Tag Archives: al-Qaeda

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

A wake-up call

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It was the first time on Monday morning that I breathed a sigh of relief that the PTI and the PAT dharna is there and continues to attract attention. Just imagine if the media was not focusing on them they might have taken the trouble of sniffing out the drama which was unfolding in Karachi on September 6. A Chinese manufactured F-22P frigate of the Pakistan Navy, PNS Zulfiqar, came under attack by the Taliban. It is not confirmed as yet if the ship was at sea or docked at the naval dockyard. The story was kept under wraps for two days and disclosed on September 8. It was not that people were not warning others. A friend from abroad had even inquired on Saturday about what was happening in Karachi to which I had no answer as nothing was being reported on television except the Imran/Qadri roadshow. But I am still happy no one reported the story because the last time someone tried to dig out facts about infiltration of militants and ideologues inside the navy it ended in tragedy.

Gladly, the brave sailors and officers saved the day. However, the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, for which the Taliban took the responsibility, proved yet again the vulnerability of the country’s security. What we are always scared to talk about is the support from inside as had happened in the attack on PNS Mehran, PAC, Kamra and other places. Given the fact that little is known about militant penetration, it is difficult to ascertain the threat. This is about men caught by the demon of disbelief of their state and society. Glance through the literature on state making and you can find how monopoly over violence and making sure it stays that way is one of the many characteristics of a viable and efficient state. However, here is the issue of men, who join a profession to guard the state then turning away, because they suddenly suspect the state is not legitimate. The whole concept of jihad or takfir is not a simple issue of people becoming devil-like but erosion of their faith in legitimacy of the state. They begin to desire a perfect Islamic state which can only be brought about by fighting the existing system. Penetrating an armed force becomes an attractive option since achieving such objective tantamount to a force multiplier. A well-trained and oiled war machine can take you places.

Just imagine a situation where militants would try to rebel and take control of a vessel while at sea. Notwithstanding many of the earlier claims that all three services were cleaned during the Musharraf regime, these attacks suggest otherwise. Various religious groups have always had access to men in uniform under one pretext or the other. If it is not the militants then it is Deobandi or Salafi reformation movements such as the Tableeghi Jamaat or Al Huda that are allowed to access military personnel and their families. Reportedly, the households of one of the two smaller services were opened up for Al Huda by the senior leadership. The problem here is not with increased interest in religion but the fact that after a while these families and their men begin to get totally confused about where does duty to religion end and to the state begin. Not that they want to kill innocent colleagues and other people but they are blinded by their understanding of dogma to believe that they have to bring suffering in order to improve the world as ordained by God.

The PNS Zulfiqar attack is yet another reminder that things are getting serious. We need to look at this development in the backdrop of the expansion of militancy and extremism in the form of IS and the al-Qaeda’s Qaedatul Jihad in Indian Subcontinent (QJIS). While many analysts tend to see IS and QJIS from the lens of internal competition amongst militants, especially Zawahiri’s need to build up his strength, some observers argue that the two forces may have different tactics and partners but similar strategic objective. They both want to consolidate and establish a caliphate. In this regard, other existing organisations like the Hizb-ut-Tahrir also have the same desire.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/760623/a-wake-up-call-2/

New fears: TTP in Syria

THE problem with a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting militancy is that the rest of the body is left exposed. For a while now the TTP has been an enemy of the Pakistani state but there is hardly a faction within that umbrella organisation that at some point over the years has not been in the good books of the army-led security establishment. But the good Taliban/bad Taliban dichotomy never made sense to begin with and as time has gone by, the contradictions have become apparent. The TTP in all its forms has always been bad news for this country’s internal stability and external relations. Just how bad has been underlined in recent days with two foreign news services reporting that the TTP has claimed to have sent men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab nexus, including links to Al Qaeda, has always been apparent in the arc of the TTP’s relatively short history. Unlike, say, the Afghan Taliban who by and large have hewed to a purely domestic agenda, ie ridding Afghanistan of foreign ‘invaders’, the TTP’s overall agenda has leaned more towards the concept of a global jihad. In the past, that has meant offering sanctuary to foreign militants who arrived in Fata for training or to escape more hostile environments in their home countries. Eventually, however, a resilient TTP was always likely to seek to contribute directly to so-called jihadist struggles outside the Pak-Afghan region. As with all things, TTP claims made by various commanders take time to be established but if the Syria claims are verified, it would mark an alarming new phase in the militant network’s existence.

