Tag Archives: problem

History’s baggage: Pakistan’s Punjab problem

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

[History’s baggage: Pakistan’s Punjab problem] Arising from the same soil, breathing the same air, moving to the same folk songs and music, defined by the same five rivers, Punjab over the centuries has yet produced two distinct types of personality: the Muslim Punjabi and the Sikh Punjabi. There is also the Hindu Punjabi but for ease of discussion let the first two categories suffice.

Continue reading History’s baggage: Pakistan’s Punjab problem

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Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

BY Christian Caryl

WASHINGTON: Earlier this month, the investment bank Credit Suisse published its annual survey of global wealth. The bank’s report is filled with illuminating findings, but one in particular caught my eye. It has to do with the distribution of assets in Russia, where, as the report notes, a mere 110 people own a mind-boggling 35 per cent of the country’s entire wealth. At the same time, 93.7pc of Russians are worth $10,000 or less.

As the report notes, this makes Russia the country with the greatest wealth disparities in the world. Americans, who are now increasingly concerned about deepening inequality in their own country, might seek some consolation from this dismal conclusion. Even under present circumstances, wealth in the United States is still spread a lot more evenly than that. Things could be worse, right?

Well, maybe. But I see little cause for jubilation. Russia is merely the most extreme case of a worldwide trend that potentially represents one of the greatest threats that democracy faces today: the spread of oligarchy.

The problem isn’t just that some people in today’s world are fabulously rich. It’s that disproportionate wealth increasingly goes along with disproportionate power. Russia, again, offers a textbook example of the dangers. Back in the 1990s, a handful of politically well-connected business tycoons managed to profit from their close relations with Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin by taking advantage of the privatisation of the country’s industrial jewels — above all its vast oil wealth. Those magnates weren’t shy about exploiting their economic power to political ends. They bankrolled Yeltsin’s re-election as president in 1996, controlled ministerial appointments, and dictated government policy. No wonder these businessmen-cum-politicians were soon dubbed the “oligarchs.” (”Oligarchy” is Greek for “government of the few.”)

Continue reading Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

Fallout from ‘Untouchables’ Documentary: Another Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

By: Michael Winston

A great many people around the county were rightfully shocked and horrified by the recent excellent and hard-hitting PBS documentary, The Untouchables, which looked at the problem of high-ranking Wall Street crooks going unpunished in the wake of the financial crisis. The PBS piece certainly rattled some cages, particularly in Washington, in a way that few media efforts succeed in doing. (Scroll to the end of this post to watch the full documentary.)

Now, two very interesting and upsetting footnotes to that groundbreaking documentary have emerged in the last weeks.

The first involves one of the people interviewed for the story, a former high-ranking executive from Countrywide financial who turned whistleblower named Michael Winston. You can see Michael’s segment of The Untouchables at around the 4:20 mark of the piece. The story Winston told during the documentary is essentially an eyewitness account of the beginning of the financial crisis.

Continue reading Fallout from ‘Untouchables’ Documentary: Another Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited to part-time work, millions have been foreclosed out of their homes. Those who retain jobs suffer declining real wages, fewer benefits, reduced job security, and more work. This year of “austerity” began with an increase in the payroll tax rate for over 150 million wage-and-salary earners from 4.2 to 6.2 per cent (a 48% increase from 2012) — a far more significant tax event than the trivial — but wildly hyped — increase of taxes on those earning over $450,000 annually from 35 to 39.6 per cent (a 13% increase from 2012). Austerity deepens as Republicans and Democrats negotiate merely details of their agreements to cut government spending on social programs helping working people.

Between the crisis and today’s austerity policies lie the bailouts — a bought government’s program to aid mega-finance and other large corporations with unlimited funds unmatched by anything comparable for the mass of working people and smaller businesses. The bailouts worked for them, for the large corporations who secured them for themselves. For that reason, “recovery” blessed them while it bypassed everyone else. Now austerity policies shift onto the general population major portions of the costs of the crisis and the bailouts. The situation is so bad and US government complicity with capitalists at the people’s expense so exposed that the capitalist system is becoming questionable. Criticism challenges the last half-century’s treatment of capitalism as the absolutely best possible economic system, beyond any need for discussion or debate, justifiably implanted around the world by military force, etc.

