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Sharia law comes to rebel-held areas of Syria. Western powers are facilitating the Jihadi takeover of yet another country.

Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria

ALEPPO, Syria — The evidence was incontrovertible, captured on video and posted on YouTube for all the world to see. During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith.

And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe.

The beating administered last month offered a vivid illustration of the extent to which the Syrian revolution has strayed from its roots as a largely spontaneous uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. After mutating last year into a full-scale war, it is moving toward what appears to be an organized effort to institute Islamic law in areas that have fallen under rebel control.

Building on the reputation they have earned in recent months as the rebellion’s most accomplished fighters, Islamist units are seeking to assert their authority over civilian life, imposing Islamic codes and punishments and administering day-to-day matters such as divorce, marriage and vehicle licensing.

Numerous Islamist groups are involved, representing a wide spectrum of views. But, increasingly, the dominant role is falling to Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States for suspected ties to al-Qaeda but is widely respected by many ordinary Syrians for its battlefield prowess and the assistance it has provided to needy civilians.

Across the northeastern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqah, where the rebels have been making rapid advances in recent weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra has taken the lead both in the fighting and in setting out to replace toppled administrations. It has assumed control of bakeries and the distribution of flour and fuel, and in some instances it has sparked tensions with local fighters by trying to stop people from smoking in the streets.

Here in the war-ravaged city of Aleppo, more than half of which has been under rebel control since July, Jabhat al-Nusra is also widely identified as the leading force behind the Hayaa al-Sharia, which loosely translates as the Sharia Authority and is known simply as the Hayaa.

Based out of the city’s former Eye Hospital, which was damaged during the fighting and then occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra as its headquarters, the Hayaa is also backed by other rebel units, including the Tawhid Brigade, the city’s biggest fighting force, and the Ahrar al-Sham, a homegrown Islamist force that has played a relatively minor role in Aleppo but is powerful in several other provinces.

Islamic administration

These days, the bomb-scarred former hospital has taken on the semblance of a wartime city hall, with people milling in and out seeking permits to carry a gun or transport fuel through checkpoints, complaining about neighbors, reporting thefts and informing on people suspected to be regime loyalists.

Courtesy: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-law-comes-to-rebel-held-syria/2013/03/19/b310532e-90af-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html

Excerpt of Naseer Memon oped published in Sindhi Daily Kawish on the issue of controversail local govt. law

Creation of Metropolitan Corporations

· Government will create Divisional Head Quarter of Karachi, Hyderabad , Sukkur, Larkano and Mirpurkhas as Metropolitan Corporations But Karachi Metropolitan will be consist of five districts [Note: only Karachi is different from all other Metropolitan all other metro will be consists of only one district while Karachi five]

According to 1998 census MQM has only majority in two districts out of five. If Karachi Metro consists of five District Councils then MQM can have control on only two district councils and they cannot even win mayor ship of Karachi Metro! So MQM knowingly using this Ordinance created Karachi Metro based on five districts instead of 18 towns.

· Union Council boundaries with in the Metro area cannot stretch into any Talku or town

Please note that this doesn’t apply to Town boundaries, there are 5 districts and 18 towns are in Karachi. 18 towns were created in dictator Gen. Musharaf period gerrymandering so that MQM elect their Mayor. It was not possible before since out five districts MQM can only elect two districts only.

This also shows that Karachi is different from other Metro areas.

· Through this ordinance Mayor and Chairman have authority to remove encroachment and maintain peace using Criminal Procedure Code 109, 133, 143, 144 and 145 under the Police act of 1861 and under section 30A-34B. Also they have section 144 under their authority.

Using this authority MQM Bulldoze any Sindhi area, do not allow any political rally and activity, remove any flood relief camps etc.

· Using their financial resources councils have authority to create any new department

Obviously only Karachi and Hyderabad has revenue to create any new department. We already had seen how MQM created city police by recruiting its entire party worker. Rest assured how will these departments server the city.

· Using this ordinance Deputy Commissioner office becomes irrelevant and all the powers are transferred to Chief Officer, who reports to Metro Government. Only revenue matters left to DC office but Karachi will be different again.

Now you can imagine how MQM will utilize Chief Officer Office.

· Financial grant of Metro based on its financial needs, revenue potential and revenue generation

In other words since Karachi and Hyderabad generate most the revenue hence they need more money and rest of Sindh will go to hell. There is no parity for poverty which considers in federal divisible pool.

· Using this Ordinance there are many departments moved to Metro area but most consequential are primary education and fisheries

If Karachi metro can regulate primary education it means the small number of Sindhi medium school running will be closed and there will be no new sindhi medium school will open. Also fisheries department transferred to Karachi Metro mean they will regulate all the harbors where majority of Balochs and Sindhi currently works. They will also not allow any new fishermen housing society in future.

