By Talat Masood
The military operation in North Waziristan has clearly met with some notable success. Apparently, more than 80 per cent of the area has been cleared and the TTP has become factionalised and is under considerable pressure. Last week, there was also the good news that the security forces killed a top al Qaeda commander, Saudi-born Adnan el Shukrijumah, in an encounter in South Waziristan. Undoubtedly, a lot of credit for turning the tide against the militants at the operational level goes to General Raheel Sharif and to our valiant soldiers who continue to sacrifice their lives to defend and maintain the integrity of the state. But this is only the clearing and to some extent the holding phase of the operation. The major work of rebuilding the devastated areas and rehabilitating the IDPs still remains.
The larger security threat facing Pakistan, however, is multi-dimensional and complex. In contrast, the interest, comprehension and response of our national leaders are intangible. We have four categories of militants — globally oriented, Afghanistan specific, India and Kashmir directed and domestically oriented. These groups work independently but also form alliances to boost their overall capability. In addition, there is an ongoing insurgency in Balochistan. We also cannot be oblivious to the potential emergence of the Islamic State (IS). There are unconfirmed reports that more than 15,000-20,000 volunteers from Pakistan are fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some of these may return and pose a threat, especially in less-governed parts of the country. Karachi remains a perpetual battleground for militant groups of the main political parties and the country frequently suffers at the hands of sectarian militias. This problem is allowed to fester and left to the provincial governments to deal with in a half-hearted manner. On the external front, volatility on the Line of Control and the working boundary has acquired a new life of its own. What I have described is well known, but lost in the din of everyday life and as we are distracted by ego battles of our leaders, we fail to grasp the grave implications of this overarching threat landscape. Our leaders have shielded themselves by living in houses that are fortresses and travel in vehicles with contingents of bodyguards to keep them protected. The most disturbing aspect is that the responsibility of dealing with all these threats has been left to the army. State institutions like the committee on national security and Nacta lie dormant although in a democratic country, security matters are major responsibilities of the civilian government. No wonder Narendra Modi’s government takes the convenient cover that there is hardly any point in talking to the Pakistani civilian government when the military (or the militants) seem to control policy. The Indian point of view is reinforced when Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million dollar bounty on his head, brazenly takes out a procession of jihadi elements on the streets of Lahore and makes scathing remarks against India and the US. The government, by giving him a free rein, undermines its case on Kashmir and weakens the political and moral basis of its stand.
On the one hand, the army chief has categorically stated that there are no good or bad militants and the army is operating against all of them without any discrimination. And then the world is presented with this spectacle.
This clearly indicates that we do not treat the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or its other face, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), in the same category. It seems that it is used to pressure India to show flexibility on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Pakistan has been repeatedly accused of playing a double game and is pursuing a different policy in handling the Kashmiri jihadis and those of the TTP and its affiliates.
Such demonstrations reinforce this impression. Even if Pakistan were to ignore the negative aspects of the international fall-out, it has to seriously consider whether it would be possible to fight radicalism and extremism if it tolerates militant outfits that are spewing hatred and promoting violence as the primary tool of the freedom struggle in J&K. As it is, the spread and influence of militant organisations in southern Punjab is growing rapidly. Many of these groups have global and regional jihadist aspirations. Support for the JuD in Pakistan can even be found among some educated youth and professionals, which could be ominous. The world has changed after the 9/11 and Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the tectonic shifts in the global security structure. The JuD and other Kashmir-oriented outfits should now focus primarily on the political and humanitarian aspects of the freedom struggle. Major terrorist attacks occurred in four places in J&K on the same day when the JuD was taking out processions in Lahore. For India, it becomes easy to put all the blame on Pakistan and then justify the reticence in engaging in inter-state dialogue.
The PML-N had used its rapport with militant groups in Punjab to broaden its electoral support with obvious long-term deleterious affects. Moreover, our claim that the military is dealing with all militant organisations alike needs to be qualified. It would amount to far less change in policy and would be no different from that pursued for several decades when it comes to India.
It seems that we are unwilling or unaware that the world has changed and is not prepared to tolerate any militant groups irrespective of how just their cause may be. Pakistani elements promoting jihad are out of sync with the rest of the world.
The Indian establishment is myopic and too short-sighted, and fails to see the serious discontent in occupied Kashmir that has to be addressed politically and not through brute force. Of course, a negotiated political settlement with India on J&K will greatly reduce the incentive and support for the militant organisations. But that is unlikely to happen in the near future. The jihadists in Pakistan and the Indian hardliners are pulling the two countries further apart and holding the region hostage.
