Tag Archives: Military

Ex-military men back call for dissolution of assemblies

armyBy Amin Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association, headed by Retired Vice Admiral Ahmed Tasnim, jumped into the fray on Tuesday by supporting the call for dissolution of assemblies, formation of a caretaker government

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1126538/ex-military-men-back-call-for-dissolution-of-assemblies

Pakistan – Sources in Sharif’s government said that with civilian-military relations in such bad shape, Sharif suspected that the street protests to unseat him were being manipulated from behind the scenes by the army.

PM Pakistan and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif.

PM Nawaz Sharif.

From czar-like prime minister to deputy commissioner-type character

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Besieged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been assured by military that there will be no coup, but in return he must “share space with the army”, according to a government source who was privy to recent talks between the two sides.

Last week, as tens of thousands of protesters advanced on the federal capital to demand his resignation, Sharif dispatched two emissaries to consult with the army chief.

He wanted to know if the military was quietly engineering the twin protest movements by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan and activist cleric Tahirul Qadri, or if, perhaps, it was preparing to stage a coup.

According to a government insider with a first-hand account of the meeting, Sharif’s envoys returned with good news and bad: there will be no coup but if he wants his government to survive, from now on it will have to share space with the army.

The army’s media wing declined to comment.

Thousands of protesters marched to parliament on Tuesday, using a crane and bolt cutters to force their way past barricades of shipping containers, as riot police and paramilitaries watched on after being told not to intervene.

Military spokesman General Asim Bajwa tweeted a reminder to protesters to respect government institutions and called for a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve the crisis.

Even if, as seems likely, the Khan and Qadri protests eventually fizzle out due to a lack of overt support from the military, the prime minister will emerge weakened from political crisis.

Sharif may have to be subservient to the generals on issues he wanted to handle himself — from the fight against Taliban to relations with India and Pakistan’s role in neighbouring, post-Nato Afghanistan.

“The biggest loser will be Nawaz, cut down to size both by puny political rivals and the powerful army,” said a government minister who asked not to be named.

“From this moment on, he’ll always be looking over his shoulder.”

A year ago, few would have predicted that Sharif would be in such trouble: back then, he had just swept to power for a third time in a milestone poll that marked the first transition from one elected government to another.

But in the months that followed, Sharif — who had crossed swords with the army in the past — moved to enhance the clout of the civilian government in a country that has been ruled by the military for more than half of its history.

He irked the generals by putting former military head Pervez Musharraf, who had ended Sharif’s last stint as prime minister in a 1999 coup, on trial for treason.

Sharif is also said to have opposed a military offensive to crush Taliban insurgents and sought reconciliation with India.

Sources in Sharif’s government said that with civilian-military relations in such bad shape, Sharif suspected that the street protests to unseat him were being manipulated from behind the scenes by the army.

He also feared that if the agitations turned violent, the army would exploit the situation to seize power for itself.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1126545/

Ukraine military plane shot down as fighting rages

A Ukrainian military transport aircraft has been shot down in the east, amid fighting with pro-Russian separatist rebels, Ukrainian officials say. They say the An-26 plane was hit at an altitude of 6,500m (21,325ft).

Read more » BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28299334

ANP leaders said military protected Haqqanis, other militants

KARACHI: In a meeting with an American diplomat in July 2009, ANP leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak claimed that the Haqqani network, a militant group the US holds responsible for multiple attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, was being protected by the Pakistan military.

The report is one of a number of American diplomatic cables obtained by Dawn that reveal a deep mistrust among the leadership of the ANP, the party responsible for governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about the military’s intentions regarding various militant groups in KP and FATA.

“Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis ‘separately’ … from other militants,” reported Lynne Tracy, the Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Peshawar. “The Haqqani family, [Khattak] observed, has already moved out of North Waziristan.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/630875/anp-leaders-said-military-protected-haqqanis-other-militants

Pakistan: A country at war with itself

By Lal Khan

Excerpt:

North Waziristan is rightly described as the centre of gravity of terrorist activity. Groups like Gul Bahadur, the Haqqani network (“good” Taliban), the so-called TTP, East Turkmenistan Islamic movement led by the Uzbeks, remnants of Al-Qaida and Al-Arab terrorists (“bad” Taliban) are running bloody havoc. The relations of these groups with the army, the US and other regional and imperialist powers have been dodgy and deceitful, with changing loyalties and affiliations. Their main sources of revenues are extortion, drug running, kidnapping and ransom, and other criminal activities. It is fear that guarantees their booty and hence they are all competing with the state and with each other to see who can carry out more heinous, cruel and inhuman acts of terror.

It is precisely because of this that the multinational companies, and imperialist and regional states, make deals and contracts with them to the advantage of their own financial and strategic policies and interests. Hence their connections with certain sections of the state, that has now vowed to obliterate them, are not so concealed anymore. This operation will not be a straightforward military campaign, as it is difficult to differentiate between friend and foe. After all, this has been the dilemma of the “good” and the “bad” Taliban that has been haunting and convulsing the establishment for decades now. It will be a long and a protracted and internecine war that has very remote chances of reaching any clear and decisive solution or conclusion.

And if this operation fails what will happen then? The political elite are so removed from reality that they can’t even dare to think about it. These billionaires and upstarts are not the ones who are suffering. It is the workers and the poor who are the victims of this fundamentalist onslaught and also of the economic terrorism being inflicted upon them by the system and the ruling classes through their state apparatus.

