Tag Archives: Arab

Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion

By Aaron Blake

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.

Read more » The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics-live/liveblog/the-houses-syria-hearing-live-updates/?id=e68f139f-e012-476c-876e-2467ba30e5e3

Egypt forces assault protest camp, many scores shot dead

By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Finn

CAIRO: (Reuters) – Egyptian security forces crushed a protest camp of thousands of supporters of the deposed president on Wednesday, shooting dead scores of people in the bloodiest day in decades in the Arab world’s most populous country.

The health ministry said 149 people were killed, both in Cairo and in clashes that broke out elsewhere in the country. Deposed President Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood said the death toll was far higher in what it described as a “massacre”.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/14/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE97C09A20130814

My name is Pakistan and I’m not an Arab

By Nadeem F. Paracha

In 1973, my paternal grandparents visited Makkah to perform the first of their two Hajj pilgrimages.

With them were two of my grandmother’s sisters and their respective husbands.

Upon reaching Jeddah, they hailed a taxi from the airport and headed for their designated hotel.

The driver of the taxi was a Sudanese man. As my grandparents and one of my grandmother’s sisters settled themselves in the taxi, the driver leisurely began driving towards the hotel and on the way inserted a cassette of Arabic songs into the car’s Japanese cassette-player.

My grandfather who was seated in the front seat beside the driver noticed that the man kept glancing at the rear view mirror, and every time he did that, one of his eyebrows would rise.

Curious, my grandfather turned his head to see exactly what was it about the women seated in the back seat that the taxi driver found so amusing.

This was what he discovered: As my grandmother was trying to take a quick nap, her sister too had her eyes closed, but her head was gently swinging from left to right to the beat of the music and she kept whispering (as if in quiet spiritual ecstasy) the Arabic expression Subhanallah, subhanallah …’

My grandfather knew enough Arabic to realise that the song to which my grandmother’s sister was swinging and praising the Almighty for was about an (Egyptian) Romeo who was lamenting his past as a heart-breaking flirt.

After giving a sideways glance to the driver to make sure he didn’t understand Punjabi, my grandfather politely asked my grandmother’s sister: ‘I didn’t know you were so much into music.’

‘Allah be praised, brother,’ she replied. ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’

The chatter woke my grandmother up: ‘What is so wonderful?’ She asked. ‘This,’ said her sister, pointing at one of the stereo speakers behind her. ‘So peaceful and spiritual …’

My grandfather let off a sudden burst of an albeit shy and muffled laughter. ‘Sister,’ he said, ‘the singer is not singing holy verses. He is singing about his romantic past.’

My grandmother started to laugh as well. Her sister’s spiritual smile was at once replaced by an utterly confused look: ‘What …?’

‘Sister,’ my grandfather explained, ‘Arabs don’t go around chanting spiritual and holy verses. Do you think they quote a verse from the holy book when, for example, they go to a fruit shop to buy fruit or want toothpaste?’

I’m sure my grandmother’s sister got the point. Not everything Arabic is holy.

Continue reading My name is Pakistan and I’m not an Arab

Political Islam Fails Egypt’s Test

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LONDON — Heba Morayef voted for Mohamed Morsi last year. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate was an unlikely choice for a liberal Egyptian woman, the director of the Human Rights Watch office in Cairo, but she loathed Hosni Mubarak’s old guard, wanted change and believed Morsi could be inclusive.

“I have been extremely conflicted this past week,” Morayef told me. “I don’t support the military or coups. But for me as a voter, Morsi betrayed the trust that pro-reform Egyptians placed in him. That is what brought 14 million people into the streets on June 30. It was not so much the incompetence as the familiar authoritarian agenda, the Brotherhood trying to solidify their control by all means.”

Morsi misread the Arab Spring. The uprising that ended decades of dictatorship and led to Egypt’s first free and fair presidential election last year was about the right to that vote. But at a deeper level it was about personal empowerment, a demand to join the modern world, and live in an open society under the rule of law rather than the rule of despotic whim.

