Zero IQ Thirty

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Recent Hollywood blockbuster, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, was quite an experience. Though sharp in its production and direction and largely accurate in depicting the events that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, it went ballistic bad in depicting everyday life on the streets of Pakistan.

With millions of dollars at their disposal, I wonder why the makers of this film couldn’t hire even a most basic advisor to inform them that

1: Pakistanis speak Urdu, English and other regional languages and NOT Arabic; 2: Pakistani men do not go around wearing 17th and 18th century headgear in markets;

3: The only Urdu heard in the film is from a group of wild-eyed men protesting against an American diplomat, calling him ‘chor.’ Chor in Urdu means robber. And the protest rally was against US drone strikes. How did that make the diplomat a chor?

4: And how on earth was a green Mercedes packed with armed men parked only a few feet away from the US embassy in Islamabad? Haven’t the producers ever heard of an area called the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad? Even a squirrel these days has to run around for a permit to enter and climb trees in that particular area.

I can go on. The following is what I have learned …

Read more » Pakistan according to Hollywood

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/31/zero-iq-thirty/

The Plight of Sindh and Sindhis in Pakistan – the Facts and Figures

By: Ayaz Latif Palijo

Sindh has 6th largest Coal reserves in the world. Sindh contributes 71.6% of total Gas reserves of Pakistan. Sindh contributes 58.5% of total Petrol reserves of Pakistan. Sindh contributes 71% of total revenue of Pakistan. Sindh has 2 international standard ports of Pakistan.

YET

55% of population in Sindh lives below the poverty line. Sindh gets just 24.55% from the divisible pool. More than 30% people of Rural Sindh are unemployed. More than 68% of the girls in Sindh can not join schools. Sindh has worst roads, hospitals & schools in the entire South Asia.

WHY???

Via – Facebook

A Pakistani soldier’s perspective

Drop in the Ocean – On whose side is Allah?

by Gen. Shahid Aziz

Published in The Nation, December 30, 2012.

Half-cocked measures never work. Public sentiments are echoed in slogans like ‘drone attacks must end’, ‘stop supporting Baloch separatism’, ‘Black Water and the likes must end terrorism in Pakistan’, ‘stop interfering in our domestic affairs’. But these are mere public appeasement proclamations, made in a manner not to offend our masters. The people, however, know that nothing short of a total breakaway from the US will end our plight. Half-cocked measures never work. And we cannot breakaway unless the current political order is replaced with something more dynamic. They have permeated to the very roots of this system and will control any change within it. This political carousel, irrespective of new players, will continue to remain compliant to US objectives. For any positive outcome, these shackles have to be entirely removed and a new citizen friendly order created; adjustments to fit ankle size will not reduce the pain.

Continue reading A Pakistani soldier’s perspective

50 Most Widely Spoken Languages – Sindhi language was also on International RADAR screen even in 1996

In 1996, Sindhi was the 50th widely spoken language in the world. Very useful and impressive information. More than 20 million persons spoke Sindhi in 1996. It is about the same number of people as those who spoke Dutch, Thai and Yoruba. Sindhi language deserves to be preserved and developed. Just as Sindhi people deserve to be more developed and more prosperous.

More » http://www.photius.com/rankings/languages2.html

via – Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 28 Jan 2013.

Pakistan: the land of irony

By: Luavut Zahid

All Pakistanis are equal, but some Pakistanis are more equal than others,especially if they’re Muslims

Literary folk would have a field day explaining the stuff that a good irony is made of, if they could see the potential that Pakistan has as the poster child for all that is ironical. The nation that was created to protect the rights of a minority i.e., the Muslims in India, but has some of the worst statistical data to its name for crimes against marginalised groups (specialising in the persecution and demolition of minority rights).

Adding to the pretty paradox that is Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed (amongst others) has now offered Shahrukh Khan – not a mistreated common man, but a Bollywood giant – refuge from his harsh life in India. He’s looked into the biggest and most comfortable spots in his dust trodden and bug infested heart and opened his arms to Khan, promising comfort, security and respect. Hafiz is joined by a number of Pakistanis chanting their alhamdullilahs and astagfirullahs in Khan’s favour. But before Khan can actually make a decision on whether or not he wants to live in Pakistan he will first have to figure out just what kind of a Muslim he is. And while in India his biggest problem is being a Muslim, within Pakistan he will have to declare what sect he’s from – being a Muslim in Pakistan is no small affair. It would be interesting to see who protects him from people like Hafiz Saeed if he declares he’s Shia or Ahmedi.