Read more » http://www.marxist.com/pakistan-a-country-at-war-with-itself.htm

U.S. sanctions on Lashkar-e-Tayyiba Network Leaders

Treasury Sanctions Two Senior Lashkar-E-Tayyiba Network Leaders

Action Targets Leadership of Pakistan-based Terrorist Organization

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today targeted the financial and leadership networks of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) by designating Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry (Ahmad) and Muhammad Hussein Gill as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.  Ahmad and Gill are being designated for acting for or on behalf of LT, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan.  Treasury and the Department of State have designated 22 individuals and four entities associated with LT.

The State Department today also maintained LT’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and added the following aliases to its listing of LT: Jama’at-ud-Dawa, Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal.  The State Department originally designated LT as an FTO in December 2001, and the group was added to the United Nations (UN) 1267/1989 Sanctions list in 2005.

“In targeting Lashkar-e-Tayyiba leadership, today’s action demonstrates our unrelenting commitment to combatting terrorism by disrupting terrorist groups’ financial activities,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.  “We will continue to target LT’s financial foundation to disrupt and impede its violent activities.”

LT was responsible for the deadly November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India that killed nearly two hundred people and injured more than three hundred.  The group’s leader is Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

Read more » U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY

http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2440.aspx

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More details » BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/06/140625_jamatuddawah_terrorist_org_sa.shtml

The military will not decisively act against its own strategic assets unless an ideological shift occurs at mass level

OUR VIEWPOINT ON ZARB-E-AZB

Written by  Redaktion

Yet another military operation has been launched in Waziristan Agency. Post-9/11, this will be fifth operation in the Agency.

While Viewpoint is staunchly opposed to the Taliban and considers them the biggest immediate threat to working classes in Pakistan, we refuse to lend support to the ongoing military operation for the following reasons:

1.       Amputating cancerous hand, preserving cancer: A military operation in Waziristan Agency implies that terrorism in Pakistan is geographically located. This is a fake beginning. Hence, it will only prolong the fight against puritan terror. Fact of the matter is, taproot of terrorism is located elsewhere. To be precise, terrorism in Pakistan emanates from Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is grounded in the official policy-making, anchored in military doctrines, and situated in foreign office. Viewpoint has repeatedly pointed out: unless a paradigm shift displacing the Doctrine of Strategic Depth takes place, the Taliban terror cannot be decisively defeated. Furthermore, without abandoning the Jihadi infrastructure [ consisting of Punjab-based, Kashmir-specific, and anti-Shia outfits as well as mosque-and-madrassa networks], terrorism cannot be successfully fought back. Likewise, only by deradicalising the entire state and society (military, judiciary, constitution, media, education system and so on) we can expect a beginning of terrorism’s end. There is no piecemeal solution. In the absence of such radical paradigmatic shifts, the Waziristan operation will be tantamount to amputating cancerous hand while preserving the cancerous arm. Therefore, it is an absurd position to take if one supports or opposes amputation of a cancerous hand by khaki messiahs without operating upon the source of cancer.

Read more » View Point Online

http://www.viewpointonline.net/2014/06/our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb/3828-our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb#.U6niUJmUsGk.facebook

Pakistan needs to make hard choices now: Hillary

Former US secretary of state says Islamabad’s policy of strategic depth no longer valid

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan’s policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has been proven wrong and the country now needs to focus all its strength on dealing with the militants.

“Their idea, that they have these groups to provide strategic depth, as they like to say, vis-a-vis Afghanistan, or vis-a-vis India, I think if that were ever true, which I doubt, but if that were ever true, it no longer is,” she told Indian NDTV channel.

In the interview that focused on her new book, ‘Hard Choices’, Ms Clinton said that Pakistan also needed to make a hard choice now, disconnecting its ties to various terrorist groups and putting together all state powers to “once and for all go after extremists, shut down their training camps, their safe havens, (and) madressahs that are inculcating suicide bombing behaviour.”

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1114535/

 

Can Pakistan be saved? Or will it go the Iraq way?

By C Uday Bhaskar

The Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, a major offensive operation against terror groups operating from North Waziristan Sunday, a week after the Karachi airport was audaciously attacked by the Taliban. In the last 48 hours, it is reported that more than 170 terrorists were killed while six soldiers died during the operation which is still continuing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared: “We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost.” The military in turn has highlighted in a press release that it is acting on the “directions” of the civilian government and has “been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries”.

On the face of it, this is a welcome development, in that the Pakistan military has publicly reiterated two critical determinants; first that it is operating as per the directives of the elected government and second, that it will eliminate “terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. The inference that follows is that this time around there will be no distinction between the good and the bad terrorist.

However, there have been two other military operations that GHQ Rawalpindi had initiated in 2009 in Swat and South Waziristan and in both cases, after imposing a heavy cost on the terror groups, the military withdrew without seeking effective closure and the various terror outfits regrouped to challenge the state again. The Karachi airport attack is illustrative of the determination and virulence of the ideology that is  driving the Taliban and its affiliates.

