Tag Archives: End

US should dump Islamabad, Pakistan diplomat says

WASHINGTON: Washington and Islamabad should give up the fiction of being allies and acknowledge that their interests simply do not converge enough to make them strong partners, Pakistan’s recent envoy to the US, who is now a hunted man in his home country, has advised both sides in a searing examination of tortured relationship between the two countries.

Instead, says Hussain Haqqani, till recently Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Washington should leave Pakistan to its own devices so that it can discover for itself how weak it is without American aid and support, eventually enabling it to return to the mainstream suitably chastened about its limitations.

“By coming to terms with this reality, Washington would be freer to explore new ways of pressuring Pakistan and achieving its own goals in the region. Islamabad, meanwhile, could finally pursue its regional ambitions, which would either succeed once and for all or, more likely, teach Pakistani officials the limitations of their country’s power,” Haqqani writes about the broken relationship in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs journal.

“Once Pakistan’s national security elites recognize the limits of their power, the country might eventually seek a renewed partnership with the United States — but this time with greater humility and an awareness of what it can and cannot get,” says Haqqani who was ousted by Pakistan’s security establishment because he was seen to be working with Washington to contain the overarching influence of the military on Pakistan.

Taking a distinctly dim view of Pakistan’s prospects without US support, Haqqani acknowledges that “it is also possible, although less likely,” that Pakistani leaders could decide that they are able to do quite well on their own, without relying heavily on the United States, as they have come to do over the last several decades. In that case, too, the mutual frustrations resulting from Pakistan’s reluctant dependency on the United States would come to an end.

“Even if the breakup of the alliance did not lead to such a dramatic denouement, it would still leave both countries free to make the tough strategic decisions about dealing with the other that each has been avoiding,” Haqqani writes. “Pakistan could find out whether its regional policy objectives of competing with and containing India are attainable without US support. The United States would be able to deal with issues such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation without the burden of Pakistani allegations of betrayal.”

Continue reading US should dump Islamabad, Pakistan diplomat says

The Patience Runs Out – The United States has put up with Pakistan’s insidious double game for a decade now. Not anymore.

BY SHAMILA N. CHAUDHARY

Divorces don’t happen overnight, but there’s always that one moment, that one comment when — perhaps only in retrospect — you can see the split coming. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s recent trip to Afghanistan may have been unannounced, but he wasn’t shy when it came to speaking about Pakistan. Panetta said quite openly that the United States is losing patience with Pakistan, especially when it comes to Islamabad’s failure — or unwillingness — to act against the Haqqani Network, a Taliban- and al Qaeda-affiliated group known to target Americans in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan.

The remarks came as a surprise, as their timing coincides with U.S. negotiations with Pakistan to re-open NATO routes, but what Panetta said is hardly new. In fact, as he sat in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last September, he listened to Adm. Mike Mullen convey a similar message when the outgoing Joint Chief of Staff chairmen let loose, calling the Haqqani Network a veritable arm of Pakistan’s intelligence service. Congress, the State Department, and the White House have also become more publicly forthcoming on this issue in the past year. So, instead of being shocked at Panetta’s words, we should be shocked by their consistency. For once, the United States is on message when it comes to our “friend” and “ally” in South Asia. …..

Read more »ForeignPolicy

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/12/the_patience_runs_out

The combination of no apology and no meeting, Mr. Nasr said, “will send a powerfully humiliating message back to Pakistan.

Supply Lines Cast Shadow at NATO Meeting on Afghan War

By HELENE COOPER and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

CHICAGO — President Obama was struggling to balance the United States’ relationship with two crucial but difficult allies on Sunday, after a deal to reopen supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan fell apart just as Mr. Obama began talks on ending the NATO alliance’s combat role in the Afghan war.

As a two-day NATO summit meeting opened in Chicago, Mr. Obama remained at loggerheads with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, refusing even to meet with him without an agreement on the supply routes, which officials in both countries acknowledged would not be coming soon.

Mr. Zardari, who flew to Chicago with hopes of lifting his stature with a meeting with Mr. Obama, was preparing to leave empty-handed as the two countries continued to feel the repercussions of a fatal American airstrike last November, for which Mr. Obama has offered condolences but no apology. Mr. Zardari did, however, meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss the supply routes.

Pakistan closed the routes into Afghanistan after the strike, heightening tensions with Pakistani officials who say that the United States has repeatedly infringed on their sovereignty with drone strikes and other activities.

“This whole breakdown in the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has come down to a fixation of this apology issue,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser on Pakistan. The combination of no apology and no meeting, Mr. Nasr said, “will send a powerfully humiliating message back to Pakistan.” …

Read more » The New York Times

Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

By: Manzur Ejaz, Wichaar.com

The other day a very respectable political analyst made a surprising claim that Pakistan’s military is the only institution genuinely concerned about prevailing conditions of the country. Clearly he was specifically referring to dead-locked Pak-US relations where political parties, numbed or scared by anti-America populism, cannot come together to find a viable solution. One can assume that such sentiments must have been communicated to him by the highest level of the core state. However, the problem is that the fearsome anti-US jinni was created by the military and now it wants the civilians to put it back in the bottle.

Continue reading Pakistan – The Missplaced Assumptions of Military Gaurdians

BBC – Enormous frustration in Washington regarding Pakistan which is now seen by many in the US Congress and the military as an enemy rather than a friend.

Afghan end game sees Pakistan ‘paralysed’ by US rift

Since US forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan a year ago, relations between the two countries have never recovered. Writer Ahmed Rashid looks at a relationship in crisis as US troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

The continuing breakdown in co-operation between the US and Pakistan is having a hugely detrimental effect on US and Nato resolve to withdraw from Afghanistan while trying to remain committed to the region’s stability.

