Tag Archives: insurgency

Americans Being Evacuated from Iraq Air Base

Officials say three planeloads of Americans are being evacuated from a major Iraqi air base in Sunni territory north of Baghdad to escape potential threats from a fast-moving insurgency.

A current U.S. official and a former senior Obama administration official say that means the American training mission at the air field in Balad has been grounded indefinitely.

Twelve U.S. personnel who were stationed at Balad were the first to be evacuated. Several hundred American contractors are still waiting to leave.

They have been training Iraqi forces to use fighter jets and surveillance drones.

Other U.S. contractors at a tank training ground in the city of Taji (TAH’-jee) is still ongoing for now.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they refused to be named in discussing the sensitive situation.

©2014 by The Associated Press.

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/06/americans-evacuated-iraq-air-base.html/#sthash.nyj0VAfy.dpuf

Baloch nationalist leader Khair Bakhsh Marri passes away

By Dawn.com

KARACHI: Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, a veteran Baloch nationalist leader has passed away in Karachi after a protracting illness for which he was admitted to a local hospital in critical condition last week, DawnNews reported late on Tuesday night.

He was being treated at Liaquat National Hospital’s intensive care unit where he had been unconscious for the last few days.

Marri was a leader of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) – a proscribed Baloch separatist organisation – and was one of the key leaders of the 1970’s insurgency in Balochistan.

He had returned to Pakistan after the fall of the left-wing government in Kabul after spending several years there in exile.

He had six sons including Balach Marri, Jangaiz Marri, Hyrbyiar Marri, Gazain Marri, Hamza Marri and Mehran Marri.

Khair Bakhsh Marri’s eldest son, Nawab Balach Marri was allegedly killed by Nato forces in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2007.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1111835/baloch-nationalist-leader-khair-bakhsh-marri-passes-away

 

Baloch guerilla leader Dr. Allah Nazar threatens more attacks in Pakistan to end Occupation

Baluch separatists threaten more attacks in Pakistan

By Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD: Reuters) – A prominent separatist commander in Pakistan’s mineral-rich Baluchistan threatened on Wednesday to step up attacks on security forces after at least two soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb in the vast and lawless region.

The renewed threat by ethnic Baluch rebels adds a layer of complexity for the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a country already plagued by a growing Taliban insurgency.

Baluchistan has seen a spate of attacks since a major earthquake last week which rebels say prompted the army to send troops to remote areas under the guise of aid delivery.

“They (army) are directly involved in the large-scale killings of Baluch men,” Allah Nazar, head of the Baluch Liberation Front, told Reuters by telephone from a secret location in Baluchistan. “They want to crush us and make money from the disaster relief.”

Continue reading Baloch guerilla leader Dr. Allah Nazar threatens more attacks in Pakistan to end Occupation

Repeating Balochistan in Sindh

By Naseer Memon

The recent spate of violence in Sindh attained yet another traumatic dimension when the brutalised bodies of two young students were found in Dadu district. In a typical Balochistan-styled episode, both activists of a nationalist party, Amir Khahawar and Sajjad Markhand, were picked up in Larkano a few days ago and their tortured bodies were later found on the roadside.

National media, being too occupied with election mania, ignored the incident but the grisly news made rounds on Sindhi television channels. In a similar incident, another political activist, Muzaffar Bhutto, was found dead after a protracted disappearance and four other activists were killed near Sanghar in broad daylight.

The recent incidents triggered a wave of violence, protests and a paralysing strike in large parts of the province. Kidnapping and dumping lacerated and mutilated bodies of political activists turned Balochistan into a vortex of violence and now, the same mistake is being repeated in a relatively sedate province. Similar incidents snowballed a political conflict into a secessionist movement in Balochistan.

The province has been made an open cemetery of political workers and yet, the insurgency has refused to subside. Past insurgencies in Balochistan were mostly confined to a few tribes and their areas, but this time, ceaseless killings have propelled the insurgency and bestowed it with broader ownership of lower and middle class people. An inept policy of using gun power to handle political conflict has not only sullied the country’s image in the international community but fuelled a fire that has become difficult to douse.

A nationalist movement in Sindh started in the early 1970s when GM Syed initiated the Jeay Sindh movement in the aftermath of the debacle of Bangladesh. However, a discrete identity of this movement has been its peaceful demeanour in consonance with GM Syed’s philosophy of non-violence and peaceful coexistence. As a result of that, nationalist parties and splinter groups of Jeay Sindh, in spite of having serious political disagreements, never resorted to mass violence. On April 25, GM Syed’s death anniversary was observed where about half a dozen groups of the Jeay Sindh movement held separate parallel gatherings in Sann and no untoward incident was reported.

Continue reading Repeating Balochistan in Sindh

Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

Having already ousted one prime minister this week, Pakistan’s courts on Thursday sabotaged the appointment of a replacement by ordering the arrest of the man nominated to take up the job.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The extraordinary move deepens the sense of political crisis in a country already reeling from an Islamist insurgency, economic woes and crippling power shortages.

Mahkdoom Shahabuddin, who most recently served as Textiles Minister, was due to be voted into office by parliament on Friday, replacing Yousuf Raza Gilani who was disqualified by the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Mr Shahabuddin was selected by President Asif Ali Zardari after two days of talks as the man best able to keep his coalition government alive until elections due early next year.

But no sooner had his name been announced than an arrest warrant was issued for his alleged role in a corruption scandal involving controlled drugs.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior figure in Mr Zardari’s Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP), said the arrest warrant was the latest attempt by unelected judges to bring down the government.

