Tag Archives: double

Sethi: US-Pakistan Relationship ‘Riddled With Ambiguities’

NEW YORK: May 19, 2011 — The Friday Times editor Najam Sethi, who appeared at Asia Society’s Pakistan 2020 launch, discusses the complexities of the US-Pakistan relationship and why Pakistan is “rushing toward” China.

via Wichaar, YouTube

Writer, columnist, and intellectual, Najam Sethi’s honest views

Pakistan’s estimated losses by terrorists during attack on Mehran Navel Base is 10 arub rupees (about $13.0 million). The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat – Najam Sethi Kay Saath, views On Current Affairs – 23 May 2011)

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The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

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

Deep state – the history of the double game

The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas ki Baat with Najam Sethi and Muneeb Farooq, 24th may 2011)

via ZemTV, YouTube

Focus should be Pakistan not Afghanistan, Sen. Lugar

US senators see Afghan hope, Pakistan fears

by Shaun Tandon

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Leading US senators on Tuesday saw momentum for political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and urged a greater shift in focus to fighting extremism in Pakistan. …

…. Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the same committee, questioned why the United States was spending some $120 billion a year in Afghanistan, where some 100,000 US troops are deployed.

The question before us is whether Afghanistan is strategically important enough to justify the lives and massive resources that we are spending there, especially given that few terrorists in Afghanistan have global designs or reach,” the Indiana lawmaker said.

“To the extent that our purpose is to confront the global terrorist threat, we should be refocusing resources on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, parts of North Africa and other locations,” Lugar said.

Senators voiced concern about what they saw as support from Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, ….

Read more : Yahoo News

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US-Pakistan relations and bin Laden’s demise

Bin Laden’s capture has not told us anything new about the dysfunctional US-Pakistan relationship.

by Robert Grenier

The past three weeks have not been easy for a self-professed – one might say “confessed” – friend of Pakistan, at least not for one who makes his address in Washington, DC.

No sooner had President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden in a covert raid by US commandos on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, home of the Pakistan Military Academy, than a monumental media firestorm was set loose, making rational dialogue concerning the situation next to impossible. All manner of ill-informed stories shot up like high-order detonations, quickly accompanied by dubious “expert commentary”, much of which was highly misleading.

Just to cite one of the more unfortunate examples, initial, breathless accounts of the bin Laden compound described it as a huge mansion, heavily fortified with 18-foot (5.5m) walls – some eight times bigger than anything surrounding it – thus conveying the mental picture of a cross between the Taj Mahal and the US gold vault at Fort Knox. Pakistani officials, it was alleged, “had” to have known that this was an extraordinary location. Not to have investigated it was the equivalent of willful ignorance, it was said, if not a clear indication of outright official collusion with bin Laden and his hosts. ….

Read more: Aljazeera

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Pakistan’s Military Faces New Questions After Raid

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Battered by the fallout of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army and navy chiefs came under fire again from analysts and raucous political talk shows for lapses in security that allowed militants to storm Karachi’s naval base, leading to a 16-hour standoff that ended Monday.

Journalists and retired service members repeatedly questioned how the militants could have breached the security of the naval base. The Navy chief, Admiral Nauman Bashir, was particularly pilloried for denying there was any security lapse when he spoke to journalists in Karachi after the attack.

The frenzied questioning on all of Pakistan’s news channels was an indication of the shock that the attack on Karachi’s naval base has caused around the country, still reeling from the scandal of the killing of Bin Laden on May 2, and the questions it further raises about the ability of Pakistan’s military establishment to safeguard its vital assets and nuclear installations.

The Pakistani military has come under unusual criticism for allowing Bin Laden to live for five years near the top military academy in Abbottabad, a small city about 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and the latest attack was seen as yet more proof of the parlous state of Pakistan’s armed forces.

“The repeated failure of the Pakistani security forces to preempt terrorist activity has demoralized not only the Pakistani soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but has also severely dented the reputation of the three services in the eyes of the people they are expected to defend” wrote Javed Husain, a security analyst on the website of DAWN daily newspaper. “Worse still, the servicemen and the people have begun to see the terrorists as ten feet tall.”

