RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, on Saturday denounced attacks on diplomats and embassies as un-Islamic after deadly protests against a U.S.-made film mocking Islam’s founder.
Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh also called on governments and international bodies to criminalise insults against prophets and excoriated the film that has prompted a wave of fury across the Middle East.
“It is forbidden to punish the innocent for the wicked crimes of the guilty, or to attack those who have been granted protection of their lives and property, or to expose public buildings to fire or destruction,” he said in a speech carried by state news agency SPA.
If Pakistan does not release Dr Shakil Afridi, Senator Rand Paul will hold up the US Senate to deny Islamabad all aid.
Paul may hold up Senate over Pakistan
By MANU RAJU and TOMER OVADIA
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul is threatening to bottle up the Senate if he doesn’t get a vote on his plan to dramatically cut foreign aid to Pakistan.
In an extraordinary step, the Republican freshman is warning that he may file a motion to shut down debate and push a vote on his proposal, a right typically granted strictly to the Senate majority leader. But Paul is angry that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to give him an up-or-down vote on the proposal, and now appears poised to use arcane Senate procedures to force a vote even if it ties up the Senate for days.
Paul’s bill would halt billions of dollars in foreign aid that the United States provides Pakistan until the country frees a doctor jailed for providing Americans information that helped lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. And it could put some of his colleagues in a tricky diplomatic spot, as they rail against government spending but also fear provoking tensions with a country whose relations with the United States have frayed.
“I have worked consistently to bring awareness to Dr. [Shakil] Afridi’s plight, and I have offered legislation to deny any current or future foreign assistance to the Pakistani government until they reverse course and free Dr. Afridi,” Paul wrote in the letter. “In pursuing a resolution to this situation, I have gained the necessary number of signatures on a cloture petition to force a vote on my legislation on the Senate floor. If Dr. Afridi is not released upon appeal, I will seek such a floor vote at the earliest opportunity.”
Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in the territorial waters of Balochistan near the port city of Gwadar
Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in Pak territorial waters
By Shafqat Ali
US moves its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, into Pakistani territorial waters near Gwadar, media reports said.
“The US has moved its biggest aircraft carrier 65 to 70 nautical miles away from Gwadar in the second week of June”, a Pakistani television channel reported.
The USS Enterprise, which holds a crew of over 4,000, had taken part in several wars.
The move comes as relations between Pakistan and the US have touched new lows. Pakistan has refused to reopen Nato supply through infuriating the US.
The Pak-US relations have never recovered to normal since the killing of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year. The killing of 26 Pakistani soldiers by the Nato forces in November further dented the ties.
“After the deployment of the aircraft in Pakistani sea the country’s security agencies are now investigating into the matter. The movement apparently shows the increasing interest of the US in Balochistan province of Pakistan”, another channel reported.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon plans to soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.
The move to introduce new small drones seeks to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, the report said.
Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups, the newspaper said.
The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smouldering rubble.
The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.
“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible”, said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.
The Obama administration, notably the CIA, has long been lambasted by critics for its use of combat drones and carelessly killing civilians in targeted strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.
In Islamabad, on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Muazzam Khan said that efforts were underway to mend the strained relationship between Pakistan and the US.
Speaking to reporters at a weekly news briefing, Mr Khan said that the decision to restore the Nato supply route would be made by the political leadership.
The FO spokesman dispelled the impression that Pakistan was raising the tariff on the supply route adding that there were several other issues involved.
“Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used as terrorist safe havens”, he added.
Courtesy: Decan Chronicle
The United States is contemplating a total reversal of its highly ineffective Pakistan policy. This was stated by Prof Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service while delivering a talk on “The situation in the Af-Pak region” at Observer Research Foundation on June 4, 2012.
Frankly expressing her views from both Pakistani as well as American perspectives, Prof. Fair said that the US does not have a long-term policy for Pakistan, and the present practice of granting aid with the aim of fighting the roots of terrorism has not yielded any results. Consequently, despite fighting the Taliban, the US has inadvertently supported them while alienating the civilian population.
Prof. Fair said that the Pakistan’s decision to close ground supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan backfired as the NATO forces soon developed alternative air routes. This, in turn, led many Western leaders to recognise the futility of engaging Pakistan in the war on terror. She also pointed out that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan further convinced policy makers in Washington of its duplicity.