“This has been going on for one and a half years,” he said. “If they really believe he is involved why have they waited until today to issue an arrest warrant?”

Party leaders were meeting on Thursday night to select an alternative candidate. Qamar Zaman Kaira and Raja Parvez Ashraf, both former ministers in Mr Gilani’s cabinet, filed nomination papers for the post ahead of Friday’s parliamentary vote.

Pakistan’s civilian government, military and judiciary are locked in a three-way tussle for supremacy.

Continue reading Pakistan courts order arrest of new prime minister nominee

‘Pakistan on the Brink’ by Ahmed Rashid

By: Suhasini Haidar, CNN-IBN

They say you should build your first house to sell, the second one to rent, and the third one to live in. With most trilogies, the sequence is almost always in reverse- simply because authors tend to give their best to the first book, what’s left to their second, and only write the third to complete the trilogy. Author Ahmed Rashid’s Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan is an exception, as he manages to make the sequel to the ‘Taliban’, (the bestseller that sold 1.5 million copies, and transformed Rashid into ‘global sage’), and to his second, Descent into Chaos, an equally important volume.

Continue reading ‘Pakistan on the Brink’ by Ahmed Rashid

Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns & bombs

Lal Masjid: rewarding an insurrection

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan says he is losing patience with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In a court-initiated (suo motu) action, he wants a quick rebuilding of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, flattened by bulldozers in 2007, after it became the centre of an insurgency. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the CJ, is now dragging procrastinators over the coals by issuing notices to the CDA chairman, Islamabad’s chief commissioner and the interior secretary. The Court has also expressed its “displeasure” over the status of police cases against the Lal Masjid clerics and ordered the deputy attorney general to appear before it next week.

It is dangerous to comment on Pakistan’s highest level of judiciary. So let me solemnly declare that the highest wisdom must lie behind this extraordinary judicial activism. Nevertheless, I must confess my puzzlement because — as was seen by all — Lal Masjid and the adjoining Jamia Hafsa had engaged in a full-scale bloody insurrection against the Pakistani government, state, and public. Hundreds died. That those who led the insurrection should be gifted 20 kanals of the choicest land in sector H-11 of Islamabad is, I think, slightly odd.

Such thoughts crossed my mind last week when a flat tyre occasioned me to walk along the outer periphery of the freshly-painted and rebuilt Red Mosque. I momentarily stopped to read a large wind and rain-weathered monument which, placed on the government-owned land that Jamia Hafsa once stood upon, declares (in Urdu) that “The sacred Islamic worship place here was destroyed by a tyrannical ruler to prevent Sharia from becoming the law”.

The story of the insurrection and its tragic end is well-known. In early January 2007, the Lal Masjid had demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally-constructed mosques that had been knocked down by the CDA. Days later, an immediate enforcement of the Sharia system in Islamabad was demanded. Thereafter, armed vigilante groups from this madrassa roamed the streets and bazaars. They kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, and repeated the demands of the Taliban and other tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an FM broadcast, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

Lal Masjid was headed by two clerics, the brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi. They had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Muhammad. Also on April 12 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of my university, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the Hereafter for such women.”

For months, unhindered by General Musharraf’s government, the Lal Masjid operated a parallel government that was barely a mile or two away from the presidency and parliament. Its minions ran an unlicenced FM radio station, occupied a government building, set up a parallel system of justice, made bonfires out of seized cassettes and CDs, received the Saudi Arabian ambassador on the mosque premises, and negotiated with the Chinese ambassador for the release of his country’s kidnapped nationals. But for the subsequent outrage expressed by Pakistan’s all-weather ally, the status quo would have continued indefinitely.

Nevertheless, our courts say that they cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing during the entire six-month long saga. They say there are no witnesses or acceptable evidence. Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan (his wife, who heads Jamia Hafsa), therefore, stand exonerated. Also lacking, they say, is proof that the Lal Masjid accused possessed heavy weaponry.

But Islamabad’s residents know better. When the showdown came in July 2007, machine guns chattered away as mortars and rocket launchers exchanged their deadly fire. Copious TV coverage shows armed madrassa students putting on gas masks to avoid the dense smoke. The final push left 10 of Pakistan’s crack SSG commandos dead, together with scores of defenders. A tidal wave of suicide attacks — as promised by the clerics — promptly followed.

Some speculate that the land gifted to Aziz and Hassan is actually the price for keeping hornets inside their nest. This is not impossible because suicide bomb attacks inside Pakistan’s major cities have decreased dramatically in the last two years. The authorities claim credit, saying the reason is better intelligence about violent groups and better policing. But anyone driving through Islamabad knows how trivially easy it is to conceal weapons and explosives; the security measures are certainly a nuisance to citizens but hopelessly ineffective otherwise. So, could the H-11 land offer be part of a much wider peace deal with various militant groups?

The temptation to make deals has grown after the battle for Lal Masjid. It is clear who won and who lost. Even as they fought tooth and nail against the Pakistan Army, the madrassa clerics were never dismissed and continued to receive their full government salaries. On the other hand, General Musharraf — who acted only after things went out of control — now sulks in exile. All madrassa curriculum reform plans are dead; the government does not talk about them anymore — let the clerics teach what they want.

Appeasement is the hallmark of a weak state and dithering leadership. Once again, Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns and bombs. For a country alleged to have the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal, this is surely ironical.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/381761/lal-masjid-rewarding-an-insurrection/

The general, the dog & the flasher

MRD activist shot dead by military troops in Moro, Sindh, September 1983. –Photo Courtesy: BBC

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

The MRD Movement in 1983 was one of the biggest uprisings against the Ziaul Haq dictatorship. In Sindh it almost tipped over and become a full-fledged armed insurgency against the state.