In a Muslim nation, where close to 25 percent of Arabs live, it also demanded of political Islam that it reject religious authoritarianism, respect differences and uphold citizenship based on equal rights for all.

Instead, Morsi placed himself above judicial review last November, railroaded through a flawed Constitution, allowed Brotherhood thugs to beat up liberal opponents, installed cronies at the Information Ministry, increased blasphemy prosecutions, surrendered to a siege mentality, lost control of a crumbling economy and presided over growing sectarian violence. For the Brotherhood, the pre-eminent Islamist movement in the region, the sudden shift from hounded outlaw to power in the pivotal nation of the Arab world proved a bridge too far.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/opinion/global/political-islam-fails-egypts-test.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

By BASSEM MROUE and MAAMOUN YOUSSEF | Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq said it has merged with Syria’s extremist Jabhat al-Nusra, a move that shows the rising confidence of radicals within the Syrian rebel movement and is likely to trigger renewed fears among its international backers.

A website linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra confirmed on Tuesday the merger with the Islamic State of Iraq, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first made the announcement in a 21-minute audio posted on militant websites late Monday.

Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken an ever-bigger role in Syria’s conflict over the last year, fighting in key battles and staging several large suicide bombings. The U.S. has designated it a terrorist organization.

The Syrian group has made little secret of its ideological ties to the global jihadist movement and its links across the Iraqi border but until now has not officially declared itself to be part of al-Qaida.

Al-Baghdadi said that his group — the Islamic State of Iraq — and Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra will now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham. Sham is a name for Syria and the surrounding region.

“It is time to announce to the Levantine (Syrian) people and the whole world that Jabhat al-Nusra is merely an extension and part of the Islamic State of Iraq,” he said.

He said that the Iraqi group was providing half of its budget to the conflict in Syria. Al-Baghdadi said that the Syrian group would have no separate leader but instead be led by the “people of Syria themselves” — implying that he would be in charge in both countries.

For such a high-profile Syrian rebel group to formally join al-Qaida is likely to spark concerns among backers of the opposition that are in the global terror network’s crosshairs, including both Western countries and Gulf Arab states.

Continue reading Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

The Alafis in Sindh

By Salman Rashid

he Alafi tribe of western Hejaz were among the earlier converts to Islam. Since before 680 CE, a large body of them frequently travelled back and forth between their country and Makran. Now, Makran at that time seems to have been very much like modern day Fata. Though part of the kingdom of Sindh under Raja Chach, it appears to have been only loosely held with a substantial foreign element running wild in the country.

In 684, when Abdul Malik bin Marwan took over as caliph, his deputy in Iraq, Hujaj bin Yusuf, appointed one Saeed of the family Kilabi to Makran. The man was entrusted with collecting money from this country as well as neighbouring regions wherever he could exercise pressure.

Somewhere in Kirman on his way east, Saeed met with one Safahwi Hamami. The Chachnama is not explicit about this man, but gives the understanding that while he had “no army under (him)”, he was nevertheless a man of significant social standing. The man may, therefore, have been a merchant.

Continue reading The Alafis in Sindh

Pakistan still global jihad hub

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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/

Why Arab States align themselves with Israel against Shias?

By Shabana Syed

On tenth day of Ashura Muslims and in particular Shias commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson about whom he said “Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein”.

Pictures of Shias beating themselves with hands and chains will be beamed around the world by western media, happy to perpetuate the myth that Muslims are violent.

And this year Americans in particular will be paying a closer attention, after the Oscar winning Jewish Director Oliver Stone’s son Sean Stone astonished America by articulating his conversion to being a Shia and accused Piers Morgan who tried to portray him as some nutter, ‘a warmonger’ while defending Iran.

Continue reading Why Arab States align themselves with Israel against Shias?

Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

CAIRO — Protesters angry over an amateurish American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, killing a State Department officer, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the United States Embassy here.

