Pak-Japan bilateral relations with focus on promoting trade and investment ties

Japanese Ambassador calls on the President

Islamabad; May 24, 2013: Japanese Ambassador in Pakistan Mr. Hiroshi Oe today called on President Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Pak-Japan bilateral relations with focus on promoting trade and investment ties between the two countries were discussed during the meeting.

Courtesy: http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/japanese-ambassador-calls-on-the-president/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

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Our troops didn’t provoke border tension: China

BEIJING: Sticking to its stand that Chinese troops have not caused any “provocation” by violating the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, China on Thursday said the incident will not affect bilateral ties or disrupt peace at the borders as both sides are trying to resolve it in a friendly manner.

“I do not agree with your allegation that it is the Chinese side that has caused the provocation between the border troops,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said while replying to questions about the intrusion of Chinese troops at the Depsang Valley in Ladakh.

“China’s troops have never crossed the (LAC) line. China and India are neighbours and the boundary is not demarcated yet.

“It is inevitable for problems to prop up in border areas. When there is a problem it should be resolved through friendly consultations though existing mechanisms and channels,” she said.

“We believe this incident can also be handled and will not affect the peace and stability of the border areas as well as the normal development of China and India relations,” she said.

Urging the media to be patient, she said, “We also believe that the two sides continue to solve the issue in a friendly manner and we will not let the issue affect border peace and security and normal development of China-India relations”.

“We hope relevant media can keep patience and create favourable conditions for the two countries to solve this issue through friendly consultations,” she said.

The spokesperson said the situation on the Sino-Indian border is peaceful and stable.

“Just want to tell you that the current situation in the border area is peaceful and stable. Both China and India have the willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations.

“In the past three days I have repeatedly stressed China’s point and now I would like to reiterate that Chinese troops have always acted in strict compliance to relevant treaty and protocol between the two countries regarding the protection of security of the areas around the LAC,” she said.

China is committed to peace and security of the border areas as well as the negotiated settlement of the boundary issue left over from history, she said.

Asked about reports that the Chinese troops were insisting on Indian army to remove certain fortifications in that area, she said “since I am not in the frontier, so I do not know the latest development of the situation…Both China and India have the willingness to solve the dispute through peaceful negotiations and consultations”.

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A rain of 1,300 rockets from Pakistan threatens to spawn a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Deadly rocket attacks straining Afghanistan-Pakistan relations

By Heath Druzin

KABUL — A rain of rockets from Pakistan threatens to spawn a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister summoned Pakistan’s ambassador Sunday after shelling killed four civilians and injured several others in Kunar province Friday night.

A provincial official is warning of an “uprising” if the attacks continue. The Foreign Ministry warned that continued shelling “could have significant negative impact” on relations between the two countries.

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President Zardari has pardoned Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh

Pak commutes death sentence of Sarabjit

Islamabad: In a major breakthrough in the Indo-Pakistan relations, President Asif Ali Zardari has pardoned Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, converting his death sentence to life imprisonment.

According to news reports Tuesday, the alleged Indian spy will be released from the jail in the country following the orders.

Reports further said that the Law Ministry of Pakistan had sent proposal for the release of Sarabjit to the Interior Ministry.

Sarabjit, an Indian national, was jailed in Pakistan for as long as 22 years after he was convicted of being a spy. The decision by the Pakistani President came after the prisoner sent his fifth mercy plea seeking clemency.

Reacting to the move by the neighbouring country, Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna thanked the Pakistan President for the gesture. …..

Read more » Saach

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Surjit not Sarabjit Singh, clarifies president’s spokesman

ISLAMABAD: The government in an unusual way late on Tuesday took a u-turn on release of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, convicted of spying charges, said release orders were signed for “Surjit Singh” and not for “Sarabjit Sigh”, DawnNews reported.

Presidential Spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, in a statement given to an Indian media outlet, has clarified that the prisoner, whose death sentence was converted to life imprisonment, was actually “Surjit Singh” and not “Sarabjit Singh.”

“I think there is some confusion ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in the territorial waters of Balochistan near the port city of Gwadar

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in Pak territorial waters

By Shafqat Ali

US moves its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, into Pakistani territorial waters near Gwadar, media reports said.

“The US has moved its biggest aircraft carrier 65 to 70 nautical miles away from Gwadar in the second week of June”, a Pakistani television channel reported.

The USS Enterprise, which holds a crew of over 4,000, had taken part in several wars.

The move comes as relations between Pakistan and the US have touched new lows. Pakistan has refused to reopen Nato supply through infuriating the US.

