Tag Archives: Interests

Pouring oil over raging fires

By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

When a person, in his opening lines, terms the May 28, 1998 Chaghai nuclear explosion as historic, it creates misgivings about the purpose of that write up. Mr Usama Nizamani in his article “Gwadar: an emerging paradigm for Pakistan and the region” (Daily Times, March 19, 2013) did just that. Celebrating any nuclear explosion as historic is a downright insult to the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s victims. It is analogous to celebrating ‘small pox’ and ‘Black Death’ as a blessing for mankind. A nuclear explosion that killed a mountain and adversely affects those living there can only be trumpeted as historic by those bent on destroying the world.

Nizamani then lauds the “subsequent development of various precise, improved and successful delivery systems — in order to deter immediate and inter-continental conventional military threats to the country.” Deployment systems, especially in the hands of trigger-happy persons and institutions only make nuclear weapons exponentially dangerous. Giving fancy names like Strategic Command and Control Support System (SCCSS) does not make nuclear weapons any more attractive than Vanity Fair ads would make Black Death or small pox.

The writer considers handing of Gwadar to China as “better late than never” and hopes that the “economic and strategic window of opportunity created by handing over of Gwadar port to China” will unfold new “strategic and economic horizons.” He conveniently overlooks Baloch resentment but then the Baloch concerns are of no consequence to those who see Balochistan as terra nullius. Support for Gwadar’s exploitation amounts to subscribing to the establishment’s approach of the systematic elimination of the Baloch. It also helps empower those who abet and collude in atrocities against the Baloch people.

Continue reading Pouring oil over raging fires

US should dump Islamabad, Pakistan diplomat says

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading US should dump Islamabad, Pakistan diplomat says

The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

Continue reading The great game

The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

A question of accountability

By Raza Rumi

The inevitable has happened. An assertive judiciary has convicted the prime minister even if the punishment was token — awarded for non-compliance of court orders. The prime minister’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, has objected to the judgment saying that the punishment awarded was beyond the scope of his original indictment. There are multiple legal questions surrounding this decision and only the full judgment will clarify matters. However, it is the political ramifications of judicial assertion, which are of import in today’s Pakistan.

The PPP’s victim card — of being wronged by the establishment and the courts — is not entirely unfounded. Yet, this Supreme Court is not the court of the past. The lawyers’ movement (2007-9) allowed for an unprecedented populist backing to the courts and now many vested interests and groups deem the courts a natural ally in their own quest for independence, leverage and profits.

Public officials must be held accountable for their transgressions. This is vital for effective governance as well as for building legitimacy of democratic institutions. In purely technical terms, the Court’s decision is a welcome one. No longer can the executive be allowed to trample on judicial orders. After all, a letter to the Swiss authorities seeking the reopening of a case against President Asif Ali Zardari may have averted the crisis. Presidential immunity in the international and domestic laws is a given. However, in hindsight, this was a great opportunity for the PPP to underscore the fact that it is always the victim of selective accountability.

The cases against President Zardari and twice-elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto were registered by their political opponents, i.e., military-backed arbitrary presidents; and the main opposition party, which till 1999 was on the right side of the establishment. This context cannot be divorced from the legal aspects of the case. That said, at the end of the day the courts decide on issues of law and fact. The truth is that the Pakistani state has used cases against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades. This is why the perception within the PPP support base especially in Sindh (and now southern Punjab) is that the court’s verdict is not a ‘fair’ one given that other political parties and state institutions have gotten away with far worse.

As for the Supreme Court, it has done its job according to its interpretation of the Constitution and law. That, however, will not prevent the PPP from using the conviction to ramp up its support, especially with the next election around the corner.

Moving on, the role of some TV channels and anchors in acting as lawyers, judges and prosecutors has been most worrying. Legal issues require informed debate and political commentary requires objectivity. Both were missing before and after the Supreme Court verdict. This brings us to the vital issue of accountability of the new players in the power game.

The higher courts are accountable via the Supreme Judicial Council. The latter’s record has not been encouraging, as far as holding members of the superior judiciary accountable is concerned. Similarly, the media — or large segments of it — acts as if it is not accountable to any authority.

Continue reading The military-backed judges and a section of media and politicians acting against the PPP leadership as instruments of power and negotiation through the decades

Najam Sethi on how Pak army’s encouragement of anti-Americanism has come back to haunt it

GHQ must take joint-ownership of US-Pak relations

By Najam Sethi

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security has taken more than two months to get cracking. Now it is faced with the prospect of being left in the lurch by the PMLN that is backpedaling on certain proposals. Thus the PPP government finds it difficult to own the proposals recommended by the military, which imply, at the very least, a reopening of the NATO supply line without absolute US guarantees of an end to the drone strikes. Meanwhile, President Obama has hissed a word of advice to Prime Minister Gillani: ‘protect your sovereignty by all means but don’t undermine US national security interests’.

Continue reading Najam Sethi on how Pak army’s encouragement of anti-Americanism has come back to haunt it

Brahamdagh : No talks with government, We welcome if US, NATO or India intervene, says BRP chief

Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti living in exile claimed Wednesday Baloch movement did not enjoy any foreign support, saying but they would welcome it, be it from the US, NATO or the India.

‘We know foreign powers have their own interests; we think of our own greater interests”, he said in a telephonic press conference at Quetta Press Club.

Mr. Bugti said Baloch women, leaders, activists, students, writers, poets, and intellectuals were being picked up and eventually being disappeared and eventually turning up dead. Under such circumstances, we would welcome the support of foreign countries for independence, he said.

Bugti backed the US resolution on Balochistan and justified it was not against the sovereignty of Pakistan as every country possessed right to intervene in another country’s affairs if that state was involved in human rights violations ….

Read more » The Point

More details » BBC urdu

New York Times – Can Egypt Avoid Pakistan’s Fate?

By MICHELE DUNNE and SHUJA NAWAZ

ONE year after the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military is closing down civil society organizations and trying to manipulate the constitution-writing process to serve its narrow interests. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, where the military has also held sway for more than half the country’s existence – for much of that time, with America’s blessing – a new civil-military crisis is brewing.

For the United States, the parallels are clear and painful. Egypt and Pakistan are populous Muslim-majority nations in conflict-ridden regions, and both have long been allies and recipients of extensive military and economic aid.

Historically, American aid tapers off in Pakistan whenever civilians come to power. And in Egypt, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both resisted pressure from Congress to cut aid to Mr. Mubarak despite his repression of peaceful dissidents.