Sindh, September, 1983. The agitation by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) is whirling out of control, not only for the reactionary dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq but for the MRD leadership as well.

Ever since MRD announced the beginning of a nationwide movement against the Zia regime (August 14, 1983), the Pakistani province of Sindh is in great turmoil.

Sindh’s capital Karachi is witnessing court arrests and protest rallies on a daily basis by labour and trade unionists, student leaders and anti-Zia politicians.

But it is the central and northern parts of the province that are in the grip of serious violence. The MRD movement here has taken the shape of a Sindhi uprising bordering on a Sindhi nationalist insurgency against the Pakistan Army.

Faced with a volley of questions (mainly by foreign journalists) regarding his military regime’s challenged legitimacy in Sindh, Zia decides to prove that ‘only a handful of troublemakers’ are involved in the violence taking place against his government in the troubled province.

So, the grinning general (after issuing a fresh round of curbs on the already restricted local media outlets), announces that he will take a whirlwind tour of Sindh to attest that he is as popular there as he (thinks) he is in the Punjab.

So off he flies in his big shiny military aircraft (C-130) with some of his ministers, military cronies and his favorite batch of journalists to Karachi. He is however, aware that BBC Radio has imbedded a host of reporters in Sindh who are covering the MRD movement.

The reporting is largely being done for the BBC Radio’s Urdu service that a majority of Pakistanis have been listening to – especially ever since Zia (a migrant, conservative Punjabi general) toppled the government of the country’s first popularly elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a well-to-do but populist Sindhi who was equally well-liked in the Punjab).

A disturbing photo of one of the first public floggings ordered by General Ziaul Haq’s military courts.
Hundreds of student leaders, trade union activists, journalists and petty criminals were flogged between 1978 and 1981.
Here, floggers with lethal leather sticks in their hands are seen stepping on a sentenced man’s back after delivering a flogging ordered by a military court.

Zia’s plane lands in Karachi. From here he plans to fly to Hyderabad with his posse. Joining him here is a crew from the state-controlled Pakistan Television (PTV) that will cover the general’s ‘successful tour of Sindh.’

The rallies being taken out against him by leftist students, journalists, trade unionists, women rights groups and politicians in Karachi don’t bother him.

Most of the country’s senior anti-Zia leadership has already been put behind bars, while the second tier leadership of agitating student outfits, trade and journalist unions and anti-Zia political parties ‘are being made an example of’ by being publically flogged.

MRD was formed in 1981 as a PPP-led alliance to agitate against the Zia dictatorship and to force him to end military rule and hold elections. The alliance’s core parties were: Pakistan Peoples Party; Pakistan Democratic Party; Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party; Pakistan National Party; National Awami Party; Qaumi Mahaz Azadi Party; and Jamiat Ulema Islam.

It was also being supported by Jamiat Ulema Pakistan, as well as by various left-wing Sindhi nationalist parties, progressive student organisations, trade unions and women’s rights groups.

Zia, after arriving in Karachi, briefly talks to a select group of journalists and reiterates his views about the situation in Sindh, insisting all was well, and that the MRD movement was the work of a handful of politicians who were working against Islam, Pakistan and the country’s armed forces.

He sounds confident about the success of his visit to the troubled spots of the Sindh province. This confidence was not only built upon what he was hearing from the sycophants that he’d gathered around him in the shape of ministers, military personnel, religious leaders and advisors.

Continue reading The general, the dog & the flasher

Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

By Praveen Swami

Pakistan’s civilian rulers seem to have averted a possible coup with a little help from inside the army itself.

Eight weeks ago, as rumours of an imminent coup swirled around Islamabad, few seemed to doubt democratic rule in Pakistan would soon be marched before a firing squad.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States, had been recalled to face charges of conspiring to sack top military officials. There was even talk of a treason trial targeting President Asif Ali Zardari himself — with Mr. Haqqani as the Army’s star witness.

Events since, however, haven’t quite panned out as hardline Pakistani generals might have anticipated: instead of capturing power, the army has found itself in retreat.

Mr. Zardari, Pakistani media have reported, is almost certain to deny the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, an extension to serve until 2013 — a blow directed at Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and a sign of civilian confidence.

In November, Pakistan’s military had shut down the Shamsi airbase, used to stage United States drone attacks against Islamist insurgents: actions intended to distinguish them from political rulers too-willing to please the United States. Last month, though, drone strikes resumed — directed by United States intelligence officers located at the Shahbaz airbase near Abbottabad.

Politicians have become increasingly defiant of ISI authority: even Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who has long shied away from controversy, warned against efforts to run “a state within a state”.

The Generals’ consensus

LONG held together by a Generals’ consensus on the direction Pakistan ought to head in, the army now seems divided as never before. Last month, at a January 13 meeting of the corps commanders conference, where Gen. Kayani briefed generals on the evolving political crisis , he ran into unexpected in-house resistance, leading to a 10-hour debate.

The toughest questioning, a Pakistani government source privy to the discussions told The Hindu, came from Lieutenant-General Tariq Khan — the commander of the Mangla-based 1 corps, and a veteran of counter-insurgency operations who is considered among the most competent of the army’s commanders

Gen. Khan, the source said, made clear the army was unprepared to take power, and demanded to know how the army chief intended to resolve the still-unfolding showdown with the civilian governments. He noted that the army had no coherent plan to address its increasingly-fragile relationship with the United States, too. Backed by other key officers, like Gujaranwala-based XXX corps commander Raheel Sharif, Gen. Khan pushed for the army to pull back from the brink.