Both the Pakistani political establishment and the military are culpable of having nurtured and sought the support of different factions of the right-wing constituency for their own institutional advantage. If the Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies created and supported certain groups to obtain “strategic depth” in both India and Afghanistan through proxy, political parties led by Nawaz Sharif and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan portrayed the Taliban as brethren who had been misguided and held out the olive branch of reconciliation. Even when the Pakistan Army wanted to pursue a more robust anti-Taliban policy after the beheading of troops, the political ambivalence prevailed.

Karachi is being seen as the tipping point and the name of the operation – Zarb-e-Azb – which means sharp and cutting has a religious salience that merits notice. The theological reference is to the sword of Prophet Muhammad reportedly used in the battle of Badr (624 AD) and by invoking this symbol, the Pak military, it may be conjectured, is assuming a mantle of higher religious legitimacy against the Taliban. The latter in turn perceive themselves as the true guardians of the faith and their objective is to impose an intolerant, inflexible version of the practice of Islam, in which the Shia and other sects are legitimate targets for slaughter.

None of these developments are new to Pakistan and have been gathering momentum for decades with the connivance of the state and civil society. A malignant ideology and a destructive eco-system that intimidated the non-Sunni denominations through political connivance and the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws reached its most tragic manifestation in the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard. His crime – supporting due legal process in a blasphemy case against a Pakistani Christian woman.

It may be recalled that the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) episode of Islamabad in July 2007 that marked the end of the Musharraf era was in essence an example of how the Islamist right-wing and its pervasive support triumphed and forced the state to withdraw. At the time it was reported that even the Pakistan Army’s top leadership was uneasy with the Musharraf diktat and opined that many in the rank and file of the military would oppose  any muscular action against the right-wing radicals.

Thus, the moot question is the degree to which the Pakistani political establishment in Islamabad and the GHQ in Rawalpindi will be “sharp and cutting” in eliminating the terror groups and their sanctuaries. Prime Minister Sharif has been in touch with Afghan President Ahmed Karzai to coordinate operations and deny the groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is expected that the US will provide tacit support in this endeavour by way of intelligence and drone attacks.

Zarb-e-Azb marks the tactical and military dimension of dealing with the (Islamist) chickens that have come home to roost. The Pakistan military has demonstrated that it has the ability to apply the pressure on the adversary – should it decide to do so. Yes, there have been threats of reprisal and the Pak Taliban has threatened to target Punjab – the Sharif base – which till now was off the terror radar.

The true test of Zarb-e-Azb will be its strategic and political underpinning. Will Islamabad and Rawalpindi arrive at that final and irrevocable determination to sever links with Muridke – the headquarter of groups like the Lashkar and other such centres? This is where the sharp and cutting quality is most required.

Absent this candid admission that support to terror cannot be selectively sustained, the current effort will have limited value and the lives of the Pakistani troops lost will be in vain. Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, have a rare opportunity to save Pakistan from the kind of specter that now threatens Iraq.

(C Uday Bhaskar is Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies. He can be contacted at cudyabhaskar@spsindia.in)

Courtesy: The South Asia Monitor

http://southasiamonitor.org/detail.php?type=sl&nid=8332

Why Pakistan May Not Win war against Taliban

Pakistan Is Fighting Back Against Militants. Here’s Why It May Not Win.

By MICHAEL KUGELMAN

After many rumors and false starts, and after years of requests from U.S. officials,Pakistan has finally launched a major military offensive in North Waziristan, ground zero for militancy in that country.

Extremist organizations use North Waziristan as a base for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to mount assaults on targets in Pakistan. The remnants of al-Qaeda central, including perhaps supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, have a presence there, as do Uzbek extremist groups, one of which claimed responsibility for the recent Karachi airport attack. Even Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who attempted to blow up Times Square in 2010,received training in North Waziristan. This tribal area is a magnet for militants local and foreign.

But while the airstrikes and ground efforts in North Waziristan have been needed, it’s not clear whether this effort can inflict a decisive blow against militancy in Pakistan. Here are four questions that underscore how conditions in Pakistan may be stacked against success:

1. Will there be a critical mass of militants left to fight?

The Pakistani government has been hinting at the likelihood of an operation since January. In the five months since then, Pakistani Taliban and other militants have had ample opportunity to escape to other tribal areas in Pakistan or even into Afghanistan.

2. Will international forces in Afghanistan be able to assist?

Pakistani officials have asked international forces in neighboring Afghanistan to help prevent militants from crossing the porous border into that country. But with the foreign presence in Afghanistan on track to diminish over the next few months, it’s not clear whether foreign troops will have the capacity to offer such assistance—and, if they do, they’ll need help from Afghan security forces, which have an uneasy relationship with the Pakistani security establishment.

3. Will this operation target militants across the board or only the Pakistani Taliban and its allies?

Pakistan has long distinguished between “good” and “bad” militants: It considers the Pakistani Taliban, which targets the Pakistani state, “bad”; the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, which strike Afghanistan and U.S. and Indian interests in that country, are “good.” All of these groups are based in North Waziristan, but if Islamabad targets only the “bad” militants, the operation’s success will be limited.

4. Will this operation include associated efforts outside Waziristan?

Militancy in Pakistan is no longer restricted to tribal areas. Thousands of militants have set up shop in cities. In the absence of stepped-up law enforcement efforts and other civilian-led security missions in urban areas, a Waziristan-only operation cannot root out militancy on a national level.

And that bodes poorly for the ultimate prospects of this much-needed offensive.

