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Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State that U.S. should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language

Aid cut to Pakistan won’t be in US interest: Kerry

During the hearing Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State for broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language.

“There’s probably no more important country than Pakistan and nothing more important than our public outreach to the Pakistani people, yet we’re broadcasting only in Urdu. This committee voted overwhelmingly that we should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting in the Sindhi language,” he said.

Continue reading Congressman Brad Sherman urged the Secretary of State that U.S. should spend a million and a half dollars broadcasting the service of the Voice of America in Sindhi language

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Congressman Sherman raised VOA-Sindhi with Secretary of state John Kerry

Washington: Hon. Congressman Brad Sherman continues to advocate on behalf of Sindhis across the world. At House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing, Congressman Sherman spoke with Secretary John Kerry about the need for a Sindhi Voice of America program. You can hear his remarks here starting at the 0:26 mark. SAPAC is immensely grateful for Congressman Sherman’s dedication to the Sindhi people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmHjTaWo63o&feature=youtu.be

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 18, 2013.

NATO supply restoration in Pakistan’s interest: Jilani

Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, Thursday, declared restoration of NATO supply in the interests of Pakistan, saying, it was must for pulling out of foreign forces from Afghanistan. ….

Read more » The Nation

US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

AFP – The United States is running out of patience with Pakistan over safe havens for insurgents who attack US troops across the border in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday.

Panetta was speaking during a brief visit to Kabul overshadowed by Afghan fury over a NATO air strike that allegedly killed 18 civilians — an issue that the Pentagon chief did not mention at a news conference.

Panetta left for the airport just hours after his arrival, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged to cut short a trip to Beijing and head home over the deaths of around 40 civilians Wednesday in the air strike and a suicide bombing.

Continue reading US running out of patience with Pakistan: Panetta

Top court summons Defense Secretary in missing persons’ case but too scared to summon army chief & DG ISI

Adiala missing prisoners: Produce the seven men on Feb 13, says SC

By Azam Khan

ISLAMABAD: After a day’s unsuccessful wait, the Supreme Court has ordered that the seven prisoners who went missing from Adiala Jail must be presented in person on February 13.

“Our order has not been complied with. The missing prisoners are in custody of the intelligence agencies,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said in Friday’s hearing. “Right now, we want to see the surviving prisoners. Later, we will investigate the circumstances in which the four deceased prisoners died and also fix responsibility.”

The court also summoned the defence secretary and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary in person at the next date of hearing. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor was directed to present a report through the provincial chief secretary on the condition of the prisoners who are hospitalised in Peshawar and Parachinar.

The court also ordered the chiefs of Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence agencies and the defence secretary to produce the surviving prisoners safely before the court and file a compliance report with the Registrar Office.

Hearing was then adjourned till February 13.

Earlier on Friday, the court had told the ISI and MI chiefs’ counsel that the bench will wait till 7pm in the court until the missing prisoners are brought before the court.

The court had earlier directed the counsel of ISI and MI chiefs Raja Irshad that the missing prisoners be presented before the court after Irshad told the court that four out of 11 prisoners picked up from Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, had died in custody, but of “natural causes”.

Resuming the hearing on Friday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry questioned Irshad, “Which authority considers itself above the law and is intervening in court’s matter.” The chief justice asked Irshad why court’s orders were not followed properly.

Irshad told the court that the prisoners were in poor health condition and that they could not be presented before the court. Justice Arif Khilji responded saying that if the patients should have been brought to the court even if they were to be brought on a “stretcher”.

In his defense, Irshad presented a letter to the court which entailed the details of the prisoners’ medical condition and stated that currently, they could not be moved out of the hospital.

The chief justice remarked that if the prime minister of Pakistan could be summoned to the court for not complying to its orders, then it does not leave room for anyone else to not obey court’s orders.

“Bring them [the patients] in helicopters, if they cannot be brought in cars,” said the chief justice.

The bench also asked the counsel of ISI and MI that why the patients were admitted in hospitals located outside Islamabad when there are “enough hospitals in Islamabad as well.”

