Tag Archives: Anti

Anti-Sindh racism rears its ugly head in the newspaper

by Bina Shah

I woke up this morning steeling myself for a grim kind of day: It’s Benazir Bhutto’s 5th death anniversary, and the mourning had already started since last night. We have all keenly felt her loss, and nobody loved her more than the people of Sindh, from where she came. “I am the daughter of the Indus, the daughter of Taxila, the heir of this 5000 year old civilisation” was a quote that I was seeing on Twitter to remind us of the legacy of this remarkable woman.

 

Read more: http://binashah.blogspot.ca/2012/12/anti-sindh-racism-rears-its-ugly-head.html

Punjab government guilty of blasphemy: says MNA Fazle Karim

Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool: ‘Don’t vote them into government again’

By Rana Tanveer

LAHORE: MNA Fazle Karim of the Sunni Ittehad Council condemned the mainstream political parties on Friday for not joining the protests against the anti-Islam movie and urged the public to not vote for them in the next elections.

He was speaking to an Ishq-i-Rasool Day rally on The Mall.

Karim said the ruling parties could not be trusted with representing the sentiments or interests of the people. He said the parties were silent on the issue because they were afraid of losing the United States’ support for their governments.

He demanded a joint session of the parliament to evolve a strategy for dealing with any insult to Islam.

The SIC chief said the provincial [- -Punjab – -] government was guilty of blasphemy when it demolished six shrines that fell in the route of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Lahore.

Continue reading Punjab government guilty of blasphemy: says MNA Fazle Karim

Pakistani businessman accused of blasphemy for not protesting anti-Islam film

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials say they have opened an investigation into a businessman who has been accused of blasphemy after refusing to join protests over an anti-Islam video and allegedly trying to convince others also not to take part.

Police officer Munir Abbasi says that hundreds of protesters in the city of Hyderabad who rallied against the film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad demanded businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan shut his shops in solidarity.

When Khan refused, one of his tenants said his decision supported the film.

City police chief Fareed Jan said Wednesday the protesters claim Khan insulted the Prophet.

Jan said there’s no evidence to suggest this happened and said police were pressured by the mob to open the case. ….

Read more » The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-businessman-accused-of-blasphemy-for-not-protesting-anti-islam-film/2012/09/19/713c3c28-0258-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html?wprss=rss_social-world-headlines&Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

Awami Tahreek annouced Train March from Karachi to Islamabad to oppose proposed anti Sindh projects.

AT mulls train march

KARACHI – The Awami Tehreek on Sunday announced a ‘train march’ from Karachi to Islamabad, where a sit-in would be staged in front of the Parliament House, against the proposed project of Zulfikarabad town and other anti-Sindh projects initiated by the ruling PPP and its allies. This decision came at Awami Tehreek’s central committee meeting in Hyderabad chaired by its chief Ayaz Latif Palijo.

According to party’s Information Secretary Noor Ahmed Katiar, the meeting weighed a number of options against certain anti-Sindh projects, including the proposed Zulfikarabad city.

“After thorough deliberations, the Awami Tehreek has decided to take out a ‘train march’ to the federal capital and stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament House after Ramazan,” Katiar said while speaking to this scribe by telephone. About other decisions taken during the meeting, the nationalist leader said these would be unveiled by Ayaz Latif Palijo at a press conference scheduled for Monday (today).

Continue reading Awami Tahreek annouced Train March from Karachi to Islamabad to oppose proposed anti Sindh projects.

Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

By: Manzur Ejaz, Wichaar.com

The other day a very respectable political analyst made a surprising claim that Pakistan’s military is the only institution genuinely concerned about prevailing conditions of the country. Clearly he was specifically referring to dead-locked Pak-US relations where political parties, numbed or scared by anti-America populism, cannot come together to find a viable solution. One can assume that such sentiments must have been communicated to him by the highest level of the core state. However, the problem is that the fearsome anti-US jinni was created by the military and now it wants the civilians to put it back in the bottle.

Continue reading Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

The Khan bowls too wide

Imran Khan’s endorsement of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has been a PR disaster for him even within Pakistan,

By: Kunal Majumder reports

IN APRIL 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million for information leading to the prosecution of Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and believed to be the mastermind of the 26 November 2008 Mumbai terror strike. Saeed, a hero of the fundamentalist right in Pakistan, claimed he was being victimised due to his anti-American politics. Soon enough, he was adopted by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party. The PTI president, Javed Hashmi, called Saeed “a preacher of peace in the world!”.

Hashmi didn’t stop there. Participating in a rally organised in Multan by the Difae-Pakistan Council — an umbrella body of quasi-political religious parties opposing the opening of NATO supply lines to Afghanistan and the Most-Favoured Nation trade status to India — Hashmi vouched for the “piousness” of Saeed. “A social worker,” he said, “can never be a terrorist but all those declaring him a terrorist are the real threat to the peace of the world.”

