Tag Archives: action

Chronicles foretold – By Najam Sethi

– The cold-blooded torture and murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad by “invisible agencies” roused the journalists of Pakistan to unite and demand an independent and credible commission of inquiry to unearth the facts and punish the perpetrators. A media “dharna” outside parliament in Islamabad was aimed at securing an independent supreme court judge to head the inquiry instead of Justice Agha Rafiq, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, nominated by President Asif Zardari.

Two questions arose. First, why did the media unite in such an unprecedented manner in this case when it didn’t do so in the case of the sixteen journalists so far killed this year in Pakistan? What was so particularly frightening or significant about this murder that compelled the media to stand up and be counted? Second, why did President Zardari originally pick a “Zardari-loyalist” to head this commission? Was this aimed at shielding any slip up or criminality on the part of the PPP government? And if it wasn’t, who was President Zardari trying to shield and why?

The answers are straight forward enough. Saleem Shehzad had recorded his problems with the ISI and left a testament indicting it if he was harmed. He was writing a book exposing the inroads into the armed forces and ISI made by retired or serving officers sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s violent ideology. Such exposure was deemed irrevocably embarrassing to the national security establishment. It explained the lack of preparedness on the part of the military to defend and protect itself — as evidenced in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Abbottabad in recent times. It also confirmed the fears of the international community about the security of the nukes, triggering scenarios of pre-emptive action against them in the event of their seizure by rogues allied to Al Qaeda. When Saleem Shehzad went ahead and published his book, he had to be silenced.

That, at least, is the media’s perception of what happened to him and why. Thus the media banded together to demand accountability so that the same fate did not befall any other journalist. If this perception was wrong, an independent commission of inquiry should have been able to establish the innocence of the ISI and redeem its credibility. If it was right, the ISI had to be chastened and cleansed of such elements. What is wrong with this way of thinking? Indeed, when an attempt is made to hide the facts behind a stooge commission, such suspicions and perceptions take deep roots and protests are inclined to become more widespread and violent. If President Zardari hadn’t finally heeded the journalists’ threat and appointed Justice Saqib Nisar to head the commission instead of Mr Agha Rafiq, the media was all geared up to announce a blackout of all government news and military press statements and advice.

Much the same sort of trouble for the government and military may be forecast for another commission of inquiry pledged by parliament to uncover the truth behind the Abbottabad debacle. In this case, too, the military seems to have leaned on the weak PPP government to desist from seriously inquiring into the mishap because it would deeply embarrass the “national security establishment” and conceivably jeopardise its “strategic relationship” with its Pentagon counterpart in the United States.

In both instances, however, there is one critical factor that threatens to derail the unholy nexus between a weak government and an arrogant military that are clutching at each other for protection. That is the opposition lead by Nawaz Sharif. The PMLN stood solidly with the fearful media in the first instance and will back the outraged public in the second. No less significantly, the sympathies of the newly independent judiciary are with the media, opposition and public. This is an inherently unstable and precarious situation. Where do we go from here?

The military has no option but to press the strategic “Paradigm Reset” button. The media and judiciary have joined the stake holders’ club. The military must realize that it is no longer capable of “managing” or “manipulating” or “blackmailing” the twice-bitten opposition to do its bidding blindly. The media too has been empowered by a wave of “citizen-journalists” who cannot be repressed. There are 20 million internet users in Pakistan and 4 million Facebook freaks and Tweeters. This organic new species had defied the dictators of the Middle East and smashed their censors. It is destined to do the same in Pakistan.

The situation is fraught with dangers of unmanageable upheaval. The military must adjust its sights accordingly. If, for example, the US were to launch any new unilateral action that outraged the Pakistani media, opposition and public, the military would be caught in the eye of the storm. It won’t be able to resist the public pressure but it also wouldn’t like to be savaged by America. Thus it could be the biggest loser in the game. Forewarned is forearmed.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

Dying to Tell the Story

By UMAR CHEEMA

Islamabad, Pakistan: WE have buried another journalist. Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative reporter for Asia Times Online, has paid the ultimate price for telling truths that the authorities didn’t want people to hear. He disappeared a few days after writing an article alleging that Al Qaeda elements had penetrated Pakistan’s navy and that a military crackdown on them had precipitated the May 22 terrorist attack on a Karachi naval base. His death has left Pakistani journalists shaken and filled with despair.

I couldn’t sleep the night that Saleem’s death was confirmed. The fact that he was tortured sent me back to a chilly night last September, when I was abducted by government agents. During Saleem’s funeral service, a thought kept haunting me: “It could have been me.”

