Tag Archives: dollars

Steal bread, go to jail, steal a billion $, get bailed out

*Bank of America Bombshell: Whistleblowers Reveal Orchestrated Coverup and Massive Borrower Harm

Obama promised justice to abused American homeowners. Have they gotten it?

By Yves Smith

Editor’s Note:  In his 2012 State of The Union address, President Obama spoke of American homeowners abused by unscrupulous banks and financial institutions. Have they gotten justice? What follows is the first in a new series examining foreclosure settlements and the disturbing patterns of incomptency, malfeasance, and conflicts of interest which have marked their execution. Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism takes a deep dive into the mire of America’s mortage industry and investigates the continued suffering of the public at the hands of greedy predators.

On January 7, 2013, ten servicers entered into an $8.5 billion settlement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, terminating a foreclosure review process which was set forth in consent orders issued in April 2010. Borrowers who had had foreclosures that were pending or had completed foreclosure sales in 2009 and 2010 could request an investigation by independent reviewers, selected and paid for by the servicers but subject to approval by the OCC.

Continue reading Steal bread, go to jail, steal a billion $, get bailed out

Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

by Barbara Ehrenreich
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

The Taliban mercenary movement is the major cause of Pakistan’s isolation in the community of nations

Comment by: Manzoor Chandio

The Taliban mercenary movement is the major cause of Pakistan’s isolation in the community of nations … they work like rent-a-car business… rent-a-training camp is Waziristan’s buzzword… their true mercenary face came to fore when they started attacks on the Pakistan military… these Taliban might have been rented in Afghanistan… those carrying out attacks in Afghanistan, like the Haqqani network, are said to be helped by Pakistan… Taliban have nothing to do with Umah… they are based in a barren mountainous area… first time people of this area saw rains of dollars in the 1980s thanks to Dictator General Zia … the people of Waziristan rented out their lands for setting up jihad training camps… many more rented out houses as barracks for Jihadis… one rough estimate is that some 40,000 people from across Muslim countries landed in Fata for jihad… rent-a-training camp business flourished as high as rent-a-commercial suite in Dubai… Jihadis came from across the Umah to get training… again this was not without money… Muslim separatists from Philippines, Chinese and other countries paid money for training their fighters in Fata… Waziristan is like Sandhurst and Fort Hood of Jihadis across Umah… local Mehsuds allowed the training camps in their areas for money… & this is called business by them… they know how to protect their interests… then there was drug business & it flourished along with the killing Jihad business… there is a saying in Pushto ‘Awal Zaar, resto Jahan’… this mean business… the only way to close this jihad & drug industry is to industrialized Fata that provide jobs to the people.

Courtesy: Manzoor Chando’s facebook wall.

Pakistani Police say ‘Blood Money’ obtained from US to free Raymond Davis led to Widow’s Killing

Pakistan: ‘Blood Money’ Linked to Widow’s Killing, Police Say

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The widow and mother-in-law of a Pakistani man killed by a C.I.A. contractor last year were killed Monday, apparently by the widow’s father, who may have feared that she would remarry and take the money she received as compensation with her, the police said. The families of the two men killed by the contractor, Raymond A. Davis, in January 2011 received hundreds of thousands of dollars of “blood money” in exchange for pardoning Mr. Davis, a common legal practice in Pakistan. Mr. Davis said he shot the two men because they tried to rob him. ….

Read more » The News York Times

Via – Twitter

Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings – BBC

Taliban’s brisk trade of kidnapping in Karachi

In Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, police say the Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings.

Abductions are particularly lucrative, with ransom demands sometimes running to millions of dollars. The BBC’s Orla Guerin reports on how the militants are making inroads in Pakistan’s financial capital.

When the doctor had a gun put to his head by a man on motorbike in the evening traffic last month, he thought it was a robbery. He readily handed over his mobile phone and his wallet.

But when he was forced from his car, he realised that he was the prize. A routine journey to his clinic ended with imprisonment in a Taliban hideout.

“They blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back. I was kept in a small space, with a low roof, but they gave me food and a pillow to rest on,” said the softly spoken father of four. For security reasons, we are not revealing his identity. ….

Read more » BBC

Guess it doesnt harm national sovereignty when Pakistan army gets into secret deals with US; that’s only for bloody civilians

Army has its eye on Nato supplies deal

By Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: The bankrupt Pakistan Railways management has pulled off the mother of all deals with the NLC, while the army is working hard behind the scenes for an equally big deal with the United States.