Continue reading The Khan bowls too wide

Extremist in Pakistan have been given a free hand to bash Americans, under support of ‘certain quarters’ – says Bushra Gohar a parliamentarian

Aid to Pakistan: $2.6 billion spent, little ability to show it

Anti-US sentiments and foreign policy squabbles are thwarting good US public relations from reaching turbulent, poor border regions of Pakistan.

By Taha Siddiqui

Islamabad, Pakistan – Khalil Afridi recently survived a fatal attack by militants when a hand grenade was hurled at him. “They want me to quit development work, because of my association with Western donors,” he says.

Continue reading Extremist in Pakistan have been given a free hand to bash Americans, under support of ‘certain quarters’ – says Bushra Gohar a parliamentarian

Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Pakistan after the American withdrawal

By Khaled Ahmed

Most observers are worried about Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-Nato forces from there in 2013-2014. It should be interesting to see what would happen to Pakistan once the Americans are gone.

Islamabad’s Jinnah Institute in its briefing (July 25, 2011) spelled out Pakistan’s ‘objectives’ in relation to post-withdrawal Afghanistan. The most outstanding point made in the report pertained to India: “Pakistani foreign policy elite accept that India has a role to play in Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction … but Pakistani security establishment [thinks] a reluctance to address Pakistani misgivings increases the likelihood of a growing Indian footprint, and in turn, New Delhi’s greater ability to manipulate the endgame negotiations and the post-settlement dispensation in Kabul”.

Will India get out of Afghanistan after the American withdrawal? From a statement by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (“we will support the Afghan people”), it appears that it plans to retain its presence in Afghanistan.

The most likely post-withdrawal scenario is that there will be a civil war in Afghanistan. A parallel war will take place between the Afghan National Army and the non-state actors from Pakistan. The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has told Congress he thought a future 230,000-strong Afghan force, scaled down from a planned 352,000, was enough after 2017. That will historically be the largest army Afghanistan will ever have.

Continue reading Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

By Mohammad Hamid, KUNDUZ, Afghanistan

(Reuters) – About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department. ….

Read more » Reuters

via – Twitter

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Evolving Strength of Character – by Rusty Walker

If Pakistan needs a strong civil government, it will need a strong leader. If it looks for a heroic voice, someone who is courageous enough to take on a Justice system that has proven itself to be pro-Jihadi and anti-female, pro-rape, run by a Pro-Establishment, Chief Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry- this hero may well be Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s recent speech, covered in two stories in LUBP, deserves another look. He reflected his mother’s bravery, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and her intelligent and fearless tone, unafraid to speak plain truth and stand up to injustice. His voice sounds like the voice of the people, and has a grassroots type manner of appeal. Unlike manufactured politicians like Imran Khan, Bilawal is not afraid to say the unpopular things. When Imran Khan vaciliated in his condemnation of the murder of PPP governor, Salman Taseer, it was PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who condemned it unequivocally.

Continue reading Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Evolving Strength of Character – by Rusty Walker

The ‘Defence’ of Pakistan – By Sahiba Trivedi

Excerpts;

…. Many believe that the emergence of the DPC has been backed by Pakistan’s powerful security establishment and that the ‘mullah-military nexus’, used frequently by the powerful intelligence agencies in the past, was being deliberately revived. Founders of DPC include an ex-ISI Director General, a Member of the National Assembly and members of UN-declared terrorist outfits, some of which have had tacit or overt support from the establishment in the past. The DPC came into being when Pakistan had stopped NATO supply routes in the aftermath of the attack on the Salala check-post in the Mohmand Agency. During that period, relations between the civilian government and the military had deteriorated due to the Memogate scandal. Rumours abounded about the possibility of the military disposing of the civilian government to take over the country, which the military was quick to deny. The military had gauged the mood of the nation and realized that another coup would not go down well anywhere, internally as well as externally. The rise of DPC has been viewed as one of the mediums through which the security establishment has tried to rein in the civilian government. The security establishment has been also been backing the rise of Imran Khan to counter the power of the two main national parties – the ruling, Pakistan People’s Party and the opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

There is evidence to suggest that the DPC is acting as the establishment’s mouthpiece. For the civilian government, the DPC has been used by the establishment to remind them to tone down their eagerness for improving ties with India and also to reassert their authority over the civilian government. The DPC is also necessary as a bargaining point when it comes to relations with the US – to show them the ‘mood of the nation’. And for the citizens of the country, the DPC is being used to whip up anti-US and anti-India rhetoric under the guise of ‘defence’ of the nation. The anti-American sentiment is particularly high in Pakistan at present; even school children from Rawalpindi attended the DPC rally in Islamabad purely because they thought the rally was being held to ‘destroy the US’. ….

