Tag Archives: extremist

Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

By BASSEM MROUE and MAAMOUN YOUSSEF | Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq said it has merged with Syria’s extremist Jabhat al-Nusra, a move that shows the rising confidence of radicals within the Syrian rebel movement and is likely to trigger renewed fears among its international backers.

A website linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra confirmed on Tuesday the merger with the Islamic State of Iraq, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first made the announcement in a 21-minute audio posted on militant websites late Monday.

Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken an ever-bigger role in Syria’s conflict over the last year, fighting in key battles and staging several large suicide bombings. The U.S. has designated it a terrorist organization.

The Syrian group has made little secret of its ideological ties to the global jihadist movement and its links across the Iraqi border but until now has not officially declared itself to be part of al-Qaida.

Al-Baghdadi said that his group — the Islamic State of Iraq — and Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra will now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham. Sham is a name for Syria and the surrounding region.

“It is time to announce to the Levantine (Syrian) people and the whole world that Jabhat al-Nusra is merely an extension and part of the Islamic State of Iraq,” he said.

He said that the Iraqi group was providing half of its budget to the conflict in Syria. Al-Baghdadi said that the Syrian group would have no separate leader but instead be led by the “people of Syria themselves” — implying that he would be in charge in both countries.

For such a high-profile Syrian rebel group to formally join al-Qaida is likely to spark concerns among backers of the opposition that are in the global terror network’s crosshairs, including both Western countries and Gulf Arab states.

Continue reading Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed attacked in Pakistan

Islamabad: Unidentified gunmen on Friday attacked prominent rights activist Marvi Sirmed, who has received threats from extremist groups several times in the past, in the Pakistani capital though she escaped unharmed.

The gunmen, who were in a black car, fired at Sirmed’s vehicle at Murree Road near Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad while she was returning home from work this evening.

“They tried to target us twice and fired several shots at my car which missed. Luckily, my driver sped away and we escaped,” Sirmed told PTI.

Sirmed is an outspoken defender of democracy and human rights, especially the rights of minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Shias. She has received threats from rightwing and extremist groups several times in the past, forcing her to change her residence frequently.

Often seen wearing a sari and a bindi, Sirmed has also faced accusations of being “pro-Indian” from extremists.

However, threats have never deterred her from taking steps to protect the rights of minorities and she was recently at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu girls.

Sirmed, who works as the manager of a UN project to strengthen Pakistan’s democracy and parliament, also played a key role in the recent campaign to free Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl who was wrongly accused of blasphemy after a Muslim cleric planted evidence against her.

Friends who had visited Sirmed at work two days ago said they had spotted a suspicious looking car parked outside her office late at night.

Continue reading Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed attacked in Pakistan

U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

Washington (CNN) — The word “terrorism” in the United States usually brings to mind plots linked in some way to al Qaeda, while the danger posed to the public by white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing militants is often overlooked.

Militants linked to al Qaeda or inspired by jihadist ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, which have resulted in 17 deaths. Thirteen of them were in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.

Continue reading U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

Why I’m not celebrating US exit – by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Today there is only the cruel choice between continued American presence and Taliban rule

After a trillion dollars and 2000 dead Americans, there is precious little to show as the U.S. heads towards its 2014 exit. America’s primary goal had been to create a stable, non-hostile Afghan government and army which could stop extremist groups from once again using Afghan territory as a base. But Hamid Karzai is already on the way out, rapid desertions could collapse the Afghan National Army, and only die-hards like Marine Gen. John Allen say that the U.S. can win. The Taliban are smelling victory.

America’s failure drives many bearded folks – and Imran Khan’s thoughtless supporters – into fits of ecstasy. It also delights some Pakistani leftists at home and abroad; imperialism has been humbled. Some comrades imagine that a mythicalAfghan “working class” – whatever that might mean – will pop up from nowhere and somehow stop the Taliban from moving in as fast as the Americans move out. Do they also hope for snowflakes in summer?

Continue reading Why I’m not celebrating US exit – by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist

Former UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir at Risk

(New York) – The Pakistani government should investigate allegations that elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have plotted to kill the prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Human Rights Watch said. Jahangir made the allegation in a television interview on June 4, 2012.

Jahangir is globally recognized for her human rights work and is one of Pakistan’s most respected rights activists. She is credited with establishing the highly regarded independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and AGHS Legal Aid, the first free legal aid center in Pakistan. In a career as a human rights activist spanning 30 years, Jahangir has been a consistent critic of human rights violations by the Pakistani military and the intelligence services.

“Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.”

Jahangir told Pakistani media on June 4 that she had discovered through a “security leak” brought to her attention by a “highly credible” source that an assassination attempt was being planned against her from “the highest levels of the security establishment.” She said that she believed it was best to go public with the information because she feared that she might be killed and a member of her family framed for the murder.

Continue reading HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist

The thin red line – Nadeem F. Paracha

When Omar Shaikh was arrested and sentenced to death in 2002 for the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal correspondent, Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, many Pakistanis were shocked. But what was there to be shocked about?

Shaikh had well-known links with a number of clandestine jihadist organisations and had already been jailed in 1993 by an Indian court for entering India and taking part in the kidnapping of a number of foreign tourists to raise money for the so-called ‘Kashmir jihad’.

