Military blocking Pakistan-India trade deal, says Shahbaz Sharif

Shahbaz SharifSecurity networks’ distrust of increased business dealings is counter-productive, warns Pakistani PM’s brother

By in Lahore and in Delhi, theguardian.com

The powerful brother of Pakistan‘s prime minister has warned the military establishments of both India and Pakistan not to block efforts to sweep aside trade barriers between the two distrustful neighbours.

On Indian affairs Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, is widely seen as the de facto Pakistani foreign minister, conducting diplomatic missions to Delhi on behalf of his brother Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister.

But speaking to the Guardian he warned that distrustful “security agencies” in both Pakistan and India were one of the two main “blockages” holding back plans to liberalise trade, which the Sharifs believe will provide a desperately needed boost to Pakistan’s moribund economy.

“Security agencies on both sides need to really understand that in today’s world, a security-led vision is obviously driven by economic security,” he said. “Unless you have economic security then you can’t have general security.”

While the Sharif brothers, in common with most mainstream politicians in Pakistan, are impatient for a rapprochement with India, the military is far more wary.

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/13/military-block-pakistan-india-trade-deal-sharif

Election 2014: Death Knell of Strategic Depth?

Afghanistan has voted. And wow, what a lot of voting there was! Millions of Afghans turned out and voted in an election where a vote for anyone was a vote against Mullah Umar and his backers. Now it may be that the results will not be accepted, that the winners will fight each other or that the good feeling will evaporate as some future Taliban offensive shakes the state. But if the results are credible and are accepted, then it may well be (to quote journalist Tahir Mehdi) that April 5th 2014 will be to strategic depth what December 16th 1971 was to the two-nation theory.
Of course, one may then point out that the Two Nation theory has had a very healthy Zombie existence since 1971. But even the healthiest Zombie is still a Zombie. Dying is forever.

Read more » Brown Pundits
http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/04/election-2014-death-knell-of-strategic.html

Book Review: ‘The Wrong Enemy’ by Carlotta Gall

Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.

By Sadanand Dhume

In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”

Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.

The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.

At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.

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‘Shadow of One-Unit system still haunts Pakistan’

KARACHI: Sindhi writers and intellectuals are of the view that even 44 years after the abolition of the ‘One-Unit’ system, its shadow haunts Pakistan as all rights and resources of smaller provinces are still snatched by the federal government.

Pakistan is a multicultural country, which has been converted into a highly centralised authoritarian state. It is time to devolve powers to give autonomy to the provinces as enshrined in the Pakistan Resolution passed in 1940,” said Muslim Shamim, the president of the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen.

Read more : The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2014.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/692181/book-launch-shadow-of-one-unit-system-still-haunts-pakistan/

 

Pak army stopped Nawaz Sharif govt from trade deal: India

By

NEW DELHI: UPA-2 will perhaps best be remembered for a series of financial scams and the so-called policy paralysis but as it prepares to sign off, it is now hobbled by its Pakistan policy.

Stung by what India sees as Pakistan’s refusal to allow any concession to the outgoing government for normalizing trade relations, senior government sources here told TOI Islamabad’s policy over the issue was being dictated by Pakistan’s military establishment. They said the upcoming elections are now certain to mark the termination of the idea that trade can lead to peaceful relations between the two countries.

“The several recent flip-flops made by the Nawaz Sharif government on the issue has greatly reduced the its credibility with Indian negotiators who have concluded that in addition to political and security policy, the Pakistan government does not even have the ability to go against the Pakistan military dictates on issues related to economic reforms,” said a top government official, in a reaction to Sharif’s comment on Monday that MFN status to India has been delayed because of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Read more » THE TIMES OF INDIA
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pak-army-stopped-Nawaz-Sharif-govt-from-trade-deal-India/articleshow/32699101.cms

 

Leasing out Pakistan

By Najam Sethi

The Saudi Kingdom has granted $1.5b to the Nawaz Sharif government. Another such donation will accrue in due course. A quick fix of $3b is a lot of free money for Pakistan’s forex-strapped economy that is struggling to cope with significant international debt payments and a rising trade gap that is putting pressure on the rupee and fuelling inflation. Indeed, the Saudi injection has reversed the rapid fall of the rupee, proving that the finance minister, Ishaq Dar, was not bluffing when he warned exporters six weeks ago not to hoard their dollars. Why then all the hush-hush about the Good Samaritan who has eventually bailed him out?