Syria may be an epic mess on its own, but other countries that could be potential destinations for the TTP’s battle-hardened cadre of fighters will surely be alarmed by the possibility. Pakistan is already fairly isolated in the international arena because of its inability to systematically curb the activities of non-state actors on Pakistani soil and this latest development will only add to the pressure. But it is in the domestic arena that the repercussions will be the most severe. The TTP has proved to be far more resilient than originally thought, though perhaps that is in no small part aided by the lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the state to fight militancy. If the TTP is confident enough to be sending fighters abroad, does that mean the network believes it has enough resources locally to successfully fend off the Pakistani state? That is an enormously worrying possibility.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1029169/new-fears-ttp-in-syria

Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

By  M. Zuhdi Jasser

The terror attacks in Boston, perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, have finally come to an end with the capture of the younger brother Dzhoakhar in Watertown on Friday evening. One hopes that Dzhoakhar survives just long enough to tell us whether he was working with any foreign or domestic Islamist groups before he hopefully meets the same fate of his victims. Our nation will certainly be resilient, and we cannot let terrorists achieve their goals of unraveling our society.

Perhaps Boston’s terror may finally be the impetus to begin the long overdue process of retooling America’s current counterterrorism strategies. Since 9-11, except for the Fort Hood massacre, we have been fortunate enough to avoid the kind of devastation and loss of life that we saw this week in Boston. That was certainly not for a lack of trying by our enemies, with over 300 arrests on terrorism charges since 9-11. Of these, over 80 percent were Islamists. I’ve said it before — after 9-11, after Fort Hood, and after Times Square, this is a Muslim problem that needs a Muslim solution.

The Tsarnaev brothers prove that the current Homeland Security “whack-a-mole” strategy is severely limited and rather flawed. The United States must address head-on the ideology of political Islam, which is the root cause of Islamist terrorism.

As details emerge about the identity and ideologies of the Tsarnaev brothers, it should quickly become clear that these individuals did not go to sleep one night normal American Muslims and wake up the next day al-Qaeda jihadists putting together pressure-cooker bombs. Their pathway towards radicalization will now be obvious to those who honestly connect the dots in retrospect. Far more important now is that leading reform-minded American Muslims, along with the U.S. government, the media, and academe, begin to confront and dissect the early stages of radicalization (Islamism), not just the last one (violent extremism).

Despite our devotion to our faith, I and other leading anti-Islamist Muslims were vilified by Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in America, along with their choir on the left, for participating in Representative Peter King’s (R., N.Y.) hearing in Congress on American Muslim radicalization and the central role of Islamism. I believe history will show Chairman King’s hearings to be prescient. I was also vilified by those same groups for my role in narrating the documentary The Third Jihad, which happened to open with an illustrative scene from the terror in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, when militant Chechnyan Islamists killed 334 civilians, 186 of them children, after a two-week standoff. The 2008 documentary was about the threat of militant Islamism to the West and the need for anti-Islamist Muslims to counter that threat. How many attacks like that suffered by the people of Boston this week must we see before we recognize the need to drill down against the separatism of the global movement of political Islam and their dreams of an Islamic state?

Continue reading Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

Pakistan seems to be on the brink of religious anarchy. Talbanization of the country has turned Punjab province into a hell for the Christian and Ahmadiya religious minorities. Does country intend to adopt the path of harmony? Silence is the only answer, for now!

On the pretext of blasphemy, around two hundred houses of innocent Christians were set on fire a couple of weeks ago by a fanatic mob led by extremist organizations in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province of Pakistan. This has recently been followed by insurrecting Ahmadiya Muslim minority’s houses in the province. Violence against religious minorities has been on the increase in the most populous province of the country.

Fear and fury has gripped Pakistani Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims; some of them have fled the province while others are considering fleeing Pakistan. The issue has raised the concerns of international community, particularly the western governments.

The shadow of continuous Hindu exodus has already created fury in Sindh province. Blazing a couple hundred houses of Christians has not only jolted the country, emotionally, but has also pointed towards insensitivity of liberal middle class towards minorities. In fact, the eastern-Indus Pakistan has lurched in the psychological chaos. Needless to mention, the western-Indus is already undergoing Taliban and Baloch insurgencies.

