Tag Archives: region

ISI urged attacks on US targets: Officials

– By Reuters

WASHINGTON: US officials say there is mounting evidence that Pakistan’s chief intelligence agency has been encouraging a Pakistan-based militant network to attack US targets.

The allegations, if fully confirmed, heighten a painful dilemma for President Barack Obama’s administration. Washington is under growing political pressure to take action against the Haqqani network after a spate of deadly attacks US officials have attributed to it. These include last week’s strike againstthe American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Some US intelligence reporting alleges that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) specifically directed, or urged, the Haqqani network to carry out the September 13 attack on the embassy and a NATO headquarters in Kabul, according two US officials and a source familiar with recent US-Pakistan official contacts. However, officials cautioned that this information is uncorroborated.

Another US official familiar with internal government assessments said that at the very least, the available intelligence strongly suggests the ISI has been egging on elements of the Haqqani network to launch attacks at American targets in the region.

While American officials have aired allegations of ties between the ISI and the Haqqani network in recent days, they have not publicly cited evidence that the Pakistani agency, or elements of it, urged its proxy to attack US targets.

While the ISI’s motives in any such attacks are not clear, Pakistan has long wanted to play a major role in Afghanistan’s future after the departure of NATO troops, and to counter what it sees as the growing influence there of arch-rival India.

This week, top US officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, demanded that Pakistan’s leaders take action against the Haqqanis, ….

Read more → The Express Tribune

Mass Graves Hold Thousands, Kashmir Inquiry Finds

By LYDIA POLGREEN

NEW DELHI — Thousands of bullet-riddled bodies are buried in dozens of unmarked graves across Kashmir, a state human rights commission inquiry has concluded, many of them likely to be those of civilians who disappeared more than a decade ago in a brutal insurgency.

The inquiry, the result of three years of investigative work by senior police officers working for the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, brings the first official acknowledgment that civilians might have been buried in mass graves in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan where insurgents waged a bloody battle for independence in the early 1990s.

The report sheds new light on a grim chapter in the history of the troubled region and confirms a 2008 report by a Kashmiri human rights organization that found hundreds of bodies buried in the Kashmir Valley.

Tens of thousands of people died in the insurgency, which began in 1989 and was partly fueled by weapons, cash and training from Pakistan.

According to the report, the bodies of hundreds of men described as unidentified militants were buried in unmarked graves. But of the more than 2,000 bodies, 574 were identified as local residents.

“There is every probability that these unidentified dead bodies buried in various unmarked graves at 38 places of North Kashmir may contain the dead bodies of enforced disappearances,” the report said.

The report catalogs 2,156 bodies found in graves in four districts of Kashmir that had been at the heart of the insurgency. ….

Read more → THE NEW YORK TIMES

SDF statement – A leading Sindh based think tank fully supports the SAFMA and stands against a so-called scholar. People of Sindh will not allow conservatives, extremists and religious fundoos to take over progressive and secular society. Let peace, tolerance and plurality may prevail

Pak media professionals slam security analyst Zaid Hamid

From Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Aug 18 (PTI) Leading Pakistani media professionals and civil society leaders today condemned security analyst Zaid Hamid allegation that the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) was acting at the behest of Indian intelligence agencies.

In a statement, the media and civil society personalities said they had “taken serious exception to the unfounded and shameful accusations hurled by an irresponsible person against a media body of most credible journalists of the South Asian region”.

Hamid, who is known for his anti-Indian stance and for backing jehadi and extremist groups, had made the allegations on a sensational talk show hosted by anchor Mehr Bukhari on Dunya news channel.

The media and civil society personalities said Hamid”s remarks violated “all ethics of professional journalism”.

They said SAFMA was a “mainstream media body associated with SAARC”.

“If Mr Hamid has committed an extreme defamation which incites public sentiments against SAFMA and its thousands of members, MB (and the) D– TV management have intentionally tried to malign a media body and its leaders by allowing such a provocative and damaging statement,” the statement said.

The media and civil society leaders expressed serious concern over the “slanderous programme” anchored by B— and took exception to the “dangerous trend in the electronic media of maligning various personalities and credible organizations”.

They pointed out that the talk show had made no effort to invite a SAFMA representative to rebut the “atrocious allegations”.

Senior journalists and civil society leaders have endorsed a move by SAFMA to sue Bukhari, her team and the management of — TV.

SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam and other office-bearers of various SAFMA branches in Pakistan have decided to issue notices to the persons for their “highly irresponsible and provocative conduct”.

— had earlier come under a cloud after media watchers said her interview with slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer could have incited violence against the politician for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.

Taseer was gunned down earlier this year by a police guard who was angered by his calls to amend the blasphemy law.

