As North Korea issues increasingly over-the-top threats, officials in Washington have sought to reassure the public and U.S. allies. But the risk of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is far from remote–and the United States should adjust its military planning accordingly. ….
Asghar Khan – former Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, Chairman of the Tehrik-e-Istaqlaal political party, and a man renowned for his integrity says that India is an imagined enemy of Pakistan, not a realistic one.
Courtesy: DAWN TV » YouTube
By Gulf News Report
Dubai: The Muslim Brotherhood, the main Islamist force that emerged after the Arab Spring, is plotting to take over Gulf states, Dubai’s police chief said in remarks reported on Sunday. ….
Read more » Gulf News
By Yunas Samad
Balochistan has been burning in the background for sometime, but what made Congress — to the embarrassment of the State Department and the Government of Pakistan — take up this issue now? Some say this was just a stunt but there is a growing frustration in Washington that Pakistan is double-dealing with the US; taking substantial aid dollars and then pursuing a strategy in Afghanistan which is costing lives of US soldiers. American troops have now been in Afghanistan longer than the Vietnam War, and there is considerable unhappiness with Pakistan for the grief it has caused them and an increasing desire, in some quarters, to hit back.
What is interesting is that for the first time, the international community is now reflecting on the possibility of an independent Balochistan, is being sold to them as a package, which would break-up Iran and Pakistan and give over Gwadar as a facility for the US fleet. Let’s be clear that this is a minority view; it is more of an attempt to embarrass Pakistan, but such developments can generate their own momentum and with time become a reality. Who would have thought that South Sudan or East Timor would become independent states? But those who live by the sword die by the sword and, this could easily be applied to countries.
Pakistan of all countries should be familiar with this theme after resorting to military force to deny the Bangladeshi people their democratic rights. Military solutions to political problems results in disaster and invite foreign intervention and we are repeating these mistakes again in Balochistan. Failure to resolve the human rights situation is creating opportunities for foreign intervention. From the extrajudicial execution of Akbar Bugti to the deaths of activists (1,100 according to Human Rights Watch and 10,000 according to Baloch activists) and their torture and disappearances are — in eyes of those critical of Pakistan, evidence of — crimes against humanity. Pakistani generals were fortunate that they weren’t dragged into an international court and prosecuted for war crimes after the Bangladesh civil war, mainly because such bodies could not function during the Cold War. However, in the unipolar world of today, we have seen Ratko Mladic of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and Nuon Chea, of the Khmer Rouge all end up in court to get their comeuppance.
Our political leaders are in a huddle, trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis in Balochistan; idle resolutions condemning foreign interference are being passed but our judiciary remains inactive and silent on this issue. It is tragic that our activist judges have not seen the abuse of fundamental rights in Balochistan to be given priority, particularly since the Baloch disappearance case was an important reason for the clash between former General Pervez Musharraf and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Why cases about presidential corruption are considered more important than cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances beats me? It only resonates with the Baloch nationalist argument that they are not treated like Pakistani citizens and hence, want independence, even if it means becoming a satellite of the US. The best possible response to the Congressional hearing is for the judiciary to demonstrate that it actively safeguards the fundamental rights of all the citizens of Pakistan.
The judiciary needs to investigate the killing of Akbar Bugti and if necessary charge Musharraf, reopen the case on disappearances and threaten contempt charges against the agencies for ignoring their orders. The Supreme Court cannot sit idle and ignore these issues by risking greater foreign interference in the matter. It needs to demonstrate to the Baloch people and the world that they are, in fact, citizens of Pakistan and their rights are protected.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.
London: The barbarism of Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan continues to infuriate the Baloch people. A Human Rights Watch report titled “We can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan” exposes the fact that Pakistani agencies are responsible for widespread disappearances of Baloch political activists. The 32-page report slams Pakistan authorities for taking people into custody and then denying all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts. The rights group investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists.
Courtesy: South Asia News » YouTube
The leading Israeli manufacturer of tankers, aircraft refuelers, fire fighting trucks, armored vehicles and special purpose trailers, Hatehof Ltd., reportedly provides Pakistan’s Air Force with military equipment under a clandestine contract.
