Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action
By Jon Boone in Mohenjodaro
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.
The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.
“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”
The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.
He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.
On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.
Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.
Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.
Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.
The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.
“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”
In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.
Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action
Pakistanis are still grappling with the tragedy of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that left at least 141 people, most of them children, dead and scores injured. There has been an outpouring of grief internationally, and the Pakistani public is visibly outraged. But the question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.
Even before this incident, Pakistan had one of the highest casualty rates at the hand of terrorists. About 19,700 civilians and 6,000 security force personnel have been reported killed in terrorism related violence in Pakistan since 2003. But the country refuses to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting or containing the 33-odd terrorist groups believed to be operating on Pakistani soil.
“The question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.”
The latest attack is the Taliban’s response to the Pakistan army’s military operation against the terrorist safe haven in North Waziristan, part of the tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Jihadis from all over the world had congregated in the tribal areas to fight as Mujahedeen against the Soviets during the 1980s. After the Soviets left, Pakistan used the militants for its own objectives of expanding Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, leading to the rise of the Taliban.
Read more » Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/husain-haqqani/pakistan-school-attack-jihadis_b_6337112.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
New images from the school show the brutality of the attack, with pools of blood on the ground and walls covered in pockmarks from hundreds of bullets.
Mass funerals and prayer vigils for the victims are currently under way.
Gunmen had walked from class to class shooting students in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack to date.
Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30507836?OCID=twitterasia
There is no sight uglier than a child’s corpse. I can say this because I have seen one dying before my eyes.
When a child dies, no words can console the grieving hearts of parents. And a cowardly terror attack on a school just snatched over a hundred children from the warm embrace of their parents in Peshawar.
Just try understanding the magnitude, the size of this all. More than a hundred families will now have their child-shaped holes in their lives forever. Parents all over the country will think twice before sending their children to schools again.
The children that survived the ghastly attack will never be the same again; their innocence, their childhood gone. It takes years for trauma victims to recover. Some don’t recover even after that.
The question on every mind is, when the grieving is over, will the nation unite against the spectre of terrorism?
If the past is any guide, the sad answer would be no.
Pakistan is given a lot of credit for being a resilient nation. I think most of that is down to the state of denial we choose to live in.
There are always a myriad conspiracy theories circulating within our society. For reasons unknown, we choose to believe them.
We find the distant, often most improbable explanations for simple acts of violence plaguing our nation. Our workplaces, public places, government offices, security installations, hospitals, places of worship and now schools all have come under attack.
After every gruesome incident, TTP or one of its uncountable affiliates takes responsibility; often releases video clips with the assailant’s taped speeches before attack, and yet we refuse to believe it. That state of denial, in essence, is the terrorist’s biggest weapon and his ultimate victory.
Sorry rehabilitation facilities
The logical question after a tragedy of this magnitude is about the rehabilitation of those who survive. Of the amputees, the irreparably wounded, and in this case, the innocent minds scarred for a lifetime.
Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151409
“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world”- Indian PM talked to his Pakistani counterpart and he appeals that schools all over Indian territory will observe 2-minute silence for Pakistan victims- Terrorism is a global phenomenon- A menace who is shattering our societies and killing our children and their hopes and dreams- Entire globe has standup to support us on PESHAWAR TRAGEDY- A visionary leadership has to capitalize this unprecedented international support- Pakistan has to behave like a reliable not hostile neighbor to its neighbouring states- PAK-INDIA peace is essential to kill terrorism in the region- Indian PM MODIs announcement of 2 minutes silence in schools of all over India is a great diplomatic and human gesture- let us play our role and do our part of job to illuminate terror from our land.T
News courtesy: vis Social media (Facebook)
I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student’s account)
Read more » Brown Pundits
See more » http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/12/massacre-of-innocents-death-comes-again.html
Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif offering his “deepest condolences” on the dastardly terror attack at a school in Peshawar.
Sharing Pakistan’s pain in the wake of the “dastardly” terror attack in a Peshawar school, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on phone offering “deepest condolences and all assistance” in the hour of grief.
As a mark of solidarity with Pakistan, Modi appealed to all schools in India to observe 2 minutes of silence tomorrow for the “senseless act of unspeakable brutality” in Peshawar, where terrorists attacked a school and 141 massacred people, almost all of them children, terming the incident as an “assault against the entire humanity”.