· Military dictator Gen. Musharaf police Ordinance only reactivated in Karachi only, rest of Sindh will still in 1861 act

Courtesy: Sindhi daily Kawish, 05 October, 2012

Via – World Sindh Congress (WSC) facebook wall.

Questions Surround New Supreme Court Order Disqualifying Prime Minister

The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the Prime Minister in what is known as a “short order” – essentially a court order lacking a full explanation. These orders often begin, “For reasons to be recorded later…” – a practice that seems the beg for abuse and controversy – and then proceed directly to ordering some specific action on the part of an individual or institution. In this case, though, the specific action was not given until almost two months later – and made retroactive.

On April 26, the Supreme Court issued an order “for the reasons to be recorded later” that found then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “guilty of and convicted for contempt of court.” The Supreme Court did not declare the Prime Minister disqualified from office and sentenced him to a symbolic detention of about 30 seconds.

The Supreme Court having chosen not to disqualify the Prime Minister, the issue was then taken up by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, who ruled that Mr. Gilani was not disqualified. That was last month.

Today, nearly two months after the Supreme Court issued its controversial conviction, a new short order, “for reasons to be recorded later,” was issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – this time declaring that “Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)…on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgement of this Court dated 26.4.2012…”

This raises several very interesting questions. If the Prime Minister was disqualified pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order on April 26, why did they wait until June 19 to say so? Some have suggested that the Supreme Court was giving the Prime Minister the opportunity for appeal, but this is doubtful for a number of reasons: One, the Supreme Court could have declared the Prime Minister disqualified and then stayed the order pending appeal. But more to the point, to whom would the Prime Minister have appealed? The original order was given by a 7 member bench of the Supreme Court – there was no higher authority to appeal to.

Then there is the matter of the ruling by the Speaker of the National Assembly. If the Supreme Court had determined that Mr. Gilani was disqualified as of April 26, why did they allow Dr. Mirza to proceed with deliberations and a ruling on Mr. Gilani’s status as parliamentarian? If the Supreme Court believed that Dr. Mirza did not have the authority as Speaker of the National Assembly to issue such a ruling, why did they not issue an injunction stopping the Speaker from carrying out the act?

While these questions remain unanswered, at least until the Supreme Court delivers more than the two pages made available today, they suggest very troubling possibilities. By allowing Mr. Gilani to continue serving as Prime Minister for months, the Supreme Court has created a policy nightmare for Pakistan. Making the disqualification retroactive to April 26 means that any decisions made by the government since are effectively nullified. Pakistan has, essentially, been operating without a government for over 8 weeks.

Moreover, by allowing the Speaker of the National Assembly to deliberate and issue a ruling without comment, only to nullify that decision weeks later, the Supreme Court has undermined the authority of parliament and created confusion about fundamental issues of separation of powers and constitutional authority. What government official can now carry out their duties without the fear of Supreme Court action if the Chief Justice does not like the outcome.

This gets to what is perhaps the most troubling question of all – would the Supreme have issued this new order had the Speaker of the National Assembly herself disqualified Mr. Gilani? In other words, is Pakistan’s Supreme Court acting pursuant to due process or desired outcomes?

Courtesy: http://americansforpakistan.com/2012/06/19/questions-surround-new-supreme-court-order-disqualifying-prime-minister/

Via – Twitter

Pakistan Splits: The birth of Bangladesh – By J R Saigal

About the Book

Description: Hard Bound, It is for the first time that a book has come out by a senior officer of the 1 Corps in the Western Sector, Shakargarh Region, where the Strike Corps of Indian Army fought its war. As a participant of war, Col. Saigal, analyses 1971 Indo Pak war in his book, and indirectly enables one to have the reasons for Kargil misadventure of the Pak Army. We get a good factual knowledge of Pakistan Army and why it is in the present shape. This book is unique in so far as it gives the insight into Sam Manekshaw’s personality- a fine soldier who has been misunderstood as also of the real liberator of Bangladesh, Lt.Gen. Sagat Singh, about whom very little is known. While narrating the facts of 1971 Indio-Pak war he very rightly spells out a question-Pakistan was spilt while the country had a General at the helm of state of affairs. Will the country be split again with a General at the helm of affairs-a pointer, he argues-as it is not in the interest of Pakistan and India both If a further split occurs, It will be in the interest of foreign powers.

Courtesy: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=182036138&cm_ven=Twitter&cm_cat=TYShare&cm_pla=link&cm_ite=TYShare

Judicial circus on memo

Legal solution to a political question

Whichever way one looks at it, the beginning and end of the ‘memogate’ controversy is political, as there is no constitutional issue to be resolved.

Ultimately, Asma Jahangir’s stance on the Supreme Court Order is exactly right

By Maryam Khan

The ‘memogate’ controversy is a political question, which means it is a question for political resolution between the political branches of government (the executive and the legislature) and other State institutions, like the military and the intelligence, which are subordinate to the government. The controversy requires political resolution because it has a direct nexus with structural issues relating to civil-military relations. To put it bluntly, the Supreme Court, in principle, has no role to play in this controversy. Let us see why.

