Pakistani military controlling Nawaz government: TIME

The Pakistani Military Has Tightened Its Control of the Country’s Security Policy

Appointment of retired general to key security role seen as military attempt to have greater sway

Pakistan plans to appoint a recently retired army general as its new national security adviser, senior officials have told Reuters, indicating yet another step forward in the Pakistani military’s effort to increase its control of the country’s government.

Lieut. General Naseer Khan Janjua will soon be appointed to the key diplomatic and strategic post and will accompany Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on an upcoming visit to the U.S., Reuters cited one military and two civilian officials as saying.

Janjua retired from the armed forces last week and will reportedly replace current national security adviser Sartaj Aziz, who also holds a key post in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Even armymen not above the law, say ex-servicemen


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association has openly called for punitive action against anyone — irrespective of rank or status — who is guilty of corruption or providing support to terrorists, even if they are from the military.

A statement issued on Sunday after a meeting of the association’s executive council said that members had demanded that the government “ensure total human equality while dealing with all cases of corruption and other unlawful activities”.

It further said: “[Ex-servicemen have] always maintained that punitive action must be taken against all found guilty of supporting corruption or terrorism, irrespective of their status and rank, including [members of] the armed forces.”

Explaining the association’s resolve, retired Brigadier Samson Sharaf told Dawn, “If we are to clear the dirt, we have to do it indiscriminately. We are a citizens’ army, we are not above anyone.” He added that all ex-servicemen had offered themselves up for accountability and said that he believed that no-one should be exempt from scrutiny.

The statement’s timing is significant, coming at a time when rumours regarding the possible court-martial of military officials, including a general, on corruption charges are doing the rounds. A reference to the case in a recent newspaper editorial has also sparked speculation, although ISPR has yet to confirm or deny whether such proceedings have actually been instituted.

The meeting, which was chaired by retired Lt-Gen Ali Kuli Khan, was also attended by Air Marshal Masood Akhtar, Lt-Gen Naeem Akbar, Brig Mian Mahmud, Brig Arbi Khan, Brig Masudul Hassan. Brig Akram Malik and Brig Waqar Raja, among others.

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Angry outburst: PPP co-chairman fires broadside at establishment

ISLAMABAD: In a surprising outburst ostensibly against the powerful security establishment, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday that politicians were better suited to running the affairs of the country. “You are here for only three years,” he said in an apparent jab at the army chief.

Read more » The Express Tribune
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The General Mindset: A Satire

Army2A Corps commander meeting was held in Rawalpindi under the chairmanship of most senior General of Pakistan Army to discuss the prevailing political and security situation in the country. The invitation was also extended to the high ranking official from SPD as a special guest, since it is the fourth branch of Pakistani military. During the meeting all the issues pertaining to common man were discussed in detail. While going through the agenda of the meeting, one general raised the point that we are not supposed to discuss the issues that are in the civilian domain and our focus should be only on the implementation of operational aspects of the security policy articulated by the political government. The participants of the meeting quickly noted that this general has just recently attended year long war course in USA and he is forgetting his duties as an officer of Pakistan army. He was reminded about the lack of professional expertise of the civilian principals, chronic corruption by political eliteand most importantly their dangerous tendencies to seek the peaceful relations with enemy of the state i.e., India.

Read more » PAK TEA HOUSE
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More lethal than RAW


Our generals say India’s spy agency RAW is up to its nasty tricks again. No evidence provided but, okay, we’ll buy the story for now. There are two good reasons. First, it’s safer not to question the wisdom of generals. Second, they speak from deep experience, having long played the spy-versus-spy game across borders.

Read more » DAWN
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Pakistan – ‘Ex-army major, colonel involved in robbery of millions’


RAWALPINDI: Local police sent a request to the interior ministry for the names of two former army officers involved in the biggest heist at the airport to be put on the Exit Control List (ECL).

A request was also sent to the Interpol for one of their accomplices in Dubai to be arrested.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Regional Police Officer Muhammad Wisal Fakhar Sultan Raja said five people involved in the robbery were arrested and Rs30.86 million was recovered and the vehicle used in the heist was also found by the police.

Read: Passenger kidnapped at airport, robbed of millions

“Two retired army officers, a former colonel and a major were directly involved in the robbery as they were at the airport. They will soon be arrested and the remaining amount will be recovered from them,” he said.

The RPO said that a serving police sub-inspector had also been arrested and he appreciated the police for managing to find the robbers in seven days and also recover millions of rupees from them.

On April 22, two of the robbers dressed in police uniforms and a third posing to be an official of an intelligence agency beat up and kidnapped a money changer arriving at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Karachi with over Rs70 million. They robbed him of the money and left him on a roadside.

Also read: SI arrested for biggest heist at airport

The RPO said three of those arrested are natives of Gujranwala, while one member of the gang is settled in Dubai. He said that the suspect in Dubai will be brought back through Interpol. He said the two ex-army officials who were associated with an intelligence agency will be prevented from leaving the country.

“The two officers of the intelligence agency are directly involved in the robbery as both were present at the BBIA during the robbery,” the RPO said.