The court said that an investigation could also be initiated against ISI and MI under Article 9 of the Constitution for not following the court’s orders. “This is a violation of fundamental rights of an individual. We have to determine the reason of the deaths,” said Chief Justice Chaudhry.

Justice Tariq Parvez observed that the whole world felt the gravity of the case and said that institutions in Pakistan “have done nothing about it so far.”

The civilians had been facing a court martial under the Army Act on charges of attacking the General Headquarters (GHQ) and ISI’s Hamza Camp base.

They were picked up from Adiala Jail by intelligence agencies after they had been acquitted of the charges by the court.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

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More details » DAWN.COM

VICTIMIZATION OF SASSO OFFICERS

Would the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister of Sindh redress the financial problems of Sindh Government retired Sasso officers as they are not being paid their monthly pensions in time. When approached the concerned Section officer of Sindh Agriculture department, he responded rudely that State Bank of Pakistan does not release them the funds and if any further inquiry or reason is asked, he usually stop talking and putting the receiver of the phone to avoid any further inquiry. Secondly, the annual increment as allowed by the Government to their other serving and retired employees, has still not allowed Sasso officers such annual increments. We shall be highly grateful if our financial problems are solved being the retired and senior citizens of Sindh Pakistan.

Ghulam Hussain Qureshi, Retired officer of Sasso, Old Halla – Sindh

Received via email – drdhakansindheconomist@hotmail.com

Panetta Sets End to Afghan Combat Role for U.S. in 2013

By ELISABETH BUMILLER

BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Panetta says he ‘felt’ Pakistan knew of bin Laden’s hideout

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta still believes someone in authority in Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding before U.S. forces went in to find him, he said in a TV interview to air Sunday.

Intelligence reports found Pakistani military helicopters had passed over the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where U.S. Navy SEALs discovered and killed bin Laden last year, according to excerpts of an interview Panetta gave to CBS News.

“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound. Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls… It was the largest compound in the area.

“So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, ‘What the hell’s going on there?’“ Panetta told CBS.

The Pentagon chief said that concern played a significant factor in Washington not warning Pakistan officials of the impending raid: “it concerned us that, if we, in fact, brought (Pakistan) into it, that– they might…give bin Laden a heads up,” he said. ….

Read more » alArabiya

Tehelka – Coup & Memo: In the battle of nerves between the civilian and the military establishment he who can stay the longest, wins

Round 1 to the Civilian Government

In the battle of nerves between the civilian and the military establishment in Pakistan, he who can stay the longest, wins

By Mohammad Taqi, Columnist, Daily Times

EVER SINCE the controversial Memo in October 2011, allegedly seeking American help in case of a military coup, trouble has been brewing in Pakistan. The latest is the sacking of Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Nadeem Lodhi as defence secretary on 11 January by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The civilian-military relationship in Pakistan is going through a churn. The military wants to get rid of President Asif Zardari. The Supreme Court allowed itself to be dragged into the situation through a PIL. But the elected Pakistani civilian government, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its coalition partners are not going to give in without a fight. Under the circumstances, the sacking of Lodhi was inevitable. It sends a clear message in a long drawn out war of attrition that will ultimately decide which way the balance of civil-military relationship tilts.

The establishment has been speaking through press releases issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). On 11 January, it issued a fourth statement criticising the government. Previously, the prime minister had retaliated by implying the army was trying to become a State within the State and had issued a visa to Osama bin Laden. That did not go down well. The civil-military relationship has not recovered from this blow, and relations are souring. The judiciary appears to be allied with the military establishment or at least feels that their interests are in confluence.

The army wants the current PPP dispensation to go, but a text-book coup d’état is not possible in the present day. With an active social media, a questioning press and Pakistan’s economic condition, it is not a feasible option. The army is frustrated and is making this public but with everyone harping on about democracy for so long, it’s not easy for anyone — not Kayani, not the top judge — to sack the present system. They might be facing allegations of corruption or bad governance, but you have to vote them out.