Courtesy: → MSN News

via – Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 19, 2011

Hopelessness to doom: Pakistan’s journey

Pakistan

by Malik A. Rashid

BBC reported, “The US is so concerned about security in Pakistan that it is considering plans to enter the country to prevent extremists getting hold of nuclear material”. According to Senator McCain, Pakistan’s ISI has connections with the Haqqani network. In his confirmation hearing Lt. Gen. John Allen said he is aware that explosive devises used against American forces in Afghanistancome from Pakistan. Adm. McRaven thinks Pakistanis know where Mulla Omar is. So, the US-NATO has enemies in Pakistan in their cross-hair.

But the war is not the root cause of the predicament Pakistan finds itself in. Declared #12 on the list of failed nations, Pakistan is the 3rd most dangerous country for women. Out of 70 million between 5 to 19 year old Pakistanis, only 30 million go to school. On education and health care together, government spends about 1% of the GDP. Pakistan’s rulers prescribed a low quality education for their public school system to keep commoners from joining the ranks of army officers and bureaucrats.

US have cut aid to Pakistan. Installment of IMF’s loan was declined because the government could not raise taxes. Pakistan’s economy grew by 2.4% in 2010-11, slower than Somalia’s economy which grew 2.6%. Population of the cities continues to rise; so does joblessness.

Since 75% of supplies to US and NATO troops in Afghanistan will be re-routed through North of Afghanistan by the end of this year, not only the war has turned unrewarding for Pakistan’s rulers, it challenges their power and state’s existence.

Army relied heavily on proxy-warriors to influence other countries in the region and manipulated international aid through terrorism, while the generals indulged in enriching themselves. The business empire of the Military Inc. continued to grow at the expense of dwindling electricity supplies while millions of citizens fell below the poverty line. A conflict with the world-powers has shaken the brazen and brutal power structure of Pakistan. …

Read more → ViewPoint

The sham operation in Kurram – Dr Mohammad Taqi

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people, making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks

On July 4, 2011, the Pakistan Army announced that it has launched an operation in the Central Kurram Agency with the primary objective of clearing the ‘miscreants’ and opening of the Peshawar-Thall-Parachinar Road (why Tal has become Thall in the English press beats me). The geographical scope of the operation is rather circumscribed, if the army communiqués are to be believed, and its focus, ostensibly, would be on the Zaimusht, Masozai and Alizai areas. But speaking to the Kurramis from Lower, Central and Upper Kurram, one gets a different sense.

At least one General has reportedly been heard saying during the recent operational meetings leading up to the military action that he intends to teach the Turis (in Upper Kurram) a lesson that they would never forget. The Corps Commander’s communication delivered to the tribal elders of the Upper Kurram literally ordered them to acquiesce in and sign on to the operation. But quite significantly, many other leaders among the Turis, Bangash and Syeds of Upper Kurram have vehemently opposed the military action as well as their own elders who seem to have caved in under duress.

The Turis and Bangash tribesmen are of the opinion that on the Thall-Parachinar Road, the only extortionists bigger than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the officers of the army — and they specifically name two colonels — who have made life miserable for the people of Parachinar. These security officials levy protection money even on the supply of daily provisions and medicine to Upper Kurram, resulting in jacked-up prices and in many instances unavailability of life-saving drugs, resulting in deaths that otherwise could be preventable.

The more ominous and geo-strategically important aspects of the current army operation are twofold and are interconnected. We have noted in these pages several times that the Pakistan Army has no problem securing Central and parts of Lower Kurram for its jihadist asset, i.e. the Haqqani terrorist network, who have essentially had a free reign in this region for almost a decade using the Sateen, Shasho and Pir Qayyum camps. The army has also helped the Haqqani and Hekmatyar groups set up humungous compounds on the Durand Line such as the Spina Shaga complex.

The problem the security establishment has faced is to secure a thoroughfare between Central Kurram and the assorted jihadist bridgeheads along the Kurram-Afghanistan border, including but not limited to the Parrot’s Beak region. The key hindrance to such movement is the resistance by the Turi and Bangash tribesmen, which neither the security establishment nor its jihadist proxies have been able to neutralise, coerce or buy off. Projecting the Haqqani network and Hekmatyar’s operatives into Afghanistan from Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga and other bases on the border is a pivotal component of the Pakistani strategy to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan and for the post-US withdrawal phase. But with the recent wave of drone attacks on the hideouts of these groups, their vulnerability to the US/ISAF — buoyed by the OBL raid — has also become evident and hence the need for secure routes to retract the jihadists back when needed.

Several attacks on the Turi and Bangash, including by Pakistan Army helicopter gunships last year killing several Pakistanis, have not dented the resolve of the locals to fight back against the jihadists. I had noted in these pages then: “The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement [to relocate the Haqqanis to Kurram]. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners” (‘Kurram: the forsaken FATA’, Daily Times, November 4, 2010).

