFP felt it had no military support and practically ceded Swat. And here the Taliban made a cardinal error. Instead of offering the people of Swat a decent government that could have served as a model and attracted others, they went on a rampage and confirmed our worst suspicions about their intentions and their capability.

But their incompetence and their cruelty should have come as no surprise. After all, Taliban rule in Afghanistan hardly created a heaven on earth. Even the slightly less repressive Islamic government that ruled the Frontier province for five years brought little peace or prosperity. In their longing for the perfect ‘Islamic’ government, people often forget that the fundamentalists who make up these parties and groups are barely literate, and have no understanding of the modern world. To expect them to master the intricacies of administration and economics is to expect the impossible.

And yet it would be a huge mistake to assume that this yearning for the perfect Islamic model has no rational basis. Crushed by poverty, millions of Muslims around the world heed the siren call of the mythical golden era of early Islam. Secular and Islamic governments in many Muslim countries are notoriously corrupt and repressive. By neglecting the most basic elements of decent governance, despotic kings, generals and politicians have alienated their own people and pushed them into the arms of extremist groups.

As the recent suicide attack in Lahore shows, our cities cannot be defended against such acts of terrorism. If the police headquarters and the ISI office cannot be guarded, how can our citizens expect protection? Clearly, Baitullah Mehsud does not expect to pay a price for his repeated strikes against ordinary Pakistanis. But why is he not being targeted by our commandos? Why can’t our highly trained Special Services Group go after him? Until the leaders of these terror groups feel the heat, they will go on launching their audacious attacks with impunity.

Even when extremists are arrested, they languish in jail for a while before being released. In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan arrested several Jamaatud Dawa activists after an initial period of denial. Having acted under huge international pressure, Pakistan has done little to take the process to its logical conclusion. Apart from arousing Indian suspicions about our intentions, we also reassure these extremists that no action will be taken against them.

It all comes down to political will. And this is linked closely to the kind of state we wish to become. Do we see our future as a country perpetually teetering on the brink, wracked by endless extremist terror and economic crises? Or do we wish to join the rest of the world as a modern, prosperous nation? The choice is still ours to make, but unless we act swiftly, the likes of Baitullah Mehsud will snatch it from us.

[email protected]

DAWN.COM | Columnists | Little time and few choices
 

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Nuclear asset or liability?
By Kunwar Idris
Sunday, 07 Jun, 2009 | 08:48 AM PST |


Making nuclear bombs has not made us any safer; it has made us poorer. — File Photo
Pakistan

Ideology, jihad and Jinnah



The irony in Dr A.Q. Khan’s message on the 11th anniversary of the testing of the nuclear device should be lost on no one. The armed forces had no time to celebrate the occasion as they were busy fighting with conventional arms to save the very country he imagines to have made ‘invincible’.

Dr Khan’s sentiment, nevertheless, is shared by many. To illustrate one can do no better than quote a bit from a long editorial in a national daily: ‘Were we not to be blessed with nuclear power our cunning enemy, India, surely would have swallowed us long ago by extending the net of its conspiracies. And thus would have succeeded the satanic plot hatched by the American, Indian and Israeli triumvirate to erase Pakistan from the face of the earth. India still bullies us and after the Mumbai attack even threatened us with surprise missile strikes. But it is because of our nuclear capability that India dare not cast an evil eye now or in the future — leave alone penetrate this fortress.’

Such indeed is the populist feeling, not wholly unfounded given the backdrop of suspicions and conflicts. But to suggest that America, Israel and India acting alone or in concert were responsible for all of Pakistan’s woes is to deny our own culpability. Leaving the battlegrounds of Swat and Waziristan aside, it is difficult to see how any of these three countries could have incited the Sunnis and Shias of Kurram to kill each other. Kurram is neither an abode of our own Taliban nor an infiltration route for their Afghan counterparts.

The intention here, however, is not to put the blame on ourselves and the “foreign hand” but to make the point that nuclear weapons cannot save Pakistan from a collapse triggered by internal strife or from defeat if invaded by India or, much less likely, by Israel. In any case, America will be on the scene as world policeman.

It is hard to understand in what way Prime Minister Gilani considers Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal a foundation of its national strategy when every scheme and effort is aimed at protecting and not using the bomb. If the bomb is made only to deter an aggressor, as Zubeida Mustafa has justifiably been asking in these pages, why must we go on making more of them? Surely, India will not mount a conventional attack if it knows that Pakistan may retaliate by dropping just one bomb on Delhi. Why have 100?

The correct position convincingly stated by scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy and human rights activists (call them pacifists if you like) is that nuclear weapons, in our situation, are not an asset as is generally said but a liability. Hillary Clinton’s declaration that a nuclear Pakistan is a ‘mortal threat to international security’ leaves one wondering whether one day, if the Taliban are not exterminated, America will intervene militarily to save the weapons from falling into their hands. After all the Americans keep firing missiles at the Taliban’s suspected hideouts in Pakistan but our army cannot, or does not want to, stop them. And our political leaders keep protesting only for the record.