Michael Kugelman is senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is on Twitter: @michaelkugelman.

Courtesy: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/06/16/pakistan-is-fighting-back-against-militants-heres-why-it-may-not-win/

PAKISTAN’S DOMESTIC JIHAD

By: Vikram Sood

Pakistan watchers would not find the current spate of terror in that country surprising because there has been a steady escalation in its lethality, its dramatic impact, geographical range and targets for some years. And that this has been mostly within Pakistan except for the attacks against Indian interests in Kabul and Mumbai in recent years. No one perhaps really noticed that Pakistani jihadis nurtured fondly for years, had gone into a catharsis of sorts soon after President Musharraf announced in September 2001 that he was reversing jihad. He was going to support the US in the war on terror in Afghanistan and, by implication, against some Pakistani jihadis. Musharraf had apparently been overawed by Washington’s “either you are with us or against us” message.

Unsurprisingly, for many more familiar with Pakistani behaviour and paranoia, it was known that this was going to be only selective reversal. The cooperation with the US was not meant to apply against the India-specific jihadis nurtured by Pakistan for years. Despite this selective approach to tackling jihadis, there were perhaps half a dozen attempts to assassinate Musaharraf by Islamic radicals between 2001 and 2003 — the most lethal being Christmas Day in 2003 when he had a miraculous escape. The attackers were professionals and they obviously had insider information about Musharraf’s movement that day.

The attack on the Karachi airport with instant media coverage, is perhaps the most high profile attack by Pakistani terrorists in recent years. Over time, Karachi has become a haven for the Taliban, sectarian militants, jihad financiers and Al Qaeda sleeper cells. With a high mix of criminal activity and a large Pukhtun population it is relatively easy for the Taliban to operate here. This would explain the ease with which there were two attacks on the airport on consecutive days.

There have been other, even more sinister and audacious attacks in Pakistan since the Lal Masjid episode in July 2007 in which 156 fundamentalist Islamists were killed in an operation by the elite SSG commandos. Attacks by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists on the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi in October 2009, the Pak naval base PNS Mehran in Karachi in May 2011 in apparent retaliation against the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier that month, the Kamra airbase in August 2012, and in December 2012 and the Bacha Khan airport in Peshawar were particularly audacious and exhibited a well thought out game-plan. Even the ISI Office in Lahore was attacked by the Taliban in May 2009 and later the ISI office in Sukkur was targeted. SSG commando training headquarters and the Sargodha air base had similarly been targets. These attacks were carried out by highly trained suicide squads armed with sophisticated weapons and aimed at inflicting maximum damage. Besides, high-profile strategic targets derive international publicity and send a message. Meanwhile the world, including Pakistanis, haven’t noticed the killing of 25 Shia pilgrims in Taftan, Balochistan, by Sunni terrorists, the day the airport was attacked.

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Pakistan’s Federal minister for Planning & Development, Ahsan Iqbal’s son Ahmed Iqbal’s remarks against Pak Army

“The responsibility of all terrorist attacks falls squarely on the armed forces & intelligence agencies. People of Pakistan have made enough sacrifices. It is time that that these institutions start doing their job of protecting Pakistan & not themselves. There would no war, no Taliban, no external threat if they would have done their job. It is high time to not only hit back at terrorists but to secure Pakistan’s future by dealing with this menace. Spend on education, health, development, people & …. the army!”  “Warna, yeh Taliban Ko Paalnay Waali, India Ko Ukssanay waali, Jamhoriat Ko Lapaytnay waali Fauj apnay bojh talay Is Mulk Ko Kuchal day gi.” ~ Ahmed Iqbal Chaudhary

Read more » http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=244363

More details »» Roznama Dunya

http://e.dunya.com.pk/colum.php?date=2014-06-16&edition=LHR&id=31946_74196307

Pakistan: On the road to ‘Fascistan’

By Dr Mohammad Taqi

If the rise in fascist tendencies were sporadic, the concern might have been a notch lower. However, the way religious zealots were unleashed over the last several weeks, in what appears an orchestrated move by a well-oiled machine, is alarmingly ominous

Read more » Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-May-2014/on-the-road-to-fascistan

Geo News to sue ISI for defamation

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Geo News is suing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for defamation over accusations of being anti-state, it said on Friday.

Geo News, part of the privately-owned Jang Group, has also given the ISI 14 days to issue a public apology.

“Geo and Jang Group (have) served a legal notice on the Ministry of Defence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for defaming and maligning the group,” the channel said in a report published in a newspaper owned by the media house.

“More than 8,000 journalists, workers and professionals attached to the group and their families are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”

The suing by Geo News was followed by a suspension of the channel’s license for 15 days along with a fine of Rs10 million.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1110985

Book Review : An ideological army, jihad and greed

Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, Author: C Christine Fair, Publisher: Oxford University, Hardcover: 368 pages

Fair’s assessment of the Pakistan army is out: it is an ideological war machine that is not amenable to any inducements or assuaging of its security concerns. Professor C Christine Fair, a security studies expert at Georgetown University, has produced a formidably comprehensive evaluation of what keeps the Pakistan army ticking, to what end and through what means. The book, divided into 11 chapters, is a painstaking endeavour to understand the strategic or corporate culture of the army, its motivation, motives and moves and what factors within or from outside Pakistan could have any bearing on it. Professor Fair’s compendium ravages the notion that Pakistan is a security-seeking state located in a rough neighbourhood and if the international powers, especially the USA, could guarantee or facilitate its wellbeing by leaning on India and to an extent on Afghanistan, the country could be weaned off its toxic jihadist habit. The work looks at the Pakistan army through the lens of its own publications including journals and the Green Books to posit that Islam, the Two Nation Theory (TNT), the 1947 Partition, jihad and a fetish for asymmetric warfare via proxies was virtually baked into the entity carved out of the British Indian Army.