Modi told Sharif that “this terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world” and “that this moment of shared pain and mourning is also a call for our two countries and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to decisively and comprehensively defeat terrorism so that the children in Pakistan, India and elsewhere do not have to face a future darkened by the lengthening shadow of terrorism.”
Read more » Financial Express
The burned-out buildings dotted the landscape of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Swat Valley as veteran Canadian aid worker David Morley drove the bumpy roads with a local aid worker more than three years ago.
“This used to be a boys’ school, that used to be a girls’ school, that used to be a clinic,” Morley recalled his Pakistani colleague telling him.
“What’s he going to be thinking today?”
‘I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children’ -Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Morley, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Canada, did not mince words Tuesday as news emerged of the suicide attack that killed at least 141 people — the vast majority of them children — at a school in Peshawar, the Pakistani city abutting the Khyber Pass leading to Afghanistan.
“This is a crime against humanity and it’s against civilized norms because we want to nurture and care for our children,” Morley said in an interview.
“We want them to learn and educate, and this is heinous act against all of those norms.”
The attack sparked similar condemnation in Canada and abroad. Many viewed it as a new low in the behaviour of Taliban terrorists, who took responsibility for the attack.
Students ranging from Grade 1 through Grade 10 accounted for most of the dead. They were killed along with their seven attackers, all of whom were wearing explosive suicide vests. Another 121 students and three staff members were injured.
Harper offers condolences
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families of the victims. It’s hard enough to understand the motives that underlie a terrorist attack, he said, but even more so when the targets are innocent children.
Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird has condemned the attack on the school, which he called cowardly and sinister. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)
“It’s hard for any of us, as rational and compassionate people, to understand terrorism — to understand why people would want, in the name of some political cause, to simply terrorize, hurt kill innocent people, whole sections of society,” Harper told a news conference in Quebec City.
“But I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children. As a father, your heart just breaks when you see that kind of thing.”
Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-condemns-sinister-terrorist-attack-on-pakistani-school-1.2874900
Former President describes militants as Bokoharam of Pakistan
Condemns the Peshawar school attack, asks Party to mount relief and rehabilitation work
Calls for fighting to the finish ‘existential threat’ to Pakistan
Islamabad December 16, 2016: Former President Asif Ali Zardari has denounced the militants’ attack on the school in Peshawar killing over 130 innocent children as ‘most barbaric, atrocious and inhuman that will hang the heads of every civilized person in any age and any clime’.
In a statement denouncing the incident the former President said the Bokoharam of Pakistan striking in the fashion of their kinsmen in Africa on Tuesday morning in Peshawar by targeting school children is a dark day in the history of this country. The crime has been committed on a dark day of our history when Pakistan was dismembered this day in 1971, he said.
The monstrous cruelty and sheer barbarism together with the symbolism of perpetrating it today should open the eyes of all those who give the nation lectures that the exterminated militants are ‘martyrs in the cause of a noble fight’.
Let there be no doubt or mistake that the religious extremists and fanatics are the worst enemies of the country and its people. There is no alternative to fight them to the finish for the very survival of Pakistan and our future generations. The absence of alternative to fighting the monster must make the mind of every self proclaimed puritan very clear, the former President said.
Mr. Zardari said that this incident should also strengthen the resolve of the nation to stand together against this existential threat to the security and stability of the country. ‘Let us be clear’, the former President said, adding also, ‘the enemy is not external but internal; it lives and thrives in our midst and is nurtured and sustained in the name of religion’.
Expressing profound condolences the former President prayed for eternal rest to all the martyred, early recovery of those injured and patience to the bereaved families.
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also directed the Party leaders to suspend all activities and immediately mount efforts aimed at relief and rehabilitation of the victim families. He also called upon the Party workers to visit the hospitals and donate blood to those injured.
Read more » Media Cell PPP
Learn more » http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/former-president-describes-militants-as-bokoharam-of-pakistan/
Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school
TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.
“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.
Read more » Global News
Learn more » http://globalnews.ca/news/1729686/peel-schools-lower-flags-in-support-of-people-killed-at-pakistan-school/
PESHAWAR: Pakistani officials say the siege at an army-run school on Warsak road school is over, and authorities are now sweeping the area. Three officials, on condition of anonymity, told AP the operation to clear the school has ended. At least 131 people, most of them children, died when Taliban gunmen attacked the school in the morning. …..
…. 6:42pm – Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard
Army chief General Raheel Sharif has reached Peshawar and vowed to continue the fight against the militants until they are completely eliminated from the country.
DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa posted on twitter that the tragic incident has saddened that COAS, but at the same time he has said that, “our resolve has taken new height. Will continue go after inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination”.
Gen Sharif said that, “this ghastly act cowardice of killing innocents clearly indicates they (militants) are not only enemies of Pakistan but enemies of humanity”.
“They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the DG ISPR.
At least 126 people, mostly children, have been killed in a Taliban assault on an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials say.
All six of the militants who entered the building are said to have been killed, at least one of them in a suicide blast.
However, the army has not declared the operation over. Most of the 500 students have been evacuated.
The attack is being seen as one of the worst so far in Pakistan.
Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30491435
By Talat Masood
The military operation in North Waziristan has clearly met with some notable success. Apparently, more than 80 per cent of the area has been cleared and the TTP has become factionalised and is under considerable pressure. Last week, there was also the good news that the security forces killed a top al Qaeda commander, Saudi-born Adnan el Shukrijumah, in an encounter in South Waziristan. Undoubtedly, a lot of credit for turning the tide against the militants at the operational level goes to General Raheel Sharif and to our valiant soldiers who continue to sacrifice their lives to defend and maintain the integrity of the state. But this is only the clearing and to some extent the holding phase of the operation. The major work of rebuilding the devastated areas and rehabilitating the IDPs still remains.
The larger security threat facing Pakistan, however, is multi-dimensional and complex. In contrast, the interest, comprehension and response of our national leaders are intangible. We have four categories of militants — globally oriented, Afghanistan specific, India and Kashmir directed and domestically oriented. These groups work independently but also form alliances to boost their overall capability. In addition, there is an ongoing insurgency in Balochistan. We also cannot be oblivious to the potential emergence of the Islamic State (IS). There are unconfirmed reports that more than 15,000-20,000 volunteers from Pakistan are fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some of these may return and pose a threat, especially in less-governed parts of the country. Karachi remains a perpetual battleground for militant groups of the main political parties and the country frequently suffers at the hands of sectarian militias. This problem is allowed to fester and left to the provincial governments to deal with in a half-hearted manner. On the external front, volatility on the Line of Control and the working boundary has acquired a new life of its own. What I have described is well known, but lost in the din of everyday life and as we are distracted by ego battles of our leaders, we fail to grasp the grave implications of this overarching threat landscape. Our leaders have shielded themselves by living in houses that are fortresses and travel in vehicles with contingents of bodyguards to keep them protected. The most disturbing aspect is that the responsibility of dealing with all these threats has been left to the army. State institutions like the committee on national security and Nacta lie dormant although in a democratic country, security matters are major responsibilities of the civilian government. No wonder Narendra Modi’s government takes the convenient cover that there is hardly any point in talking to the Pakistani civilian government when the military (or the militants) seem to control policy. The Indian point of view is reinforced when Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million dollar bounty on his head, brazenly takes out a procession of jihadi elements on the streets of Lahore and makes scathing remarks against India and the US. The government, by giving him a free rein, undermines its case on Kashmir and weakens the political and moral basis of its stand.
On the one hand, the army chief has categorically stated that there are no good or bad militants and the army is operating against all of them without any discrimination. And then the world is presented with this spectacle.
This clearly indicates that we do not treat the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or its other face, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), in the same category. It seems that it is used to pressure India to show flexibility on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Pakistan has been repeatedly accused of playing a double game and is pursuing a different policy in handling the Kashmiri jihadis and those of the TTP and its affiliates.
Such demonstrations reinforce this impression. Even if Pakistan were to ignore the negative aspects of the international fall-out, it has to seriously consider whether it would be possible to fight radicalism and extremism if it tolerates militant outfits that are spewing hatred and promoting violence as the primary tool of the freedom struggle in J&K. As it is, the spread and influence of militant organisations in southern Punjab is growing rapidly. Many of these groups have global and regional jihadist aspirations. Support for the JuD in Pakistan can even be found among some educated youth and professionals, which could be ominous. The world has changed after the 9/11 and Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the tectonic shifts in the global security structure. The JuD and other Kashmir-oriented outfits should now focus primarily on the political and humanitarian aspects of the freedom struggle. Major terrorist attacks occurred in four places in J&K on the same day when the JuD was taking out processions in Lahore. For India, it becomes easy to put all the blame on Pakistan and then justify the reticence in engaging in inter-state dialogue.