Mourning journalists lined up after the service to console me, saying I was lucky to get a lease on life that Saleem was denied. But luck is a relative term.

Adil, my 2-year-old son, was the first person in my thoughts after I was abducted. Journalists in Pakistan don’t have any institutionalized social security system; those killed in the line of duty leave their families at the mercy of a weak economy.

When my attackers came, impersonating policemen arresting me on a fabricated charge of murder, I felt helpless. My mouth muzzled and hands cuffed, I couldn’t inform anybody of my whereabouts, not even the friends I’d dropped off just 15 minutes before. My cellphone was taken away and switched off. Despite the many threats I’d received, I never expected this to happen to me.

Sure, I had written many stories exposing the corrupt practices of high-ranking officials and pieces criticizing the army and the intelligence agencies. After they were published, Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s prime security agency, always contacted me. I was first advised not to write too much about them and later sent messages laced with subtle threats. But I never imagined action was imminent.

On Sept. 4, I was driven to an abandoned house instead of a police station, where I was stripped naked and tortured with a whip and a wooden rod. While a man flogged me, I asked what crime had brought me this punishment. Another man told me: “Your reporting has upset the government.” It was not a crime, and therefore I did not apologize.

Instead, I kept praying, “Oh God, why am I being punished?” The answer came from the ringleader: “If you can’t avoid rape, enjoy it.” He would employ abusive language whenever he addressed me.

“Have you ever been tortured before?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“These marks will stay with you forever, offering you a reminder never to defy the authorities,” he replied.

They tortured me for 25 minutes, shaved my head, eyebrows and moustache and then filmed and photographed my naked body. I was dumped nearly 100 miles outside Islamabad with a warning not to speak up or face the consequences.

The following months were dreadful. I suffered from a sleep disorder. I would wake up fearing that someone was beating my back. I wouldn’t go jogging, afraid that somebody would pick me up again and I’d never return. Self-imposed house arrest is the life I live today; I don’t go outside unless I have serious business. I have been chased a number of times after the incident. Now my son asks me questions about my attackers that I don’t answer. I don’t want to sow the seeds of hatred in his heart.

When Saleem disappeared, I wondered if he had been thinking about his children, as I had. He had left Karachi, his hometown, after receiving death threats, and settled with his wife and three children in Islamabad. From there, he often went on reporting trips to the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Tahir Ali, a mutual friend, would ask him: “Don’t you feel scared in the tribal areas?” Saleem would smile and say: “Death could come even in Islamabad.” His words were chilling, and prescient.

The killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad is yet another terrifying reminder to Pakistani journalists. He is the fifth to die in the first five months of 2011. Journalists are shot like stray dogs in Pakistan — easily killed because their assassins sit at the pinnacle of power.

When Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered by militants in Karachi in 2002, his case was prosecuted and four accomplices to the crime were sentenced. This happened only because Mr. Pearl was an American journalist. Had he been a Pakistani, there would have been no justice.

Today, impunity reigns and no organization is powerful enough to pressure the government to bring Saleem’s killers to justice. Journalists have shown resilience, but it is hard to persevere when the state itself becomes complicit in the crime. Now those speaking up for Saleem are doing so at a price: they are being intimidated and harassed.

Pakistan is at a crossroads and so is its news media. In a situation of doom and gloom, Pakistani journalists offer a ray of hope to their fellow citizens and they have earned the people’s trust. Even the former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has admitted that people who once went to the police with complaints now go to the press.

But this trust will be eroded if journalists continue to be bullied into walking away from the truth. News organizations throughout the world must join hands in seeking justice for Saleem and ending the intelligence agencies’ culture of impunity. An award for investigative journalists should be created in his honor, as was done for Daniel Pearl. No stronger message could be delivered to his killers than making him immortal.

Umar Cheema is an investigative reporter at The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language daily. He was a Daniel Pearl Fellow at The Times in 2008.

Courtesy: The New York Times

Congressional Sindh Caucus Founded in Washington DC

WASHINGTON, DC (May 31, 2011) – The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) is glad to share with the people of Sindh, Sindhis around the world, and especially American Sindhis that the Congressional Sindh Caucus was founded late last week at the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Dan Lungren, approved the registration of the Congressional Sindh Caucus. “The Committee is pleased to accept the registration for the 112th Congress,” said the confirmation letter.