It is no wonder that both Egyptians and Pakistanis express more anger than appreciation toward the United States. They have seen Washington turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses and antidemocratic practices because of a desire to pursue regional objectives – Israeli security in the case of Egypt, and fighting Al Qaeda in the case of Pakistan.

The question now is whether the United States will, a year after the Egyptian revolution, stand by and allow the Pakistani model of military dominance and a hobbled civilian government to be replicated on the Nile.

Pakistan and Egypt each have powerful intelligence and internal security agencies that have acquired extra-legal powers they will not relinquish easily. Pakistan’s history of fomenting insurgencies in neighboring countries has caused serious problems for the United States. And Egypt’s internal security forces have been accused of involvement in domestic terrorist attacks and sectarian violence. (However, Washington has long seen Egypt’s military as a stabilizing force that keeps the peace with Israel.)

The danger is that in the future, without accountability to elected civilian authorities, the Egyptian military and security services will seek to increase their power by manipulating Islamic extremist organizations in volatile and strategically sensitive areas like the Sinai Peninsula.

Despite the security forces’ constant meddling in politics, Pakistan at least has a Constitution that establishes civilian supremacy over the military. Alarmingly, Egypt’s army is seeking even greater influence than what Pakistan’s top brass now enjoys: an explicit political role, and freedom from civilian oversight enshrined in law.

Continue reading New York Times – Can Egypt Avoid Pakistan’s Fate?

Judiciary stressing its suzerainty: Kamran Shafi

By Adnan Farooq

I am sorely disappointed both with Nawaz Sharif himself going to court, and by the walk-out of the party from the National Assembly during the democracy vote on the 16th January’, says Kamran Shafi.

Pakistan’s leading columnist and a public debater frequently appearing at TV talk shows, Kamran Shafi, writes a regular column for the Express Tribune. He is a known critic of Pakistan military’s unconstitutional actions. In an interview with Viewpoint, he throws light on current political scenario in Pakistan. Read on:

What the present stand-off would lead to?

Hopefully to the realisation by all that it is best to stay within the confines of the Constitution as prescribed for all institutions.

What do you say about the role of judiciary. It was expected that the Advocates Movement would deliver the end of ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. But it seems, judiciary is once again ready to serve the Khaki interests?

I think judiciary is not serving ‘khaki interests’, only stressing it’s suzerainty over every other institution which can prove to be extremely dangerous.

Continue reading Judiciary stressing its suzerainty: Kamran Shafi

Pluralism on trial in Pakistan

Haqqani vision of a tolerant nation integrated into the world community aligns with Pakistani and US interests

By Farahnaz Ispahani

As US-Pakistani relations plunge to new depths, Americans need to look beyond media reports on tactical issues such as aid and counterterrorism. The direction Pakistan takes will be of great strategic significance to the world.

The manner in which my husband, former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, is being treated in our homeland reflects the shrinking political space ….

Read more » gulfnews.com

Memogate: an attempt to thwart democracy, and threatening the representative system is an attack on sovereignty of the people of Pakistan

Civil Society of Pakistan’s stand on So-called Memogate

Civil society terms memogate scandal an attempt to thwart democracy; Says threatening the representative system tantamount to attack on sovereignty of people.

Karachi, Sindh – 17 December 2011: We, the representatives of the Civil Society including non governmental organisations, labour organisations, academia, women’s rights bodies, and media persons express deep concern over the current political situation in the country where a crisis is being manufactured on frivolous grounds, and is being referred as the so-called Memogate. This has the potential of subverting democratically elected Parliament and the Constitution.

It is time all conspirators against democracy and the sovereignty of the people be called to account. Sovereignty belongs to the people who have agreed to exercise it through their representatives in a federal, parliamentary, and a democratic system. Any attempt at arbitrarily altering this arrangement is tantamount to an attack on the sovereignty of the people. Various institutions of the state are supposed to function within their defined constitutional parameters and complement each other but they seem to be working at cross-purposes, to the determent of public interest.

We emphasise that the role of political parties and political leaders is to represent their constituents’ interests and arrive at negotiated agreements to differences in agreed political forums.

The role of state’s security organizations is to serve the people through stipulated constitutional arrangements, under the command of the executive, and not to define what is or is not in the national interest.

The role of the judiciary is to protect the rights of the citizens from arbitrary abuse of executive power, and not to itself become a source of arbitrary executive power.

The role of the mass media is to help citizens hold powerful interests groups within and outside the state to promote their legitimate interests and hold violators of rights accountable, and not to itself act as an unaccountable interest group.

In our opinion, parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss and investigate this issue and come up with findings.

We believe that any attack on the sovereignty of the people will be unjust. It will necessarily lead to conflict and must be resisted.

We appeal to the people of Pakistan to stand united and firm in support of democracy and to resist all attempts aimed at its subversion. The people of Pakistan have made great many sacrifices for the cause of democracy and they should not let any vested interests trample their right to have a democratic and an elected representative system run the country.

Continue reading Memogate: an attempt to thwart democracy, and threatening the representative system is an attack on sovereignty of the people of Pakistan

Sen. John McCain and Graham warn Pakistan about killing US troops

STATEMENT BY SENATORS McCAIN AND GRAHAM ON PAKISTAN

December 5, 2011 – Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on Pakistan:

“We fully appreciate the importance of U.S. relations with Pakistan, which we believe can serve U.S. national security interests. The cross-border air action that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was unfortunate and unintentional, and we are confident that the investigation being conducted by NATO and the U.S. military will clarify the circumstances of this terrible tragedy. We join the President and our colleagues in once again expressing our deep condolences to those who lost loved ones.

The Pakistani government’s response to these events, however, has been deeply troubling and has added to the continued deterioration of our relationship. In recent days, the government has prevented NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan through Pakistan. It has ordered U.S. intelligence officers to leave the country and disrupted their work on important national security matters. And it has boycotted an international conference in Bonn, Germany that supports peace in Afghanistan.

“If these actions were not concerning enough, there were reports just this morning that the Pakistani government has allegedly decided to suspend all bilateral agreements related to counterterrorism, as part of a broader review of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic, and military relations with the United States. Such steps by the Pakistani government would mark a new low for our relationship.

“The United States has been incredibly patient with Pakistan. And we have been so despite certain undeniable and deeply disturbing facts. Most importantly, Pakistani army and intelligence officials continue to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups in Pakistan that are killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of the material used to make improvised explosive devices used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan originates from two fertilizer factories inside Pakistan.