The PML-N had used its rapport with militant groups in Punjab to broaden its electoral support with obvious long-term deleterious affects. Moreover, our claim that the military is dealing with all militant organisations alike needs to be qualified. It would amount to far less change in policy and would be no different from that pursued for several decades when it comes to India.
It seems that we are unwilling or unaware that the world has changed and is not prepared to tolerate any militant groups irrespective of how just their cause may be. Pakistani elements promoting jihad are out of sync with the rest of the world.
The Indian establishment is myopic and too short-sighted, and fails to see the serious discontent in occupied Kashmir that has to be addressed politically and not through brute force. Of course, a negotiated political settlement with India on J&K will greatly reduce the incentive and support for the militant organisations. But that is unlikely to happen in the near future. The jihadists in Pakistan and the Indian hardliners are pulling the two countries further apart and holding the region hostage.
The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/804309/pakistans-overarching-threat-landscape/
LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari has said his party will not permit anyone to impose any ‘peculiar political or ideological agenda’ through brute force or under the pretext of religion or democracy.
“We reiterate that all power belongs to the people and they alone are empowered to bring about political change through ballot,” he said in a statement issued to media on Saturday at the occasion of the party’s 47th foundation day, which will be held on today (Sunday).
“While the threat of imposition of direct dictatorship may appear to have receded, we are not unmindful of the other forms of threats to democracy that rear their ugly heads from time to time.
Zardari said his party is also conscious of threats to democracy in the name of democracy itself and is determined to foil them.
“While the threat of imposition of direct dictatorship may appear to have receded, we are not unmindful of the other forms of threats to democracy that rear their ugly heads from time to time. The PPP is aware of such threats and is ready to fight against them,” he said.
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Sikandar Hullio
Excerpt; …. The deadline of November 30 may come and pass us by. What is more relevant than what happens that day is the fact that the PML-N is ageing, ailing and failing to impress the masses in Punjab. The PPP is also faltering and getting irrelevant by repositioning itself in Punjab.
As a counter effect, the more popular force of the PTI is trying to get both wickets with a single ball. For the PTI, this is also a moment to reflect and reset. Mere blame-games and agitations won’t work. They need to go back to parliament and relearn the art of honouring the mandate, besides pursuing their cases pertaining to election rigging within relevant courts. They also need to sit, settle and finalise a plan of election audit with electoral reforms under the supervision of parliament and make it a custodian – instead of looking at hidden hands, which were badly exposed, at least this time.
If done, this would provide the PTI a renewed life to prepare for the next elections and keep the political temperature up and exit from the sit-in trap in Islamabad.
The writer is an anthropologist and freelance analyst based in Islamabad. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more » The News
Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s interview. The language of the interview is in Hindi/urdu language.
BY NEHA ANSARI
Imran [Khan], [Tahir ul] Qadri, and the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] are our best friends,” our weekly editorial meeting at Pakistan’s Express Tribune was (jokingly) told on Aug. 13, 2014, a day before the two political leaders began their separate long marches from Lahore to Islamabad, and plunged the country into crisis. “We know it’s not easy, but that’s the way it is — at least for now. I promise to make things better soon,” said the editor, who had called the meeting to inform us about the media group’s editorial policy during the sit-ins and protests that would eventually, momentarily paralyze the Pakistani government.
The senior editorial staff, myself included, reluctantly agreed to the orders, which came from the CEO, because our jobs were on the line. Media groups in Pakistan are family-owned and make all decisions unilaterally — regardless of whether they concern marketing and finance or editorial content and policy — advancing their personal agendas through the influential mainstream outlets at their disposal. A majority of the CEOs and media house owners are businessmen, with no background (or interest) in the ethics of journalism. The owners and publishers make it very clear to their newsrooms and staff — including the editor — that any tilt or gloss they proscribe is non-negotiable. As a result, serious concerns persist about violence against and the intimidation of members of the media. In fact, Pakistan ranks 158 out of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index.
Yet there is also a more elusive problem within the country’s press landscape: the collusion of Pakistan’s powerful military and the nation’s media outlets. I experienced this first-hand while I worked as a journalist at the Express Tribune during the recent protests led by Khan, the populist cricketer-turned-politician, and Qadri, a Pakistani-Canadian cleric and soapbox orator.
During this time, the owners of Pakistani media powerhouses — namely ARY News, the Express Media Group, and Dunya News — received instructions from the military establishment to support the “dissenting” leaders and their sit-ins. The military was using the media to add muscle and might to the anti-government movement in an attempt to cut Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif down to size.