In the first week of February, railways signed a deal with the military-run National Logistics Cell (NLC) under which the cell will repair 30 railway locomotives of which 15 will be returned to the railways to use. The other 15 will be used by the NLC to carry freight booked by the NLC.

What does the NLC get out of this deal? This was a question that proved hard to answer as the NLC and the ISPR never bothered to reply to any questions despite a weeklong wait.

However, Dawn has learnt that the military is gearing up to earn big bucks from the transport of US/Nato/Isaf supplies via Pakistan’s land routes in the near future and this is what is behind the NLC deal with the railways.

In fact, negotiations between the Pakistan military and the US started as far back as 2009 for a share of the transport pie that has earned many individuals and companies in this country millions since the start of the war in Afghanistan over a decade ago.

A source within a transport company that carries military supplies to Afghanistan confirmed that trial runs were carried out at the request of the American government in 2009 and 2010; from Karachi to Peshawar and from Karachi to Chaman to not just see if the rail routes worked but also how long the journey took. “The journey to Chaman took seven days which was an improvement on the trucks as the increasing number of FC checkpoints was causing delays,” the source said.

It now appears that while the US waits for the parliamentary review of bilateral relations that was ordered after the Salala incident, behind the scenes the two sides are negotiating the terms and conditions for transporting Nato and American supplies to Afghanistan.

An official in the Foreign Office confirmed that the Americans, Nato officials based in Afghanistan, the NLC and the Foreign Office were working out some plan to use the railway for supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The recent trip by the newly appointed ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, to Pakistan was part of these negotiations, the official said.

This, however, is not the only price that is being demanded. Fees to use the roads as well as a charge at the port may also be negotiated.

The bi-partisan and bi-cameral Parliamentary Committee on National Security has also demanded that a fee be imposed on Nato trucks using roads in Pakistan as well as charging them around Rs30 billion for the repair of roads.

There is a third fee that may also witness a hike once these negotiations are over, although it is not confirmed.

At the Karachi port, goods for Afghanistan are charged at the rate of Rs15,000 per piece, while goods that have arrived from Afghanistan and are on the way out are charged Rs20,000.This fee was imposed in 2010 before which the NLC charged Rs5,000 per item for goods on way to Afghanistan. One reason these negotiations have become so important is that the country is trying to thrash out a deal where none existed to begin with.

After the 9/11 attacks and the quick decision of the allied states to invade Afghanistan, Pakistan could not negotiate any terms, monetary or otherwise, for the movement of US and Nato supplies through it.

As a result, the US reserved the right to choose the companies for the transportation of its supplies.

For Nato/Isaf and British military supplies, the NLC could select or nominate companies.

As a result, Pakistan was used as a route without the state making any money from a business that was worth big bucks.

Over time, Pakistan’s land routes became an important part of the war effort.

According to one estimate, the American supplies constitute about 70 per cent of the goods transported through Pakistan.

US Transcom Commander Gen William Fraser testified this year that “in 2011 more than 35,000 containers were delivered” through Pakistan.

When US embassy’s spokesman Mark Stroh was asked about the deal between the NLC and the railways, he said: “We are aware of the agreement but since the ground shipping lines remain closed, the effects of the agreement with regard to our shipping remain to be seen.”

However, observers say there is a chance that the Pakistan Army will end up with some share of the pie as no other route is as economical as the one through Pakistan.

At the moment, the Americans and the allies are flying in supplies but this is expensive. In addition they are using the ‘Northern Distribution Network’, a variety of routes across Central Asia that originate in Europe.

According to a report by the US National Public Radio, these routes cost “two or three times as much as shipping them by sea and moving them up through Pakistan”.

And the impending elections in the US and its financial constraints may be important factors influencing its decision, especially as the planned drawdown in Afghanistan may mean an increase in the supplies leaving the country.

In this regard, the Salala incident simply provided an opportunity to the army to increase its leverage on the issue.

It now remains to be seen what the outcome is and what the army ends up with.

At a time of dwindling aid and assistance from the US, ‘Rawalpindi’ may just strike gold with the NLC and the war in Afghanistan. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

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

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

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

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

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

A model campaigner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more → Asia Times

MQM in the way of plot against Pakistan: Altaf

– By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

Excerpt;

…. The gist of the press conference was that Western powers were plotting the dismemberment of Pakistan, but the Muttahida had resolved to foil the design.