“The time has come for the United States to fully review its relations with Pakistan. We must assess the nature and levels of our support for Pakistan. In particular, all options regarding U.S. security and economic assistance to Pakistan must be on the table, including substantial reductions and stricter standards for performance. Most of all, U.S. policy toward Pakistan must proceed from the realistic understanding that certain actions of Pakistan’s military are contributing to the death and injury of our men and women in the military and jeopardizing our national security interests.

“In light of what could be an entirely new relationship with Pakistan, the United States and our allies must develop contingency plans to ensure the continued logistical support necessary for our military operations in Afghanistan.”

Courtesy » http://mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=10974d5c-9375-faca-6f92-4026304d9334

Trading with the enemy. – By Najam Sethi

The granting of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to India has confounded certain long-established political and ideological vested interests. The story of why Pakistan denied this status to India for two decades and why it has relented today is worth telling because it sheds light on a critical dimension of Pakistan’s “national security doctrine”. ….

Read more » The Friday Times

Why to blame MQM, when PPP leadership is there for capitulation to preserve their narrow personal short-term interests and has nothing to do with the welfare of the people

– Potters’ wares – by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Watayo Faqir is to Sindh what Mullah Naseerudin is to Turkey, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Once someone informed Watayo that his mother had gone crazy and was writhing in the dust in the city centre; knowing his mother acted oddly at times he was nonetheless surprised. Reaching home he inquired; she replied that having seen a rupee coin in the path and thinking that if she picks it up someone would claim it, the best way was to act crazy and pocket it without anyone suspecting. Watayo said, “I knew my mother would not be all that crazy without a very good reason.”

What the PPP leadership terms as the policy of reconciliation is in fact a policy of capitulation for preserving their narrow personal short-term interests and has nothing to do with the welfare or benefit of the people in general and Sindhis in particular. But then nothing better can be expected from people whose politics are based on self-interest.

National interest and preservation of democracy is mendaciously bandied about as the reason behind the vacillations, oscillations, dithering and capitulation of the PPP, which would shame even the most brazen politician of any country, to appease the MQM. The sole purpose behind these brazen transmogrifications is the self-interest of the elite of these two parties who do not even bother to ask their colleagues’ opinions. Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Taj Haider and Nabeel Gabol have come out openly against this ludicrous pantomime. Naturally, no one from the MQM wants to end up in a gunny bag so there has not been a squeak from anyone; any way why would the victors complain?

The resentment amongst the people of Sindh is palpable and their anger at the PPP’s capitulation was expressed by the success of the strike called by the nationalist parties on August 8 and 13. Even PPP members have taken to the streets against the latest capitulation. This pusillanimous and chronic backtracking has made them an object of ridicule and derision for common people because those who forge and implement these preposterous decisions live in inaccessible mansions away from the grubby masses. This habitual volte-face along with the carefree attitude towards the views and problems of workers is isolating the PPP from whatever support that has survived.

The MQM is a different entity; it is ruled from London and only absolute submission is the rule — dissenters are meted out horrible punishments. It is a party that is based on terror, oiled by terror and thrives on terror. This is how this organisation is run and there is no other way for its survival. A quote by George MacDonald (1824-1905), a Scottish poet and author, fits to a T all fascist organisations and individuals. He says, “A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.”

The terrorism perpetrated after Zulfiqar Mirza’s statement left a trail of destruction in its wake because the call to teach him a lesson resulted in a score killed and properties and vehicles destroyed. This carnage was one of the sequels of the May 12 incident; there have been quite a few follow up episodes of that successful run of the show by the MQM during the Musharraf era. Oddly, no one is ready to blame the real culprits in Karachi.

The much flaunted powerbase and mandate have been acquired by sowing terror. All elections are massively rigged and manipulated and all parties practice it in places where they can cow the election staff. The MQM always boasts of a mind-boggling number of votes cast in their constituencies and this they do through fraudulently stuffing ballot boxes. The number of votes that the MQM claims cannot physically be cast in the limited time period and the cumbersome procedure that is required to cast a single vote. This rigging is done to lay claim to being the majority’s representative. This comes in handy to intimidate others into submission through threats. A heavy and unhindered presence of international observers during the elections could expose this mandate farce any day. …

Read more → Daily Times

PPP’s recent decision to revive former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, repressive, & discriminatory Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own Manifesto

– Translation by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

PPP’s recent decision to revive former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, repressive, & discriminatory, Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own Manifesto

An article published in Sindhi Daily Kawish, August 13, 2011 by Naseer Memon provides further analysis of the unpopular decision by PPP to to revive Local Government Ordinance 2001. Naseer makes the following key points:

1. PPP’s recent decision to revive former dictator Musharraf’s undemocratic, repressive, & discriminatory, Local Government Ordinance 2001 is violation of its own manifesto (refer to page 17 of the English version of People’s Party manifesto under “Local Government” section).

2. The argument by the PPP that their decision was simply in the sprit of respecting the mandate of a political party that won in the last local elections in some areas of Karachi and Hyderabad simply makes no sense. The mandate received on the basis of winning in local elections cannot supersede the provincial mandate.

3. Naseer asks to imagine how would have PPP and Sindhi masses reacted when former puppet CM of dictator Musharraf, Arbab Rahim’s government had made that decision. Indeed, they would called it treachery of the highest order and termed Arbab and other ministers in his cabinet as traitors.

4. The present government has not only failed to maintain law and order but does not even pay lip service to the notion of “merit”. The administrative matters such as hiring and job transfers are decided by corruption and influence-paddling.

5. The silence and poor performance by the leaders of Sindh PPP and the active Viceroy-like role played by Federal Minister, Mr. Babar Awan, created a feeling among Sindhis as if Sindhis have no say in how the province of Sindh is run.

6. PPP’s criticism of Sindhi nationalist parties and attitude that they have no right to criticize PPP since PPP won the last elections with overwhelmingly majority and that people did not vote for nationalist parties is inappropriate. Since the political party that Sindhis elected is not able to adhere to its own manifesto and properly represent people of Sindh, Sindh’s nationalist parties, Sindhi media, and Sindhi people have every right to criticize PPP. Indeed, they must urge Sindhi masses to remember who worked for their interests who did not when they go to the voting booths in the next elections.

Personally, I feel that it is very sad that not a single PPP official has expressed dismay or criticized this decision. I guess it must be so important for them to cling their positions than to resign to protest this dreadful decision of PPP.

Courtesy: Sindhi daily Kawish, 13th August, 2011.

