Tag Archives: battle

Israeli Finance Minister Lapid threatens to topple Netanyahu’s government

Clash of Israeli Political Ambitions Fuels Budget ‘Street Fight’

By Alisa Odenheimer

The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.

Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.

“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”

The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.

“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.

Read more » Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-16/lapid-says-he-ll-quit-israel-government-rather-than-raise-taxes.html

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Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

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PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.

Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.

Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.

On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.

Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.

The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.

The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.

Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.

Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.

The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.

The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.

Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.

Continue reading Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

PPP policies have put Sindh’s integrity at stake: AT chief Ayaz Latif Palijo

THATTO, Oct 21: Awami Tehreek (AT) staged a big public meeting near Thatto Press Club on Sunday to mobilise the masses against the Sindh People’s Local Government Act, 2012. AT chief Ayaz Latif Palijo spoke at the rally which was attended by members and supporters of its different wings, including Sindhyani Tehreek and Hindu Sujaaq Tehreek, besides a large number of AT activists.

Mr Palijo told the gathering that Sindh was passing through the most crucial phase in the history of the subcontinent as it was facing dismemberment by virtue of the newly introduced law. He asked the people of Sindh to join in the peaceful struggle launched by the Sindh Bachayo Committee (SBC) in order to wage a vigorous battle to defend the province and safeguard the legitimate rights of its people.

Mr Palijo severely criticised the Pakistan People’s Party for “betraying the political forces which had always been helping it to reach the power corridors,” and observed that the party’s so called policy of reconciliation had put Sindh’s integrity at stake while the political expediency during its tenure has earned the country a bad name.

Continue reading PPP policies have put Sindh’s integrity at stake: AT chief Ayaz Latif Palijo

It seems that a battle is unfolding between the nation of Sindh & the PPP

Another kind of war

By Editorial

Has a war involving different parties, different forces and different motives begun in Sindh? This certainly seems to be the case. Just a few days after a shooting killed six PPP activists at a rally in Khairpur, which was to have been addressed by MNA Nafeesa Shah, the homes of at least six other PPP leaders were targeted by explosive devices across the province. Pamphlets found at some of the sites attributed responsibility to the little known Sindhudesh Liberation Army, according to police officials.

Those targeted included Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani in Shikarpur and PPP lawmaker Imdad Ali Pitafi in Hyderabad. In other places, bomb disposal squads defused four bombs placed at the residences of Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro in Larkana, lawmakers Syed Faseeh Shah in Nawabshah and Haji Hayat Talpur in Mirpurkhas. The police claim to have made one arrest and uncovered other evidence from a closed-circuit television camera.

It seems that a battle is unfolding between Sindhi nationalists and the PPP. Unless other complexities and conspiracies are involved, which is possible, the only reason that comes to mind is the Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance passed recently by the Sindh Assembly amidst a huge uproar. While the law was strongly backed by the MQM and agreed upon by most of the PPP, some members dissented and nationalist forces fiercely opposed the legislation, which reintroduces city governments. The war we are now seeing is, however, an extremely dangerous one. It can quickly spread through all of Sindh, where both the PPP and the nationalists have influence and a political presence. The idea of the two, pitched against each other, is an alarming one. This is all the more so, given that subsequent violence spread rapidly in Sindh and its settlements. A solution is needed with the PPP taking the lead in finding one.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/449729/another-kind-of-war/

Fisk on Syria: “Assad faces a well-armed & ruthless enemy whose Islamist supporters are receiving help from the West.”

Robert Fisk: The bloody truth about Syria’s uncivil war

Those trying to topple Assad have surprised the army with their firepower and brutal tactics

By: Robert Fisk

A few hours after the ferocious attack on Damascus by the Free Syrian Army began last month, the new Syrian minister of information, Omran Zouhbi, turned on journalists in the capital. “What are you doing here in Damascus?” he roared. “You should be out with our soldiers!” And within a day, tired images of a primly smiling President Bashar al-Assad and pictures of Syrian troops happily kissing children were replaced by raw – and real – newsreel footage of commandos fighting their way across Baghdad Street under fire from the rebel opponents of the regime, grimy-faced, running from street corners, shooting from the cover of walls and terraces. “We’ve cleaned up here,” one tired but very angry officer said. “So now we’re going to get the rest of those bastards.” Never before – not even in the 1973 war when the Syrian army stormed Observatory Ridge on the heights of the Golan – had the Syrian public witnessed anything as real as this on their television sets.

Continue reading Fisk on Syria: “Assad faces a well-armed & ruthless enemy whose Islamist supporters are receiving help from the West.”

Hell and al-Qaida descend on Syria

By: Tarek Fatah

Who would have thought a Canadian mother of two would leave her children behind and join the international jihad unfolding in Syria?

Meet Thwaiba Kanafani. She left the comforts of her apartment in downtown Toronto, soon to appear in a YouTube video dressed in camouflaged battle gear, holding an automatic assault rifle, to declare: “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland” as the men surrounding her chanted “Allah O Akbar.”

Kanafani is not alone. A Dutch journalist who was kidnapped by rebels inside Syria, along with his British colleague, reports some of his abductors had “Birmingham accents,” while others were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present.

Reports of non-Syrian jihadis have been confirmed by correspondents of both the Guardian and the New York Times who say foreign fighters under the banner of al-Qaida’s black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but God,” are taking a bigger role.

The jihadis are the best-funded and well-equipped of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

While the American-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) had its own share of U.S.-based Islamists pulling the strings, it is now clear these jihadis-in-suits will not be the ones determining the future of Syria when the doctor dictator is gone. Very soon, Damascus will get a taste of al-Qaida’s hatred of life and their yearning for death as they have demonstrated in the last couple of months.

In one attack by the al-Qaida fighters on the historic Damascus district of Zainabiya, the fighters made no effort to hide the al- Qaida flag. Some wore the black head bands while others wore the flags of Pakistan, Somalia, and other Muslim countries. They killed Shia residents and pilgrims as they tried to destroy the shrines of Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter Hazrat Zainab and Ruqaiya. At least one Afghan family was slaughtered inside their home.

One al-Qaida commander inside Syria, Abu Khuder, had this to say about foreign jihadis: “In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience … Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan … (al-Qaida’s) goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state.”

The role of America in Syria seems at best incompetent and disastrous.

However, evidence suggests there is a method in the madness of the Obama Administration. Instead of helping the democratic forces of Syria it has dilly-dallied on the sidelines until the Islamists managed to get an upper hand. The same cowardice was demonstrated when Iran’s democrats rose up in 2009.

One of the leaders of the Syrian al-Qaida is Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan accomplice of Osama bin Laden who, according to former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Belhadj was arrested by the CIA, but then released under mysterious circumstances and returned to Libya where he facilitated the U.S.-NATO overthrowing of Col. Moammar Gahdafi.

Now the same Libyan ally of NATO has been parachuted inside Syria with the help of the Turkish government.