Significantly, the PMLN government has been at pains to hide the Saudi largesse. But after we discovered that the cause of the sudden reversal in the fortunes of the rupee was due to an uplifting shot in the arm of the State Bank, we were told not to ask about the “friendly” source and amount of funds. Then, after we found out about the donor, we were told that the Saudi “donation” was a measure of the personal relationship between our prime minister and the Saudi monarch. That is when our happy surprise turned to suspicious incredulity and the game became crystal clear.

A clutch of high-powered Saudis, including the Crown Prince, has descended upon Islamabad in recent weeks. The prime minister and the Pakistan army chief have made unexplained flying visits to the Kingdom. In due course a joint statement or communiqué was issued from Islamabad stressing the demand for a “transitional” government in Syria while emphasizing that there was no change in Pakistan’s position on the issue. Indeed, the foreign office spokesperson, an apparently haughty lady, was quite aggressive in ticking off inquiring hacks who argued that the demand for a transitional government amounted to a veritable “regime change” in Syria and smacked of a definite policy about-turn. Mr Sartaj Aziz, the de facto foreign minister, has also executed some verbal gymnastics to try and obscure the truth. But we, the public, are not stupid or ill-informed. We are not ready to buy this story hook, line and sinker. We know there are no free lunches, let alone free feasts, in relations amongst nations. So what’s the $3b quid pro quo?

The truth is that Pakistan has agreed to supply, among other weapons, anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets to the Saudis. Mr Aziz says the End-User Certificate conditions will guarantee that these are not used outside Saudi Arabia. This is a load of nonsense. Why the Saudis should suddenly turn to Pakistan for these weapons when traditionally they have tapped the US and Europe has, however, given the game away. These potential game-changing weapons are clearly meant for use by Saudi-backed Wahhabi-Salafist rebels in Syria who are fighting to overthrow the Baathist secular Asad regime. The Americans haven’t supplied the Saudis because they don’t want such radical Islamist forces any more than Al-Qaeda to succeed in Syria and are therefore having serious second thoughts about regime change in Syria. Indeed, the Saudis’ sudden embrace of Pakistan portends shifting sands in the Middle-East.

The Saudis and the Emirates-Gulfdoms are feeling insecure because of the Shia revival in their heartlands. This is because the restless Shias are sitting on their oil reserves. Iran, too, is unremitting in opposing Saudi influence. Iraq and Qatar, two competitive energy suppliers, are not playing ball either. Egypt and Libya haven’t bought into the Saudi Islamist line. Worse, the Americans are seeking negotiated nuclear solutions in Iran instead of succumbing to Saudi pressure for military action. And American self-reliance on shale gas is the first definite step against continued dependence on Saudi oil.

On the heels of the Saudi VVIPs now comes the King of Bahrain to Islamabad. The PMLN government claims that foreign investment deals are in the offing. But the small print betrays the real motive behind “renewed manpower exports”. The Bahraini Emir wants well-trained and equipped Pakistani military mercenaries to beef up his police and security forces to repress the rising democratic impulses of the majority Shia populations. It is as simple as that.

It is the same old treacherous story. Since independence in 1947, the Pakistani ruling classes and military establishment have lived off rents from leasing out their “services” to the highest foreign bidder instead of standing on their own feet and not meddling in other peoples business. In the 1950s, 60s and 80s, they sold their services to the Americans, first against the USSR and then against the Taliban; now, in the 2010s, they are rolling up their sleeves to stir the Middle-East cauldron at the behest of a rich “friend”. The extremist Sunni blow back from the first lease to the US in the shape of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is now primed for escalation and blow back during the proposed second lease to the Saudi-Emirates network. We are making another irrevocable blunder, so help us Allah.

