Muslims around the world are gathering for Friday prayers, and in one neighbourhood in the US state of Virginia, the worshippers will enter a building that could hardly be further from a traditional mosque.
At a time when religious differences are sparking conflict in the Middle East and beyond – it is cooperation between two faiths which is allowing this unique programme flourish.
The BBC’s Katty Kay reports on how the Jewish community opened its doors because the area’s mosques could not accommodate all of the growing Muslim population.
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By Chris Allbritton, Reuters
ISLAMABAD – (Reuters) – The death of a senior al Qaeda leader in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal badlands, the first strike in almost two months, signaled that the U.S.-Pakistan intelligence partnership is still in operation despite political tensions.
The Jan 10 strike — and its follow-up two days later — were joint operations, a Pakistani security source based in the tribal areas told Reuters.
They made use of Pakistani “spotters” on the ground and demonstrated a level of coordination that both sides have sought to downplay since tensions erupted in January 2011 with the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in Lahore.
“Our working relationship is a bit different from our political relationship,” the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity. “It’s more productive.”
U.S. and Pakistani sources told Reuters that the target of the Jan 10 attack was Aslam Awan, a Pakistani national from Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden was killed last May by a U.S. commando team.
They said he was targeted in a strike by a U.S.-operated drone directed at what news reports said was a compound near the town of Miranshah in the border province of North Waziristan.
That strike broke an undeclared eight-week hiatus in attacks by the armed, unmanned drones that patrol the tribal areas and are a key weapon in U.S. President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy.
The sources described Awan, also known by the nom-de-guerre Abdullah Khorasani, as a significant figure in the remaining core leadership of al Qaeda, which U.S. officials say has been sharply reduced by the drone campaign. Most of the drone attacks are conducted as part of a clandestine CIA operation.
The Pakistani source, who helped target Awan, could not confirm that he was killed, but the U.S. official said he was. European officials said Awan had spent time in London and had ties to British extremists before returning to Pakistan.
The source, who says he runs a network of spotters primarily in North and South Waziristan, described for the first time how U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on strikes works, with his Pakistani agents keeping close tabs on suspected militants and building a pattern of their movements and associations.
“We run a network of human intelligence sources,” he said. “Separately, we monitor their cell and satellite phones.
“Thirdly, we run joint monitoring operations with our U.S. and UK friends,” he added, noting that cooperation with British intelligence was also extensive.
Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officers, using their own sources, hash out a joint “priority of targets lists” in regular face-to-face meetings, he said.
“Al Qaeda is our top priority,” he said.
He declined to say where the meetings take place.
Once a target is identified and “marked,” his network coordinates with drone operators on the U.S. side. He said the United States bases drones outside Kabul, likely at Bagram airfield about 25 miles north of the capital.
From spotting to firing a missile “hardly takes about two to three hours,” he said.
DRONE STRIKES A SORE POINT WITH PAKISTAN
It was impossible to verify the source’s claims and American experts, who decline to discuss the drone program, say the Pakistanis’ cooperation has been less helpful in the past.
U.S. officials have complained that when information on drone strikes was shared with the Pakistanis beforehand, the targets were often tipped off, allowing them to escape.
Drone strikes have been a sore point with the public and Pakistani politicians, who describe them as violations of sovereignty that produce unacceptable civilian casualties.
The last strike before January had been on Nov 16, 10 days before 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in what NATO says was an inadvertent cross-border attack on a Pakistani border post.
That incident sent U.S.-Pakistan relations into the deepest crisis since Islamabad joined the U.S.-led war on militancy following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. On Thursday, Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said ties were “on hold” while Pakistan completes a review of the alliance.
The United States sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, where U.S.-led NATO forces are battling a Taliban insurgency.
Some U.S. and Pakistani officials say that both sides are trying to improve ties. As part of this process, a U.S. official said, it is possible that some permanent changes could be made in the drone program which could slow the pace of attacks.
The security source said very few innocent people had been killed in the strikes. When a militant takes shelter in a house or compound which is then bombed, “the ones who are harboring him, they are equally responsible,” he said.