The attack would have serious repercussions not only for the military but also for the security and unity of the country, Arif Nizami, editor of Pakistan Today, a Lahore based daily, warned on another show. The Pakistan Navy was a relatively weak flank and could be easily targeted, he said.

Hamid Mir, the influential host of Capital Talk on GEO TV, even dared criticize the military for its handling of previous attacks by militants. The attack in Karachi was similar in scale and seriousness to the 2009 storming by militants on the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi, and could have been avoided if there had been a public enquiry into the earlier attack, he said.

Mr. Mir said he feared an inquiry could be initiated against him or anyone else who raised this question. He has long advocated that Pakistan should not side with the United States, but he has also denounced the Taliban.

The attack in Karachi comes as the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been indicating in private meetings with senior editors and defense analysts over recent days that he wanted to improve morale and dispel the impression of incompetence of the armed forces by redoubling efforts against terrorism and insurgency.

Reflecting the overriding concern the Pakistan military has about its nuclear weapons program, General Kayani repeatedly emphasized that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe from any attack or foreign intervention, according to one analyst who was present at one of the meetings.

The general added that Senator John Kerry gave him assurances during his visit to Pakistan last week that the United States is not interested in seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapon. Senator Kerry told him he was ready to write down with his own blood that America was not interested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, he said.

In an indication of the divide in Pakistani society, commentators differed in their reactions to the 16-hour battle, with some urging political and military leaders to come together on a united counterterrorism policy to combat militancy, while others repeated familiar anti-American, anti-Indian theories, calling for a change in foreign policy and relations with the United States as the way to end the violence.

The conflicting narratives were evident in a talk show on DUNYA TV Monday afternoon with the hosts repeating conspiracy theories but some of their guests speaking more plainly.

Much of the reaction to the attack on its southern port, Karachi, also revealed Pakistan’s deep seated insecurity and sense of vulnerability regarding its longtime rival, India.

“This is a security failure,” Shehzad Chaudhry, a retired air vice marshal, said on the show. The need of the hour was to focus on the security forces and their capability, instead of focusing on the question that who could possibly be behind those Taliban, who are attacking Pakistani military, he said. “There is a need to develop national counterterrorism policy and bring our own house in order first.”

Talat Masood, a retired Lt. Gen and defense analyst, said on the same show: “We should not go into self denial. This insurgency is against you. They want to destabilize the state of Pakistan.”

Yet many commentators remain reluctant to criticize the powerful military establishment in Pakistan and tend to fall back on repeating conspiracies that the world is out to destabilize Pakistan and remove its nuclear weapons by force.

Pakistanis, on the whole, are unwilling to accept the idea that their own Muslim brothers based in the tribal areas are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistanis since 9/11,” said Arif Rafiq, a political analyst based in Washington in an interview. …..

Read more : The New York Tiems

Pakistan’s Faustian Parliament – by Wajid Ali Syed

It was embarrassing enough for the people of Pakistan to find out that Osama bin Laden was living in their midst for years. Even more shameful was the realization that their politicians are incapable of questioning the security apparatus of the country. The masses rallied and protested and faced hardships for months to kick General Pervez Musharraf out of power. They voted the Pakistan People’s Party, the most widely-based and allegedly liberal party to power, believing that democracy has been restored.

Though the leader of the government, President Asif Ali Zardari has been blamed for everything going wrong in the country and is regarded as a corrupt individual, until now there has been a perceived upside that Pakistan is being led by an elected government and not a military dictatorship.

This illusion of so-called civilian supremacy silently burst like a bubble when the head of the ISI, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani were called before the parliament to answer for their incompetence related to the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The agenda was to inquire about the U.S. attack and why the state security apparatus was unaware of Osama bin Laden’s presence.

But what happened during the closed door meeting revealed once again that the real power in Pakistan still lies with the army and the ISI, not the politicians.

It had been suggested that heads would roll, the foreign aid and the big chunk of national budget that the army receives would be scrutinized. The parliamentarians dropped the ball again and lost another opportunity to exert their authority over other institutions of the state. Once again it became clear who really runs Pakistan.