Mr Nawaz Sharif who claims the ultimate credit for making Pakistan nuclear and its defences impregnable goes a step further. He thinks the bomb had given a sense of pride and security not to Pakistan alone but to the entire Islamic world. That is hardly borne out by the realities of life. Most Muslim countries recognise Israel and, arguably, all of them have economic dealings with India more than with Pakistan. An Iranian or an Arab, an Indonesian or a Malaysian, is hardly ever seen on the streets of Pakistan. They all go to India. What pride and what security?

If owning bombs had a purpose in the time of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, or even Nawaz Sharif, there is none any longer. We had then planned and hoped to defeat India in Kashmir while deterring it from attacking Pakistan as in 1965. Now that the Kashmiris for whose rights we were fighting have themselves opted for a negotiated solution — and we too want it that way — the raison d’être for going nuclear is lost altogether.

The search for a peaceful solution to Kashmir and other disputes is has only been stalled not abandoned. Now Pakistan need not invade Kashmir to liberate it nor does India have any grounds to attack Pakistan. Once Kashmir is out of the way the two neighbours can look upon each other as potential markets, not battlefields.

Now weigh the liability of possessing and expanding the atomic arsenal. The financial cost is unknown to the legislature and the people but is undoubtedly huge and increasing. If one were to hazard a guess our industry, agriculture and homes would not have been starved of electricity if we were to pursue the nuclear power generation programme that was founded by bureaucrat I.H. Usmani and scientist Abdus Salam in the 1960s and encouraged by Ayub Khan. Diversion to bombs has not made us any safer; in fact, it has made us poorer.

The bigger liability, however, is moral. Pakistan by its own confession has indulged in nuclear proliferation. The only doubt is whether it was A.Q. Khan on his own who ran the nuclear mart or the government too was involved. Regardless, the shame is borne by every Pakistani.
The way out of the nuclear dilemma is easy. Pakistan and India should enter into a ‘no-use-of-the-bomb’ kind of a pact and put their arsenals under international supervision. Surely, neither side would like to see Delhi and Lahore reduced to rubble and a million killed or crippled for generations.

The army is winning the battle in Swat and will surely do so in Waziristan and elsewhere if called upon. But make no mistake, the war against the Taliban will not be won unless political parties purge their own ranks of extremists and the statute book of discriminatory laws. And, above all, they must govern justly.

Benazir Bhutto is quoted by The Wall Street Journal as having said before she returned to Pakistan that ‘Al Qaeda would be marching on Islamabad in two years.’ That time is up. The army’s agonising campaign — to kill its own people and get killed in turn doesn’t sit easy on the conscience — has won our politicians reprieve, maybe, for another two years. It is they who have to win or lose the war. [email protected]



http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/16-nuclear-asset-or-liability-hs-05
 

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Innocent until proven guilty?
By Irfan Husain
Saturday, 13 Jun, 2009 | 02:28 AM PST


The dilemma of using criminals and terrorists to further the state’s agenda: they become an embarrassment or, worse, turn against their handlers. - AFP/File photo
WE shoot ourselves in the foot with predictable regularity. Take the release of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed from house arrest, for example.

Picked up in the crackdown on the Jamaatud Dawa, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s successor, in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks last November, Saeed spent around six months in ‘custody’ before being sprung recently by the Lahore High Court on grounds of insufficient evidence.

This is not the first time clerics accused of sundry crimes of violence have walked out of comfortable sojourns at home. Another leader of a jihadi outfit was arrested some seven years ago following attacks on the Srinagar assembly that killed 30. Days later, the assembly building in New Delhi was attacked, and again the Jaish-i-Mohammad was implicated.

After the usual dance of denial, Maulana Masood Azhar was arrested and, later, the Jaish was banned. Nevertheless, relations between India and Pakistan plunged, and the two countries came close to war. For months, their respective armies were eyeball to eyeball, and the world feared a nuclear exchange.

Even then, the maulana was no stranger to legal restrictions: he had been arrested by Indian authorities in Kashmir in 1994, and released in a deal to free hostages taken in an Indian Airlines plane hijacking in December 1999. Although Pakistan initially denied he had entered the country from Afghanistan after his release, Masood Azhar soon addressed a rally in Karachi where he said: “I have come here because it is my duty to tell you that Muslims should not rest in peace until we have destroyed America and India.”

So given this background of violence and open threats, why are people like Saeed and Azhar still walking free? Many Indian readers have asked me in angry emails why the former was released after the carnage his organisation allegedly committed in Mumbai last November, according to intercepted phone calls and the confession of the sole survivor of the attack.