Continue reading The thin red line – Nadeem F. Paracha

Hekmatyar as an engineering student in Kabul University, he became known for throwing acid at women dressed in Western clothes

In Afghanistan: Embracing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Is No Method at All

By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

Excerpts;

…. By the early 1970s Hekmatyar had become radicalized by extremist Islam and joined the Nahzat-e-Jawanane Musalman (Muslim Youth Movement). As an engineering student at Kabul University he became known for throwing acid at women dressed in Western clothes and for murdering a fellow student from a Maoist faction of the PDPA. Imprisoned by King Zahir Shah’s police for the murder, Hekmatyar was freed following a 1973 coup by the King’s cousin Mohammed Daoud and communist PDPA leader Babrak Karmal and fled to Pakistan.

Hekmatyar joined with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party) in a Pakistani plan designed by their Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to destabilize Afghanistan with cross border raids. Dissatisfied with the radical Jamaat’s political approach after failing to stir an uprising in Afghanistan, Hekmatyar formed his own more radical party, the Hesb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) and came to the attention of the CIA. In 1979, Hekmatyar helped to precipitate the Soviet invasion by engaging Afghanistan’s desperate Marxist President Hafizullah Amin in a power sharing arrangement. According to the April 1981, (No. 282) edition of British publication The Round Table the Soviets panicked when they realized Amin had set December 29th as the date for dissidents of the regime and their tribal supporters to march on Kabul.

Hekmatyar would go on to become the darling of the agency and receive the bulk of the U.S. and Saudi aid coming in for the war against the Soviet Union, including a monopoly on Stinger missiles. Although an ISI and CIA favorite, Hekmatyar’s legitimacy as a fighter, his effectiveness, his loyalties and even his goals raised doubts in the Peshawar-based American press corps. According to CBS News stringer Kurt Lohbeck in his book, Holy War, Unholy Victory, Hekmatyar’s reputation was an elaborate ruse concocted by the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI to elicit Congressional support for the Mujahideen, and little else.

Gulbuddin had no effective fighting organization. He had not a single commander with any military reputation for fighting the Soviets or the Afghan regime. He had made alliances with top regime military figures. And he had killed numerous other Mujahiddin commanders. Yet the United States government and the covert agencies were doing their best to convert that lie into reality.

Read more:  http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/01/27/in-afghanistan-embracing-gulbuddin-hekmatyar-is-no-method-at-all.html#ixzz1q9IgMUmk

Via – Twitter

Al Qaeda and its apologists in Pakistan

Al Qaeda and its apologists

By Raza Rumi

The new al Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri in his new video statement has urged the people of Pakistan to overthrow the “corrupt” government in Islamabad. Interestingly, he has also asked the people to rise against the Pakistan Army, which has been fighting a battle against some extremist groups in the north west of the country. Al Qaeda has been making such desperate calls for a decade now. But the worrying part is that the message — or its operative part — has gained currency in many middle class Pakistanis. Despite the crackdown, Hizbut Tahreer (HuT) continues to operate like several other militant groups. The extent of its advocacy for overthrowing the generals and the politicians is such that a HuT affiliated senior army official is on trial these days.

But these trials and military interventions are pointless when Islamabad, virtually a security zone, displays HuT posters and stickers almost everywhere. Why are the activists not tracked down and why do the government and the all-powerful intelligence agencies allow proliferation of such propaganda? A partial explanation is that elements of the state are also steeped in this a similar mindset. It is an established fact that the composition of the officers’ corps in the army and civilian bureaucracy is overwhelmingly middle class.

In his latest statement, again al-Zawahiri has mentioned the 70-year-old American aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August 2011 from Lahore. The message from al Qaeda is that Weinstein will not be released until their demands are met. Among others, a key demand is the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced by the US courts and currently languishing in an American prison. Ms Aafia’s story is still incomplete and there are competing claims over her role in perpetrating ‘terrorism’ as well as her innocence. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Imran Khan’s security state – DAWN

By Huma Yusuf

THERE has already been adequate kerfuffle around the appearance of PTI senior vice-president Ejaz Chaudhry at the Difaa-i-Pakistan Council’s rally in Karachi.

This is the latest demonstration of PTI’s tendency to cavort with the religious right and extremist groups. Imran Khan himself delivered a message via his envoy at the DPC’s Lahore rally in December. Previously, Chaudhry has attended rallies with Jamaatud Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed. And flags of the banned SSP have been raised at many a PTI rally. The further right the Great Khan and his party stray, the more defensive his supporters become. It is high time that defence was analysed. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

THE Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced its aim of defending us against the dangers we face today.

But given the fact that the biggest threat to Pakistan comes from the extremist ideology of many of those who constitute the DPC, the question arises whether these holy warriors will confront the militants.

Don’t hold your breath: during a recent DPC rally in Karachi, speaker after speaker made it clear that their real enemies are India and America. This assembled galaxy clearly failed to notice the uncomfortable fact that over the last decade, well over 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks launched by jihadi militants. Such mundane truths often escape our religious brigade. While focusing on American drone attacks, which while controversial, have been the most effective weapon against the militants in the tribal areas, they have conveniently overlooked the real cause of militancy. The moment these realities are pointed out to them, they go on about how these casualties are the result of the American war in Afghanistan.

The composition of the DPC is interesting as it brings together a number of reactionary elements under one umbrella. Some of these, like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijaz ul Haq, have a semblance of respectability. However, this is based on the dubious proposition that cabinet positions, past or present, in Pakistan confer some degree of social acceptability.

On the other side of the DPC spectrum, we have characters like Malik Ishaq, released by the Lahore High Court and accused of committing several murders for the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba, an extreme Sunni outfit.

Hafiz Saeed is one of the stars of the DPC and head of Jamaatud Dawa, a supposedly charitable organisation banned for fronting for the Lashkar-i-Taiba. This terrorist group has been accused of being behind the deadly Mumbai attack of 2008, as well as other atrocities in India.