The last time a civilian government had an opportunity to put the army in its place was in 1971, following the Pakistan army’s defeat in the war that led to the loss of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s then-president and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, got off to a promising start by placing former dictator General Yahya Khan under house arrest. He re-organized the Pakistan Armed Forces and boosted the military’s morale. But Bhutto also restored their hubris. Years later, his own appointed Army Chief, General Zia ul-Haq, would overthrow Bhutto’s government and send him to the gallows.

During Zia’s 11 year rule, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and withdrew. The army grew so strong that even after Zia’s death in a plane crash, the new chief of the military did not allow the democratically elected Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, to tour the country’s nuclear facility. She was labelled anti-Pakistan and an American agent.

It is ironic to witness that the opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), which was created with the support of the army to counter the PPP’s popularity, is now asking the tough questions about covert operations and the finances of the military.

By snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Pakistan’s ruling party, Bhutto’s PPP, is losing its chance to demonstrate leadership and moral authority. They failed to hold the army accountable for the thousands of civilians and security officers killed in the war on terror in Pakistan. They did not press the chief of the generously-funded army to explain how OBL could have lived in a military garrison town for six years.

These are the same parliamentarians who extended General Kiyani’s tenure. The same parliamentarians who extended ISI Chief General Pasha’s tenure. The boastful parliamentarians who had promised to leave no stone unturned roared like lions for the cameras but behaved like lambs behind closed doors.

It was reported that opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar tried to deliver a speech during the question and answer session, only to be snubbed by General Pasha in front of a full house. Pasha claimed that he ‘knew’ why he was being targeted by the opposition leader, alleging that Nisar had asked him for a personal favor, which he, as DG ISI, refused to extend. An embarrassed Chaudhry Nisar was said to have been taken aback as Pasha continued with his ‘counter-attack’.

Then the tail furiously wagged the dog. General Pasha reportedly offered to resign. Rather than demanding that the ISI chief step down immediately, apparently the parliamentarians did not accept his resignation.

The state run television channel could have returned to its heyday of running prime time programming that kept the country glued to their sets by recording that “closed door” meeting to broadcast later as a drama — or farce.

Some idealistic Pakistanis hoped that the U.S. would finally question the secretly played “double game.” After all, the U.S. supported extensions of Kiyani’s and Pasha’s tenures, claiming that keeping the chiefs in their positions would help to continue the war on terror in an orderly fashion. The U.S. abandoned the people of Pakistan by siding with the army once again, pledging support and failing to attach any strings or conditions to the military aid it provides.

Cowed by Kiyani’s and Pasha’s brazen displays, Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution that drone attacks should be stopped and that the operations like the one carried out on May 2nd won’t be tolerated in future.

The parliament has an obligation to explain to the public not only how and why Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but why the Taliban continues to carry out its bloody operations, and why al Qaeda leaders have been given safe haven. The risk of allowing these questions to remain unanswered is that the military will gain more strength over the civilian government.

The parliamentarians who are supposed to represent the people of Pakistan abrogated their responsibility for the sake of staying in office for few more months, while at the same time making it clear who the country’s rulers truly are.

Courtesy: Wichaar

Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship

By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard

Two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration remains uncertain and divided over the future of its relationship with Pakistan, according to senior U.S. officials.

The discovery of the al-Qaeda leader in a city near Pakistan’s capital has pushed many in the administration beyond any willingness to tolerate Pakistan’s ambiguous connections with extremist groups. After years of ineffective American warnings, many U.S. officials are concluding that a change in policy is long overdue.

Those warnings are detailed in a series of contemporaneous written accounts, obtained by The Washington Post, chronicling three years of often-contentious meetings involving top officials of both countries. Confirmed by U.S. and Pakistani participants, the exchanges portray a circular debate in which the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost.

U.S. officials have said they have no evidence top Pakistani military or civilian leaders were aware of bin Laden’s location or authorized any official support, but his residence within shouting distance of Pakistani military installations has brought relations to a crisis point.

Some officials, particularly in the White House, have advocated strong reprisals, especially if Pakistan continues to refuse access to materials left behind by U.S. commandos who scooped up all the paper and computer drives they could carry during their deadly 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

“You can’t continue business as usual,” said one of several senior administration officials who discussed the sensitive issue only on the condition of anonymity. “You have to somehow convey to the Pakistanis that they’ve arrived at a big choice.”

