Excerpt; America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001.
In January 2013, I visited the Haqqania madrasa to speak with senior clerics about the graduates they were dispatching to Afghanistan. They agreed to let me interview them and gave the usual patter about it being each person’s individual choice to wage jihad. But there was also continuing fanatical support for the Taliban. “Those who are against the Taliban, they are the liberals, and they only represent 5 percent of Afghans,” the spokesman for the madrasa told me. He and his fellow clerics were set on a military victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, he said, “it is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power. The white flag of the Taliban will fly again over Kabul, inshallah.”
Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out.
Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.”
The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the U.S. and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.”
When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.
Meanwhile, the real enemy remains at large.
This article is adapted from “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014,” to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times. She covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for the paper from 2001 to 2013.
Editor: Joel Lovell
By DECLAN WALSH
LONDON — When he leaves his post on Friday, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the inscrutable Pakistani Army chief and former spymaster, will end a nearly decade-long chapter as the focus of American fears and frustrations in Pakistan, the reluctant partner in a contentious and often ill-tempered strategic dance.
Suspicious American officials frequently accused him, and the 600,000-member army he led, of double-dealing and bad faith: supporting the Afghan Taliban, allying with militant groups who bombed embassies and bases, and sheltering Osama bin Laden.
Those accusations were made in private, usually, but exploded into the open in late 2011 when Adm. Mike Mullen, the American military chief who sought to befriend General Kayani over golf and dinners, issued an angry tirade to Congress about Pakistani duplicity.
The taciturn General Kayani weathered those accusations with a sang-froid that left both allies and enemies guessing about what, or whom, he knew. But few doubted that he nursed grievances, too — about C.I.A. covert operations, the humiliating raid that killed Bin Laden, and perceived American arrogance and inconstancy.
General Kayani, 61, steps down with those arguments still lingering. And reckoning with his legacy exposes a cold truth at the heart of the turbulent American-Pakistani relationship: that after years of diplomatic effort, and billions of dollars in aid, the countries’ aims and methods remain fundamentally opposed — particularly when it comes to the endgame next door in Afghanistan.
“We have almost no strategic convergences with Pakistan, at any level,” admitted a senior American defense official. “You’ll never change that, and it’s naïve to think we can do it with an appeal to the war on terror.”
The latest statement from the military blasting chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami Munawar Hasan for undermining the sacrifices made by the soldiers fighting terrorists has shocked many in the capital. The JI traditionally, has been the mouthpiece for the military during the 1980s Afghan jihad and fighting in Kashmir. It’s also established that the army had used the Jamaat’s street power to put democratic governments under pressure through controlled or sometimes out of control protests. It is also believed that there is a huge following of JI in the armed forces. Even the arrests of Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the residences of JI activists has not affected the military-JI relations in the past.
So, is it a signalling of sorts that the military is trying to portray itself as a national army now as compared to its earlier image of an ideological force whose notion of jihad is similar to Jamaat-i-Islami?
But what prompted this strong reaction by the military needs to be examined. Even pragmatic military rulers like Pervez Musharraf had to seek help from the JI to prolong his tenure. Then why is it that the Jamaat and the military are finding themselves at the crossroads today?
The issue of missing persons that began in 2006 started the rift between the traditional partners when JI followers that included lawyers approached the courts for the release of what they claimed were innocent civilians who were arrested by military intelligence agencies on the allegations of supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The courts took up the cases and started questioning the role of the military behind these forced disappearances. JI-backed lawyers were pressurised by the military to drop these cases and to stop pursuing the matter. But the cases continued, despite the fact that they did not reach their logical conclusions.
By Najam Sethi
Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.
It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.
Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.
The Taliban are crumbling faster than cardboard shanties in the path of a storm. Promises of fierce ground battles, that churned the blood of many a chest thumper in Pakistan, are now drifting helplessly in the dust laden Afghan wind. It is not over yet, not by a long shot, but what remains is a mopping up operation. Scattered over rural Afghanistan, the Taliban residue and their foreign volunteers will be picked off slowly but surely.
It is sad in a way although I have no love for the Taliban or what they stood for. Much of this could have been avoided if they were less cocky or more rational or more ready to be a part of the world. If they were all these things, though, they would not be Taliban. People who are ready to blow up ancient Buddhist statutes because they are idols or whip women because their ankles are showing or force every man to keep a six-inch long beard, do not live in the same world as you and I.
A particularly poignant moment for me as Kabul fell, was the playing of music from a truck mounted loudspeaker. If the ordinary and trivial becomes special and significant, there is something terribly wrong with the world. And there was a lot wrong with the Taliban’s world. The image of young Afghans queuing up to get their beards trimmed makes this point more eloquently than a thousand or a million words.
The liberators of Kabul are not the Dad’s Army either. Within their ranks are some of the most blood thirsty tyrants ever encountered in the tragic Afghan history. Yet it is a sign of the times that many ordinary Afghans let out a collective sigh of relief when the Taliban departed. So let no one mourn the Taliban. They are not synonymous with the Afghans. They were freaks of history and will hopefully be consigned to that special place where other such oddities are kept.
