PAKISTAN: Senior journalist, anchor, and columnist Hamid Mir shot, injured in Karachi

Hamid MirBy: via Facebook Comments about Hamid Mir

Strongly condemn the attack on anchor, columnist & journalist, Hamid Mir in Karachi today. That tells you how some elements in the military & civil establishment & their collaborators ‘deal’ with the voices of dissent. His views on govt talks with Taliban, Musharraf trial, Balochistan army operation & on some other issues have been at variance with some powerful lobbies. And this is how they silence the voices of dissent. This may be an act by the mother of all terrorist outfits in Pakistan. The country is certainly becoming more & more dangerous for its citizens, especially the ones that don’t agree with the establishment.

According to his brother Aamir Mir;  Hamid Mir had recently told family and colleagues that he had received threats from the IsI because of his political views and his stand supporting the Balochistan movement.  He is the second prominent TV anchor to be targeted. Earlier this month, Raza Rumi was attacked, forcing the man to abandon his journalism career and leave the country.

We are not his followers and keep our right to oppose his point of view but killing some one on his right to say is inhuman.

State within State is not acceptable…nobody…no institution or its head is above the law… those responsible… direct or indirectly must brought to justice….

Above comments are taken from social media (Facebook)

Courtesy: Via Facebook

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Read more » Geo News
http://www.geo.tv/article-145131-Hamid-Mir-shot-injured-in-Karachi

 

Afghan elections: As it happened

Millions of Afghans braved Taliban threats Saturday to vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai in a landmark election held as US-led forces wind down their long intervention in the country.

Polling stations officially closed at 5:00 pm (1230 GMT), officials said, after a day without major security incidents. But voting was set to continue for some time as voters in line at polling stations would be allowed to cast their ballot, a senior official with the Independent Election Commission said.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1097718

7 jihadists blown up while making roadside bombs in a mosque

“7 militants blown up while making roadside bombs in a mosque in Ghazni,” Khaama Press, March 30, 2014 (thanks to Jack)
At least seven militants were killed while making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.
The interior ministry following a statement said the incident took place inside a mosque in Deh Yak district on Saturday. The statement by interior ministry further added that the explosion left seven militants dead and there were no other casualties.

- See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/04/7-jihadists-blown-making-roadside-bombs-mosque.html/#sthash.2j0DvBRX.dpuf

http://pamelageller.com/2014/04/7-jihadists-blown-making-roadside-bombs-mosque.html

Canada Confronts Pakistan on Bleak Human Rights Record

Canada also demanded that Pakistan address mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.

By Tahir Gora

The Pakistani Consul-General in Toronto, Muhammad Nafees Zakaria, was not happy when he had to listen to Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. The Minister’s message was clear: Pakistan must address its human rights violations and mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.

Alexander was speaking to the International Christian Voice’s event in memory of Pakistani parliamentarian Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated by the Taliban three years ago for demanding an end to the country’s blasphemy law. The blasphemy law is like a black sword hanging over the heads of Pakistan’s minorities. There is even a shameful declaration form for Ahmadi Muslims that declares them to be non-Muslims at the Consul-General’s Toronto office.

Alexander mentioned the Pakistani state authorities’ bleak record on free press. He talked about a journalist, Saleem Shahzad, who was allegedly killed by the notorious intelligence agencies.

Pakistani Consul-General Zakaria did not say a single word about repealing the blasphemy law. He didn’t even say he’d deliver the message to the Pakistani government. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell Canadian parliamentarians that he’d pass on their concerns to Islamabad, even if he doesn’t agree with Alexander.

Instead, Zakaria blamed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for the problem of the Taliban in Pakistan. He framed the Taliban as a product of the covert U.S. effort against the Soviets, leaving Pakistan innocent and noble. This is a common excuse used by the Pakistani establishment that doesn’t want to take responsibility for their involvement in creating the problem of the Taliban and other extremists.

Pakistan’s establishment still considers those Islamic terrorists and their sharia-bound ideology as an asset for them strategically, even as the growing anarchy in the region and the actions of different Taliban groups force the Pakistani government to take a stronger stance.

Read more » THE CLARION PROJECT
http://m.clarionproject.org/analysis/canada-confronts-pakistan-bleak-human-rights-record

PAKISTAN – As a state and society, are we a basket case?

Comment by Shahab Usto

In Karachi–Jinnah’s Mausoleum has been shut for security reasons. Among a host of no-go areas, this new addition is the most tragic and shameful of all.

In Lahore–A poor christian has been sentenced to death on a cooked-up blasphemy charge. If the judiciary itself plays to the gallery, instead of following law and constitution, then from where would the ‘minority’ citizens seek justice and protection.

In Hyderabad–A Kali Mata temple has been set ablaze by the ‘soldiers of Islam‘. And then we expect the world to condemn Chief Minister Narendra Modi for enacting a pogrom against the Muslims in Indian Gujarat?