Reportedly, 15,000 Syrians have given their lives to fight a dictator, and Belhadj’s presence in the war-torn country could make it a hell on earth.

Courtesy: Toronto Sun

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/31/hell-and-al-qaida-descend-on-syria

Via – Twitter

Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria

In his latest exclusive dispatch from Deir el-Zour province, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad meets fighters who have left the Free Syrian Army for the discipline and ideology of global jihad

By: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Deir el-Zour

As they stood outside the commandeered government building in the town of Mohassen, it was hard to distinguish Abu Khuder’s men from any other brigade in the Syrian civil war, in their combat fatigues, T-shirts and beards.

But these were not average members of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Khuder and his men fight for al-Qaida. They call themselves the ghuraba’a, or “strangers”, after a famous jihadi poem celebrating Osama bin Laden’s time with his followers in the Afghan mountains, and they are one of a number of jihadi organisations establishing a foothold in the east of the country now that the conflict in Syria has stretched well into its second bloody year.

Continue reading Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria

New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The high-stakes battle between Pakistan’s judiciary and government took a fresh twist on Thursday when a court issued an arrest warrant for a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, effectively blocking his nomination as the country’s next prime minister.

Mr. Zardari wanted Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a former health minister from Punjab Province, to replace Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

But hours after Mr. Shahabuddin’s nomination, a magistrates court, prompted by the military-run Anti-Narcotics Force, ordered his arrest to face charges relating to the illegal production of a controlled drug two years ago.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, a son of the outgoing prime minister, in relation to the same case.

The ruling party Pakistan Peoples Party quickly nominated a new candidate, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who now looks likely to become the prime minister after a vote in parliament on Friday.

The dramatic court manoeuver highlights the growing difficulty of separating law from politics in the country’s rapidly evolving machinations of power.

Mr. Zardari’s supporters, and some analysts, say judiciary is using its widening powers to erode the authority of the government and ultimately push it from power. “Absolutely no subtlety anymore in going after the govt. Amazing,” wrote Nadeem F. Paracha, a newspaper columnist, on Twitter.

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

People never to permit undermining of Parliament: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari said Wednesday that the people of Pakistan would never permit undermining of the Parliament behind different pretexts and they know how to ensure the supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution.

He said, “the era of packing the Parliament through the back door by using the defunct Article 58 (2) (b) is over for all times and no back doors and side doors will be allowed to be reopened for sending the elected Parliaments home.”

“Our people will also not suffer a destiny thrusted upon them by militants and extremists in the name of religion or in any other name,” he added.

The president said this in his message on the 59th birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto falling on Thursday.

President Zardari said, “On the eve of her 59th birthday I wish to reiterate our commitment to the values of supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution and the building of a modern, egalitarian and pluralistic society in which everyone is allowed opportunity to help shape his or her own destiny—values for which she stood and fought for and when the time came even laid down her life for it.”

He said Benazir Bhutto led from the front the battle for democracy against all sorts of bonapartes and extremists.

“She believed in a moderate and pluralistic Pakistan where ballot determined the ultimate choice of the people and where the House elected by the people representing their will was supreme.”

Continue reading People never to permit undermining of Parliament: Zardari

US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

AFP – The United States is running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens for insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday.

Panetta was speaking during a brief visit to Kabul overshadowed by Afghan fury over a NATO air strike that allegedly killed 18 civilians — an issue that the Pentagon chief did not mention at a news conference.

Panetta left for the airport just hours after his arrival, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged to cut short a trip to Beijing and head home over the deaths of around 40 civilians Wednesday in the air strike and a suicide bombing.

Continue reading US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

Lyari is burning

Karachi is burning

With hundreds already killed in ethnic, political and sectarian conflicts this year, the dynamics of violence in Karachi are becoming more complex

By Ali K Chishti

Of the 1,138 people killed in Karachi during the first half of 2011, 150 were political workers, according to the HRCP. This year, Sindh Home Ministry and Karachi Police report that 405 political workers have been targeted already. “More than 10,000 people have been killed in political and ethnic violence in the city since 2007,” says Aftab Rauf Khan, a senior security official. “What is worse is that there have been no prosecutions.”

Political and ethnic violence in Karachi has increased significantly since 2008. There were just over 200 target killings in the city in 2006, 318 in 2007, and 786 in 2008. At least 1,183 people died in political and ethnic violence in the city in 2009, more than 1,300 in 2010, and over 1,700 in 2011. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

In the shadow of the gun – I

By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

During the 1973-1977 army action in conflict zones, thousands of innocent people were killed, tens of thousands were internally displaced

Mr Ikram Sehgal’s “Of Empire and Army” (Newsline, March 2012) is a bundle of misinformation and bias against the Baloch. Perturbed that the media holds the security establishment solely responsible for the Balochistan crisis, he claims, “Most of our problems stem from jumping to conclusions that are based on misinformation, and then deliberately distorting those half-truths to suit mass perception.” He feels, “Disproportionate media projection of the separatist leaders encourages ethnic divisions and violence.” He probably thinks the Baloch struggle and the atrocities by the state are a figment of the media’s imagination.

The state’s brutal kill and dump policy seems justified to him. He half-heartedly admits, “No one denies the fact that targeted killings of the Baloch are taking place, that people are being picked up and that state actors are involved in the killing and the disappearances.” Then he offers a lame justification that “sons of the soil” are killing an equal number of settlers. Balochistan Home Department’s recent report said that the majority of the ones killed are ethnic Baloch.

Sehgal tells us that on December 29, 1973, as his son was being born in Karachi, his company came under heavy fire from Marri insurgents near Kahan, after the dismissal of Ataullah’s representative government. The Baloch considered them aggressors rightly, and could not be expected to throw a party. He then says, “Throughout that year, many soldiers were martyred and several injured,” and adds, “In one instance, the insurgents beheaded 19 of our soldiers.”

Well, I too was in the Marri area with the Baloch nationalists then and assuredly, the Marris never indulged in such abhorrent practices. His claim defies reason as no guerilla could possibly have time to ambush and behead soldiers. Ambushes invite response and with helicopters, jets and motorised transportation at the army’s disposal, only fools would linger after an ambush.

The columnist adds that the army could have retaliated against the Marris in kind but relented because they understood that their Sardar (tribal chief), who was living comfortably in Kabul, misguided the Marris. Incidentally, Sardar Khair Baksh Marri and other Baloch leaders, including Sardar Ataullah Mengal, were in jail until 1978. He blames the media for misinformation and distortion. During the 1973-1977 army action in conflict zones, thousands of innocent people were killed, tens of thousands were internally displaced, social and economic life was disrupted, flocks were stolen, crops destroyed, and the entire Balochistan was terrorised. Eight persons, whom I knew personally, including my dear friend, Daleep Dass, aka Johnny Dass, went missing, never to be heard of again. Sher Muhammad Aliani — a sept, an elder, a septuagenarian — was picked up because of an ambush in the vicinity of his settlement near Kahan; his brutally tortured corpse was later recovered. Murad Khan Ramkani of Tadri too was similarly killed. The valiant Asadullah Mengal and Ahmed Shah Kurd were abducted and killed in Karachi. The examples of the ‘consideration’ shown are too numerous to note.