Continue reading Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt

Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy

The West’s real target here is not Assad’s brutal regime but his ally, Iran, and its nuclear weapons

Has there ever been a Middle Eastern war of such hypocrisy? A war of such cowardice and such mean morality, of such false rhetoric and such public humiliation? I’m not talking about the physical victims of the Syrian tragedy. I’m referring to the utter lies and mendacity of our masters and our own public opinion – eastern as well as western – in response to the slaughter, a vicious pantomime more worthy of Swiftian satire than Tolstoy or Shakespeare.

While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite/Shia-Baathist dictatorship, Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world. Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan’s dark ages.

Continue reading Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy

Drones & Ababeels

Declaring sanity

by Nadeem F. Paracha

In March 2010 animated conspiracy theorist, TV personality and poster-boy for stylised sofa-warming-jihad, Zaid Hamid finally met his nemesis at the Peshawar University.

Hamid, who till then, had been enjoying a virtual free run on certain TV channels and on privately-owned campuses, was chased away by large sections of the audience that turned up to listen to him speak at the state-owned Peshawar University.

As Hamid’s speech began being booed at, Hamid made a quick exit from the premises only to face another crowd of students outside who shouted slogans against him, and pelted his car with stones.

Suddenly a man who was lovingly being courted by TV channels and student bodies and administration of private educational institutions, was angrily courted out by the students of a state-owned university.

Continue reading Drones & Ababeels

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

A case of double standards

By Murtaza Razvi

It’s not only the West, but also Muslims who have double standards, Pakistanis and Arabs more so than others. While the West keeps mum over Israel’s excesses against Palestinians, its Nato ally Turkey’s suppression of Kurds, India’s policy towards Kashmiris, Bahrain’s and Saudi Arabia’s oppression of their Shia citizens, Western leaders cry from the rooftops for the rights of Syrian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean people living under a tyranny.

The Yemeni president too comes across as an OK guy to Washington regardless of how much blood of his own people he has on his hands, but the Pakistan Army is singled out for assaulting the Baloch. The same army was a special, close ally outside Nato under Gen Musharraf, who had ordered the killing of the octogenarian Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti, and which in the first place sent Baloch nationalists into an open revolt against Islamabad. The US Congress back then did not give two hoots about the large number of Baloch youth who went ‘missing’— a euphemism for extra-judicial confinement or killing, which goes on in Balochistan. Ditto for the Guantanamo Bay inmates, who still languish in Camp X-Ray without trial.

And now about us and our double standards. We want our madressahs and hijabs and missionaries preaching in the UK, which readily obliges because it respects your right to practise your faith (France and even Turkey will not allow half as much freedom to their Muslim populations), but here in Pakistan we won’t have the Ahmadis call themselves Muslim even though they recite the same kalema and pray the same prayer; we won’t allow Christian missionaries either.

According to a thin but a loud minority in Pakistan, anyone who does not believe in the Taliban or the Saudi-like reading of Islam is a heretic, who must be converted or ‘banished to hell’, as the expression in Urdu goes. Farhat Hashmis of the world also go around preaching that even greeting a non-Muslim is akin to heresy.

The Gulf is another story altogether. Most our of brotherly oil-rich people — read very honourable men, for women hardly count — have their rules of engagement listed according to your nationalities, rather the race. A white man from the US, say a doctor, draws a much higher salary than his plebian Bangladeshi counterpart even if both are graduates of the same American medical school! But neither can go to church in the holy kingdom, for no such place exists there.

A friend narrates that whilst he was in Riyadha, a Hindu chap was picked by the religious police along with him because they were found loitering in the marketplace while a muezzin had already called the faithful to the prayer. The Muslim friend says that he went down on his knees and begged forgiveness for his felony from the officer who hit him on the head and let him go with a warning that next time Allah will not forgive him, while the Hindu fellow found himself in a bigger mess. When he, too, was tauntingly asked if he was Muslim, he replied in the negative and prompt came the next question in all its fury: ‘Why are you not Muslim?’ To which the poor chap had no answer. He too was eventually let go with a long and hard kick in the back, but with the warning that next time if he dared say he was a non-Muslim, he’d have to face a bit more than the wrath of Allah. This, my friend says, is not Islam but is definitely quite the Muslim conduct, for which many will, perhaps very wrongly, cite the backing of their religion.

