Obituary of a scandal : A first draft on Pakistan’s “Memogate”

By Myra MacDonald, Reuters

One of Pakistan’s most bizarre political dramas appears to be running out of steam.  What began as an unsigned memo seeking American help to rein in the military escalated into a full-blown power struggle between the civilian government and the army after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz accused then ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani of writing it. Haqqani, who denied involvement, resigned and returned to Pakistan to clear his name.  But that did nothing to stem a crisis in civilian-military relations which carried uncomfortable echoes of the 1990swhen government after government were dismissed in a decade which ended in a coup in 1999.

With Haqqani now living in virtual house arrest in Pakistan, the so-called “Memogate” affair is far from over – it remains subject to judicial and parliamentary enquiries. But after weeks of drama, from coup rumours to allegations the army had already sought Gulf backing to take over – both denied by the military – to unusually spirited criticism of the army by the government, to the more farcical circulation of an old video featuring Ijaz commenting on naked female wrestling – the media feeding frenzy triggered by the memo appears finally to be satiated. Ijaz, meanwhile, has said he is unwilling to travel to Pakistan to testify, citing fears for his safety, diminishing his utility as a star player.

Continue reading Obituary of a scandal : A first draft on Pakistan’s “Memogate”

Baaghi

Appeared as my weekly column BAAGHI in Daily Times on Monday January 23, 2012

Umpteen talk shows on 24/7 ‘breaking news’ media in Pakistan tell us almost daily how bad is democracy, how this democracy is worse than the dictatorships we have had, etc. TV presenters and reporters show little care for facts-based evidence to substantiate their claims. The act not only goes largely unchecked but brings more ‘ratings’ as a bonus. Who would like facts to come in the way of a good story?

The recently blown up issue of the president’s immunity clearly granted by the constitution is being debated in a furious media. Last week, Prime Minister Gilani was called to the Supreme Court by a bench hearing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case, to explain his inability to send a letter to the Swiss courts for opening the cases against President Zardari, failing which he might…

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Rs3.65bn for 2010 flood victims yet to be spent

By Bhagwandas

KARACHI: The Sindh government has not yet spent even a single penny from the Rs1.15 billion it has received from the Central Zakat Fund in addition to the Rs2.5 billion allocated by Sindh for the reconstruction of houses damaged or destroyed in the 2010 floods, said Sindh Zakat and Ushr Minister Sajid Jokhio on Monday. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

The supreme court on the army and ISI chiefs’ removal

By Nasim Zehra

Excerpt;

….. The prime minister is within his constitutional authority to remove the two chiefs, and therefore under what law would the Chief Justice of Pakistan interfere in the prime minister’s authority and ask for a no-removal guarantee by the latter? Giving such a guarantee would clearly restrict the constitutional powers given to the elected prime minister. Was the CJP overstepping his constitutional mandate? The CJP can re-interpret or use his own discretion, but not without undermining the Constitution.

Such an action by the CJP could set a dangerous precedent and could undermine the recent thawing of government-army tensions. The Chief Justice of Pakistan is humbly advised to re-trace his missteps on this matter. Meanwhile, the government would be ill-advised to give in writing that it will not remove the army and the ISI chiefs.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2012.

Pakistan Today – Pick-and-choose

Taking credit, avoiding blame

It was General Kayani’s strong warnings that prevented Nato strikes into Pakistani territory, claims the military. This is a cause for celebration. For it seems that the western forces in Afghanistan take heed to the Pakistani military chief’s warnings. This would, in turn, present a solution to the drone strikes, the latest of which we saw in the Datakhel area in North Waziristan on Monday. All the army chief has to do to stop them is to protest. Taking credit for one development means taking responsibility and blame for another.

There is, clearly, a lack of objective standards with which the military’s performance is to be evaluated. A pick-and-choose approach doesn’t hold water in any other government department, why should it here?

Much confusion persists, as always, on the role of the military. The military’s top spymaster, for instance, reportedly, met with former president Pervez Musharraf in Dubai the other day. Under what mandate did this meeting take place? The chief of an organisation that is tasked with counter-intelligence should not be going about liaising with political figures. If he can meet with the latter, then nothing much could be found wrong with the spy chief’s meeting with US national Mansoor Ijaz in London. It seems that the agency’s penchant for “political management” (as a former spy chief called it) has not ended.

Continue reading Pakistan Today – Pick-and-choose

How Pakistan [Army] helps the U.S. drone campaign

By Chris Allbritton, Reuters

ISLAMABAD – (Reuters) – The death of a senior al Qaeda leader in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal badlands, the first strike in almost two months, signaled that the U.S.-Pakistan intelligence partnership is still in operation despite political tensions.

The Jan 10 strike — and its follow-up two days later — were joint operations, a Pakistani security source based in the tribal areas told Reuters.

They made use of Pakistani “spotters” on the ground and demonstrated a level of coordination that both sides have sought to downplay since tensions erupted in January 2011 with the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in Lahore.