The uniqueness of Sindh

– By Ayaz Amir

Just when the sector commanders had been put on the back-foot, and the MQM was vociferating in a manner not seen since 1995 (Gen Babar’s operation), who should come to their rescue but President Zardari’s personal emissary, Montecello University’s most celebrated doctoral figure, Dr Babar Awan.

He has brilliantly appeased the MQM by restoring Gen Musharraf’s  loaded [undemocratic, black, repressive & discriminatory] local government system – first just to Karachi and Hyderabad and then, when … Sindh rose up with one cry against this hasty move, to the whole of Sindh. The MQM can hardly believe its luck – perhaps it hadn’t counted on so swift a Zardari capitulation – but anger in … Sindh is on the rise.

Dr Zulfiqar Mirza’s outbursts had angered the MQM but secured the PPP’s vote bank in rural Sindh. Dr Awan’s gymnastics have pleased the MQM but poured fuel over the burning embers of Sindhi anger. From one extreme the PPP has swung to the other.

The choice of Dr Awan as PPP plenipotentiary was bizarre. How was he qualified to negotiate on behalf of Sindhi interests? The PPP is now on the back-foot. All the certificates of cleverness earned by Zardari for his supposed political sharpness have gone with the wind.

Dr Awan has proved adept at stalling and frustrating the Supreme Court. From the PPP’s point of view, he should have confined himself to that doctrine of necessity instead of floundering in the waters of Sindh.

In an ideal world, the PML-N should have been quick to exploit this opening. Alas, if wishes could be horses. It showed itself eager, a bit too eager, to embrace the MQM when the latter fell out with Zardari. But this proved embarrassing when the MQM’s falling-out proved to be less than definitive. Small wonder, it has yet to get its thoughts in order on the anger on the rise in backwater Sindh.

All of us could do with some clarity on a crucial issue: while the logic of smaller provinces applies to Punjab, because it is too huge and unwieldy, it does not, and cannot, apply to Sindh. Babar Awan and the PPP came perilously close to the idea of Sindh division when they proposed one dispensation for Karachi and Hyderabad – the restoration of Musharraf’s  [undemocratic, black, repressive & discriminatory] local body system – and another for the rural, revival of the commissionerate system. Sindh rural instantly saw red and the PPP had to back down immediately, in the space of a mere 24 hours. But the alarm had been sounded and Sindhi concerns have yet to be addressed or placated.

Carving a southern or Seraiki province out of Punjab will not endanger Punjab identity. Indeed, it will facilitate the task of governance and give a sense of belonging to the people of southern Punjab who feel left out of the orbit of Punjab affairs. But anything even remotely connected to the notion of Sindh division is almost an invitation to dangerous conflict in this most sensitive of provinces.

We should not forget the history of 1947 migration. If we leave Bengal out of the equation, there were two great waves of migration in northern India at the time of Partition: one from East Punjab to West Punjab, and vice versa; the other from Delhi, Lucknow and Bhopal in the north, and Hyderabad Deccan in the south, to Karachi. These migrations were dissimilar in character.

While Punjab suffered the most in terms of looting, plunder, killings and mass rape, when the dust settled and passions had time to cool, the process of assimilation was relatively quick because East and West Punjabis, minor differences of course apart, came from the same cultural stock. With minor variations of dialect, they spoke the same language and shared the same history.

This was not so with the southern migration to Karachi and Hyderabad. Karachi was a cosmopolitan city even then – a mini-Bombay, so to speak – but it was the capital of Sindh, the culture and language of whose native inhabitants was radically different from that of the people who were coming to it from India.

Karachi soon became the centre not of Sindhi culture but of the culture of displaced Dehi, of Delhi as it had been before the tumult of Partition. Delhi today is a Punjabi city. Its old composite, Muslim-dominated culture, the culture from which arose the poetry of Mir and Ghalib, is a thing of the past, lost to the upheavals of time and history. No conqueror, not Taimur and not Nadir Shah, could destroy Delhi, or transform its character, as decisively as Partition did. Those who seek the old Delhi, authors like William Dalrymple, have to come to Karachi to catch a whiff of the past.

Pakistan would be the poorer without this infusion of Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad Deccan culture. True, there was a downside to it as well, …. brought with their culture also their own prejudices. Insecurity and fear were part of their migrational baggage and these were infused into the thinking of the new state. But in cultural terms the arid wastes of Pakistan were enriched by that influx of talent and learning.

Punjabis being Punjabis, no new centre of culture arose in Punjab. But in Karachi we saw the birth of a transplanted culture, its soul carrying the imprint of loss and nostalgia, the usual hallmarks of any migration.

The downside comes from this very circumstance. Sixty four years after Partition we continue to live in the past, beset by old insecurities even though the times have changed and the old certitudes which gave birth to those insecurities no longer survive.

Sindhis are entitled to be a bit upset by all these changes. After all, they too are the inheritors of a great civilisation. Moenjodaro is the oldest pre-historic site discovered anywhere in India. There are other mighty life-giving rivers in the sub-continent: the sacred Ganges, the winding Brahmaputra. But only the Indus, sacred river of Sindh, gives its name to India. Hindus migrating to India from Sindh in 1947 take great pride in their Sindh ancestry.

Sindhi anger, nay Sindhi anguish, is centred on a primal concern. Why must the transposing of cultures be at their expense? And there is a fear lurking in their hearts, the fear of the Red Indian and the aborigine, of becoming strangers in their own homeland. This is a concern which must not be scoffed at. The rest of us, and this includes the successors to the civilisation of Delhi, should avoid words or gestures that smack even remotely of designs against the unity and integrity of Sindh.

From the immortal land of the five rivers, now only three left with us, thanks to the vagaries of history, more provinces can be carved out and no harm will come to it [Punjab]. But let no Punjabi leader or politician say that if Punjab is to be divided the same logic should apply to other provinces. This is wrong thinking. The same logic does not apply to Sindh, it does not apply to Balochistan. It is relevant only to Punjab and Punjab will be doing itself and the nation a service if it takes the lead in this respect, illuminating the path that others can follow.

A word may also be in order about another fixation of the Punjabi mind: Kalabagh dam. If Kalabagh dam is right then there is nothing wrong with the dams India is building on the rivers Chenab and Jhelum. If we are objecting to run-of-the-mill dams in Kashmir, dams whose water is not stored but is allowed to run, how can we support a storage dam on the Indus at Kalabagh? The logic just does not hold.

History cannot be undone. We have to live by its consequences. But Sindh of all regions of Pakistan requires a balance and moderation in the conduct of its affairs. Any hint of an unnatural hegemony of one part over the other is an invitation to anger and despair.