“When they stay at a host house, they (the hosts) obviously have sympathies for these guys.”
He denied that Pakistan helped target civilians.
“If … others say innocents have been targeted, it’s not true,” he said. “We never target civilians or innocents.”
The New America Foundation policy institute says that of 283 reported strikes from 2004 to Nov 16, 2011, between 1,717 and 2,680 people were killed. Between 293 and 471 were thought to be civilians — approximately 17 percent of those killed.
The Brookings Institution, however, says civilian deaths are high, reporting in 2009 that “for every militant killed, 10 or more civilians also died.” Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, also said in April 2011 that “the majority of victims are innocent civilians.”
Still, despite its public stance, Pakistan has quietly supported the drone program since Obama ramped up air strikes when he took office in 2009 and even asked for more flights.
According to a U.S. State Department cable published by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, Pakistan’s chief of army staff General Ashfaq Kayani in February 2008 asked Admiral William J. Fallon, then-commander of U.S. Central Command, for increased surveillance and round-the-clock drone coverage over North and South Waziristan.
The security source said Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, also was supportive of the strikes, albeit privately.
via » Siasat.pk
The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).
Courtesy: → DAWN NEWS (News night with Talat, 9th September 2011-1)
MQM has machinery for violence in Karachi: says Asma Jahangir, President Supreme Court Bar Association
- MQM has machinery for violence in Karachi: Asma Jahangir
By Ahmed Jung
KARACHI: Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Asma Jahangir on Tuesday said the recently released Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports showed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had machinery through which it carried out acts of violence in the city.
Speaking during today’s suo motu hearing on Karachi violence, she said the reports not only showed how they carried out the operations, but also how their cells were operating.
The SCBA president said that bhatta collection had been there before the MQM but had become more sophisticated when the party was founded.
She said the situation in the city was very complex and members of the judiciary themselves had experienced that during the May 12 incident.
Jahangir said families of the victims were looking towards the court for justice. ….
Read more → The Express Tribune
London: “Save Sindh Rally London” Was held jointly By world Sindhi Congress & Baloch Human Rights Council with others on 21 August in front of British prime minister’s official residence 10 Downing Street London. A petition was handed over by a delegation.
Courtesy: → Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 25 August, 2011.
Karachi – Sindh (Press release) : Seven parties of left and nationalist leaning met in Karachi to discuss the prevailing political situation in Sindh and evolve joint strategy to cope with the situation. The meeting was attended by the representatives of Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), Labour Party (LPP), Communist party of Pakistan (CPP), National Party (NP), Jeay Sindh Mahaz(JSM), Awami Party Pakistan (APP) and Watan Dost Inqlabi party(WIP).
The one day meeting was hosted by Labour Party Sindh and presided over by veteran leftist leader Yusuf Masti Khan. The participants discuss in detail and brief about party position on the situation. The parties have unanimously approved the following points
· No compromise on the historic national integrity and oneness of Sindh
· Sindh is home land of different ethnic, lingual groups and they are part and parcel Sindhi nation, any move to divide the people on ethnic and lingual basis will be resisted.
· Condemn the interferences of foreign diplomats and emissaries in the affairs of Sindh and their backup and support to armed ethnic outfits instigate them to divide the Sindh on ethnic lines.
· Condemn the demand to declare the capital of Sindh, Karachi as the Federal capital and consider it the deep rooted conspiracy to separate the city from Sindh again. No to Nazmmen system, considers it breach on provincial autonomy, vehicle to control the district directly from center. No to commissioner system which put all the power in the hand of hand full of bureaucrats, a local bodies system should be evolved catering the needs of masses on grass roots scale and within the parameter of national autonomy.
· It was reiterated again that Pakistan is a multinational state and each nation have full-fledged right on their resources and to run their affairs. Right of Self determination is an indisputable right of every nation.
· Pakistan is in the clutches of chronic feudal system, to unleash the democratic norms and for the emancipation of vast majority of poor masses abolish feudal system and introduce revolutionary land reforms.
· Condemn military operation against Baloch nation and demand to end army operation in Baluchistan, release all arrested and missing Baloch activists.