Although the US has much to answer for in terms of mistakes made, the refusal of the Pakistani leadership – both military and civilian – to take responsibility and ownership for desperately needed decisions, is leading the country into a terrible sense of drift and despair.

The recent visit to Islamabad by a high-level US delegation, consisting of officials from the defence and state departments, the CIA, the White House, and led by US special envoy Marc Grossman failed to elicit any major breakthrough in resolving any of the major outstanding issues which could lead to improving relations.

Drone attacks

Pakistan insists on a US apology for the killing of 24 of its soldiers last November by US helicopters on the Afghan border – yet when a US apology was on the cards a few months ago, Pakistani officials declined to meet their US counterparts.

Pakistan also insists on an end to drone strikes which the US refuses to agree to.

Both sides have tried to explore different scenarios for co-operation so that drone attacks can continue.

If a co-operation mechanism can be found, the US wants Pakistan to be more transparent about drone attacks because Pakistani interests are also served when drones kill leading members of the Pakistani Taliban.

US officials say their own lack of transparency over drones was dictated by former President Pervez Musharraf who insisted that they never be admitted to, even though drones took off from Pakistani bases until last year.

Also stuck is the reopening of the road that is used to take supplies from the port of Karachi to Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The road should have reopened nearly a month ago after approval from Pakistan’s parliament, but threats by Islamic extremist groups to burn trucks and convoys of goods have played a part in the delay.

The US has already indicated that it is willing to pay generously for use of the road.

The talks were made more complicated by the Obama administration now refusing to issue an apology and US charges that Pakistan allowed the Haqqani group to launch the multiple suicide attacks on Kabul and other Afghan cities on 15 April.

‘Window on the West’

There is enormous frustration in Washington regarding Pakistan which is now seen by many in the US Congress and the military as an enemy rather than a friend.

Many leading Americans consider that Pakistan should cease being important for the US, or should no longer be considered an ally when the US gets over the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is doing little to stop this drift in negative opinion growing in the US.

Gone are the early days of the Obama administration when major efforts were made to woo Pakistan.

Now what Pakistan may lose as a US ally in the region, India will gain – something that should be worrying for the Pakistani ruling elite.

The failure of Pakistan to rebuild ties with the US is rooted in actual incidents, anger and real disputes.

But it is also down to the inability of the government or the military to make decisions that need to be taken collectively to preserve the state of relations with a powerful country which has acted in the past as Pakistan’s window to the West – especially in terms of loans, aid and business and exports.

Internal conflict

There has been an unprecedented growth in violence from north to south involving sectarian, ethnic, militant Islamic, criminal and other heavily armed groups which the government appears helpless to stop.

Continue reading BBC – Enormous frustration in Washington regarding Pakistan which is now seen by many in the US Congress and the military as an enemy rather than a friend.

ANALYSIS: JI did it again! – Farhat Taj

The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground

Some time back, an Islamabad-based think tank, Jinnah Institute (JI), published a report, ‘Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite’. This report was criticised by some writers in the media for its justification of Pakistan’s security policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The well-known pro-military establishment journalists tried hard to defend the report. In the process, they exposed their own pro-establishment biases, in addition to have failed to address the valid objections on the report raised by the critics.

Now, the JI has come out with another report, ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2010-2011’. The key reason why the report is misplaced is that it is mainly based on — as stated in its methodology (pg 6) — reports from English and Urdu media in Pakistan. But most of the Pakistani English and Urdu media is neither independent nor abides by any professional or ethical standards in reporting on matters that are the exclusive domain of Pakistan’s military establishment, such as policies about Afghanistan and India. These policies are closely interwoven with religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, the issues that this JI report seeks to look into. The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground.

To elaborate my point, I will comment on one of the essays in the JI report, ‘Turning the Schools to Stones’, to highlight its bias. What the writer of this essay is saying about the bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas — FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Afghanistan — is this.

Read more » Daily Times

via – Twitter

PTI will end corruption in 19 days, terrorism in 90 days: Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), once in power, will end corruption in 19 days and terrorism in 90 days, said PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday.

Speaking at a seminar organised by PTI in Islamabad, Imran said that his party would not be dependent on the bureaucracy nor would it “waste time listening to their suggestions.”

Referring to the many crises faced by Pakistan, Imran said it was not necessary that a political leadership could not achieve what former president Pervez Musharraf had failed to accomplish, in terms of resolving the crises.

“PTI will come to power along with policies to address all problems.”

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

In India the Army Chief is disowned by the Supreme Court

Age row: ‘Graceful’ end to dispute with the government, says Army Chief

By Nitin Gokhale, A Vaidyanathan and Sidharth Pandey

New Delhi: The Army chief’s decision to take the government to court over his age turns out to have been a huge miscalculation. The Supreme Court today sided with the government, forcing General VK Singh to withdraw his petition by lunch time. His lawyer said the dispute ended “gracefully” and restored “the honour and integrity” of the chief. Many dismiss that assessment as heavily spin-doctored, and say General Singh may quit before his term expires at the end of May.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/age-row-graceful-end-to-dispute-with-the-government-says-army-chief-175282&cp

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Setting the house in order

By Saroop Ijaz

The difficulty of maintaining a pretence of conducting a profound analysis in Pakistan is that nothing ever ends. So the event one seeks to comment on is always underway hence, exposing the commentator to the real possibility of indignity in misinterpreting the happenings. The mayhem of the last few days is not over yet. It does, however, point out the fragility and precariousness of this architecture of democracy. It is almost as if this period of democratic governance is a momentary armistice, a feebly vulnerable interruption to the continuous military rule. Another disturbingly striking thing is the complete abandonment of core principles on the first sight of attack. In all fairness, none of this is unprecedented but it manages to make one cringe every time.