The Congressional Sindh Caucus is co-chaired by Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California and Congressman Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana. Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from Southern California, was the first to join the co-chairs Member in becoming a Member of the caucus.

The formation of Congressional Sindh Caucus is a positive step in these critical times. “Sindhi Americans must come forward, support, and participate in these efforts” said Dr. Maqbool Haleepota, SAPAC’s President.

“I commend Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Dan Burton’s strong support for the Sindhi-American community and welcome the addition on Congressman Adam Schiff to the Caucus. The Congressional Sindh Caucus will be helpful for US and Sindhi-American interests. Sindhis are a natural ally of the American people. Sindhi language and culture and the education of Sindhi women should be the major priorities of the Caucus,” said Munawar Laghari, SAPAC’s Executive Director.

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: AQ Khan Under Threats; Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Excerpt:

Islamabad: Developments are taking place at a fast pace ever since Osama bin Laden was killed in a limited operation by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, 60 miles north of the federal capital, Islamabad.

The life of the most wanted man on earth was dangerous for peace and stability in Pakistan, but his death has become a nightmare for Pakistan, that puts the very fiber of the society at stake and integrity of the country in danger. The “Ghairat” (honor) brigade of media is very active as it is trying to bring the democratic dispensation under pressure on one hand and point its guns towards the security institutions on the other hand.

The debate sparked by the May 2 operation focused on Pakistan’s national sovereignty, but nobody amongst the hawks were ready to accept the fact that although the US action was undoubtedly a clear breach of the national sovereignty, the presence of ObL on Pakistani soil, especially in a garrison city like Abbottabad had equally subverted the national sovereignty and undermined our security framework. …

…. Indeed the military leadership admitted its failure, but the briefing given to the sitting was not very significant, says Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a PML-N hawk. Although general Pasha surrendered before the parliament, it was for the sake of their institution, and not for the supremacy of the civilian rule, he added. The attitude of the uniformed top brass was rather contemptuous towards the elected representatives of the country, sources said adding that it was evident from the tone of the soldiers and the response they given to the elected representatives who asked tough questions or pointed out political hobnobbing by the agencies.

The tone was harsh and not like that of a person wanting to admit his mistakes, said Zafar Ali Shah. He however, was silent on the question that why PML-N did not ask for certain resignations over the Abbottabad incident. Sources closed to Mian Nawaz Sharif on the other hand answered this question. The close circles of Mian Nawaz Sharif have confided that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had a one on one meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif on May 9th at his residence in Murree. The said meting took place on the first day of PML-N central leadership’s meeting in Islamabad when Mian Sb asked his party men to demand for the resignation of military top brass.

PML-N sources are of the view that Mian Saheb was to demand resignations during his next day press briefing, and some how this was conveyed to the Army leadership that created bit of worry in Rawalpindi, thus the COAS rushed himself to his Murree residence and requested him not to do so. Mian Sb, according to the sources while accepting the suggestion, changed his words, but kept very harsh tone. This was also indicated in 15th May media briefing when he demanded agencies budget and expenditure to be presented in the parliament. …

To read complete article: Indus Herald

Another Osama-type action in Pak, if required: Obama

LONDON: US President Barack Obama would approve a new incursion into Pakistan if the United States found another leading militant there, he said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday.

US Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on US cities in 2001, in a raid on his fortified compound in Pakistan on May 2, ending a manhunt for the world’s most-wanted militant.

Asked if Obama would do the same again if the United States discovered another “high-value target” in Pakistan or another country, such as a senior al-Qaida member or Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he said he would “take the shot”.

“We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our allies’ people, we can’t allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action,” Obama told the BBC.

“I had made no secret. I had said this when I was running for the presidency, that if I had a clear shot at bin Laden, that we’d take it.”  ….

Read more : The Times of India

More details : BBC urdu

THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

Something has changed

By: Huma Yusuf

TWO weeks after Abbottabad, the jury’s still out on Pakistan. Who knew? Who didn’t? And does anyone at all feel bad about the whole thing?

While international journalists and US lawmakers continue to ask these questions, Pakistan observers are at pains to point out that the answers matter little given that nothing has changed — the status quo has been maintained.

Continue reading THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

With bin Laden gone, now’s the time to push Pakistan

By Fareed Zakaria

The killing of Osama bin Laden has produced new waves of commentary on the problem of Pakistan. We could all discuss again its selective policy toward terrorists, its complicated relationship with the United States and its mounting dysfunctions. But there is more to this opportunity than an opening for analysis. This is a time for action, to finally push the country toward moderation and genuine democracy.