Why indeed? In England, where I am currently, many friends have asked me the same question. It is hard to convince anybody that had the state been serious, keeping Saeed in custody would have been impossible. While I am sure the prosecution case was flimsy, we all know that when the government wishes to, all kinds of legal gimmicks are deployed to retain individuals as guests of the state. Indeed, thousands of prisoners have been rotting in jails across Pakistan for years, still awaiting trial.

While browsing through Google for this article, I came across a piece (‘Paying for the past’; Feb 2, 2002) I had written seven years ago. I normally never quote from my own articles, but apart from the neat symmetry of the date, I thought I had something relevant to say all those years ago:

“Rich and powerful states and individuals often get away with their crimes, while the weak and the poor usually get caught and punished….

“When we allowed … [Maulana Masood Azhar] to move in after he was freed from an Indian jail in the aftermath of the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Afghanistan in the last days of 1999, surely somebody in authority knew we were violating international norms. But to compound this act, Maulana Azhar was allowed to raise the Jaish-i-Mohammad, a group that operated freely in Pakistan and in … Kashmir….

“Another embarrassment has been caused by the famous list handed over to our government by the Indians. Apart from those Pakistanis released from Indian prisons, there are 15 names of the Indians accused of extremely serious crimes in their own country. Despite official denial of any knowledge of their whereabouts, last year Newsline, a Karachi-based monthly, ran a cover story giving details of the comfortable exile several of these people were enjoying in Karachi under official protection. No denial was issued by the government at that time.

“The problem with handing them over, of course, is that there is no telling what they might spill to the Indian authorities to save their own skins. The last thing General Musharraf would want at the height of a military stand-off is a series of shocking revelations or operational details about covert, illegal acts.”

This, of course, is the dilemma of using criminals and terrorists to further the state’s agenda: they become an embarrassment or, worse, turn against their handlers. It has always struck me as ironic that people like Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar use random violence against the innocent as a tool, while claiming the protection of the constitution when they are arrested. Thus, while people like them organise terror operations targeting ordinary citizens, when caught they demand their habeas corpus rights guaranteed under the constitution.

Many countries have tried to strike a balance between human rights and the protection of their citizens from terrorism. In Britain, an anti-terror law was enacted in 2005 under which suspects can be put under virtual house arrest, barred from going abroad, and using telephones and the Internet. These restrictions are imposed because there is insufficient hard evidence to try them, and yet there is a strong suspicion that they pose a threat.

Clearly, for the innocent such a state of legal limbo would be a nightmare. In Britain, several people have mounted a legal challenge against being held under this law. And certainly, it can be misused by overzealous officials who do not want to take the risk of letting potential terrorists run around free. Nevertheless, it is not always easy to gather hard evidence in cases of terrorism, especially against leaders of jihadi organisations who do not pull the trigger themselves. Their DNA is absent from the debris collected after suicide bombings, and it becomes difficult to convict them under existing laws.

The sad reality in Pakistan is that when the state wishes to hold an individual, nobody is beyond its reach. So when people like Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Masood Azhar and Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid fame are released by our superior courts on grounds of insufficient evidence, we have the right to ask what’s going on. Some of these people have publicly urged their misguided followers to commit violent acts, so to pretend they should get the benefit of the doubt is dangerous legal sophistry.

Finally, the army has taken off its gloves in the fight against extremism. And if new laws are required to combat this menace on the judicial level, parliament must do whatever it takes.

[email protected]
DAWN.COM | Columnists | Innocent until proven guilty?

A good read. I think he is one of the best writers from the subcontinent.
 

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What pakistanis think

WHAT PAKISTANIS THINK
- Pakistan’s opinion is divided on all questions facing it

Writing on the wall - Ashok V. Desai

The International Republican Institute is located on Washington’s Eye Street; presumably it is an NGO sympathetic to the Republican cause. It commissioned an opinion survey in Pakistan; 3500 adults were interviewed in their homes and places of work in March. First, localities were randomly selected. Then a household in each locality was chosen. After it was covered, the interviewer came out of the house, turned right and chose every third house every time until the sample size was reached. The sample was 33 per cent urban, 27 per cent illiterate, and 13 per cent graduate; of the respondents, 46 per cent spoke Punjabi, 14 per cent Sindhi, 13 per cent Urdu, 8 per cent Seraiki and 4 per cent Hindko. Urdu-speaking Muhajirs, who live mostly in Sind, were thus almost as numerous as indigenous Sindhis. Seraiki is spoken on the border of Sind and Punjab, and Hindko in Peshawar.