The media obliged.
At the Express Media Group, anything related to Khan and Qadri were inexorably the lead stories on the front page or the hourly news bulletin. I witnessed polls showing support for Sharif being censored, while news stories on the misconduct of the protesters, along with any evidence that support among the protestors for Khan and Qadri was dwindling, were axed. While the BBC was publishing stories about how Qadri’s protesters were allegedly being paid and Dawn, the leading English-language Pakistani newspaper — and the Express Tribune‘s main competitor — was writing powerful editorials about the military’s role in the political crisis, we were making sure nothing negative about them went to print.
Day after day, my national editor told me about how he received frantic telephone calls late in the evening about what the lead story should be for the next day and what angle the article should take. First, we were told to focus on Khan. “Take this as Imran’s top quote,” “This should be in the headline,” “Take a bigger picture of him” were the specific directives given by the CEO. Shortly after, the news group’s owner was agitated that the newspaper had not been focusing enough on Qadri. We later found out that the military establishment was supporting the two leaders equally and the media was expected to do the same.
In their professional capacities, the editor and desk editors tried to put up a fight: they allowed some columns against the protests slip through; they did not extend the restrictions to publish against Khan and Qadri to the Web version of the newspaper; and they encouraged reporters to focus on the paper’s strengths, such as investigative and research-based reports. However, it was difficult for the staff to keep its spirits high with the CEO’s interference and his readiness to abide by the establishment’s instructions. To be sure, the dictates were never given to the senior editorial staff, of which I was a part, directly. They were instead relayed to the editor or the national editor (who heads the main National Desk) via the CEO and then forwarded to us.
People often speculate about the media-military collusion in Pakistan, but in the instance of the current political standoff in the federal capital, as well as the Geo News controversy — where the establishment was seen resorting to extreme methods, such as forcing cable operators to suspend Geo’s transmission and impelling competing media houses to publish news stories against Geo, to curtail the broadcast of the largest and most-watched television channel for accusing then-ISI chief Zaheer-ul-Islam of being behind the gun attack on Hamid Mir, its most-popular anchor — the media and the military worked hand-in-hand.
In most cases, it is common knowledge that the heavyweight broadcast anchors have strong ties to members of the military establishment, and they personally take direct instructions that are then conveyed to the owners of their respective media groups. This bias is often reflected in their coverage.
The anchors not only indulge in inaccurate reporting, but also shape political discourse against the democratically elected government and even the efficacy of democracy itself. Former Pakistani government officials have corroborated this by narrating their experience. One senior official told me: “Television anchors receive funds from the military establishment, if not the civilian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Today, all the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military have media departments that ostensibly only disseminate background information and press briefings, but are actually guiding and managing discourses and the national narrative.”
And this narrative is pro-army. Consider one example in particular.
On Aug. 31, when Khan’s and Qadri’s protesters had stormed the Parliament’s gates, Mubasher Lucman, a television anchor for ARY News — now the most-watched TV channel in Pakistan after Geo’s transmission was illegally suspended — saluted the army during a live broadcast and invited the military to take over “and save the protesters and the country.” Earlier on Aug. 25, he welcomed the “sound of boots”(a reference to the military), as he had no sympathy for corrupt politicians who looted the country.
As if this was not enough, Lucman and his fellow anchors at ARY, some of whom are known to have strong ties to the army and the ISI, alsomade unverified claims on live television that seven protesters had been killed by riot police in the ensuing clash. (It was reported by other news outlets that three people had died, one by accident.) Moreover, when Javed Hashmi, the estranged president of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, came out in public on Sep. 1 to reveal how Khan was banking on the military and the judiciary to end Sharif’s government, Lucman slammed Hashmi, while his fellow anchor, Fawad Chaudhry, insisted that Hashmi had been “planted in [the] PTI”by the prime minister’s closest aides.
Hashmi, who is known for his principled politics and who has been tortured and imprisoned by the military over the years, made the claims about Khan in a press conference where he revealed that: “Imran Khan said we cannot move forward without the army…He told us that he has settled all the matters; there will be elections in September.”