Continue reading Pakistan: the land of irony

With Timbuktu Retaken, France Signals It Plans to Pull Back in Mali

By LYDIA POLGREEN and SCOTT SAYARE

SEGOU, Mali — French paratroopers arrived in the ancient desert oasis of Timbuktu on Monday, securing its airport and main roads as thousands of residents poured out of its narrow, mud-walled streets to greet French and Malian troops, waving the two countries’ flags, with whoops, cheers and shouts.

“Timbuktu has fallen,” said the city’s mayor, Halle Ousmane Cissé, in a telephone interview from the capital, Bamako, where he has been in exile since the Islamist militants took over the city 10 months ago. He said he planned to return to his city on Tuesday.

The rapid advance to Timbuktu, a day after French and African troops took firm control of the former rebel stronghold of Gao, may spell the beginning of the end of France’s major involvement in the conflict here.

The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was a little more cautious than the mayor in his assessment of the situation in Timbuktu on Monday evening ….

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/world/africa/mali-timbuktu-france-britain.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Indians, Pakistanis spread ‘peace-mongering’ at global vigil

New York: Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, people from both nations settled in the US came together here to spread the message of “peace-mongering” at a ‘global peace vigil’ where they appealed to governments to engage in dialogue to resolve disputes.

The ‘India-Pakistan Peace Now Global Vigil’ was held yesterday across cities including Boston, Karachi, Lahore, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Toronto and Washington.

In New York, the vigil was held at Union Square near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and was attended by people of Indian and Pakistani origin, who stressed on the message of “peace-mongering instead of war-mongering.”

People participating in the vigil called for the need to ratchet down tension between India and Pakistan and “toning down the war hype” in the aftermath of the killing of soldiers along the Line of Control earlier this month.

People held banners that read, ‘Hope for peace’, ‘Down with war-hype’, ‘India-Pakistan friends across LoC’ and ‘Stay the peace course.’

“It makes no sense for India and Pakistan to have the level of tension we have now. A friendlier neighbourhood would be good for both countries. It does no good for Pakistan to have tension with a neighbour like India and for India to have an unstable neighbour in Pakistan,” organiser of the vigil here Ibrahim Sajid Malick said.

Beena Sarwar, a journalist from Pakistan based in Cambridge and one of the organisers of the vigil in Boston, said people from both nations have felt a “disconnect” between the “media hype” and at the people to people level over the tension between India and Pakistan.

Nearly 50 people participated in the event organised near Harvard University by the South Asia Centre, Alliance for Secular and Democratic South Asia, Harvard South Asian Association and Harvard Kennedy School South Asia Caucus.

A moment of silence was held for soldiers killed on both sides of the LoC as people called for an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” dialogue process between the two nations.

Sarwar said among messages that people sought to spread through the vigil was that it is time that the governments and armies of both nations listened to the voice of the people rather than trying to lead the people into war mongering.

People do not want war,” she said.

Continue reading Indians, Pakistanis spread ‘peace-mongering’ at global vigil

India: ‘Sindhi should be included as subject in competitive exams’

India: Chhattisgarh: Thanking Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh for according him with status equivalent to a State Minister, Chhattisgarh Sindhi Sahitya Academy President Murlidhar Makhija has requested the State Government to include Sindhi language as one of the subjects for the competitive examinations including Public Service Commission (PSC).

Addressing a press conference at Raipur Press Club, Makhija informed that Sindhi language has been approved by the constitution of India in schedule 8 and it allows the candidate to compete for IAS, PCS and other exams in Sindhi as well. Therefore, he proposed the Chief Minister to include the subject in syllabus of PSC exams too. He also requested State Education Minister Brijmohan Agrawal to include Sindhi as an optional paper in Chhattisgarh Madhyamik Shiksha Mandal so that students would have an opportunity to learn the language.During the conference, Makhija expressed his concern for the great personalities from Sindhi society like Vir Shaheed Hemu Kaladi, Sant Kavar Ram, Sai Jhulelal and Maharaja Dahirsen.

Courtesy: Daily Pioneer
http://www.dailypioneer.com/state-editions/raipur/123176-sindhi-should-be-included-as-subject-in-competitive-exams-.html

A new Human Rights organization – RightsNow Pakistan

By Khalid Hashmani

A new Human Rights organization called RightsNow Pakistan http://www.rightsnowpk.org/home/ . It appears to have the right focus with a young and dynamic leadership and Board of Governors. It’s web site is one of the best that I have seen among Pakistan’s human rights organizations. It is indeed a great development for Sindh Rights and an encouraging sign for downtrodden people if the information provided at the web site is substantially factual and and if their determination is as strong as pledged there.

