The video of two parliamentarians being forcibly offloaded a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad has gone viral. The incident is generally being viewed as an indicator of how a peculiar behaviour, which was associated with old style patronage politics, will get challenged. The national carrier may find it increasingly difficult to treat its passengers differently — trap over two hundred souls in an aircraft while allowing VIPs to sit in a comfortable lounge as the aircraft recovers for two hours from its technical problems. Surely we can all clap at the event as a forward movement, this also indicates militant attitudes creeping into our political and social lives. Here I am not taking a position for or against but only suggesting what has changed.
This is not even an isolated incident. Those enjoying video evidence must also see the manner in which the police have been taking a thrashing from the ‘Naya Pakistan’ protestors. While we can all sympathise with Imran Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle. Much that he likes to compare himself with Jinnah, Imran would not be able to ensure that the same police, which get battered and bruised during the rule of his opponents, will get respected when he becomes the man in charge. No one seems willing to tell the story of the tired policemen who have been doing their duty for the last 30 days with little to boost their ego.
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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.
Read more » Financial Times
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that liberals in Pakistan were the scum of the country who backed US policies.
In a tell-all interview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, who was visiting Pakistan recently, Khan shared his views ranging from the political to the personal, including martial laws, Memogate, corruption and allegations against him.
Talking about liberals, he said that liberals were the scum of this country and were fascists. Khan said that those liberals backed bombing of villages, drone attacks. He added that it was the liberals who backed US policies, including the War on Terror that had aggravated extremism in the country.
Answering a question on being called ‘Taliban Khan’, the PTI chief said that he was being labelled that since he encouraged dialogue with the Taliban instead of military action, a policy which the US eventually had to adopt too.
He also touched upon criticism against him about praying on stage during rallies, to which he said that he prayed five times a day and that praying on the stage was not an exception.
The Islamic State is challenging the Taliban and al-Qaeda in its Afghanistan and Pakistan heartlands and claiming both countries as part of its ‘caliphate’.
Islamic Slate leaflets proclaiming the group’s intention to bring its barbaric form of Islam to Pakistan and Afghanistan were posted throughout Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa frontier province, in the last few days, and have also been distributed to nearby Afghan refugee camps.
The leaflets, published in the local Pashto and Darri languages and bearing the Isil ‘Fateh’ (victory) flag, said the ‘caliphate’ it had established in Syria and Iraq extended to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some Muslim central Asian republics.
Read more » The Telegraph
It was the first time on Monday morning that I breathed a sigh of relief that the PTI and the PAT dharna is there and continues to attract attention. Just imagine if the media was not focusing on them they might have taken the trouble of sniffing out the drama which was unfolding in Karachi on September 6. A Chinese manufactured F-22P frigate of the Pakistan Navy, PNS Zulfiqar, came under attack by the Taliban. It is not confirmed as yet if the ship was at sea or docked at the naval dockyard. The story was kept under wraps for two days and disclosed on September 8. It was not that people were not warning others. A friend from abroad had even inquired on Saturday about what was happening in Karachi to which I had no answer as nothing was being reported on television except the Imran/Qadri roadshow. But I am still happy no one reported the story because the last time someone tried to dig out facts about infiltration of militants and ideologues inside the navy it ended in tragedy.
Gladly, the brave sailors and officers saved the day. However, the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, for which the Taliban took the responsibility, proved yet again the vulnerability of the country’s security. What we are always scared to talk about is the support from inside as had happened in the attack on PNS Mehran, PAC, Kamra and other places. Given the fact that little is known about militant penetration, it is difficult to ascertain the threat. This is about men caught by the demon of disbelief of their state and society. Glance through the literature on state making and you can find how monopoly over violence and making sure it stays that way is one of the many characteristics of a viable and efficient state. However, here is the issue of men, who join a profession to guard the state then turning away, because they suddenly suspect the state is not legitimate. The whole concept of jihad or takfir is not a simple issue of people becoming devil-like but erosion of their faith in legitimacy of the state. They begin to desire a perfect Islamic state which can only be brought about by fighting the existing system. Penetrating an armed force becomes an attractive option since achieving such objective tantamount to a force multiplier. A well-trained and oiled war machine can take you places.
Just imagine a situation where militants would try to rebel and take control of a vessel while at sea. Notwithstanding many of the earlier claims that all three services were cleaned during the Musharraf regime, these attacks suggest otherwise. Various religious groups have always had access to men in uniform under one pretext or the other. If it is not the militants then it is Deobandi or Salafi reformation movements such as the Tableeghi Jamaat or Al Huda that are allowed to access military personnel and their families. Reportedly, the households of one of the two smaller services were opened up for Al Huda by the senior leadership. The problem here is not with increased interest in religion but the fact that after a while these families and their men begin to get totally confused about where does duty to religion end and to the state begin. Not that they want to kill innocent colleagues and other people but they are blinded by their understanding of dogma to believe that they have to bring suffering in order to improve the world as ordained by God.
The PNS Zulfiqar attack is yet another reminder that things are getting serious. We need to look at this development in the backdrop of the expansion of militancy and extremism in the form of IS and the al-Qaeda’s Qaedatul Jihad in Indian Subcontinent (QJIS). While many analysts tend to see IS and QJIS from the lens of internal competition amongst militants, especially Zawahiri’s need to build up his strength, some observers argue that the two forces may have different tactics and partners but similar strategic objective. They both want to consolidate and establish a caliphate. In this regard, other existing organisations like the Hizb-ut-Tahrir also have the same desire.