The CCTV footage from the scene of the robbery led to the identification of a sub-inspector of Rawalpindi police who was arrested. Later, during interrogation, the sub-inspector revealed the identities of his accomplices which led to their arrest, the RPO said.

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Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?


Many have called it a game-changer. On December 16, gunmen loyal to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people. Most of the victims were children, and many were killed as they hid under the desks. The violence was so gruesome it seemed to rattle the country like never before. Quickly, the Pakistani government rushed to assure people it had the situation under control. In the aftermath of the attack, the government set up special military tribunals in which to try suspected terrorists, and the penalties are expected to be harsh. Meanwhile, the army reportedly broadened its crackdown in the federally administered tribal areas, in hopes of thwarting terrorism. “There will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. As Matthew Green wrote in Newsweek, Sharif’s words were “a rare public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s murky record on state sponsorship of extremist proxies.” But more than a month after the massacre in Peshawar, has anything really changed? To explore that question, I chatted with Christine Fair, a professor of South Asian political and military affairs at Georgetown and the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Was the school shooting a turning point for Pakistan?

It absolutely was not. The army has said very clearly that they’re hoping these [tribunals] are going to give Pakistanis confidence that the military has the situation under control, but they don’t have anything under control

Who are the “bad militants” in Pakistan?

For the most part, almost all of the so-called bad militants have their origins in groups that the state has long sponsored, aided, abetted, trained and in some cases even developed from the grassroots, either to fight in India or in Afghanistan. So there would be no Pakistan Taliban if there had not been this flotilla of militant groups that the state developed.

The groups targeting the state follow the Deobandi interpretative tradition of Islam. This is important because this means that they share a significant common organizational infrastructure. For example, they rely on mosques and madrassas that adhere to the Deobandi tradition of Islam. When 9/11 happened and Pakistan was forced to work with the Americans, these Deobandi groups were furious. Many of these groups came to know Al-Qaeda through their association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [The Afghan Taliban emerged from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.] And these Deobandi groups were furious that the Pakistani state was aiding the overthrow, not only of the Taliban government, but the only government in the world that was exercising a Deobandi version of Sharia [Islamic law]. After 9/11…[some] of these Deobandi groups began fracturing and disobeying the [Pakistani] state. That’s when the insurgency began. Over time these Deobandi organizations began calling themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

Who are the “good militants”?

The “good militants” are, of course, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, which continue to be loyal to the Pakistani state. And elements of the Pakistani Taliban that refuse to kill Pakistanis. All of those groups kill in Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan’s interests. The other “good militant group” is Deobandi is Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was raised to kill Indians in Kashmir and beyond. Over the past year or so, Pakistan has been trying to resurrect Jaish with the aim of luring away some members of the Pakistani Taliban into Jaish for operations against India. There’s one other group that we haven’t talked about, because they’re not Deobandi, and that’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. That organization belongs to the Ahl-Hadith tradition of Islam. This organization has never conducted an operation in Pakistan. They have exclusively focused on India for the vast majority of its history. In recent years, they have been operating against Americans and our Afghan and other allies in Afghanistan.

Is Pakistan unable to crack down on the “bad militants”? Or do they simply choose otherwise?

The problem is they want to preserve the networks that produce terrorists because those networks are the same networks that also produce the “good militants.” When the “bad militants” come after the state, the Pakistanis do try and kill them. And they try and kill them rather than arrest them because Pakistan’s [civilian] legal system is so decrepit, judges are afraid to convict. But they can’t shut down the system comprehensively because Pakistan still hopes to use “good militants” as tools of foreign and defense policy in the region.

What purpose do these “good militants” serve?

Pakistan is an ideological state, not a security-seeking state. Pakistan was founded as the homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. The Pakistan movement mobilized around the Two Nation Theory, which held that Muslims and Hindus are equal nations even if Muslims are fewer in number than Hindus. The proponents of the Two Nation Theory argued that Muslims cannot live under Hindu domination. Pakistan needs to wrest Kashmir away from India to fulfill the dream of the Two Nation Theory because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority area in India.

Pakistan also hopes to retard India’s ability to impose its will on Pakistan and other countries in the region.The only assets Pakistan has to accomplish these goals are its jihadis, who operate with impunity thanks to Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons. Also, these groups undertake operations with plausible deniability.

The so-called good militants also have an important role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan prefers a manageable chaos in Afghanistan rather than an Afghanistan that is friendly to India. Pakistan is trying to bring some of the “bad militants” back into the fold of the “good militants.” Pakistan’s efforts to reorient part of the Pakistani Taliban in this way also explains why the Pakistan military gave a five-months warning before undertaking operations in North Waziristan. They wanted to make sure they could return as many of their assets as possible to the category of good militants. And they were pretty successful. What remained in North Waziristan are committed foes who can be dealt with through violence and death.

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Pakistan: Govt to act against ‘violent banned outfits’ only

By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD: Of the nearly 72 organisations and outfits that have been declared ‘proscribed’, only a handful are likely to face action in the coming days as part of the government’s impending crackdown on terrorists and militant groups, sources in the interior ministry told Dawn.