More » RightNow Pakistan

Pakistan still global jihad hub

By

PESHAWAR: Pakistan is still a major destination for radicalised Muslims bent on a life of jihad, despite hundreds of US drone strikes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the fracturing of Al-Qaeda.

New battlegrounds have sprung up in Africa and the Middle East, but the number of foreign recruits smuggled into the northwestern tribal belt is increasing and they come from more diverse countries.

Since the 1980s “jihad” to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Muslim fighters from all over the world have lived and trained on the Afghan-Pakistan border, moulded into Al-Qaeda and a host of spin-off militant networks.

After US-led forces in late 2001 evicted the Taliban in Kabul for sheltering Al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban fled across the border into Pakistan.

But Washington and Nato will end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and these days the Taliban say their foreign allies are drawn to other conflicts, despite their support networks in a region outside direct government control.

“Al-Qaeda is shifting its focus to Syria, Libya, Iraq or Mali,” one member of the Afghan Taliban told AFP on condition of anonymity in northwest Pakistan.

Local officials estimate the number of Arab fighters has fallen by more than a half or two thirds in the last 10 years, to below 1,000.

In the last two years, some Al-Qaeda Arabs, particularly Libyans and Syrians, left to take part in the civil war in Syria and the violent uprising that overthrew Libya’s dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.

Others migrated to Iraq in 2003, and others to Somalia and Yemen.

But Saifullah Khan Mehsud, executive director of the Fata Research Center, a think-tank focused on the tribal belt, says uprisings in the Middle East have had a minimal effect on the Arab presence in Pakistan.

“Arab fighters are not leaving in big numbers,” he told AFP. “They have been there for 30 years and it continues,” he added.

The number of fighters from other countries is also rising, say witnesses in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan — the district with the largest concentration of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

“The overall number of foreign jihadis has increased in the last two years. Every week we see new faces,” says one regular visitor.

There could be around 2,000 to 3,500 foreign fighters in the border areas from around 30 different countries. During the 1980s, the number was also estimated to have been several thousand.

More nationalities, same problems

Most of the current crop are Turkmens and Uzbeks, numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters according to local officials, who have fled authoritarian secular regimes in their home countries to set up their own groups.

The Islamic Jihad Union, which splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is based in Pakistan’s border areas. It is committed to toppling the government in Uzbekistan, and fights alongside insurgents in Afghanistan.

It has also plotted an attack in Germany, which was foiled.

US officials say covert drone strikes have played a huge role in destroying training camps and disrupting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 362 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since 2004 — 310 of them since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Although North Waziristan locals say the strikes kill more Taliban than Al-Qaeda operatives, they have condemned foreign fighters to a life underground.

“They are low profile, they dress like locals, they avoid big meetings and above all they move all the time,” a local journalist told AFP.

Mehsud says that foreigners are coming from a more diverse number of countries than in years past.

“A few months ago, we even welcomed some (two or three) people from Fiji for the first time!” says the Taliban member who spoke with AFP.

“There are more nationalities because they face the same problems. They tell us that they feel left aside by capitalism and discriminated by unfair laws, like the Swiss one on minarets or the French one on hijabs,” he adds.

Local and Western officials say the number of Western militants have fallen to dozens compared to the several hundreds of a few years ago.

A Canadian, who uses the name Mohammad Ibrahim, told AFP that he had been in Pakistan for three years but was now preparing to leave to wage jihad at home.

“Foreigners are now afraid to come to Pakistan because of the drone strikes,” he says, putting the number of his compatriots at 14, compared to “60 to 85 three years ago”.

A mechanical engineer by training, he says he works in “technical and logistic affairs” but does not elaborate further.

“I often met British, Spanish, Italians, Algerians and Germans. But now…our movements have been limited because of the drone strikes,” he says.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/27/pakistan-still-global-jihad-hub/

China Industrial Companies’ Profits Climb a Fourth Month

By Bloomberg News

Chinese industrial companies’ profits rose for a fourth month in December, adding to signs the country’s economic rebound is gaining momentum.

Net income increased 17.3 percent from a year earlier to 895 billion yuan ($144 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, after a 22.8 percent jump in November. Earnings for the full year gained 5.3 percent.

