Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

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PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.

Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.

Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.

On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.

Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.

The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.

The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.

Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.

Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.

The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.

The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.

Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.

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Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Balochistan) publishes beheading video of two Shia Muslims

By Bill Roggio

The al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) published a gruesome video on jihadist internet forums that shows the beheading of two Shiites. In a statement that accompanied the video on one of the forums, a jihadist said the Pakistani terror group is part of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The video, titled “Revenge,” was released today, first on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu forum and then distributed on other jihadist forums, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the video.

In the video, two Shia men are filmed for nearly half an hour before they are brought outside and seated on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs. Standing behind them are four masked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters; two are holding a red banner with crossed swords.

Two of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters then pull out knives, and proceed to behead the two Shia men. The victims’ heads are then placed on their laps. The jihadists then wipe their knives on the clothes of the slain men.

A jihadist on the Hanein forum, who posted in Arabic, said the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi “is allied to Taliban-Pakistan and has a close relationship with it,” according to SITE, which translated the message.

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LeJ-ASWJ’s attack on army camp in Gujrat is a message to Pakistan army generals

By: Sarah Khan

The Gujrat attack on Pakistan army, in which at least seven poor soldiers and a policeman lost their lives, is a reminder to Pakistan army generals to refrain from breaking their “understanding” and “undeclared truce” with the Jihadi-sectarian militants of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ, currently operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ).

Read more » Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP)

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Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

. Mumbai Terror Attack Group Lashkar e Tayyiba Now More Dangerous Than Al Qaeda

With the 9/11 terrorist group on the ropes, the organization that masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks has become the world’s most dangerous, says Bruce Riedel.

By Bruce Riedel

The arrest of Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jindal, at New Delhi airport late last month is a major breakthrough in the investigation of the deadliest terror attack in the world since 9/11. Abu Jindal was one of the masterminds of the November 2008 attack on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed, including six Americans. He is already confessing to his role and implicating Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate directly in controlling the attack as it went down.

The November 2008 attack by ten Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT) terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai, India was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11. It marked the maturation of LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of al Qaeda: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India. LeT used cell phones and GPS technology to terrorize an entire city and grab global attention for three days. LeT’s masterminds ran the operation in real time from a headquarters in Pakistan, even issuing death sentences to innocents.

Abu Jindal, an Indian citizen traveling with a Pakistani passport, was in the control room in Karachi in 2008 talking on the phone to the ten terrorists. He gave them advice on where to look for more victims in the Taj Hotel, for example, and instructed them when to murder their hostages. His voice was recorded by the Indian authorities listening in on the phone calls and has since been replayed in chilling detail by the Indian police for all to hear.

According to press reports from India, Jindal was arrested on June 21 after being deported from Saudi Arabia to India. The arrest operation was a joint counter-terrorism effort by India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Abu Jindal was in the Kingdom recruiting and training new LeT volunteers from the enormous Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries. He was allegedly in the final stages of a “massive” new terror plot. Abu Jindal has also been linked to other attacks in India including the bombing of the Mumbai metro and train system in 2006 that killed over 180.

Abu Jindal has told the Indians that two members of the ISI were also in the control room, both allegedly majors in the Pakistani army. This confirms the longstanding accusation that the 2008 plot was orchestrated and conducted with the assistance of the ISI. An American, David Headley, who worked for LeT and did the reconnaissance for the attack has said the same thing. So has the only survivor of the attack force, Amir Kasab, who has been convicted of mass murder in India.

But because Abu Jindal was actually in the control room in Karachi his accusation is even more powerful. If the press reports about Abu Jindal’s accusations are confirmed then the ISI was involved directly in the decision to murder Americans. So far the Indian government has publicly confirmed only that his testimony points to state sponsorship of the attack without providing details of his confessions.

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Reuters – Alleged Mumbai plotter confirms Pakistan involved: India

By D. Jose, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, India

(Reuters) – India said on Wednesday that a man arrested on suspicion of helping plot the 2008 Mumbai attacks had “confirmed” during interrogation that Pakistan was involved.

India has repeatedly accused its neighbor and arch rival of some degree of involvement in the attacks on its financial capital that killed 166 people and of acting too slowly in arresting those responsible.

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US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

The United States is contemplating a total reversal of its highly ineffective Pakistan policy. This was stated by Prof Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service while delivering a talk on “The situation in the Af-Pak region” at Observer Research Foundation on June 4, 2012.

Frankly expressing her views from both Pakistani as well as American perspectives, Prof. Fair said that the US does not have a long-term policy for Pakistan, and the present practice of granting aid with the aim of fighting the roots of terrorism has not yielded any results. Consequently, despite fighting the Taliban, the US has inadvertently supported them while alienating the civilian population.

Prof. Fair said that the Pakistan’s decision to close ground supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan backfired as the NATO forces soon developed alternative air routes. This, in turn, led many Western leaders to recognise the futility of engaging Pakistan in the war on terror. She also pointed out that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan further convinced policy makers in Washington of its duplicity.