The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/804309/pakistans-overarching-threat-landscape/
Pakistan’s Federal minister for Planning & Development, Ahsan Iqbal’s son Ahmed Iqbal’s remarks against Pak Army
“The responsibility of all terrorist attacks falls squarely on the armed forces & intelligence agencies. People of Pakistan have made enough sacrifices. It is time that that these institutions start doing their job of protecting Pakistan & not themselves. There would no war, no Taliban, no external threat if they would have done their job. It is high time to not only hit back at terrorists but to secure Pakistan’s future by dealing with this menace. Spend on education, health, development, people & …. the army!” “Warna, yeh Taliban Ko Paalnay Waali, India Ko Ukssanay waali, Jamhoriat Ko Lapaytnay waali Fauj apnay bojh talay Is Mulk Ko Kuchal day gi.” ~ Ahmed Iqbal Chaudhary
Read more » http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=244363
More details »» Roznama Dunya
Our great leader has taken the pulse of Twitter and Facebook (or heard good news from on high) and has decided to throw caution to the wind and board the anti-GEO bandwagon.
Sadly, once more, he may be boarding the wrong train. The army’s ability to swing itself into the harness and give orders has been slowly but steadily weakening for years. Zardari’s successful tenure (successful in not falling to a coup) and the peaceful transfer of power to MNS were baby steps. A major Paknationalist media empire deciding its time to openly challenge the ISI after its reporter is shot (by the ISI or by someone else) is a bigger step (because it means serious sections of the ruling elite feel it is time they can do this). This is not to condone GEO’s method of making the accusation, or their odious past record of labeling others as thieves, traitors, etc. That is all condemn-able and has been condemned in the past and should be condemned now. But their willingness to do so still indicates that they perceived a power shift.
The deep state (and its useful-idiot supporters in the PTI fan-base) have since mobilized to teach GEO a lesson and to show them who is still boss…but it is not exactly going as planned. It took a few days, but liberal fascists (a term GEO and Hamid Mir freely popularized when they and the establishment were on the same page) continue to pop up to question the army’s right to label GEO (or anyone else) as traitors. More significantly, MNS does not seem to be cooperating. Astute politicians like Zardari will soon get the hint (if they have not already got it) that there is not going to be a coup and its time to stand aside and let the ISI expose itself and its remaining supporters for what they are: people out of step with Pakistani political reality. (Look at the dozens or at most hundreds of people showing up to wave pro-ISI posters at rallies).
That leaves Imran Khan.
As expected, he has miscalculated. Thinking this whole sorry scheme of things entire may be wound up soon, he has boldly stepped forward (after waffling for a few days) and has now discovered that GEO is the enemy and he is ready to boycott them.
By doing so he stands ready to lose either way:
1. He is wrong and MNS and GEO both survive this episode, leaving him with abundant egg on his face after yet another failed “mobilization/revolution”.
2. He has picked the “winning side” and the deep state will kill GEO and MNS (killing one without the other is not likely to be much help) on May 11th (the day Khan sahib and Canadian-gun-for-hire Tahir Ul Qadri are supposed to launch their campaign against this “corrupt system”). What then? He will find himself marked as a supporter of what will surely be Pakistan’s last and least successful coup. The inevitable disasters that follow will end his political career (and possibly more than that).
CPJ condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV
New York, April 22, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned by actions brought by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) against Geo Television today. In its complaint to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the ISI accused Geo’s parent company, the Independent Media Corporation, of conducting a “false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution (ISI) and its officers.”
The media regulator has the authority to shut down broadcasters based on such complaints, and has done so under previous administrations of Pakistan.
“We call on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority not to act on this spurious complaint, and we call on Pakistan’s security services to recognize the critical role of the media and exercise tolerance and maturity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage.”
Tension between Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities and much of the media swiftly escalated following an assassination attempt on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir on April 19. Mir was hit with six rounds from assailants on motorcycles as his car was traveling between Karachi’s airport and the center of the city. Mir is severely wounded and recovering in the hospital. Geo TV has broadcast accusations that the ISI was involved in the murder attempt.
Military Lashes Out Against Geo News After TV Channel Airs Accusations Against Spy Agency
By Saeed Shah
ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s military demanded that the government close down the country’s top-rated TV channel after it aired accusations that the spy agency was behind the shooting of its leading talk-show host.
The demand stems from remarks made by relatives of journalist Hamid Mir that were broadcast by Geo News on Saturday after he was shot six times in the southern city of Karachi.
They blamed the attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, or ISI, and its chief, Lt. Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam, who they say singled out Mr. Mir for his reports of the spy agency’s role in the country’s politics.
By: via Facebook Comments about Hamid Mir
Strongly condemn the attack on anchor, columnist & journalist, Hamid Mir in Karachi today. That tells you how some elements in the military & civil establishment & their collaborators ‘deal’ with the voices of dissent. His views on govt talks with Taliban, Musharraf trial, Balochistan army operation & on some other issues have been at variance with some powerful lobbies. And this is how they silence the voices of dissent. This may be an act by the mother of all terrorist outfits in Pakistan. The country is certainly becoming more & more dangerous for its citizens, especially the ones that don’t agree with the establishment.