Read more » Strategic Foresight

http://www.strategicforesight.com/defence_pakistan.htm

Pakistan has had so many “moments of reckoning” but here is another – By Najam Sethi

Matters are coming to a head in Pakistan. The deadlock in US-Pak relations over resumption of NATO supplies is veering towards confrontation. And the confrontation between parliament-government and supreme court-opposition is edging towards a clash. The net losers are fated to be Pakistan’s fledgling democracy and stumbling economy.

Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee for National Security has failed to forge a consensus on terms and conditions for dealing with America. The PMLN-JUI opposition is in no mood to allow the Zardari government any significant space for negotiation. COAS General Ashfaq Kayani is also reluctant to weigh in unambiguously with his stance. As such, no one wants to take responsibility for any new dishonourable “deal” with the US in an election year overflowing with angry anti-Americanism. The danger is that in any lengthy default mode, the US might get desperate and take unilateral action regardless of Pakistan’ s concern. That would compel Pakistan to resist, plunging the two into certain diplomatic and possible military conflict. This would hurt Pakistan more than the US because Islamabad is friendless, dependent on the West for trade and aid, and already bleeding internally from multiple cuts inflicted by terrorism, sectarianism, separatism, inflation, devaluation, unemployment, etc. Indeed, the worst-case scenario for the US is a disorderly and swift retreat from Afghanistan while the worst-case scenario for Pakistan is an agonizing implosion as a sanctioned and failing state.

Continue reading Pakistan has had so many “moments of reckoning” but here is another – By Najam Sethi

Summary of Musharraf’s Article: You don’t get it, the Baloch deserve to be killed by the Army.

Understanding Balochistan

By Pervez Musharraf

There is no doubt that Balochistan is the most backward and most deprived province of Pakistan. Successive governments since our independence are responsible for their share of the neglect suffered by Balochistan. But unfortunately the sardars themselves did not favour development in their areas. Notably Akbar Bugti, who despite having been chief minister and governor of the province, hardly did anything for Balochistan, or even for Dera Bugti. An anti-Pakistan, anti-army and anti-FC sentiment was planted and gradually nourished, especially among the Bugtis, Marris and Mengals, by their sardars. Some efforts made in the 1970s to open up the area through the establishment of a communication infrastructure were strongly opposed and rejected by the Marris.

Continue reading Summary of Musharraf’s Article: You don’t get it, the Baloch deserve to be killed by the Army.

Sindhi middle class politics

By Javed Ahmed Qazi

Sindhi politics are a paradox. When there is democracy, the political pendulum swings towards the PPP, and when there is dictatorship, people support ethnic politic parties.

The ethnic parties that represent the middle class hardly ever win legislative assembly seats. But when they called strikes recently, the entire province came to a standstill. And that is a sign the middle class is starting to matter.

Although separatist movements are more popular in Balochistan, their flags are not displayed openly. SindhuDesh flags are seen all over the Sindh.

In his book Idea of Pakistan, Stephan Cohen says: “An independent Sindh would block the access of the rest of Pakistan to the sea. Separatist movements there were intolerable to the central government and a mixture of inducement and punishment was applied to keep the nationalist sentiments in check.” But “Sindhi separatist feeling still exists today, and political unrest runs deep”.

Sindhi nationalists are generally anti-establishment, and are not ready to stop supporting the PPP for either ZulfiqarMirza or MarviMemon.

The hub of middle-class Sindi politics is the Qasimabad town of Hyderabad. For a long time, Sindh University in Jamsharo supplied its cadres. Dr QadirMagsi, Bashir Qureshi, and Gul Muhammad Jakhrani began politics when they were students. But partly because of the ban on student unions and partly because of two streams of education, that has changed.

Hyderabad is also the hub of Sindhi press, and editorial pages specifically address issues of ethnic orientation – governance, economy, taxes, and long standing water related debates.

The middle class has grown substantially all over the province in the last few decades, but the economy is not entrepreneurial. Most middle-class professionals are teachers, journalists, retailers, clerics, government employees, or skilled workers.

The birth of the middle in Sindh began in the 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave out government jobs, set up universities and built roads in the province. But eventually, he also sternly suppressed middle class political voices.

The ethnic Sindhi middle class has traditionally been wary of the Punjabis as well as the Mohajirs. While President AsifZardari has helped pacify the Mohajir-Sindhi differences in the recent past, issues between the two groups remain unresolved.

Ethnic Sindhis also have concerns about distribution of river water with Punjab and are especially concerned about the proposed Kalabagh Dam.