Nearly a month ago, 11 aircraft refueling trucks departed Hatehof’s plant in the Tzippori industrial zone in Galilee region, situated 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) northwest of Nazareth, for the Port of Ashdod, located about 40 kilometers (24 miles) south of Tel Aviv, in the dead of the night.
The trucks were later boarded on a cargo ship in the Ashdod Port and dispatched to Turkey from where they were transported to Pakistan, according to a recent report aired on Israel’s Channel 2 television network.
The report comes as the Israeli firm has sent several convoys of aircraft refueling trucks to Pakistan in order to equip the Muslim states’ Air Force.
Under an agreement reached between Hatehof Ltd. and BMC — one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers in Turkey, truck chassis are sent to Israel to be converted into aircraft refueling trucks for Pakistan’s Air Force.
Courtesy: Press Tv
By Marvi Sirmed
Atiqa Odho needs to change her name. Not only her name but also the prefix if she wants to avoid further humiliation that she possibly could not and would not want, just because she is a woman and does not bear the right prefix before her name. Brigadier Zafar Iqbal had both — the right name and the right prefix.
The good brigadier embarked on a PIA flight from Karachi to Lahore on Saturday night, intoxicated with the ‘sherbet’. The captain of the plane handed him over to the Airport Security Force (ASF) after the brigadier publicly harassed one of the female crew members. The ASF, obviously, could not hold him for more than a few minutes when they discovered the full name of the detainee. No wonder the news item merited just a few lines in Sunday newspapers. I am still waiting for the ‘suo motu’ and media-panic that we saw in Atiqa Odho’s case. Pertinent to remind here, Ms Odho was neither drunk nor did she harass anyone on the flight.
This points to two serious maladies of this society: one, a strong gender bias that women of this country have to endure everywhere, including the courts; and two, unjust and unfair partiality that society confers on the military. It is not only about an overly powerful military but also about an extremely weak civil society. It would be naïve to believe that civil society in Pakistan is powerful enough to foil any attempt to usurp power from the civilian entities. This is mainly because the military here never departed from power. Irrespective of who occupied the buildings of the Prime Minister Secretariat and the Presidency, the military always ruled in the country through its incontrovertible influence over political decision-making and social phenomena.
The way things happen in the court, and outside of it, memo scandal is a case in point. In the memo scandal, Husain Haqqani was treated as an accused by the media and society at large because the military thought so. Everything else had to be in sync with what the military wanted or at least, was perceived to be wanting. The same ‘evidence’ (the BBM conversations claimed by Mansoor Ijaz that took place between him and Husain Haqqani) implicated the head of the ISI who was accused in the same BBM conversations to have spoken to the leaders of some Arab states and gotten their consent to sack the present government. But no one from the media, politicians (even the ones who portray themselves as most committed to civilian supremacy) and the judiciary could ever point a finger towards General Pasha, the accused. Husain Haqqani was an easy target because he was not a general. Or even a brigadier.
Later, the chief of army staff and the head of ISI submitted their affidavits in clear departure of the government’s point of view — the same government that both of them are accountable to. The prime minister was openly criticised by everyone for calling this action of the two generals as unconstitutional. So much so that the media wing of the Pakistan Army, the ISPR, attacked the prime minister — their boss — by issuing a strongly worded statement warning the government of grave consequences and serious ramifications. So there were two statements, one by the chief executive of a country castigating his subordinate generals for unconstitutional actions, and the other from the subordinate generals threatening their boss with grave consequences. Guess who had to retract the statement? You got it right, it was the boss. The Islamic Republic is unique in its construction.
What can be more worrying for a people whose representative is humiliated by an agency that should be subordinate to the people. The agency, it is more perturbing, does so with popular consent. The absence of popular outrage amounts to consent if one could decrypt public reactions. We can go on endlessly criticising hungry-for-power generals, selfish politicians, corporate media and an ambitious judiciary, but what remains a fact is Pakistani society’s utter failure — rather refusal — to grow from a Praetorian state to even a half decent egalitarian democracy.