“People who were prepared to listen to [Pakistan’s] story for a long time are no longer prepared to listen,” the official said.

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Every available option — from limiting U.S. aid and official contacts, to unleashing more unilateral ground attacks against terrorist targets — jeopardizes existing Pakistani help, however undependable, in keeping U.S. enemies at bay. Military success and an eventual negotiated settlement of the Afghanistan war are seen as virtually impossible without some level of Pakistani buy-in.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about anyplace else,” President Obama said last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation.”

For now, the administration is in limbo, awaiting Pakistan’s response to immediate questions about bin Laden and hoping it will engage in a more solid counterterrorism partnership in the future.

That outcome seems increasingly in doubt. In Pakistan, officials’ pledges following the bin Laden raid that Pakistan would never let its territory be used for terrorist strikes against another country have turned to heated accusations of betrayal by the United States. ….

Read more : Washington Post

Kurt Volker, Former US Ambassador to NATO said he does not believe that Pakistan was unaware of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad

Kurt Volker, Former US Ambassador to NATO spoke to TIMES NOW on Wednesday (May 11) and said he does not believe that Pakistan was unaware of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad, which was at a short distance from a military training academy. He also added that Pakistan must stop playing double games.

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Osama Bin Laden fiasco: the buck stops with the military —Dr Mohammad Taqi

– OBL fiasco: the buck stops with the military

The key issue is that the security establishment has shown no signs of course correction so far. From the bluster about a befitting response to a future Abbottabad-style attack to the attempted outing of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief, everything points towards a top brass set in its ways and unwilling to let go of its jihadist proxies.

The events of the last ten days have been as much amusing as they have been distressing. The Pakistani establishment has been running like a chicken with its head cut off. From an initial reaction that mixed denial with a desire to claim some credit for the death of the US’s enemy number one, the response has morphed into a wrangling within the ruling classes as well as posturing and digging in vis-à-vis the US.

While the establishment, and now the political government, has determined that there, ostensibly, is enough blame to go around the whole world and the intelligence agencies therein, the primary finger pointing continues between the military and the political elite. It reminds me of the game called ‘hot potato’ in which the kids pass around the hot potato — usually a ball — to the fast pace of music. The person holding the hot potato when the music stops, is out of the game. Apparently, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been ‘volunteered’ to hold the hot potato of the Osama bin Laden (OBL) fiasco for now.

In a complete about-turn from his statements of less than a month ago, the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has suddenly discovered the importance of the civilians leading the charge on security issues. Asking the civvies to lead in the national security and foreign policy matters — really? Something is not right with this picture. This never happens unless the top brass is in thick soup. The 1965 Operation Gibraltar, the 1971 Dacca debacle, 1989 Jalalabad misadventure, and the 1999 Kargil disaster: as Yogi Berra would have said, it’s like déjà vu all over again!

In several addresses, including the one last month on the Martyrs’ Day (Yawm-e-Shuhada), General Kayani had made no mention whatsoever of the civilian government. And he was not just talking past them. He had been talking of a bond directly between the people and the army, with the political forces conveniently left out of the equation. Is it not interesting then that the army chief now “believes that the people of Pakistan need to be taken into confidence through their honorable elected representatives”? He has further “requested that strength of democracy must be put into effect to develop a consensus on important security issues, including war on terror. Articulation of a national response through parliament, under the circumstances, is the most effective way to let the world know the historic achievements of Pakistan against al Qaeda and its terror affiliates.” And in the vintage Pakistani Army style, the millstone will be finally put around parliament’s neck, as the general has also requested the “honorable prime minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, to kindly consider convening of a joint session of parliament for briefing on security issues as related to Abbottabad incident”.