The option that the army wants to exercise now is to disarm the Upper Kurram’s tribesmen, especially the Turis. The security establishment has told them that they will have to surrender their “qawmi wasla” (an arms cache that belongs to a tribe as a whole). To disarm and thus defang the tribesmen, who have held their own against the disproportionately stronger and state-sponsored enemy for almost half a decade, is essentially pronouncing their death sentence.

Without their weapons, the Turis and Bangash will be at the whim of an army that had literally abandoned Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala and Pir Samiullah in Swat and the Adeyzai lashkar (outside Peshawar). Afzal Khan Lala lost several loyalists and family members and Pir Samiullah was murdered, his body buried but later exhumed and mutilated by the Taliban, while the army stood by and did nothing. My co-columnist and researcher, Ms Farhat Taj has highlighted the plight of the Adeyzai lashkar several times in these pages, including the fact that it was left high and dry by the security establishment against an overwhelming Taliban force. And lest we forget, it was this same army that made Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiate with Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban, with suicide bombers standing guard on each men and blocking the door along with muzzles of automatic rifles pointed into their faces.

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people (IDPs), making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks. Also, the establishment’s focus has been to ‘reorient’ the TTP completely towards Afghanistan. The breaking away from the TTP of the crook from Uchat village, Fazl-e-Saeed Zaimusht (who now interestingly writes Haqqani after his name) is the first step in the establishment’s attempt to regain full control over all its jihadist proxies.

The offensive in Central Kurram is not intended for securing the road; it will be broadened to include the Upper Kurram in due course, in an attempt to bring the Turis and Bangash to their knees. After their arms have been confiscated, it could be a turkey shoot for the jihadists and Darfur for the Kurramis. It is doubtful though that the common Turi or Bangash tribesman is about to listen to some elder who is beholden to the establishment, and surrender the only protection that they have had. The Pakistan Army’s track record of protecting jihadists and shoving the anti-Taliban forces off the deep end speaks for itself.

Pakistan’s security establishment can perpetuate on the US and the world a fraud like the hashtag de-radicalisation on Twitter and buzzwords like de-programming suicide bombers by trotting out the so-called intelligentsia whose understanding of the Pashtun issues is woefully flawed. But it is unlikely that Kurramis are about to fall for this sham of an operation that paves the way for their genocide.

Courtesy: → Daily Times

What a delusion of Pakistani Army Chief..!

Wow! what a delusion! “I know East Pakistan (Bangalis) more than Bangalis know themselves” Watch, President Gen. (dictator) Yahya Khan’s interview on East Pakistan.

YouTube

– – –  – –

[WATCH WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE INTERVIEW OF DELUSIONAL GENERAL → PAKISTAN SURRENDERS TO INDIA IN 1971.]

Military strategy and the flight of capital – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The Malaysian Consul General, General Khalid Abdul Razzaq, told the press that in the last few years, about 700 Pakistanis had transferred Rs one trillion and 80 billion to his country in a specific programme. If one includes the most popular places for Pakistani capital in the Gulf States, Europe and the US, the transferred amount would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. If capital is flying out so ferociously, the Pakistani economy has a very dim future. The more depressing aspect is that the policies that created such conditions are not changing in the foreseeable future.

First of all, it is mindboggling how a country wracked by all kinds of law and order problems and power shortages can still generate such a mammoth surplus that is being transferred abroad. This reflects the vibrancy and tenacity of the Pakistani population that it can survive against all odds the way it has been doing for centuries. Probably, this is one of the reasons that our rulers, specifically the military, are continuing the perilous policies that they adopted three decades ago.

Last month, Pakistan’s economic division estimated that the Pakistani economy has suffered losses of about $ 68 billion due to the war on terror. However, the figure was based on certain unproven assumptions and less than solid stipulations. It seemed that the figure was touted in the international press to convince foreign governments about the cost Pakistan is bearing for the war on terrorism and tell them that their aid is too little when compared to the losses. One could have questioned Pakistan’s projected loss figure on various grounds but the capital transfer to Malaysia cannot be questioned because it is coming from the horse’s mouth.

Every economist knows such a huge surplus that is being transferred abroad is gained through extreme exploitation and skimming of the masses. The surplus, whatever way it is gained, is called ‘the savings of an economy’. And, if the savings are not invested back into the economy, the country can never grow — on the contrary it can only degenerate. Pakistan’s rate of inflation, rising poverty and unemployment, which may be as high as 70 percent if one includes the redundant rural workforce, is a manifestation of how the export of Pakistani savings abroad has jeopardised the revival of the economy.

