Drones: theirs and ours – by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Vocal as they are about being bombed from the sky, most Pakistanis – including many on the Left – suddenly lose their voice when it comes to the human (Muslim/ [Suicide bomber]) drone.

A drone – of the kind discussed here – is a programmed killing machine. By definition it is self-propelled, semi-autonomous, and capable of negotiating difficult local environments. Remote handlers guide it towards an assigned target. A drone does not need to know why it must kill, only who and how. They have drenched Pakistan in blood, both of fighters and non-combatants. …

Read more : View Point

Afghan insurgents have lifeline in Pak: Pentagon

WASHINGTON: Nato-led forces are making “tangible progress” in the Afghanistan war, with Taliban insurgents under pressure and forced out of key southern strongholds, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Although, the US military acknowledged battlefield gains over the past six months were tentative and “fragile”, it painted a more positive picture than the Pentagon’s previous reports to Congress.

The findings come at a crucial moment in the nine-year-old war as the United States prepares to begin a drawdown in July of its 100,000-strong force and as the Afghan government plans to take over security in some districts.

The Pentagon, however, warned that the insurgents still enjoyed a crucial lifeline through safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan, that the Afghan government was plagued by corruption and that a shortage of trainers for Afghan forces could hold back efforts to hand over security.

“Insurgent capacity continues to be supported by sanctuaries and logistical support originating in Pakistan, and insurgents will likely retain operational momentum in areas where these support structures exist,” it said. To consolidate progress in security, Pakistan needed to do more to eliminate the sanctuaries, the Pentagon said.

The presence of the safe havens threatens to undermine the war effort and has strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, with US officials frustrated at the Pakistan Army’s reluctance to crack down on militants based in North Waziristan. …

Read more : The News.com.pk

Move to C.I.A. Puts Petraeus in Conflict With Pakistan

By JANE PERLEZ and ERIC SCHMITT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The appointment of Gen. David H. Petraeus as director of the Central Intelligence Agency puts him more squarely than ever in conflict with Pakistan, whose military leadership does not regard him as a friend and where he will now have direct control over the armed drone campaign that the Pakistani military says it wants stopped.

Pakistani and American officials said that General Petraeus’s selection could further inflame relations between the two nations, which are already at one of their lowest points, with recriminations over myriad issues aired publicly like never before.

The usually secretive leader of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has made little secret of his distaste for General Petraeus, calling him a political general. General Petraeus has privately expressed outrage at what American officials say is the Pakistani main spy agency’s most blatant support yet for fighters based in Pakistan who are carrying out attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

Officials on both sides say they expect the two nations’ relationship to become increasingly adversarial as they maneuver the endgame in Afghanistan, where Pakistan and the United States have deep — and conflicting — security interests.

Repairing the frayed ties between the C.I.A. and Pakistan’s primary spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, will be difficult, American officials say. “In its current form, the relationship is almost unworkable,” said Dennis C. Blair, a former American director of national intelligence. “There has to be a major restructuring. The ISI jams the C.I.A. all it wants and pays no penalties.” ….

Read more : The New York Times

Then spoke Aafia

By Aziz Akhmad

I sat among the audience in the courtroom of federal judge Richard Berman, in Lower Manhattan, watching the sentencing proceedings of Aafia Siddiqui, on September 23.

Before Aafia Siddiqui spoke, her lawyer made what sounded, at least to me, a compassionate plea for a minimum sentence. She argued that Aafia Siddiqui was not mentally stable, or words to that effect, because of the impossible circumstances she had been through. That she needed professional care and compassion rather than a long term in prison. The lawyer concluded her plea by asking for a sentence not more than 12 years.

All this time, Afia Sidddiqui sat quietly, clad in a beige niqab, only her eyes visible. At times she would place her head on the table in front of her, as if not interested in what her lawyer was saying, or would stretch back into the chair clasping her head in both hands, as if exasperated. Soon after her lawyer finished, she stood up and asked the judge if she could say something. The judge said yes.