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Russia lifts arms embargo to Pakistan: report

By AFP

MOSCOW: Russia has lifted its embargo on arms supplies to Pakistan and is holding talks on supplying Islamabad with combat helicopters, the head of state-owned Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said Monday, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported. “Such a decision has been taken. We are holding talks on supplying the helicopters,” Chemezov said, adding that the negotiations were about Russian Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1110131

 

BLASPHEMY: THE NEW FACE OF RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

Written by  Fatima Tassadiq

If the 1980s is notorious in Pakistan’s history for its so called Islamization, the current decade will probably be remembered as the era of ‘blasphemization’ of Pakistan. Over forty years ago Zia ul Haq deployed Islam to legitimize his illegal coup against a democratic government and proceeded to raise a generation of militants in CIA run training camps funded by Saudi money. This period not only witnessed the increasing institutionalization of religion but also the rise of Sunni militancy – the leaders and founding members of notorious organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba were a product of the Afghan Jihad.
In spite of their high profile violence, it was many years before either of these organizations was banned as ‘terrorist’ outfits. It was also not until suicide attacks became a common place occurrence in Pakistan that public opinion finally recognized  Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a menace rather than ‘mujahideen’ fighting for the cause of Islam. Today we have managed to take Zia’s tactics to a whole new level through the expansive and mind bogglingly creative deployment of the notion of blasphemy. From imprisoning children, killing governors, ministers, human rights lawyers, filling a case against no less than 67 lawyers and then accusing a TV channel of blasphemy in a grand finale we have pretty much done it all in the last few years. Blasphemy is no doubt the new face of terrorism in the name of Islam. The only difference is that we have yet to recognize it as such.

Australia cuts ties with Thailand over military coup

By Reuters

PERTH Australia (Reuters) – Australia downgraded ties with Thailand on Saturday in the wake of this month’s military coup, imposing a travel ban on the junta leaders and cutting defense cooperation in some of the toughest punitive measures taken by a foreign government.

The U.S. and other foreign governments have condemned the May 22 coup, calling for a rapid return to democracy.

The Australian government said it had postponed three activities with the Thai military and would prevent the leaders of the coup from traveling to Australia as it continues to have “grave concerns” about the military’s actions in Thailand.

Read more » The Chicago Tribune

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-05-31/news/sns-rt-us-thailand-politics-australia-20140530_1_military-junta-coup-leader-military-coup

LeT behind attack on Indian consulate in Herat: Hamid Karzai

NEW DELHI: Terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said today.

“According to information given to us by a Western intelligence agency, the perpetrators of the Herat attack belonged to the LeT. This was mentioned in writing in the report shared with us,” he said.

Read more at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/35623616.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

By 

LAHORE, Pakistan — “I used to feel my life was too straight, too linear.”

The speaker was Junaid Hafeez, a young poet and Fulbright scholar from the south of Pakistan, telling a radio show host in 2011 why he had given up studying medicine for a life in literature. Today, he is in jail on a blasphemy charge that carries the death penalty, and is mourning the lawyer who was murdered earlier this month for defending him.

Before his arrest, Hafeez was teaching in the English Department at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, a city in Punjab Province close to where he grew up. His personal charisma and liberal views had won him a following among students, as well as the envious attention of faculty members.

One day in 2013, a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of the hard-line Jamaat-i-Islami party, accused Hafeez of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The student had no evidence, but no evidence was needed.

Hard-line students soon held a protest crying out for Hafeez’s execution. University administrators backed away. The police registered a case for blasphemy against Hafeez. They did not ask cybercrime specialists to investigate the accusation, relying instead on a fatwa issued by a seminary.

For months Hafeez’s father tried to find a lawyer. Finally he petitioned Rashid Rehman, the 53-year-old special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. A legal expert with 20 years of activism, Rehman was known as a go-to lawyer for hopeless causes. Despite the danger, he agreed to take Hafeez’s case. Defending a man accused of blasphemy, Rehman told a reporter in April, was like “walking into the jaws of death.”

Those jaws have been open wide since the 1980s, when the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq updated a set of colonial laws that criminalized “insulting the religion of any class of persons.” The original laws were devised in the late 19th century by a paternalistic British government trying to keep its multifaith subjects from fighting one another. Those laws were worded generally, and prescribed fines and, at most, two-year prison terms.

General Zia’s amendments particularized the insults and tailored the provisions to favor a stringent Sunni strain of Islam. They criminalized the desecration of the Quran, any defiling of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, and disrespectful remarks about his companions — a jab at Pakistan’s Shiite minorities, who dispute the outcome of the succession struggle that followed the Prophet’s death. Moreover, any attempt by members of the outlawed Ahmadi sect to refer to themselves as Muslims was criminalized. Punishments were upgraded: Blasphemers could be executed or jailed for life.