Continue reading Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

Sharia law comes to rebel-held areas of Syria. Western powers are facilitating the Jihadi takeover of yet another country.

Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria

ALEPPO, Syria — The evidence was incontrovertible, captured on video and posted on YouTube for all the world to see. During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.

And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe.

The beating administered last month offered a vivid illustration of the extent to which the Syrian revolution has strayed from its roots as a largely spontaneous uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. After mutating last year into a full-scale war, it is moving toward what appears to be an organized effort to institute Islamic law in areas that have fallen under rebel control.

Building on the reputation they have earned in recent months as the rebellion’s most accomplished fighters, Islamist units are seeking to assert their authority over civilian life, imposing Islamic codes and punishments and administering day-to-day matters such as divorce, marriage and vehicle licensing.

Numerous Islamist groups are involved, representing a wide spectrum of views. But, increasingly, the dominant role is falling to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States for suspected ties to al-Qaeda but is widely respected by many ordinary Syrians for its battlefield prowess and the assistance it has provided to needy civilians.

Across the northeastern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqah, where the rebels have been making rapid advances in recent weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken the lead both in the fighting and in setting out to replace toppled administrations. It has assumed control of bakeries and the distribution of flour and fuel, and in some instances it has sparked tensions with local fighters by trying to stop people from smoking in the streets.

Here in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, more than half of which has been under rebel control since July, Jabhat al-Nusra is also widely identified as the leading force behind the Hayaa al-Sharia, which loosely translates as the Sharia Authority and is known simply as the Hayaa.

Based out of the city’s former Eye Hospital, which was damaged during the fighting and then occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra as its headquarters, the Hayaa is also backed by other rebel units, including the Tawhid Brigade, the city’s biggest fighting force, and the Ahrar al-Sham, a homegrown Islamist force that has played a relatively minor role in Aleppo but is powerful in several other provinces.

Islamic administration

These days, the bomb-scarred former hospital has taken on the semblance of a wartime city hall, with people milling in and out seeking permits to carry a gun or transport fuel through checkpoints, complaining about neighbors, reporting thefts and informing on people suspected to be regime loyalists.

Courtesy: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-law-comes-to-rebel-held-syria/2013/03/19/b310532e-90af-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html

Pakistani Soldier stoned to death in Kurram for alleged love affair: report

By: AFP

PESHAWAR: A soldier has been stoned to death in Pakistan’s restive tribal northwest over allegations of an affair with a teenage girl, officials told AFP on Wednesday.

A tribal council in the town of Parachinar, close to the Afghan border in Kurram district, ordered the sentence on Anwar-ud Din, who was about 25 years old, for having “illicit relations” with a local girl.

“There were some 40 to 50 people who hit the man with stones till he bled to death,” a local tribesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Relations between men and women without family approval are considered immoral by many in Pakistan, particularly in the deeply conservative northwestern tribal areas, where Taliban and Al Qaeda linked militants have strongholds.

Hundreds are killed around the country each year in the name of defending family “honour”, but stonings are extremely rare.

Din was accused of having an affair with an 18-year-old girl and meeting her secretly, but both were caught on Sunday in a graveyard, the tribesman told AFP.

The soldier admitted he had met the girl three or more times before and the punishment was carried out on Tuesday in the graveyard where the pair were discovered, the tribesman said, adding that the body was later taken to hospital.

Local government and security officials confirmed the incident, but declined to comment.

The fate of the girl remains unclear, but there were rumours in the area that she may also have been executed, although she denied the affair, the tribesman said.

A hospital official confirmed that they had received a mutilated body on Tuesday, which was later taken away by paramilitary forces.

“It was really a horrific sight. The body had been badly damaged after being hit by stones. Wounds all over and the face could no longer be recognised,” the official said.

Continue reading Pakistani Soldier stoned to death in Kurram for alleged love affair: report

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Was Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

By Saeed Qureshi

Was a country that came into being in the name of religion destined to be a theocracy in the longer run? And that is what exactly happened with Pakistan. Pakistan is awash with radicalism and fundamentalism. The religious militants have taken Pakistan hostage.

The sectarianism is assuming monstrous proportions and running amok with the social peace and stability of the country. The founders would have never imagined that in the state they are striving hard to create, the religious sects would slaughter in public view their opponents and still get away from justice.