Today it is about the attack on Hamid Mir. Yesterday it were Umar Cheema & Saleem Shahzad. (Even the killings of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Akbar Bugti, Noroze Baloch, Nazeer Shaheed, Hasan Nasir, Bashir Qureshi, Muzaffar Bhutto, Sarai Qurban Khuhawar, Maqsood Qureshi, Samiullah Kalhoro & numerous others).
The supporters of the security establishment will not speak against the assailants & condemn them. They will even blame the victims. If you are in Pakistan, you can listen to some TV channels & commentators & read some columnists & see how they are blaming GEO news & Hamid Mir instead of condemning the attackers. Similarly, they will find ways even to defend the actions of military dictator Pervez Musharraf & try to undermine the Treason case against him.
They will label the critics of the security establishment as Indian agents. It is worst kind of fascism & it is dangerous. People must stand up against fascism.
According to his brother Aamir Mir; Hamid Mir had recently told family and colleagues that he had received threats from the IsI because of his political views and his stand supporting the Balochistan movement. He is the second prominent TV anchor to be targeted. Earlier this month, Raza Rumi was attacked, forcing the man to abandon his journalism career and leave the country.
We are not his followers and keep our right to oppose his point of view but killing some one on his right to say is inhuman.
State within State is not acceptable…nobody…no institution or its head is above the law… those responsible… direct or indirectly must brought to justice….
Please note: Above comments are taken from social media (Facebook)
Courtesy: Via Facebook
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Security networks’ distrust of increased business dealings is counter-productive, warns Pakistani PM’s brother
The powerful brother of Pakistan‘s prime minister has warned the military establishments of both India and Pakistan not to block efforts to sweep aside trade barriers between the two distrustful neighbours.
On Indian affairs Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, is widely seen as the de facto Pakistani foreign minister, conducting diplomatic missions to Delhi on behalf of his brother Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister.
But speaking to the Guardian he warned that distrustful “security agencies” in both Pakistan and India were one of the two main “blockages” holding back plans to liberalise trade, which the Sharifs believe will provide a desperately needed boost to Pakistan’s moribund economy.
“Security agencies on both sides need to really understand that in today’s world, a security-led vision is obviously driven by economic security,” he said. “Unless you have economic security then you can’t have general security.”
While the Sharif brothers, in common with most mainstream politicians in Pakistan, are impatient for a rapprochement with India, the military is far more wary.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.
In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”
Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.
The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.
At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.
History does NOT repeat itself. If ever it looks like it’s stuck in a rut and moving in circles, do take a closer look. Each circle may be wider than the previous one or it might have tilted along a different axis. The trajectory of events in Afghanistan cannot defy this basic rule of history.
The Taliban rose to power in mid-1990s and were ousted when the US and its allies launched military operations in Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, starting what is termed as ‘War on Terror’. The Taliban, however, have managed to loom large as a specter for the past 12 years and now threaten to make a comeback or so some want us to believe. Will they be able to do that? I think not. Here are my five reasons why:
1: There is no anarchy in Afghanistan now
When the Taliban rose to power in the mid-1990s, Afghanistan was in utter chaos. The decade-long crippling war was succeeded by internecine fights among the greedy, ruthless and brutal mujahedeen warlords – it seemed endless. The country had lost even a semblance of a state, rule of law had completely departed and social order rested on simple tribal ‘principles’ like might is right. The weakest and the poorest suffered the most.
By David Rohde
REUTERS – In a nation more associated with calamity than consensus, the initial results of Saturday’s Afghan presidential election are startling.
Despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations nationwide, the same percentage of Afghans turned out to vote – roughly 58 percent – as did Americans in the 2012 U.S. presidential race. Instead of collapsing, Afghan security forces effectively secured the vote.
And a leading candidate to replace Hamid Karzai is Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank technocrat who has a PhD in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, a Lebanese Christian wife, and an acclaimed book and TED talk entitled “Fixing Failed States.”
“Relative to what we were expecting, it’s very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban,” Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview from Kabul on Monday “And a very good day for the Afghan people.”
Two forces that have long destabilized the country – its political elite and its neighbors – could easily squander the initial success. Evidence of large-scale fraud could could undermine the legitimacy of the election and exacerbate long-running ethnic divides. And outside powers could continue to fund and arm the Taliban and disgruntled Afghan warlords, as they have for decades.
Millions of Afghans braved Taliban threats Saturday to vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai in a landmark election held as US-led forces wind down their long intervention in the country.
Polling stations officially closed at 5:00 pm (1230 GMT), officials said, after a day without major security incidents. But voting was set to continue for some time as voters in line at polling stations would be allowed to cast their ballot, a senior official with the Independent Election Commission said.
Canada also demanded that Pakistan address mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.
By Tahir Gora
The Pakistani Consul-General in Toronto, Muhammad Nafees Zakaria, was not happy when he had to listen to Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. The Minister’s message was clear: Pakistan must address its human rights violations and mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.