The Pak-US relations have never recovered to normal since the killing of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year. The killing of 26 Pakistani soldiers by the Nato forces in November further dented the ties.

“After the deployment of the aircraft in Pakistani sea the country’s security agencies are now investigating into the matter. The movement apparently shows the increasing interest of the US in Balochistan province of Pakistan”, another channel reported.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon plans to soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

The move to introduce new small drones seeks to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, the report said.

Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups, the newspaper said.

The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smouldering rubble.

The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.

“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible”, said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.

The Obama administration, notably the CIA, has long been lambasted by critics for its use of combat drones and carelessly killing civilians in targeted strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.

In Islamabad, on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Muazzam Khan said that efforts were underway to mend the strained relationship between Pakistan and the US.

Speaking to reporters at a weekly news briefing, Mr Khan said that the decision to restore the Nato supply route would be made by the political leadership.

The FO spokesman dispelled the impression that Pakistan was raising the tariff on the supply route adding that there were several other issues involved.

“Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used as terrorist safe havens”, he added.

Courtesy: Decan Chronicle

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/reports-claim-american-supership-uss-enterprise-pak-territorial-waters-664#comment-123222

Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes as Relations Sour

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

President Barack Obama has ordered a sharp increase in drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan in recent months, anticipating the CIA may soon need to halt such operations in Pakistan’s territory, two U.S. officials said.

His decision reflects mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes — mirrored by Pakistani grievances with the U.S. — that have soured relations and weakened security cooperation. The U.S. is withholding at least $3 billion in reimbursements for counterinsurgency operations and security-related funding, according to congressional aides and Pakistani officials.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action” to crack down on armed groups based there that attack American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday in Kabul. ….

Read more » Bloomberg

Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

By: Manzur Ejaz, Wichaar.com

The other day a very respectable political analyst made a surprising claim that Pakistan’s military is the only institution genuinely concerned about prevailing conditions of the country. Clearly he was specifically referring to dead-locked Pak-US relations where political parties, numbed or scared by anti-America populism, cannot come together to find a viable solution. One can assume that such sentiments must have been communicated to him by the highest level of the core state. However, the problem is that the fearsome anti-US jinni was created by the military and now it wants the civilians to put it back in the bottle.

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BBC – Enormous frustration in Washington regarding Pakistan which is now seen by many in the US Congress and the military as an enemy rather than a friend.

Afghan end game sees Pakistan ‘paralysed’ by US rift

Since US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan a year ago, relations between the two countries have never recovered. Writer Ahmed Rashid looks at a relationship in crisis as US troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

The continuing breakdown in co-operation between the US and Pakistan is having a hugely detrimental effect on US and Nato resolve to withdraw from Afghanistan while trying to remain committed to the region’s stability.

Although the US has much to answer for in terms of mistakes made, the refusal of the Pakistani leadership – both military and civilian – to take responsibility and ownership for desperately needed decisions, is leading the country into a terrible sense of drift and despair.

The recent visit to Islamabad by a high-level US delegation, consisting of officials from the defence and state departments, the CIA, the White House, and led by US special envoy Marc Grossman failed to elicit any major breakthrough in resolving any of the major outstanding issues which could lead to improving relations.

Drone attacks

Pakistan insists on a US apology for the killing of 24 of its soldiers last November by US helicopters on the Afghan border – yet when a US apology was on the cards a few months ago, Pakistani officials declined to meet their US counterparts.

Pakistan also insists on an end to drone strikes which the US refuses to agree to.

Both sides have tried to explore different scenarios for co-operation so that drone attacks can continue.

If a co-operation mechanism can be found, the US wants Pakistan to be more transparent about drone attacks because Pakistani interests are also served when drones kill leading members of the Pakistani Taliban.

US officials say their own lack of transparency over drones was dictated by former President Pervez Musharraf who insisted that they never be admitted to, even though drones took off from Pakistani bases until last year.

Also stuck is the reopening of the road that is used to take supplies from the port of Karachi to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The road should have reopened nearly a month ago after approval from Pakistan’s parliament, but threats by Islamic extremist groups to burn trucks and convoys of goods have played a part in the delay.

The US has already indicated that it is willing to pay generously for use of the road.

The talks were made more complicated by the Obama administration now refusing to issue an apology and US charges that Pakistan allowed the Haqqani group to launch the multiple suicide attacks on Kabul and other Afghan cities on 15 April.

‘Window on the West’

There is enormous frustration in Washington regarding Pakistan which is now seen by many in the US Congress and the military as an enemy rather than a friend.