General Zia died in an air crash in 1988, but his legacy remains. It includes the empowerment of theological figures in every stratum of life — from clerics and televangelists to fanatical academics and Shariah judges — all aided in their righteous endeavors by a legislature that remains intractably Zia-ist.

The blasphemy laws are part of this package. For decades they had been rarely used, with only a handful of cases before the mid-1980s. But General Zia’s amendments opened the floodgates: More than a thousand cases have been reported since then, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Just last week the Punjabi police, prompted by a Sunni extremist, brought blasphemy charges against 68 lawyers.

The blasphemy laws can serve just about anyone with a dark design — an angry relative, an envious colleague, a neighbor with his eye on your property. But the greatest beneficiary has been the professional Islamists, who specialize in their application to encroach on both state and society.

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Pakistan: JUI-F blames ‘ISI within ISI’ for kidnappings, killings

By Irfan Haider

ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) on Tuesday alleged that there is an “Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) within the ISI” which is involved in kidnapping and killings of innocent people across Pakistan.

Commenting on a motion in the Senate regarding ongoing political situation in the country, JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said the ISI was behind the incidents of missing persons and mass graves in Balochistan.

Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf had said that there were some people within the ISI ranks who were not under the control of its chief while former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also said in his verdicts that the ISI was involved in the cases of missing persons, the JUI-F senator said.

“It was not decide since the independence (of Pakistan) that who will rule the country … either it will be the Parliament or those institutions whose employees get pays from the taxes of the nation,” he said.

Hamdullah said it was an alarming situation that the violators of Constitution were being considered as faithful and those who introduced the Constitution of 1973 were being considered as traitor in the country.

He also criticised the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) which was protesting against the alleged rigging in the May 11 elections.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1107531/jui-f-blames-isi-within-isi-for-kidnappings-killings

Russian battleships in Shanghai for joint naval drills

A squadron of Russia’s Navy Pacific Fleet has arrived in Shanghai to participate in joint Russian-Chinese naval training dubbed ‘Joint Sea-2014’. The drills in the northern part of the East China Sea start on Tuesday and will go on until May 26.

The Russian squadron consists of six battleships and support vessels: the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, missile cruiser Varyag, anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, large landing ship Admiral Nevelskoy, anti-surface destroyer Bystry, tanker Ilim and ocean tug Kalar.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/159912-russia-china-naval-drills/

Jinnah made a mistake and I am ashamed of being Pakistani

By Mahwash Badar

Anyone who has ever travelled abroad will tell you that no matter where you go, no matter how developed the country it is that you’re travelling to – if you’re a British national or a Caucasian American, the doors become friendlier. The security becomes less pressurising. Visa queues are shorter. Procedures are simpler.

If you’re a brown Pakistani man (or even woman) who is travelling to another country – that’s a whole other story. You’re working in the Middle East, chances are your salary is just a little bit above the basic working wage – or anything that will get you a bed-space with seven other human beings. Respect is minimal. You’re not supposed to ruffle any feathers. Or demand for rights. Your children are thousands of miles away studying (because you can’t afford education for them here), your wife probably has another job to help make ends meet and your job squeezes every drop of your blood into a tiny container that helps build the skyscrapers and that little container is thrown away quicker than you can say ‘burj’, as soon as your company decides to say bye bye.

Pretty much the equivalent of… well, I don’t know. What is that the equivalent of? What analogy do I draw to represent the utter misery that is being a Pakistani in this super-power dominated world?

As if the current state of the country, what with its years of dictatorship and lack of infrastructure, hasn’t driven us insane enough, there is the added bonus of inviting religious extremists and letting them destroy everything we hold near and dear. Sure, apologists will reason it saying “this is not true Islam” and whatnot. But my question is when – seriously – when do we set aside the debate of what is true Islam and what isn’t?

Let the clerics and the religious scholars sit in their mosques and minibars – oh I meant minbars. But once and for all, eliminate and annihilate the savage, beastly, cowardly, immoral men who buy the bodies of fragile, poverty-stricken, desperate men, strap them with explosives and send them into markets with innocent women and children. Finish these abhorrent elements in the society that attempt to throw us back to the Stone Age.

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/22231/jinnah-made-a-mistake-and-i-am-ashamed-of-being-pakistani/

Imran Khan boarding the wrong train…as usual

By Omar

Our great leader has taken the pulse of Twitter and Facebook (or heard good news from on high) and has decided to throw caution to the wind and board the anti-GEO bandwagon.
Sadly, once more, he may be boarding the wrong train. The army’s ability to swing itself into the harness and give orders has been slowly but steadily weakening for years. Zardari’s successful tenure (successful in not falling to a coup) and the peaceful transfer of power to MNS were baby steps. A major Paknationalist media empire deciding its time to openly challenge the ISI after its reporter is shot (by the ISI or by someone else) is a bigger step (because it means serious sections of the ruling elite feel it is time they can do this). This is not to condone GEO’s method of making the accusation, or their odious past record of labeling others as thieves, traitors, etc. That is all condemn-able and has been condemned in the past and should be condemned now. But their willingness to do so still indicates that they perceived a power shift.
The deep state (and its useful-idiot supporters in the PTI fan-base) have since mobilized to teach GEO a lesson and to show them who is still boss…but it is not exactly going  as planned. It took a few days, but liberal fascists (a term GEO and Hamid Mir freely popularized when they and the establishment were on the same page) continue to pop up to question the army’s right to label GEO (or anyone else) as traitors. More significantly, MNS does not seem to be cooperating. Astute politicians like Zardari will soon get the hint (if they have not already got it) that there is not going to be a coup and its time to stand aside and let the ISI expose itself and its remaining supporters for what they are: people out of step with Pakistani political reality. (Look at the dozens or at most hundreds of people showing up to wave pro-ISI posters at rallies).