Asked about the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s perceived lack of understanding about the situation in the West Asia and the Af-Pak region, Prof Fair said that presidential candidates learn very quickly once they take office. As an example, she pointed out Barack Obama’s similar naïveté four years ago and how he learnt and adapted his foreign policy within months into his presidency.

Prof. Fair said that President Obama is disappointed with Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance, and that the US administration is contemplating containment to force it to abide to its obligations.

According to Prof. Fair, the futility of attempts to alter the pro-jihadist worldview of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite make a serious case of containment, which would hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorist attack with its ’signature’ on it.

Prof. Fair challenged the conventional wisdom that civilian governments in Islamabad are more responsible. She argued that past history suggests a linearity of foreign policy making between military and democratic regimes. This is compounded by a drastic transformation of the popular mindset towards fundamentalism and hatred against India.

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Heavily armed jihadi groups clash in Pakistan: 5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival Islamic militants

5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups

Firefight between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam began when latter’s fighters attacked stronghold of LI militants.

PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed and five others were injured when clashes erupted between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency.

According to locals, the firefight between the two groups began in the early hours of Monday when fighters of AI attacked Sanda Pal, a stronghold of LI militants.

They claimed that four militants of the Mangal Bagh-led LI had been killed and two were injured, while one fighter of AI was killed and three were injured.

Clashes between the two groups occur frequently as AI fights the LI to gain control of the area.

According to sources, heavy weapons were used in the fight and AI fighters took control of a number of small outposts to reach Sanda Pal – the main outpost.

Residents living in the secluded valley have little communication with the world.

The area has been under the influence of militants, including the LI, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansarul Islam, who have consistently targeted each other over territorial disputes and sectarian differences.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Via – Twitter » TF’s Tweet

The Khan bowls too wide

Imran Khan’s endorsement of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has been a PR disaster for him even within Pakistan,

By: Kunal Majumder reports

IN APRIL 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million for information leading to the prosecution of Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and believed to be the mastermind of the 26 November 2008 Mumbai terror strike. Saeed, a hero of the fundamentalist right in Pakistan, claimed he was being victimised due to his anti-American politics. Soon enough, he was adopted by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party. The PTI president, Javed Hashmi, called Saeed “a preacher of peace in the world!”.

Hashmi didn’t stop there. Participating in a rally organised in Multan by the Difae-Pakistan Council — an umbrella body of quasi-political religious parties opposing the opening of NATO supply lines to Afghanistan and the Most-Favoured Nation trade status to India — Hashmi vouched for the “piousness” of Saeed. “A social worker,” he said, “can never be a terrorist but all those declaring him a terrorist are the real threat to the peace of the world.”

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Why don’t the Pakistani Judiciary/ Memo Commission believe Mansoor Ijaz on Hafiz Saeed

WASHINGTON, Nov 3: A senior US official responsible for counter- terrorism on Tuesday directly accused Pakistan of supporting training of militant groups in Afghanistan as well as providing “material support” to some of the Kashmiri militants. “There are numerous Kashmiri separatist groups and sectarian groups involved in terrorism which use Pakistan as a base…We have repeatedly asked Islamabad to end support of terrorist training in Afghanistan,” Michael Sheehan, State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism, told a Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee. The sub-committee hearing was called and presided over by Senator Sam Brownback and the list of experts who testified included a former CIA officer in Pakistan Milt Bearden, president of Stimson Centre Michael Krepon, John Hopkins University Central Asia Institute chairman Dr Fredrick Starr and a Pakistani- American businessman and columnist Mansoor Ijaz. …..

Read more » ChagataiKhan

http://chagataikhan.blogspot.ca/2012/02/hafiz-saeeds-memory-loss-on-osama.html

Pakistan – Jihadis all over

By Mujahid Hussain

After a lull, the al-Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists have re-launched attacks in Pakistan. These attacks falsify the myth that al-Qaeda and the Taliban sympathizers had been combed out in the wake of the security forces’ successful operation in the Tribal Areas.

As a matter of fact, the Taliban terrorists have pushed the security forces and the local Peace Lashkars out of the area. Now the Taliban are attacking the urban areas and the adjoining settlements at will. The recent example of the Taliban penetration is the release of hundreds of dangerous criminals from the prison of Bannu, situated on the periphery of the Tribal Belt.

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Why India can’t give up Siachen

By: Vikram Sood

The nation cannot afford to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past — like halting our advance at Uri in 1948 or not capturing Skardu; or giving up Haji Pir in 1966; or returning 93,000 troops and territory in 1972

The strategic advantage accruing to India in Siachen should not be given up for apparent short-term political gains. Giving up Siachen as a gesture of friendship would also mean that its recapture would be extremely expensive to India in men and material, says Vikram Sood.