In February 1989, the security establishment through the then ISI director, General Hamid Gul, gave an in-camera briefing to parliament. The nascent Benazir Bhutto government had been under severe pressure to steer clear of any interference in the foreign policy agenda set out by the establishment. The domestic pressure brought to bear on BB through a hostile provincial government in Punjab was intensified to get her to comply. The closed-doors briefing informed parliament that the ISI was about to unleash the Afghan mujahideen mercenaries on Jalalabad in March 1989 — a battle that ended in the rout of the jihadists. One of BB’s close lieutenants and perhaps her most powerful minister then, told me: “We decided to step aside and let the khakis have their way … to get them off our backs.” Unfortunately for the Pakistan People’s Party, neither could it shake the khakis off its back then, nor would it be able to do it now. And Pakistan continues to reap the whirlwind for the wind that Hamid Gul et al sowed in Afghanistan.

The civilian government is being blamed now for not taking interest in national security matters. The public memory may be short but we have not yet gone into collective amnesia to not remember the ruckus raised by the establishment and its media stooges to successfully block the placement of the ISI under civilian control in 2008. Similarly, the civilian government and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani were much maligned for ‘engineering’ the clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which called for civilian oversight of the US funding to the military. And lest we forget, the ambassador neither invited nor granted visas to OBL, Ayman al-Zawahri, Mullah Omar, Tahir Yuldeshev, the Haqqani network and thousands of jihadists roaming in Pakistan.

The question however is not just whether the civilian leadership should extend a lifeline to a junta on the ropes for reasons over which the politicians never had any control. The key issue is that the security establishment has shown no signs of course correction so far. From the bluster about a befitting response to a future Abbottabad-style attack to the attempted outing of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief, everything points towards a top brass set in its ways and unwilling to let go of its jihadist proxies. The embarrassment does not appear to be about lying but about getting caught lying. All indications are that the wiggle room left by the world powers is being squandered through misplaced swagger.

At minimum, the public deserves to know that there has been an undeclared policy of pursuing foreign policy objectives through the jihadist proxies. If the people of Pakistan agree to this adventurism, then at least everyone will be on the same page and brace for whatever consequences it entails. If the PPP and its coalition partners wish to be a party to a jingoistic consensus, more power to them. But such public consensus can never be developed through in-camera briefings and passing on the buck.

While the politicians are rightly accused of dodging accountability, the security establishment has not done any better. In fact, the opposite has been true in many cases. Professor Hassan Abbas records in his book Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism that in Operation Gibraltar, the highly competent General Akhtar Malik was replaced mid-battle with the inept General Yahya Khan, resulting in disaster, but Yahya was never held accountable. But it is better late than never to begin. If OBL indeed moved into his Abbottabad hideout five or six years ago, that implies that General Kayani himself was in charge of the ISI at the time. The buck therefore stops at his desk, not parliament.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history

Another dark period – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it.

Before Osama Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Islamabad’s political orientation had shifted further to the right on every level. In retrospect, it is becoming clearer that the newfound unity between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) had been forged with the military’s tacit support. No wonder that Prime Minister Gilani’s responses after the Abbottabad debacle were totally in sync with the military’s public face, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). By now all the primitive forces of Pakistan have forged an opportunistic unity barring any enlightened solution to the country’s internal and external problems.

After the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had left the government of their own will or on someone’s prompting, the PPP was in a very precarious position. It had no solution other than bowing to the military and seeking its help. PML-Q, not a political party as such, but an ensemble of electable Pakistani aristocrats always finding it abhorrent to sit on the opposition benches, were keen to come back to the ruling group. PML-Q had served in the military-managed government of General Musharraf and got on board once they received signals from the right quarters.

Pakistan’s military had hardly any choice but to support the PPP government after exacting the maximum concessions from it. It has been reported by many insiders that the military hates to see a federal government run by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N. The military is fearful of his independent approach and his strong belief in civilian supremacy over the armed forces. His firing of two army chiefs during his last stint as prime minster was more than the military could swallow. The military is said to believe that though the PPP government is inept and corrupt, it still listens to them and dares not challenge its will, while Mian Nawaz Sharif is going to do what he likes and may try to exert control over the ‘untouchable’ mighty institution.

A few months back the military was seemingly trying to corner the PPP and replace it with some other combination of political groupings including MQM. Mian Nawaz Sharif was being encouraged to play a role to destabilise the PPP government but, apparently, he did not oblige. Somehow, he seems to be wedded to the concept of not throwing out the democratically elected government when there is direct or indirect danger of military intervention. Since he did not take the military’s bait, the military had no choice but to work with the PPP.