In Thar–for all the tall claims, the children continue to die of dearth and disease. Yet our ‘august’ rulers continue to harp on claiming that they are not dying of famine but malnourishment, and hence they are absolved of all their duties to protect the citizens!

In Waziristan–Our official interlocutors are grovelling before a bunch of terrorists and mass killers to extend the ‘cease-fire’ with the nuclear-armed state, possessing the sixth largest armed forces in the world and a land of 200 million people!

With the prevalence of such levels of apathy, injustice, absurdity and incorrigibility, is there any doubt that we as a state and society have completely turned into a hopeless basket case??

Courtesy: » via Facebook

Other voices: An ominous sign

DR Hameed Soomro writes: a tragedy took place near Naushahro Feroze claiming the lives of Maqsood Qureshi, brother of late nationalist leader Bashir Qureshi and Salman Wadho. … After [being] shot the bodies were dumped in their car and set on fire. … Earlier Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz chief Bashir Qureshi also died in mysterious circumstances. …Maqsood belonged to a nationalist group which … [does not] … pose a threat to the state. … The group did not announce any armed struggle. Still Maqsood was killed. There are speculations that … this might be a message to the group to remain within its limits. … This incident [sends] the message that Balochistan-like conditions are being created in Sindh. … It is the responsibility of the government … to solve this mystery. … — (March 23) ~ Selected and translated by Sohail Sangi.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1095465?fb_action_ids=10152130818119830&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=[1481293392099200]&action_type_map=[%22og.likes%22]&action_ref_map=[]

23rd March: Sindhis Towards Freedom March

Ahmed MakhdoomBy Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom

Today, “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom for Sindh” is the only Echo thundering in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh, and valleys, hills, plains and the corridors of Sindh!

Everyday, simple, innocent, and peace-loving sons of Sindh are abducted by the savages and scavengers of the deep security state – mercilessly and brutally tortured, massacred and then their mutilated and mangled dead bodies burnt beyond recognition! Such is the brutality, inhumanity, wickedness and barbarism happens in this ill-gotten, ill-conceived, corrupt, rogue, and dark deep state every day.

Yesterday, they burnt, disfigured, lacerated and crushed bodies of two of Sindh’s worthy and filial sons – Martyr Maqsood Quraishi (younger brother of Martyr Bashir Quraishi, who was Martyred not very long time ago) and a young Martyr Salman Wadho’s bullet riddled charred bodies – were found in a burnt car, in which they were travelling!

Why? What was their fault? Their ONLY ‘crime’ was that they loved their Motherland, and sang songs in praise of the brightness, beauty and brilliance of their gregarious Land! They demanded justice for the people of Sindh – which is a right of every citizen to do so!

Condemnations for such barbarism and savagery and appeals for justice for the people of Sindh to the ‘civilised’ world has proven futile, useless and in vain! World had presented a “Deaf Ear” to the screams of “Help” from the tortured, tormented and terrorised citizens of Sindh and Balochistan!

People of Sindh are being suffocated! But sadly, tragically and unfortunately  – NO ONE CARES A DAMN!

Today, on 23rd of March, through the freedom march people of Sindh have denounced the Lahore resolution of 1940 and have demanded sovereignty and Freedom for their Ancient and historical Land, Sindh – a 7,000 to 10, 000 years old Indus Civilisation! Millions of people of Sindh have marched towards the Capital City of Sindh, Karachi where they have formally declared Freedom from the slavery and servitude of this miserable, devilish dark deep security state!

Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom
23rd March, 2014

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups + social media

Censorship goes an extra mile – Pakistan erased an entire International New York Times cover story

Pakistan erased an entire International New York Times cover story

By Chris Welch

Today’s edition of The International New York Times was stripped of its cover story in Pakistan. Instead of seeing a lengthy report on “What Pakistan knew about bin Laden,” readers were greeted with an enormous section of white space that dominates the paper’s front page.

Elsewhere in the world, the International New York Times published a story by Carlotta Gall that closely examines links between Pakistan and Osama bin Laden. Gall’s report traces the common accusation that the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence unit, may have knowingly provided shelter for the al Qaeda leader before he was killed during a United States raid in 2011. Apparently Pakistan’s government doesn’t want its citizens reading that content, and instead we’re left with one of the most visually arresting examples of censorship in years.

Read more » THE VERGE
http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/22/5536676/pakistan-erases-international-new-york-times-cover-story

What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden

By

Excerpt;  America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001.

 

In January 2013, I visited the Haqqania madrasa to speak with senior clerics about the graduates they were dispatching to Afghanistan. They agreed to let me interview them and gave the usual patter about it being each person’s individual choice to wage jihad. But there was also continuing fanatical support for the Taliban. “Those who are against the Taliban, they are the liberals, and they only represent 5 percent of Afghans,” the spokesman for the madrasa told me. He and his fellow clerics were set on a military victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, he said, “it is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power. The white flag of the Taliban will fly again over Kabul, inshallah.”

Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out.

Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.”

The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the U.S. and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.”

When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.

Meanwhile, the real enemy remains at large.

This article is adapted from “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014,” to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times. She covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for the paper from 2001 to 2013.

Editor: Joel Lovell

Courtesy: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/magazine/what-pakistan-knew-about-bin-laden.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Dancing to TTP’s tunes

By Intikhab Amir

PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) holds the centre stage, changing directions of the game every now and then. In short, it is TTP’s sweet will that is holding the sway.

When it decides to hit and kill us, we bow our heads and get killed. When it decides to talk and kill us as well, we oblige: we fly our helicopter to North Waziristan to facilitate its emissaries to meet their bosses and at the same time we keep collecting corpses from Peshawar to Karachi.

And now when the state’s fighter jets and helicopters have conducted surgical air strikes targeting TTP’s sanctuaries, the terrorists announced ceasefire and we feel happy to oblige and live peacefully with them for the next one month.

Think the one month period in terms of the possibility: no bomb blasts and IED attacks. This has not happened for the past so many years. So we should be happy!

What is more interesting is the fact that the day TTP was about to make the ceasefire public in the evening, its operatives attacked polio vaccinators in Khyber Agency in the morning.

If the TTP bosses were giving serious thoughts to the idea of giving peace a chance, they should have postponed the Saturday morning attack in Khyber Agency.

But who cares? Ceasefire is the buzzword. The other catchphrase these days is ‘on the same page’.

Earlier, doubts were being spewed whether the civil administration and the military leaders were on the same page or not. Now, at least, the TTP bosses are on the same page with the government.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1090698/dancing-to-ttps-tunes

Pakistani Taliban say government must embrace Islamic law

By Saud Mehsud

Feb 22 (Reuters) – T he Pakistani Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/22/us-pakistan-taliban-idUSBREA1L0K620140222

Even India treated our soldiers better in 1971- Pervez Rashid

Minister questions Taliban’s Sharia

ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at Pakistani Taliban for slaughtering 23 paramilitary personnel, Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Wednesday questioned whether the militants’ action was in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.

Speaking to media representatives, he criticized the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership for the inhuman killing of the captive Frontier Cops (FC) soldiers.

“People favouring enforcement of Sharia should tell what treatment captives deserve according to the Sharia …… and the treatment those (FC men) received was in accordance with the Islamic laws or not,” he questioned.

The minister said that TTP’s central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid should have conveyed their reservations to the negotiating team they formed. “But, they didn’t do it and firstly attacked policemen in Karachi and then killed FC personnel,” he added.

Taking a strong stand against the home grown militants, he said the government also has reservations which the Taliban must address first.

Referring to the 1971’s war against India, Rashid said, “Even our rival country treated our 90,000 war captives in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” “Did they (Indians) behead even a single Pakistani soldier,” he questioned.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088101

What’s holding Pakistan together?

By Ayaz Amir

Not Islam – this fiction was exploded in 1971, and continues to be exposed today in Balochistan. Far from being a uniting factor religion, and the uses to which it is being put, is proving to be the biggest divisive factor of all, Pakistanis killing each other in the name of sect and faith – a country created on the basis of religion floundering at the altar of religion, earnest Pakistanis forever engaged in the quest to discover what Allah’s commandments mean and what they do not.

Not democracy – which is proving to be a sham democracy, unable to sow the seeds of peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or lessen the anger of the aggrieved Baloch, or prove a boon to Karachi, or have any kind of relevance for the down and out, the economically disadvantaged, who constitute the vast majority of the Pakistani population.

Not a common sense of nationhood – because that is something we have not managed to create, indeed the concept of nationhood never more fractured than it is today, partly because the institutions of statehood have become so dysfunctional, partly because of the march of primitive Islam, as exemplified by the Taliban, which is testing the capacities of the Pakistani state, and leading thoughtful Pakistanis to brood about the country’s future.

Holding Pakistan together, and this is a sad admission, is what pseudo-leftists like myself had trained ourselves to demonise, and with good reason because of its long list of follies: the Pakistan Army. The army we blamed, and rightly so, for many of Pakistan’s problems – East Pakistan, the cult of militarisation, the overweening power of the ISI, the unholy intervention in Afghanistan, ‘jihad’ in Kashmir, creating the god of national security and placing it at the top of the Pakistani pantheon.

But the wheel has come full circle. New realities have emerged, new dangers have arisen. The luxury of adventurism as in Afghanistan or Kashmir has gone. Pakistan is under threat and its survival is at stake and holding the gates is just one force: not Pakistani patriotism, not Pakistani nationalism – weak concepts yet to be given the shape of stone or iron – but the army.