Soon after this, we at the Express Tribune were instructed by the military to highlight statements released by the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations office about how it was not a party to the crisis. When the military was on the defensive, issuing rebuttals to Hashmi’s “revelations,” we saw the instructions lessen and the powerful institution backing off. Yet media discourse throughout Pakistan’s history has been influenced by the military, the most powerful institution in the country, or, in a few cases, has been strong-armed and intimidated by civilian heads of state until they were ousted by the military. There is a structural bias against democratic institutions and elected officials in Pakistan, and such a discourse has the not-unintentional effect of making the military seem like a better alternative, thereby reinforcing the notion that democracy does not work.
Imran, Qadri and Altaf are friends of establishment and are anti-people: Says Left wing activists of Sindh
Peasants leaders as well as leaders of Communist Party of Pakistan, including its Secretory General Imdad Qazi has said that Imran Khan, Qadri and Altaf Hussain are the partners of establishment and are anti-people elements.
News Courtesy: Rights and Movements + Sindhi Daily Awami Awaz, 16 Nov. 2014
Read more » http://rightsupdate.blogspot.in/2014/11/qadri-imran-and-altaf-are-friends-of.html
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz on Monday said that Pakistan should not target militants who do not threaten the country’s security.
“Why should America’s enemies unnecessarily become our enemies,” Sartaj Aziz said during an interview with BBC Urdu.
“When the United States attacked Afghanistan, all those that were trained and armed were pushed towards us.
“Some of them were dangerous for us and some are not. Why must we make enemies out of them all?,” he said when speaking about the Haqqani Network.
He further said that the Afghan Taliban are Afghanistan’s problem and Haqqani Network is a part of it.
“It’s the job of the Afghan government to negotiate with them…We can try to convince them, however things are not the same as they were in the nineties,” Aziz said.
Read more » DAWN
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More details: BBC urdu
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2014/11/141117_pak_usa_strategic_cooperation_sq
A hardline cleric in Pakistan is teaching the ideas of Osama Bin Laden in religious schools for about 5,000 children. Even while the Pakistani government fights the Taliban in the north-west of the country, it has no plans to close schools educating what could be the next generation of pro-Taliban jihadis.
“We share the same objectives as the Taliban but we don’t offer military training. We work on minds. The Taliban are more hands-on,” says Abdul Aziz Ghazi, imam of Islamabad’s controversial Red Mosque.
“We teach about the principles of jihad. It’s up to students if they want to get military training after they leave here. We don’t discourage them.”
Ghazi runs eight seminaries – madrassas as they are known – the first of which was founded after his father went on a journey to meet Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.
“Osama Bin Laden is a hero for us all. He stood up to America and he won. He inspired the mission of the school,” says Ghazi.
In one of the seminaries, the library is named in honour of Bin Laden, who was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011.
Read more » BBC
By Babar Sattar
How do you stay optimistic about the prospects of your country when the naked truth paints a dark picture? Is living in a make-believe world the true mark of love and loyalty or acknowledging your failures and faults with the object of stimulating change? An argument vociferously made by our ‘patriots’ is that the world paints Pakistan as a terrible place because we are too critical of ourselves. Can one really continue to sell a bad product even if the marketing campaign is swell?
How do you correct a wrong without first acknowledging it? How do you begin acknowledging wrongs in an environment where the hardened belief is that it is not the doing of a wrong but its acceptance that spreads the contagion of disgrace?
When did we become a people who have lost their ability to distinguish between an objective reality and the admission of it? Should we be concerned more about the harmful consequences of wrongs directly affecting our surroundings and us, or by the shame of others finding out about it?
Let’s flag some random unconnected events.
Two Pakistani Christians are burnt like pieces of coal in the brick kiln they worked at by fellow villagers after accusations of blasphemy were levelled against them from the bully pulpit of the local mosque.
Two Pakistani Christians are burnt like pieces of coal in the brick kiln they worked at by fellow villagers after accusations of blasphemy were levelled against them from the bully pulpit of the local mosque. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken ‘strict’ notice of the incident, as he did after the Gojra riots that claimed the lives of eight Pakistani Christians and the Joseph Colony attack in Lahore where 150 houses and two churches were torched (incidents also triggered by allegations of blasphemy).
Anjali Kumari Meghwar, a 12-year-old Pakistani Hindu child was reportedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to one Riaz Sial last week. According to a report released by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace earlier this year, almost 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forced to convert and marry Muslim men in Pakistan each year.
Anjali Kumari Meghwar, a 12-year-old Pakistani Hindu child was reportedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to one Riaz Sial last week. According to a report released by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace earlier this year, almost 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forced to convert and marry Muslim men in Pakistan each year. Bottom line? Whether it’s due to religion, gender or economic class, if you are part of the vulnerable segment of this society, you are damned.