Then Aafia spoke. It was as if a dam had been breached; the words came gushing out of her mouth like a torrent. She spoke in a sharp voice and flawless English. Every once in a while she would pause and ask the audience, like a teacher in a classroom: “Do you understand what I am saying?” At one point the judge had to say, yes, we all understand you very clearly. Sometimes during the course of her speech she would break into a short, agitated laughter. Once, she even made a humorous comment about her trial referring to the court as Manhattan Institute of Theatrics, a pun on MIT, her alma mater.

She declared at the outset that she was not tortured or mistreated in jail (in Texas). She said if you hear people saying otherwise don’t believe them. She then quoted a verse from the Quran to the effect that when you hear something, verify it before you believe it. She said she was not mentally unbalanced, as her defence lawyers had tried to make out and that she did not trust them.

Several times she said she loved America and had no hostility against Americans or anyone. She also thanked the soldiers who, she said, did not harm or mistreated her daughter in captivity (in Afghanistan?).

Continue reading Then spoke Aafia

Animal rights in Islam

By Nilofar Ahmed

MANY Muslims appear to have a callous attitude where dealing with animals is concerned giving the impression that maybe their religion has no consideration for animals.

However, when we examine the Quran and hadith, we are pleasantly surprised to find that the opposite is true. Islam indeed places much importance on animals and on providing for them in a caring manner. There are five surahs whose titles are based on the names of animals.

Besides, the mention of animals is found throughout the Quran. In Surah Al-Anaam it is said, “There is no animal walking on the earth nor a bird flying on its two wings, except that they are (part of) communities like you” (6: 38). God, in His infinite wisdom, has organised even the most humble of creatures, like birds, bees and ants into communities so that they can work, communicate and survive according to strict ethical and organisational rules, without any deviation. All the creatures in the world, including the animals, glorify their Lord and “sing His praises” (17: 44). The living sing with their tongues, while the non-living with the tacit acquiescence of their condition. Prophet Nuh was asked to build a large boat under divine instructions: “Construct a boat under Our supervision and by Our inspiration, and do not address Me about those who are evil. They are sure to be drowned” (11: 38). The ones to be saved from the flood were the believers as well as a pair each of every species of animals:

“… We said, ‘Load aboard (animals), of every pair two, and of your household, leaving out those for whom the final verdict has already been passed. And (load) those who have come to believe” (11: 40). The fact that the command to save the animals came before the command to save the believers, points to the importance of the animals that were on the verge of becoming endangered species at that point in time.

The Quran relates the story of the Thamud, Prophet Salih’s nation to whom he had been sent to reform their ways, to call them towards the One God and to supervise the equitable distribution of their means of subsistence. He reached an agreement with the nine leaders who had control over the sources of water, which the people and the she-camel (that was sent as a sign, or miracle, from God), would take turns to consume. They were also asked to share the pastures.

“Indeed, there has come to you a miracle from your Lord, this is God’s she-camel, a clear sign. Let her graze freely in God’s earth. Do not touch her with bad intentions, or you will get caught in painful retribution” (6: 73) But they broke their promise and killed her (7: 77-78). Since the whole nation had colluded in this, the whole nation was destroyed. The immediate cause of their destruction was that they had harmed the she-camel.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said that if the smallest of birds is killed without its right and thrown away, this act will be questioned as a crime. …

Read more : DAWN

The End (of Religion) Is Near, Scientists Say

Scientists often have a funny way of talking about religion.

By Louis Ruprecht

A case in point concerns a new study that was discussed at the American Physical Society meetings in Dallas, Texas, in late March. Religion, it seems, is going extinct. You heard me: extinct. Dead and gone. Like the dinosaurs.