A weakened PPP government due to lack of governance, incompetence and perceived corruption, had changed its patron from the US to the military. After the PPP-PML-Q alliance was put in place, Prime Minister Gilani has been issuing strong pro-military/ISI statements, owning up to all the mess that Pakistan is accused of creating.

PM Gilani’s reported suggestion to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karazai to tilt away from the US and embrace China was also in accordance with the military’s cat and mouse play with the Americans. His out-of-place statement that the military’s intelligence agencies are following the civilian government was also an attempt at mollycoddling the GHQ. His statements after the US operation in Abbottabad followed the same pattern. In essence, the military has recreated a Musharraf-like civilian set-up, which will allow it to do whatever it likes in dealings with the US, Afghanistan, India, China and other key external partners. It also gives them a free hand to play duplicitous policy games if they like to.

Presently, the PPP is trying to outdo Imran Khan, religious parties and all other anti-US political formations in standing behind the military. Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it. Some religious leaders are blaming the Yahood-o-Hunood (Jews and Hindus) for hatching a conspiracy against the Pakistan military as if Osama bin Laden had been planted by them in Abbottabad. Other random groups are even holding rallies in support of the military. This is happening at a time when the civilians, specifically the governing party, should have been asking some tough questions from the military. Instead, the political groups are competing with each other to win the trophy for being the ‘Best Military Apologist’.

Whether Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad with or without the military’s knowledge is a question haunting Pakistan. The world is asking if it should be considered a case of incompetence or mischief on the part of Pakistan. The PPP and all other apologists can woo the military in pursuit of their own agendas but they can neither satisfy the world (not just the US) nor force the military establishment to initiate a corrective mechanism so that, in future, Osama bin Ladens are kept away from Pakistan. In fact, the political environment has been so ‘militarised’ that the Abbottabad operation has turned out to be a blessing for the military. Now the military has proved that it is beyond scrutiny and will be more encouraged to do whatever it wishes. This simply means that the Pakistani state is going to deteriorate further with no self-correcting mechanism in sight.

The conditions in Pakistan were already bad but with the PPP-PML-Q alliance combined with pro-military noises indicate that Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Courtesy: Wichaar

No more dwell policy and double game

No more dwell policy and double game. Lets start a new policy by having friendly relations with neighbors specially India, Afghanistan, Iran, China, USA and other nations sit on the table and resolve all the problems with diplomacy not by war or other means. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Lekin with Sana Bacha – 10th may 2011)

via ZemTV, Sisat.pk, You Tube

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

Pakistan: Lies, lies and more lies

Lies, lies and more lies

By: Nazir Naji

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy: PAKISTAN TODAY

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

Pakistani Military Faces Scrutiny as Unfolding Evidence Suggests Direct Role in Harboring bin Laden

Numerous questions have been raised on how Osama bin Laden could have been living in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad just down the street from Pakistan’s premier military academy. CIA Director Leon Panetta has reportedly said Pakistan was either “knowledgeable or incompetent” when it came to bin Laden’s whereabouts. Some evidence has emerged to indicate that the Pakistani military may have had a direct role in harboring bin Laden. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is claiming it warned U.S. intelligence two years ago about the compound where bin Laden was killed. We go to Pakistan to speak with Graeme Smith, an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada. He was in Abbottabad yesterday investigating the mystery behind the bin Laden compound. [includes rush transcript] ….

Read more : Democracy Now

Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party asks Army Chief Kayani and ISI chief Pasha to resign now

Islamabad: Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) says Army Chief Kayani, ISI chief Pasha and other officials should resign on this security failure. Army gets the biggest chunk of the budget and if in the end they have such performance then why they should not be accountable for their incompetence? She was talking in Pakistani political talk show “Kal Talk with Javed Choudhry” on 5th May 2011. The other participants of the talk show were Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Shahid Lateef and Gen. Rtd. Rashid Qureshi. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: The Express News TV (Kal Tak with Javed Choudhry – 5th May 2011 – Shahid Lateef, Gen Rtd Rashid Qureshi & Sherein Mazari)

via Siasat.pk, You Tube

Gurba kushtan roz-e-awal — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Pakistan is looked upon as an ill-mannered, ill-tempered, untrustworthy, double-dealing, terror exporting and dishonest alms-seeker whose primary interest is to empty donors’ pockets.

