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Peace is not in line with Pak generals – Karzai

Ruling out negotiations: ‘Taliban talks futile’

With no headway being made, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his top aides have hinted that they may abandon efforts at peace talks with the Taliban after concluding that negotiating with the militant leadership was futile.

Instead, Karzai has said, negotiations should actually be held with Pakistan – an apparent dig at Islamabad, which is regularly accused of harbouring the Taliban’s senior leadership.

The comments come on the heels of fresh allegations that the assassination of Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul was planned in Pakistan. Rabbani was killed in a bombing by a purported Taliban emissary who had come to visit the former Afghanistan president last month.

The frustration with stalled talks and the escalating violence come months before a key conference is to be held in Bonn, Germany – where it is expected that the Afghan end game will be charted. There had been reports that the Taliban leadership would be involved, in some manner, about the future of the war-torn nation.

“The peace process which we began is dead,” Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Karzai’s national security adviser, said in an interview on Saturday. “It’s a joke,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Karzai and his aides have decided to shift their efforts on putting pressure on Pakistan, which has allegedly provided aid and sanctuary to Afghan insurgents.

“Their messengers are coming and killing … So with whom should we make peace?” Karzai said in the recorded address to the country’s senior religious leaders.

“I cannot find Mullah Muhammad Omar,” Karzai said, referring to the Taliban supreme leader. “Where is he? I cannot find the Taliban council. Where is it? “I don’t have any other answer except to say that the other side for this negotiation is Pakistan.”

Afghan officials have also unilaterally cancelled plans to host a trilateral meeting on Oct 8 with Pakistan and the United States. Instead, a special Afghan delegation will present Pakistani leaders with evidence about the killing of Rabbani, WSJ reported.

Courtesy: → The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.

Sluggish Response to Sindh Flood Victims – Oxfam Warns of Second Disaster

– Sluggish donor response to Pakistan floods is another disaster in the making: Oxfam

Islamabad – International aid agency Oxfam expressed alarm over the floods in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, as only $1.30 has been committed per person by international donors in the first 10 days of the UN appeal as opposed to $3.20 committed in the same period during last year’s floods.

Oxfam calls on the Government of Pakistan and the international donor community to dig deep into their resources and rapidly increase their funding to prevent the disaster from deteriorating further. The agency warns that the situation of millions of people in Sindh and Balochistan will worsen unless more aid arrives.

According to the latest figures, more than 8.8 million people in Sindh and 14,000 people in Balochistan so far have been affected by the 2011 monsoon rains. The human impact of this disaster in terms of the number of people affected is more than the combined impact of the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan earthquake of 2005. Reported losses are being estimated at $215 million, and that number is likely to increase as some areas are inaccessible, and the impact of the floods cannot be assessed. ….

Read more → Aboard the Democracy Train

Facelift or overhaul? by Babar Sattar

Excerpt:

…. The Bin Laden incident has placed us at the crossroads yet again. We can respond with denial and jingoism and consequently dig deeper the hole we find ourselves in. Or we can stop lying to each other and ourselves, disclose all related facts leading up to the May 2 incident with candour and responsibility, let individuals be held to account for their failings, and use the opportunity to revisit our security mind-set, overhaul our security policy and policy making mechanism. In this context, a non-partisan commission revealing the truth can serve as a necessary first step. But offering policy advice on national security, counter terrorism and foreign policy would fall beyond the mandate and expertise of a judicial commission. Once the facts are out, we will still need a high-powered bipartisan policy commission to review and overhaul our security mind-set, policy and policy-making mechanisms that caused the Bin Laden debacle and the many before it.

Let us get the nonsense about patriotism and ‘sticking by our institutions’ out of the way first. Is sticking by a corrupt government patriotic? Should we have celebrated the Dogar court or Musharraf’s rubber-stamp parliament as our token of love for Pakistan? How would unquestioning and unconditional support for everything the khaki leadership does promote Pakistan’s national interest? Are these not mortal men capable of making mistakes? Should they have a monopoly over the definition of national interest and patriotism? And how does holding the khaki high command to account for its acts, omissions and choices translate into lack of gratitude for the soldiers who stake and lose their lives in the line of duty and are the frontline victims of bad policy choices?

Was it not the self-serving use of the term patriotism that Samuel Johnson described as the “last refuge of the scoundrel”? Does our national security doctrine not affect the rest of us on an everyday basis and impinge on the most fundamental of our constitutionally guaranteed rights? Does it not impact everyone wearing a Pakistani identity for becoming an object of suspicion around the globe? The definition of patriotism that confers on our khaki high command the status of a holy cow is also a product of the same mindset that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan, contrived the jihadi project, manufactured the doctrine of strategic depth, gave us Kargil and is still at ease with preserving militants as strategic assets. Clemenceau was probably not being facetious when he declared that, “war was too important to be left to generals.”

We need a new concept of national security that focuses on maximising the security of Pakistani citizens. This will not happen by laying bare the facts of the Bin Laden incident alone. We will also need to review Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy, security and foreign policy especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan and India, and Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. Can we preach respect for sovereignty if we are unable to account for who lives in Pakistan, control cross-border movement of men, arms and money or ensure that our territory is not used as sanctuary to plot attacks on other nations? After being in the throes of violence for over a decade now, why do we still lack a comprehensive counter-terrorism policy? Why is being a proscribed militant organisation in Pakistan of no legal consequence? Why is our criminal justice system failing to prosecute and convict terrorists? …

… Are we unaware of militant organisations flourishing in Pakistan, or are we being coy? Will we view the Osama bin Laden incident as another minor blow to the jihadi project or are we going to realise that the use of jihadis as strategic assets is history and it is time to liquidate them? Has anyone calculated the intangible cost of this misconceived project and the damage inflicted on the country and its citizens through the spread of intolerance, bigotry, arms and violence? Are we cognisant of the disastrous consequences that another Mumbai could inflict on the interests of Pakistan and its citizens? Will we have a stronger bargaining position in resolving our disputes with India if we have a strong polity, a stable economy, credibility and international support or if we possess surreptitious jihadis as strategic weapons?…

Neither hypocrisy nor a facelift will redeem Pakistan after the Osama fiasco. We need to come clean and use this as an opportunity to overhaul our security policy and policy-making mechanism. We have skeletons in our closet. It is time to drag them out, confront them and bury them for good.

Courtesy: The News