Gilani’s statement says the army chief and the DG, ISI, Shuja Pasha did not follow the protocol in the Memogate proceedings in court. The briefs the three filed with the court were diametrically opposed to the government’s position in the Memogate scandal. Constitutionally, the ISI is under the prime minister. The army chief reports to the president and also the PM via the defence ministry. The defence secretary made a statement in the court saying the government has administrative and not operational control over the army and the ISI.

Prior to that, Pasha met Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz in London. The ISI is an intelligence-gathering and not an investigating agency. He brought back evidence that is now being made admissible in the civil court. Pasha went without the permission of the civilian leadership. The PM was informed through Kayani only after he returned.

Things would have been different a decade ago; the army would have toppled the government. Today, it’s a battle of nerves. Whoever blinks first, loses. So far, Gilani has not blinked, but his options are limited. Even if he fires Pasha and Kayani, he has to select from a pool of 200 generals, as he has no one in the PPP to replace him. Pasha’s head is certainly on the chopping block, but the PPP will not win this by a knockout, but on points. Taking it to the last round will mean they have won. As long as Zardari, Gilani and Hussain Haqqani — and the general public — stick together, the civilian government will prevail.

Courtesy: Tehelka.com

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Op210112Round.asp

Urinating on dead bodies is an insult, war is the crime

. US deplores video of Marines urinating on dead

By ROBERT BURNS and PAULINE JELINEK

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has promised Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai a full investigation of an Internet video that purports to depict four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters – a video both men condemned Thursday as deplorable.

At least two of the four men have been identified as Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said a Marine official, speaking on condition of anonymity because there is an active criminal investigation of the incident.

In a public statement, Panetta said such behavior is “entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military” and that those responsible will be held accountable.

The video, posted on the Internet, shows men in Marine combat gear standing in a semi-circle over three bodies. It’s not clear whether the dead were Taliban or civilians or someone else. The title on the posting called them Taliban insurgents and said the men were from Camp Lejeune.

Read more » Associated Press (AP)

Pakistan: a coup by other means

– Tensions between the army and Pakistan’s civilian government have boiled over into open conflict

By guardian.co.uk, Editorial

Messages were delivered in Islamabad on Wednesday. Through a megaphone. Minutes after the prime minister sacked the defence secretary, a retired general who acted as the army’s representative in government, the Pakistan army replaced the commander of the Triple One Brigade in Rawalpindi. This happens when a coup is about to be launched. The army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has called an emergency meeting of his principal staff officers for Thursday.

Simmering tensions between the army and Pakistan’s civilian government have boiled over into open conflict in the latest episode of a scandal dubbed memogate. A former ambassador to Washington was accused of having dictated, or solicited, a memo written by a Pakistani American businessmen to Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting his help in preventing a coup. The ambassador, Husain Haqqani, who denies knowledge of the memo, has been recalled and is effectively under house arrest in the prime minister’s heavily guarded residence, fearing for his life. Kayani and the head of the military’s spy agency, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, pressed the supreme court in affidavits to investigate the allegations against Haqqani that could lead to treason charges. The prime minister said that these affidavits were “unconstitutional and illegal”. The military responded with a statement that darkly hinted at “potentially grievous consequences”.

What is happening is a coup by other means. The army has staged four coups in the past, but this time, its instrument is a blatantly partisan supreme court, which is attempting to force an elected government to resign. The timing of the traitor tag is not accidental. In March the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could win control over the upper house of parliament and then – whatever happens to President Asif Ali Zardari and the PPP in the next election – the next government could not change the constitution.

Mr Zardari and the PPP government can be faulted for many things. The political charge sheet is long: incompetence, weakness, venality. They reacted terribly to the worst floods in living memory. They have pandered to fundamentalism over the blasphemy law rather than facing it down. A weak state has grown steadily weaker under their civilian control. Mr Zardari carries much personal baggage, which is almost certainly worthy of further investigation, but while president, he enjoys immunity from prosecution and he is right to face down the military. The place to oust an administration enjoying a two-thirds majority is at an election, and the people to do so are voters, not judges, generals or intelligence chiefs. Anyone who allows generals to remove politicians must be aware that the same could happen to them.

