Tag Archives: Riyadh

Sindh Cultural Day observed by Pakistanis in Riyadh

By Waqar Naseem Wamiq

 

RIYADH — Indus Cultural & Social Forum (ICSF) observed the Sindhi Cultural Day at the chancery hall of Pakistan Embassy here. Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq was the chief guest.

Dr. Mustafa started the program by reciting few verses from the Holy Qur’an. Abdul Qadir Mallah and Dr. Erum Qalbani jointly conducted the program. The hall was beautifully decorated with the flowers and traditional Sindhi Ajraks. Most of the attendees — men, women and kids — wore the traditional Sindhi caps and Ajraks, and the ISCF team was dressed in black suits with Ajrak printed neckties.

In his welcome address, HOC Sardar Muhammad Khattak mentioned the significance and importance of the day. “We are conducting this program in order to highlight the Sindhi culture among the Pakistani community.”

Founder president of ICSF Abdul Qadir Mallah briefed the audience about the Sindhi day. He said, “The Indus forum was established in 2011 in order to provide a collective platform for the Sindhi community in Riyadh.”

Read more » Saudi Gazette
See more » http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/sindh-cultural-day-observed-by-pakistanis-in-riyadh/

Rent-a-country !?

Pakistan confirms participation in Saudi-led anti-terror alliance

BY BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

ISLAMABAD: After initial ambiguity, the Pakistan government confirmed on Wednesday its participation in a Saudi-led military alliance for ‘fighting terrorism’, but said the scope of its participation would be defined after Riyadh shared the details of the coalition it was assembling.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1226894

Saudi nets $16.5 bn from pilgrims: paper

By AFP

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia raised $16.5 billion from Muslim pilgrimages this year to Mecca and Medina in the west of the kingdom, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Al-Hayat, citing religious tourism sources, said a total of 12 million pilgrims visited Islam’s holiest sites during the annual hajj which took place this year at the end of October or for the year-long umra, or minor pilgrimage.

The pilgrims – including 3.1 million who made the hajj, including 1.7 million from abroad, according to official figures – spent 62 billion riyals ($16.5 billion), a rise of 10 percent over 2011 because of increased costs, it said.

News courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/762515/saudi-nets-16-5-bn-from-pilgrims-paper

Saudi Arabia is a Peninsula of Stability in the Region – Said Pak Ambassador

Faiz Al-NajdiBy: Faiz Al-Najdi

Muhammad Naeem Khan – the Pakistani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia – has said that Saudi Arabia has emerged as a “peninsula of stability” in the region. He was speaking as the Chief Guest on the occasion of investiture ceremony of the newly elected office bearers of Pakistan Investors Forum-Riyadh (aka: PIF) – at Riyadh Palace Hotel on Tuesday evening. This event was attended by about 500 persons that included several high officials from SAGIA (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industries (aka: RCCI), Saudi officials from various Saudi departments that included: Passport, Labor, Police departments and several noted Saudi businessmen. Many Pakistani professionals and members from the Pakistani community also attended.

Received via Email: faizalnajdi@gmail.com

 

Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

. Mumbai Terror Attack Group Lashkar e Tayyiba Now More Dangerous Than Al Qaeda

With the 9/11 terrorist group on the ropes, the organization that masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks has become the world’s most dangerous, says Bruce Riedel.

By Bruce Riedel

The arrest of Sayeed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jindal, at New Delhi airport late last month is a major breakthrough in the investigation of the deadliest terror attack in the world since 9/11. Abu Jindal was one of the masterminds of the November 2008 attack on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed, including six Americans. He is already confessing to his role and implicating Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate directly in controlling the attack as it went down.

The November 2008 attack by ten Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT) terrorists on multiple targets in Mumbai, India was the most significant and innovative terrorist attack since 9/11. It marked the maturation of LeT from a Punjabi-based Pakistani terror group targeting India exclusively to a member of the global Islamic jihad targeting the enemies of al Qaeda: the Crusader West, Zionist Israel, and Hindu India. LeT used cell phones and GPS technology to terrorize an entire city and grab global attention for three days. LeT’s masterminds ran the operation in real time from a headquarters in Pakistan, even issuing death sentences to innocents.