The sources say that the government’s focus, at least in the initial stages, would be on organisations which had taken up arms against the state. Such organisations will not be allowed to operate on Pakistani soil anymore and members of such groups who are known to be involved in violent activities will be arrested, an official in the interior ministry told Dawn.

“Following their arrest and interrogation, such individuals will be produced before military courts for trial under a defined procedure,” he said.

The official confirmed that groups which had claimed responsibility for recent terrorist attacks would be proceeded against, but refused to give any details.

He said the provinces had been asked to develop a “multi-faceted process of scrutiny” whereby cases would be sent to military courts, adding that the methodology would be fine-tuned by his ministry.

Benign groups?

It is believed that most banned organisations do not have militant wings and the ministry has no plans to act against such groups. In addition, the ministry’s official said, it was ‘not advisable’ to simultaneously act against all banned outfits.

The provinces had been asked to identify outlawed outfits and keep an eye on key operatives. They will also be looking into groups that have re-emerged under different names after their original incarnation was banned by the government.

The official told Dawn that individuals who faced criminal charges under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act would be monitored closely. Under the law, he added, such persons were supposed to report to a police station before travelling to any other city, as well as intimating their date of return. He said such people were also required to report to the police station concerned in the city they are travelling to, but admitted that this provision had scarcely been enforced in the past.

Although he did not offer specifics on which organisations were regarded as being an immediate threat, the official said a comprehensive assessment was being carried out to ascertain how many of the 72 were active and how many were operating under changed names.

The National Counter-Terrorism Authority’s National Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan could not be contacted to get his point of view.

The government’s list features organisations such as Al Qaeda, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and some of its factions, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Bajaur, Tehreek-i-Taliban Mohmand and Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat. Then there are organisations whose names reflect their inherently militant nature, such as the Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan United Army, United Baloch Army, Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, the 313 Brigade and the Abdullah Azzam brigade, among others.

When asked about banned outfits that had taken part in the last general elections, he said a new procedure was being devised for registration of political parties.

At least 40 candidates from the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, including its chief, Ahmad Ludhianvi, had taken part in the 2013 general elections.

Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah met Ludhianvi more than once prior to the 2013 elections and justified his meetings by saying that members of the Jamaatud Dawa and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan were not terrorists.

However, the official avoided commenting on political parties which were said to have links with banned outfits.

In June 2010, Ludhianvi even claimed that at least 25 PPP MNAs had won the 2008 general elections with his party’s support.

Courtesy: Dawn, January 11th, 2015
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Pakistan must believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn

In post-Peshawar Pakistan, we have to believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn


Remembering murders and massacres past to demand justice was a sad challenge this week.

On January 4 – a date that should be declared ‘Salmaan Taseer Day’ – a peaceful vigil in central Lahore was held to honour the fourth anniversary of the province’s assassinated governor.

However, the memorial was attacked by Mumtaz Qadri’s supporters, who reportedly belonged to a banned terror outfit.

The scene was as tragic as it was violent. Placards such as “ST hum sharminda hain, tumhara qaatil zinda hai” were set ablaze as baton-wielding villains pounded participants, including campaigners of renown.

Though crazed with hate, their rampage was not without the blessings of the Punjab government and the police.

However, post-Peshawar Pakistan is another country. Hence, where such an incident would previously have sent mourners home, this time the miscreants defeated their own purpose.

Their assault sent the crowd to procure an FIR against the mob. So far, over 40 suspects have been arrested.

The atrocity, along with the ongoing saga of the Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, is yet another testament to Punjab being the hotbed of fanaticism. It shows that the malaise has infiltrated the law enforcement apparatus and thrives in state espousal.

Punjab has witnessed the mushrooming of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Khatme-Nabuwat, and the nation is keen to see the outcome of current civil-society-led movements geared to bring militants to book.

At this stage, we can only believe in the adage that the darkest hour is before dawn.

But if Sharif does not seize the moment to channelise public rage towards a new horizon, Pakistan may be doomed to see history repeat itself. 

— The writer is a Karachi-based author and journalist

Courtesy: Daily Maily

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Democracy vs authoritarianism vs terrorism

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

It was supposed to be all about terrorism, but somehow it seems more and more about democracy, constitutionalism and their nemesis – authoritarianism. And in a country with a disturbing history of failed spells of democratic rule and equally disastrous autocratic governments, this is precisely what was supposed to be avoided. But now that the Pandora’s Box of debate on civil-military trust deficit has been opened, thanks to the creation of military courts, it is time to build some perspective.

As I write these lines, two images keep haunting me:

The first, of a disheveled, heartbroken Senator Raza Rabbani losing control and bursting into tears on the floor of the house during passage of the 21st amendment. For years, Mr Rabbani has acted as my moral compass. While I have not nearly always agreed with his views, like the North Star, they have most certainly often guided me in the right direction. Now to see him so badly broken is something I will never forget.

The second image is of a young army officer that I met in a conflict zone.

“Sir, I wish was born in another country, had joined their army and died fighting for them. At least at the time of my death, I would have known that my country would own me as a national hero. In Pakistan, no one cares about a soldier’s sacrifices.”

