Even armymen not above the law, say ex-servicemen

Army2BY IKRAM JUNAIDI

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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Former President of Pakistan and Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari outburst ostensibly against the top genrals of powerful security establishment

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
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/904947/angry-outburst-ppp-co-chairman-fires-broadside-at-establishment/

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

BY PERVEZ HOODBHOY

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
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1182200

Pakistan – ‘Ex-army major, colonel involved in robbery of millions’

BY MOHAMMAD ASGHAR

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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Pakistan military’s move on Karachi seen part of ‘creeping coup’

BY MEHREEN ZAHRA-MALIK

ISLAMABAD – (Reuters) – The chief of Pakistan’s main spy agency is spearheading a campaign to wrest control of the teeming port city of Karachi from a powerful political party, the military’s latest, and some say boldest, foray into civilian life in recent years.

According to military officials, police officers and members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party which has traditionally dominated Karachi, Rizwan Akhtar has decided the time for policing the city from the sidelines is over.

“There is a quiet, creeping takeover of Karachi by the military,” said a government official close to Akhtar, head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which traditionally acts as an extension of army power in Pakistan.

“Karachi is just too big … too much land, too much business, resources. No one party will be allowed to rule Karachi from now on,” added the official, who declined to be named.

The sweltering, violent metropolis is Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest city. It accounts for half of national revenues and hosts the stock exchange, central bank and a giant port.

The military’s crackdown in Karachi started late in 2013, when the murder rate soared and mutilated bodies were dumped in alleyways daily.

The operation, which escalated last month, is officially aimed at criminals and militants, but some say MQM is the real target.

Army spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment.

Weakening the MQM’s grip, and particularly that of exiled leader Altaf Hussain, would free space for other political parties seen as more sympathetic to the military, like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by former cricketer Imran Khan.

It would also give the army leverage over Pakistan’s economic hub. That complements other steps taken in the last two years to tighten its grip on national security, foreign policy and the judiciary through the introduction of military courts.

The army’s increasing influence could make it harder for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to deliver a rapprochement with India that he promised when he won elections in 2013.

“MISSION CREEP”

Critics call it “mission creep” and say the army’s power grab is a setback for Pakistan, where the military has ruled for about half the country’s history.

But police in Karachi are seen as too weak or corrupt to stamp out violence effectively, so many residents are willing to rely on the military despite its history of coups and accusations of rights abuses.

Last month, paramilitary Rangers swooped on the MQM’s headquarters in Karachi, seizing arms and detaining “criminals”, including a fugitive convicted of murder.

It was a direct challenge to the authority of Hussain, who, despite living in London since he fled murder charges in Pakistan in 1991, leads the party and remains one of the country’s most powerful figures.

The army has long accused the MQM of racketeering, kidnappings for ransom and targeted killings in Karachi. Police recorded 2,507 murders in the city in 2013, up from 278 in 2006.

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Sound Byte: ‘World concerned about Pak’s counterterror commitment’

By Hassan Belal Zaidi

A lot has been happening over the last couple of days on the diplomatic front. The Chinese foreign minister came to Islamabad, heralding a more important visit by China’s president – expected to take place soon.

Then, late on Thursday night, US President Barack Obama phoned PM Nawaz Sharif in what can only be described as an “unscheduled call” where the US president briefed the PM on his visit to India and heard Mr Sharif’s concerns. Finally, Friday morning brought with it news of a Modi-Sharif conversation purported to be about the upcoming cricketing tie between the two nations.

To understand the undertones behind these frantic top-level diplomatic efforts, Dawn spoke to noted author and journalist Ahmed Rashid and asked him about the significance of these events.

Q: The past 48 hours have been quite exciting, diplomatically speaking. What do you think set off this hectic round of cross-border politicking?

A: Undermining all the hectic diplomatic moves and activities is the international community’s concern about the future of Pakistan. China, the US, our neighbours and the west are all deeply concerned about whether Pakistan is genuinely pursuing an effective counterterrorism strategy. There is also enormous concern about governance and the apparent failure of governance systems in the country.

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Musharraf: Pakistan and India’s backing for ‘proxies’ in Afghanistan must stop

by  in Karachi, Sindh

In interview with the Guardian, former Pakistan president voices his support for Ashraf Ghani and hints that he cultivated the Taliban

Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani military ruler accused of sheltering and supporting the Taliban after 2001, has called for an end to the backing of militant “proxies” in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the Guardian, Musharraf admitted that when he was in power, Pakistan sought to undermine the government of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai because Karzai had “helped India stab Pakistan in the back”. But now the time had come to “totally cooperate” with Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president since September, who Musharraf believes is “the last hope for peace in the region”.