“Our working relationship is a bit different from our political relationship,” the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity. “It’s more productive.”

U.S. and Pakistani sources told Reuters that the target of the Jan 10 attack was Aslam Awan, a Pakistani national from Abbottabad, the town where Osama bin Laden was killed last May by a U.S. commando team.

They said he was targeted in a strike by a U.S.-operated drone directed at what news reports said was a compound near the town of Miranshah in the border province of North Waziristan.

That strike broke an undeclared eight-week hiatus in attacks by the armed, unmanned drones that patrol the tribal areas and are a key weapon in U.S. President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy.

The sources described Awan, also known by the nom-de-guerre Abdullah Khorasani, as a significant figure in the remaining core leadership of al Qaeda, which U.S. officials say has been sharply reduced by the drone campaign. Most of the drone attacks are conducted as part of a clandestine CIA operation.

The Pakistani source, who helped target Awan, could not confirm that he was killed, but the U.S. official said he was. European officials said Awan had spent time in London and had ties to British extremists before returning to Pakistan.

The source, who says he runs a network of spotters primarily in North and South Waziristan, described for the first time how U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on strikes works, with his Pakistani agents keeping close tabs on suspected militants and building a pattern of their movements and associations.

“We run a network of human intelligence sources,” he said. “Separately, we monitor their cell and satellite phones.

“Thirdly, we run joint monitoring operations with our U.S. and UK friends,” he added, noting that cooperation with British intelligence was also extensive.

Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officers, using their own sources, hash out a joint “priority of targets lists” in regular face-to-face meetings, he said.

“Al Qaeda is our top priority,” he said.

He declined to say where the meetings take place.

Once a target is identified and “marked,” his network coordinates with drone operators on the U.S. side. He said the United States bases drones outside Kabul, likely at Bagram airfield about 25 miles north of the capital.

From spotting to firing a missile “hardly takes about two to three hours,” he said.

DRONE STRIKES A SORE POINT WITH PAKISTAN

It was impossible to verify the source’s claims and American experts, who decline to discuss the drone program, say the Pakistanis’ cooperation has been less helpful in the past.

U.S. officials have complained that when information on drone strikes was shared with the Pakistanis beforehand, the targets were often tipped off, allowing them to escape.

Drone strikes have been a sore point with the public and Pakistani politicians, who describe them as violations of sovereignty that produce unacceptable civilian casualties.

The last strike before January had been on Nov 16, 10 days before 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in what NATO says was an inadvertent cross-border attack on a Pakistani border post.

That incident sent U.S.-Pakistan relations into the deepest crisis since Islamabad joined the U.S.-led war on militancy following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. On Thursday, Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said ties were “on hold” while Pakistan completes a review of the alliance.

The United States sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to wind down the war in Afghanistan, where U.S.-led NATO forces are battling a Taliban insurgency.

Some U.S. and Pakistani officials say that both sides are trying to improve ties. As part of this process, a U.S. official said, it is possible that some permanent changes could be made in the drone program which could slow the pace of attacks.

The security source said very few innocent people had been killed in the strikes. When a militant takes shelter in a house or compound which is then bombed, “the ones who are harboring him, they are equally responsible,” he said.

“When they stay at a host house, they (the hosts) obviously have sympathies for these guys.”

He denied that Pakistan helped target civilians.

“If … others say innocents have been targeted, it’s not true,” he said. “We never target civilians or innocents.”

The New America Foundation policy institute says that of 283 reported strikes from 2004 to Nov 16, 2011, between 1,717 and 2,680 people were killed. Between 293 and 471 were thought to be civilians — approximately 17 percent of those killed.

The Brookings Institution, however, says civilian deaths are high, reporting in 2009 that “for every militant killed, 10 or more civilians also died.” Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, also said in April 2011 that “the majority of victims are innocent civilians.”

Still, despite its public stance, Pakistan has quietly supported the drone program since Obama ramped up air strikes when he took office in 2009 and even asked for more flights.

According to a U.S. State Department cable published by anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, Pakistan’s chief of army staff General Ashfaq Kayani in February 2008 asked Admiral William J. Fallon, then-commander of U.S. Central Command, for increased surveillance and round-the-clock drone coverage over North and South Waziristan.

The security source said Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, also was supportive of the strikes, albeit privately.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Courtesy: Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/22/us-pakistan-drones-idUSTRE80L08G20120122

via » Siasat.pk

!!?? “No permission of high command needed to retaliate” – Kiyani !!??

In a special meeting Chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Pak Army is given orders to respond in a befitting manner to NATO force on any violation of territorial integrity. This decision of was taken in an extraordinary meeting of corpse commander two days ago after the NATO attack. 1. Army Chain of Command System has been dismissed for the time being to respond NATO. The officers on the front can take their decision as per demand of the situation. 2. The officers on front don’t need any orders to respond any attack on territorial integrity. 3. We should not forget the blood of Shaheeds.

Courtesy: DAWN News Tv

Via » Siasat.pk