Alexander was speaking to the International Christian Voice’s event in memory of Pakistani parliamentarian Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated by the Taliban three years ago for demanding an end to the country’s blasphemy law. The blasphemy law is like a black sword hanging over the heads of Pakistan’s minorities. There is even a shameful declaration form for Ahmadi Muslims that declares them to be non-Muslims at the Consul-General’s Toronto office.
Alexander mentioned the Pakistani state authorities’ bleak record on free press. He talked about a journalist, Saleem Shahzad, who was allegedly killed by the notorious intelligence agencies.
Pakistani Consul-General Zakaria did not say a single word about repealing the blasphemy law. He didn’t even say he’d deliver the message to the Pakistani government. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell Canadian parliamentarians that he’d pass on their concerns to Islamabad, even if he doesn’t agree with Alexander.
Instead, Zakaria blamed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for the problem of the Taliban in Pakistan. He framed the Taliban as a product of the covert U.S. effort against the Soviets, leaving Pakistan innocent and noble. This is a common excuse used by the Pakistani establishment that doesn’t want to take responsibility for their involvement in creating the problem of the Taliban and other extremists.
Pakistan’s establishment still considers those Islamic terrorists and their sharia-bound ideology as an asset for them strategically, even as the growing anarchy in the region and the actions of different Taliban groups force the Pakistani government to take a stronger stance.
Comment by Shahab Usto
In Karachi–Jinnah’s Mausoleum has been shut for security reasons. Among a host of no-go areas, this new addition is the most tragic and shameful of all.
In Lahore–A poor christian has been sentenced to death on a cooked-up blasphemy charge. If the judiciary itself plays to the gallery, instead of following law and constitution, then from where would the ‘minority’ citizens seek justice and protection.
In Hyderabad–A Kali Mata temple has been set ablaze by the ‘soldiers of Islam‘. And then we expect the world to condemn Chief Minister Narendra Modi for enacting a pogrom against the Muslims in Indian Gujarat?
In Thar–for all the tall claims, the children continue to die of dearth and disease. Yet our ‘august’ rulers continue to harp on claiming that they are not dying of famine but malnourishment, and hence they are absolved of all their duties to protect the citizens!
In Waziristan–Our official interlocutors are grovelling before a bunch of terrorists and mass killers to extend the ‘cease-fire’ with the nuclear-armed state, possessing the sixth largest armed forces in the world and a land of 200 million people!
With the prevalence of such levels of apathy, injustice, absurdity and incorrigibility, is there any doubt that we as a state and society have completely turned into a hopeless basket case??
Courtesy: » via Facebook
By Najam Sethi
The Saudi Kingdom has granted $1.5b to the Nawaz Sharif government. Another such donation will accrue in due course. A quick fix of $3b is a lot of free money for Pakistan’s forex-strapped economy that is struggling to cope with significant international debt payments and a rising trade gap that is putting pressure on the rupee and fuelling inflation. Indeed, the Saudi injection has reversed the rapid fall of the rupee, proving that the finance minister, Ishaq Dar, was not bluffing when he warned exporters six weeks ago not to hoard their dollars. Why then all the hush-hush about the Good Samaritan who has eventually bailed him out?
Significantly, the PMLN government has been at pains to hide the Saudi largesse. But after we discovered that the cause of the sudden reversal in the fortunes of the rupee was due to an uplifting shot in the arm of the State Bank, we were told not to ask about the “friendly” source and amount of funds. Then, after we found out about the donor, we were told that the Saudi “donation” was a measure of the personal relationship between our prime minister and the Saudi monarch. That is when our happy surprise turned to suspicious incredulity and the game became crystal clear.
A clutch of high-powered Saudis, including the Crown Prince, has descended upon Islamabad in recent weeks. The prime minister and the Pakistan army chief have made unexplained flying visits to the Kingdom. In due course a joint statement or communiqué was issued from Islamabad stressing the demand for a “transitional” government in Syria while emphasizing that there was no change in Pakistan’s position on the issue. Indeed, the foreign office spokesperson, an apparently haughty lady, was quite aggressive in ticking off inquiring hacks who argued that the demand for a transitional government amounted to a veritable “regime change” in Syria and smacked of a definite policy about-turn. Mr Sartaj Aziz, the de facto foreign minister, has also executed some verbal gymnastics to try and obscure the truth. But we, the public, are not stupid or ill-informed. We are not ready to buy this story hook, line and sinker. We know there are no free lunches, let alone free feasts, in relations amongst nations. So what’s the $3b quid pro quo?
The truth is that Pakistan has agreed to supply, among other weapons, anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets to the Saudis. Mr Aziz says the End-User Certificate conditions will guarantee that these are not used outside Saudi Arabia. This is a load of nonsense. Why the Saudis should suddenly turn to Pakistan for these weapons when traditionally they have tapped the US and Europe has, however, given the game away. These potential game-changing weapons are clearly meant for use by Saudi-backed Wahhabi-Salafist rebels in Syria who are fighting to overthrow the Baathist secular Asad regime. The Americans haven’t supplied the Saudis because they don’t want such radical Islamist forces any more than Al-Qaeda to succeed in Syria and are therefore having serious second thoughts about regime change in Syria. Indeed, the Saudis’ sudden embrace of Pakistan portends shifting sands in the Middle-East.
