Tag Archives: concerns

Voicing concerns: Sindhi activists ask British govt to take action against Altaf

KARACHI: Scores of Sindhi writers, poets, journalists and civil society activists staged a protest at the British High Commission, handing over a memorandum of compliant against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, asking the British government to ask Hussain to avoid provocative and seditious speech in Pakistan.

The rally, which started from Do Talwar, was not allowed to proceed towards the High Commission by law enforcers due to security reasons. After negotiations between the police and the participants, the rally was stopped at a distance from the commission and four representatives of the Sindhi Writers and Thinkers Forum were allowed to meet British officials.

Two officials of the British Commission met Dr Akash Ansari, Prof. Mushtaq Mirani, Jami Chandio and Dastaghir Bhatti at the office gate where they complained that Hussain was trying to incite ethnic violence in Sindh.

The officials assured that the complaint would be sent to the British government today ….

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/655678/voicing-concerns-sindhi-activists-ask-british-govt-to-take-action-against-altaf/

Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

Sinking like a rock: Slim chances of recovery for Pakistan’s directionless economy, says ADB

ISLAMABAD: Amid deep-rooted concerns over a “directionless” economy due to failure of the previous government and inability of the caretaker setup to take immediate meaningful steps, the Asian Development Bank has warned that Pakistan’s current growth model is unsustainable that also undermines future prospects.

In its Asian Development Outlook, the Manila-based lending agency has painted an extremely bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy that is “directionless” and immediate recovery chances are almost nil amid a worsening balance of payments position.

“A difficult political situation stalled effective policy response to macroeconomic and structural problems, especially regarding energy, and the end of the government’s 5-year term in mid-March limited political scope for major policy or structural reforms,” it said.

The economic developments in this fiscal year are unfolding along broadly similar lines as previous year, but with “deepening concerns about sustainability and the adequacy of forex reserves”.

A missing link in the ADB’s analysis of political failures is the role of bureaucrats in running the affairs of the government who often do not disclose actual extent of problems to the leadership.

Continue reading Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

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

Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

Pakistan seems to be on the brink of religious anarchy. Talbanization of the country has turned Punjab province into a hell for the Christian and Ahmadiya religious minorities. Does country intend to adopt the path of harmony? Silence is the only answer, for now!

On the pretext of blasphemy, around two hundred houses of innocent Christians were set on fire a couple of weeks ago by a fanatic mob led by extremist organizations in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province of Pakistan. This has recently been followed by insurrecting Ahmadiya Muslim minority’s houses in the province. Violence against religious minorities has been on the increase in the most populous province of the country.

Fear and fury has gripped Pakistani Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims; some of them have fled the province while others are considering fleeing Pakistan. The issue has raised the concerns of international community, particularly the western governments.

The shadow of continuous Hindu exodus has already created fury in Sindh province. Blazing a couple hundred houses of Christians has not only jolted the country, emotionally, but has also pointed towards insensitivity of liberal middle class towards minorities. In fact, the eastern-Indus Pakistan has lurched in the psychological chaos. Needless to mention, the western-Indus is already undergoing Taliban and Baloch insurgencies.

Continue reading Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

DPC: a religious outfit with a political cover

By Durdana Najam

Why should the Pakistan Army borrow the mullah alliance to restore its image? Perhaps the language of Islam is the easiest to use as an exploitive tool for an emotionally charged Muslim community

The religious-politico parties have become active owing to the US’s increasing intrusion into Pakistan’s territorial precincts, the latest being the Salala checkpost attack that killed 24 soldiers in November 2011. The investigative report prepared by NATO, which revealed the determinants of the attack, termed the incident to be a joint sin committed by NATO and the Pakistan Army, suggesting that on a border as volatile as the one between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal region, the rage of wrath can unleash itself at any time in any mode. Pakistan rejected the findings of the report, alleging it to be biased and obsessive. The attack irked even the government and, for a change, the NATO supply route was completely shut down — to this day. A parliamentary committee on national security is working to define new contours for Pak-America relations. In the meantime, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is sending strong massages to the American government about the so-called sovereignty that we guard so close to our bosoms (depending largely on our whims and wishes).

The recent collaboration of 40 religious parties going by the name of Difa-i-Pakistan Council, comprising the likes of General (retd) Hamid Gul, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, President Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq and the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Munawar Hasan, geared towards defending Pakistan against foreign aggression, has raised national and international concerns, especially since the definition of foreign aggression from the point of view of Difa-i-Pakistan relates to none other than the US and India. ….

Read more » Daily Times

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES WARNING TO AVOID TRAVEL TO PAKISTAN

PAKISTAN – Travel Warning, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Bureau of Consular Affairs

February 02, 2012 – The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Pakistan dated August 8, 2011, to update information on security incidents and remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan. …..