Qari Yaqub, the darling of admirers of his sermons on YouTube, also spoke at the DPC rally in Karachi where he warned journalists that he would turn the ground where he spoke into “a graveyard for the media” if they did not give the DPC ample coverage. So here I am, writing about the DPC to avoid an early grave.

Sheikh Rasheed, leader of his Awami Muslim League spoke at the rally, as did army dictator Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq. Hamid Gul, the retired general who was sacked as head of the ISI by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, also enlivened proceedings with his rant about the bright future ahead without a western presence.

So Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, felt right at home in this august company as the PTI’s senior vice president Ejaz Chaudhry’s presence showed.

Clearly then, the 40-odd (some would say very odd) members of the DPC at least appear to be on the same page where extremist thought is concerned. The question is what and who brought them together. Pakistan’s history is littered with the bleached bones of right-wing alliances formed and then ditched by their creators. The IJI, the PNA, the IDA, and the MMA spring instantly to mind.

Add to them the various incarnations and iterations of the Muslim League, and you have a veritable alphabet soup of political aspirations: Q, N, Z and Awami are only the current manifestations.

The common thread running through all these parties and coalitions is the past or current connection with our intelligence agencies. Retired general Asad Durrani, another erstwhile ISI chief, has admitted before the Supreme Court that he funneled millions to anti-PPP candidates during the 1988 elections. This confession emerged years ago as a result of a writ filed by Asghar Khan, but the case has been on the back burner until the Supreme Court resumes hearing it later this month. Watch this space for further developments.

Given the stellar credentials of these stalwart defenders of our country, we can all sleep easy. They have vowed to save us from those nasty Americans and Indians, but before I cancel my life insurance policy, I’m still waiting to hear that they will protect us from the Pakistani Taliban as well.

Seriously, though, what is this circus all about? Why have so many extremist-minded elements and their fellow-travellers suddenly emerged from the woodwork to muddy the political waters? Who’s paying for all these expensive rallies? Actually, scratch that last question: we’re paying for them via whatever shadowy agency that has cobbled this latest alliance together.

And why is Imran Khan’s PTI part of this reactionary group? I know he’s in lockstep with people like Hamid Gul and Maulana Samiul Haq, but why does he need to identify himself with the most violent and unsavoury characters in this coalition? Does he not see that after his recent reinvention as a popular, mainstream politician, he no longer needs to cosy up to the likes of Qari Yaqub and Hafiz Saeed?

Continue reading Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

DAWN Editorial – A dangerous mindset

GIVEN the scale of radicalisation across Pakistan, it is clear that methods other than military strategy must be brought into play to quell it. The Pakistan Army set up de-radicalisation centres to provide interventions to those deemed ‘radicals’ – mainly persons detained in conflict zones. But, as editorialised by this newspaper last month, there are a number of points of concern, including the fact that the public has no idea about the details of the programmes. What do they entail, what process is followed or expertise offered – and how are ‘radicals’ delineated from ordinary citizens? For example, has it been conclusively proved that those in de-radicalisation centres were involved in militant or extremist activities? Now, it has come to light that the programmes have not been working. On Thursday, an official of the Pakistan Army’s judge advocate general branch told the Peshawar High Court that despite having been through the de-radicalisation process, several militants from Swat had rejoined militant groups.

Radicalisation is an ideological state of mind, and not something empirical of which a person can reliably be said to have been cleansed. No doubt there are people who were absorbed by militant outfits involuntarily and would welcome rehabilitation. But militancy in Pakistan is linked to a peculiar set of ideologies that have a lasting hold on the minds of its subscribers. For militants who have vowed to fight the very nature of the state and federation, a de-radicalisation programme may be the softer option whilst in detention.

For Pakistan to control radicalisation, it must counter the growing extremism evident in society as a whole. This is emerging as a greater threat to the country than terrorism, as was pointed out at the launch of a related report in Islamabad on Thursday. Extremism cannot be eliminated by the gun; the task requires methods of long-term persuasion and extensive societal change. Concurrently, the state must face up to the fact that it has for decades followed a duplicitous policy towards militancy. Cosmetic measures, such as banning certain outfits but allowing them to operate under other names, were bound to prove insufficient. The ideological underpinnings of militancy in Pakistan, which were endorsed by elements within the state during the ’80s and after, have never been honestly or fully rejected. That mindset has not just become more entrenched, it is fast gaining new subscribers. If Pakistan is to be saved, this mindset must change. That requires formulating a definitive state policy on the factors that pro- vide militancy with its moorings.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

Continue reading Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

CIA agents in Pakistan

By Najam Sethi

These are difficult times for professional journalists in Pakistan. Eleven were killed last year in the line of duty. They were either caught in the crossfire of ethnic or extremist violence or targeted and eliminated by state and non-state groups for their political views.

Saleem Shehzad, for example, was abducted, tortured and killed last year and a commission of inquiry is still floundering in murky waters. He had exposed the infiltration of the armed forces by elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Several journalists from Balochistan have been killed by non-state vigilantes sponsored by state agencies, others have fled to Europe or USA because they had sympathies with the nationalist cause in the province. Some from Karachi have taken refuge abroad because they were threatened by ethnic or sectarian groups or parties.

Now an insidious campaign is afoot to target senior journalists who question the wisdom of the security establishment on a host of thorny issues. They are being labeled as “American-CIA agents”. This is an incitement to violence against them in the highly charged anti-American environment in Pakistan today. Consider.