What struck me was the way Pakistani public opinion has changed since March 2007. Till then, Pakistanis were evenly divided: 43-44 per cent thought that Pakistan was doing all right, and about the same number thought that it was going the wrong way. But three months later, 59 per cent thought Pakistan was headed the wrong way. There was a parallel change of opinion on the Pakistani government: in February 2007, 61 per cent approved of its performance, and 34 per cent disapproved. From June 2007, a majority turned against the government; in March 2009, 79 per cent were against it. What was it that triggered the radical change in expectations? The turning point was Musharraf’s dismissal of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice on March 9, 2007. That event was Pakistan’s equivalent of what for us was Indira Gandhi’s declaration of emergency on June 26, 1975.

The proportion of optimists rose briefly after Musharraf made a compromise with Benazir Bhutto, let her return to Pakistan, and submitted himself to a presidential election in October 2007. But the spring did not last. The proportion of pessimists rose to 70 per cent by early 2008, and never fell below that number; in the latest survey, it was 81 per cent.

There was another remarkable change in 2007. Till February of that year, a third of Pakistanis said every quarter that their economic situation had improved, another third said it had worsened, and the remaining third said it had remained about the same. But by September 2007, the proportion of those who said they were doing worse than before went up to 56 per cent. It never fell below a half after that. It was therefore not just Musharraf’s shock treatment that made Pakistanis feel worse; they actually became worse off.

Their condition worsened because of inflation. From 8-10 per cent year-on-year in September 2007, inflation went up to 23-30 per cent a year later. A poor wheat crop coincided with the spike in oil prices. An adverse balance of payments made it impossible for the government to import wheat; and the money spent by foreign powers on the war they were fighting in Afghanistan created demand that spilled over in Pakistan. Pakistan banned foodgrain exports to Afghanistan, but the ban was evaded.

The inflation was worsened by two factors. The government gave subsidies on wheat and oil products, and as a result ran a huge fiscal deficit. The fiscal deficit could not spill into the balance of payments because the government was short of foreign exchange. The year 2007 for Pakistan was like 1990 for India. It had a raging payments crisis, and had run out of policy options.

So even as late as in March 2009, the greatest worry of Pakistanis was about inflation; 46 per cent termed it the most important issue. The next most important issue, mentioned by 22 per cent, was unemployment; the third, mentioned by 10 per cent, was terrorism.

More than 60 per cent throughout the two years regarded religious extremism a serious issue; 20-25 per cent regarded it as unimportant. But people differed on what they meant by religious extremism; the proportion of people who regarded Taliban and al Qaida a problem was always 5-10 per cent lower. Supporters of the army campaign against terrorists in the northwest were always in a minority, although by March 2009 their proportion had risen to 45 per cent, as against 52 per cent opponents. Only 24 per cent supported Americans making incursions into Pakistan in pursuit of terrorists. In September 2006, roughly the same number were for and against Pakistan cooperating with the United States of America in the war against terror. The proportion of supporters fell steadily to 9 per cent in January 2008. Since then, it has risen to 37 per cent, but still, 61 per cent were against in March 2009. And throughout, a majority supported a compromise with the terrorists — 72 per cent in March 2009. Eighty per cent supported the deal the government made with the terrorists in Swat; and 56 per cent said that if the Taliban asked for application of Sharia in other places, the government should agree. Strangely, although Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif are the most popular politicians and although their Pakistan Muslim League is the most popular party in Punjab and Northwest Frontier Province, if religious parties formed an alliance, they would win an election hands down.

An overwhelming 78 per cent refused to believe that the terrorist attacks in Bombay were made by Lashkar-e-Toiba; 42 per cent said the attacks were organized by India itself, and 20 per cent suspected Americans. But 50 per cent said that the use by terrorist organizations of Pakistan as a base to attack India from was a serious problem; another 29 per cent thought it was a problem. A third hated India; another 19 per cent had a somewhat unfavourable opinion of India. But surprisingly, 45 per cent had a favourable opinion.

The IRI survey bears out our preconceptions about Pakistanis as religious zealots and India-haters. But that is only if we look at the majority. What I find remarkable is the pronounced division of opinion on all questions facing Pakistan. This is why I think that the naively negative policy that Manmohan Singh has followed on Pakistan has reached the end of the road, and that a more nuanced policy is worth trying. Opening the border to greater trade can do no harm; a billion dollars or two of aid for spending on Indian goods may create a bit of goodwill. There are 14 or 18 crore Pakistanis over there (no one knows since there has been no census for decades); it is worth making a few friends out of them. And we do not have to depend on Research and Analysis Wing to find potential friends; the Pakistani press is a serviceable mirror of the Pakistani society. What would help us greatly is if a few million Indians learnt Urdu and started reading Pakistani newspapers. That would give Pakistan a new source of export earnings, and us a valuable source of information on the country. We should even give some Pakistanis asylum once in a while when they get into trouble at home; who knows, they may rise to power one day.:sarcastic:
 

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