Courtesy: Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/leasing-out-pakistan/

- See more at: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/leasing-out-pakistan/#sthash.1RVncGs5.nqqjY6V8.dpuf

How To Live & Die

The Man in the Bulb meditates on the dying of the light
Khushwant Singh

Death is rarely spoken about in our homes. I wonder why. Especially when each one of us knows that death has to come, has to strike. It’s inevitable. This line from Yas Yagana Changezi says it best: Khuda mein shak ho to ho, maut mein nahin koi shak (You may or may not doubt the existence of God, you can’t doubt the certainty of death). And one must prepare oneself to face it.

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What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden

By

Excerpt;  America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001.

 

In January 2013, I visited the Haqqania madrasa to speak with senior clerics about the graduates they were dispatching to Afghanistan. They agreed to let me interview them and gave the usual patter about it being each person’s individual choice to wage jihad. But there was also continuing fanatical support for the Taliban. “Those who are against the Taliban, they are the liberals, and they only represent 5 percent of Afghans,” the spokesman for the madrasa told me. He and his fellow clerics were set on a military victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, he said, “it is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power. The white flag of the Taliban will fly again over Kabul, inshallah.”

Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out.

Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.”

The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the U.S. and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.”

When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.

Meanwhile, the real enemy remains at large.

This article is adapted from “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014,” to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times. She covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for the paper from 2001 to 2013.

Editor: Joel Lovell

Courtesy: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/magazine/what-pakistan-knew-about-bin-laden.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Dancing to TTP’s tunes

By Intikhab Amir

PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) holds the centre stage, changing directions of the game every now and then. In short, it is TTP’s sweet will that is holding the sway.

When it decides to hit and kill us, we bow our heads and get killed. When it decides to talk and kill us as well, we oblige: we fly our helicopter to North Waziristan to facilitate its emissaries to meet their bosses and at the same time we keep collecting corpses from Peshawar to Karachi.

And now when the state’s fighter jets and helicopters have conducted surgical air strikes targeting TTP’s sanctuaries, the terrorists announced ceasefire and we feel happy to oblige and live peacefully with them for the next one month.

Think the one month period in terms of the possibility: no bomb blasts and IED attacks. This has not happened for the past so many years. So we should be happy!

What is more interesting is the fact that the day TTP was about to make the ceasefire public in the evening, its operatives attacked polio vaccinators in Khyber Agency in the morning.

If the TTP bosses were giving serious thoughts to the idea of giving peace a chance, they should have postponed the Saturday morning attack in Khyber Agency.

But who cares? Ceasefire is the buzzword. The other catchphrase these days is ‘on the same page’.

Earlier, doubts were being spewed whether the civil administration and the military leaders were on the same page or not. Now, at least, the TTP bosses are on the same page with the government.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1090698/dancing-to-ttps-tunes

Gas supply disrupted as pipeline blown up in Balochistan

QUETTA: An 18-inch Sui gas pipeline was blown up in early hours of Monday by unknown miscreants in Dera Murad Jamali disrupting gas supply in various areas of the insurgency-hit Balochistan province, DawnNews reported.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1090591

Pakistani Taliban say government must embrace Islamic law

By Saud Mehsud

Feb 22 (Reuters) – T he Pakistani Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/22/us-pakistan-taliban-idUSBREA1L0K620140222

Even India treated our soldiers better in 1971- Pervez Rashid

Minister questions Taliban’s Sharia

ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at Pakistani Taliban for slaughtering 23 paramilitary personnel, Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Wednesday questioned whether the militants’ action was in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.

Speaking to media representatives, he criticized the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership for the inhuman killing of the captive Frontier Cops (FC) soldiers.

“People favouring enforcement of Sharia should tell what treatment captives deserve according to the Sharia …… and the treatment those (FC men) received was in accordance with the Islamic laws or not,” he questioned.

The minister said that TTP’s central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid should have conveyed their reservations to the negotiating team they formed. “But, they didn’t do it and firstly attacked policemen in Karachi and then killed FC personnel,” he added.

Taking a strong stand against the home grown militants, he said the government also has reservations which the Taliban must address first.

