Tag Archives: analysts

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.

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New York Times: Seized Cell phone Suggests Bin Laden Link to Pakistani Intelligence

– Seized Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say.

The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said. But it also raised tantalizing questions about whether the group and others like it helped shelter and support Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, given that it had mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years, the officials and analysts said.

In tracing the calls on the cellphone, American analysts have determined that Harakat commanders had called Pakistani intelligence officials, the senior American officials said. ….

Read more: The New York Times

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More details: BBC urdu

Pakistan and China: Two Friends Hit a Bump

By MICHAEL WINES

BEIJING — This is officially the Year of Pakistan-China Friendship, and in a four-day visit to Beijing last week — the third in just 17 months — Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, proclaimed that the two best friends “are like one nation and two countries.” Chinese officials were reported to have presented Mr. Gilani with 50 fighter jets as a welcome gift.

So it raised eyebrows when this week the two nations politely disagreed over whether Mr. Gilani had given the Chinese a gift that would be hard to mislay: an entire naval base, right at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Pakistan’s defense minister, Ahmad Mukhtar, who accompanied Mr. Gilani on the state visit, announced the deal after Mr. Gilani returned home on Saturday.

“We have asked our Chinese brothers to please build a naval base at Gwadar,” a deepwater port on Pakistan’s southwest coast, he told journalists.

Moreover, he said, Pakistan had invited China to assume management of the port’s commercial operations, now run by a Singapore firm under a multidecade contract.

On Tuesday, however, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, disagreed, saying the port had neither been offered nor accepted.

“China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors,” she said at the ministry’s twice-weekly news conference. “Regarding the specific China-Pakistan cooperative project that you raised, I have not heard of it. It’s my understanding that during the visit last week this issue was not touched upon.”

Some analysts were at a loss to explain the discrepancy.

“Maybe there were some discussions between the two sides when Gilani was up in China last week, bearing on some kind of future Chinese stewardship of the port,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, in a telephone interview. “Maybe there was some speculative discussion. Perhaps the Defense Ministry simply got its signals wrong.”

We’re seeing a lot of incompetence in the Pakistani government these days,” he added. ….

Read more : The New York Times

via BrownPundits

LeT holds prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The founder one of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) told his followers to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his “martyrdom” would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday.

LeT has been holding special prayers for bin Laden in several cities and towns since he was killed in an operation by U.S. forces in Abbottabad on Monday.

A spokesman for LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed said he had told followers in Lahore that the “great person” of Osama bin Laden would continue to be a source of strength and encouragement for Muslims around the world.

“Osama bin Laden was a great person who awakened the Muslim world,” Saeed’s spokesman Yahya Mujahid quoted him as saying during prayers at the headquarters of the LeT’s charity in Lahore on Monday.

“Martyrdoms are not losses, but are a matter of pride for Muslims”, Saeed said. “Osama bin Laden has rendered great sacrifices for Islam and Muslims, and these will always be remembered.”

Amidst shouts of “Down with America” and “Down with Obama”, around 1,000 of Saeed’s followers held prayers in Karachi.

“May Allah accept the sacrifice of Osama bin Laden,” local leader of Let’s charity, Naveed Qamar, said at the prayers.

LeT, one of the largest and best-funded militant organisations in South Asia, is blamed for the November 2008 assault on Mumbai, which killed 166 people in India’s commercial hub. Its founder, Saeed, now heads a charity, a group the United Nations says is a front for the militant group.

Western security analysts believe that LeT is linked to al Qaeda, though LeT officials deny this.

Mujahid said thousands of Saeed’s followers, many of them often in tears, took part in the prayers. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more : The New York Times

“Shoot us” : Mazhar Arif writes on role of media in Taseer’s killing

“Shoot us”

by Mazhar Arif

Urdu press and leading television channels, played a catalytic role in what happened. They lament that the responsibility of Taseer’s assassination rests with the irresponsible media and its howling and yelling anchors. The Jamaat-e-Islami and Sipah-e-Sahaba affiliated journalists and analysts in the media berated and maligned Taseer for supporting poor Christian rural worker Aasia Bibi …

Read more : View Point