· Condemn the scheme to create new provinces on administrative bases and demand to creation provinces on nationhood and historical grounds.
A 14 member Working Group, two members from each party was also formed in the meeting to discuss in detail the possibilities of joint program and points for the struggle and the committee meeting will be held on Sunday 21 August in Karachi, Sindh.
The meeting was attended by Akhter Hussain Advocate, A.R. Arif and salahudin Gandapur (Workers Party), Comrade Latif leghari, Comrade Bakshal Thalho and Nasir Mansoor (Labour party), Abdul Khaliq Junejo and Ayaz Hakro (Jeay Sindh Mahaz), Ramzan Memon, Ghulam Mohammad Jadoon Advocate and Yusuf Khatak (Awami Party), Jan Mohammad Buledi (National Party), Imdad Qazi, Dr Nisar Ali Shah (Communist Party) and Dost Mohammed Channa, Mohammad Khan Ahmdani and Dasgir Uqaili ( Watan Dost Inqalabi Party).
Courtesy: → Sindhi + Pakistani lists/ e-groups, August 20, 2011.
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
WASHINGTON — Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that he believed that the government of Pakistan had “sanctioned” the killing of a Pakistani journalist who had written scathing reports about the infiltration of Islamic militants into the country’s security services.
Admiral Mullen, who is due to retire at the end of September, is the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan, an American ally, of the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, 40. His comments about a case that has intensified criticism of the government in Islamabad are certain to further aggravate the poisoned relationship between the United States and Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden was killed in an American raid in May.
Admiral Mullen said he could not specifically tie Mr. Shahzad’s death to Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, known as the ISI, although Obama administration officials believe that the ISI ordered the killing. But Admiral Mullen made clear that he thought Pakistani officials were complicit in Mr. Shahzad’s death. ….
Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES
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More details → BBC urdu
By Badar Alam
After all the hullabaloo about the civilian supremacy over the military, the parliament’s joint session has ended up achieving the opposite of what leaked reports on the military and intelligence bosses being on the defensive might suggest.
The unanimous resolution passed at the end of the session has reaffirmed and validated Pakistan’s flawed security discourse –espoused and led by the military and its supporters among politicians and media pundits: That the United States of America – in cahoots with India – is out to destroy Pakistan. What else can explain the worrying absence from the resolution of both Osama bin Laden and the terrorist organisations on the prowl across the country with their poisonous ideologies and lethal strategies to implement them?
Bin Laden was no ordinary criminal on the run from the law. He had been ordering, planning and sponsoring acts of terrorism across the globe using our territory. And in a gross violation of our territorial sanctity, the world’s most wanted terrorist, whose organisation al Qaeda more than once declared war on Pakistan, has been living just outside the country’s top military academy reportedly for years.
Still, the parliamentarians forgot to refer to the fact that by virtue of his visa-less stay in Abbottabad, he has been undermining Pakistan’s sovereignty and subverting the sacredness of our borders as much as the American helicopters did when they invaded Pakistan to capture and kill him.
Whether this omission is deliberate or accidental, it confirms the most dominant view in our security and intelligence discourse that the roots of Pakistan’s problems lie outside of the country and not inside. Besides the obvious demerits of this flawed approach which has exposed Pakistan to hostile neighbors on both its eastern and western borders, it allows the military, the government, the parliament and the intelligentsia the luxury to bury their heads in the sand as the chances of an implosion of the state and the society become increasingly imminent around them.
The problem with such smugness is that it wants an immediate end to drone attacks and is willing to go to any lengths to have them stopped but is willing to look the other way as terrorists – operating illegally out of our territory – continue to commit horrible crimes against humanity, within Pakistan as well as outside it.
The parliamentarians have not just underestimated the global anxiety over terrorism emanating from our own backyard, they have also undermined the sacrifices of 35,000 civilians and about 5000 security personnel who lost their lives to terrorist attacks. Or did they actually die fighting against some aliens descended on us through the American drones? By choosing to ignore these issues, the parliament looks like having answered this question in the affirmative.