Continue reading

Get them or get eliminated

By Marvi Sirmed

Since almost a decade we have been hearing from assorted quarters in religious and political circles that Taliban have been doing what they have been doing because ‘America attacked Afghanistan”. Politicians as tall as Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and various others, have been feeding the nation with this narrative for many years now. It is however, a minor detail that Mr. Khan was hand-in-glove with then dictator General Musharraf in 2001-2002, when he backed ‘America’s attack on Afghanistan’. It is also a minor detail that the ‘attack’ was sanctioned by United Nations to a multinational alliance we know as NATO. Never mind.

But just when I’m writing these lines, I hear that the terrorists and killers (who were recognized as ‘stakeholders’ by the current government supported by ‘all parties’ including Pakistan Army are part of this so-called All Parties Conference) have issued their 15-points Charter of Demands (CoD). The Charter does not even refer to the ‘attack on Afghanistan’. Surprise!

Going by the reports in media, the demands include: 1) Stop drone attacks; 2) Introduce Sharia law in courts; 3) Introduce Islamic system of education in public and private schools; 4) Free Pakistani and foreign Taliban captured in jails; 5) Restoration and remuneration for damage to property during drone attacks; 6) Handover control to local forces; 7) Withdrawal of army from tribal areas, shut down check posts; 8) All criminal allegations held against the Taliban be dropped; 9) Prisoners from both sides be released; 10) Equal rights for poor and rich; 11) Families of drone attack victims be offered jobs; 12) Amnesty for all Taliban commanders wanted by the government; 13) Stop supporting the US on the war on terror, end relations with the US; 14) Replace the democratic system with the Islamic system; 15) End interest based system of banking.

They start with demand to end drone attacks. Why? They certainly have no particular respect for human life considering their glorious track record of playing with the blood of thousands of innocent humans in the name of Sharia. Drones must be proving fatal to their existence. Similar pain for their comrades could be seen in Points 5 and 11 of their Charter whereby they demand restoration & damages for the properties of and jobs for the families of drone victims. Please note the absence of such sensitivity towards the victims of their bombs rocking the cities of Pakistan since last almost a decade. Wouldn’t it sound fair if the government of Pakistan demands damages and blood money for 50,000 Pakistanis killed by these so-called ‘stakeholders’?

The next two demands ask for Islamic system in courts and schools. Although nothing un-Islamic can ever get to both these institutions under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (emphasis added).What then, they mean by this? For a clue, let’s go back to the Taliban years in neighboring Afghanistan. Girls were barred from going to schools permanently. A year ago I met one of their apologists, then serving in ISI, who enlightened me about this order of Taliban regime by justifying it on the pretext that no resources were available for girls’ separate schools, hence the measure by Taliban.

If people didn’t want their daughters to be in co-education schools, why did they put them in these schools in first place? If their daughters’ education was more important for them than lack of separate girls’ schools before Taliban came, why did Taliban mess with their personal priorities? Although there are no co-ed schools running in FATA, their Pakistani comrades have been regularly bombing girls’ schools. Seems their Sharia prohibits girls’ education in stark contradiction with Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings.

About Sharia in courts, the lesser said the better. The kind of justice seen under Taliban regime in Afghanistan would put Huns, Tartars and Mongols to shame. Personal choices of women, like work and dress of women and of men, like how much and where to shave unwanted hair from, were most pressing issues for the regime. Barbarism was synonym to justice in those days. Many apologists of those days keep regurgitating the praises for the ‘exemplary peace and rule of law’ under Taliban. Just that most of civilized people won’t agree with their definition of peace and rule of law. Just like absence of guns is not peace, absence of citizens’ rights is not rule of law. Justice was rushed and crushed in the name of ‘speedy trials’ by Fazlullah’s in his previous job at Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi in Swat. He is now CEO of another terror corporate, TTP that regularly engages itself in arson and kidnap to generate funds. High profile kidnappings of the sons of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer, Yousuf Raza Gillani alongside various others are cases in point.

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Is Pakistan Going to Become a Taliban State?

Distinguished anchor of Rawal TV, Tahir Aslam Gora, discusses the current negotiations of Government of Pakistan & Taliban, with Arshad Mahmood an astute political commentator in Bilatakalluf (Straight Talk). The language of the talk show is Hindi (urdu).

Courtesy: Rawal Tv » Bilatakalluf with Tahir Gora, Episode 131 »» YouTube

“If the talks succeed, we may see a metamorphosis of the state”

by Alefia T. Hussain

Ayesha Siddiqa, defence analyst, talks about the implications of the on-going talks with TTP 

The News on Sunday (TNS): How does the government’s approach to counter terrorism through talks look like to you — a compromise, a time buying tactic or you expect something substantive to come out of it?