Many leading Americans consider that Pakistan should cease being important for the US, or should no longer be considered an ally when the US gets over the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is doing little to stop this drift in negative opinion growing in the US.

Gone are the early days of the Obama administration when major efforts were made to woo Pakistan.

Now what Pakistan may lose as a US ally in the region, India will gain – something that should be worrying for the Pakistani ruling elite.

The failure of Pakistan to rebuild ties with the US is rooted in actual incidents, anger and real disputes.

But it is also down to the inability of the government or the military to make decisions that need to be taken collectively to preserve the state of relations with a powerful country which has acted in the past as Pakistan’s window to the West – especially in terms of loans, aid and business and exports.

Internal conflict

There has been an unprecedented growth in violence from north to south involving sectarian, ethnic, militant Islamic, criminal and other heavily armed groups which the government appears helpless to stop.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s contempt conviction may worsen ties to U.S.

By: Farhan Bokhari

(CBS News) ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s pro-U.S. ruling coalition was thrown in turmoil Thursday after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was convicted on a contempt-of-court charge by the country’s Supreme Court.

Gilani was given a symbolic jail term lasting for less than a minute, but the verdict made it possible for him to lose his job as prime minister, according to analysts and legal experts.

“For reasons to be recorded later, the prime minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court,” said Supreme Court Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk in announcing the verdict. The judge ordered Gilani to serve time “till rising of the court” – a term which means for the duration of the brief court hearing.

Western diplomats however warned that depending on the direction of future political events, fresh turmoil in Pakistan could further strain the country’s already troubled relations with the United States.

“As Pakistan’s political temperature rises, there are new dangers for Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.,” a senior western diplomat in Islamabad told CBS News after Thursday’s verdict on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to journalists. “As turmoil grows in Pakistan, it will be increasingly difficult for the government to be seen becoming more friendly towards the U.S.”

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

Army belongs to barracks in Rawalpindi

By: Hiranmay Karlekar

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

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

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

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

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

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US-Pak relations

Fresh start awaited

Excerpt;

….. Pakistani politicians are notorious for saying one thing behind closed doors and something quite different in public. Be it fecklessness or an opportunistic streak that seeks to be on the right side of public opinion whatever the cost, Pakistani politicians have just not been able to tell the truth to the people, the ones whose interests they ostensibly represent. The truth is this: by closing the supply lines to Afghanistan, in boycotting Bonn and by succumbing to sundry other emotional responses since last November, Pakistan has put itself dangerously close to being definitively regarded as part of the problem in the ‘Af-Pak’ region and not part of the solution.

It’s not just the US that Pakistan has challenged, the mission in Afghanistan is still an international one and from Nato countries to other powerful states, all have a desire to prevent Afghanistan from descending into chaos and civil war again. Pakistan really cannot afford to be on the wrong side of that equation.

The problem is, with elections on the horizon and the right-wing mobilised and baying for blood, mainstream parties will not want to be seen to take the lead in restarting relations with the US, a relationship that is immensely unpopular after the active cultivation of anti-US sentiment over the years. Perhaps they may want to think about doing it in the national interest, the real, not perceived, one.

Read more » DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/04/06/fresh-start-awaited/

India’s strategic policy – By Haider Nizamani

Excerpt;

…. In order to have comfortable relations with other countries, it is crucial for the state to have internal legitimacy, and democracy is the best tool with which to foster legitimacy ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Najam Sethi on how Pak army’s encouragement of anti-Americanism has come back to haunt it

GHQ must take joint-ownership of US-Pak relations

By Najam Sethi

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security has taken more than two months to get cracking. Now it is faced with the prospect of being left in the lurch by the PMLN that is backpedaling on certain proposals. Thus the PPP government finds it difficult to own the proposals recommended by the military, which imply, at the very least, a reopening of the NATO supply line without absolute US guarantees of an end to the drone strikes. Meanwhile, President Obama has hissed a word of advice to Prime Minister Gillani: ‘protect your sovereignty by all means but don’t undermine US national security interests’.

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DPC: a religious outfit with a political cover

By Durdana Najam

Why should the Pakistan Army borrow the mullah alliance to restore its image? Perhaps the language of Islam is the easiest to use as an exploitive tool for an emotionally charged Muslim community

The religious-politico parties have become active owing to the US’s increasing intrusion into Pakistan’s territorial precincts, the latest being the Salala checkpost attack that killed 24 soldiers in November 2011. The investigative report prepared by NATO, which revealed the determinants of the attack, termed the incident to be a joint sin committed by NATO and the Pakistan Army, suggesting that on a border as volatile as the one between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal region, the rage of wrath can unleash itself at any time in any mode. Pakistan rejected the findings of the report, alleging it to be biased and obsessive. The attack irked even the government and, for a change, the NATO supply route was completely shut down — to this day. A parliamentary committee on national security is working to define new contours for Pak-America relations. In the meantime, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is sending strong massages to the American government about the so-called sovereignty that we guard so close to our bosoms (depending largely on our whims and wishes).