Asked about the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s perceived lack of understanding about the situation in the West Asia and the Af-Pak region, Prof Fair said that presidential candidates learn very quickly once they take office. As an example, she pointed out Barack Obama’s similar naïveté four years ago and how he learnt and adapted his foreign policy within months into his presidency.
Prof. Fair said that President Obama is disappointed with Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance, and that the US administration is contemplating containment to force it to abide to its obligations.
According to Prof. Fair, the futility of attempts to alter the pro-jihadist worldview of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite make a serious case of containment, which would hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorist attack with its ’signature’ on it.
Prof. Fair challenged the conventional wisdom that civilian governments in Islamabad are more responsible. She argued that past history suggests a linearity of foreign policy making between military and democratic regimes. This is compounded by a drastic transformation of the popular mindset towards fundamentalism and hatred against India.
Considering how very incensed the Deep State gets the more you hold a mirror to it; and being conscious of the sudden torrent of vile abuse and, worse, dastardly and outlandish allegations presently being heaped upon yours truly, I wanted to write about dog shows and fat Labradors this week. However, this is the Land of the Pure, where ever newer horrors are visited upon us every single minute of every single day, some couched in words. All of them, you can be sure, spoken from on high: as if the sermonisers were standing on some particularly elevated moral ground, with us mortals crawling somewhere down there.
To come straight to the point, the following words in Lt.-Gen. Asad Durrani’s article “The second oldest profession” in this newspaper of May 29 sent a very, very cold chill down my spine. Said the general: “I do not know if Afridi should have been tried by a jirga or in a court of law, under tribal decree or under the country’s penal code, but I do know that for him, it is not yet all over.” And as if that was not disturbing enough: “I think Dr Afridi will get another chance to administer a polio vaccine; the next time in the Promised Land.” I ask you.
Who does not know that Dr Shakil Afridi, the man who helped our ally in the War on Terror find Osama bin Laden a few hundred metres from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad Cantonment, is a ‘Dead Man Walking’? He is in Peshawar Jail, which is as vulnerable to attack by the mighty Taliban as Bannu Jail where they first bribed their way in; then garlanded and honoured General Musharraf’s convicted attacker, Adnan Rasheed (who was sentenced to death) with a dastarbandi (adorning him with a turban), and then made video recordings of their great feat, rehearsed firing and all. We have to note that not a single person was even injured in that Great Escape in which nearly 400 prisoners, some of them dangerous terrorists, escaped. So, where’s the problem in ‘rubbing out’ Shakil Afridi in Peshawar Jail?
However, for a former head of the ISI to say almost gleefully what he said, Durrani certainly deserves mention. Specially, and I say this as someone who lauded his stand on the Mehrangate scandal: admitting that as a Pakistan army general he should not have done what he did, being such a senior person. Indeed, what he said about Afridi is way out of court.
And now to the jailbreak. There is not a squeak out of the leaders and the spokesmen of the Ghairat Brigades about that catastrophe. Remember that we know that Adnan Rasheed worked for Amjad Farooqi, who in turn worked for Abu Faraj al Libi and is also known to have been a member of these extremist organisations at various times: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan; Harkatul Ansar; Harkatul Mujahideen; Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami in which he is said to have been this group’s pointman with al Qaeda’s International Islamic Front. Quite a beauty, what? Yet, not a word about the jailbreak and its links with al Qaeda, especially when one of the prisoners who escaped was accused of plotting to kill the then chief of army staff himself!
WASHINGTON, May 25: Pakistan stands isolated in the US capital as the Obama administration joins lawmakers in condemning the conviction of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA trace Osama bin Laden.
America’s two top foreign policy makers — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator John Kerry — also are denouncing a tribal court’s decision to jail Dr Shakil Afridi for 33 years. Both are considered “Pakistan friendly” in a country where anti-Pakistan feelings run high.
Secretary Clinton called the judgment “unjust and unwarranted” and Senator Kerry said even though he believed in “the importance of the US-Pakistan strategic relationship, realities like these make that effort more difficult”.
Senator Kerry played a key role in the passage of a $7.5 billion, five-year aid package for Pakistan in 2009.
