BY NEHA ANSARI
Imran [Khan], [Tahir ul] Qadri, and the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] are our best friends,” our weekly editorial meeting at Pakistan’s Express Tribune was (jokingly) told on Aug. 13, 2014, a day before the two political leaders began their separate long marches from Lahore to Islamabad, and plunged the country into crisis. “We know it’s not easy, but that’s the way it is — at least for now. I promise to make things better soon,” said the editor, who had called the meeting to inform us about the media group’s editorial policy during the sit-ins and protests that would eventually, momentarily paralyze the Pakistani government.
The senior editorial staff, myself included, reluctantly agreed to the orders, which came from the CEO, because our jobs were on the line. Media groups in Pakistan are family-owned and make all decisions unilaterally — regardless of whether they concern marketing and finance or editorial content and policy — advancing their personal agendas through the influential mainstream outlets at their disposal. A majority of the CEOs and media house owners are businessmen, with no background (or interest) in the ethics of journalism. The owners and publishers make it very clear to their newsrooms and staff — including the editor — that any tilt or gloss they proscribe is non-negotiable. As a result, serious concerns persist about violence against and the intimidation of members of the media. In fact, Pakistan ranks 158 out of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index.
Yet there is also a more elusive problem within the country’s press landscape: the collusion of Pakistan’s powerful military and the nation’s media outlets. I experienced this first-hand while I worked as a journalist at the Express Tribune during the recent protests led by Khan, the populist cricketer-turned-politician, and Qadri, a Pakistani-Canadian cleric and soapbox orator.
During this time, the owners of Pakistani media powerhouses — namely ARY News, the Express Media Group, and Dunya News — received instructions from the military establishment to support the “dissenting” leaders and their sit-ins. The military was using the media to add muscle and might to the anti-government movement in an attempt to cut Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif down to size.
The media obliged.
At the Express Media Group, anything related to Khan and Qadri were inexorably the lead stories on the front page or the hourly news bulletin. I witnessed polls showing support for Sharif being censored, while news stories on the misconduct of the protesters, along with any evidence that support among the protestors for Khan and Qadri was dwindling, were axed. While the BBC was publishing stories about how Qadri’s protesters were allegedly being paid and Dawn, the leading English-language Pakistani newspaper — and the Express Tribune‘s main competitor — was writing powerful editorials about the military’s role in the political crisis, we were making sure nothing negative about them went to print.
Day after day, my national editor told me about how he received frantic telephone calls late in the evening about what the lead story should be for the next day and what angle the article should take. First, we were told to focus on Khan. “Take this as Imran’s top quote,” “This should be in the headline,” “Take a bigger picture of him” were the specific directives given by the CEO. Shortly after, the news group’s owner was agitated that the newspaper had not been focusing enough on Qadri. We later found out that the military establishment was supporting the two leaders equally and the media was expected to do the same.
In their professional capacities, the editor and desk editors tried to put up a fight: they allowed some columns against the protests slip through; they did not extend the restrictions to publish against Khan and Qadri to the Web version of the newspaper; and they encouraged reporters to focus on the paper’s strengths, such as investigative and research-based reports. However, it was difficult for the staff to keep its spirits high with the CEO’s interference and his readiness to abide by the establishment’s instructions. To be sure, the dictates were never given to the senior editorial staff, of which I was a part, directly. They were instead relayed to the editor or the national editor (who heads the main National Desk) via the CEO and then forwarded to us.
People often speculate about the media-military collusion in Pakistan, but in the instance of the current political standoff in the federal capital, as well as the Geo News controversy — where the establishment was seen resorting to extreme methods, such as forcing cable operators to suspend Geo’s transmission and impelling competing media houses to publish news stories against Geo, to curtail the broadcast of the largest and most-watched television channel for accusing then-ISI chief Zaheer-ul-Islam of being behind the gun attack on Hamid Mir, its most-popular anchor — the media and the military worked hand-in-hand.
In most cases, it is common knowledge that the heavyweight broadcast anchors have strong ties to members of the military establishment, and they personally take direct instructions that are then conveyed to the owners of their respective media groups. This bias is often reflected in their coverage.
The anchors not only indulge in inaccurate reporting, but also shape political discourse against the democratically elected government and even the efficacy of democracy itself. Former Pakistani government officials have corroborated this by narrating their experience. One senior official told me: “Television anchors receive funds from the military establishment, if not the civilian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Today, all the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military have media departments that ostensibly only disseminate background information and press briefings, but are actually guiding and managing discourses and the national narrative.”
And this narrative is pro-army. Consider one example in particular.
On Aug. 31, when Khan’s and Qadri’s protesters had stormed the Parliament’s gates, Mubasher Lucman, a television anchor for ARY News — now the most-watched TV channel in Pakistan after Geo’s transmission was illegally suspended — saluted the army during a live broadcast and invited the military to take over “and save the protesters and the country.” Earlier on Aug. 25, he welcomed the “sound of boots”(a reference to the military), as he had no sympathy for corrupt politicians who looted the country.