Ayesha Siddiqa (AS): The only substantive thing that may come out of the talks (and, mind you, I am not using substantive positively or negatively) is change in the overall nature of the state. If the talks succeed, we may actually see a metamorphosis of the state from a hybrid-theocracy, which it is at the moment, to a complete theocracy. The Taliban and their allies, including both good and bad militants, want implementation of sharia in Pakistan. Even if there is an agreement on limited implementation in parts of the country, it will eventually trickle down to the rest.

Everything will depend on how far the military and civilian leadership wants to go in accommodating the Taliban demands. Although a more important question would be how comfortable is the leadership in changing the nature of the state. The Taliban may not want to compromise on anything less than implementing sharia — also release of prisoners, which means adding to the militant force that aims at capturing the state.

So, if we have made up our mind to surrender, there is no way anyone will challenge the Taliban. If not, then yes, some form of conflict is inevitable.

Like many people, I’ve also heard an operation is inevitable. But, I’m not sure. Because, how can an operation take place with your backs against the wall. When some generals in GHQ, Rawalpindi, thought the 1986 Indian military exercise Brasstacks was a plan for war, General Hamid Gul and some others disagreed. They argued that India could not launch a war with its back totally exposed and vulnerable. This was with reference to the insurgency in East Punjab back then.

Similarly, how can we think of an operation when we have all kinds of militants sitting in our heartland, in Punjab and Sindh. I’m not just referring to Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) but also TTP and Lashkar e Khorasan, allegedly part of al-Qaeda and has men that were once part of JeM. These organisations are thriving in Punjab and Sindh. They even have links with the politicians and military establishment.

So, if we can’t take care of our own backyard, how will we launch an offensive.

I’m not even sure if the military has a plan to abandon the good militants/Taliban. The good Taliban are connected to the bad Taliban by blood, friendship and alignments. You can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. If we want to use some of them after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, we can’t really be serious about launching a serious operation. Or can we?

Read more » The News
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/talks-succeed-may-actually-see-metamorphosis-state/#.Uvgz17Th3g8

Sharif risks straining ties with military, warns US intelligence report

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may strain his relations with the new army chief if he continues to expand his policy-making powers, warns a US intelligence report.

The report, presented before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday, notes that Mr Sharif is seeking to “acquire a more central policy-making role” for civilians in areas that the Army has traditionally dominated.

“His push for an increased role in foreign policy and national security will probably test his relationship with the new Chief of Army Staff, particularly if the Army believes that the civilian government’s position impinges on Army interests” the report warns.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1084027

Pakistan’s march to theocracy

There are growing concerns that the country was fast moving toward a theocratic order.

It was a quick call from my editor’s office in Karachi informing me not to bother writing anymore about the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other militant outfit, religious party or even the cricketer-turned-politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). I was told I couldn’t even mention TTP and its other sister organisations. The call came in the wake of an attack on a vehicle carrying staff of a media group which killed three people and injured another four.

The TTP was quick to take responsibility. The spokesman of the militant outfit Ehsanullah Ehsan even appeared on a television program and warned the media group about giving the TTP bad press. The channel’s anchor Javed Chaudhry had to promise a “balanced” representation of views about the militants and their agenda. Furthermore, Ehsan claimed the attack was an attempt to force Pakistan to meet the promise of imposing Sharia law in the country.

A day later on January 19, another 20 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed and about 30 injured in a suicide attack in Bannu Cantonment in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). This was followed by an attack on January 20 in Rawalpindi Cantonment near the Pakistan Army’s GHQ, bringing the death toll up to 33 and the number of wounded to 63. Not to mention the constant targeting of polio workersacross the country.

These attacks happen despite the civilian government’s claim to engage the Taliban in a dialogue to end the violence. The first attack on the television channel came the same day as the statement by the TTP spokesman announcing his group’s willingness to talk with Pakistan’s government as long as the latter ensured the implementation of Sharia law in the country.

Read more » aljazeera
http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20141266302173397

At the mercy of men of straw

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Except; … What a contrast with our mighty men of straw moving about in their gleaming motorcades, bullet-proof vehicles, hundreds of men for their protection, yet consumed by fear, fear sitting in their hearts, and therefore seeking endless excuses for their irresolution.

The Taliban are in no doubt. They have virtually declared war against Pakistan, its army and its people. What does it take to see that their aim is not the emirate of Waziristan, or even drawing a line at the Indus but something higher, the whole of Pakistan? Yet far from being goaded into action, the men of straw in command of the republic’s destiny seek endless excuses for not doing anything. Hamlet’s “to be or not to be…” would seem a model of decision compared to their indecision.

The enemy is not at the gates; he is within. And while the Taliban make an art of the hidden roadside bomb, their deadliest weapon as it was of the insurgency in Iraq, the governing class hailing from Punjab – along with that other gift to clarity, Imran Khan – continues to weave bandishes (variations) on the raga of talks.