The data that a team of mathematicians used to reach this rather surprising conclusion were census reports of religious affiliation. Using a complicated means of mathematical analysis called “nonlinear dynamics”—complicated, ironically, because its purpose is to make complicated things simpler by reducing them to one variable—the team attempted to extrapolate from data on religious affiliation in nine countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Turns out, every case of self-reported religious affiliation is trending downward: 40% self-identify as religiously non-affiliated in the Netherlands, as do 60% in the Czech Republic. The mathematicians seem far more surprised by these numbers than most religionists would be. ….

Read more : Alternet.org

Britain: Royal wedding exposes deep class divisions

by Alan Woods

On Friday 29 April the people of Britain will be invited to participate in the joyful celebration of the marriage of Mr. William Windsor and Ms. Katherine Middleton. At the same time that the government is cutting billions from unnecessary extravagances such as hospitals, schools, teachers, nurses, the old and the sick, the unemployed and single parents, the Coalition has had the good sense to spend a lot of money on something as essential to the Public Good as the nuptials of Willy and Kate.

One can see many advantages in this. At a time of falling living standards for everyone who is not either a member of the royal family or a banker, it can take the minds of the British public off unpleasant thoughts of unpaid debts and unemployment. It might even make them forget the recent mass demonstration that brought half a million of them onto the streets of London to protest the vicious cuts being implemented by the ruling Conservative-Lib-Dem Coalition. …

Read more : Marxist.com

The establishment’s twelfth man – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The fact remains that Imran Khan has always been the establishment’s twelfth man — called upon to field as needed. He claims that the establishment cannot buy him, but do they need to? He has always volunteered for them and it is no different this time.

The citizens of Hayatabad, Peshawar, have finally breathed a sigh of relief after the two-day long sit-in organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has ended. Whether NATO supplies were halted because of this so-called protest remains moot, but life in one of Peshawar’s largest residential districts was certainly brought to a grinding halt by the chapli kabab-fed 5,000 people herded from outside the city by the PTI and various sectarian and religio-political parties allied with it. The idea, ostensibly, was to block one of the delivery routes through which the NATO forces in Afghanistan are supplied, thus forcing the US to halt its drone attacks. ….

…. To this end the deep state is trying to stir up hysteria against the US, through Imran Khan and his ilk and, in the process, build pressure on the PPP and ANP et al to fall in line as well. By letting the twelfth man warm up now, the establishment wants to elbow out Mian Nawaz Sharif — whom they mistrust deeply — as potentially the next premier. They know that a savvy politician like Mian sahib may actually play ball with the US, against their diktat.

While milking the Saudis for funds, and allowing mercenaries to be recruited for the Gulf, the establishment is getting its domestic ducks in a row, in preparation for a showdown with the US over its Af-Pak endgame. What can serve them better in this than a conglomerate of the martial law’s perennial B team like the Jamaat-e-Islami, pro-jihadists like Sami-ul-Haq and assorted opportunists? The twelfth man has always hoped that the establishment will grant him the political test cap one day. His hypocrisy may actually earn him the captaincy of the junta’s ‘B’ team this time.

To read complete article : DailyTimes.com.pk

Pakistan: Blast strikes Pakistan naval bus

Pakistan: Karachi naval bus bomb kills five

Suspected militants have killed at least five people in a bomb attack on a navy bus in the port city of Karachi.

Four of those who died in the roadside bombing were navy personnel. The fifth was a passing motorcyclist, officials said. Several others were wounded.

It is the third such attack this week. Four people died when two navy buses were bombed on Tuesday.

Officials believe the same group is behind the attacks. The Taliban say they carried out the bombings.

Correspondents say security officials in Karachi, the main base for Pakistan’s navy, are also not ruling out a possible link to local Islamist groups.

Militant groups linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have carried out attacks in the southern city in the past.

The spate of bombings in Karachi is being seen as retaliation for an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and their allies in the north-west of the country.

