Win the war not just the battle

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It seems that Pakistan is set on the path of becoming a country where all critical decisions will be either taken or influenced by the military, and the civilian leadership will merely fill in the blank or be the guinea pig to go after when someone is needed to blame. The security apparatus might as well be in charge since the combined leadership, irrespective of party affiliation and relative respectability, politely hummed and hawed and accepted military courts as fait accompli. It is almost humorous to think of parties who claim to have agreed to the solution after being promised that these courts will not be used against them, or that their use will be controlled. An even sadder fact is that barring the enlightened civil society, which understands the long-term impact of such developments, the bulk of civil society, or even the general public in certain parts of Pakistan, has a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude towards democracy, which they now consider to be of secondary importance. In the words of an acquaintance, “First, let’s have security and we will take care of democracy later.” The obvious problem with this system is that responsibility will be divided and one wouldn’t know who to blame.

Continue reading Win the war not just the battle

Egypt – Military dictatorship: More Civilians Sent to Egyptian Military Courts

Egypt: 5 Civilians Referred to Military Prosecution for Committing Acts of Violence

Cairo — Egypt’s top prosecutor referred on Tuesday five civilians to the military judiciary on charges related to committing acts of violence.

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat approved the decision of the Damietta Prosecutor General to refer the five defendants to the military prosecution. They are all believed to be supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Read more » AllAfrica
See more » http://allafrica.com/stories/201412310104.html

 

Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Pakistan has literally become a delusional country ...
Pakistan has literally become a delusional country …

By 

My country Pakistan is still reeling from the shock and disbelief due to the December 16 tragedy in which more than 130 children died. Over the years, Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism as countless people have lost their lives. But what happened on the December 16 was extremely dark and gory even by Pakistani standard.

And yet whatever happened on that fateful day is in many ways a result of our own faults. And in this journey towards mayhem, it is not just the Pakistani state but the general public also has played a prominent part.

Nothing will change until this narrative changes and our mindset which accommodates it changes. Pakistan has to realize that it is its own worst enemy.

What happened on December 16 or has been happening over the years is the direct consequence of using religion as a political tool to achieve some strategic objectives. For many years Pakistani state has used religious militant groups for achieving “strategic” objectives and in the process it has always taken it for granted that one cannot feed crocodiles and expect that they will only attack the “enemy”.

Although Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is different from Afghan Taliban — as the latter is often categorized as “good” Taliban — but the fact is that even if different, both have mutated from the same template. TTP just like Afghan Taliban is a militant organization which seeks motivation from religion and aims to implement a very strict form of religious code.

But state’s practice of supporting such groups is just one part of the story. The fact that public opinion has never been really against such groups is something which is even more troublesome. Over the years, Pakistani public has been in strange form of denial and has always considered militants such as the TTP as merely reacting to U.S. presence in Afghanistan and its policy of carrying drone attacks.

Much more than anything else, it is this mindset which is deeply problematic. Even when it became obvious that TTP was killing and even accepting responsibility, Pakistan’s response was of denial. Some kept on calling it propaganda against Taliban to defame them while others kept on giving apologetic defense to them by calling their inhuman atrocities as “reaction”.

Continue reading Pakistan Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Military courts

By Gul Bukhari

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

“Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

CPJ’s full report on the roots of impunity in Pakistan is a horrifying, heart-stopping indictment of primarily the military and its intelligence agencies. Political parties and governments, in particular the MQM, are not spared either, but the clear illustration of how intelligence agencies perpetrate atrocities and prevent justice through civilian law enforcement and courts is petrifying. The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

Yet, in response to the massacre of 140 children in the APC Peshawar attack, the most significant anti-terror measures announced by the Prime Minister, and acquiesced to by the rest of the parliamentary parties, is to cede ‘justice’ to the military and to lift the moratorium on death penalty for terrorists. Both were dictated by the military.

‘All day on Wednesday, according to a participant of the meeting held at the PM House, the military leadership stressed the need to set up military courts as the “(civilian) justice system had failed to deliver.” – front page of Dawn, December 25th. In light of the CPJ report, which merely acts to confirm what many of us have known, are military courts then the solution? Is the military the solution or part of the problem? The narrative being built for the justification of military courts is wrong: that the civilian judges and law enforcement agencies are too weak, inept, and cowardly to convict terrorists. All, I repeat all, terror groups, be they of the Taliban ilk (whom the military has for sometime turned against) or sectarian in nature like the SSP and LeJ, were formed by the military for its various domestic and foreign security policies. And the police’s and courts’ intimidation by the military intelligence agencies is in no small part responsible for the broken civilian justice system. One cannot exonerate the political elite for not trying to strengthen the policing and courts systems, but in the face of the powerful army, and with having to watch over their shoulders’ every moment for the next coup, one cannot blame them entirely either.

Continue reading Military courts

Misuse of military courts will not be allowed, vows Zardari

By Dawn.com

GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: Speaking at the Bhutto mausoleum to mark Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on Saturday, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari vowed that the misuse of military courts will not be allowed. He said the PPP will only accept military courts when it is proven that they are not being used politically

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1153491

A Pessimist Guide to the World in 2015

Excerpt: Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015.