As if this was not enough, Lucman and his fellow anchors at ARY, some of whom are known to have strong ties to the army and the ISI, alsomade unverified claims on live television that seven protesters had been killed by riot police in the ensuing clash. (It was reported by other news outlets that three people had died, one by accident.) Moreover, when Javed Hashmi, the estranged president of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, came out in public on Sep. 1 to reveal how Khan was banking on the military and the judiciary to end Sharif’s government, Lucman slammed Hashmi, while his fellow anchor, Fawad Chaudhry, insisted that Hashmi had been “planted in [the] PTI”by the prime minister’s closest aides.
Hashmi, who is known for his principled politics and who has been tortured and imprisoned by the military over the years, made the claims about Khan in a press conference where he revealed that: “Imran Khan said we cannot move forward without the army…He told us that he has settled all the matters; there will be elections in September.”
Soon after this, we at the Express Tribune were instructed by the military to highlight statements released by the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations office about how it was not a party to the crisis. When the military was on the defensive, issuing rebuttals to Hashmi’s “revelations,” we saw the instructions lessen and the powerful institution backing off. Yet media discourse throughout Pakistan’s history has been influenced by the military, the most powerful institution in the country, or, in a few cases, has been strong-armed and intimidated by civilian heads of state until they were ousted by the military. There is a structural bias against democratic institutions and elected officials in Pakistan, and such a discourse has the not-unintentional effect of making the military seem like a better alternative, thereby reinforcing the notion that democracy does not work.
Imran, Qadri and Altaf are friends of establishment and are anti-people: Says Left wing activists of Sindh
Peasants leaders as well as leaders of Communist Party of Pakistan, including its Secretory General Imdad Qazi has said that Imran Khan, Qadri and Altaf Hussain are the partners of establishment and are anti-people elements.
News Courtesy: Rights and Movements + Sindhi Daily Awami Awaz, 16 Nov. 2014
Read more » http://rightsupdate.blogspot.in/2014/11/qadri-imran-and-altaf-are-friends-of.html
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz on Monday said that Pakistan should not target militants who do not threaten the country’s security.
“Why should America’s enemies unnecessarily become our enemies,” Sartaj Aziz said during an interview with BBC Urdu.
“When the United States attacked Afghanistan, all those that were trained and armed were pushed towards us.
“Some of them were dangerous for us and some are not. Why must we make enemies out of them all?,” he said when speaking about the Haqqani Network.
He further said that the Afghan Taliban are Afghanistan’s problem and Haqqani Network is a part of it.
“It’s the job of the Afghan government to negotiate with them…We can try to convince them, however things are not the same as they were in the nineties,” Aziz said.
Read more » DAWN
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More details: BBC urdu
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2014/11/141117_pak_usa_strategic_cooperation_sq
A hardline cleric in Pakistan is teaching the ideas of Osama Bin Laden in religious schools for about 5,000 children. Even while the Pakistani government fights the Taliban in the north-west of the country, it has no plans to close schools educating what could be the next generation of pro-Taliban jihadis.
“We share the same objectives as the Taliban but we don’t offer military training. We work on minds. The Taliban are more hands-on,” says Abdul Aziz Ghazi, imam of Islamabad’s controversial Red Mosque.
“We teach about the principles of jihad. It’s up to students if they want to get military training after they leave here. We don’t discourage them.”
Ghazi runs eight seminaries – madrassas as they are known – the first of which was founded after his father went on a journey to meet Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.
“Osama Bin Laden is a hero for us all. He stood up to America and he won. He inspired the mission of the school,” says Ghazi.
In one of the seminaries, the library is named in honour of Bin Laden, who was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan in 2011.
Read more » BBC
By Babar Sattar
How do you stay optimistic about the prospects of your country when the naked truth paints a dark picture? Is living in a make-believe world the true mark of love and loyalty or acknowledging your failures and faults with the object of stimulating change? An argument vociferously made by our ‘patriots’ is that the world paints Pakistan as a terrible place because we are too critical of ourselves. Can one really continue to sell a bad product even if the marketing campaign is swell?
How do you correct a wrong without first acknowledging it? How do you begin acknowledging wrongs in an environment where the hardened belief is that it is not the doing of a wrong but its acceptance that spreads the contagion of disgrace?
When did we become a people who have lost their ability to distinguish between an objective reality and the admission of it? Should we be concerned more about the harmful consequences of wrongs directly affecting our surroundings and us, or by the shame of others finding out about it?
Let’s flag some random unconnected events.
Two Pakistani Christians are burnt like pieces of coal in the brick kiln they worked at by fellow villagers after accusations of blasphemy were levelled against them from the bully pulpit of the local mosque.
Two Pakistani Christians are burnt like pieces of coal in the brick kiln they worked at by fellow villagers after accusations of blasphemy were levelled against them from the bully pulpit of the local mosque. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken ‘strict’ notice of the incident, as he did after the Gojra riots that claimed the lives of eight Pakistani Christians and the Joseph Colony attack in Lahore where 150 houses and two churches were torched (incidents also triggered by allegations of blasphemy).
Anjali Kumari Meghwar, a 12-year-old Pakistani Hindu child was reportedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to one Riaz Sial last week. According to a report released by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace earlier this year, almost 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forced to convert and marry Muslim men in Pakistan each year.