If you say the military’s notion of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan is misplaced, outdated or counter-productive, you are a CIA agent.

If you say the military was either complicit or incompetent in the OBL-Abbottabad case, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the civilians should have control over the military as stipulated in the constitution, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military shouldn’t enter into peace deals with the Taliban that enable them to reorganize and seize Pakistani territory, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the drones have taken a welcome toll of extremist Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military’s annual defense budget, which amounts to nearly half of all tax revenues, should be scrutinized by parliament or the Auditor General of Pakistan, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the one and same resignation criterion should be applied to both Ambassador Husain Haqqani and DG-ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha – the former is accused of trying to influence the American government to back up the civilian government of Pakistan in its attempt to establish civilian control over its army and the latter is accused of seeking the support of Arab regimes for the overthrow of the civilian regime ( both accusations come from one and the same individual) – you are a CIA agent.

If you say we should construct a social welfare state in place of a national security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that fundamental citizens rights enshrined in the constitution cannot be violated at the altar of a narrow definition of national security defined exclusively by the security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that human rights violations in Balochistan carried out by the security agencies are as condemnable as the ethnic cleansing of Punjabi settlers by Baloch insurgents, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that Pakistan’s foreign policy should not be the exclusive domain of the military establishment, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Pakistan military’s conventional and nuclear weapons doctrine amounts to a crippling arms race with India rather than a minimal optimal defensive deterrence, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the ISI is an unaccountable state within a state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that belt-tightening measures to control budgetary deficits and inflation should apply to wasteful aspects of defense expenditures no less than to wasteful aspects of civilian government expenditures, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Supreme Court should pull out Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s ISI-Mehrangate 1991 case from cold storage and adjudge it along with the Memogate 2011 case, you are a CIA agent.

The irony is that the Pakistan military remains the single largest recipient of American aid in the last sixty five years. The irony is that all military coups in Pakistan have drawn legal and political sustenance from America. The irony is that the Pakistani military has signed more defense pacts and agreements with America than all civilian governments to date. The irony is the Pakistan military has partnered America in Afghanistan in the 1980s, fought its war on terror and leased out Pakistani air bases and Pakistan air space corridors to America in the 2000s, and sent hundreds of officers for training and education to America in the last six decades.

The greater irony is that all those liberal, progressive, anti-imperialist Pakistani citizens who have opposed US hegemony and protested American military interventions in the Third World all their lives are today branded as CIA agents by the very state security agencies and non state religious parties and jehadi groups who have taken American money and weapons and done America’s bidding all their lives.

Courtesy: Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120106&page=1

Geo Tv – Kamran Khan on the failure of Pakistan Army & ISI

The language of the program is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aaj Kamran Khan Ke Sath), YouTube

via WICHAAR.COM

Afghanistan: Pakistani Extremist Group In Focus After Unprecedented Attack On Afghan Shi’a

By Abubakar Siddique

As Afghanistan recovers from a deadly and unprecedented attack on a Shi’ite shrine in Kabul, the finger of blame is pointing directly at a Sunni extremist group with a long history of carrying out such attacks in neighboring Pakistan.

At least 55 people were killed and more than 160 wounded in the December 6 suicide attack, which occurred as Shi’ite worshippers were assembled outside the shrine to commemorate Ashura, a Shi’ite religious holiday. A separate attack near an Ashura procession in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif killed at least four people.

Shortly after the midday attack in Kabul, a man claiming to be a spokesman for Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami contacted RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal to claim responsibility on behalf of the Pakistan-based militant group.

It was impossible to independently verify the claim made by the man, who identified himself as Qari Abubakar Mansoor.

The man first contacted a Radio Mashaal correspondent in Pakistan who covers the western Kurram tribal district, where the group is believed to be headquartered. A man going by the name of Qari Abubakar had previously contacted Radio Mashaal to provide information regarding the Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. Following RFE/RL’s report tying the group to the attack in Afghanistan, various media reported receiving similar claims from the same spokesman.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who cut short a European trip and returned to the Afghan capital to deal with the crisis, appeared to accept that the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. While visiting survivors of the attack in the hospital, he was quoted as telling reporters that “we are investigating this issue and we are going to talk to the Pakistani government about it.”

Ties To Al-Qaeda, Taliban

Farzana Sheikh, a Pakistan specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London, says the group evolved from the Anjuman-e Sipahe Shaba Pakistan, an extremist political party intent on transforming Pakistan into a Sunni state. One of its splinter groups, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) was considered the most deadly sectarian militia in the South Asian state in the 1990s.

Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami is now considered a splinter group of the LeJ, which was banned in Pakistan in 2002 because of its role in the killing of thousands of Shi’a.

“Its roots really lie in southern Punjab [Province], in the district of Jhang, from where they have clearly spread to other parts of Pakistan,” Sheikh says, “but particularly the [southwestern province of] Balochistan, where they have been responsible, and indeed claimed responsibility, for a series of murderous attacks against Shi’a Hazaras.”

Sheikh says that the group once enjoyed close links to Pakistani intelligence agencies. This, she notes, enabled LeJ to maintain bases in Taliban-controlled Afghan regions because of Islamabad’s relationship with the Taliban regime. However, the LeJ’s Shi’a-killing campaign made it a prime security threat for Pakistan, according to observers.

Read more » Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (rferl)

http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistani_extremist_group_in_focus_after_afghan_sectarian_attack/24415027.html

Norway mass murderer won’t go to prison

Norwegian mass killer ruled insane, likely to avoid jail

By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty, Reuters

(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by David Stamp)

OSLO (Reuters) – Court-appointed psychiatrists have concluded that Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is criminally insane, prosecutors said on Tuesday, meaning he is likely to be sent to a psychiatric institution indefinitely rather than to jail.

