Tag Archives: hearings

Tycoon, former envoy at centre of new Pakistan turmoil

By Qasim Nauman

ISLAMABAD – (Reuters) – A Pakistani real estate tycoon on Tuesday accused the chief justice of turning a blind eye to his son’s alleged corrupt financial practices, in a scandal that could damage one of the few public figures willing to take on the powerful military.

Malik Riaz, who fashions himself as a billionaire philanthropist, said he had given almost $3.6 million in bribes to Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Continue reading Tycoon, former envoy at centre of new Pakistan turmoil

Former CIA officer: Sharif begged our help against military in 1999. Why is he crying now?

Memo crisis adds pressure to US ties

By Reuters

Excerpt;

WASHINGTON: A political crisis in Pakistan may threaten not only the future of President Asif Ali Zardari but also keep pressure on an already tense relationship with the United States as it seeks to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan.

A scandal over a murky memo that warned the Pentagon of a possible military coup in Pakistan has highlighted historic tensions between the weak civilian government in Islamabad and the powerful military, whose help Washington needs to battle militants fueling violence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court began hearings this week into who was behind the memo, keeping the spotlight on a controversy that has added even more strain to US-Pakistan relations. ….

…. QUESTIONS ABOUT PAKISTANI MOTIVES

There are also doubts in Washington about how much turbulence Pakistan’s fragile democracy can withstand and whether courts can conduct a fair trial in a charged climate.

“The fact that the Supreme Court has now been involved gives (the memo matter) extra importance and legitimacy,” said Shujaa Nawaz, a Pakistan scholar with the Atlantic Council.

Pakistan’s top court is now moving ahead with the petition, filed by Nawaz Sharif, Zardari’s chief opponent, raising questions about the political motivations for the case.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA and White House official who chaired President Barack Obama’s 2009 review of US policy on the region, said Sharif himself initiated a similar petition over a decade ago.

He recalled a 1999 meeting with Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, who he said traveled to Washington to warn of what civilian officials at the time feared was a brewing military coup.

“It was an entire day spent at the Willard Hotel listening to Shahbaz talk about their fears that a military coup was coming and asking for American help to prevent it,” he said.

“That’s pretty much the charge (that) is being leveled against Ambassador Haqqani.”

A coup did ultimately happen, in 1999, bringing General Pervez Musharraf to power until he resigned as president in August 2008.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/22/memo-crisis-adds-pressure-to-us-ties.html

Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

– The Pakistani planners apparently lauded the UN separation of the Taliban and al Qaeda on the sanctions blacklist. This distinction does not necessarily mean lifting the sanctions; it in fact sets the stage for further sanctions against al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, especially the India-oriented Punjabi jihadist groups based in Pakistan’s heartland

In his speech on June 22, 2011, Barack Obama outlined the drawdown of the US forces from Afghanistan. He declared his plans to pull out 10,000 troops from Afghanistan at the year’s end and another 23,000 by mid-2012, essentially withdrawing all troops inducted during the 2009 surge. Obama pledged the drawdown at a steady pace until the transition of security to the Afghan authorities by 2014.

The deliberations leading to his decision, including the stance of his various advisors, congressional hearings after the speech and indeed sections of the speech itself hint towards what lies ahead in the Pak-Afghan region, not only in the next two years but also after 2014. When it came to selling Obama’s plan to the congressional leaders, the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, ‘excused’ himself and was represented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who conceded before the House Armed Services Committee that he had hoped for a slower pace of withdrawal. Mullen had described the plan as more aggressive and riskier than he was originally prepared to accept.

Similarly, General David Petraeus and the man set to replace him as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General John Allen, have stated that Obama’s final plan was not one of the options proposed to the president by General Petraeus. Except for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, most officials have placed their dissenting note on record. Nonetheless, the US brass has closed ranks behind Obama and seem to have taken ownership of the task he has assigned them.

From the Pakistani perspective, there are multiple indicators pointing towards things heating up for them in the near future. Most importantly, Obama stated in his speech: “Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am president, the US will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.” While the US military commanders may have differed on the pace of drawdown from Afghanistan, it is this aspect of his plan that they totally concur with.

On June 28, 2011, at the US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, General Allen and Vice Admiral William McRaven — the Obama nominee to head US Special Operations Command — were quite candid, not just about Obama’s overall plan, but the aspects of it that deal directly with Pakistan. In response to Senator Carl Levin’s question about Pakistan’s attitude vis-à-vis the militants, especially the Haqqani network, Admiral McRaven bluntly noted that he did not expect any change in Pakistan’s approach towards these proxies because it was “both a capacity issue for the Pakistanis and…a willingness issue”. More ominously, when asked by Senator Bob Graham: “Do we believe Mullah Omar is there with the knowledge of the ISI and the upper echelons of the army?” McRaven responded, “Sir, I believe the Pakistanis know he is in Pakistan.”

Where does this leave us, or more importantly, lead us? As much as Obama has a visceral dislike for war and, unlike George W Bush, is not trigger-happy, he has made up his mind that he will not be gun shy when it comes to enforcing the key elements of his plan to end the war in Afghanistan, which means tossing away the counterinsurgency (COIN) in Afghanistan, in favour of a counter-terrorism effort along the Durand Line. Buoyed by the results of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Obama will not reinvent the wheel and intends to apply the same model for both the Haqqani network and the ‘irreconcilable’ Afghan Taliban. The primary US focus will now be on the Pakistan-supported insurgents.

Continue reading Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

How easily we forget Nawaz Sharif’s attack on Supreme Court

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Protesters halt Pakistani PM court case – BBC

The trial of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been halted after his supporters forced their way into the Supreme Court building in Islamabad.
Protesters shouted abuse against the Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah, who was hearing a case of contempt of court, which could lead to the Prime Minister’s disqualification if he is found guilty. The court adjourned for the day.
The protest is the latest twist in the country’s constitutional crisis, which started over the appointment of five new judges to the Supreme Court.

Mr Ali Shah charged Mr Sharif with contempt after his outspoken criticism of the candidates. Mr Sharif responded by trying to remove him from office.

The two men are under considerable pressure from the country’s powerful armed forces to resolve the situation constitutionally.
Mr Ali Shah’s position in the court has become increasingly uncertain after an internal struggle emerged in the Supreme Court over his status. Four of his fellow judges in two separate hearings ruled he was suspended from office because he was not the most senior judge when he was appointed.
Friday’s trouble started when one of Mr Sharif’s Members of Parliament climbed over the gates in front of the court to get inside.
A crowd of a few hundred party supporters then began to follow him and, as the police and the security forces in riot gear stood by and did nothing, they pushed open the gates and ran into the court compound.
A few members of the crowd got into the court building and ran to windows and onto the roof of the entrance, chanting slogans against the Chief Justice.
Amid the commotion a court official ran to the courtroom and said the Chief Justice was in danger. The judges immediately adjourned proceedings and left the room.
Courtesy: BBC