The civil liberties in the Islamic state of Pakistan are fast disappearing. The national institutions like police, courts, municipalities, post offices, banks, schools, hospitals, water and power, transportation, taxation and revenue collection are in a state of continuous decay and dysfunction.

All these state building departments are infested with unremitting maladies of corruption, malfunctioning, red tape, disorder, and lawlessness. The visible progress that one can witness is the number of mosques growing; the religious traditional events celebrated every year with renewed passion and fanfare and sectarian vendettas escalating.

If this nascent country was supposed to be rampaged and taken over by bigots and religious reactionaries with no vision of civility and the need of a civil society, then better it was not created. The cut throats fundamentalists force the people to remain stuck up in the past, follow the rituals and then feel free to indulge in any conceivable villainy, wickedness, lawlessness and rioting.

Continue reading Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Pakistan still global jihad hub

By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More nationalities, same problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

By: Bruce Riedel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Against the odds, Zardari has survived.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Battle for the Soul of Pakistan

Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

In spite of the gradual infiltration of ubiquitous religious symbolism and mentality in the social spheres of everyday life, Pakistan has managed to remain afloat as a dynamically pluralistic society comprising various ethnicities, religions and Islamic sects.

However, starting in the late 1970s, an anti-pluralistic process was initiated by the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship that soon spiralled beyond mere posturing and sloganeering.

With the ‘Afghan jihad’ raging against the former Soviet Union, Zia, his intelligence agencies, and parties like Jamat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam started embracing a narrow and highly political version of Islam.

This was done to radicalise large sections of the Pakistani Muslims who had historically been a part of more apolitical strains of the faith — the kind that over the centuries had evolved within the largely pluralistic milieu of the subcontinent.

Continue reading Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

State Department warns Americans against travel to Pakistan

WASHINGTON – (Reuters) – U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Pakistan, the State Department said on Thursday, in a fresh warning that follows numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in Pakistan that U.S. officials said are likely to continue.

Officials upgraded their ongoing caution about the travel risks in Pakistan, explicitly advising Americans to put off any non-essential travel to the country. They also “strongly urged” those who are already there to avoid protests and large gatherings.

The State Department said the presence of al Qaeda, Taliban elements, and “indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan.”

Continue reading State Department warns Americans against travel to Pakistan

The AfPak Vision And North Waziristan Operation

Context: The talk about the military operation in North Waziristan has picked up feverish pace. This is not the first time, in the last decade, and historically, Waziristan has been the bone of contention several times before.

The attempt here is not, as many other assessments are doing, to name different locations along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders who may have been killed in Waziristan. Nor is the emphasis on presenting the best tactical approach to conduct the operation. Rather the focus is on the less talked about dimension: how does the operation fit in the larger vision and strategy?

Analysis- Vision, Strategy And Tactics

Obviously, tactics and strategies are two different things, and are suppose to be connected to the larger vision. A vision is an ideal future state that an entity may be striving for. On the other hand, strategy lays out the best approach to accomplish the vision. Different tactics may be deployed in support of a selected strategy. However, too much emphasis on tactics, without consideration for the strategy and the grand vision is a sure recipe for failure. At the same time, the vision and strategy cannot be set in stone, as the reality is quite dynamic. Thus, to be successful, any shrewd strategist has to constantly adjust lofty goals to the ground reality.

Continue reading The AfPak Vision And North Waziristan Operation

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Balochistan) publishes beheading video of two Shia Muslims

By Bill Roggio

The al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) published a gruesome video on jihadist internet forums that shows the beheading of two Shiites. In a statement that accompanied the video on one of the forums, a jihadist said the Pakistani terror group is part of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The video, titled “Revenge,” was released today, first on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu forum and then distributed on other jihadist forums, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the video.

In the video, two Shia men are filmed for nearly half an hour before they are brought outside and seated on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs. Standing behind them are four masked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters; two are holding a red banner with crossed swords.

Two of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters then pull out knives, and proceed to behead the two Shia men. The victims’ heads are then placed on their laps. The jihadists then wipe their knives on the clothes of the slain men.

A jihadist on the Hanein forum, who posted in Arabic, said the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi “is allied to Taliban-Pakistan and has a close relationship with it,” according to SITE, which translated the message.