Abu Jindal, an Indian citizen traveling with a Pakistani passport, was in the control room in Karachi in 2008 talking on the phone to the ten terrorists. He gave them advice on where to look for more victims in the Taj Hotel, for example, and instructed them when to murder their hostages. His voice was recorded by the Indian authorities listening in on the phone calls and has since been replayed in chilling detail by the Indian police for all to hear.

According to press reports from India, Jindal was arrested on June 21 after being deported from Saudi Arabia to India. The arrest operation was a joint counter-terrorism effort by India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Abu Jindal was in the Kingdom recruiting and training new LeT volunteers from the enormous Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf countries. He was allegedly in the final stages of a “massive” new terror plot. Abu Jindal has also been linked to other attacks in India including the bombing of the Mumbai metro and train system in 2006 that killed over 180.

Abu Jindal has told the Indians that two members of the ISI were also in the control room, both allegedly majors in the Pakistani army. This confirms the longstanding accusation that the 2008 plot was orchestrated and conducted with the assistance of the ISI. An American, David Headley, who worked for LeT and did the reconnaissance for the attack has said the same thing. So has the only survivor of the attack force, Amir Kasab, who has been convicted of mass murder in India.

But because Abu Jindal was actually in the control room in Karachi his accusation is even more powerful. If the press reports about Abu Jindal’s accusations are confirmed then the ISI was involved directly in the decision to murder Americans. So far the Indian government has publicly confirmed only that his testimony points to state sponsorship of the attack without providing details of his confessions.

Continue reading Pakistani Jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) that atacked Mumbai, is more dangerous than Al Qaeda says Bruce Riedel

Why Rathore Pakistani Will Not Vote For Imran Khan?

By: Faiz Al-Najdi

I have a friend here in Riyadh-Saudi Arabia by the name of Muhammad Riaz Rathore who prefers to be called as his alias of Rathore Pakistani only. He is a simple but knowledgeable person – non-conformist and much opinionated on most issues. And, most importantly he doesn’t have any political affiliation or leaning of any kind. This makes our discussions and discourses on neutral ground – so to say. And, as such, the opinion expressed by Rathore Pakistani can be taken as those of the “silent majority” in Pakistan.

We often indulge in discussions on current affairs – local, national and international – and I must admit here our discussions, at times get heated up, but honestly when it gets over I find myself much educated.

These days Imran Khan finds himself at the center-stage of the Pakistani politics and as such he is often the topic of discussions everywhere – be it in office, public places, private gathering or for that matter anywhere.

In one such gathering I got hold of Rathore Pakistani to get enlightened about his opinion on Imran Khan. Here go my piercing questions and his candid answers.

Continue reading Why Rathore Pakistani Will Not Vote For Imran Khan?

In Israel, women’s rights come under siege

By Ruth Marcus

Women are forced to board public buses from the back and stay there. Billboards with images of women are defaced. Public streets are cordoned off during religious holidays so that women cannot enter.

Continue reading In Israel, women’s rights come under siege

Eight Beheadings on Justice Square

By Jalal Alamgir, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston

Excerpt;

It’s Friday, the holy day of the week. The Kingdom’s law enforcers gather up eight Bangladeshi migrant workers from their prison cells and bring them to Justice Square in the capital, Riyadh.

Blindfolded, they are led to the center of the square, and made to kneel down. A small crowd forms in anticipation. At 9 am, a robed man walks up and slowly raises a sword, four feet long and shining. Ambulances wait, stretchers ready.

The sword sweeps down.

The sleek expanse of Justice Square is patterned with beautiful granite. There is no stage, no unnecessary equipment, no fanfare. Underneath runs an efficient drainage system, with a receptacle the size of a pizza box at the center.

Regardless, the head often rolls in unexpected directions. It’s collected and laid alongside the body before being taken away on stretchers. Some of the blood spilled on the granite drains quickly, and the rest is hosed down. Those spraying the water are themselves migrant workers.