Read more » U.S. Department of State

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5661.html

Ally or not Ally: ISAF airstrike across the border

Ally or not Ally – By Abbas Daiyar

Excerpt;

…. The ‘peace plan’ suggested by Pakistani military for the endgame in Afghanistan is simply not acceptable for Afghans and the international community. They want a big share in power for Haqqanis and Quetta Shura saying militants represent Pashtuns. Pakistan’s main objective is full withdrawal of US troops. They are against the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership agreement that allows presence of US troops long beyond 2014. Pakistani military has its reasons. They fear US military intervention from Afghanistan against their nuclear capabilities.

It’s time for both countries to stop lies and deceit and decide they are allies or not. The US should ensure Pakistani military that their presence in Afghanistan is not a threat. Washington should offer Rawalpindi a vital role in the peace process with Taliban exclusive among the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan should persuade the Taliban to come to table talks and give up violence and help the US and Afghanistan to eliminate those who continue terror. Similarly, the US and Afghanistan should assure Pakistan about their legitimate security and strategic concerns on the endgame in Afghanistan. But for this, General Kayani would have to compromise his current ‘peace plan’.

Read more » Kabul Perspective » Daily Outlook Afghanistan

China’s ‘Cake Theory’

‘Cake Theory’ Has Chinese Eating Up Political Debate

by Louisa Lim

What goes on inside China’s leadership is usually played out behind the closed oxblood doors of the compound where the top leaders live. This year, though, a political debate has sprung out in the open — and it has leaders and constituents considering how to move forward politically.

This ideological debate comes as China gears up for a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country’s future top leaders seem almost certain, with Xi Jinping in line for president and Li Keqiang on track for premier. Horse-trading is under way for other leadership positions, however, sparking a debate that could define China’s future.

The Chongqing Model: Equal Slices

In recent months, the streets of the city of Chongqing have been ringing with song. These are not spontaneous outbreaks; they’re government-mandated sessions, requiring employees to “sing the red,” patriotic songs praising China.

This is a leftist vision of China’s future, with powerful echoes of its Maoist past.

It’s the brainchild of Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s party secretary and the son of a revolutionary elder, Bo Yibo, one of the “eight immortals” of Communist China. Bo Xilai has taken a three-pronged approach by “smashing the black,” or attacking corruption and organized crime, with what some say is a disregard for the rule of law. His approach also includes putting in place measures to help those left behind by China’s economic boom.

“The government intervenes to correct the shortcomings of the market economy,” says Yang Fan, a conservative-leaning scholar at China University of Political Science and Law and co-author of a book about the Chongqing model.

“There are projects to improve people’s livelihood by letting migrant workers come to the city, by building them cheap rental places and allowing them to sell their land to come to the city,” he says.

This is where it comes to what’s been dubbed “cake theory.” If the cake is China’s economy, the Chongqing model concentrates on dividing the cake more equally.

The Market-Driven Guangdong Model

The competing vision, based in the province of Guangdong, focuses on making the cake bigger first, not dividing it. In economic terms, the Guangdong model is a more market-driven approach, pushing forward development ahead of addressing inequality.

“The Guangdong model aims to solve the concerns of the middle class,” says Qiu Feng, a liberal academic from the Unirule Institute of Economics. “It’s about building society and rule of law. It wants to give the middle class institutionalized channels to take part in the political process. Its basic thought is co-opting the middle class.”

He says the “Happy Guangdong” approach is aimed not at those left behind, but at those who have profited from the economic boom.

Guangdong’s party secretary, Wang Yang, has criticized the Chongqing model, saying people need to study and review Communist Party history, “rather than just singing of its brilliance.” In political terms, he’s throwing down the gauntlet at his rival, Bo Xilai.

Finding A Way Forward

Both these politicians are fighting for a place — and influence — inside the holiest of holies: the Politburo Standing Committee. This comes against a background of criticism of the current leadership from a surprising quarter.

“The bureaucracy is corrupt. Power has been marketized. Governance has been industrialized,” says Zhang Musheng, a consummate insider. “Local governments are becoming riddled with gangsters.”

Zhang’s father was secretary to China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This makes him what’s known as a “princeling.” He’s attended a number of meetings held by children of former leaders, where criticism of the current leadership has been aired.

Despite their grievances, they came to one conclusion.

“China’s such a complicated society. Right now, it can’t leave the Communist Party. So the Communist Party must reform and improve,” Zhang says. “Although it’s criticized, right now there is no social force which can replace the Communist Party.”

Those are the key questions: how to reform or even if the Communist Party can reach consensus over which model it follows. ….

Read more » NPR

Pakistan and America – To the bitter end

Growing concerns about a difficult relationship

THOUGH America’s relations with Pakistan grow ever more wretched, it remains hard to imagine either side daring to break them off. Military types, diplomats, analysts and politicians in Islamabad describe a mood more poisonous than at any time for a generation. Links between the intelligence agencies, the core of bilateral relations for six decades, are worst of all, notably since America caught Osama bin Laden hiding amid Pakistan’s apron strings. Pakistan felt humiliated too by the way the al-Qaeda leader was killed.

Yet the ties still bind, amid fears of far worse. Last month, America’s departing chief of staff, Mike Mullen, said Pakistan’s army spies ran the Haqqani network, a militant outfit that has killed American men in Afghanistan and attacked the embassy in Kabul in September. The chatter in Pakistan was of frenzied preparation for military confrontation.