Sindhi politics have been secular and Sufi-leaning so far, but Taliban-friendly seminaries have recently made inroads in northern Sindh. The development has specifically concerned Sindh’s Hindu community, but Shias are comparatively safe.

A vast majority of Sindhis is Sunni, but they have immense respect of Shias. Many Sindhi feudals are also Shia. A large number of Sufi shrines are taken care of by Shias, and even Hindus have a say in the affairs of those shrines.

Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in Sindh before Partition, and the Sindhi middle class accuses the feudals of having instigated Hindu-Muslim riots for political gains. Middle-class Sindhi politicians were popular in Sindh before the riots, it is said, and Shiekh Abdul Majeed Sindhi defeated Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, father of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in the 1937 elections.

Sindhi ethnic parties had also supported Sheikh MujiburRehman, because there was a perception in Sindh that the Bengali nationalist movement and Sindhi nationalist movement had common goals and a common rival – the middle class of Punjab.

The demand for an independent SindhuDesh was first made in 1973, but it has never been as popular as the separatist movement of Bangladesh, or even the recent separatist movement in Balochistan.

Courtesy: Friday Times

Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

The lies and triangulations of Imran Khan

By Saroop Ijaz

When the educated, prudent Imran Khan supporter is asked for her views on the unbelievably grand proclamation of the ‘dear leader’ stating that he will uproot corruption in 19 days and eradicate terrorism in 90 days, there are always two slants, often one after the other. The devotee will inevitably begin by arguing how Imran Khan will unquestionably and quite breezily achieve the said objectives in the self-stipulated time period. If the line of reasoning is further pursued (or reasoning used at all), they will gingerly and sheepishly concede that statements might not be susceptible to literal implementation, but making an invigorated comeback, state that he is better than everyone else and has built a cancer hospital and who else could they vote for etc? At this point a smirk breaks out on the face of the PTI foot-soldier; to them it is the clincher. The best argument for Imran Khan is something which can be vaguely phrased as some notion of the ‘lesser evil’. There is some difficulty in grasping the concept of how the subsequent quantitative judgment about less or more is precisely made, once the qualitative determination of ‘evilness’ has been reached.

Let me be plain on the matter, the proclamations of Imran Khan on corruption and terrorism and the arbitrary, flashy deadlines are untrue on their face. They require no elaborate refutation, and a child of 10 having average intelligence should see through them, unless of course they have uncritical love blinding them. This brings us to the question of motive, here again an unflattering binary is unavoidable; either he is lying by design or he does not possess the fortitude to understand and realize what he says. At a core level, it is a choice between deceit and self-deceit. I do not think Imran Khan is fantastically intelligent, but he is decent by cricketer/politician standard. Hence, because he is not severely mentally handicapped, it is safe to say that he does know what he promises is not only undoable, it is impossible that he will get anywhere close to these deadlines in the best of circumstances. The blatant misrepresentations cannot be attributed to Spartan simple-mindedness or childlike innocence; it is done with complete knowledge. Therefore, even to put it at its mildest, Imran Khan is deliberately and consciously lying.

Continue reading Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

Handful of Baloch protestors in Geneva send Pakistan Military into panic mode.

Swiss, UK govts moved over Baloch leaders anti-Pakistan activities: FO

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office has moved the European countries providing asylum to Baloch leaders to make sure their soil was not used against Pakistan, Geo News reported.

Foreign Office Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit while replying to questions in his weekly press briefing here said, “Pakistan has raised this question with the concerned countries, adding a demarche has been issued to ambassador of Switzerland in Islamabad.”

Abdul Basit said Islamabad has also wrote to the relevant countries in this regard and was assured by them that their soil would not be used to hatch anarchy in Pakistan.

“We are cognizant of the developments in Balochistan and necessary steps have also been taken,” he added.

The spokesman said Pakistan s trying to handle the situation in the province politically adding “it is our internal issue and will be dealt with in accordance with the constitution and our own preferences”.

He said, “The foreign office and our missions abroad are engaged actively in order to ensure that this issue is not portrayed in any other context by the detractors.”

On the issue of Balochistan, the spokesman said Pakistan has been handling the situation politically in accordance with its own laws, priorities and constitution.

He also disclosed that years ago US embassy had applied for opening a consulate in Balochistan but Pakistan declined the request.

Continue reading Handful of Baloch protestors in Geneva send Pakistan Military into panic mode.

American Marxism as a guide to action:

Marxist political advice and its discontents

By Omar Ali

Professor Vijay Prashad  is the George and Martha Kellner professor of history at Trinity college. He is also a prominent left wing activist. The two roles have different requirements. Here he tries to bridge the gap. 