Courtesy: guardian.co.uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/11/pakistan-a-coup-by-other-means?newsfeed=true

Gilani removes Lodhi from Defence Secretary post

ISLAMABAD: Lt Gen (Retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi was removed from the post of Defence Secretary by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday, a move that is likely to create further friction between the government and the military. “Prime minister has terminated the contract of defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi for gross misconduct,” a senior government official told AFP.

Nargis Sethi has been given the additional charge of Defence Secretary. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Showcause to Kayani’s Man Over Affidavit on Memogate

By Rezaul H Laskar

Excerpt;

At loggerheads with the powerful Army, the Pakistan government has issued a showcause notice to the Defence Secretary for submitting an affidavit on the memo scandal to the Supreme Court without seeking approval from the Defence Minister.

Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi considered to be very close to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was issued the notice last week, official sources said. …

… The PPP insiders further said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s sharp criticism of the Pakistan Army on Thursday was triggered by Lodhi’s refusal to obey a directive from the government.

… Sources said Lodhi submitted the affidavit without getting it cleared by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar.

… The following day, Gilani issued a directive that Lodhi should submit a fresh affidavit that was more in line with the government’s stance but the Defence Secretary refused to obey, officials of the PPP and other sources confirmed. …

… It was after Lodhi refused to obey the government’s directive that Gilani strongly criticised the military in two separate speeches on December 22. …

…. Speaking in parliament, Gilani said it was unacceptable for the army to function as a “state within a state” and questioned the military’s failure to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan for six years. …

Read more » Out Look

Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

– The Pakistani planners apparently lauded the UN separation of the Taliban and al Qaeda on the sanctions blacklist. This distinction does not necessarily mean lifting the sanctions; it in fact sets the stage for further sanctions against al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists, especially the India-oriented Punjabi jihadist groups based in Pakistan’s heartland

In his speech on June 22, 2011, Barack Obama outlined the drawdown of the US forces from Afghanistan. He declared his plans to pull out 10,000 troops from Afghanistan at the year’s end and another 23,000 by mid-2012, essentially withdrawing all troops inducted during the 2009 surge. Obama pledged the drawdown at a steady pace until the transition of security to the Afghan authorities by 2014.

The deliberations leading to his decision, including the stance of his various advisors, congressional hearings after the speech and indeed sections of the speech itself hint towards what lies ahead in the Pak-Afghan region, not only in the next two years but also after 2014. When it came to selling Obama’s plan to the congressional leaders, the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, ‘excused’ himself and was represented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who conceded before the House Armed Services Committee that he had hoped for a slower pace of withdrawal. Mullen had described the plan as more aggressive and riskier than he was originally prepared to accept.

Similarly, General David Petraeus and the man set to replace him as head of coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General John Allen, have stated that Obama’s final plan was not one of the options proposed to the president by General Petraeus. Except for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, most officials have placed their dissenting note on record. Nonetheless, the US brass has closed ranks behind Obama and seem to have taken ownership of the task he has assigned them.

From the Pakistani perspective, there are multiple indicators pointing towards things heating up for them in the near future. Most importantly, Obama stated in his speech: “Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am president, the US will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.” While the US military commanders may have differed on the pace of drawdown from Afghanistan, it is this aspect of his plan that they totally concur with.

On June 28, 2011, at the US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, General Allen and Vice Admiral William McRaven — the Obama nominee to head US Special Operations Command — were quite candid, not just about Obama’s overall plan, but the aspects of it that deal directly with Pakistan. In response to Senator Carl Levin’s question about Pakistan’s attitude vis-à-vis the militants, especially the Haqqani network, Admiral McRaven bluntly noted that he did not expect any change in Pakistan’s approach towards these proxies because it was “both a capacity issue for the Pakistanis and…a willingness issue”. More ominously, when asked by Senator Bob Graham: “Do we believe Mullah Omar is there with the knowledge of the ISI and the upper echelons of the army?” McRaven responded, “Sir, I believe the Pakistanis know he is in Pakistan.”