Continue reading In the shadow of the gun – I

Why India can’t give up Siachen

By: Vikram Sood

The nation cannot afford to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past — like halting our advance at Uri in 1948 or not capturing Skardu; or giving up Haji Pir in 1966; or returning 93,000 troops and territory in 1972

The strategic advantage accruing to India in Siachen should not be given up for apparent short-term political gains. Giving up Siachen as a gesture of friendship would also mean that its recapture would be extremely expensive to India in men and material, says Vikram Sood.

Continue reading Why India can’t give up Siachen

Retaliation for the assassination of Bugti’s grand daughter and great grand daughter?

Pakistan: 11 Soldiers Killed In Battle With Baluch Militants

By RFE/RL

QUETTA, Pakistan — Pakistani officials say militants in the southwestern Baluchistan Province have killed 11 soldiers in an attack.

A senior official in Pakistan’s military said two Frontier Corps posts near coal mines came under attack in the Margut area about 60 kilometers east of Quetta.

RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal’s correspondent in Quetta reports that an ethnic Baluch separatist group called the Baluch Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

That group is comprised of members of the Bugti and Marri clans in the area to the east of Quetta.

They have been fighting since 2004 for political autonomy and a greater share of profits from Baluchistan’s oil, gas, and mineral resources.

More than 30 members of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps have been killed in Baluchistan Province during the past three weeks in clashes with Baluch rebels.

Courtesy: Rferl

http://www.rferl.org/content/soldiers_killed_by_baluch_rebels_in_pakistan/24470002.html

Tehelka – Coup & Memo: In the battle of nerves between the civilian and the military establishment he who can stay the longest, wins

Round 1 to the Civilian Government

In the battle of nerves between the civilian and the military establishment in Pakistan, he who can stay the longest, wins

By Mohammad Taqi, Columnist, Daily Times

EVER SINCE the controversial Memo in October 2011, allegedly seeking American help in case of a military coup, trouble has been brewing in Pakistan. The latest is the sacking of Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Nadeem Lodhi as defence secretary on 11 January by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The civilian-military relationship in Pakistan is going through a churn. The military wants to get rid of President Asif Zardari. The Supreme Court allowed itself to be dragged into the situation through a PIL. But the elected Pakistani civilian government, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its coalition partners are not going to give in without a fight. Under the circumstances, the sacking of Lodhi was inevitable. It sends a clear message in a long drawn out war of attrition that will ultimately decide which way the balance of civil-military relationship tilts.

The establishment has been speaking through press releases issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). On 11 January, it issued a fourth statement criticising the government. Previously, the prime minister had retaliated by implying the army was trying to become a State within the State and had issued a visa to Osama bin Laden. That did not go down well. The civil-military relationship has not recovered from this blow, and relations are souring. The judiciary appears to be allied with the military establishment or at least feels that their interests are in confluence.

The army wants the current PPP dispensation to go, but a text-book coup d’état is not possible in the present day. With an active social media, a questioning press and Pakistan’s economic condition, it is not a feasible option. The army is frustrated and is making this public but with everyone harping on about democracy for so long, it’s not easy for anyone — not Kayani, not the top judge — to sack the present system. They might be facing allegations of corruption or bad governance, but you have to vote them out.

Gilani’s statement says the army chief and the DG, ISI, Shuja Pasha did not follow the protocol in the Memogate proceedings in court. The briefs the three filed with the court were diametrically opposed to the government’s position in the Memogate scandal. Constitutionally, the ISI is under the prime minister. The army chief reports to the president and also the PM via the defence ministry. The defence secretary made a statement in the court saying the government has administrative and not operational control over the army and the ISI.

Prior to that, Pasha met Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz in London. The ISI is an intelligence-gathering and not an investigating agency. He brought back evidence that is now being made admissible in the civil court. Pasha went without the permission of the civilian leadership. The PM was informed through Kayani only after he returned.

Things would have been different a decade ago; the army would have toppled the government. Today, it’s a battle of nerves. Whoever blinks first, loses. So far, Gilani has not blinked, but his options are limited. Even if he fires Pasha and Kayani, he has to select from a pool of 200 generals, as he has no one in the PPP to replace him. Pasha’s head is certainly on the chopping block, but the PPP will not win this by a knockout, but on points. Taking it to the last round will mean they have won. As long as Zardari, Gilani and Hussain Haqqani — and the general public — stick together, the civilian government will prevail.

Courtesy: Tehelka.com

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Op210112Round.asp

Husain Haqqani Confined in Pakistan Amid Legal Battle

By SALMAN MASOOD and ERIC SCHMITT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Just a few months ago, Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, brimmed with charm and confidence as he hosted lavish dinner parties for diplomats, generals, journalists and White House aides in Washington.

Now Mr. Haqqani is confined to the regal hilltop residence of Pakistan’s prime minister, tangled in a legal battle over a controversial memo that he says has put his life in jeopardy.

Hounded by what he and his supporters say is a vicious smear campaign by a nationalist, right-wing media, and fearful of being kidnapped or killed by the country’s powerful spy agency, Mr. Haqqani has spent the past five weeks sequestered in a guest suite in the premier’s residence overlooking the capital. He has left the compound just three times — twice for legal proceedings and once for a dental appointment — each time flanked by a heavy security detail.

As ambassador, Mr. Haqqani, a 55-year-old former journalist and Boston University professor, glided about Washington pressing Pakistan’s case to Congress and administration officials, and dropping news tips to reporters. Now he feels cooped up.

“I can go out for a walk, but it is essentially like a house arrest,” Mr. Haqqani said in an interview. ….

Read more » The New York Times

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

Pakistan – A state determined to kill – itself

A state determined to kill – itself

By Khaled Ahmed

By creating just one point of view, Pakistan may entrench itself in dangerous isolation, and may find it difficult to do course-correction to save its already crippled economy from collapsing

A revisionist state called Pakistan is taking all measures possible to immolate itself. The Army finally ran is rival Husain Haqqani to the ground and was helped in this by internecine party politics with everyone mindlessly baying for each other’s blood as the only politics they know. The national economy is gradually crumbling, its infrastructure run down and people willing to attack and burn because the state is unable to run itself. On top of it all, the most fatal hubris of a weak state – ghairat or honour – rules the collective mind.

The Pakistan Army is the only popular institution in the country with processions now carrying portraits of General Kayani because he carries in him the promise of a war of honour, in other words, an honourable death, because living without honour is not living at all. On 26 November 2011, the NATO forces attacked a checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border and killed 24 Pak troops. No one knows what happened except Pakistan that says it was a pre-planned attack. Pakistan significantly got its TV cable operators to ban the BBC for showing its two-hour documentary Secret Pakistan whose facts cannot be denied or at least no one outside Pakistan will reject them. Pakistan should pause and reflect on these facts and then understand the November 26 attack in their light.