The Saudis and the Emirates-Gulfdoms are feeling insecure because of the Shia revival in their heartlands. This is because the restless Shias are sitting on their oil reserves. Iran, too, is unremitting in opposing Saudi influence. Iraq and Qatar, two competitive energy suppliers, are not playing ball either. Egypt and Libya haven’t bought into the Saudi Islamist line. Worse, the Americans are seeking negotiated nuclear solutions in Iran instead of succumbing to Saudi pressure for military action. And American self-reliance on shale gas is the first definite step against continued dependence on Saudi oil.
On the heels of the Saudi VVIPs now comes the King of Bahrain to Islamabad. The PMLN government claims that foreign investment deals are in the offing. But the small print betrays the real motive behind “renewed manpower exports”. The Bahraini Emir wants well-trained and equipped Pakistani military mercenaries to beef up his police and security forces to repress the rising democratic impulses of the majority Shia populations. It is as simple as that.
It is the same old treacherous story. Since independence in 1947, the Pakistani ruling classes and military establishment have lived off rents from leasing out their “services” to the highest foreign bidder instead of standing on their own feet and not meddling in other peoples business. In the 1950s, 60s and 80s, they sold their services to the Americans, first against the USSR and then against the Taliban; now, in the 2010s, they are rolling up their sleeves to stir the Middle-East cauldron at the behest of a rich “friend”. The extremist Sunni blow back from the first lease to the US in the shape of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is now primed for escalation and blow back during the proposed second lease to the Saudi-Emirates network. We are making another irrevocable blunder, so help us Allah.
Courtesy: Friday Times
DR Hameed Soomro writes: a tragedy took place near Naushahro Feroze claiming the lives of Maqsood Qureshi, brother of late nationalist leader Bashir Qureshi and Salman Wadho. … After [being] shot the bodies were dumped in their car and set on fire. … Earlier Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz chief Bashir Qureshi also died in mysterious circumstances. …Maqsood belonged to a nationalist group which … [does not] … pose a threat to the state. … The group did not announce any armed struggle. Still Maqsood was killed. There are speculations that … this might be a message to the group to remain within its limits. … This incident [sends] the message that Balochistan-like conditions are being created in Sindh. … It is the responsibility of the government … to solve this mystery. … — (March 23) ~ Selected and translated by Sohail Sangi.
By Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom
Today, “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom for Sindh” is the only Echo thundering in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh, and valleys, hills, plains and the corridors of Sindh!
Everyday, simple, innocent, and peace-loving sons of Sindh are abducted by the savages and scavengers of the deep security state – mercilessly and brutally tortured, massacred and then their mutilated and mangled dead bodies burnt beyond recognition! Such is the brutality, inhumanity, wickedness and barbarism happens in this ill-gotten, ill-conceived, corrupt, rogue, and dark deep state every day.
Yesterday, they burnt, disfigured, lacerated and crushed bodies of two of Sindh’s worthy and filial sons – Martyr Maqsood Quraishi (younger brother of Martyr Bashir Quraishi, who was Martyred not very long time ago) and a young Martyr Salman Wadho’s bullet riddled charred bodies – were found in a burnt car, in which they were travelling!
Why? What was their fault? Their ONLY ‘crime’ was that they loved their Motherland, and sang songs in praise of the brightness, beauty and brilliance of their gregarious Land! They demanded justice for the people of Sindh – which is a right of every citizen to do so!
Condemnations for such barbarism and savagery and appeals for justice for the people of Sindh to the ‘civilised’ world has proven futile, useless and in vain! World had presented a “Deaf Ear” to the screams of “Help” from the tortured, tormented and terrorised citizens of Sindh and Balochistan!
People of Sindh are being suffocated! But sadly, tragically and unfortunately – NO ONE CARES A DAMN!
Today, on 23rd of March, through the freedom march people of Sindh have denounced the Lahore resolution of 1940 and have demanded sovereignty and Freedom for their Ancient and historical Land, Sindh – a 7,000 to 10, 000 years old Indus Civilisation! Millions of people of Sindh have marched towards the Capital City of Sindh, Karachi where they have formally declared Freedom from the slavery and servitude of this miserable, devilish dark deep security state!
Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom
23rd March, 2014
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups + social media
Pakistan erased an entire International New York Times cover story
By Chris Welch
Today’s edition of The International New York Times was stripped of its cover story in Pakistan. Instead of seeing a lengthy report on “What Pakistan knew about bin Laden,” readers were greeted with an enormous section of white space that dominates the paper’s front page.
Elsewhere in the world, the International New York Times published a story by Carlotta Gall that closely examines links between Pakistan and Osama bin Laden. Gall’s report traces the common accusation that the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence unit, may have knowingly provided shelter for the al Qaeda leader before he was killed during a United States raid in 2011. Apparently Pakistan’s government doesn’t want its citizens reading that content, and instead we’re left with one of the most visually arresting examples of censorship in years.