The prime minister is empowered to terminate the contract of a federal secretary and to comment on the conduct of the army and intelligence chief and for this reason it is hardly news worthy enough of interrupting the nation in frenzied tones. There has been some feeing of triumphalism and jubilation on being able to thwart or possibly delay a coup. Perhaps rightly so, yet the most recent episode is unique in the public manner in which the whole episode was conducted. Gone are the days where out of the blue, one will see a pompous general creeping out of nowhere and saying ‘meray aziz humwatanon’ on national television. This time, the intimidation and bullying was deliberately done in the full view of the public eye, the ISPR press release cautioning of “dire consequences” had the unmistakable slant of blackmail. The utter absence of embarrassment was unbelievable. It was like being subjected to the ISPR version of O J Simpson’s, “If I did it.” The response by the media and the politicians failed to ask the most basic question; did the ISPR posses any justification, legal or moral to threaten an elected parliament. Toni Morrison, once writing about the progress of African Americans in the United States said, “The question is whether our walk is progress or merely movement.” All this coming after four years of democratic rule, ours seems to be an awkward stationary wiggle.

If one is compelled to identify a positive coming out of this fiasco, it will probably be the fact that most of the media and major political parties refused to welcome the khakis. I have a mild suspicion that many of them did it grudgingly; it was the sheer impracticality of a ‘direct’ military takeover which guided their comments as opposed to any meaningful commitment to democracy. In any event, they merit whatever small congratulation is due. Nevertheless, whereas, it is a ridiculously easy and even intuitive question when asked to choose between an elected parliament and the khakis, I believe the real test lies ahead and not so far ahead. It would be if the same demagoguery is garbed in an intervention obtained through a judicial order or some other permutation of what has been somewhat suggestively named, ‘soft coup’. I have a feeling, the response by those agreeing to the abstract notions of democracy in such an event would be more of a waffle and exposing — I certainly hope I am wrong.

The prime minister has already formed the undesirable habit of displaying almost schizophrenic alternating bouts of gallantry and meekness. The ostensible reason is to avoid institutional conflict. It is not a ‘conflict’, it is capitulation in the face of assault, certainly not self-preservation in any long-term meaning. A lot of ink has been spilled (or at least the word processor equivalent) on how to set the civil-military balance incrementally right by people having considerably more expertise on such matters than myself. Yet, the answer to me, at least, is fairly simple. The prime minister should sack the army chief and the director general ISI for gross misconduct and insubordination. To put it at its harshest, their performance records, especially recently have been humiliatingly ordinary. Even otherwise, they cannot claim to be not given a fair innings, they have served, perhaps more accurately commanded for a period reasonably exceeding the normal. In any event, they have considerably overstayed their welcome. I know this proposal seems incredibly naïve even reckless, but I am afraid that needs to be done, even if it means staking the government on it. To romanticise it a bit, “Conscientious Objector” is a beautiful poem by Edna St Vincent Millay, some of its verses go,” I shall die, but/ that is all I shall do for Death/ I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/ I hear the clatter on the barn-floor/ ….But I will not hold the bridle/While he clinches the girth/ And he may mount by himself / I will not give him a leg up.”

I do not in any way suggest a literal scenario as terminally grim as that in the poem but Mr Prime Minister, at least, do not give them a leg up. Trying to maintain a wobbly equilibrium, a false feeling of reconciliation and shallow coexistence will not work, it never has, never does. In terms of basic economics, it is the case of Gresham’s law, the bad would drive out the good, if it is overvalued long enough with a clear preference. Negotiating or plea bargaining the way in and out of situations where you are strong-armed is not survival or diplomacy. It has now become a question of modalities and timing, rather than “if”. Stories both in real life and fiction are remembered inordinately by the ending. Albert Camus ends his La Peste (The Plague) by observing that though the plague was over and the city had returned to normalcy, “the plague bacillus never dies … that it can lie dormant in furniture and linen chests… perhaps the day would come when,… it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city”. Fire the two generals and make a point, the bogus feeling of security is going to end soon anyways.

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/321514/setting-the-house-in-order/

Get out, leave Afghanistan to Pakistan

Get out, leave Af to Pak

By Shekhar Gupta

The sharply polarised political debate on the nuclear deal was the most significant instance of the so-called holy national consensus on foreign policy breaking in India. Some of this spirit keeps returning vis-a-vis Pakistan any time the government reaches out to Pakistan, or when there is another terror attack. But beyond that, the larger consensus remains intact. It is not healthy for a democracy, and particularly not when it has a strategic community that has had even greater continuity than its establishment economists, defying all changes of government, leaders, ideology. That is why the time has come to question, or at least intellectually challenge, some other aspects of this lazy “consensus”. Even at the risk of inviting the charge of apostasy, therefore, the time might have come to question the wisdom and prudence of our totally unquestioned, un-debated idea of engaging in a dirty little cold war with Pakistan in Afghanistan once the Americans withdraw from there.

Today, everybody seems to be accepting the idea that Afghanistan is of great strategic significance to India, and we can neither cede it to Pakistan, nor leave them to fill the power vacuum that the Americans will leave behind. Similarly, that this is the Great Game country, and we are back to the Great Game, somehow inheriting the mantle of the British power in the 19th century, except that we might have to deal with an additional distraction called Pakistan. Further, that Afghanistan is a resource (mineral)-rich land where we have future commercial stakes, and is a gateway to Central Asia, making transit rights of such paramount importance for us.