Taliban claim

Thursday’s bomb went off in the early hours of the morning in the Karsaz area of the city, along the busy Faisal Avenue. It tore through the bus and left a huge crater in the road. …

Read more : BBC

Four Bahrain protesters sentenced to death

A court in Bahrain has convicted four demonstrators and sentenced them to death over the killing of two police officers during pro-democracy protests.

Three others were sentenced to life in prison by the military court.

Bahraini authorities have responded harshly to protests which began in February, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Hundreds of people have been detained for taking part in protests, many unable to communicate with family.

The seven defendants were tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of government employees – allegedly running two police officers over in a car. …

Read more : BBC

“Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage” – Abdul Sattar Edhi

Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage

By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

Once, I was approached by General Hamid Gul, Imran Khan and few others, mostly military and intelligence officials, who were conspiring to overthrow Benazir Bhutto`s second government and wanted me to get involved. I declined because I am a social worker and not a politician. I also did not want to tarnish the credibility of my organisation by getting embroiled in something that obviously seemed quite disturbing. Eventually, I was made to feel threatened enough to temporarily leave the country.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of the Edhi Foundation, is unarguably the most renowned philanthropist in Pakistan. He began his work in 1951 with the opening of a free, one-room medical clinic in Karachi. Currently, his foundation runs 250 centres across the country and houses more than 2,000 children at any given time.

Continue reading “Pakistan is at a critical make-or-break stage” – Abdul Sattar Edhi

PML-N in bid to protect PPP from `blackmail`?

By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE: As a power-sharing deal between the People`s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Q is maturing, the PML-N has indicated that it may save the PPP-led government from “blackmail of its present and would-be allies” during the approval of the forthcoming budget.

Sources told Dawn that a message to this effect had been conveyed …

Read more : DAWN

Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Guantánamo files paint Aafia Siddiqui as top al-Qaida operative

Documents claim neuroscientist – jailed in US for attempted murder – aided al-Qaida bombing, poisoning and hijacking plots

by Declan Walsh in Islamabad

Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist whose case has become a flashpoint of Pakistani-American tensions, plotted to smuggle explosives into America and offered to manufacture biological weapons, according to the Guantánamo files.

The allegations are a combination of US intelligence analysis and direct testimony by at least three senior al-Qaida figures, including the 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They cannot be independently corroborated and the testimonies were likely to have been extracted under conditions of torture.

Muhammad, known as KSM in intelligence circles, was waterboarded 183 times in the month after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003.

But several of the accounts do overlap, linking Siddiqui, a diminutive 39-year-old mother of three, with some of Osama bin Laden’s most senior lieutenants. They help explain why the FBI placed her on a list of the world’s seven most wanted al-Qaida fugitives in 2004.

Siddiqui disappeared from Karachi in March 2003 only to reappear five years later amid murky circumstances in Ghazni, central Afghanistan. There was an altercation in a police station and the US accused Siddiqui of trying to shoot two soldiers and two FBI agents.

She was sent to the US, tried and last year sentenced to 86 years’ jail. At home in Pakistan she became a cause célèbre widely viewed as an innocent victim of American injustice.

During the recent stand-off over Raymond Davis, the CIA spy who shot two people in Lahore, a chorus of Pakistani politicians demanded the US repatriate Siddiqui in exchange for the American.

The Guántanamo files offer a murky perspective, placing Siddiqui at the heart of an al-Qaida cell based in Karachi between 2002 and 2003. Emboldened by the success of the 9/11 attacks and led by KSM, the cell conspired to mount fresh attacks in the US, on Heathrow airport and inside Pakistan.

According to the files, the cell planned to smuggle explosives into America under the cover of textile exports – 20 and 40ft foot containers filled with women’s and children’s clothes. The explosives would be used to attack “economic targets” inside the US, according to KSM.

The operation would take place through an import-export business run by Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman who worked as a New York travel agent for 13 years before developing ties to Osama bin Laden. Paracha, 64, is currently in Guantánamo Bay.