Afghanistan/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

Taliban militants in the mountainous Pashtun-dominated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan link up with Islamic State. They make progress in their quest to take power in Kabul and Islamabad as the U.S. reduces its troop presence.

India/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

A terrorist attack occurs on the scale of Mumbai in 2008, when luxury hotels and a train station were attacked by a Pakistan-based militant group. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is pressured into a harsh response, triggering a crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Read more » Bloomberg
Learn more » http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-flash-points/?hootPostID=8ac47b59f9f297f5aa7664a1fc7b7a8a

 

Benazir Bhutto — The Muslim Leader Who Saw Jihadis Coming

By Former member of Pakistan’s parliament

Two years after being elected, the world’s first female Muslim prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, received intelligence that a man called Osama bin Laden had given orders to kill her. The year was 1990. Al-Qaeda had not yet officially been formed, but the organizers of global jihad had already determined that Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they launched their first modern jihad against the Soviet Union, would be crucial to their plans for restoring the medieval caliphate across the Muslim world.

Bhutto narrated the bin Laden threat to her life in the second edition of her book The Daughter of the East. In the first edition, she had spoken of threats to her life at the time of her first return to Pakistan from exile, in 1986, while the jihadist dictator General Zia-ul-Haq still ruled the country. Bhutto conveyed her concerns about Zia to U.S. officials then as she did about bin Laden four years later. But before 9/11, warnings about radical Islamists were not taken seriously.

Benazir Bhutto will be mourned on the anniversary of her assassination at her burial place in her family shrine in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Sindh and all over Pakistan. This year, with the turmoil, strife and violence spreading all over Muslim lands by the extremists, it would be worthwhile to pay attention to her words, experience and recommendations for fighting the jihadi extremists.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by the jihadis on December 27, 2007 after addressing a rally where she repeated her warnings about the Taliban and other extremist groups. Today, events such as the recent massacre of school children in Peshawar, reflect what Bhutto was warning against. Extremist Islamist ideologues opposed her because as a western-educated Muslim woman leader she symbolized all that the jihadis hate.

Bhutto was physically brave beyond comprehension. She had a commanding personality, was extremely intelligent and well read. Her charisma, combined with her compassion towards the poor of Pakistan, helped her win elections in a conservative Muslim majority country. Zia-ul-Haq, the brutal military dictator, rued that he had not “finished her off” along with her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — a former president and prime minister of Pakistan executed by Zia after a military coup.

Continue reading Benazir Bhutto — The Muslim Leader Who Saw Jihadis Coming

Why ideas – not labor or capital – will decide countries’ economic success in the future

New World Order

Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy

By Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee, and Michael Spence

Recent advances in technology have created an increasingly unified global marketplace for labor and capital. The ability of both to flow to their highest-value uses, regardless of their location, is equalizing their prices across the globe. In recent years, this broad factor-price equalization has benefited nations with abundant low-cost labor and those with access to cheap capital. Some have argued that the current era of rapid technological progress serves labor, and some have argued that it serves capital. What both camps have slighted is the fact that technology is not only integrating existing sources of labor and capital but also creating new ones.

Machines are substituting for more types of human labor than ever before. As they replicate themselves, they are also creating more capital. This means that the real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.

The distribution of income for this creative class typically takes the form of a power law, with a small number of winners capturing most of the rewards and a long tail consisting of the rest of the participants. So in the future, ideas will be the real scarce inputs in the world — scarcer than both labor and capital — and the few who provide good ideas will reap huge rewards. Assuring an acceptable standard of living for the rest and building inclusive economies and societies will become increasingly important challenges in the years to come.

LABOR PAINS

Turn over your iPhone and you can read an eight-word business plan that has served Apple well: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” With a market capitalization of over $500 billion, Apple has become the most valuable company in the world. Variants of this strategy have worked not only for Apple and other large global enterprises but also for medium-sized firms and even “micro-multinationals.” More and more companies have been riding the two great forces of our era — technology and globalization — to profits.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
Learn more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141531/erik-brynjolfsson-andrew-mcafee-and-michael-spence/new-world-order

 

Assam killings: ‘I saw my two sisters, brother killed… I ran into the jungle’

By: Express News Service Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Sonajuli-phulbari (sonitpur)

Eighteen-year-old Nilima Baskey was picking up the clothes put out for drying when she heard gunshots in her neighbour’s house. Even as she tried to find out what was happening, she saw at least seven uniformed men walk into the courtyard of her house, opening fire in all directions.

“I saw my two sisters and a brother killed on the spot. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, who were sitting on the verandah, were also hit. I somehow managed to run away into the jungle. I ran until I reached the next village. As I was describing what had happened, I continued to hear gunshots, accompanied by shouting and crying, from my village,” said Baskey.

Besides her three siblings — seven-year-old twins Sita and Ram and two-year-old Suki — Baskey also lost her mother, Dalham Hasda, and cousins Luski Tudu and Kalyani Tudu. “Today, I came to know that Baha Baskey, my mother’s sister, and her two children were also killed,” she said.

Baskey is among the over 2,000 Adivasis who have taken shelter at the Tinisuti High School, about 10 km from Sonajuli. While she managed to escape, the others were not so lucky. As many as 31 people from her village were killed in the attack on Tuesday evening. Among the victims were 15 children, two of them below two years of age.

