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 email@example.com)
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.
Written by Fatima Tassadiq
NEW DELHI: Terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said today.
“According to information given to us by a Western intelligence agency, the perpetrators of the Herat attack belonged to the LeT. This was mentioned in writing in the report shared with us,” he said.
Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy
LAHORE, Pakistan — “I used to feel my life was too straight, too linear.”
The speaker was Junaid Hafeez, a young poet and Fulbright scholar from the south of Pakistan, telling a radio show host in 2011 why he had given up studying medicine for a life in literature. Today, he is in jail on a blasphemy charge that carries the death penalty, and is mourning the lawyer who was murdered earlier this month for defending him.
Before his arrest, Hafeez was teaching in the English Department at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, a city in Punjab Province close to where he grew up. His personal charisma and liberal views had won him a following among students, as well as the envious attention of faculty members.
One day in 2013, a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of the hard-line Jamaat-i-Islami party, accused Hafeez of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The student had no evidence, but no evidence was needed.
Hard-line students soon held a protest crying out for Hafeez’s execution. University administrators backed away. The police registered a case for blasphemy against Hafeez. They did not ask cybercrime specialists to investigate the accusation, relying instead on a fatwa issued by a seminary.
For months Hafeez’s father tried to find a lawyer. Finally he petitioned Rashid Rehman, the 53-year-old special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. A legal expert with 20 years of activism, Rehman was known as a go-to lawyer for hopeless causes. Despite the danger, he agreed to take Hafeez’s case. Defending a man accused of blasphemy, Rehman told a reporter in April, was like “walking into the jaws of death.”
Those jaws have been open wide since the 1980s, when the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq updated a set of colonial laws that criminalized “insulting the religion of any class of persons.” The original laws were devised in the late 19th century by a paternalistic British government trying to keep its multifaith subjects from fighting one another. Those laws were worded generally, and prescribed fines and, at most, two-year prison terms.
General Zia’s amendments particularized the insults and tailored the provisions to favor a stringent Sunni strain of Islam. They criminalized the desecration of the Quran, any defiling of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, and disrespectful remarks about his companions — a jab at Pakistan’s Shiite minorities, who dispute the outcome of the succession struggle that followed the Prophet’s death. Moreover, any attempt by members of the outlawed Ahmadi sect to refer to themselves as Muslims was criminalized. Punishments were upgraded: Blasphemers could be executed or jailed for life.
General Zia died in an air crash in 1988, but his legacy remains. It includes the empowerment of theological figures in every stratum of life — from clerics and televangelists to fanatical academics and Shariah judges — all aided in their righteous endeavors by a legislature that remains intractably Zia-ist.
The blasphemy laws are part of this package. For decades they had been rarely used, with only a handful of cases before the mid-1980s. But General Zia’s amendments opened the floodgates: More than a thousand cases have been reported since then, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Just last week the Punjabi police, prompted by a Sunni extremist, brought blasphemy charges against 68 lawyers.
The blasphemy laws can serve just about anyone with a dark design — an angry relative, an envious colleague, a neighbor with his eye on your property. But the greatest beneficiary has been the professional Islamists, who specialize in their application to encroach on both state and society.
By Irfan Haider
ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) on Tuesday alleged that there is an “Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) within the ISI” which is involved in kidnapping and killings of innocent people across Pakistan.
Commenting on a motion in the Senate regarding ongoing political situation in the country, JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said the ISI was behind the incidents of missing persons and mass graves in Balochistan.
Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf had said that there were some people within the ISI ranks who were not under the control of its chief while former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also said in his verdicts that the ISI was involved in the cases of missing persons, the JUI-F senator said.
“It was not decide since the independence (of Pakistan) that who will rule the country … either it will be the Parliament or those institutions whose employees get pays from the taxes of the nation,” he said.
Hamdullah said it was an alarming situation that the violators of Constitution were being considered as faithful and those who introduced the Constitution of 1973 were being considered as traitor in the country.
He also criticised the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) which was protesting against the alleged rigging in the May 11 elections.
Anyone who has ever travelled abroad will tell you that no matter where you go, no matter how developed the country it is that you’re travelling to – if you’re a British national or a Caucasian American, the doors become friendlier. The security becomes less pressurising. Visa queues are shorter. Procedures are simpler.
If you’re a brown Pakistani man (or even woman) who is travelling to another country – that’s a whole other story. You’re working in the Middle East, chances are your salary is just a little bit above the basic working wage – or anything that will get you a bed-space with seven other human beings. Respect is minimal. You’re not supposed to ruffle any feathers. Or demand for rights. Your children are thousands of miles away studying (because you can’t afford education for them here), your wife probably has another job to help make ends meet and your job squeezes every drop of your blood into a tiny container that helps build the skyscrapers and that little container is thrown away quicker than you can say ‘burj’, as soon as your company decides to say bye bye.