“In President Karzai’s times, yes, indeed, he was damaging Pakistan and therefore we were working against his interest. Obviously we had to protect our own interest,” Musharraf said. “But now President Ashraf Ghani has come and he is trying to restore balance in Afghanistan. We must totally cooperate with him.”

In his first months in office, Ghani has sought to woo Pakistan in a way Musharraf could only have dreamed of in the critical years between the US-led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, and 2008, when Musharraf was finally forced from power. Ghani has not only suspended a planned weapons deal with India, but also diverted troops to fight against anti-Pakistan militant groups in eastern Afghanistan.

For Musharraf, the most welcome development was Ghani’s decision this month to send six army cadets for training at Pakistan’s officer academy in the town of Abbottabad. Karzai infuriated both Musharraf and Ashfaq Kayani, his successor as army chief, by spurning offers to help train Afghanistan’s embryonic army. Instead, Karzai sent cadets to India, where Musharraf believes they were “indoctrinated” against Pakistan.

Speaking in his luxurious Karachi home, the former army chief repeatedly hinted at what is now widely accepted among diplomats and analysts: that the nominal western ally assisted both Nato forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban they were fighting against in a bid to counter the perceived influence of arch-rival India. “Pakistan had its own proxies, India had its proxies, which is unhealthy. I do admit this, it is most unhealthy. It is not in favour of Afghanistan, or Pakistan or India. It must stop,” he said.

Musharraf said Pakistani spies in the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) cultivated the Taliban after 2001 because Karzai’s government was dominated by non-Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, and officials who were thought to favour India. “Obviously we were looking for some groups to counter this Indian action against Pakistan,” he said. “That is where the intelligence work comes in. Intelligence being in contact with Taliban groups. Definitely they were in contact, and they should be.”

The army remains deeply suspicious of India, a country that has beaten Pakistan in three conflicts since independence and played a critical role in the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Musharraf insists he is not an “India hater”, but bristles at what he says is western bias towards Pakistan’s giant neighbour. “‘India is the greatest democracy, promoter of human rights and democratic culture’? All bullshit,” he said. “There is no human rights. The religion itself is anti-human rights. In the rural areas, if even the shadow of an untouchable goes on a pandit, that man can be killed.”

Like many soldiers, he is convinced that India, through its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), backs regional separatists in an effort to break up Pakistan. “The RAW of India, the ISI of Pakistan have always been fighting against each other since our independence. That is how it continued, it continues now also.

“It must stop, but it can only stop when leaderships on both sides show the will to resolve disputes and stop confrontation in favour of compromise and accommodation.”

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Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?

BY

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: At least 49 killed in blast at Shikarpur imambargah

By AFP | Dawn.com | Reuters | Ubaidullah Shaikh

SHIKARPUR: At least 49 people were killed and 55 others injured in an explosion inside a central imambargah (mosque affiliated with Shia Muslims) in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district on Friday.

Civil Hospital Shikarpur issued a list of 49 victims out of whom 46 bodies had been identified whereas the identity of 3 others was yet to be confirmed.

Reuters reported that Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which last year pledged support for the Islamic State group based in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility.

“Our target was the Shia mosque … They are our enemies,” said Fahad Marwat, a Jundullah spokesman.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160444

JuD will continue to operate in Pakistan: Spokesperson

By Irfan Haider

As the Foreign Office said Thursday that the bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) have been frozen and foreign travel restrictions imposed on the organisation’s leader Hafiz Saeed, JuD in its official response said it would continue its “charity work” across Pakistan regardless.

The official reaction emailed out by JuD accused Pakistan of having banned the organisation under pressure from the US to “please India”.

The JuD spokesperson defended the group, saying the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had issued verdicts in favour of allowing JuD to operate in the past. Based on these verdicts, JuD vowed to continue on its mission.

Read: Pakistan freezes bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa

Earlier, JuD members told Dawn.com that the party leadership would approach the Supreme Court to challenge the ban. A JuD member, who requested anonymity, maintained that the group has only been engaged in charitable work for the past several years across the country.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1158711

 

CONFRONTING THE JIHADISTS COMPREHENSIVELY WILL MAKE PAKISTAN MORE SECURE.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

It shook Pakistan and stunned the world. But the carnage on Dec. 16 at the Army Public School, Peshawar, marked only an escalation in the brutality of Pakistani militants, not its beginning.

Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed the places of worship of the Shia, the Sunni, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus. Since 2009, the Taliban have attacked over a thousand schools, mainly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. They have targeted ISI offices in several cities, Navy and Air Force bases, garrison mosques, the Karachi Airport, and even the Army’s General Headquarters. If this breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan of its jihadist addiction, can the deaths of 134 innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in Peshawar result in a fundamental change of heart?

The jihadist worldview is as stubborn as it is toxic. Soon after Peshawar, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s infamous Lal Masjid refused to condemn the Taliban’s heinous attack, and Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawah (née Lashkar-e-Taiba) went on television to blame New Delhi for the school attack and vowed revenge inside India.