Someone had commented on 3quarksdaily.com that this is “Another bucketload of gormless Marxist verbiage around a central anti-semitic core: forget the mountains of corpses and the decades of torture and oppression – Assad’s main crime is defined as “neoliberalism … and a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.”

That triggered the following comment (i have edited the original slightly for clarity)  from me: The real problem with neomarxist verbiage is not double standards or selective outrage, its the unbridgeable gap between being a professor and being an actor on the ground in a civil war in a faraway country.
Vijay Prashad as a professor in a first world University may eventually contribute to changing the way X or Y issue is framed in the mind of the elite, and that in turn will eventually have some impact somewhere in actual daily politics and political struggles but those are big “eventually-s”. Some professors are OK with that and focus on doing their research and writing their books and teaching their students in the hope that their analysis will eventually “trickle down”. But that (for obvious reasons) is not very satisfying for most of us. Hence the need to suggest practical courses of action in today’s clash, to pick sides, to “organize a relief column”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your estimate of said professor’s wisdom and insight) this aspect of a professor’s work has near-zero real world relevance.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but it does seem to be a real problem. Most right wingers are almost by definition closer to the ruling elites so maybe they dont feel the pain as much, but left wing professors are in a painful bind here..to have no opinion on proximate politics and wars seems silly, but to have an opinion that arises logically from their theoretical framework is frequently sillier, and any honest and good man may end up in Professor Prashad’s position. Its a real dilemma.

In an attempt to pre-empt misunderstandings, let me add:

1. My question is not about the details of his analysis.

2. Its about this scenario. Lets say Vijay is Vladimir Lenin. Well, in that case he is not only a theoretician (though he would like to believe that his superior understanding of theory informs his practice), he is an organizer, a rebel, a leader, a politician with day to day decision to make. Very fine nuances and very involved calculations will come into play. Many of those calculations will be very cynical. All of them will be locally bound by existing circumstances. Theory will have to give way again and again. But Vijay (probably not even in his own mind, but I don’t know him personally, so I cannot say for sure) is not Lenin. He is a professor. He does research, he writes books. He has theories. And he is part of a broader left wing academic current that has its own internal dynamics very far from the ground in Syria. I am saying I don’t expect him to say things that are too useful as guides to action.
3. What do you think?

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

The ‘anti-state’ Sarmachars of Balochistan – Marvi Sirmed

Excerpt;

After US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s sudden attention to Balochistan, the Pakistani media went bonkers to protect the proverbial ‘sovereignty’ of our country — a cause championed by the security establishment and most of its mouthpieces in the media as well as political circles and civil society. Emerging from the fathoms of near oblivion to almost a dozen Op-Eds in the mainstream press daily, Balochistan is now the darling of the prime time TV cupola as well.

If the anchors and columnists want to sound more profound, and if they run out of words to express the imperiousness of the US Congress for interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, they would endlessly repeat almost clichéd references to 1971 with emphasis on giving ‘due importance to the Baloch problem’. The umpteen ‘political analysts’ and ‘Balochistan experts’ religiously recount the current government’s failure to address the issue despite the latter’s trumpeted mantra of ‘democracy, the greatest revenge’. Such talk would be garnished with admonishing the ‘irresponsibility’ of the Baloch nationalists in attacking innocent citizens of ethnicities other than the Baloch.

What goes completely missing from this narrative is the origins of the conflict, the response of the state to the centrifugal nature of Baloch nationalism and the ever deteriorating civil-military relations in Balochistan, which now seem to have reached the point of no return. The way Balochistan was made to accede to Pakistan goes missing from the textbooks alongside any reference to the military operations carried out in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the current surge starting from 2002 to date. The result is a general apathy towards Balochistan in the rest of the country with almost no understanding of the surges in historically seeded ethno-nationalism in Balochistan, described as ‘Baloch insurgencies’ in the mainstream media. The same media gives prime space to opinion makers who describe Taliban insurgents as ‘freedom fighters’. No wonder one finds so many people in upper Punjab and Islamabad who take Baloch nationalists as ‘traitors’, while the Taliban militants as flag bearers of Muslim nationalism. ….

Read more » Daily Times

At least seven die in Afghan protests over mistaken Koran-burning

REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Anti-American protests flared for a second day Wednesday over the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran by U.S. personnel at a military base north of Kabul, and at least seven people were killed in the ongoing violence, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said.

U.S. officials worked to contain the damaging fallout from the incident, which came at a difficult and delicate juncture of the decade-old war.

In demonstrations that spread to several locales across the country, hundreds of Afghans burned tires, threw stones and chanted “Death to America!” Foreign embassies and organizations urged Westerners in the capital and elsewhere to keep a low profile. ….

