Tag Archives: administration

U.S. House urges adding Haqqani group to terrorist list

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON : (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the State Department to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist group, pressing the Obama administration to get tougher on an issue that already has strained ties with Islamabad.

Continue reading U.S. House urges adding Haqqani group to terrorist list

Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

On February 8, representatives of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International testified before the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations at the US Congress against grave human rights abuses committed by Pakistan’s security forces in the restive province of Balochistan. Since then, Islamabadhas used as many as 10 different channels to strongly protest against what it calls America’s “blatant interference” in its “internal affairs”.The issue has flared up further following the introduction of a House Concurrent Resolution by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking the right of self-determination for the native Balochs. Pakistan has summoned the acting US ambassador to Islamabad twice in a single week at the foreign office, passed a parliamentary resolution and protested through its ambassadors in Washington DC and at the UN. Wasim Sajjad, a former Pakistan Senate chairman, while referring to HRW, has called for “immediately taking action against those NGOs or persons who are accepting dollars from the US and are pursuing their agenda on the lands of Pakistan and destabilising Balochistan.”

Although the congressional hearing and subsequent resolutions were not sponsored by the Obama administration, American diplomats still face the wrath of Pakistani officials due to utter ignorance of the American poli-tical system. Anti-Americanism is not unfamiliar in Pakistan, but bashing the Obama administration for a ‘crime’ it has not committed simply means there is something fishy in Islamabad’s cupboard.
Continue reading Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

Free Baluchistan – Selig S. Harrison

Selig Herrison

As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the Obama administration ponders what the United States should do. But the bitter reality is that the United States is already doing too much in Pakistan. It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry.

Evidence is everywhere of what the Economist calls “a rising tide of anti-American passion.” The leading spokesman of traditional Muslim theology, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), opposes the “war on terror” because “it is an American war” and blames a U.S. plot for the recent assassination of the moderate Punjab governor, Salman Taseer.

The endless procession of U.S. leaders paying goodwill visits to Islamabad, most recently Vice President Joe Biden, evokes sneers and ridicule in the Urdu-language press, accompanied by cartoons showing Pakistanis scratching fleas crawling over their bodies. The late special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, liked free-swinging encounters with Pakistani journalists that left a trail of bitterness expressed in the Urdu media, but this did not deter Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from return visits.

To calm the situation down, the United States should start by phasing out drone attacks in the Pashtun border areas with their massive civilian casualties and should end the $1 billion plus in annual subsidies to the armed forces that make them look like American puppets. At the same time, less visible education and development aid provided by the Kerry-Lugar bill should be continued, together with the International Monetary Fund credits that keep the Pakistani state afloat, and access to U.S. markets for Pakistani textile exports should be increased.

Instead of publicly prodding the Punjabi-dominated armed forces to step up their offensive against Pashtun tribal militants in the Afghan border areas, the United States should recognize that Islamabad is afraid of stirring up Pashtun ethnic sentiment there that could break up the fragile multi ethnic Pakistani federation.

The Pashtuns of the former­­–Northwest Frontier Province (now called Kyber Pakhtunkhwa) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have an ancient history of resisting Punjabi incursions, but the Army did not come into direct conflict with the Pashtuns following the creation of Pakistan until July 2002, when, at the behest of the United States, it sent a division into FATA to attack al-Qaeda and Taliban forces at key transit points on the Afghan border. Heavy casualties resulted, displacing some fifty thousand people. This was a historic break with the autonomy agreements negotiated by the British with FATA tribes and honored until then by Pakistan. As the “war on terror” has proceeded, the FATA Pashtuns have been politicized and radicalized as never before.

The underlying reason that Pakistan’s U.S. links are so unpopular and make such a tempting target for the Islamists is that America is perceived as anti-Muslim.

The Islamists focus not only on Muslim casualties in next door Afghanistan, but above all on U.S. support for Israel and on the American military presence throughout the Arabian Sea , the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in areas near Pakistan.

