Tag Archives: possibility

Balochistan: Silence of the courts

By Yunas Samad

Balochistan has been burning in the background for sometime, but what made Congress — to the embarrassment of the State Department and the Government of Pakistan — take up this issue now? Some say this was just a stunt but there is a growing frustration in Washington that Pakistan is double-dealing with the US; taking substantial aid dollars and then pursuing a strategy in Afghanistan which is costing lives of US soldiers. American troops have now been in Afghanistan longer than the Vietnam War, and there is considerable unhappiness with Pakistan for the grief it has caused them and an increasing desire, in some quarters, to hit back.

What is interesting is that for the first time, the international community is now reflecting on the possibility of an independent Balochistan, is being sold to them as a package, which would break-up Iran and Pakistan and give over Gwadar as a facility for the US fleet. Let’s be clear that this is a minority view; it is more of an attempt to embarrass Pakistan, but such developments can generate their own momentum and with time become a reality. Who would have thought that South Sudan or East Timor would become independent states? But those who live by the sword die by the sword and, this could easily be applied to countries.

Pakistan of all countries should be familiar with this theme after resorting to military force to deny the Bangladeshi people their democratic rights. Military solutions to political problems results in disaster and invite foreign intervention and we are repeating these mistakes again in Balochistan. Failure to resolve the human rights situation is creating opportunities for foreign intervention. From the extrajudicial execution of Akbar Bugti to the deaths of activists (1,100 according to Human Rights Watch and 10,000 according to Baloch activists) and their torture and disappearances are — in eyes of those critical of Pakistan, evidence of — crimes against humanity. Pakistani generals were fortunate that they weren’t dragged into an international court and prosecuted for war crimes after the Bangladesh civil war, mainly because such bodies could not function during the Cold War. However, in the unipolar world of today, we have seen Ratko Mladic of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and Nuon Chea, of the Khmer Rouge all end up in court to get their comeuppance.

Our political leaders are in a huddle, trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis in Balochistan; idle resolutions condemning foreign interference are being passed but our judiciary remains inactive and silent on this issue. It is tragic that our activist judges have not seen the abuse of fundamental rights in Balochistan to be given priority, particularly since the Baloch disappearance case was an important reason for the clash between former General Pervez Musharraf and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Why cases about presidential corruption are considered more important than cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances beats me? It only resonates with the Baloch nationalist argument that they are not treated like Pakistani citizens and hence, want independence, even if it means becoming a satellite of the US. The best possible response to the Congressional hearing is for the judiciary to demonstrate that it actively safeguards the fundamental rights of all the citizens of Pakistan.

The judiciary needs to investigate the killing of Akbar Bugti and if necessary charge Musharraf, reopen the case on disappearances and threaten contempt charges against the agencies for ignoring their orders. The Supreme Court cannot sit idle and ignore these issues by risking greater foreign interference in the matter. It needs to demonstrate to the Baloch people and the world that they are, in fact, citizens of Pakistan and their rights are protected.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.

It’s not a Recession, it’s a corporate Robbery – New spirit across the world

– Laurie Penny: Across the world, a new spirit took hold – power was taken back by the people

More than city squares are being occupied. What is being reoccupied is a sense of collective possibility

Something enormous happened on Saturday night. In over a thousand towns and cities around the world, people from all walks of life took to the streets and occupied the squares in an international “day of action” against austerity and corporate greed. In Madrid, I watched 60,000 stamp and cheer in Puerta del Sol as protesters took over a nearby building and dropped a banner reading “Somos El 99%” (“we are the 99 per cent”), a slogan from the Occupy Wall Street movement which has become a mantra for new global resistance.

As thousands streamed into the main square of the Spanish capital, a projector was showing hundreds facing down police to camp outside the London Stock Exchange. Protest, like profit, has become globalised.

The fact that politicians and pundits are asking what all these people want can be considered a victory for the “occupy everywhere” movement. It’s not a question many in public life have seemed much concerned with in the past decade.

What commentators fail to understand is that occupation is itself a demand. It’s a new, practical politics for those disillusioned with representative democracy, which demonstrators claim is a private club run by the rich, for the rich.