First of all, this deep and long crisis undermines decades of confident assurances and predictions that another deep capitalist depression was no longer likely or even possible. Capitalism’s inherent instability overwhelmed and thus proved the futility of efforts to prevent its crises. Moreover, both conventional and extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies failed repeatedly to bring Europe, Japan, and the US out of the crisis. Central banks, international agencies, and national executives charged with economic responsibilities have, since 2007, spoken with assurance and met often, posed for media photos, puffed and threatened, made a few last-minute, stop-gap agreements, resolved to meet again and do more at the next meeting. However, the crisis continued for most people. In many places it has gotten much worse. All this challenges glib notions that capitalism’s highest authorities have the system “under control.”

Implicitly, at first, millions of people began to question whether capitalism does still “deliver the goods” as its defenders so long insisted. In the US, declining economic conditions for parents coupled with rising school debts and declining job prospects for their children suggest rather that capitalism “delivers the bads.” The widening inequalities of wealth and income that contributed to the crisis have in turn been further aggravated by it.

Continue reading Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

Canada is not doing better

Ed Broadbent: Inequality’s a problem for Canada, too

By: ED BROADBENT, The Globe and Mail

I don’t know whether it’s smugness or indifference, but we Canadians can be a self-deluding lot. Growing inequality, portrayed recently in The Economist as a global scourge, when viewed from Canada, seems to be a problem only for others.

After all, it was other countries’ banks that crashed in 2008. It’s in southern Europe that tens of thousands are taking to the streets. And it was in France and the United States that recent elections were fought over the fact that those who created the mess, the top 1 per cent, are still getting big bonuses and low tax rates.

Well, guess what? Canada is not doing better. From 1982 until 2004, almost all growth in family income went to the top 20 per cent, with much of that going to the top 1 per cent, while the bottom 60 per cent saw no growth at all. The increase in inequality in Canada since the mid-1990s has been the fourth highest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But does this matter? Yes, the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: Inequality does matter. In terms of social outcomes, more equal societies do better for everyone, not just for the poor, in almost every respect: health outcomes, life expectancy, level of trust in society, equality of opportunity and upward social mobility. A recent study showed that if Americans want to experience the American Dream of upward mobility, they should pack up and move to Sweden. They would have to leave the most unequal democracy and move to the most equal.

Continue reading Canada is not doing better

Corruption in Israel

Jerusalem of Gold

Does Israel Have a Corruption Problem?

By Ido Baum

The slew of recent high-profile graft cases in Israel makes it seem that Israeli politicians are more corrupt than others. Part of this can be chalked up to aggressive state prosecutors and an open media. But the problem is not simply one of public perception. …

Read more » Foreign Affairs
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138741/ido-baum/jerusalem-of-gold?cid=soc-twitter-in-snapshots-Jerusalem_of_gold-010413

Tale of a thirsty town

Despite growing problem of drinking water in Gwadar, the administration is still not geared to manage the drought situation

By Naseer Memon

(The News-23rd Dec 2012)While Eastern parts of Balochistan are inundated under flood water, Southern belt of Makran coast of the same province is enduring a severe drought and people are desperately jostling for drinking water in long queues. Gwadar and adjoining areas with striking natural beauty of virgin beaches are without drinking water for several months.

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The Costs of Capitalism’s Crisis: Who Will Pay?

Economics Professor Richard Wolff details the problems of capitalism and urges our recognizing its obsolescence and replacing it with institutions that truly serve the people.

Talk at Church of All Souls in New York City, January 24, 2012. Camera, audio: Joe Friendly.

Read more » YouTube

A decaying state kills its minorities

By Khaled Ahmed

The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence

A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.

According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.

Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.

The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.

Continue reading A decaying state kills its minorities

A country lost

By: Cyril Almeida

IT began with the flag. A strip of white slapped on, but separate and away from the sea of green — the problem was there from the very outset: one group cast aside from the rest.

A more prescient mind would have thought to put the white in the middle, enscon-ced in a sea of green, a symbolic embrace of the other.

But why blame the flag?

It began with the founding theory.

A country created for Muslims but not in the name of Islam. Try selling that distinction to your average Pakistani in 2012. 1947 was another country and it still found few takers.