There is some truth to some, but not all, of these. But the larger picture may look very different on closer examination. Also, engaging in a policy that puts us permanently and, inevitably, violently at odds with the Pakistanis is an idea that is being accepted much too readily. As if this is our destiny, part of an ongoing blood feud. As if we have no choice.

All of this, frankly, is lazy, self-serving rubbish, dished out by a strategic establishment that suffers terminally from a cold war mindset, and does not quite know, like all bigger powers (the US included), when to declare victory, and when to cut its losses.

The more curious thing is, some of this is happening under a prime minister who never tires of exhorting his policy-makers to “think out of the box” and a national security advisor who has built a formidable reputation for doing exactly this, not just now but over many decades of diplomatic service.

What kind of strategic importance does Afghanistan have for us now? Yes, we need transit to Central Asia. But to reach Afghanistan, we have to first persuade the Pakistanis to grant us transit. The more we jostle with them for influence in Afghanistan, the lesser the chances of their being so nice to us. Yes, Afghanistan is resource-rich and the Chinese may get there if we are not there. But what are we, meanwhile, doing with our own mineral resources? So many of our mines are shut, or not accessible. We might get a hundred times more value by either fighting, or bribing (as everybody eventually does with insurgents in Afghanistan), our own Maoists to be able to exploit our own mines. And the Chinese will get there before us anyway. And yes, there will be a power vacuum in Afghanistan. It will still be a country of great strategic importance. But for whom, is the question. It will be of no strategic importance to us. None of our supplies or trade come to Afghanistan. None of our bad guys hide there. No Afghan has ever been involved in a terror attack on India. In fact, almost never has a terror attack on us been even planned in the more precise Af-Pak region. They have all been planned and executed between Muzaffarabad, Muridke, Karachi and Multan. Almost never has an Afghan, Pakhtun, Baluch, Tajik, any ethnicity, been involved in a terror attack in India. It’s always been the Punjabis. Ask anybody in the Indian army who has served in Kashmir and he will tell you that the intruders he fought were exactly of the same ethnic stock as the bulk of the Pakistani army he may have to fight in a real war: the Punjabi Muslims.

Yes, as we said earlier, Afghanistan is still a country of great strategic importance. But for Pakistan, and certainly not for us. Pakistan has a long, unsettled border with it and a more-than-latent irredentist Pathan sentiment on both sides of the Durand Line that it dreads spinning out of control as (and if) Afghanistan breaks up along north-south-west ethnic lines. From tribal ties, to funny trade-links, like gun and drug-running, an unsettled Afghanistan will be a permanent thorn in Pakistan’s side when six divisions of its army are already not able to get the measure of the armed anarchy in FATA. Why should India then get into this unwinnable mess? More importantly, why should India give the Pakistani army and the ISI just what they need, a great, holy, moral justification to pour into Afghanistan to “fight the Indian challenge”?

Leave Afghanistan to the Pakistanis. If the Pakistani army thinks it can fix, subdue and control Afghanistan, after the British, Soviets and Americans have failed to do precisely this at the peak of each one’s superpower-dom, why not let the Pakistanis try their hand at it? If they pour another ten divisions and half of the ISI into that hapless country now, isn’t it that much of a relief for us on our western borders? What could serve our strategic interests better than having the Pakistanis discover a permanent strategic threat/ challenge/ opportunity along their western borders? Won’t that be some relief?

And if the Pakistani army thinks it can succeed in a mission in which their mightier predecessors, the British and the Soviet empires and the Americans, failed, good luck to them. Because it will fulfil a fantasy of “strategic depth” they have nursed since they were rocked by totally fictional visions of massive Indian tank assaults through the desert cutting their mainland into two during General Sundarji’s Operation Brasstacks in 1987. It is since then that the Pakistani strategic establishment has been seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. Now, if any army wants to seek the “depth” of Afghanistan for its armour, vital air force assets, or even nukes, good luck to them. In fact, it would be interesting to see how the rest of the world, particularly the Americans, would react if such a thing was even contemplated. Far from being a security asset ever, Afghanistan, for the Pakistani army, will be exactly what it has been for any other invading army in its history: a permanent Waterloo in slow motion.

So shall we leave the Pakistani army and ISI to their own devices in Afghanistan? Whether they fail or succeed, it will confirm only one widely held view in the global strategic community: that howsoever dashing it may be tactically, the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment’s strategic thinking emerges not from its brains but that some place lower down in human anatomy. Maybe then, the best way we can serve our own strategic interests in Afghanistan is to stay out of their way.

Courtesy » Indian Express

Pakistan and America – To the bitter end

Growing concerns about a difficult relationship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy: The Economist

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

Oslo tragedy

by Farooq Sulehria

Thus it is not a coincidence that Breivik has unleashed his puritan terror on AUF activists. The AUF (Labour Youth Club) is Norwegian Labour Party’s youth wing. Both Labour party and AUF have been campaigning against racism. Ever since the 1950s, a summer camp at holiday island of Utoya has been a regular feature of AUF’s activities.

One does not expect funeral processions coming out of a paradise. The horrific July 22 events in Norwegian capital of Oslo, a bomb blast outside Prime Minister’s office followed by a shoot spree claiming 92 lives, delineate such an unusually disastrous tragedy.

The Oslo massacre has bereaved Norway of her innocence the way Olof Palme’s murder in 1986 marked end of Swedish myth.