Continue reading Judicial circus on memo

Judicial Jinn (genie) – By Waris Husain

My father told me that when he was growing up in a remote village in Pakistan, his community wholeheartedly believed in jinn (genies), and he would see them often as a child. He left his village at a young age to attend school in the city, where he was able to interact with people outside his small native community and develop independent ideas.

Upon his return to the village, all the jinn of his childhood vanished, even though the people of his community who spent their lives in the village still saw them. This is the story of Pakistan’s Courts, which are viewed by average citizens as genies that magically appear to solve unsolvable problems. However, those who have “ventured outside the village” know that there are no judicial genies, just human judges who are liable to make mistakes. This means that the Court must create standards to limit its own powers, lest it become a jinn the people can’t put back in the lamp.

Jinn are described as “smokeless fire,” possessing superhuman powers including the ability to travel expansive distances unimaginable by man. In some stories, the jinn grants three wishes to an individual, allowing the wisher to accrue untold power and wealth. These supernatural abilities distinguish jinn from humans, as jinn possess a greater power to control their environment or reality.

Lately, the media has depicted politicians as weak humans, while assigning a mystic ability to the Court to unilaterally “do justice” in the country.

Continue reading Judicial Jinn (genie) – By Waris Husain

East Pakistan, Balochistan, and now Sindh – Mohammad Ali Mahar

Not learning a lesson from the debacle of East Pakistan has brought Balochistan to the point where it is at the brink of ending its ties with the rest of the country, and the blame is being put on the ‘foreign element’ and the ‘misguided’ Baloch. If the real powers running the country refuse to hear the cries of Sindhis at this time, they would have no one to blame but themselves.

The PPP was always seen as a ray of hope for the Sindhis for a long time. A kind of last refuge. This administration has brought a common Sindhi to the point where he feels robbed of this hope. If ever there existed a Sindh card, the government has already sold it to its coalition partners for a few years in power

Continue reading East Pakistan, Balochistan, and now Sindh – Mohammad Ali Mahar

Brahamdagh : No talks with government, We welcome if US, NATO or India intervene, says BRP chief

Baloch Republican Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti living in exile claimed Wednesday Baloch movement did not enjoy any foreign support, saying but they would welcome it, be it from the US, NATO or the India.

‘We know foreign powers have their own interests; we think of our own greater interests”, he said in a telephonic press conference at Quetta Press Club.

Mr. Bugti said Baloch women, leaders, activists, students, writers, poets, and intellectuals were being picked up and eventually being disappeared and eventually turning up dead. Under such circumstances, we would welcome the support of foreign countries for independence, he said.

Bugti backed the US resolution on Balochistan and justified it was not against the sovereignty of Pakistan as every country possessed right to intervene in another country’s affairs if that state was involved in human rights violations ….

Read more » The Point

More details » BBC urdu

ALAS! we don’t know when Nawaz Sharif will learn from history and will understand history and politics!?

Zulfiqar Halepoto of Sindh Democratic Forum, strongly condemn Mian Nawaz Sahrif’s recent statement in favour of more provinces on the basis of administrative lines during his visit to Bahawalpur district. Main Saheb’s latest move is to divide Siraiki Wasaib to Siraiki soba supporters and Bahawalpur state supporters.

The biggest tragedy of Nawaz Sharif is that he is unaware of historical realities and context of geographies and nations living in Pakistan.

The other tragedy is that he (Nawaz Sharif) is surrounded by fundamentalists who came from religious parties and especially Jamait e Islamai to control PMLn and who are ignorant of historical national rights and sovereign federating units.

Bahawalpur was a Princely state and princely states were the worst bribes of colonial powers to suppress peoples movements in Sub Continent. Those who sold their conscious (zameer), ideology, land (WATAN) and people (QOUM) were given lands and states as compensation of their treachery and GHADAREE.

Bahawalpur was, is and will remain part of Siraiki soba.

ALAS we don’t know when he (Nawaz Sharif) will learn from history and will understand history and politics.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, February 8, 2012.

Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

By DECLAN WALSH

LAHORE, Pakistan — Long unchallenged, Pakistan’s top spy agency faces a flurry of court actions that subject its darkest operations to unusual scrutiny, amid growing calls for new restrictions on its largely untrammeled powers.

The cases against the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, have uncertain chances of success, analysts say, and few believe that they can immediately hobble it. But they do represent a rare challenge to a feared institution that is a cornerstone of military supremacy in Pakistan.

In the first case, due for a hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has ordered the ISI to produce in court seven suspected militants it has been holding since 2010 — and to explain how four other detainees from the same group died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months.

The second challenge, due for a hearing on Feb. 29, revives a long-dormant vote-rigging scandal, which focuses on illegal donations of $6.5 million as part of a covert, and ultimately successful, operation to influence the 1990 election.

