Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action
By Jon Boone in Mohenjodaro
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.
The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.
“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”
The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.
He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.
On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.
Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.
Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.
Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.
The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.
“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”
In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.
Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action
Pakistanis are still grappling with the tragedy of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that left at least 141 people, most of them children, dead and scores injured. There has been an outpouring of grief internationally, and the Pakistani public is visibly outraged. But the question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.
Even before this incident, Pakistan had one of the highest casualty rates at the hand of terrorists. About 19,700 civilians and 6,000 security force personnel have been reported killed in terrorism related violence in Pakistan since 2003. But the country refuses to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting or containing the 33-odd terrorist groups believed to be operating on Pakistani soil.
“The question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.”
The latest attack is the Taliban’s response to the Pakistan army’s military operation against the terrorist safe haven in North Waziristan, part of the tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Jihadis from all over the world had congregated in the tribal areas to fight as Mujahedeen against the Soviets during the 1980s. After the Soviets left, Pakistan used the militants for its own objectives of expanding Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, leading to the rise of the Taliban.
Read more » Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/husain-haqqani/pakistan-school-attack-jihadis_b_6337112.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
New images from the school show the brutality of the attack, with pools of blood on the ground and walls covered in pockmarks from hundreds of bullets.
Mass funerals and prayer vigils for the victims are currently under way.
Gunmen had walked from class to class shooting students in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack to date.
Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30507836?OCID=twitterasia
BY HEATHER SAUL
Isis has executed at least 150 women for refusing to marry militants in Iraq, Turkish media has reported.
A statement released by Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights on Tuesday said the militants had attacked women in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar before burying them in mass graves in Fallujah.
Some of the women killed were pregnant at the time, according to the Anadolu Agency.
“At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah by a militant named Abu Anas Al-Libi after they refused to accept jihad marriage,” the statement said.
Read more » The Independent
Learn more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-execute-150-women-for-refusing-to-marry-militants-and-bury-them-in-mass-graves-9930766.html
There is no sight uglier than a child’s corpse. I can say this because I have seen one dying before my eyes.
When a child dies, no words can console the grieving hearts of parents. And a cowardly terror attack on a school just snatched over a hundred children from the warm embrace of their parents in Peshawar.
Just try understanding the magnitude, the size of this all. More than a hundred families will now have their child-shaped holes in their lives forever. Parents all over the country will think twice before sending their children to schools again.
The children that survived the ghastly attack will never be the same again; their innocence, their childhood gone. It takes years for trauma victims to recover. Some don’t recover even after that.
The question on every mind is, when the grieving is over, will the nation unite against the spectre of terrorism?
If the past is any guide, the sad answer would be no.
Pakistan is given a lot of credit for being a resilient nation. I think most of that is down to the state of denial we choose to live in.
There are always a myriad conspiracy theories circulating within our society. For reasons unknown, we choose to believe them.
We find the distant, often most improbable explanations for simple acts of violence plaguing our nation. Our workplaces, public places, government offices, security installations, hospitals, places of worship and now schools all have come under attack.
After every gruesome incident, TTP or one of its uncountable affiliates takes responsibility; often releases video clips with the assailant’s taped speeches before attack, and yet we refuse to believe it. That state of denial, in essence, is the terrorist’s biggest weapon and his ultimate victory.
Sorry rehabilitation facilities
The logical question after a tragedy of this magnitude is about the rehabilitation of those who survive. Of the amputees, the irreparably wounded, and in this case, the innocent minds scarred for a lifetime.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151409
“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world”- Indian PM talked to his Pakistani counterpart and he appeals that schools all over Indian territory will observe 2-minute silence for Pakistan victims- Terrorism is a global phenomenon- A menace who is shattering our societies and killing our children and their hopes and dreams- Entire globe has standup to support us on PESHAWAR TRAGEDY- A visionary leadership has to capitalize this unprecedented international support- Pakistan has to behave like a reliable not hostile neighbor to its neighbouring states- PAK-INDIA peace is essential to kill terrorism in the region- Indian PM MODIs announcement of 2 minutes silence in schools of all over India is a great diplomatic and human gesture- let us play our role and do our part of job to illuminate terror from our land.T
News courtesy: vis Social media (Facebook)
I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student’s account)
Read more » Brown Pundits
See more » http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/12/massacre-of-innocents-death-comes-again.html
US, Cuba seek to normalize relations after Alan Gross released
The Obama administration is moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, sources told Fox News, after American Alan Gross was released from the communist country Wednesday following five years in prison.