BBC said on its website: ‘Filmed largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this documentary explored how a supposed ally stands accused by top CIA officers and Western diplomats of causing the deaths of thousands of coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a charge denied by Pakistan’s military establishment, but the documentary makers meet serving Taliban commanders who describe the support they get from Pakistan in terms of weapons, training and a place to hide’.

Pak Army is not willing to look at the non state actors despoiling the country from the inside. It defies the world asking that they be banned and brought to account and feels itself totally blameless for what happened in Mumbai in 2008 while it focuses on what has happened at Salala in 2011. If you kill others or get them killed by your non state actors, they are prone to make the kind of mistake that was made at Salala. But Pakistan welcomes war even though it has never won one and has been defeated again and again fighting India, the last one being the battle of Kargil. General Kayani has familiarly thrown the gauntlet to the US: do it again and see what happens. The world knows that nothing will happen, except that Pakistan, already in dire economic straits, will be crushed.

Nawaz Sharif has gone to the Supreme Court as the one forum where the PPP government can be pulled down as a corollary to defeating the United States. (Get the traitor for joining enemy America!) He wants to get at the root of the Memogate scandal and is sure that the PPP leader Zardari was trying to double-cross the Pak Army which Nawaz Sharif now wants to stand up for. He wants the PPP government gone in short order before its tenure is up.

It appears that the PMLN, with fresh warpaint on its face, the maximalist Supreme Court, intent on getting Zardari to commit hara-kiri in Switzerland, and a revengeful Army aspiring to defeat the US, are on the same page: Suspend efforts to free-trade with India, defeat the US as an obstacle to Pakistan getting its fair share of leverage in Afghanistan, and stop fighting the war against terrorists because it was never Pakistan’s war, slyly hoping that the Taliban will be on Pakistan’s side in the war against the US.

Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has pledged a crushing retaliation if the US-ISAF forces attacked inside Pakistani territory again, ‘regardless of consequences’ (sic!). He told his troops, ‘Be assured that we will not let the aggressor walk away easily; I have clearly directed that any act of aggression will be responded to with full force, regardless of the cost and consequences’. He wants the troops on the border with Afghanistan to take their own on-the-spot decision against any future NATO attacks without waiting for orders from the GHQ. Now they will fight the US-ISAF forces instead of the Taliban terrorists.

This is a very rash approach to the situation triggered by the November 26 incident, even if it is directed as a morale-booster at the troops and meant to be interpreted differently as strategy for civil society which is obviously not prepared for war on the western front. The Americans are offering regrets even before their formal inquiry into the Salala incident is completed on 21 December. President Obama too has expressed sorrow at the death of Pakistani troops while a formal apology pends till the inquiry reveals NATO’s guilt. There are however statements issuing from Washington saying the attack was unintended and that some fire had come from around the Salala checkpost.

The nation is of one mind, a kind of pre-war symptom that Pakistan experienced in 1965 and 1971 when the Army painted the country into a corner through the hubris of isolationism. It is not natural that the entire nation be of uniform thinking in favour of conflict, especially if this conflict is against an immeasurably stronger adversary. If after the anger felt in the GHQ subsides and more realistic decisions are required to be taken, the disappointment among the public will take the shape of an emotional boomerang of self-disgust. We have seen that happen in the Raymond Davis case after the CIA agent was let off on diyat instead of being publicly hanged. If the common man has succumbed to an attack of ‘ghairat’ and is spoiling for a fight with the US, the state cannot afford to indulge in the bravado of an unequal war.

If the pro-war mind is presuming that the Taliban will fight the NATO-US forces side by side with the Pak Army, putting an end to the problem of law and order in Pakistan, it is sadly deceived. It will in fact be a two-front war, one front being at the back of the Pakistani troops. The Taliban and their master al Qaeda have an agenda that will be fulfilled only by removing our brave Army Chief from his post and then using the Army to take over the country and its nuclear assets. Wisdom demands that we challenge the US realistically rather than rashly, compelling it to make amends for the Salala incident to the benefit of Pakistan.

A consensus of national self-damage can occur even in democracies and it has recently taken place in the US too but in Pakistan one institution of the state dominates all decision-making functions, and those who should be ruling and not allowing this domination are busy in a lethal war of self-diminution.

The fact is that there are two versions of the truth. Unfortunately the American version is what is credited at the international level while the Pakistani version can only hold if the news channels are prevented from puncturing it. Our asymmetric proxy war against India was rejected by the world while the Pakistanis were force-fed with justifiable jihad by non state actors. Its fallout was experienced by Pakistan’s neighbours whose fear of what Pakistan may do next has isolated Pakistan in the region too. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111209&page=2

Criticized at home, Pakistan army defends its lack of air response during deadly NATO attack

By Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Confusion and a communication breakdown prevented Pakistan’s airforce from scrambling to defend troops on the ground during the deadly NATO bombing last weekend of two border outposts, the military said Friday, responding to rare domestic criticism of the powerful institution.

The attack killed 24 Pakistani troops and pushed already strained ties between Washington and Islamabad over the future of Afghanistan close to rupture. Islamabad has closed its eastern border to NATO supplies traveling into landlocked Afghanistan and said it is reviewing its cooperation with Washington.

Thousands of Islamist extremists took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, some shouting they would join the army in a battle with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. The chants were a worrying sign for the West, reflecting how the anger over the incident is uniting hard-liners and the military.

Others rallied against the country’s already weak government for its alliance with Washington.

The Pakistani military, which eats up most of the country’s budget and is accountable to no one, has said Saturday’s border attack was an “act of deliberate aggression” that went on for close two hours. It has also said that Pakistani commanders contacted and pleaded with coalition commanders to stop firing.

NATO and U.S. officials have disputed that account, which has triggered uncomfortable questions in this South Asian country over why Pakistan’s own fighter jets and helicopters stationed close to the border did not take off to defend the ground troops during the attack.

The military has said troops did fire back at the NATO choppers when they attacked.

A Pakistani military statement on Friday said the response could have been more “effective” if the airforce had been called in, but this was not possible because of a “breakdown of communication” and confusion at “various levels” within the organization. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Source – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/criticized-at-home-pakistan-army-defends-its-lack-of-air-response-during-deadly-nato-attack/2011/12/02/gIQAkQaYJO_story.html

via » Siasat.pk

PAKISTAN: A single mother’s battle with her unborn child

An Article from the Asian Human Rights Commission

By Baseer Naweed

AHRC-ART-057-2011, November 8, 2011 -Miss Uzma Ayub, a single mother, who was repeatedly raped whilst being held captive by an army soldier and three police officials during an entire year, is currently seven months pregnant and will give birth soon. She … does not want to abort it; because she says she respects life. She is planning on giving her child up for adoption in the hopes of it having a better life.