Anjali Kumari Meghwar, a 12-year-old Pakistani Hindu child was reportedly abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to one Riaz Sial last week. According to a report released by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace earlier this year, almost 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forced to convert and marry Muslim men in Pakistan each year. Bottom line? Whether it’s due to religion, gender or economic class, if you are part of the vulnerable segment of this society, you are damned.
Sixty Pakistanis lost their lives and 100 others were injured in a suicide attack at Wagah last week. Three indigenous terror outfits claimed credit for the attack. Did our state get riled up? Yes, because Pentagon noted in a report to the US Congress that, “Afghan- and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability,” and that “Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military”.
Pentagon report says, Pakistan is using militants as proxies to counter the superiority of the Indian Army.
WASHINGTON: In a blunt assessment of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, the Pentagon has told the US Congress that the country is using militant groups as proxies to counter the superior Indian military.
“Afghan – and India – focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” the Pentagon told the Congress in its latest six-monthly report on the current situation in Afghanistan.
“These relationships run counter to Pakistan’s public commitment to support Afghan-led reconciliation. Such groups continue to act as the primary irritant in Afghan-Pakistan bilateral relations,” the Pentagon said in the report running into more than 100 pages.
Referring to the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, the Pentagon said this was done just ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.
“In May of this reporting period, the Indian consulate in Herat Province was attacked by a group of four heavily armed militants. The attack came three days prior to the swearing-in of the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi is perceived as being close to Hindu nationalist groups, a fact that may have played into the timing of the attack,” it said.
“In June, the US department of state announced that the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the attack. Following the attack, former Afghan President Karzai denounced the attack and made strong statements supporting relations with India,” the report said.
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More details » BBC urdu
Almost every discussion of Pakistan, especially in India, inevitably tends to be about the logic and raison d’etre of the country’s creation.
The process of partitioning a sub-continent along religious lines did not prove as neat as Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had anticipated. Mr. Jinnah was a lawyer who saw partition as a solution to potential constitutional problems in an independent India.
Pakistan must also overcome archaic notions of national security. Instead of viewing ourselves as a ‘warrior nation’ we should see ourselves as a ‘trading nation’ that can take advantage of our location for economic purposes.
In his first address to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 –exactly 67 years ago today – Mr. Jinnah had said: “I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of every one of us to loyally abide by it and honorably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all…. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done. A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it; but in my judgement there was no other solution, and I am sure future history will record its verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s constitutional problem.”
Armed with nuclear weapons Pakistan does not need to live in fear or insecurity. The state of insecurity fostered in Pakistan is psychological and should now be replaced with a logical self-confidence. Once pluralism and secularism are no longer dirty words in my country, and all national discussions need not be framed within the confines of an Islamist ideology, it will become easier for Pakistan to tackle the Jihadi menace.
It is clear from Mr. Jinnah’s statement that he only saw partition as a constitutional way out of a political stalemate, as he saw it, and not the beginning of a permanent state of hostility between two countries or two nations.
The first step in reimagining Pakistan would be to abandon the narrow ideological paradigm of Pakistani nationalism. Pakistan is here to stay and no one in the world wants it dismembered if it functions effectively as a responsible international citizen.
This explains his expectation that India and Pakistan would live side by side “like the United States and Canada,” obviously with open borders, free flow of ideas and free trade. It is also the reason why the Quaid-e-Azam insisted that his Malabar Hills house in Bombay be kept as it was so that he could return to the city where he lived most of his life after retiring as Governor-General of Pakistan.
We all know now that partition and the birth of Pakistan were not simply the end of an argument about constitutional options, as Mr. Jinnah had thought.
The entire country was plunged into communal violence, hundreds of thousands of people from both sides were butchered and millions had to flee their homes.
Instead of living as good neighbours like the United States and Canada, India and Pakistan have gone on to become adversaries in a state of constant war, a situation that has not benefitted either country but has damaged Pakistan even more.
NEW DELHI: India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200-km (125-mile) stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism,” Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV in an interview.
Read more » DAWN
By Adnan Rasool
Reality is always hard to stomach. In the age of inflated self-worth and significance, societies start having delusions of grandeur. But when the delusions are questioned, the society either goes into denial or starts spinning a new narrative.
For the last two years, our people have been going through a process where there was initially a denial of the harsh realities of Pakistan, and then the passionate spinning of a false narrative. This narrative initially blamed the system, then blamed the government and now blames everyone for everything.
Too much time has been spent criticising this false narrative that many believe to be the truth. What has been ignored are the basic set of realities that Pakistan continues to face.
To start with, as much as I hate saying this, politics in Pakistan is not for the voter to decide.
Pakistan is a case of elite adjustment. It has never been a case where the voter will decide anything; the voters are simply not a significant enough part of the equation to leverage the situation.
The form of governance does not matter either; be it a dictatorship or autocratic democracy, the political situation is a result of elite adjustment.
Read more » DAWN
Pakistan’s army has chosen a new head of the country’s controversial spy agency. Seen as experienced in counter-insurgency operations, Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhtar is being called “a professional soldier”. But as M Ilyas Khan reports, the question is whether he will be able to restore internal security.
Lt-Gen Akhtar’s appointment as head of Pakistan’s feared Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) makes him the second most powerful man in the military – and possibly in the country, some would say – after the army chief.