Pakistan’s political soap opera
Islamabad – Earlier this week, Pakistan’s prime minister appeared before the country’s Supreme Court to defend himself against allegations of contempt – it is symbolic of a dispute that is on-going at the centre of the country’s powerful elite.
When great institutions of state clash, history is made. It is the stuff of school history lessons – the Magna Carta, the Star Chamber, the Great Reform Act – that kind of thing.
But while in the UK such milestones have generally been once-a-century type events, in Pakistan they have become a way of life. Constitutional crises have become business as usual.
This week Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was forced to appear before the Supreme Court. He was there to face contempt proceedings related to the president’s immunity from prosecution.
I will spare you the details. But as I sat in the court’s press gallery, I felt pretty sure that in 100 years, Pakistani school children would not be learning about the January 2012 contempt case.
Perhaps they will be studying something the Western journalists did not even know was happening: a debate between some clerics on what role Islam should have in the state.
But the court was colourful. There was the prime minister, alongside him his brilliant lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan and a throng of ministers showing solidarity.
And buzzing about all of them, the journalists – representatives of Pakistan’s new, irrepressible 24-hour news television culture.
For millions of Pakistanis, the constant wrangling of the elite has the quality of a TV soap opera.
I do not want to belittle the importance of politics. The failure of successive elected and military governments has left millions of Pakistanis highly frustrated. But still the TV news shows attract massive audiences – people both despair of their leaders and want to know all about them.
Because many of the political parties are little more than family businesses, the same names have been around for decades – with power passed from father to daughter, brother to brother, and so on.
All this is against a backdrop of corruption cases, the frequent imprisonment of politicians, the “war on terror”, suicide attacks, assassinations, US military incursions – there is so much going on.
Pakistani news anchors can pirouette from the big news such as “The Prime Minister’s Day in Court”, to the tittle-tattle – the affairs, the hair transplants, the family rows.
“Will the generals and judges force the president from power?” …
Read more » BBC
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: The Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, on Saturday was prepared to refute allegations that the incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led coalition government did not respect all institutions. What he did not expect was that his stage, the annual dinner of the Lahore Bar Association (LBA), would be usurped by anti-government slogans from a charged lawyers community. …
…. Shortly after the announcement, Gilani vacated the podium and proceeded to exit the building. When Governor Khosa took the rostrum, the lawyers intensified their chants against him. Khosa tried his level best to deliver his speech despite the ruckus, but slogans of “Chief Tere Jaan Nisar Beshumar, Beshumar” (Chief Justice you have innumerable loyalists) forced him to cut short his speech.
The Lahore Bar Association, LBA President Shehzad Hassan Sheikh and Peoples Lawyers Forum Punjab President, Khurram Latif Khan Khosa were also present at the event.
At the end lawyers danced along with a hired dancer to melodies of Sheela Ke Jawani.
Read more » The Express Tribune
via » Facebook
ISLAMABAD: Renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir on Sunday refused to continue as former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani’s counsel in the memogate case, DawnNews reported.
Asma Jahangir said that she did not trust the commission formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the memo-scandal, alleging that the Supreme Court judges were under the establishment’s influence.
Asma also told DawnNews in an exclusive interview that Hussain Haqqani feared the powerful spy agencies may force him into giving a statement. This fear was the reason behind the former ambassador’s stay at the prime minister’s house, she said.