Many Pakistanis seemed jubilant at the idea, with polls suggesting over 80% of them are hostile to their ally, and chat shows competing to pour scorn on America as the root of all evil. Instead relations have been patched up. Last week Barack Obama said mildly that the outside world must “constantly evaluate” Pakistan’s behaviour. In what may signal a conciliation of sorts, a new CIA chief has been installed in Islamabad, the third in a year after Pakistani spies outed his predecessors.

American policy is contradictory. On the one side are defence types, eager to fight jihadists and angry at Pakistani meddling in southern and eastern Afghanistan. On the other side are diplomats, anxious about losing tabs on Pakistani nukes or having to do without Pakistani assistance in stopping terror attacks in the West. Many also fear the spreading failure of the Pakistani state (see article). A senior American official in Islamabad starkly describes how the relationship seemed lost last month, with “huge numbers of people trying not to let it go over the edge”.

For the moment ties persist, though they are loosened. America has suspended military aid, supposedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars (Pakistanis say Americans inflate the figures). It has not paid its agreed dues to Pakistan’s army for several months, nor have its trainers returned. America is also readier than before to back things that Pakistan despises, such as India’s blossoming relations with Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, who last week swept through Delhi to laud India’s growing role as a donor.

Pakistan’s army has responded by giving a little ground. It still refuses America’s call for a war on militants in the border area of North Waziristan—“it’s bad strategy to ignite everything at once” sniffs a gloomy Pakistani official—but it has, apparently, nudged Haqqani leaders from their hiding places over the border into Afghanistan. At the same time Pakistanis complain of impossible American demands over jihadists: they say Mr Obama’s strategy of “fight and talk” in Afghanistan requires Pakistan’s army to handle insurgent fighters by killing, capturing and bringing them into negotiations all at the same time.

Afghanistan, where the two countries fumble and fail to accommodate each other, will remain the crux of Pakistan’s relations with America. Pakistan’s leaders long derided what they saw as America’s vain “transformative” struggle to make Afghanistan modern, democratic and united—perhaps they also feared a similar push to refashion the role of the army in Pakistan. The head of Pakistan’s armed forces, General Ashfaq Kayani, in particular, is said to dismiss America’s understanding of the fractured country next door as naive and simplistic, a doomed effort to make Afghanistan into something it is not.

But as America’s ambitions there have shrunk to little more than extracting its soldiers fast and leaving behind a minimally stable territory that is not dominated by Pushtuns, concerns in Pakistan have grown anew. It now fears being abandoned, losing aid and relevance, and becoming encircled by forces allied with its old foe, India. Several commentators in Islamabad suggest that, sooner than have a united neighbour that is pro-India, Pakistan would prefer more war and division in Afghanistan—“let Afghanistan cook its own goose” says an ex-general.

A crunch could come in the next few months, as foreigners gather for a pair of summits on Afghanistan, first in Istanbul in November, then in Bonn in December. What should have been a chance to back domestic peace talks (which have not happened) could instead be a moment for recrimination, with Pakistanis to take the blame. Worse yet for Pakistan would be if its ill-starred performance as an ally becomes a prominent issue in Mr Obama’s presidential re-election campaign. Afghanistan is sure to dominate a NATO summit to be held in Chicago in May.

Afghanistan may, or may not, recede in importance after 2014, when America is due to cut the number of soldiers it has in the region. Yet even without the thorn of Afghanistan, a list of divisive, unattended issues infects Pakistan’s relations with America. On their own they would be more than enough to shake relations between most countries.

Pakistan is a known proliferator, and is more hostile than almost any other country to America’s global efforts to cut nuclear arsenals and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. America is fast expanding its economic and military ties with Pakistan’s great rival, India. And Pakistan’s domestic rule would set most American diplomats’ hair on end—venal civilian leaders; army men hankering for the next coup and having pesky journalists killed off; Islamists who shoot opponents for being liberal. With a friend like Pakistan, who needs enemies?

Courtesy: The Economist

http://www.economist.com/node/21532322

China Pullout Deals Blow to Pakistan

Mining Company Abandons $19 Billion Pact; Move Is Setback to Islamabad’s Effort to Establish Beijing as Foil to U.S.

By TOM WRIGHT in New Delhi and JEREMY PAGE in Beijing

A Chinese mining company pulled out of what was to be Pakistan’s largest foreign-investment deal because of security concerns, complicating Islamabad’s effort to position its giant neighbor as an alternative to the U.S. as its main ally.

An official at China Kingho Group, one of China’s largest private coal miners, said on Thursday it had backed out in August from a $19 billion deal in southern Sindh province because of concerns for its personnel after recent bombings in Pakistan’s major cities. …

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

Tragedies continue to unfold in Sindh – Thirty-seven more Sindhi Hindus leave Pakistan for India over security concerns

by South East Asia News.Net

Thirty-seven Hindus, comprising five families and residents of Thul town in Jacobabad district, have permanently left Pakistan for India due to security concerns.