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Pakistan’s Army belongs to the barracks in Rawalpindi, not in the corridors of power in Islamabad

Army belongs to barracks in Rawalpindi

By: Hiranmay Karlekar

Embattled Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari may want to improve relations with India but his Generals will not allow him to do so. New Delhi must keep nudging Islamabad to strengthen its democratic institutions. That alone can contain the Pakistani Army

Something that was never stated officially but said or hinted at media talk shows or in private conversations during Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit was that India had a responsibility to help Pakistan’s democracy to consolidate itself. There is nothing exceptionable in the suggestion. Every democracy has a responsibility to strengthen kindred political systems. The question is: How should that be done?

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Pakistan has had so many “moments of reckoning” but here is another – By Najam Sethi

Matters are coming to a head in Pakistan. The deadlock in US-Pak relations over resumption of NATO supplies is veering towards confrontation. And the confrontation between parliament-government and supreme court-opposition is edging towards a clash. The net losers are fated to be Pakistan’s fledgling democracy and stumbling economy.

Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee for National Security has failed to forge a consensus on terms and conditions for dealing with America. The PMLN-JUI opposition is in no mood to allow the Zardari government any significant space for negotiation. COAS General Ashfaq Kayani is also reluctant to weigh in unambiguously with his stance. As such, no one wants to take responsibility for any new dishonourable “deal” with the US in an election year overflowing with angry anti-Americanism. The danger is that in any lengthy default mode, the US might get desperate and take unilateral action regardless of Pakistan’ s concern. That would compel Pakistan to resist, plunging the two into certain diplomatic and possible military conflict. This would hurt Pakistan more than the US because Islamabad is friendless, dependent on the West for trade and aid, and already bleeding internally from multiple cuts inflicted by terrorism, sectarianism, separatism, inflation, devaluation, unemployment, etc. Indeed, the worst-case scenario for the US is a disorderly and swift retreat from Afghanistan while the worst-case scenario for Pakistan is an agonizing implosion as a sanctioned and failing state.

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Hafiz Saeed calls for jihad against America

By AFP / Rana Tanveer

MUZAFFARABAD / LAHORE: In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

Saeed, who recently became the centre of attention after the US announced a $10 million bounty on him for his affiliation with the banned Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), said that the JuD is not afraid of anyone and will continue with its jihad. “They [US] are even scared of my name.”

“This is the same jihad which caused the USSR to break and now America is failing because of it. Analysts and journalists don’t realise why America is failing, the only reason is jihad.” he remarked. “There are many parties in Pakistan, but America has only sent a message to Jamaatud Dawa, because we do jihad.”

Commenting on the Raymond Davis saga, Saeed said that everyone knows what he was doing in the country and what the American spy agency Central Investigative Agency (CIA) is trying to accomplish in Pakistan. “America should leave Pakistan and Afghanistan peacefully. Then, we will not come to you with guns but will instead invite you to Islam.”

Saeed added that the reason why the media is against jihad is because it is influenced by the west, and the western education makes them degrade jihad.

After the sermon, a rally was taken to the Lahore press club which was joined by union traders, some Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leaders, other Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders and was led by Convener of Hurmat-e-Rasool Committee Ameer Hamza. Saeed himself did not participate in the rally.

Difa-e-Pakistan activists protest US bounty on Hafiz Saeed

Hundreds of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) activists took to the streets Friday, calling for “holy war” and torching a US flag to condemn a $10 million US bounty on Jamaatud Dawa’s (JuD) founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

DPC, an alliance of religious groups, has called for rallies to denounce the move against Saeed, whose Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In Muzaffarabad, around 500 activists shouted “Al Jihad, al Jihad (holy war)” as they marched on the city and set fire to a US flag in a main square.

DPC activists also staged demonstrations outside Lahore Press Club and Faisalabad.

Speakers asked President Asif Ali Zardari to cancel a planned visit to India on Sunday and demanded an American apology for the bounty.

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Mumbai attack ‘mastermind’ Hafiz Saeed linked to Osama bin Laden

A $10m bounty was placed on the head of a Pakistani militant leader after the US obtained evidence he had been in close contact with Osama bin Laden, planning terrorist attacks, according to a former American intelligence official.

By Rob Crilly, Rawalpindi and Dean Nelson in New Delhi

Documents found by US special forces at bin Laden’s final hideaway in Abbottabad last year apparently linked Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, with the al-Qaeda leader.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and adviser to Barack Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan told The Daily Telegraph that the evidence showed bin Laden played a key role in planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

166 people died when 10 terrorists, thought to be from Saeed’s group, stormed five star hotels and a train station in downtown Mumbai.

Mr Riedel said the close connection lasted right up until the world’s most wanted man was shot dead in May last year.

“OBL communicated with Saeed and others via courier. He practised very good opsec [operations security]. The two had a long-standing relationship going back to the creation of LeT in the 1980s,” he said. “OBL provided some of the seed money to start the group.” ….