This is justice, square and fair in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the most backward regimes in the world. Here, hands are chopped, bodies are decapitated. Torture is common in extracting confessions. The accused have little protection.

And racism is stark: Arabs get away with a lot more than dark-skinned migrant laborers do. ….

….. The Kingdom, buttressed by its special relationships, does not waste any opportunity to show who the boss is. A public execution is just such an opportunity. The beheading of the eight was a shameful shock-and-awe tactic, a warning to the millions of other workers to remain submissive, however back-breaking their life may be. The message is clear: obey, and keep your head.

To read complete article » The Huffington Post

Robert Fisk: How long before the dominoes fall?

The West is offering lessons in democracy to New Libya; how to avoid the chaos we ourselves inflicted on the Iraqis

The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh? It’s not the same, of course.

The Arab Spring-Summer-Autumn has proved not just that the old colonial frontiers remain inviolate – an awful tribute to imperialism, I suppose – but that every revolution has its own characteristics. If all Arab uprisings have their clutch of martyrs, some rebellions are more violent than others. As Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said at the start of his own eventual downfall, “Libya is not Tunisia, it’s not Egypt…It will become civil war. There will be bloodshed on the streets.” And there was.

And so we gaze into the crystal ball. Libya will be a Middle East superpower – unless we impose an economic occupation as the price of Nato’s “liberating” bombardment – and a less African, more Arab country now that Gaddafi’s obsession with central and southern Africa has disappeared. It may infect Algeria and Morocco with its freedoms. The Gulf states will be happy – up to a point – since most regarded Gaddafi as mentally unstable as well as mischievous. But unseating tyrannical Arab rulers is a dangerous game when unelected Arab rulers join in. Who now remembers the forgotten 1977 war in which Anwar Sadat sent his bombers to pulverise Gaddafi’s airbases – the very same airbases Nato has been attacking these past months – after Israel warned the Egyptian president that Gaddafi was planning his assassination? But Gaddafi’s dictatorship outlived Sadat by 30 years. …

Read more → independent.co.uk

Drigh Road or Shara-e-Faisal? – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment but WikiLeaks suggest that privately they keep venting their spleen to the US diplomats about it

“I keep six honest serving-men,

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When,

And How and Where and Who” — Rudyard Kipling.

Another week, another tragedy: the series of unfortunate events has no end. But each catastrophe, no matter how enormous, is matched with a conspiracy theory of even bigger proportions. The predilection for gossip and intrigue to explain away the existential threats has morphed from a national pastime to the national creed. The fear of mirrors appears to have robbed this nation of the last vestiges of objectivity.

But first things first: no matter how spectacular the attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Mehran, far greater remains the sacrifice of the men of Pakistan’s armed forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Lieutenant Yasir Abbas and his comrades, martyred while wrestling back the control of PNS Mehran, deserve a collective bow from this nation. May their souls rest in peace.

It would have been highly desirable if the top civil and military leaders had deemed it their responsibility to attend the funeral of these heroes, for boosting the rapidly plummeting morale, if not to send a message to the terrorists. In a country where vicious killers like Mumtaz Qadri are garlanded for the most heinous acts, such omissions are literally a dereliction of duty on the part of the civil and military leadership. For our part, we can only offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families to whom we shall remain ever indebted.

The leadership’s ambivalence points towards our real dilemma. While the killers and their supporters are absolutely clear about their objectives and how to achieve them, the state seems to be clueless and rudderless. From an absolute denial to dodging accountability, those at the helm come up with the lamest possible excuses: foreign hand a la American-Indo-Zionist agents unleashing a reign of terror on one of the oldest military establishments of the subcontinent. Is it possible? Well, theoretically it is. But if such is the case then perhaps someone needs to turn in a cap, pips, baton and a belt.