Excerpt; America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001.
In January 2013, I visited the Haqqania madrasa to speak with senior clerics about the graduates they were dispatching to Afghanistan. They agreed to let me interview them and gave the usual patter about it being each person’s individual choice to wage jihad. But there was also continuing fanatical support for the Taliban. “Those who are against the Taliban, they are the liberals, and they only represent 5 percent of Afghans,” the spokesman for the madrasa told me. He and his fellow clerics were set on a military victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, he said, “it is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power. The white flag of the Taliban will fly again over Kabul, inshallah.”
Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out.
Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.”
The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the U.S. and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.”
When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.
Meanwhile, the real enemy remains at large.
This article is adapted from “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014,” to be published next month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Carlotta Gall is the North Africa correspondent for The New York Times. She covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for the paper from 2001 to 2013.
Editor: Joel Lovell
PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) holds the centre stage, changing directions of the game every now and then. In short, it is TTP’s sweet will that is holding the sway.
When it decides to hit and kill us, we bow our heads and get killed. When it decides to talk and kill us as well, we oblige: we fly our helicopter to North Waziristan to facilitate its emissaries to meet their bosses and at the same time we keep collecting corpses from Peshawar to Karachi.
And now when the state’s fighter jets and helicopters have conducted surgical air strikes targeting TTP’s sanctuaries, the terrorists announced ceasefire and we feel happy to oblige and live peacefully with them for the next one month.
Think the one month period in terms of the possibility: no bomb blasts and IED attacks. This has not happened for the past so many years. So we should be happy!
What is more interesting is the fact that the day TTP was about to make the ceasefire public in the evening, its operatives attacked polio vaccinators in Khyber Agency in the morning.
If the TTP bosses were giving serious thoughts to the idea of giving peace a chance, they should have postponed the Saturday morning attack in Khyber Agency.
But who cares? Ceasefire is the buzzword. The other catchphrase these days is ‘on the same page’.
Earlier, doubts were being spewed whether the civil administration and the military leaders were on the same page or not. Now, at least, the TTP bosses are on the same page with the government.
By Saud Mehsud
Feb 22 (Reuters) – T he Pakistani Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.
Minister questions Taliban’s Sharia
ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at Pakistani Taliban for slaughtering 23 paramilitary personnel, Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Wednesday questioned whether the militants’ action was in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.
Speaking to media representatives, he criticized the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership for the inhuman killing of the captive Frontier Cops (FC) soldiers.
“People favouring enforcement of Sharia should tell what treatment captives deserve according to the Sharia …… and the treatment those (FC men) received was in accordance with the Islamic laws or not,” he questioned.
The minister said that TTP’s central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid should have conveyed their reservations to the negotiating team they formed. “But, they didn’t do it and firstly attacked policemen in Karachi and then killed FC personnel,” he added.
Taking a strong stand against the home grown militants, he said the government also has reservations which the Taliban must address first.
Referring to the 1971’s war against India, Rashid said, “Even our rival country treated our 90,000 war captives in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” “Did they (Indians) behead even a single Pakistani soldier,” he questioned.
By Ayaz Amir
Not Islam – this fiction was exploded in 1971, and continues to be exposed today in Balochistan. Far from being a uniting factor religion, and the uses to which it is being put, is proving to be the biggest divisive factor of all, Pakistanis killing each other in the name of sect and faith – a country created on the basis of religion floundering at the altar of religion, earnest Pakistanis forever engaged in the quest to discover what Allah’s commandments mean and what they do not.
Not democracy – which is proving to be a sham democracy, unable to sow the seeds of peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or lessen the anger of the aggrieved Baloch, or prove a boon to Karachi, or have any kind of relevance for the down and out, the economically disadvantaged, who constitute the vast majority of the Pakistani population.
Not a common sense of nationhood – because that is something we have not managed to create, indeed the concept of nationhood never more fractured than it is today, partly because the institutions of statehood have become so dysfunctional, partly because of the march of primitive Islam, as exemplified by the Taliban, which is testing the capacities of the Pakistani state, and leading thoughtful Pakistanis to brood about the country’s future.
Holding Pakistan together, and this is a sad admission, is what pseudo-leftists like myself had trained ourselves to demonise, and with good reason because of its long list of follies: the Pakistan Army. The army we blamed, and rightly so, for many of Pakistan’s problems – East Pakistan, the cult of militarisation, the overweening power of the ISI, the unholy intervention in Afghanistan, ‘jihad’ in Kashmir, creating the god of national security and placing it at the top of the Pakistani pantheon.
But the wheel has come full circle. New realities have emerged, new dangers have arisen. The luxury of adventurism as in Afghanistan or Kashmir has gone. Pakistan is under threat and its survival is at stake and holding the gates is just one force: not Pakistani patriotism, not Pakistani nationalism – weak concepts yet to be given the shape of stone or iron – but the army.