This young man, I was told a few days later, died bravely fighting against militants for his country, Pakistan. His grievances were legitimate. We have lost count of how many brave souls have perished fighting terrorists in recent years.

What is more, quick as we are to accuse the army of being solely responsible for religious militancy in this country, of breeding terrorists in isolation; what we fail to consider is how this accusation does not apply to the young officers and soldiers who are confronting terrorists today.

Wars do strange things to people. For over a decade, we have fought an enemy that is not across the border but within us. We have bled profusely, old doubts and apprehensions have grown complicated beyond recognition.

But behind this fog of war, our old bitterness and old wounds still persist. It all happened so fast that we did not get the time to update our definition of the existential threat.

Now, there is a huge trust deficit which owes itself to the misperception of the enemy.

Over the years I have seen men and women in Khaki and civvies halfheartedly calling terrorism an existential threat. But in reality they are on the lookout for the old enemy.

Always on the lookout.

The khakis, the civvies and the troublemakers

It is about two narratives. One civilian, one military. Both incomplete. Both a product of a weak state’s inability to overcome its constant challenger – India, or to win the ultimate prize – Kashmir. But more of that later.

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No hope on the horizon for Pakistan’s myriad problems

Author: Sajjad Ashraf

Pakistan is in a state of discord. Its civilian governance structure is becoming corrupt and oligarchic. Its façade of democratic order belies a more tawdry reality characterised by money, patronage and cronyism, in which parliament exists to enhance the privileges of the few.
Pakistan’s problems are long-standing, rooted in governance failures, with the resultant erosion of state authority. 2014 was no different in this respect.
Read more » Pukhtunkhwa Times
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Raza Rabbani in tears: ‘Ashamed to vote against conscience’


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani was in tears on Tuesday after voting in the upper house on the 21st Constitutional Amendment for setting up military courts in the country.

Rabbani said that he voted on the amendment against his own conscience. He further added that he had never felt more ashamed in his life.

“I have been in the Senate for more than 12 years, but have never been as ashamed as I am today and I cast my vote against my conscious,” said the PPP leader.

The senator said the vote that he had cast in support of the amendment was on the PPP’s behalf.

Rabbani had recently said that parliament has had the honour of not validating illegal acts of military dictators in the past, but was now “taking its last breath”.

He has been of the view that after the passage of the 21st Amendment bill, the constitution would no more remain “pure”.

Rabbani has been among the more prominent PPP leaders who have criticised the party’s decision to support the establishment of military courts.

Read more » DAWN
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Military courts: a wrong move

By Editorial

PAKISTAN should not have military courts, not in the expanded form envisioned by the military and political leadership of the country, not to try civilians on terrorism charges and not even for a limited period of time.

Military courts are simply not compatible with a constitutional democracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre, politicians and the military leadership rightly came together to respond urgently to the terror threat that stalks this country.

What they did wrong was to decide on military courts as the lynchpin of a new strategy to fight terrorism.

Perhaps with a country convulsed with grief and the PML-N government on weak ground — given that until recently the party was insisting on dialogue with the elements behind the Peshawar calamity — there was little resistance to the military’s demand that terrorist suspects be tried in military courts, and presumably summarily executed thereafter.

Perhaps also the full range of opposition political parties present were overawed by the presence of the army chief and DG ISI in Peshawar, and those opposed to military courts decided that it was futile to oppose them in the circumstances.

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Taliban leader Mullah Omar hiding in Pak, says top Afghan intelligence official

New York: Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is alive and hiding in the Pakistani city of Karachi, a top Afghan intelligence official has said, echoing a similar assessment by Western intelligence officials.

“There is a lot of doubt whether he is alive or not. But we are more confident that he is in Karachi,” acting Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil was quoted as saying in the New York Times regarding Omar’s whereabouts.

An European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in the NYT report that there is a “consensus among all three branches of the Afghan security forces that Mullah Omar is alive”.

“Not only do they think he’s alive, they say they have a good understanding of where exactly he is in Karachi,” the Pakistani metropolis where some say Mullah Omar is hiding. The report said that Mullah Omar has always functioned more as the spiritual and ideological leader of the movement than as an operational commander.

His inner circle, made up of village mullahs who have known one another for decades, has provided the active leadership of the Taliban’s many local factions. “But now one man, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, has risen to the No 2 role and become the main link to Mullah Omar, allowing him to place his loyalists up and down the ranks,”

Read more » First Post
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Senate proceedings: National Action Plan is a replica of NISP, says Rabbani

Hitting out at a greater role of the army in the country with the establishment of military courts, Rabbani said we have not learnt lessons from the past, referring to similar decisions taken in 1977 and 1998 resulting in the ouster of democratic regimes by martial law.

“We are going to repeat past mistakes. Today they are indicating civil courts have failed to deliver; tomorrow they might say political dispensation has also failed. They might say thank you very much, [now] pack your (politician’s) bags.”

He said the members of the upper house should tender their resignations.

“Article 245 has been invoked and provinces have been asked by interior minister to request army and now military courts are being set,” he lamented.

Talking about the constitutional amendment for the purpose of military courts, Rabbani said that “any amendment will hit at the basic structure of the Constitution.”