Breivik killed 77 people in July by bombing central Oslo and then gunning down dozens of mostly teenagers at a summer camp of the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing, in Norway’s worst attacks since World War Two.

Prosecutors said Breivik, a self-declared anti-immigration militant, believed he had staged what he called “the executions” out of his love for his people.

“The conclusion … is that he is insane,” prosecutor Svein Holden told a news conference on Breivik’s psychiatric evaluation. “He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe.”

If the court accepts the psychiatrists’ conclusions, Breivik

would be held in a psychiatric institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them. ….

Read more » YahooNews

ISI memogate

Pakistan: Between Memo And Military
By Mohammad Taqi
Excerpt;
Was it the alleged memo or was it the consistent advocacy of civilian supremacy, first as a scholar and then as an envoy, which earned Haqqani the junta’s wrath and cost him his job?

“In the foreseeable future, Islam will remain a factor in Pakistan’s politics. Musharraf and his likely successors from the ranks of the military, promising reform, will continue to seek U.S. economic and military assistance; yet the power of such promises is tempered by the strong links between Pakistan’s military-intelligence apparatus and extremist Islamists”.

Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military— Husain Haqqani

As Ambassador Husain Haqqani landed in a Pakistan caught between the notorious memo and an army posturing for a kill, one felt that there was more to the Memogate than meets the eye. Was it the alleged memo or was it the consistent advocacy of civilian supremacy, first as a scholar and then as an envoy, which earned Haqqani the junta’s wrath and cost him his job? ….
…. Post Script: Ms Sherry Rehman has just been appointed as the new Pakistani ambassador to the US. Her known views on Afghanistan mirror that of the Pakistan Army, especially regarding giving a prominent role to Siraj Haqqani network and Mullah Omar in any future Afghan settlement. The military establishment has clearly prevailed over Asif Zardari in this round. What remains to be seen is whether he will still be around for next .
To read complete article » OUT LOOK » Daily Times (DT)

Pak society is “effectively cannibalizing itself” due to dehumanization of Ahmadis

Ahmadis: The lightning rod that attracts the most hatred

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.– Illutration by Faraz Aamer Khan

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim, DAWN.COM

A month after ten Ahmadi students were expelled from two schools in the village of Dharinwala, in Faisalabad district, all have been put back to school, not in there old ones, but in two schools in Hafizabad, thanks to Khalil Ahmad, father and grandfather of four students who were among those expelled.

“I managed to get all of them enrolled in two schools in the nearby city of Hafizabad,” he said talking to Dawn.com over phone from his village.

But it’s not been easy. Most parents of the expelled children are too poor, so Ahmed volunteered to pay for their admissions, their books and stationery. And that is not all. He, with the help of his two sons, makes sure they drop and pick all of them on a motorbike, doing turns.

In one school, the principal knows he has given admission to Ahmadi students but the educator believes faith should not come in the way of those seeking education. “In the other the principal has not been told,” Ahmed revealed.

Sadly, all during this episode, the government has remained a quiet bystander, as always.

It is not the first time that students have been expelled from an educational institution in Punjab because of their religious affiliations, remarked Bushra Gohar, a parliamentarian belonging to the secular Awami National Party.  According to Gohar, her party members had condemned the expulsion of students belonging to the Ahmadiyya community each time on the floor of the house. “However, a protest or condemnation from the parties leading in the Punjab has not been forthcoming,” she said.

For far too long, Pakistani students belonging to this minority community have been facing various forms of discrimination based on their faith.

“This tidal wave against the Ahmadiyya education shows no sign of ebbing,” Saleemuddin, the spokesperson of the Ahmaddiya Jammat, told Dawn.com.

He said after 1984, when the government promulgated the anti Ahmadiyya ordinance, both the government and the clerics have been trying their utmost to punish them in various ways.

“Ahmadi lecturers were posted away to distant locations and some were not allowed to teach. Ahmadi principals and headmasters were replaced. Ahmadi students were deprived admission in professional colleges. They were refused accommodation in attached hostels. They suffered attacks by extremist elements on campuses.”

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of the Islami Jamiat has been tasked to cleanse the educational institutions, including universities and professional colleges of Ahmadi students.

Hasan Ahmed, who was among the 23 students who were expelled from Punjab Medical College, in Faisalabad, back in 2008, can never forget the stressful event and how “night after night, for over a month” he kept stressing over the events that turned his settled student life all topsy-turvy.

“I knew it happened to others, so was not completely caught unawares,” Hasan acknowledged. He is at present completing his house job in Lahore, keeping an “ultra busy schedule”.

Eventually all were re-instated in some college or another. “After months of waiting, just before exam, my friend was sent to Bahawalpur while I went off to a distant place of Rahimyar Khan in a college of lower merit,” narrated Hasan.

After a gargantuan effort, he was finally allowed to appear in exams from Lahore and then got admitted to Allama Iqbal Medical College, in Lahore.

“To be in a state of flux was the worst part of this episode specially since exams were approaching and I didn’t know which place I was to appear from,” said Hasan.

He expressed that till the identity of an Ahmadi remains undisclosed “he remains safe”.

But that is sadly not the case if you are living in Pakistan. People are culturally nosy and want to know your cast and sect. “Eventually they end up finding that you are an Ahmadi. Once they know, you can feel a change of attitude and it just takes a mischief maker to exploit others’ feelings against you,” said Hasan.