Why does the United States keep pouring aid into Pakistan despite its active support for the Taliban in Afghanistan at the expense of U.S.-NATO forces and its inability or unwillingness to help the United States root out al-Qaeda from its mountain sanctuaries?

American officials point to its arsenal of seventy to ninety nuclear weapons, arguing that a tight U.S. embrace of the Pakistani military and intelligence elite is necessary to make sure that another nuclear-proliferation racket does not emerge like the one organized by nuclear czar A. Q. Khan.

This is an understandable concern because many of the same generals who colluded with Khan are still in high places. But the larger danger to the United States is that the nuclear arsenal will fall into the hands of the Islamist sympathizers inside the nuclear establishment, or that the Islamists will completely take over the armed forces, branding current military leaders as U.S. stooges.

Continue reading Free Baluchistan – Selig S. Harrison

Balochistan resolution in US Congress drives Pakistan crazy

By Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: A resolution moved by a group of US Congressmen calling for right to self-determination for the Baloch people has driven Pakistan to hysteria, with its leaders from the Prime Minister down questioning Washington’s commitment to the country’s sovereignty.

Following a Congressional hearing last week on the human rights situation in Balochistan, the Obama administration had assured Islamabad that it is committed to the country’s unity and integrity, but suspicion runs deep in Pakistan that Washington is intent on fingering the country on account of its covert support for terrorists.

Some hardline American analysts have suggested that the Washington help the Baloch break away from the federation so that American and Nato forces can have unfettered access to landlocked Afghanistan, given how Pakistan has been holding the US to ransom.

While the hearing itself had caused much disquiet in Islamabad and pushed an angry Pakistan into lodging formal protests, the latest resolution has driven its establishment to hysteria and distraction. Pakistan’s prime minister Yousef Raza Gilani condemned the resolution as a move to undermine the country’s sovereignty, and the Pakistani foreign office and the embassy in Washington took exception to it, saying it was against the “very fundamentals of US-Pakistan relations.”

Politics behind the resolution: Introduced by California Republican Dana Rohrabacher and co-sponsored by two other Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Steve King (Iowa), the House Concurrent Resolution says that the Baluchi nation has a “historic right to self-determination.”

Stating that Baluchistan is currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan with no sovereign rights of its own, the resolution explains that “in Pakistan especially, the Baluchi people are subjected to violence and extrajudicial killing,” and therefore, the Baluchi people “have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country; and they should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.”

The Baluchi, like other nations of people, have an innate right to self-determination,” Congressman Rohrabacher said in a statement. “The political and ethnic discrimination they suffer is tragic and made more so because America is financing and selling arms to their oppressors in Islamabad.”

The statement explained that historically Baluchistan was an independently governed entity known as the Baluch Khanate of Kalat which came to an end after invasions from both British and Persian armies. An attempt to regain independence in 1947 was crushed by an invasion by Pakistan.

“Today the Baluchistan province of Pakistan is rich in natural resources but has been subjugated and exploited by Punjabi and Pashtun elites in Islamabad, leaving Baluchistan the country’s poorest province,” it said.

Continue reading Balochistan resolution in US Congress drives Pakistan crazy

PAKISTAN – The Islamic university where girls were raped

Today a news article in Dawn revealed the shocking case of female students and staff members forced to offer sexual favours in return for grades and demands of their immediate superiors.

I do not believe that this news is “shocking” because such cases are a rarity. In fact I believe that such cases probably proliferate throughout educational institutions, or indeed in any institution where men are in a position to extract sexual favours. This case is shocking because of the International Islamic University Islamabad’s indifference to these cases and its efforts to cover it up. Further, they have tried to justify their actions by claiming that they hushed up these allegations to protect the parents of female students and the reputation of the institution.

So what exactly has happened?

Continue reading PAKISTAN – The Islamic university where girls were raped

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Pakistan Aid Withdrawl

After the US suspension of over $800 million in military aid to Pakistan, the Pakistani military has said that the action will not interfere with their ability to fight terrorism, but it still seems like a big move on the part of the Obama administration.

The Newsy video analyzes the story by comparing reports from different media outlets side-by-side. It’s a lot of information compacted into a brief video that gives viewers quick, diverse perspectives on global issues.