The army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, recently invited a team of journalists for a briefing, ostensibly to dispel rumours about the military standing in the way of the next elections. But alongside, he took the opportunity to seriously question the capacity of the politicians to handle affairs of the state, particularly their inability to resettle Swat after the army operation, the Hazara killings in Balochistan and the issue of terrorism in the country. The general also took a dig at the Chief Election Commissioner, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim for failing to recognise the COAS after a two-hour-long meeting with him. The incident was clearly intended as a comment on the mental capacity of the CEC.
The meeting generated a lot of excitement. Some prominent journalists immediately eulogised the military commander’s sincerity in letting democracy thrive in the country. How serious the general is about democracy, however, remains to be seen. What this dialogue portends for the future of politics and the security of Pakistanis is a moot point.
If it were another country, the meeting would not even have taken place, let alone been reported on. One would like to remind the good general that in decent states, people usually do not remember the face or even the name of the army chief. And more importantly, the army chief calling journalists for a private, ‘chamber orchestra’ kind of meeting is a fairly sinister tool for intervention in politics. This is one of the many methods for derailing the democratic process. It started with General Musharraf, who was extremely fond of talking and would very often invite journalists and academics to “enlighten” them with his perspective on various national issues. General Kayani operates differently. He invites journalists and, reportedly, he sits there strategically dropping pearls of wisdom to set the tone for a debate. He launches an idea and then goes quiet. The moments of silence are filled allegedly by some of the “planted” minions in the meetings who then give interpretations of what they believe are Kayani’s thoughts. He offers no comments; he only runs rings of cigarette smoke around his captive audience.
Interestingly, he is not the only one who meets with journalists. The ISPR and the ISI have always had their own lines of communication with the media. This is not to trade any secrets, but to create a certain discourse that helps boost the army’s image vis-à-vis the politicians.’
By Dr Farrukh Saleem
The Kayani Doctrine, built on four pillars, comprises: American troops would have to withdraw from Afghanistan; reconciliation among Afghan factions is not possible without the ISI; the Jalalabad-Torkham-Karachi route remains the most viable for withdrawing American forces and India cannot be allowed to encircle Pakistan. In 2009, General McChrystal, commander Isaf and commander US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, requested a ‘troop surge’ numbering 30,000-40,000. In 2010, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 187th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Sustainment Brigade were deployed to Afghanistan.
In 2010, General Petraeus, commander Isaf and commander USFOR-A, refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, began implementing his “comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy”. General Petraeus’ COIN had four pillars: “securing and serving the population, understanding local circumstances, separating irreconcilables from reconcilables and living among the people”.
By 2011, America’s cost of war in Afghanistan hovered around a colossal $500 billion and the US had incurred 1,814 fatalities. By 2011, Petraeus’ four pillars had begun to fall flat – one by one. America could no longer sustain the war in Afghanistan – neither politically nor financially. Finally, President Obama, in a prime time speech, bought into the Kayani Doctrine by announcing a troop drawdown schedule. On December 2, 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with COAS General Ashfaq Kayani. This may have actually been the first formal buy-in of the Kayani Doctrine.
On December 17, the principal deputy assistant attorney general told a federal court in New York: “In the view of the United States, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is entitled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act).” This may have actually been an implicit acceptance by the US of the ISI’s indispensability in the Afghan endgame (the doctrine’s second pillar).
On December 29, Pakistan received $688 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). According to the Ministry of Finance, “from May 2010 onwards Pakistan had asked for $2.5 billion under the CSF but only $1.9 billion have been reimbursed.”
On February 10, “two convoys each hauling 25 shipping containers entered Pakistan at the Chaman and Torkham borders” heading back to where they came from. To be certain, these convoys will be followed by a few thousand taking back around 750,000 major military items valued at close to $40 billion (the doctrine’s third pillar).
Indian defence analysts claim that the British have acted as the intermediaries in the latest US-Pakistan rapprochement and that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also involved in the game. Pakistan is once again becoming the centre piece in the Afghan endgame.
India’s Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar, who served in Islamabad, Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow, opines, “Washington is stonewalling India’s requests for the extradition of two key protagonists who are in the US jails – David Headley and Tahawwur Rana” and that “India’s worst fears with regard to the situation in Afghanistan are probably coming true.”
By Ejaz Haider
Let me make it simple: if you are a Shia in Pakistan, you are on your own. This fact I state for the benefit of all those citizens of this country, Shia and Sunni, who are grieving the slow demise of Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan and expecting that the tide could be reversed through state action.
Now for the longer answer.
There is no doubt about who is killing the Shia. The Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) has repeatedly taken responsibility for it. Its captured terrorists have often stated before courts that they have killed Shias and, given the opportunity, will do it again. The identity of the killers is a settled issue.
Nota Bene: The issue of the proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran, the funding to Sunni extremist groups and whatever is left of Shia extremists, and circumstantial evidence of indirect involvement of hostile agencies is important but peripheral to the main issue, i.e., the terrorists are Pakistanis and killing on the basis of centuries-old denominational differences. The current murderous spree, of course, has a modern political and geopolitical context.
A more relevant question is: if the group that is involved in these killings has not only been ID-ed but IDs itself, what is stopping the state from acting against it, and effectively?
This is where the problem begins.
The LeJ was begotten from the dark womb of the Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). The SSP, banned by Pervez Musharraf, has reincarnated itself as the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. It has a certain political presence. It is technically not the LeJ, even as de facto it is. LeJ terrorists, along with the hardline splinter group of Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM), have over the last five years, come to form the backbone of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conglomerate. The TTP is an entity that political parties now — the ANP included (in desperation) — want to talk to, even as the state considers the LeJ a terrorist entity.