Despite tall claims of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership, murders of Hindus, kidnappings for ransom and forced conversions are being carried out unabated across the Sindh province, Pakistan Today reports.

Like many other Hindus of the province who have migrated to other countries, these families have left the country after selling their properties and wrapping up their businesses. …..

Read more → South East Asia News

Pakistan: The Power of Intelligence Agencies

by Hassan N. Gardezi

Excerpt;

Preamble – The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad and his killing by US commandos has raised serious concerns about the performance of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. The country’s interior minister Rehman Malik, besieged by allegations of incompetence and complicity went on the defensive, pleading that his government was not aware of Osama’s whereabouts until the US attack on his fortified mansion on May 2. He insisted that it was just a case of accidental failure of Pakistani intelligence agencies, similar to the failure of the US intelligence to detect the perpetrators of 9/11 as they planed their attacks within America.

While giving a briefing on the Abbotabad incident to the in-camera session of both houses of parliament on May13, Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, chief of the Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), also reportedly admitted the “failure” of his agency, offering to resign from his post while adding that it was “not intentional” failure. ….

…. It will be naive to conclude that these happenings in Pakistan are accidents of history or failures of the country’s ruling elite who do not know what they are doing. These incidents and other events which have brought Pakistan to where it stands today are part of the logical unfolding of the paradigm of governance adopted consciously and purposefully by successive governments of Pakistan since the inception of the state in 1947. More on this later, but what is pertinent to note here is that the core of this ruling paradigm is the political use of Islam, the essence of the Islamist enterprise. In this respect the present governing establishment is in competition with the militant Islamists, not in conflict.

To read complete article → SOUTH ASIA CITIZENS WEB

Pakistan: the situation inside

The natives getting restless – by Mujahid Hussain

The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten

Recent events have caused the army and its intelligence wing to be exposed to criticism in a manner never seen before in this country. This estrangement does not apply to the religious right alone anymore, who were already angry because of their one dimensional view on the war on terror. Both the religious and the left wing parties have felt emotions of betrayal and anger towards the army for different reasons. The liberal intellectuals who support the army in the war on terror, have expressed concerns about the duplicity and the modus operandi of the intelligence agencies.

Usama Bin Ladin’s death in Abbottabad, Mehran Base Attack, successive drone attacks, and now the killing of a youth by the Rangers in Karachi in public, has caused the decibel levels to rise as never before.

The less than complimentary views about the army expressed by Asma Jahangir, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the torch bearer of Human Rights, has created a new situation. The reaction of the military top brass has been to rely on its carefully nurtured constituency in journalism, politics, establishment and other vocal segments of the society, to stick to the well rehearsed standard narrative, offering the usual rewards in return.

On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif intends to exploit this situation, for he knows full well that his rivals are weak and that internal and external factors may allow him to gain political ascendancy. There is no evidence coming to the fore that the army has grasped the significance of the change in the public mood and increasing disillusionment among its traditional supporters.

It does not seem that the army has yet decided to curtail its role in politics. History, however, is full of ironies. The coziness with the Army that was the preserve of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group [PML-N] is now enjoyed by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party [PPP], given expression through the statements of Rahman Malik, Babar Awan, and Firdous Ashiq Awan. All three are new PPP faces whereas the traditional party leaders have lost their pre-eminence. On the other hand, the PML-N members are moving towards the role played by the PPP workers during and following the Zia regime. Jamaat-e-Islami [JI] has lost favour and Imran Khan has stepped into its shoes.

Whereas the brittleness of the state has become obvious in these circumstance, its only stable institution, the Army, is also facing retreat and uncertainty. The situation in the tribal regions is a stalemate. The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten. In Sindh, the increasing unrest in cities is not a good omen for all unitary forces including the Army even though there is no prominent movement in the rural Sindh. …

Read more: ViewPoint

We are still the prisoners of a culture of conspiracy and inferiority

Let’s stop blaming America

By DR. KHALID ALNOWAISER, ARAB NEWS

I AM a proud and loyal Saudi citizen, but I am tired of hearing constant criticism from most Arabs of everything the United States does in its relations with other countries and how it responds to global crises. No nation is perfect, and certainly America has made its share of mistakes such as Vietnam, Cuba and Iraq. I am fully aware of what happened when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the unprecedented abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. However, what would we do if America simply disappeared from the face of the earth such as what happened to the Soviet Union and ancient superpowers like the Roman and Greek empires? These concerns keep me up day and night. It’s frustrating to hear this constant drumbeat of blame directed toward the United States for everything that is going wrong in the world. Who else do we think of to blame for our problems and failures? Do we take personal responsibility for the great issues that affect the security and prosperity of Arab countries? No, we look to America for leadership and then sit back and blame it when we don’t approve of the actions and solutions it proposes or takes.