Courtesy: → The News

Sab ka Sooba, hamara kiyoon nahin’ – New controversy tries to exploit citizens

By Asghar Azad

KARACHI: ‘Sab ka Sooba, hamara kiyoon nahinMuhajir Sooba zaroori hai’ these were some slogans printed on the walls of all five districts of Karachi, including Division East, South, West, Central and Malir. The slogans have been written by an organisation calling itself ‘Karachi Lovers’.

An eerie sense of anxiousness gripped the citizens of metropolis who read the statements written on the walls of their city on Monday.

“God save us from the opportunist politicians and their vested interests”, said a citizen after reading the statement. ….

Read more → Daily Times

Searching for an alternative – By Lal Khan

The theory of reconciliation that was devised in connivance with imperialism was to amicably divide the loot and plunder between the different warring sections of the ruling classes who had bought their way up in the structures of the so-called political parties

The mayhem and human slaughter that has been prevalent in Karachi for more than three decades intensifies periodically. Another wave of this dreadful violence has been unleashed in recent weeks. However, this gruesome spate of killings and devastation is not the cause but a symptom of the severely diseased social and economic system the harrowing crisis of which are now nudging society into the throes of barbarism. Those at the helm of the political pyramid of this system and the echelons of power seem to be clueless to put an end to this violence and forge a lasting peace. Or perhaps the political and the state structures are themselves embroiled in this mayhem and the conflicts that are exploding are the clash of different sections of finance capital representing their vested interests in the different belligerent factions of the political and state institutions. …

Read more → Daily Times

Seeds of a bitter harvest

by Waseem Altaf

As for Muslims, they were to associate themselves with the Arabian Peninsula and not the subcontinent, with Mohammad Bin Qasim and not Raja Dahir, with Mecca and Medina and not Moenjodaro and Harappa. The relationship with the soil and the soul of the subcontinent was buried forever.

Although the Two-Nation theory did suit the interests of some, it was a total negation of the concept of pluralism and mutual coexistence. …

Read more → ViewPoint

Pakistan’s Army Is the Real Obstacle to Peace – It shelters jihadists and cows liberal civilian politicians.

– BY MIRA SETHI

Two months after Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, was assassinated by his own bodyguard for criticizing the country’s blasphemy law, the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed for doing his job—advocating protection of the country’s two million Christians.

Taseer’s assassination prompted a debate: Was the blasphemy law, introduced by Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s in his bid to “Islamize” Pakistan, being exploited for mundane interests? Was it leading to witch hunts? Bhatti’s death should prompt Pakistanis to ask themselves an equally disquieting question: Does Pakistan have a future as …

Read more: → THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Pakistan: The End of the Affair?

by Omar Ali

We have been here before, but it is being said that the unhappy marriage between the Pentagon and GHQ  has deteriorated further and once again, those watching this soap opera are wondering if this union can last? Writing in Al-Arabiya, GHQ’s own Brigadier Shaukat Qadir says that the US appears to be “gunning for Pakistan’s top generals”, who are said to be bravely resisting this latest perfidious American plot against General Kiyani.  And why is the US trying to undermine the good General? Because at a meeting with President Obama he made clear  “ that this soft-spoken, laid-back, easy-going general, far from being overawed by the privilege of meeting President Obama, would still give back better than he got.”

This interesting article (I highly recommend reading it twice to get the full flavor) can be read in a number of ways, all of which are worrisome. One is to assume that Brigadier sahib means exactly what he is saying. That there is some core Pakistani interest that General Kiyani bravely insisted on defending, and for that sin, he is now being systematically undermined. Note that Pakistan’s elected government did not decide what this core interest is supposed to be, nor was it consulted before General Kiyani decided to defend this core interest against US imperialism. In fact, Brigadier sahib hints that the elected regime may include “powerful individuals who have no loyalty to this country and its people”. No, this core interest, for which Kiyani sahib is supposedly willing to risk a clash with the United States (and by extension, NATO, Japan, etc) is defined by GHQ, as it has been for decades.

Strategic depth”, it seems, is alive and well and we can live with bombings, insurgencies, electricity shortages and all sorts of economic and social crises, but we cannot live without strategic depth.  For the sake of this strategic depth, we kept the Taliban alive and made sure the new American-installed regime in Afghanistan would not stabilize. And when the Americans leave (something that everyone in GHQ seems convinced is happening very soon), we will restart a civil war in Afghanistan, with “our side” led by the Haqqanis and Mullah Omar.

This war we expect to win in very short order, after which we will move on to our Central Asian Nirvana. Having antagonized all the hardore jihadis by siding at least partially with the US, we are now to antagonize the US and its allies by sticking by the Taliban. This is known as GHQ’s “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar” strategy”. * The problems with this approach are manifold and include:

  1. “The imperialists” are unlikely to leave as soon as imagined. This alone puts the whole strategy in question because as in Kargil, there seems to be no plan for the possibility that the “enemy” may not do what we expect it to do.
  2. “Our side” is unlikely to win all of Afghanistan even if the Western imperialists leave according to our timetable.  Given the opposing interests of many regional powers, that struggle is likely to be even more prolonged and bloody than the last attempt to fill the Afghan vacuum.
  3. “Blowback” from this war will be worse than the blowback from the current confused operation. The Taliban refused to cooperate with us against anti-Shia terrorists even in the good old days of the nineties. This time around, they will be much more difficult to control. We cannot even control the current (relatively small) Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. To imagine that we will control the much larger and more fractious Islamic emirate of the future seems to be a pipe dream.
  4. Any exit of the imperialists and return of the Taliban will inevitably be followed by a house-cleaning of Western “fellow travellers” in Pakistan. That cleansing may not be on the army’s immediate agenda, but pressure to Islamize Pakistan will be hard to resist once the Islamists are winning. The establishment may then find it expedient to try and get rid of the ANP, Pakistani liberals and other riff-raff that the army has tolerated in the Sulah e Hudaybia phase. Naturally the Americans will respond with retaliatory measures of their own and a liberal efflux will have some modest but detectable negative impact on the economy and the state; the final outcome, in a weak and fractious state, may not even be up to North Korean standard.

But that is only one interpretation of Brigadier sahib’s views. There is another; it may well be that cooperation with the United States is set to continue, but the haze of lies that surrounds the relationship now needs to be raised to new heights.  Pakistan’s deep state is highly “Westernized” in very practical ways and has always been a willing and even eager partner of the CIA and the Pentagon in the region. But both the state and its American minders have been operating with  the view that those who matter will calculate profit and loss, and everyone else can be kept suitably entertained with our own peculiar version of Jihadi kool-aid (a uniquely Pakistani mix of Islam, militarism and the “two nation theory”).