On Thursday, a Senate panel deducted $33 million from a proposed assistance to Pakistan – $1 million for each year Dr Afridi will spend in jail. …
Read more » DAWN.COM
Since Osama bin Laden met his demise in the garrison town of Abbottabad last May, Pakistani officials say they haven’t found anyone who helped him hide out for most of a decade in their backyard. But our supposed allies have spared no effort to hunt down the people who helped the U.S. find the al Qaeda mastermind.
Soon after the successful American raid, the Pakistani army picked up locals suspected of supplying fuel to SEAL Team Six’s helicopters and firing flares to …
Read more » WALL STREET JOURNAL
By Josh Rogin
In a rare moment of bipartisan unity in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans joined together to admonish Pakistan for its treatment of the doctor who helped the United States find Osama bin Laden.
At a Senate Appropriations Committee markup this morning, senior senators from both sides of the aisle took turns accusing Pakistan of supporting terrorism, undermining the war in Afghanistan, extorting the U.S. taxpayer, and punishing Shakil Afridi, the doctor who worked with the CIA to find Bin Laden and was sentenced this week to 33 years in jail for treason. One senior senator predicted the Pakistani government was about to fall.
By: Jonathan Kay
Here in the West, the killing of Osama Bin Laden was considered a triumph. In Pakistan, where the al-Qaeda leader lived out his final years, attitudes are very different: On Wednesday, a Pakistani court brought down a guilty verdict against the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA locate bin Laden in May, 2011. Having been convicted of treason, Shakil Afridi now faces a 33-year prison sentence.
Each story like this brings fresh evidence that Pakistan, a nominal Western ally in the war on terrorism, actually is doing more to enable the jihadis than fight them. We don’t yet have definitive evidence to suggest that the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment was actively housing and protecting bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. But that certainly would have been in keeping with long-standing Pakistani policies.
And those policies won’t change any time soon: With the Americans, Canadians and others having announced their exit date in Afghanistan, Pakistan has less incentive to co-operate in the war on terrorism than at any time since 9/11. In coming years, the better way to deal with Pakistan will be to acknowledge the reality that the country is nothing less than a full-blown state sponsor of terrorism.
Comment by: Manzoor Chandio, Karachi, Sindh
Should Pakistan be a responsible state having friendship with all the countries in the world for the sake of its poor people or it should be a terror hotbed, training camp for separatists from across the Muslim world, safe haven for Taliban and launching pad for Al Qaeda militants …? …if we don’t talk about the USA, Europe & Nato… all four neighbours are not happy with the country…. China says East Turkistan’s religious separatists are getting training in Pakistan… Iran says Jundullah is a Pakistan-based organisation … Afghanistan says it’s attacked from Pakistan … India has thousands of complaints … Pakistan’s Constitution doesn’t allow many armies and militias in the country… there should be one official army… then why so many armies and militias have been allowed to run in the country…? those who have done this to Pakistan are the biggest enemies of this country… harbouring of these armed groups has slowed the democratic process & created many problems for Pakistan…it has tore down the Whole socio-economic fabric of the country… why Jihad & Uma’s all works are not being done in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich centre of Islam…? Yeh theeka aik ghareeb mulk Pakistan nay kiyoon uthaya hay...?
Courtesy: Manzoor Chandio’s facebook wall.
ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.
Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda - in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)
In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”
That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.
Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.
Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.
In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.
Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.
But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.
The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.
Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.
Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.
This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.
Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.
House panel cuts foreign aid, UN and military aid to Pakistan
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A House panel on Wednesday moved to cut the foreign aid budget by some 9 percent, targeting economic aid and contributions to the United Nations and the World Bank.
Despite the cuts, the legislation won bipartisan backing from the Appropriations foreign aid panel, though it’s sure to draw a White House veto threat because it’s in line with a broader GOP spending plan that breaks faith with last summer’s budget and debt pact with President Barack Obama.
The panel maintains aid to Israel and Egypt at the administration’s requests but denies $800 million that was requested for a special fund for training and equipping Pakistan’s military in counterinsurgency tactics. The move appears to reflect wariness on the part of lawmakers toward the government of Pakistan, which failed to find Osama bin Laden for years until the U.S. military killed him a year ago.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., accused Pakistan of “harboring a fugitive” and likened the U.S.-Pakistan relationship to a “bad marriage.”