Read more » telegraph.co.uk

Christian girl, 12, kidnapped, beaten and raped for eight months until she converted to Islam

Asian Human Rights Commission claim girl was lured on shopping trip by friend before she was kidnapped.

Abductors drove her 120 miles before raping her, then forced her to sign marriage papers

Victim managed to escape eight months later, but police refuse to prosecute rapists because they are tied to militant Islam group

By Wil Longbottom

A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.

The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend’s uncle in January this year.

Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.

She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation – the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her ‘legal’ husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.

An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl’s father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.

Last month, the girl – who has not been named for legal reasons – called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.

The girl’s parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.

The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.

As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2048261/Christian-girl-12-kidnapped-raped-beaten-converted-Islam.html#ixzz1qVn3aSFg

When revenge and ‘jihad’ become work – By Urooj Zia

Lashkhar-e-Taiba child soldier says he had murdered & seen comrades die, all before he turned 17 …..

Read more » http://www.uroojzia.com/?p=810

Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-ud-Dawa reject ban on murderers

Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-ud-Dawa reject ban on murderers of Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis and Christians

 We welcome ban on terrorist organization Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) aka Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)

Sunni Muslims reject Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (aka ASWJ)

Ahl-e-Hadith Muslims reject Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)

According to news reports, Pakistan government has banned extremist Deobandi Jihadi-sectarian organization Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ: Previous names: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi LeJ). According to Interior Ministry’s notification, the ASWJ was suspected to have been involved in terrorism related activities involving massacres and target killings of Shias, Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis, Christians and other groups in various parts of Pakistan.

ASWJ is a main member organization of the (ISI-sponsored) Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), which has been organising Jihadi-sectarian rallies across the country. The Multan DPC rally was hosted by the ASWJ and was also attended by Malik Ishaq, the co-founder of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s Information Secretary Anwar Niazi says they will condemn any attempt by the authorities to ban ASWJ. ….

Read more » Pakistan Blogzine

Drones & Ababeels

Declaring sanity

by Nadeem F. Paracha

In March 2010 animated conspiracy theorist, TV personality and poster-boy for stylised sofa-warming-jihad, Zaid Hamid finally met his nemesis at the Peshawar University.

Hamid, who till then, had been enjoying a virtual free run on certain TV channels and on privately-owned campuses, was chased away by large sections of the audience that turned up to listen to him speak at the state-owned Peshawar University.

As Hamid’s speech began being booed at, Hamid made a quick exit from the premises only to face another crowd of students outside who shouted slogans against him, and pelted his car with stones.

Suddenly a man who was lovingly being courted by TV channels and student bodies and administration of private educational institutions, was angrily courted out by the students of a state-owned university.

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The deconstruction of Islamic thought in Pakistan

By S. Iftikhar Murshed

Neither penance nor expiation can cleanse those responsible for the radicalisation of Pakistan. The cancer has spread far and wide across the fabric of the society for which the educated intelligentsia is as much to blame as the semi-literate clerics.

A vivid illustration of this was last week’s imposition of a ban by the Lahore High Court Bar Association on the sale of soft drinks manufactured by Shehzan from the cafeterias of all the subordinate courts because the company is Ahmadi-owned.

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Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

THE Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced its aim of defending us against the dangers we face today.

But given the fact that the biggest threat to Pakistan comes from the extremist ideology of many of those who constitute the DPC, the question arises whether these holy warriors will confront the militants.

Don’t hold your breath: during a recent DPC rally in Karachi, speaker after speaker made it clear that their real enemies are India and America. This assembled galaxy clearly failed to notice the uncomfortable fact that over the last decade, well over 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks launched by jihadi militants. Such mundane truths often escape our religious brigade. While focusing on American drone attacks, which while controversial, have been the most effective weapon against the militants in the tribal areas, they have conveniently overlooked the real cause of militancy. The moment these realities are pointed out to them, they go on about how these casualties are the result of the American war in Afghanistan.

The composition of the DPC is interesting as it brings together a number of reactionary elements under one umbrella. Some of these, like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijaz ul Haq, have a semblance of respectability. However, this is based on the dubious proposition that cabinet positions, past or present, in Pakistan confer some degree of social acceptability.

On the other side of the DPC spectrum, we have characters like Malik Ishaq, released by the Lahore High Court and accused of committing several murders for the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba, an extreme Sunni outfit.

Hafiz Saeed is one of the stars of the DPC and head of Jamaatud Dawa, a supposedly charitable organisation banned for fronting for the Lashkar-i-Taiba. This terrorist group has been accused of being behind the deadly Mumbai attack of 2008, as well as other atrocities in India.

Qari Yaqub, the darling of admirers of his sermons on YouTube, also spoke at the DPC rally in Karachi where he warned journalists that he would turn the ground where he spoke into “a graveyard for the media” if they did not give the DPC ample coverage. So here I am, writing about the DPC to avoid an early grave.