Continue reading Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Balochistan) publishes beheading video of two Shia Muslims

NWA militants abandoning bases to escape imminent offensive

Excerpt;

….. Almost all top figures of the Haqqani Network have shifted to safe places during and before Ramadan.

Some of them crossed over to Afghanistan, while some have moved to less populated areas in the Potohar region of Punjab, where the Haqqani family owns well-protected houses and accommodations.

Tribal sources said al Qaeda fugitives had already moved towards Syria, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and US-led allies are forcing Syria’s Bashar Al Assad to resign. These fugitives would now play a key role in mass movements against Assad and would even get involved in terrorist and other violent acts.

However, local tribesmen are carefully monitoring the situation. A majority of influential and affluent families have already abandoned homes and shifted to Peshawar, Islamabad and other main cities and towns, while others are forced to play silent spectators to whatever might unfold in the area.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/08/24/news/national/nwa-militants-abandoning-bases-to-escape-imminent-offensive/

NWA operation to be Pakistan’s own decision: Peshawar corps commander

PESHAWAR – Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani has made it clear that the government alone will make the decision regarding a military operation in North Waziristan and “no one can impose its own will from abroad in this respect”.

“The armed forces are well aware of their responsibilities and are alert for all sorts of action in any part of the country,” was his reply to a query while talking to reporters on Thursday at an iftar dinner hosted by him in the honor of journalists and analysts.

The corps commander expressed surprise over media reports regarding military operation in North Waziristan, saying “how is it possible for the armed forces to accept a wish from abroad regarding our own internal issue or any other administrative matter”?

Continue reading NWA operation to be Pakistan’s own decision: Peshawar corps commander

‘Pakistan-linked’ attack on Kabul foiled: Officials

By AFP

KABUL: Afghan and Nato forces foiled a series of suicide attacks on Kabul planned for Sunday when they captured five insurgents allegedly linked to militants in Pakistan, officials said.

The group was “finalising plans for an attack in the capital” and a large cache of explosives, suicide vest parts, weapons and ammunition were seized in the overnight operation, Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said.

The “sophisticated suicide attacks” would have targeted the Afghan parliament and the residence of Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said.

One of the five was a Pakistani national and the group was in possession of Afghan army uniforms and Pakistani identity documents, currency and cellphone numbers, the National Directorate for Security said.

“The evidence indicates they had connections with the terrorists beyond the border with Pakistan,” the agency said.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of harbouring Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Earlier this month, Afghan officials said five insurgents planning a major attack on an area of Kabul home to Western embassies were killed in a pre-dawn gunbattle in the capital.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/421128/pakistan-linked-attack-on-kabul-foiled-officials/

U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

Washington (CNN) — The word “terrorism” in the United States usually brings to mind plots linked in some way to al Qaeda, while the danger posed to the public by white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing militants is often overlooked.

Militants linked to al Qaeda or inspired by jihadist ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, which have resulted in 17 deaths. Thirteen of them were in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.

Continue reading U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

Spanish security Services suspect the alleged terrorist cell of ties to the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba

Spanish security services suspect the alleged terrorist cell of ties to the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Reinares told CNN, and they believe one or more tiro received terrorist training in Afghanistan & Pakistan.

The alleged cell as first detected in Spain around a month ago but had been previously tracked by other western intelligence agencies, according to the Spanish Interior ministry.

Spanish’s Interior minister said the suspects had information about remote-controlled airplanes and some of them “have experience producing explosive and car bombs and training in shooting.

The alleged cell member had been mastering the art of trying on motorized para-gliders, leading Spanish investigators to believe the group was planning an attack  from the air.

To see the source of the News; » CLICK HERE

Who killed Gen. Alvi?

LAHORE: The authorities investigating the murder of Maj-Gen (retd) Amir Faisal Alvi, former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG), by two unidentified gunmen in Rawalpindi do not rule out the possibility of involvement of some pro-Taliban militants in the assassination.

Once considered close to former president Pervez Musharraf, Maj-Gen Faisal Alvi was the first General Officer Commanding of the elite Special Services Group, and had also commanded the elite group as a brigadier. The first Pakistani major-general to have captained the Armed Forces Skydiving Team (AFST), Alvi was forcibly retired from the Army on disciplinary grounds ‘for conduct unbecoming’ by Gen Musharraf in August 2005.

The authorities suspect the involvement of a sectarian organisation linked to Taliban and the al-Qaeda in the murder, as Maj-Gen Alvi had been involved in several major military operations conducted by the SSG commandos in the restive Waziristan region.