The recent collaboration of 40 religious parties going by the name of Difa-i-Pakistan Council, comprising the likes of General (retd) Hamid Gul, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, President Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq and the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Munawar Hasan, geared towards defending Pakistan against foreign aggression, has raised national and international concerns, especially since the definition of foreign aggression from the point of view of Difa-i-Pakistan relates to none other than the US and India. ….

Read more » Daily Times

Bruce Riedel – Pakistan’s Musharraf Has Been Accused of Knowing Osama bin Laden’s Hideout

Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, an ex–security chief for Pakistan, accuses former president Pervez Musharraf of knowing where bin Laden was hiding and saying nothing.

By Bruce Riedel

Ever since the Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, less than a mile from the country’s national military academy, the question haunting American relations with Pakistan has been: who knew he was there? How did the most-wanted man in human history find a hideout in one of Pakistan’s most exclusive military cantonment cities and live there for five years without the Pakistani spy service finding him? Or did it know all along?

Now there is an explosive new charge. The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) says former president Pervez Musharraf knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, was head of the ISI from 1997 to 1999. A four-star general, he fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. He was the first head of the Army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made him director-general of the ISI in 1997 and promoted him to chief of Army staff on Oct. 12, 1999, when he fired Musharraf from the job. Musharraf refused to go and launched a coup that overthrew Sharif. Ziauddin spent the next two years in solitary confinement, was discharged from the Army, and had his property confiscated and his retirement benefits curtailed. So he has a motive to speak harshly about Musharraf.

Bearing that in mind, here is what the former spy chief claims. Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.

Ijaz Shah is a colorful character. He has been closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Kashmiri terrorist who was imprisoned in India in 1994 for kidnapping three British citizens and an American. Saeed was freed when Pakistani terrorists hijacked an Indian airliner to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2000, a plot masterminded by bin Laden and assisted by the ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Saeed was part of the plot two years later to kidnap Daniel Pearl and turned himself in to Brigadier Shah. Musharraf nominated Shah to be ambassador to Australia, but Canberra said no thanks. So he got the intelligence-bureau job.

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto accused Shah of being behind the attempt to murder her when she returned from exile in late 2007. She was, of course, killed in another attempt later that year. Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.

Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew all about it.

Without a doubt, Ziauddin has an ax to grind. But he is also well tied in to the Pakistani intelligence world. When he was DG/ISI, he set up a special commando team to find and capture bin Laden with U.S. help. Elite commandos from the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s SEALs, were put on the hunt. Musharraf disbanded the group after he took power. Ziauddin’s successor at the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmad, refused American requests to go after bin Laden right up to 9/11. Then Musharraf had to fire him because, even after 9/11, he did not want to do anything to bring bin Laden to justice.

We don’t know who was helping hide bin Laden, but we need to track them down. If Mush, as many call him in Pakistan, knew, he should be questioned by the authorities the next time he sets foot in America. The explosive story about him, which was first reported in the must-read Militant Leadership Monitor, is more than an academic issue. If we can find who hid bin Laden, we will probably know who is hiding his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of the al Qaeda gang.

Courtesy: The Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/13/pakistan-s-musharraf-has-been-accused-of-knowing-osama-bin-laden-s-hideout.html

Mansoor Ijaz embarrasses ISI DG, SC with fresh claims: says he’s in constant contact with Pasha – Daily Times

Ijaz embarrasses ISI DG, SC with fresh claims

LAHORE: The instigator of the memo case, Musawwer Mansoor Ijaz, has claimed that he has been in contact with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in connection with “logistics and security arrangements” for his testimony before the inquiry commission created by the Supreme Court.

Talking to a private television channel last Friday, Ijaz said that he had been in touch with the ISI chief after his first meeting in London on October 22, 2011. Ijaz’s claim, if true, creates doubts about his being a disinterested party only seeking to reveal the truth and raises questions about why he maintains relations with the spy agency that he has described as “a cancer” in past writings.

Mansoor Ijaz also quoted text messages and emails he exchanged with General Pasha in the letter he sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on January 30, which was sealed by the chief justice in the custody of the Supreme Court Registrar.