To watch video news analysis of the story → newsy.com

AJK elections: Theatre of the absurd

Excerpt:

….. Myths proliferate. The AJK assembly represents Azad Kashmir and the territory administered by India across the Line of Control. Since the refugees from the other side are scattered all over Pakistan, AJK elections for seats from the ‘other side’ are held in other provinces too. The MQM, which had won two seats last time, wanted to retain them both, but the PPP wanted one. When the MQM did not agree, the inspector-general of the Sindh police reported that conditions for polls in Sindh were not good, thus allowing the government to postpone voting. This has led to another PPP-MQM rift which promises to get worse in the coming days, with MQM leader Altaf Hussain saying that “the end of the PPP has begun”.

Everybody knows that India rules Kashmir from New Delhi, calling the head of the executive there chief minister; Pakistan has sensationalised the myth by calling the AJK chief executive the prime minister while ruling AJK from Islamabad. Once, the Muslim Conference was the blue-eyed boy of the establishment. Under General Ziaul Haq, Sardar Qayyum and Nawaz Sharif were equal beneficiaries at the fountainhead of power. The Muslim Conference thought it could go along with President Pervez Musharraf and switch off jihad. Sardar Atique is blameless today. The fact is that the establishment has rolled back the Musharraf policy and dumped his party.

A ‘flexible’ President Asif Ali Zardari has taken the PPP into the embrace of the establishment, concerned about reviving the ‘safe havens’ scaled down by Musharraf. On the other hand, the PML-N is challenging the establishment, not because of any difference in its thinking, but because of the PPP. It can switch off its intense criticism of the army if the latter dumps the PPP. The military is not particularly enamoured of the PPP. Furthermore, in comparison with the PML-N, it is less fearful of the PPP because of the PML-N’s reach and clout in the country’s most populous province. And clout matters within the officers’ corps. ….

To read complete editorial: → The Express Tribune

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.
Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Read more: The New York Times

Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship

By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard

Two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration remains uncertain and divided over the future of its relationship with Pakistan, according to senior U.S. officials.

The discovery of the al-Qaeda leader in a city near Pakistan’s capital has pushed many in the administration beyond any willingness to tolerate Pakistan’s ambiguous connections with extremist groups. After years of ineffective American warnings, many U.S. officials are concluding that a change in policy is long overdue.

Those warnings are detailed in a series of contemporaneous written accounts, obtained by The Washington Post, chronicling three years of often-contentious meetings involving top officials of both countries. Confirmed by U.S. and Pakistani participants, the exchanges portray a circular debate in which the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost.

U.S. officials have said they have no evidence top Pakistani military or civilian leaders were aware of bin Laden’s location or authorized any official support, but his residence within shouting distance of Pakistani military installations has brought relations to a crisis point.

Some officials, particularly in the White House, have advocated strong reprisals, especially if Pakistan continues to refuse access to materials left behind by U.S. commandos who scooped up all the paper and computer drives they could carry during their deadly 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

“You can’t continue business as usual,” said one of several senior administration officials who discussed the sensitive issue only on the condition of anonymity. “You have to somehow convey to the Pakistanis that they’ve arrived at a big choice.”

“People who were prepared to listen to [Pakistan’s] story for a long time are no longer prepared to listen,” the official said.

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Every available option — from limiting U.S. aid and official contacts, to unleashing more unilateral ground attacks against terrorist targets — jeopardizes existing Pakistani help, however undependable, in keeping U.S. enemies at bay. Military success and an eventual negotiated settlement of the Afghanistan war are seen as virtually impossible without some level of Pakistani buy-in.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about anyplace else,” President Obama said last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation.”

For now, the administration is in limbo, awaiting Pakistan’s response to immediate questions about bin Laden and hoping it will engage in a more solid counterterrorism partnership in the future.

That outcome seems increasingly in doubt. In Pakistan, officials’ pledges following the bin Laden raid that Pakistan would never let its territory be used for terrorist strikes against another country have turned to heated accusations of betrayal by the United States. ….

