The sheepification of Bakistan

By MINA MALIK-HUSSAIN

When we were small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper with the sehr-o-iftar timings and while nobody had a cell phone or Facebook to wish anyone, it would have been Ramzan Mubarik nonetheless. Sometimes if one was being quite linguistically adventurous it would be Ramazan, but nobody seemed to mind.
And then, insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us. It wasn’t like the return of Muhammad Bin Qasim, but somehow Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew exactly how it happened, but almost overnight our crisp z’uad sound became a lisping Arab burr, and we—a nation of language speakers with no apparent consonant pronunciation difficulties—were flung into the downward spiral of an affectation obsession. Now it was cool to sound Arab, and soon enough it began to be increasingly desirable to look it. Cue Al Huda, cue our streets being lined with gangly palm trees that do nothing, either in terms of beauty or shade, cue the availability of the most bling Islamic cover-up gear you’ll see this side of Dubai.
Still, as a nation we were still fairly open-minded about this, so we fasted year after year and didn’t really pay attention to the semantics of it. We were busy trying to live our lives and be regular Pakistanis, but The Arabs kept making inroads onto our cultural minds. One year ‘khuda-hafiz’, that old and comfortable way of saying goodbye and Godspeed, became ‘Allah hafiz’ with the dubious reason of having to specify which deity to whose protection one was recommending you. Because here in multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan there was actual leeway where one would wonder who exactly Khuda is, and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a pagan god. Some people resisted, and continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and hope that whatever His name, He will still protect and love them. Also if it was good enough for one’s grandfather and great-grandfather, it was just fine for them too.

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What ISIS and the ‘caliphate’ mean for Pakistan

Taliban TerroristsBy Muhammad Amir Rana

Among many factors, the Pakistani state’s protracted apathy and inaction on the issue of security has provided non-state actors the spaces to grow and expand their influence. They used these spaces not only to propagate their ideologies and narratives but also to establish a ‘state within the state’ in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Even as counteraction is now underway, the sudden rise of ISIS has threatened to make matters worse for us.

The militants are jubilant over the success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has established a ‘caliphate’, or ‘Islamic state’ in parts of Syria and Iraq. This is not the first time militants have captured some territory and established their so-called Islamic writ.

Afghanistan, Pakistani tribal areas, Northern Mali and Somalia have experienced similar ventures by militants in the past, though on varying levels.

Rise of ISIS ≠ Fall of al Qaeda

Many experts see the decline of al Qaeda in the rise of ISIS, while analysing the recent developments happening in Iraq and Syria. That is a mistake.

A realistic review of militants’ strategies suggests that they first challenge the very foundation of the state by providing alternative socio-cultural and political narratives and then march onto its physical territory.

They may have differences over strategies, as ISIS and al Qaeda had, but ultimately they overcome their differences. Al Qaeda might feel stunned over the ‘victories’ of ISIS but now, instead of arguing with ISIS over strategies, will prefer to develop a consensus over a model of caliphate.

In some cases, militants develop alliances with nationalist groups.

That’s what happened in Northern Mali, where the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had developed coordination with Islamist groups. But when they captured a territory, Islamist groups started imposing Shariah. The alliance was weakened due to ensuing infightings and eventually broke up after a military offensive was launched by the French forces.

A dangerous inspiration

Apart from group dynamics, inspiration plays an important role in militants’ efforts to replicate one success in other parts of the world.

The rise and success of ISIS could play a very dangerous, inspirational role in Pakistan, where more than 200 religious organisations are operating on the national and regional level.

These organisations pursue multiple agendas such as transformation of society according to their ideologies, the enforcement of Shariah law, establishment of Khilafah (caliphate) system, fulfilment of their sectarian objectives and achievement of Pakistan’s strategic and ideological objectives through militancy.

Such organisations could be influenced by the success of ISIS in various ways. A few would limit themselves to providing just moral support, but others might actively provide donations and financial assistance on ISIS’ call.