Referring to the 1971’s war against India, Rashid said, “Even our rival country treated our 90,000 war captives in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” “Did they (Indians) behead even a single Pakistani soldier,” he questioned.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088101

Bhagat Singh’s house in Pakistan to get Rs 80 mn for restoration

Legendary Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s ancestral house, school and his village in Punjab Province in Pakistan will be restored for Rs 80 million. “We have allocated Rs 80 million for restoration of the house and school of Indian [Indo-Pak] Independence war hero Bhagat Singh. The amount will also be spent for the upliftment of Singh’s village, where clean drinking water is not available and drainage system is in a bad shape,” Faisalabad District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal told PTI.

Mengal said that people in Faisalabad “take pride in the fact that Bhagat Singh was the son of their soil” and want the place to be known as “the town of Bhagat Singh”. The celebrated revolutionary was born September 28, 1907 at Bangay village, Jaranwala Tehsil in the Faisalabad (then Lyallpur) district of the Province. Singh’s village, Bangay, some 150 kilometres from Lahore, would also become a tourist attraction for people, especially Indians, once his house is restored by this year end, he added.

“Singh’s village is just 35 kilometres from Nankana Sahib. It could be another point of attraction for the Sikh pilgrims,” he said. The government has also planned to shift Singh’s belongings from Faisalabad Museum and Library to his house, he added.

Read more » The Indian Express
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/bhagat-singhs-house-in-pakistan-to-get-rs-80-mn-for-restoration/?SocialMedia

Voice of Baloch Missing Persons’ Long March Arrives in Lahore: warm welcome for Baloch marchers.

Comrade Irfan stood head and shoulders above the entire left in Pakistan. An organic representative of the most advanced and progressive section of the working class, he literally risked his life safeguarding the Baloch. He came in front of a truck to protect the march and escaped because he came under the truck and between its two front wheels. He cared for their every need from Harrapa onwards. He took care of their food and shelter. And finally he organised the most incredible reception that they have received in the entire Punjab.

Lahori workers lifted Comrade Irfan on their shoulders as he spoke passionately against the injustice of the Baloch. Surrounded by red flags he welcomed the Baloch march to Lahore on behalf of the working class movement. The enthusiasm and the energy was a sight for sore eyes to see. In one big gesture, workers brought together people of all communities in the fight against all forms of oppression. Lahori working women draped their Baloch sisters in chadors. People showered petals until the road was red with rose petals. Media surrounded the march and took pictures from every angle. Everyone was disciplined, there was no pushing or shoving. Women were safe in the centre. Workers made a human chain around the march to protect their Baloch brothers & sisters. The Baloch said to us “this was the best reception we have received anywhere in the Punjab. We thought we would not return alive from the Punjab but we did not expect that so many people had so much love for us.”Altogether united people shouted “We want, justice” “Baloch want justice”. There were representatives from the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party, Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Peoples Democratic Front, National Students Federation, Baloch Students Federation, Shahvar Ali Khan representing musicians, Rise for Pakistan and so many others whose names I cannot remember right now. This was not your caste of usual suspects. This was a real proletarian gathering for the Baloch. And I think that is what made it genuine and wonderful.

The entire left should join us in awarding comrade Irfan with a medal as a “Hero of the Working Class”.

Courtesy: Facebook

“If the talks succeed, we may see a metamorphosis of the state”

by Alefia T. Hussain

Ayesha Siddiqa, defence analyst, talks about the implications of the on-going talks with TTP 

The News on Sunday (TNS): How does the government’s approach to counter terrorism through talks look like to you — a compromise, a time buying tactic or you expect something substantive to come out of it?

Ayesha Siddiqa (AS): The only substantive thing that may come out of the talks (and, mind you, I am not using substantive positively or negatively) is change in the overall nature of the state. If the talks succeed, we may actually see a metamorphosis of the state from a hybrid-theocracy, which it is at the moment, to a complete theocracy. The Taliban and their allies, including both good and bad militants, want implementation of sharia in Pakistan. Even if there is an agreement on limited implementation in parts of the country, it will eventually trickle down to the rest.