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U.S. mind your business – Sherry Rehman

- US congressional hearing on Balochistan ‘ill-advised’ move: Sherry Rehman

By APP

Rehman says govt of Pakistan strongly rejects the purpose and findings of the hearing.

WASHINGTON: Taking a strong exception to a United States Congressional hearing on Balochistan this week, Pakistan has termed it an “ill-advised” move that would be detrimental to the trust between Pakistan and the United States of America.

A Pakistan Embassy spokesman in Washington said that Pakistan’s Ambassador Sherry Rehman raised the issue of an exclusive hearing on Balochistan by US House Committee on Foreign Affairs in her meetings with the members of congress and senior officials of the US administration.

According to the spokesman, Rehman said that the government of Pakistan strongly rejects the purpose and findings of the hearing and considers it an “ill-advised and ill-considered” move that will have serious repercussions for Pakistan-US relations.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/334449/us-congressional-hearing-on-balochistan-ill-advised-move-sherry-rehman/

Baluchistan hearing – Congressman Sherman Speaks on the Importance of U.S. Outreach to Sindhi and Baluch people

A hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on February 8, 2012, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) spoke on U.S.-Pakistan relations and the importance of U.S. outreach to the Sindhi and Baluch people.

» YouTube

DAWN – US Congressional hearing may spell trouble for Pakistan

By Malik Siraj Akbar

The United States (US) Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to convene a congressional hearing on Wednesday (February 8), for an exclusive discussion on Balochistan.

The extraordinary event has generated great interest among followers of Pakistan-US relations, as the allies’ mutual relationship seems to be deteriorating. The powerful House of Representatives committee oversees America’s foreign assistance programs and experts believe it can recommend halting US assistance to Pakistan over human rights violation in Balochistan.

Calls for ‘independence’
While Islamabad has strictly treated Balochistan as an internal matter, the debate on such a divisive topic by the powerful committee has highlighted the level of American interest in Balochistan and its support, if any, for the nationalist movement. On its part, Pakistan has kept Washington at arm’s length on the Balochistan issue, by refusing to grant it permission to open a consulate in Quetta.

A Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently co-authored an article with Congressman Louie Gohmert expressing support for an independent Balochistan, will chair the hearing.

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Musharraf’s Interview with Israeli Daily Haaretz

- Relations with Israel could help Pakistan, says former president Musharraf

In his first interview with an Israeli newspaper, former president Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tells Haaretz about Pakistan-U.S. relations, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and how he would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By Danna Harman

Excerpt;

And I have read about all the Israeli-Arab wars and that is how I know about Ariel Sharon,” he says. “I know how he contributed toward the victories of the Israelis. In every war it was his contribution that counted. Every time this man contributed. He is a great military leader … My admiration comes from a place of realistic assessment of his military exploits, which were very impressive. I think he was a great military commander and I appreciate that.” ….

Read more » Haaretz

Former Pakistan Army Chief Reveals Intelligence Bureau Harbored Bin Laden in Abbottabad

By: Arif Jamal

In spite of denials by the Pakistani military, evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Former Pakistani Army Chief General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General Ziauddin Khawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani-U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004 – 2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad. In the same address, he revealed that the ISI had helped the CIA to track him down and kill on May 1. The revelation remained unreported for some time because some intelligence officers had asked journalists to refrain from publishing General Butt’s remarks. [1] No mention of the charges appeared until right-wing columnist Altaf Hassan Qureshi referred to them in an Urdu-language article that appeared on December 8. [2]

In a subsequent and revealing Urdu-language interview with TV channel Dawn News, General Butt repeated the allegation on December 11, saying he fully believed that “[Brigadier] Ijaz Shah had kept this man [Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound] with the full knowledge of General Pervez Musharraf… Ijaz Shah was an all-powerful official in the government of General Musharraf.” [3] Asked whether General Kayani knew of this, he first said yes, but later reconsidered: “[Kayani] may have known – I do not know – he might not have known.” [4] The general’s remarks appeared to confirm investigations by this author in May 2011 that showed that the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was captured and killed was being used by a Pakistani intelligence agency (see Terrorism Monitor, May 5). However, General Butt failed to explain why Bin Laden was not discovered even after Brigadier Shah and General Musharraf had left the government.

General Butt was the first head of the Strategic Plans Division of the Pakistan army and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 1999. Sharif promoted General Ziauddin Butt to COAS after forcibly retiring General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, but the army’s top brass revolted against the decision and arrested both Prime Minister Sharif and General Butt while installing Musharraf as the nation’s new chief executive, a post he kept as a chief U.S. ally until resigning in 2008 in the face of an impending impeachment procedure.