Pakistan’s dirty little secret isn’t its treatment of non-Muslims or Shias or the sundry other groups who find themselves in the cross-hairs of the rabid and the religious. Pakistan’s dirty little secret is that everyone is a minority.

It begins with Muslim and non-Muslim: 97 per cent and the hapless and helpless three. But soon enough, the sectarian divide kicks in: Shia and Sunni. There’s another 20 per cent erased from the majority.

Next, the intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafi and the Ahl-e-Hadith. Seventy per cent of Pakistan may be Hanafi, five per cent Ahl-e-Hadith.

Then the intra-intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafis split between the growing Deobandis and the more static Barelvis.

And finally, within the 40 per cent or so that comprise Barelvis in Pakistan, there’s the different orders: the numerous Chishtis, the more conservative Naqshbandis and the microscopic Qadris.

In Pakistan, there is no majority.

There’s the terror that every minority lives in: non-Muslim from Muslim, Shia from Sunni, Barelvi from Wahabi, secular Sunni from rabid Barelvi — the future is now and it is bleak.

Some mourn the passing of Jinnah’s vision and seek solace in his Aug 11 speech. But there never was an Aug 11 version of Pakistan: it was stillborn, killed off by the religious right as soon as it was articulated.

Continue reading A country lost

MYANMAR: Muslims and Their History – By R. Upadhyay

Burma re-named as Myanmar in 1989 is a multi-ethnic country in Southeast Asia bordering Thailand, Laos, China, India, Bangladesh and Andaman Sea. Buddhism, which is professed by about 89% of country’s various ethnic groups like Burmans, Karen, Shan, Rakhine and Mon – has more or less become a part of their national identity. Various reports suggest that due to certain historical, social, political and cultural problems the Muslim minority had felt alienated and occasional communal riots have occurred.

Continue reading MYANMAR: Muslims and Their History – By R. Upadhyay

The Man With No Plan for Pakistan

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is not the messiah the country seeks.

BY SADANAND DHUME

Pakistan’s been a problem child for so long that even the dramatic appears mundane nowadays. Pakistani militants killed in drone strikes, the judiciary threatening to bring down an elected government—these are nothing new. But a poll released Wednesday ought to make even the most seasoned watchers sit up and take note. Pakistan’s frustrated population is growing ever more extremist, and many are starting to see a charlatan as their political savior.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project reveals that nearly three out of four Pakistanis view the United States as an enemy, up from about two out of three who felt … ….

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577494242169308710.html

China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Problem – Francis Fukuyama

For more than 2000 years, the Chinese political system has been built around a highly sophisticated centralized bureaucracy, which has run what has always been a vast society through top-down methods.  What China never developed was a rule of law, that is, an independent legal institution that would limit the discretion of the government, or democratic accountability.  What the Chinese substituted for formal checks on power was a bureaucracy bound by rules and customs which made its behavior reasonably predictable, and a Confucian moral system that educated leaders to look to public interests rather than their own aggrandizement.  This system is, in essence, the same one that is operating today, with the Chinese Communist Party taking the role of Emperor.

Continue reading China’s ‘Bad Emperor’ Problem – Francis Fukuyama

Another death foretold? By Kamran Shafi

Considering how very incensed the Deep State gets the more you hold a mirror to it; and being conscious of the sudden torrent of vile abuse and, worse, dastardly and outlandish allegations presently being heaped upon yours truly, I wanted to write about dog shows and fat Labradors this week. However, this is the Land of the Pure, where ever newer horrors are visited upon us every single minute of every single day, some couched in words. All of them, you can be sure, spoken from on high: as if the sermonisers were standing on some particularly elevated moral ground, with us mortals crawling somewhere down there.

To come straight to the point, the following words in Lt.-Gen. Asad Durrani’s article “The second oldest profession” in this newspaper of May 29 sent a very, very cold chill down my spine. Said the general: “I do not know if Afridi should have been tried by a jirga or in a court of law, under tribal decree or under the country’s penal code, but I do know that for him, it is not yet all over.” And as if that was not disturbing enough: “I think Dr Afridi will get another chance to administer a polio vaccine; the next time in the Promised Land.” I ask you.