Read more » BBC
Read more » BBC urdu
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2014/09/140924_new_isi_chief_analysis_rk.shtml
Oxford University Press, 2014
The ability of the state to efficiently provide essential services to its citizens is the marker of a strong state. But since its independence on 14th August 1947, the state of Pakistan has been struggling to exist as a cohesive unit. Despite overwhelming support from the United States, Saudi Arabia and China in terms of aid, it has continuously faltered in emerging as a powerful South Asian economy, becoming instead a breeding ground for Jihadist networks and a proliferator of nuclear weapons technology. A 2013 global survey conducted by Worldwide Independent Network/ Gallup shows that Pakistan is considered the second largest threat to world peace. While India, with several problems of its own, has prospered since partition and is regarded as a champion of democracy and an emerging great power in Asia by the United States and its allies, neighboring Pakistan has failed to emulate this success story. Well-known International relations academic T.V. Paul’s TheWarrior State cogently summarizes the reasons why Pakistan remains Obama’s “biggest nightmare”.
According to the author, the primary reason why Pakistan is what it is today is because of the state’s Hobbesian view of the world (2014: 4), which leads to excessive spending on the military as a result of its obsession to achieve strategic parity with its “rival” India. The Pakistani military continues to stimulate threat perceptions of India to gain a major portion of the economic pie and overexerts itself militarily; acquiring nuclear weapons for instance. India sees such behavior as a threat to its own national security and an arms race ensues, destabilizing the entire region. Paul understands that Pakistan has had its own “resource curse” in a different form: the geostrategic curse (2014: 5). Pakistan has made use of its pivotal position in South Asia to attract billions of dollars of aid money which it has funneled to its military and it’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). It worries that a peaceful resolution of problems in its backyard would cut the flow of monetary aid it currently receives from the West and therefore continues to cultivate an atmosphere of uncertainty in the region.
Pakistan has been once again gripped by the domestic political crisis. Country’s fragile democracy is facing serious threats as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Movement for Justice party, and Sunni cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, head of Pakistan People’s Movement party, along with their supporters, armed with clubs and batons, continue to paralyze the capital city, Islamabad, for more than three weeks.
Protesters led by Imran Khan, who believes that Nawaz Sharif is corrupt and became prime minister after rigging the May 2013 elections, and Tahir-ul-Qadri, who aims to abolish the current parliamentary form of political system and bring “revolution” in the country, have occupied the sensitive area of the capital city, bringing the normal diplomatic activities at a complete standstill. They are demanding nothing less than resignation of elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The video of two parliamentarians being forcibly offloaded a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad has gone viral. The incident is generally being viewed as an indicator of how a peculiar behaviour, which was associated with old style patronage politics, will get challenged. The national carrier may find it increasingly difficult to treat its passengers differently — trap over two hundred souls in an aircraft while allowing VIPs to sit in a comfortable lounge as the aircraft recovers for two hours from its technical problems. Surely we can all clap at the event as a forward movement, this also indicates militant attitudes creeping into our political and social lives. Here I am not taking a position for or against but only suggesting what has changed.
This is not even an isolated incident. Those enjoying video evidence must also see the manner in which the police have been taking a thrashing from the ‘Naya Pakistan’ protestors. While we can all sympathise with Imran Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle. Much that he likes to compare himself with Jinnah, Imran would not be able to ensure that the same police, which get battered and bruised during the rule of his opponents, will get respected when he becomes the man in charge. No one seems willing to tell the story of the tired policemen who have been doing their duty for the last 30 days with little to boost their ego.
Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark
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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.
Read more » Financial Times
By Shaikh Aziz
The news of Z.A. Bhutto’s conviction shocked the PPP workers and supporters who hadn’t thought that Gen Zia would stoop so low. Though some violent protests took place in parts of Lahore and Sindh, the general law and order situation was not seriously affected as the government had taken measures to prevent the breaking out of any violence. For some reason the upper leadership of the party remained out of the scene, leaving the PPP workers directionless.
The military courts became over-active in handing down punishments of jail time and lashing. It was clear that the government wanted to send a message to the top PPP leadership that they could also be arrested in order to keep the administration working smoothly.
Two days after the judgment, on March 20, 1978, retired Gen Tikka Khan was arrested under martial law regulation No 33 for his involvement in political activities. Benazir Bhutto who was under house-arrest at her Karachi residence moved the Sindh government to arrange her meeting with her father at Lahore jail. The meeting was arranged for March 25.
The military regime cracks down on protests in the wake of Bhutto’s conviction
The PPP lawyers worked round the clock to prepare an appeal to be filed in the Supreme Court. Some PPP leaders were of the opinion that there was no need to file an appeal against the verdict; instead they wanted to approach the military government through friendly circles to settle the matter amicably. However, saner elements in the party prevailed and finally an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court on March 25.
As the foreign minister in Ayub Khan’s government and later as the prime minister, Bhutto had developed friendships with a number of world leaders, especially in the Third World and the Arab countries. Now facing a death sentence he hoped they could prevail upon Gen Zia to spare his life. While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.
While meeting foreign leaders Gen Zia always made sure that the meeting took place without any aide. It was, therefore, impossible to make out what the contents of the talks were and what transpired, leaving the people guessing.