In reply, leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan assured that “no constitutional right will be usurped,” though the guarantee should have come from the government.

Earlier, Senator Kalsoom Parveen from Balochistan National Party – Awami (BNP-A) said: “We have reservations and it should be clarified whether they will be used against politicians or terrorists.”

She also asked the authorities to give a clear definition of who exactly is a terrorist. Kazim Khan from the PPP said, “Whenever the PML-N has come to power, military courts have been set up. I would ask Nawaz Sharif not to go back to those [army] he had already left.”

Meanwhile, Nisar Muhammad from the ruling PML-N delivered an emotional speech asking all political forces to join hands, saying “we are all responsible for what happened in Peshawar.”

He said that “we have so far failed to identify our direction [in war against terrorism].”

Muhammad proposed that December 16 should be commemorated as a ‘day of mourning’ every year and the principal of Army Public School Peshawar be awarded a civil award for bravery.

Read more » The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2014.
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Win the war not just the battle

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It seems that Pakistan is set on the path of becoming a country where all critical decisions will be either taken or influenced by the military, and the civilian leadership will merely fill in the blank or be the guinea pig to go after when someone is needed to blame. The security apparatus might as well be in charge since the combined leadership, irrespective of party affiliation and relative respectability, politely hummed and hawed and accepted military courts as fait accompli. It is almost humorous to think of parties who claim to have agreed to the solution after being promised that these courts will not be used against them, or that their use will be controlled. An even sadder fact is that barring the enlightened civil society, which understands the long-term impact of such developments, the bulk of civil society, or even the general public in certain parts of Pakistan, has a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude towards democracy, which they now consider to be of secondary importance. In the words of an acquaintance, “First, let’s have security and we will take care of democracy later.” The obvious problem with this system is that responsibility will be divided and one wouldn’t know who to blame.

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Military courts

By Gul Bukhari

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

“Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

CPJ’s full report on the roots of impunity in Pakistan is a horrifying, heart-stopping indictment of primarily the military and its intelligence agencies. Political parties and governments, in particular the MQM, are not spared either, but the clear illustration of how intelligence agencies perpetrate atrocities and prevent justice through civilian law enforcement and courts is petrifying. The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

Yet, in response to the massacre of 140 children in the APC Peshawar attack, the most significant anti-terror measures announced by the Prime Minister, and acquiesced to by the rest of the parliamentary parties, is to cede ‘justice’ to the military and to lift the moratorium on death penalty for terrorists. Both were dictated by the military.

‘All day on Wednesday, according to a participant of the meeting held at the PM House, the military leadership stressed the need to set up military courts as the “(civilian) justice system had failed to deliver.” – front page of Dawn, December 25th. In light of the CPJ report, which merely acts to confirm what many of us have known, are military courts then the solution? Is the military the solution or part of the problem? The narrative being built for the justification of military courts is wrong: that the civilian judges and law enforcement agencies are too weak, inept, and cowardly to convict terrorists. All, I repeat all, terror groups, be they of the Taliban ilk (whom the military has for sometime turned against) or sectarian in nature like the SSP and LeJ, were formed by the military for its various domestic and foreign security policies. And the police’s and courts’ intimidation by the military intelligence agencies is in no small part responsible for the broken civilian justice system. One cannot exonerate the political elite for not trying to strengthen the policing and courts systems, but in the face of the powerful army, and with having to watch over their shoulders’ every moment for the next coup, one cannot blame them entirely either.

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Misuse of military courts will not be allowed, vows Zardari


GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH: Speaking at the Bhutto mausoleum to mark Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary on Saturday, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari vowed that the misuse of military courts will not be allowed. He said the PPP will only accept military courts when it is proven that they are not being used politically

Read more » DAWN
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A Pessimist Guide to the World in 2015

Excerpt: Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015.

Afghanistan/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

Taliban militants in the mountainous Pashtun-dominated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan link up with Islamic State. They make progress in their quest to take power in Kabul and Islamabad as the U.S. reduces its troop presence.

India/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

A terrorist attack occurs on the scale of Mumbai in 2008, when luxury hotels and a train station were attacked by a Pakistan-based militant group. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is pressured into a harsh response, triggering a crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

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Where the hell is the truth?

It’s been almost two weeks since the dastardly massacre of schoolchildren, mainly from military families, at the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar located right next to the Defence Officer’s colony and no more than a kilometre from the corps commander’s house and yet no inquiry has been held, no one has been punished these many days later.

Instead, talking heads on our television channels are finding fault with the federal government and whatever there is of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta); and generally going about as we Pakistanis go about after an event like the Peshawar atrocity: obfuscating; attempting to sweep the dirt that surrounds us under the, as I call it, ‘rather humongous and by now very filthy carpet’; and sticking our heads in the sand much like ostriches.

When public anger rises and all of the above fails, the various agencies responsible for whatever calamity has occurred start to lie and attempt to shovel the blame on to the next office or agency instead of standing up and taking the blame squarely and making sure such a catastrophe is never repeated.