Till Hina Akram’s faith remained unknown to her teacher in Faislabad’s National Textile University, she was considered a star student. But after it became known she belonged to the Ahmadiyya community, she faced so much faith-based harassment that she had to quit studies.

“I was told to convert to Islam,” said Hina, who was studying in the sixth semester of her BSc.

“I was handed some anti-Ahmadiyya literature to read, offered a refuge in Muslim home. But when she told the teacher she was an Ahmadi by choice he called her an infidel and warned her of severe consequences.

“You will face such a fire of animosity in the campus that not even the vice chancellor will be able to help you,” he threatened her.

True to his word, a hate campaign was initiated and a social boycott began. Out of college, she is desperately trying to go abroad. Her fate remains in balance.

But it’s not just the education aspect where the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby is hitting, said Saleemuddin. Since 1984, some 208 faith-based killings have taken place. The persecution against the community has surged following the May 28, 2010 massacre of 94 members of the community in Lahore.

After the four million Ahmadis were officially declared non-Muslims in 1984 by the state, they cannot call themselves Muslims or go to mosques. They cannot be overheard praising Prophet Mohammad. To add insult to injury, every Pakistani who claims to be a Muslim and owns a passport has declared that he or she considers them to be non-Muslims and their leader an imposter prophet.

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.

“The extremist elements are getting more and more powerful because of Saudi-US influence and the government’s policy of appeasement,” said I.A. Rehman, General Secretary Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“The Ahmadis are already the worst persecuted minority in our country – and things for them appear to be growing worse as hatred and intolerance spread,” Kamila Hyat, a journalist and a rights activist echoed the same sentiments. “The lack of enforcement of laws to prevent the preaching of hatred adds to the problem,” she added.

Saleemuddin said by allowing the extremist clerics to hold anti-Ahmadiyya rallies and conferences, the government is adding fuel to this venom. “People are openly instigated to kill us in the name of Islam,” he said.

“Violence and the advance of bigotry, prejudice and hate against minorities have never really been met with the resolve needed to remove impunity from the social equation in Pakistan,” Sherry Rehman, a legislator belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, agreed.
Instead, she told Dawn.com what is seen is an “expansion in the space for religious and sectarian apartheids, which has led now to heinous acts of brutality and exclusion of many, particularly Ahmadis.”

She warned: “This is a dangerous trend that conflates national identity with religion.”

Perhaps that is one reason why Pervez Hoodbhoy expresses: “Today, when religion has become so central in matters of the state, they [Ahmadis] do not stand a chance in Pakistan of getting rights, respect, and dignity. The overdose of religion given to young Pakistanis in their schools and homes means that nothing matters more than which religion and sect you belong to. Ahmadis are the lightning rod that attracts more hatred than any other sect.”

For its part rights groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) say they have “repeatedly” raised the issue of “state tolerated persecution”.

“We are urging authorities to intervene in each case,” said Rehman. “But the situation is getting worse day by day.

Terming it “abhorrent and self defeating” when society allows “for the dehumanization of Ahmadis or Christians or the Shia for that matter, it is effectively cannibalizing itself,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director of HRW.

“The federal government expresses regret at incidents but has made clear its unwillingness to repeal or amend discriminatory laws,” said HRW spokesperson.

Given the current intolerance, the fate of the new generation of Pakistani Ahmadis looks “quite bleak” said Rehman.

Even Hoodbhoy said: “For years, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians have been desperately seeking to flee Pakistan. They would be foolish to want to stay,” said Hoodbhoy.

This fails to dampen young Hasan’s spirits. He thinks the future looks “brighter than ever before”.

“Even if the situation is made worse in Pakistan, this does not mean the future is not bright. It’s a matter of time before we start getting equal rights in this country.

Often when they get together, the young Ahmadis discuss the “bitter realities” they have to face as Pakistanis.

“But we don’t want to leave our country at the juncture that it is at,” said a patriotic Hasan. This is because the contribution of the Ahmadi community towards building of Pakistan has been immense,” he said with conviction.

He said recently their leader urged all Ahmadis of the world to “fast once a week and pray” especially for the prosperity of Pakistan.”

Zofeen T. Ebrahim is a freelance journalist.

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

Christian Taliban – Norway shooting suspect Anders Behring Breivik?

Who is Norway shooting suspect Anders Behring Breivik?

Norwegians are mourning the victims of a massacre at an island youth camp and a bombing in the capital Oslo. At least 85 people died when a gunman opened fire at the Utoeya camp on Friday, hours after a blast in the government quarter killed seven. Police have charged, a 32-year-old Norwegian man, with both attacks. The BBC’s Frank Gardner reports on the man at the centre of the investigation.

Courtesy: BBC

PTI of Imran Khan justifying Suicide attacks and attack on Naval Base

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President following the policy of Imran Khan to support Taliban and extremist organizations justifying Suicide attacks and attack on Mehran Naval Base in Karachi in GEO News Program Lakin arguing with Sana Baucha. Leader of PTI linking suicide attacks with Drone attacks, where as a matter of fact suicide attack history is older than 911 attacks on US.

Courtesy: Geo TV News (Lakin with Sana Bacha)

via Siasat.pk, YouTube

Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Excerpt:

The basic socio-political mindset of the Pakistani society is the outcome of various faith-based experiments conducted by the state and the armed forces.

The party

In 1995, sometime in May, an uncle of mine (an ex-army man), was invited to a party of sorts.

The invitation came from a former top-ranking military officer who had also worked for the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI. He was in the army with my uncle (who now resides abroad) during the 1960s.

My uncle, who was visiting Pakistan, asked if I was interested in going with him. I agreed.