Common purpose: Establish the state of Khurasan

Still others — mainly religious extremist and militant organisations — could find inspiration in ISIS’ strategies and tactics.

This is possible since even groups operating in two different regions can find common ground in the Takfiri ideologies they believe in, and in the organisational links they share with each other.

The map released by ISIS shows countries for expansion marked in black across North Africa, into mainland Spain, across the Middle East and into Muslim countries of Central and South Asian region. It depicts exactly the states, which are or once remained under Muslim control.

According to this notion, the territory which has come under Muslim rule even once becomes a permanent part of Islamic caliphate. These territories, if later invaded by non-Muslims, will be considered as unjustly occupied territories and it will be obligatory for a Muslim to struggle to regain them.

Interestingly, the ISIS map shows both Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the Islamic caliphate state’s Khurasan province. Al Qaeda and its affiliates believe that the movement for the establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan will emerge from the region comprising of the Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan and Malakand region of Pakistan.

They consider Khurasan as the base camp of international jihad, from where they will expand the Islamic state boundaries into other non-Muslim lands. Mullah Fazlullah of Swat was inspired by the notion and considered himself the founder of the Khurasan movement.

Many other groups and commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan subscribe to the same idea, but only a few groups have dedicated themselves to the cause of establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan.

The current TTP leadership — mainly Fazlullah and his deputy Qayum Haqqani, and Khalid Khurasani group in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies of Fata — are leading this movement, not only on the militant, but on the ideological front as well.

The concentration of al Qaeda and TTP hardliner groups in Kunar and Nuristan are of the same mind; they intend to use the territory as a base camp for the establishment of the state of Khurasan. Though they are not strong enough to trigger a massive militant campaign like the one going on in Iraq, they will remain a critical security irritant and keep inspiring radical minds in the region.

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U.S. sanctions on Lashkar-e-Tayyiba Network Leaders

Treasury Sanctions Two Senior Lashkar-E-Tayyiba Network Leaders

Action Targets Leadership of Pakistan-based Terrorist Organization

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today targeted the financial and leadership networks of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) by designating Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry (Ahmad) and Muhammad Hussein Gill as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.  Ahmad and Gill are being designated for acting for or on behalf of LT, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan.  Treasury and the Department of State have designated 22 individuals and four entities associated with LT.

The State Department today also maintained LT’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and added the following aliases to its listing of LT: Jama’at-ud-Dawa, Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal.  The State Department originally designated LT as an FTO in December 2001, and the group was added to the United Nations (UN) 1267/1989 Sanctions list in 2005.

“In targeting Lashkar-e-Tayyiba leadership, today’s action demonstrates our unrelenting commitment to combatting terrorism by disrupting terrorist groups’ financial activities,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.  “We will continue to target LT’s financial foundation to disrupt and impede its violent activities.”

LT was responsible for the deadly November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India that killed nearly two hundred people and injured more than three hundred.  The group’s leader is Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

Read more » U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY

http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2440.aspx

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More details » BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/06/140625_jamatuddawah_terrorist_org_sa.shtml

The military will not decisively act against its own strategic assets unless an ideological shift occurs at mass level

OUR VIEWPOINT ON ZARB-E-AZB

Written by  Redaktion

Yet another military operation has been launched in Waziristan Agency. Post-9/11, this will be fifth operation in the Agency.

While Viewpoint is staunchly opposed to the Taliban and considers them the biggest immediate threat to working classes in Pakistan, we refuse to lend support to the ongoing military operation for the following reasons:

1.       Amputating cancerous hand, preserving cancer: A military operation in Waziristan Agency implies that terrorism in Pakistan is geographically located. This is a fake beginning. Hence, it will only prolong the fight against puritan terror. Fact of the matter is, taproot of terrorism is located elsewhere. To be precise, terrorism in Pakistan emanates from Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is grounded in the official policy-making, anchored in military doctrines, and situated in foreign office. Viewpoint has repeatedly pointed out: unless a paradigm shift displacing the Doctrine of Strategic Depth takes place, the Taliban terror cannot be decisively defeated. Furthermore, without abandoning the Jihadi infrastructure [ consisting of Punjab-based, Kashmir-specific, and anti-Shia outfits as well as mosque-and-madrassa networks], terrorism cannot be successfully fought back. Likewise, only by deradicalising the entire state and society (military, judiciary, constitution, media, education system and so on) we can expect a beginning of terrorism’s end. There is no piecemeal solution. In the absence of such radical paradigmatic shifts, the Waziristan operation will be tantamount to amputating cancerous hand while preserving the cancerous arm. Therefore, it is an absurd position to take if one supports or opposes amputation of a cancerous hand by khaki messiahs without operating upon the source of cancer.

Read more » View Point Online

http://www.viewpointonline.net/2014/06/our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb/3828-our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb#.U6niUJmUsGk.facebook

Blast at Islamabad shrine wounds at least 54

By Dawn.com | Irfan Haider

ISLAMABAD: A powerful explosion at a shrine in the federal capital on Friday night injured at least 54 people, seven of whom are said to be in critical condition, DawnNews reported.

Chief Commissioner Islamabad Jawad Paul told Dawn.com that 54 people were injured in the blast. He said 34 were taken to PIMS Hospital where four are in critical condition, Nine are being treated in Benazir Hospital and 11were shifted to Poly Clinic Hospital. Locals, however, put that number of injured much higher at 70 to 80.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1114065/

Was this Lahore or Occupied Kashmir?

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

If this was Srinagar, and the Indian army had been trying to quell a crowd of Kashmiri demonstrators, we would have understood. We would have shaken our heads but we would have understood. Although even there the savagery and the mindless brutality of the Lahore police on supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri would have seemed excessive.

The Indian army and the Indian police don’t have much of a reputation for being gentle in dealing with unruly Muslim protesters. Even so, when was the last time nine people, including two women and a youngster, were shot dead in cold blood in Srinagar? In addition to the dead there are around 30-40 people with gunshot wounds in hospital. When was the last time this happened across the Line of Control? When was the last time this was the tally of the dead and wounded in East Jerusalem or the West Bank?

And this wasn’t Hamas-ruled Gaza, the West Bank or Occupied Kashmir. This was Lahore and one of its better residential colonies. The chief minister lives in the same locality. But that evening when he addressed a press conference looking ever so contrite, he gave the impression that all this happened over his head. This from someone known as a hands-on chief minister…virtually half the city’s police force deployed against the Minhajul-Quran secretariat, the locality looking like a battlefield and resounding with the sound of gunfire for hours on end, and the chief minister in blissful ignorance.

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Why Pakistan May Not Win war against Taliban

Pakistan Is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why It May Not Win.

By MICHAEL KUGELMAN

After many rumors and false starts, and after years of requests from U.S. officials,Pakistan has finally launched a major military offensive in North Waziristan, ground zero for militancy in that country.

Extremist organizations use North Waziristan as a base for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to mount assaults on targets in Pakistan. The remnants of al-Qaeda central, including perhaps supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, have a presence there, as do Uzbek extremist groups, one of which claimed responsibility for the recent Karachi airport attack. Even Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who attempted to blow up Times Square in 2010,received training in North Waziristan. This tribal area is a magnet for militants local and foreign.

But while the airstrikes and ground efforts in North Waziristan have been needed, it’s not clear whether this effort can inflict a decisive blow against militancy in Pakistan. Here are four questions that underscore how conditions in Pakistan may be stacked against success:

1. Will there be a critical mass of militants left to fight?

The Pakistani government has been hinting at the likelihood of an operation since January. In the five months since then, Pakistani Taliban and other militants have had ample opportunity to escape to other tribal areas in Pakistan or even into Afghanistan.

2. Will international forces in Afghanistan be able to assist?

Pakistani officials have asked international forces in neighboring Afghanistan to help prevent militants from crossing the porous border into that country. But with the foreign presence in Afghanistan on track to diminish over the next few months, it’s not clear whether foreign troops will have the capacity to offer such assistance—and, if they do, they’ll need help from Afghan security forces, which have an uneasy relationship with the Pakistani security establishment.