Q 1: Sir, you have always maintained that militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because the militants are being attacked by American drones. But the militants insist that they would “kill everyone and anyone who stands against the imposition” of their version of Islam. In essence, the militants are convinced that they are fighting for ‘Islam’ while you continue to maintain that militant actions are actually reactions to American drones.
Q 2: Sir, if anyone wishes to negotiate with the PML-N, he would naturally have Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Pervez Rasheed in mind. You have always favoured negotiating peace with the militants. Please name just four names representing the militants that are in your mind with whom you will negotiate peace.
Q 3: Sir, you have promised that Prime Minister Imran Khan shall wipe off militancy from the face of the country. Can you please name just two militant organisations that you plan to wipe off?
Q 4: Sir, you have been rightly pointing out that more than 40,000 innocent Pakistani lives have been lost in what you say is ‘America’s war’. Can you please identify by name the forces and groups responsible for the loss?
Read more » The News
KARACHI: One Navy officer was martyred while two terrorists were held when a Navy ship came under a terrorist attack on Saturday morning, sources said.
The incident occurred when the ship was off Karachi coast.
According to details the terrorists executed the attack with the help of two Navy personnel. These Navy personnel opened fire on their own colleagues with modern weapons.
The Navy staff retaliated the fire and succeeded in arresting to terrorists.
Scrutiny of the Navy personnel has been intiated. A spokesman for the Pakistan Navy said two militants were killed while four others were arrested. He said that a navy officer was killed and six other injured in the attack.
He further said that the militants tried to enter the Pak Navy Dockyard but the attempt was foiled.
Read more » Geo Tv
By Najam Sethi
The “conspiracy” to get rid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been exposed. Although the circumstantial evidence was compelling, no one, not even the government and parliament, had hard-core facts to prove who was doing what and why. That’s why the government’s political and administrative response to the unfolding crisis was confused, weak and vacillating. Then the Heavens parted and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi descended like an angel to “save” the government by making a clean breast of things. The story can now be stitched up safely.
The old guard in the military left behind by General Ashfaq Kayani – a master spy who occupied both high offices in ISI and GHQ by turns and fashioned the military’s strategic policies for over a decade – was unhappy with the proposed foreign policy initiatives of Nawaz Sharif towards India, Afghanistan, USA, and his stance on non-state actor “assets” and the war against the Pakistani Taliban. Mr Sharif’s choice of General Raheel Sharif as COAS, number three in the lineup and totally apolitical to boot, also queried their pitch. The dye was cast when Mr Sharif hauled up ex-army chief General Pervez Musharraf for treason because this move threatened to drag in General Kayani and many other senior military officers who had backed the coup maker. It was also feared that, come October 2014, when several key generals from the “Kayani guard” would face retirement, Mr Sharif would appoint another relatively apolitical general to the powerful DG-ISI post, thereby seizing the “national security” initiative from the military. It may be recalled that the fear was not unjustified: on two previous occasions as prime minister, Mr Sharif had taken exactly such steps when he sacked Lt Gen Asad Durrani in 1991 and appointed Lt Gen Javed Nasir as DG-ISI and when he appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt as DG-ISI in his second stint as prime minister and later tried to make him COAS and triggered a coup by General Musharraf.
Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.
After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.
Read more » FP
THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.
But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.
Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.
People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.
Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.
From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.
What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.
While the security establishment had played footsie with domestic, regional and transnational jihadists for decades, it threw the decision to act against them in the PM’s lap
The so-called neutral umpire that the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan had been looking up to for a decision was neither neutral nor an umpire and now has fallen flat on its face. None other than the veteran politician and the elected president of the PTI, Mr Javed Hashmi, took the wind out of Imran Khan and his umpire’s sails. Mr Hashmi vented his spleen not just about the dictatorial tendencies of Imran Khan but also ripped apart the PTI’s ‘clean politics’ facade. The maverick from Multan flayed to shreds the sordid collusion between certain leaders in the PTI, its fellow travellers and the establishment. What Mr Hashmi, popularly known as the baghi (rebel) for bucking both the civil and military demigods, said has been known since at least this past April. The original plan was to unfold right after Ramzan but was delayed due to the military operation in North Waziristan. However, hearing it from the horse’s mouth vindicates everyone who has suspected that Imran Khan was merely the establishment’s 12th man who had been fielded to do its dirty work.
The whispering campaign against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) started when elected Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif refused to give the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf a free pass in the treason trial. The PM, appointing Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a man that the security establishment has despised for his clear anti-dictatorship stance, did not go down well with the boots. Attitudes hardened when the PM made peace overtures at his Indian counterpart’s inauguration. The tipping point, however, was PM Sharif’s courtesy visit to the wounded television anchor-journalist Hamid Mir who had implicated an intelligence agency in the attack that he narrowly survived. The battle lines were thus drawn. It was more about the security establishment losing face due to General Musharraf’s trial and ceding domestic political space to the civilian PM in appointments such as that of the defence minister than just about foreign policy. A decision seemed to have been made then that PM Nawaz Sharif had to be reined in. The PML-N’s comfortable parliamentary majority and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s judicious decision to divest the president of his powers to dissolve the National Assembly, made undermining the PM ‘constitutionally’ impossible.