Ever since the killing of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1998, the corps commanders conference has been a key instrument of what Mr. Haqqani once described as “military rule by other means”. The resistance faced by Gen. Kayani within the institution is, therefore, of great significance.

Ever since he took office, Pakistan’s army chief had worked to rebuild the army’s relationship with the jihadist groups it had patronised for decades. Terrorism in Pakistan, he argued, had come about because the country had become enmeshed in the United States’ war against jihadists in Afghanistan. Building peace, he argued, necessitated reviving this relationship — even at the cost of ties with the United States.

In 2008, Gen. Pasha delivered an off-the-record briefing to journalists, where he described Tehreek-e-Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Muhammad Fazlullah — responsible for hundreds of killings in Pakistanas “patriots”.

Following the raid that claimed Osama bin Laden last year, Mr. Pasha put the case for an aggressive anti-United States line to Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history”, he said “the United States has let us down. This fear that we can’t live without the United States is wrong.

Gen. Kayani’s line, the government’s decision not to allow his spymaster to serve on suggests, no longer represents the army’s institutional consensus.

The path to peace he envisaged involved costs the army isn’t willing to pay.

Political resurgence?

Continue reading Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

The price of Baloch blood

By: Hashim bin Rashid

The ‘clink, clink’ reverberate

Who are these benevolent youth

The gold coins of their blood

Clink clink, clink clink –Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Salima Hashmi, Faiz sahib’s daughter, dug out this gem of a poem and dedicated it to the Baloch martyrs at the Faiz Aman Mela in Lahore last Sunday. The very next day, Monday, three bodies of Baloch missing persons, including former BSO-Azad Chairman Sangat Sana Baloch were found. The day after, Tuesday, Baloch-dominated areas in Balochistan observed a shutter down strike.

‘Chhan chhan, chhan chhan,’ Faiz’s words reverberated across the province.

The body of Sangat Sana was found only two weeks after the Domki murders, murders that had sent the entire Balochistan Assembly, generally the most complicit of the Baloch, up in a furore. Three Baloch ministers stood up to narrate a gruesome incident in which two Baloch youth were bound up and shot by FC troops on the Quetta-Turbat road.

The trouble was that the consequences of the murder of Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister were not fully contemplated by the most likely murderers, although they should have. The lesson of Balochistan always was: blood spilt is thicker than blood flowing. This was indeed why Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in an army operation bestowed the legacy of a martyr on him and spurred insurgency.

Balochistan has been under siege since 1947, with the current insurgency that started in 2005 being the fifth: the last four were brutally suppressed through similar military action. It is only this one which is spiralling out of control.

The almost abandon with which intelligence agencies operate in the Baloch province is matchless. Barely anyone is left in doubt as to who picked up whom for allegedly ‘anti-nationalistic’ sentiment and the message is delivered forcefully with every punctured, dumped body of a Baloch missing person.

While the same matters went unnoticed in the last four operations, what changed on the ground was that the Baloch intellectuals and leadership, fearing for their lives, began to take up outposts in exile and developed lobbies to relay the situation in Balochistan to international organisations. In Balochistan, the BLA, the BLF and the BRA continued to fight from the mountains while Baloch political parties and the various factions of the BSO continue to develop the space on the ground to unite the Baloch community and speak to the few in the Pakistani media that still want to hear a Baloch speak about Balochistan.

Coverage has been selective. When the BLA killed 15 FC troops in the army-operated Chamalang coal mines area in response the Domki killings, media splashed the event. But when a counter-military operation was launched in Chamalang, there was complete silence by the media on it.

The reason: journalists based in Balochistan were instructed not to – at the risk of their lives. 20 journalists had been killed in the last decade. However, Baloch resistance websites, forced to operate from outside Pakistan, and still banned in Pakistani cyberspace, began to carry gruesome accounts of unchecked brutalities. However, Pakistani airwaves and cyberspace remained clear of any such ‘anti-state’ accounts.

Baloch blood was being spilled with no one brave enough to speak of it. Amidst this re-launched operation, exiled Baloch leaders were able to play the card they had wished to play much earlier: the US Congress took up a debate on Balochistan and tabled a bill to acknowledge the Baloch ‘right to self-determination’. The same ‘right to self determination’ was, of course, something Pakistan itself had been campaigning foreign powers for in the similarly gruesome 64-year old Indian-occupation of Kashmir. The US is telling Pakistan: what about the suppression in Balochistan?

Balochistan is the thaw no one in Pakistan wishes to admit as much as discuss – or solve. The late politics over it by Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan has come to naught, so clear is Baloch nationalist sentiment. Imran Khan’s pseudo-rally in Quetta, announced for 23 March, seemed to be an attempt to engineer and announce a new Pakistan resolution from the Baloch capital amidst a flailing nationalist project. Nawaz Sharif’s All-Parties Conference on Balochistan fell apart because Baloch parties refused to join in, making the attempt look silly.

No Baloch takes the more than 270 ‘killed-and-dumped’ bodies as a joke. No Baloch believes the army high command when it says, “No military operations are being carried out in Balochistan and no security forces have been involved in human rights abuses.”

And this is the worst part: all political actors and intellectuals in Pakistan, including this writer, are speaking about the Baloch but not to the Baloch. Journalists from Balochistan are able to relay how the army views the mere act of putting up a Pakistani flag as a victory. To the Baloch, the rising flag means being conquered. And it is being conquered that the Baloch resist when they are whisked away and they return as tortured, bullet-ridden bodies.