Sources say President Obama plans to announce the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana and call on Congress to lift the long-standing embargo.
A senior Capitol Hill source said Obama also plans to take several executive actions, including expanding travel opportunities to the island, expanding agricultural products that can be sold, and raising the limit on remittances from $500 to $2,000.
Together, the announcements would mark the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades. Obama was to announce the policy changes from the White House at noon Wednesday. Cuban leader Raul Castro was expected to speak at the same time.
Read more » Fox News
Learn more » http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/12/17/american-alan-gross-released-from-cuban-prison-official-says/?cmpid=cmty_twitter_fn
Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif offering his “deepest condolences” on the dastardly terror attack at a school in Peshawar.
Sharing Pakistan’s pain in the wake of the “dastardly” terror attack in a Peshawar school, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on phone offering “deepest condolences and all assistance” in the hour of grief.
As a mark of solidarity with Pakistan, Modi appealed to all schools in India to observe 2 minutes of silence tomorrow for the “senseless act of unspeakable brutality” in Peshawar, where terrorists attacked a school and 141 massacred people, almost all of them children, terming the incident as an “assault against the entire humanity”.
Modi told Sharif that “this terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world” and “that this moment of shared pain and mourning is also a call for our two countries and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to decisively and comprehensively defeat terrorism so that the children in Pakistan, India and elsewhere do not have to face a future darkened by the lengthening shadow of terrorism.”
Read more » Financial Express
Our hearts goes out to the families who lost their young kids and to families of the teachers. We believe beside Taliban, Pakistan State is equally responsible for the massacre. Pakistan security agencies created them, trained them and financed them.
Intolerance and hatred has no boundaries and innocent citizens are paying the price. Pakistan security agencies along with petro dollars brought the massacres of innocent children. This will never ends until our security agencies stop considering them Pakistan assets and to use them as proxies inside and outside the country!
We stand with grieving families!
Courtesy: Via Social media (Facebook)
The burned-out buildings dotted the landscape of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Swat Valley as veteran Canadian aid worker David Morley drove the bumpy roads with a local aid worker more than three years ago.
“This used to be a boys’ school, that used to be a girls’ school, that used to be a clinic,” Morley recalled his Pakistani colleague telling him.
“What’s he going to be thinking today?”
‘I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children’ -Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Morley, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Canada, did not mince words Tuesday as news emerged of the suicide attack that killed at least 141 people — the vast majority of them children — at a school in Peshawar, the Pakistani city abutting the Khyber Pass leading to Afghanistan.
“This is a crime against humanity and it’s against civilized norms because we want to nurture and care for our children,” Morley said in an interview.
“We want them to learn and educate, and this is heinous act against all of those norms.”
The attack sparked similar condemnation in Canada and abroad. Many viewed it as a new low in the behaviour of Taliban terrorists, who took responsibility for the attack.
Students ranging from Grade 1 through Grade 10 accounted for most of the dead. They were killed along with their seven attackers, all of whom were wearing explosive suicide vests. Another 121 students and three staff members were injured.
Harper offers condolences
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families of the victims. It’s hard enough to understand the motives that underlie a terrorist attack, he said, but even more so when the targets are innocent children.
Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird has condemned the attack on the school, which he called cowardly and sinister. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)
“It’s hard for any of us, as rational and compassionate people, to understand terrorism — to understand why people would want, in the name of some political cause, to simply terrorize, hurt kill innocent people, whole sections of society,” Harper told a news conference in Quebec City.
“But I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children. As a father, your heart just breaks when you see that kind of thing.”
Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-condemns-sinister-terrorist-attack-on-pakistani-school-1.2874900
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj cancels dinner for MPs in view of Pakistan school attack
Sushma Swaraj cancels dinner for MPs in view of Pakistan school attack
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s dinner for Members of Parliament on Tuesday night was cancelled in view of the terror attack on a school in Peshawar in which at least at least 160 people, mostly children, were killed.