Charan Kiskoo, 60, lost four family members — a daughter and three grandchildren. “Luckily, my wife Menaka had gone to visit a relative in another village. But what will she remain alive for…. we have lost our daughter and grandchildren,” said Kiskoo, holding a spear and a dao (machete) with which he hopes to protect himself if the attackers come again.

The militants are reported to have come from the north-west direction, close to the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh inter-state border. Both Kiskoo and Baskey said there were 20-30 militants.

“They were wearing army uniform, so people first thought they were army jawans,” said Lakhinath Hembrom, another survivor.

Meanwhile, the protests against the attacks took a violent turn on Wednesday as mobs burnt houses belonging to both Bodo and Adivasi families in the area. While houses belonging to Bodos of Balidanga — who had fled last evening after the attack on the neighbouring Adivasi village — were first set on fire this morning, smoke and fire soon rose from Sonajuli-Phulbari and other Adivasi villages by afternoon.

Read more » The Indian Express

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/i-saw-my-two-sisters-brother-killed-i-ran-into-the-jungle/#sthash.d22ZtLD5.dpuf

Making of Twenty First Century State

States and wars are an outcome of each other. A state has justified legitimacy over the use of violence to maintain peace and order in a justice oriented manner for the healthy regulation of socio-economic activities.

By Zulfiqar Shah

Wars are the history (or ‘his-story’ in terms of feminism) of our generations. The notion of a peaceful, harmonious, war-free, non-racists, non-extremists and non-chauvinistic world however has to find an appropriate path for the materialization not through the slogans but essentially through the real, practical and pragmatic transformations and reforms within and around the human society, and essentially within the state apparatus of the countries.
Juxtaposing to the theoretical aspects of anarchism, the time has not yet come for human society to cede from the institution of the state, because it will ultimately happen through the evolutionary process of transformation in and around the human society and the societal institutions. Therefore, a new world would be impossible without certain sets of reforms within existing state-apparatus in the various human societies. This ultimately would change and re-determine the nature and health of society-state relation and interaction.
Unmaking of warsWars, in the form of feuds, historically were the business of collective communities in the pre-class formation of society. Later on, this role was undertaken by the warlords of the fiefdoms andtribes. Due to industrialization and urbanization of human society on the broader scale, wars became a fundamental characteristic of the early nation-states. Today, war-making is no doubt a sole realm of the state authorities. The decisions of war-making todayare takenin accordance with the proclaimed national, regional, continental and international interests.In the political course of contemporary socio-economic history, a twofold set of stakeholders has emerged around the world that have a decisive say in the war-making process – the inter-dependence of weapon and natural resources industry, and narrowly limited states owned think tank groups.

The contours of this twofold phenomenon are basically the practices of a non-representative process of determining and defining the national interests, and the unsustainable strategies to attain these interests. An unsustainable strategy is a prolonged international engagement in a region or country which does not have appropriate exist strategy; has lesser or no human damages; minimum or no specific impacts on the ecology; and the indigenous population friendly framework. The broader loopholes in the strategic engagements, war-making around the world and unsustainable strategies for attaining interests have given birth today to a kind of global anarchy.

There can be two important aspects of possible global transformation in the context of state-society relations, and particularly with reference to the broader world peace. The world powers and the countries that have heavy-weapon industry may consider the investment and industrial infrastructure transformation to certain extent from weapon industries into soft defense technology so that at least niche of the trade and market demand factors behind the war-making may be minimized.

Since the developing countries are gradually becoming self-reliant in the basic heavy weapon industries, which is mostly owned by the states in the developing countries, the weapon industry into the developed world would ultimately shirk in upcoming decades due to natural reduction in the demand.

Read more » MeriNews

– See more at: http://www.merinews.com/article/making-of-twenty-first-century-state/15902936.shtml#sthash.x55Whqub.dpuf

Where the hell is the truth?

It’s been almost two weeks since the dastardly massacre of schoolchildren, mainly from military families, at the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar located right next to the Defence Officer’s colony and no more than a kilometre from the corps commander’s house and yet no inquiry has been held, no one has been punished these many days later.

Instead, talking heads on our television channels are finding fault with the federal government and whatever there is of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta); and generally going about as we Pakistanis go about after an event like the Peshawar atrocity: obfuscating; attempting to sweep the dirt that surrounds us under the, as I call it, ‘rather humongous and by now very filthy carpet’; and sticking our heads in the sand much like ostriches.

When public anger rises and all of the above fails, the various agencies responsible for whatever calamity has occurred start to lie and attempt to shovel the blame on to the next office or agency instead of standing up and taking the blame squarely and making sure such a catastrophe is never repeated.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/812219/where-the-hell-is-the-truth/

Tunisia’s “People Power” Rejects Islamist Party in Upset Vote

By Global Information Network

NEW YORK, Dec 22 2014 (IPS) – (GIN) – Tunisians, the first people to launch an “Arab Spring” revolution that ousted a despot, returned to power a member of the ousted regime. They cast ballots on Sunday in the nation’s first free presidential poll – and the outcome surprised many.

Veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi of the secular Call for Tunisia (“Nidaa Tounes”) party received 55% of the vote in Sunday’s run-off. His opponent, Moncef Marzouki, managed to win only 44% of the vote. Marzouki, 67, a former exile, has conceded defeat and congratulated Essebsi on Facebook.

The 88 year old Essebsi served under the one-party rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who fled the country in January 2011 after 23 years of dictatorial rule.

“I dedicate my victory to the martyrs of Tunisia,” Essebsi said on a TV interview. “I thank Marzouki, and now we should work together without excluding anyone.”

The vote seemed to send a message that moderate-minded Tunisians did not want a religious regime along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Ennahda party, an Islamist group which held power briefly on the abdication of Pres. Ben Ali, was disappointed with the election results but congratulated Essebsi on his victory and pledged to work with him.

Read more » IPS
Learn more »http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/12/tunisias-people-power-rejects-islamist-party-in-upset-vote/

Leaving the West Behind – Germany Looks East

By Hans Kundnani

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a strategic shock for Germany. Suddenly, Russian aggression threatened the European security order that Germany had taken for granted since the end of the Cold War. Berlin had spent two decades trying to strengthen political and economic ties with Moscow, but Russia’s actions in Ukraine suggested that the Kremlin was no longer interested in a partnership with Europe. Despite Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and Russia’s importance to German exporters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and helped persuade other EU member states to do likewise.

Nevertheless, the Ukraine crisis has reopened old questions about Germany’s relationship to the rest of the West. In April, when the German public-service broadcaster ARD asked Germans what role their country should play in the crisis, just 45 percent wanted Germany to side with its partners and allies in the EU and NATO; 49 percent wanted Germany to mediate between Russia and the West. These results led the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in an editorial published last May, to warn Germany against turning away from the West.

Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis can be understood against the backdrop of a long-term weakening of the so-called Westbindung, the country’s postwar integration into the West. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the enlargement of the EU freed the country from its reliance on the United States for protection against a powerful Soviet Union. At the same time, Germany’s export-dependent economy has become increasingly reliant on demand from emerging markets such as China. Although Germany remains committed to European integration, these factors have made it possible to imagine a post-Western German foreign policy. Such a shift comes with high stakes. Given Germany’s increased power within the EU, the country’s relationship to the rest of the world will, to a large extent, determine that of Europe.

THE GERMAN PARADOX

Germany has produced 
the most radical challenge to the West from within.

Germany has always had a complex relationship with the West. On the one hand, many of the political and philosophical ideas that became central to the West originated in Germany with Enlightenment thinkers such as Immanuel Kant. On the other hand, German intellectual history has included darker strains that have threatened Western norms—such as the current of nationalism that emerged in the early nineteenth century. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, German nationalists increasingly sought to define Germany’s identity in opposition to the liberal, rationalistic principles of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. This version of German nationalism culminated in Nazism, which the German historian Heinrich August Winkler has called “the climax of the German rejection of the Western world.” Germany, therefore, was a paradox: it was part of the West yet produced the most radical challenge to it from within.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
Learn more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142492/hans-kundnani%E2%80%A8/leaving-the-west-behind

Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

Secularizing theocracy

By Waseem Altaf

Excerpt: …. Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

When in 1928 the Turkish Parliament was opting for a secular state and the constitutional provision declaring Islam as the state religion was being deleted, 21 years down the road in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was passing the Objectives Resolution, moved by Liaqat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister, proclaiming that the future constitution of Pakistan would be modeled on the ideology and faith in Islam. In the 1973 constitution Islam was declared as the state religion.

When in the 1920’s sovereignty of the people was being established in Turkey replacing the sovereignty of the Caliph, in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was bestowing sovereignty upon Allah.

When in the 1920’s the Turkish Parliament was adopting time-tested European models to reconstruct their civil, commercial and penal law, Pakistan’s 1973 constitution envisaged that ‘All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.’

Read more » Facebook
Read full article » https://www.facebook.com/irfanafridikk/posts/700511826634235

Pakistan: State of Delusion

By Husain Haqqani

The murder by the Taliban of more than 130 schoolchildren in Peshawar on December 16 has stunned Pakistan, and indeed the world. But the incident marks only an escalation in the brutality of jihadis, not its beginning. Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed Shia and Ahmadi mosques, Sunni shrines, Christian churches and Hindu temples. Over a thousand attacks on schools by the Taliban have been reported since 2009, mainly in the northwestern Pakhtunkhwa province. Jihadi targets over the years have included localISI offices in several cities, naval and air force bases in Karachi and Kamra, the Karachi International Airport and even the army’s General Headquarters. If the breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan’s jihadi addiction, would the death of innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in a Peshawar school result in a fundamental change of heart?

If the Pakistani establishment decides to turn the corner, it would have to stop treating Pakistan’s anti-jihadists as its enemies and gradually embrace a new national narrative for the country. Confronting the jihadists comprehensively would make Pakistan more secure, paving the way for greater prosperity and a place under the sun. Refusing to confront and marginalise them will only lead to recurrent tragedies like the one in Peshawar, followed by grief and outrage.

