Immy, tell us what you want – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt:

…. If the US stops drone attacks, can Imran Khan give the guarantee that the Taliban — ardent adherents of an anti-democratic political system — will stop coercing society into theocratic chaos? If he deliberates for a few moments on this prospect, he will be as silent as he has been about religious terrorism. So, does it mean that he is ready to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state? Probably yes, whether he knows/acknowledges it or not. In private conversations he has been an admirer of the tribal jirga system, which shows that the idealisation of tribal institutions has been part of his mindset.

Besides opposing the US intervention, his political campaigns have been criticising and exposing the ruling political elite. Again, we know what he does not want but we do not know what he wants the Pakistani socio-political system to be. Mysteriously, he has not been very vocal about the role of the Pakistani military in the disaster-ridden evolution of Pakistan. He has not articulated the genesis of the socio-political ills that have proliferated under military rule. ….

To read complete article → Wichaar

Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar says, government is aware where the Taliban and their institutions are located and there is no difficulty in meeting them

Cannot match India’s military might: Pak Defence Minister

PTI – Islamabad: Pakistan cannot afford to match the induction of modern weaponry by India, which possibly has a greater capacity to sustain a war, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has said.

“If we only try to match them (India) militarily and buy the sort of armament which they have, we will probably not be able to afford it,” Mukhtar said.

Explaining his contention, he noted that India’s economy is “six to seven times bigger than” Pakistan’s and its trade volumes were “five to six times greater”.

“The capacity of India and Pakistan to fight was for 20 to 22 days. Now India has inducted a lot of armaments, may be they can last for 45 days, we will not be able to do so,” Mukhtar said in an interview to BBC Urdu.

He was responding to a question on whether the projection of India as Pakistan’s greatest enemy was the root of the country’s problems.

Mukhtar noted that the two countries were taking steps to improve relations in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

“Slowly the process of meetings has started. People are going across the border. Nobody had ever thought they could walk suitcase in hand to Amritsar via Wagah but that is the reality now and it is happening,” he said.

This was happening, he said, “in spite of the fact that wars were fought, there were problems on the border and the Mumbai incident”.

Asked why an incident like the Mumbai attacks occurred whenever relations improved between the two countries, Mukhtar said: “It is very unfortunate that such incidents happen and they should not happen. But there are players who are behind these incidents.”

He did not give details about such elements but said some of them had been arrested and put on trial.

Matters would improve when “we decide that religion and politics should not be mixed together”, he said. “Let them go side by side. There should be no restrictions on religion which is between me and my God.”

Earlier this year, India and Pakistan revived their dialogue process, which was suspended for over two years in the wake of the Mumbai attacks which were carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mukhtar said Pakistani military wants a speedy probe into the failure to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country as well as the US raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader in Abbottabad on May 2.

“The military wants the work to be completed quickly so that responsibility can be fixed and they can be punished… A security lapse is something for which a person can be punished.

“I do not believe there was a security lapse in the Abbottabad case,” he said.

The Americans were “far too clever” and had superior intelligence and weaponry, he said.

“We do not have the resources to have been able to stop them,” he added.

Even before the commission set up to probe bin Laden’s presence had started working, some were condemning it, Mukhtar said.

With a “big incident like this, one cannot make a hasty decision” as there is a need to carry out a thorough analysis and prevent another such incident, he said.

The recommendations of the commission will be implemented. “Those responsible for negligence will have to answer, the government is capable of taking action,” he added.

Responding to a question about talks with the Taliban for finding a solution to the Afghan problem, Mukhtar said both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban will be included in the parleys.

“The government is aware where the Taliban and their institutions are located and there is no difficulty in meeting them. Talks will be held with all Taliban and the government knows where they live,” he said.

The Taliban travel to Saudi Arabia for talks and they have relations with Middle Eastern countries as well. They also have contacts with some religious bodies, he said, adding these contacts mature and reach to the state level.

Without an understanding with the Afghan people, government and Taliban, there can be no solution to the Afghan problem, the minister said.

Courtesy: → The Pioneer

More details: → BBC urdu

The Afghanistan scorecard – by Haider Nizamani

If Afghanistan has not become a modern functioning state after 10 years of American-led presence in the country, it should not be taken as a sign of the US’s defeat in our neighbourhood.

President Barack Obama has announced the drawdown plan whereby the US will gradually withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan. The announcement comes almost 10 years after the American-led forces landed in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Such is the nature of warfare now that the battle is seldom between easily identifiable entities nor are its results a cut and dried victory for one side and a defeat for the other. Truth, as the old cliché goes, still remains the first casualty of warfare and different sides will claim victory in the mess that is Afghanistan now.