The authorities believe the murder has symbolic significance as Alvi used to be a high-profile officer of the Special Services Group — an independent commando division of the Pakistan Army, which had carried out the high-profile Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad against the fanatic Ghazi brothers and their followers …..

Read more » The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=18472&Cat=13&dt=11/20/2008

Via – Twitter

Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Takfir: the ideology of hate —Dr Mohammad Taqi

An ordinary Salafi may believe in the non-violent call to convert to their version of Islam but the Salafi jihadists are proponents of violent jihad. The doctrinal differences that set the jihadist group apart include practising takfir, i.e. labelling other Muslims as infidels or apostates

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Continue reading Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

. Mumbai Terror Attack Group Lashkar e Tayyiba Now More Dangerous Than Al Qaeda

With the 9/11 terrorist group on the ropes, the organization that masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks has become the world’s most dangerous, says Bruce Riedel.

By Bruce Riedel

The arrest of Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jindal, at New Delhi airport late last month is a major breakthrough in the investigation of the deadliest terror attack in the world since 9/11. Abu Jindal was one of the masterminds of the November 2008 attack on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed, including six Americans. He is already confessing to his role and implicating Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate directly in controlling the attack as it went down.

The November 2008 attack by ten Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT) terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai, India was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11. It marked the maturation of LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of al Qaeda: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India. LeT used cell phones and GPS technology to terrorize an entire city and grab global attention for three days. LeT’s masterminds ran the operation in real time from a headquarters in Pakistan, even issuing death sentences to innocents.

Abu Jindal, an Indian citizen traveling with a Pakistani passport, was in the control room in Karachi in 2008 talking on the phone to the ten terrorists. He gave them advice on where to look for more victims in the Taj Hotel, for example, and instructed them when to murder their hostages. His voice was recorded by the Indian authorities listening in on the phone calls and has since been replayed in chilling detail by the Indian police for all to hear.

According to press reports from India, Jindal was arrested on June 21 after being deported from Saudi Arabia to India. The arrest operation was a joint counter-terrorism effort by India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Abu Jindal was in the Kingdom recruiting and training new LeT volunteers from the enormous Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries. He was allegedly in the final stages of a “massive” new terror plot. Abu Jindal has also been linked to other attacks in India including the bombing of the Mumbai metro and train system in 2006 that killed over 180.

Abu Jindal has told the Indians that two members of the ISI were also in the control room, both allegedly majors in the Pakistani army. This confirms the longstanding accusation that the 2008 plot was orchestrated and conducted with the assistance of the ISI. An American, David Headley, who worked for LeT and did the reconnaissance for the attack has said the same thing. So has the only survivor of the attack force, Amir Kasab, who has been convicted of mass murder in India.

But because Abu Jindal was actually in the control room in Karachi his accusation is even more powerful. If the press reports about Abu Jindal’s accusations are confirmed then the ISI was involved directly in the decision to murder Americans. So far the Indian government has publicly confirmed only that his testimony points to state sponsorship of the attack without providing details of his confessions.

Continue reading Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

Islamists destroy prized saints mausoleums in Timbuktu- UNESCO world heritage site on danger

UPDATE 2-Mali Islamists destroy holy Timbuktu sites

* Witnesses say Ansar Dine fighters take pick-axes to sites

* Attacks comes days after UNESCO danger warning

* Islamists now have upper hand in Mali’s north (Adds further details, switches dateline to BAMAKO, adds byline)

By Adama Diarra

BAMAKO, June 30 (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes began destroying prized mausoleums of saints in the UNESCO-listed northern city of Timbuktu on Saturday in front of shocked locals, witnesses said.

The Islamist Ansar Dine group backs strict sharia, Islamic law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year.

The attack came just days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

“They have already completely destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud (Ben Amar) and two others. They said they would continue all day and destroy all 16,” local Malian journalist Yeya Tandina said by telephone of the 16 most prized resting grounds of local saints in the town.

“They are armed and have surrounded the sites with pick-up trucks. The population is just looking on helplessly,” he said, adding that the Islamists were currently taking pick-axes to the mausoleum of Sidi El Mokhtar, another cherished local saint.