Everything will depend on how far the military and civilian leadership wants to go in accommodating the Taliban demands. Although a more important question would be how comfortable is the leadership in changing the nature of the state. The Taliban may not want to compromise on anything less than implementing sharia — also release of prisoners, which means adding to the militant force that aims at capturing the state.

So, if we have made up our mind to surrender, there is no way anyone will challenge the Taliban. If not, then yes, some form of conflict is inevitable.

Like many people, I’ve also heard an operation is inevitable. But, I’m not sure. Because, how can an operation take place with your backs against the wall. When some generals in GHQ, Rawalpindi, thought the 1986 Indian military exercise Brasstacks was a plan for war, General Hamid Gul and some others disagreed. They argued that India could not launch a war with its back totally exposed and vulnerable. This was with reference to the insurgency in East Punjab back then.

Similarly, how can we think of an operation when we have all kinds of militants sitting in our heartland, in Punjab and Sindh. I’m not just referring to Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) but also TTP and Lashkar e Khorasan, allegedly part of al-Qaeda and has men that were once part of JeM. These organisations are thriving in Punjab and Sindh. They even have links with the politicians and military establishment.

So, if we can’t take care of our own backyard, how will we launch an offensive.

I’m not even sure if the military has a plan to abandon the good militants/Taliban. The good Taliban are connected to the bad Taliban by blood, friendship and alignments. You can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. If we want to use some of them after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, we can’t really be serious about launching a serious operation. Or can we?

Read more » The News
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/talks-succeed-may-actually-see-metamorphosis-state/#.Uvgz17Th3g8

PAKISTAN – Religious extremism and Punjab

During the last 66 years, Bengalis, Sindhis, Pakhtuns and Baloch have been declared traitors turn by turn but Punjabis — never

Bitter truth about the composition and character of the Pakistani state where Punjab is dominant and others are dominated.

By Abdul Khalique Junejo

Since more than a decade, Pakistan has been in the grip of religious extremism, which has now assumed the proportions of more than just a crisis. Pakistani society as a whole is occupied by chaotic conditions while the Pakistani state is facing the severest challenge to its authority, so much so that for the first time in 66 years, the guardians of Pakistan (read the military) have changed their security doctrine, replacing the external threat with an internal one as the number one challenge.

This scourge of religious extremism, threatening both the state and society, is nowadays the most dominant issue in the Pakistani media, discussed and explored from different angles and aspects. One such aspect, which is increasingly acquiring more importance and space, is the position in/of different provinces regarding religious extremism and terrorism.

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Sharif risks straining ties with military, warns US intelligence report

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may strain his relations with the new army chief if he continues to expand his policy-making powers, warns a US intelligence report.

The report, presented before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday, notes that Mr Sharif is seeking to “acquire a more central policy-making role” for civilians in areas that the Army has traditionally dominated.

“His push for an increased role in foreign policy and national security will probably test his relationship with the new Chief of Army Staff, particularly if the Army believes that the civilian government’s position impinges on Army interests” the report warns.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1084027

Pakistan’s march to theocracy

There are growing concerns that the country was fast moving toward a theocratic order.

It was a quick call from my editor’s office in Karachi informing me not to bother writing anymore about the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other militant outfit, religious party or even the cricketer-turned-politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). I was told I couldn’t even mention TTP and its other sister organisations. The call came in the wake of an attack on a vehicle carrying staff of a media group which killed three people and injured another four.

The TTP was quick to take responsibility. The spokesman of the militant outfit Ehsanullah Ehsan even appeared on a television program and warned the media group about giving the TTP bad press. The channel’s anchor Javed Chaudhry had to promise a “balanced” representation of views about the militants and their agenda. Furthermore, Ehsan claimed the attack was an attempt to force Pakistan to meet the promise of imposing Sharia law in the country.

A day later on January 19, another 20 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed and about 30 injured in a suicide attack in Bannu Cantonment in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). This was followed by an attack on January 20 in Rawalpindi Cantonment near the Pakistan Army’s GHQ, bringing the death toll up to 33 and the number of wounded to 63. Not to mention the constant targeting of polio workersacross the country.