The recolonisation of public space, the forming of alternative communities based on direct democracy where people can meet and realise a common struggle, is an act of defiance with its own solution to the alienation and frustrations of life under capitalism. Those who attend occupations with individual grievances stay because they want to belong to a community built on mutual aid and shared values.

As political ambitions go, “occupy everywhere” is hardly modest. It is fitting that the most notable showdown of Saturday night took place in New York’s Times Square, where thousands of peaceful protesters clashed with mounted police under the glow of giant electric billboards in this temple to corporate power.

What is being occupied is far more than a few public squares for a few weeks. What’s being reoccupied is the collective political imagination, and a sense of collective possibility – beyond nationalism, beyond left and right – as millions of people lose faith in mainstream politics.

Power is not being petitioned here – it’s being reinvented. That’s what makes “occupy everywhere” so fascinating and also so exciting.

Courtesy » independent.co.uk

The Spy Who Knew Everything

by Louise Roug

Former CIA officer and advisor to President Obama Bruce Riedel talks about his new book, what the protests in Egypt mean, and the lessons of Pakistan.

The most important skill that a CIA officer can have is the ability to be at the right place at the right time—and to recognize the moment. By that taxing measure, Bruce Riedel has been extraordinarily successful.

His first country assignment for the agency was the Iran desk, where he arrived in 1978 during the twilight of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s reign. The Iranian revolution the following year irrevocably changed how the United States could operate in the Middle East—a reality borne out by the 444-day hostage crisis that followed.

Riedel then became the CIA desk officer for Egypt, authoring an intelligence report in the fall of 1981 that warned of the high risk of Anwar Sadat’s assassination following the peace treaty with Israel. The briefing, in which Riedel predicted the rise of then–vice president Hosni Mubarak, proved stunningly prescient: during an Oct. 6 military parade that year, a group of soldiers, for whom peace with Israel was anathema, assassinated the Egyptian president.

“That was one hell of a day,” Riedel recalls in a NEWSWEEK interview, during a week when an uprising in Egypt has once more thrown the region into turmoil.

Serving four successive presidents, Riedel went on to work at the Pentagon, the White House, and at CIA headquarters in Langley, getting to know the most important players in Washington and the Middle East. But it is his last assignment—Pakistan—that keeps him awake at night.

In Pakistan, we now have, for the first time, the possibility of a jihadist state emerging,” Riedel tells NEWSWEEK. “And a jihadist state in Pakistan would be America’s worst nightmare in the 21st century.”

His book Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of Global Jihad was recently published by the Brookings Institution Press. Intended as a primer on Pakistan’s turbulent history, the book sets out to explain, as he writes, “why successive U.S. administrations have undermined civil government in Pakistan, aided military dictators, and encouraged the rise of extremist Islamic movements that now threaten the United States at home and abroad.” …

Read more : The Daily Beast

Pakistan nears bankruptcy, yet its Army poaches most of the resources of the nation

As Pakistan nears bankruptcy, patience of foreign lenders wears thin

BY GRAEME SMITH

ISLAMABAD — A terrifying kind of mathematics has become popular among aid workers, analysts and others who spend their lives tracking the fate of Pakistan. It’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation about how the country will get through the coming years without declaring bankruptcy: take the country’s foreign debt ($53-billion), add interest, subtract the $1.8-billion that won’t arrive as scheduled on Jan. 1 from the International Monetary Fund because Islamabad failed to meet loan conditions. Add the staggering cost, perhaps $10-billion, of rebuilding after summer floods.

The numbers seem bleak. The government floated the possibility last week of running a deficit for the coming year of $15-billion.

Islamabad’s latest plan to raise revenue, a reformed tax law, has become bogged down by stubborn opposition parties, front-page criticism and street protests. The cabinet’s economic team is threatening to quit.

Pakistan needs a bailout. But is the country still a good investment?

“That’s the conversation people are having now, about whether you’d be throwing good money after bad,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a development expert and policy analyst based in Islamabad.

The international community has accused Pakistan of poor financial management for years. Cables recently posted by the website WikiLeaks show a U.S. intelligence official complaining in 2008 about the country’s preference for spending money on strategic military hardware instead of development: “Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world.” …

READ MORE : Globe and Mail