The cases go to the heart of the powers that have given the ISI such an ominous reputation among Pakistanis: its ability to detain civilians at will, and its freedom to meddle in electoral politics. They come at the end of a difficult 12 months for the spy service, which has faced sharp criticism over the killing of Osama bin Laden by American commandos inside Pakistan and, in recent weeks, its role in a murky political scandal that stoked rumors of a military coup.

Now its authority is being challenged from an unexpected quarter: the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Only weeks ago, Justice Chaudhry, an idiosyncratic judge, faced accusations of being soft on the military when he inserted the courts into a bruising battle between the government and army.

Now Justice Chaudhry seems determined to prove that he can take on the army, too.

“This is a reaction to public opinion,” said Ayaz Amir, an opposition politician from Punjab. “The court wants to be seen to represent the popular mood.”

The court’s daring move has found broad political support. Last Friday, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, compared the military to a “mafia” during a National Assembly debate about the plight of the four detainees who died in ISI custody.

Continue reading Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

The supreme court on the army and ISI chiefs’ removal

By Nasim Zehra

Excerpt;

….. The prime minister is within his constitutional authority to remove the two chiefs, and therefore under what law would the Chief Justice of Pakistan interfere in the prime minister’s authority and ask for a no-removal guarantee by the latter? Giving such a guarantee would clearly restrict the constitutional powers given to the elected prime minister. Was the CJP overstepping his constitutional mandate? The CJP can re-interpret or use his own discretion, but not without undermining the Constitution.

Such an action by the CJP could set a dangerous precedent and could undermine the recent thawing of government-army tensions. The Chief Justice of Pakistan is humbly advised to re-trace his missteps on this matter. Meanwhile, the government would be ill-advised to give in writing that it will not remove the army and the ISI chiefs.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2012.

The unholy troika

By D. Asghar

Looking back at 2007, people were under the so-called impression, that there was a genuine momentum, seeking the supremacy of the law in Pakistan. Granted that it is a novel concept, a nation that fails to respect, its basic law, called its Constitution, it was a far cry. Some think, that it was more of a “Go Musharraf Go” campaign in reality. It was cleverly dubbed as “struggle for the freedom of judiciary”, for a rather obvious reason. The strategy was to really unseat the dictator, who very cunningly usurped powers from an elected Prime Minister and promptly dispatched him to a ten-year-long exile to the Holy Lands. One has to sit in amazement and wonder, how could a citizen of Pakistan, otherwise convicted for a supposedly heinous crime of “hijacking a plane”, be awarded a speedy pardon and placed on an equally speeding jet, bound to the brotherly kingdom.

The honorable judiciary did not take any “suo moto” notice of such a fundamental violation of justice. Nor did they take any notice, when many Khaki men of honor, trampled over the ‘Constitution of Pakistan’. Again, what a travesty that our Supreme judiciary not only did not live up to the oath of their office at such instances, but aided and abetted in an otherwise illegal act.

The common theme invoked to white wash this otherwise act of treason by the generals was always the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. What a necessity and what a strange solution! At all such occasions, the Khakis were truly at fault. Whatever justification was provided, it was.

Many able commentators have opined on this unique situation and rightly termed it as a deliberate build up of the ‘Security State’. The ‘Security State’ is provided ideological façade through the Muslim League.

Each time Khakis take over, they reinvent the Muslim League. Add a suffix [Quaid, Conventional, Council, Pagara, Junejo, Nawaz, Chatta, and so on…], and then place their surrogates at the helm of the re-invented Muslim League. General Zia-ul-Haq brought a Lahori businessman named Nawaz Sharif to the fore. Needless to say, he came up with a version of Muslim League, denoted by his initial N, as well.

The N League has had made its two stints in the government. One was dismissed by a ‘presidential coup’ engineered by the Khakis while the other directly conducted by General Pervez Musharraf.

By the way, the N League also has the distinct honor of sending its goons to vandalize the apex court of this nation. All because Mr. Sharif was miffed with the judiciary at one point, while he was in this glorious assumption, that he was the “Ameer ul Momineen.”

Amazingly, the same Military that created him at one point, sent Mr. Sharif packing too. All because Mr. Sharif was getting two big for his shoes. He decided to replace General Musharraf. A guy who perhaps was responsible for the “misadventure” in Kargil. Mr. Sharif opted for a fellow Kashmiri, General Butt. Ordinarily, it was within Mr. Sharif’s constitutional authority to do so, but he just totally forgot one golden rule. Never bite the hand that once fed you. Hence Mr. Sharif was deposed and incarcerated for acting too smart for his notoriety.

Come to think of it, the N League is the mother of all parties to the right. The rest of the religious and fundamental parties, are just there for the noise value. In reality, none of the others matter much, nor they have the ability to form any government. But clearly present to sing the chorus, as needed.