Read more : Washington Post

Devolution of HEC – the constitution must be respected

by Prof. Gul Agha

The constitution must be respected. The federal govt. can provide scholarships, research grants, coordination facilities, advisory boards, but it cannot control the administration of universities as it is against the federal nature of the state. This is how it is throughout the world in US, Canada, Germany and other democratic federal states. Educationists must respect and support constitutional rule.

Incidents like these are not enough evidences for parliamentarians to make new laws that either ban the military personal from running the educational institutions or require them to undergo a substantial training course to understand and adapt civilian way!

Professor`s sacking brings students to streets

By Jamal Shahid

ISLAMABAD, April 4: Students of Bahria University on Monday protested against the unceremonious sacking of a professor.

Carrying placards with messages like “Save Bahria University from dictatorship” and “Oppression on campus,” the students chanted slogans against the university administration particularly its Rector Vice Admiral (retired) Mohammad Haroon for military style control and disrespecting the faculty member. …

Read more : DAWN

Obama’s White House: on-the-fly zone – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The US and the allies may call the military campaign what they want but the no-fly zone, for all practical purposes, is an act of war and the fact of the matter is that Qaddafi himself is the endpoint in this war that cannot be circumvented

Geostrategic planning and global leadership has been likened by the old grandmasters of US foreign policy to a grand chessboard, where the strategy is contemplated several moves in advance, with an eye on the endgame. But the knee-jerk responses of Barack Obama’s administration to the rapidly unravelling situation in the Middle East and North Africa give an impression that he and his team are playing chequers, albeit in a manner as erratic as Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, if not more. From dithering on the US role in Egypt to weeks of waffling about Libya before actually jumping on the no-fly zone bandwagon, it seems like the White House is literally an on-the-fly zone, making up policy as it goes along.

As the western intervention in Libya entered its fourth day, it appears that President Obama may have allowed himself and the US to get sucked into a very messy situation in yet another Muslim country. Mr Obama had stated a couple of weeks ago that Qaddafi must “step down from power and leave”. Just when the Tomahawk missiles were being unleashed on Libya, Vice Admiral William E Gortney said at the Pentagon that Qaddafi himself is not a target, but his safety could not be guaranteed. Speaking on Sunday morning talk shows, Admiral Mike Mullen took the line that the Libyan dictator must “make decisions regarding his future in the country” but reiterated that the goal of the attacks was not to oust him. Taken at face value, these comments appear somewhat innocuous and are designed to placate the war-weary American public but they also reflect the confusion and bickering within the various factions of the Obama administration. …

Read more : Daily Times

They want to silence every voice coming from Sindh to Save Pakistan!?

SC takes notice of Sindh strike

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has taken a strict notice of the strike observed in Karachi and parts of Sindh on Friday.

The apex court has asked the provincial chief secretary and other officials of the provincial administration for reports of action taken against the instigators of the protest, source told Dawn on Saturday.

The Pakistan People’s Party had called for a day of protest in Sindh on Friday against the removal of National Accountability chairman Syed Deedar Hussain Shah on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Courtesy: DAWN

International Pressure on Qaddafi Intensifies

Qaddafi’s Army and Jets Strike at Rebels

By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

BENGHAZI, Libya — Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war.

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

But the ease with which at least one assault, on the western city of Zawiyah, was repelled by anti-government forces raised questions about the ability of the government to muster a serious challenge to the rebels’ growing power.

An international campaign to force Colonel Qaddafi from power gathered pace on Monday as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions. As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.” …

Read more : The New York Times

Baluchistan

 

Free Baluchistan

 

by Selig S. Harrison

As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the Obama administration ponders what the United States should do. But the bitter reality is that the United States is already doing too much in Pakistan. It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry.

Evidence is everywhere of what the Economist calls “a rising tide of anti-American passion.” The leading spokesman of traditional Muslim theology, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), opposes the “war on terror” because “it is an American war” and blames a U.S. plot for the recent assassination of the moderate Punjab governor, Salman Taseer.