Read more » http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/02/afghanistan-koran-burning-protests-seven-die.html

Mother of all scams? Will justice be done by the Supreme court that called itself “Aazad Adliya”!?

Mother of all cases?

A testimony of the slim, short, veteran businessman-cum-banker, Yunus Habib, may come in handy when the Supreme Court starts hearing the almost decade-old petition of Air Marshal Asghar Khan on Feb 29, 2012. Habib hit the headlines in the 1990s for his key role in the release of Rs14 million (or maybe more) from his own Mehran Bank to defeat the Benazir Bhutto’s PPP in the next elections.

The affidavit submitted by the then ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, is the first ever confession by any official of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency of the role it played in pre-poll rigging and its direct involvement in political matters. But there is much more to it and all facts must come to the surface.

Though there was an unusual delay in the case being taken up for hearing, one hopes it will proceed as fast as other petitions like the ones dealing with NRO, NICL, the infamous Memo Case or the Haj scam.

Continue reading Mother of all scams? Will justice be done by the Supreme court that called itself “Aazad Adliya”!?

Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

THE Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced its aim of defending us against the dangers we face today.

But given the fact that the biggest threat to Pakistan comes from the extremist ideology of many of those who constitute the DPC, the question arises whether these holy warriors will confront the militants.

Don’t hold your breath: during a recent DPC rally in Karachi, speaker after speaker made it clear that their real enemies are India and America. This assembled galaxy clearly failed to notice the uncomfortable fact that over the last decade, well over 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks launched by jihadi militants. Such mundane truths often escape our religious brigade. While focusing on American drone attacks, which while controversial, have been the most effective weapon against the militants in the tribal areas, they have conveniently overlooked the real cause of militancy. The moment these realities are pointed out to them, they go on about how these casualties are the result of the American war in Afghanistan.

The composition of the DPC is interesting as it brings together a number of reactionary elements under one umbrella. Some of these, like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijaz ul Haq, have a semblance of respectability. However, this is based on the dubious proposition that cabinet positions, past or present, in Pakistan confer some degree of social acceptability.

On the other side of the DPC spectrum, we have characters like Malik Ishaq, released by the Lahore High Court and accused of committing several murders for the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba, an extreme Sunni outfit.

Hafiz Saeed is one of the stars of the DPC and head of Jamaatud Dawa, a supposedly charitable organisation banned for fronting for the Lashkar-i-Taiba. This terrorist group has been accused of being behind the deadly Mumbai attack of 2008, as well as other atrocities in India.

Qari Yaqub, the darling of admirers of his sermons on YouTube, also spoke at the DPC rally in Karachi where he warned journalists that he would turn the ground where he spoke into “a graveyard for the media” if they did not give the DPC ample coverage. So here I am, writing about the DPC to avoid an early grave.

Sheikh Rasheed, leader of his Awami Muslim League spoke at the rally, as did army dictator Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq. Hamid Gul, the retired general who was sacked as head of the ISI by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, also enlivened proceedings with his rant about the bright future ahead without a western presence.

So Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, felt right at home in this august company as the PTI’s senior vice president Ejaz Chaudhry’s presence showed.

Clearly then, the 40-odd (some would say very odd) members of the DPC at least appear to be on the same page where extremist thought is concerned. The question is what and who brought them together. Pakistan’s history is littered with the bleached bones of right-wing alliances formed and then ditched by their creators. The IJI, the PNA, the IDA, and the MMA spring instantly to mind.

Add to them the various incarnations and iterations of the Muslim League, and you have a veritable alphabet soup of political aspirations: Q, N, Z and Awami are only the current manifestations.

The common thread running through all these parties and coalitions is the past or current connection with our intelligence agencies. Retired general Asad Durrani, another erstwhile ISI chief, has admitted before the Supreme Court that he funneled millions to anti-PPP candidates during the 1988 elections. This confession emerged years ago as a result of a writ filed by Asghar Khan, but the case has been on the back burner until the Supreme Court resumes hearing it later this month. Watch this space for further developments.

Given the stellar credentials of these stalwart defenders of our country, we can all sleep easy. They have vowed to save us from those nasty Americans and Indians, but before I cancel my life insurance policy, I’m still waiting to hear that they will protect us from the Pakistani Taliban as well.

Seriously, though, what is this circus all about? Why have so many extremist-minded elements and their fellow-travellers suddenly emerged from the woodwork to muddy the political waters? Who’s paying for all these expensive rallies? Actually, scratch that last question: we’re paying for them via whatever shadowy agency that has cobbled this latest alliance together.