The price of Baloch blood is not that Pakistan might split again – it is that we will fool ourselves again, as we do now, when the Foreign Office issues condemnations of the US Congress debate on Balochistan, on why we split. To condemn the military operation, to condemn the killing-and-dumping and to return the missing Baloch, that is what should have been the government’s response. In its absence, it will be sure to learn the price of Baloch blood the hard way.

Continue reading The price of Baloch blood

Al Jazeera – Balochistan: Pakistan’s other war

Baloch politicians and leaders share their vision of self-determination and freedom from Pakistani rule.

By Al Jazeera

In the rugged mountains of southwest Pakistan lies the country’s largest province of Balochistan. Far from the bustling cities of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, this remote region has been the battleground for a 60-year-long insurgency by the Baloch ethnic minority.

“The Baloch people now live in a state of war. Every day, they face injustice. The army and intelligence agents kidnap our young, and we know nothing about them for years. The Baloch people live in a state of war. We will not accept any offers until we regain control over this land. They burn down our homes and then ask us for peace? We are not stupid.” – Baloch Khan, Baloch rebel leader

The ongoing conflict is often called Pakistan’s dirty war, because of the rising numbers of people who have disappeared or have been killed on both sides.

But the uprising against Pakistan’s government has received little attention worldwide, in part because most eyes have been focused on the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in other areas of Pakistan. …

Read more » al Jazeera

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2012/01/2012121372863878.html

Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?

By Shuja Nawaz

Internal militancy and insurgency are the immediate threats to Pakistan’s security.

Pakistan’s polity is fractured and dysfunctional, allowing the military to assert greater control over Pakistan’s response to this growing internal threat.

Civilian authorities have missed numerous opportunities to assert control over security matters. Miscalculation by the current civilian government in its attempt in 2008 to exert control over the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate soured civil-military relations at a time when the new army chief favored keeping the army out of politics.

The military’s interests are expanding to newer sectors, including economic policymaking, since a shrinking economy could hurt military interests and lifestyles.

An opportunity to improve security sector governance exists in the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority, which the government has unduly delayed.

This report reflects the views expressed during a conference entitled “Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?” hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center on April 19, 2011. Speakers at the event included the author, Professor Hassan Abbas of Columbia University, and Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The report discusses the complex political landscape in which Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities operate, often vying for power and supremacy; identifies the challenges facing Pakistan’s civilian government in the face of the military’s expanding role; and suggests a realignment of roles, increased expertise for civilian officials in security matters, and better civilian-military coordination. …

Read more » U.S. Institute of Peace

In mountain camps, Pakistan Taliban train for death

By Saud Mehsud

LADDA, Pakistan (Reuters)- Pakistan’s Taliban say they have started peace talks, but in a mountain camp young recruits learn how to mount ambushes, raid military facilities and undertake the most coveted missions — suicide bombings.

“America, NATO and other countries could do nothing to us despite having nuclear weapons,” said Shamim Mehsud, a senior Taliban commander training the fighters who hold AK-47 assault rifles and cover their faces with white cloth.

“Our suicide bombers turn their bones into bullets, flesh into explosives and blood into petrol and bravely fight them, and they have no answer to that.”

On Saturday the deputy commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, said exploratory peace talks with the U.S.-backed government were underway.

Pakistan’s prime minister denied this and said Pakistan would negotiate only if the group, which has been waging a four-year insurgency, laid down its arms.

There are no signs they intend to do that in the camp in South Waziristan near the Afghan border. It is in unruly tribal areas like this where the umbrella group is entrenched.

Taliban commanders escorted a small group of journalists, including a Reuters reporter, to the remote camp. To get there without running into army checkpoints, they drove to North Waziristan …

Read more » Reuters

Afghan officials voice scant remorse to Pakistan

By Joshua Partlow and Karin Brulliard

A former Afghan official said Karzai is regularly frustrated by what he sees as the United States’ failure to take stronger action against Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan or pressure Pakistan’s military or intelligence agency to address the problem.

“We put all our eggs in the American basket,” he said. “The problem is, that basket has a huge hole in it, and it’s called Pakistan.”

KABUL — The Afghan police general watched on television as Pakistani soldiers solemnly saluted the coffins of 24 of their comrades who were killed in a U.S. military airstrike Saturday.

The general stood up in disgust. “That’s the best thing America has done in 10 years here,” he said.

While U.S. officials from the war zone to the White House offered contrite condolences to the families of the dead and scrambled to repair the tattered relationship with Pakistan, Afghan officials have taken a tougher line. Frustrated by a Taliban insurgency they are convinced is supervised by and based in Pakistan, they have expressed little remorse, even accusing Pakistan of exaggerating the gravity of the situation to deflect attention from its own meddling in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials said the strike — which followed an operation by U.S. Special Operations forces and Afghan army commandos — was justified because the troops came under fire first from a Pakistani border post. “We have absolutely nothing to apologize for,” a senior official said.

Read more » The Washington Post

Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary

by K. Alan Kronstadt, Specialist in South Asian Affairs

Summary

This report summarizes important recent developments in Pakistan and in Pakistan-U.S. relations. Obama Administration engagement with Pakistan has been seriously disrupted by recent events. A brief analysis of the current state of Pakistan-U.S. relations illuminates the main areas of contention and uncertainty. Vital U.S. interests related to links between Pakistan and indigenous American terrorism, Islamist militancy in Pakistan and Islamabad’s policies toward the Afghan insurgency, Pakistan’s relations with historic rival India, nuclear weapons proliferation and security, and the troubled status of Pakistan’s domestic setting are reviewed. Ongoing human rights concerns and U.S. foreign assistance programs for Pakistan are briefly summarized, and the report closes with an analysis of current U.S.-Pakistan relations.