The migration of Pakistani savings to other countries shows that its top wealth holders — whatever their percentage — do not see a safe future in Pakistan. Insecurity is the fundamental reason for such a prevalent view among prosperous Pakistanis. The rise of religious extremism and acceleration of jihadism through the Taliban, al Qaeda and other private militias is the root cause of insecurity in Pakistan. Therefore, the state institutions that have given rise to such forces are directly responsible for the disaster Pakistan is facing.

The flight of capital from Pakistan started during the 1970s and 1980s, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan. Rising sectarianism in the country and ethnic violence in Karachi, engineered by secret agencies with no US input, started scaring potential domestic and foreign investors. It is interesting that this violence-ridden environment opened another chapter of economic plundering in Pakistan by all kinds of exploiters. The attitude had been to squeeze as much as possible in the shortest period. Somehow, the deepening of anarchy provided more opportunity to the exploiting classes and we witnessed unprecedented accumulation of wealth and its transfer abroad in this period. Who is responsible for creating such conditions?

The Pakistan military’s doctrine of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban and al Qaeda added to the anarchy, insecurity and, strangely enough, economic exploitation. Military spending kept on rising at the expense of the impoverishment of the masses. Therefore, the policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has caused misery for common Pakistanis from many angles.

Despite the international pressure and domestic rejection, Pakistan’s military is continuing its failed policy. Besides the US, every international power, including China, has asked Pakistan to clean up its jihadi mess and change its direction from India obsession-cum-seeking-strategic depth in Afghanistan to being friendlier towards its neighbours. Domestically, after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s declaration that we should end hostilities towards India and that the military should get out of civilian matters, other than a few religious parties no mainstream political party shares the military’s strategic vision. The PPP and ANP may be toeing the military’s line for opportunistic reasons for the time being but both parties are far from India-haters.

Therefore, it is the military strategy that is causing insecurity in the country and forcing Pakistani capital to flee. The quantity of outflow of capital is so huge that a few billion from the US, any other country or international agencies (the World Bank and IMF) cannot compensate the losses. Therefore, the first sign of stability in Pakistan would be seen when Pakistani capital outflows stop and domestic savings start getting reinvested in the country.

On the contrary, if the military keeps walking on the suicidal path, the economy will be squeezed and, if India grows steadily, Pakistan will become irrelevant in the region. The outcome of the ongoing military strategy of Pakistan will result in just the opposite of what is desired.

Courtesy: WICHAAR.COM

Pakistan’s ‘secret’ war

Author: Karlos Zurutuza, Balochistan
Editor: Rob Mudge

Excerpt:

Armed groups of Balochs in southwest Pakistan are gaining momentum at a critical point for the country’s future. Deutsche Welle looks at the phenomenon which presents yet another problem in the troubled region.

A province marked by floods and images of burned-out NATO tankers, Balochistan is the land of the Baloch, who today see their country in southwest Asia divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan is the size of France and boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, as well as untapped sources of oil and uranium. The exploitation of these natural resources in combination with repressive and discriminatory state-run policies have led to armed uprisings in the region.

In his book “Descent into Chaos,” best-selling writer and renowned Afghanistan commentator, Ahmed Rashid, says that the Baloch have instigated five insurgent uprisings to date. These insurgents take shelter in the rugged mountains of southern Pakistan and across the border, in Afghanistan.

The Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups: the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRA (Baloch Republican Army), the BLF (Baloch Liberation Front) and Lashkar-e Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. Accordingly, the BLA, BRA and Lashkar-e Balochistan are led by the local main clans of the Marris, the Bugtis and the Mengals respectively, while the BLF is a more heterogeneous movement.

Despite the apparent fracture, all these groups are markedly secular movements – at odds with the Taliban – who share a common agenda focusing on the independence of Balochistan. They organize their actions around guerrilla attacks, primarily against military targets and government infrastructures like gas pipelines.

Growing discontent

“Given that parliamentary politics is a fake option for us, we are forced to make politics with weapons. Since the partition of India in 1947, we have had to chose between slavery and death,” Khair Bux Marri told Deutsche Welle from his residence in Karachi. The 90-year old Marri is the leader of the biggest Baloch tribe. His life-long struggle against Pakistan has taken him from years of exile in Afghanistan to terms in Pakistani prisons.

His son, Balaach Marri, led the BLA and was killed in 2007 by the Pakistani army. The portrait of this guerrilla leader, wearing a Baloch cap and holding an assault rifle, is almost ubiquitous in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan and can often be spotted alongside Hayrbyar’s, his younger brother, also considered to be a “national hero” by many Baloch.

From his London exile, Hayrbyar Marri calls for the independence of Balochistan and defends the right of “self defence” by his people. When asked about a possible dialogue with Islamabad, he is categorical. “There’s only one thing to negotiate with Islamabad and that’s the immediate pull-out of their occupation troops,” he told Deutsche Welle from his house in London. ….