Industrial profits may rise by an average 30 percent this year as the world’s second-biggest economy recovers from a seven-quarter slowdown, businesses start restocking and export demand improves, Standard Chartered Plc forecasts. Expansion in gross domestic product may accelerate to 8.1 percent this year from 7.8 percent in 2012, according to the median of 44 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey this month. …

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-27/china-industrial-companies-profits-climb-a-fourth-month.html

Beheading soldiers is not a Pakistani monopoly. Karan Thapar in the Hindustan Times when the Indian Army too beheaded Pakistan soldiers and displayed their heads as trophies.

The lines of control

By Karan Thapar

The beheading of an Indian soldier on the LoC and the mutilation of another were undoubtedly unacceptable and unpardonable. This was barbaric behaviour. The anger and revulsion it’s provoked is understandable. There’s no denying that. However, there’s one question we need to ask but mainly failed to raise. Have we ever been guilty of similar behaviour ourselves?

From what I can tell the answer seems to be yes. On the 10th, The Hindu reported that last year, during a skirmish at Karnah, “Indian Special Forces responded by attacking a Pakistani forward post, killing several soldiers, and by the account of one military official which The Hindu could not corroborate independently, beheaded two.”

What makes this claim credible is that it’s reported by military sources who not only ought to know but would not denigrate the reputation of Indian soldiers.

Alas, there’s more evidence. This time from eye-witnesses.

In her ‘Confessions of a War Reporter’, published in June 2001 by Himal, a well-known Nepalese magazine, Barkha Dutt recounted how she witnessed a decapitated Pakistani soldier’s head at Kargil. This is what she wrote: “I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right … “Look again,” said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw. It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. “The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,” said the colonel, softly, but proudly.”

Harinder Baweja, the editor (Investigation) of this paper, witnessed something similar. This is the account from her book A Soldier’s Diary, Kargil — The Inside Story: “The experiences of 18 Garhwal show another side of the war … one of them took out his knife and slit the head of a Pakistani soldier in one stroke. The head was sent to Brigade Headquarters at Drass and pinned to a tree trunk … the enemy head, a grisly trophy, became an exhibition piece. Major General Puri came down from Mughalpura to see it. Other officers dropped in to Brigade Headquarters to take a look. So did some journalists … it was there pinned on the tree for anyone who could bear to look at it.”

Continue reading Beheading soldiers is not a Pakistani monopoly. Karan Thapar in the Hindustan Times when the Indian Army too beheaded Pakistan soldiers and displayed their heads as trophies.

Japan Keeps Its Cool – Why Tokyo’s New Government Is More Pragmatic Than Hawkish

By J. Berkshire Miller and Takashi Yokota

Japan’s recent territorial tussles with China and South Korea and the election of the conservative Shinzo Abe as prime minister have the world worrying that the country is taking a hawkish turn. In practice, however, Tokyo’s new government will toe a moderate line and concentrate on strengthening its diplomatic ties. ….

Read more » Foreign Affairs
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138770/j-berkshire-miller-and-takashi-yokota/japan-keeps-its-cool?cid=soc-twitter-in-snapshots-japan_keeps_its_cool-012213

Pakistan – a failed state on a tinderbox

By Joel Brinkley

Distracted by the deadly violence in Mali and Algeria, no one seems to be paying adequate attention to the tragicomedy under way in Pakistan.

This matters because events of the last several weeks demonstrate without equivocation that Pakistan is an utterly failed state – but one that possesses nuclear weapons. The country is tumbling down the abyss. Where else could a fundamentalist Muslim cleric who lives in Canada draw tens of thousands of fans to a rally calling for dissolution of the government – speaking from inside a shipping container with a bulletproof window?

That’s just one in a litany of absurdities going on there.

At the same time comes the latest round of unresolvable acrimony between President Asif Ali Zardari and the country’s Supreme Court, which has been trying to bring him down for years.

Courtesy: San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/brinkley/article/Pakistan-a-failed-state-on-a-tinderbox-4224701.php#ixzz2JBWx9ixN

‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Our Little Worlds

By Saroop Ijaz

In a recent appallingly bad Hollywood movie, Pakistanis are shown conversing in Arabic, you know, because that is what ‘brown Muslim’ people speak. Rudyard Kipling, whose death anniversary passed a few days ago, has certainly not been forgotten. The movie is thoroughly unwatchable for multiple reasons. Yet, it does show the liberties that people will take with societies that they do not know or do not care enough to know. The film-makers did not need in depth research on the ground to know that Arabic is not the language of everyday chit-chat in Pakistan or Abbottabad is not exactly a 45-minute drive from Islamabad. (Although, on the language question, watching people dressed in Arab clothing and riding on camels on January 25, the particularly gullible can perhaps be cut some slack.) Basic Google search would have unravelled the mystery. Also, it shows that there are not many Pakistanis working in Hollywood. It is patronising and insulting when people make grossly inaccurate, generalised observations about us. Yet, it does not stop us from doing the same.