Double standards abound. In the UAE Muslims can drink alcohol in a bar, but taking liquor is a punishable offence for them; in Qatar, it is your nationality, and not your faith, that decides whether you can legally consume alcohol: a Muslim from UAE, Turkey, Indonesia or India can, but a Muslim from Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia or Iran cannot.

Yes, Islam emphasises on equality in social justice, as was enshrined in the de facto constitution which the Prophet of Islam hammered out in consultation with all concerned, and which became the basis of running the first Islamic state at Madina. He declared the neighbouring Jews and Christian tribes with whom he entered into a truce as part of the Ummah, in which each individual was bound by the same set of rules, obligations and privileges regardless of his/her faith. This was a true pluralistic aspect of Islam which its Prophet implemented and enforced by consensus in his own lifetime in the 7th century CE.

Today the word Ummah has been robbed of its original meaning and popularly connotes Muslims only. Muslims who feel free to discriminate against non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, whilst demanding and enjoying equal rights in Muslim-minority countries. Thus, the modern pluralistic, secular state is more Islamic in its social justice regime than the few Islamic republics which have their minorities on tenterhooks.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News

By Richard Engel and Robert Windrem

NBC News

Updated: 11:14 a.m. ET — Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI. ….

Read more » http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/09/10354553-israel-teams-with-terror-group-to-kill-irans-nuclear-scientists-us-officials-tell-nbc-news

via – Twitter

In Unstable Fields

Comment by Omar Ali

The writer is a former Secretary of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (an agency no more capable than other arms of the Indian government, but thought in Pakistan to possess superhuman powers and very beautiful female agents who trap Pakistani patriots, or so we hope).  His views on things to come..

To read the article » In unstable fields by Vikram Sood » CLICK HERE

Via » Brown Pundits

Pakistan is beautiful – and it’s mine

By Shehrbano Taseer

2011 was a bleak year for Pakistan — even by its own harrowing standards.

My father, Governor SalmaanTaseer, was assassinated by his own fanatical security guard in January for his stand on Pakistan’s cruel blasphemy laws, and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the federal cabinet, was gunned down in March allegedly by the Punjabi Taliban for holding a similar view. In April, five of the six men accused of gang raping village woman Mukhtar Mai on the orders of a village council of elders were set free by the Supreme Court. Since the sexual assault on her in 2001, Mai has braved death threats to have her victimisers punished. She has appealed the verdict, but the court, it is widely believed, is unlikely to reverse the acquittal.

In May, Pakistanis around the world hung their heads in shame as Osama bin Laden was found and killed in sleepy, sedate Abbottabad, a stone’s throw from our premier military academy where Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani spoke just weeks earlier declaring that the “terrorists’ back” had been broken.Then the tortured body of journalist Saleem Shahzad was discovered and suspicion fell on the country’s intelligence services. Pakistan had yet to recover from the devastation wrought by the 2010 floods when the August monsoons inundated Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and especially Sindh affecting tens of million of people. My older brother, Shahbaz, was kidnapped on August 26. It’s January 2012 now and he is still missing.

These are just some of the highlights from a ruefully eventful year. All of these events played out against the cacophonous discord that we have become accustomed to: target killings, routine disappearances in Kashmir and Balochistan, suicide bombings, riots decrying the overall economic condition of the country, protests mourning the loss of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the unsettling hum of rote learning at poisonous madrassas.

But there’s nothing that’s bad about Pakistan that can’t be fixed by what’s good about it. The narrative of lost hope is a tired one.