Soon after the Peshawar carnage, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the infamous Islamabad Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, refused to condemn the Taliban’s action, indicating the stubbornness of the jihadi worldview. Taliban apologist Imran Khan parsed his words to condemn the act but not its perpetrators by name. Another Pakistani establishment favourite, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa, went on television to blame India for the Taliban’s school attack and vowed revenge inside India.

The roots of Pakistan’s jihadism lie in its establishment’s obsession with India, which goes back to partition, the twonation theory and the fear that powerful forces want the dismemberment of Pakistan. The break-up of Pakistan in 1971, and the emergence of an independent Bangladesh in erstwhile East Pakistan, has reinforced national paranoia instead of convincing the country’s Punjabi elite of the need to come to terms with Pakistan’s size and power and finding security within the parameters of reality.

Read more » Hudson Institute
Learn more » http://www.hudson.org/research/10885-state-of-delusion

China pledges to help Russia overcome economic hardships

China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. Boosting trade in yuan is a solution proposed by Beijing’s commerce minister.

Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists, China Daily reported Monday. “If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.

The offer of help comes as Russians are still recovering from the shock of the ruble’s worst crash in years last Tuesday, when it lost over 20 percent against the US dollar and the euro. The Russian currency bounced back the next day, but it still has lost almost half of its value since March.

Read more » RT
Learn more » http://rt.com/news/216563-china-russia-economic-hardships/

Italy’s finance ministry gets egged by #socialstrike protesters

 

By Magan Specia

Protesters hurled eggs at the country’s finance ministry and scaled the sides of the Colosseum on Thursday as nationwide labor demonstrations heated up.

Students and union members were the driving force behind the demonstrations, rallying on Twitter under the hashtag #socialstrike.

Several were injured in in Padua where protesters clashed with police. The violence erupted when members of the march headed toward the local offices of Premier Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Read more » Mashable
Learn more » http://mashable.com/2014/11/14/national-labor-protest-italy/

No Taliban Without A Pakistan!

by Ujjal Dosanjh

In the dying days of the British Empire the colonialists perpetrated upon India a tragedy of massive proportions. Absolutely artificially and unnecessarily they partitioned the country. Mahatma Gandhi had wisely stood against the division of the country. He had told the British to leave. The Quit India Movement of 1942 was the clearest articulation of that message. Suddenly the British worried about the ‘safety’ of their Muslim subjects. It wasn’t that Indian Muslims and Hindus had rioted and killed each other every day before the British arrived to rule the country. The fact is the kings and queens in India fought each other just as they did in Europe. The real Hindu Muslim riots started well after the first war of Indian Independence of 1857 when the British had come close to losing the jewel of the empire. In its aftermath the British intensified their efforts to sow divisions amongst Indians. They escalated only when in response to the demand of the Indian National Congress for independence the British started seeking fragmented representation of Indians based on religion in different fora including elected assemblies. The round table conference participants to discuss home rule/independence were deliberately chosen based on religion and caste to fracture the Indian national interest. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League fell for the deliberate and divisive machinations of the colonial rulers and foolishly accepted the completely unnecessary division of India. The British could have left just as they had come leaving the Indians to their own devices. The Congress could have just shown British Imperialists the proverbial finger and insisted on one undivided and independent India. There may have been bloodshed. But it would have been the bloodshed of Indians caused by Indians. Doesn’t make it any better but it would have been the Indians’ blunder. India would have survived.

The rulers of Pakistan must know religious ‘purity’ and ‘orthodoxy’ by definition have no limits. The state must never compete with the fanatics in the domain of fanaticism. No matter what their flavour or variety the fanatics are the enemies of reason; beyond reason.

The Indian sub -continent and the world is still paying for the British imperialist’s 1947 partition of India that bordered on the criminal. It set off the not so unanticipated largest peace time migration of population in the history of the world. Hundreds of thousands perished in the carnage that ensued. The bloody echoes of that insane and unnecessary partition have continued to haunt the Indian sub-continent. They now bedevil the world too; particularly the western world.

The bloody trails of the partition of August 1947 lead directly to the most recent massacre of the children of the Pakistani military run school in December 2014. The Pakistani Madarsas created the Afghani Taliban, initially sponsored by the United States of America for Jihad against the Soviets. The Madarsas also trained Jihadis for Kashmir. First Afghani Taliban and later Pakistan sheltered Al Qaida. The fanatics figured if the Pakistani trained fanatic terror was ‘good’ for Kashmir and Afghanistan it would be just as good for Pakistan. It thus begot Pakistani Taliban. In my mind’s eye when I imagine an undivided India bordering Afghanistan I see no Taliban. In that moment I see the India of Gandhi’s dreams personified.

 Division of people and countries by religion perpetuates hate. Unfortunately for the people of the subcontinent Pakistan has not been able to shed its birth mark of hate. It could have embraced its natural culture and heritage of India. Pakistan would always be Indian by heritage just as India and Bangladesh are. It is not a crime to embrace one’s roots. Pakistan did not have to fashion it’s rootlessness out of it’s deep Indian roots. It did not have to become an Islamic state. But then it was only natural for a state created in the name of religion to be consumed by it.

The rulers of Pakistan must know religious ‘purity’ and ‘orthodoxy’ by definition have no limits. The state must never compete with the fanatics in the domain of fanaticism. No matter what their flavour or variety the fanatics are the enemies of reason; beyond reason.