Sheikh Rasheed, leader of his Awami Muslim League spoke at the rally, as did army dictator Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq. Hamid Gul, the retired general who was sacked as head of the ISI by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, also enlivened proceedings with his rant about the bright future ahead without a western presence.

So Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, felt right at home in this august company as the PTI’s senior vice president Ejaz Chaudhry’s presence showed.

Clearly then, the 40-odd (some would say very odd) members of the DPC at least appear to be on the same page where extremist thought is concerned. The question is what and who brought them together. Pakistan’s history is littered with the bleached bones of right-wing alliances formed and then ditched by their creators. The IJI, the PNA, the IDA, and the MMA spring instantly to mind.

Add to them the various incarnations and iterations of the Muslim League, and you have a veritable alphabet soup of political aspirations: Q, N, Z and Awami are only the current manifestations.

The common thread running through all these parties and coalitions is the past or current connection with our intelligence agencies. Retired general Asad Durrani, another erstwhile ISI chief, has admitted before the Supreme Court that he funneled millions to anti-PPP candidates during the 1988 elections. This confession emerged years ago as a result of a writ filed by Asghar Khan, but the case has been on the back burner until the Supreme Court resumes hearing it later this month. Watch this space for further developments.

Given the stellar credentials of these stalwart defenders of our country, we can all sleep easy. They have vowed to save us from those nasty Americans and Indians, but before I cancel my life insurance policy, I’m still waiting to hear that they will protect us from the Pakistani Taliban as well.

Seriously, though, what is this circus all about? Why have so many extremist-minded elements and their fellow-travellers suddenly emerged from the woodwork to muddy the political waters? Who’s paying for all these expensive rallies? Actually, scratch that last question: we’re paying for them via whatever shadowy agency that has cobbled this latest alliance together.

And why is Imran Khan’s PTI part of this reactionary group? I know he’s in lockstep with people like Hamid Gul and Maulana Samiul Haq, but why does he need to identify himself with the most violent and unsavoury characters in this coalition? Does he not see that after his recent reinvention as a popular, mainstream politician, he no longer needs to cosy up to the likes of Qari Yaqub and Hafiz Saeed?

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US express concern over Hafiz Saeed’s public appearances

By Huma Imtiaz / Web Desk

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has raised concerns about Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s public appearances, including at the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rally held in Karachi earlier this week.

The State Department issued a brief press release on Thursday, In response to a question submitted earlier in the week, which said that, “Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front group Jamaatud Dawa, is internationally sanctioned because of its associations with al Qaeda. We have and continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to uphold its obligations in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1267/1989.”

The release further stated that the UN resolution “calls for all countries to freeze assets of sanctioned groups, prevent the transfer of arms to them, and prevent sanctioned individuals from entering or transiting their territories.”

JuD has been functioning in the country as a religious and charity organisation. Post Mumbai attacks in 2008, the organisation was declared a terrorist organisation by the West, UN and India. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

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Defence of Pakistan Council – Pakistan’s finest are at it again, but why?

By: Omar

Pakistan’s finest are at it again, but why?

The “defence of Pakistan” council has held several public meetings (each probably costing millions of rupees) in different parts of the country and is now headed for a “mother of all jalsas” at Karachi on Feb 12th. All the usual suspects are there. Jamat ud Dawa (reincarnation of the blessed Lashkar e Tyaba of Mumbai atrocity fame) is leading the way, but  everyone who is anyone is there. Sheeda Tully is there (He was Musharraf’s railway minister and helped to run it into the ground, after having held several other ministries, his farmhouse was famously listed as a gathering spot for Kashmiri Jihadis in the 1990s). Zia ul Haq’s son, Ejaz ul Haq is there. Hamid Gul is there.
But why?

Why has military intelligence, in its infinite wisdom, activated every zombie from the good old days of the Kashmir Jihad?
Is it to get more money out of Uncle Sam? That particular ATM may be out of cash right now, so its probably not that.
Is it because the bloody civilians may actually be able to do shocking things like start normal trade with India? so what? what is the threat here?

Is it something to do with the ongoing bumbling “get Zardari operation”.

Is it because the army has split into factions and the jihadi faction is trying to embarrass the mercenary faction?

Come on hive mind, answers please.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

Genesis of the failure of Islamist militancy

Failure of militancy

by Nadeem F. Paracha

Excerpt;

…. Political Islam’s consequent failure to produce the desired results that its intellectuals had promised, and also its doctrinal involvement in the armed “jihad” in Afghanistan, generated the creation of modern-day Islamic militancy.

This militancy too faced the same problems in trying to triumph with a singular concept of Islam and the sharia in the face of the social and religious complications that run across Muslim countries.

So much so that by the late 1990s, Political Islam had devolved into what we now call “Islamic fundamentalism,” and/or stripped clean off its intellectual moorings and reduced to being an ideology of pure terror and having a myopic and narrow understanding of Islam and of the West. Entities like the al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban and the many militant outfits that were active in Kashmir (Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba), are clear examples.