Who does not know that Dr Shakil Afridi, the man who helped our ally in the War on Terror find Osama bin Laden a few hundred metres from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad Cantonment, is a ‘Dead Man Walking’? He is in Peshawar Jail, which is as vulnerable to attack by the mighty Taliban as Bannu Jail where they first bribed their way in; then garlanded and honoured General Musharraf’s convicted attacker, Adnan Rasheed (who was sentenced to death) with a dastarbandi (adorning him with a turban), and then made video recordings of their great feat, rehearsed firing and all. We have to note that not a single person was even injured in that Great Escape in which nearly 400 prisoners, some of them dangerous terrorists, escaped. So, where’s the problem in ‘rubbing out’ Shakil Afridi in Peshawar Jail?

However, for a former head of the ISI to say almost gleefully what he said, Durrani certainly deserves mention. Specially, and I say this as someone who lauded his stand on the Mehrangate scandal: admitting that as a Pakistan army general he should not have done what he did, being such a senior person. Indeed, what he said about Afridi is way out of court.

And now to the jailbreak. There is not a squeak out of the leaders and the spokesmen of the Ghairat Brigades about that catastrophe. Remember that we know that Adnan Rasheed worked for Amjad Farooqi, who in turn worked for Abu Faraj al Libi and is also known to have been a member of these extremist organisations at various times: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan; Harkatul Ansar; Harkatul Mujahideen; Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami in which he is said to have been this group’s pointman with al Qaeda’s International Islamic Front. Quite a beauty, what? Yet, not a word about the jailbreak and its links with al Qaeda, especially when one of the prisoners who escaped was accused of plotting to kill the then chief of army staff himself!

Continue reading Another death foretold? By Kamran Shafi

Pakistan blew its chance for security

By: David Ignatius

As America begins to pull back its troops from Afghanistan, one consequence gets little notice but is likely to have lasting impact: Pakistan is losing the best chance in its history to gain political control over all of its territory — including the warlike tribal areas along the frontier.

Pakistan has squandered the opportunity presented by having a large U.S.-led army just over the border in Afghanistan. Rather than work with the United States to stabilize a lawless sanctuary full of warlords and terrorists, the Pakistanis decided to play games with these outlaw groups. As a result, Pakistan and its neighbors will be less secure, probably for decades.

This is a catastrophic mistake for Pakistan. Instead of drawing the tribal areas into a nation that finally, for the first time since independence in 1947, could be integrated and unified, the Pakistani military decided to keep the ethnic pot boiling. It was a triumph of short-term thinking over long-term; of scheming over strategy.

America has made many blunders in Afghanistan, which will have their own consequences. But U.S. problems are modest compared with those of Pakistan, which nearly 65 years after independence still doesn’t have existential security as a nation. Like most big mistakes people make in life, this is one that Pakistan’s military leaders made with their eyes wide open.

The Group of Eight and NATO will hold summits in the coming days and announce the exit strategy from Afghanistan. Fortunately, President Obama is planning a gradual transition, with at least 20,000 U.S. troops remaining until 2024, if necessary, to train the Afghan army, hunt al-Qaeda and steady Afghans against the danger of civil war.

But what can Western leaders say when it comes to Pakistan? Basically, the Pakistanis blew it. By playing a hedging game, they missed a moment that’s not likely to return, when a big Western army of well over 100,000 soldiers was prepared to help them. Instead, Islamabad used the inevitability that America would be leaving eventually as an argument for creating a buffer zone that was inhabited by a murderous melange of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other Pashtun warlords.

Continue reading Pakistan blew its chance for security

Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Go figure!

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

There is a genuine fear among some (yes, just some) Pakistanis that their society and state is headed straight to becoming a 21st century model of fascism.

I say the fear is being noted and felt by just some Pakistanis because it seems to most of their compatriots – especially those squirming within the growing, agitated and uptight urban middle-classes – the emergence of such a state and society is actually something to do with abstract concepts like ‘national sovereignty,’ ‘honour’ (ghairat), ‘revolution’ and a ‘positive Pakistan!’

It’s like saying chronic neurosis is a pretty positive thing to have.

Recently in a sharp and pointed article, author and scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, clearly alluded to how the Pakistani society and state are showing signs of the kind of myopic mindset that the German society plunged into in the 1920s and 1930s, setting the scene for Hitler and his fascist outfit and mentality to become Germany’s overlords – eventually taking the nation over the brink and towards widespread destruction.