Continue reading PAKISTAN: A single mother’s battle with her unborn child

India Vietnam Sea oil exploration deal

Time to teach those around South China Sea a lesson

By Long Tao

No South China Sea issue existed before the 1970s. The problems only occured after North and South Vietnam were reunified in 1976 and China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands then became the new country’s target.

Unfortunately, though hammered by China in the 1974 Xisha Island Battle and later the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979, Vietnam’s insults in the South China Sea remained unpunished today. It encouraged nearby countries to try their hands in the “disputed” area and attracted the attention of the US so that a regional conflict gradually turned international.

China, concentrating on interior development and harmony, has been ultimately merciful in preventing such issue turning into a global affair so that regional peace and prosperity can be secured.

But it is probably the right time for us to reason, think ahead and strike first before things gradually run out of hands.

It seems all the countries around the area are preparing for an arms race.

Singapore brings home high-end stealth aircraft while Australia, India and Japan are all stockpiling arms for a possible “world-class” battle. ….

Read more » Global Times

If USA attacks Pakistan…

– by Harris Bin Munawar

When America’s top military official hinted at direct US action in the tribal region where it believes Pakistan shelters and works with the anti-American Haqqani Network, among the first to respond was the network’s top leader. “The US would suffer more losses in the North Waziristan Agency than they did in Afghanistan,” Sirajuddin Haqqani said, daring the US to send its troops into the tribal region that the Pakistani army itself has refused to enter.

This means: 1. His network is entrenched in North Waziristan 2. It is their responsibility to defend the agency 3. They would prefer to do so over several years in Afghanistan-style guerrilla warfare

Pakistan Army says it is not ready to take on the influential pro-Taliban leader, effectively giving up a claim on the territory he controls.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says a raid on the Haqqani Network would be an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty, as if the defence of North Waziristan has been outsourced to the Haqqanis.

Prone to the drone:

If Pakistan Army indeed lacks capacity, or will, to reclaim North Waziristan where Afghan insurgents are believed to hide, regroup and plan new attacks, that means it has no effective control over the region.

Pakistan says that: 1. Its army does not have the means or resources to control that territory 2. The government will lose political credibility if it orders an operation in the North Waziristan 3. Taliban reaction to such an operation will destabilize the entire country

If that is correct, Pakistan has lost de facto control over the area and it cannot claim sovereignty. That gives the US a justification to go after its enemies itself. And that is what the US does with missile attacks by unmanned aircraft.

A government that has been holding tribes collectively responsible for violations committed by their individual members has no moral authority to suddenly invoke modern notions of justice or mourn the death of innocent civilians who shelter the Taliban.

So little leverage:

If Pakistan is collaborating with, or supporting, or merely avoiding confrontation with a group it has long-standing ties with, a group it believes or hopes will have a significant role in the post-US Afghanistan, there is no reason it will stop doing that for an ally that is about to leave the battlefield.

Washington wants to put its foot down. It wants Pakistan to stop supporting its enemies. But “the problem is”, security analyst Caroline told Reuters, “we have so little leverage”. Because:

1. America cannot engage in a long-term battle inside Pakistan with its economy worsening, troops thinning, and a complete withdrawal from the region already announced

2. It has no identifiable target in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network does not have too much of a stationary central command that it could attack

3. Now that they are expecting an attack, members of the group will disperse

4. If the IsI is supporting the Haqqani Network, killing one or two of its leaders will not significantly hurt the group’s capability to attack US interests

What can America do?

1. The US can make a May 2 style incursion into Pakistan and go after the top leader of the Haqqani Network. After his father Jalaluddin Haqqani’s retirement, Sirajuddin the most influential insurgent figure in that region. But the impact of his killing might not be more than that of the killing of Osama bin Laden

2. It can make a number of simultaneous raids under air cover on several key targets in North Waziristan – people or buildings that might include Pakistan Army’s check-posts. Like the May 2 raid, the legitimacy of the operation will depend on how successful it is

3. The US can carry out a series of individual strikes followed by periods of calm. That way it will continue to meet its goals and embarrass the Pakistan Army, while making sure the tipping point is never reached

4. Washington can impose an economic embargo on Pakistan, stop all aid, freeze its accounts and declare the ISI a terrorist organisation. It can also use its influence on international agencies to end all aid and loan programs to Pakistan. That will be deathblow to Pakistan’s ailing economy

5. It can increase drone strikes in the Tribal Areas and take out targets with virtual impunity

Neither of these steps is new or extraordinary, and neither of these steps will dramatically reverse the US predicament in Afghanistan.

What can Pakistan do?

Any US move against Pakistan does not have to be new or extraordinary to hurt Pakistan. Pakistan Army has influenced public opinion in the past to create an anti-America feeling that it can then cite to seek concessions from the US. In doing that, it has entrenched itself into a position where it will have no choice but to respond to a US strike.

As an immediate response, Pakistan can:

1. Retaliate and fire at intruding US aircraft or men. Claims have been made that Pakistan can shoot down predator drones, but it is less likely Pakistan can detect and attack US fighter aircraft. The Osama bin Laden raid has also raised doubts about Pakistan’s ability to detect and attack intruding helicopters

2. Carry out a delayed but full-fledged counter-attack on US bases in Afghanistan that it believes were used in attacks on its soil. That may lead to a US counter-counter-attack and an all out war. How long can Pakistan sustain that war is an important question

3. Increase attacks on US interests through any Taliban factions or other insurgent groups that are ready to support Pakistan. If Sirajuddin Haqqani has made an offer to defend North Waziristan, the Pakistani military might take them up on that. Sooner or later, the US will withdraw anyway. But is there a guarantee these groups will not go rogue like many in the past? Can a modern Pakistani republic reconcile with their version of the Muslim faith?

4. Step back and start an operation in North Waziristan. But with the US leaving, will Pakistan want to alienate its supporters in Afghanistan? One way to deal with the problem is to continue the policy Pakistan is accused of. The army can hide key figures of the network and then conduct a fake operation for several months until the US is pressured by its politics or economics to leave the region. But then, how will Pakistan deal with the network and reclaim its territory after the US leaves?

5. Not retaliate with a military move, and just end diplomatic ties with the US, losing a key source of aid. Closing down NATO supply routes will hurt the US immediately. But if the supplies are stopped for too long, the US will find new, although more expensive, ways to get supplies to Kabul. If that happens, Pakistan would have burned up a very important advantage.

6. Go to China for help. China’s key security officials came to Pakistan last week. Pakistani analysts saw that as a sign of support. But the Chinese delegation is on a scheduled visit to discuss terrorists hiding in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas that fight against China in its Xinjiang province. It is not likely China support Pakistan on some of the possible plans we have discussed. Nor is it in China’s interest to jump into a US-Pakistan conflict.

Can Pakistan sustain a war?