Given the animosity toward Pakistan, the $800 million request for counterinsurgency efforts was an easy target, though the measure would permit transfers from other accounts to make up for some or all of the shortfall. …
Read more » The Washington Post
Via – Wichaar.com
Illegal stay: 45-day imprisonment, Rs50,000 fine for Bin Laden’s family
By Web Desk / AFP / Obaid Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: A senior civil judge indicted former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s family on Monday for having resided illegally in Pakistan.
Senior Civil Judge Shahrukh Arjumand handed down 45-day imprisonment along with a fine of Rs10,000 each, to Bin Laden’s three widows and two daughters, after the investigative unit of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) informed that the family had been residing illegally in the country.
During the proceeding of the case which took place in a private house declared a sub-jail located in Sector G-6/4, Justice Arjumand handed the sentence to Bin Laden’s three widows, Amal Ahmad Abdul Fatheh, Silham Sharif, and Kharia Hussain Sabir, and two daughters, 17-year-old Maryam and 21-year-old Sumiya, said family’s lawyer Muhammad Aamir while talking to The Express Tribune.
Amal was also charged under section 419 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for cheating and not providing her real identity, said Khalid Naeem assistant director (legal) FIA who appeared on the behalf of agency. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
Via – Twitter
By Associated Press
HARIPUR, Pakistan — It’s an ornate but not lavish two-story house tucked away at the end of a mud clogged street. This is where Pakistan’s intelligence agency believes Osama bin Laden lived for nearly a year until he moved into the villa in which he was eventually killed.
The residence in the frontier town of Haripur was one of five safe houses used by the slain al-Qaida leader while on the run in Pakistan according to information revealed by his youngest wife, who has been detained.
Retired Pakistani Brig. Shaukat Qadir, who has spent the last eight months tracking bin Laden’s movements, told The Associated Press that he was taken to the Haripur house last November by intelligence agents who located it from a description they got from Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada.
Al-Sada, a 30-year-old Yemeni, has been in Pakistani custody since May 2 when U.S. Navy SEALs overran the Abbottabad compound, killing bin Laden and four other people inside. Since then, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as the ISI, has been trying to uncover the trail that brought him to Abbottabad villa in the summer of 2005. …
Read more » The Washington Post
By Carl Prine
Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, the Director General for Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), is expected to retire from active duty on March 18th after serving five years as the chief of country’s most powerful intelligence agency.
The big question remains: What’s Pasha’s legacy?
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan has no justification for holding Dr Shakil Afridi, who had a role in the CIA operation to hunt down Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad.
This she said while addressing US Congress Committee. Hillary Clinton said Dr Shakil Afridi provided key information to US before the Abbotabad operation, adding that he served for the interest of both Pakistan and the US.
Clinton said Pakistan has no basis for detaining Dr Shakil.
Courtesy: The News
Hamid Gul a complimentary member of Stratfor, says report
KARACHI: Former spy chief of Pakistan General Hamid Gul was reportedly a member of the US intelligence firm Stratfor, it emerged on Wednesday.
A report published in the Indian daily Times of India says that approximately five million emails of the Texas-based think tank were revealed by WikiLeaks.
“Whereas seemingly large numbers of Stratfor’s subscribers and clients work in the US military and intelligence agencies, Stratfor gave complimentary membership to General Hamid Gul, the controversial former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who, according to US diplomatic cables, planned an IED attack on international forces in Afghanistan in 2006,” the report said. ….
Read more » DAWN.COM
National Defence Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 7, 2012. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)
By Peter Worthington
Whatever one thinks of Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s penchant for taking military helicopters on fishing trips, the country should support him chiding elements in Pakistan for helping the Taliban.
While there’s nothing new in NATO leaks that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service and military are helping co-ordinate Taliban attacks on coalition forces, the fact these reports keep surfacing has to be upsetting.
Pakistani denials ring hollow — nearly 10 years of denials.
Good on MacKay for not brushing the NATO leaks aside. He said if such reports are reliable, and if Pakistan wants western allies to continue working for “peace and security” throughout the region, then Pakistan’s co-operation is not only required, but is demanded. And “demand” is what MacKay is doing. But is anyone listening?