Brigadier Shah has been known or is alleged to have been involved in several high profile cases of terrorism. The Brigadier was heading the ISI bureau in Lahore when General Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Sharif in October 1999. Later, General Musharraf appointed Shah as Home Secretary in Punjab. As an ISI officer he was also the handler for Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. [5] Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered to Brigadier Shah who hid him for several weeks before turning him over to authorities. In February 2004, Musharraf appointed Shah as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau, a post he kept until March 2008 (Daily Times [Lahore] February 26, 2004; Dawn [Karachi] March 18, 2008). The late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused Brigadier Shah, among others, of hatching a conspiracy to assassinate her (The Friday Times [Lahore], February 18-24).

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani top military brass had serious differences on several issues. One of the most serious of these concerned Pakistan’s relations with Osama bin Laden. However, the disastrous1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir overshadowed all of these. General Butt says that Prime Minister Sharif had decided to cooperate with the United States and track down Bin Laden in 1999. [6] According to a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, the general staff ousted Sharif to scuttle the “get-Osama” plan, among other reasons: “The evidence is that the military regime abandoned that plan.” [7] General Butt corroborates this. In his latest interview, he says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a special task force of 90 American-trained commandos to track down Bin Laden in Afghanistan. If the Sharif government had continued on this course, this force would likely have caught Bin Laden by December 2001, but the plan was aborted by Ziauddin Butt’s successor as ISI general director, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed. [8]

Arif Jamal is an independent security and terrorism expert and author of “Shadow War – The Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir.”

Courtesy » TheJamesTown.Org

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=38819&cHash=b3da5dd4a1af2664ec4821b405dae77b

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.

Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.

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

Karzai blames Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for Kabul blast

By AFP

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

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

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

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

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

Afghan victims buried as fingers point to Pakistan

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

Read more » The Express Tribune

A palace coup could be in the offing in Pakistan as pro-Taliban generals try to undermine civilian government of President Zardari

- Top military brass’ absence from Prez event sparks speculation

Islamabad, November 15, 2011 – Pakistan’s top four military officials, including powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, were absent from a state banquet hosted by President Asif Ali Zardari, triggering speculation about unease in ties between the government and the military. The three service chiefs and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee were not among the guests at the reception and banquet hosted by Zardari for his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov at the presidency yesterday.

The presence or absence of the top military leadership at events organised by the civilian government is closely tracked by the media and political circles, as it is considered a reflection of the state of relations between the military and the government.

The absence of the military leaders at the banquet was reported by several TV news channels on Tuesday.

One channel quoted its sources as saying that an inquiry had been ordered to ascertain why the service chiefs did not attend the reception hosted by the President. ….

Read more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Pakistan/Top-military-brass-absence-from-Prez-event-sparks-speculation/Article1-769419.aspx#disqus_thread

via » News adopted from Facebook (above news is circulating at Facebook)

Ghairat Brigade v/s Beghairat Brigade in Awaam ki adalat

Courtesy» Geo Tv News (Awaam ki adalat) » YouTube

Vanishing Sindhis!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

I share the following appeal from Mr. Mekan Vandiyar on “Vanishing Sindhis!”. Please share your comments and suggestions to mekan39@yahoo.com

My own comment is that Sindhis in Sindh, Sindhis in India and Sindhis living elsewhere should not be disheartened as there are encouraging signs that Sindhis all over the world can even say today “here is a Sindhi girl / boy from the Globe”. I do not have much insight into the notion that Sindhis in India can win a separate province, however, I feel that the harsh barriers that have kept Sindhis in India and Sindhis in Sindh, Pakistan away from each other will soon vanish and all Sindhis will also be be able to say “”here is a Sindhi girl / boy who loves Sindh as much as their new homeland“.

A recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani government that they are normalizing business and economic relations and giving each other the “most favorite trading partner” status is one of those signs. The Sindhis from all over the world should not only encourage but also organize and participate in events that welcome every Sindhi regardless of where they live now. For example, the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) whose members predominantly consist of those who migrated from Sindh (Pakistan) into the USA has been in the forefront of inviting prominent educationalists, political leaders, and writers who now live in India. It is time that all other Sindhi associations also follow this practice to bridge the gaps that may exist between various Sindhi communities.

Lastly, I assure Mr. Vandiyar that Sindhis in Sindh are more than ever determined to protect and advance Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture of peace, and Sindhi identity. They are and will continue provide all their support to Sindhis in India or elsewhere in the world in their efforts to protect their and advance their Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture, and Sindhi identity.