Note: Writer is Former premier/ chief minister of  Canada’s British Columbia province.

Courtesy: Ujjal dosanjh
See more » http://ujjaldosanjh.org/index.php/entry/no-taliban-without-a-pakistan#.VJce5O7MN-I.gmail

Fueled by Recession, U.S. Wealth Gap Is Widest in Decades, Study Finds

CapitalistsBy

The wealthy are getting wealthier. As for everyone else, no such luck.

A report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades.

Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder.

There has been growing attention to the issue of income inequality, particularly the plight of those earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or close to it.

But while income and wealth are related (the more you make, the more you can save and invest), the wealth gap zeros in on a different aspect of financial well-being: how much money and other assets you have accumulated over time, including the value of your home and car plus any investments in stocks, bonds and the like.

While those at the top have managed to recoup much of the wealth lost during the economic downturn, middle-income families have not made any gains.

“The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt for them,” the report concluded.

Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/business/economy/us-wealth-gap-widest-in-at-least-30-years-pew-study-says.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Karachi experiencing a demographic earthquake, moot told

By Saher Baloch

KARACHI: Carving out new provinces is not a solution to the administrative issues faced by Sindh, speakers said on the first day of a two-day peace conference held here on Saturday.

The conference titled ‘Exploring peace and reconciliation alternatives: towards a Karachi for all,’ is being held by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler).

With a variety of noted speakers for the day having three sessions, the opening speech and introduction to the conference was given by executive director of Piler Karamat Ali. He said the aim of the conference was to bring together people from various fields and classes to speak and debate about ideas they felt closest to them.

He spoke at length about the initial migration in the city, how it further developed when people started inviting more people to work here and how the situation deteriorated over the years, making labourers one of the most vulnerable groups in the city at present.

“We need to remember while shunning another person on the basis of ethnicity that they are willing to do the work that we look down upon. We need each other,” Mr Ali said.

Next in the line was Dr Kaiser Bengali, senior economist and adviser to the chief minister of Balochistan. In his presentation on ‘Karachi: a city in transition’, Dr Bengali raised pertinent points about the present demography of the city, the growing differences between various ethnicities inhabiting it and its solutions. Presenting statistics, he said, starting from a Sindhi city to a Mohajir city, Karachi was now in the middle of what he described as a “demographic earthquake” and on its way to become a Pakhtun city in the future.

“Its reason is that there is an exodus of Pakhtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to a high birth rate, increase in household size (meaning number of people per home) and lack of employment in that province, which means that by 2045, Karachi will be dominated by the Pakhtun population.”

He pointed out that the Seraiki-speaking population was also increasing in the city, mostly migrating from south Punjab. “In the future, the Seraiki speakers with their almost 80 per cent population will be the next in line to demand their rights and an electoral seat,” he added.

Explaining further, he said: “This demographic earthquake is bound to create a conflict in the city and our job should be to manage the conflict. Creating a province does not seem like a solution to counter the conflict, but one that might further complicate the situation.”

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1152134

Apologists will be regarded as terrorists, allies of terrorists: Sherry Rehman

By Dawn.com

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman said Wednesday that if anyone engaged in the apologist narrative when it comes to terrorism and terrorist attacks, they would be considered as terrorists and allies of the terrorists.

Time has come for a decision and anyone who presents justification for acts of terrorism will be regarded as a traitor.

“Whoever is a friend of the terrorists is a traitor,” Rehman said addressing media representatives in Peshawar.

Read more » DAWN
S
ee more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151601/

Suicide attack threats again ring out of Lal Masjid

 

By Kalbe Ali

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid has blamed two persons for whipping up the furore over his remark that the massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar was a “reaction” to the military operation against militants.

“This campaign against me is a conspiracy hatched by Amin Shaheedi and Faisal Raza Abidi,” he told the Friday congregation, adding that “I warn that they are testing our patience”.

Journalist Raza Bangash, who was among the media persons covering the event, told Dawn that the maulana “also remarked that people who had gone astray construed his opinion as a confessional statement”.

Maulana Amin Shaheedi and Raza Abidi, whom Maulana Aziz accused of fanning public sentiments against him, are, respectively, leader of Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM – Unity of Muslims Council) and a former PPP senator.

Many congregation members and Raza said Maulana Aziz criticised the members of civil society who protested his views outside the Lal Masjid the previous day and had planned more protests on Friday evening against him equating the victims of terrorism and those killed for terrorism.

Maulana Aziz poured sarcasm on the civil society people demonstrating and lighting candles for the Peshawar dead and said they should also have felt pain for the 86 madressah students killed in Waziristan and other deaths in military operations.

“He stated that any attempt to harm him or arrest him would lead to an uncontrollable situation in the country,” the official told Dawn.

“My brother, his family and many people dear to me and a large number of students were killed in army operation here (in Lal Masjid in 2007), but I did not raise such hue and cry,” he said.

Maulana Aziz suggested to the military and political leadership to negotiate peace with the Taliban, ostensibly for a more worthy cause.