By Marvi Sirmed
Since almost a decade we have been hearing from assorted quarters in religious and political circles that Taliban have been doing what they have been doing because ‘America attacked Afghanistan”. Politicians as tall as Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and various others, have been feeding the nation with this narrative for many years now. It is however, a minor detail that Mr. Khan was hand-in-glove with then dictator General Musharraf in 2001-2002, when he backed ‘America’s attack on Afghanistan’. It is also a minor detail that the ‘attack’ was sanctioned by United Nations to a multinational alliance we know as NATO. Never mind.
But just when I’m writing these lines, I hear that the terrorists and killers (who were recognized as ‘stakeholders’ by the current government supported by ‘all parties’ including Pakistan Army are part of this so-called All Parties Conference) have issued their 15-points Charter of Demands (CoD). The Charter does not even refer to the ‘attack on Afghanistan’. Surprise!
Going by the reports in media, the demands include: 1) Stop drone attacks; 2) Introduce Sharia law in courts; 3) Introduce Islamic system of education in public and private schools; 4) Free Pakistani and foreign Taliban captured in jails; 5) Restoration and remuneration for damage to property during drone attacks; 6) Handover control to local forces; 7) Withdrawal of army from tribal areas, shut down check posts; 8) All criminal allegations held against the Taliban be dropped; 9) Prisoners from both sides be released; 10) Equal rights for poor and rich; 11) Families of drone attack victims be offered jobs; 12) Amnesty for all Taliban commanders wanted by the government; 13) Stop supporting the US on the war on terror, end relations with the US; 14) Replace the democratic system with the Islamic system; 15) End interest based system of banking.
They start with demand to end drone attacks. Why? They certainly have no particular respect for human life considering their glorious track record of playing with the blood of thousands of innocent humans in the name of Sharia. Drones must be proving fatal to their existence. Similar pain for their comrades could be seen in Points 5 and 11 of their Charter whereby they demand restoration & damages for the properties of and jobs for the families of drone victims. Please note the absence of such sensitivity towards the victims of their bombs rocking the cities of Pakistan since last almost a decade. Wouldn’t it sound fair if the government of Pakistan demands damages and blood money for 50,000 Pakistanis killed by these so-called ‘stakeholders’?
The next two demands ask for Islamic system in courts and schools. Although nothing un-Islamic can ever get to both these institutions under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (emphasis added).What then, they mean by this? For a clue, let’s go back to the Taliban years in neighboring Afghanistan. Girls were barred from going to schools permanently. A year ago I met one of their apologists, then serving in ISI, who enlightened me about this order of Taliban regime by justifying it on the pretext that no resources were available for girls’ separate schools, hence the measure by Taliban.
If people didn’t want their daughters to be in co-education schools, why did they put them in these schools in first place? If their daughters’ education was more important for them than lack of separate girls’ schools before Taliban came, why did Taliban mess with their personal priorities? Although there are no co-ed schools running in FATA, their Pakistani comrades have been regularly bombing girls’ schools. Seems their Sharia prohibits girls’ education in stark contradiction with Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings.
About Sharia in courts, the lesser said the better. The kind of justice seen under Taliban regime in Afghanistan would put Huns, Tartars and Mongols to shame. Personal choices of women, like work and dress of women and of men, like how much and where to shave unwanted hair from, were most pressing issues for the regime. Barbarism was synonym to justice in those days. Many apologists of those days keep regurgitating the praises for the ‘exemplary peace and rule of law’ under Taliban. Just that most of civilized people won’t agree with their definition of peace and rule of law. Just like absence of guns is not peace, absence of citizens’ rights is not rule of law. Justice was rushed and crushed in the name of ‘speedy trials’ by Fazlullah’s in his previous job at Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi in Swat. He is now CEO of another terror corporate, TTP that regularly engages itself in arson and kidnap to generate funds. High profile kidnappings of the sons of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer, Yousuf Raza Gillani alongside various others are cases in point.
Distinguished anchor of Rawal TV, Tahir Aslam Gora, discusses the current negotiations of Government of Pakistan & Taliban, with Arshad Mahmood an astute political commentator in Bilatakalluf (Straight Talk). The language of the talk show is Hindi (urdu).
During the last 66 years, Bengalis, Sindhis, Pakhtuns and Baloch have been declared traitors turn by turn but Punjabis — never
Bitter truth about the composition and character of the Pakistani state where Punjab is dominant and others are dominated.
Since more than a decade, Pakistan has been in the grip of religious extremism, which has now assumed the proportions of more than just a crisis. Pakistani society as a whole is occupied by chaotic conditions while the Pakistani state is facing the severest challenge to its authority, so much so that for the first time in 66 years, the guardians of Pakistan (read the military) have changed their security doctrine, replacing the external threat with an internal one as the number one challenge.
This scourge of religious extremism, threatening both the state and society, is nowadays the most dominant issue in the Pakistani media, discussed and explored from different angles and aspects. One such aspect, which is increasingly acquiring more importance and space, is the position in/of different provinces regarding religious extremism and terrorism.