Here I will mention and put into perspective a version of the truth that will come from the self-congratulating triumphal camp within Pakistan who will portray the Obama announcement as an American defeat in Afghanistan. They will tell you the following things: the US, like the Soviet Union, has been defeated in Afghanistan. The Soviets had to pull out the last of their soldiers in little over 10 years and the Americans have started their withdrawal in the same timeframe. No matter how superior American military power, it is no match for the soldiers of Islam. And, if you need any proof, this is the victory of the Islamists against a decadent west. The American decision to gradually withdraw and approve negotiations with the Taliban is a vindication of the Pakistani establishment’s long-held view. That Islamabad has always maintained that the Taliban are a political force in Afghanistan and there can be no stable Afghanistan without the Taliban having a significant say in its political system. Finally, that time is on the Taliban and Pakistani side and ultimately any future political setup in Kabul will have to accommodate Islamabad’s genuine interests.

Before you accept this version of the truth, keep the following in mind: 10 years of the US’s presence had an identifiable beginning and the drawdown announcement is part of an undefined endgame. The Americans have had failures in the process but they can claim some salient victories. Pakistani analysts need to keep those victories in mind when issuing verdicts about the American ‘defeat’ in Afghanistan. Pakistan has not gained much by its strategic choices of the past 10 years and its current policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds does not portend well for the country.

The US mounted the attack on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime because it considered the Taliban as the providers of safe havens to the forces that had attacked the US mainland in September 2001. It managed to have all its NATO allies be part of the US-led mission. Step one of the US’s policy was to punish the Taliban regime, and this they did quite successfully by dismantling it. The second step was to go after al Qaeda in this part of the world. This culminated in the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In the past 10 years, if one goes by the US’s account, it has greatly eliminated the al Qaeda’s leadership base in Afghanistan.

As a result, in these 10 years, there has not been any major attack on the US mainland, and the likelihood of any such attack coordinated from the Af-Pak corridor is quite slim. From the US’s vantage point, 10 years of engagement started with the successful dismantling of the Taliban regime, and now the killing of bin Laden will serve as the beginning of a long end.

In the meantime, American politicians tried to, simultaneously, put in place the state and nation building project in Afghanistan. Many sensible analysts had all along, and rightly so, maintained that it was a doomed project and not in the US’s best interests. If Afghanistan has not become a modern functioning state after 10 years of American-led presence in the country, it should not be taken as a sign of the US’s defeat in our neighbourhood.

What about Pakistan in all of this? It is at a crossroads. From now on, if it exclusively backs the Taliban in Afghanistan, it will be supporting forces that are determined to tear apart the fabric of the Pakistani state. If it wants to have a diverse political portfolio in Afghanistan then time may be fast running out. One hopes that the policymakers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, unlike the ghairat (honour) brigade of the small screen, do not read the Obama announcement as an unmitigated victory for Pakistan. Pakistan’s security policy choices have isolated the country and adopting a triumphal tone will not change that fact.

The writer teaches political science at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He can be reached at hnizamani@hotmail.com

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Christian Taliban – a doomed attempt to compete with Muslim Taliban

Fighting the Culture Wars With Hate, Violence and Even Bullets: Meet the Most Extreme of the Radical Christians

By Alex Henderson

From the Army of God to the Hutaree Militia to Gary North and his Christian reconstructionists, radical Christianity is alive and well in the United States.

If there is one name some residents of Amarillo, Texas wish they could forget, it’s Repent Amarillo. Based in that North Texas city, Repent Amarillo is a militant Christian fundamentalist group whose antics have ranged from staging a mock execution of Santa Claus by firing squad to posting a “spiritual warfare” map on its Web site that cited a Buddhist temple, an Islamic center, gay bars, strip clubs and sex shops as places of demonic activity.

Repent Amarillo is also infamous for mercilessly harassing a local swingers club called Route 66. Throughout 2009, members of Repent Amarillo made a point of showing up at Route 66’s events, where they would typically wear military fatigues, shout at Route 66 members through bullhorns and write down the license plate numbers of people attending the events. After finding out who the swingers were, Repent Amarillo’s members would find out where they worked and try to get them fired from their jobs (according to Route 66 coordinator Mac Mead, at least two members of the club lost their jobs because of Repent Amarillo). ….

Read more: → AlterNet