“Norwegian democracy is unique in that the Prime Minister along with other Ministers can go about their daily lives without security by their side. Norway’s King can travel by public transport without anyone batting an eyelid and it is this democracy which is under attack,” writes Toni Usman in an email to his friends. A successful TV-stage actor and an engaged activist, Toni Usman himself is a shining example of Norwegian tolerance and ingenuousness where not merely royals, elite politicians and celebrities freely mix with commoners, ordinary citizens also live a life unheard of even in Europe let alone South Asia. Living without the fear of theft or violence, the Norwegian lifestyle may appear naive to even Europeans. ….

Read more → ViewPoint

Govt Prepares For Post-MQM Scenario

Govt Prepares For Post-MQM Scenario: Suddle, Mirza May Get Top Slots

By Aijaz Ahmed

It is believed that the central government has prepared ‘Plan B’ to deal with any eventuality in case MQM finally refuses to rejoin the coalition and creates any law and order situation. The sources say that the government may resort to strong action, which may be contrary to the so far soft image of President Asif Zardari as the PPP may be losing patience with the ‘my way or highway’ attitude of the relatively immature ex-coalition party.

Teasers are already being sent to MQM, but at the same time, efforts to bring the ex-coalition partner back to the government’s fold are also underway, sources reveal. ‘Indeed Plan ‘A’ is to bring MQM back in the government’, sources told IH. Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Rehman Malik, and some common friends from UK are assigned the task.

The first priority to bring MQM back in the fold is mainly for two reasons, say insiders in the power corridors. The first reason is very obvious that government wants to avoid any confrontation and thus did not want to create an image that the leading party in the ruling coalition does not have ability to resolve the differences and thus unable to maintain relations with coalition partners.

Second reason is more interesting and strong according to the sources: the leadership of the ruling coalition according to the sources was astonished at the way the PML-N and MQM came closer, and the reaction of Imran Khan and other opposition forces. The inclusion of MQM in the opposition with PML-N and other parties may result in creation of stronger and vibrant opposition.

Grand opposition of PML-N, JUI-F, Jamaat i Islami, PTI, the Sindhi Nationalists and MQM embedded with a section of intelligence agencies can pose threats to the very survival of the elected government and also can assert more pressure on the President. The government – judiciary relations strengthen the view that all may not be well for PPP, Mr. Zardari and his allies if the grand opposition is allowed to come into existence, sources maintain.

There are also clear indications that a section of the intelligence agencies influenced by Hameed Gul mindset is providing some backing to Imran Khan and partly to PML-N as well, and this may lead towards disastrous end to the present set up.

MQM may be offered the seat of deputy speaker in the AJK Assembly along with a slot of advisor in AJK government. These offers will be apart from some concessions the party may be offered in Sindh once again. The MQM, according to the sources, intends to get some of its workers released, closure of few investigations and withdrawal of PPP’s stand on Municipal system in Karachi. The PPP wants to return to the previous system and remove existing 18 towns and restore commissionerate system in Karachi, Hyderabad and rest of Sindh, sources maintain.

Although the hopes of MQM’s return in the government’s folds are very slim as according to the assessment of PPP hawks, Altaf Hussain and his party intends to make political inroads in Punjab, Pakhtoonkhwa and Kashmir and to get better results it has to be out of the government, adopt ‘Majha’ (macho) style of politics in Punjab and adopt harsh tone against policies disliked by the people.

Thus the PPP and PML-Q are chalking out the plan B. Functional League, The National peoples Party and few leaders of ‘Hamkhyal’ (like-minded) League are being approached and some new faces from all these forces may be included in the Sindh Cabinet if Ch Shujaat and Rehman Malik failed to get favorable results. However it may take more than 6 weeks.

The most important part of the Plan will be the top slots in Sindh. The name of Zulfikar Mirza is being mentioned for the position of CM and everybody is talking about his new role in Karachi and Islamabad.

However the name of the new Governor of Sindh could be a surprise. Although Faisal Raza Abidi is being tipped as new Governor of Sindh for very obvious reasons, in the final count down he may not be the ultimate choice. Although he has abilities to give tough time to his arch rivals in Karachi and MQM, the man who can win the confidence of both the President and the Military Establishment, which is a settled norm when a governor is appointed, former police official Mr. Shoaib Suddle may be the elevated to the job. Mr. Suddle has a background of a successful action against terrorists in Karachi, majority of them was believed to be associated with MQM. He is also known to be honest and impartial but believed to have some grudges against MQM. He is also supposed to be close to the president.

Former IB Chief Mr. Masood Sharif could have been a natural choice for the post but he developed some differences with the president because of Rehman Malik sources said adding that Appointment of Mr. Wajid Durrani as IG Sindh Police is a clear indication in this regard. The Police and Rangers have been asked to mark people from MQM who according to the reports could make trouble in Karachi, but this time a direct action will be avoided only targeted action will be taken and only against all trouble making elements, but elements believed to have MQM connections will be on top of the list for which preparations are being made.

The party sources also maintain that the leadership wants a strong man in the Governor House Karachi having different background from CM Sindh, most probably from the Urdu speaking community, as has been the norm. Any other name may also come up in the race, but Mr. Saddle is the strongest contender for the slot at the moment, sources believe.

Courtesy: → Indus Herald

AJK elections: Theatre of the absurd

Excerpt:

….. Myths proliferate. The AJK assembly represents Azad Kashmir and the territory administered by India across the Line of Control. Since the refugees from the other side are scattered all over Pakistan, AJK elections for seats from the ‘other side’ are held in other provinces too. The MQM, which had won two seats last time, wanted to retain them both, but the PPP wanted one. When the MQM did not agree, the inspector-general of the Sindh police reported that conditions for polls in Sindh were not good, thus allowing the government to postpone voting. This has led to another PPP-MQM rift which promises to get worse in the coming days, with MQM leader Altaf Hussain saying that “the end of the PPP has begun”.