Opinion leaders in Pakistan believe the resource-rich republic can sustain confrontation with a defeated US empire. Such self-deception has cost Pakistan dearly in the past. Let us look at the key resources needed in a war:

Troops: Pakistan does not have enough troops to guard both the Indian and Afghan border. We have grouped India with the US as a matter of policy, and will have to pay for that by being sandwiched between two hostile neighbours

Weapons: The weapons and equipment used by Pakistan Army come from the US and its allies. That means we will soon run out of ammunition and cannot repair or service the equipment

Money: Pakistan’s economy cannot pay for a war, especially after an embargo by the US. Hit by floods two years in a row, suffering from an energy crisis, cash-strapped because of huge government spending, and dependent on foreign aid, how long will its money last?

Communications network: Pakistan’s communication system can not bear the burden of war with a dysfunctional railways. With engine shortages and trains stopped half way for up to 20 hours because there is no diesel, how will Pakistan fight a war?

Intelligence: If Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are to be believed, they had no clue about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in Pakistan, a planned US raid to kill him, or even about the activities of Raymond Davis and CIA contractors like him. On the contrary, it is accused of targeting journalists who there is a general consensus are not American agents. Pakistan’s intelligence network does not look like it is ready to fight a war

Diplomatic support: Every single country in this region was hurt when Pakistan had influence in Afghanistan the last time. Insurgents from China and Central Asia were sheltered and trained in Afghanistan, Iran was unhappy because tens of thousands of Shias were massacred, and India was among the victims of guerrilla warriors too. The International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia is asking for former ISI chief Gen Javed Nasir. Who in the region will support Pakistan in its battle to control Afghanistan?

Domestic politics: Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic and political battles in the crime-infested economic hub Karachi, Punjab is suffering from a new epidemic, Sindh is submerged in floods, Balochistan is fighting an insurgency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is dysfunctional because of terrorism. Pakistan’s domestic situation is less than ideal for a war.

Continue reading If USA attacks Pakistan…

Secularism is necessary for a prosperous and peaceful Pakistan

– Different perspective – The Baloch and Sindhis certainly believe that Pakistan should be more than an Islamic monoculture

By Raza Ahmed

Pervez Hoodbhoy is a familiar name among critics who see Pakistani society in the context of extremism and terrorism. A distinctively fierce critic of nuclear weapons and technology, Hoodbhoy is a professor of nuclear and high energy physics at the Department of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has delivered lectures at US and European research centres and universities. In addition to his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has received Baker Award for Electronics and Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics.

He was awarded UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize in 2003 on science. The same year, he was invited to the Pugwash Council. He has also received the Joseph A. Burton Award from the American Physical Society.

His book, Islam and Science — Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, has been translated into seven languages. Understandably, Hoodbhoy is one of the most sought-after commentator on nuclear and related issues today. Recently, TNS sat with Pervez Hoodbhoy and focused on various aspects of Pakistani state, society, and regional affairs. Excerpts follow. The News on Sunday: What, in your opinion, is the root cause of religious extremism-terrorism in Pakistan?

Pervez Hoodbhoy: It came from Pakistan’s foreign policy in the early 1980s. The US and Pakistan, with Saudi funding, created the deadly jihadist machinery after the USSR invaded Afghanistan. For over a decade, they armed, financed, and trained the mujahideen. Once the USSR withdrew and disintegrated, the infrastructure should have been disbanded. But then Pakistani generals, like Mirza Aslam Beg, decided to use jihadists to conquer Kashmir and establish strategic depth in Afghanistan. Those mujahideen, “assets” as they were called, are now slaughtering our soldiers and officers whenever and wherever they can.

TNS: Has Pakistan been misdirected because no political or intellectual input seems to have gone into policy making?

PH: Civilian and military governments are to be blamed for today’s catastrophic situation. Although he denies it now, let us remember that Nawaz Sharif was thick with Musharraf on Kargil and had accompanied him to visit the troops there. Our insistence on Kashmir being the number one problem is the cause of many of our sorrows. We did not realise that the well-being of Pakistan, and addressing the grievances of Balochistan and Sindh, is more important than liberating Kashmir from Indian occupation. …

Read more → The News

via → Secular Pakistan

Afghan gunfight: Kabul police battle insurgents

– Afghan and international security forces have been battling a multi-pronged attack by insurgents targeting the US embassy, Nato headquarters and police buildings in Kabul.

Police are still exchanging fire with at least one gunman holed up in an unfinished high-rise building overlooking the diplomatic quarter. Six people have been killed and 16 injured, Kabul’s police chief said.

The Taliban said they were behind the violence.

At least one attacker remains on one of the upper floors of the building, says the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, in Kabul.

Afghan intelligence officials are already going through the lower floors, gathering evidence about the way the attack was planned and carried out.

Two of them told the BBC they found rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), heavy machine guns and hand grenades, as well as biscuits and energy drinks.

“They had planned a long battle,” one official said.

Counter-terrorism officials said they recovered three mobile phone Sim cards from the bodies of attackers killed earlier in the day. The records showed the numbers had been used for calls to and from Pakistan, they told the BBC.

Read more → BBC

Anna Hazare’s message to the Nation

My Dear friends, A decisive battle against corruption has begun. We are not against any political party. We want systemic reforms. We want a corruption-free country. After all, what are the people asking for – a strong anti-corruption law which provides for honest and time-bound investigations and trials that result in jail for the guilty, confiscation of embezzled money and their dismissal from service? Are we asking too much? For two months, we were talking to the government.

Government seems unwilling to take even small steps against corruption. Government appears insincere. We have met all prominent political leaders. We have tried everything. What do we do now? When I announced my indefinite fast from 16th August, the government threatened that they would crush us the way they crushed Baba Ramdev’s peaceful agitation.

Friends, this is a historic opportunity. We can’t afford to lose it. We are determined to fight to the end. If they arrest us, we will peacefully offer ourselves. If they use batons and bullets, we will happily lay down our lives but will not leave the place. We will not retaliate. It will be a completely non-violent movement. “If you fast on 16th August, you will be crushed” – this is what they are saying. “We will impose section 144 on Jantar Mantar” – this is what they are thinking. But I say that if every citizen in this country takes off from his work from 16th August, comes on the streets in front of his house, at the crossing, with a tricolor in his hands shouting “Mata ki Jai” and raising slogans against corruption, they will fall short of batons and bullets. The government may arrest one Anna Hazare but how will they arrest 120 crore Anna Hazares? They may impose section 144 at one Jantar Mantar but will they impose section 144 on the whole country? And let me tell you – the police and army is with us. At traffic signals, policemen stop us, express their support and wish us well; at Raj Ghat, the policemen donated generously for the movement! So, will you take off from your work from 16 August? Will you descend on the streets with me? This year, the country will wait for 16th rather than 15th August. In solidarity.