So while the LeJ is a terrorist organisation providing manpower to the TTP, the state is being pressured to talk to the latter and give it the legitimacy of an insurgent group.
But this is not all. In Punjab, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is in talks over seat adjustment with the ASWJ, the Dr Jekyll to its Edward Hyde, the LeJ. Leaving aside the PML-N’s petty lying about the issue, it is a fact that it wants to placate the LeJ through a dangerous liaison with the ASWJ. The general impression is that this is being done to win votes. That’s only partially true. The primary reason is that the PML-N doesn’t want mayhem in Punjab, its central vote bank, where it wants to win and win big through a lot of development work (even if lopsided) by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
By: Shaheen Sehbai
Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered.
ISLAMABAD: The crumbling presidential edifice in the bunkered palace with two green flags on the Constitution Avenue is giving rise to numerous stories, some fiction, some wishful thinking, and some partly true.
The man inside the house is reported by some to be collapsing while others say he is in a defiant mood and will fight till the last. One thing is clear though that a psywar is going on and President Asif Ali Zardari has not many friends who have unflinching faith and commitment to defend him.
The key role is being played by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and it is hard to figure out on whose side he really stands. His own political future is also at stake but his role has assumed the all critical importance because everyone is looking up to him, the civil and military establishment has put its power eggs in his basket as against the president, while his party remains confused and divided. The opposition and most of his coalition partners have abandoned the president but continue to back his handpicked prime minister.
The few who are still standing with Zardari include the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, whose latest brag that there would be no ‘minus-1’ but that if anything happened it would be a ‘minus-342’ (reference to total strength of the National Assembly) is considered by many as the final defeatist declaration that Zardari will not go alone but will take the entire house with him. There are not many takers for Taseer’s threats. On the contrary, the party which President Zardari considered to be his most dependable ally, the MQM of Altaf Hussain, has gone many steps forward to seek his removal from the top office. Almost everyone I met and talked to was surprised at the leap Altaf Hussain had taken from just opposing or abstaining from voting on the NRO to demanding the resignation of Zardari. It was like the last straw on the heavily loaded camel’s back and Zardari was stunned, those around him reported.
His attempt to save the sinking ship by calling Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to Islamabad and then authorising Interior Minister Rehman Malik to fly to Dubai for urgent talks with an MQM delegation from London could be the last desperate effort but as someone who knows the scene reported, “The MQM has closed the doors and has gone to sleep,” meaning that it is no longer interested in seeing Zardari sitting in the Presidency.
Nice words wrapped in high sounding moral logic are being said by MQM to urge Zardari to make his exit dignified but Altaf Hussain is not backtracking from his demand of a resignation. He probably knows more than many in Islamabad. Even when Governor Ebad was rushing to Dubai on Wednesday night after meeting the president, the MQM made it a point to include the resignation issue in the agenda of the Dubai talks expected to begin on Friday.
PTI leaders, Tahirul Qadri hold talks over reconstitution of ECP
By Ema Anis
LAHORE: Top leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) met Minhajul Quran International (MQI) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Lahore on Wednesday to discuss their reservations over the current Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
PTI president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi told the media that the reservations were only discussed during the meeting, but the final decision will be taken by his party regarding the petition being filed in the Supreme Court by Qadri for the reconstitution of the election commission.
PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that a transparent ECP is crucial for the upcoming elections, “but the government claims that it cannot dissolve the election commission as it is against Article 209”. ….
Drop in the Ocean – On whose side is Allah?
by Gen. Shahid Aziz
Published in The Nation, December 30, 2012.
Half-cocked measures never work. Public sentiments are echoed in slogans like ‘drone attacks must end’, ‘stop supporting Baloch separatism’, ‘Black Water and the likes must end terrorism in Pakistan’, ‘stop interfering in our domestic affairs’. But these are mere public appeasement proclamations, made in a manner not to offend our masters. The people, however, know that nothing short of a total breakaway from the US will end our plight. Half-cocked measures never work. And we cannot breakaway unless the current political order is replaced with something more dynamic. They have permeated to the very roots of this system and will control any change within it. This political carousel, irrespective of new players, will continue to remain compliant to US objectives. For any positive outcome, these shackles have to be entirely removed and a new citizen friendly order created; adjustments to fit ankle size will not reduce the pain.
By Joel Brinkley
Distracted by the deadly violence in Mali and Algeria, no one seems to be paying adequate attention to the tragicomedy under way in Pakistan.
This matters because events of the last several weeks demonstrate without equivocation that Pakistan is an utterly failed state – but one that possesses nuclear weapons. The country is tumbling down the abyss. Where else could a fundamentalist Muslim cleric who lives in Canada draw tens of thousands of fans to a rally calling for dissolution of the government – speaking from inside a shipping container with a bulletproof window?
That’s just one in a litany of absurdities going on there.
At the same time comes the latest round of unresolvable acrimony between President Asif Ali Zardari and the country’s Supreme Court, which has been trying to bring him down for years.