Continue reading ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Losing my religion for equality – By Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

Continue reading Losing my religion for equality – By Jimmy Carter

A Wake up Call for Secular India

Shahrukh Khan exposes Indian secularism

Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan has exposed so-called secular face of world largest democracy: India, expressing his agony he is facing for being born as a Muslim.

SRK wrote an article titled Being a Khan for Outlook Turning Points magazine.

Khan said in the article many politicians asked him to go back to his native homeland: Pakistan, after 9/11 incident.

“I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India”.

“There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation (Pakistan) rather than my own country – this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my ‘original’ homeland.”

“I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-India and pan-religious) ones – Aryan and Suhana,” Shahrukh Khan said.

“The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can’t really escape it.

Khan said that he pronounced names of his children with his epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquired. “I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future,” said Khan.

Khan said that he was pressed to make the film “My Name is Khan” to prove a point after being repeatedly detained in US airports because of his last name.

He said he was grilled at the airport for hours about his last name when he was going to promote the film in America for the first time.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/26/news/entertainment/shahrukh-khan-exposes-indian-secularism/

Talking to Radio Pakistan, Asma Jahangir said it makes no sense if only judges have to appoint judges

Prominent jurists give expert opinion on Judicial Commission for appointment of judges

They were speaking in Radio Pakistan’s programme ‘Naey Ufaq’‚ which was aired on Saturday night.

Prominent jurists have opined that composition of the Judicial Commission for appointment of judges was not complete and therefore‚ appointments so made are open to question.

Taking part in Radio Pakistan’s programme ‘Naey Ufaq’‚ on Saturday night‚ former Law Minister and senior jurist Khalid Ranjha said there would be nothing wrong with the proceedings of the Commission if someone from the existing members does not attend its meeting. However‚ as Pakistan Bar Council has not as yet nominated its member to the Commission‚ therefore‚ appointments done by it would not be in line with the spirit of the Constitution.

Another senior legal brain Latif Afridi also subscribed to this point of view and said an incomplete Commission should not conduct its proceedings for appointment of judges.

Former President of Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jehangir said input from the legal community should also be included while making nominations for appointment of judges. She said it makes no sense if only judges have to appoint judges as the process may also result induction of people with questionable competence or background. ….

Courtesy: http://www.radio.gov.pk/newsdetail-36946

Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

Militant clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32

By: Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: An intense gun-battle erupted between two banned militant groups in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley on Friday, with at least 32 militants so far killed in the clash.

Intelligence officials said the gun-battle started late Thursday between the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and rival group Ansarul Islam (AI) in Tirah Valley’s Maidan village. The dead included 23 Ansar fighters and nine TTP militants, while several others were also injured.

Officials said the death toll was likely to increase as the fighting had not yet ended.

Speaking to a Dawn.com reporter, Sadat Afridi, a spokesman for the banned Ansarul Islam group, claimed that they had captured over three TTP bases in the valley’s Maidan village, and that the fight was still on for a fourth base.

Afridi said that his group has vowed to flush out TTP militants from Tirah Valley as they “carry out attacks on mosques and public places, which is against Islam.”

Afridi said that they would not allow the TTP to continue “killing innocent Muslims in the name of religion.”

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and home to religious extremist organisations including the al Qaeda.

The remote Tirah valley holds strategic significance for militant groups. On one side, it shares a border with Afghanistan. On the other it leads to the plains of Bara, which connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within Fata. The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.

Continue reading Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

Mumbai: A month-long investigation by MiD DAY journalists has revealed a twisted form of human trafficking that involves rich Arabs, greedy Qazis, sham marriages, agents and girls lured into the flesh trade or those looking for a quick buck.

The modus operandi: set up a temporary or time-bound wedding to a rich Arab. The affluent Arab offers a negotiated amount for the services of a ‘wife’ during his stay in India. The price for the ‘booty’ varies from Rs. 15,000 to nearly a lakh for the 10-day marriage. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. While this may seem shocking to many, the women involved in this latest form of flesh trade are often willing participants.