Moreover, she said that the Supreme Court’s decision on the memogate petition was a victory for the country’s establishment. The law was being used to transform the country into a ‘security state’, she said.
via – Adopted from Tarek Fatah’s facebook page » YouTube
The disused Bhandari airstrip 200 miles south of Quetta in Balochistan was gifted to Shiekh Zahid Al-Nahyan the ruler of Abu Dhabi by the government of Pakistan in the 1990’s. The airstrip called Shamsi was developed by Emirates Shieks into a jet capable airfield , and was used for falcon hunting of rare Bustards in Balochistan. It was leased out to US Central Intelligence Agency in 2001 by UAE with President Musharraf’s approval, and was developed by the United States Air Force as a military air base in great secrecy for bombing of Afghanistan. CIA occupation of the base clearly had his approval. General Pervez Musharraf as President should have comprehended the long time strategic implications of handing over Shamsi air base to Washington! Development of of Shamsi for clandestine operations was kept a highly guarded secret, and Chief Minister Magsi and even Corps Commander were not allowed to visit it, when it was being developed for Drone operations and construction of the required infrastructure for this purpose was taking place. There is no evidence on record that the UAE government handed over Shamsi to the CIA for Drone operations. I was general Musharraf who handed over Shamsi and allowed US Air Force operations against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants from some other PAF bases including the Shahbaz Air Base. ….
Read more » Defence Journal
US-Pakistan relations strained further after attack allegedly kills up to 28 and prompts ban on Nato trucks crossing Afghan border
By Jon Boone in Kabul
An attack by Nato aircraft on Pakistani troops that allegedly killed as many as 28 soldiers and looks set to further poison relations between the US and Pakistan was an act of self-defence, a senior western official has claimed.
According to the Kabul-based official, a joint US-Afghan force operating in the mountainous Afghan frontier province of Kunar was the first to come under attack in the early hours of Saturday morning, forcing them to return fire. ….
Read more » guardian.co.uk
via » Siasat.pk
By Khaled Ahmed
Talking peace with the Taliban is a tough undertaking. The Americans who want to talk to the Afghan Taliban should take a close look at how Pakistan fared when it talked to its own Taliban. One can also make a guess at what will happen in the wake of the September 2011 APC in Islamabad as Pakistan gets ready to talk to the Taliban once again.
In 2003, Musharraf nearly got killed when three attacks on him — by al Qaeda through Abu Faraj alLibi, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Pakistan Air Force personnel — on him were foiled. He wanted a counter-attack in South Waziristan but was thwarted by his corps commander in Peshawar, General Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, who preferred retirement to an operation.
The succeeding corps commander Peshawar, General Safdar Hussain, was from the ISI — its second-most important member, DG Analysis. He made peace with the Taliban commander Nek Muhammad at Shakai in 2004, binding him to not attacking in Afghanistan and getting rid of the ‘foreigners’ in return for amnesty. Nek Muhammad did not abide by the peace accord.
General Safdar Hussain told Zahid Hussain (Scorpion’s Tail page 71) he wanted the Americans trapped in Afghanistan. He was seen on TV dubbing Nek Muhammad a soldier of Islam. After Nek Muhammad was killed by a drone in June 2004, General Safdar Hussain signed another peace accord with Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha after giving him half a million dollars to pay back the bribe he and his commanders had got from al Qaeda before shifting loyalty for money. He, too, did not abide by the terms of the accord.
The ‘peace accord’ allowed Baitullah to kill the tribal elders and fill the vacuum thus created in Fata with his warriors. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
by Tony Karon
“We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other,” outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month. “If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right — that there will be miscalculation, which could be extremely dangerous in that part of the world.”
Mullen’s warning of the perils arising from the two sides’ inability to communicate and understand each other’s intentions — “Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union”
KABUL (Reuters) – NATO-led forces said on Saturday that they had captured the senior commander for the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, Haji Mali Khan, during an operation in eastern Paktia province earlier in the week.
Khan is “the uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani … one of the highest ranking members of the Haqqani network and a revered elder of the Haqqani clan,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
NATO said Khan had managed bases and operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and moved forces across the border for attacks, as well as transferring funds and sourcing supplies. The statement called him “the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan.”
Khan was captured on Tuesday in Jani Khel district of Paktia province along with his deputy and bodyguard, in an operation by Afghan and foreign forces, NATO said.
He was heavily armed but “submitted … without incident or resistance,” the force said. It did not detail how they had identified Khan.
The Taliban, to whom the Haqqani network have pledged allegiance, denied that Khan had been captured.