These attacks happen despite the civilian government’s claim to engage the Taliban in a dialogue to end the violence. The first attack on the television channel came the same day as the statement by the TTP spokesman announcing his group’s willingness to talk with Pakistan’s government as long as the latter ensured the implementation of Sharia law in the country.

Read more » aljazeera
http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20141266302173397

Pakistan: Bhagat Singh Shaheed’s village selected for preservation

Faisalabad: Bhagat Singh Shaheed native village Banga in Faisalabad is been selected for preservation and has been declared as historical sites by Faisalabad district coordination officers Noorul Amin Mengal. Mr Mengal had earlier named Shadman Fawara Chouck as Bhagat Singh Chouck in 2012 while he was DCO Lahore, Along with Bhagat Singh village, the villages of Sir Ganga Ram, Mirza Jutt and Ahmad Khan Kharal, the other freedom fighters and historical personalities, have also been declared as historical place.

Source – via Facebook

Times Square bomb plot: Pakistani Army major arrested

A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.

By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad

Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.

A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.

He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.

Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.

Read more » The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7772507/Times-Square-bomb-plot-Pakistani-Army-major-arrested.html

At the mercy of men of straw

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Except; … What a contrast with our mighty men of straw moving about in their gleaming motorcades, bullet-proof vehicles, hundreds of men for their protection, yet consumed by fear, fear sitting in their hearts, and therefore seeking endless excuses for their irresolution.

The Taliban are in no doubt. They have virtually declared war against Pakistan, its army and its people. What does it take to see that their aim is not the emirate of Waziristan, or even drawing a line at the Indus but something higher, the whole of Pakistan? Yet far from being goaded into action, the men of straw in command of the republic’s destiny seek endless excuses for not doing anything. Hamlet’s “to be or not to be…” would seem a model of decision compared to their indecision.

The enemy is not at the gates; he is within. And while the Taliban make an art of the hidden roadside bomb, their deadliest weapon as it was of the insurgency in Iraq, the governing class hailing from Punjab – along with that other gift to clarity, Imran Khan – continues to weave bandishes (variations) on the raga of talks.

The Taliban kill a general of the Pakistan Army – Maj Gen Sanaullah – and our men of straw are for talks. A Peshawar church is bombed and they are for talks. Imran’s party men are killed in KP and he is for talks. Pakistan’s toughest cop, Chaudhry Aslam, is killed and the talks mantra does not change. In Hangu young Aitizaz sets an example for the entire country to follow but his sacrifice is in vain because those who should take heed remain men of straw.

So what should we do? God knows this is not a country of Athenian or Spartan warriors. But whatever bit of pluck and daring there may be, it is being held in check – nay, dissipated – by the ruling lot a blind Providence has been pleased to place upon the people of this country. Of what avail another Chaudhry Aslam, another Aitizaz, when the nation’s caravan is led by such heroes?

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-226460-At-the-mercy-of-men-of-straw

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek
http://mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/03/best-frenemies.html

Pakistan’s State of Denial

By TAHMIMA ANAM

DHAKA, Bangladesh — It was a Pakistani journalist, Anthony Mascarenhas, who gave the world the first detailed account of Bangladesh’s war of independence. In April 1971, soon after the army of Pakistan started suppressing the secessionist movement in what was then still the eastern part of the country, it invited Mr. Mascarenhas to report on the conflict, believing he would buttress the false propaganda of a just war. Mr. Mascarenhas promptly moved his family, and then himself, to Britain knowing that soon he would no longer be able to live in Pakistan.

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has condemned Pakistan for its reaction to the execution of war criminal Quader Mollah.

PM condemns Pak NA resolution

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this evening strongly condemned Pakistan for its reaction to the execution of war criminal Quader Mollah.