The Arab and The Qazi

These predators have been perpetrating a blatant crime under the veneer of nikaah, abusing the Islamic rules of marriage. Abusing the sanctioned provision which allows a Muslim man to have four wives at a time, many old Arabs are not just marrying minors in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but marrying more than one minor in a single trip to the country.

The Pimp and The Victim

A healthy stream of women keep flowing into the city from all parts of the country to solicit the Arab clientele who have turned Mumbai into a sex haven. For as little asRs 2,000 per job, scores of women line up every evening hoping to catch the eye of the adulterous tourist.

Continue reading How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

IndoPakPeaceNOW Global Vigil Jan 27, 2013

Initiated by an Aman ki Asha supporter in New Delhi, this global event on Sunday, Jan. 27 is taking place in different cities at different times around the world. It invites Indians and Pakistanis and those who want peace between the two countries, to come together in their respective cities. The purpose of the vigils is to urge the governments to continue the dialogue, and not give in to the war hype being created by some sections of sections of society. The vigil statement is online at this link (text below)

Confirmed venues and times so far:

Bradford: 2-3 pm, Student Central, J.B. Priestly Library, University of Bradford, U.K.

Cambridge, MA: 4.30-5.30 pm, Harvard Square Pit (fb event link)

Islamabad: 6 pm, Press Club, F-6/4. Contact 0344-5469738 and 0300-9880397

Karachi: 5.30 pm, Karachi Press Club

Lahore: 6 pm, Lahore Press Club, Shimla Pihari (fb event link)

Los Angeles – 5 pm, in front of UCLA

Mumbai: 7 pm, Gateway of India

New Delhi: 5.30 pm, Gandhi Peace Foundation, email aaghazedosti@gmail.com

New York: 5 PM at Union Square near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue

Shahdadkot- 5 pm, Press Club

Toronto: 5 pm, 365 Bloor St. East, Toronto (outside Indian Consulate) (fb event link)

Washington DC: 6 pm, Chutney Restaurant, Springfield, VA

Kansas City: 5:30-7:30 at Kababesh Grill, Overland Park

Courtesy:  via Facebook

Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

By: Bruce Riedel

2013 will be a pivotal year in Pakistani history. National elections, turnover at the top military position and the denouement in the war in Afghanistan; all promise to make it a critical year for a country that is both, under siege by terrorism and the center of the global jihadist movement. The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.

Pakistan is a country in the midst of a long and painful crisis. According to the government, since 2001 45,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorism related violence, including 7,000 security personnel. Suicide bombings were unheard of before 9/11; there have been 300 since then. The country’s biggest city, Karachi, is a battlefield.

One measure of Pakistan’s instability is that the country now has between 300 and 500 private security firms, employing 3,00,000 armed guards, most run by ex-generals. The American intelligence community’s new global estimate rates Pakistan among the most likely states in the world to fail by 2030.

Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, appears on television and calls for the destruction of India frequently and jihad against America and Israel.

The head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar, shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, is probably hiding in a villa not much different than the one his predecessor was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbottabad until May 2011.

Pakistan also has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than Great Britain’s. The nukes are in the hands of the generals, the civilian government only has nominal control. President Asif Ali Zardari has only nominal influence over the ISI as well; indeed it has conspired for five years to get rid of him.

Against the odds, Zardari has survived.

By next fall, he will have served five years, becoming the first elected civilian leader to complete a full term in office and pass power to another elected government. It will be a major milestone for Pakistani democracy. He has served years in prison and lost his wife to the terrorists who besiege the nation. He has often been called a criminal by many, including his own family, and the national symbol of corruption.

Yet, as president, he presided over a major transfer of power from the Presidency to the Prime Minister’s Office, even the titular national command authority over the nukes, to ensure the country is more democratic and stable.

The parliamentary election in the spring will be a replay of every Pakistani election since 1988, pitting Nawaz Sharif’s PML against the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. Needless to say, many Pakistanis are sick of the same stale choices. But the odds favour the old parties. Both Sharif and Zardari are committed to cautiously improving relations with India, keeping open ties with America and trying to reform the Pakistani economy. Both will have troubled relations with the Army.

The Economist has tagged Sharif as likely to do best. If he returns to the Prime Minister’s job for a third time, it will be a remarkable turn in his own odyssey.

Sharif was removed from the office in 1999 in an illegal coup and barely escaped alive, to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. His decision to withdraw Pakistan’s troops behind the LOC, during the Kargil war, prompted his fall from power; it also may have saved the world from nuclear destruction. It was a brave move. I remember talking to him and his family in the White House the day after he made the decision to pull back, you could see in his eyes that he knew Musharraf would defame him; but he knew he was in the right.