So is the Pakistani society headed in the same direction?

A number of experts and sociologists have drawn some prominent symptoms to look for in figuring out if a particular society is drifting into the clutches of fascism.

Let’s discuss a few in Pakistan’s context:

• Symptom 1: Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist societies/cultures tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

In Pakistan patriotism has been intertwined with the belief in a divine monolithic deity. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is singing praises of God or the state. It’s as if both are one and the same. Thus, if you are not all that enthusiastic about singing loud patriotic songs or displaying 50X10 Pakistani flags over your 5X2 office cubical, you are a traitor and/or/thus a kafir.

Continue reading Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Why India can’t give up Siachen

By: Vikram Sood

The nation cannot afford to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past — like halting our advance at Uri in 1948 or not capturing Skardu; or giving up Haji Pir in 1966; or returning 93,000 troops and territory in 1972

The strategic advantage accruing to India in Siachen should not be given up for apparent short-term political gains. Giving up Siachen as a gesture of friendship would also mean that its recapture would be extremely expensive to India in men and material, says Vikram Sood.

Continue reading Why India can’t give up Siachen

US-Pak relations

Fresh start awaited

Excerpt;

….. Pakistani politicians are notorious for saying one thing behind closed doors and something quite different in public. Be it fecklessness or an opportunistic streak that seeks to be on the right side of public opinion whatever the cost, Pakistani politicians have just not been able to tell the truth to the people, the ones whose interests they ostensibly represent. The truth is this: by closing the supply lines to Afghanistan, in boycotting Bonn and by succumbing to sundry other emotional responses since last November, Pakistan has put itself dangerously close to being definitively regarded as part of the problem in the ‘Af-Pak’ region and not part of the solution.

It’s not just the US that Pakistan has challenged, the mission in Afghanistan is still an international one and from Nato countries to other powerful states, all have a desire to prevent Afghanistan from descending into chaos and civil war again. Pakistan really cannot afford to be on the wrong side of that equation.

The problem is, with elections on the horizon and the right-wing mobilised and baying for blood, mainstream parties will not want to be seen to take the lead in restarting relations with the US, a relationship that is immensely unpopular after the active cultivation of anti-US sentiment over the years. Perhaps they may want to think about doing it in the national interest, the real, not perceived, one.

Read more » DAWN.COM

http://dawn.com/2012/04/06/fresh-start-awaited/

Punjab/Pakistan denies Sindh’s share of water

Pakistan/Punjab: Water is life! But, life in Pakistans Sindh province has become extremely difficult due to unavailability of sufficient water. The problem has been created by Punjab, which is getting the lions share of Indus waters while denying Sindh’s rightful share. Sindh and other constituent units  in Pakistan are battling serious water shortage, even as Punjab is going ahead with Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Panjnad link canal projects. It is estimated that by June Sindh will face water shortage to the tune of 54 per cent as compared to 14 per cent by Punjab. A recent move by Punjab government to control water flows and forcible opening of flood canals has triggered widespread protests in Sindh and even Balochistan.

Courtesy: South Asia News » YouTube

What is the worst thing about Pakistan’s media?

By Jahanzaib Haque

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) deserves a pat on the back for its bold move towards greater transparency in their online complaints section – they’ve given the public access to the complaint log.

To be frank, a pat on the back for Pemra and a cold shiver down one’s spine is unfortunately the order of the day. Let us delve into this treasure trove of the Pakistani complainant’s mindset.

First of all, the top 10 list of offenders:

No Name Complaints
1 Samaa TV 450
2 Geo News 147
3 Geo Ent 95
4 Express News 32
5 AAG / Geo Aur 26
6 ARY Digital 21
7 HUM TV 13
8 Dawn News 11
9 Dunya TV News 11
10 AAJ News 8

That is a total of over 800 complaints; again, an encouraging sign for an accountability service that has a very narrow reach and hasn’t been marketed heavily. Leaving aside the Maya Khan phenomenon that accounts for over 400 complaints alone, what is it that Pakistanis with internet access complain about the most?

[Key: Below is a rough estimate, as some complaints overlapped in subject matter, and some have been rounded off]

Against ideology of Islam/Pakistan: 150+ complaints

Yes my friends, the biggest problem in Pakistan’s media – if the complaints are to be believed –  is the channels being anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam or the flip side of that coin: pro-India or pro-Israel.