For instance, if a dictator seizes and holds power such as Egypt’s Mubarak and Libya’s Qaddafi, fingers are pointed only at America for supporting these repressive leaders. If the people overthrow a dictator, fingers are pointed at America for not having done enough to support the protestors. If a nation fails to provide its people with minimum living standards, fingers are pointed at America. If a child dies in an African jungle, America is criticized for not providing necessary aid. If someone somewhere sneezes, fingers are pointed at America. Many other examples exist, too numerous to mention.

I am not pro-American nor am I anti-Arab, but I am worried that unless we wake up, the Arab world will never break out of this vicious and unproductive cycle of blaming America. We must face the truth: Sadly, we are still the prisoners of a culture of conspiracy and cultural inferiority. We have laid the blame on America for all our mistakes, for every failure, for every harm or damage we cause to ourselves. The US has become our scapegoat upon whom our aggression and failures can be placed. We accuse America of interfering in all our affairs and deciding our fate, although we know very well that this is not the case as no superpower can impose its will upon us and control every aspect of our lives. We must acknowledge that every nation, no matter how powerful, has its limitations.

Moreover, we conveniently forget that America’s role is one of national self-interest, not to act as a Mother Teresa.

Continue reading We are still the prisoners of a culture of conspiracy and inferiority

US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan

– ‘US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan’. Protesters Gathered in Front of Pakistan Consulate in Houston

Report by: Sikander Baloch

HOUSTON, MAY 27, 2011: Several dozens of Americans of Sindhi and Baloch origin gathered on Friday to protest in front of the Pakistan consul-general in Houston condemning …., Islamabad’s support to terrorist outfits and state terrorism against people of Balochistan and Sindh. The peaceful but vocal protest was held on Jones Road in front of the Pakistan Consulate in Houston.

Continue reading US Aid is being used to Kill Secular Balochs and Sindhis in Pakistan

Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row

Nawaz Answered Government’s SOS & Rushed Back to the Country; Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row; Who Asked Mark Siegel to Publish Write Up by Zardari?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The May 2 Abbottabad operation, which resulted in the discovery and murder of world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALs has brought the civil-military relationship in Pakistan to a new low. The mistrust between the two has increased manifold. It is feared that the imbroglio may end up in the pack up of another democratic dispensation.

Observers are unanimous that the country’s civilian leadership was stunned at the news and couldn’t respond quickly to it but they are really surprised at the response or the lack of it by the military leadership. They feel that the military hierarchy’s behavior was quite perplexing. They were remarkably silent and seemed quite oblivious in the first few days after the US operation as if nothing had happened. Later they mishandled the issue in the media and attempted to undermine the political leadership. That raises concerns of the people about junta’s intentions towards the democratic government.

Sources in the power corridors have confided to this scribe that the civilian leadership is taking many questions into account so as to regroup and formulate a counter strategy. Every single move by the army chief and other military top men is being minutely watched and analyzed. The civilian leadership is quite unhappy over the recent statement of top ranking military leadership regarding the government in its post Osama briefing to media and anchorpersons. The address of Army Chief General Kayani to Garrison Officers at three top cantonments has also caused concern amongst the civilian leadership through which an impression was given that the civilians are ineffective and it is they who are making damage control efforts despite a huge understanding on the issue between the President, Prime Minister and the Army Chief, sources maintained.

The civilian leadership sincerely intends to control the damage but for many reasons it is clueless and directionless, sources observed adding that every effort of independent inquiry was thwarted and blocked by the military, thus an inquiry under Adjutant General has been constituted. How come a serving subordinate will be able to conduct an independent inquiry against his immediate bosses, asked a sitting minister however adding that everybody will have to wait for the outcome of the inquiry being conducted by army itself.

On the other hand civilians are trying to get answers of many questions including the one that whether or not they have been ditched by the intelligence networks. The people also want an answer to the question if OBL’s presence in Abbottabad was in the knowledge of the relevant agencies and military leadership.

Meanwhile, sources observed that a sizeable number of the civilians seriously believed that they have been ditched. A serious question is being raised in view of the recent statements by some neighbors pointing out that when they heard the blast after the helicopter crash, they tried to approach OBL’s compound but they were stopped by some guards speaking Urdu.

These statements, in view of some sources, clearly indicate that an earlier report carried by Indus Herald that some soldiers were provided for outer cordon was correct. This also indicates that a section of Pakistani establishment knew about a US strike, but they might not be privy to the details of the proceedings.

A section of media and politicians are also looking for an answer to the question that if the operation was done in total dark and without a prior information of Pakistan, then how come the people who have been arrested after the operation from the compound did not escape although they got at least 15 minutes before the arrival of any Pakistani security personnel? Hamza bin Laden is believed to have taken the advantage of the time gap and ran away from the scene as reported by the British media is quite a good evidence in support of the above argument.

The president and the other PPP leaders wanted an independent inquiry to be held, but they had to accept the decision by military leadership as desired by Army Chief sources said adding that the powers that be asked civilians to stay away from the damage control efforts and they will be the ones who will be responsible to take on the situation and control the damage, but the situation deteriorated with every passing day. However, the military leadership was not happy with the way some TV channels sparked debate and took them to task with strong words and allegations of incompetence and negligence.