“I have just spoken with Haji Mali Khan, he is fine and is somewhere else and hasn’t been detained,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. “This is a baseless news and it has been released in order to weaken Mujahideen’s morale,” he said. ….
Read more → Reuters
– Bus attack: Can the Sindh police fight back? Yes, they say, but only criminals, not politics
SINDH – KARACHI: The killing of four policemen in Korangi on August 20 by suspected hitmen belonging to a political party has not only further dampened the morale of the force, but some senior officers went as far as to call it the final nail on the coffin of their independence.
(Read: The case continues: Man shot dead before bus attack)
“We always took care not to touch their [political party] people,” said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named. “But even then our personnel have been targeted and killed.”
The visibly depressed officer said that to add salt to fresh wounds, the force is being pressured to release the suspects in their custody. At least a dozen men, including four belonging to a political party, were caught.
The state of affairs is such that from a constable to the highest ranking officer, no one is prepared to take any action against the target killers even if they see the crime taking place in front of their very own eyes. “How can they do anything at all in this climate of fear?” asked the officer. “Even before the Chakra Goth incident, everyone in the force knew that all police officers who played an instrumental role in the 1990s were knocked off one by one.”
Another senior police officer admitted to feeling ashamed when he had to face his men. “The problem is simple,” he said. “The attackers not only belong to the parties currently in power in the Sindh government, but also among the undisputed rulers of this city.” He listed the numerous torture cells operating in the city under the banner of political parties. “Some even have proper lock-ups like the ones we have here, with space to accommodate a dozen hostages.” But when asked whether he would raid any such cells, he retorted, “Are you mad?”
The junior police officers, however, criticise their police leadership for lacking spine. “They fear being transferred and losing their perks if they work against the wishes of a political party,” said one head moharrar, whose job is to run a police station. A police inspector who was injured during an attack in the recent past, says that to date he hasn’t received the compensation promised by the government. “These senior police officials don’t even come to the funeral ceremonies of some of our men, so what can we expect from them?” he said. Police officials say the only option to save the Sindh police is to give them a ‘free hand’ and complete independence from the influence of political parties. But can this happen soon or anytime at all? A senior police officer put it plainly: “I don’t think so…I’ve lost all hope that things will improve.”
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.
→ News sdopted from facebook
– Turkey’s military chiefs ‘quit’
New Turkish land force chief appointed after Isik Kosaner and top commanders quit over rift with government.
General Isik Kosaner, the head of the Turkish armed forces, has quit along with the heads of the ground, naval and air forces.
The country’s state-run Anatolia news agency said on Friday that the military chiefs wanted to retire because of tensions with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the recently re-elected prime minister. Anatolia reported Kosaner as resigning “as he saw it as necessary” ….
Read more → aljazeera
More details → BBC urdu
By: Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi
The Pakistani military faces a complex and unusual situation. Traditionally, the military is the most powerful and autonomous state institution in Pakistan. However, a host of events in May-June 2011 have compromised its clout against the backdrop of aggressive criticism by political, religious and societal groups. The most interesting facet of the current propaganda onslaught against the military is that its traditional supporters, Islamists and the political right, are leading the anti-military drive. …
…. If Pakistan is to continue as a strident nuclear power with a strong military to confront India, assert its primacy in Afghanistan and liberate Kashmir, military considerations and priorities will dominate civilian considerations. There is a need to change the mindset and the vision of Pakistan from a powerful regional player to a humane democracy that gives the highest priority to the needs and aspirations of the common people at the operational level. The sole guiding principles should be welfare of the people and a secure future for them in a stable, tolerant and plural Pakistan under a democratic constitutional dispensation.
However, it cannot be denied that the military itself is responsible for some of the current problems. In a bid to sustain its primacy in Pakistan, it has engaged in shrewd manipulation of political forces. It is known for bolstering some political and religious groups. Now, all these groups and their Islamic discourses are haunting the military. ….