3. Will this operation target militants across the board or only the Pakistani Taliban and its allies?

Pakistan has long distinguished between “good” and “bad” militants: It considers the Pakistani Taliban, which targets the Pakistani state, “bad”; the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which strike Afghanistan and U.S. and Indian interests in that country, are “good.” All of these groups are based in North Waziristan, but if Islamabad targets only the “bad” militants, the operation’s success will be limited.

4. Will this operation include associated efforts outside Waziristan?

Militancy in Pakistan is no longer restricted to tribal areas. Thousands of militants have set up shop in cities. In the absence of stepped-up law enforcement efforts and other civilian-led security missions in urban areas, a Waziristan-only operation cannot root out militancy on a national level.

And that bodes poorly for the ultimate prospects of this much-needed offensive.

Michael Kugelman is senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is on Twitter: @michaelkugelman.

Courtesy: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/

Pakistan’s Federal minister for Planning & Development, Ahsan Iqbal’s son Ahmed Iqbal’s remarks against Pak Army

“The responsibility of all terrorist attacks falls squarely on the armed forces & intelligence agencies. People of Pakistan have made enough sacrifices. It is time that that these institutions start doing their job of protecting Pakistan & not themselves. There would no war, no Taliban, no external threat if they would have done their job. It is high time to not only hit back at terrorists but to secure Pakistan’s future by dealing with this menace. Spend on education, health, development, people & …. the army!”  “Warna, yeh Taliban Ko Paalnay Waali, India Ko Ukssanay waali, Jamhoriat Ko Lapaytnay waali Fauj apnay bojh talay Is Mulk Ko Kuchal day gi.” ~ Ahmed Iqbal Chaudhary

Read more » http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=244363

More details »» Roznama Dunya

http://e.dunya.com.pk/colum.php?date=2014-06-16&edition=LHR&id=31946_74196307

Pakistan’s Latest Crisis

By 

In its increasingly violent effort to destroy the Pakistani state, the Pakistani Taliban have attacked, among other targets, army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, an air base in Kamra and an airport in Peshawar. The brazen assault over the weekend on the international airport in Karachi takes the campaign to a new level, striking at the country’s largest city and one of its most important commercial centers. Though militants and gangs operate freely there, Karachi is home to Pakistan’s central bank, a stock exchange and its hopes for desperately needed economic resurgence.

Will this be the crisis that finally persuades Pakistan’s government and its powerful military to acknowledge the Taliban’s pernicious threat and confront it in a comprehensive way? It should be. The attack is proof that the security is crumbling and the military, the country’s strongest institution, is in danger of losing control.

The siege lasted five hours after 10 gunmen, disguised as security forces and armed with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests, breached checkpoints near an old terminal used mostly for cargo or private flights for senior government officials and business leaders. Paramilitary security guards pinned them down; when the firefight was over, the militants and 19 others were dead.

It was another humiliating security breach for the army and the spy service, and many Pakistanis are rightly wondering why it was not prevented. Only weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban appeared to be fractured and in disarray. One reason is the military’s long fixation with India. Wedded to an outmoded vision of India as the mortal enemy, the army plays a double-game, taking American aid while supporting and exploiting Taliban groups as a hedge against India and Afghanistan, and ignoring the peril that the militants have come to pose to Pakistan itself. While that attitude has slowly begun to change, the army still has not assigned enough urgency to the Taliban, the real threat.

The result has been a total absence of any sustained, coherent military response to the militants. Torn between fighting and negotiating, the army and government have undertaken episodic military strikes interspersed with peace talks, which invariably fall apart. The collapse of the most recent peace process undertaken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in February was followed by a campaign of airstrikes against Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the airport massacre, which a Taliban spokesman said was in retaliation for recent attacks by the government. He said that more such assaults could be expected, meanwhile insisting that the group still wants to revive peace talks.