Relieved of a major task of handling Bhutto which was now being done by the courts, Gen Zia focused his attention on strengthening his position politically. However he camouflaged his attempts in such a manner that he could not be blamed for being too ambitious. In this regard he was equally helped by some political leaders. He also began studying the lives and working styles of eminent dictators, like Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Marshal Tito and Mussolini, who stayed in power for many years without being challenged by the people. He apparently wanted to learn how these dictators managed to retain power for so long. He also used to engage some of his associates in debates on what style of governanvce would work in Pakistan.
While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.
During this time it appeared that the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was heading towards a break-up; Asghar Khan and Maulana Noorani had already parted ways. After the overthrow of Bhutto’s government, the PNA had decided to keep away from any interim arrangement offered by the military government. They remembered the performance of the Advisory Council Gen Zia had formed on Jan 14 to run the affairs of the government. Though the task of the council was to help in handling state affairs, Gen Zia himself supervised everything which negated the purpose of the council.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that liberals in Pakistan were the scum of the country who backed US policies.
In a tell-all interview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, who was visiting Pakistan recently, Khan shared his views ranging from the political to the personal, including martial laws, Memogate, corruption and allegations against him.
Talking about liberals, he said that liberals were the scum of this country and were fascists. Khan said that those liberals backed bombing of villages, drone attacks. He added that it was the liberals who backed US policies, including the War on Terror that had aggravated extremism in the country.
Answering a question on being called ‘Taliban Khan’, the PTI chief said that he was being labelled that since he encouraged dialogue with the Taliban instead of military action, a policy which the US eventually had to adopt too.
He also touched upon criticism against him about praying on stage during rallies, to which he said that he prayed five times a day and that praying on the stage was not an exception.
The protest site, within walking distance of many embassies and ministries, is in a sorry state, littered with rubbish, with the stench of human waste hanging in the air.
On the edge of the protest site, men line up every day near a burst pipe and take showers one by one. Women complain that they have hardly showered more than a few times in the last month. Some fear an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever among the protesters.
“The disease can rapidly spread,” said Dengue Expert Committee Chairman Javed Akram. “There is no proper sewerage facility in the area. The vulnerability of the sit-in participants has increased because of the unavailability of a waste management system.”
At least three women protesters, all of them domestic workers, said they had been paid to come to the rallies when they were first launched. One of them, with three children under the age of six, said mothers were paid 2,500 rupees ($25) more.
“You got paid more if you have a child,” said Rukhsana Bibi, one of the women. “They wanted more women with children to join the rallies so the pay for that was higher.”
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel)
It was the first time on Monday morning that I breathed a sigh of relief that the PTI and the PAT dharna is there and continues to attract attention. Just imagine if the media was not focusing on them they might have taken the trouble of sniffing out the drama which was unfolding in Karachi on September 6. A Chinese manufactured F-22P frigate of the Pakistan Navy, PNS Zulfiqar, came under attack by the Taliban. It is not confirmed as yet if the ship was at sea or docked at the naval dockyard. The story was kept under wraps for two days and disclosed on September 8. It was not that people were not warning others. A friend from abroad had even inquired on Saturday about what was happening in Karachi to which I had no answer as nothing was being reported on television except the Imran/Qadri roadshow. But I am still happy no one reported the story because the last time someone tried to dig out facts about infiltration of militants and ideologues inside the navy it ended in tragedy.
Gladly, the brave sailors and officers saved the day. However, the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, for which the Taliban took the responsibility, proved yet again the vulnerability of the country’s security. What we are always scared to talk about is the support from inside as had happened in the attack on PNS Mehran, PAC, Kamra and other places. Given the fact that little is known about militant penetration, it is difficult to ascertain the threat. This is about men caught by the demon of disbelief of their state and society. Glance through the literature on state making and you can find how monopoly over violence and making sure it stays that way is one of the many characteristics of a viable and efficient state. However, here is the issue of men, who join a profession to guard the state then turning away, because they suddenly suspect the state is not legitimate. The whole concept of jihad or takfir is not a simple issue of people becoming devil-like but erosion of their faith in legitimacy of the state. They begin to desire a perfect Islamic state which can only be brought about by fighting the existing system. Penetrating an armed force becomes an attractive option since achieving such objective tantamount to a force multiplier. A well-trained and oiled war machine can take you places.
Just imagine a situation where militants would try to rebel and take control of a vessel while at sea. Notwithstanding many of the earlier claims that all three services were cleaned during the Musharraf regime, these attacks suggest otherwise. Various religious groups have always had access to men in uniform under one pretext or the other. If it is not the militants then it is Deobandi or Salafi reformation movements such as the Tableeghi Jamaat or Al Huda that are allowed to access military personnel and their families. Reportedly, the households of one of the two smaller services were opened up for Al Huda by the senior leadership. The problem here is not with increased interest in religion but the fact that after a while these families and their men begin to get totally confused about where does duty to religion end and to the state begin. Not that they want to kill innocent colleagues and other people but they are blinded by their understanding of dogma to believe that they have to bring suffering in order to improve the world as ordained by God.
