Sindh: New Disappearances Cause International Concern

The Asian Human Rights Commission has launched a campaign on Sindh after the latest news of further disappearances of political campaigners, the use of torture to extract information and confessions, and anti-terrorism charges levelled against activists.

Below is an appeal published by the Asian Human Rights Commission:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that four activists of a nationalist political group were abducted from a crowded part of Karachi city by the police and plain clothed persons in police and military jeeps when they were ending their six day hunger strike in protest against the second disappearance of their leader who has been missing since 25 February 2011 after his arrest by persons from Army, Rangers and police. The parents of the disappeared person, in an application to different authorities, accuse Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and military intelligence (MI) for the kidnap and disappearance.  …

Read more : UNPO

CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

The 8th historical congress of the Communist Party of Pakistan was successfully convened and concluded from 11-13th April,2011, at Hyderabad city Sindh. The decision for holding the party’s most awaited congress,

Continue reading CP of Pakistan’s 8th congress report

Swaziland: Monarchy cracks down on pro-democracy protests

Swazi regime’s ‘victory’ is a pyrrhic one

By Peter Kenworthy

(Earlier reports and statements below.)

April 14, 2011 — Pambazuka News — Swaziland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Lutfo Dlamini, called the brutally crushed peaceful protest or uprising against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy, that lets a small elite live in luxury while two thirds of the population live below the poverty line, a “failure” …

Read more : Links International

Thailand: Military makes threats against pro-democracy Red Shirts

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 12, 2011 — Red Thai Socialist — One year after Thailand’s military gunned down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in Bangkok and in the run-up to the promised first election since the 2006 coup, the military have been very active in increasing the obstacles to a free and fair election. They are seriously worried about the outcome of this election.

Naturally the Democrat Party government and its bosses in the army will not be stuffing ballot boxes or inflating the number of votes for the government. That would be too obvious and they would be quickly found out. But what they have been doing since the 2006 coup has been waging a war of attrition to gradually destroy Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party and the Peua Thai Party, which is its new incarnation. The courts and the election commission have been used in a biased manner to destroy the chances of a Red Shirt election victory. Bribery and threats have also been used to get politicians to change sides. Added to this we have blanket censorship and the use of the lèse majesté law against government opponents. The military have also used bloody violence and threats.

Read more : Links International

Egypt’s revolutionaries fight the army, and win: eyewitness report

[Egyptian revolutionaries burn army vehicles and denounce military rule in Tahrir – This video was shot on the morning of the 9th of April, after protesters successfully repelled an attack by the army on Tahrir Sq.]

[The following eyewitness report from Cairo’s Tahrir Square was provided by Australian journalist Austin Mackell and first appeared at his website, Moon Under Water. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.]

* * *

Story, video and photos by Austin G. Mackell, Cairo

April 9, 2011 — Moon Under Water — The ongoing revolution in Egypt has taken a dramatic turn, with protesters successfully resisting an assault by the army on Tahrir Square.

Yesterday (Friday, April 8) one of the largest protests in Egypt since the ouster of Mubarak took place. The protest itself represented an important break with previous mass demonstrations, in that Egypt’s armed forces, and in particular Field Marshal Tantawi – the head of the Supreme Military Council, were the focus of much of the anger displayed. There were even, among the protesters, some rebel army officers, who spoke out about corruption in the armed forces and called for an end to the rule of the Supreme Military Council, who have been in charge of the country since Mubarak’s resignation.

Read more : Links International

Pakistan, the “security state” available to the highest bidder

The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi & Muneeb Farooq – 18th April 2011)

Via Siasat.pk, Punjabrang.com, You Tube

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The Pakistan ultimatum

by Najam Sethi

Who could have imagined that a serving commander of the Pakistan Army in the Waziristan badlands would have consciously knocked the popular myth that American drone strikes in Fata are part of the problem and not part of the solution of terrorism? But that’s exactly what happened on March 8.

Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7th Div North Waziristan, did not mince words in his printed brief ‘“Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes” handed out to journalists from his command post in the area. He made two main points: (1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are “hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners,” while civilian casualties are “few”. (2) But by scaring local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies. Obviously, the first consequence is good and welcome as part of the national “solution” strategy and the second is problematic and should be minimised because it creates local “problems” of a tactical nature.

Gen Mehmud hasn’t been fired or reprimanded. This means he had the green signal from the GHQ to make his brief. His statement explains the consciously nurtured “duality” of official policy versus popular position on drone strikes and confirms the Wikileaks summary that both secret authorisation and popular criticism go hand in hand in Pakistan where both civilian and military leaders are on the same page.

To be sure, the tactical issues are not insignificant. The Pakistani military would dearly love to own some Predators or at least have a measure of command and control over them, so the demand is worth making publically all the time even though it routinely falls on deaf American ears – for obvious reasons, this devastating technology isn’t available to any state except Israel.