Sample comment 1:

Promoting Hindu Ideology, Destroying Islamic Identity and Two Nation Theory and ALLAMA IQBAL Status. Making Propaganda against PAK ISI and Armed Forces which are defending Pakistan, Severe Restrictions must be put on these channels to operate to restrain them from harming Pakistan

Sample comment 2:

I would like to lodge a complaint against channels which are playing with the emotions of the common people. It is showing too much Indian content which is directly killing the ideology of Pakistan. They are ignoring all the sacrifices our ancestors gave at the time of Partition, in 1965, 1971 and 1999. It uselessly shows Bollywood filth in all its news bulletins, they should be given warnings or otherwise they should be banned. They are promoting nudity now. It’s seriously looking like if this continues for few more years they will show sex on their channels…long live Pakistan

Sample comment 3:

No time, during in every breaking news firstly they show “One Eye” before starting the breaking news and this is a sign of Jewish. Our beloved prophet Hazarat Muhammad PBUH quoted regarding the sign of one Eye as a sign of Jewish. Please stop it.

Fueled by a foul mix of twisted mindset, outright hatred and the arrogance of a simpleton with a fancy red cap, this is the Pakistan we have come to know and love. Ah, the ol’ scum of the Earth, always there when you need them to set the agenda and mindset dead backwards. Classy. This is definitely the media’s biggest problem. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

American strategy in Afpak

About the US soldier going postal in afghanistan…

By Omar Ali

I wrote this comment on the SWJ site and I just thought it would be interesting to see what people here think of the American “strategy” (or lack of one) in Afghanistan.
The killings today, while tragic and awful, are themselves indicative of nothing new beyond one soldier going nuts…could and does happen in most wars and more likely when a war has stretched on for a while and more likely with soldier and locals being different people (not necessarily different nationalities..pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh or even some Indian soldiers in Kashmir could feel equally surrounded by aliens). It will have a huge propaganda effect though. Anyway, my comment is more about the US strategy: what is it? what should it be? What would it be if you were president?

Continue reading American strategy in Afpak

Pakistani U.N. peacekeepers sentenced in Haiti rape case

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE – (Reuters) – Two U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan have been sentenced to a year in prison for raping a 14-year-old Haitian boy after being convicted in a Pakistani military trial in Haiti, authorities said on Monday. ….

Read more » Reuters

American Marxism as a guide to action:

Marxist political advice and its discontents

By Omar Ali

Professor Vijay Prashad  is the George and Martha Kellner professor of history at Trinity college. He is also a prominent left wing activist. The two roles have different requirements. Here he tries to bridge the gap. 

Someone had commented on 3quarksdaily.com that this is “Another bucketload of gormless Marxist verbiage around a central anti-semitic core: forget the mountains of corpses and the decades of torture and oppression – Assad’s main crime is defined as “neoliberalism … and a practice of accommodation with both the US and Israel.”

That triggered the following comment (i have edited the original slightly for clarity)  from me: The real problem with neomarxist verbiage is not double standards or selective outrage, its the unbridgeable gap between being a professor and being an actor on the ground in a civil war in a faraway country.
Vijay Prashad as a professor in a first world University may eventually contribute to changing the way X or Y issue is framed in the mind of the elite, and that in turn will eventually have some impact somewhere in actual daily politics and political struggles but those are big “eventually-s”. Some professors are OK with that and focus on doing their research and writing their books and teaching their students in the hope that their analysis will eventually “trickle down”. But that (for obvious reasons) is not very satisfying for most of us. Hence the need to suggest practical courses of action in today’s clash, to pick sides, to “organize a relief column”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your estimate of said professor’s wisdom and insight) this aspect of a professor’s work has near-zero real world relevance.
I don’t know how to fix this problem, but it does seem to be a real problem. Most right wingers are almost by definition closer to the ruling elites so maybe they dont feel the pain as much, but left wing professors are in a painful bind here..to have no opinion on proximate politics and wars seems silly, but to have an opinion that arises logically from their theoretical framework is frequently sillier, and any honest and good man may end up in Professor Prashad’s position. Its a real dilemma.