Repeated assurances were made to the armed forces, the Inter-Services Intelligence as well as the nation that the MQM was against conspiracies being hatched against the country.

Mr Hussain chose not to answer the serious allegations levelled by former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza against him and his party over the past fortnight, parrying a number of questions by reporters.

He concentrated on showing documents, maps and reports from the international media to strengthen his contention that international powers were working for the break-up of Pakistan.

Although he refused to pinpoint the international powers he was referring to, an allusion left no doubt: “The country which has the biggest influence in Pakistan is behind such conspiracies”. The MQM cannot fight such powers alone, Mr Hussain added. “There would have been no super power had the army, the ISI and the MQM got united.”

The MQM supremo accused the leadership of the Awami National Party of “misleading the Pukhtoons living in Karachi and Peshawar”. He even went to the extent of claiming that the United States had given millions of dollars to Asfandyar Wali for contesting the 2008 general election. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

The True Cost of 9/11 – Trillions and trillions wasted on wars, a fiscal catastrophe, a weaker America.

– By Joseph E. Stiglitz

The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by al-Qaida were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama Bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3 trillion to $5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50 percent of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health care costs will total $600 billion to $900 billion. The social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.

Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.

Today, America is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America’s future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2 percent of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion—$17,000 for every U.S. household—with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50 percent. ….

Read more → slate

ANP leaders being paid by US to win polls: Altaf

SINDH – KARACHI: MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has addressed his supporters and the media in a televised press conference.

He had said that there are various conspiracies at work that want to harm Pakistan and that he would make a number of important revelations. He said that he may not be able to have another chance to make a speech.

Altaf Hussain commiserated with people who had lost their loved ones during the violence that has engulfed Karachi.

He said that a number of MQM workers have been targeted in Karachi and that many of them had been subjected to torture before being murdered. Altaf Hussain said that his party workers had been ruthlessly killed.

Altaf Hussain also accused the Peoples Aman Committee of being involved in the gang warfare taking place in Lyari and of being responsible for target killings in Karachi.

The MQM chief said that he is not the enemy of Pashtuns and paid tribute to political figures such as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

He said that the MQM had always stood against feudalism in Pakistan and that he opposed the exploitation of the resources of the country.

Altaf Hussain also said that anti-state elements want to dismember Pakistan and accused ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan of being on the payroll of the Americans and that he had been given millions of dollars by the United States to win elections.

He also accused other politicians in Pakistan of following orders that were given to them by America.

MQM leader Altaf Hussain also accused the ANP of misleading its workers in Karachi. He said that the PPP and PML-N have both failed to live up to the Charter of Democracy agreement that was signed between the two political parties.

Altaf Hussain said that the PML-N was in possession of a large cache of weapons in Punjab.

The MQM chief also said that former prime minister and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif withdrew forces from Kargil after being told to do so by the United States. …..

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Link → http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/09/mqm-chief-altaf-hussain-addresses-supporters.html

800 million dollar question?

by D Asghar

Excerpt;

Many scream off the top of their lungs about our honor and sovereignty, but very rarely can come up with a solution, which hits a bull’s eye to our economic woes

The moment that dreaded news of the US government suspending its $850 Million aid to the Pakistani Military, hit the wires, there was this flurry of various experts. All weighed in, with their expert comments to exacerbate the already stretched and strained relationship between Pakistan and US. This was of course followed by all sorts of other explanations along with jingoistic comments.

The ongoing love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with America, begs some serious introspection. The gist of the matter is that any and all relationships, whether personal or national are dependent on vested self interest. To exploit a situation to maximize the self benefit is considered sound diplomacy. To say that we are lagging in that art of international politics would be a major understatement.

Ever since the event of May 02, we have been going through various debacles and till this date, we have not come to the realization of what challenges we face as a nation. We are surrounded by not so friendly nations around us. It is hard to admit, but it is due to our doing as well. From the get go, we seem to be in a “la Shaheen” mode. If it all boils down to the “strategic depth”, then make no mistake, we have dug a deep one for ourselves. ….

…. So as I said earlier, it all boils down to sound diplomacy. Diplomacy certainly does not mean laying down flat and let people run all over you. I think that it’s about time that we look around and learn a lesson or two from our neighbors. The $800 million question is what are we willing to apply, our rarely used head or our hyper inflated ego?