One was under the impression that Nawaz Sharif would have learnt his lessons by now. But politics is indeed a strange game. Nawaz Sharif who supposedly credits himself, for the restoration of deposed judiciary, seems to be back in action, playing for his former king makers. Fact is that, Mr. Sharif has realized, that he has to sing the Khaki tune to be back in Islamabad.

Read more » View Point

The constructive approach shown by Pakistan and India at a meeting between their prime ministers in Maldives

Pakistan-India cooperation win-win for region: US

By APP

WASHINGTON: Applauding the constructive approach shown by Pakistan and India at a meeting between their prime ministers in Maldives on Thursday, the United States has said cooperation between the two regional powers would be a win-win for the entire region. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Clinton: U.S. must put economics at center of foreign policy

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

(CNN) — The United States must position itself to lead in a world “where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors — as well as on battlefields,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say Friday in a major economics and foreign policy speech in New York.

Economic forces, Clinton will say, are transforming foreign policy realities around the globe.

“We have seen governments toppled by economic crisis,” a text of the Secretary’s remarks released by the State Department on the eve of the speech reads. “Revolutions born in a Tunisian marketplace have swept across an entire region. Europe faces its strongest test in a generation, thanks to recession and debt. And everywhere I travel, I see countries gaining influence not because of the size of their armies, but because of the growth of their economies.”

Clinton will say she is updating U.S. foreign policy priorities to include economics “every step of the way,” suggesting the United States should take a cue from the leaders of emerging powers like India and Brazil who put economics at the center of their foreign policies.

“When their leaders approach a foreign policy challenge — just as when they approach a domestic challenge — one of the first questions they ask is, ‘how will this affect our economic growth?'” the text of the speech says. “We need to be asking the same question — not because the answer will dictate our foreign policy choices, but because it must be a significant part of the equation.”

In the address before the Economic Club of New York, the fourth in a series of speeches Secretary Clinton is giving on economics and foreign policy, she will say the world’s “strategic and economic center of gravity is shifting east” and the United States is focusing more on the Asia-Pacific region.

“One of America’s great successes of the past century was to build a strong network of relationships and institutions across the Atlantic,” she says. “One of our great projects in this century will be to do the same across the Pacific.”

The United States should help other countries find economic solutions to strategic challenges, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, she says. “We need a sophisticated effort to integrate the region’s economies, promote investment and assist in economic modernization. The Arab political Awakening must also be an economic awakening.”

Clinton takes aim at Americans who would turn inward, arguing “you can’t call ‘time out’ in the global economy. Our competitors aren’t taking a time out, and neither can we.”

Increasingly, the United States is focusing on “tracking and thwarting” the financiers of terrorism, using sanctions and other economic tools to cut repressive regimes off from insurance, banking and shipping, Clinton says.

Finally, Clinton says, the United States is “modernizing (its) agenda on trade, investment and commercial diplomacy to deliver jobs and growth for the American people.”

But the United States cannot compete, she says, if it is frozen in domestic political fights.

“Washington has to end the culture of political brinksmanship — which, I can tell you, is raising questions around the world about our leadership.”

Courtesy: CNN

Army wants Rangers’ operation to continue

– By Shamim-ur-Rahman and Baqir Sajjad Syed

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was briefed on Wednesday on the overall security situation in Karachi, an ISPR press release said.

The COAS, who visited the Corps Headquarters here, was also briefed on the flood situation in Sindh and the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the army.

A delegation of notables from the business community of Karachi also called on Gen Kayani and apprised him of their concern over effects of the law and order situation on business and industrial activities in the city.

Corps Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad Zahir ul Islam also attended the meeting.

Anticipating an early end to Karachi operation, the army has cautioned the government that the city could once again descend into lawlessness if special powers for Rangers were withdrawn.

“Progress in Karachi is reversible and operation being conducted by Rangers must continue,” a military official told Dawn on Wednesday.

He was speaking after Gen Kayani attended a briefing in Karachi on the ongoing Rangers’ operation against target killers, extortionists and terrorist groups.

The government has already said it will not extend the operation beyond the mandated period. It appeared from conversation with some military officers, who attended the briefing, that the government could end the operation prematurely and again hand over the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city to police, citing improvement in situation.

The army is, however, not ready to trust the city’s police, which is considered to be highly politicised and lacking the capacity to effectively act against all terrorists. …

Read more → DAWN.COM

MQM in the way of plot against Pakistan: Altaf

– By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

Excerpt;

…. The gist of the press conference was that Western powers were plotting the dismemberment of Pakistan, but the Muttahida had resolved to foil the design.

Repeated assurances were made to the armed forces, the Inter-Services Intelligence as well as the nation that the MQM was against conspiracies being hatched against the country.

Mr Hussain chose not to answer the serious allegations levelled by former Sindh home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza against him and his party over the past fortnight, parrying a number of questions by reporters.

He concentrated on showing documents, maps and reports from the international media to strengthen his contention that international powers were working for the break-up of Pakistan.