In one of the more spectacular “own goals” in history, this convenient and previously useful propaganda has now created a large constituency within the rank and file of the armed forces and the semi-educated middle class. How now to tell them the truth, smack dab in the middle of a crisis? Better to just update the kool-aid, pray to Allah, and keep going while hoping for a miracle. In this version, no breach with America is intended or desired, but the natives are restless and the Jihadi/Paknationalist credentials of the supreme commander must be burnished to prevent any unpleantness, hence the article and others like it. The problem with this version is that it means the state will continue its policy of trying to appease both the Islamists and the Americans and this only postpones the day we fall between two stools, it does not alleviate that risk.

Yet another version holds that this is simply more of the “controlled burn” strategy, the aim being to get the Americans to cough up more money by raising the threat of a “rogue” nuclear state (a strategy with which we have long years of practice by now). The problem with this version is the one pointed out by Mr. Lincoln a long time ago; you cannot fool all the people all the time. What happens if someone decides to call our bluff?

It is hard to say which of these theories is correct. If I had to pick, I would pick the last one because I am a cynical person, but there is little objective evidence based on which an outside observer can decide between these theories. It is even possible that all three (and others I have failed to imagine) are ALL simultaneously true. Pakistan’s biggest curse and the army’s most treacherous gift to the nation is its culture of secrecy and double-dealing. Domestically, the army (and particularly its intelligence agencies) have thoroughly undermined the credibility and effectiveness of politicians, civil bureaucrats and the media by decades of behind the scenes manipulation. They have done the same thing abroad by keeping foreign policy under their opaque control. This is fertile ground for conspiracy theories of every stripe (including the three I have managed to outline above) and the truth is impossible to know for sure (“loose change” aficionados will no doubt feel it’s the same in the United States, but the murkiness in Pakistan is an order of magnitude above anything an American can imagine). And the same opacity and confusion may now extend to the supreme command; it is possible that not only are we unable to discern what is going on, the corps commanders who meet every month are equally clueless and confused. Not being the best and the brightest, and acutely conscious of their intellectual shortcomings but determined to stay in charge no matter what, they may be flying blind too….this final irony raises the disturbing possibility that the past may not be an adequate guide to the future and very nasty black swans may be swimming just beyond the next bend in the river. Perhaps India should prepare for an influx of Pakistanis seeking refuge from chaos that even the worst enemies of Pakistan may not have imagined. Being our cousins, and with a bureaucracy not known for its boldness and vision, one doubts that India will have a policy adequate to the needs of this mother of all black swans. The rest of the world may be equally unprepared. The Chinese, supposedly used to thinking one hundred years ahead, may be our only hope.

* “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar strategy“: Literally, one hundred onions and one hundred lashes. A man was to be punished and was given the choice of eating a hundred onions or getting a hundred lashes. He opted for the onions but after 3-4 onions, he thought this is too hard and switched to lashes. But after 5 of those the pain was too much, so he switched again to onions..he ended up with a hundred of both. GHQ runs the risk of being punished by both sides to the full extent of the law. Picking one poison might have been a more rational choice.

Post Script: Sufi masters in upstate New York have sent a sufi teaching story that they claim has some relevance to why the hapless civilian regime is having so little success in Pakistan; It is not known if these are true sufis or impostors, so the story may or may not apply. Halva strategy: The Mongols were coming and the capital was in a state of panic. A holy man showed up and his followers claimed he had magical powers and could stop the Mongols. He was invited to take over and do his thing. He took over command and ordered the ministers to prepare the finest halva. They did so, he ate and let others eat as well. Next day, they said the Mongols are only 100 miles away, what now? He asked for more halva. It was done. This went on for days, every day the Mongols got closer and he asked for more of the best halva. Finally the Mongols arrived at the gate. He packed up his sleeping bag and said “I am off, do what you can to save yourself”. Everyone screamed “But what about the your magic”? He said “dudes, I came for the halva and I had lots of it and it was indeed good. The Mongols are your problem. Good bye.”

Read more: 3 Quarks Daily

‘Stable Afghanistan not worth abandoning strategic interests’

By Shahbaz Rana

Excerp:

…. The German cabinet member appeared reluctant to commit to additional assistance for security. “We know that for our work we need a secure environment but we cannot make payments as much as you require,” he said. …

…. The German minister urged Pakistan to implement tax reforms. “For us as donors, a strong, big and proud country must do more than have revenues from only 1.5 million people out of a 180 million population as it is important for us to explain our taxpayers,” he added.

To read complete article: The Express Tribune

What is wrong with the military?

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Feeling the political heat from the public and some politicians, Pakistan’s military chief, Pervaiz Kiyani, has hit back accusing that this is an effort “to drive a wedge between the army, different organs of the state and, more seriously, the people of Pakistan, whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.” Translation: To ask for the civilian control over the military and to scrutinize its mammoth secrete budget is creating a wedge between state institutions. Naturally, if the absolute supremacy of the military institution—a taken for granted privilege—is challenged it will create a wedge in the existing institutional alignment.

Gen. Kiyani’s statement makes it clear that the military is in mode to introspect, reform and help Pakistan by stepping back from national politics. Instead Gen. Kiayni is combinative, using the same old clichés and employing slick political strategies. The military does not want to or is not getting it as to what is wrong.

What is wrong with Pakistan military? Fundamental blunder of the military is to establish a monopoly over defining Pakistani nation and its interests. It is not the military that defines the nation and its interests in any civilized country. It is the duty and task of the political forces to do so and the military follows the dictates of the civilian government’s defined objectives.

In Pakistan’s history from Gen. Ayub Khan to Gen. Kiayni, military chiefs take it upon themselves to define the Pakistani nation and its interests. In the rest of the world the dictum is that ‘war is too serious a matter to be left to the generals’ but in Pakistan it is just the opposite ‘war and national interests are too serious matters to be left to the civilians.’

Pakistan military defined Pakistan as a religious state from the very beginning but the trend accentuated after losing war in East Bengal. The logical lesson from losing East Pakistan should have been that a country cannot be united on the basis of the religion. Bengali Muslims rebellion should have been an eye opener for the military. However, it embraced the most illogical conclusion and embarked upon a course to turn Pakistan into an Islamic theocratic state. Military reached this conclusion just because it was only Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) that was its partner in butchering the East Bengali Muslims. Post 1971 war nexus between military and religious parties, specifically JI, always played the major part in shaping Pakistan of today.