Pretty much the equivalent of… well, I don’t know. What is that the equivalent of? What analogy do I draw to represent the utter misery that is being a Pakistani in this super-power dominated world?
As if the current state of the country, what with its years of dictatorship and lack of infrastructure, hasn’t driven us insane enough, there is the added bonus of inviting religious extremists and letting them destroy everything we hold near and dear. Sure, apologists will reason it saying “this is not true Islam” and whatnot. But my question is when – seriously – when do we set aside the debate of what is true Islam and what isn’t?
Let the clerics and the religious scholars sit in their mosques and minibars – oh I meant minbars. But once and for all, eliminate and annihilate the savage, beastly, cowardly, immoral men who buy the bodies of fragile, poverty-stricken, desperate men, strap them with explosives and send them into markets with innocent women and children. Finish these abhorrent elements in the society that attempt to throw us back to the Stone Age.
Read more » The Express Tribune
Our great leader has taken the pulse of Twitter and Facebook (or heard good news from on high) and has decided to throw caution to the wind and board the anti-GEO bandwagon.
Sadly, once more, he may be boarding the wrong train. The army’s ability to swing itself into the harness and give orders has been slowly but steadily weakening for years. Zardari’s successful tenure (successful in not falling to a coup) and the peaceful transfer of power to MNS were baby steps. A major Paknationalist media empire deciding its time to openly challenge the ISI after its reporter is shot (by the ISI or by someone else) is a bigger step (because it means serious sections of the ruling elite feel it is time they can do this). This is not to condone GEO’s method of making the accusation, or their odious past record of labeling others as thieves, traitors, etc. That is all condemn-able and has been condemned in the past and should be condemned now. But their willingness to do so still indicates that they perceived a power shift.
The deep state (and its useful-idiot supporters in the PTI fan-base) have since mobilized to teach GEO a lesson and to show them who is still boss…but it is not exactly going as planned. It took a few days, but liberal fascists (a term GEO and Hamid Mir freely popularized when they and the establishment were on the same page) continue to pop up to question the army’s right to label GEO (or anyone else) as traitors. More significantly, MNS does not seem to be cooperating. Astute politicians like Zardari will soon get the hint (if they have not already got it) that there is not going to be a coup and its time to stand aside and let the ISI expose itself and its remaining supporters for what they are: people out of step with Pakistani political reality. (Look at the dozens or at most hundreds of people showing up to wave pro-ISI posters at rallies).
That leaves Imran Khan.
As expected, he has miscalculated. Thinking this whole sorry scheme of things entire may be wound up soon, he has boldly stepped forward (after waffling for a few days) and has now discovered that GEO is the enemy and he is ready to boycott them.
By doing so he stands ready to lose either way:
1. He is wrong and MNS and GEO both survive this episode, leaving him with abundant egg on his face after yet another failed “mobilization/revolution”.
2. He has picked the “winning side” and the deep state will kill GEO and MNS (killing one without the other is not likely to be much help) on May 11th (the day Khan sahib and Canadian-gun-for-hire Tahir Ul Qadri are supposed to launch their campaign against this “corrupt system”). What then? He will find himself marked as a supporter of what will surely be Pakistan’s last and least successful coup. The inevitable disasters that follow will end his political career (and possibly more than that).
RAWALPINDI – A ban has been imposed on a private media group including its television channels at all offices of the Pakistan Army with immediate effect, a private ARY News channel reported on Wednesday.
The channel reported that there will be a blanket ban on the newspapers of the Independent Media Corporation, which owns the Jang Group of Newspapers and the Geo TV network, at all army offices, mess and units.
Hamid Mir’s guardian angel was watching over him perhaps. Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist and media personality, survived despite receiving multiple bullet injuries. He may be out of the woods medically but the violent threat to him and the Pakistani media at large has not dissipated. Mir was not the first journalist to be targeted with such brutal impunity and, unfortunately, will not be the last. Someone in the deep, convoluted bowels of society is getting really, really desperate. It seems like the war for the narrative and on those who may shape it has just entered a new and more deadly phase.
After a similar attack on the journalist Raza Rumi last month, I noted in my column ‘Hooked on jihadism’ (Daily Times, April 3, 2014) that “the Committee to Protect Journalists’ optimism notwithstanding, the Pakistani state is unlikely to kick its jihadist drug habit. The space for those citizens, especially media persons who do not conform, will continue to shrink. Raza Rumi, and others like him, will be left to fend for themselves.” The usual suspects seem gung-ho on either taming or eliminating the dissenting voices. The relentless assault on the media appears to be from both the state and non-state actors or some combination thereof. The attack on Express Television this past January was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan while the one on Raza Rumi has apparently been traced to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ringleader Malik Ishaq. Many attacks, like the multiple bomb attacks on the residence of the Express Tribune’s Peshawar bureau chief, Jamshed Baghwan, have not been claimed by anyone.