To read complete article → ViewPoint

Who will blink first?

– U.S. Is Deferring Millions in Pakistani Military Aid

By ERIC SCHMITT and JANE PERLEZ

Excerpt;

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is suspending and, in some cases, canceling hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Pakistani military, in a move to chasten Pakistan for expelling American military trainers and to press its army to fight militants more effectively.  …
….

And some is assistance like the reimbursements for troop costs, which is being reviewed in light of questions about Pakistan’s commitment to carry out counterterrorism operations. For example, the United States recently provided Pakistan with information about suspected bomb-making factories, only to have the insurgents vanish before Pakistani security forces arrived a few days later.

“When it comes to our military aid,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee last month “we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.” …

…. Comments last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also reflected a potentially more confrontational approach to Pakistan. Admiral Mullen, who is retiring in two months, became the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan of ordering the kidnapping, torture and death of the journalist, Saleem Shahzad, whose mutilated body was found in early June. …

To read complete article → THE NEW YORK TIMES

Abdul Qadeer accuses Pakistani military figures of accepting bribes from North Korea

The nuclear scientist considered the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb has claimed that North Korea gave millions of dollars in bribes to senior military figures in exchange for weapons secrets.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Abdul Qadeer Khan signed a confession in 2004 admitting that he had handed classified information to Iran, Libya and North Korea but his supporters have long claimed he was made a scapegoat by a government which cast him as a rogue operator.

Now documents passed to a US nuclear weapons analyst by Dr Khan suggest that high-level Pakistani military officials knew about – and personally profited from – his sales of nuclear weapons technology.

In a written statement, Dr Khan describes helping transfer more than $3m to senior officers, delivering the cash in a canvas bag and cartons, including one in which it was hidden under fruit.

The revelations, which have been denied by Pakistani officials, will only heighten already difficult relations between Islamabad and Washington. …

Read more →  telegraph.co.uk

CARTE BLANCHE: Horror, of which I am dying – Mehmal Sarfraz

Excerpt:

It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture. ….

…. There are many reasons why most people in Pakistan continue to live in denial but the main one is our security paradigm. For decades we have been fed lies by our military. The military has overtly and covertly supported terrorist networks. A large chunk of our budget goes to defence without anyone questioning our armed forces on where it is spent. Between loan repayments and the defence budget, hardly any money is left to be spent on education, healthcare, development, etc. India is made out to be enemy number one. To counter the ‘Indian threat’, we need the vile Taliban on our side in Afghanistan since they are our “strategic assets”; we nurture terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) to carry out militant jihad in Indian Kashmir and cross-border attacks inside India; we are soon going to be “the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power” as per some reports. Lest we forget, we have lost all official and unofficial wars against India (most of which, by the way, were started by Pakistan). An atomic bomb and stockpiles of nuclear weapons is no guarantee that we can win in the unlikely event of another war. The only reason why our military has kept this threat perception alive is because it is hard for them to part with the moolah that keeps coming their way and the power they wield over this country. It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture.

The Pakistan military’s double game in the war on terror was never a secret yet the US kept pouring in billions of dollars in military aid to secure our help in the war on terror. Young soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives in combat and terrorist attacks because of the flawed policies of the military establishment.

The day Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the US, the world’s suspicions were confirmed. Our intelligence agencies claimed incompetence, but not many buy this excuse, given how bin Laden was living in such close proximity to the Pakistan Military Academy. The world turned on our military and intelligence agencies but our government chose to give them a clean chit. Mian Nawaz Sharif, for whatever reasons, was the only one who took a principled stance as far as civil-military relations were concerned but he found no takers in the current democratic set-up who stood by him. After decades our civilian leadership had a golden opportunity to take the military to task but in order to pursue their political interests, the government and its allies let them off scot-free.

The problem is that, however much we try to hide our flaws, the world is not blind. Our security establishment cannot keep on harbouring terrorists. It is time to wake up to the reality that we cannot go on like this forever because it is a sure-shot recipe for self-destruction.

Pakistan’s name has been tarnished by those who claim to be our ‘guardians’ and ‘protectors’. As Pakistanis, we must vow not to let anyone wreak havoc in the name of ‘strategic depth’. Victor Jara, a Chilean political activist and revolutionary poet, was arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in September 1973 following a military coup. He wrote a poem — ‘Estadio Chile’ — which spoke of the horror in front of him. His words, though written in a different context, haunt me every time a terrorist attack takes place:

“How hard it is to sing,

When I must sing of horror.

