Tag Archives: New York Times

A Rising Tide of Bogus Degrees

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It is hard to believe that the Pakistani government was unaware of a major scam orchestrated by Axact, a software company based in Karachi that operates a global network of fake online schools that sell bogus diplomas. But ignorant or not, the government, which raided Axact’s offices on Tuesday, had little choice but to act after a report by Declan Walsh in The Times disclosed clear connections between Axact and at least 370 education websites, many of which claimed to represent online universities and high schools based in the United States. The scam had existed for years and reaped many millions of dollars.

The problem of bogus degrees and predatory schools goes well beyond one company in Pakistan. Still, the startling revelations that one outfit could cast such a wide net of duplicity give Congress and federal regulators the incentive they need to become much more aggressive at exposing fraudulent companies that pose as legitimate schools for the purpose of selling bogus degrees or luring people into costly but useless courses that lead nowhere.

According to The Times’s account, Axact’s bogus empire consists basically of the online descriptions of elegantly named and beautifully depicted schools with names that sound very much like those of respected American colleges — Columbiana, Barkley and Mount Lincoln.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/opinion/a-rising-tide-of-bogus-degrees.html?_r=0

Blackwater threatens to kill American government official

Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater

JUNE 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guardsfatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/us/before-shooting-in-iraq-warning-on-blackwater.html?_r=0

Censorship goes an extra mile – Pakistan erased an entire International New York Times cover story

Pakistan erased an entire International New York Times cover story

By Chris Welch

Today’s edition of The International New York Times was stripped of its cover story in Pakistan. Instead of seeing a lengthy report on “What Pakistan knew about bin Laden,” readers were greeted with an enormous section of white space that dominates the paper’s front page.

Elsewhere in the world, the International New York Times published a story by Carlotta Gall that closely examines links between Pakistan and Osama bin Laden. Gall’s report traces the common accusation that the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence unit, may have knowingly provided shelter for the al Qaeda leader before he was killed during a United States raid in 2011. Apparently Pakistan’s government doesn’t want its citizens reading that content, and instead we’re left with one of the most visually arresting examples of censorship in years.

Read more » THE VERGE
http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/22/5536676/pakistan-erases-international-new-york-times-cover-story

On Eve of Pivotal Election, Pakistan Orders Times Reporter to Leave

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Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has ordered the expulsion of the Islamabad bureau chief for The New York Times on the eve of national elections, the newspaper said Friday. The Times has strongly protested the move and is seeking his reinstatement.

The ministry did not give any detailed explanation for the expulsion order, which was delivered by police officers in the form of a two-sentence letter to the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, at 12:30 a.m. Thursday local time at his home.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby canceled in view of your undesirable activities,” the order stated. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

The timing of the order means that Mr. Walsh must exit Pakistan on the night of the elections, the first in the country’s history in which one elected civilian government completes its term and hands over power to another elected government.

Continue reading On Eve of Pivotal Election, Pakistan Orders Times Reporter to Leave

President Obama fears Pakistan’s disintegration: book

By: Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama told his staff in late 2011 that Pakistan could ‘disintegrate’ and set off a scramble for its weapons, claims a new book by David E. Sanger, chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times.

Excerpts from the book, published earlier this month, were highlighted by the US media but it assumed an added importance when US officials started asking Pakistani diplomats, visiting officials, lawmakers and even journalists to read the book.

This forced senior Pakistani diplomats to have a second look at the book and some of them also asked Washington-based Pakistani journalists to read the book and share their views with them.

The book identifies Pakistan as President Obama’s “biggest single national security concern” and it quotes Mr Obama telling his senior aides that he had “the least power to prevent” a possible disintegration of this nuclear-armed country. And he also could not control the scramble for Pakistani nukes that this disintegration would cause.

Continue reading President Obama fears Pakistan’s disintegration: book

New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

ON the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death last week, Pakistan was the only Muslim country in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered to show solidarity with the dead terrorist figurehead.

Yet rather than asking tough questions about how Bin Laden had managed to live unmolested in Pakistan for years, the Pakistani Supreme Court instead chose to punish the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, by charging him with contempt for failing to carry out the court’s own partisan agenda in this case, pressuring the Swiss government to reopen a decades-old corruption investigation of President Asif Ali Zardari. (Never mind that Swiss officials say they are unlikely to revisit the charges.)