“In view of the massacre of innocent children in Pakistan, tonight’s dinner hosted by me for Members of Parliament is hereby cancelled,” Swaraj tweeted. In the bloodiest terror attack in Pakistan in years, nearly 160 people, including at least 124 children, were killed by heavily-armed Taliban suicide bombers who stormed the army-run school and took several hostages, a throwback to the 2004 Beslan school siege by Chechen rebels.
Read more » People Read
Learn more » http://in.peopleread.net/news/india/68487/
Former President describes militants as Bokoharam of Pakistan
Condemns the Peshawar school attack, asks Party to mount relief and rehabilitation work
Calls for fighting to the finish ‘existential threat’ to Pakistan
Islamabad December 16, 2016: Former President Asif Ali Zardari has denounced the militants’ attack on the school in Peshawar killing over 130 innocent children as ‘most barbaric, atrocious and inhuman that will hang the heads of every civilized person in any age and any clime’.
In a statement denouncing the incident the former President said the Bokoharam of Pakistan striking in the fashion of their kinsmen in Africa on Tuesday morning in Peshawar by targeting school children is a dark day in the history of this country. The crime has been committed on a dark day of our history when Pakistan was dismembered this day in 1971, he said.
The monstrous cruelty and sheer barbarism together with the symbolism of perpetrating it today should open the eyes of all those who give the nation lectures that the exterminated militants are ‘martyrs in the cause of a noble fight’.
Let there be no doubt or mistake that the religious extremists and fanatics are the worst enemies of the country and its people. There is no alternative to fight them to the finish for the very survival of Pakistan and our future generations. The absence of alternative to fighting the monster must make the mind of every self proclaimed puritan very clear, the former President said.
Mr. Zardari said that this incident should also strengthen the resolve of the nation to stand together against this existential threat to the security and stability of the country. ‘Let us be clear’, the former President said, adding also, ‘the enemy is not external but internal; it lives and thrives in our midst and is nurtured and sustained in the name of religion’.
Expressing profound condolences the former President prayed for eternal rest to all the martyred, early recovery of those injured and patience to the bereaved families.
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also directed the Party leaders to suspend all activities and immediately mount efforts aimed at relief and rehabilitation of the victim families. He also called upon the Party workers to visit the hospitals and donate blood to those injured.
Read more » Media Cell PPP
Learn more » http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/former-president-describes-militants-as-bokoharam-of-pakistan/
Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school
TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.
“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.
Read more » Global News
Learn more » http://globalnews.ca/news/1729686/peel-schools-lower-flags-in-support-of-people-killed-at-pakistan-school/
PESHAWAR: Pakistani officials say the siege at an army-run school on Warsak road school is over, and authorities are now sweeping the area. Three officials, on condition of anonymity, told AP the operation to clear the school has ended. At least 131 people, most of them children, died when Taliban gunmen attacked the school in the morning. …..
…. 6:42pm – Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard
Army chief General Raheel Sharif has reached Peshawar and vowed to continue the fight against the militants until they are completely eliminated from the country.
DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa posted on twitter that the tragic incident has saddened that COAS, but at the same time he has said that, “our resolve has taken new height. Will continue go after inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination”.
Gen Sharif said that, “this ghastly act cowardice of killing innocents clearly indicates they (militants) are not only enemies of Pakistan but enemies of humanity”.
“They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the DG ISPR.
by Sprout Money
In an attempt to try to divert a looming economic stagnation in the European Union, some leading German and French economists have launched some plans to try to revive (read: ‘resuscitate’) the economy of the Eurozone by tackling two issues which might have deteriorated the economic situation in the currency bloc.
Enderlein, an associate at a German school of Governance and Pisani, member of a French think thank have announced some ideas focusing on solving the issue of the rigid French labor market and the lack of government spending on infrastructure projects in Germany. This could be the perfect time to push some of these ideas through as the next elections in both countries are still 2.5 years away which means there’s plenty of time to implement new measures and restoring the popularity of the politicians before the next elections.
At least 126 people, mostly children, have been killed in a Taliban assault on an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials say.
All six of the militants who entered the building are said to have been killed, at least one of them in a suicide blast.