Read more » The Express Tribune
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Pakistan: State of Delusion

By Husain Haqqani

The murder by the Taliban of more than 130 schoolchildren in Peshawar on December 16 has stunned Pakistan, and indeed the world. But the incident marks only an escalation in the brutality of jihadis, not its beginning. Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed Shia and Ahmadi mosques, Sunni shrines, Christian churches and Hindu temples. Over a thousand attacks on schools by the Taliban have been reported since 2009, mainly in the northwestern Pakhtunkhwa province. Jihadi targets over the years have included localISI offices in several cities, naval and air force bases in Karachi and Kamra, the Karachi International Airport and even the army’s General Headquarters. If the breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan’s jihadi addiction, would the death of innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in a Peshawar school result in a fundamental change of heart?

If the Pakistani establishment decides to turn the corner, it would have to stop treating Pakistan’s anti-jihadists as its enemies and gradually embrace a new national narrative for the country. Confronting the jihadists comprehensively would make Pakistan more secure, paving the way for greater prosperity and a place under the sun. Refusing to confront and marginalise them will only lead to recurrent tragedies like the one in Peshawar, followed by grief and outrage.

Soon after the Peshawar carnage, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the infamous Islamabad Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, refused to condemn the Taliban’s action, indicating the stubbornness of the jihadi worldview. Taliban apologist Imran Khan parsed his words to condemn the act but not its perpetrators by name. Another Pakistani establishment favourite, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa, went on television to blame India for the Taliban’s school attack and vowed revenge inside India.

The roots of Pakistan’s jihadism lie in its establishment’s obsession with India, which goes back to partition, the twonation theory and the fear that powerful forces want the dismemberment of Pakistan. The break-up of Pakistan in 1971, and the emergence of an independent Bangladesh in erstwhile East Pakistan, has reinforced national paranoia instead of convincing the country’s Punjabi elite of the need to come to terms with Pakistan’s size and power and finding security within the parameters of reality.

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Our denial killed children in Peshawar

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

There is no sight uglier than a child’s corpse. I can say this because I have seen one dying before my eyes.

When a child dies, no words can console the grieving hearts of parents. And a cowardly terror attack on a school just snatched over a hundred children from the warm embrace of their parents in Peshawar.

Just try understanding the magnitude, the size of this all. More than a hundred families will now have their child-shaped holes in their lives forever. Parents all over the country will think twice before sending their children to schools again.

The children that survived the ghastly attack will never be the same again; their innocence, their childhood gone. It takes years for trauma victims to recover. Some don’t recover even after that.

The question on every mind is, when the grieving is over, will the nation unite against the spectre of terrorism?

If the past is any guide, the sad answer would be no.

Also read: Militant siege of Peshawar school ends, 141 killed

Pakistan is given a lot of credit for being a resilient nation. I think most of that is down to the state of denial we choose to live in.

There are always a myriad conspiracy theories circulating within our society. For reasons unknown, we choose to believe them.

We find the distant, often most improbable explanations for simple acts of violence plaguing our nation. Our workplaces, public places, government offices, security installations, hospitals, places of worship and now schools all have come under attack.

After every gruesome incident, TTP or one of its uncountable affiliates takes responsibility; often releases video clips with the assailant’s taped speeches before attack, and yet we refuse to believe it. That state of denial, in essence, is the terrorist’s biggest weapon and his ultimate victory.

Sorry rehabilitation facilities

The logical question after a tragedy of this magnitude is about the rehabilitation of those who survive. Of the amputees, the irreparably wounded, and in this case, the innocent minds scarred for a lifetime.

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“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world” ~ Indian Prime Minister Modi

“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world”- Indian PM talked to his Pakistani counterpart and he appeals that schools all over Indian territory will observe 2-minute silence for Pakistan victims- Terrorism is a global phenomenon- A menace who is shattering our societies and killing our children and their hopes and dreams- Entire globe has standup to support us on PESHAWAR TRAGEDY- A visionary leadership has to capitalize this unprecedented international support- Pakistan has to behave like a reliable not hostile neighbor to its neighbouring states- PAK-INDIA peace is essential to kill terrorism in the region- Indian PM MODIs announcement of 2 minutes silence in schools of all over India is a great diplomatic and human gesture- let us play our role and do our part of job to illuminate terror from our land.T

News courtesy: vis Social media (Facebook)

Massacre of the Innocents: Death Comes Again to Peshawar

I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student’s account)

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Peshawar attack condemned by UK leaders

Peshawar attack condemned by UK leaders and Asian groups

Politicians and Asian groups in Britain have condemned the attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a school in Peshawar in which 141 people died. Prime Minister David Cameron called the killings “shocking” and “horrifying”.

Kully Singh said: “The people that did this are neither Muslims or human. They are pure evil.”

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Former President describes militants as Bokoharam of Pakistan

Condemns the Peshawar school attack, asks Party to mount relief and rehabilitation work

Calls for fighting to the finish ‘existential threat’ to  Pakistan

Islamabad December 16, 2016: Former President Asif Ali Zardari has denounced the militants’ attack on the school in Peshawar killing over 130 innocent children as ‘most barbaric, atrocious and inhuman that will hang the heads of every civilized person in any age and any clime’.