In handing down the decision, one justice chose to paraphrase the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. He held forth in a long appeal to religious-nationalist sentiment that began with the line, “Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability, which are the essence of every religion.”

That a Supreme Court justice would cite poetry instead of law while sentencing an elected leader on questionable charges reflects Pakistan’s deep state of denial about its true national priorities at a time when the country is threatened by religious extremism and terrorism.

Today, Pakistan is polarized between those who envision a modern, pluralist country and those who condone violence against minorities and terrorism in the name of Islam. Many are caught in the middle; they support the pluralist vision but dislike the politicians espousing it.

Meanwhile, an elephant in the room remains. We still don’t know who enabled Bin Laden to live freely in Pakistan. Documents found on computers in his compound offer no direct evidence of support from Pakistan’s government, army or intelligence services. But even if Bin Laden relied on a private support network, our courts should be focused on identifying, arresting and prosecuting the individuals who helped him. Unfortunately, their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.

In Pakistan, most of the debate about Bin Laden has centered on how and why America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by unilaterally carrying out an operation to kill him. There has been little discussion about whether the presence of the world’s most-wanted terrorist in a garrison town filled with army officers was itself a threat to the sovereignty and security of Pakistan.

Pakistanis are right to see themselves as victims of terrorism and to be offended by American unilateralism in dealing with it. Last year alone, 4,447 people were killed in 476 major terrorist attacks. Over the last decade, thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers have died fighting terrorists – both homegrown, and those inspired by Al Qaeda’s nihilist ideology.

But if anything, the reaction should be to gear up and fight jihadist ideology and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in its name; they remain the gravest threat to Pakistan’s stability. Instead, our national discourse has been hijacked by those seeking to deflect attention from militant Islamic extremism.

The national mind-set that condones this sort of extremism was cultivated and encouraged under the military dictatorships of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq from 1977 to 1988 and Gen. Pervez Musharraf from 1999 to 2008. A whole generation of Pakistanis has grown up with textbooks that conflate Pakistani nationalism with Islamist exclusivism.

Anti-Western sentiment and a sense of collective victimhood were cultivated as a substitute for serious debate on social or economic policy. Militant groups were given free rein, originally with American support, to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and later became an instrument of Pakistani regional influence there and in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan’s return to democracy, after the elections of 2008, offered hope. But the elected government has since been hobbled by domestic political infighting and judicial activism on every issue except extremism and terrorism.

Before Mr. Musharraf was ousted, a populist lawyers’ movement successfully challenged his firing of Supreme Court justices. The lawyers’ willingness to confront Mr. Musharraf in his last days raised hopes of a new era. But over the last four years, the Court has spent most of its energy trying to dislodge the government by insisting on reopening cases of alleged corruption from the 1990s. During the same period, no significant terrorist leader has been convicted, and many have been set free by judges who overtly sympathize with their ideology.

This has happened because the lawyers’ movement split into two factions after Mr. Musharraf’s fall: those emphasizing the rule of law and those seeking to use the judiciary as a rival to elected leaders.

Asma Jahangir, who helped lead the lawyers’ movement, has become a critic of the courts, accusing them of overstepping their constitutional mandate and falling under the influence of the security establishment. And Aitzaz Ahsan, who represented the Supreme Court’s chief justice during the lawyers’ showdown with Mr. Musharraf, is now Prime Minister Gilani’s lawyer in the contempt-of-court case – a clear indication of the political realignment that has taken place.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s raucous media, whose hard-won freedom is crucial for the success of democracy, has done little to help generate support for eliminating extremism and fighting terrorism. The Supreme Court, conservative opposition parties and the news media insist that confronting alleged incompetence and corruption in the current government is more important than turning Pakistan away from Islamist radicalism.

Continue reading New York Times – How Pakistan Lets Terrorism Fester – By HUSAIN HAQQANI

Pakistani Major Among 2 New Arrests in Bombing – By JANE PERLEZ

New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An army officer and a businessman have been detained as part of a widening inquiry into a circle of Pakistanis who had some knowledge of the activities of the man charged with trying to set off a crude car bomb in Times Square, according to a Western official and an American intelligence official.

Continue reading Pakistani Major Among 2 New Arrests in Bombing – By JANE PERLEZ