Harrison also said that the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan enjoys sympathies in the neighboring Sindh province which, according to the journalist, “has brought back the ancient dream of a state or a Sindhi-Balochistan federation extending along the Arabian Sea, from Iran to India.”

Read more: Deutsche Welle

Pakistan – where is it heading?

by Syed Nadir El-Edroos

…. The fact of the matter is that China is not going to risk its $3 trillion foreign currency reserve and $250 billion annual trade surplus with the US, to make threats to Washington on Pakistan’s behalf. And in any case, China didn’t make any threat to the US, all it said was something to the effect that states shouldn’t interfere in other the US. And in any case, why do we need to play one country against another one to begin with? As for the ‘Afghan freedom struggle’, the Taliban are not exactly popular in Afghanistan, and are viewed as Pakistani proxies by many in that country. .

How about the Pakistani state, for once taking some responsibility and not placing all the blame on America? The Pakistani people expect its security apparatus to keep them safe, regardless of who the perpetrators or motivating factors are. The writer should stop peddling the fallacy that if the US leaves, terrorism will end. Do we really think that Punjab-based terroist organisations and sectarian outfits will care if the US leaves the region? Do we really think that groups, which want to establish a state in Pakistan along the lines that the Taliban imposed on Afghanistan will stop with their designs just because America has left?

Courtesy: Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.

China’s Port in Pakistan?

China’s dream of Indian Ocean ports — the so-called string of pearls — is heightening geopolitical tensions in a rough neighborhood.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Pakistani officials have announced that the Chinese look favorably on taking over the operation of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar close to the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz, and perhaps building a naval base for the Pakistanis there as well. The Chinese have apparently contradicted these claims, indicating that they have made no such decisions on these matters.

The fact that Pakistan should want deeper Chinese involvement with this strategically located port, even as the Chinese are hesitant to do just that, should surprise no one. Gwadar is where dreams clash with reality. …

Read more : ForeignPolicy

Bahrain protests will go nowhere while the US supports its government

by Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Al-Khalifa family, who control Bahrain, has cracked down on dissent with little condemnation from the west

History and geography explain why Bahrain’s peaceful uprising was the early exception to the “Arab spring”, which began with high hopes in Tunisia and Egypt but now faces bloody uncertainties in Libya and Syria.

Sitting astride the faultline between the Shia and Sunni worlds, the small Gulf island state lies at the heart of a strategically sensitive region that is dominated by bitter rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia – both very tough neighbours. …

Read more: guardian.co.uk

Israeli hardliners have started a massive campaign to undermine Obama’s stand that peace can only come with a truly independent Palestinian state

Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal

By MARK LANDLER and STEVEN LEE MYERS

WASHINGTON — President Obama, seeking to capture a moment of epochal change in the Arab world, began a new effort on Thursday to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, setting out a new starting point for negotiations on the region’s most intractable problem.

A day before the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank — should be the basis of a deal. While the 1967 borders have long been viewed as the foundation for a peace agreement, Mr. Obama’s formula of land swaps to compensate for disputed territory created a new benchmark for a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Obama’s statement represented a subtle, but significant shift, in American policy. And it thrust him back into the region’s most nettlesome dispute at a time when conditions would seem to make reaching a deal especially difficult.

The Israeli government immediately protested, saying that for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.” Mr. Netanyahu held an angry phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday before the speech, officials said, in which he demanded that the president’s reference to 1967 borders be cut.

Israeli officials continued to lobby the administration until right before Mr. Obama arrived at the State Department for the address. White House officials said he did not alter anything under Israeli pressure ….

Read more : The New York Times

Pakistan, India & China: A tale of triplets

COMMENT: A tale of triplets — by Shahab Usto

Pakistan’s utmost priority should be to follow the Chinese model: shun external engagements and turn inwards to focus only on economic, social and human development. Remember, we have missed the bus twice

Independent Pakistan, India and China were born at almost the same time, inherited the same decrepit state structures, and shared the same trajectory of international wars and civil strife. But they do not share the same present. China is the fastest growing economy. India is catching up fast with it. But Pakistan lags far behind both.

As it is, China (closely followed by India) is all set to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, if not the world. The US-led West is jittery. Stuck in a financial crisis, the West has lost faith in its economic philosophy based on unregulated markets. “The teachers are in trouble,” as one Chinese minister put it, referring to the ideologues of the failing Anglo-Saxon corporate and financial models. …

Read more : Daily Times

Somalia : militants shoot young man dead after learning he had begun to follow Christ

New Christian Convert from Islam Murdered in Somalia

Muslim militants shoot young man dead after learning he had begun to follow Christ.

Excerpt:

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 20 (CDN) — Two Muslim extremists in Somalia on Monday (April 18) murdered a member of a secret Christian community in Lower Shabele region as part of a campaign to rid the country of Christianity, sources said.