Horror which I am living,

Horror which I am dying.”

Pakistanis are living and dying a horror of which we must all sing. Let’s stop this horror now. It may take years but we must break our silence and speak the truth for once.

To read complete article: Daily Times

via Wichaar

Pakistan looks towards China for building naval base in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defence minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be … grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is … constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to the deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have strained following the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transhipment traffic for the Gulf. ….

Read more: The Express Tribune

The Double Game

The unintended consequences of American funding in Pakistan.

by Lawrence Wright

It’s the end of the Second World War, and the United States is deciding what to do about two immense, poor, densely populated countries in Asia. America chooses one of the countries, becoming its benefactor. Over the decades, it pours billions of dollars into that country’s economy, training and equipping its military and its intelligence services. The stated goal is to create a reliable ally with strong institutions and a modern, vigorous democracy. The other country, meanwhile, is spurned because it forges alliances with America’s enemies.

The country not chosen was India, which “tilted” toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Pakistan became America’s protégé, firmly supporting its fight to contain Communism. The benefits that Pakistan accrued from this relationship were quickly apparent: in the nineteen-sixties, its economy was an exemplar. India, by contrast, was a byword for basket case. Fifty years then went by. What was the result of this social experiment?

India has become the state that we tried to create in Pakistan. It is a rising economic star, militarily powerful and democratic, and it shares American interests. Pakistan, however, is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, and a covert sponsor of terrorism. Politically and economically, it verges on being a failed state. And, despite Pakistani avowals to the contrary, America’s worst enemy, Osama bin Laden, had been hiding there for years—in strikingly comfortable circumstances—before U.S. commandos finally tracked him down and killed him, on May 2nd.

American aid is hardly the only factor that led these two countries to such disparate outcomes. But, at this pivotal moment, it would be a mistake not to examine the degree to which U.S. dollars have undermined our strategic relationship with Pakistan—and created monstrous contradictions within Pakistan itself.

American money began flowing into Pakistan in 1954, when a mutual defense agreement was signed. During the next decade, nearly two and a half billion dollars in economic assistance, and seven hundred million in military aid, went to Pakistan ….

Read more : The New Yorker

BIN LADEN – PAKISTAN LOSES A STRATEGIC ASSET

The curious case of Osama bin Laden

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpt:

….. But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.

Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?

Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.

So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:

“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.

So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.

Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.

Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.

Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.

To read complete article : The Express Tribune

Should U.S. Cut All Aid to Pakistan?

Special Guests | Charles Krauthammer

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the “Back of the Book” segment tonight: The United States gives Pakistan about $3 billion a year in aid. That country has not been a very good friend to us lately. Now, Pakistan is reportedly demanding the CIA cut back its presence there and that President Obama stop the drone attacks designed to kill Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the north of Pakistan. Also, in March, a major Indonesian terrorist was captured in Pakistan, but the Obama administration has not sent anyone yet to interview the guy.

So what’s going on? Joining us from Washington, Fox News political analyst Charles Krauthammer. Pakistan, should we cut all aid to that country, Charles? This is what Trump says. Let’s get out of there. I mean, they’re not helping us out. Why are we giving them $3 billion? What do you say?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we’re getting very near to that point,

Read & Watch more : FOX NEWS

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Opportunism Jamaat-style

by Waseem Altaf

Zia ul Haq met Jamaat Islami (JI) Chief Mian Tufail Mohammad for 90 minutes the night before Bhutto was hanged. The following day, the JI supporters took to the streets to celebrate Bhutto’s death. JI saved tons of US dollars but also tried to save US enemy No.1 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, who was arrested from the residence of a JI leader in Rawalpindi …

Read more : View Point

Pakistani-Canadians: On Egypt

Message of Solidarity by the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians to The Egyptian National Association for Change (Canada).

by Omar Latif, Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians congratulates the Egyptian people on their success in ousting the dictator Hosni Mubarak and salutes their heroic and historic struggle against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and social justice.

Backed and supported by the US and other western countries the Egyptian regime, like many other Arab regimes – as indeed most of the governments in Pakistan – have served the interests of the rich internally and that of imperialism regionally.