Courtesy: San Francisco Chronicle
By: Bruce Riedel
2013 will be a pivotal year in Pakistani history. National elections, turnover at the top military position and the denouement in the war in Afghanistan; all promise to make it a critical year for a country that is both, under siege by terrorism and the center of the global jihadist movement. The changes in Pakistan are unlikely to come peacefully and will have major implications for India and America. The stakes are huge in the most dangerous country in the world.
Pakistan is a country in the midst of a long and painful crisis. According to the government, since 2001 45,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorism related violence, including 7,000 security personnel. Suicide bombings were unheard of before 9/11; there have been 300 since then. The country’s biggest city, Karachi, is a battlefield.
One measure of Pakistan’s instability is that the country now has between 300 and 500 private security firms, employing 3,00,000 armed guards, most run by ex-generals. The American intelligence community’s new global estimate rates Pakistan among the most likely states in the world to fail by 2030.
Pakistan also remains a state sponsor of terror. Three of the five most-wanted on America’s counter-terrorism list live in Pakistan. The mastermind of the Mumbai massacre and head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafeez Saeed, makes no effort to hide. He is feted by the army and the political elite, appears on television and calls for the destruction of India frequently and jihad against America and Israel.
The head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar, shuttles between ISI safe houses in Quetta and Karachi. The Amir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, is probably hiding in a villa not much different than the one his predecessor was living in, with his wives and children, in Abbottabad until May 2011.
Pakistan also has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, bigger than Great Britain’s. The nukes are in the hands of the generals, the civilian government only has nominal control. President Asif Ali Zardari has only nominal influence over the ISI as well; indeed it has conspired for five years to get rid of him.
Against the odds, Zardari has survived.
By next fall, he will have served five years, becoming the first elected civilian leader to complete a full term in office and pass power to another elected government. It will be a major milestone for Pakistani democracy. He has served years in prison and lost his wife to the terrorists who besiege the nation. He has often been called a criminal by many, including his own family, and the national symbol of corruption.
Yet, as president, he presided over a major transfer of power from the Presidency to the Prime Minister’s Office, even the titular national command authority over the nukes, to ensure the country is more democratic and stable.
The parliamentary election in the spring will be a replay of every Pakistani election since 1988, pitting Nawaz Sharif’s PML against the late Benazir Bhutto’s PPP. Needless to say, many Pakistanis are sick of the same stale choices. But the odds favour the old parties. Both Sharif and Zardari are committed to cautiously improving relations with India, keeping open ties with America and trying to reform the Pakistani economy. Both will have troubled relations with the Army.
The Economist has tagged Sharif as likely to do best. If he returns to the Prime Minister’s job for a third time, it will be a remarkable turn in his own odyssey.
Sharif was removed from the office in 1999 in an illegal coup and barely escaped alive, to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. His decision to withdraw Pakistan’s troops behind the LOC, during the Kargil war, prompted his fall from power; it also may have saved the world from nuclear destruction. It was a brave move. I remember talking to him and his family in the White House the day after he made the decision to pull back, you could see in his eyes that he knew Musharraf would defame him; but he knew he was in the right.
But many Pakistanis want a new face to lead their country. Out of desperation some are turning to Imran Khan to save Pakistan. The ISI is probably helping his campaign behind the scenes to stir up trouble for the others. He is a long shot at best. He is much more anti-American, anti-drone and ready to make deals with the Taliban, to stop the terror at home. Yet, he understands well that Pakistan is a country urgently in need of new thinking.
Whoever wins will inherit an economy and government that is in deep trouble. Two-thirds of 185 million Pakistanis are under 30, and 40 million of the 70 million 5 to 19 years old are not in school. The youth bulge has yet to spike. Less than one million Pakistanis paid taxes last year. Most politicians don’t pay any taxes. Power blackouts are endemic. Clean water is increasingly scarce even as catastrophic floods are more common. Growth is 3%, too little to keep up with population demand.
So, it is no wonder that the generals prefer to have the civilians responsible for managing the unmanageable, while they guard their prerogatives and decide national security issues. As important as the coming elections will be, the far more important issue is who will be the next Chief of Army Staff.
The incumbent General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given an unprecedented three-year extension in 2010. He is the epitome of the Pakistani officer corps and the so-called ‘deep state’. Pervez Musharraf made him Director General of the ISI in 2004. It was on his watch that the Afghan Taliban recovered and regrouped in Quetta, Osama bin Laden built his hideout 800 yards outside Kayani’s alma mater the Kakul Military Academy in Abbottabad in 2005, and planning began for the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai. He was DG/ISI when David Headley, the American serving life for his role in the 2008 attack, began his reconnaissance trips to Mumbai to prepare the way for 26/11. Kayani probably authorized the funds for Headley’s cover and travel. He is the first DG/ISI to become COAS. His term expires in September, 2013.
The history of civilians choosing Chiefs of Army Staff in Pakistan is not encouraging.
Since General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani made his Yaum-e-Shuhada (Martyrs’ Day) speech on April 30, 2012, there had been speculation about at least he, if not the Pakistani security establishment under him, had had some change of heart vis-à-vis the use of jihadist proxies as so-called strategic assets. Then came the COAS’s August 14, 2012 address in which he spoke more specifically about the twin dragons of extremism and terrorism breathing fire all over Pakistan and its neighbourhood. The general is not an orator but he really did strike a chord with even the worst critics. The diplomatic corps in Islamabad were ecstatic and already declaring the discourse as a paradigm shift.