The endless procession of U.S. leaders paying goodwill visits to Islamabad, most recently Vice President Joe Biden, evokes sneers and ridicule in the Urdu-language press, accompanied by cartoons showing Pakistanis scratching fleas crawling over their bodies. The late special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, liked free-swinging encounters with Pakistani journalists that left a trail of bitterness expressed in the Urdu media, but this did not deter Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from return visits. …

Read more : National Interest

Twitter blocked in Egypt amid street protests

By David Kravets

(Wired) — Twitter confirmed Tuesday evening that its microblogging site has been shuttered by Egyptian authorities. This came hours after widespread reports that access had been cut off, as Egyptians took to the streets in what many hope and some fear would be a sequel to the revolution in Tunisia last week.

The day’s speculation that the Mubarak administration might have pulled the plug on Twitter underscored the power of the site and other social networks as tools to both coordinate and disperse news of a citizen uprising. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were widely used in Tunisia’s recent uprising and in Iran last year. …

Read more : CNN

 

Flight of Reason – by Aamer Ahmed Khan

We published two photo galleries on BBC’s Urdu website last Friday. One on the Jamaat-e-Islami’s youth wing Shabab-e-Milli’s tribute to Mumtaz Qadri’s father in Rawalpindi and the other on the candlelit vigil in Lahore in memory of the slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

As expected, comments started to pour in almost instantly. The most telling among them simply said: “Please compare the crowd in the two, for every Taseer mourner, there are at least 50 Qadri supporters.” If nothing else, it says a lot about the state of siege in which liberal opinion finds itself, as more and more people flock behind Mr Qadri, a cold-blooded killer who had been painstakingly planning Taseer’s murder for weeks before he struck.

Irrespective of the number of people who gathered for the vigil in Lahore, I am stunned at their courage in standing up to a crazed mob that neither understands its religion nor the man who brought it to them. It is a mob of moral cheats that has become religiously, politically, intellectually and morally so bankrupt that it seems to have convinced itself that its only salvation lies in baying for innocent blood.

Let us give ourselves some idea of how courageous the dozens who flocked to the vigil in Lahore really are. Since the glowing tribute paid to Qadri by lawyers at his first court appearance, we have been trying to contact the lawyer leadership that spearheaded the civil society movement only three years ago to bring down General Musharraf’s dictatorship. In that movement, millions around the world saw the seeds of a politics that Pakistan has desperately been waiting for all its life — a politics that flows from the combined intellect of the mobile middle class instead of dynastic politics, hereditary constituencies and endemic corruption.

Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood became household names as tens of thousands of people rallied behind them wherever they went. For weeks, no political talk show in the country was considered complete without at least one of them in the chair. Since Taseer’s murder, they simply seemed to have vanished into thin air.

We finally managed to get through to two of them: one simply said that we are free to call him a coward if we want to but he doesn’t want to comment on the issue at all. The other one went even further: he said he would not even allow us to report that he was contacted for his opinion on the issue.

Predictably, Asma Jahangir was the honourable exception who not only spoke in detail about the atrocity against Taseer but was candid and unambiguous in her criticism of the legal fraternity’s sudden gush for a killer. But then, one has always known her to be one of the bravest women in the country.

Which brings to mind another brave woman who dared to bring a bill to the National Assembly aimed at amending some of the more draconian provisions of a law that has spawned nothing but injustice in the quarter century of its existence. Our crazed mob has distributed pamphlets advocating that she must meet the same fate as Mr Taseer. I am proud to have worked for her at Herald for six years. She was one of the bravest editors I know. Today, she has been forced into abandoning her public life by the tyranny of bloodthirsty criminals masquerading as religious zealots.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s administration has already surrendered to these criminals. It is pointless to expect him to fight this battle. However unfortunate as it may be for the liberals, they do not have the luxury to follow suit. They have to go on fighting even if their battle is far more dangerous than the one Pakistan has been fighting in its tribal areas for the last 10 years.

Courtesy: http://www.columnspk.com/flight-of-reason-by-aamer-ahmed-khan/