Everybody knows that India rules Kashmir from New Delhi, calling the head of the executive there chief minister; Pakistan has sensationalised the myth by calling the AJK chief executive the prime minister while ruling AJK from Islamabad. Once, the Muslim Conference was the blue-eyed boy of the establishment. Under General Ziaul Haq, Sardar Qayyum and Nawaz Sharif were equal beneficiaries at the fountainhead of power. The Muslim Conference thought it could go along with President Pervez Musharraf and switch off jihad. Sardar Atique is blameless today. The fact is that the establishment has rolled back the Musharraf policy and dumped his party.

A ‘flexible’ President Asif Ali Zardari has taken the PPP into the embrace of the establishment, concerned about reviving the ‘safe havens’ scaled down by Musharraf. On the other hand, the PML-N is challenging the establishment, not because of any difference in its thinking, but because of the PPP. It can switch off its intense criticism of the army if the latter dumps the PPP. The military is not particularly enamoured of the PPP. Furthermore, in comparison with the PML-N, it is less fearful of the PPP because of the PML-N’s reach and clout in the country’s most populous province. And clout matters within the officers’ corps. ….

To read complete editorial: → The Express Tribune

A history of oppression: the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By Danielle Sabai

June 2, 2011 — Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission — In February 2011, the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the island’s independence. In his speech, he stressed the necessity of “protecting the reconstructed nation”, as well as protecting “one of the oldest democracies in Asia”, its unity and its unitary character.

This speech came nearly two years after the end of the war on May 19, 2009, between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military command of the LTTE was decimated in the last two months of a merciless war that has had led to tens of thousands of deaths since the early 1980s.

Some 30 years of civil war have transformed the Sri Lankan political landscape. Once an island characterised by a developed social policy and high development indicators, Sri Lanka is today ravaged by state violence, the militarisation of society and an authoritarian state.

The end of the war has in no way opened a period of peace; still less has it settled the Tamil national question. The Sri Lankan government, whose powers are concentrated in the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers, has not sought to remedy the structural causes that led to the civil war. The state remains Sinhalese nationalist and racist in its essence and rejects any devolution of powers, which would allow the different communities to envisage the future together.

The president is at war against his people. State violence is also exerted against Sinhalese, journalists and political activists who oppose him but also against workers as a whole. Despite the end of the war, the government has maintained the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows it to muzzle its opponents. All communities suffer from the collapse of the rule of law. No peace can last if it does not rest on any political will to settle disputes.

The history of Sri Lanka is rich in lessons. It illustrates that attacks against minorities lead to more general attacks against workers whatever their ethnicity. They lead inevitably to a weakening, if not collapse, of democracy. It is important and necessary to review the historic roots that are at the base of the formation of this specific state having led to the emergence of two antagonistic nationalisms: Buddhist Sinhalese nationalism and its reaction, Tamil nationalism. …

Read more: Links International

Pakistan: Nawaz asks ‘army’ to change mindset

– Nawaz asks ‘army’ to change mindset

By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has vowed never to allow any institution to become a sacred cow and be above the law.

“There is no sacred cow in the country and none should try to become a sacred cow as (we) won’t allow such an attempt,” he told a reference meeting held here on Friday for journalist Salim Shehzad who has been murdered in mysterious circumstances.

Without naming the army but leaving no doubt which institution he was talking about, he said (they) would have to change their mindset.

If the army wants not to be criticised it will have to remove the causes of criticism.

“End your domination of foreign policy (making) if you wish the criticism to end. Our relations should be with the Afghan people and not with a single party. There should be no parallel government (of agencies) in the country.” …

Read more: DAWN

Making the hard decisions to set our house in order

By Najmuddin A Shaikh

Last week, I had expressed hope that in the coming days we would make the hard decisions needed to prevent our country from sliding into anarchy and chaos. We would not then remain the country to which Muammar Qaddafi would point as an example of what could happen to Libya if his dictatorial regime was brought to an end.

Developments during the past week have not, to say the least, been encouraging. First we had the budget, in which no genuine effort seems to have been made to raise the tax base or to address impediments — energy shortages among others — and yet we have concluded that our deficit will remain under control and that growth will have an upward trajectory. Are we going to continue to go down the path of foreign aid dependency and have a government ‘of the elite by the elite and for the elite’ that taxes the poor and the now dwindling middle class mercilessly to nourish the ‘fat cats’ in the ranks of the bureaucracy and the political establishment? Can we not levy direct taxes that would bring the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15 per cent? Can we not spend more on education and health? Can we not stop treating the defence budget as beyond question? …

Read more : The Express Tribune

THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

Something has changed

By: Huma Yusuf

TWO weeks after Abbottabad, the jury’s still out on Pakistan. Who knew? Who didn’t? And does anyone at all feel bad about the whole thing?

While international journalists and US lawmakers continue to ask these questions, Pakistan observers are at pains to point out that the answers matter little given that nothing has changed — the status quo has been maintained.

Continue reading THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

Demanding Answers From Pakistan

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

SINCE the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has behaved toward the United States as both friend and adversary — and gotten away with it. The latest evidence of its duplicity is the revelation that Osama bin Laden lived for years in a house near Pakistan’s national military academy and a local branch of its intelligence service without any evident interference.

Even before the American raid last week on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had a huge credibility problem. It provides arms and safe haven for Afghan insurgent groups and pays their commanders to carry out attacks, but denies doing so.