Although he refused to pinpoint the international powers he was referring to, an allusion left no doubt: “The country which has the biggest influence in Pakistan is behind such conspiracies”. The MQM cannot fight such powers alone, Mr Hussain added. “There would have been no super power had the army, the ISI and the MQM got united.”

The MQM supremo accused the leadership of the Awami National Party of “misleading the Pukhtoons living in Karachi and Peshawar”. He even went to the extent of claiming that the United States had given millions of dollars to Asfandyar Wali for contesting the 2008 general election. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Fantasy land and killing fields of Pakistan

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

…. It is self evident that Pakistan’s pathetic conditions are due to internal causes and have nothing to do with the US, India, Israel or anybody else. And, yet our intelligentsia, media and political operators pay more attention to foreign powers than on the real culprits. A small friction with the US becomes the main topic of talk-shows, newspaper columns and political circles.

Pakistani opinion makers have chosen to buy into a fantasy land where they can blame the foreign powers for everything and not pay attention to the inner dynamics of the society. South Korea is much more aligned with the US—the superpower has military bases in that country—and yet it has become a well developed, industrialised society. The difference is that South Korea had thorough land reforms and its ruling elite are much more focused on domestic development than blaming the imaginary or real foreign enemies. As a matter of fact, many East Asian countries have followed this model and are industrialised by now. It’s about time we turn out backs to the fantasy land or else things will only continue to worsen.

To read complete article → WICHAAR.COM

New York Times – Pakistan Spies on Its Diaspora, Spreading Fear

By MARK MAZZETTI, ERIC SCHMITT and CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents hunting for Pakistani spies in the United States last year began tracking Mohammed Tasleem, an attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York and a clandestine operative of Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

Mr. Tasleem, they discovered, had been posing as an F.B.I. agent to extract information from Pakistanis living in the United States and was issuing threats to keep them from speaking openly about Pakistan’s government. His activities were part of what government officials in Washington, along with a range of Pakistani journalists and scholars, say is a systematic ISI campaign to keep tabs on the Pakistani diaspora inside the United States.

The F.B.I. brought Mr. Tasleem’s activities to Leon E. Panetta, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and last April, Mr. Panetta had a tense conversation with Pakistan’s spymaster, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Within days, Mr. Tasleem was spirited out of the United States — a quiet resolution typical of the spy games among the world’s powers.

But some of the secrets of that hidden world became public last week when two Pakistani-Americans working for a charity that the F.B.I. believes is a front for Pakistan’s spy service were indicted. Only one was arrested; the other is still in Pakistan.

The investigation exposed one part of what American officials say is a broader campaign by the Pakistani spy agency, known as the ISI, to exert influence over lawmakers, stifle public dialogue critical of Pakistan’s military and blunt the influence of India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary.

American officials said that compared with countries like China and Russia — whose spies have long tried to steal American government and business secrets — the ISI’s operations here are less extensive and less sophisticated. And they are certainly far more limited than the C.I.A.’s activities inside Pakistan.

Even so, officials and scholars say the ISI campaign extends to issuing both tacit and overt threats against those who speak critically about the military.

The ISI is widely feared inside Pakistan because of these very tactics. For example, American intelligence officials believe that some ISI operatives ordered the recent killing of a Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad. ….

Read more → The New York Times

Pakistan: The End of the Affair?

by Omar Ali

We have been here before, but it is being said that the unhappy marriage between the Pentagon and GHQ  has deteriorated further and once again, those watching this soap opera are wondering if this union can last? Writing in Al-Arabiya, GHQ’s own Brigadier Shaukat Qadir says that the US appears to be “gunning for Pakistan’s top generals”, who are said to be bravely resisting this latest perfidious American plot against General Kiyani.  And why is the US trying to undermine the good General? Because at a meeting with President Obama he made clear  “ that this soft-spoken, laid-back, easy-going general, far from being overawed by the privilege of meeting President Obama, would still give back better than he got.”

This interesting article (I highly recommend reading it twice to get the full flavor) can be read in a number of ways, all of which are worrisome. One is to assume that Brigadier sahib means exactly what he is saying. That there is some core Pakistani interest that General Kiyani bravely insisted on defending, and for that sin, he is now being systematically undermined. Note that Pakistan’s elected government did not decide what this core interest is supposed to be, nor was it consulted before General Kiyani decided to defend this core interest against US imperialism. In fact, Brigadier sahib hints that the elected regime may include “powerful individuals who have no loyalty to this country and its people”. No, this core interest, for which Kiyani sahib is supposedly willing to risk a clash with the United States (and by extension, NATO, Japan, etc) is defined by GHQ, as it has been for decades.

Strategic depth”, it seems, is alive and well and we can live with bombings, insurgencies, electricity shortages and all sorts of economic and social crises, but we cannot live without strategic depth.  For the sake of this strategic depth, we kept the Taliban alive and made sure the new American-installed regime in Afghanistan would not stabilize. And when the Americans leave (something that everyone in GHQ seems convinced is happening very soon), we will restart a civil war in Afghanistan, with “our side” led by the Haqqanis and Mullah Omar.