On the heel of these two speeches came the talk of the Pakistan army revising the so-called Green Book, i.e. its doctrinal manual, to add that the entities such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) perpetrating sub-conventional warfare pose a bigger threat to the country than its eastern neighbour against which all military planning has revolved to date. Prime Minister (PM) Raja Pervez Ashraf, when addressing the National Defence University, talked about the need for the army to redefine and redesign its military doctrine. What are the odds that the PM came with the idea of asking the army for a course correction of one of its premier institutions all by himself? I would say slim to none! Someone somewhere wants to sell this idea of the new thinking to someone else.
There are fears that the army is thinking of moving against the civilian government. That would be a disaster
IN MOST countries the sight of 50,000 devout Sufis riding into the capital in brightly coloured buses and lorries would not raise the spectre of military intervention. But so convoluted are Pakistan’s politics that the march led by Tahir ul Qadri is read by many as an indication that the army is planning another intervention in government (see article). If that happens, it will be a catastrophe for the country.
Mr Qadri, a cleric who served briefly as a politician under the latest military dictator, has recently returned from Canada and says he wants a “revolution” against the civilian government. He has emerged from nowhere, yet organised a march which arrived in Islamabad on January 14th—no mean feat, since marches are usually banned in the city—and which was broadcast non-stop on television. Pakistan’s many conspiracy theorists, encouraged by the country’s many conspiracies, suspect that he may be the army’s latest favourite to replace the politicians with whom the soldiers have lost patience.
Mr Qadri’s rise is not the only reason Pakistanis have to worry about the soldiers. On January 15th the Supreme Court suddenly ordered the arrest of the prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, over a long-running bribery scandal. The court, along with the army, has long been hostile to the government. There is talk in Pakistan of a “Bangladesh option”, a reference to a quiet coup in that country, engineered by the army in January 2007 and legitimised by the judiciary, leading to a two-year suspension of democracy in favour of unelected technocrats.
If the army were to try to get rid of the civilian government, now would be the time, for two reasons. An election is due this year, and a new administration with a decent mandate would be harder to bin than the tarnished Pakistan Peoples Party government of President Asif Ali Zardari. And this year, too, the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, is due to step down. His term in office has already been extended; but he may wish to defer his retirement a little longer.
A recent Pew survey found that Pakistanis are the least enthusiastic about democracy among six Muslim countries polled. That is hardly surprising. After nearly five years of civilian rule, the country is in a desperate state. Terrorist bombings are horribly frequent. The latest, in Balochistan, killed 86 people (see article). The country’s politicians are venal, self-interested and chaotic. Its growth is feeble, its debt unsustainable and its tax revenues have collapsed.
Yet rather than being a solution to Pakistan’s problems, the army is a large part of the reason for them. Its frequent interventions contribute to corruption: politicians reckon they need to make money quickly. Its dominance distorts spending priorities: the government spends around ten times as much on defence as on education. And it undermines the country’s security: the threat of war with India provides a justification for army rule, which is why Pakistanis fear the recent flare-up on the border with India in which five soldiers died.
This could be its big chance
Pakistan could be on the verge of a breakthrough. If the election happens and if it is won by a coalition led by Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister, then it will be the first time that an elected leader has served a full term and handed power to a successor. Such a peaceful transition would be a milestone in Pakistan’s journey towards democracy. It might even help the country get a decent government. It is to be hoped that Pakistan’s soldiers are not thinking of derailing the process. America, which in the past has shown a regrettable ambivalence towards military rule in the country, must make it clear that if they do they will get no support from Pakistan’s friends.
By: Aqil Shah
As the uproar in Pakistan this week shows, meddling in politics is a specialty of both the country’s judiciary and its military. There is a silver lining though. Pakistan’s two major parties — long enemies — have worked together this time to fend off the threat.
This month, Pakistan’s government is fending off a needless political crisis. On 14 January, Allama Tahir ul Qadri, a pro-military cleric turned revolutionary who once claimed to have a direct line to the Prophet Mohammad, marched into the capital with tens of thousands of supporters. He has since threatened to use whatever means necessary to implement his demands, which include the removal of the “corrupt” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government, the disbandment of the current parliament, and the implementation of constitutional clauses that lay down strict financial, religious, and moral qualifications for election to parliament. The move follows on an unusual media blitz last month, during which Qadri took to the streets and airwaves to save the state by demanding the creation of a clean technocratic government backed by the army and the judiciary.
The timing couldn’t be worse. In 2013, Pakistan is expected to undertake its first transition of power from one elected civilian government that has completed its tenure to another. When the current government came to office in 2008, reaching that milestone had seemed unimaginably difficult. All of Pakistan’s previous transitions to democracy had been cut short by military takeovers. As the date for the handover neared, many Pakistanis had started to hope to avoid that scenario this time. As it turns out, though, even cautious optimism might have been too much. It appears that Pakistan’s powerful military, aided by an aggressive Supreme Court, might well have just put a spanner in the works.
by Omar Ali
3 days ago the Pakistani Taliban raided an outpost of the levies, a paramilitary force recruited primarily from the Afridi tribesmen of the Khyber agency. Poorly equipped, poorly paid and left to stand on the frontlines of the war against the Taliban with little or no backup from the army, the levies lost 3 men and another 23 were captured. The next day the “local administration” spent a busy day contacting “tribal elders” to negotiate with the Taliban for the release of those poor men. But the talks failed and the captives were executed and their bodies dumped a couple of miles outside the city. This is not the first time the local Taliban have captured levies or other paramilitary forces and it is not the first time they have executed them. ….