The event was at a military officer’s posh bungalow in Karachi’s Clifton area. Most of the guests (if not all) were former military men. All were articulate, spoke fluent English and wore modern, western clothes.

I was not surprised by this but what did surprise me was a rather schizophrenic aura about the surroundings. Though modern-looking and modern-sounding, the gathering turned out to be a segregated affair.

The men’s wives were placed in a separate room, while the men gathered in a wider sitting area.

By now it become clear to me that I wouldn’t be getting served anything stronger than Pepsi on the rocks!

I scratched my head, thinking that even though I was at a ‘party’ in a posh, stylish bungalow in the posh, stylish Clifton area with all these posh stylish military men and their wives and yet, somehow I felt there very little that was ‘modern’ about the situation.

By modern, I also mean the thinking that was reflected by the male guests on politics, society and religion. Most of the men were also clean-shaven and reeking of expensive cologne, but even while talking about cars, horses and their vacations in Europe, they kept using Arabic expressions such as mashallah, alhamdullila, inshallah, etc.

I tried to strike up some political conversations with a few gentlemen but they expected me to agree with them about how civilian politicians were corrupt, how democracy can be a threat to Pakistan, how civilian leaders do not understand India’s nefarious designs, et al. …

The experiment

The Pakistan Army was once a staunchly secular beast. All across the 1950s and 1960s it was steeped in secular (albeit conservative) traditions and so were its sociological aspects.

In fact, until the late 1960s, Pakistani military men were asked to keep religion a private matter and religious exhibitionism was scorned at as well as reprimanded – mostly during Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s dictatorship (1959-69).

Continue reading Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Were we really tolerant before the jihadis? – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Whether led by mature middle-class people or otherwise, the extremist religious movements draw most of their following from the new urbanite classes. In most cases, they have become the source of religious violence

Pakistanis must ask a central question: were we really tolerant people before Zia’s Islamisation or we were only naively indolent, prone to be violent at any moment? It is a common belief in Pakistan that when Zia, alongside the US, created violent jihadi organisations, they created hysteria in the public with narrow-mindedness ruling and people killing for frivolous reasons. Two questions come to mind about this explanation. One, were we really consciously ever a tolerant society for the jihadis to destroy? And two, how can we use this explanation to explain the parallel rise of extremist political Hinduism in India?

While talking about the killing fields that jihadis have created, we forget that the carnage of 1947 in Punjab cost more lives than the total number of people killed by jihadi violence in the last 20 years in Pakistan. Everyone blames the people of ‘other religions’ for the 1947 tragedy but, wherever Muslims were in overwhelming majority, they killed Sikhs and Hindus. Conversely, they faced the same treatment in areas where they were a minority. Amrita Pritam rightly said, “Aaj sabhay Kaidoo hu gaiy, husan ishaq de chor” (Today, everyone has turned into a villain, enemy of love). What happened in 1947 is closely linked to what is happening now and what occurred in east Punjab’s Khalistan Movement, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Most of the 1947 killings were concentrated in the rural areas; there were some in urban centres but they were limited. Most of the stories I have heard from Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs migrating from Pakistan indicate that the urban non-Muslims did not lose their family members while the stories from the rural areas are horror tales. One of my maternal uncles was killed in a village in Gurdaspur but at the same time none of the two neighbouring village’s Sikhs were spared — entire villages were murdered. How can so-called innocent rural people become murderous?

It can be argued that from the second to third centuries, the way the Gupta dynasty established self-sufficient but desolate and isolated village communities contributed to the religious violence of 1947, and even presently. When the Maurya Dynasty’s state ownership of entire land and manufacturing became unsustainable, it was replaced by self-sufficient village communities. Every community was required by the king’s law to have all kinds of artisans who were given a little land, residential and agricultural, and fixed shares of peasant produce. Consequently, the village communities had no need or desire to interact with other communities or reach beyond their own. Only a few traders and vendors were the link between the village and the rest of the world. The vendor, or vanjara in Punjabi, became a hero in folk songs because he was the only link with the outside world.

Due to the total absence of interaction and exchange of thought with the rest of the world, the village communities became lonesome entities. Mental horizons shrank and one generation of people was replaced with an identical next one. The village was considered a homeland or country whose honour was to be protected. This is why, during inter-village festivals, people would carry weapons as the possibility of war between the people of different villages was very real.

In eastern Punjab, some village communities were comprised of people of all religions but, when the British colonised western Punjab through an irrigation system, the village communities were established exclusively on religious basis. Therefore, another layer of separation was put in place where people of one religion became aliens for the other. The British education system did not mitigate such a separation because of the imposition of Urdu and denial of Punjabi identity. As a result, Sikhs limited themselves to the Gurmukhi script and Muslims to the Persian script. This was another fundamental divide created by the British. In Sindh, where Sindhi was made the official language and everyone used the same script, inter-religious hostility was a little less and did not lead to carnage in 1947. In the urban centres of Punjab where, despite furious religious political divides, the interaction between people was much better and the level of violence was also lower in 1947. ….

Read more : Wichaar

The military’s risky game – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Each time an-anti American spell is created, the religious right becomes stronger and bolder. It may not have fatally bitten the deep state directly but it has created havoc with Pakistan’s economy

It is likely that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies have been involved in whipping up the Raymond Davis case and then getting him released on quasi-legal grounds. Now, the military has put its foot down to stop drone attacks after several years of silent acquiescence. The push-back against the Americans could be a smokescreen to attract the anti-American fervour of the nation’s public and eventually enter North Waziristan (NW), but the rhetoric may further empower the religious right and extremist groups.