This war we expect to win in very short order, after which we will move on to our Central Asian Nirvana. Having antagonized all the hardore jihadis by siding at least partially with the US, we are now to antagonize the US and its allies by sticking by the Taliban. This is known as GHQ’s “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar” strategy”. * The problems with this approach are manifold and include:

  1. “The imperialists” are unlikely to leave as soon as imagined. This alone puts the whole strategy in question because as in Kargil, there seems to be no plan for the possibility that the “enemy” may not do what we expect it to do.
  2. “Our side” is unlikely to win all of Afghanistan even if the Western imperialists leave according to our timetable.  Given the opposing interests of many regional powers, that struggle is likely to be even more prolonged and bloody than the last attempt to fill the Afghan vacuum.
  3. “Blowback” from this war will be worse than the blowback from the current confused operation. The Taliban refused to cooperate with us against anti-Shia terrorists even in the good old days of the nineties. This time around, they will be much more difficult to control. We cannot even control the current (relatively small) Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. To imagine that we will control the much larger and more fractious Islamic emirate of the future seems to be a pipe dream.
  4. Any exit of the imperialists and return of the Taliban will inevitably be followed by a house-cleaning of Western “fellow travellers” in Pakistan. That cleansing may not be on the army’s immediate agenda, but pressure to Islamize Pakistan will be hard to resist once the Islamists are winning. The establishment may then find it expedient to try and get rid of the ANP, Pakistani liberals and other riff-raff that the army has tolerated in the Sulah e Hudaybia phase. Naturally the Americans will respond with retaliatory measures of their own and a liberal efflux will have some modest but detectable negative impact on the economy and the state; the final outcome, in a weak and fractious state, may not even be up to North Korean standard.

But that is only one interpretation of Brigadier sahib’s views. There is another; it may well be that cooperation with the United States is set to continue, but the haze of lies that surrounds the relationship now needs to be raised to new heights.  Pakistan’s deep state is highly “Westernized” in very practical ways and has always been a willing and even eager partner of the CIA and the Pentagon in the region. But both the state and its American minders have been operating with  the view that those who matter will calculate profit and loss, and everyone else can be kept suitably entertained with our own peculiar version of Jihadi kool-aid (a uniquely Pakistani mix of Islam, militarism and the “two nation theory”).

In one of the more spectacular “own goals” in history, this convenient and previously useful propaganda has now created a large constituency within the rank and file of the armed forces and the semi-educated middle class. How now to tell them the truth, smack dab in the middle of a crisis? Better to just update the kool-aid, pray to Allah, and keep going while hoping for a miracle. In this version, no breach with America is intended or desired, but the natives are restless and the Jihadi/Paknationalist credentials of the supreme commander must be burnished to prevent any unpleantness, hence the article and others like it. The problem with this version is that it means the state will continue its policy of trying to appease both the Islamists and the Americans and this only postpones the day we fall between two stools, it does not alleviate that risk.

Yet another version holds that this is simply more of the “controlled burn” strategy, the aim being to get the Americans to cough up more money by raising the threat of a “rogue” nuclear state (a strategy with which we have long years of practice by now). The problem with this version is the one pointed out by Mr. Lincoln a long time ago; you cannot fool all the people all the time. What happens if someone decides to call our bluff?

It is hard to say which of these theories is correct. If I had to pick, I would pick the last one because I am a cynical person, but there is little objective evidence based on which an outside observer can decide between these theories. It is even possible that all three (and others I have failed to imagine) are ALL simultaneously true. Pakistan’s biggest curse and the army’s most treacherous gift to the nation is its culture of secrecy and double-dealing. Domestically, the army (and particularly its intelligence agencies) have thoroughly undermined the credibility and effectiveness of politicians, civil bureaucrats and the media by decades of behind the scenes manipulation. They have done the same thing abroad by keeping foreign policy under their opaque control. This is fertile ground for conspiracy theories of every stripe (including the three I have managed to outline above) and the truth is impossible to know for sure (“loose change” aficionados will no doubt feel it’s the same in the United States, but the murkiness in Pakistan is an order of magnitude above anything an American can imagine). And the same opacity and confusion may now extend to the supreme command; it is possible that not only are we unable to discern what is going on, the corps commanders who meet every month are equally clueless and confused. Not being the best and the brightest, and acutely conscious of their intellectual shortcomings but determined to stay in charge no matter what, they may be flying blind too….this final irony raises the disturbing possibility that the past may not be an adequate guide to the future and very nasty black swans may be swimming just beyond the next bend in the river. Perhaps India should prepare for an influx of Pakistanis seeking refuge from chaos that even the worst enemies of Pakistan may not have imagined. Being our cousins, and with a bureaucracy not known for its boldness and vision, one doubts that India will have a policy adequate to the needs of this mother of all black swans. The rest of the world may be equally unprepared. The Chinese, supposedly used to thinking one hundred years ahead, may be our only hope.