The Taliban kill a general of the Pakistan Army – Maj Gen Sanaullah – and our men of straw are for talks. A Peshawar church is bombed and they are for talks. Imran’s party men are killed in KP and he is for talks. Pakistan’s toughest cop, Chaudhry Aslam, is killed and the talks mantra does not change. In Hangu young Aitizaz sets an example for the entire country to follow but his sacrifice is in vain because those who should take heed remain men of straw.

So what should we do? God knows this is not a country of Athenian or Spartan warriors. But whatever bit of pluck and daring there may be, it is being held in check – nay, dissipated – by the ruling lot a blind Providence has been pleased to place upon the people of this country. Of what avail another Chaudhry Aslam, another Aitizaz, when the nation’s caravan is led by such heroes?

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-226460-At-the-mercy-of-men-of-straw

Pakistan: Nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Fatima Bhutto

Pakistan is a country plagued by natural disasters, endemic political corruption, religious fundamentalism and is claimed by many to be the central headquarters of Islamist terrorism. And it’s a nuclear power. Fatima Bhutto, scion of the Pakistani political family, addresses the current state of her country in her Opening Address at the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2011.

Fatima Bhutto is an Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer. She is the granddaughter of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto (both assassinated). She is active in Pakistan’s socio-political arena but has no desire to run for political office. She currently writes columns for ‘The Daily Beast’, ‘New Statesman’ and other publications.

Courtesy: Blip.tv
http://blip.tv/slowtv/pakistan-nation-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown-fatima-bhutto-5236151

Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

By Mubashir Zaidi

The latest statement from the military blasting chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami Munawar Hasan for undermining the sacrifices made by the soldiers fighting terrorists has shocked many in the capital. The JI traditionally, has been the mouthpiece for the military during the 1980s Afghan jihad and fighting in Kashmir. It’s also established that the army had used the Jamaat’s street power to put democratic governments under pressure through controlled or sometimes out of control protests. It is also believed that there is a huge following of JI in the armed forces. Even the arrests of Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the residences of JI activists has not affected the military-JI relations in the past.

So, is it a signalling of sorts that the military is trying to portray itself as a national army now as compared to its earlier image of an ideological force whose notion of jihad is similar to Jamaat-i-Islami?

But what prompted this strong reaction by the military needs to be examined. Even pragmatic military rulers like Pervez Musharraf had to seek help from the JI to prolong his tenure. Then why is it that the Jamaat and the military are finding themselves at the crossroads today?

The issue of missing persons that began in 2006 started the rift between the traditional partners when JI followers that included lawyers approached the courts for the release of what they claimed were innocent civilians who were arrested by military intelligence agencies on the allegations of supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The courts took up the cases and started questioning the role of the military behind these forced disappearances. JI-backed lawyers were pressurised by the military to drop these cases and to stop pursuing the matter. But the cases continued, despite the fact that they did not reach their logical conclusions.

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Federal Challenges to Polity: Sindh Perspective

jamichandioBy Jami Chandio

Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has been faced with a crisis of federalism. Early decisions to centralize power deprived smaller provinces of their most pressing demands for joining the new state: increased national/provincial autonomy and the devolution of power. For six decades, the promise of federalism has eroded under the weight of unfettered military rule, imbalanced and undemocratic state structures, and the domination of all federal institutions by Punjab. With outside attention trained on Islamic insurgency, observers are missing the most crucial dynamic in Pakistani politics, that of declining inter-provincial harmony. The specter of separatist movements once again haunts Pakistan, which has been on the verge of becoming a failed state. To survive these existing crises, Pakistan must adopt further transformative constitutional reforms that limit the reach of the center to the fields of defense, foreign policy, currency and other inter-provincial matters. By restoring a balance of power both between the executive and legislative branches and between the center and the provinces, Pakistan can move a pivotal step closer to substantive democracy, participatory federalism and sustainable political stability.

Once partition was completed, the initial promises of autonomy and devolution of power went unfulfilled by Pakistan’s ruling elite. Critical decisions taken by the center concerning the ratification of constitutions and governing documents, the elevation of Urdu language, and the amalgamation of the provinces of west Pakistan into the One-Unit scheme in 1955 deprived the provinces of the authority and position in the federation they expected upon joining the union. Federalism was bankrupted purposively, culminating in the ‘liberation’ of East Pakistan and the subjugation of the smaller provinces to the ruling Punjab-Urdu speaking nexus.

