Tag Archives: bigwigs

Pakistan’s feeble denial

Excerpt:

…. And from Abbottabad the Star’s Rick Westhead reports that some locals believed the compound belonged to a relative of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, or a drug dealer. Others reportedly thought Hizbul Mujahedeen, a Kashmiri militant group, was using it.

Given rumours that the site  housed Al Qaeda terrorists, Taliban bigwigs, Kashmiri militants and drug barons, why didn’t the ISI move in on bin Laden? How can he have lived there for years?

The world can debate whether U.S. forces were justified in killing bin Laden, and the extent to which the U.S. should air gruesome evidence of the raid. But one thing is clear: “It’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country,” as U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism official said. Who ran that support network? Who built the compound? Who brought bin Laden in? Who supplied him all these years? If not people with links to the security services, then who? Or were the security services playing a double game, as they have in the past?

This is a credibility issue for Zardari and his top military and intelligence chiefs. They have some explaining to do, and there’s a lot at stake. Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $20 billion in U.S. assistance, and relies on billions more each year from other countries. It owes the World Bank and other lenders $54 billion, and needs foreign help to service those loans and get new ones. If world opinion sours on Pakistan, the effects could be harsh.

For years, Pakistani officials denied bin Laden was hiding there. The U.S. raid exploded that untruth. Now they say they have no idea where Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and other insurgents may be. How credible is that? And how hard are they looking?

Courtesy: Toronto Star

Hoisting flags, foisting identities.

By Urooj Zia

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) seems intent on hoisting the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. While patriotism might be the pretext for this ‘tiranga yatra’, the underlying narrative is vile nose-thumbing at a people who have been oppressed under distorted interpretations of patriotism and related politics. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising if the BJP bigwigs either hoist the tiranga under heavy paramilitary protection and curfew, or are forced to make a run for it amidst a barrage of stone-pelting.

This entire circus of faux-nationalism, meanwhile, finds a parallel in Balochistan, Pakistan’s restive south-western province, where sighting the chand-tara means that one is either close to a Frontier Corps (FC) check-post or near the entrance of the Balochistan University campus in Quetta. The latter is guarded by FC personnel in APCs, because students have made a sport of replacing the Pakistani flag with the colours of Azad Balochistan.

Early last year, I had the chance to witness firsthand the brutalities meted out to the people of Balochistan by the same people tasked with protecting the citizens of Pakistan. Perhaps the forces in question don’t consider the Baloch citizens of this country, in which case, it is ironic how we insist on holding on to an area and a people whom we otherise as traitors. Over a kilometre on Sariab Road in Quetta, I spotted no less than 10 FC check-posts, where vehicles were arbitrarily stopped and passengers were ordered to disembark. A thorough body search was then conducted, and further treatment depended on the whim of the officer in question. Those stopped were either ordered to recite the national anthem of Pakistan, or told to chant ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. If the sloganeering was not deemed ‘patriotic’ enough, a repeat performance was ordered for as long as the officer wished. …

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