Continue reading Suicide attack threats again ring out of Lal Masjid

It wasn’t the final atrocity

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE gut-wrenching massacre in Peshawar’s Army Public School has left Pakistan aghast and sickened. All political leaders have called for unity against terrorism. But this is no watershed event that can bridge the deep divides within. In another few days this episode of 134 dead children will become one like any other.

All tragedies provoke emotional exhortations. But nothing changed after Lakki Marwat when 105 spectators of a volleyball match were killed by a suicide bomber in a pickup truck. Or, when 96 Hazaras in a snooker club died in a double suicide attack. The 127 dead in the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar, or the 90 Ahmadis killed while in prayer, are now dry statistics. In 2012, men in military uniforms stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons alight and show their national identification cards. Those with typical Shia names, like Abbas and Jafri, were separated. Minutes later corpses lay on the ground.

If Pakistan had a collective conscience, just one single fact could have woken it up: the murder of nearly 60 polio workers — women and men who work to save children from a crippling disease — at the hands of the fanatics.

Hence the horrible inevitability: from time to time, Pakistan shall continue to witness more such catastrophes. No security measures can ever prevent attacks on soft targets. The only possible solution is to change mindsets. For this we must grapple with three hard facts.

First, let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels. Instead, they are fighting a war for the reason Boko Haram fights in Nigeria, IS in Iraq and Syria, Al Shabab in Kenya, etc. The men who slaughtered our children are fighting for a dream — to destroy Pakistan as a Muslim state and recreate it as an Islamic state. This is why they also attack airports and shoot at PIA planes. They see these as necessary steps towards their utopia.

No one should speculate about the identity of the killers. Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani released pictures of the eight ‘martyrs’, justifying the killing of minors with reference to Hadith (a horrific perversion, of course). Dizzied by religious passions, the men roamed the school searching for children hiding under desks and shouted “Allah-o-Akbar” before opening fire. Shot in both legs, Shahrukh Khan, 16, says he survived by playing dead. Another surviving student, Aamir Ali, says that two clean-shaven gunmen told students to recite the kalima before shooting them multiple times.

Second, Pakistan must scorn and punish those who either support terrorism publicly or lie to us about the identity of terrorists. Television anchors and political personalities have made their fortunes and careers by fabricating wild theories. For example, retired Gen Hamid Gul and his son Abdullah Gul have adamantly insisted multiple times on TV that suicide attackers were not circumcised and hence not Muslim. Though body parts are plentifully available for inspection these days, they have not retracted earlier claims.

Those on the state’s payroll that encourage violence against the state must be dismissed. Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid — a government mosque — led an insurrection in 2007 against the Pakistani state. He flatly refuses to condemn the Peshawar massacre. Other state employees have called upon all to not pray for army soldiers killed in action. At another level is Jamaatud Dawa’s supremo, Hafiz Saeed. He blames India for the Peshawar massacre and, ignoring ironclad evidence, misguides Pakistanis about the identity of the enemy.

Continue reading It wasn’t the final atrocity

India launches largest rocket and unmanned capsule

India launches largest rocket and unmanned capsule

India has successfully launched its largest rocket and an unmanned capsule which could send astronauts into space.

The 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (MK III) blasted off from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.

The new rocket will be able to carry heavier satellites into space.

India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, but has faced problems sending up heavier payloads.

The new rocket is capable of carrying communication satellites weighing 4,000kg, reports say, meaning India will not have to rely on foreign launchers to do so.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the launch: “Successful launch of GSLV MK-III is yet another triumph of brilliance & hard work of our scientists. Congrats to them for the efforts.”

K Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization (Isro), said the launch marked a “very significant day in India’s space history”.

The rocket’s main cargo was an Indian-made capsule capable of carrying two to three astronauts into space.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30527602

Swiss National Bank will cut interest rate to minus 0.25%

Switzerland’s National Bank (SNB) will bring in a negative interest rate cutting the value of large sums of money left on deposit in the country.

The Bank is imposing a rate of minus 0.25% on “sight deposits” – a form of instant access account – of more than 10m Swiss francs ($9.77m).

It is trying to lower the value of the Swiss franc, which has risen recently.

Russia’s market meltdown and a dramatic plunge in the oil price have led investors to seek “safe havens”.

The announcement sent the franc lower, and in early trading the euro was buying 1.2095 Swiss francs, fewer than the 1.203 it was worth before the news, just within the target.

Switzerland typically sees money flow in during economic uncertainty.

The new rate will be introduced on 22 January and will only affect banks and large companies who use the “sight account” to transfer funds quickly and without restrictions.

A negative rate means depositors pay to lend the bank their money.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30528404

Pakistani spy agency’s relations with militants blamed for school massacre

Some see ISI’s ambiguous approach towards different groups in effort to counter Indian influence as fuelling attacks

By , south Asia correspondent, The Guardian

Within days of a militant attack earlier this year on the Indian consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat, intelligence officials in Kabul and Delhi were told by their US counterparts that communication intercepts indicated that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba group (LeT) was responsible.

A lucky shot from a guard had hit the leader of the assault team, giving defenders time to prepare and the four attackers had all been killed. US officials said they had aimed to take hostages and cause a drawn-out crisis intended to destabilise India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, just days after his landslide election win.

The new details of the operation will be seen as further evidence of the close relationship between LeT and Pakistan’s security establishment.