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Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary

by K. Alan Kronstadt, Specialist in South Asian Affairs

Summary

This report summarizes important recent developments in Pakistan and in Pakistan-U.S. relations. Obama Administration engagement with Pakistan has been seriously disrupted by recent events. A brief analysis of the current state of Pakistan-U.S. relations illuminates the main areas of contention and uncertainty. Vital U.S. interests related to links between Pakistan and indigenous American terrorism, Islamist militancy in Pakistan and Islamabad’s policies toward the Afghan insurgency, Pakistan’s relations with historic rival India, nuclear weapons proliferation and security, and the troubled status of Pakistan’s domestic setting are reviewed. Ongoing human rights concerns and U.S. foreign assistance programs for Pakistan are briefly summarized, and the report closes with an analysis of current U.S.-Pakistan relations.

In the post-9/11 period, assisting in the creation of a more stable, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan actively combating religious militancy has been among the most important U.S. foreign policy efforts. Global and South Asian regional terrorism, and a nearly decade-long effort to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan are viewed as top-tier concerns. Pakistan’s apparently accelerated nuclear weapons program and the long-standing dispute with India over Kashmir continue to threaten regional stability. Pakistan is identified as a base for numerous U.S.- designated terrorist groups and, by some accounts, most of the world’s jihadist terrorist plots have some connection to Pakistan-based elements.

While Obama Administration officials and most senior congressional leaders have continued to recognize Pakistan as a crucial partner in U.S.-led counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts, long-held doubts about Islamabad’s commitment to core U.S. interests have deepened considerably in 2011. Most independent analysts view the Pakistani military and intelligence services as too willing to distinguish among Islamist extremist groups, maintaining links to some as a means of forwarding Pakistani’s perceived security interests. Top U.S. officials have offered public expressions of acute concerns about Islamabad’s ongoing apparent tolerance of Afghan insurgent and anti-India militants operating from Pakistani territory. The May 2011 revelation that Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden had enjoyed apparently years-long and relatively comfortable refuge inside Pakistan led to intensive U.S. government scrutiny of the now deeply troubled bilateral relationship, and sparked much congressional questioning ….

Read more » Congressional Research Service (CRS)

China is not eager to jump in Afpak conflict

- Analysis: China to keep Pakistan embrace at arm’s length

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING: (Reuters) – Pakistan, facing a crisis with the United States, has leaned closely to longtime partner China, offering its “all-weather friendship” with Beijing as an alternative to Washington.

But Pakistan will be disappointed if it hopes to replace American patronage with the same from China.

While China does not welcome the U.S. presence near its border, it wants stability on its western flank and believes an abrupt withdrawal of Washington’s support for Pakistan could imperil that. It also does not want to upset warming relations with India by getting mired in subcontinent security tension.

Maintaining that delicate balance, China will continue supporting economic cooperation with Pakistan but go slow on defense cooperation. While outwardly all smiles and warm pledges of friendship, China will quietly keep things at arms length.

“I think they see what’s going on in the U.S.-Pakistan front at the moment as reason to tread very carefully,” said Andrew Small, a researcher at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels who studies China-Pakistan ties and often visits both countries.

“They are taking extra care to make sure that what’s going on in the relationship is correctly understood, not reflecting any willingness to rush in or fill the gap or exploit differences.”

Pakistan’s brittle relationship with the United States, its major donor, has turned openly rancorous. Washington accused Pakistan’s powerful ISI spy agency of directly backing the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network and of providing support for a September 13 attack on the U.S. mission in Kabul. ….

Read more → Reuters

BAAGHI: Resisting the Taliban menace – II, by Marvi Sirmed

- Resisting the Taliban and the Haqqani network is the only viable option left for Pakistan, following which we can still make up for most of the damage done to our relationship with not only the US but Afghanistan and, in fact, India too

While these lines are being written, hundreds of Afghans are rallying on the streets of Kabul to condemn last week’s shelling of Afghan border towns by the Pakistan Army and assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, which Afghan officials believe was a joint plot of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan Taliban. Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement before the Congress Armed Forces Committee, that the Haqqani network was a ‘veritable arm’ of ISI, upped the ante in already tense US-Pak relations.

After Pakistan’s declaration in an All-Parties Conference (APC) to cool down the emotions against the US but not to act against the Taliban in North Waziristan, the week ended with Afghan President Karzai’s abandonment of dialogue with the Taliban and subsequent announcement of the schedule of his visit to India — an ultimate itch-powder for Pakistan’s establishment.