Without getting into details of how the military-mullah alliance created religious bigotry, theocratic laws and, ultimately, proliferation of jihadi producing madrassas, we should look at the final outcome. Jihadi producing madrassas were abetted, encouraged and financed by the military. If it was not so let us assume that somehow such schools were being established by the Marxist or Maoists? Would military allow it and watch from the sidelines or destroy them? Let us assume that instead of Muslim jihadis, India like Maoist movement had started a guerrilla war against the state what would be military’s response? They would have been crushed ruthlessly. Therefore, there should be no doubt that proliferation of armed bands of jihadis is the outcome of military’s ideology imposed on that society. It is the military’s nation defining monopoly that has created the present disastrous situation.

The irony is that military is not willing to recognize the mess they have created. They are not prepared to back off from nation defining and hand over this function to civilians. May be civilians will not be very successful in this venture but they have yet to prove. On the contrary, military prescriptions are well tested in the last 60 years and we know that they have created havoc in Pakistan. They should look at Pakistan and see the ruins created by them. But will they? It does not seem likely because monopoly over ideological discourse is closely linked to their institutional and personal interests (perks).

Courtesy: Wichaar

Congressional Sindh Caucus Founded in Washington DC

WASHINGTON, DC (May 31, 2011) – The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) is glad to share with the people of Sindh, Sindhis around the world, and especially American Sindhis that the Congressional Sindh Caucus was founded late last week at the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Dan Lungren, approved the registration of the Congressional Sindh Caucus. “The Committee is pleased to accept the registration for the 112th Congress,” said the confirmation letter.

The Congressional Sindh Caucus is co-chaired by Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California and Congressman Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana. Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from Southern California, was the first to join the co-chairs Member in becoming a Member of the caucus.

The formation of Congressional Sindh Caucus is a positive step in these critical times. “Sindhi Americans must come forward, support, and participate in these efforts” said Dr. Maqbool Haleepota, SAPAC’s President.

“I commend Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Dan Burton’s strong support for the Sindhi-American community and welcome the addition on Congressman Adam Schiff to the Caucus. The Congressional Sindh Caucus will be helpful for US and Sindhi-American interests. Sindhis are a natural ally of the American people. Sindhi language and culture and the education of Sindhi women should be the major priorities of the Caucus,” said Munawar Laghari, SAPAC’s Executive Director.

Letter from Karachi, the capital city of Sindh

Letter from Karachi – by Jason Burke

Excerpt:

A new Pakistani everyman—Mehran man—is increasingly defining the country’s identity

…. Given the dysfunctional nature of Pakistani democracy, we cannot ignore Mehran man. Apart from anything else, the army is full of Mehran men. During a week I spent with the Pakistani army, the heritage of Sandhurst seemed largely restricted to the whitewashed stones aligned outside segregated messes for senior officers, junior officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks. The links to America are more material—helicopters, jeeps and ammunition—but no more profound. Conversations with officers reveals that their understanding of Pakistan’s best interests differs radically from that which London or Washington would like them to have. As for the other pillar of non-elected power in Pakistan, a lot of bureaucrats drive Mehrans too, or at least did before being promoted.

All this poses problems for the west. Our policy towards Pakistan has long been based on finding the interlocutor who resembles us the most—Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto, now her widower—and then trying to persuade them to fit in with our agenda. But the people we are talking to are going to find themselves more and more cut off, culturally and politically, from those they lead, and less and less capable of implementing the policies that we want. Pakistanis are increasingly defining their own interests, independently of the views of their pro-western leaders. And Mehran man will soon be in the driving seat.

To read complete article: The Express Tribune

The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

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

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

By Khalid Hashmani

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

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

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

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

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

HEC injustices: The weak PPP govt. has cowed down again on HEC issue

HEC: Story Of Gross Injustices To Smaller Provinces

HEC injustices: Out of the total of 61 scholarships, no scholarship was awarded to any university in Balochistan while only one scholarship was awarded to a student from the University of Karachi, Sindh. 36 scholarships went to Punjab, 19 to Islamabad and 5 to Pakhtoonkhwa.

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The country witnessed a high drama in the past few weeks as certain people with vested interests, some pro-establishment media hawks, bureaucrats and few so-called intellectuals created uncalled for hype and misgivings against the government decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan & hand over some of its powers to the provinces according to the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The opposition has cowed down the present government, weak as it is, and it may delay the devolution of a federal agency, which doesn’t have any justification to exist anymore. The education is a provincial subject and all the relevant subjects need to be transferred to the provinces, sooner the better.

Higher Education Commission like all other federal departments and agencies has been widely accused of following policies detrimental to smaller provinces. It is also accused of gross injustices in awarding scholarships and carrying out other projects completely ignoring the smaller provinces.

Read more :  Indus Herald

Pakistan, the “security state” available to the highest bidder

The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi & Muneeb Farooq – 18th April 2011)

Via Siasat.pk, Punjabrang.com, You Tube

— — — — — — — —

The Pakistan ultimatum

by Najam Sethi

Who could have imagined that a serving commander of the Pakistan Army in the Waziristan badlands would have consciously knocked the popular myth that American drone strikes in Fata are part of the problem and not part of the solution of terrorism? But that’s exactly what happened on March 8.

Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7th Div North Waziristan, did not mince words in his printed brief ‘“Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes” handed out to journalists from his command post in the area. He made two main points: (1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are “hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners,” while civilian casualties are “few”. (2) But by scaring local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies. Obviously, the first consequence is good and welcome as part of the national “solution” strategy and the second is problematic and should be minimised because it creates local “problems” of a tactical nature.

Gen Mehmud hasn’t been fired or reprimanded. This means he had the green signal from the GHQ to make his brief. His statement explains the consciously nurtured “duality” of official policy versus popular position on drone strikes and confirms the Wikileaks summary that both secret authorisation and popular criticism go hand in hand in Pakistan where both civilian and military leaders are on the same page.

To be sure, the tactical issues are not insignificant. The Pakistani military would dearly love to own some Predators or at least have a measure of command and control over them, so the demand is worth making publically all the time even though it routinely falls on deaf American ears – for obvious reasons, this devastating technology isn’t available to any state except Israel.

Similarly, the Pakistan military would like to have a critical advance say on the choice of drone targets so that “hardcore Al-Qaeda elements and foreigners” noted by Gen Ghayur are usefully targeted but some Pakistani “assets” among the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omer, Gulbudin Hekmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and Siraj Haqqani’s Taliban network are spared for long-term application in Afghanistan. Disagreement with the Americans over this particular issue compels military spokespersons to blow hot (in public) and cold (in front of the Americans) over all drone strikes.