That leaves Imran Khan.

As expected, he has miscalculated. Thinking this whole sorry scheme of things entire may be wound up soon, he has boldly stepped forward (after waffling for a few days) and has now discovered that GEO is the enemy and he is ready to boycott them.
By doing so he stands ready to lose either way:

1. He is wrong and MNS and GEO both survive this episode, leaving him with abundant egg on his face after yet another failed “mobilization/revolution”.

OR

2. He has picked the “winning side” and the deep state will kill GEO and MNS (killing one without the other is not likely to be much help) on May 11th (the day Khan sahib and Canadian-gun-for-hire Tahir Ul Qadri are supposed to launch their campaign against this “corrupt system”). What then? He will find himself marked as a supporter of what will surely be Pakistan’s last and least successful coup. The inevitable disasters that follow will end his political career (and possibly more than that).

Read more » Brown Pundits
http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/04/imran-khan-getting-on-board-wrong.html?spref=fb

Pakistan: The military’s waning power

By S. Akbar Zaidi

Excerpt;

The hegemony of the military has been successfully questioned, if not threatened. This does not take away from the fact that the military still continues to be powerful, interventionist, and a veto player in many key decisions, but things need to be seen in their historical perspective.

Pakistan’s main contradiction at the moment is over military and civilian supremacy. Issues of class, where the landed and propertied rule over and exploit the dispossessed and working people, or of real sovereignty of the country, where Pakistan’s elite acquire the vision and sense to confront imperial and global power, are more permanent evolving features of the nature of contradictions facing Pakistan.

Similarly, other more substantive longer-term social conflicts are also embedded in contested visions of cultural and social ideology, which one sees being played out in different spheres. While multiple contradictions exist in Pakistan, the immediate tussle over civilian rule free from the obtrusiveness of the military and its institutions, has been played out far more visibly and colourfully than the longer, more drawn-out, transitions.

The Abbottabad raid by the US, the outcome of the Asghar Khan case, or even the largely symbolic indictment of General Musharraf, have allowed public criticism of what Aasim Sajjad Akhtar in these columns has called ‘sacred cows’ to be voiced fairly belligerently.

As he argues, ‘even a few years ago it was unthinkable that the ISI and its chief could be subject to such accusations’ as it has recently. Clearly such a new-found voice by members of parliament or the media, is far more than ‘ornamental’, and must represent a greater shift.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1103836/the-militarys-waning-power

Mir won’t speak in ISI’s presence

Senior journalist Hamid Mir on Wednesday refused to record his statement on his assassination attempt in the presence of a representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general.

The journalist who recently survived an attack on his life maintained that only ISI knew about his travel details and he could not record his statement in the presence of the same agency’s representative.

Read more » PT

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/05/01/national/mir-wont-speak-in-isis-presence/

Removing defence minister may prove ‘dangerous': Shah

ISLAMABAD: Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has said that removing the defence minister due to a pressure from the institution functioning under the latter’s ministry would prove “dangerous”, as this may also lead to the ouster of prime minister in future.

Talking to media at the Parliament House, the opposition leader suggested that the federal government should induct a new minister in its cabinet and hand over the portfolio of defence to him.

Khursheed Shah said that whatever happened with Hamid Mir was regrettable, however, he added that some people are taking out rallies in favour of the military which should be stopped.

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-146147-Removing-defence-minister-may-prove-dangerous:-Shah

Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors, Vice President, Shaheen Qureshi’s worth listening speech on Hamid Mir Case

CPNE Vice President, Shaheen Qureshi’s worth listening speech on Hamid Mir Case. The speech is in Urdu/Hindi language.

Courtesy: Daily Motion

Hamid Mir defiant, still holds ISI responsible for attack

KARACHI: Senior journalist Hamid Mir, who was wounded after being targeted in Karachi, still holds the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) responsible for orchestrating the attack.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1102056

‘A media group banned at army offices’

RAWALPINDI – A ban has been imposed on a private media group including its television channels at all offices of the Pakistan Army with immediate effect, a private ARY News channel reported on Wednesday.

The channel reported that there will be a blanket ban on the newspapers of the Independent Media Corporation, which owns the Jang Group of Newspapers and the Geo TV network, at all army offices, mess and units.