Courtesy: Reuters

http://af.reuters.com/article/maliNews/idAFL6E8HU0XU20120630

Imran Khan says beheadings in Swat are Pakistani propaganda

Courtesy: Dr. Danish with Imran Khan + Pakistani Tv channels + YouTube

Via – Twitter

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Read more » Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers

More on beheadings of Pakistani soldiers » BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/06/120627_taleban_dir_video.shtml

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Pakistani Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers. Warning: The content of this video is extremely graphic. The video shows the aftermath of the beheadings of 17 Pakistani soldiers.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/06/pakistani_taliban_re_3.php#ixzz1zDYyQEZH

The real reason for the rot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There is absolutely no challenge to what the army does or has done in the past and this too is a natural corollary of the genesis of this state

Nations are products of long historical and evolutionary processes; most present nation states evolved thus. But when states are formed on an artificial basis of contrived nationhood or on the basis of religion, as was the case with Pakistan, Israel and Yugoslavia, they of necessity turn into fascist states, dominated by a militarist ideology. Serb-dominated Yugoslavia denied rights to other nationalities and eventually imploded. Pakistan by claiming to be the legatee of the glory of Islam burdened itself with heavy historical baggage, but then it could not have done otherwise as it was that claim that it wanted to justify its artificial existence with. Consequently, Pakistani rulers in keeping with its elite’s interests curtailed national rights of different nationalities, and forced them to rally under the banner of religion and to accept its ideology by upholding their brand of Pakistani nationalism.

The Baloch, Bengalis, Sindhis and to a certain extent, the Pashtuns resented and resisted this imposition in varying degrees. The Bengalis having had the advantage of distance and a sympathetic neighbour went their separate way in 1971, while the Baloch after an initial period of freedom have borne the brunt of military operations because of their refusal to accept the artificially imposed ideology of a Muslim nation and have so far thwarted the attempts to crush their determination for a separate entity status. The Sindhis, at first taken in by state-sponsored ideology, gradually realised that their interests did not coincide and have resisted it though erratically at best since.

Continue reading The real reason for the rot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

Fallout from Arsalangate

By Khaled Ahmed

The PPP government was already in the dock for corruption. Arsalangate dragged some other entities into it: the army, the media, and the chief justice

Malik Riaz Hussain, arguably the biggest real estate developer in Pakistan with ‘connections’, decided to reveal that he had been blackmailed by the son of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and had allegedly been forced to spend nearly Rs 40 crore on him. He used journalists of a media house on a social media website to deniably make his case, after which the country witnessed a full-blown media scandal undermining the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court.

Called to the Supreme Court on suo motu, Malik Riaz submitted evidence of payments made to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. He then went on TV and made additional allegations, some of them implying that Chief Justice Chaudhry may have been aware of what was going on. In answer, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar claimed that he had never met Malik Riaz and that he had received no payments from him or his relatives to finance his clearly lavish holidays abroad. Chief Justice Chaudhry expressed his complete lack of knowledge of all this.

The linguistic divide: One partisan of the debate that followed stated: ‘The Chief Justice took suo motu notice of the case and presided over the Bench while in the complete knowledge of the code of conduct of Judges. Given the experience and acumen of My Lord, the Chief Justice, one can say to a moral certainty that he would be aware of the general principle and the specific provision of the code of conduct, which requires judges not to hear matters involving immediate family members’. This comment was in English.

The first divide became visible on the subject and it was linguistic. In Urdu, the issue was addressed in the light of the example of Hazrat Umar who presided over the trial of his son and punished him with his own hands. This linguistic split – which is the most glaring ideological bifurcation in the country – was followed by politicians squaring off against one another: the PMLN and Tehreek Insaf announced themselves on the side of Chief Justice. They accused the ruling PPP of having engineered entrapment through Malik Riaz to get rid of the Chief Justice.

First Army, then TV Anchors: The media rallied to the defence of the Chief Justice. Most of the TV anchors thought it was a conspiracy to challenge the Chief Justice because he had made pointed investigations into “disappearances” in Balochistan. The implication was that the Army was offended and wanted the judge to ‘lay off’, and had used Malik Riaz to make revelations about Arsalan whose reputation was already subject of rumours in Pakistan for some time.

Continue reading A must read article of Khaled Ahmed – Fallout from Arsalangate

“First the military used to carry out coups and now the judiciary has overthrown an elected PM” – Hasan Askari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari hoped on Wednesday to nominate a new prime minister following a night of crisis talks after the Supreme Court disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt.