The Egyptian armed services, just like those of Pakistan, receive well over a billion dollars annually from the United States, most of which ends up in the pockets of senior officers. The ties and cooperation between the security agencies of the US with those of Egypt – as with the security forces of Pakistan – are even closer. Along with you, we hope, these relationships will end.

The Saudi monarchy – the most reactionary, despotic and US-dependent of the Arab regimes – has also played a significant role in aiding and abetting undemocratic and unjust regimes in the region – including those of Pakistan.

Continue reading Pakistani-Canadians: On Egypt

New corruption scandal deals blow to India’s image

By Paul de Bendern and Jui Chakravorty

NEW DELHI/ MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s reputation as a place to do business took another hit after the scandal-tainted government charged top public sector bankers with accepting bribes initially estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

The scandal is one of the biggest to taint India, potentially harming the image of Asia’s third-largest economy as destination for foreign investors, especially as it comes a few days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has had to defend his government in another graft scandal involving telecoms licences sold at rock-bottom prices. …

Read more : Reuters

The profit of misery: what they know and we do not

– Dr Manzur Ejaz

The ruling elites induce various crises to make money for themselves and their allies. From the power crisis to sugar shortages, every occasion is used to siphon off billions of dollars to private accounts. The misery of the Pakistani people has become a profitable commodity for the rich and powerful …

Read more : Wichaar

The world according to Imran Khan

By Michelle Shephard

The former cricket star has the support of Pakistan’s youth, yet is largely discounted as future political leader. Khan tells the Star, “Watch me.” …

…. Future for Pakistan?

We are on the brink now. We are completely destabilized, we’re basically just surviving on American dollars but the country is bankrupt and this war has done it.

To read full article : The Star

While, Pakistanis are dying to be pro-Arab, the beloved Ummah doesn’t give a damn!!!

DIPLOMATIC BUBBLES: Disaster tourism amidst concern for Muslim Ummah —By Saeed Minhas

Excerpt:

…. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt and their oil-controlling giant Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has contributed only a couple of hundred million dollars altogether, and that too through the Red Crescent or other International organisations for in-kind donations. Despite knowing that over 65 helicopters, 19 of which come from the US alone, are working around the clock, none of these oil-rich countries have even asked to foot the oil bill or donate oil for these humanitarian sorties. An hour of a helicopter flight costs an estimated Rs 100,000 in fuel expenses alone, and so far as per the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) figures, over 200 hours of flight operations have been carried out throughout Pakistan.

Another diplomat chipped in by saying that all these ‘brothers’ seem to be good enough for political and strategic guarantees but nothing more for Pakistan. …

To read full article >> Daily Times

A military coup in Pakistan?

Restive generals represent the backers of the Taliban and al-Qaeda – bad news for the war next door.

by: Tarek Fatah

Courtesy:  Globe and Mail

A military coup is unfolding in Pakistan, but, this time, there is no rumbling of tanks on the streets of Islamabad. Instead, it seems the military is using a new strategy for regime change in Pakistan, one that will have adverse consequences for Western troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Continue reading A military coup in Pakistan?

Where has US aid to Pakistan gone? Mariana Baabar

Courtesy: The News International

Mariana Baabar is a senior Pakistani journalist and diplomatic editor of the Islamabad-based newspaper, The News International and also contribute for Outlook India.

Where has US aid to Pakistan gone? Mariana Baabar [STORY APPEARED IN 2007]

ISLAMABAD : The billions of dollars in US military aid to Pakistan since September 11, 2001, without any accountability, has now been billed as a “tsunami of new funding”.

Continue reading Where has US aid to Pakistan gone? Mariana Baabar

Huffing and puffing [about Kerry-Lugar bill] by Manzur Ejaz

Dr. Manzur Ejaz
Dr. Manzur Ejaz

WASHINGTON DIARY: Huffing and puffing

by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA

Courtesy: Wichaar.com, October 6th, 2009

Ultimately, after the US consultants and intermediaries have taken their cut, Pakistan will get about three to four hundred million dollars which cannot do much when the country is several billion dollars short of its obligations and needs.

The saga of the Kerry-Lugar aid bill to Pakistan has become as surreal as it can get. Every concerned sane person is wondering what the fuss is about. Conditions attached to this bill are the same as in most previous such bills. Furthermore, why is such a big deal being made out of the bill when it cannot go very far in pulling Pakistan out of its ongoing economic crisis?

Continue reading Huffing and puffing [about Kerry-Lugar bill] by Manzur Ejaz