And why is Imran Khan’s PTI part of this reactionary group? I know he’s in lockstep with people like Hamid Gul and Maulana Samiul Haq, but why does he need to identify himself with the most violent and unsavoury characters in this coalition? Does he not see that after his recent reinvention as a popular, mainstream politician, he no longer needs to cosy up to the likes of Qari Yaqub and Hafiz Saeed?

Continue reading Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

By Najam Sethi

The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.

On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.

On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.

Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.

(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.

(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.

The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.

The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.

The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.

Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.

The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.

Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.

If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.

The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).

The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.

More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.

Continue reading Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

Continue reading Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

New York Times – The Dregs of Dictatorship

By MOHAMED NASHEED, Maldives

my government asked the United Nations to help us investigate judicial abuses

DICTATORSHIPS don’t always die when the dictator leaves office. The wave of revolutions that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year was certainly cause for hope. But the people of those countries should be aware that, long after the revolutions, powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.

I learned this lesson quickly. My country, the Maldives, voted out President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, its iron-fisted ruler, back in 2008, in historic elections that swept away three decades of his authoritarian rule. And yet the dictatorship bequeathed to the infant democracy a looted treasury, a ballooning budget deficit and a rotten judiciary.

I was elected that year, and with the help of the International Monetary Fund, my government worked to cut the deficit, while also building a modern tax base. For the first time in its history, the Maldives — a group of islands in the Indian Ocean — had a democratically elected president, parliament and local councils.

But it also had a judiciary handpicked by the former president, which was now hiding behind a democratic constitution. These powerful judges provided protection for the former president, his family members and political allies, many of whom are accused of corruption, embezzlement and human rights crimes.

Continue reading New York Times – The Dregs of Dictatorship

New York Times – Can Egypt Avoid Pakistan’s Fate?

By MICHELE DUNNE and SHUJA NAWAZ

ONE year after the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military is closing down civil society organizations and trying to manipulate the constitution-writing process to serve its narrow interests. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, where the military has also held sway for more than half the country’s existence – for much of that time, with America’s blessing – a new civil-military crisis is brewing.

For the United States, the parallels are clear and painful. Egypt and Pakistan are populous Muslim-majority nations in conflict-ridden regions, and both have long been allies and recipients of extensive military and economic aid.

Historically, American aid tapers off in Pakistan whenever civilians come to power. And in Egypt, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both resisted pressure from Congress to cut aid to Mr. Mubarak despite his repression of peaceful dissidents.

It is no wonder that both Egyptians and Pakistanis express more anger than appreciation toward the United States. They have seen Washington turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses and antidemocratic practices because of a desire to pursue regional objectives – Israeli security in the case of Egypt, and fighting Al Qaeda in the case of Pakistan.

The question now is whether the United States will, a year after the Egyptian revolution, stand by and allow the Pakistani model of military dominance and a hobbled civilian government to be replicated on the Nile.

Pakistan and Egypt each have powerful intelligence and internal security agencies that have acquired extra-legal powers they will not relinquish easily. Pakistan’s history of fomenting insurgencies in neighboring countries has caused serious problems for the United States. And Egypt’s internal security forces have been accused of involvement in domestic terrorist attacks and sectarian violence. (However, Washington has long seen Egypt’s military as a stabilizing force that keeps the peace with Israel.)

The danger is that in the future, without accountability to elected civilian authorities, the Egyptian military and security services will seek to increase their power by manipulating Islamic extremist organizations in volatile and strategically sensitive areas like the Sinai Peninsula.

Despite the security forces’ constant meddling in politics, Pakistan at least has a Constitution that establishes civilian supremacy over the military. Alarmingly, Egypt’s army is seeking even greater influence than what Pakistan’s top brass now enjoys: an explicit political role, and freedom from civilian oversight enshrined in law.

Continue reading New York Times – Can Egypt Avoid Pakistan’s Fate?

Pakistan’s rush for more bombs – why?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpts;

….. In the military’s mind, the Americans are now a threat, equal to or larger than India. They are also considered more of an adversary than even the TTP jihadists who have killed thousands of Pakistani troops and civilians. While the Salala incident was allowed to inflame public opinion, the gory video-taped executions of Pakistani soldiers by the TTP were played down. A further indication is that the LeT/JuD is back in favor (with a mammoth anti-US and anti-India rally scheduled in Karachi next month). Pakistani animosity rises as it sees America tightly embracing India, and standing in the way of a Pakistan-friendly government in Kabul. Once again “strategic defiance” is gaining ground, albeit not through the regional compact suggested by General Mirza Aslam Beg in the early 1990s.

This attitudinal shift has created two strong non-India reasons that favour ramping up bomb production.

First, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are seen to be threatened by America. This perception has been reinforced by the large amount of attention given to the issue in the US mainstream press, and by war-gaming exercises in US military institutes. Thus, redundancy is considered desirable — an American attempt to seize or destroy all warheads would have smaller chances of success if Pakistan had more.