In a statement denouncing the incident the former President said the Bokoharam of Pakistan striking in the fashion of their kinsmen in Africa on Tuesday morning in Peshawar by targeting school children is a dark day in the history of this country. The crime has been committed on a dark day of our history when Pakistan was dismembered this day in 1971, he said.

The monstrous cruelty and sheer barbarism together with the symbolism of perpetrating it today should open the eyes of all those who give the nation lectures that the exterminated militants are ‘martyrs in the cause of a noble fight’.

Let there be no doubt or mistake that the religious extremists and fanatics are the worst enemies of the country and its people. There is no alternative to fight them to the finish for the very survival of Pakistan and our future generations. The absence of alternative to fighting the monster must make the mind of every self proclaimed puritan very clear, the former President said.

Mr. Zardari said that this incident should also strengthen the resolve of the nation to stand together against this existential threat to the security and stability of the country.  ‘Let us be clear’, the former President said, adding also, ‘the enemy is not external but internal; it lives and thrives in our midst and is nurtured and sustained in the name of religion’.

Expressing profound condolences the former President prayed for eternal rest to all the martyred, early recovery of those injured and patience to the bereaved families.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari also directed the Party leaders to suspend all activities and immediately mount efforts aimed at relief and rehabilitation of the victim families. He also called upon the Party workers to visit the hospitals and donate blood to those injured.

Read more » Media Cell PPP
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Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school


TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.

“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.

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Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard

Militant siege of Peshawar school over, at least 131 killed

By Agencies | Zahir Shah Sherazi | Mateen Haider | Hassan Jahangiri | Abdul Hakim

PESHAWAR: Pakistani officials say the siege at an army-run school on Warsak road school is over, and authorities are now sweeping the area. Three officials, on condition of anonymity, told AP the operation to clear the school has ended. At least 131 people, most of them children, died when Taliban gunmen attacked the school in the morning. …..

….  6:42pm – Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard

Army chief General Raheel Sharif has reached Peshawar and vowed to continue the fight against the militants until they are completely eliminated from the country.

DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa posted on twitter that the tragic incident has saddened that COAS, but at the same time he has said that, “our resolve has taken new height. Will continue go after inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination”.

Gen Sharif said that, “this ghastly act cowardice of killing innocents clearly indicates they (militants) are not only enemies of Pakistan but enemies of humanity”.

“They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the DG ISPR.

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What comes after November?

By Sikandar Hullio

Excerpt; …. The deadline of November 30 may come and pass us by. What is more relevant than what happens that day is the fact that the PML-N is ageing, ailing and failing to impress the masses in Punjab. The PPP is also faltering and getting irrelevant by repositioning itself in Punjab.

As a counter effect, the more popular force of the PTI is trying to get both wickets with a single ball. For the PTI, this is also a moment to reflect and reset. Mere blame-games and agitations won’t work. They need to go back to parliament and relearn the art of honouring the mandate, besides pursuing their cases pertaining to election rigging within relevant courts. They also need to sit, settle and finalise a plan of election audit with electoral reforms under the supervision of parliament and make it a custodian – instead of looking at hidden hands, which were badly exposed, at least this time.

If done, this would provide the PTI a renewed life to prepare for the next elections and keep the political temperature up and exit from the sit-in trap in Islamabad.

The writer is an anthropologist and freelance analyst based in Islamabad. Email:

Read more » The News


Not Fit to Print: An Insider Account of Pakistani Censorship


Imran [Khan], [Tahir ul] Qadri, and the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] are our best friends,” our weekly editorial meeting at Pakistan’s Express Tribune was (jokingly) told on Aug. 13, 2014, a day before the two political leaders began their separate long marches from Lahore to Islamabad, and plunged the country into crisis. “We know it’s not easy, but that’s the way it is — at least for now. I promise to make things better soon,” said the editor, who had called the meeting to inform us about the media group’s editorial policy during the sit-ins and protests that would eventually, momentarily paralyze the Pakistani government.

The senior editorial staff, myself included, reluctantly agreed to the orders, which came from the CEO, because our jobs were on the line. Media groups in Pakistan are family-owned and make all decisions unilaterally — regardless of whether they concern marketing and finance or editorial content and policy — advancing their personal agendas through the influential mainstream outlets at their disposal. A majority of the CEOs and media house owners are businessmen, with no background (or interest) in the ethics of journalism. The owners and publishers make it very clear to their newsrooms and staff — including the editor — that any tilt or gloss they proscribe is non-negotiable. As a result, serious concerns persist about violence against and the intimidation of members of the media. In fact, Pakistan ranks 158 out of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index.

Yet there is also a more elusive problem within the country’s press landscape: the collusion of Pakistan’s powerful military and the nation’s media outlets. I experienced this first-hand while I worked as a journalist at the Express Tribune during the recent protests led by Khan, the populist cricketer-turned-politician, and Qadri, a Pakistani-Canadian cleric and soapbox orator.

During this time, the owners of Pakistani media powerhouses — namely ARY News, the Express Media Group, and Dunya News — received instructions from the military establishment to support the “dissenting” leaders and their sit-ins. The military was using the media to add muscle and might to the anti-government movement in an attempt to cut Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif down to size.