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Wailing for the terrorists — Dr Mohammad Taqi

TaqiThe most brutal terrorist is being presented like an apostle of peace who was about to lead his country to the Promised Land

It is rare that a country’s top leaders are seen virtually bawling over the death of its enemy number one. But Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Mr Imran Khan did pull that off. The two leaders have led the national wailing over the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud and his cohorts in a drone attack on his house in Dande Darpa Khel village, North Waziristan Agency (NWA). The two Khans made it sound like a helpful boy scout and not the ringleader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had been assassinated. The most brutal terrorist is being presented like an apostle of peace who was about to lead his country to the Promised Land. And, of course, the big bad US is the vicious villain according to the Interior Minister and his former college mate Mr Imran Khan.

The lamentation for Hakeemullah Mehsud and the vitriol against the US is literally a replay of how Pakistan and its leaders had reacted to Osama bin Laden’s 2011 killing. After bin Laden’s death there was a lucid interval of a few days where the then president Mr Asif Zardari and his close aides sought to take the opportunity to make a clean break with Pakistan’s dubious past association with jihadist terrorism. But they could not withstand the drummed up anti-US sentiment and caved in. The leaked bin Laden Commission Report, which has still not been released by Pakistan, essentially identifies the US, not bin Laden or the terrorist outfit(s) he sired, as Pakistan’s enemy number one. The report said that the US had “acted like a criminal thug”, and it termed the US raid on bin Laden’s lair “an act of war”. Similar rhetoric was codified in the September 9, 2013 All Parties Conference’s declaration that condemned the US actions as “illegal and immoral” and responsible for the terrorist ‘blowback’. The same document, which elevated the murderous thugs like Hakeemullah Mehsud to ‘stakeholder’ level and threatened to take the drone attacks issue to the UN, now serves as the guideline for negotiating peace with the TTP.

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Jamaat-i-Islami terms Hakeemullah a ‘martyr’

MANSEHRA: Jamaat-i-Islami, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has declared Hakeemullah Mehsud and his associates killed in the recent drone strike as martyrs and demanded of the federal government to end its strategic alliance with America.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1053985

The $120,000 farmhouse where the TTP chief was killed

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: With marble floors, lush green lawns and a towering minaret, the $120,000 farm where feared Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike was no grubby mountain cave.

Mehsud spent his days skipping around Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas to avoid the attentions of US drones.

But his family, including two wives, had the use of an eight-roomed farmhouse set amid lawns and orchards growing apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates.

As well as the single-storey house, the compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, five kilometres north of Miramshah, was adorned with a tall minaret, purely for decorative purposes.

Militant sources said the property in the North Waziristan tribal area was bought for Mehsud nearly a year ago for $120,000, a huge sum by Pakistani standards, by close aide Latif Mehsud, who was captured by the US in Afghanistan last month.

An AFP journalist visited the property several times when the previous owner, a wealthy landlord, lived there.

With the Pakistan army headquarters for restive North Waziristan just a kilometre away, locals thought of Mehsud’s compound as the “safest” place in a dangerous area.

Its proximity to a major military base recalls the hideout of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, on the doorstep of Pakistan’s elite military academy.

“I saw a convoy of vehicles two or three times in this street but I never thought Hakimullah would have been living here. It was the safest place for us before this strike,” local shopkeeper Akhter Khan told AFP.

This illusion of safety was shattered on Friday when a US drone fired at least two missiles at Mehsud’s vehicle as it stood at the compound gate waiting to enter, killing the Pakistani Taliban chief and four cadres.

The area around Dandey Darpakhel is known as a hub for the Haqqani network, a militant faction blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1054033

‘Magnificent Delusions’ of US-Pakistan relations

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Even as an ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful institution.

Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.

Now a professor of international relations at Boston University, he was ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, a turbulent time in US-Pakistan relations that culminated in a raid by US special forces in May 2011 that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani resigned in November 2011 and left Pakistan after becoming involved in a scandal surrounding a secret memo that accused the army of plotting a coup and sought help from the United States to rein in the military.

Haqqani, who has denied any connection to the memo, spoke to Reuters by telephone from the United States about his book and his views on US-Pakistan relations.

Q: Why do you believe Pakistan supports militant groups?

A: As far as terrorism is concerned, Pakistan was the conduit of weapons and training for the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. After that, Pakistan switched it to India, especially in Kashmir. And that is the point at which the United States said “You are engaging in terrorism”. The Pakistani response was “But we started it together”.

The problem is that the “pro-jihadi” narrative has become so mainstream that it is very difficult for any government to … put all fighters out of business. But Pakistan would not find peace without putting all of them out of business.

Q: Why is this happening now?

A: The whole idea of building a nation around religious nationalism has backfired. What has happened is that religious nationalism has only produced extremism. If Pakistan were to be an Islamic state, the question arises “What kind of Islamic state?” We are now in a virtual civil war between various sects and militias attached to these sects who don’t tolerate each other.

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Upper Dir: TTP claim responsibility for killing 3 army officers

PESHAWAR: Roadside bomb attacks and a Taliban ambush on Sunday killed seven soldiers or policemen including two senior army officers in Pakistan’s troubled northwest, the military said.

The banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility for the Upper Dir blast.

A major general and a lieutenant colonel were visiting troop positions in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, along the Afghan border, when their vehicle hit a bomb which killed them and a private soldier.

“Maj Gen Sanaullah and Lt Col Touseef embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) this morning. They were returning after visiting troop posts on Pak-Afghan Border,” the military said in a statement.

It said the roadside bomb near the border had also killed Lance Naik Irfan, and injured two other soldiers.

Separately, two roadside bomb attacks in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, killed two soldiers on Sunday and wounded four others, security officials said.

In the neighbouring district of Bannu Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of tribal police early Sunday, killing two of them and wounding four others, the officials said.

Pakistan says more than 40,000 people have died in bomb and suicide attacks by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-led militants who oppose Islamabad’s US alliance.

The Pakistani Taliban, responding to a government offer of talks to end their revolt, on Sunday announced preconditions – a troop withdrawal from tribal areas and the release of jailed insurgents.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/604596/3-army-officers-killed-2-injured-in-upper-dir-ied-blast/#.UjXMisaKa8Y.facebook

Rs18bn ‘embezzled’ by defence services in 2011-12: repot

KARACHI, Sept 8: An audit report revealed that over Rs18.2 billion had been embezzled, lost due to fraud, theft, misuse of public resources by the defence services comprising the ministries of defence and defence production, it emerged on Sunday.

More details » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1041482/rs18bn-embezzled-by-defence-services-in-2011-12-report

The surveillance state is even bigger, and scarier, than we thought.

It’s High Time We Abolished the Department of Homeland Security

It’s the path to national sanity.

The surveillance state is even bigger, and scarier, than we thought.

And, as a result, it’s time that we broke up the failed national security experiment known as the Department of Homeland Security. Returning to dozens of independent agencies will return internal checks-and-balances to within the Executive branch, and actually make us both safer and less likely to be the victims of government snooping overreach.

Last Wednesday, the  Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald revealed that the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon users. The agency received authorization to track phone “metadata” over a 3 month period from a special court order issued in April.

We now also know that what the  Guardian uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing phone and internet records collection program that likely includes almost all major U.S. telecommunications companies.

President Obama – who promised the “most transparent administration ever” – now finds himself and his DHS at the center of yet another civil liberties controversy. That controversy has deepened in the wake of two reports published last night in both the Washington Post and the Guardian that outlined a different NSA snooping program – a data mining initiative code-named “PRISM.”

PRISM – which was created in 2007 during the Bush Administration – is almost certainly the most far-reaching surveillance program ever created. By reaching into the servers of 9 different major U.S. internet companies – including Facebook, Google and Apple – the NSA has access to millions of users’ personal data, including emails, chats and videos.

Although PRISM is supposed to only be used to gain information about “foreign individuals” suspected of terrorism – the very methods used to access such information inevitably suck up the private data of American citizens

As the  Washington Post pointed out:

“Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content. That is described as “incidental,” and it is inherent in contact chaining, one of the basic tools of the trade. To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in.”

These startling revelations about American intelligence agencies raise a number of questions, the first being, of course, who’s the  Guardian‘s source?

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/thom-hartmann-abolish-homeland-security

Pakistan – Defence budget hiked by 15 per cent

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has increased its defence spending by 15% for the coming fiscal year, as the military remains engaged in fighting a deadly Taliban insurgency in the strife-torn tribal regions.

The defence budget has been jacked up to Rs627.2 billion for the financial year beginning July 1, compared to Rs545.3 billion allocated in the outgoing fiscal year, showing an increase of Rs82 billion.

However, against the original allocation of Rs545.3 billion, the military overspent Rs25 billion, raising the total expenditure to Rs570 billion in 2012-13.

According to the budget document, the lion’s share went to the army which got Rs301.54 billion, followed by the air force with Rs131.18 billion and the navy with Rs62.80 billion.

Of the total Rs627.2 billion, Rs271.2 billion have been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs162.2 billion for operating expenses and Rs131.3 billion for physical assets.

However, the figures do not include over Rs132.7 billion allocated for pensions of the retired military personnel that would be paid from the civilian budget and a separate allocation for the security-related expenses, a move which critics say seeks to conceal the actual defence spending.

In addition to this, the military will also be given Rs150 billion under the contingent liability, Rs70 billion under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and Rs35 billion has been allocated for the military’s services to the UN peacekeeping missions in the coming fiscal year. This means a whopping Rs1,014 billion have been allocated for the military, which is about 28.2% of the country’s total budget.

The defence budget – which has never been properly debated in Parliament – has remained a sensitive and controversial subject in Pakistan and there have been calls for greater scrutiny of the spending.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/562640/defence-budget-hiked-by-15-per-cent/#.UbkuwH1R5qc.facebook

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