That’s fairly tough talk. Ever since Navy SEALs took out Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani retreat, there’s been substantial evidence Pakistan is playing a double game.
There are even suggestions China hopes to exploit a rift between western allies and Pakistan — a possibility that makes traditional diplomats shudder. But, if true, Pakistan and China cuddling each other seems destined to be an enormous headache for both these hypersensitive, paranoid, nuclear states.
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has made the curious observation that after next year, U.S. policy in Afghanistan will be one of “advise and assist,” rather than actually fighting. What on earth does that mean? One supposes it means that by 2014, Panetta hopes the Afghan National Army and National Police being trained by coalition troops, including Canadians, will be able to handle Taliban incursions.
Don’t bet on it.
By having a safe haven in Pakistan, and a seemingly endless supply of fighters, the future has got to look encouraging for the Taliban. They can lose battles indefinitely against American forces — and win the war once the Americans have had a bellyful.
Time is on the Taliban’s side. And patience is their virtue.
There’s not much that can be done. Clearly, coalition countries don’t intend to stay in Afghanistan, and the U.S. especially wants out with an election looming in November.
When Barack Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, was president and flailing away in Iraq, Obama made Afghanistan (relatively quiet at the time) the war he’d prosecute. Well, Afghanistan has turned bad for Obama. So he wants out, and has fired those generals who thought they could win the damn thing.
MacKay says he doesn’t give much credence to the so-called secret NATO report that says the Taliban are gaining confidence and are sure they’ll win in the end.
He thinks that’s what the Taliban would say no matter what — “an overly optimistic view of what’s happening on the ground … in battlefield skirmishes they always lose.” But the Taliban leadership is not in disarray — although coalition leadership may be approaching that state.
If the U.S. were realistic, it would consider cutting aid to Pakistan — $12 billion in military aid, $7 billion in economic aid over the last 10 years.
That may be the only way to get the attention of those who rule Pakistan.
Like hitting a mule on the head with a two-by-four.
The problem is not the Taliban, but the Pakistan leadership which seems hell-bent on wrecking relations with western allies, and gambling we are too timid to do anything about it.
Courtesy: Toronto sun
We lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.
by Anwar Iqbal
We don’t know how it happened but it did. Somehow our generation became a faceless generation. But before that we lost our faith. Or perhaps, we lost our identity first and then we lost our faith. Does it matter now what we lost first? We know we have lost both.
Like other people we too had names; names that showed we had parents who cared for us. Our names reflected our bound to a family, a community and above all to humanity. But first we adopted new idols, those that sipped blood and spat fire and brimstone.
Those were fearsome deities that loved suicide-bombings, beheadings, and firing-squads.
And all of this was not done in the name of religion alone. We had many idols, each named after a sect, an ethnic group, or a political cult. They had one common trait, an insatiable lust for power.
Soon after we adopted those new idols, we lost our identity, or we may have lost our identity first and then we took these new symbols of worship, abandoning the loving, merciful and benevolent God.
Yes, we still lived in cities, towns and villages. But living was our only distinction. We had nothing to be proud of. There was no bond, no love among us. We did not trust each other. But did it only happen to those living in our city? No. People in cities around us stopped trusting each other too. It was a strange disease that spread across the region and affected everybody.
Editor’s note: In the following rare op-ed, in fact first by any Pakistani columnist on the Kurram massacre (17 Feb 2012), Dr. Mohammad Taqi highlights that the catastrophe in Kurram Bazaar of Parachinar did not end just with the bombing by a Haqqani Taliban footsoldier. The paramilitary forces (FC) deployed there then attempted to crush the protestors agitating against the militant-military connivance with live ammunition, killing at least 6 more Shias. Dr. Taqi’s column is also a polite reminder to human rights organizations, politicians and journalists (columnists, anchors etc) who remain disturbingly silent on the ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
Read more » LUBP
ISLAMABAD: The judicial commission probing the Memogate scandal continued recording US businessman Mansoor Ijaz’s testimony today at Pakistan’s High Commission in London, DawnNews reported on Thursday.
During his testimony today, Ijaz admitted that he had prepared the first draft of the controversial memo himself without former ambassador to US Husain Haqqani’s consent.