But many Pakistanis want a new face to lead their country. Out of desperation some are turning to Imran Khan to save Pakistan. The ISI is probably helping his campaign behind the scenes to stir up trouble for the others. He is a long shot at best. He is much more anti-American, anti-drone and ready to make deals with the Taliban, to stop the terror at home. Yet, he understands well that Pakistan is a country urgently in need of new thinking.

Whoever wins will inherit an economy and government that is in deep trouble. Two-thirds of 185 million Pakistanis are under 30, and 40 million of the 70 million 5 to 19 years old are not in school. The youth bulge has yet to spike. Less than one million Pakistanis paid taxes last year. Most politicians don’t pay any taxes. Power blackouts are endemic. Clean water is increasingly scarce even as catastrophic floods are more common. Growth is 3%, too little to keep up with population demand.

So, it is no wonder that the generals prefer to have the civilians responsible for managing the unmanageable, while they guard their prerogatives and decide national security issues. As important as the coming elections will be, the far more important issue is who will be the next Chief of Army Staff.

The incumbent General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given an unprecedented three-year extension in 2010. He is the epitome of the Pakistani officer corps and the so-called ‘deep state’. Pervez Musharraf made him Director General of the ISI in 2004. It was on his watch that the Afghan Taliban recovered and regrouped in Quetta, Osama bin Laden built his hideout 800 yards outside Kayani’s alma mater the Kakul Military Academy in Abbottabad in 2005, and planning began for the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai. He was DG/ISI when David Headley, the American serving life for his role in the 2008 attack, began his reconnaissance trips to Mumbai to prepare the way for 26/11. Kayani probably authorized the funds for Headley’s cover and travel. He is the first DG/ISI to become COAS. His term expires in September, 2013.

The history of civilians choosing Chiefs of Army Staff in Pakistan is not encouraging.

Continue reading Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

Mujh Mein Hai Tu! – the common capital of India and Pakistan

By: Khuda Bux Abro

It was not just the land that was partitioned. Hearts, minds, behaviours and emotions had been partitioned long before so the final division could be made ‘smoothly’, and it went as smoothly as expected. The ground was pulled from underneath someone’s feet, while the sky was pulled away from another’s head! Millions of people neither belonged here nor there, only those who were to lead the new states remained. The new leaders had not only been involved in dividing the state but also dreamt of ruling the new countries in the name of religion and nationalism. A single announcement managed to create a border that cannot be seen anywhere except in books, files and maps.

It was as if a wall was erected in the courtyard of a large, lively house. Those who lived and played together would sulk one moment and reconcile with each other the next. Their hearts beat together as one. If they liked a certain tune, they all sang it together. If they got drunk, they danced in harmony with each other. Their souls were fragrant with the scent of the soil; their breaths were perfumed with the same culture. But the formation of the wall of hate and treachery neither divided nor affected their breaths, their heartbeats.

It doesn’t matter whether the leaders belong to this side of the wall or to that side. They have always sowed seeds of hatred within the divided hearts of their nation in order to prevent the demolition of the wall erected within their hearts and minds so that not only their rule would be established but their sustenance is guaranteed, as well as their luxuries.

Continue reading Mujh Mein Hai Tu! – the common capital of India and Pakistan

An Irish engagement with the Greek crisis

To the crucible: an Irish engagement with the Greek crisis and the Greek left

By Helena Sheehan

January 21, 2013 — Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal at the author’s suggestion and with her permission — A monumental drama is playing out before our eyes. It is a true Greek tragedy. The plot: A society is being pushed to its limits. The denouement is not yet determined, but survival is at stake and prospects are precarious. Greece is at the sharp end of a radical and risky experiment in how far accumulation by dispossession can go, how much expropriation can be endured, how far the state can be subordinated to the market. It is a global narrative, but the story is a few episodes ahead here.

Greece is the crucible.1 It is a caldron where concentrated forces are colliding in a process that will bring forth either a reconfiguration of capitalism or the dawn of its demise.