In an attempt to pre-empt misunderstandings, let me add:

1. My question is not about the details of his analysis.

2. Its about this scenario. Lets say Vijay is Vladimir Lenin. Well, in that case he is not only a theoretician (though he would like to believe that his superior understanding of theory informs his practice), he is an organizer, a rebel, a leader, a politician with day to day decision to make. Very fine nuances and very involved calculations will come into play. Many of those calculations will be very cynical. All of them will be locally bound by existing circumstances. Theory will have to give way again and again. But Vijay (probably not even in his own mind, but I don’t know him personally, so I cannot say for sure) is not Lenin. He is a professor. He does research, he writes books. He has theories. And he is part of a broader left wing academic current that has its own internal dynamics very far from the ground in Syria. I am saying I don’t expect him to say things that are too useful as guides to action.
3. What do you think?

Courtesy: Brown Pundits

Waking up to the war in Balochistan – BBC

Attitudes are hardening in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province against the government, but the state is now belatedly reaching out to the Baloch separatists. Writer Ahmed Rashid considers whether after years of civil war, talks could end the bloodshed.

It took an obscure United States congressman holding a controversial hearing in Washington on the civil war in Balochistan to awaken the conscience of the Pakistani government, military and public.

For years the civil war in Balochistan has either been forgotten by most Pakistanis or depicted as the forces of law and order battling Baloch tribesmen, who are described as “Indian agents”.

Just a few weeks ago, Interior Minister Rehman Malik even hinted that Israel and the US were supporting the Baloch separatists, while the army had totally ”Indianised” the Baloch problem.

On 23 February, Mr Malik did an about-face, saying that the government was withdrawing all cases against Baloch leaders living in exile and asking them to return home for talks. ”I will receive them in person,” he told journalists.

Don’t expect Baloch leaders to turn the other cheek at Mr Malik’s sudden shift – the Baloch have seen too many such U-turns before.

Brahamdagh Bugti, head of the separatist Baloch Republican Party and living in exile in Geneva, remains sceptical.

His grandfather Sardar Akbar Bugti, the head of the Bugti tribe, was killed in 2006 on the orders of former President Pervez Musharraf in a massive aerial bombardment, while his sister Zamur Domki and her 12-year old daughter were gunned down in Karachi in broad daylight just in late January – allegedly by government agents.

He told journalists last week: ”I have seen this all before… I am not an optimist.” Nevertheless, for the first time in years his face appeared on every Pakistani TV channel as he and other Baloch leaders gave interviews.

Broken promises

Continue reading Waking up to the war in Balochistan – BBC

Toronto Sun – Pakistan’s the problem, not Taliban

National Defence Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 7, 2012. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

By Peter Worthington

Whatever one thinks of Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s penchant for taking military helicopters on fishing trips, the country should support him chiding elements in Pakistan for helping the Taliban.

While there’s nothing new in NATO leaks that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service and military are helping co-ordinate Taliban attacks on coalition forces, the fact these reports keep surfacing has to be upsetting.

Pakistani denials ring hollow — nearly 10 years of denials.

Good on MacKay for not brushing the NATO leaks aside. He said if such reports are reliable, and if Pakistan wants western allies to continue working for “peace and security” throughout the region, then Pakistan’s co-operation is not only required, but is demanded. And “demand” is what MacKay is doing. But is anyone listening?

That’s fairly tough talk. Ever since Navy SEALs took out Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani retreat, there’s been substantial evidence Pakistan is playing a double game.

There are even suggestions China hopes to exploit a rift between western allies and Pakistan — a possibility that makes traditional diplomats shudder. But, if true, Pakistan and China cuddling each other seems destined to be an enormous headache for both these hypersensitive, paranoid, nuclear states.

U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has made the curious observation that after next year, U.S. policy in Afghanistan will be one of “advise and assist,” rather than actually fighting. What on earth does that mean? One supposes it means that by 2014, Panetta hopes the Afghan National Army and National Police being trained by coalition troops, including Canadians, will be able to handle Taliban incursions.

Don’t bet on it.

By having a safe haven in Pakistan, and a seemingly endless supply of fighters, the future has got to look encouraging for the Taliban. They can lose battles indefinitely against American forces — and win the war once the Americans have had a bellyful.

Time is on the Taliban’s side. And patience is their virtue.