A severely hen-pecked husband, envious of his ‘wife-dominating’ friend, was ready to give a leg and an arm to become what his friend was. He asked his friend about the secret and was told that it was all very simple. He narrated that his wife had a cat. He told her to keep it away from him. The wife obliged but as the cat persisted, he sliced the unfortunate cat into two with a sword and that was that – she then obeyed unquestioningly.

The poor hen-pecked husband saw hope because his wife too had a cat. Returning home, he gravely told his wife to keep the cat away. Though mildly surprised by this sudden change of tenor from his previously obsequious attitude, she ignored it. When the cat came near him, he killed it. She then gave him a punishing dose of physical overwork, his newfound ego and morale bruised and battered.

A few days later, he went to his friend and complained that the stratagem had backfired badly and that the situation now was worse than before. The friend laughed out loud and long and said, “Gurba kushtan roz-e-awal”, meaning kill the cat on the first day to show you will not tolerate any nonsense because that determines the future relationship, not after you have abjectly submitted.

The Pakistani objection to the drone attacks is similar to the objection to the cat’s presence by the hen-pecked husband. The US is certainly not the wife in this relationship. Now as vociferously and emotively as Imran Khan, Shahbaz Sharif or the brass hats may object to the drone attacks, there will be no ending of these until of course the US, in its own wisdom and according to its policy aims, puts an end to them. …

Read more : Daily Times

Security establishment has real power so judiciary listens them, President Zardari has no power therefore, his democratically elected government is being punished!

The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Aaj TV ((Aaj Ki Khabar with Absaar, guest Faisal Raza Abdi, – 17th March 2011)

via- ZemTVYou Tube

Pakistan radicals rule the streets

by Amanda Hodge

TENS of thousands of people crowded the streets of Lahore late on Sunday demanding freedom for the assassin of Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

The protestors are also demanding death for the US consular official who killed two suspected armed robbers in self-defence.

Demonstrators from religious parties Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and the banned terrorist-linked charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa held banners in support of Mumtaz Qadri — the police guard who killed Taseer last month because the governor had supported changes to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.

Opposition party leaders from more mainstream parties also lined up to assure the protesters they would never support changes to the blasphemy law and would quit the National Assembly should the government attempt to amend them.

Protesters chanted slogans such as “Free Mumtaz Qadri” while demanding the harshest penalty for Raymond Davis, a US consular official who was arrested for double murder on Friday after shooting two armed motorcyclists he feared were about to rob him.

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“We warn the government and administration that . . . if they help the arrested American illegally, then this crowd will surround the US embassy and presidential palace in Islamabad,” one official from the Jamiat Ulema Islam party said.

The US has demanded Mr Davis’s release, claiming he has diplomatic immunity, but the Pakistani government says the courts should decide his fate.

In another corner of the Punjab’s once feted cultural capital, 500 people attended a peace rally and remembrance vigil for the slain governor.

Among them was liberal commentator Raza Rumi, who conceded yesterday: “It’s not a good time to be a liberal in Pakistan.

“Forget liberal — it’s not a good time to be a moderate.”

Analysts say the fact that among the speakers at the larger rally was JUD founder Hafiz Saeed, believed to have also founded terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, says much about the complicity of state forces in Pakistan’s extremist groundswell.

But just as telling was who was sharing the podium.

Members of Imran Khan’s so-called moderate Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party also spoke in support of the blasphemy laws.

“All the major political parties from the Right and the centre were there, which shows the Right is capturing more and more political space,” says Rumi. …

Read more : The Australian

Afghan Stonings, on Video, Finally Get Authorities’ Notice

By ROD NORDLAND

KABUL, Afghanistan — Police officers investigating the double murder of a couple who were stoned to death in a prominent case five months ago could hardly have asked for more abundant evidence.

There were hundreds of witnesses. The date, time and place of the attack were well known, and so were the identities of the killers. The crime had even been captured on cellphone videos, and at least one of the recordings reached the authorities within days.