Sixty Pakistanis lost their lives and 100 others were injured in a suicide attack at Wagah last week. Three indigenous terror outfits claimed credit for the attack. Did our state get riled up? Yes, because Pentagon noted in a report to the US Congress that, “Afghan- and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability,” and that “Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military”.
WASHINGTON: In a blunt assessment of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, the Pentagon has told the US Congress that the country is using militant groups as proxies to counter the superior Indian military.
“Afghan – and India – focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” the Pentagon told the Congress in its latest six-monthly report on the current situation in Afghanistan.
“These relationships run counter to Pakistan’s public commitment to support Afghan-led reconciliation. Such groups continue to act as the primary irritant in Afghan-Pakistan bilateral relations,” the Pentagon said in the report running into more than 100 pages.
Referring to the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, the Pentagon said this was done just ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.
“In May of this reporting period, the Indian consulate in Herat Province was attacked by a group of four heavily armed militants. The attack came three days prior to the swearing-in of the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi is perceived as being close to Hindu nationalist groups, a fact that may have played into the timing of the attack,” it said.
“In June, the US department of state announced that the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the attack. Following the attack, former Afghan President Karzai denounced the attack and made strong statements supporting relations with India,” the report said.
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More details » BBC urdu
Almost every discussion of Pakistan, especially in India, inevitably tends to be about the logic and raison d’etre of the country’s creation.
The process of partitioning a sub-continent along religious lines did not prove as neat as Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had anticipated. Mr. Jinnah was a lawyer who saw partition as a solution to potential constitutional problems in an independent India.
Pakistan must also overcome archaic notions of national security. Instead of viewing ourselves as a ‘warrior nation’ we should see ourselves as a ‘trading nation’ that can take advantage of our location for economic purposes.
In his first address to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 –exactly 67 years ago today – Mr. Jinnah had said: “I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of every one of us to loyally abide by it and honorably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all…. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done. A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it; but in my judgement there was no other solution, and I am sure future history will record its verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s constitutional problem.”
Armed with nuclear weapons Pakistan does not need to live in fear or insecurity. The state of insecurity fostered in Pakistan is psychological and should now be replaced with a logical self-confidence. Once pluralism and secularism are no longer dirty words in my country, and all national discussions need not be framed within the confines of an Islamist ideology, it will become easier for Pakistan to tackle the Jihadi menace.
It is clear from Mr. Jinnah’s statement that he only saw partition as a constitutional way out of a political stalemate, as he saw it, and not the beginning of a permanent state of hostility between two countries or two nations.
The first step in reimagining Pakistan would be to abandon the narrow ideological paradigm of Pakistani nationalism. Pakistan is here to stay and no one in the world wants it dismembered if it functions effectively as a responsible international citizen.
This explains his expectation that India and Pakistan would live side by side “like the United States and Canada,” obviously with open borders, free flow of ideas and free trade. It is also the reason why the Quaid-e-Azam insisted that his Malabar Hills house in Bombay be kept as it was so that he could return to the city where he lived most of his life after retiring as Governor-General of Pakistan.
We all know now that partition and the birth of Pakistan were not simply the end of an argument about constitutional options, as Mr. Jinnah had thought.
The entire country was plunged into communal violence, hundreds of thousands of people from both sides were butchered and millions had to flee their homes.
Instead of living as good neighbours like the United States and Canada, India and Pakistan have gone on to become adversaries in a state of constant war, a situation that has not benefitted either country but has damaged Pakistan even more.
NEW DELHI: India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200-km (125-mile) stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism,” Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV in an interview.
Read more » DAWN
By Adnan Rasool
Reality is always hard to stomach. In the age of inflated self-worth and significance, societies start having delusions of grandeur. But when the delusions are questioned, the society either goes into denial or starts spinning a new narrative.
For the last two years, our people have been going through a process where there was initially a denial of the harsh realities of Pakistan, and then the passionate spinning of a false narrative. This narrative initially blamed the system, then blamed the government and now blames everyone for everything.
Too much time has been spent criticising this false narrative that many believe to be the truth. What has been ignored are the basic set of realities that Pakistan continues to face.
To start with, as much as I hate saying this, politics in Pakistan is not for the voter to decide.