So far, Pakistan’s military has approached this crisis as it has every one in the past, using its old tricks and hoping to ride out the storm. It is leaking stories to favored journalists, unleashing activists and politicians, all with the aim of stoking anti-Americanism. Having been caught in a situation that suggests either complicity with al-Qaeda or gross incompetence — and the reality is probably a bit of both — it is furiously trying to change the subject. Senior generals angrily denounce America for entering the country. “It’s like a person, caught in bed with another man’s wife, who is indignant that someone entered his house,” one Pakistani scholar, who preferred not to be named for fear of repercussions, told me.

This strategy has worked in the past. In 2009, the Obama administration joined forces with Sens. Richard Lugar and John Kerry to triple American aid to Pakistan’s civilian government and civil society — to $7.5 billion over five years — but with measures designed to strengthen democracy and civilian control over the military. The military reacted by unleashing an anti-American campaign, using its proxies in the media and parliament to denounce “violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty” — the same phrase that’s being hurled about now. The result was that the United States backed off and has conceded that, in practice, none of the strictures in the Lugar-Kerry bill will be implemented.

The military has also, once again, been able to cow the civilian government. According to Pakistani sources, the speech that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani gave at a recent news conference was drafted by the military. President Asif Ali Zardari continues to appease the military rather than confront the generals. Having come to power hoping to clip the military’s wings, Pakistan’s democratically elected government has been reduced to mouthing talking points written for it by the intelligence services.

There have been almost no marches to protest bin Laden’s death or the American operation, although one 500-person march in Lahore was replayed endlessly on television. The fundamental issue for Pakistan is surely not how America entered the country. The United States has been involved in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan for years, using drones and people. Rather, the fundamental question is, how was it that the world’s leading terrorist was living in Pakistan, with some kind of support network that must have included elements of the Pakistani government? How is it that every major al-Qaeda official who has been captured since 2002 has been comfortably ensconced in a Pakistani city? And how is it that any time these issues are raised, they get drowned out by an organized campaign of anti-Americanism or religious fanaticism?

Washington has given in to the Pakistani military time and again, on the theory that we need the generals badly and that they could go elsewhere for support — to the Chinese, for instance. In fact, the United States has considerable leverage with Islamabad. The Pakistanis need American aid, arms and training to sustain their army. If they are going to receive those benefits, they must become part of Pakistan’s solution and not its problem. With some urgency, Washington should:

l Demand a major national commission in Pakistan — headed by a Supreme Court justice, not an army apparatchik — to investigate whether bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders have been supported and sustained by elements of the Pakistani state.

l Demand that the provisions of the Lugar-Kerry bill on civilian control of the military be strictly followed or aid will be withheld.

l Develop a plan to go after the major untouched terror networks in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani faction, the Quetta Shura and Lashkar-i-Taiba.

In the longer run, as the United States scales back its military presence in Afghanistan, it will need the Pakistani military less and less to supply its troops in theater.

Pakistan’s civilian government, business class and intellectuals have an ever-larger role in this struggle. They should not get distracted by empty anti-American slogans or hypernationalism. This is Pakistan’s moment of truth, its chance to break with its dysfunctions and become a normal, modern country. The opportunity might not come again.

Courtesy: The Washington Post

Whom he is fooling, U.S. or Himself? Is elected parliament in position to ask anything from generals?

Pakistani Ambassador: ‘Heads Will Roll’ After Osama bin Laden Raid

ABC News (WASHINGTON) — If Pakistani officials knew Osama bin Laden was living peacefully in the country, said Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, they would have done something.

“If any member of the Pakistani government, the Pakistani military or the Pakistani intelligence service knew where Osama bin Laden was, we would have taken action,” Haqqani told ABC News’ ….

Read more : http://www.670kboi.com/rssItem.asp?feedid=113&itemid=29666580

The hornet is dead, near the nest – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistani brass was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Doveryai, no proveryai! This Russian proverb, meaning ‘trust, but verify’, popularised by Vladimir Lenin and later by Ronald Reagan, has not rung truer than in the events surrounding the assassination of Osama bin Laden (OBL) earlier this week. And we may see it applied much more intensely in the months to come.