Thanks

Anna Hazare

Courtesy: → Desiyatra, August 11, 2011

The sham operation in Kurram – Dr Mohammad Taqi

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people, making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks

On July 4, 2011, the Pakistan Army announced that it has launched an operation in the Central Kurram Agency with the primary objective of clearing the ‘miscreants’ and opening of the Peshawar-Thall-Parachinar Road (why Tal has become Thall in the English press beats me). The geographical scope of the operation is rather circumscribed, if the army communiqués are to be believed, and its focus, ostensibly, would be on the Zaimusht, Masozai and Alizai areas. But speaking to the Kurramis from Lower, Central and Upper Kurram, one gets a different sense.

At least one General has reportedly been heard saying during the recent operational meetings leading up to the military action that he intends to teach the Turis (in Upper Kurram) a lesson that they would never forget. The Corps Commander’s communication delivered to the tribal elders of the Upper Kurram literally ordered them to acquiesce in and sign on to the operation. But quite significantly, many other leaders among the Turis, Bangash and Syeds of Upper Kurram have vehemently opposed the military action as well as their own elders who seem to have caved in under duress.

The Turis and Bangash tribesmen are of the opinion that on the Thall-Parachinar Road, the only extortionists bigger than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the officers of the army — and they specifically name two colonels — who have made life miserable for the people of Parachinar. These security officials levy protection money even on the supply of daily provisions and medicine to Upper Kurram, resulting in jacked-up prices and in many instances unavailability of life-saving drugs, resulting in deaths that otherwise could be preventable.

The more ominous and geo-strategically important aspects of the current army operation are twofold and are interconnected. We have noted in these pages several times that the Pakistan Army has no problem securing Central and parts of Lower Kurram for its jihadist asset, i.e. the Haqqani terrorist network, who have essentially had a free reign in this region for almost a decade using the Sateen, Shasho and Pir Qayyum camps. The army has also helped the Haqqani and Hekmatyar groups set up humungous compounds on the Durand Line such as the Spina Shaga complex.

The problem the security establishment has faced is to secure a thoroughfare between Central Kurram and the assorted jihadist bridgeheads along the Kurram-Afghanistan border, including but not limited to the Parrot’s Beak region. The key hindrance to such movement is the resistance by the Turi and Bangash tribesmen, which neither the security establishment nor its jihadist proxies have been able to neutralise, coerce or buy off. Projecting the Haqqani network and Hekmatyar’s operatives into Afghanistan from Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga and other bases on the border is a pivotal component of the Pakistani strategy to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan and for the post-US withdrawal phase. But with the recent wave of drone attacks on the hideouts of these groups, their vulnerability to the US/ISAF — buoyed by the OBL raid — has also become evident and hence the need for secure routes to retract the jihadists back when needed.

Several attacks on the Turi and Bangash, including by Pakistan Army helicopter gunships last year killing several Pakistanis, have not dented the resolve of the locals to fight back against the jihadists. I had noted in these pages then: “The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement [to relocate the Haqqanis to Kurram]. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners” (‘Kurram: the forsaken FATA’, Daily Times, November 4, 2010).

The option that the army wants to exercise now is to disarm the Upper Kurram’s tribesmen, especially the Turis. The security establishment has told them that they will have to surrender their “qawmi wasla” (an arms cache that belongs to a tribe as a whole). To disarm and thus defang the tribesmen, who have held their own against the disproportionately stronger and state-sponsored enemy for almost half a decade, is essentially pronouncing their death sentence.

Without their weapons, the Turis and Bangash will be at the whim of an army that had literally abandoned Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala and Pir Samiullah in Swat and the Adeyzai lashkar (outside Peshawar). Afzal Khan Lala lost several loyalists and family members and Pir Samiullah was murdered, his body buried but later exhumed and mutilated by the Taliban, while the army stood by and did nothing. My co-columnist and researcher, Ms Farhat Taj has highlighted the plight of the Adeyzai lashkar several times in these pages, including the fact that it was left high and dry by the security establishment against an overwhelming Taliban force. And lest we forget, it was this same army that made Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiate with Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban, with suicide bombers standing guard on each men and blocking the door along with muzzles of automatic rifles pointed into their faces.

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people (IDPs), making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks. Also, the establishment’s focus has been to ‘reorient’ the TTP completely towards Afghanistan. The breaking away from the TTP of the crook from Uchat village, Fazl-e-Saeed Zaimusht (who now interestingly writes Haqqani after his name) is the first step in the establishment’s attempt to regain full control over all its jihadist proxies.

The offensive in Central Kurram is not intended for securing the road; it will be broadened to include the Upper Kurram in due course, in an attempt to bring the Turis and Bangash to their knees. After their arms have been confiscated, it could be a turkey shoot for the jihadists and Darfur for the Kurramis. It is doubtful though that the common Turi or Bangash tribesman is about to listen to some elder who is beholden to the establishment, and surrender the only protection that they have had. The Pakistan Army’s track record of protecting jihadists and shoving the anti-Taliban forces off the deep end speaks for itself.

Pakistan’s security establishment can perpetuate on the US and the world a fraud like the hashtag de-radicalisation on Twitter and buzzwords like de-programming suicide bombers by trotting out the so-called intelligentsia whose understanding of the Pashtun issues is woefully flawed. But it is unlikely that Kurramis are about to fall for this sham of an operation that paves the way for their genocide.

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Pakistan: Drifting towards fascism

Dictator Zia

by Mazhar Arif

Retreat of socialism, particularly in former Soviet Union, and rise of “Ziaism” in Pakistan depressed the progressive (Leftist) and secular forces in the country which resulted in fading of “battle of ideas” in media and educational institutions. The consequences are the general intellectual bankruptcy and emergence of media-obsessed intelligentsia and the result is the “Ziaized” elitist intellectuals are on the center-stage …

Read more → ViewPoint

The Haqqani Network in Kurram

By Reza Jan, Jeffrey Dressler

This paper details the expansion of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan’s tribal areas through peace accords signed between rival Sunni and Shia factions in Kurram Agency, Pakistan. The peace accords brought nearly four years of continuous fighting to an end. Despite the appearance of legitimacy, the peace accords were manipulated by the Afghanistan-focused Haqqani Network to serve its own ends. In exchange for brokering the peace between Sunnis and Shias, the Haqqanis allegedly received the authority to operate through Shia-controlled terrain in central and upper Kurram which will aid their ongoing insurgency against Afghan and coalition forces throughout eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqanis have also demonstrated their growing power and influence in the Pakistani tribal region in areas beyond their historical stronghold of neighboring North Waziristan Agency.

The Haqqani Network is Afghanistan’s most capable and sophisticated insurgent network. The Haqqanis enjoy sanctuary in the tribal areas in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. With the backing of elements within the Pakistan security establishment, the Haqqanis have used their sanctuary in the North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan to operate across the border in southeastern Afghanistan.

In response to increased coalition activity against the Haqqani Network in both Pakistan (via drones) and Afghanistan (via Special Operations Forces), the Haqqanis have increasingly sought new Pakistani sanctuary and additional infiltration routes in order to continue to battle coalition forces for control of southeastern Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network has increasingly turned their attention to Kurram Agency over the past several years as a potential sanctuary for the Haqqanis and affiliated terrorist organizations.