According to Paracha’s file, Siddiqui’s role was to “rent houses and provide administrative support for the operation”. As part of this brief she travelled from Pakistan to the US in January 2003 to help renew the American travel papers of Majid Khan, a co-conspirator who had been ordered to bomb petrol stations and water treatment facilities in America.

According to Khan, he provided Siddiqui with money, photos and a completed application for an “asylum travel form” that “looked and functioned like a passport”.

Then, according to Khan’s file, “Siddiqui returned to the US and opened a post office box in detainee’s name, using her driver’s licence information”.

The plot collapsed after Khan was picked up in Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo. A co-conspirator in America, Uzair Paracha, was arrested in possession of the post box key.

Paracha, son of Saifullah Paracha, was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in 2006; details of Siddiqui’s role in the plot surfaced during his trial.

Continue reading Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Pakistani Hell

A man dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country. He decides he’ll pick the least painful to spend his eternity. He goes to the German Hell and asks, “What do they do here?”
He is told “first they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for  
another hour. Then the German devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day“.
The man does not like the sound of that at all so he moves on. He checks out the AMERICAN Hell as  well as the Russian Hell and many more.  He discovers that they are all similar to the German hell.

Then he comes to the PAKISTANI hell and finds that there is a long line of people waiting to get in.
Amazed, he asks, “What do they d here?
He is told “first they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. The PAKISTANI devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day.
But that is exactly the same as all the other hells so why are there so many people waiting to get in?” asks the man.

Because there is never any electricity, so the electric chair does not work. The nails were paid for but never supplied, so the bed is comfortable to sleep on. And the PAKISTANI devil used to be a civil servant, so he comes in, signs his time sheet and goes back home for private business.” SO YOU SEE… IT PAYS TO BE A PAKISTANI!!

Source – Internet.

Pakistan, India & China: A tale of triplets

COMMENT: A tale of triplets — by Shahab Usto

Pakistan’s utmost priority should be to follow the Chinese model: shun external engagements and turn inwards to focus only on economic, social and human development. Remember, we have missed the bus twice

Independent Pakistan, India and China were born at almost the same time, inherited the same decrepit state structures, and shared the same trajectory of international wars and civil strife. But they do not share the same present. China is the fastest growing economy. India is catching up fast with it. But Pakistan lags far behind both.

As it is, China (closely followed by India) is all set to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, if not the world. The US-led West is jittery. Stuck in a financial crisis, the West has lost faith in its economic philosophy based on unregulated markets. “The teachers are in trouble,” as one Chinese minister put it, referring to the ideologues of the failing Anglo-Saxon corporate and financial models. …

Read more : Daily Times

Opposition leader, Ch. Nisar accuses Imran Khan as pawn of intelligence agencies

Opposition leader alleges agencies involved in politics

He said he usually avoid criticising agencies but they were responsible for alliances and sit-in.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Ch. Nisar Ali said politicians without a single seat in assembly were staging sit-in on someone’s prodding.

He said he usually didn’t criticise agencies but they were responsible for alliances and sit-in. He demanded the prime minister should direct agencies to work in their legal framework. …

Read more : via Siasat.pk, – Dunya TV News

Pakistan’s ISI spy service listed as terrorist group

Guantánamo Bay files: Pakistan’s ISI spy service listed as terrorist group

Anyone linked to Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate should be treated like al-Qaida or Taliban, interrogators told

by Jason Burke

US authorities describe the main Pakistani intelligence service as a terrorist organisation in secret files obtained by the Guardian.

Recommendations to interrogators at Guantánamo Bay rank the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon as threats. Being linked to any of these groups is an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity, the documents say. …

Read more : via Siasat.pkguardian.co.uk

More details : BBC urdu

Our textbooks and the lies they teach

By Raza Rumi

Due to the 18th Amendment, a momentous shift in Pakistan’s governance arrangements is taking place through a politically mediated and largely consensual manner. The federal government is being trimmed and 10 ministries have already been devolved to the provinces. A key development pertains to the devolution of education — lock, stock and barrel — to the provinces. Most notably, the odious era of setting poisonous, centralised curricula in the name of a ‘martial’ nationalism is finally over. Whether the past practices of turning Pakistan into a jihad project will end is uncertain, unless the provinces take the initiative and reverse the regrettable trajectory of the past.