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/23-Apr-2014/a-media-group-banned-at-army-offices

An act of desperation

TaqiBy Dr Mohammad Taqi

Hamid Mir’s guardian angel was watching over him perhaps. Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist and media personality, survived despite receiving multiple bullet injuries. He may be out of the woods medically but the violent threat to him and the Pakistani media at large has not dissipated. Mir was not the first journalist to be targeted with such brutal impunity and, unfortunately, will not be the last. Someone in the deep, convoluted bowels of society is getting really, really desperate. It seems like the war for the narrative and on those who may shape it has just entered a new and more deadly phase.
After a similar attack on the journalist Raza Rumi last month, I noted in my column ‘Hooked on jihadism’ (Daily Times, April 3, 2014) that “the Committee to Protect Journalists’ optimism notwithstanding, the Pakistani state is unlikely to kick its jihadist drug habit. The space for those citizens, especially media persons who do not conform, will continue to shrink. Raza Rumi, and others like him, will be left to fend for themselves.” The usual suspects seem gung-ho on either taming or eliminating the dissenting voices. The relentless assault on the media appears to be from both the state and non-state actors or some combination thereof. The attack on Express Television this past January was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan while the one on Raza Rumi has apparently been traced to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ringleader Malik Ishaq. Many attacks, like the multiple bomb attacks on the residence of the Express Tribune’s Peshawar bureau chief, Jamshed Baghwan, have not been claimed by anyone.
Hamid Mir’s brother, Amir Mir — also a veteran journalist who has written extensively about the military-jihadist nexus — has directly blamed the ISI for the attack on Mir. Amnesty International’s (AI’s) Deputy Asia-Pacific Director David Griffiths has said in an e-mailed statement that, in the past three years, “Mir had on two occasions told the Amnesty International that he believed his life was under threat from different actors, including the ISI and the Pakistani Taliban.” Saying that they do not know who is responsible for the attack, the AI has called for bringing the perpetrators to book “regardless of their affiliations to any state institution, political party or any other group”. The Director General ISPR has since refuted Amir Mir’s allegations and an ISPR press release stated, “An independent inquiry must immediately be carried out to ascertain facts.”

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/24-Apr-2014/an-act-of-desperation

The Hamid Mir case: ‘In Pakistan, they used to censor journalists – now they shoot us’

Hamid Mir

Hamid Mir

On Saturday in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s most famous journalists survived being shot six times. Soon after, the TV news channel he works for blamed the feared Inter-Services Intelligence agency for the attack. Author Mohammed Hanif reports on a fourth estate under siege

By , The Guardian

More than a hundred bouquets line the lobby of the private ward of Karachi’s posh, private Aga Khan Hospital. Outside, dozens of policemen with bulletproof vests and automatic weapons look at every visitor suspiciously, officers speaking urgently into their walkie-talkies. The Karachi police force is really good at strutting about after a high-profile crime has happened. One of the largest bouquets in the lobby is from the force. “Get well Hamid Mir,” it says. “We may not be able to protect you,” it implies, “but we know where to order the best flowers.”

Mir is upstairs recuperating. He took six bullets – in the ribs, thigh, stomach and across his hand – in an assassination attempt on Saturday as he came out of the airport to present a special broadcast on Geo, Pakistan‘s largest news channel. Mir had warned about a possible assassination. He had also named his would-be killers. That’s what his brother claims, that’s what his colleagues and managers at the channel say. Geo, just after the attack, broadcast the allegation and, in an unprecedented move, also flashed the picture of the accused: the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam. In that picture he comes across as a big man. We are not supposed to know much about him except the fact that he is a very professional general. According to an internet myth very popular in Pakistan, the ISI has been rated as the world’s No 1 intelligence agency: Mossad is No 5 and MI6 languishes at No 9. According to television ratings, the man with three bullets still in his body is Pakistan’s top-rated TV journalist and one of the most vocal critics of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies.

One of the modest bouquets wishing Mir a full and speedy recovery is from the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, who visited him in the hospital earlier this week after announcing a judicial inquiry. Going by the history of judicial inquiries in Pakistan, Sharif seemed to be saying: “Look Hamid, we want you to get well but don’t really expect us to find out who tried to kill you. Who is going to go and ask a working general? Meanwhile, here are three senior judges who will help you get over the whole thing.”

The day after the assassination attempt, Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the ISI headquarters to show that he stands with his intelligence boss.

And the very next day, the Defence Ministry recommended that the channel for which Mir works should be shut down for bringing a national institution into disrepute. Geo’s competitors have joined the chorus.

For years, Pakistan has been one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. From feudal landlords to Taliban fighters, sectarian groups to separatists, all have killed journalists. The question one needs to ask is: does the ISI, a national body often referred to as “a sensitive institution”, occasionally kill journalists? As any trained journalist would tell you, we need two sources before we can tell you a story. Here are two stories, with multiple sources and two different endings.

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Committee to Protect Journalists condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV

 

CPJ condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV

New York, April 22, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned by actions brought by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) against Geo Television today. In its complaint to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the ISI accused Geo’s parent company, the Independent Media Corporation, of conducting a “false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution (ISI) and its officers.”

The media regulator has the authority to shut down broadcasters based on such complaints, and has done so under previous administrations of Pakistan.

“We call on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority not to act on this spurious complaint, and we call on Pakistan’s security services to recognize the critical role of the media and exercise tolerance and maturity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage.”

Tension between Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities and much of the media swiftly escalated following an assassination attempt on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir on April 19. Mir was hit with six rounds from assailants on motorcycles as his car was traveling between Karachi’s airport and the center of the city. Mir is severely wounded and recovering in the hospital. Geo TV has broadcast accusations that the ISI was involved in the murder attempt.

Courtesy: The Committee to Protect Journalists
http://cpj.org/2014/04/cpj-condemns-move-by-pakistans-isi-against-geo-tv.php