However, the army has not declared the operation over. Most of the 500 students have been evacuated.
The attack is being seen as one of the worst so far in Pakistan.
Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30491435
Ambala: An activist of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) allegedly raised pro-Khalistan slogans in Gurudwara Lakhnaur Sahib here where Gurubaksh Singh Khalsa has been sitting on fast for last one month demanding the release of Sikh detainees who have completed their sentences.
Sadar police station today registered a case against Mahinder Pal Singh, a leader of Akali Dal (Amritsar) on the complaint of a police official of Panjokhra police station under section 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national interest) of the IPC.
According to police, around 250 activists of Akali Dal (Amritsar), the party led by former MP Simranjit Singh Mann, had reached at Gurudwara Lakhnaur Sahib last evening to offer their moral support to Gurubaksh Singh.
Indus Asia Online Journal (iaoj) is shocked on the news of Sydney hostages and strongly condemns the coward act of Islamo-fascist gunman. Our thoughts and prayers are with Australians. Our hearts goes with the friends and families of those Australians made hostage by Islamo fascist/s.
We cherish and enjoy liberty and freedom but if anyone want to threaten our liberty they are not fit to enjoy the fruits of our democracy. The moment their activities are suspicious they must be brought to book and face the consequences. If they are a threat to our liberty they shall not enjoy it any more. Let this be clear to all terrorists that our faith is in the democracy and freedom but we also know how to protect our freedom. No mercy will be shown to anyone who takes this perilous road.
The gunman holding people hostage in a Sydney cafe has been identified as an Iranian refugee who was on bail facing a number of charges.
Man Haron Monis, who was granted political asylum in Australia, was described by his former lawyer as an isolated figure, who was acting alone.
Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-30481241
In a move that would help curb the relentless increase in the Centre’s non-Plan spending and ease the way for infusion of more young blood and professionalism into the country’s largely moribund bureaucracy, the Narendra Modi government is planning to reduce the retirement age of central government employees from the present 60 to 58.
The Jews may have originated in the Middle East but they were long ago scattered far and wide – to the Gulf, among other places. Few now remain, except in Iran. But a century ago, writes Matthew Teller, there was even a proposal to found a Jewish state at an oasis near Bahrain.
In 1859 Griffith Jenkins, a senior British naval officer in the Gulf, wrote to a subordinate named Hiskal.
Hiskal – or Yehezkel – ben Yosef was a minor official representing British interests in Muscat. And, like his predecessor in the post in the 1840s (a man named Reuben), he was Jewish.
Jews had been living in Muscat since at least 1625. In 1673, according to one traveller, a synagogue was being built, implying permanence. British officer James Wellsted also noted the existence of a Jewish community on a visit in the 1830s.
Jenkins’s letter talks obliquely about the Imam (a Muslim ruler who held sway in Oman’s interior) and the arrival of a man from Persia. He ends by asking Hiskal to explain the matter in private – and then, remarkably, had his letter translated into Hebrew.
British Library curator Daniel Lowe, who unearthed the letter recently, is flummoxed. With Arabic in daily use, and Hiskal doubtless able to read English, why would Jenkins communicate in Hebrew?
Lowe guesses that he may have been using Hebrew as a secret code, to be understood by Hiskal but not by messengers – and, perhaps crucially, not by the Imam and the “man from Persia”.
But if this remains a mystery, it’s well-known that Jews once lived all across Arabia.
The Koran records Jewish tribes in and around Medina in the 7th Century, and the medieval traveller Benjamin of Tudela, who passed through in about 1170, describes sizeable Jewish populations throughout modern-day Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as well as on both shores of the Gulf – at Kish (Iran) and Qatif (Saudi Arabia).
Baghdad had been home to Jews since the 6th Century BC. Around the time of WW1, officials estimated the city’s Jews to number between 55,000 and 80,000, in a total population of 200,000 – a proportion equal to or greater than that in centres of European Jewry such as Warsaw or Berlin.
UPDATE 3-Rouble falls further as central bank seen intervening
Rouble has tumbled more than 40 percent vs dollar in 2014
* Central bank seen intervening on Friday to halt slide
* Rosneft’s dollar buying adds pressure – traders (Updates prices, adds extension of FX swap limit)
By Vladimir Abramov and Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The Russian rouble dropped to a new low of almost 58 to the dollar, continuing a slide that traders said led the central bank to intervene in the market on Friday after a rate hike failed to break the currency’s fall.