By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may strain his relations with the new army chief if he continues to expand his policy-making powers, warns a US intelligence report.
The report, presented before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday, notes that Mr Sharif is seeking to “acquire a more central policy-making role” for civilians in areas that the Army has traditionally dominated.
“His push for an increased role in foreign policy and national security will probably test his relationship with the new Chief of Army Staff, particularly if the Army believes that the civilian government’s position impinges on Army interests” the report warns.
There are growing concerns that the country was fast moving toward a theocratic order.
It was a quick call from my editor’s office in Karachi informing me not to bother writing anymore about the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other militant outfit, religious party or even the cricketer-turned-politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). I was told I couldn’t even mention TTP and its other sister organisations. The call came in the wake of an attack on a vehicle carrying staff of a media group which killed three people and injured another four.
The TTP was quick to take responsibility. The spokesman of the militant outfit Ehsanullah Ehsan even appeared on a television program and warned the media group about giving the TTP bad press. The channel’s anchor Javed Chaudhry had to promise a “balanced” representation of views about the militants and their agenda. Furthermore, Ehsan claimed the attack was an attempt to force Pakistan to meet the promise of imposing Sharia law in the country.
A day later on January 19, another 20 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed and about 30 injured in a suicide attack in Bannu Cantonment in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). This was followed by an attack on January 20 in Rawalpindi Cantonment near the Pakistan Army’s GHQ, bringing the death toll up to 33 and the number of wounded to 63. Not to mention the constant targeting of polio workersacross the country.
These attacks happen despite the civilian government’s claim to engage the Taliban in a dialogue to end the violence. The first attack on the television channel came the same day as the statement by the TTP spokesman announcing his group’s willingness to talk with Pakistan’s government as long as the latter ensured the implementation of Sharia law in the country.
The participants of the long march from Karachi to Islamabad for the recovery of Baloch missing persons are facing threats from the notorious intelligence agency. The marchers have been threatened not to enter Punjab province otherwise they would face serious consequences.
A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.
By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad
Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.
A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.
He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.
Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.
It is an argument for working with Kabul to keep a robust U.S. counter-terrorist capability in Afghanistan after 2014 to deal with threats both on Afghan territory and from safe havens like Abbottabad across the border for the foreseeable future. Over the longer term America will need a more realistic and tough policy toward Pakistan. We should continue to engage the government and the army seriously but with much reduced expectations. We should help those Pakistanis who are ready to fight extremism but not expect miracles. As former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani has written, it is time to put aside our “magnificent delusions” about Pakistani-American partnership for good. We will need to protect our own interests there with or without their help. Only that will prevent another al-Qaeda renaissance in the most dangerous country in the world, Pakistan.
By: Bruce Riedel
Al-Qaeda has staged a remarkable comeback in Iraq in the last year. Former National Security Advisor Jim Jones has called it “al-Qaeda’s renaissance.” This year, most if not all American forces and those of our allies in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will finally come home from Afghanistan. Will al-Qaeda have another renaissance in South Asia?
There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before 9/11—the terror organization moved into Iraq only when Osama bin Laden saw George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were getting ready to invade Iraq in 2003. He set a trap. By 2006 Al-Qaeda in Iraq had plunged the country into civil war, pitting Shia against Sunni. Only the brave efforts of American Marines and GIs prevented the complete collapse of the state. Now al-Qaeda has come back in Iraq, raising its black flag over territory once fought over so hard by Americans.
Can the same tragedy be repeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan? The longest war in American history will largely end for Americans this year. It will not end for Afghans or Pakistanis. Pakistan will continue to be the principal supporter and patron of the Afghan Taliban, the enemy that we have been fighting for so long. Pakistan provides the Taliban with safe haven and sanctuary to train and recruit its fighters and protects its leaders, including Mullah Omar. The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, helps train and fund the Taliban.
For the last few years America has also fought a second war from Afghanistan, the counter-terrorist war inside Pakistan. Al-Qaeda found a new base in Pakistan after we toppled Mullah Omar’s Afghan emirate in 2001. The highlight of this second covert war was the SEAL raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. More frequent have been drone missions to disrupt al-Qaeda operations in Pakistan: By one count, 340 lethal missions since President Obama took office, and more than two dozen just last year.
Pakistan is a country plagued by natural disasters, endemic political corruption, religious fundamentalism and is claimed by many to be the central headquarters of Islamist terrorism. And it’s a nuclear power. Fatima Bhutto, scion of the Pakistani political family, addresses the current state of her country in her Opening Address at the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2011.
Fatima Bhutto is an Afghan-born Pakistani poet and writer. She is the granddaughter of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and niece of Benazir Bhutto (both assassinated). She is active in Pakistan’s socio-political arena but has no desire to run for political office. She currently writes columns for ‘The Daily Beast’, ‘New Statesman’ and other publications.
by Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.