After the Arab Spring, the first question I was asked by journalists and interviewers was “When will it be Pakistan’s turn?”. General Zia tried hard to convince us that we’re Arabs, but we clearly are not. Watching Muammar Qaddafi’s bloodied and bullet-riddled body paraded up and down streets as protesters cheered, and seeing desperate dictators inflict violence on their own people, I realised that in many ways Pakistan is far ahead. Our transition from a dictatorship to a democracy was relatively smooth — no bloodshed, no political prisoners, no violence. And in 2010 — long before the Arab Spring — Pakistan’s nascent democracy returned the powers usurped by dictators back to parliament with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed unanimously in parliament. As a people, we are more critical, more engaged. We believe in peaceful evolution of existing structures, not revolution. A record number of people have registered to vote in the upcoming elections and the deadline isn’t even up yet. We’ve snatched our democracy back and we’re not letting it go.

Continue reading Pakistan is beautiful – and it’s mine

Musharraf’s Interview with Israeli Daily Haaretz

Relations with Israel could help Pakistan, says former president Musharraf

In his first interview with an Israeli newspaper, former president Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tells Haaretz about Pakistan-U.S. relations, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and how he would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By Danna Harman

Excerpt;

And I have read about all the Israeli-Arab wars and that is how I know about Ariel Sharon,” he says. “I know how he contributed toward the victories of the Israelis. In every war it was his contribution that counted. Every time this man contributed. He is a great military leader … My admiration comes from a place of realistic assessment of his military exploits, which were very impressive. I think he was a great military commander and I appreciate that.” ….

Read more » Haaretz

CIA agents in Pakistan

By Najam Sethi

These are difficult times for professional journalists in Pakistan. Eleven were killed last year in the line of duty. They were either caught in the crossfire of ethnic or extremist violence or targeted and eliminated by state and non-state groups for their political views.

Saleem Shehzad, for example, was abducted, tortured and killed last year and a commission of inquiry is still floundering in murky waters. He had exposed the infiltration of the armed forces by elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Several journalists from Balochistan have been killed by non-state vigilantes sponsored by state agencies, others have fled to Europe or USA because they had sympathies with the nationalist cause in the province. Some from Karachi have taken refuge abroad because they were threatened by ethnic or sectarian groups or parties.

Now an insidious campaign is afoot to target senior journalists who question the wisdom of the security establishment on a host of thorny issues. They are being labeled as “American-CIA agents”. This is an incitement to violence against them in the highly charged anti-American environment in Pakistan today. Consider.

If you say the military’s notion of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan is misplaced, outdated or counter-productive, you are a CIA agent.

If you say the military was either complicit or incompetent in the OBL-Abbottabad case, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the civilians should have control over the military as stipulated in the constitution, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military shouldn’t enter into peace deals with the Taliban that enable them to reorganize and seize Pakistani territory, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the drones have taken a welcome toll of extremist Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military’s annual defense budget, which amounts to nearly half of all tax revenues, should be scrutinized by parliament or the Auditor General of Pakistan, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the one and same resignation criterion should be applied to both Ambassador Husain Haqqani and DG-ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha – the former is accused of trying to influence the American government to back up the civilian government of Pakistan in its attempt to establish civilian control over its army and the latter is accused of seeking the support of Arab regimes for the overthrow of the civilian regime ( both accusations come from one and the same individual) – you are a CIA agent.

If you say we should construct a social welfare state in place of a national security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that fundamental citizens rights enshrined in the constitution cannot be violated at the altar of a narrow definition of national security defined exclusively by the security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that human rights violations in Balochistan carried out by the security agencies are as condemnable as the ethnic cleansing of Punjabi settlers by Baloch insurgents, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that Pakistan’s foreign policy should not be the exclusive domain of the military establishment, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Pakistan military’s conventional and nuclear weapons doctrine amounts to a crippling arms race with India rather than a minimal optimal defensive deterrence, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the ISI is an unaccountable state within a state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that belt-tightening measures to control budgetary deficits and inflation should apply to wasteful aspects of defense expenditures no less than to wasteful aspects of civilian government expenditures, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Supreme Court should pull out Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s ISI-Mehrangate 1991 case from cold storage and adjudge it along with the Memogate 2011 case, you are a CIA agent.