PESHAWAR: In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.
The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.
Read more » The Express Tribune
By HARUNA UMAR
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram extremists have killed more than 100 people and hoisted their black and white flag over a town left undefended by Nigeria’s military, just 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the northeastern state capital of Maiduguri, a civil defense spokesman and a human rights advocate said Saturday.
Hundreds of villagers in another northeast area, Askira Uba, are fleeing after receiving letters from the Islamic extremists threatening to attack and take over their areas, spokesman Abbas Gava of the Nigerian Vigilante Group said.
“Nine major villages are on the run,” he said.
Survivors said Saturday that insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and lobbed homemade bombs into homes, and then gunned down people as they tried to escape the fires in the attack on Damboa town launched before dawn Friday. Most of the town has burned down, they said.
A human rights advocate said the extremists struck again as people were trying to bury the dead later Friday, and said the death toll is probably much higher than 100. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.
Read more » The Huffington Post
By Akbar Hussain
Mankind reached up to this level after much struggle and sacrifices. The threat of evil was always there but our unified determination and goodness defeated all evils and poised to go further forward. Throughout history mankind faced disease, wars caused by barbaric invasions and natural disasters but the indomitable human spirit withstood all the calamities with resolution and resolve.
When Hitler threatened the modern world with his demonic power the entire humanity fought shoulder to shoulder to defeat the evil forces of Nazism. But now we are facing an enemy of religious extremism equipped with modern technology to cause destruction and war. The most dangerous part of this evil is its claim of divinity which is false and fake but they have millions of supporters behind them. This threat is not confined to any specific place it’s a universal issue now. They are in Somalia as well as in Sweden. This threat is not recognized by a vast majority of Muslims who tend to minimize its threat or put blame on others. They fail to understand that extremism is not an option for anything. No one can make a brew of progress and extremism. Islam basically needed a renaissance but after 9/11 a vicious degeneration has gripped the entire community.
They are universally loathed and degraded but this shame is not felt or recognized by the community. May be we are marching forward to another calamity but there is slim hope that posterity may not like to live in this perpetual threat forever. They may take arms again to defeat the evil once for all to restore peace, fraternity, dignity and faith.
MIRPURKHAS, Pakistan — In a country roiled by violent strife, the southern province of Sindh, celebrated as the “land of Sufis,” has long prized its reputation as a Pakistani bastion of tolerance and diversity.
Glittering Sufi shrines dot the banks of the river Indus as it wends through the province. The faithful sing and dance at exuberant religious festivals. Hindu traders, members of a sizable minority, thrive in the major towns.
But as Islamist groups have expanded across Pakistan in tandem with the growing strength of the Taliban insurgency, so, too, are they making deep inroads into Sindh. Although banned by the state, such groups are systematically exploiting weaknesses in Pakistan’s education system and legal code as part of a campaign to persecute minorities and spread their radical brand of Sunni Islam.
A central factor in the expansion of such groups is a network of religious seminaries, often with funding from opaque sources, that provides them with a toehold in poor communities. “If there were three seminaries in a city before, now there are tens of seminaries in just one neighborhood,” said Asad Chandio, news editor of the Sindhi-language newspaper Awami Awaz.
In May, a threatening crowd in Mirpurkhas, a small city in central Sindh, surrounded four members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who had set up a stall near the railway station. The mob accused the four of blasphemy because they were selling books that contained images of God and Moses. The crowd’s leader was a member of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a sectarian group that is ostensibly banned by the government, but that is now openly operating, and growing, across Sindh.
Fearing crowd violence, police officers led the four to a nearby police station where they were charged with blasphemy — potentially a capital offense. They were taken away in an armored vehicle, and are now in hiding as they await trial.
Locals said they were struggling to understand how, or why, the incident had taken place. “There are so many communities here, and we have all lived peacefully,” said Francis Khokhar, the lawyer for the four accused.
The Sunni supremacist ideology propagated by Pakistani sectarian groups is similar to the one that is proving so potent in the Middle East, where the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is flourishing. In Pakistan, such groups do not pose a direct threat to the state yet. But their growth in Sindh is a sobering reminder that a future threat to Pakistani stability could stem from the provincial towns as much as the distant tribal belt, where the Pakistani military is trying to disrupt havens for the Taliban and other militants.
The provincial government in Sindh, concerned about what one government official called the “mushroom growth” of extremist seminaries, is trying to decide what to do.
In the days since the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of much of northern Iraq, Western leaders and analysts have expressed alarm at what they have called a powerful new form of jihadism. Some have likened ISIS to a new al-Qaeda. Both assessments are wrong.
In its rapid advance toward Baghdad, ISIS has already eliminated national boundaries between Iraq and Syria, captured significant arms and weapons caches, caused a spike in global oil prices, reinvigorated ethnic and sectarian conflict across the Arab world, and given Islamic extremism a dramatic new source of appeal among many young Muslims. On June 30, the first day of Ramadan, ISIS also declared that it was reestablishing the “Caliphate,” long an aspiration of other jihadist groups.
Yet despite these accomplishments, ISIS may not be as unusual as it has been described. Nor does it seem primarily interested in global jihad. In many ways, what the group is doing to Syria and Iraq resembles what the Taliban did in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the early 1990s.