But such an attack is improbable. It is difficult to imagine any circumstances — except possibly the most extreme — in which the US would risk going to war against another nuclear state. Even if Pakistan had just a handful of weapons, no outside power could accurately know the coordinates of the mobile units on which they are located. It is said that an extensive network of underground tunnels exists within which they can be freely moved. Additionally, overground ones are moved from place to place periodically in unmarked trucks. Mobile dummies and decoys can hugely compound difficulties. Moreover, even if a nuclear location was exactly known, it would surely be heavily guarded. This implies many casualties when intruding troops are engaged, thus making a secret bin-Laden type operation impossible.

The second – and perhaps more important — reason for the accelerated nuclear development is left unstated: nukes act as insurance against things going too far wrong. Like North Korea, Pakistan knows that, no matter what, international financial donors will feel compelled to keep pumping in funds. Else a collapsing system may be unable to prevent some of its hundred-plus Hiroshima-sized nukes from disappearing into the darkness.

This insurance could become increasingly important as Pakistan moves deeper into political isolation and economic difficulties mount. Even today, load-shedding and fuel shortages routinely shut down industries and transport for long stretches, imports far exceed exports, inflation is at the double-digit level, foreign direct investment is negligible because of concerns over physical security, tax collection remains minimal, and corruption remains unchecked. An African country like Somalia or Congo would have sunk under this weight long ago.

To conclude: throwing a spanner in the works at the CD (Geneva) may well be popular as an act of defiance. Indeed, many in Pakistan — like Hamid Gul and Imran Khan — derive delicious satisfaction from spiting the world in such ways. But this is not wise for a state that perpetually hovers at the edge of bankruptcy, and which derives most of its worker remittances and export earnings from the very countries it delights in mocking.

To read complete article »  The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/328922/pakistans-rush-for-more-bombs–why/

Stop the ongoing anti-Ahmadi hate campaign in Rawalpindi

A hate campaign against the Ahmadiyya community in Rawalpindi has been brewing for the last many months. A massive protest rally against the community has been planned by extremist elements for Sunday, January 29th, 2012 in Satellite Town area of Rawalpindi city.

Through this petition, we urge the Federal Government and the Government of Punjab to immediately take notice of, intervene and put an end to this ongoing hate campaign against its fellow citizens.

The least the government can do is protect its citizens. We urge the government to provide adequate security to the vulnerable Ahmadis under attack on Sunday.

News: http://alufaq.com/pakistan-hate-campaign-ahmadis-satellite-town-rawalpindi

Read more » http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-ongoing-anti-ahmadi-hate-campaign-in-rawalpindi

Pakstan Army that refused security to twice former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto because she was seen as pro-U.S., is to provide security to an American Mansoor Ijaz who is anti-Bhutto

Security will be provided to Mansoor Ijaz: Army

ISLAMABAD: The meeting of corps commanders headed by the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on Thursday decided to provide Mansoor Ijaz with security upon his arrival in the country for the hearing of memogate case, DawnNews reported. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/12/security-will-be-provided-to-mansoor-ijaz-army.html

via » Twitter » TF’s tweet

India polio free? Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still to go

By Omar Ali

Almost certainly, yes!

That leaves three countries with active endemic polio: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
All three are also infected with Islamist fanatics who claim that oral polio drops are an anti-viagra produced by the CIA to decrease Muslim population (I am not making this up). That propaganda, and the difficulty of organizing a vaccination campaign in the middle of a civil war, makes it hard to totally eliminate polio in these countries. ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Turkey’s former military chief arrested over alleged anti-government plot

By Associated Press

ISTANBUL — A former Turkish military chief suspected of leading an Internet campaign to stir revolt was jailed Friday in a sweeping investigation of alleged conspiracies to topple a civilian government that has stripped the armed forces of political clout.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, 68, was the most senior officer to face trial in the anti-terror probes that began years ago, netting hundreds of suspects, many of them retired and active-duty military officers. The government casts the inquiries as a triumph for the rule of law and democracy, but suspicions of score-settling, long imprisonments without verdicts and other lapses have tainted the legal process.

The investigations serve as a pivotal test for Turkey’s ability to put its own house in order even as it seeks a higher profile in a turbulent region where the Turkish brand of electoral politics and Islam-inspired government is viewed by some as worthy of emulation.

Perhaps most notable about Basbug’s arrest was the muted public response in a country where civilian leaders were once beholden to the generals, and any hint of conflict stirred fears of a coup. The power balance shifted in the past decade as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undermined the premise that the military brass were the untouchable guardians of secularism, as enshrined in the constitution. …

Read more » The Washington Post