The canvas in Afghanistan so far is loud and clear about shrinking options for Pakistan if the latter does not review its policy and ground it in the region’s emerging realities ….

Read more → Daily Times

Pakistan’s military and legislators plan peace talks with Taliban

- In the midst of bad and worsening relations with Washington, Pakistan considers new round of peace talks with Pakistan-based Taliban, arguing that ‘military solutions’ are making things worse.

By Owais Tohid

Excerpt;

……. But analysts believe that striking negotiations with Islamic militants will pose serious challenges. “We struck peace accords with militant commanders during the past and those blew up on our face,” says Peshawar-based defense analyst, retired Brig. Mohammad Saad. “Once you enter into negotiations, they [the militants] grow bigger than their size and start believing themselves as equal. The more the state talks to them, they will become a bigger problem in Pakistan.”

“Their agenda is different,” Brigadier Saad adds. “Their ideology is in clash with the norms and values of any modern civilized society.” …..

To read complete article → csmonitor

GRAPES TURNING SOUR: THE APC

- Waseem Altaf

They give a damn when it comes to worthless civilians and more so in case of corrupt politicians but when feel the need to signal the world that the whole nation stands behind them, orchestrate such gatherings. However, perhaps the time is over for such theatrics. This time around popular leaders from Baluchistan were not invited because they don’t like their faces but militant mullahs were very much part of the APC.

The Prime Minister gave his address by reading a carefully crafted paper rejecting the US allegations and “do more demand” and also stressed his complete support to the valiant armed forces.

The DG.ISI categorically denied any links with Haqqani network and any export of terrorism. However Mian Nawaz Sharif countered him and asked if that was so why the whole world accused Pakistan? General Kayani and Molvi Munawwar Hassan of Jamaat-e-Islami, the hand in glove came to Pasha’s rescue. Mahmood Achakzai stated that if ISI wanted, there could be peace in Afghanistan within a month. The gallant sons of the soil however could not muster enough courage to even name the US or even its functionaries in the draft of the resolution and the drone issue was not even discussed.

Let us look at the general and vague clauses of the APC resolution:-

A) The already passed resolutions of the Parliament should be implemented.

Yes sure, but a little difficult task for you guys. How about hiring some overseas consultants to get those implemented after all we do import professionals to get things done.

B) Pakistan wants good relations with all countries.

Yes you want to have good relations with other countries but also want to continue with mischief mongering. Unfortunately the two things don’t go together.

C) The focal point of Pakistan’s foreign policy is peace in the region.

Yes that is why you facilitated peace in Afghanistan (1979-89) and in Indian administered Kashmir (1989-99) Peace in Baluchistan and Karachi is immaterial for those who think “international

D) Defense of Pakistan is the first and foremost duty of the people and defense forces of Pakistan.

Maybe it’s the first and foremost duty of people of Pakistan but please let the defense forces defend the Defense Housing Societies .And please also defend your citizens in your own country. They are being abducted and bombed and killed within your so called jurisdiction.

E) Pakistan rejects all baseless allegations.

Okay! So allegations leveled by you have a base but the Indian and the Afghan allegations, the American and the British ones and perhaps those by Iran and China are all baseless. And surely the allegation of murder of Saleem Shahzad by ISI should also be baseless.

F) Pakistan wants negotiations with all groups who want peace.

Unfortunately you only want negotiations with those who don’t want peace.

G) To move forward Pakistan should focus on trade and not aid.

Good realization after 64 years of coming into existence.

Perhaps the grapes are turning sour.

Courtesy: → SPN → South Asian Pulse

Najam Sethi ringing alarm bells – by Dilshad Chandio

- Najam Shady ringing alarm bells – Dilshad Chandio

On wednesday night ( September 21st, 2011) in his show, Najam Sethi alluded to a joint ghairat brigade assault on the PPP govt given deteriorating relations with America on the Haqqani network issue. His analysis went thus: the US exasperated by the lack of will to take on the Haqqani network by the Pakistanis will do an intensive strike – drone or otherwise – in North Waziristan.

According to Sethi (known as shady by those who have known him a long time!) this will create a massive uproar by the media, most political parties and even the judiciary. There may be an incident (according to NS), say, in a massive demo outside the US embassy, which will trigger massive unrest. The fallguy in all this will be the PPP govt and Zardari in particular. Sethi also stated that the entire process will be controlled/manipulated by the army. He also stated that ANP will go along with N League once the chorus starts and join the right wing coalition. Also MQM will make a familiar volte face and join the side that appears more powerful. …

Read more → LUBP