However, even if the blame for a security lapse or breach is affixed justly and all questions are answered appropriately, it may only satisfy the what, when, where, who and how of the event. A military investigation would likely focus on the methods and weaponry used by the attackers and the response of the security agencies. From a tactical perspective this could certainly be very helpful in hardening and thus safeguarding any potential targets. But from a strategic standpoint, unless one seeks an answer to the why, all inquiries, no matter how impartial, will remain meaningless and lead to dead ends. The domestic, regional and international implications of any such attack are myriad and it is imperative that lessons are drawn, and swiftly at that. But it would be impossible to formulate a response without clearly identifying the enemy and determining its motive. And that is where it becomes tricky.

India or the US may be looking at the PNS Mehran attack with glee but there is absolutely nothing strategic that they gain from two P-3C Orion aircraft being destroyed. The psychological impact of audacious attacks on iconic targets is a tactic in asymmetrical — not conventional — warfare. The al Qaeda-Taliban have announced not only their viability through this attack but it perhaps marks the arrival of Saif-al-Adel, who had masterminded a similar attack in Riyadh, as al Qaeda’s new leader. And nothing induces recruitment of cadres than a high profile retribution for bin Laden’s killing.

Pakistani right-wing politicians like Imran Khan and Munawar Hassan would have one believe that everything was hunky-dory in Pakistan till the big bad US rolled into Afghanistan in 2001. They would go blue in the face talking about the dollars that bankrolled the anti-Soviet mujahideen. But they conveniently gloss over the fact that Saudi Arabia matched the US dollar-for-dollar to help Pakistan create the jihadist monster. That great patron of jihadist pan-Islamism, General Ziaul Haq, consummated the tying of the knot with the Saudis by rechristening many cities and places in Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Drigh Road thus became the PAF base Shara-e-Faisal in 1977. (Arabic word ‘Shara’ and not the Persian ‘Shahrah’, was used for the road). The PNS Mehran is an extension of that same PAF base Drigh Road.

However, this is not just where the selective amnesia ends. These ultranationalists and their cohorts in the media, who are projecting them 24/7 into our living rooms, take great pains to avoid pointing a finger towards the jihadists, especially the ones who are predominantly India-oriented. Parallels are being drawn between the PNS Mehran attack and the one on the GHQ in 2009, which is a partial truth. The first such attack that had showed a high level of strategic vision through an erudite choice of high profile target and deployment of sophisticated tactics was on the Red Fort, Delhi, on December 22, 2000, carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). Subsequent attacks, including on the Indian parliament, Mumbai, Sri Lankan cricket team, Manawan Police Academy, the Pakistani GHQ and several in Afghanistan have the fingerprints of the assorted jihadist franchises affiliated with al Qaeda.

But people like Imran Khan who leads sit-ins attended by members of banned terrorist outfits, whose lieutenants are seen literally holding hands with Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and who makes it a point to visit every major madrassa from where the jihadist leadership has graduated, can hardly be blamed for protecting their ilk. These obscurantists will continue to weave webs of lies and deceit that perpetuate not just the confusion in the general public’s mind but make an already perfidious enemy even more nebulous.

While the pro-Taliban leaders led by Imran Khan have been steadily building a neo-jihadist narrative, the secular leadership has been missing in action. The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment ….

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistan Writers Club-Riyadh Has a New President

By: Faiz Al-Najdi

Pakistan Writers Club-Riyadh aka: PWC elected a new President for the next two-year term, which is for the period of 2011 thru 2013. This is in keeping with the democratic traditions set in the Club by its past Presidents – who have set a tradition that PWC elects its new President, after every two years.

Continue reading Pakistan Writers Club-Riyadh Has a New President

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

Bahrain or Bust?

Pakistan should think twice before meddling in the Middle East.