Where does this leave us, or more importantly, lead us? As much as Obama has a visceral dislike for war and, unlike George W Bush, is not trigger-happy, he has made up his mind that he will not be gun shy when it comes to enforcing the key elements of his plan to end the war in Afghanistan, which means tossing away the counterinsurgency (COIN) in Afghanistan, in favour of a counter-terrorism effort along the Durand Line. Buoyed by the results of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Obama will not reinvent the wheel and intends to apply the same model for both the Haqqani network and the ‘irreconcilable’ Afghan Taliban. The primary US focus will now be on the Pakistan-supported insurgents.

Continue reading Obama’s Af-Pak strategy: tossing away the COIN – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The success of the Sindh Caucus in US Congress

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia

…. I feel proud that the Sindhis have chosen non-violent and democratic methods to promote their rights instead of going on the path of armed struggle like our Baloch brothers and sisters. …

…. Congressman Brad Sherman organized the first ever congressional hearing on the enormous loss suffered by Sindhis in recent floods and wrote formal letters to US Aid officials and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He urged them to ensure that the US aid also reached the flood victims in Sindh. At the urging of a Sindhi-American supporter, he confronted the Pakistani Ambassador in USA about why so few native Sindhis were employed at the Pakistani Embassy in the USA. He publicly acknowledged that he never received a satisfactory answer to this question from Pakistani ambassador.

Less than two weeks ago, Congressman Dan Burton wrote to the President of Pakistan expressing concern about the enforced disappearances and other forms of unlawful detention focusing on the disappearance of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto. The letter says “… I and my congressional colleagues are hearing more and more stories, particular centering on alleged human rights violations against Baloch and Sindh ethnic peoples, including numerous women and children.” …..

ISI might have been involved in 26/11 strikes: Khan

NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s former foreign secretary Shaharyar Khan has acknowledged that ISI might have been involved in the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai — in the first-ever confession of its kind by a member of Pakistani establishment.

In an interview to an Indian TV channel on Saturday, Khan said that “low-level” ISI personnel may have been involved in the terrorist attack on Mumbai. Speaking against the backdrop of the disclosures made by David Coleman Headley about serving ISI officers — Major Iqbal and Major Sameer — Khan told the Indian channel, “I think there is no doubt that whosoever is this Major Iqbal is, was in touch with this man (David Headley),” he said. “I think I would certainly accept that,” he added.

Courtesy: TOI

via LUBP

U.S. Presses Pakistan to Go After Specific Militant Leaders

by NICK SCHIFRIN (@nickschifrin)

ISLAMABAD: The United States has drawn up a list of five militant Islamic leaders it expects Pakistan to provide intelligence about immediately and possibly target in joint operations, including Osama bin Laden deputy Ayman al Zawahiri and Taliban commander Mullah Omar, according to a U.S. official and a Pakistani official.

The list also includes Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, the most violent group in the Afghan Taliban and believed to be run out of the Pakistani tribal areas; Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior member of al Qaeda once dubbed “the next Osama bin Laden”; and Atiya Abdel Rahman, the Libyan operations chief of al Qaeda who had emerged as a key intermediary between bin Laden and al Qaeda’s affiliate networks across the world.

The list was discussed during three separate meetings between senior Pakistani and U.S. officials in the past two weeks, including today in Islamabad with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a U.S. official, a Pakistani government official and a Pakistani intelligence official.

The United States views the list as a test of whether Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorists who have long enjoyed safe havens within its borders. …

Read more : ABC News

via Wichaar

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

Serving Major among 4 Pak nationals behind 2008 Mumbai attacks: US chargesheet

by Wichaar Desk

NEW DELHI: A suspected serving Pakistani Major, believed to be working with the ISI, is among four nationals of that country charged by the US with being alleged conspirators behind the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes.

The accused identified as ‘Major Iqbal’, was named along with Sajid Mir, Mazhar Iqbal and Abu Qahafa in a second superseding indictment filed by the federal prosecutors before a court in Chicago on April 25 last. Besides, the indictment mentioned an unnamed individual as “Lashkar Member D.”