It is also said that the president has been advised that besides the inquiry announced by the military leadership, an independent parliamentary inquiry commission with presence of opposition leader Ch. Nisar, and some of the top retired judges must be set up. However, the sources observed that the government would be packed up if such an inquiry were established. It is also believed that the president is willing to set up such an inquiry with Army Chief and other military leadership on board.

Meanwhile, a section of media is probing an allegation that the officers in KPK were asked not to leave their station and stay in before the operation and all mobile phones of the uniformed officers were blocked on May 01. However this story has not been confirmed by any reliable source.

On the other hand, sources in the PML-N have confided to this scribe that Mian Nawaz Sharif responded to a May-Day call by the government through unconventional means and rushed to Pakistan. The government wanted to block Ch. Nisar’s cynical criticism. Mian Nawaz Sharif on the first day of his top leadership meeting strongly supported the idea of a demand of resignation of both Army Chief and the ISI Chief, a demand that didn’t get much response earlier. He according to the sources has assured the PPP that any attempt to subvert the Constitution and dislodge the civilian rule will be resisted with full force. At a press conference after the two-day PML-N meeting Mian Nawaz Sharif rejected the inquiry set up by military and demanded a Judicial Commission to look in the matter. He severely criticized the military establishment. ….

Read more : Indus Herald

Good ties with Pakistan ‘but not at any price’: US Senator

WASHINGTON: Pakistan must heed US “concerns” about its efforts to combat extremists, a senior US senator said Tuesday, warning he wanted to maintain good ties with Islamabad “but not at any price.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin became the second senior US lawmaker in two days to express deep misgivings about relations with Pakistan amid ties strained after the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

“I think it’s important that we have a good relationship with Pakistan, but not at any price,” Levin, a Democrat, said.

Levin said Islamabad should give US interrogators access to three of the al Qaeda leader’s widows who lived with him at the fortified compound in Abbottabad.

“That would show that they’re trying to be responsive to our concerns. They ought to respond to our concerns,” said the senator, who cautioned that cooperation against extremists “should not be dependent upon certain moods of either party.”

Levin said Washington should formally object to Pakistan leaking the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad “if they leaked it,” but acknowledged that this would be unlikely to have much force amid anti-US anger there.

“They’re trying to show that they’re not responding affirmatively to too many things we’re asking for these days,” he told reporters. (AFP)

Courtesy: The News

Pakistan, the “security state” available to the highest bidder

The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi & Muneeb Farooq – 18th April 2011)

Via Siasat.pk, Punjabrang.com, You Tube

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The Pakistan ultimatum

by Najam Sethi

Who could have imagined that a serving commander of the Pakistan Army in the Waziristan badlands would have consciously knocked the popular myth that American drone strikes in Fata are part of the problem and not part of the solution of terrorism? But that’s exactly what happened on March 8.

Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7th Div North Waziristan, did not mince words in his printed brief ‘“Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes” handed out to journalists from his command post in the area. He made two main points: (1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are “hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners,” while civilian casualties are “few”. (2) But by scaring local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies. Obviously, the first consequence is good and welcome as part of the national “solution” strategy and the second is problematic and should be minimised because it creates local “problems” of a tactical nature.

Gen Mehmud hasn’t been fired or reprimanded. This means he had the green signal from the GHQ to make his brief. His statement explains the consciously nurtured “duality” of official policy versus popular position on drone strikes and confirms the Wikileaks summary that both secret authorisation and popular criticism go hand in hand in Pakistan where both civilian and military leaders are on the same page.

To be sure, the tactical issues are not insignificant. The Pakistani military would dearly love to own some Predators or at least have a measure of command and control over them, so the demand is worth making publically all the time even though it routinely falls on deaf American ears – for obvious reasons, this devastating technology isn’t available to any state except Israel.

Similarly, the Pakistan military would like to have a critical advance say on the choice of drone targets so that “hardcore Al-Qaeda elements and foreigners” noted by Gen Ghayur are usefully targeted but some Pakistani “assets” among the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omer, Gulbudin Hekmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and Siraj Haqqani’s Taliban network are spared for long-term application in Afghanistan. Disagreement with the Americans over this particular issue compels military spokespersons to blow hot (in public) and cold (in front of the Americans) over all drone strikes.

Sometimes, when it gets uncomfortably hot under the collar, then General Ashfaq Kayani has to weigh in for public consumption – as he did recently when, the day after Raymond Davis was freed (courtesy ISI) amidst howls of protest from the media, a drone strike killed over 40 pro and anti-military tribesmen in a jirga for local conflict resolution in Fata.

Pakistan and America have some strategic interests in common, like eliminating Al-Qaeda from Waziristan. But there are disagreements about who is a “good” Taliban and who is not. This is not strange at all. The answer to this question will determine who will rule or share power in Afghanistan in the next five years and who will not. It will also have a bearing on Afghanistan’s strategic and tactical allies in the neighbourhood in the future – India or Pakistan. Therefore Pakistan’s military, which loves to hate India even as America is itching to embrace India, believes it cannot shrug away any openings or opportunities for leveraging its concerns and interests.