Sometimes, when it gets uncomfortably hot under the collar, then General Ashfaq Kayani has to weigh in for public consumption – as he did recently when, the day after Raymond Davis was freed (courtesy ISI) amidst howls of protest from the media, a drone strike killed over 40 pro and anti-military tribesmen in a jirga for local conflict resolution in Fata.

Pakistan and America have some strategic interests in common, like eliminating Al-Qaeda from Waziristan. But there are disagreements about who is a “good” Taliban and who is not. This is not strange at all. The answer to this question will determine who will rule or share power in Afghanistan in the next five years and who will not. It will also have a bearing on Afghanistan’s strategic and tactical allies in the neighbourhood in the future – India or Pakistan. Therefore Pakistan’s military, which loves to hate India even as America is itching to embrace India, believes it cannot shrug away any openings or opportunities for leveraging its concerns and interests.

This perspective explains how the Raymond Davis case was handled (exploited) by the ISI and the import of DG-ISI’s recent dash to Washington for a meeting with the CIA chief. The ISI wants greater tactical input/output into CIA operations in Pakistan (to protect its strategic assets at home like the Lashkar-e-Tayba and the Haqqani network) even as it strategically allows the US to operate drones and run special agents freely from two bases in Pakistan where visas and landing rights are not an issue. Who knows how many Americans land or take off from these bases, how many carry weapons and what they do in their bulletproof SUVs when they cruise the length and breadth of Pakistan?

Under the circumstances, the DG-ISI’s “request” in Langley was about reposing “trust” in joint operations rather than any overt threat to deny existing facilities and rights. The US has responded with a drone strike in South Waziristan which is supposed to be strictly out of bounds. This signals its intention to remain focused on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda even as it “considers” Gen Pasha’s request for greater sensitivity to Pakistan’s needs and interests. No more, no less.

A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a pro-US establishment paper, sums up the American position bluntly. It is titled: The Pakistan Ultimatum: choose whose side it is on. “Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation… Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India… After 9/11 Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.

So it’s time for Pakistan’s military leaders to make up their minds and deal with its consequences. They must be upfront with America – because it’s a greatly beneficial “friend” to have and a deadly “enemy” to make – and honest with Pakistanis – because they’re not stupid and can eventually see through duplicity, as they did in the Raymond Davis case.

The military cannot forever hunt with America and run with an anti-American Pakistani public they have helped to create. They cannot instruct the DG-ISPR in Islamabad to convey the impression of tough talking in Langley while asking the GOC 7 Division in Waziristan to give a realistic brief to the media about the critical benefits of drone strikes amidst all the “myths and rumours” of their negativity. This double-dealing confuses the public, annoys a strategic partner, and discredits the military all round when it is exposed.

More significantly, it makes it difficult for Pakistanis to swallow the hard realities and the harder decisions necessary to change them for the sake of the state’s survival and the nation’s growth.

The duality or contradiction in the military’s private and public position vis a vis its relationship with civilians in Pakistan and its relationship with America is a direct consequence of two inter-related factors: First, the military’s threat perception of India’s rising military capability, and second, its fear of losing control over India-centred national security policy to the civilians who are keen to start the process of building permanent peace in the region, thereby diluting the military’s pre-eminent role in Pakistan’s polity.

The military’s scheme of things requires a permanent state of relative hostility towards, and distrust of, India. That is why its national security doctrine is fashioned on the premise that it is India’s military capacity to harm Pakistan rather than its intentions to build a permanent peace that matter.

Of course, this is a perfect and unending rationalisation of its economic and political hold over Pakistan since India’s conventional weaponry is forecast to grow by leaps and bounds on the basis of a robust economy and nationalist unity. But Pakistan’s limping economy is groaning under the burden of the arms race engendered by this philosophy and its civilian polity is fracturing in the grab for diminishing resources. That is why its civilians are increasingly plucking up the courage to stare the army in the face for their political, provincial and economic rights.

The military’s policy of renting itself out to America for its own sake and also complaining about it at the same time for the sake of the Pakistani public is clearly bankrupt. Isn’t it time, therefore, to consider a different paradigm, one in which conflict resolution and peace with India deliver an economic dividend that can be reaped by all in an environment free from destabilising extremism and war in the neighbourhood? In pursuit of an untenable philosophy, what use are dubious non-state “assets” that can become extreme liabilities in an impending national meltdown?

Under the circumstances, General Kayani could do worse than go on the national hookup and defend the truth of the briefing given by his subordinate Maj Gen Ghuyur Mehmud. He will be surprised how quickly a majority of Pakhtuns in particular and Pakistanis in general will back him to the hilt and help change the national paradigm. This is more our war than it is America’s because we live and die here and not far away across two great oceans.

The writer is Jang Group/Geo adviser on political affairs.

Courtesy: The News.com.pk

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=42073&Cat=9&dt=4/17/2011

Bahrain Puts Pakistan on Front Burner: Pakistan Army Contingent Secretly Moved To Bahrain

Bahrain Puts Pakistan on Front Burner: II; Pakistan Army Contingent Secretly Moved To Bahrain to ‘Restore Peace’ & Protect Bahraini, Saudi & US interests

By Aijaz Ahmed

Although Pakistan has agreed to provide complete support for peace and security of Bahrain where political turmoil continues unabated, the decision might make it pay heavy price in terms of its good neighborly relations with Iran.

Pakistan has stood and will stand with Saudi Arabia

Read more : Indus Herald

World War III: One Nation at a Time

Look past the puppets and above the globalists’ stage.

commentary by Tony Cartalucci

The globalists are infiltrating, corrupting, and turning the entire planet, one nation at a time in a combined scientific-geopolitical dictatorship that will be effectively impossible to reverse once it is completed. The latest Western-fueled conflagration in the Arab world indicates an accelerated regional strategy of destabilizing and taking over target nations. Nations like Russia and China, whose interests are being directly threatened and stripped away in this malicious melee, appear powerless and unprepared.

Some nations succumb in silence behind the scenes, others are invaded, mercilessly brutalized, and assimilated into the globalist combine. The civil society overlay the globalists use to establish what amounts to a subversive shadow government is always creeping forward no matter how hard a target nation may try to ward it off. Only in the most extreme cases, such as Qaddafi’s Libya has civil society been uprooted entirely – making military intervention an acceptable and inevitable alternative from a globalist perspective. …

Read more : Info Wars