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Punjabi Taliban chief unlikely to be tried in military court

By Amir Mir

ISLAMABAD: Despite the Pakistani ruling elite’s repeated resolve after the Peshawar school massacre not to show any distinction between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, Commander Asmatullah Moavia, seems to have been granted amnesty after his announcement to abandon militancy, ignoring with impunity his involvement in dozens of bloody terror attacks on Christians and Muslims alike.

The Pakistan government had assured the US Secretary of State John Kerry during his just-concluded visit that Islamabad won’t differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. Before that, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had stated individually that there will be no delineation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban and that the war against terror will be continued till the elimination of the last terrorist. However, there are clear indications to suggest that some of the Jihadi assets belonging to the Punjab are still being treated as ‘good’ Taliban and thus given preferential treatment.

In fact, Asmatullah Moavia, the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban, has been allowed by the Pakistani authorities after a peace deal to return to his hometown in the Vehari district of Punjab. This is despite the fact that he had claimed dozens of ferocious terror attacks, including the September 22, 2013 Peshawar Church bombing, which had killed 80-plus Christians and the May 28, 2010 Fidayeen attacks on two Ahmedi mosques in Lahore which killed 100-plus people.

From the November 2007 suicide bombing of the ISI buses in Rawalpindi (killing 38 people) to the Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad in September 2008 (killing 58 people), the Manawan Police Training Centre attack in Lahore in March 2009 (killing 22 people), the GHQ attack in Rawalpindi in October 2009 (killing 13 people), the Moon Market suicide bombing in Lahore in December 2009 (killing 54 people), the Rawalpindi Parade Lane Mosque attack in December 2009 (killing 36 people), the July 2010 Data Darbar Shrine suicide bombing (killing 51 people), the slaughter of 10 under training policemen from the KP in Lahore on July 2012, the killing of seven security forces personnel in a terrorist attack on an Army Camp in Wazirabad in July 2012, the killing of 10 foreign climbers in Nanga Parbat in June 2013, Moavia has been named as the mastermind of all these terrorist attacks. But he is unlikely to be tried for any of his crimes by the recently set up military courts.

Moavia, who is considered very close to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Ameer Malik Ishaq, is not an ordinary Jihadi but a ruthless leader who has been singularly responsible for the spread of Jihadi bloodshed in Pakistan in the aftermath of the July 2007 Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad. He actually laid the ideological ground for making the Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies the number one target for the Punjabi Taliban. He had begun his Jihadi career from the platform of Maulana Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). After discarding the JeM, Moavia first joined the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and then its military wing — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — before eventually launching Janood-e-Hafsa (JeH) and finally becoming the Ameer of the Punjabi Taliban. The launching of the Janood was largely prompted by the July 2007 operation conducted against the Lal Masjid clerics in Islamabad.

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Analysis: Reported ban of Haqqani Network unlikely to end Pakistan’s support of group

By

Anonymous Pakistani officials have told news agencies that the government will ban the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network “within weeks.” But a listing of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist entity is unlikely to change decades of support that the jihadist group has received from the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.

Pakistani officials first told The Express Tribune that the Haqqani Network Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the political front of the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and 10 other jihadist groups would be banned in “coming days.”

“It’s our first step towards execution of the National Action Plan,” against terrorism, a senior intelligence official told the news agency. “The nation will see more positive steps towards dismantling militant groups. Both civilian and military leadership decided to ban the Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa.”

Pakistani government officials told Reuters that the ban on the Haqqani Network would be announced “within weeks.” A member of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet said the decision to proscribe the Haqqani Network was made after the Movement of the Taliban assaulted a school in Peshawar and brutally executed 134 children.

The unnamed cabinet minister also told Reuters that “the military and the government are on the same page on how to tackle militancy. There is no more ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban.”

The “bad” Taliban are identified as jihadist groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state. The “good” Taliban are groups such as the Haqqani Network, who wage jihad in Afghanistan but do not overtly seek to wage war against the Pakistani state. However the so-called good Taliban do support groups such as Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda.

Ban unlikely to change institutional support of the Haqqani Network

While the banning of the Haqqani Network is a welcome move, if it is not backed by significant action, such as the arrest of the jihadist group’s top leadership, the dismantling of its network, the destruction of its infrastructure, and the end of support by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the move is likely to amount to little more than symbolism.

If history is any indication, Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment is unlikely to truly end its support of the Haqqani Network. The Haqqanis have been one of the premier instruments of influence inside Afghanistan; the group has served as part of Pakistan’s policy of “strategic depth” against a potential war with India and US influence in Afghanistan. While Pakistani officials have claimed the country has discarded its policy of “strategic depth,” there is little evidence to support this. In fact, the Pakistani establishment still allows the Afghan Taliban (of which the Haqqani Network is a part) to operate freely within Afghanistan. And there is no indication at all that the Pakistani government will ban the Afghan Taliban, let alone dismantle the group’s extensive network inside of Pakistan.