The move could ease uncertainty in a country that is increasingly trying US patience over al Qaeda-linked havens, struggling with a Taliban insurgency and heading deeper towards a financial crisis that could force it back to the IMF.

The court ruling effectively dissolved the cabinet and unless the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its fractious coalition members agree on a replacement prime minister, could bring elections forward to later this year.

Ahmed Mukhtar, until recently defence minister and now minister for water and power, is thought to be the most likely candidate, favoured for his experience and unflinching loyalty to President Asif Ali Zardari.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who has made international headlines for her beauty and designer handbags, has been apparently ruled out for inexperience.

“The process of consultation is continuing. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has made up its mind to elect a new prime minister rather than confront the court and create constitutional deadlock,” a government official told AFP.

Zardari was to present “three or four names” to coalition party leaders late Tuesday to try and find a consensus, said the official.

Aside from Mukhtar, other strong candidates were Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the textiles minister, and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the commerce minister.

“If all the coalition parties agree on a name, then the PPP is expected to announce the name for new prime minister on Wednesday,” the official said.

The nominee would then need to be approved by parliament, where the PPP-led governing coalition has a majority.

The crisis is the worst in a showdown between the judiciary led by the popular, anti-corruption campaigning chief justice, and the government which waited till March 2009 to restore independent judges sacked under the military.

The Supreme Court convicted Gilani of contempt on April 26 for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen multi-million-dollar graft cases against Zardari.

Gilani always insisted Zardari had immunity as head of state and that writing to the Swiss would be a violation of Pakistan’s constitution.

The new prime minister will also come under pressure from the court, for which analysts said Zardari was determined to appoint a loyalist and someone from the central province of Punjab to supplement his powerbase in the south.

Members of the government believe the court is trying to bring down Gilani and Zardari before February 2013, when the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete a full five-year term.

The president, deeply unpopular among ordinary Pakistanis and nicknamed Mr 10 Per cent for alleged corruption, cancelled a visit to Russia to convene emergency talks with legal experts and party bosses to resolve the crisis.

The Supreme Court verdict was followed in hours by an announcement from the election commission that Gilani had been dismissed as an MP.

Senior PPP members also appealed for calm, a sign that the party preferred to elect a new prime minister than contest the court ruling.

Analysts warned it would be impossible to get parliament to overturn the court’s decision without the support of the main opposition PML-N party.

This is a destabilising move. It is a kind of judicial coup. First the military used to carry out coups and now it’s the judiciary which has overthrown a prime minister,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.

Read more » DAWN.COM

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in the territorial waters of Balochistan near the port city of Gwadar

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in Pak territorial waters

By Shafqat Ali

US moves its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, into Pakistani territorial waters near Gwadar, media reports said.

“The US has moved its biggest aircraft carrier 65 to 70 nautical miles away from Gwadar in the second week of June”, a Pakistani television channel reported.

The USS Enterprise, which holds a crew of over 4,000, had taken part in several wars.

The move comes as relations between Pakistan and the US have touched new lows. Pakistan has refused to reopen Nato supply through infuriating the US.

The Pak-US relations have never recovered to normal since the killing of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year. The killing of 26 Pakistani soldiers by the Nato forces in November further dented the ties.

“After the deployment of the aircraft in Pakistani sea the country’s security agencies are now investigating into the matter. The movement apparently shows the increasing interest of the US in Balochistan province of Pakistan”, another channel reported.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon plans to soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

The move to introduce new small drones seeks to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, the report said.

Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups, the newspaper said.

The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smouldering rubble.

The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.

“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible”, said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.

The Obama administration, notably the CIA, has long been lambasted by critics for its use of combat drones and carelessly killing civilians in targeted strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.

In Islamabad, on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Muazzam Khan said that efforts were underway to mend the strained relationship between Pakistan and the US.

Speaking to reporters at a weekly news briefing, Mr Khan said that the decision to restore the Nato supply route would be made by the political leadership.

The FO spokesman dispelled the impression that Pakistan was raising the tariff on the supply route adding that there were several other issues involved.

“Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used as terrorist safe havens”, he added.

Courtesy: Decan Chronicle

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/reports-claim-american-supership-uss-enterprise-pak-territorial-waters-664#comment-123222