“By passing the resolution at national assembly, Pakistan has proved that it never accepted the victory of Bangladesh in the Liberation War of 1971, and they still have allies in Bangladesh

Read more » The Bangladesh Chronicle
http://www.bangladeshchronicle.net/index.php/2013/12/pm-condemns-pak-na-resolution/

GENOCIDE: The June 1971 Sunday Times essay by Tony Mascarenhas about mass murders in Bangladesh that woke up the world

By Anthony Mascarenhas, The Sunday Times

June 13, 1971 – ABDUL BARI had run out of luck.  Like thousands of other people in East Bengal, he had made the mistake the fatal mistake-of running within sight of a [...] army patrol. He was 24 years old, a slight man surrounded by soldiers. He was trembling, because he was about to be shot.

“Normally we would have killed him as he ran,” I was informed chattily by Major Rathore, the G-2 Ops. of the 9th Division, as we stood on the out­skirts of a tiny village near Mudafarganj, about 20 miles south of Comilla. “But we are checking him out for your sake. You are new here and I see you have a squeamish stomach.”

“Why kill him?” I asked with mounting concern.

“Because he might be a Hindu or he might be a rebel, perhaps a student or an Awami Leaguer. They know we are sorting them out and they betray themselves by running.”

“But why are you killing them? And why pick on the Hindus?” I persisted.

“Must I remind you,” Rathore said severely, “how they have tried to des­troy Pakistan? Now under the cover of the fighting we have an excellent oppor­tunity of finishing them off.”

Read more » http://planthealth.org/article/genocide-june-1971-sunday-times-essay-tony-mascarenhas-about-pakistan%E2%80%99s-mass-murders

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More » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/mobile/world/2013/12/131212_mullah_hanged_fz.shtml

History’s baggage: Pakistan’s Punjab problem

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

[History’s baggage: Pakistan’s Punjab problem] Arising from the same soil, breathing the same air, moving to the same folk songs and music, defined by the same five rivers, Punjab over the centuries has yet produced two distinct types of personality: the Muslim Punjabi and the Sikh Punjabi. There is also the Hindu Punjabi but for ease of discussion let the first two categories suffice.

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Latent radicals

Nadeem F ParachaBy Nadeem F. Paracha

In his detailed history of 20th century terrorism Blood and Rage, author Michael Burleigh, while writing about left-wing terrorist groups in Germany that sprang up in the late 1960s/early 1970s, suggests that the young, urban middle-class men and women who were part of these groups were suffering from a guilty conscience.

They were the children of parents who had lived in Hitler’s Germany, during his racist, violent regime, as supporters or silent observers. However, when their children entered their late teens and early 20s in the 1960s, they felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and awkwardness after realising how their parents had remained silent as Hitler went about constructing his fascist dystopia based on megalomaniacal delusions about racial superiority and mythical glory.

As a response to this guilt, many children of otherwise docile and orderly middle-class Germans plunged into radical political action, like restless teens consciously indulging in ideas and acts that they knew would offend and disturb their parents.

By the 1960s however, (West) Germany had begun to retreat and rebound from its Nazi past and had become a strong democracy, a robust economy and an ally of its former enemies, the United States and Britain.

So when left-wing German radicals began targeting German politicians, businesses and some US military and business interests, Burleigh is of the view that they were trying to overcome their guilt of being the offspring of parents whom they had suspected of supporting fascism and Nazism.

This is an intriguing theory and an interesting way to look at and understand left-wing terrorism and radicalism that emerged in Germany and Italy in the 1960s/’70s. Both the countries had witnessed fascist dictatorships in the 1930s and 1940s.

This theory can also be applied to the present-day dynamics of activists associated with parties like Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) and its closet ally, the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

The activistic ranks of both the parties are studded with urban middle and some lower-middle class young men and women who have recently been at the forefront of whipping up anti-West/anti-US sentiments in the country and are quick to explain everything — from Islamist terrorism to political corruption — as consequences of ‘American imperialism’ and hegemony in the region.

One can safely assume that these activists are the children of parents who sided with those regimes and parties in Pakistan that (during the Cold War) were vehemently anti-left and had taken pro-US stances in America’s Cold War tussle with the former Soviet Union.

