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Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

Continue reading Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

Pakistan’s military rejects Pentagon findings, denies coup plot

By Tom Hussain

The war of words between the Pakistani prime minister and army chief follows claims by an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, that Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Hussain Haqqani, had in May asked him to seek White House support against a planned military coup.

Continue reading Pakistan’s military rejects Pentagon findings, denies coup plot

They dragged her out, tore up her clothes and forced her to walk naked on the street

Woman paraded naked in village north of Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: A woman was forcibly paraded naked through a village after her sons were accused of sleeping with a married neighbour who became pregnant, police said Tuesday.

The incident happened after neighbour Mohammad Salman grew suspicious that the woman’s sons slept with his wife in Neelor Bala village, 100 kilometres north of Islamabad, said police official Akhtar Nawaz. …

Read more: DAWN.COM

Sovereignty: rights and responsibilities

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt:

Having been embarrassed by the Abbottabad operation, the military’s position was seemingly weaker and they wanted to regain their previous status by using the media to spread anti-American sentiments amongst the people and parliament.

Nawaz Sharif torpedoed the sovereignty ship that the Pakistan military had launched under the stewardship of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lieutenant-General Shuja Pasha. ….

…. However, Pakistan lives on a different planet by allowing or tolerating the Taliban and other jihadi groups that are involved in harmful activities against many other nations, including Afghanistan, the US, and Pakistan itself. A television talk-show host on one of the most watched programmes listed all the violent suicide bombings of a decade in the world. He pointed out that all the perpetrators of these violent acts were nabbed from Pakistan. Pakistan may boast about having handed over these criminals to the world but why were these terrorists found in Pakistan, instead of war-torn Afghanistan?

That is what makes the world suspicious about our state’s security policy run by the military and the ISI. If you look at the data from an outsider’s eye that every bomber is found in Pakistan, what will you conclude? Therefore, if Pakistan takes its case of breach of its sovereignty by the US to the UN, who will listen to it? Conversely, if Afghanistan, the US, Europe, India, Indonesia and many other countries take a similar case to the world forums, what would be the outcome? You can well imagine.

The military, backed by the weak PPP-PML-Q government, can create an illusion of sovereignty in Pakistani minds but the world is much larger than Pakistan and every outsider that counts is suspicious. If the US stops drone attacks and forgets about Mullah Omar or Ayman al-Zawahiri, can Pakistan assure the world that it can cleanse its territory of religious crusaders? And, unless that is done, the world is not going to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. Probably, it can be done only if the military accepts the supremacy of civilian democratic governments as demanded by Nawaz Sharif. Yes, of course, the democratic governments have to be strong, but that is only a sufficient condition; the necessary condition is that the military gets out of foreign policy-making and other pivotal decisions of the state.

To read complete article : Wichaar