Read more » REUTERS
See more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/12/russia-rouble-idUSL6N0TW0KE20141212
The Canadian dollar is at its lowest level in more than five years today, hit by an oil price war sparked by Saudi Arabia and a “very dovish” Bank of Canada governor.
The loonie, as Canada’s dollar coin is known, sank below 88 cents U.S., touching the lowest level since the summer of 2009, as crude prices tumbled again.
Read more » The Globe and Mail
Learn more » http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/canadian-dollar-sinks-to-5-year-low-on-oil-price-war-very-dovish-bank-of-canada/article21436799/
By Akif Khan
In Pakistan, liberals are often accused of working on the Western agendas and being covert agents of “enemies” of Pakistan. They are also thought to be the ones who malign Pakistan’s image by cherry-picking few mishaps in the country. Let us explore the basis of these accusations and why these liberal “fascists” cry for secularism and liberalism and are opposed to Islamic system (aka Khilafat) in the country.
First of all there is this national narcissistic attitude and national state of denial. The incoherent syllabus, media and jingoist protectors of the “ideological boundaries” reinforce this state of narcissism and delusion. We need to realize that there are issues here and we have to address them. The first stage is – to identify these problems, the second is speaking up, third creating awareness and the last stage is where we will be able to move towards finding solutions.
By Talat Masood
The military operation in North Waziristan has clearly met with some notable success. Apparently, more than 80 per cent of the area has been cleared and the TTP has become factionalised and is under considerable pressure. Last week, there was also the good news that the security forces killed a top al Qaeda commander, Saudi-born Adnan el Shukrijumah, in an encounter in South Waziristan. Undoubtedly, a lot of credit for turning the tide against the militants at the operational level goes to General Raheel Sharif and to our valiant soldiers who continue to sacrifice their lives to defend and maintain the integrity of the state. But this is only the clearing and to some extent the holding phase of the operation. The major work of rebuilding the devastated areas and rehabilitating the IDPs still remains.
The larger security threat facing Pakistan, however, is multi-dimensional and complex. In contrast, the interest, comprehension and response of our national leaders are intangible. We have four categories of militants — globally oriented, Afghanistan specific, India and Kashmir directed and domestically oriented. These groups work independently but also form alliances to boost their overall capability. In addition, there is an ongoing insurgency in Balochistan. We also cannot be oblivious to the potential emergence of the Islamic State (IS). There are unconfirmed reports that more than 15,000-20,000 volunteers from Pakistan are fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some of these may return and pose a threat, especially in less-governed parts of the country. Karachi remains a perpetual battleground for militant groups of the main political parties and the country frequently suffers at the hands of sectarian militias. This problem is allowed to fester and left to the provincial governments to deal with in a half-hearted manner. On the external front, volatility on the Line of Control and the working boundary has acquired a new life of its own. What I have described is well known, but lost in the din of everyday life and as we are distracted by ego battles of our leaders, we fail to grasp the grave implications of this overarching threat landscape. Our leaders have shielded themselves by living in houses that are fortresses and travel in vehicles with contingents of bodyguards to keep them protected. The most disturbing aspect is that the responsibility of dealing with all these threats has been left to the army. State institutions like the committee on national security and Nacta lie dormant although in a democratic country, security matters are major responsibilities of the civilian government. No wonder Narendra Modi’s government takes the convenient cover that there is hardly any point in talking to the Pakistani civilian government when the military (or the militants) seem to control policy. The Indian point of view is reinforced when Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million dollar bounty on his head, brazenly takes out a procession of jihadi elements on the streets of Lahore and makes scathing remarks against India and the US. The government, by giving him a free rein, undermines its case on Kashmir and weakens the political and moral basis of its stand.
On the one hand, the army chief has categorically stated that there are no good or bad militants and the army is operating against all of them without any discrimination. And then the world is presented with this spectacle.
This clearly indicates that we do not treat the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or its other face, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), in the same category. It seems that it is used to pressure India to show flexibility on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Pakistan has been repeatedly accused of playing a double game and is pursuing a different policy in handling the Kashmiri jihadis and those of the TTP and its affiliates.