Like the Taliban, ISIS’s war so far has been about conquering territory rather than launching an al-Qaeda-style global jihad or issuing fatwas to bomb New York or London. Although it has attracted some three thousand foreigners to fight for it, ISIS’s real war is with fellow Muslims, and in particular Shias, against whom it has called for a genocidal campaign. Just as the Taliban changed the contours of Islam in south and central Asia so ISIS intends to do the same in the Middle East. ISIS is also seeking territorial control of the central Middle East region.
There are several instructive parallels between the two groups. The hardcore forces of ISIS probably number fewer than 10,000 trained fighters; the Taliban never numbered more than 25,000 men—even at the height of the US surge when there were over 150,000 Western troops in Afghanistan and twice that many Afghan soldiers.
Like the Taliban, ISIS successes are built around military competence that includes excellent command and control, sound intelligence, well prepared logistics support, training, high mobility, and rapid speed of maneuver. Just as ISIS, after years of preparation and recruiting in Iraq and Syria, has overrun Mosul and other important Iraqi cities in a matter of weeks, Taliban conquered all of southern and eastern Afghanistan in a blitzkrieg offensive in a few months in 1994. The main strategy of both groups is the frontal assault combined with outflanking movements, as well as night attacks. And both organizations are also prepared to play a long game. In 1996, after the Taliban had laid siege to Kabul from the south for two years without success, they used a flanking movement from the east to finally surprise the government and conquer the city.
By Roy Murray
One of the suboptimal habits of humans is to compare different things, expect them to behave similarly, and treat them the way we are ‘used to’. So, when the “Islamic State” (IS) debacle began, the world’s intelligences agencies did what they were used to – tracking jihadists back home. Since Al-Qaeda attacked the western home front, IS must have similar ambitions. They attempted to identify the jihadists, tracked their footsteps to the conflict, then they waited back home, ready to pounce on them with decades of counter terrorism experience. The hysteria grew, with ever more resources ploughed into it, augmented by vast media accounts of the threat the “Islamic State” (IS) of Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi poses to our ‘home front’.
It became a dangerous addiction which distracted us from the real “neo-terrorism” threat. By tracking Baghdadi’s returning jihadists, the west is effectively acting as his military police, locking up his deserters – after all, jihad is a lifelong adventure. He couldn’t care less. In fact, our actions morphed into a powerful propaganda tool for the ‘terrorist extraordinaire’ – feeding his propaganda narrative that Muslims were being oppressed around the world, and must rise up against their “tyrants” and establish a great Islamic State. Focusing on the home front, The West left him alone in the Middle East, free to stir chaos, establish, and expand his ‘Caliphate’. With just 10,000 of his Jihadists and other allies, he took down vast armies and militias that outnumbered his forces by factors upwards of 10 to 1. He is not some supreme being, neither are his men super human. Rather, he is a manifestation of the “neo-terrorist”. A veteran jihadist, he is also a cunning strategist, who designed his escapades with a powerful knowledge of the present, and a generous imagination of the future. He exploited the enmities between his enemies and preyed on their most damning weaknesses. Further, Baghdadi exploited almost every racial, sectarian, and political fault line in the Middle East and left all his enemies in a predicament. He wrong footed almost everyone, all the while being humble about the limits of his power, rarely embarking on battles where he doesn’t have ‘the edge’.”. Everyone played into his hand, and the current reality is that the different powers of the Middle East no longer have any ‘good’ options. Rather, they have options of varying degrees of ‘badness’, or even catastrophe. All this is at the expense of the local civilians, who are now staring down at an extended sectarian conflict that will condemn the Middle East to decades of poverty, threatening the social and political fabric of the region.
Read more » SYKES PICOT
KARACHI: In a meeting with an American diplomat in July 2009, ANP leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak claimed that the Haqqani network, a militant group the US holds responsible for multiple attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, was being protected by the Pakistan military.
The report is one of a number of American diplomatic cables obtained by Dawn that reveal a deep mistrust among the leadership of the ANP, the party responsible for governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about the military’s intentions regarding various militant groups in KP and FATA.
“Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis ‘separately’ … from other militants,” reported Lynne Tracy, the Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Peshawar. “The Haqqani family, [Khattak] observed, has already moved out of North Waziristan.
Read more » DAWN
By Lal Khan
North Waziristan is rightly described as the centre of gravity of terrorist activity. Groups like Gul Bahadur, the Haqqani network (“good” Taliban), the so-called TTP, East Turkmenistan Islamic movement led by the Uzbeks, remnants of Al-Qaida and Al-Arab terrorists (“bad” Taliban) are running bloody havoc. The relations of these groups with the army, the US and other regional and imperialist powers have been dodgy and deceitful, with changing loyalties and affiliations. Their main sources of revenues are extortion, drug running, kidnapping and ransom, and other criminal activities. It is fear that guarantees their booty and hence they are all competing with the state and with each other to see who can carry out more heinous, cruel and inhuman acts of terror.
It is precisely because of this that the multinational companies, and imperialist and regional states, make deals and contracts with them to the advantage of their own financial and strategic policies and interests. Hence their connections with certain sections of the state, that has now vowed to obliterate them, are not so concealed anymore. This operation will not be a straightforward military campaign, as it is difficult to differentiate between friend and foe. After all, this has been the dilemma of the “good” and the “bad” Taliban that has been haunting and convulsing the establishment for decades now. It will be a long and a protracted and internecine war that has very remote chances of reaching any clear and decisive solution or conclusion.