There’s not much that can be done. Clearly, coalition countries don’t intend to stay in Afghanistan, and the U.S. especially wants out with an election looming in November.

When Barack Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, was president and flailing away in Iraq, Obama made Afghanistan (relatively quiet at the time) the war he’d prosecute. Well, Afghanistan has turned bad for Obama. So he wants out, and has fired those generals who thought they could win the damn thing.

MacKay says he doesn’t give much credence to the so-called secret NATO report that says the Taliban are gaining confidence and are sure they’ll win in the end.

He thinks that’s what the Taliban would say no matter what — “an overly optimistic view of what’s happening on the ground … in battlefield skirmishes they always lose.” But the Taliban leadership is not in disarray — although coalition leadership may be approaching that state.

If the U.S. were realistic, it would consider cutting aid to Pakistan — $12 billion in military aid, $7 billion in economic aid over the last 10 years.

That may be the only way to get the attention of those who rule Pakistan.

Like hitting a mule on the head with a two-by-four.

The problem is not the Taliban, but the Pakistan leadership which seems hell-bent on wrecking relations with western allies, and gambling we are too timid to do anything about it.

Courtesy: Toronto sun

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Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem

Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem isn’t just the government. It’s the people

By Jonathan Kay

Since the Taliban resurgence began gaining force in 2005, a common refrain in the West has been that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in the jihadis who are drawing support from bases in the borderlands of Balochistan and Waziristan. American officials have made countless visits to Pakistan to deliver variations on this message — with nothing to show for it.

Earlier this year, the BBC disclosed a secret NATO report, based on 27,000 interrogations with captured Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, concluding that jihadis operating in Afghanistan continue to receive support and instruction from Pakistani military handlers. One interrogated al-Qaeda detainee quoted in the report declared: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”

The usual Sunday-Morning-talk-show explanation for this is that Pakistan is hedging its strategic bets: Pakistani military leaders doubt the United States military can tame Afghanistan before American combat forces’ scheduled exit in 2013. And rather than see the country degenerate into absolute chaos (as occurred in the early 1990s, in the wake of the Soviet departure), Pakistani military leaders want to be in position to turn Afghanistan into a semi-orderly Pashtun-dominated client state that provides Islamabad with “strategic depth” against India. And the only way for them to do this is to co-opt the Taliban.

Continue reading Jonathan Kay: The Pakistan problem

Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

The Interior Ministry has recently banned some of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders from entering Islamabad, but the DPC has responded to the ban by its firm commitment to hold the rally in Aabpara. This is ironic, as the venue of the DPC’s promised rally is also the fountainhead of state power

Continue reading Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

Negligent dereliction of duty – By: Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur.

Excerpt;

….. All the misdeeds and misdemeanours of the army here have gone unchallenged and mostly misreported or under-reported. One cannot expect bumbling civilian prime ministers who regularly eat crow after blurting out against the army to hold them to account. The judiciary dilly-dallies on missing persons and kill and dump issues because it has never been people-friendly. Atrocities and injustices are possible because people have become too docile and too obedient and have abdicated their right to protest.

Howard Zinn rightly said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves…(and) the grand thieves are running the country. That is our problem.”

As long as the people continue to accept injustices and atrocities being perpetrated against them or others, the ‘grand thieves’ will remain in power everywhere and atrocities will not cease. The plea of ‘negligent dereliction of duty’ will always come in handy to the perpetrators if those judging them are of their ilk. Only when people will give up their docility and obsequiousness will justice be done and be seen to be done. And therein lies the solution to the injustices and atrocities anywhere in the world.

To read compete article » Daily Times

The Generals, Pakistan’s General Problem – How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international disaster

BY Mohammad Hanif

What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.

On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)

General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.

General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate (Thorri Phaatak) in rural Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.

Continue reading The Generals, Pakistan’s General Problem – How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international disaster

Problem of Pakistan is insoluble till the Evil Quad (Pakistan Army and ISI) wiped out from Pakistani politics – Sardar Attaullah Mengal says in his Interview on Dawn News Tv

Sardar Attaullah Mengal in his Exclusive Interview to DAWN News Tv says to Balochs – If you can fight, fight with full heart, otherwise don’t make your mothers cry. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » DAWN NEWS TV 25th Dec 2011.

Via » ZemTV » YouTube 1, 2