The PNS Zulfiqar attack is yet another reminder that things are getting serious. We need to look at this development in the backdrop of the expansion of militancy and extremism in the form of IS and the al-Qaeda’s Qaedatul Jihad in Indian Subcontinent (QJIS). While many analysts tend to see IS and QJIS from the lens of internal competition amongst militants, especially Zawahiri’s need to build up his strength, some observers argue that the two forces may have different tactics and partners but similar strategic objective. They both want to consolidate and establish a caliphate. In this regard, other existing organisations like the Hizb-ut-Tahrir also have the same desire.
PESHAWAR: Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah has said that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif must take notice of those exploiting the name of army for political purposes, ARY News reported Wednesday.
Talking to media here, Shah said it was said numerous times that army will take over, however it remained neutral.
Confronting with parliament means fighting with people, said Shah.He said COAS would certainly fight any one challenging the mandate of public against the parliament and judiciary.
Read more » ARY News
- See more at: http://arynews.tv/en/shah-urges-army-to-take-notice-of-exploiters/#sthash.M4ghQr1e.dpuf
Q 1: Sir, you have always maintained that militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because the militants are being attacked by American drones. But the militants insist that they would “kill everyone and anyone who stands against the imposition” of their version of Islam. In essence, the militants are convinced that they are fighting for ‘Islam’ while you continue to maintain that militant actions are actually reactions to American drones.
Q 2: Sir, if anyone wishes to negotiate with the PML-N, he would naturally have Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Pervez Rasheed in mind. You have always favoured negotiating peace with the militants. Please name just four names representing the militants that are in your mind with whom you will negotiate peace.
Q 3: Sir, you have promised that Prime Minister Imran Khan shall wipe off militancy from the face of the country. Can you please name just two militant organisations that you plan to wipe off?
Q 4: Sir, you have been rightly pointing out that more than 40,000 innocent Pakistani lives have been lost in what you say is ‘America’s war’. Can you please identify by name the forces and groups responsible for the loss?
Read more » The News
MULTAN Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen have killed three people, including a senior military official, at a mosque frequented by minority Shi’ite worshippers in the Pakistani city of Sargodha, police said on Monday.
Sectarian strife has been worsening in Pakistan, where Shi’ite Muslims make up about 20 percent of the 180 million population. Sunni Muslim militants frequently attack Shi’ites they see as infidels who deserve to die.
“Brigadier Fazal Zahoor was shot by masked gunmen while taking part in a religious ritual at the mosque,” said police official Farooq Hasnaat, adding the attack took place late on Sunday. “The gunmen arrived on motorbikes and burst into the mosque. They identified the brigadier and shot and killed him, his brother Fazal Subhani and a third man called Mohammad Ayub.” The mosque is located in a military cantonment. Hasnaat said the brigadier had received threats from the banned organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, which says it want to expel Shi’ites from Pakistan.
Read more » Reuters
KARACHI: One Navy officer was martyred while two terrorists were held when a Navy ship came under a terrorist attack on Saturday morning, sources said.
The incident occurred when the ship was off Karachi coast.
According to details the terrorists executed the attack with the help of two Navy personnel. These Navy personnel opened fire on their own colleagues with modern weapons.
The Navy staff retaliated the fire and succeeded in arresting to terrorists.
Scrutiny of the Navy personnel has been intiated. A spokesman for the Pakistan Navy said two militants were killed while four others were arrested. He said that a navy officer was killed and six other injured in the attack.
He further said that the militants tried to enter the Pak Navy Dockyard but the attempt was foiled.
Read more » Geo Tv
By Najam Sethi
The “conspiracy” to get rid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been exposed. Although the circumstantial evidence was compelling, no one, not even the government and parliament, had hard-core facts to prove who was doing what and why. That’s why the government’s political and administrative response to the unfolding crisis was confused, weak and vacillating. Then the Heavens parted and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi descended like an angel to “save” the government by making a clean breast of things. The story can now be stitched up safely.
The old guard in the military left behind by General Ashfaq Kayani – a master spy who occupied both high offices in ISI and GHQ by turns and fashioned the military’s strategic policies for over a decade – was unhappy with the proposed foreign policy initiatives of Nawaz Sharif towards India, Afghanistan, USA, and his stance on non-state actor “assets” and the war against the Pakistani Taliban. Mr Sharif’s choice of General Raheel Sharif as COAS, number three in the lineup and totally apolitical to boot, also queried their pitch. The dye was cast when Mr Sharif hauled up ex-army chief General Pervez Musharraf for treason because this move threatened to drag in General Kayani and many other senior military officers who had backed the coup maker. It was also feared that, come October 2014, when several key generals from the “Kayani guard” would face retirement, Mr Sharif would appoint another relatively apolitical general to the powerful DG-ISI post, thereby seizing the “national security” initiative from the military. It may be recalled that the fear was not unjustified: on two previous occasions as prime minister, Mr Sharif had taken exactly such steps when he sacked Lt Gen Asad Durrani in 1991 and appointed Lt Gen Javed Nasir as DG-ISI and when he appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt as DG-ISI in his second stint as prime minister and later tried to make him COAS and triggered a coup by General Musharraf.
Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.
After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.
Read more » FP
THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.
But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.
Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.
People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.
Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.
From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.
What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.