Continue reading Demanding Answers From Pakistan

Not much is going to change in Pakistan – same hopelessness, where only mighty will prevail and prosper

Stback on HEC devolution is a sign that not much is going to change in Pakistan

By Khalid Hashmani

It quite disappointing that the present Government surrendered to the pressure from vested interests and decided not to implement an important provisions of Pakistan’s constitution.  As I explained in my last e-mail on this subject, the constitution does not allow the central government to have any role in education (Higher or lower) matters except to be involved in standards for higher education, research and technical institutions and foreign ministry related matters pertaining to foreign students in Pakistan and Pakistani students in foreign countries. 

I had thought that there was a chance that return of democracy and parliamentary rule will lead to a negotiated end of denial of rights of Sindh, Balochistan and others. But, this is not to be and I am sure many of us who fought for the return of democracy are wondering what should be done next? The undue pressure from the un-elected and those who benefited from the current faulty Higher Education Commission (HEC) system joined hands to force the Pakistani government in making this terrible decision. I have no doubt in my mind that this short sighted step is going to have long term repercussions as many would conclude that the vested interests are too strong to defeat no matter what.

I find an element of truth in what a friend said few years ago when I argued that Sindhis could get a fair deal. He said “There is no use to expect much good from an arrangement that has failed Sindhis for so many times.

Incidentally, it was claimed that Higher Education Commission (HEC) only gives scholarships to those who secure admission to world’s top 50 institutions. I took the list of 61 candidates who were approved for scholarships around November 10, 2010 http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/HRD/Scholarships/ForeignScholarships/ISSIP/Pages/results_16_meeting.aspx) and compared it to top 100 schools listed on (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/). I found that a substantial majority of those approved did not have admission in any of the top 100 universities/colleges. Only the intended universities of 17 out of 60 (the intended university of one student is not listed) were on the top 100 list.

I feel that this setback on the HEC devolution is a sign that not much is going to change in Pakistan – same hopelessness, where only mighty will prevail and prosper and the weaker will continue to come on loosing end.

Our textbooks and the lies they teach

By Raza Rumi

Due to the 18th Amendment, a momentous shift in Pakistan’s governance arrangements is taking place through a politically mediated and largely consensual manner. The federal government is being trimmed and 10 ministries have already been devolved to the provinces. A key development pertains to the devolution of education — lock, stock and barrel — to the provinces. Most notably, the odious era of setting poisonous, centralised curricula in the name of a ‘martial’ nationalism is finally over. Whether the past practices of turning Pakistan into a jihad project will end is uncertain, unless the provinces take the initiative and reverse the regrettable trajectory of the past.

Pakistani textbooks have preached falsehoods, hatred and bigotry. They have constructed most non-Muslims, especially Hindus, as evil and primordial enemies, glorified military dictatorships and omitted references to our great betrayal of the Bengali brothers and sisters who were the founders and owners of the Pakistan movement. It is time to correct these wrongs. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

Af-Pak: a peace to end all peace —Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The continued aggressive posturing by the Pakistani establishment, albeit this time with a full civilian façade and on the pretext of seeking peace in Afghanistan, indicates that the already dysfunctional relationship between the US and Pakistan is literally on the rocks

“After the ‘war to end war’, they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a ‘peace to end peace’” –Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell.

Lord Wavell, a commander of the British forces in the Middle East and later a Viceroy of India, had been commenting on the treaties bringing World War I to an end and the future shape of the post-Ottoman Middle East, but the mad dash towards ‘peace and reconciliation’ in the Pak-Afghan region over the last two weeks suggests that after a decade-long war, we too may be in for more turbulence, not tranquillity.

The very connotations of the terms truth, peace and reconciliation make it nearly impossible to say anything critical of — let alone contradicting — the process. But when the inimitable host of VOA’s Pashto service, Rahman Bunairee asked me last week to comment on President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks in Turkey about opening up of a Taliban diplomatic office there, I found it difficult not to be cynical about the whole drama. “Since when does the president have such clout to determine Pakistan’s foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan,” I responded. Thinking of Wavell’s words, I added that what appears now to be a solution to a problem will likely be the mother of many larger problems to follow. President Zardari was speaking for the Pakistan Army and the so-called peace proposal — the diplomatic street address for the Taliban included — had been drafted in Rawalpindi. The civilians may have been acting it out, but the script is unmistakably Khaki. ….

…. In the Afghan memory, Pakistan, for three decades, has been part of the problem, not the solution. Each time that Pakistan has ‘sponsored peace’ there, rockets have rained on Kabul. Pakistan has miscalculated the Afghan and the US readiness to accept it as a partner in peace and the Gilani-Kayani-Pasha delegation to Kabul is being seen as a too-clever-by-half move to shoulder out the legitimate stakeholders. Unless Pakistan comes clean on the jihadist terrorists it harbours, any peace it sponsors will mean an end of all peace.

To read full article : Daily Times

Behind ‘Rising India’

Behind ‘Rising India’ lies the surrender of national dignity

From India’s prime minister down, the rotten state of the world’s largest democracy has been exposed for all to see

Even the racketeers of Pakistani military and intelligence appear dignified when compared with the Indians stampeding to plant kisses on US behinds!

by Pankaj Mishra

Food prices become intolerable for the poor. Protests against corruption paralyse the national parliament for weeks on end. Then a series of American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks exposes a brazenly mendacious and venal ruling class; the head of government adored by foreign business people and journalists loses his moral authority, turning into a lame duck.

This sounds like Tunisia or Egypt before their uprisings, countries long deprived of representative politics and pillaged by the local agents of neoliberal capitalism. But it is India, where in recent days WikiLeaks has highlighted how national democratic institutions are no defence against the rapacity and selfishness of globalised elites.