Former US General James Jones had asked for the message to be in written form, said Ijaz, adding that he had to author the first draft himself after he was unable to get hold of Haqqani.
Ijaz, who is testifying to the commission by video link, claimed he agreed on secret codes for the army and intelligence chiefs with Haqqani.
Ijaz told judges that the former wrote him a message on his Blackberry referring to the Pakistani government as “friend”, and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha as “bad boys”.
He also claimed that Ispahani, which is Haqqani’s wife’s second name, was their code word for the Americans.
Asked by the commission, what he meant by “bad boys”, Ijaz replied: “they are army chief and DG (director general) ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence service).” ….
Read more » DAWN.COM
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca) on Balochistan and Dr. Shakeel Afridi with VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem -
The U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca), who introduced a resolution on Balochistan along with two bills honoring the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA catch Bin Laden, sat down with the Voice of America’s Ayesha Tanzeem to discuss some of these issues.
According to the resolution, the Baloch people have the right to self-determination. Pakistan has reacted strongly to this resolution calling it a violation of international laws and interference in its internal affairs.
The U.S. State Department has tried to distance itself from Congressman Rohrabacher’s opinions and efforts and has insisted that it does not reflect official US policy. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland insists that the US does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan.
The two bills introduced on the 17th of Feb, 2012 call for giving US citizenship to Dr. Shakeel Afridi as well as honoring him with the highest civilian honor, a Congressional Gold Medal. Dr. Afridi is under arrest in Pakistan after secretly helping the CIA to collect DNA evidence of Bin Laden’s presence in the compound. The Abbottabad commission has recommended that he be tried for treason for helping a foreign government’s secret agency.
Courtesy: Voice of America
Pakistan : Gathering of Jihadis linked to al-Qaeda in Islamabad demands holy war against US – chanting “death to America”
Gathering demands holy war against US
Islamabad – Pakistanis poured onto Islamabad’s streets on Monday, chanting “death to America” and demanding holy war at a rally whipped up by right-wing, religious and banned organisations linked to al-Qaeda.
It was the latest show of support for Defence of Pakistan, a coalition of around 40 parties chaired by a cleric dubbed the father of the Taliban that include organisations blacklisted at home and abroad as terror groups. ….
…. “Today, we have gathered here to raise a voice of protest against US intervention in Pakistan,” chairperson Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who runs an extremist madrassa that educated several Taliban leaders, said.
Also present was member Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s US and Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
His membership has helped fuel suspicions that Pakistan’s security establishment is backing the coalition as a means of exerting pressure on the weak government and whipping up rhetoric against the unpopular US alliance. ….
….. “Death to America” and “America deserves one treatment: Jihad, jihad” shouted the crowd in a bustling commercial area, an AFP reporter said. ….
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The genocide in Balochistan committed by the Pakistani Army is finally coming to light. Independence is a matter of time!
WASHINGTON: A resolution moved by a group of US Congressmen calling for right to self-determination for the Baloch people has driven Pakistan to hysteria, with its leaders from the Prime Minister down questioning Washington’s commitment to the country’s sovereignty.
The anchor (Wajahat Khan) who interviewed Hamed Gul facing death threats after exposing Hamid Gul’s lies about Malik Ishaq
Pakistan’s right-wing is questioned, and questioned hard, as former ISI Chief Lt. Gen (retd) Hameed Gul faces off against Wajahat S. Khan on the role of the controversial Difa-e-Pakistan Council. 32 minutes of a no-holds-barred debate on Aaj TV’s Ikhtilaf. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).
By Najam Sethi
The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.
On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.
On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.
Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.
(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.
(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.
The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.
The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.
The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.
Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.
The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.
Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.
If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.
The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).
The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.
More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.
By Huma Imtiaz / Web Desk
WASHINGTON: The US State Department has raised concerns about Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s public appearances, including at the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rally held in Karachi earlier this week.
The State Department issued a brief press release on Thursday, In response to a question submitted earlier in the week, which said that, “Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front group Jamaatud Dawa, is internationally sanctioned because of its associations with al Qaeda. We have and continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to uphold its obligations in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1267/1989.”
The release further stated that the UN resolution “calls for all countries to freeze assets of sanctioned groups, prevent the transfer of arms to them, and prevent sanctioned individuals from entering or transiting their territories.”