An area source told Compass two al Shabaab militants shot 21-year-old Hassan Adawe Adan in Shalambod town after entering his house at 7:30 p.m.

“Two al Shabaab members dragged him out of his house, and after 10 minutes they fired several shots on him,” said an area source who requested anonymity. “He then died immediately.” The militants then shouted “Allahu Akbar [God is greater]” before fleeing, he said. …

…. On Jan. 7, a mother of four was killed for her Christian faith on the outskirts of Mogadishu by al Shabaab militia, according to a relative. The relative, who requested anonymity, said Asha Mberwa, 36, was killed in Warbhigly village when the Islamic extremists cut her throat in front of villagers who came out of their homes as witnesses.

She is survived by her children – ages 12, 8, 6 and 4 – and her husband, who was not home at the time she was apprehended. Her husband and children have fled to an undisclosed location.

Read more : Compass Direct News

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Unrest in the Arab world: Islamabad assures Riyadh of support!

By Qaiser Butt

ISLAMABAD: In the backdrop of the current political uprisings in the Arab world, Pakistan has decided to play a significant role in the region by supporting Saudi Arabia, sources told The Express Tribune.

The decision came following a string of meetings that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, special emissary of the Saudi king, had with the Pakistani leadership over the weekend.

The Saudi royal family scion met the top political and military leaders ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

WSC participated in The 16th Session of UNHRC to inform about the worsening human rights situation in Sindh

London, UK, 19 march 2011: Press Release – A delegation of World Sindhi Congress (WSC) comprising of Dr Hidayat Bhutto and Dr Lakhu Luhano participated in the 16th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. WSC delegation made statements at events organised by Interfaith International and RADDHO (Rencontre Africcaine Pour La Defense des Droits de L’Homme).

The delegation also met with numerous ECOSOC NGOs, human rights defenders from South Asia region and from nations oppressed by Pakistan and with the office of UN’s Special Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. In these meetings, the delegation had detailed discussions about the worsening situation of human rights for people of Sindh.

In his statement, Dr Hidayat Bhutto presented detailed views about the worsening human rights situation in Sindh. He mentioned the recent killings of Sindhi political leaders Zulfiqar Kolachi, Yonus Khaskheley and Haji Khan Noonari. He said that the disappearances of political activists continue to occur in Sindh where currently 39 Sindhi people are missing believed to be kidnapped by the agencies. He informed the international community about the second-time disappearance of one of the most prominent Sindhi leader, Muzaffar Bhutto, in daylight by the agencies. He requested the UN and the international community to press upon the agencies for the release of all kidnapped Sindhi and Baloch people. Dr Bhutto mentioned that the agencies are illegally settling people from Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa to colonise Sindh and enhance religious extremism. He detailed how Sindhi people are being systematically denied their social, cultural, political, educational and lingual rights by the Pakistani establishment. He said that the international community to be aware of these issues and requested to support people of Sindh in their struggle for their genuine historical and human rights including right to self-determination.

Dr Lakhu Luhano in his statement said that the Pakistani state is practicing a systematic policy of fanning, patronising, training and funding the violent religious extremism not only for their regional strategic extension but also to suppers, subjugate and colonise Sindhi and Baloch people. This policy has huge and serious implications for regional and global security and peace and for viability and continuance of tolerant Sindhi nation and society. He requested the international community for an immediate, effective and urgent action before it becomes too late. He warned the price for the entire humankind of the spread of this disaster would be unimaginable.

The other delegates at the events extended their support to Sindhi people in their struggle for their human rights including right to self-determination.

U.S. DRONE ATTACKS ON PAKISTAN SUPPORTED BY PAKISTAN ARMY

 – Most of those killed in drone attacks were terrorists: military

General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing here: “Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

MIRANSHAH: In a rather rare move, the Pakistan military for the first time gave the official version of US drone attacks in the tribal region and said that most of those killed were hardcore Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and a fairly large number of them were of foreign origin.

General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing here: “Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners. …

Read more : DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/09/most-of-those-killed-in-drone-attacks-were-terrorists-military.html

As Pakistan battles extremism, it needs allies’ patience and help

By Asif Ali Zardari, The writer is president of Pakistan.

Just days before her assassination, my wife, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, wrote presciently of the war within Islam and the potential for a clash between Islam and the West: “There is an internal tension within Muslim society. The failure to resolve that tension peacefully and rationally threatens to degenerate into a collision course of values spilling into a clash between Islam and the West. It is finding a solution to this internal debate within Islam – about democracy, about human rights, about the role of women in society, about respect for other religions and cultures, about technology and modernity – that shall shape future relations between Islam and the West.”