Similarly, the Pakistan military would like to have a critical advance say on the choice of drone targets so that “hardcore Al-Qaeda elements and foreigners” noted by Gen Ghayur are usefully targeted but some Pakistani “assets” among the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omer, Gulbudin Hekmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and Siraj Haqqani’s Taliban network are spared for long-term application in Afghanistan. Disagreement with the Americans over this particular issue compels military spokespersons to blow hot (in public) and cold (in front of the Americans) over all drone strikes.

Sometimes, when it gets uncomfortably hot under the collar, then General Ashfaq Kayani has to weigh in for public consumption – as he did recently when, the day after Raymond Davis was freed (courtesy ISI) amidst howls of protest from the media, a drone strike killed over 40 pro and anti-military tribesmen in a jirga for local conflict resolution in Fata.

Pakistan and America have some strategic interests in common, like eliminating Al-Qaeda from Waziristan. But there are disagreements about who is a “good” Taliban and who is not. This is not strange at all. The answer to this question will determine who will rule or share power in Afghanistan in the next five years and who will not. It will also have a bearing on Afghanistan’s strategic and tactical allies in the neighbourhood in the future – India or Pakistan. Therefore Pakistan’s military, which loves to hate India even as America is itching to embrace India, believes it cannot shrug away any openings or opportunities for leveraging its concerns and interests.

This perspective explains how the Raymond Davis case was handled (exploited) by the ISI and the import of DG-ISI’s recent dash to Washington for a meeting with the CIA chief. The ISI wants greater tactical input/output into CIA operations in Pakistan (to protect its strategic assets at home like the Lashkar-e-Tayba and the Haqqani network) even as it strategically allows the US to operate drones and run special agents freely from two bases in Pakistan where visas and landing rights are not an issue. Who knows how many Americans land or take off from these bases, how many carry weapons and what they do in their bulletproof SUVs when they cruise the length and breadth of Pakistan?

Under the circumstances, the DG-ISI’s “request” in Langley was about reposing “trust” in joint operations rather than any overt threat to deny existing facilities and rights. The US has responded with a drone strike in South Waziristan which is supposed to be strictly out of bounds. This signals its intention to remain focused on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda even as it “considers” Gen Pasha’s request for greater sensitivity to Pakistan’s needs and interests. No more, no less.

A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a pro-US establishment paper, sums up the American position bluntly. It is titled: The Pakistan Ultimatum: choose whose side it is on. “Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation… Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India… After 9/11 Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.

So it’s time for Pakistan’s military leaders to make up their minds and deal with its consequences. They must be upfront with America – because it’s a greatly beneficial “friend” to have and a deadly “enemy” to make – and honest with Pakistanis – because they’re not stupid and can eventually see through duplicity, as they did in the Raymond Davis case.

The military cannot forever hunt with America and run with an anti-American Pakistani public they have helped to create. They cannot instruct the DG-ISPR in Islamabad to convey the impression of tough talking in Langley while asking the GOC 7 Division in Waziristan to give a realistic brief to the media about the critical benefits of drone strikes amidst all the “myths and rumours” of their negativity. This double-dealing confuses the public, annoys a strategic partner, and discredits the military all round when it is exposed.

More significantly, it makes it difficult for Pakistanis to swallow the hard realities and the harder decisions necessary to change them for the sake of the state’s survival and the nation’s growth.

The duality or contradiction in the military’s private and public position vis a vis its relationship with civilians in Pakistan and its relationship with America is a direct consequence of two inter-related factors: First, the military’s threat perception of India’s rising military capability, and second, its fear of losing control over India-centred national security policy to the civilians who are keen to start the process of building permanent peace in the region, thereby diluting the military’s pre-eminent role in Pakistan’s polity.

The military’s scheme of things requires a permanent state of relative hostility towards, and distrust of, India. That is why its national security doctrine is fashioned on the premise that it is India’s military capacity to harm Pakistan rather than its intentions to build a permanent peace that matter.

Of course, this is a perfect and unending rationalisation of its economic and political hold over Pakistan since India’s conventional weaponry is forecast to grow by leaps and bounds on the basis of a robust economy and nationalist unity. But Pakistan’s limping economy is groaning under the burden of the arms race engendered by this philosophy and its civilian polity is fracturing in the grab for diminishing resources. That is why its civilians are increasingly plucking up the courage to stare the army in the face for their political, provincial and economic rights.

The military’s policy of renting itself out to America for its own sake and also complaining about it at the same time for the sake of the Pakistani public is clearly bankrupt. Isn’t it time, therefore, to consider a different paradigm, one in which conflict resolution and peace with India deliver an economic dividend that can be reaped by all in an environment free from destabilising extremism and war in the neighbourhood? In pursuit of an untenable philosophy, what use are dubious non-state “assets” that can become extreme liabilities in an impending national meltdown?

Under the circumstances, General Kayani could do worse than go on the national hookup and defend the truth of the briefing given by his subordinate Maj Gen Ghuyur Mehmud. He will be surprised how quickly a majority of Pakhtuns in particular and Pakistanis in general will back him to the hilt and help change the national paradigm. This is more our war than it is America’s because we live and die here and not far away across two great oceans.

The writer is Jang Group/Geo adviser on political affairs.

Courtesy: The News.com.pk

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=42073&Cat=9&dt=4/17/2011