JuD has been functioning in the country as a religious and charity organisation. Post Mumbai attacks in 2008, the organisation was declared a terrorist organisation by the West, UN and India. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, an ex–security chief for Pakistan, accuses former president Pervez Musharraf of knowing where bin Laden was hiding and saying nothing.
By Bruce Riedel
Ever since the Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, less than a mile from the country’s national military academy, the question haunting American relations with Pakistan has been: who knew he was there? How did the most-wanted man in human history find a hideout in one of Pakistan’s most exclusive military cantonment cities and live there for five years without the Pakistani spy service finding him? Or did it know all along?
Now there is an explosive new charge. The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) says former president Pervez Musharraf knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, was head of the ISI from 1997 to 1999. A four-star general, he fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. He was the first head of the Army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made him director-general of the ISI in 1997 and promoted him to chief of Army staff on Oct. 12, 1999, when he fired Musharraf from the job. Musharraf refused to go and launched a coup that overthrew Sharif. Ziauddin spent the next two years in solitary confinement, was discharged from the Army, and had his property confiscated and his retirement benefits curtailed. So he has a motive to speak harshly about Musharraf.
Bearing that in mind, here is what the former spy chief claims. Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.
Ijaz Shah is a colorful character. He has been closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Kashmiri terrorist who was imprisoned in India in 1994 for kidnapping three British citizens and an American. Saeed was freed when Pakistani terrorists hijacked an Indian airliner to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2000, a plot masterminded by bin Laden and assisted by the ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Saeed was part of the plot two years later to kidnap Daniel Pearl and turned himself in to Brigadier Shah. Musharraf nominated Shah to be ambassador to Australia, but Canberra said no thanks. So he got the intelligence-bureau job.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto accused Shah of being behind the attempt to murder her when she returned from exile in late 2007. She was, of course, killed in another attempt later that year. Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.
Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew all about it.
Without a doubt, Ziauddin has an ax to grind. But he is also well tied in to the Pakistani intelligence world. When he was DG/ISI, he set up a special commando team to find and capture bin Laden with U.S. help. Elite commandos from the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s SEALs, were put on the hunt. Musharraf disbanded the group after he took power. Ziauddin’s successor at the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmad, refused American requests to go after bin Laden right up to 9/11. Then Musharraf had to fire him because, even after 9/11, he did not want to do anything to bring bin Laden to justice.
We don’t know who was helping hide bin Laden, but we need to track them down. If Mush, as many call him in Pakistan, knew, he should be questioned by the authorities the next time he sets foot in America. The explosive story about him, which was first reported in the must-read Militant Leadership Monitor, is more than an academic issue. If we can find who hid bin Laden, we will probably know who is hiding his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of the al Qaeda gang.
Courtesy: The Daily Beast
“Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West” – They only ask others children to go to Heaven. Shame
Bin Laden told his children to live in peace in the West
He did not want them to follow jihad — report
London: Slain Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden urged his younger children to go live peacefully in the West and get a university education, his brother-in-law said in an interview published on Sunday.
Zakaria Al Sadah, the brother of Bin Laden’s Yemeni fifth wife Amal, told Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that the militant believed his children “should not follow him down the road to jihad”.
“He told his own children and grandchildren, ‘Go to Europe and America and get a good education,'” Al Sadah told the Sunday Times.
Al Sadah said Bin Laden told them: “You have to study, live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”
Bin Laden was killed in a commando raid in May 2011 by US Navy SEALs at a house in Abbottabad, northwest Pakistan.
Al Sadah said that in November he had seen his sister for the first time since she was shot in the knee during the raid and had since been allowed to have a number of meetings with her in the presence of guards.
He said the three wives and nine children who were in the compound — some are Bin Laden’s children and others are his grandchildren — have been held for months in a three-room flat in Islamabad. They are guarded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, he said.
The Sunday Times published what it said was the first photograph to show some of the young children from the compound: two sons and a daughter, and two grandsons and a granddaughter. The children were still traumatised after seeing the raid in which Bin Laden died, Al Sadah said.
“These children have seen their father killed and they need a caring environment, not a prison — whatever you think of their father and what he has done,” he said.
Courtesy: Gulf News
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