It is reported on Dawn news channel that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has asked Pakistan army to intervene in the political crisis in the country during an interview on Friday September 5, 2014. He also claimed that former Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was involved in the rigging in 2013 elections.
Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and senior politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is directly asking Pakistan army to take over the government as current political government is taking the country towards destruction.
PML (Q) leader said that army dictatorship is better than the existing democracy in Pakistan. He said that he does not recognize Nawaz Sharif’s democracy.
Chaudhry Shujaat claimed in the interview that Retd. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was personally involved in the rigging of the general elections in 2013.
PML (Q) politician is siding with Tahirul Qadri in the protest against the government of Nawaz Sharif in a bid to topple the government.
Courtesy: News Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful army’s 11 Corps Commanders that it was time for them to step in and force embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
According to a minister close to military circles, top generals met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in nearby Islamabad. Thousands of protesters had just tried to storm Sharif’s residence.
At the tense, four-hour conclave, Pakistan’s democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.
But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force.
Soon afterwards, the army issued a brief statement, reaffirming its commitment to democracy, and the threat of a coup, at least for now, had passed.
The minister, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of discussing the inner workings of the military, said at least five generals had been pushing for weeks for the army to take a more “active role” in defusing the crisis.
“The time for the army to be neutral is over,” was how the minister summed up the message from dissenters around the table.
Two military sources confirmed this version of events. They, like the minister, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A senior security source added: “Raheel Sharif is not interested in direct intervention. The tanks aren’t going to come rolling in. This army believes in compromise.”
The army’s media wing confirmed Sunday’s meeting but declined to share details. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters the army was a “monolithic institution”. “What comes out from the army is ultimately one opinion,” he said. “And … they have supported democracy.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2745005/Army-chief-holds-generals-seeking-Pakistan-PMs-ouster.html#ixzz3CS3QguyO
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While the security establishment had played footsie with domestic, regional and transnational jihadists for decades, it threw the decision to act against them in the PM’s lap
The so-called neutral umpire that the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan had been looking up to for a decision was neither neutral nor an umpire and now has fallen flat on its face. None other than the veteran politician and the elected president of the PTI, Mr Javed Hashmi, took the wind out of Imran Khan and his umpire’s sails. Mr Hashmi vented his spleen not just about the dictatorial tendencies of Imran Khan but also ripped apart the PTI’s ‘clean politics’ facade. The maverick from Multan flayed to shreds the sordid collusion between certain leaders in the PTI, its fellow travellers and the establishment. What Mr Hashmi, popularly known as the baghi (rebel) for bucking both the civil and military demigods, said has been known since at least this past April. The original plan was to unfold right after Ramzan but was delayed due to the military operation in North Waziristan. However, hearing it from the horse’s mouth vindicates everyone who has suspected that Imran Khan was merely the establishment’s 12th man who had been fielded to do its dirty work.
The whispering campaign against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) started when elected Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif refused to give the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf a free pass in the treason trial. The PM, appointing Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a man that the security establishment has despised for his clear anti-dictatorship stance, did not go down well with the boots. Attitudes hardened when the PM made peace overtures at his Indian counterpart’s inauguration. The tipping point, however, was PM Sharif’s courtesy visit to the wounded television anchor-journalist Hamid Mir who had implicated an intelligence agency in the attack that he narrowly survived. The battle lines were thus drawn. It was more about the security establishment losing face due to General Musharraf’s trial and ceding domestic political space to the civilian PM in appointments such as that of the defence minister than just about foreign policy. A decision seemed to have been made then that PM Nawaz Sharif had to be reined in. The PML-N’s comfortable parliamentary majority and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s judicious decision to divest the president of his powers to dissolve the National Assembly, made undermining the PM ‘constitutionally’ impossible.
Either way, barring any new surprises, the coup by other means appears to have run its course. It was a tawdry affair. An elected government and prime minister were chastened by a mob — a mob, moreover, that was very possibly encouraged by the military.
When protesters converged on the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, many were quick to see the hand of the military pulling the strings behind the scenes. Sharif, who became prime minister in 2013 after Pakistan’s first full transition of power from one democratically elected government to another, irked the army during his first year in office. He put former military ruler Pervez Musharraf — who overthrew Sharif in a 1999 coup — on trial for treason. He tried to carve out an independent foreign policy — the traditional preserve of the army — including promising better relations with India. The protests, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cult religious leader Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri looked like a means of putting Sharif in his place.
Then, with Sharif refusing to resign and the protesters turning increasingly violent over the weekend, the showdown appeared to be following a familiar course. If Pakistan became ungovernable, the Pakistan army would be “forced” to intervene and take over to restore order. It had happened before. In 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq seized power ostensibly to end a political crisis. Throughout the 1990s, elected governments were repeatedly changed as political parties moved through a revolving door pushed by squabbling politicians and spun from on high by the army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
This time around, however, events are not following the script. In what could become a watershed for Pakistan’s fragile democracy, civilian politicians are fighting back. Political parties, with the exception of Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), rallied behind the government. PTI’s own president, Javed Hashmi, broke with his leader to accuse him of acting on the behest of the army in the hope of forcing fresh elections. A statement released by the army — which appeared to draw equivalence between the mob besieging Islamabad and the elected government — was quickly called out by the English-language media. The army statement advised the government against the use of force and said that if the situation were not resolved quickly, it would play its part “in ensuring security of the state” — an apparent warning that it could take over. In response, a remarkably forthright editorial in Dawn pointed out that “it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.” The Nation also declared the army to be out of line and pointed out that the military would not hesitate to use force if violent protesters besieged its own headquarters. On Tuesday, the government called a joint session of both houses of parliament to reaffirm support for democracy.