Phone calls from friends in Abbottabad about an ongoing military action there, were enough to suggest that something big was happening in what the locals had always believed to be an ISI-run facility, but the e-mail news alert from The Wall Street Journal announcing OBL’s death was still a major surprise. Against the norms of punditry, this time one hoped that we were wrong and this was not happening in Pakistan. But it was, and yes, we now stand vindicated: all of us who had been saying and writing for years that the US’s most wanted man was not under the protection of any major Pashtun tribe but was guarded by the clan that has anointed itself as the guardians of Pakistan’s ‘ideological’ and geographical frontiers. It is this same clan that had actually codified in its curriculum that “you are the selected lords; you are the cream of the nation”. Where else could this syllabus have been taught but at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul — less than a mile from OBL’s last lair?

There is no polite way of saying it but these masters of Pakistan’s fortunes got egg on their face and that too with the whole world watching. A Peshawarite calling in on a television show said it most aptly: “Koilay ki dallali mein haath to kalay hotay hein per moonh bhi kala hota hai” (Those, whose business is foul, not only get their hands dirty but a blackened face too). But they still have the nerve to say with a straight face that a million-dollar fortress under their nose had been “off their radar”!

Not only that but they also have the gall to mobilise the right-wing media to create the smokescreen of sovereignty yet again while simultaneously playing up their ‘role’ in support of the US action in Abbottabad. The world, however, is not buying that in a cantonment city, the army — which keeps track of every inch of land around its facilities — did not know what was going on in the high-walled compound next to its primary training academy. The paid spin masters will have to do better than this. No matter what President Asif Zardari or his ghostwriter is made to say in op-ed articles in US papers, it is the top brass that is under scrutiny. Using the civilian political leadership as the human shield is not going to work, as the calculus has changed dramatically.

Barack Obama’s token acknowledgment of Pakistan’s non-specific cooperation is being construed by the Pakistani establishment and its minions to imply that the US can be taken for a ride again. It is too early for the specifics to surface but conversations with several sources in Washington and Pakistan point only to the deep mistrust that the US has had vis-à-vis Pakistan. There was no deal initiated by General Shuja Pasha to ‘trade in’ OBL for a bigger Pakistani role in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in response to the chest thumping by the Pakistani security establishment and its ultra right-wing political acolytes, they were confronted with damning evidence about the Haqqani network and possibly the Quetta Shura, while the OBL lead was not shared. The no-fly zone over Pakistan was created through phone calls, minutes after the OBL operation got underway. While the Pakistani brass is clutching at straws like blaming the ‘two Pashtun guards’ for protecting OBL’s compound, it was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton’s nuanced diplomatic statements notwithstanding, the mood of the US leadership is almost reflective of the immediate post-9/11 days and was conveyed well by Senator Carl Levin in his remark: “(Pakistan has) a lot of explaining to do … I think the army and the intelligence of Pakistan have plenty of questions that they should be answering.” In a complete paradigm shift, any leverage that the Pakistani junta was hoping to gain from the bravado that started with the Raymond Davis affair has been lost completely. What will follow is a steady demand within the US to hold Pakistan’s feet to the fire. While maintaining a semblance of a working relationship, a very tough line will be adopted in private. The question bound to come up is not just why Pakistan was hanging on to OBL but also if there was any connection of its operatives to the 9/11 tragedy.

From a tactical standpoint, the OBL operation is likely to serve as a template for future action against the jihadist leadership hiding in Pakistan, especially with General David Petraeus assuming his new role in the near future. To get closer to the strategic objective of a certain level of stability within Afghanistan and potentially a political reconciliation there, it is imperative for the US to neutralise the next two key hurdles, i.e. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Both these entities have so far been able to evade the US’s reach, thanks to the Pakistani security establishment’s patronage.

Members of the Haqqani clan have been roaming freely in the vicinity of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Khalil Haqqani has conducted several meetings in the previous few months to broker the ‘peace deal’ for the Kurram Agency. It is inconceivable that he could act without the knowledge of the Pakistani security agencies. Similarly, Quetta is home to the Pakistan Army’s XII Corps, ISI regional headquarters, the Balochistan Frontier Corps, an army recruitment centre, the Pakistan Air Force base Samungli and the Pakistan Army’s prestigious Command and Staff College. One wonders if the Pakistani brass would still be able to say that they do not know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

A window of opportunity perhaps still exists for Pakistan to make a clean break with the past but its incoherent blame-game and constantly changing story says otherwise. The Pakistani establishment has given the world very little reason to trust it without verifying — unless, of course, another hornet is to be missed hiding near a major nest.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201155\story_5-5-2011_pg3_2

Sindh should follow Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s example and announce formation of Sindh HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

It is time for the Government of Sindh to immediately announce creation of a Higher Education Commission of Sindh (HECS) and appoint a suitable person to head the HECS. Too much time has already been wasted in trying to protect an institution that has failed Sindh, Balochistan and the rest of country. Any hesitation on the part of the remaining provinces to form their higher education bodies will simply prolong the delay in the implementation of 18th Amendment. The current managers of HEC should stop their delaying tactics and work for an orderly devolution of HEC in the larger interest of the country before people of small provinces loose their trust and hopes in the democratic process that allows vested interests to sabotage duly passed constitutional amendments. If the centralization of HEC is maintained, history will record it a violation similar to the tyrannical actions of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Musharraf who violated the constitution so violently.