Which on the face of it seems preposterous — given recent events, one has to assume the militants will stop at nothing until the state is utterly destabilized and they have taken control. Pakistani political and military leaders need to be honest about the militant threat that they and their people are facing, and that time to find a solution is fast running out.

Courtesy: The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/10/opinion/pakistans-latest-crisis.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

Pakistan and Terrorism; Rocket Science?

By Omar

Terrorists attacked Karachi Airport today. Fortunately the airport security force managed to keep them away from the passenger terminal and the army responded effectively and now claims to have killed all the terrorists with relatively limited damage to the airport.

This is not the first major terrorist attack in Pakistan and unfortunately it will not be the last.  Efforts to blame India for the attack have moved ahead remarkably quickly (both ARY news and Express News are highlighting that the weapons used by the attackers are of Indian manufacture).
Alhamdolillah, the script has not changed.

NOTHING it seems can ever change the script. Pakistan is always the innocent victims of conspiracies launched by RAW, MOSSAD and CIA. We are caught in someone else’s war. Yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill..
Who are we to challenge the geniuses who make policy in Pakistan, but is it possible that there could have been a different script? Let us try the following script (and dear Paknationalists, do take my word for it, its in YOUR interest to think about this version, it sounds harsh, but in the long run, it will help…a lot):

1. Pakistan was the base for an international operation directed against the Soviet/pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. For this operation we happily cooperated with the CIA, Saudi intelligence and others. We invited highly motivated mujahideen from all over the Muslim world to please come and join this effort. We provided them facilities, we provided them training and we provided them weapons. To improve the flow of Islamic fanatics, the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spared no expense, building international networks of the same and building a network of thousands of Islamic seminaries across the length and breadth of Pakistan. In 1989, the Russians left Afghanistan and in 1992 the pro-Russian regime there collapsed and “our boys” won…and proceeded to rape and pillage across the length and breadth of the country. America having accomplished its mission of bleeding Russia and “avenging Vietnam”, left the place, but Pakistan’s strategic planners were not done.

2. The vast jihadist infrastructure created for the Afghan war was reoriented to Kashmir and towards internal “Islamization” in Pakistan, and continued to expand. More terrorists were trained in the 1990s AFTER the CIA had left than were trained during the Afghan war. An alphabet soup of terrorist organization was created and operated openly throughout the 1990s. Some of them went beyond the call of duty and attacked Shias in “settled areas” (attacking Shias in tribal areas was never a high-priority crime) and also attacked some “brother Arab regimes” (e.g. the Egyptian embassy). Such rogue elements were targeted by security agencies to various extents, but NO attempt was made to slow down (much less reverse) the larger Jihadi effort.

3. By chance or planning or both, a pro-Pakistan regime under the Taliban was established in most of Afghanistan and became a refuge for various groups of Islamic terrorists. Some of them were approved of, some were left alone, some were considered hostile by us. Details remains murky and confused.

4. In 2001 America was attacked in New York and Washington DC. The mainstream opinion is that this attack was launched by Islamist terrorists whose group was headquartered in Afghanistan. The US decided to invade Afghanistan to clear them out. Whatever other motivations the US may have had (let us assume there were some), it does seem that the US became more or less anti-Jihadist (at least in the Afpak region) at that point. Pakistan publicly announced it was switching sides and would henceforth support the US operation in Afghanistan and would no longer allow Jihadists to operate freely from Pakistan.

4. If various people who write about Pakistani security agencies are to be believed, we did not actually switch sides. In fact our president (Musharraf) even made a speech to the nation in which he gave the example of “sulah e Hudaybia” (a pact the prophet of Islam made with his enemies in Mecca, but which was followed a few years later by the complete defeat of the Meccan pagans; the link was EXPLICITLY made that we are making a similar deal with America; our aims remain unchanged, but we will adjust course temporarily). Instead of truly switching sides, our “strategic geniuses” decided to keep Afghanistan “simmering but not boiling” (to quote the most recent “authoritative” article by Waj Khan). We continued to support “good Taliban” in order to make sure the new regime did not stabilize in Afghanistan. We continued to maintain Kashmiri terrorist organizations in some sort of cold storage (these are not controversial claims. Bona fide patriotic strategic thinkers have said all this and more at various points). We cleared some areas of some terrorists but not all areas of all terrorists. We continue to try and separate good jihadis from bad jihadis etc etc.