ISLAMABAD: PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif refused to attend Friday’s in-camera joint session of the parliament in protest against the increasing role of the ISI and army in politics.
During Friday’s in-house session,the army chief is due to brief the legislators on the U.S. strike in the Garrison city of Abbottabad and answer their questions.
The military command is said to be taking this parliamentary briefing a lot more seriously than the one it had given about the Swat operation two years ago.
Although Sharif is not a legislator, he was especially invited by the Prime Minister to attend Friday’s briefing. However, the PML-N chief said he declined the invitation, adding that Pakistan will not be able to progress unless the role of the ISI and Army is restricted.
As mentioned in a previous report published in The Express Tribune, the military command is expecting a barrage of sharp questions from the political leadership, most notably the opposition led by PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, during the course of the briefing.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan gave a fiery speech this Tuesday, accusing both the military and civilian leaders of incompetence and deceiving the Pakistani people, demanding an independent national commission to investigate the events of May 2, when a US special forces unit killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a ‘black’ operation in Abbottabad.
The PML-N chief, who demanded a judicial inquiry into the Abbottabad security failure, said he is ready to extend his three-day deadline if the government agrees to consider his demand.
Nawaz Sharif, who came under attack after his brother Shahbaz Sharif secretly, met the army chief, assured that there will no more be such secret meetings in the future.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune
Insufficient formal response dismayed public: COAS
ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressed the officers at Rawalpindi, Kharian and Sialkot garrisons on Monday.
He discussed one point agenda of Abbottabad incident, says a press release issued by ISPR.
He said that Abbottabad incident has been in sharp public focus. Incomplete information and lack of technical details have resulted in speculations and misreporting.
Public dismay and despondency has also been aggravated due to insufficient formal response.
It is believed that people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence through their honourable elected representatives.
The Chief of Army Staff said that he has requested the Honourable Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to kindly consider convening of a joint session of the Parliament for briefing on security issues as related to Abbottabad incident. …
Read more : The News
Admiral Mullen’s Secret Deal
How the Pentagon Supervised Raymond Davis’ Release and How the CIA Took Its Revenge
By SHAUKAT QADIR
[Please note : The writer is a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.]
On February 23, at a beach resort, Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, Pakistan army’s chief assisted by a two star officer met with Admiral Mike Mullen, US Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, assisted by Gen. David Petraeus, and three other high ranking officials, to find a military-diplomatic solution to untangle this web that CIA operatives had spun around both governments. This has been a fairly consistent tradition. On every occasion when relations between Pakistan and the United States have soured (a not infrequent occurrence) the militaries have remained in contact and, invariably, have found a way forward.
The day after this meeting, a military officer posted at the US Embassy in Islamabad travelled to Lahore and met Davis in Kot Lakpat jail. Within 48 hours of this meeting, almost 50 individuals associated with the Tehreek-eTaliban Pakistan (TTP), including Pashtuns, Punjabis, and some foreigners (nationalities unknown, though one of them is said to be an Aryan) who had been in contact with Davis were arrested. Presumably, Davis ‘sang’, though probably to only a limited degree, on instructions.
Within the same period, a large number of Americans, estimated at between 30 to 45, who had been residing in rented accommodations (like Davis and his associates who had killed a motorcyclist while unsuccessfully attempting to rescue Davis) outside the Embassy/Consulate premises in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, and Quetta left for the US. It is safe to conclude that these were either CIA, Black ops, or associated personnel from security agencies like Xe.
The intelligence business is broadly divided into two categories: human intelligence, known as HUMINT and electronic intelligence, known as ELINT. The latter has numerous subdivisions: SIGINT (Signals intelligence, also known as COMINT; communication intelligence), Imagery intelligence etc. It appears, therefore, that the deal struck between the military leadership included a shut down of CIA’s HUMINT operations in Pakistan, retaining only ELINT, Davis would ‘sing’, within limits, of course, and only then could Blood Money be negotiated for his release. And the US would be bled in that final deal also so as to ensure the safety and the future of the immediate families of both Davis’s victims.