Read more » 3quarksdaily
To watch the video of brutal Taliban execution of Pakistani soldiers, please click this link » http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/12/the-state-withers-away-in-pakistan-.html#more
By: Andrei Volodin, specially for RIR
Russia should make every effort to help recover the pattern of civil society in Pakistan by supporting the role of political parties, civil groups and any organisations that aim to fight terrorism.
Terrorism has grown into probably the most destructive phenomenon in today’s Pakistan. The sorrow list of victims of terrorist attacks is expanding rapidly, going up from 164 casualties in 2003 to 40,000 in 2011. According to official data, damage suffered by the country from 2000 to 2011 exceeded $70 billion.
The official government acknowledgement of terrorism as the main threat to the unity and integrity of Pakistan has proved unable to reverse the situation as terrorist efforts retain their momentum.
The sources of terrorism in Pakistan are usually linked to the policy of Islamisation of the country by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (years in office: 1977 to 1988). An important element of the then emerging terrorist activity was Pakistan’s direct involvement in military actions in Afghanistan and the actual creation of the mujahideen units, who after the end of the military actions rose to prominence as a military and political force first in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan.
The government and society at large have no clear understanding of the strategy and tactics of fighting terrorism. The point of view of George Friedman, a U.S. analyst, is that Pakistan is losing its “trajectory into the future.” This opinion is underpinned by the increasingly chaotic social and political life in Pakistan, the army’s involvement in domestic processes, the poorly regulated government economy and the inability of political parties to set up adequate political life for more than five years. This “institutional vacuum” is inevitably filled up by other organisations, in case of Pakistan, terrorist structures.
Experts often describe Pakistan as a “pendulum state,” meaning the country’s typical alternation of military and civil government. However, following the resignation of Pervez Musharraf and with certain influence from the US, which disrupted the usual cyclicality, this constraint of political struggle was withdrawn from the political process. As a consequence, Pakistani parties were made even more fragile and unpredictable in their actions. There are basically personal problems that are substituting the existing controversies in the diverse social and political programmes of the Pakistan People’s Party, on the one hand, and the Pakistan Muslim League, on the other hand.
Tahirul Qadri asks govt to bring ‘change’ by Jan 10
By Web Desk
LAHORE: Allama Tahirul Qadri, head of Minhajul Qur’an International (MQI), said the government should improve the current setup by January 10 or else he will lead a protest march to Islamabad on January 14.
Qadri was addressing a gathering named “Siyasat nahi, Riyasat bachao” at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore.
Criticising those in power, Qadri said in order to save the country, the people of Pakistan must decide if they will let corrupt people represent them.
Referring to the recent investigative report on country’s lawmakers who don’t pay taxes, Qadri said such people should not be allowed to become a part of the parliament.
“How can people who themselves break laws be allowed to sit in the parliament,” he said.
He also said that the parliament formulates laws that are in favour of the lawmakers rather than the people of Pakistan.
Speaking about his political plans, Qadri said his entire agenda is in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.
He further added that the much-anticipated election should take place but the concerned authorities should ensure it is conducted according to the Constitution.
By: Ayaz Gul
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and Russia have held high-level discussions focusing on how to expand their political, economic and military relationship. But analysts believe Afghanistan is at the center of the intensified diplomacy as both countries are positioning themselves in anticipation of expected withdrawal of most U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani traveled to Moscow this week while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Islamabad.
The high-level exchanges took place just days after President Vladimir Putin cancelled his much anticipated trip to Pakistan, which would have been the first visit by a Russian head of the state. He was supposed to be in the Pakistani capital this week to attend a summit involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia, which was also postponed. The cancellation is seen by many as a setback for efforts to improve ties.
Islamabad: Pakistan is acting more effectively against the Americans than against the Taliban, an editorial in a Pakistani daily has said.
It is clear that Pakistan sees America as its enemy, not the Taliban whom everybody now believes to be the dominant factor in Karachi, the editorial in The Express Tribune said.
The ”logic” that shifts the onus of terror from the Taliban to the Americans is the assertion made by Pakistani officials that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is being sheltered and funded by the US from Afghanistan. To make the case more convincing, they add India to the ”evil conspiracy” against Pakistan even as efforts are being made to normalise ties with India, it said.
“Pakistan Army, ISI must shut up shop if they can’t protect people”: Altaf Hussain’s bold stance on Shia genocide
Minorities under attack: Altaf lines up police, agencies, clerics, judges, army and… fires
By Saba Imtiaz
Karachi: In an impassioned speech that included critiques of clerics and the judiciary, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain asked the Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence and other agencies to shut up shop if they could not “protect people”.
“Leave them,” Hussain said before turning to his audience, “You have a right to defend yourself by any means.”
Altaf’s speech at an interfaith conference organised by his party in Karachi came after a series of statements by him and other party leaders on the increase in the number of attacks on Shias throughout Pakistan. Several clerics from Karachi as well as other cities of Pakistan such as Quetta, Lahore and Chakwal, were in attendance.