The irony is that the Pakistan military remains the single largest recipient of American aid in the last sixty five years. The irony is that all military coups in Pakistan have drawn legal and political sustenance from America. The irony is that the Pakistani military has signed more defense pacts and agreements with America than all civilian governments to date. The irony is the Pakistan military has partnered America in Afghanistan in the 1980s, fought its war on terror and leased out Pakistani air bases and Pakistan air space corridors to America in the 2000s, and sent hundreds of officers for training and education to America in the last six decades.

The greater irony is that all those liberal, progressive, anti-imperialist Pakistani citizens who have opposed US hegemony and protested American military interventions in the Third World all their lives are today branded as CIA agents by the very state security agencies and non state religious parties and jehadi groups who have taken American money and weapons and done America’s bidding all their lives.

Courtesy: Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120106&page=1

Memogate: Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry Should Not Judge In The Case; He Should Stand In Witness Box & Answer Questions; Barrister Aitzaz Had Approached US To Seek Help For CJ’s Restoration in 2007. Barrister Aitzaz Should Stand In Witness Box too.

By Aziz Narejo

[Click here to watch a video that  how Aitzaz seeks U.S. help for Iftikhar Choudhry – Aitzaz Ahsan in washington withMark Mazzetti and David Rohde]

Memogate is certain to open can of worms in Pakistan. The legal battle is going to be stinky & very dirty. It has been pointed out that in case such memo was actually written to US officials, it had been done so in the response to a real threat of a coup by the military establishment. The whistle-blower, Mansoor Ijaz has pointed out in his black berry messages that a certain Mr. P (generally recognized as general Pasha, chief of Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI) had toured certain Arab countries, Saudi Arabia included, to pave the way for the overthrow of Zardari government.

It has also been said that the United States was approached even on the behalf of ex-prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is the petitioner in the case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Several other political leaders and even generals are said to have approached the US officials for help in the past. The present Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry is not an exception. It is said that leader of the lawyers’ movement, Choudhry Aitzaz Ahsan had visited United States in 2007 to garner support for the deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry. Hence it is demanded that the Chief Justice should recuse himself in the case & answer questions in this regards. So should do barrister Aitzaz Ahsan.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

http://indusherald.blogspot.com/2011/12/memogate-chief-justice-iftikhar-coudhry.html

via » adopted from facebook (social media)

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Watch video – a discussion to seek U.S. help for Iftikhar choudhry – Aitzaz Ahsan in washington, Mark Mazzetti and David Rohde

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More details » Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s Meeting with Richard Holbrooke

» The Secretary General PTI says the people of Pakistan, do not appreciate the meeting of Iftikhar Chaudhry  with Mr Richard Holbrooke in his chambers

Questions raised, Asma said she was baffled by Pasha’s meeting with Ijaz. “I don’t understand his interest in the Memogate affair,” “Under whose authority did he go abroad?” referring to the permission Pasha had required from the prime minister? Pasha must have resigned after 2nd May incident. Supreme Court must take action against Pasha.”

Questions raised: Pressure on Pasha

ISLAMABAD: The rhetoric against country’s top spymaster has increased in recent days – that too from a number of quarters.

Asma Jahangir, the counsel for former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani, said on Monday that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Shuja Ahmed Pasha “should have resigned immediately” after the May 2 raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden.

Speaking to the media after the Memogate case hearing, Jahangir said she did not understand why the DG ISI felt the need to travel abroad in order to investigate the matter. Jehangir also questioned Pasha’s meeting with Mansoor Ijaz.

Asma said she was baffled by Pasha’s meeting with Ijaz. “I don’t understand his interest in the Memogate affair,” she added.