Now one of those videos showing the full horror of the killings has been broadcast on Afghan television to the shame of Afghan authorities, who have yet to make a single arrest in the deaths of the 19-year-old woman, Siddiqa, and her fiancé, Khayyam, 25, who had tried to elope against their families’ wishes.

The broadcast has suddenly prompted at least the appearance of action by the government. Over the weekend, a Ministry of Interior investigating commission arrived in Kunduz Province, where the stoning was carried out by the Taliban in a village that has since come back under government control. …

Read more : The New York Times

The Pakistani society is hypocritical and it has double standards : Veena Malik didn’t do any corruption, or spread any terrorism, she even didn’t kill anyone and still she is a misfit to represent Pakistan, but the killer Mumtaz Quadri is fit to represent Pakistan!?

Pakistani Actress Slams Cleric for Criticism

Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani actress castigated for appearing to cuddle with an Indian actor on a reality show lashed out at a Muslim cleric who had criticized her during a widely watched television exchange this week.

The unusual outburst, punctuated by tears, came at a sensitive time in a country where Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and liberals are increasingly afraid to express their views.

“What is your problem with me? You tell me your problem!” an angry Veena Malik asked the Muslim scholar, who accused her of insulting Islam.

Earlier this month, a liberal Pakistani governor was shot dead for opposing the country’s harsh laws against blasphemy. In the aftermath, his killer was cheered as a hero among many in the public, shocking the country’s small liberal establishment.

Malik, 26, participated recently on Bigg Boss, an Indian version of “Big Brother.” Clips of the show on the Internet include ones in which she appears cozy with Indian actor Ashmit Patel. Those scenes, and her involvement with a show in Pakistan’s archrival India, prompted criticism online and on the air.

“You have insulted Pakistan and Islam,” Mufti Abdul Qawi accused her on the Express TV channel talk show via a television link. The exchange first aired Friday and then again Saturday.

A furious Malik shot back, saying Qawi targeted her because she is a woman, reminding him that the Quran admonishes men not to stare at a woman’s beauty beyond a first glance, and telling him there were bigger problems in Pakistan, including the alleged rape of children at mosques.

During the exchange, Qawi admitted he had not seen the clips of the show but had heard about it from others.

“What does your Islam say, mufti sir?” the actress asked. “You issue edicts on the basis of hearsay.”

Malik said she had read the Quran and she knew what lines not to cross as a Muslim as well as an entertainer in South Asia. She pointed out that she never kissed Patel, for instance.

“I am a Muslim woman, and I know my limits,” she said. The cleric seemed unable to respond to her flood of words.

Malik’s fierce outburst sparked a barrage of comments on Twitter. While some writers said they didn’t agree with her and one called her a “porn star,” others said she was brave for standing up to the Pakistani clerical establishment, especially when such an act can mean personal danger.

Wrote one supporter: “The only way to talk to these bloody clerics is to talk down to them. Veena Malik did just that, and how. Good for her!”

Source – http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/01/22/world/asia/AP-AS-Pakistan-Actress-vs-Cleric.html?_r=2&ref=asia

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Courtesy: Express TV (Front Line with Kamran Shahid, guest Veena Malik, Jan. 21, 2011)

via – ZemTVYou Tube Link – 1, 2

We hypocritical Muslims – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards. …

Read more : WICHAAR

Pakistan army has become a state within a state – says Tahmina Doltana of PML-N

The language of Talk show is urdu/ Hindi.

Courtesy: – ARY News – (Off the record with Kashif Abbasi, 21 September 2010)

Via >> ZemTV – You Tube Link

Wikileaks Pakistan : Sovereignty lost!

The revelations made by Wikileaks casts shadows of doubt on the future relationship between the military and politicians in Pakistan. Until now it depicts the story of an unholy alliance between Pakistani politicians, military and the United States and dubious role of military. With thousands of cables still to be released, one can expect more startling revelations in the days to come. In this episode of Reporter, host Arshad Sharif discusses with his guests if the story of the days to come will be similar to the story of the previous days.

Courtesy: Dawn News (Reporter with Arsha Sharif, 02 December 2010)

via ZemTV – YouTube Link – 1, 2