This perspective explains how the Raymond Davis case was handled (exploited) by the ISI and the import of DG-ISI’s recent dash to Washington for a meeting with the CIA chief. The ISI wants greater tactical input/output into CIA operations in Pakistan (to protect its strategic assets at home like the Lashkar-e-Tayba and the Haqqani network) even as it strategically allows the US to operate drones and run special agents freely from two bases in Pakistan where visas and landing rights are not an issue. Who knows how many Americans land or take off from these bases, how many carry weapons and what they do in their bulletproof SUVs when they cruise the length and breadth of Pakistan?

Under the circumstances, the DG-ISI’s “request” in Langley was about reposing “trust” in joint operations rather than any overt threat to deny existing facilities and rights. The US has responded with a drone strike in South Waziristan which is supposed to be strictly out of bounds. This signals its intention to remain focused on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda even as it “considers” Gen Pasha’s request for greater sensitivity to Pakistan’s needs and interests. No more, no less.

A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a pro-US establishment paper, sums up the American position bluntly. It is titled: The Pakistan Ultimatum: choose whose side it is on. “Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation… Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India… After 9/11 Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.

So it’s time for Pakistan’s military leaders to make up their minds and deal with its consequences. They must be upfront with America – because it’s a greatly beneficial “friend” to have and a deadly “enemy” to make – and honest with Pakistanis – because they’re not stupid and can eventually see through duplicity, as they did in the Raymond Davis case.

The military cannot forever hunt with America and run with an anti-American Pakistani public they have helped to create. They cannot instruct the DG-ISPR in Islamabad to convey the impression of tough talking in Langley while asking the GOC 7 Division in Waziristan to give a realistic brief to the media about the critical benefits of drone strikes amidst all the “myths and rumours” of their negativity. This double-dealing confuses the public, annoys a strategic partner, and discredits the military all round when it is exposed.

More significantly, it makes it difficult for Pakistanis to swallow the hard realities and the harder decisions necessary to change them for the sake of the state’s survival and the nation’s growth.

The duality or contradiction in the military’s private and public position vis a vis its relationship with civilians in Pakistan and its relationship with America is a direct consequence of two inter-related factors: First, the military’s threat perception of India’s rising military capability, and second, its fear of losing control over India-centred national security policy to the civilians who are keen to start the process of building permanent peace in the region, thereby diluting the military’s pre-eminent role in Pakistan’s polity.

The military’s scheme of things requires a permanent state of relative hostility towards, and distrust of, India. That is why its national security doctrine is fashioned on the premise that it is India’s military capacity to harm Pakistan rather than its intentions to build a permanent peace that matter.

Of course, this is a perfect and unending rationalisation of its economic and political hold over Pakistan since India’s conventional weaponry is forecast to grow by leaps and bounds on the basis of a robust economy and nationalist unity. But Pakistan’s limping economy is groaning under the burden of the arms race engendered by this philosophy and its civilian polity is fracturing in the grab for diminishing resources. That is why its civilians are increasingly plucking up the courage to stare the army in the face for their political, provincial and economic rights.

The military’s policy of renting itself out to America for its own sake and also complaining about it at the same time for the sake of the Pakistani public is clearly bankrupt. Isn’t it time, therefore, to consider a different paradigm, one in which conflict resolution and peace with India deliver an economic dividend that can be reaped by all in an environment free from destabilising extremism and war in the neighbourhood? In pursuit of an untenable philosophy, what use are dubious non-state “assets” that can become extreme liabilities in an impending national meltdown?

Under the circumstances, General Kayani could do worse than go on the national hookup and defend the truth of the briefing given by his subordinate Maj Gen Ghuyur Mehmud. He will be surprised how quickly a majority of Pakhtuns in particular and Pakistanis in general will back him to the hilt and help change the national paradigm. This is more our war than it is America’s because we live and die here and not far away across two great oceans.

The writer is Jang Group/Geo adviser on political affairs.

Courtesy: The News.com.pk

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=42073&Cat=9&dt=4/17/2011

Asma Shirazi Exposes Imran Khan

“Faisla Aap Ka” is a socio-political show hosted by Asma Shirazi which aims to highlight issues faced by the common man. The program is designed as an outdoor based talk show which emphasizes and showcases issues and concerns of people from different regions. Asma Shirazi genuinely  exposed him in her program Faisla Aap Ka – 16th April 2011.

Some excerpt from the program:

– Imran Khan aka Taliban Khan was brought by his mentor  Hameed Gul. – His (Imran Khan’s) 5,000 sq ft. palace (farm house) can be seen from Islamabad on long distance. – He has No team at all, one man show. – He is supporter of Taliban. – His kids are living outside.

When the anchor of the program, Asma Shirazi asked him to openly say that you are against Taliban in this crowed. He diverted her question to discuss some other issue. He was unable to answer properly any single question of Ms. Asma Sherazi. He is indeed a confused man.