Kurram is a region of special strategic importance to Afghanistan-focused insurgents. It served as a base to the Afghan Mujahideen during the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Kurram remains coveted terrain today as it facilitates convenient access to several Afghan provinces and is also the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan. …

Read more :  criticalthreats.org
http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/reza-jan-jeffrey-dressler-haqqani-network-in-kurram-may-9-2011

Pakistan: Lies, lies and more lies

Lies, lies and more lies

By: Nazir Naji

We are gullible. We lap up any tosh that is fed to us. We were told in 1965 that India attacked us and we defeated it. The reality was that we were the ones who attacked and India attacked Lahore and Sialkot in retaliation. In 1971, we were told that Indian-trained Mukti Bahini is carrying out terrorist activities. The reality was that we launched an offensive on East Pakistan. We were also told that Mujeeb-ur-Rehman is a traitor and that he wanted to break the country with his 6 points. The reality was that he was ready to pass the constitution of joint Pakistan in collusion with Bhutto. He himself told me in a meeting, “Am I crazy? Why would I want to break the country and rule a province when I instead rule the whole of Pakistan?” We were also told that we were conducting guerrilla resistance or “jihad” against the Soviets because their expansionist plans extend to Karachi and Gwadar. In actuality, we were America’s proxy in a war between two superpowers. The Russians left but the motley crew assembled in the name of Jihad played, and is still playing, an unholy game of bloodshed unabated. We were also told that the mujahideen had conquered Kargil but the reality was that our jawans [army] were sent there in civilian garb for conquest but the Indian army apprehended them and our prime minister had to flatter the US to facilitate their return.

We weren’t really interested in Osama bin Laden. Many lunatics in our midst consider him a warrior of Islam but the world views him as a deadly terrorist. The deluded class of people doesn’t consider him the architect of 9/11 even though he himself praised the perpetrators initially and then eventually 4 years later accepted the responsibility for planning 9/11. But this particular group of people will not even be dissuaded by his own admission of guilt. They are mourning openly in newspapers. But the people who wrote obituaries in columns did not have the daring to attend his funeral prayers conducted in absentia in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Anyhow, our military rulers milked the US and Britain for fighting terrorism and maintained that Osama Bin Laden (OBL) was not in Pakistan whereas America insisted the opposite was true according to its reports. But we kept denying it in the strongest terms. But we Pakistanis kept believing what our protectors were telling us. We always do, but what to do when the world refuses to believe them as easily as we do. The Americans kept searching on their own. And the day our protectors and guardians were slumbering, American helicopters in flagrant violation of Pakistan’s airspace flew to Abbottabad and smoked out OBL. They got their man and took him back to Afghanistan with ease.

President Obama addressed his nation to inform them of this victory. At 11 am PST, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, also conducted a press conference and clarified his stance and stated clearly that the world’s most wanted man had been found in Pakistan and our contestation that Pakistan is the hub of terrorism has been proved. But the keepers of our defence kept their lips sealed till 12 pm. Why? The only reason was that their lies had been indubitably exposed and there was no room left for denials or cover-ups.

Finally, the Foreign Office’s spokesman issued a loose and meaningless statement which stated that Americans have conducted an operation as they have stated against OBL. The horrifying fact that Pakistan had been aerially attacked was not even alluded to. Our borders and airspaces violated. An operation was carried out a mere kilometre away from the country’s biggest military academy but our defence systems remained dormant. We neither stopped the helis from entering our borders, nor condemned the aggression committed. The statement was drafted with such nonchalance as if informing of a routine matter. As if the occurrence had taken place elsewhere. As if it did not concern us in the least bit.

The Pakistanis who remember 1971 will relate that while a full-fledged war was raging in East Pakistan, we were being told some Bengali terrorist were merely disturbing law and order and the situation would soon be under control. On 16th December, a table was set up in the battle-grounds of Dhaka on which the commanders of our military sat down with the enemy commander-in-chief and signed the deal to surrender. But we were told by our Commander-in-Chief that it was a “temporary ceasefire.” His words did not belie at all that the ignominy of the world’s biggest military defeat had befallen us. That united Pakistan was no more. We learnt of the reality when the radios across the world were announcing that India had captured East Pakistan.

The events of 2nd May were no ordinary events. They exposed the hypocrisy of the people who are supposedly our guardians and exposed the discrepancies in their words and actions. Our lie had been called out. We denied for eight years that OBL was in Pakistan but he was caught here. We kept calling the world mendacious when we ourselves were liars. Because of this lie, our defence system was reduced to tatters but our government was pretending as if our sovereignty and defence remained unscathed.

On the evening of 2nd May, some people caught their wits and then it was thrown around that we had “aided” the US and our help is what led the US to bin Laden. But what the world really wanted to ask was that why did we repeatedly lie to them? The CIA Chief, Leon Panetta, told the representative of Congress that Pakistan had either willfully hid OBL or it was incompetent. The army’s own retired general, Talat Masood, said that the presence of Osama in Pakistan was due to the incompetence of our institutions and if they knew, that was an even graver mistake than incompetence. Whether it was collusion or incompetence, our defence system and the people responsible for it have failed unequivocally at their professional obligations and national duties. A failure in defence responsibilities is unpardonable. If court-martials had been conducted when necessary, we would never have seen this day. It’s the mistake of a few people; but the humiliation and disgrace is the lot of the entire nation. How much longer will we have to take this? How many times will we pay for the crimes of others?

The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.

Courtesy: PAKISTAN TODAY

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/05/lies-lies-and-more-lies/

NATO Missile Strike Kills Gadhafi’s Son

Gadhafi Survives NATO Missile Strike That Killed Son

By RICHARD BOUDREAUX and CHARLES LEVINSON

TRIPOLI, Libya – A missile fired by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization struck a house where Col. Moammar Gadhafi was staying Saturday, missing the Libyan leader but killing his youngest son and three young grandchildren, a government spokesman said.

Col. Gadhafi and his wife were in the home of their 29-year-old son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, when the missile crashed through the one-story house in a Tripoli residential neighborhood, according to the spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim.

The young Mr. Gadhafi, who was reported killed, was the seventh son of the Libyan leader.

“The leader himself is in good health; he wasn’t harmed,” Mr. Ibrahim told a news conference early Sunday. “His wife is also in good health; she wasn’t harmed, [but] other people were injured.”

“This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country,” the spokesman added. “It seems intelligence was leaked. They knew about him being there, or they expected him. But the target was very clear.”

The attack could mark a volatile turning point in Col. Gadhafi’s 10-week-old battle against an armed popular uprising based in eastern Libya and the NATO bombing campaign that began in March. His regime is expected to use his son’s death to rally Libyans against foreign intervention in the conflict. His Libyan foes, based mainly in eastern Libya, hope the threat of similar NATO strikes will erode support for the leader within his inner circle.

NATO officials made no immediate comment on the fatal airstrike. …

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