…. The army and other services should enforce their rules strictly for engagement of service personnel with civilian groups and especially political and religious entities. The personnel’s interaction with the civilian sector under the cover of Islamic dars or zikar as well as their participation in the annual congregations of religious and sectarian groups should be monitored closely and discouraged in unequivocal terms. These meetings provide a good opportunity to militant and religious activists to penetrate the armed forces.
The military needs to return fully to professionalism and reemphasise that Islam and professionalism go together. Any activity inspired by a religious group, even at the personal level is the negation of professionalism and weakens the military as a professional and disciplined force.
To read complete article → PakistanToday
– Callous indifference – by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
The states in general are obsessed with their sham ideologies or at times enticed by multi-nationals and lending bodies forget that the people are of primary importance. This obsession is so strong that even parties ideologically committed to peoples’ rights and welfare become anti-people
The Pakistani state’s ‘abduct and dump’ policy in Balochistan continues as viciously as ever and the recent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report was a lot of water off duck’s back. Those who put no premium on human lives exhibit callous indifference and care not a whit for reports. This newspaper reported on the July 5 that bodies Zubair Baloch and Hafeez Baloch abducted a few months back were recovered and one Khalid Haji Hatim abducted by security personnel. On the July 7, it reported that bodies found from Turbat, Khuzdar and Gwadar included that of Hanif Baloch, a former president of BSO-Azad (Pasni zone), kidnapped from Hub two days before, and Azam, Rahim and Qadir Baloch. …
Read more → Daily Times
by Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan spends Rs1.35 billion per day over the three armed forces just under the head of salaries and operating expenses only, Rs8.60 million daily on the president and prime minister, Rs7.8 million per day on the Senate and National Assembly but a paltry amount of three lakh rupees per day to take care of human rights, show the budget documents.
It further discloses that the Army’s one-day spending is equivalent to the running year’s total allocation for education ministry, and the air-force’s per day expenditures far exceed what was allocated to the health ministry for running the financial year ending this month.
The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink
So, he surrendered to parliament. Or did he? The Pakistani government’s minister for information would have one believe that he did. But General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may actually be recalling Julius Caesar’s words: veni, vidi, vici! The only difference is that when Caesar claimed ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, he was reporting to the Roman Senate about his swift military victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus. However, for all practical purposes, General Pasha and the security establishment’s triumph is on the domestic front. For now, they seem to have vanquished parliament quite successfully. Like Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, the PPP, PML-Q and the MQM threw themselves into the military’s arms with a fervent “…and yes I said yes I will Yes”. The PML-N’s chiding notwithstanding, Generals Pasha and Ashfaq Kayani had their cake and got to eat it too.
The well-choreographed Pasha tamasha in parliament and the events preceding and after it has left the Pakistani parliament weaker than ever before. Many of us never had any illusions about the security establishment’s tall tale that the civilians should take charge of foreign and security affairs. But anyone who still had a doubt about the ones calling the shots need not look any further than the US Senator John Kerry’s very first stop on his visit to Pakistan this week. Despite his recent tame requests for the prime minister to convene parliament to discuss the Osama bin Laden fiasco, General Kayani did not find anything wrong with Senator Kerry seeing him before meeting the civilian leadership. A simple change in the visiting senator’s itinerary could have been requested — and very likely accepted by the guest — but it was not. Well, so much for the military’s newfound love for parliament’s supremacy. But one must give credit where it is due. A bakery-running enterprise may not be a fighting force but it could be pretty deft at politics. ….
…. No matter how Pakistan spins it, the tailspin in its relationship with the US and the world at large cannot be reversed by returning the stealth H-60 Blackhawk’s tail. The Pakistani brass is way too familiar with the words “peanuts” when describing a disproportionately minuscule response to tectonic shifts in geopolitics. Osama bin Laden’s lair, less than a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, is not a pinprick that the world, let alone the US, would forget so easily. The Pakistani parliament may have been duped with it, but there is every indication that the US Congress and the White House consider the ‘intelligence failure’ excuse an insult to their intelligence.