So it was heartening to hear Kashmir leaders like Bhatt and Yasin distancing themselves from those aspects of the movement that have caused nothing more than bloodshed, pain and chaos, more at the cost of the Kashmiris’ rather than their ‘occupiers.’

Read more » DAWN.COM

Afghanistan: Pakistani Extremist Group In Focus After Unprecedented Attack On Afghan Shi’a

By Abubakar Siddique

As Afghanistan recovers from a deadly and unprecedented attack on a Shi’ite shrine in Kabul, the finger of blame is pointing directly at a Sunni extremist group with a long history of carrying out such attacks in neighboring Pakistan.

At least 55 people were killed and more than 160 wounded in the December 6 suicide attack, which occurred as Shi’ite worshippers were assembled outside the shrine to commemorate Ashura, a Shi’ite religious holiday. A separate attack near an Ashura procession in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif killed at least four people.

Shortly after the midday attack in Kabul, a man claiming to be a spokesman for Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami contacted RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal to claim responsibility on behalf of the Pakistan-based militant group.

It was impossible to independently verify the claim made by the man, who identified himself as Qari Abubakar Mansoor.

The man first contacted a Radio Mashaal correspondent in Pakistan who covers the western Kurram tribal district, where the group is believed to be headquartered. A man going by the name of Qari Abubakar had previously contacted Radio Mashaal to provide information regarding the Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. Following RFE/RL’s report tying the group to the attack in Afghanistan, various media reported receiving similar claims from the same spokesman.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who cut short a European trip and returned to the Afghan capital to deal with the crisis, appeared to accept that the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. While visiting survivors of the attack in the hospital, he was quoted as telling reporters that “we are investigating this issue and we are going to talk to the Pakistani government about it.”

Ties To Al-Qaeda, Taliban

Farzana Sheikh, a Pakistan specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London, says the group evolved from the Anjuman-e Sipahe Shaba Pakistan, an extremist political party intent on transforming Pakistan into a Sunni state. One of its splinter groups, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) was considered the most deadly sectarian militia in the South Asian state in the 1990s.

Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami is now considered a splinter group of the LeJ, which was banned in Pakistan in 2002 because of its role in the killing of thousands of Shi’a.

“Its roots really lie in southern Punjab [Province], in the district of Jhang, from where they have clearly spread to other parts of Pakistan,” Sheikh says, “but particularly the [southwestern province of] Balochistan, where they have been responsible, and indeed claimed responsibility, for a series of murderous attacks against Shi’a Hazaras.”

Sheikh says that the group once enjoyed close links to Pakistani intelligence agencies. This, she notes, enabled LeJ to maintain bases in Taliban-controlled Afghan regions because of Islamabad’s relationship with the Taliban regime. However, the LeJ’s Shi’a-killing campaign made it a prime security threat for Pakistan, according to observers.

Read more » Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (rferl)

http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistani_extremist_group_in_focus_after_afghan_sectarian_attack/24415027.html

News – Afghanistan: National Front Asks UN to Investigate Kabul Attack

The National Front Party on Thursday asked the UN to investigate the Kabul suicide attack which took place on Tuesday at Abul Fazl Shrine.

The National Front Leader Ahmad Zia Massoud said he welcomed and supported the decision made by Afghan government. He also stressed that investigation about the incident would be in the interest of Afghanistan.

“If the Afghan president is really intending to investigate about the issue and discuss it with Pakistan, a UN delegation should be assigned to investigate certain parts of the incident. The outcomes would be good, I think because Afghans have always had defensive strategy and have been silent towards all such incidents. This has caused Pakistani Generals to do whatever they want inside Afghanistan,” Mr Massoud said.

On Wednesday President Karzai said that he will investigate about the issue with the help of international community.

“Jhangvi is based in Pakistan. So, the Afghan government, with the support of the international community, will follow up on the issue. Afghanistan will never forgive the wounding of innocent children,” Mr Karzai said.

The deadly suicide attack at Abul Fazl Shrine in Kabul took the lives of more than 59 people and nearly 200 people were wounded in the incident.

Lashkari Jhangvi which is based in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Courtesy » ToloNews

Kabul shrine bomber was Pakistani, affiliated with LeJ: Afghan official

Karzai blames Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for Kabul blast

By AFP

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai Wednesday blamed the the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) for a bomb at a Kabul shrine which killed 55 people, demanding justice from Pakistan, his spokesman said.

The comments are likely to antagonise further already tense relations with Islamabad, which boycotted Monday’s Bonn conference on the future of Afghanistan following NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

“The president said he blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” said Aimal Faizi following reports of a purported claim from the faction, blamed for scores of similar attacks on Shia Muslims in Pakistan.

“The president said that he will demand Pakistan take executive measures in this regard since this group is based in Pakistan so that justice can be done,” Faizi added.