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Book Review : An ideological army, jihad and greed

Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, Author: C Christine Fair, Publisher: Oxford University, Hardcover: 368 pages

Fair’s assessment of the Pakistan army is out: it is an ideological war machine that is not amenable to any inducements or assuaging of its security concerns. Professor C Christine Fair, a security studies expert at Georgetown University, has produced a formidably comprehensive evaluation of what keeps the Pakistan army ticking, to what end and through what means. The book, divided into 11 chapters, is a painstaking endeavour to understand the strategic or corporate culture of the army, its motivation, motives and moves and what factors within or from outside Pakistan could have any bearing on it. Professor Fair’s compendium ravages the notion that Pakistan is a security-seeking state located in a rough neighbourhood and if the international powers, especially the USA, could guarantee or facilitate its wellbeing by leaning on India and to an extent on Afghanistan, the country could be weaned off its toxic jihadist habit. The work looks at the Pakistan army through the lens of its own publications including journals and the Green Books to posit that Islam, the Two Nation Theory (TNT), the 1947 Partition, jihad and a fetish for asymmetric warfare via proxies was virtually baked into the entity carved out of the British Indian Army.

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BLASPHEMY: THE NEW FACE OF RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

Written by  Fatima Tassadiq

If the 1980s is notorious in Pakistan’s history for its so called Islamization, the current decade will probably be remembered as the era of ‘blasphemization’ of Pakistan. Over forty years ago Zia ul Haq deployed Islam to legitimize his illegal coup against a democratic government and proceeded to raise a generation of militants in CIA run training camps funded by Saudi money. This period not only witnessed the increasing institutionalization of religion but also the rise of Sunni militancy – the leaders and founding members of notorious organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba were a product of the Afghan Jihad.
In spite of their high profile violence, it was many years before either of these organizations was banned as ‘terrorist’ outfits. It was also not until suicide attacks became a common place occurrence in Pakistan that public opinion finally recognized  Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a menace rather than ‘mujahideen’ fighting for the cause of Islam. Today we have managed to take Zia’s tactics to a whole new level through the expansive and mind bogglingly creative deployment of the notion of blasphemy. From imprisoning children, killing governors, ministers, human rights lawyers, filling a case against no less than 67 lawyers and then accusing a TV channel of blasphemy in a grand finale we have pretty much done it all in the last few years. Blasphemy is no doubt the new face of terrorism in the name of Islam. The only difference is that we have yet to recognize it as such.

Pakistan: Lahore Orange Line Metro train

Lahore Orange Line Metro train project signed with Chinese company

By Usman Khan

SHANGHAI: Chief Minister Punjab Mia Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday have signed Lahore Metro train project with Chinese company.

Shahbaz Sharif signed the contract with the Chairman of the Chinese National Development Reforms Commission in Shanghai.

Read more » The News Tribe

http://www.thenewstribe.com/2014/05/22/lahore-orange-line-metro-train-project-signed-with-chinese-company/

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

By 

LAHORE, Pakistan — “I used to feel my life was too straight, too linear.”

The speaker was Junaid Hafeez, a young poet and Fulbright scholar from the south of Pakistan, telling a radio show host in 2011 why he had given up studying medicine for a life in literature. Today, he is in jail on a blasphemy charge that carries the death penalty, and is mourning the lawyer who was murdered earlier this month for defending him.

Before his arrest, Hafeez was teaching in the English Department at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, a city in Punjab Province close to where he grew up. His personal charisma and liberal views had won him a following among students, as well as the envious attention of faculty members.

One day in 2013, a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of the hard-line Jamaat-i-Islami party, accused Hafeez of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The student had no evidence, but no evidence was needed.