Under whose authority did he go abroad?” she said, referring to the permission Pasha had required from the prime minister. Ijaz, in his reply, had stated that Pasha told him that he was meeting him with the knowledge of the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Petition against Pasha

Communist Party Chairman Engineer Jamil Ahmed Malik has also applied pressure on General Pasha. On Monday he pleaded with the Supreme Court to take action against the ISI chief for allegedly meeting Arab rulers.

Filing a petition in the SC on Monday, Jameel asked the court to remove Pasha, claiming he has lost the right to remain in service after his involvement in the Memogate affair.

Jamil said that, although reports regarding Pasha’s meeting with senior Arab leaders were carried in the press, neither ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) nor Pasha had contradicted them. In the ‘Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto versus President of Pakistan’ case, the SC had decided that “facts given in newspapers, having not been denied, would be considered as undisputed fact”, Jamil said.

Jamil’s argument, therefore, is that news on the meeting indicated that Pasha and the army were involved in politics, which was contrary to their oath under Article 244 of the Constitution. He added that the SC in a 2004 case had barred all government employees from taking part in politics during service. “…the ISI chief has hatched a conspiracy against an elected government and the president and he deserves a court martial under the Pakistan Army Act, 152,” Jamil said. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

So they find a way!?

Pakistan’s chief justice keeps up pressure on beleaguered Zardari

By Simon Denyer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s chief justice kept the pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday, demanding he respond to charges of undermining national security, in a Supreme Court inquiry into the “Memogate” controversy.

Zardari returned to Pakistan early Monday from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he had been receiving medical treatment for a heart condition.

His sudden departure nearly two weeks ago had sparked rumors he was fleeing the country, being ousted by the nation’s powerful military or trying to wait out the inquiry. However, his return has neither silenced the rumor mill nor ended the sense of mounting crisis surrounding his presidency.

He will continue to face pressure from the Supreme Court and the military,” said Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. “The suspense will continue for quite some time.”

Zardari’s immediate troubles revolve around a secret, unsigned memo that surfaced last month, which solicited Washington’s help to rein in the Pakistani military and prevent a possible coup after the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden in May.

The memo was sent by Pakistani American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, who alleged that he was following the instructions of the Pakistani ambassador to Washington to convey a message from Zardari.

The government has denied having anything to do with the memo, but the ambassador, Husain Haqqani, has resigned and is trying to clear his name.

The opposition alleged that treason had been committed, and the Supreme Court took on the inquiry, collecting depositions from government and military officials last week.

During the opening hearing Monday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, a longtime foe of Zardari’s, was clearly unhappy that the president had failed to respond to a request that he submit a sworn statement about the affair, saying it could be taken as acceptance of the charges.

This is what happens in civil cases,” Chaudhry said. “When you don’t reply, then charges are deemed as accepted by you.”

Although the president can be impeached only by a two-thirds majority of parliament on the grounds of violating the constitution or gross misconduct, a Supreme Court verdict of wrongdoing in the Memogate affair would put significant pressure on Zardari.

Last week, the military appeared to be at loggerheads with the government, arguing in its depositions that evidence showed the memo did lead back to Haqqani and demanding a full investigation.

Read more » The Washington Post

PAKISTAN: ISI Head must be prosecuted for hatching conspiracy against democracy – AHRC

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – AHRC-UAC-248-2011

19 December 2011 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence Agency, the country’s foremost intelligence agency, has hatched a conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected government and parliament by taking help from some Arab monarchies who have strong influence in the affairs of the country. The Pakistan Army has been trying for two years to overthrow the civilian government and it is alleged that in the month of May 2011, Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, the chief of the ISI, visited several Arab monarchies in a personal capacity and sought clearance for the army to take over the country. It is also alleged that he was given the ‘OK’ by these monarchies. He also visited China, without taking permission from the prime minister, but apparently did not get any formal assistance.