And if this operation fails what will happen then? The political elite are so removed from reality that they can’t even dare to think about it. These billionaires and upstarts are not the ones who are suffering. It is the workers and the poor who are the victims of this fundamentalist onslaught and also of the economic terrorism being inflicted upon them by the system and the ruling classes through their state apparatus.
Read more » http://www.marxist.com/pakistan-a-country-at-war-with-itself.htm
The military will not decisively act against its own strategic assets unless an ideological shift occurs at mass level
OUR VIEWPOINT ON ZARB-E-AZB
Written by Redaktion
While Viewpoint is staunchly opposed to the Taliban and considers them the biggest immediate threat to working classes in Pakistan, we refuse to lend support to the ongoing military operation for the following reasons:
1. Amputating cancerous hand, preserving cancer: A military operation in Waziristan Agency implies that terrorism in Pakistan is geographically located. This is a fake beginning. Hence, it will only prolong the fight against puritan terror. Fact of the matter is, taproot of terrorism is located elsewhere. To be precise, terrorism in Pakistan emanates from Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is grounded in the official policy-making, anchored in military doctrines, and situated in foreign office. Viewpoint has repeatedly pointed out: unless a paradigm shift displacing the Doctrine of Strategic Depth takes place, the Taliban terror cannot be decisively defeated. Furthermore, without abandoning the Jihadi infrastructure [ consisting of Punjab-based, Kashmir-specific, and anti-Shia outfits as well as mosque-and-madrassa networks], terrorism cannot be successfully fought back. Likewise, only by deradicalising the entire state and society (military, judiciary, constitution, media, education system and so on) we can expect a beginning of terrorism’s end. There is no piecemeal solution. In the absence of such radical paradigmatic shifts, the Waziristan operation will be tantamount to amputating cancerous hand while preserving the cancerous arm. Therefore, it is an absurd position to take if one supports or opposes amputation of a cancerous hand by khaki messiahs without operating upon the source of cancer.
Read more » View Point Online
Former US secretary of state says Islamabad’s policy of strategic depth no longer valid
WASHINGTON: Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan’s policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has been proven wrong and the country now needs to focus all its strength on dealing with the militants.
“Their idea, that they have these groups to provide strategic depth, as they like to say, vis-a-vis Afghanistan, or vis-a-vis India, I think if that were ever true, which I doubt, but if that were ever true, it no longer is,” she told Indian NDTV channel.
In the interview that focused on her new book, ‘Hard Choices’, Ms Clinton said that Pakistan also needed to make a hard choice now, disconnecting its ties to various terrorist groups and putting together all state powers to “once and for all go after extremists, shut down their training camps, their safe havens, (and) madressahs that are inculcating suicide bombing behaviour.”
Chief Commissioner Islamabad Jawad Paul told Dawn.com that 54 people were injured in the blast. He said 34 were taken to PIMS Hospital where four are in critical condition, Nine are being treated in Benazir Hospital and 11were shifted to Poly Clinic Hospital. Locals, however, put that number of injured much higher at 70 to 80.
Read more » DAWN
The Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, a major offensive operation against terror groups operating from North Waziristan Sunday, a week after the Karachi airport was audaciously attacked by the Taliban. In the last 48 hours, it is reported that more than 170 terrorists were killed while six soldiers died during the operation which is still continuing.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared: “We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost.” The military in turn has highlighted in a press release that it is acting on the “directions” of the civilian government and has “been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries”.
On the face of it, this is a welcome development, in that the Pakistan military has publicly reiterated two critical determinants; first that it is operating as per the directives of the elected government and second, that it will eliminate “terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. The inference that follows is that this time around there will be no distinction between the good and the bad terrorist.
However, there have been two other military operations that GHQ Rawalpindi had initiated in 2009 in Swat and South Waziristan and in both cases, after imposing a heavy cost on the terror groups, the military withdrew without seeking effective closure and the various terror outfits regrouped to challenge the state again. The Karachi airport attack is illustrative of the determination and virulence of the ideology that is driving the Taliban and its affiliates.
Both the Pakistani political establishment and the military are culpable of having nurtured and sought the support of different factions of the right-wing constituency for their own institutional advantage. If the Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies created and supported certain groups to obtain “strategic depth” in both India and Afghanistan through proxy, political parties led by Nawaz Sharif and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan portrayed the Taliban as brethren who had been misguided and held out the olive branch of reconciliation. Even when the Pakistan Army wanted to pursue a more robust anti-Taliban policy after the beheading of troops, the political ambivalence prevailed.
Karachi is being seen as the tipping point and the name of the operation – Zarb-e-Azb – which means sharp and cutting has a religious salience that merits notice. The theological reference is to the sword of Prophet Muhammad reportedly used in the battle of Badr (624 AD) and by invoking this symbol, the Pak military, it may be conjectured, is assuming a mantle of higher religious legitimacy against the Taliban. The latter in turn perceive themselves as the true guardians of the faith and their objective is to impose an intolerant, inflexible version of the practice of Islam, in which the Shia and other sects are legitimate targets for slaughter.