Jamaat-i-Islami, (JI’s) links with the US during the Cold War have never been a secret. But till the 1980s when young JI activists were known to actually attack anti-US rallies held by leftist groups, today the children of these activists are perhaps the most enthusiastic anti-US radicals and the most likely to set fire to a US flag.

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The bazaar bourgeoisie

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

MANY real and mythical actors animate narratives of modern Pakistani life, and particularly its politics: army officers, landlords, businessmen, mullahs, the ‘foreign hand’, and, of course, the proverbial awam.

The vast majority of these narratives place the rich and powerful at one end of the spectrum and the hapless awam at the other, with the occasional heroic general, judge or politician playing the role of game-changer.

Needless to say, the plot in real life is rarely this straightforward. A truly representative analysis of actually existing Pakistan requires us to move beyond the usual suspects and consider less invoked social forces that play major roles in shaping the social and political landscape.

Many scholars of Pakistan and other Muslim-majority societies have argued that small and medium-sized traders and merchants, or what some call the bazaar bourgeoisie, have greatly influenced the economic and political trajectory of these societies in the modern era.

For some the genesis of this class can be traced to the mediaeval period, while for others its modern manifestation is a phenomenon unto itself. Either way, the experts argue, there can be no gainsaying the importance of the bazaar.

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Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

By Mubashir Zaidi

The latest statement from the military blasting chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami Munawar Hasan for undermining the sacrifices made by the soldiers fighting terrorists has shocked many in the capital. The JI traditionally, has been the mouthpiece for the military during the 1980s Afghan jihad and fighting in Kashmir. It’s also established that the army had used the Jamaat’s street power to put democratic governments under pressure through controlled or sometimes out of control protests. It is also believed that there is a huge following of JI in the armed forces. Even the arrests of Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the residences of JI activists has not affected the military-JI relations in the past.

So, is it a signalling of sorts that the military is trying to portray itself as a national army now as compared to its earlier image of an ideological force whose notion of jihad is similar to Jamaat-i-Islami?

But what prompted this strong reaction by the military needs to be examined. Even pragmatic military rulers like Pervez Musharraf had to seek help from the JI to prolong his tenure. Then why is it that the Jamaat and the military are finding themselves at the crossroads today?

The issue of missing persons that began in 2006 started the rift between the traditional partners when JI followers that included lawyers approached the courts for the release of what they claimed were innocent civilians who were arrested by military intelligence agencies on the allegations of supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The courts took up the cases and started questioning the role of the military behind these forced disappearances. JI-backed lawyers were pressurised by the military to drop these cases and to stop pursuing the matter. But the cases continued, despite the fact that they did not reach their logical conclusions.

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Federal Challenges to Polity: Sindh Perspective

jamichandioBy Jami Chandio

Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been faced with a crisis of federalism. Early decisions to centralize power deprived smaller provinces of their most pressing demands for joining the new state: increased national/provincial autonomy and the devolution of power. For six decades, the promise of federalism has eroded under the weight of unfettered military rule, imbalanced and undemocratic state structures, and the domination of all federal institutions by Punjab. With outside attention trained on Islamic insurgency, observers are missing the most crucial dynamic in Pakistani politics, that of declining inter-provincial harmony. The specter of separatist movements once again haunts Pakistan, which has been on the verge of becoming a failed state. To survive these existing crises, Pakistan must adopt further transformative constitutional reforms that limit the reach of the center to the fields of defense, foreign policy, currency and other inter-provincial matters. By restoring a balance of power both between the executive and legislative branches and between the center and the provinces, Pakistan can move a pivotal step closer to substantive democracy, participatory federalism and sustainable political stability.

Once partition was completed, the initial promises of autonomy and devolution of power went unfulfilled by Pakistan’s ruling elite. Critical decisions taken by the center concerning the ratification of constitutions and governing documents, the elevation of Urdu language, and the amalgamation of the provinces of west Pakistan into the One-Unit scheme in 1955 deprived the provinces of the authority and position in the federation they expected upon joining the union. Federalism was bankrupted purposively, culminating in the ‘liberation’ of East Pakistan and the subjugation of the smaller provinces to the ruling Punjab-Urdu speaking nexus.

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