By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON — Risking a new breach in relations with Pakistan, the Obama administration is leaning toward designating the Haqqani network, the insurgent group responsible for some of the most spectacular assaults on American bases in Afghanistan in recent years, as a terrorist organization.
With a Congressional reporting deadline looming, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and top military officials are said to favor placing sanctions on the network, which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to half a dozen current and former administration officials.
A designation as a terrorist organization would help dry up the group’s fund-raising activities in countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, press Pakistan to carry out long-promised military action against the insurgents, and sharpen the administration’s focus on devising policies and operations to weaken the group, advocates say.
By Raza Rumi
Two days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief made some startling observations in his address to the Pakistan Military Academy, the militants attacked a key strategic installation — the Kamra airbase. That the attack took place on the revered night of 27th of Ramazan is not without symbolism. For the brand of ‘Islam’ practised by the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) violence precedes other imperatives of faith. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took a bold public position in his address by saying: “Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist…. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes”. The lethal by-products of our strategic ‘games’ — the TTP — are not amenable to such a worldview. In Kamra, they battled the military for more than five hours. The foreign media highlighted the nebulous connection between the airbase and the country’s nuclear assets; but both the Pakistani and American authorities later affirmed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe.
The enemy lies within
The attack on Pakistan’s Kamra air force base, for which the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility, is one more sign — as if more were still required — that the country’s enemy lurks within its boundaries. Militants wearing air force uniforms infiltrated the base that is rumoured to house a part of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, in a manner reminiscent of the May 2011 raid at PNS Mehran, and at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi two years earlier. Armed with RPGs and automatic rifles, and wearing suicide vests, they damaged one aircraft at the base and killed at least one air man. Though the militants were eventually eliminated, the question Pakistan should be asking is why no lessons were learnt from the earlier attacks. Only two days ago, in an address at the Kakul Military Academy on Pakistan’s Independence Day, Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the country needs to fight terrorism and militancy for its own sake. But it is unclear how far the military has addressed the spread of radicalism within its ranks, or if it even sees this as a problem. After the PNS Mehran incident, a journalist who wrote that militants had developed extensive links within the Navy paid with his life; the Pakistani media openly blamed the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence for the killing. In the latest instance too, the attackers seemed to have insider knowledge of the sprawling air base located at Attock in the Punjab province. A Pakistani newspaper had only a few days ago warned that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was planning a raid on a PAF base, giving August 16 as a possible date, but even with such specific information, the military was caught unawares.
Soldiers at Kamra airbase defended themselves well. Now TV anchors, retired generals are out in full force trying to defend & justify Taliban.
Discussion on Kamra Air Base Attack. No body is talking about Taliban. Everybody is talking about America’s involvement in this attack on Kamara Airbase and how the Taliban are being used by U.S., & outside powers!
Via – Twitter » MH’s tweet
By: Aziz Narejo
1. Do you think break up of Pakistan is inevitable?
2. If yes, then who do you think will cause its break up?
3. Do you think it will be nationalists in Balochistan, Sindh & Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa?
4. Don’t you think they are not that powerful or well-organized?
5. Or you think the wrong policies of the Pakistan’s Military Establishment that eats up most of the Pakistani budget & conquers own country almost every ten years & the terrorists it has created to wage proxy wars on Eastern & Western borders & in the cities of Pakistan’s Southern most province will eventually break up the country?
Courtesy: Aziz Narejo, facebook wall
A handful of US congressmen support creating an independent Balochistan, carved out of mostly Pakistani land.
By: Eddie Walsh
Some US congressmen support Baloch nationalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan
Washington, DC – Over the last few months, a small faction of congressmen, minority Afghan groups, Baloch nationalists, and their supporters have laid out the framework for an alternative US policy approach for Southwest Asia.
This alternative policy centres on backing remnants of the Northern Alliance and Baloch insurgents, who seek to carve out semi-autonomous territories or independent states from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
While supporters of this new approach are motivated by a variety of interests, they appear unified in their rejection of what they see as three cornerstones of the Obama administration’s current regional policy approach: 1) Normalising relations with Pakistan’s government and military; 2) Incorporating the Taliban into the current Afghan political system; 3) Overly accommodating an emerging Iran.
In one broad stroke, this new approach would attempt to advance US national interests by redrawing the political borders of Southwest Asia – contrary to the the sovereignty and territorial integrity of three existing states.
While its advocates clearly do not yet have broad support for their initiative, the campaign for an alternative Southwest Asian policy approach is maturing and garnering increased attention in Congress and beyond, especially as a result of three recent high-profile events: a Balochistan National Front strategy session in Berlin, a US congressional hearing on Balochistan, and the introduction of a Baloch self-determination bill before the US Congress.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, it’s nevertheless critical to understand how this alternative policy approach framework has evolved over the past few months.