Indian investigators had named Major Iqbal along with another Pakistani Army officer Major Sameer Ali as the brain behind the Mumbai terror strikes and on the request of New Delhi, Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against them.

The dossier was handed over during the Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level talks on February 25, 2010 in New Delhi.

The role of ‘Major Iqbal’ emerged in the interrogation by the FBI of US terror suspect David Headley, arrested in Chicago in October, 2009 in connection with the Mumbai attack.

The four men identified were previously mentioned but not named in the indictments that charged Pakistani-American David Headley and Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana in connection with the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including six Americans.

An individual known as ‘Major Iqbal’ participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by LeT in Mumbai, federal prosecutors said.

According to the Indian dossier, Maj Iqbal was posted in Lahore from 2007 to 2008 and was handling Headley. He also handled all the surveillance videos sent by Headley.

The US federal prosecutor said that in July 2006, Major Iqbal provided to Headley approximately USD 25,000 to, among other purposes, establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and pay for living expenses while Headley carried out his assignments for Lashkar.

In September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008 and July 2008, Headley travelled to Mumbai for extended periods for the purpose of conducting surveillance of possible targets of attacks by LeT.

Prior to Headley’s departure for each of these trips, Mir and Major Iqbal along with others instructed Headley regarding locations where he was to conduct video surveillance in and around Mumbai, as well as other locations in India.

After each trip, Headley travelled to Pakistan, where he met Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal associated with Lashkar to report on the results of his surveillance, and provided them with photographs and videos from the surveillance, the US federal prosecutors said. …

Read more : Wichaar

Syria unrest: ‘Bloodiest day’ as troops fire on rallies

At least 72 protesters have been killed by security forces in Syria, rights groups say – the highest reported death toll in five weeks of unrest there.

Demonstrators were shot, witnesses say, as thousands rallied across the country, a day after a decades-long state of emergency was lifted.

Many deaths reportedly occurred in a village near Deraa in the south, and in a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

The US White House urged the government to stop attacking demonstrators.

Spokesman Jay Carney said it should “cease and desist in the use of violence against protesters” and follow through on promised reforms.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was “extremely concerned” by reports of deaths and casualties across Syria and urged restraint on the country’s authorities.

“Political reforms should be brought forward and implemented without delay,” he said. “The Emergency Law should be lifted in practice, not just in word.”

Live ammunition

Protesters – said to number tens of thousands – chanted for the overthrow of the regime, Reuters news agency reports.

Video images coming out of Syria show footage of many confrontations where live ammunition was used.

President Bashar al-Assad’s lifting of the emergency had been seen as a concession to the protesters.

In their first joint statement since the protests broke out, activists co-ordinating the mass demonstrations demanded the establishment of a democratic political system.

Political unrest in Syria developed after revolts elsewhere in the Arab world, which saw the downfall of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents and an ongoing civil war in Libya.

At least 260 people are said to have died since it began last month.

‘Rain of bullets’ …

Read more : BBC

They want to silence every voice coming from Sindh to Save Pakistan!?

SC takes notice of Sindh strike

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has taken a strict notice of the strike observed in Karachi and parts of Sindh on Friday.

The apex court has asked the provincial chief secretary and other officials of the provincial administration for reports of action taken against the instigators of the protest, source told Dawn on Saturday.

The Pakistan People’s Party had called for a day of protest in Sindh on Friday against the removal of National Accountability chairman Syed Deedar Hussain Shah on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Courtesy: DAWN

International Pressure on Qaddafi Intensifies

Qaddafi’s Army and Jets Strike at Rebels

By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

BENGHAZI, Libya — Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war.

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

But the ease with which at least one assault, on the western city of Zawiyah, was repelled by anti-government forces raised questions about the ability of the government to muster a serious challenge to the rebels’ growing power.

An international campaign to force Colonel Qaddafi from power gathered pace on Monday as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions. As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.” …

Read more : The New York Times

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

Immigration officer fired after putting wife on list of terrorists to stop her flying home

By Steve Doughty

An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.