Pakistan is a case of elite adjustment. It has never been a case where the voter will decide anything; the voters are simply not a significant enough part of the equation to leverage the situation.
The form of governance does not matter either; be it a dictatorship or autocratic democracy, the political situation is a result of elite adjustment.
Read more » DAWN
Pakistan’s army has chosen a new head of the country’s controversial spy agency. Seen as experienced in counter-insurgency operations, Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhtar is being called “a professional soldier”. But as M Ilyas Khan reports, the question is whether he will be able to restore internal security.
Lt-Gen Akhtar’s appointment as head of Pakistan’s feared Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) makes him the second most powerful man in the military – and possibly in the country, some would say – after the army chief.
Read more » BBC
He asked why the Rangers did not act against anti-government protesters in Islamabad who were involved in attacks on government buildings in the capital.
Raising questions concerning the recent arrests of MQM workers carried out by Rangers in Karachi, Altaf asked if the MQM, like some political parties, would be similarly allowed to protest in the high-security Red Zone of Islamabad for a period of 40 days?
Read more » DAWN
Read more » BBC urdu
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2014/09/140924_new_isi_chief_analysis_rk.shtml
Oxford University Press, 2014
The ability of the state to efficiently provide essential services to its citizens is the marker of a strong state. But since its independence on 14th August 1947, the state of Pakistan has been struggling to exist as a cohesive unit. Despite overwhelming support from the United States, Saudi Arabia and China in terms of aid, it has continuously faltered in emerging as a powerful South Asian economy, becoming instead a breeding ground for Jihadist networks and a proliferator of nuclear weapons technology. A 2013 global survey conducted by Worldwide Independent Network/ Gallup shows that Pakistan is considered the second largest threat to world peace. While India, with several problems of its own, has prospered since partition and is regarded as a champion of democracy and an emerging great power in Asia by the United States and its allies, neighboring Pakistan has failed to emulate this success story. Well-known International relations academic T.V. Paul’s TheWarrior State cogently summarizes the reasons why Pakistan remains Obama’s “biggest nightmare”.
According to the author, the primary reason why Pakistan is what it is today is because of the state’s Hobbesian view of the world (2014: 4), which leads to excessive spending on the military as a result of its obsession to achieve strategic parity with its “rival” India. The Pakistani military continues to stimulate threat perceptions of India to gain a major portion of the economic pie and overexerts itself militarily; acquiring nuclear weapons for instance. India sees such behavior as a threat to its own national security and an arms race ensues, destabilizing the entire region. Paul understands that Pakistan has had its own “resource curse” in a different form: the geostrategic curse (2014: 5). Pakistan has made use of its pivotal position in South Asia to attract billions of dollars of aid money which it has funneled to its military and it’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). It worries that a peaceful resolution of problems in its backyard would cut the flow of monetary aid it currently receives from the West and therefore continues to cultivate an atmosphere of uncertainty in the region.
SP also ‘punished’ for stopping general’s car
LAHORE, Oct 16: Model Town division SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi was transferred and directed to report to the central police office (CPO) in the wake of an incident on Tuesday night when a police team stopped the car of a major-general’s family at a picket near Ghalib Market, Gulberg.
Model Town division ASP Muhammad Ali Nikokar has already been asked to report to the CPO. Besides, Ghalib Market SHO Shahid Chaddar has been suspended and Constable Nazir booked under Section 506.
The police had stopped the car on Tuesday night to remove its tinted glass, which was banned by the Punjab government for security reasons following the murder of MNA Maulana Azam Tariq.
The driver, who was reportedly in army uniform, introduced the family on board. But constable Nazir Ahmad refused to let them go because “no body was exempted from the ban”.
This led to an argument between the two which attracted other policemen present there who intervened in the matter and allowed the family to go with the tinted glass still intact.
Before leaving, the general’s driver reportedly threatened the policemen with dire consequences. His threat meterialized within minutes as the senior army command got into action and asked the police hierarchy to take strict action against the constable, Ghalib Market SHO and Model Town division SP and ASP.
The police command not only booked constable Nazir Ahmed but also allowed the army to take him to the corps headquarters handcuffed for “further interrogation”. He managed his release on Wednesday after getting bail from a local court.
Sources said SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi did try to use his connections in the army but failed to stop his transfer due to “enormous pressure” on the police hierarchy.
According to an army official, the action has been taken to “condemn the police conduct at pickets”. Soon after the incident, vehicles of the army and the judiciary were exempted from the ban.