So what happened to the script? Has Pakistan’s democracy matured to the point where civilian governments can no longer be so easily dismissed? The answer may not be entirely clear for a few days or weeks yet, and will depend on Sharif’s own ability to show flexibility in accommodating opponents inside and outside of parliament.
Or did this coup, by other means, stumble not just because of the resistance of the democrats, but also because the military itself was hesitant about delivering the fatal blow? Are some parts of the security establishment eagerly cheering on Khan and Qadri while others ready themselves to settle for a weakened prime minister still in place? After all, retaining the trappings of democracy would avoid the international disapproval and U.S. sanctions that might follow an outright coup. (Officially, the army denied backing theprotesters in a statement that insisted it was an apolitical institution.)
Pakistan’s security establishment — a term that covers everyone from army chief General Raheel Sharif, to his fellow Corps commanders, to the ISI, to retired officers who may or may not be acting under official orders — is notoriously opaque. All that can be said, then, is that Khan has been useful to the security establishment in the past, but either has a tendency to go his own way, or draws his support from particularly hard-line elements.
A few years ago, for example, Khan became one of the most vocal campaigners against drone strikes in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and against the U.S.-led campaign in neighboring Afghanistan. His campaigns were particularly useful to an army that liked to tell the United States that domestic opinion — albeit domestic opinion it had helped manufacture — prevented it from doing more against Islamist militants. Yet more recently, his insistence on holding peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban annoyed some in the army who believed they should be fought more aggressively. Khan’s commitment to defending the people of FATA was conveniently forgotten as soon as the Pakistan army launched its own military operation this year in North Waziristan, which produced one million internal refugees.
In the run-up to the elections, Pakistani media suggested that Khan was a particular favourite of Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, then head of the ISI. The former cricketer, not well known for his critical thinking, happily espoused the army narrative that all of Pakistan’s problems could be blamed on its corrupt politicians, while disregarding the military’s own powerful role in setting policy. Yet moving Khan from a single issue player as an anti-drones campaigner to the national political stage proved extremely hard even for a powerful intelligence establishment with many friends in the media. Khan picked up genuine support from those tired of existing political parties, particularly from a younger, urban generation. His unseen friends in the security establishment made sure he was given ample coverage in the Pakistani media, while the international media duly promoted a man with a glamorous international playboy past and pukka English.
ISLAMABAD: The government registered treason case on Monday against PTI and PAT leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. According to media reports the case was lodged at Pak Secretariat Police Station. Several sections and clauses, including section 124-A which pertains to treason, have been invoked in the FIR. Both Imran and Qadri were also charged with incitement to violence, attempted murder, robbery and interfering in the affairs of the state. PTI ally Shaikh Rasheed and party leaders Jahangir Tareen, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and others said to be booked in the FIR registered at Secretariat Police Station over rioting in Red Zone of Islamabad and attack on Parliament House.
Read more » Daily Times
Kuj sheher dey log vi zaalim san. Kuj sanu vi maran da shauk si (Azim Muneer Niazi)
The kind of government Pakistanis want is entirely their choice. Democratic, dictatorial, camouflaged military, Islamic, socialist or controlled. The rest of the world may like one or the other but will have to deal with the reality, in its own way. Attempts by others to change systems are messy, with little guarantee of success or permanence.
However, if the people of the country have decided that they wish to follow the route of free and fair elections and to be ruled by a democratically elected government then the present turmoil in Pakistan is not only inexplicable but also dangerous for Pakistan. When political leaders rely on unconstitutional support for political survival and encourage their followers to disregard established norms and institutions then they encourage chaos and unending violence. This ultimately destroys them because the institutions that protected them have ceased to exist.
Chaos rules in Pakistan as conflicting reports come from Rawalpindi and the streets are controlled by the followers of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan while the Prime Minister remains invisible. The Army’s initial ambivalence,instead of a forthright support for Nawaz Sharif, indicated weakening support for him. Quite obviously, Nawaz is being punished for pursuing former Army chief General Musharraf.
There are conflicting reports emanating from Islamabad about the future of a democratically elected Nawaz Sharif. The highest judiciary has stepped in with its advice, the parliament has been called to session tomorrow and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have been booked for treason. The entry into PTV offices and the PM’s house despite the Army’s presence in Islamabad indicates a seriously dysfunctional government.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif announced he is not quitting after his three hour long meeting with the Army chief General Raheel Sharif seems to have strengthened Nawaz’s position. Latest reports indicate that protests in Islamabad have resumed. The protests have lasted 18 days and requires considerable organisation and cash flows to sustain this campaign. The Khan-Qadri duo must be flush with money or have unknown benefactors. The disclosure by PTI President Javed Hashmi that Imran Khan had decided to move to the Prime Minister’s after receiving a ‘message’ via Sheikh Rasheed and Saifullah Niazi, is telling.