In the post-9/11 period, assisting in the creation of a more stable, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan actively combating religious militancy has been among the most important U.S. foreign policy efforts. Global and South Asian regional terrorism, and a nearly decade-long effort to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan are viewed as top-tier concerns. Pakistan’s apparently accelerated nuclear weapons program and the long-standing dispute with India over Kashmir continue to threaten regional stability. Pakistan is identified as a base for numerous U.S.- designated terrorist groups and, by some accounts, most of the world’s jihadist terrorist plots have some connection to Pakistan-based elements.

While Obama Administration officials and most senior congressional leaders have continued to recognize Pakistan as a crucial partner in U.S.-led counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts, long-held doubts about Islamabad’s commitment to core U.S. interests have deepened considerably in 2011. Most independent analysts view the Pakistani military and intelligence services as too willing to distinguish among Islamist extremist groups, maintaining links to some as a means of forwarding Pakistani’s perceived security interests. Top U.S. officials have offered public expressions of acute concerns about Islamabad’s ongoing apparent tolerance of Afghan insurgent and anti-India militants operating from Pakistani territory. The May 2011 revelation that Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden had enjoyed apparently years-long and relatively comfortable refuge inside Pakistan led to intensive U.S. government scrutiny of the now deeply troubled bilateral relationship, and sparked much congressional questioning ….

Read more » Congressional Research Service (CRS)

Asia Times Online – Pepe’s opinion

– THE ROVING EYE

Pentagon aims at target Pakistan

By Pepe Escobar

Syria will have to wait. The next stop in the Pentagon-coined “long war” is bound to be Pakistan. True, a war is already on in what the Barack Obama administration named AfPak. But crunch time in Pak itself looms closer and closer. Call it the “no bomb left behind” campaign.

Al-Qaeda is a thing of the past; after all, al-Qaeda assets such as Abdelhakim Belhaj are now running Tripoli. The new Washington-manufactured mega-bogeyman is now the Haqqani network.

A relentless, Haqqani-targeted manufacture of consensus industry is already on overdrive, via a constellation of the usual neo-conservative suspects, assorted Republican warmongers, “Pentagon officials” and industrial-military complex shills in corporate media.

The Haqqani network, a force of 15,000 to 20,000 Pashtun fighters led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen figure Jalalludin Haqqani, is a key component of the Afghan insurgency from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area.

For Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency”. It took Mullen no less than 10 years since Washington’s bombing of Afghanistan to figure this out. Somebody ought to give him a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US government narrative, it was the ISI that gave the go-ahead for the Haqqani network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.

Pentagon head Leon Panetta has gone on record saying that in response, Washington might go unilateral. This means that the vast numbers of Pashtun farmers, including women and children, who have already been decimated for months by US drone attacks on the tribal areas should be considered as extras in a humanitarian operation. ….

Read more → ASIA TIMES ONLINE

Mass Graves Hold Thousands, Kashmir Inquiry Finds

By LYDIA POLGREEN

NEW DELHI — Thousands of bullet-riddled bodies are buried in dozens of unmarked graves across Kashmir, a state human rights commission inquiry has concluded, many of them likely to be those of civilians who disappeared more than a decade ago in a brutal insurgency.

The inquiry, the result of three years of investigative work by senior police officers working for the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, brings the first official acknowledgment that civilians might have been buried in mass graves in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan where insurgents waged a bloody battle for independence in the early 1990s.

The report sheds new light on a grim chapter in the history of the troubled region and confirms a 2008 report by a Kashmiri human rights organization that found hundreds of bodies buried in the Kashmir Valley.

Tens of thousands of people died in the insurgency, which began in 1989 and was partly fueled by weapons, cash and training from Pakistan.

According to the report, the bodies of hundreds of men described as unidentified militants were buried in unmarked graves. But of the more than 2,000 bodies, 574 were identified as local residents.

“There is every probability that these unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves at 38 places of North Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” the report said.

The report catalogs 2,156 bodies found in graves in four districts of Kashmir that had been at the heart of the insurgency. ….

Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES

Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months

by Paul McGeough

PAKISTAN could collapse within months, one of the more influential counter-insurgency voices in Washington says.

The warning comes as the US scrambles to redeploy its military forces and diplomats in an attempt to stem rising violence and anarchy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we’re calling the war on terror now,” said David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

“You just can’t say that you’re not going to worry about al-Qaeda taking control of Pakistan and its nukes,” he said.

Read more → THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

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Courtesy: → Duniya TV News (Khari Baat Luqman Ke Saath, 5th July 2011 – p1)

via → ZemTVYouTube

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

Shouting about Indian repression in Kashmir is hypocrisy

A weaker insurgency, but with new contours

By Cyril Almeida, dawn.com

QUETTA: The decline in insurgent violence over the past year, at the cost of savage violence by the state, has produced a fragile recovery in Quetta and other insurgency-hit parts of Balochistan.

Continue reading Shouting about Indian repression in Kashmir is hypocrisy

Is Pakistan collapsing – by S Akbar Zaidi

This presence of Osama bin Laden led to an extraordinary event of US SEAL military officers “invading” Pakistan, violating its air space, carrying out a military operation for 40 minutes and killing the most wanted terrorist and flying back to Afghanistan.