None of these developments are new to Pakistan and have been gathering momentum for decades with the connivance of the state and civil society. A malignant ideology and a destructive eco-system that intimidated the non-Sunni denominations through political connivance and the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws reached its most tragic manifestation in the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard. His crime – supporting due legal process in a blasphemy case against a Pakistani Christian woman.
It may be recalled that the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) episode of Islamabad in July 2007 that marked the end of the Musharraf era was in essence an example of how the Islamist right-wing and its pervasive support triumphed and forced the state to withdraw. At the time it was reported that even the Pakistan Army’s top leadership was uneasy with the Musharraf diktat and opined that many in the rank and file of the military would oppose any muscular action against the right-wing radicals.
Thus, the moot question is the degree to which the Pakistani political establishment in Islamabad and the GHQ in Rawalpindi will be “sharp and cutting” in eliminating the terror groups and their sanctuaries. Prime Minister Sharif has been in touch with Afghan President Ahmed Karzai to coordinate operations and deny the groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is expected that the US will provide tacit support in this endeavour by way of intelligence and drone attacks.
Zarb-e-Azb marks the tactical and military dimension of dealing with the (Islamist) chickens that have come home to roost. The Pakistan military has demonstrated that it has the ability to apply the pressure on the adversary – should it decide to do so. Yes, there have been threats of reprisal and the Pak Taliban has threatened to target Punjab – the Sharif base – which till now was off the terror radar.
The true test of Zarb-e-Azb will be its strategic and political underpinning. Will Islamabad and Rawalpindi arrive at that final and irrevocable determination to sever links with Muridke – the headquarter of groups like the Lashkar and other such centres? This is where the sharp and cutting quality is most required.
Absent this candid admission that support to terror cannot be selectively sustained, the current effort will have limited value and the lives of the Pakistani troops lost will be in vain. Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, have a rare opportunity to save Pakistan from the kind of specter that now threatens Iraq.
(C Uday Bhaskar is Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Courtesy: The South Asia Monitor
Pakistan Is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why It May Not Win.
After many rumors and false starts, and after years of requests from U.S. officials,Pakistan has finally launched a major military offensive in North Waziristan, ground zero for militancy in that country.
Extremist organizations use North Waziristan as a base for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to mount assaults on targets in Pakistan. The remnants of al-Qaeda central, including perhaps supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, have a presence there, as do Uzbek extremist groups, one of which claimed responsibility for the recent Karachi airport attack. Even Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who attempted to blow up Times Square in 2010,received training in North Waziristan. This tribal area is a magnet for militants local and foreign.
But while the airstrikes and ground efforts in North Waziristan have been needed, it’s not clear whether this effort can inflict a decisive blow against militancy in Pakistan. Here are four questions that underscore how conditions in Pakistan may be stacked against success:
1. Will there be a critical mass of militants left to fight?
The Pakistani government has been hinting at the likelihood of an operation since January. In the five months since then, Pakistani Taliban and other militants have had ample opportunity to escape to other tribal areas in Pakistan or even into Afghanistan.
2. Will international forces in Afghanistan be able to assist?
Pakistani officials have asked international forces in neighboring Afghanistan to help prevent militants from crossing the porous border into that country. But with the foreign presence in Afghanistan on track to diminish over the next few months, it’s not clear whether foreign troops will have the capacity to offer such assistance—and, if they do, they’ll need help from Afghan security forces, which have an uneasy relationship with the Pakistani security establishment.
3. Will this operation target militants across the board or only the Pakistani Taliban and its allies?
Pakistan has long distinguished between “good” and “bad” militants: It considers the Pakistani Taliban, which targets the Pakistani state, “bad”; the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which strike Afghanistan and U.S. and Indian interests in that country, are “good.” All of these groups are based in North Waziristan, but if Islamabad targets only the “bad” militants, the operation’s success will be limited.
4. Will this operation include associated efforts outside Waziristan?
Militancy in Pakistan is no longer restricted to tribal areas. Thousands of militants have set up shop in cities. In the absence of stepped-up law enforcement efforts and other civilian-led security missions in urban areas, a Waziristan-only operation cannot root out militancy on a national level.
And that bodes poorly for the ultimate prospects of this much-needed offensive.
Courtesy: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By: Vikram Sood
Pakistan watchers would not find the current spate of terror in that country surprising because there has been a steady escalation in its lethality, its dramatic impact, geographical range and targets for some years. And that this has been mostly within Pakistan except for the attacks against Indian interests in Kabul and Mumbai in recent years. No one perhaps really noticed that Pakistani jihadis nurtured fondly for years, had gone into a catharsis of sorts soon after President Musharraf announced in September 2001 that he was reversing jihad. He was going to support the US in the war on terror in Afghanistan and, by implication, against some Pakistani jihadis. Musharraf had apparently been overawed by Washington’s “either you are with us or against us” message.
Unsurprisingly, for many more familiar with Pakistani behaviour and paranoia, it was known that this was going to be only selective reversal. The cooperation with the US was not meant to apply against the India-specific jihadis nurtured by Pakistan for years. Despite this selective approach to tackling jihadis, there were perhaps half a dozen attempts to assassinate Musaharraf by Islamic radicals between 2001 and 2003 — the most lethal being Christmas Day in 2003 when he had a miraculous escape. The attackers were professionals and they obviously had insider information about Musharraf’s movement that day.