Senator Kerry’s soft but measured tone indicates that the Pakistani brass still has some time, perhaps through July, to make serious amends but all options, including moving the UN, remain on the table. The senator also seems to have spelt out some of the bare-minimum metrics for any rapprochement. Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura on the one hand and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its various incarnations on the other, will certainly determine the future relationship between Pakistan and the world at large. But if the senator’s visit to Khost — across from North Waziristan — is any indication, the dismantling of the Haqqani network is at the top of the confidence-building agenda. The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink. Unlike the Pakistani parliament, the UN Security Council may actually be difficult to conquer.
To read complete article: Daily Tiems
Islamabad: Shireen Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) says Army Chief Kayani, ISI chief Pasha and other officials should resign on this security failure. Army gets the biggest chunk of the budget and if in the end they have such performance then why they should not be accountable for their incompetence? She was talking in Pakistani political talk show “Kal Talk with Javed Choudhry” on 5th May 2011. The other participants of the talk show were Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Shahid Lateef and Gen. Rtd. Rashid Qureshi. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).
Courtesy: The Express News TV (Kal Tak with Javed Choudhry – 5th May 2011 – Shahid Lateef, Gen Rtd Rashid Qureshi & Sherein Mazari)
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.
– Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West
by Christina Lamb
When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?
While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?
As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.
That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.
The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.
“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”
As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.
The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.
Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.
“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.
“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”
Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan
Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”
If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”
What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.
Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.
After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.
Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.
“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”
Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”
Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”
Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.
“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”
He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.
When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.
…. “Every dead body that ‘mysteriously’ turns up in Balochistan after ‘mysteriously’ going missing — the last count was 13,000 dead — is another nail in the coffin of any peace and stability in the province. It will not be long before we will be burying the soul of the largest province in this country. Short-sighted hated policies, cruel treatment, what comes close to an illegal occupying force in uniform and the consequent hate-fuelled sentiments of the Baloch people have turned one more part of Pakistan against the centre. Enough with the rhetoric and the cosmetic promises; Balochistan needs a determined political solution, otherwise we can, literally, kiss it goodbye.”
Brutality is the hallmark of small men with large influence. History has never seen or heard of a brutish sage. This is the debilitating cost of being governed by ‘small men’ and therein lies the bane of the rule of small men who cast long shadows. They neutralise virtues and allow vice to prevail and prosper. Their disconnect from reality curtails every opportunity for reform and progress. Woe betide the people ruled by small men.
To read full article : Daily Times
– MICHAEL SLACKMAN
CAIRO — Military troops opened fire on protesters in the southern part of Syria on Friday, according to news reports quoting witnesses, hurtling the strategically important nation along the same trajectory that has altered the landscape of power across the Arab world.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a, on the border with Jordan, and in some other cities and towns around the nation took to the streets in protest, defying a state that has once again demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force. It was the most serious challenge to 40 years of repressive rule by the Assad family since 1982, when the president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, massacred at least 10,000 protesters in the northern Syrian city of Hama. …
Read more : Wichaar
By Saleem H Ali
What does it mean to be an Islamic state? Was there ever such an entity? Can modernity, as it pertains to developing a functional society in a globalised world, be realised within the context of a theocracy? These are fundamental questions which Pakistanis need to resolve, within this generation, in order for Pakistan to develop and reach its potential.
Pakistan shares the distinction, along with Israel, as being one of only two states to have been crafted, in the post-colonial worlds, on the basis of religion. In both cases enormous migrations were involved with questionable legitimacy for the migrants. The ‘muhajir’ identity continues to be perpetuated, as such, on this basis. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan present a perplexing paradox: Created on the basis of religion, their champions were largely secular individuals. The founders of Zionism as a political force, such as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were secular. So too were Pakistan’s founders, most notably the Quaid-i-Azam. I would argue that Ben Gurion and Jinnah made a dangerous bargain when it came to conflating cultural identity on the basis of religious adherence.
Pakistan and Israel — two states which don’t recognise each other diplomatically — are facing a similar radicalisation because of that initial crisis of identity which was never fully resolved. Theocratic forces are gaining power in both countries. …
Read more : The Express Tribune