From drone attacks to constant admonishing by the Obama administration, to a weak economy, an insurgency and target-killing of the non-Baloch in Balochistan, and a weekly dose of suicide attacks on common people, all support a perception that Pakistan is collapsing. However, this conventional understanding may not be accurate. What these events suggest is that there is a growing crisis and contradiction within and between the institutions of the state in Pakistan and these crises and contradictions, evaluated differently, might offer a completely divergent narrative. What may be collapsing is the political settlement that has existed for many decades and this may be a positive development. Democractic forces have an opportunity now to end the military’s domination of Pakistan. …

Read more: View Point

Pakistan’s Military Faces New Questions After Raid

By SALMAN MASOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more : The New York Tiems

The Haqqani Network in Kurram

By Reza Jan, Jeffrey Dressler

This paper details the expansion of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan’s tribal areas through peace accords signed between rival Sunni and Shia factions in Kurram Agency, Pakistan. The peace accords brought nearly four years of continuous fighting to an end. Despite the appearance of legitimacy, the peace accords were manipulated by the Afghanistan-focused Haqqani Network to serve its own ends. In exchange for brokering the peace between Sunnis and Shias, the Haqqanis allegedly received the authority to operate through Shia-controlled terrain in central and upper Kurram which will aid their ongoing insurgency against Afghan and coalition forces throughout eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqanis have also demonstrated their growing power and influence in the Pakistani tribal region in areas beyond their historical stronghold of neighboring North Waziristan Agency.

The Haqqani Network is Afghanistan’s most capable and sophisticated insurgent network. The Haqqanis enjoy sanctuary in the tribal areas in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. With the backing of elements within the Pakistan security establishment, the Haqqanis have used their sanctuary in the North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan to operate across the border in southeastern Afghanistan.

In response to increased coalition activity against the Haqqani Network in both Pakistan (via drones) and Afghanistan (via Special Operations Forces), the Haqqanis have increasingly sought new Pakistani sanctuary and additional infiltration routes in order to continue to battle coalition forces for control of southeastern Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network has increasingly turned their attention to Kurram Agency over the past several years as a potential sanctuary for the Haqqanis and affiliated terrorist organizations.

Kurram is a region of special strategic importance to Afghanistan-focused insurgents. It served as a base to the Afghan Mujahideen during the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Kurram remains coveted terrain today as it facilitates convenient access to several Afghan provinces and is also the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan. …

Read more :  criticalthreats.org
http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan/reza-jan-jeffrey-dressler-haqqani-network-in-kurram-may-9-2011

Pakistan can no longer be ruled from Islamabad

National Integration – Masood Sharif Khan Khattak

Communication infrastructure, domestic tourism, undiluted provincial autonomy and bonding through the workplace play a vital role in the integration of a nation. Pakistan’s national integration has suffered immensely because these factors have never been crucially important to our leadership. Pakistan’s communication infrastructure is primitive, domestic tourism is non-existent, provincial autonomy only receives lip-service and bonding through the workplace is totally missing except in the armed forces. Uniform development across the country over the past sixty years would have solidly integrated the Pakistani nation but that did not happen due to absolute incompetence, poor leadership and corruption at all levels. The price Pakistan is paying for its neglect is in the shape of an internally disjointed nation forced to suffer the present-day indignities in the shape of terrorism and insurgency.

The political and military establishment must now understand that the military potential of any country is multiplied manifolds when it is backed by a nation that is well-integrated. An integrated nation can cover up for military shortfalls but military strength cannot cover up for the shortfalls of a nation that lacks integration and cohesion. The Soviet Union’s break-up in 1991 is an example that amply illustrates this aspect. Pakistan must, therefore, accord top priority to uniform development throughout the country in order to have a nation that can back its enviable military potential in a solid manner; if not, then all will be lost.

Nawaz Sharif deserves the credit for initiating the modern communication infrastructure of Pakistan that is so essential for the integration of a nation that lives in a country as big as Pakistan. The launching of the Lahore-Islamabad motorway by Nawaz Sharif in the early 90s was a huge step in the right direction. If the process had been initiated decades ago Pakistan today would have been a very cohesively integrated nation. …

Read more : PKcoluminist.com

Debate: Feeding Pakistan’s Paranoia

When Pakistan Says No to the C.I.A.

Will Pakistan’s demand that the C.I.A. curtail its activities be a blow to American efforts to fight terrorism?

Feeding Pakistan’s Paranoia

Excerpt:

Shuja Nawaz is director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington. He is the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within” and “Learning by Doing: the Pakistan Army’s Experience with Counterinsurgency.”

Behind all the talk of a strategic dialogue and strategic partnership between the United States and Pakistan lurks the reality of a persistent transactional relationship, based on short-term objectives that intrude rudely into the limelight every time a drone attack kills civilians inside Pakistan or in the instance when an American “operative” is caught by the Pakistanis after killing two people on the streets of Lahore.

In “Paranoidistan,” as the historian Ayesha Jalal has called Pakistan, the public and the authorities are prepared to believe the worst. Conspiracy theories abound, involving the C.I.A., Israel and India, in various permutations. …

…. The United States needs to stop paying the Pakistan army with coalition support funds to fight in the border region and instead provide it adequate military aid in kind, as part of a carefully structured cooperative program to build its mobility and firepower against the militants. Money cannot buy love. ….

Read more : The New York Times

–  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/04/12/when-pakistan-says-no-to-the-cia/feeding-pakistans-paranoia

Failing the Baloch

By Basil Nabi Malik

THE mutilated bodies surface quietly in various parts of the province, and usually without any forewarning. The killings take place sporadically but surely, the bodies dumped on unforgiving mountains or on deserted, half-constructed roads. Perhaps they are meant to constitute a message for certain segments of society.