The attack on the Karachi airport with instant media coverage, is perhaps the most high profile attack by Pakistani terrorists in recent years. Over time, Karachi has become a haven for the Taliban, sectarian militants, jihad financiers and Al Qaeda sleeper cells. With a high mix of criminal activity and a large Pukhtun population it is relatively easy for the Taliban to operate here. This would explain the ease with which there were two attacks on the airport on consecutive days.
There have been other, even more sinister and audacious attacks in Pakistan since the Lal Masjid episode in July 2007 in which 156 fundamentalist Islamists were killed in an operation by the elite SSG commandos. Attacks by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists on the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi in October 2009, the Pak naval base PNS Mehran in Karachi in May 2011 in apparent retaliation against the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier that month, the Kamra airbase in August 2012, and in December 2012 and the Bacha Khan airport in Peshawar were particularly audacious and exhibited a well thought out game-plan. Even the ISI Office in Lahore was attacked by the Taliban in May 2009 and later the ISI office in Sukkur was targeted. SSG commando training headquarters and the Sargodha air base had similarly been targets. These attacks were carried out by highly trained suicide squads armed with sophisticated weapons and aimed at inflicting maximum damage. Besides, high-profile strategic targets derive international publicity and send a message. Meanwhile the world, including Pakistanis, haven’t noticed the killing of 25 Shia pilgrims in Taftan, Balochistan, by Sunni terrorists, the day the airport was attacked.
Pakistan’s Federal minister for Planning & Development, Ahsan Iqbal’s son Ahmed Iqbal’s remarks against Pak Army
“The responsibility of all terrorist attacks falls squarely on the armed forces & intelligence agencies. People of Pakistan have made enough sacrifices. It is time that that these institutions start doing their job of protecting Pakistan & not themselves. There would no war, no Taliban, no external threat if they would have done their job. It is high time to not only hit back at terrorists but to secure Pakistan’s future by dealing with this menace. Spend on education, health, development, people & …. the army!” “Warna, yeh Taliban Ko Paalnay Waali, India Ko Ukssanay waali, Jamhoriat Ko Lapaytnay waali Fauj apnay bojh talay Is Mulk Ko Kuchal day gi.” ~ Ahmed Iqbal Chaudhary
Read more » http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=244363
More details »» Roznama Dunya
If the rise in fascist tendencies were sporadic, the concern might have been a notch lower. However, the way religious zealots were unleashed over the last several weeks, in what appears an orchestrated move by a well-oiled machine, is alarmingly ominous
Read more » Daily Times
In its increasingly violent effort to destroy the Pakistani state, the Pakistani Taliban have attacked, among other targets, army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, an air base in Kamra and an airport in Peshawar. The brazen assault over the weekend on the international airport in Karachi takes the campaign to a new level, striking at the country’s largest city and one of its most important commercial centers. Though militants and gangs operate freely there, Karachi is home to Pakistan’s central bank, a stock exchange and its hopes for desperately needed economic resurgence.
Will this be the crisis that finally persuades Pakistan’s government and its powerful military to acknowledge the Taliban’s pernicious threat and confront it in a comprehensive way? It should be. The attack is proof that the security is crumbling and the military, the country’s strongest institution, is in danger of losing control.
The siege lasted five hours after 10 gunmen, disguised as security forces and armed with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests, breached checkpoints near an old terminal used mostly for cargo or private flights for senior government officials and business leaders. Paramilitary security guards pinned them down; when the firefight was over, the militants and 19 others were dead.
It was another humiliating security breach for the army and the spy service, and many Pakistanis are rightly wondering why it was not prevented. Only weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban appeared to be fractured and in disarray. One reason is the military’s long fixation with India. Wedded to an outmoded vision of India as the mortal enemy, the army plays a double-game, taking American aid while supporting and exploiting Taliban groups as a hedge against India and Afghanistan, and ignoring the peril that the militants have come to pose to Pakistan itself. While that attitude has slowly begun to change, the army still has not assigned enough urgency to the Taliban, the real threat.
The result has been a total absence of any sustained, coherent military response to the militants. Torn between fighting and negotiating, the army and government have undertaken episodic military strikes interspersed with peace talks, which invariably fall apart. The collapse of the most recent peace process undertaken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in February was followed by a campaign of airstrikes against Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the airport massacre, which a Taliban spokesman said was in retaliation for recent attacks by the government. He said that more such assaults could be expected, meanwhile insisting that the group still wants to revive peace talks.
Which on the face of it seems preposterous — given recent events, one has to assume the militants will stop at nothing until the state is utterly destabilized and they have taken control. Pakistani political and military leaders need to be honest about the militant threat that they and their people are facing, and that time to find a solution is fast running out.
Courtesy: The New York Times
Terrorists attacked Karachi Airport today. Fortunately the airport security force managed to keep them away from the passenger terminal and the army responded effectively and now claims to have killed all the terrorists with relatively limited damage to the airport.
This is not the first major terrorist attack in Pakistan and unfortunately it will not be the last. Efforts to blame India for the attack have moved ahead remarkably quickly (both ARY news and Express News are highlighting that the weapons used by the attackers are of Indian manufacture).
Alhamdolillah, the script has not changed.
NOTHING it seems can ever change the script. Pakistan is always the innocent victims of conspiracies launched by RAW, MOSSAD and CIA. We are caught in someone else’s war. Yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill..