He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is ‘not conducive to the public good’.

As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after travelling to the county to visit family.

The tampering went undetected until the immigration officer was selected for promotion and his wife name was found on the suspects’ list during a vetting inquiry.

The Home Office confirmed today that the officer has been sacked for gross misconduct.

The incident is likely to raise new questions over levels of efficiency in the UK Border Agency, the organisation formed nearly three years ago by then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to take over all immigration controls.

Read more: Mail Online

Baluchistan

 

Free Baluchistan

 

by Selig S. Harrison

As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the Obama administration ponders what the United States should do. But the bitter reality is that the United States is already doing too much in Pakistan. It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry.

Evidence is everywhere of what the Economist calls “a rising tide of anti-American passion.” The leading spokesman of traditional Muslim theology, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), opposes the “war on terror” because “it is an American war” and blames a U.S. plot for the recent assassination of the moderate Punjab governor, Salman Taseer.

The endless procession of U.S. leaders paying goodwill visits to Islamabad, most recently Vice President Joe Biden, evokes sneers and ridicule in the Urdu-language press, accompanied by cartoons showing Pakistanis scratching fleas crawling over their bodies. The late special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, liked free-swinging encounters with Pakistani journalists that left a trail of bitterness expressed in the Urdu media, but this did not deter Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from return visits. …

Read more : National Interest

Stop Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Balochistan

To: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter

Started by: crisis balochistan

crisisbalochistan.com in cooperation with Baloch human rights groups, International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons and Baloch Human Rights Council

Photo: Qambar Chakar Baloch, extrajudically killed January 5, 2011

TO: US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others*

WE THE UNDERSIGNED wish to bring to the attention of the World Community the continuing plight of Baloch Citizens living within Pakistan. …

To sign the petition, click here

Cash from Haj pilgrims used to finance 26/11: WikiLeaks

Indo-Asian News Service – London: Militants often use the annual Haj pilgrimage for laundering money and cash from pilgrims was used to finance the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, a confidential US embassy cable published by whistle-blower websitse WikiLeaks says. A Sky News report cites the New York Times as detailing a long list of possible methods terrorists might have been using to fund their activities. One memo claims militants often used the annual Haj pilgrimage for laundering money and cash from pilgrims was used to finance the Mumbai bombings.

Other documents have claimed the US believes donors from Saudi Arabia are “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”. A memo sent by the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in December 2009 referred to the kingdom as a “cash machine” for Al Qaeda.

Other countries in the region have also come under fire.

In the leaked cables, the United Arab Emirates is described as having a “strategic gap” that terrorists could exploit, Qatar is seen as “the worst in the region” on counter-terrorism and Kuwait is labelled “a key transit point”.

Some confidential cables listed a few infrastructure facilites in the world as “critical” for US security, if attacked by terrorists.

The document details hundreds of pipelines, cables and industrial sites around the world that America deems crucial to securing its interests. Loss of those locations could “critically impact” US security. …

Read more : hindustantimes

London Review of Books – Can you give my son a job?

– Slavoj Žižek

The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor ….
Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 denouncing Stalin’s crimes was a political act from which, as his biographer William Taubman put it, ‘the Soviet regime never fully recovered, and neither did he.’ Although it was plainly opportunistic, there was just as plainly more to it than that, a kind of reckless excess that cannot be accounted for in terms of political strategy. The speech so undermined the dogma of infallible leadership that the entire nomenklatura sank into temporary paralysis. A dozen or so delegates collapsed during the speech, and had to be carried out and given medical help; one of them, Boleslaw Bierut, the hardline general secretary of the Polish Communist Party, died of a heart attack. The model Stalinist writer Alexander Fadeyev actually shot himself a few days later. The point is not that they were ‘honest Communists’: most of them were brutal manipulators without any illusions about the Soviet regime. What broke down was their ‘objective’ illusion, the figure of the ‘big Other’ as a background against which they could exert their ruthlessness and drive for power. They had displaced their belief onto this Other, which, as it were, believed on their behalf. Now their proxy had disintegrated. ….
Read more : London Review of Books