* “Sau Gunndey tey Sau CHittar strategy“: Literally, one hundred onions and one hundred lashes. A man was to be punished and was given the choice of eating a hundred onions or getting a hundred lashes. He opted for the onions but after 3-4 onions, he thought this is too hard and switched to lashes. But after 5 of those the pain was too much, so he switched again to onions..he ended up with a hundred of both. GHQ runs the risk of being punished by both sides to the full extent of the law. Picking one poison might have been a more rational choice.

Post Script: Sufi masters in upstate New York have sent a sufi teaching story that they claim has some relevance to why the hapless civilian regime is having so little success in Pakistan; It is not known if these are true sufis or impostors, so the story may or may not apply. Halva strategy: The Mongols were coming and the capital was in a state of panic. A holy man showed up and his followers claimed he had magical powers and could stop the Mongols. He was invited to take over and do his thing. He took over command and ordered the ministers to prepare the finest halva. They did so, he ate and let others eat as well. Next day, they said the Mongols are only 100 miles away, what now? He asked for more halva. It was done. This went on for days, every day the Mongols got closer and he asked for more of the best halva. Finally the Mongols arrived at the gate. He packed up his sleeping bag and said “I am off, do what you can to save yourself”. Everyone screamed “But what about the your magic”? He said “dudes, I came for the halva and I had lots of it and it was indeed good. The Mongols are your problem. Good bye.”

Read more: 3 Quarks Daily

A history of oppression: the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By Danielle Sabai

June 2, 2011 — Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission — In February 2011, the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the island’s independence. In his speech, he stressed the necessity of “protecting the reconstructed nation”, as well as protecting “one of the oldest democracies in Asia”, its unity and its unitary character.

This speech came nearly two years after the end of the war on May 19, 2009, between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military command of the LTTE was decimated in the last two months of a merciless war that has had led to tens of thousands of deaths since the early 1980s.

Some 30 years of civil war have transformed the Sri Lankan political landscape. Once an island characterised by a developed social policy and high development indicators, Sri Lanka is today ravaged by state violence, the militarisation of society and an authoritarian state.

The end of the war has in no way opened a period of peace; still less has it settled the Tamil national question. The Sri Lankan government, whose powers are concentrated in the hands of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers, has not sought to remedy the structural causes that led to the civil war. The state remains Sinhalese nationalist and racist in its essence and rejects any devolution of powers, which would allow the different communities to envisage the future together.

The president is at war against his people. State violence is also exerted against Sinhalese, journalists and political activists who oppose him but also against workers as a whole. Despite the end of the war, the government has maintained the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows it to muzzle its opponents. All communities suffer from the collapse of the rule of law. No peace can last if it does not rest on any political will to settle disputes.

The history of Sri Lanka is rich in lessons. It illustrates that attacks against minorities lead to more general attacks against workers whatever their ethnicity. They lead inevitably to a weakening, if not collapse, of democracy. It is important and necessary to review the historic roots that are at the base of the formation of this specific state having led to the emergence of two antagonistic nationalisms: Buddhist Sinhalese nationalism and its reaction, Tamil nationalism. …

Read more: Links International

Possibility of “revolution” in Pakistan?

Ripe for revolution? – By Mahreen Khan

…. Despite a wave of public protests, Egypt is unlikely to emulate Tunisia, due to factors also present in Pakistan. Egypt has a sharp religious divide between Coptics and Muslims as well as numerous Islamic groups pitted against each other. Arab analysts cite low levels of literacy and a general feeling of apathy and defeatism in the population as further reasons that Egypt will continue to fester rather than revolt. Pakistan has these and additional factors which militate against a revolution: deep and multiple ethnic, linguistic, tribal and sectarian fault lines; a paucity of alternative intellectual narratives, radical leaders or strong unions; and an elected government and freedom of speech. Ironically, democratic elections and free speech help perpetuate the corrupt, unjust stranglehold of the feudal-industrial power elite. Revolutionary forces require a moral impetus that illegitimate dictatorship provides but elected government does not. Secondly, frustration needs to simmer under a repressive regime until it reaches the temperature for mass revolt. Pakistan’s free media allows an outlet for public dissatisfaction. The often harsh treatment of politicians and police officials at the hands of journalists and judges ameliorates public anger. Vocal opposition parties, unhindered street protests and strikes allow a regular release of fury, draining the momentum necessary for the emotional surge that revolutionary zeal requires. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

‘Parliament with unlimited powers can secularise state’

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was hearing petitions challenging the 18th Amendment on Monday, DawnNews reported.

A 17-judge full court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, was hearing petitions challenging certain clauses in the Amendment.

During the hearing, the federation lawyer said that the parliament’s powers were limitless.

Responding to that, Chief Justice Iftikhar said that limitless powers could secularise the country.

Read more >> DAWN