Who are we to challenge the geniuses who make policy in Pakistan, but is it possible that there could have been a different script? Let us try the following script (and dear Paknationalists, do take my word for it, its in YOUR interest to think about this version, it sounds harsh, but in the long run, it will help…a lot):
1. Pakistan was the base for an international operation directed against the Soviet/pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. For this operation we happily cooperated with the CIA, Saudi intelligence and others. We invited highly motivated mujahideen from all over the Muslim world to please come and join this effort. We provided them facilities, we provided them training and we provided them weapons. To improve the flow of Islamic fanatics, the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spared no expense, building international networks of the same and building a network of thousands of Islamic seminaries across the length and breadth of Pakistan. In 1989, the Russians left Afghanistan and in 1992 the pro-Russian regime there collapsed and “our boys” won…and proceeded to rape and pillage across the length and breadth of the country. America having accomplished its mission of bleeding Russia and “avenging Vietnam”, left the place, but Pakistan’s strategic planners were not done.
2. The vast jihadist infrastructure created for the Afghan war was reoriented to Kashmir and towards internal “Islamization” in Pakistan, and continued to expand. More terrorists were trained in the 1990s AFTER the CIA had left than were trained during the Afghan war. An alphabet soup of terrorist organization was created and operated openly throughout the 1990s. Some of them went beyond the call of duty and attacked Shias in “settled areas” (attacking Shias in tribal areas was never a high-priority crime) and also attacked some “brother Arab regimes” (e.g. the Egyptian embassy). Such rogue elements were targeted by security agencies to various extents, but NO attempt was made to slow down (much less reverse) the larger Jihadi effort.
3. By chance or planning or both, a pro-Pakistan regime under the Taliban was established in most of Afghanistan and became a refuge for various groups of Islamic terrorists. Some of them were approved of, some were left alone, some were considered hostile by us. Details remains murky and confused.
4. In 2001 America was attacked in New York and Washington DC. The mainstream opinion is that this attack was launched by Islamist terrorists whose group was headquartered in Afghanistan. The US decided to invade Afghanistan to clear them out. Whatever other motivations the US may have had (let us assume there were some), it does seem that the US became more or less anti-Jihadist (at least in the Afpak region) at that point. Pakistan publicly announced it was switching sides and would henceforth support the US operation in Afghanistan and would no longer allow Jihadists to operate freely from Pakistan.
4. If various people who write about Pakistani security agencies are to be believed, we did not actually switch sides. In fact our president (Musharraf) even made a speech to the nation in which he gave the example of “sulah e Hudaybia” (a pact the prophet of Islam made with his enemies in Mecca, but which was followed a few years later by the complete defeat of the Meccan pagans; the link was EXPLICITLY made that we are making a similar deal with America; our aims remain unchanged, but we will adjust course temporarily). Instead of truly switching sides, our “strategic geniuses” decided to keep Afghanistan “simmering but not boiling” (to quote the most recent “authoritative” article by Waj Khan). We continued to support “good Taliban” in order to make sure the new regime did not stabilize in Afghanistan. We continued to maintain Kashmiri terrorist organizations in some sort of cold storage (these are not controversial claims. Bona fide patriotic strategic thinkers have said all this and more at various points). We cleared some areas of some terrorists but not all areas of all terrorists. We continue to try and separate good jihadis from bad jihadis etc etc.
Karachi (AFP) – Heavily armed militants attacked Pakistan’s busiest airport in the southern city of Karachi Sunday night, forcing the suspension of all flights, officials said.
Senior police official Rao Muhammad Anwar said the militants were armed with automatic weapons and grenades and were exchanging gunfire with security officials.
“Exchange of fire is continuing. We don’t know the exact number of the attackers but suspect four to six terrorists have attacked the airport,” he said.
Read more » Yahoo News
ISLAMABAD: Geo News is suing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for defamation over accusations of being anti-state, it said on Friday.
Geo News, part of the privately-owned Jang Group, has also given the ISI 14 days to issue a public apology.
“Geo and Jang Group (have) served a legal notice on the Ministry of Defence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for defaming and maligning the group,” the channel said in a report published in a newspaper owned by the media house.
“More than 8,000 journalists, workers and professionals attached to the group and their families are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”
The suing by Geo News was followed by a suspension of the channel’s license for 15 days along with a fine of Rs10 million.
Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, Author: C Christine Fair, Publisher: Oxford University, Hardcover: 368 pages
Fair’s assessment of the Pakistan army is out: it is an ideological war machine that is not amenable to any inducements or assuaging of its security concerns. Professor C Christine Fair, a security studies expert at Georgetown University, has produced a formidably comprehensive evaluation of what keeps the Pakistan army ticking, to what end and through what means. The book, divided into 11 chapters, is a painstaking endeavour to understand the strategic or corporate culture of the army, its motivation, motives and moves and what factors within or from outside Pakistan could have any bearing on it. Professor Fair’s compendium ravages the notion that Pakistan is a security-seeking state located in a rough neighbourhood and if the international powers, especially the USA, could guarantee or facilitate its wellbeing by leaning on India and to an extent on Afghanistan, the country could be weaned off its toxic jihadist habit. The work looks at the Pakistan army through the lens of its own publications including journals and the Green Books to posit that Islam, the Two Nation Theory (TNT), the 1947 Partition, jihad and a fetish for asymmetric warfare via proxies was virtually baked into the entity carved out of the British Indian Army.