On some occasions, the arms and legs of these corpses are found to have been snapped; often, their faces are smashed in and swollen. At other times, the flesh shows that severe torture was inflicted on various parts of the body, the wounds indicating the use of knives, electric prods or drills that tore gaping holes into the body. The remains are often unrecognisable. And all of them have a gunshot wound in the head.

These aren’t scenes from a battlefield in Afghanistan, Iraq or even the former Yugoslavia. Instead, this is the situation in the largest province in Pakistan: Balochistan. According to assessments made by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), severe human rights violations have been taking place in Balochistan since the onset of the latest phase of the insurgency.

Of the many incidents of torture reported by the organisation, one is the case of Alam Pirkani Baloch who belonged to the Pirkani tribe. Apparently, he was arrested and placed in the custody of the Federal Intelligence Unit (FIU). During his incarceration, he was allegedly hung upside down with some sort of sharp-edged tool between his thighs and in his hands.

After his hands and legs had bled for a while, he was taken down. Then chillies and salt were rubbed into his wounds.

In another incident, Ali Beig of the Marri tribe was said to have been arrested by personnel of the City Police Station, Quetta, and handed over to the FIU. He was made to stand naked in freezing weather, electric shocks were administered to him and he was beaten with strips of rubber. After two months of being in the custody of the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) and the FIU, he was transferred to a jail where the FIU would, allegedly, take him away at night for further torture. After a year, he was once again transferred to the FIU camp where he was subjected to torture with heavy steel rollers.

In another example of the types of activities taking place in Balochistan, Eid Mohammad, son of Haji Wali Jan, was arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Act. He was kept in custody for three months. At the time of his arrest, Eid was a student of class 8 and was only 14 years old at the time. Although details of what that happened to him during his detention are sketchy, it is reported that Eid can no longer go to school. He regularly suffers nightmares, during the course of which he screams hysterically and pleads that he should not be tortured.

These are just a few of the various incidents of alleged torture recorded by the HRCP in its fact-finding missions over the years.

Furthermore — and shockingly — these incidents of torture are not considered separate to and distinct from the instances of disappearances that are taking place in Balochistan.

In fact, many reports pouring in nowadays indicate that most of those desolate and mutilated bodies discovered on the uninhabited mountains or empty roads were actually persons reported as missing. Additionally, suspicion is raised by the fact that many such bodies come to light after there has been an attack on paramilitary or government forces that is blamed on nationalist forces.

Despite the seriousness of the situation in Balochistan, which is indicated by the examples given above, these incidents seem to have raised little concern in other parts of the country. The media appears more concerned about the presence of CIA agents in Pakistan than the actual damage that is being caused apparently by state agents in Balochistan. Meanwhile, the government of Pakistan is more concerned about completing its tenure than actually trying to heal the wounds of the Baloch.

The Supreme Court, on the other hand, appears more interested in issuing contempt notices to certain PPP leaders as compared to ensuring the fundamental rights of all those tortured and maimed souls who happen to call Balochistan their home. As for the people of Pakistan, sadly, they appear more interested in scrounging for national pride on the fields of Mohali rather than resurrecting the same on the shamed mountains and empty roads of Balochistan.

However, whatever the motives behind such dismissive attitudes, and civil society and the state authorities’ lack of reaction to such incidents, it is clear that the said acts have served to perhaps irreparably harm any possibility of the Baloch placing their trust in the state of Pakistan and attempting at reconciliation.In fact, it has unfortunately now come to such a head that the hatred that certain Baloch tribal people have long held for the state of Pakistan is seeping into other segments of society.

The educated classes, students as well as other parts of the middle class are all growing increasingly militant.

As stated by Jamil Bugti, son of the late Nawab Akbar, Bugti, “The next generation is all in the mountains, and they’re not willing to talk to anyone. People like me, and others, like the different nationalist parties that are in parliament, they don’t have any role to play. They look very good on TV. That’s about it.”

The writer is a Fulbright scholar and a Karachi based lawyer. basil.nabi@gmail.com

Courtesy: DAWNhttp://www.dawn.com/2011/04/12/failing-the-baloch.html

Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert

By MARK MAZZETTI, JANE PERLEZ, ERIC SCHMITT and ANDREW W. LEHREN

Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants, according to a trove of secret military field reports made public Sunday.

The documents, made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders. …

Read more >> The New York Times

LOST WAR?

Afghanistan war may be lost in Pakistan: US think tank

The Afghanistan war may be lost in a home-grown insurgency hit Pakistan unless US takes some ‘game-changing steps’ including talks on an India like civil nuclear deal, suggests a US think tank.

‘The Afghanistan war may be lost on the battlefields of Pakistan, where a vicious conflict is now being fought by Pakistan against a home-grown insurgency spawned by the war across its Western frontier,’ said the Atlantic Council of the United States in a report released Monday.

Nothing the the US and Pakistan appear to have different objectives, the report ‘Pakistan in the Danger Zone’ by Shuja Nawaz, director of the council’s South Asia Centre said: ‘The US is looking for a safe military exit out of a stabilised Afghanistan while ensuring that Al Qaeda does not re-emerge.

Read more >>- SifyNews

The Maoist Insurgency in India

By Binoy Kampmark

Courtesy: Global Research, April 5, 2010

The Indian government is puzzled by one fundamental problem that has become desperate to its own security. With its officials eyeing Pakistan and the funnelling of terrorism through its borders, and the concern with international jihadi movements, it has ignored its own, Maoist grown revolt. Anywhere up to 6,000 people have perished in the Naxalite insurgency of the last 20 years, and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to place the Maoist movement’s threat to Indian security at the forefront of public and official debate.

Continue reading The Maoist Insurgency in India