Pakistani textbooks have preached falsehoods, hatred and bigotry. They have constructed most non-Muslims, especially Hindus, as evil and primordial enemies, glorified military dictatorships and omitted references to our great betrayal of the Bengali brothers and sisters who were the founders and owners of the Pakistan movement. It is time to correct these wrongs. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Siraiki Province: PML-N Falling Into Zardari’s Trap; To Be Limited To Central Punjab

By: Aziz Narejo

In a glaring example of cynical, reactionary and unprincipled politics, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif the other day demanded that Sindh be divided and Karachi be made a province. His statement justifiably created furore in Sindh and the parliamentary parties including PPP, MQM and ANP as well as other politicians and activists swiftly condemned the unimaginative and unscrupulous statement by the PML-N leader.

The PML-N government and Punjabi nationalists seem to be under considerable pressure as the demand for a separate Siraiki province is gathering momentum in southern Punjab but this was most crooked and uncalled for response that could ever come from anyone with even the slightest political wisdom. PML-N leader was obviously trying to get back with the PPP. It may be noted that PM Gilani has suggested the creation of a new province in southern Punjab and PPP manifesto committee is deliberating to make it a part of the PPP manifesto for next elections.

No Sindhi would have any objections if Shahbaz Sharif, other PML-N leaders and Punjabis as a whole turn into nationalists but all the Punjabis and others should understand that Sindh and PPP are not ONE and the same. They are two separate entities. PML-N can’t and shouldn’t get back with the PPP by hurting Sindh. It must agree or disagree with the Siraiki people’s demand for a separate province with the force of arguments and not by playing tit for tat, conspiratorial and ugly politics.

PML-N should also realize that with this kind of politics they will be completely routed out from Sindh and their aspirations to become a “national” party or to form next government will die for ever.

Do they understand that this is exactly what PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari wants the PML-N to do? Are they willingly falling into the trap set by Zardari ..? Do they realize that with this kind of politics, they will forever become a Central Punjab party? Are there any sane elements in PML-N who would rein in Shahbaz Sharif and the likes of him in their party? Guess not. Good luck to them on their journey to doom.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

A political revolution

By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

The passage of the 18th Amendment has set into motion, a remarkable, though slow, political revolution in restructuring Pakistan’s polity. This is far more momentous than restoring the parliamentary character of the constitution, or even granting provincial autonomy. The word autonomy cannot capture the true letter and spirit of the new federalism that is unfolding before us. Rather, it is about remodelling Pakistan’s political system according to a new principle of distribution of power, with the provinces as new centres of authority, power and resources.

Thinking of provinces as new centres of power and laying something down into the constitution to make them powerful, runs counter to both, the colonial tradition of supervising political evolution, and the centralised state and nation-building strategy followed for the past six decades. It goes to the credit of political parties and their leadership that they have realised that the old ways of governing Pakistan have failed and they needed to give a greater part of the power and resources of the centre, which had grown arrogant, paternalistic and insensitive to the provinces.

This structural change in the political order has created new conditions in which some groups and sections are bound to lose, while others will make gains. Who loses and who gains is an issue that will greatly impact the ongoing process of shifting power to the provinces, as the old, deeply entrenched political and bureaucratic groups fight to the last to save their little turfs and fiefdoms. In our case, the federal bureaucracy is the loser, as it cannot hope to rule the provinces under the guise of national integration, solidarity and security anymore. It will take a great deal of internal reflection on the part of the federal bureaucracy, as well as time, to adjust to the power shift. …

Read more : The Express Tribune