Most of the cables – being published by the Hindu, the country’s most respected newspaper in English – offer nothing new to those who haven’t drunk the “Rising India” Kool-Aid vended by business people, politicians and their journalist groupies. The evidence of economic liberalisation providing cover for a wholesale plunder of the country’s resources has been steadily mounting over recent months. The loss in particular of a staggering $39bn in the government’s sale of the telecom spectrum has alerted many Indians to the corrupt nexuses between corporate and political power. …

Read more : guardian.co.uk

They should apologize for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder

The military should apologize for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder

By Shiraz Paracha

Excerpt:

Parrot writers and journalists in Pakistan always praise the position of a serving Army Chief. Those who have sold their souls tell us how great the military’s top brass is. It does not matter if it includes generals, who surrendered in Dhaka, and those who ran away from Kargil, or those who killed an elected Prime Minister and tore apart the constitution. Even military leaders accused of corruption, incompetence and misconduct are portrayed as heroes.

It is not surprising that we are told that the current Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is the only capable saviour of Pakistan. Analysts, anchorpersons and columnists, who pretend to be mouthpieces of the military, inform us that General Kayani is different than his predecessors.

Not very long ago, General Kayani was the right-hand man of General Parvez Musharraff. After Kayani became the Commander-in-Chief, General Musharraff received a guard of honour at the end of his illegal stay in the President House. The military is a state within the state in Pakistan. The sword of a military intervention still hangs over the civilian government as the power equilibrium continues to be in the military’s favour even under General Kayani.

Nonetheless, so far, General Kayani has acted wisely and he appears softer than the previous heads of the Pakistani military. The Armed Forces are supposed to defend a country but the Pakistan military has embarrassed Pakistan many times. The Armed Forces are a symbol of pride for the people of a country; in Pakistan the military has caused national discomfiture. Some Pakistani generals wanted to make history—they left with dark history. ….

…. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Lahore High Court must reverse the decision of Bhutto’s judicial murder and seek an apology from the people of Pakistan. The Supreme Court is guilty of gross injustice. The Bhutto case is a stain on the institution of judiciary. Bhutto’s blood will stay fresh in the courtrooms until justice is done and Bhutto’s dignity is returned to him by the Court. The integrity and respect of the Supreme Court of Pakistan will never be restored without declaring Bhutto innocent and calling him Pakistan’s national hero.

Also the Supreme Court should formally admit that judges who were instrumental in providing legal cover to martial laws and dictators were actually traitors. The Court should give a similar verdict about generals who imposed military coups and derailed Pakistan. …

To read full article : LET US BUILD PAKISTAN

Karachi – Sindh at the End of the British Raj between 1942 and 1947

Sindh: Karachi as seen by a British soldier sometime between 1942 and 1947: lively street scenes, animals, buildings, life in the Karachi Cantonment, followed by the journey back towards Britain on a troop ship through the Suez Canal. A Movie recorded by British solider Stephen in 1942. The author of the film obviously developed a liking of Karachi – Sindh and its people. A few of the shots at the end of the film may be of Bombay/ Mumbai.

via – GlobeistanYou Tube

Unfit for Democracy? – NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Is the Arab world unready for freedom? A crude stereotype lingers that some people — Arabs, Chinese and Africans — are incompatible with democracy. Many around the world fret that “people power” will likely result in Somalia-style chaos, Iraq-style civil war or Iran-style oppression.

That narrative has been nourished by Westerners and, more sadly, by some Arab, Chinese and African leaders. So with much of the Middle East in an uproar today, let’s tackle a politically incorrect question head-on: Are Arabs too politically immature to handle democracy?

This concern is the subtext for much anxiety today, from Washington to Riyadh. And there’s no question that there are perils: the overthrow of the shah in Iran, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Tito in Yugoslavia, all led to new oppression and bloodshed. Congolese celebrated the eviction of their longtime dictator in 1997, but the civil war since has been the most lethal conflict since World War II. If Libya becomes another Congo, if Bahrain becomes an Iranian satellite, if Egypt becomes controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood — well, in those circumstances ordinary citizens might end up pining for former oppressors.

“Before the revolution, we were slaves, and now we are the slaves of former slaves,” Lu Xun, the great Chinese writer, declared after the toppling of the Qing dynasty. Is that the future of the Middle East?

I don’t think so. Moreover, this line of thinking seems to me insulting to the unfree world. In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?

We Americans spout bromides about freedom. Democracy campaigners in the Middle East have been enduring unimaginable tortures as the price of their struggle — at the hands of dictators who are our allies — yet they persist. In Bahrain, former political prisoners have said that their wives were taken into the jail in front of them. And then the men were told that unless they confessed, their wives would promptly be raped. That, or more conventional tortures, usually elicited temporary confessions, yet for years or decades those activists persisted in struggling for democracy. And we ask if they’re mature enough to handle it?

Read more : Wichaar

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.

Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?

And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!

Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.

We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out. ….

Read more : The Independent.co.uk

With the Mubarak gone there may be changes or the ruling elite could just find a new public face

Mubarak’s departure marks the end of an era for Egypt

If real reforms are achieved, Egypt will have witnessed a real revolution – and its impact will be felt across the Middle East

by Ian Black

Hosni Mubarak’s dramatic departure marks the end of an era for Egypt and the Middle East. Thirty years of his rule has left a deep impression on his country’s domestic affairs and external relations. Without him, much could change on many fronts — at home and across the region. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk

Egyptian uprising. Democracy & Freedom for All!

We are with our brothers and sisters in Egypt. We Salute you and want you to know that we are by your side in this struggle against Tyranny. Be strong, we are with you. The whole world is watching you and it is by your side. Dictators of the Arab world listen the voice of the people. People will Prevail, and Tyrants in the Arab world will Fall. We are with you People of Egypt.

You Tube Link