The ‘Berlin Mandate’ as a loose framework
The Punjab-based jihadists, and especially the SSP that spawned virtually all anti-India terrorists, is where the Pakistani strategic depth, India-centric jingoism and the religion-tethered state ideology converge
At a panel discussion during the Aspen Security Forum last week, the Pakistani envoy to the United States, Ms Sherry Rehman traded barbs with two key figures of the US administration on Pak-Afghan policy. President Barack Obama’s special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, General (Retd) Douglas Lute, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan, General (Retd) Karl Eikenberry, and the current Afghan ambassador to the US, Eklil Hakimi participated in the session moderated by Steve Kroft, the host of CBS News’ 60 Minutes. The Pakistani embassy in Washington, DC circulated the programme video just as what the media called the “zingers” let loose by the Pakistani ambassador made headlines in the US and Pakistani press.
NATO has already rejected some claims made by the Pakistani ambassador such as her assertion that Pakistan shared information on cross-border infiltration with NATO/ISAF some 52 times. She also said that Pakistan helped the US apprehend 250 top-tier al Qaeda leaders before closing her remarks with a message for Generals Lute and Eikenberry, saying, “We don’t welcome or sanctuary foreign fighters on our soil…There is no question now of hedging bets…This is a new Pakistan. Catch up, gentlemen!”
The Pakistani ambassador did not care to explain what had those 250 al Qaeda leaders been doing in Pakistan in the first place. Not one, not two, not ten, but 250 of them, and of course, the mama hornet, no less, all caught in Pakistan. She lamented about the US having walked away from the region after the demise of the Soviet Union, leaving Pakistan to clean up the mess. It is not conceivable that the whole al Qaeda brass had been lounging in Pakistan without the knowledge and/or support of its omnipresent intelligence agencies and the latter’s Punjabi jihadist protégés. While the world appreciates the Pakistani effort in handing over the terrorists, it certainly does not see it as a favour to the US and the global community.
After all, the US may have walked away from Afghanistan but it sure as heck did not ask Pakistan to babysit this whole regiment of terrorist ringleaders. Ms Rehman’s views showed little concern about the US sensitivities on many issues, including Osama bin Laden’s days in Pakistan. As she was busy defending Dr Shakil Afridi’s arrest under the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation as a “constitutional” move, elsewhere at the meeting, the chief of the US Special Operations Command, General Bill McRaven was fielding questions about the Navy SEALs raid to squat the mama hornet, within a mile of Pakistan’s premier military academy. Pakistan and the US’s perceptions could not be further apart.
Debate begins on whether DG ISI, MI can be booked
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: For the first time in country’s history, the Punjab Police have registered an FIR against the chiefs of the Inter Services Intelligence (IsI) and Military intelligence in a missing person’s case in compliance with the Islamabad High Court orders.
The Punjab police action has sparked a new debate as to whether police can book chiefs of major intelligence agencies of the country.According to details, one Naveed Butt, spokesman of banned Hizbul Tehrir was allegedly picked up by the agencies on May 11, 2012, outside his home in Lahore in area of Liaqatabad Police Station. Saadia Rahat, a lawyer and wife of Naveed Butt, moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against abduction of her husband and also moved an application in the Police Station concerned.
On May 14, 2012, the IHC ordered the Punjab Police to recover the missing person and act under the law. However, Naveed was not recovered and on June 26, 2012, the Punjab Police registered an FIR based on the application of Naveed’s wife.
The FIR is captioned: ‘FIR against DG ISI, Deputy Director ISI, Lahore, DG MI, Rawalpindi, Deputy Director MI, Lahore,” and numbered 566/12 PS Liaqtabad, Lahore. Some experts say that an FIR could not be registered against the intelligence chiefs of the country while others disagree with this view.
After registration of the FIR, the Punjab Police immediately took action against the SHO Rana Khursheed of the police station concerned and made the concerned SP, Athar Waheed, an OSD, considered to be a punishment in bureaucratic parlance.
Raja Irshad, senior lawyer, who represented the ISI in many cases, when approached by The News, said that registering of FIR against the DG ISI and DG MI is a ‘wrongful and ‘illegal act’.
Today there is only the cruel choice between continued American presence and Taliban rule
After a trillion dollars and 2000 dead Americans, there is precious little to show as the U.S. heads towards its 2014 exit. America’s primary goal had been to create a stable, non-hostile Afghan government and army which could stop extremist groups from once again using Afghan territory as a base. But Hamid Karzai is already on the way out, rapid desertions could collapse the Afghan National Army, and only die-hards like Marine Gen. John Allen say that the U.S. can win. The Taliban are smelling victory.
America’s failure drives many bearded folks – and Imran Khan’s thoughtless supporters – into fits of ecstasy. It also delights some Pakistani leftists at home and abroad; imperialism has been humbled. Some comrades imagine that a mythicalAfghan “working class” – whatever that might mean – will pop up from nowhere and somehow stop the Taliban from moving in as fast as the Americans move out. Do they also hope for snowflakes in summer?
* AGP tells court ‘PM can’t be asked for implementation of an un-implementable direction’
* SC returns federation’s reply, says only remedy available is to file review
By Hasnaat Malik
ISLAMABAD: Declining to implement Supreme Court’s (SC) December 16, 2009 judgement on the NRO case, the government on Tuesday said the premier is not authorised to write letter to Swiss authorities …..
Read more » Daily Times
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More details » BBC urdu
By Neil Padukone
America’s dependence on Pakistan is a key source of regional instability. The only way out is to find an efficient alternative supply route for NATO supplies into Afghanistan. The Chabahar Road through Iran provides that alternative – if Washington will consider its benefits. ….
Read more » CSMONITOR