Continue reading Sindh should follow Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s example and announce formation of Sindh HEC

Baloch leader stopped from making speech by EU

by Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: The European Union (EU) accepted a Pakistani demand and cancelled the speech of an eminent Baloch leader to the EU Human Rights sub-committee, The News has learnt.

Mehran Baloch, son of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, a Balochistan representative at the United Nations, European Union and many other international forums, was invited to speak by the EU Sub-Committee on Human Rights to Members of European Parliament (MEPs) on April 13 but, to his shock, he was told by organisers a few minutes before he was scheduled to deliver the speech that Pakistan had demanded to cancel the Baloch’s speech through European External Action Service (EEAS). …

Read more : The News

Letter from a Syrian Socialist

by Syrian Socialist

Events are beginning to move in the direction of revolution in Syria. Prior to today’s day of action we received this letter from a Syrian socialist that gives some interesting insights into the difficulties the regime is facing.

The situation in Syria is reaching a boiling point. The regime has used brutal repression in the city of Darr’a. The so called “Saraya Al-Difa’ (Defense Brigades) which are paratroops under the command of Maher Al-Asad, the brother of the president, were the ones who stormed the Omary Mosque and are the ones besieging the city, terrorizing, arresting, and shooting. It is believed that more than 100 martyrs have fallen so far and hundreds more have been arrested. On top of that, locals have reported that Farsi is being spoken among some members of the security forces and there is widespread belief that these are Iranian “Revolutionary Guards”.

Today, Boutheyna Sha’aban, was on TV. She is a prominent face of the Syrian regime who has occupied a number of ministerial posts in the past and who is currently, some sort of a counselor for the president. She seemed shaky and was mumbling during parts of her speech, although she was trying to look strong. She repeated all kinds of rubbish that the regime has been saying along the lines that the President respected the legitimate demand of the protesters and is going to respond to them and that the violence that took place was caused by “agent provocateurs” who took advantage of the peaceful protests to advance their own agenda which has nothing to do with the demand of the Syrian people, but only aimed at striking at the stability and harmony the country enjoys. She finished her speech with the most ridiculous concessions, nonetheless very reflective of the fears of the regime, which included the immediate establishment of all sort of “committees” to “study” the different economic and political demands of the Syrian people (!) and also raising the wages of public sector workers (and improving benefits) to meet their needs. But how to meet “their needs” and by how much the wages are going to be increased she did not say! When she was asked who was behind this “conspiracy” in Darr’a she could not figure that one out either!

Tomorrow [Friday] is supposed to be the Syrian day of a rage and is going to be a decisive day that could very well mark the beginning of a full scale revolution. There have been many calls on people to take to the streets and protest but the response has been very meek so far. What happens tomorrow is significant because after the atrocities …

Read more : Wichaar

Instead of becoming angry on the role of establishment and its agencies, Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami & the rightious TV anchors are getting furious on the poor politicians!?

Judiciary, Establishment and its pawns in the media

by Yousuf Nazar

It was not surprising that the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court did not even entertain an application against the release of Raymond Davis. If it was Sherry Rehman who had been acquitted from some trumped up charges, I wonder they would have taken suo moto action suspending the acquittal decision.

The ISI-CIA’s deal should highlight one thing to our TV channels and their anchors. The establishment and the ISI work very closely with America, more closely than the PPP government. And the judiciary works very closely with the establishment. If you are someone like Salmaan Tasser, who is not liked by the establishment, you risk losing your life and Islamic law would be cited in favor of the killer. But if one is really a CIA agent, “true Islamic law” is observed and he is released after paying money from a slush fund.