The media obliged.

At the Express Media Group, anything related to Khan and Qadri were inexorably the lead stories on the front page or the hourly news bulletin. I witnessed polls showing support for Sharif being censored, while news stories on the misconduct of the protesters, along with any evidence that support among the protestors for Khan and Qadri was dwindling, were axed. While the BBC was publishing stories about how Qadri’s protesters were allegedly being paid and Dawn, the leading English-language Pakistani newspaper — and the Express Tribune‘s main competitor — was writing powerful editorials about the military’s role in the political crisis, we were making sure nothing negative about them went to print.

Day after day, my national editor told me about how he received frantic telephone calls late in the evening about what the lead story should be for the next day and what angle the article should take. First, we were told to focus on Khan. “Take this as Imran’s top quote,” “This should be in the headline,” “Take a bigger picture of him” were the specific directives given by the CEO. Shortly after, the news group’s owner was agitated that the newspaper had not been focusing enough on Qadri. We later found out that the military establishment was supporting the two leaders equally and the media was expected to do the same.

In their professional capacities, the editor and desk editors tried to put up a fight: they allowed some columns against the protests slip through; they did not extend the restrictions to publish against Khan and Qadri to the Web version of the newspaper; and they encouraged reporters to focus on the paper’s strengths, such as investigative and research-based reports. However, it was difficult for the staff to keep its spirits high with the CEO’s interference and his readiness to abide by the establishment’s instructions. To be sure, the dictates were never given to the senior editorial staff, of which I was a part, directly. They were instead relayed to the editor or the national editor (who heads the main National Desk) via the CEO and then forwarded to us.

People often speculate about the media-military collusion in Pakistan, but in the instance of the current political standoff in the federal capital, as well as the Geo News controversy — where the establishment was seen resorting to extreme methods, such as forcing cable operators to suspend Geo’s transmission and impelling competing media houses to publish news stories against Geo, to curtail the broadcast of the largest and most-watched television channel for accusing then-ISI chief Zaheer-ul-Islam of being behind the gun attack on Hamid Mir, its most-popular anchor — the media and the military worked hand-in-hand.

In most cases, it is common knowledge that the heavyweight broadcast anchors have strong ties to members of the military establishment, and they personally take direct instructions that are then conveyed to the owners of their respective media groups. This bias is often reflected in their coverage.

The anchors not only indulge in inaccurate reporting, but also shape political discourse against the democratically elected government and even the efficacy of democracy itself. Former Pakistani government officials have corroborated this by narrating their experience. One senior official told me: “Television anchors receive funds from the military establishment, if not the civilian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Today, all the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military have media departments that ostensibly only disseminate background information and press briefings, but are actually guiding and managing discourses and the national narrative.”

And this narrative is pro-army. Consider one example in particular.

On Aug. 31, when Khan’s and Qadri’s protesters had stormed the Parliament’s gates, Mubasher Lucman, a television anchor for ARY News — now the most-watched TV channel in Pakistan after Geo’s transmission was illegally suspended — saluted the army during a live broadcast and invited the military to take over “and save the protesters and the country.” Earlier on Aug. 25, he welcomed the “sound of boots”(a reference to the military), as he had no sympathy for corrupt politicians who looted the country.

As if this was not enough, Lucman and his fellow anchors at ARY, some of whom are known to have strong ties to the army and the ISI, alsomade unverified claims on live television that seven protesters had been killed by riot police in the ensuing clash. (It was reported by other news outlets that three people had died, one by accident.) Moreover, when Javed Hashmi, the estranged president of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, came out in public on Sep. 1 to reveal how Khan was banking on the military and the judiciary to end Sharif’s government, Lucman slammed Hashmi, while his fellow anchor, Fawad Chaudhry, insisted that Hashmi had been “planted in [the] PTI”by the prime minister’s closest aides.

Hashmi, who is known for his principled politics and who has been tortured and imprisoned by the military over the years, made the claims about Khan in a press conference where he revealed that: “Imran Khan said we cannot move forward without the army…He told us that he has settled all the matters; there will be elections in September.”

Soon after this, we at the Express Tribune were instructed by the military to highlight statements released by the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations office about how it was not a party to the crisis. When the military was on the defensive, issuing rebuttals to Hashmi’s “revelations,” we saw the instructions lessen and the powerful institution backing off. Yet media discourse throughout Pakistan’s history has been influenced by the military, the most powerful institution in the country, or, in a few cases, has been strong-armed and intimidated by civilian heads of state until they were ousted by the military. There is a structural bias against democratic institutions and elected officials in Pakistan, and such a discourse has the not-unintentional effect of making the military seem like a better alternative, thereby reinforcing the notion that democracy does not work.

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Imran, Qadri and Altaf are friends of establishment and are anti-people: Says Left wing activists of Sindh

Peasants leaders as well as leaders of Communist Party of Pakistan, including its Secretory General Imdad Qazi has said that Imran Khan, Qadri and Altaf Hussain are the partners of establishment and are anti-people elements.

News Courtesy: Rights and Movements + Sindhi Daily Awami Awaz, 16 Nov. 2014

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