At the height of the debate on the question of Raymond Davis’ immunity from trial for murder, this writer emphasized that Pakistan could not release him without a trial. A trial took duly place and, in accordance with prevalent law in Pakistan, the next of kin of the deceased young men, pardoned Davis in return for ‘Blood Money’. However outlandish this law might seem to those peoples whose countries have their based on Anglo-Saxon principles, such is the law in Pakistan and so there was nothing underhand in what transpired.
Amongst analysts and journalists there were basically two opposing responses to his release, though there was (and is) an occasional sane voice to be heard, throughout the saga. One category of people had been arguing since Davis’ arrest that he should be granted immunity since Pakistan, given its precarious economy, weak government, and the prevalent security situation, could not afford to fall afoul of the US. For this factionhis release through the judicial system was the next best outcome of the disastrous mistake that had been committed in arresting him!
The opposing view was that it is time and more, that Pakistan asserts its sovereignty and national pride to ensure that Davis is awarded no less than his due: the death penalty. It is ironic that the bulk of those who held this view are all supporters of the imposition of Islamic laws including those on blasphemy, Blood Money (the law that ensured Davis’ pardon), and a host of other issues and, even after Davis’ release under these laws, any attempt to get rid of such laws would be opposed by them, tooth and nail.
While the accusations leveled by the prosecution that the families of Faizan and Faheem, the two men killed by Davis, were coerced into accepting the deal offered to them in exchange for their pardoning Davis, is a pack of nonsense, since the entire family was under the active protection of the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, there is absolutely no doubt that the ISI (and, therefore, GHQ) assisted in brokering the deal. In fact, I would be very surprised if both families had not been continuously advised by fairly senior-level representatives of the ISI as to what and how much they should ask for. ….
Read more : Counterpunch
SINDH – HYDERABAD, Feb 20: Leaders of nationalist and left-wing parties and prominent poets and writers have called for concrete efforts to curb fundamentalism and demanded separation of religion from state and equal rights for minorities.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘Religious extremism and black laws of Zia’s regime’ organised by the “Left Unity” at the press club here on Sunday, they stressed the need for a united front comprising all secular, nationalist and progressive forces for combating fundamentalism and promoting secularism.
Renowned intellectual Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo said that after independence the Quaid-i-Azam had unequivocally declared that religion would be the personal concern of the individual and every citizen of Pakistan would have equal rights. But successive governments in the country violated this principle.
Mr Joyo called upon the working class and oppressed people to unite to protect their rights.
He said Sindhis, Balochs and Pakhtuns were oppressed nations. He said that not only “black laws of the Zia regime” but all discriminatory laws should be repealed.
Left Unity secretary Buxal Thallo said that religious extremism was a threat for the country’s progress and called upon all political parties to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism. …
Read more : DAWN
by Aziz Narejo
Federal interior minister and president Zardari’s close associate, Rehman Malik is reported to have sprung into action to get the name of former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf deleted from the list of the accused in the assassination of former prime minister & PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
According to some news reports, Rehman Malik has expressed his anger over the inclusion of former dictator’s name in the list of the accused and has inquired from the head of the Joint Investigation Team of FIA, as to who had given permission to the investigators to include Pervez Musharraf’s name in the list of the accused in the case. He is reported to be putting pressure on the head of the Joint Investigation Team of FIA to delete the ex-dictator’s name.
It may be recalled that the Federal Investigation Agency on Monday had submitted a fresh 57-page report in the Anti-Terrorism Court-III in Rawalpindi, declaring former president Pervez Musharraf as an accused in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. …
Read more : Indus Herald
We Refuse to Be Enemies: August 14 – 15 in San Francisco : Joint Celebration of India and Pakistan’s Independence days
San Francisco – On the 64th Anniversary of Pakistan and India’s Independence Friends of South Asia and Global Fund for Women invite you to A panel discussion on the peace process between India and Pakistan with: Nosheen Ali, Samar Minallah, Lalita Ramdas & Admiral L.Ramdas moderated by Anu Mandavilli and Anasuya Sengupta on Saturday, August 14, at 12 Noon at Global Fund for Women, 222 Sutter Street Suite 500, San Francisco CA 94108.
About the Event