Pakistan’s ‘deep state’ — that is what some people have started calling the sum total of the military and its agencies — has been playing the anti-American game through the religious right and wandering patriots like Imran Khan to pursue its policy objectives. Seemingly, the strategy has worked in the short-run but the monster of religious extremism and irrational nationalism has been growing and taking on a life of its own.

It is reasonable to assume the highest levels of US leadership would have contacted the Pakistan military’s top brass and ISI chief to have Raymond Davis released immediately after his arrest. Obviously, not only did the military refuse to intervene but it also prompted its media auxiliaries to hype up the matter. Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other religious parties, keen to provide some kind of political cover to the Taliban and other jihadi groups, picked up the issue and created anti-American street hysteria in Pakistan. Arguably, the deep state may have done this to assert itself against its American partners, some cynics saying this was a ploy to get more money.

The sudden release of Raymond Davis has probably come after the outstanding issues were resolved. We know what amount of diyat (blood money) was paid to Fahim and Faizan’s families but we have no information on what the deep state got in return. We do not want to belabour this point too much because the Pakistan military may have very genuine issues that the US was not listening to, and using the Raymond Davis card meant protecting the state’s interests. But, immediately after the Davis deal, the US foolishly caused the death of citizens who were holding a jirga in Datta Khel. Pakistan’s military chief reacted sharply and, according to recent reports, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has begun patrolling the Pak-Afghan border to repulse future drone attacks.

Pakistan’s military may have been genuinely angered by US ungratefulness; the dust from the Raymond Davis case has not yet cleared and the US has bombed citizens in an area where anti-Americanism is already a serious threat to the establishment. However, it is hard to believe that Pakistan will begin shooting down US drones to stop the attacks that it has silently condoned and cooperated with for years. Due to economic and other needs, Pakistan is not in a position to alienate the US to the extent that it is perceived as a hostile force. …

Read more : Wichaar

Sindh saves the day

by Nadeem F. Paracha

Plans are afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh.

The main purpose of the institution would be to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle extremism in the country.

Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has beengoing through in the last many years. …

Read more : blog.Dawn

The battle over blasphemy – Riz Khan

Has Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law become a political tool in the hands of religious conservatives?

We will be discussing Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law with journalist Shehrbano Taseer whose father – Punjab governor Salman Taseer – was killed for speaking out against it.

The killing ignited a debate in Pakistan with many critics calling for the law to be amended or scrapped, saying it was being used to victimise liberal politicians and religious minorities.

But extremist groups have celebrated Taseer’s killer, calling him a hero who is defending Islam.

So has the blasphemy law become a political tool and should it have a place in today’s Pakistan?

Also joining the discussion will be Asma Jahangir, a well-known human rights activist, and Amjad Waheed, an Islamic scholar.

Read more : ALJAZEERA

Pakistan : Religious zealots and political Islam – Dr Manzur Ejaz

The assault by religious zealots has now been undertaken by the Sunni Tehreek. The transformation of this otherwise peaceful group of Muslims shows how deep an effect the religious right-wing has had in radicalising all other religious parties and sects. Now, it can be safely said that there is no tolerant Islamic sect among Pakistani Muslims.

It seems that the movement for Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (TNR) has become a source of political power for the mullahs. As expected, wherever there is power, there are contenders for the throne. Thus, the intense competition between the mullahs has begun and it is in fact a stampede under which Pakistan is being brutalised and crushed.

The prime mover of the TNR is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. Presently, the JI is competing for influence for itself versus Fazlur Rehman but that is its secondary goal; the main goal is political power. For the JI, the TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. The Taliban and other jihadi groups fit very well in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while the Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns, the JI provides a political cover to them with rhetoric. The ‘Free Aafia Siddiqui’ and TNR movements are just political covers masterfully orchestrated by the JI. …

Read more : Wichaar

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains

Blasphemy Law: Mullahs fighting each other for political gains (2 JI) – Wichaar Analysis

The prime mover of TNR is Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the mother of most theocratic and extremist religious trends. JI is another case of fake contender of ideology of Pakistan. The party opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail and issued fatwas against Mohammad Ali Jinnah. By the way it got foothold in Punjab courtesy of Allama Mohammad Iqbal. A landlord Chauhdry Barkat Ali had asked Allama Iqbal to recommend a suitable Islamic organization who can take his estate in Pathankot. Allama Iqbal recommended Maulana Maudodi and this is how JI expanded its base in Punjab. This one of the reason that I feel that JI cadres and Taliban are Iqbal’s ‘Shaheens.’

Presently, JI is competing for influence for itself but that is its secondary goal versus Fazalur Rehman whose main goal is political power. For JI, TNR is a vehicle to keep religious parties united and to slowly dismantle what is left of the secular institutions of the state. Taliban and other jihadi groups very well fit in its strategy to undo the system. Therefore, while Taliban and other jihadis keep the state engaged with guns JI provides a political cover to them. …

Read more : Wichaar

Extremist Intimidation Chills Pakistan Secular Society

by Julie McCarthy

In Pakistan, a battle has been joined by those who want a tolerant Islamic state against those who want a fundamentalist religious regime.

The killing in Pakistan earlier this month of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer has cheered the religious right while chilling secular Pakistanis and exposing deep fissures in the society.

The governor was gunned down in Islamabad by a bodyguard angered at his bid to relax the country’s blasphemy laws. The assassination of Taseer, an audacious advocate for modernism, revealed the conservative attitudes about Islam that are sweeping through Pakistan. …

Read more : NPR