Would all TV anchors concede that all their anger at either the government or Americans misses the biggest link; the security establishment which has been and continues to be the biggest protector of American interests in Pakistan. If they have some ‘ghairat’ and true courage, they should interview Gen. K~~~i and Gen, Pa~~~a and ask questions about the nature and the extent of CIA’s operations in Pakistan and billions of dollars of arms purchases, their rationale, and their purchase mechanism, and commissions paid and received. These ‘super patriots’ should also be asked if they don’t want drone attacks, why don’t they shoot them down? But can they do that with the F-16s bought from their masters in Washington? It is about time we face the most bitter fact: the security establishment cannot protect national interests because it has compromised them by its old and huge dependence on American money and arms. Would people like Kamran Khan, Talat Hussain, Kashif Abbasi, Shahid Masood, and the rest of their colleagues ever muster the courage and acknowledge that or would continue to mislead the people of Pakistan?

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups, Mar 18, 2011

Obama Gives Gadhafi the Ultimatum

Obama Gives Gadhafi the Ultimatum: Stop Violence or Face International Military Action

U.S. President Stressed that Europe, Arab States Would Lead Military Action Against Libya, if Needed

By JAKE TAPPER, HUMA KHAN and MARTHA RADDATZ

President Obama today gave an ultimatum to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that he must immediately implement a ceasefire in all parts of Libya and allow international humanitarian assistance or risk military action against his regime.

“Moammar Gadhafi has a choice. The [U.N.] resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop,” the president said today. “Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.”

“These terms are not subject to negotiation,” he added. “If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences and the resolution will be enforced through military action.”

Obama’s speech indicated that coalition forces are giving Gadhafi time to change course, but are also gearing up for an attack if their demands are not met. …

Read more : ABC News

PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab said that Shah Mehmood Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so!

Loyalists open fire on Qureshi

By Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: Former foreign affairs minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has no future in Pakistan People’s Party, Information Secretary of the PPP Fauzia Wahab declared here on Sunday.

“Serious disciplinary action will be taken against him (Mr Qureshi) for violating the party discipline and humiliating its leadership,” Ms Wahab said while talking to Dawn.

Former minister Raja Pervez Ashraf also criticised Mr Qureshi for allegedly trying to blackmail the party.

The information secretary said that Mr Qureshi had ditched the party leadership and it was not the first time he had done so.

She said that Mr Qureshi’s role as foreign minister over the past three years had been questionable, …

Read more : DAWN

Benazir Murder Case: Rehman Malik Comes to Musharraf’ Rescue?

by Aziz Narejo

Federal interior minister and president Zardari’s close associate, Rehman Malik is reported to have sprung into action to get the name of former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf deleted from the list of the accused in the assassination of former prime minister & PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

According to some news reports, Rehman Malik has expressed his anger over the inclusion of former dictator’s name in the list of the accused and has inquired from the head of the Joint Investigation Team of FIA, as to who had given permission to the investigators to include Pervez Musharraf’s name in the list of the accused in the case. He is reported to be putting pressure on the head of the Joint Investigation Team of FIA to delete the ex-dictator’s name.

It may be recalled that the Federal Investigation Agency on Monday had submitted a fresh 57-page report in the Anti-Terrorism Court-III in Rawalpindi, declaring former president Pervez Musharraf as an accused in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case. …

Read more : Indus Herald

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

Panel of journalists discussing conversation about buying Lahore High Court’s judges against Asif Zardari in programme Sawal Yeh Hai with Dr. Danish. Its not even easy to imagine that how much the Pakistani judiciary is corrupt!?

Panel of journalists discussing Conversation Saif-ur-Rehman Justice Qayum, Shehbaz Shareef and others about buying Lahore Hight Court’s judges against Asif Zardari in programme Sawal Yeh Hai with Dr. Danish. How much the Pakistani judiciary is corrupt, its not even easy to imagine!?

Courtesy: ARY News (Sawal Yeh Hai with Dr. Danish, Novermber 21, 2010)

via – Siasat -> YouTube Link 1, 2

SAPAC’s First Annual Get together in Washington

Munawar Laghari

Washington : The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) is pleased to extend an invitation to it’s First Anniversary Banquet Dinner, September 23, 2010, 6-10pm, Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 North Capital St, NW, Washington, DC- 20001

Please join SAPAC for a celebration of it’s first year working to Save Sindh, and for an exciting program with exceptional speakers:

Guest of Honor: Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), Guest of Honor: Representative Dan Burton (R-IN), Guest Speaker: Ms. Malou Innocent (Cato Institute), Guest Speaker: Dr. Asoka Bandarage (National Advisory Council, Georgetown University)

Members of the Sindh and Baloch Communities will also be sharing their views on the US-PK relationship, providing Honored Guests with valuable insight regarding the current situation across the region. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to speak alongside SAPAC with influential policy makers on behalf of your people! You could make a pivotal difference in future US-PK Policy!