Such demonstrations reinforce this impression. Even if Pakistan were to ignore the negative aspects of the international fall-out, it has to seriously consider whether it would be possible to fight radicalism and extremism if it tolerates militant outfits that are spewing hatred and promoting violence as the primary tool of the freedom struggle in J&K. As it is, the spread and influence of militant organisations in southern Punjab is growing rapidly. Many of these groups have global and regional jihadist aspirations. Support for the JuD in Pakistan can even be found among some educated youth and professionals, which could be ominous. The world has changed after the 9/11 and Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the tectonic shifts in the global security structure. The JuD and other Kashmir-oriented outfits should now focus primarily on the political and humanitarian aspects of the freedom struggle. Major terrorist attacks occurred in four places in J&K on the same day when the JuD was taking out processions in Lahore. For India, it becomes easy to put all the blame on Pakistan and then justify the reticence in engaging in inter-state dialogue.
The PML-N had used its rapport with militant groups in Punjab to broaden its electoral support with obvious long-term deleterious affects. Moreover, our claim that the military is dealing with all militant organisations alike needs to be qualified. It would amount to far less change in policy and would be no different from that pursued for several decades when it comes to India.
It seems that we are unwilling or unaware that the world has changed and is not prepared to tolerate any militant groups irrespective of how just their cause may be. Pakistani elements promoting jihad are out of sync with the rest of the world.
The Indian establishment is myopic and too short-sighted, and fails to see the serious discontent in occupied Kashmir that has to be addressed politically and not through brute force. Of course, a negotiated political settlement with India on J&K will greatly reduce the incentive and support for the militant organisations. But that is unlikely to happen in the near future. The jihadists in Pakistan and the Indian hardliners are pulling the two countries further apart and holding the region hostage.
The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/804309/pakistans-overarching-threat-landscape/
Palestinian minister dies at West Bank protest
A Palestinian minister has died after a confrontation with Israeli troops at a protest in the West Bank.
Palestinian medics told the BBC Ziad Abu Ein had died from complications related to tear gas exposure.
But several witnesses said the minister had been hit and shoved by soldiers. One said he had been hit in the chest by a tear-gas canister fired by them.
Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon expressed regret for the minister’s death in a statement.
The Israeli military (IDF) said it was investigating the incidents surrounding Mr Ein’s death.
Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30411523
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for speaking up in favour of girls’ education, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The 17-year-old, who is the youngest person ever to receive the honour, was handed at gold medal and a diploma at a ceremony in Oslo, joining the ranks of laureates including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi.
The teenager was jointly awarded the peace prize with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi for her “heroic struggle” in favour of girls’ access to learning.
Malala began speaking out for the rights of girls at the age of 11, and came to prominence after surviving an assassination attempt in October 2012.
Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/11284445/Watch-live-Malala-Yousafzai-receives-Nobel-Peace-Prize-2014.html
As Imran Khan and the PTI vociferously protest the death of their worker in Faisalabad, many mothers elsewhere in the country must be sitting lamenting their sons and wondering who will lock down the country and force the state to answer why their sons will not return. While we all got used to missing persons and tortured bodies in Balochistan, it’s odd to find Sindh becoming part of the same tragic cycle.
Death and dead bodies are not new to Sindh. Every decade since the 1980s, the province has bled for one reason or the other. But this current spate of killings seems to be a new pattern. It is almost as if Sindhi nationalism is being woken up. Interestingly, the six dead bodies found recently did not belong to violent nationalists. In fact, five out of the six were men who had moved on in life. Notwithstanding old associations with the JSMM, these people were not actively involved in any ‘anti-state’ activity or even in party politics.
In any case, one thought that from the state’s perspective, Sindh was not Balochistan. The province had been through this phase during the 1980s when people challenged the military regime and were killed for it. Like Balochistan, Sindh was politically vibrant. The Sindhi media and intelligentsia was politically active and educated people about issues in its own language. Fast-forward to the 2000s, things were manipulated and changed. Despite the media still being active, it has begun to behave and sound more like the media in the rest of the country. What the state couldn’t purchase or silence was bought over by influential dons.