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Army chief in London: UK urged to act against HuT, Baloch separatists

By Kamran Yousaf

ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif has urged the British government to take action against the banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) and Baloch separatist leaders who are stirring trouble in Pakistan. He raised the issue with British authorities during his visit to London on Wednesday.

On the first day of his three-day official trip, the army chief visited 10 Downing Street and met British Prime Minister David Cameron. He also held talks with British Secretary of Defence Michael Fallen and other senior officials.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who is travelling with the army chief, confirmed that Gen Raheel called for action against proscribed organisations and anti-Pakistan elements operating from outside the country. The army chief also called for measures to choke the financing of these groups, the chief military spokesman said.

A senior security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Express Tribune that the army chief specifically took up the issue of HuT, which has a strong presence in the UK.

Over the past few years, HuT, which is banned in Pakistan, has infiltrated the military significantly. In 2012, at least four military officers, including a brigadier, were convicted for having links with the banned Hizbut Tahrir. Pakistan believes that despite being a proscribed organisation, the group is getting funding from other countries including the UK.

This was the first time that any top Pakistani official took up the issue with British authorities calling for tough action against HuT, which seeks a pan-Islamic state or caliphate. The organisation is also proscribed in many countries apart from Pakistan.

The official also disclosed that Gen Raheel asked British authorities to take action against the Baloch separatist leaders who were operating from London and working against Pakistan’s interest. Hyrbyair Marri, the head of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), is currently residing in the UK and often issues statements about the unrest in Baluchistan.

The BLA is one of several separatist groups involved in a deadly insurgency in Balochistan since 2004. The BLA has claimed responsibility for a number of gun and bomb attacks on security forces, government installations and innocent civilians, especially those settled in Balochistan from other provinces.

The official pointed out that fighting terrorism was not the responsibility of Pakistan alone but also of other countries. He said Pakistan had already shown its willingness to take action against all terrorist groups without any discrimination.

According to the ISPR, the army chief during his meeting with British authorities also discussed the current regional security situation, including Afghanistan.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2015.
Read more  » http://tribune.com.pk/story/822083/army-chief-in-london-uk-urged-to-act-against-hut-baloch-separatists/

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
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1156321/govt-to-act-against-violent-banned-outfits-only

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

By REEMA ABBASI

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

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2902723/In-post-Peshawar-Pakistan-believe-darkest-hour-just-dawn.html#ixzz3OSQzF4JU

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
See more » http://pukhtunkhwatimes.blogspot.ca/

Raza Rabbani in tears: ‘Ashamed to vote against conscience’

By Dawn.com

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
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1155293

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
Learn more » http://www.firstpost.com/world/taliban-leader-mullah-omar-hiding-pak-says-top-afghan-intelligence-official-2020859.html

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.
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/814388/senate-proceedings-national-action-plan-is-a-replica-of-nisp-says-rabbani/#.VKW1JUnXbaA.facebook

Pakistan: The Revival of Military Supremacy

By Edward Mason Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government

In the wake of the Peshawar massacre, legislators in Pakistan are contemplating aconstitutional amendment to authorize army officers to administer courts. Military courts are contrary to the fundamental idea and the core principles of democracy. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took this desperate decision soon after the Dec. 16 massacre in which the Pakistani Taliban killed more than 130 schoolchildren in a dreadful shootout.

What was described by some analysts as “Pakistan’s 9/11,” the Peshawar carnage triggered a nationwide demand for decisive action against the Taliban. Sharif capitulated to the post-Peshawar pressure and agreed to invite the army to establish military courts. Surprisingly, no political party objected to Sharif’s decision. Despite most political parties’ endorsement, the military courts do not bode well for the future of democracy in Pakistan. This move will significantly undermine the relatively free judiciary that gained its independence in 2009 after a fierce, two-year-long nonviolent movement against then-dictator General Pervez Musharraf.

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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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Book Talk – “Fighting to the End” : The Pakistan Army’s way of War – Dr. Prof. Christine Fair

To discuss Fighting to the End in the context of Pakistan, its army, and the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, Hudson Institute will host a book talk with Dr. C. Christine Fair, assistant professor in the Peace and Securities Studies program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Hudson Senior Fellow and former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States Husain Haqqani will moderate the event.

 

– Captured Live on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hudson-…

Courtesy: Youtube

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

By Dawn.com

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
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1153491

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.

Read more » Bloomberg
Learn more » http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-flash-points/?hootPostID=8ac47b59f9f297f5aa7664a1fc7b7a8a

 

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
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/812219/where-the-hell-is-the-truth/