Karzai’s comments came as he visited victims of the Kabul blast in hospital. He returned to Kabul earlier Wednesday after cutting short a trip to Europe to deal with the fallout of the unprecedented attack on Afghan Shias.

Afghan victims buried as fingers point to Pakistan

An Afghan official had earlier claimed that the bomber who attacked the shrine in Kabul was a Pakistani, affiliated with the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Karzai vows to confront Pakistan over Kabul attack

KABUL: Afghanistan’s president says that the unprecedented suicide bombing at a Shia shrine in Kabul originated in Pakistan and is pledging to confront the Pakistani government about the attack.

President Hamid Karzai spoke Wednesday as he visited a hospital where scores of people wounded in the attack are being treated. At least 56 people, including an American citizen, were killed in the explosion, which occurred as Shias were commemorating the major Islamic holy day of Ashoura.

Karzai says the Afghan government has launched an investigation, but the group behind the attack is based in Pakistan and he will take the issue to the Pakistani government.

“Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which is based in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for this attack … We will investigate the issue very carefully and will discuss it with the Pakistani government,” Karzai said in Kabul.

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

Army’s ‘peace’ lashkar – By Farhat Taj

Excerpt;

…. The way the war on terror is conducted by the Pakistan Army has left the tribal people oppressed and terrorised by both the army and the al Qaeda-led Taliban. They are under a double occupation of the army and the Taliban. Asking the tribal people to make lashkars against the Taliban is a brutality against them. The generals created the Taliban and their army must fight them, not the tribal people.

Read more » Daily Times

Taliban fighters and the remaining Taliban militants ran away like cowards

- ANALYSIS: Ali Khels: the state apathy continues

by Farhat Taj

The punishment was the destruction of the Ali Khel tribal leadership and the displacement of the entire tribe in the sham army operation that was later started in the area and to this date has not been ‘able’ to ‘clear’ the area of the Taliban

October 10, 2011 was the third anniversary of the devastating suicide attack on a grand tribal jirga in Orakzai that killed the entire Sunni-Shia tribal leadership of the Ali Khel tribe, the biggest tribe in Orakzai. The jirga was leading an anti-Taliban lashkar (militia) against the Taliban in the Ali Khel area — Tirah in Orakzai. Faced with growing Taliban atrocities and lack of state protection despite the repeated requests to the government of Pakistan, the Ali Khels were forced to take up weapons against the Taliban.

The Taliban militants who came to the Ali Khel area around early 2008 initially committed atrocities against the Shia Ali Khels and those Sunnis who defied the Taliban’s social boycott of the Shias. In response, the minority Shia section of the tribe requested the majority Sunni section of the tribe to support them against the Taliban. The Sunni Ali Khel section, already alarmed by the growing highhandedness of the Taliban, decided to protect the Shias by removing the Taliban from their area through force following the government of Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against the Taliban.

An anti-Taliban lashkar consisting of over 2,000 Shia and Sunni Ali Khel tribesmen was created. Within weeks the lashkar burnt down Taliban centres in the Ali Khel area, killed several Taliban fighters and the remaining Taliban militants ran away like cowards. A grand Shia-Sunni Ali Khel jirga consisting of over 5,000 confident tribesmen was convened to decide the fate of the Ali Khel boys who had joined the Taliban, but now had surrendered themselves to the mercy of the jirga. In the meanwhile, a Taliban vehicle loaded with 150 kilos of explosive material rammed into the jirga gathering and instantly killed over 100 Ali Khel tribal leaders of various socio-political stature, along with tens of other tribesmen, and injured hundreds. …

Read more » Daily Times

BRUCE RIEDEL – As long as the Army calls the shots in Pak, absolutely no hope for terrorism to end and no hope for Pak people

- A New Pakistan Policy: Containment

By BRUCE O. RIEDEL

Washington: AMERICA needs a new policy for dealing with Pakistan. First, we must recognize that the two countries’ strategic interests are in conflict, not harmony, and will remain that way as long as Pakistan’s army controls Pakistan’s strategic policies. We must contain the Pakistani Army’s ambitions until real civilian rule returns and Pakistanis set a new direction for their foreign policy.

As Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee last month, Pakistan provides critical sanctuary and support to the Afghan insurgency that we are trying to suppress. Taliban leaders meet under Pakistani protection even as we try to capture or kill them.

In 2009, I led a policy review for President Obama on Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the time, Al Qaeda was operating with virtual impunity in Pakistan, and its ally Lashkar-e-Taiba had just attacked the Indian city of Mumbai and killed at least 163 people, including 6 Americans, with help from Pakistani intelligence. Under no illusions, Mr. Obama tried to improve relations with Pakistan by increasing aid and dialogue; he also expanded drone operations to fight terrorist groups that Pakistan would not fight on its own.