By Miranda Husain

Excerpt:

Less than three weeks after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, led by Saudi Arabia, entered Bahrain to aid the anti-democracy crackdown there, dignitaries from both oil-rich kingdoms did their separate rounds in Pakistan. The royal houses of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are nervous, and they need Pakistan’s mercenaries, and—if necessary—military muscle to shore them up.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Asif Ali Zardari, who had been trying since he was elected president in 2008 to secure Saudi oil on sweetheart terms. He had been unsuccessful in his efforts because … Saudis view his leadership with some degree of skepticism. It also doesn’t help that Zardari, … is big on improving relations with … Tehran. Riyadh now appears inclined to export oil on terms that better suit cash-strapped Islamabad. Manama, too, wants to play ball. It wants increased defense cooperation and has pledged to prioritize Pakistan’s hopes for a free-trade agreement with the GCC in return. But Zardari and his Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, should fight the urge to get mired in the Middle East. …

“The U.S. has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations,” says Chomsky. “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,” he says. Pakistan has such “severe internal problems” that it may not be able to play this role even if asked to. But the real reason that Pakistan should avoid this role is so that it can stand on the right side of history, alongside those who are fighting for democracy.

To read full article : NewsWeekPakistan

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

Uprisings and impacts – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Even after the Musharraf dictatorship is over, much of our politics is run from Dubai and we have to involve Riyadh in every important political crisis. In fact, Arab kings have been violating Pakistani sovereignty, with the connivance of our ruling elite, even more than the US …

Read more : Wichaar

Unfit for Democracy? – NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Is the Arab world unready for freedom? A crude stereotype lingers that some people — Arabs, Chinese and Africans — are incompatible with democracy. Many around the world fret that “people power” will likely result in Somalia-style chaos, Iraq-style civil war or Iran-style oppression.

That narrative has been nourished by Westerners and, more sadly, by some Arab, Chinese and African leaders. So with much of the Middle East in an uproar today, let’s tackle a politically incorrect question head-on: Are Arabs too politically immature to handle democracy?

This concern is the subtext for much anxiety today, from Washington to Riyadh. And there’s no question that there are perils: the overthrow of the shah in Iran, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Tito in Yugoslavia, all led to new oppression and bloodshed. Congolese celebrated the eviction of their longtime dictator in 1997, but the civil war since has been the most lethal conflict since World War II. If Libya becomes another Congo, if Bahrain becomes an Iranian satellite, if Egypt becomes controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood — well, in those circumstances ordinary citizens might end up pining for former oppressors.

“Before the revolution, we were slaves, and now we are the slaves of former slaves,” Lu Xun, the great Chinese writer, declared after the toppling of the Qing dynasty. Is that the future of the Middle East?

I don’t think so. Moreover, this line of thinking seems to me insulting to the unfree world. In Egypt and Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve been humbled by the lionhearted men and women I’ve seen defying tear gas or bullets for freedom that we take for granted. How can we say that these people are unready for a democracy that they are prepared to die for?

We Americans spout bromides about freedom. Democracy campaigners in the Middle East have been enduring unimaginable tortures as the price of their struggle — at the hands of dictators who are our allies — yet they persist. In Bahrain, former political prisoners have said that their wives were taken into the jail in front of them. And then the men were told that unless they confessed, their wives would promptly be raped. That, or more conventional tortures, usually elicited temporary confessions, yet for years or decades those activists persisted in struggling for democracy. And we ask if they’re mature enough to handle it?

Read more : Wichaar

Wikileaks reveal parties behind Jeddah’s closed doors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia might be an ultra-strict Islamic society, but princes’ mansions in Jeddah hide a buzzing party scene replete with alcohol, drugs and sex, according to a leaked US diplomatic memo.

“Behind the facade of Wahabi conservatism in the streets, the underground nightlife for Jeddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing,” said the November 2009 cable, released by the WikiLeaks website.

“The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available – alcohol, drugs, sex – but strictly behind closed doors,” it said.

“This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants.”

The cable, from the US consulate in the Red Sea city, described a Halloween party attended by 150 people mostly in their 20s and 30s, including consulate personnel.

“The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume.”

Big Jeddah parties – also often attended by prostitutes – are a recent phenomenon, according to the consulate.

One Saudi told the consulate that wealthy locals try to throw parties at princes’ homes or with princes in attendance so that the religious police can be kept away.

It also said that the high price of smuggled alcohol – a bottle of Smirnoff vodka can cost 1,500 riyals, or 400 dollars – sometimes forces party hosts to refill original bottles with the harsh, locally bootlegged spirit sadiqi. …

Read more : DAWN