Salaries, pensions, public services are falling, while prices and taxes are rising. Massive asset stripping is underway. Water, power, ports, islands, public buildings are for sale. Unemployment, emigration and evictions have brought a sense of a society unraveling. Homeless people wander the streets and scavenge for food in bins or beg it from the plates of those eating in tavernas. If they are immigrants, they are terrorised. Those looking into a horizon without hope either drift into desolation or perform the ultimate decisive act of suicide. Some have done so in private spaces, while others have chosen public places to underline the political nature of their fate, as they jump from heights, set themselves on fire or shoot themselves. In April 2012, Dimitris Christoulas, a retired pharmacist, who felt he could no longer live a dignified life after his pension had been slashed, shot himself in front of parliament. His last words were: “I am not committing suicide. They are killing me.” He urged younger people to fight.

Continue reading An Irish engagement with the Greek crisis

Confessions of a war reporter

Confessions of a war reporter – June 2001

By Barkha Dutt

During the Kargil War, Barkha Dutt’s was a familiar face on the television screen, bringing live action on the Star News channel. But she was not telling us the complete story. Now she does.

I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right. Balanced on one knee, in a tiny alley behind the army’s administrative offices, I was peering through a hole in a corrugated tin sheet. At first glance, all I could see were some leaves. I looked harder and amidst all the green, there was a hint of black – it looked like a moustache. “Look again,” said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw.

It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. “The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,” said the colonel, softly, but proudly. Before I could react, the show was over. A faded gunny bag appeared from nowhere, shrouded the soldier’s face, the brown of the bag now merging indistinguishably with the green of the leaves. Minutes later, we walked past the same tree where the three soldiers who had earlier unveiled the victory trophy were standing. From the corner of his eye, the colonel exchanged a look of shard achievement, and we moved on. We were firmly in the war zone.

It’s been two years since Kargil, but even as some of the other details become fuzzy, this episode refuses to fade from either memory or conscience. A few months ago, I sat across a table with journalists from Pakistan and elsewhere in the region, and confessed I hadn’t reported that story, at least not while the war was still on. It had been no easy decision, but at that stage the outcome of the war was still uncertain. The country seemed gripped by a collective sense of tension and dread, and let’s face it – most of us were covering a war for the first time in our careers. Many of the decisions we would take over the next few weeks were tormented and uncertain. I asked my friend from Pakistan, listening to my anguish with empathy, what he would have done in my place? He replied, “Honestly, I don’t know.”

Continue reading Confessions of a war reporter

Indo-Pak peace: Pak orders release of all Indian fishermen

KARACHI – SINDH: Pakistan has ordered the release of all Indian fishermen imprisoned in the country. According to the Interior Ministry, all imprisoned fishermen in Pakistan will be released along with their ships, adding that the process will begin soon. …

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-84908-Pak-orders-release-of-all-Indian-fisherm

Bangladeshi cleric found guilty for war crimes

Bangladesh cleric Abul Kalam Azad sentenced to die for war crimes

A court in Bangladesh has sentenced a well-known Muslim cleric to death for crimes against humanity during the country’s 1971 independence war.

Abul Kalam Azad’s conviction is the first verdict handed down by the controversial tribunal. The cleric, a presenter of Islamic programmes on television, shot dead six Hindus and raped Hindu women during the war, prosecutors said.

He is thought to be in Pakistan and was found guilty in absentia. ….

Read more » BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21118998

John J. Pinto – When in Canada …

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

John J. Pinto, the Caucasian Canadian and Catholic scholar who for some reason became a citizen of Pakistan has reached the Canadian capital, Ottawa, with some 40 billion followers of his.

Speaking near the Canadian Parliament Hall, Pinto told the mega-ultra-epic-mammoth crowd that he had returned to Canada to get rid of its corrupt politicians, parties and political system and impose true democracy with the help of the country’s armed forces, judiciary and ice hockey team.

‘I won’t move from here until I achieve my goal,’ he promised. ‘I will turn Ottawa into Nazareth and send Ceasar and his evil men home even if they feed me to the lions!

Most Canadian politicians in the government and opposition have been critical of Pinto. They have accused him of staying in Pakistan as a Pakistani only to return to Canada on the instructions of those who want to derail Canada’s democracy, topple an elected parliament and replace it with a technocratic set-up backed by the military, judiciary and the country’s ice hockey squad.

‘Pinto is a former failed politician and a spiritual fraud,’ a government spokesman claimed. ‘We know who he is working for, and believe me, it’s not John the Baptist.’

Pinto refuted the claim: ‘I don’t want power,’ he shouted from behind his bullet-proof, water-proof, sound-proof, smoke-free, digital, 60-inch flat-screen altar. ‘I am ready to give my life for my country!’

Continue reading John J. Pinto – When in Canada …