It was right to try engagement, but now the approach needs reshaping. We will have to persevere in Afghanistan in the face of opposition by Pakistan.

The generals who run Pakistan have not abandoned their obsession with challenging India. They tolerate terrorists at home, seek a Taliban victory in Afghanistan and are building the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. They have sidelined and intimidated civilian leaders elected in 2008. They seem to think Pakistan is invulnerable, because they control NATO’s supply line from Karachi to Kabul and have nuclear weapons.

The generals also think time is on their side — that NATO is doomed to give up in Afghanistan, leaving them free to act as they wish there. So they have concluded that the sooner America leaves, the better it will be for Pakistan. They want Americans and Europeans to believe the war is hopeless, so they encourage the Taliban and other militant groups to speed the withdrawal with spectacular attacks, like the Sept. 13 raid on the United States Embassy in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghan police officers and civilians.

It is time to move to a policy of containment, which would mean a more hostile relationship. But it should be a focused hostility, aimed not at hurting Pakistan’s people but at holding its army and intelligence branches accountable. When we learn that an officer from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is aiding terrorism, whether in Afghanistan or India, we should put him on wanted lists, sanction him at the United Nations and, if he is dangerous enough, track him down. Putting sanctions on organizations in Pakistan has not worked in the past, but sanctioning individuals has — as the nuclear proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan could attest.

Offering Pakistan more trade while reducing aid makes sense. When we extend traditional aid, media outlets with ties to the ISI cite the aid to weave conspiracy theories that alienate Pakistanis from us. Mr. Obama should instead announce that he is cutting tariffs on Pakistani textiles to or below the level that India and China enjoy; that would strengthen entrepreneurs and women, two groups who are outside the army’s control and who are interested in peace.

Military assistance to Pakistan should be cut deeply. Regular contacts between our officers and theirs can continue, but under no delusion that we are allies.

Osama bin Laden’s death confirmed that we can’t rely on Pakistan to take out prominent terrorists on its soil. We will still need bases in Afghanistan from which to act when we see a threat in Pakistan. But drones should be used judiciously, for very important targets.

In Afghanistan, we should not have false hopes for a political solution. We can hope that top figures among the Quetta Shura — Afghan Taliban leaders who are sheltered in Quetta, Pakistan — will be delivered to the bargaining table, but that is unlikely, since the Quetta leadership assassinated Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and a former Afghan president, last month. The ISI will veto any Taliban peace efforts it opposes, which means any it doesn’t control. Rather than hoping for ISI help, we need to continue to build an Afghan Army that can control the insurgency with long-term NATO assistance and minimal combat troops.

Strategic dialogue with India about Pakistan is essential because it would focus the Pakistani Army’s mind. India and Pakistan are trying to improve trade and transportation links severed after they became independent in 1947, and we should encourage that. We should also increase intelligence cooperation against terrorist targets in Pakistan. And we should encourage India to be more conciliatory on Kashmir, by easing border controls and releasing prisoners.

America and Pakistan have had a tempestuous relationship for decades. For far too long we have banked on the Pakistani Army to protect our interests. Now we need to contain that army’s aggressive instincts, while helping those who want a progressive Pakistan and keeping up the fight against terrorism.

Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad.”

Courtesy: The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/opinion/a-new-pakistan-policy-containment.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

When was Pakistan’s fate sealed?

- Pak paying heavily for its mistakes in the 1970s: Tony Blair

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “paying heavily” for its mistakes in the 1970s when it started mixing religion with politics and promoted extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

“I think Pakistan is paying a heavy price for the mistakes of 1970s by linking religion with politics and developing religious schools which are, in some cases, dangerous sources of extremism,” Blair told Karan Thapar in an interview to a news channel.

The former British prime minister was responding to queries relating to the role of ISI in spreading terrorism and its links with the Haqqani group in Afghanistan.

When asked if the US, after eliminating Osama bin laden, should also go after the Haqqani faction, Blair said it was something which the Americans have to decide.

“The trouble with these groups is that there is no way to use them wisely. On these issues like Pakistan might have to say about its influence in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India’s influence there, there will be nothing good out of supporting these groups,” he said.

“If ISI is engaged in such activities, in the end it will not merely affect US, UK, Afghanistan or India, it poisons the atmosphere in Pakistan also,” Blair said.

The former British prime minister said that if there was any linkage between the ISI and terror groups such as the Haqqani group and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, “it is a mistake.”

Blair said there was a need to engage “modern and open-minded” Pakistanis who are involved in a struggle against the extremists.

“We have to see how we can engage elements in Pakistan who believe that this was a mistake. The best way is to allow Pakistan to change and evolve and there are a lot of decent people in Pakistan,” he said.

Blair said that Pakistan itself has suffered a lot due to terrorism as thousands of people have been killed. There was a “struggle going on in the country between those with modern and open-minded attitude towards future against those who are in the power struggle and will play dangerously,” he said. ….

Read more → TOI