Hard-line students soon held a protest crying out for Hafeez’s execution. University administrators backed away. The police registered a case for blasphemy against Hafeez. They did not ask cybercrime specialists to investigate the accusation, relying instead on a fatwa issued by a seminary.

For months Hafeez’s father tried to find a lawyer. Finally he petitioned Rashid Rehman, the 53-year-old special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. A legal expert with 20 years of activism, Rehman was known as a go-to lawyer for hopeless causes. Despite the danger, he agreed to take Hafeez’s case. Defending a man accused of blasphemy, Rehman told a reporter in April, was like “walking into the jaws of death.”

Those jaws have been open wide since the 1980s, when the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq updated a set of colonial laws that criminalized “insulting the religion of any class of persons.” The original laws were devised in the late 19th century by a paternalistic British government trying to keep its multifaith subjects from fighting one another. Those laws were worded generally, and prescribed fines and, at most, two-year prison terms.

General Zia’s amendments particularized the insults and tailored the provisions to favor a stringent Sunni strain of Islam. They criminalized the desecration of the Quran, any defiling of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, and disrespectful remarks about his companions — a jab at Pakistan’s Shiite minorities, who dispute the outcome of the succession struggle that followed the Prophet’s death. Moreover, any attempt by members of the outlawed Ahmadi sect to refer to themselves as Muslims was criminalized. Punishments were upgraded: Blasphemers could be executed or jailed for life.

General Zia died in an air crash in 1988, but his legacy remains. It includes the empowerment of theological figures in every stratum of life — from clerics and televangelists to fanatical academics and Shariah judges — all aided in their righteous endeavors by a legislature that remains intractably Zia-ist.

The blasphemy laws are part of this package. For decades they had been rarely used, with only a handful of cases before the mid-1980s. But General Zia’s amendments opened the floodgates: More than a thousand cases have been reported since then, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Just last week the Punjabi police, prompted by a Sunni extremist, brought blasphemy charges against 68 lawyers.

The blasphemy laws can serve just about anyone with a dark design — an angry relative, an envious colleague, a neighbor with his eye on your property. But the greatest beneficiary has been the professional Islamists, who specialize in their application to encroach on both state and society.

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Pakistani analyst threatens to wipe out Delhi with nukes if India dares to attack Pakistan. Heated TV exchange.

MOLA JATT NOORI NATH AND MOMBO JUMBO DEBATE BETWEEN THE ANALYSTS OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN

Former President of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the member of Indian Lok Sabha, Mr. Nitin Gadkari Marathi नितीन गडकरी; warned Pakistan that if Pakistan do not stop exporting terror into India, the new government will send a fitting reply to Islamabad. In a heated debate with a Pakistani analyst through the HLT studios, Nitin Gadkari issued dire warnings, that probably has made the Pak government at least discomfited. In the reply Pakistani analyst Mr. Tariq Pirzada threatens to wipe out India’s Capital Delhi with nukes if India dares to attack Pakistan in a heated TV exchange.

Courtesy: YouTube

Pakistan: Rights advocate Rashid Rehman Khan gunned down in Multan

By AFP & Dawn.com

MULTAN: Human Rights Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, DawnNews reported late on Wednesday night.

Initial reports suggest that Khan was targeted by two gunmen inside his office at Kachehri Chowk.

Sources told Dawn.com that two clean-shaven young men barged into Advocate Khan’s office and shot him dead. They also injured his two lawyer friends, identified as Nadeem Parwaz and Afzal.

Injured were taken to Nishtar Medical Center where Parwaz is said to be in a critical condition.

“Armed gunmen stormed the chamber of Rashid Rehman and started indiscriminate firing on Wednesday evening, injuring Rehman and two of his associates present there,” senior police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The senior lawyer was defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life.

The HRCP had voiced serious concern over the threats extended to Khan.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1104788/rights-advocate-rashid-rehman-khan-gunned-down-in-multan

Military blocking Pakistan-India trade deal, says Shahbaz Sharif

Security 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