Two months ago my friend Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was cut down for standing up against religious intolerance and against those who would use debate about our laws to divide our people. On Tuesday, another leading member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in our cabinet, was murdered by extremists tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

These assassinations painfully reinforce my wife’s words and serve as a warning that the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan affects the success of the civilized world’s confrontation with the terrorist menace.

A small but increasingly belligerent minority is intent on undoing the very principles of tolerance upon which our nation was founded in 1947; principles by which Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived and died; and principles that are repeated over and over in the Koran. The extremists who murdered my wife and friends are the same who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and who have blown up girls’ schools in the Swat Valley.

We will not be intimidated, nor will we retreat. Such acts will not deter the government from our calibrated and consistent efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism. It is not only the future of Pakistan that is at stake but peace in our region and possibly the world.

Read more : The Washington Post

Let’s give Sindh a helping hand

Gulf News Editorial: Humanitarian bodies must ensure food and medical aid reach those affected by floods

Time has stopped for the hapless survivors in Sindh whose lives were turned upside down by the severe floods that hit the Pakistani province last year.

Surveys carried out in the wake of that disaster have revealed the extent of acute malnutrition in the region. The issue has been highlighted only recently due to prevailing social conditions and the lack of contact between the people and medical experts. Poverty levels have been at an all-time high for decades as a result of which the lives of thousands of children are also at risk.

Unicef has found that the percentage of those hit by the problem is higher than the 15 per cent emergency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and on par with the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It has also been noted that women form a larger part of the overall figure.

While efforts are being made to address this problem, humanitarian organisations must galvanise themselves to ensure that the thousands who have been affected can obtain food and medical relief. …

Read more : Gulfnews

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.

Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?

And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!

Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.

We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out. ….

Read more : The Independent.co.uk

‘China ready to go to war to safeguard national interests’

Beijing: Terming US attempts to woo India and other neighbours of China as “unbearable”, an article in a Communist party magazine has said that Beijing must send a “clear signal” to these countries that it is ready to go to war to safeguard its national interests.

The article published in the Qiushi Journal, the official publication of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) said China must adhere to a basic strategic principle of not initiating war but being ready to counterattack.

“We must send a clear signal to our neighbouring countries that we don’t fear war, and we are prepared at any time to go to war to safeguard our national interests,” the article said, suggesting an aggressive strategy to counter emerging US alliances in the region.

“Throughout the history of the new China (since 1949), peace in China has never been gained by giving in, only through war. Safeguarding national interests is never achieved by mere negotiations, but by war,” it said.

The piece said countries like Japan, India, Vietnam, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Korea are trying to join the anti-China group because they either had a war or a conflict of interest with China. …

Read more : ZeeNews

Pro-democracy rally begins in Algeria, defying ban

Pro-democracy rally begins in Algeria, defying ban

Thousands defied a government ban to hold a pro-democracy rally in Algiers

Thousands of people are holding a pro-democracy rally in Algeria’s capital Algiers, defying a government ban. Scuffles broke out between the protesters and riot police and a number of people were reportedly arrested.

Algeria – like Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in the region – has recently witnessed demonstrations for greater freedoms and better living standards.

Public demonstrations are banned in Algeria because of a state of emergency still in place since 1992.

Heavy police presence

The protesters gathered at Algiers’ 1 May Square on Saturday morning.

They chanted “Bouteflika out!” – in reference to the country’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. …

Read more : BBC

Creative Destruction!

Egypt’s Revolution-Creative Destruction For A ‘Greater Middle East’?

The G8 Map of Washington’s Greater Middle East extends right to the borders of China and Russia and West to Morocco

by F. William Engdahl

…….. Will it work? At this writing it is unclear what the ultimate upshot of the latest US-led destabilizations across the Islamic world will bring. It is not clear what will result for Washington and the advocates of a US-dominated New World Order. Their agenda is clearly one of creating a Greater Middle East under firm US grip as a major control of the capital flows and energy flows of a future China, Russia and a European Union that might one day entertain thoughts of drifting away from that American order.

It has huge potential implications for the future of Israel as well. As one US commentator put it, “The Israeli calculation today is that if ‘Mubarak goes’ (which is usually stated as ‘If America lets Mubarak go’), Egypt goes. If Tunisia goes (same elaboration), Morocco and Algeria go. Turkey has already gone (for which the Israelis have only themselves to blame). Syria is gone (in part because Israel wanted to cut it off from Sea of Galilee water access). Gaza has gone to Hamas, and the Palestine Authority might soon be gone too (to Hamas?). That leaves Israel amid the ruins of a policy of military domination of the region.” [28]

The Washington strategy of “creative destruction” is clearly causing sleepless nights not only in the Islamic world but also reportedly in Tel Aviv, and ultimately by now also in Beijing and Moscow and across Central Asia.