Continue reading PAKISTAN: ISI Head must be prosecuted for hatching conspiracy against democracy – AHRC

After this startling revelation regarding the role of DG ISI, will DG ISI resign now for conspiring against democratically elected govt? Just like Husain Haqqani was forced to resign for conspiring against Army?

DG ISI got Arab consent to sack Z: blog

KARACHI: In another startling revelation in connection with Mansoor Ijaz’s exchange of Blackberry messages, Omar Waraich in his blog on the Independent indicated that DG ISI Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha had sought and ‘received permission from senior Arab leaders to sack Z’ (President Zardari), Geo News reported. ….

Read more » The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=28636&title=DG-ISI-got-Arab-consent-to-sack-Z%3A-blog

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Via » News adopted from facebook (Pakhtunkhwa Peace Forum)

A French minister of Arab origin says ‘there is no such thing as moderate Islam’

By AFP

Paris – A French minister said there was no such thing as moderate Islam, calling recent election successes by Islamic parties in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia “worrying” in an interview published Saturday.

Jeannette Bougrab, a junior minister with responsibility for youth, told Le Parisien newspaper that legislation based on Islamic sharia law “inevitably” imposed restrictions on rights and freedoms.

Bougrab is of Algerian origin, whose father fought on the French colonial side during Algeria’s war of independence, and said she was speaking as “a French woman of Arab origin.”

“It’s very worrying,” she was quoted as saying. “I don’t know of any moderate Islam.”

“There are no half measures with sharia,” she added. “I am a lawyer and you can make all the theological, literal or fundamental interpretations of it that you like but law based on sharia is inevitably a restriction on freedom, especially freedom of conscience.” ….

Read more » AL ARABIYA NEWS

Pakistan’s revolutionary youth join hands in the struggle: Meeting to form All-Pakistan Progressive Youth Alliance

– by Adam Pal

Events of the Arab Revolution and the movements across Europe and USA have once again vindicated the Marxist positions about the role of youth. It was the youth who initiated these revolutions and movements. Subcontinent and Pakistan have a rich history of the revolutionary role played by the youth. As the “best barometer of society”, the revolutionary youth of Pakistan have realized the need to join hands in their common struggle against oppression, unemployment, fundamentalism, discrimination, costly education and capitalism. …

Read more » Marxist.com

Spectacular bloodshed – By Nayyer Khan

In agricultural society, live stock represents wealth and hence sacrifices. In an urban society wealth is represented by money. If one contributed the equivalent of the price of a goat or a cow to charity — i.e. feeding the poor, donating to hospitals etc, it should have the same effect

Every year, on Eid-ul-Azha (3 days long annual Muslim Festival, starting in a few days, during which animals are sacrificed to please Allah), I feel as if I am living in one of the ancient civilizations ….

Read more » ViewPoint

The season of revolts – By:Arif Ansar

Excerpt;

But the winter of discontent is still far off

The Arab Spring is now well underway and appears to have spread to other continents as well. Early signs of a European Spring are visible in UK and Greece, and there is an American version in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Meanwhile, Anna Hazare provided a glimpse of how an Indian Spring may look like. The underpinnings of these protests may be different but at a broader level they signify the widening gulf between governments and their citizenry. In other words, hidden in these protests is a modern crisis of the nation-state system.

What triggered these public uprisings is hotly debated. However, in the context of the Arab world and Pakistan, the WikiLeaks disclosures may have played a major role. These secrets revealed how governments are playing a duplicitous role, especially about their dealings with the US. ….

…. Like many other outcomes of the linked and globalised world, these public revolts are also transnational in nature. There appears to be two contradictory forces at work: on the one hand the technological advancements and social media are making the borders increasingly irrelevant, and on the other, worsening economics is causing nationalism to resurge. The future of nation-sate structure is dependent on how it reconciles the pulls and tugs that emanate from within, with those that act upon it from outside.

To read complete article » Pakistan Today

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.

It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.

The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).

Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

A model campaigner

Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.

Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.

Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.

The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). [1]

This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.

Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….

Read more → Asia Times