LeT was responsible for a 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai in which around 170 people were killed by militants who had arrived by boat from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. A key figure in the attack told US and court officials that middle-ranking officials from the Pakistani military’s Directorate of InterServices Intelligence (ISI) had at very least facilitated the assault.

Western intelligence officials also believe the ISI has close relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, an insurgent faction which has repeatedly struck international targets in Afghanistan.

“There have been intelligence reports that link the ISI particularly to the Haqqani network,” Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said in April.

The ISI also maintains links with a range of sectarian groups within Pakistan and outfits primarily focussed on fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Some blame these continuing relationships for the carnage at the army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday.

The link is indirect. Few say that there is any connection between the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), the rough coalition of groups that has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the country’s security establishment.

“The military formally and institutionally considers the TTP as an enemy of the state as it has killed many soldiers over the years,” said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington.

Pakistan’s use of certain militant groups as strategic assets, however, makes concerted action against others impossible, according to Ajai Sahni, an Indian security analyst.

“If you allow space for armed Islamist groups you can’t really distinguish one from another,” Sahni said.

The policy of using militants as auxiliaries goes back to the earliest days of the new Pakistani nation and its partition from India following independence from Britain. Such forces were seen by the new country’s military commanders as an effective way of countering their eastern neighbour’s huge demographic, economic and military advantage. They have played a key role in Pakistan’s four wars with India. Auxiliaries were also deployed in Kashmir in the 1990s. When hundreds of Pakistani militants infiltrated across the de facto frontier in the disputed Himalayan territory in 1999, they sparked the most recent overt conflict.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/17/pakistan-spy-agency-isi-relations-militants-blamed-school-massacre

Pakistan Army, ISAF to target Mullah Fazlullah in drone attack: Report

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army and US-led forces in Afghanistan have decided to target Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah using drones rather than a ground operation in the areas where he is believed to be taking sanctuary.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed about the decision to take out Fazlullah nicknamed the “Radio Mullah”, who is said to be in contact with the Peshawar school attackers during the assault which left 148 people dead, mostly school children, The Express Tribune reported today.

Citing sources, the paper said that although Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Rizwan Akhter have provided Afghan authorities the audio proof of attackers talking to Fazlullah during the assault, Army is currently refraining from chasing targets across the border.

“The audio recording, handed to Afghan authorities, was in Pashto,” he paper said, citing sources.

Read more at: The Economic Times

 

Infuriated civil society demands arrest of Lal Masjid cleric

ISLAMABAD: A large number of civil society protesters gathered outside the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in protest against remarks of the mosque cleric who declined to condemn the barbaric Peshawar attack that claimed lives of over 130 children,ARY News reported.

The protesters said they would got the FIR registered against Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for his hate remarks.

The peaceful protesters said the capital administration must immediately arrest the cleric for his remarks supporting Taliban who massacred innocent children.

Read more » ARY News
Learn more » http://arynews.tv/en/infuriated-civil-society-demands-arrest-lal-masjid-cleric/

Peshawar attack: Anupam Kher writes open letter to terrorists

By Dawn.com

Devastated by the news of the recent attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, Bollywood icon Anupam Kher has written an open letter to terrorists involved in the attack, reported Hindustan Times as it copied a copy of the letter.

Following are the words the renowned icon wrote:

Every time you commit a mindless act of terrorism, I die a little. Truth be told, I have been dying quite often of late; little by little.

I have died when bombs go off in civilian areas, when bystanders are held hostage, when airlines are hijacked, when defenceless people are killed and when the unarmed are sold as slaves.

But today, when you butchered over 130 children in cold blood in a school in Peshawar, I fear there is nothing left in me. I don’t know what your objective was, but you have certainly reduced me to a dead man walking.

What tenet of religiosity can you quote to justify such slaughtering of children? What twisted perception of which faith can you claim to adhere to? Does it require bravery to shoot barefaced children, innocents who do not understand the concept of conflict, much less the evil face of terrorism?

Killing children cannot be an act of faith in any religion. According to early reports, you are the same monsters who tried to kill Malala Yousufzai on October 9, 2012.

You did not kill her; her bravery won her the Noble Prize earlier this month.

Words cannot adequately despise the monstrosity which you have committed. True, there have been greater pogroms in history such as Lidice, Dachau, the purges of Stalin, the Cultural Revolution of Mao, the killing fields of Cambodia. But these were political movements or results of conflict.

What you have done today is something not reflected in history; the slaughter of innocents.

I cannot ascribe a category to which you could possibly belong. Even animals kill for a reason; out of fear or hunger. But you let loose bullets out of senselessness. Truly, you are beyond evil.

Pictures of war and conflict often move me. Today it was different. I saw a picture of a father who had tied the shoelace of his son before he sent him to the ill-fated school.

‘I have the shoe, but I have no son…’ he lamented.

I was not moved. I broke down.

Your dastardly act today will have united parents everywhere and earned you their curses. Time will prove that their curses will not have been in vain.

Courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151602/

No more excuses for Taliban violence, Bhutto heir tells Pakistan’s leaders

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action

By  in Mohenjodaro

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.

The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.

“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”

The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.

He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.

On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.

Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.

Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.

Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.

The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.

“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”

In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action