Courtesy: SAMAA TV (Faisla Aap Ka with Asma Sherazi, 16th April 2011)

via – Siasat.pkYou Tube

Hundreds of Sindhi-Americans Gathered in Houston to Pay Tribute to Their National Leader

Condemned the religious intolerance and human rights violations in Pakistan

HOUSTON, TX, USA. Tens of hundreds of Sindhi-Americans gathered in Houston on Saturday, January 15, 2011 to commemorate the 107th birthday of Mr. G. M. Syed, a national leader of the Sindh who waged a nonviolent struggle against religious fundamentalism and for freedom.

Sindh is home to the ancient Indus (Sindhu) Valley civilization and is now a unit of Pakistan. A vibrant Sindhi-American community numbering in the tens of thousands lives in various U.S. cities. More than 30 million Sindhis live in Sindh today. Sindhis are supportive of democracy and secularism and have been marginalized by security establishment of the country and its religious extremist reactionary ideology.

Continue reading Hundreds of Sindhi-Americans Gathered in Houston to Pay Tribute to Their National Leader

Chomsky signs Australian letter of support for Assange

Renowned American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky signed an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday urging her to make a “strong statement” in support of Julian Assange.

Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of US foreign policy, joined scores of high-profile Australian lawyers, authors and journalists in signing the letter.

Noting the “increasingly violent rhetoric” directed towards Australian-born Assange, the besieged founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, the signatories said there were “grave concerns” for his safety.

via – Gobeistan – Read more : RawStory

Sindh Budget: Questions and Concerns

sindhassembyProvincial budget 2009-2010

By Ahmad Mushtaque, Sindh

Note: Write up was written two weeks before the budget was announced on June 15.

The elected government of Pakistan Peoples Party is going to present its second budget for fiscal year 2009-10 in a week or so time, provincial budgets are not authorized to make economic policies for taxation and monitory policies are centralized in Pakistan. For over 85% financial resources, provinces depend on federal transfers, shares from divisible pool and grants. This fiscal structure in spirit is negation of federal system of governance. Provinces are been turned into post offices to distribute salaries and transfer funds to local governments. Successive military governments have rendered provinces irrelevant in making development planning and building capacity to generate resources.

Continue reading Sindh Budget: Questions and Concerns

Pakistani Taliban claim to be moving in

‘The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen,’ Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Nazeer Ahmed said.

MINGORA: Pakistani Taliban are moving into a new area in northern Pakistan, clashing with villagers and police in a mountain valley, police and district officials said on Wednesday.

Separately, a Pakistani Taliban commander said the Pakistani military and the United States were colluding in US drone aircraft attacks and the militants would take their war to the capital, Islamabad, in response.

Surging militant violence across Pakistan is reviving western concerns about the stability of its nuclear-armed ally.

Pakistan is crucial to US efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, were in Pakistan for talks on security strategy this week.

In a development that will deepen the west’s concerns, scores of Taliban have moved into Buner district, 100 km northwest of Islamabad, from the Swat valley where authorities struck a peace pact in February aimed at ending violence.

‘About 20 vehicles carrying Taliban entered Buner on Monday and started moving around the bazaar and streets,’ said senior police officer Israr Bacha.

Villagers formed a militia, known as a lashkar, to confront the Taliban and eight of the insurgents were killed in a clash on Tuesday, police said.

Two villagers and three policemen were also killed.

‘People don’t like the Taliban,’ Ghulam Mustafa, deputy chief of Buner, told Reuters by telephone.

Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman in Swat, was defiant. ‘What law stops us going there?’ Khan said. ‘Our people will go there and stay there as long as they want.’

Authorities agreed in February to impose Islamic law in Swat to end more than a year of fighting.

Critics said appeasement would only embolden the militants to take over other areas.

Pakistan’s western allies fear such pacts create safe havens for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.

Pakistani Taliban commander Mullah Nazeer Ahmed said in an interview with al Qaeda’s media arm, Al-Sahab, that Pakistan was behind US drone attacks on militants.

Authorities were misleading the public by saying it was the United States carrying out the strikes, he said, and it was the Pakistani army that sent spies to facilitate them.

‘All these attacks that have happened and are still happening are the work of Pakistan,’ Ahmed said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on Al-Sahab’s website.

Alarmed by deteriorating security in Afghanistan, the United States has since last year stepped up drone strikes in Pakistan.

Pakistan objects to the strikes, calling them a violation of its sovereignty that complicates its effort to fight militancy.

Other Taliban commanders said recent violence in Pakistan has been in retaliation for the drone attacks and threatened more.

Ahmed said Pakistani Taliban factions had united and would take their war to the capital: ‘The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen.’

Ahmed also blamed the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency for sowing divisions between factions, saying the ISI was the Taliban’s main enemy.

Some US officials have said recently the ISI maintained contacts with militants and there were indications ISI elements even provided support to the Taliban or al Qaeda militants.

Such accusations have angered Pakistan, although a military spokesman denied reports that ISI chief Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha had snubbed Holbrooke and Mullen by refusing to meet them on Tuesday.

Courtesy: DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/pakistani-taliban-said-moving-closer-to-capital–qs