Hamid Mir’s brother, Amir Mir — also a veteran journalist who has written extensively about the military-jihadist nexus — has directly blamed the ISI for the attack on Mir. Amnesty International’s (AI’s) Deputy Asia-Pacific Director David Griffiths has said in an e-mailed statement that, in the past three years, “Mir had on two occasions told the Amnesty International that he believed his life was under threat from different actors, including the ISI and the Pakistani Taliban.” Saying that they do not know who is responsible for the attack, the AI has called for bringing the perpetrators to book “regardless of their affiliations to any state institution, political party or any other group”. The Director General ISPR has since refuted Amir Mir’s allegations and an ISPR press release stated, “An independent inquiry must immediately be carried out to ascertain facts.”
Proposes three-point formula to normalise situation
LAHORE – Former Army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg on Monday proposed a three-point formula to normalise the tense civil-military relations, warning the government of an Egypt-like change in case urgent steps were not taken in accordance with his suggestions.
He said the high treason case against Gen Pervez Musharraf should be dropped and he should be allowed to go abroad; the Pemra should ensure that no TV channel telecasts programmes that undermine the prestige of the army; and ministers or other leaders should be barred from speaking against the people who defend the country even at the cost of their lives. Talking to The Nation, he said the civil setup would face no threat and the situation would normalise within no time if the government acted in the light of his suggestions. Otherwise, he said, a military general would take over, just like Gen El-Sisi did in Egypt, and the United States would support the change for its own interests.
Gen Beg was of the firm view that the Constitution would not be able to block a military intervention if the rulers did not give the army its due respect. “ZulifikarAli Bhutto had said the 1973 Constitution would bury martial laws, but it was the martial law that buried Bhutto”.
Afghanistan has voted. And wow, what a lot of voting there was! Millions of Afghans turned out and voted in an election where a vote for anyone was a vote against Mullah Umar and his backers. Now it may be that the results will not be accepted, that the winners will fight each other or that the good feeling will evaporate as some future Taliban offensive shakes the state. But if the results are credible and are accepted, then it may well be (to quote journalist Tahir Mehdi) that April 5th 2014 will be to strategic depth what December 16th 1971 was to the two-nation theory.
Of course, one may then point out that the Two Nation theory has had a very healthy Zombie existence since 1971. But even the healthiest Zombie is still a Zombie. Dying is forever.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.
In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”
Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.
The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.
At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.
History does NOT repeat itself. If ever it looks like it’s stuck in a rut and moving in circles, do take a closer look. Each circle may be wider than the previous one or it might have tilted along a different axis. The trajectory of events in Afghanistan cannot defy this basic rule of history.
The Taliban rose to power in mid-1990s and were ousted when the US and its allies launched military operations in Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, starting what is termed as ‘War on Terror’. The Taliban, however, have managed to loom large as a specter for the past 12 years and now threaten to make a comeback or so some want us to believe. Will they be able to do that? I think not. Here are my five reasons why:
1: There is no anarchy in Afghanistan now
When the Taliban rose to power in the mid-1990s, Afghanistan was in utter chaos. The decade-long crippling war was succeeded by internecine fights among the greedy, ruthless and brutal mujahedeen warlords – it seemed endless. The country had lost even a semblance of a state, rule of law had completely departed and social order rested on simple tribal ‘principles’ like might is right. The weakest and the poorest suffered the most.
By David Rohde
REUTERS – In a nation more associated with calamity than consensus, the initial results of Saturday’s Afghan presidential election are startling.
Despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations nationwide, the same percentage of Afghans turned out to vote – roughly 58 percent – as did Americans in the 2012 U.S. presidential race. Instead of collapsing, Afghan security forces effectively secured the vote.
And a leading candidate to replace Hamid Karzai is Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank technocrat who has a PhD in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, a Lebanese Christian wife, and an acclaimed book and TED talk entitled “Fixing Failed States.”
“Relative to what we were expecting, it’s very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban,” Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview from Kabul on Monday “And a very good day for the Afghan people.”
Two forces that have long destabilized the country – its political elite and its neighbors – could easily squander the initial success. Evidence of large-scale fraud could could undermine the legitimacy of the election and exacerbate long-running ethnic divides. And outside powers could continue to fund and arm the Taliban and disgruntled Afghan warlords, as they have for decades.