Read more : GlobalResearch.Ca

F. William Engdahl is author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. His book, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order has just been reissued in a new edition. He may be contacted via his website, http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

With the Mubarak gone there may be changes or the ruling elite could just find a new public face

Mubarak’s departure marks the end of an era for Egypt

If real reforms are achieved, Egypt will have witnessed a real revolution – and its impact will be felt across the Middle East

by Ian Black

Hosni Mubarak’s dramatic departure marks the end of an era for Egypt and the Middle East. Thirty years of his rule has left a deep impression on his country’s domestic affairs and external relations. Without him, much could change on many fronts — at home and across the region. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk

Raymond Davis: fact & fiction – Najam Sethi’s Editorial

The case of Raymond Davis has outraged the imagination and sentiment of Pakistanis mainly because of a distortion of key facts by powerful sections of the Pakistani media. It has also become a vicious ping pong game between the PPP and PMLN governments, with both trying to score nationalist points regardless of the consequences for political stability and national security. Ominously, though, it has soured a troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US who claim to be “strategic partners” in the region. Let’s sift fact from fiction.

Fiction: Mr Davis “murdered” two Pakistanis. He shot them in the back, suggesting he was not threatened by them. They were not robbers. Their handguns were licensed. Fact: Two men on a motorbike, armed with unlicensed pistols, held up Mr Davis’ car. He expertly shot them through the windscreen, stepped out and took pictures of the gunmen with weapons as evidence of self-defense. Later, an autopsy report showed that four out of seven bullets had hit the gunmen in the front, confirming the threat to him. The criminals had earlier robbed two passersby of their cell phones and money.

Fiction: Mr Davis is not a diplomat because he doesn’t have a diplomatic visa or status registered with the Foreign Office. Hence he cannot claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions. Fact: Mr Davis has a Diplomatic Passport. His visa application by the US State Department to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC of 11 September 2009 lists him as a Diplomat who is on “Official Business”. The US government has claimed diplomatic immunity for him. This is the norm. For example, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Spain in 1975, Haroon ur Rashid Abbasi, was granted immunity following discovery of heroin from his suitcase. Col Mohammad Hamid Pakistan’s military attaché in London in 2000, was caught having sex with a prostitute in his car in a public place. He invoked diplomatic immunity and avoided arrest. Mohammad Arshad Cheema, Pakistan’s First Secretary in Nepal, also invoked diplomatic immunity after 16kg of high inte4nsity RDX explosives were recovered from his house and he was suspected of being involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814. And so on. …

Read more : Wichaar

Apathy and rage — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The surviving Arab rulers and their western mentors will certainly embark on a course to neutralise and thwart this struggle because they see the end of their rule and fear that Israel will no longer enjoy the tranquillity it has seen since Camp David and will have to contend with the people of the region rather than power-hungry autocrats …

Read more : Daily Times

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt

Mubarak, you’re fired!’ Toronto rally Saturday

By Krystalline Kraus

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt, Saturday, February 5, Assemble at 1 p.m., Queen’s Park (south side), TTC: Queen’s Park, Nearest intersection: University Avenue and College Street, March begins at 2 p.m. Please dress warmly.

Event on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/FreeEgypt

Just weeks after a revolution in Tunisia toppled its decades-old dictatorship, a similar movement in Egypt is poised to overthrow the 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak. Please join us for a city-wide, family-friendly rally and march in downtown Toronto in support of the Egyptian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, and to support all freedom struggles across the region. Please bring your placards, banners, and noise-makers.

Organized by – Canadian Coptic Association, Egyptian National Association for Change, Toronto Egypt Solidarity Campaign, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Peace Alliance, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Join our next volunteers’ meeting: Friday, February 4, 2011, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Room number to be posted, TTC: Spadina

Help us assemble placards and paint banners (all materials provided) and find out how you can help during the rally and march. Please RSVP to info@nowar.ca.

Read more : Rebble.Ca

DHAKA RESOLUTION ON SALMAN TASEERs MURDER

A resolution was presented to condemn the murder of Salman Taseer Shaheed, during Peoples SAARC meeting/conference in Dhaka on January 18-19 th, 2011 . Resolution was unanimously adopted by the house.

RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN THE MURDER OF SALMAN TASEER

We the development practitioners, political workers, civil society leaders, representatives of social movements, peace and human rights activists, writers, journalists and concerned citizens of South Asia and the participants of Conference on ‘Envisioning New South Asia: People’s Perspectives, 18-19 January, 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh condemn the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan, by a religious extremist and demand that the culprit should be brought to justice immediately and the government of Pakistan and other states of South Asian region should stop using communalism and religious fundamentalism to persecute religious and ethnic minorities to divide and rule the peace loving progressive and secular peoples of the region. We express our solidarity with the family of Salman Taseer and with the current moment against religious extremism in Pakistan and in the region.