Civil society agenda & action plan

By Aziz Narejo, TX

It is true that an overwhelming majority of the civil society wants an end to the military rule and military intervention in civilian affairs. It wants the military to do its lawful duties and not to indulge in politics. It wants non-partisan judiciary. It also wants a non-partisan free press, rule of law, respect for human rights and an unfettered democracy.

It is also true that the stand taken by the majority of the higher judiciary led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, a remarkable movement by the lawyers, a just struggle by the media men and women and the increasing awareness and activism among the masses have greatly strengthened the civil society. It is finally finding its feet and wants to be reckoned with but it still has a long way to go before it can play its due role.

In the present fateful situation a heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of the civil society leadership, especially when the dictator has donned civvies (wolf in sheep’s skin) and is playing a farce in the name of elections. Soon we may have a civilian government working under the dictator and he may try to derail the lawyers and journalists’ movement.

To defeat the dictator’s schemes and to fulfill aspirations of all sections of the society including the common men and women, there is a great need for the civil society to come together, take a joint stand and launch a well-organized and coordinated movement. It is the duty of each and every citizen to participate in such a struggle.

I am writing this as an ordinary citizen to call upon the leaders of the civil society in Pakistan to help bring the civil society leadership on one platform. I request them to host a conference of the forward looking and progressive pro democracy elements to:

1. Discuss and possibly set a brief agenda for the civil society.

2. Prepare an action plan for a struggle to end military intervention in civilian affairs, establish democracy, rule of law and non-partisan of judiciary and media, reach a just contract between the federating units and make sure the supremacy of the will of the people and the parliament.

Why?

1. It is the most catastrophic and the saddest tragedy that Pakistan was hijacked at the time of its birth by the people and the forces that imposed centralism, denied the core principles outlined in the “1940 Pakistan Resolution”, rejected the inherent rights of the minorities in a state and paved the way for a few in the elite to control the destiny of the country. These forces were soon joined by the military establishment that eventually took over the apparatus and started dictating every one else.

2. The country has been under continued military domination for at least half a century now, at times under direct military rule and at other times under military dominated rule. It is interesting to see that the country has suffered the most when it had been under the direct military rule. It explains the ability and the competency of the military establishment.

3. The long military domination of the society has established the principle of “might is right”; it has polluted the minds of the people specially our youth, hastened the degeneration and retardation of the society, nurtured insanity and corruption, created a class of opportunists and collaborators and bolstered the feudalism in the country.

4. The uninterrupted 13-year military rule under Ayub and Yahya ended in the dismemberment of the country while the next military ruler Zia mutilated, disfigured and dismantled all the civilian institutions, nurtured extremism, sectarianism, terrorism, racism, use of force and left behind such deep scars that may never heal.

5. The present military ruler is no different from his predecessors and seems to be pushing the country and the people over the cliff and finishing off the job left behind by the earlier dictators.

His actions against judiciary, lawyers, media and other civil society activists are the most condemnable. Today the country is burning and an overwhelming majority of the people is outraged at his actions.

What to do?

It is the time that the civil society takes a stand and saves the people and the country from an imminent catastrophe. It is the duty of all the civilians to speak up and act. The things can’t be left to just the politicians and the political parties because:

1. The political parties have been severely weakened by the years of military domination of the society, which has subverted the political and civilian institutions.

2. It is simply beyond the much-hampered capabilities of any single political party or even an alliance of several parties to take on the might of the military establishment that it has acquired after the continuous domination of all spheres of political and economic activities in the country.

3. There is a gulf of mistrust among the politicians and between the masses and the politicians. The politicians lack credibility and stand divided and can not agree to a joint stand on their own.

In such a situation, it will help if a conference is called by independent civil society leadership. It may succeed in bringing all the pro democracy leadership together and agree to a joint action plan.

Such a conference should help and compliment the political parties and not compete with them and shouldn’t seek in any way to form a new or even an umbrella organization. It should strengthen the political parties and all other civilian institutions and organs.

We must understand that the fight is very important and at a very crucial stage. It is not the sole responsibility of the political parties to take up the fight. All the civilians, civil society organizations and institutions have to chip in and have to strengthen the political parties and other civilian institutions.

When?

Such a conference should be held as soon as possible. I hope the civil society leadership would take an immediate action on this appeal.

27/12/2007