Tag Archives: Threat

Islamic State poses a Dangerous Threat to the world

By GURMEET KANWAL

On February 16, 2015, the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic Caliphate (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) released a video showing the gruesome execution of 21 Egyptian citizens in Libya. All of them were Coptic Christians. Egypt promptly joined the fight against ISIS by launching air strikes in Derna, a hotbed of terrorism. Egypt has already been fighting terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula where many Army personnel have been killed since President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in July 2013.

A few days earlier, ISIS fighters had burnt alive a captured Jordanian pilot because Jordan had refused to be blackmailed into releasing Sajida Al-Rishawi, a jailed ISIS activist. And, a week before that brutal execution, the ISIS had beheaded the second of two Japanese hostages.

The emergence of the ISIS is only the latest manifestation of the continuing conflict in the arc of instability known as West Asia or the Middle East. The triumphant march of the virulently radical Sunni terrorists of the ISIS in 2014 was finally halted virtually on the gates of Baghdad. The ISIS, numbering between 20,000 and 30,000, now controls a large area straddling the Syria-Iraq border and have seized key border crossings on the Syrian border with Jordan. After capturing Faluja in January 2014, ISIS fighters made rapid progress in advancing along the Euphrates River in Anbar province of Iraq.

Read more » NITI Central
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Technology And the Threat of a Jobless Future

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980

By 

The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.

Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/

Imran Khan’s Threat to Pakistan Democracy

Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark

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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.

Read more » Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bbb645ba-39c3-11e4-93da-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3DR6t4wXJ

A wake-up call

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It was the first time on Monday morning that I breathed a sigh of relief that the PTI and the PAT dharna is there and continues to attract attention. Just imagine if the media was not focusing on them they might have taken the trouble of sniffing out the drama which was unfolding in Karachi on September 6. A Chinese manufactured F-22P frigate of the Pakistan Navy, PNS Zulfiqar, came under attack by the Taliban. It is not confirmed as yet if the ship was at sea or docked at the naval dockyard. The story was kept under wraps for two days and disclosed on September 8. It was not that people were not warning others. A friend from abroad had even inquired on Saturday about what was happening in Karachi to which I had no answer as nothing was being reported on television except the Imran/Qadri roadshow. But I am still happy no one reported the story because the last time someone tried to dig out facts about infiltration of militants and ideologues inside the navy it ended in tragedy.

Gladly, the brave sailors and officers saved the day. However, the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, for which the Taliban took the responsibility, proved yet again the vulnerability of the country’s security. What we are always scared to talk about is the support from inside as had happened in the attack on PNS Mehran, PAC, Kamra and other places. Given the fact that little is known about militant penetration, it is difficult to ascertain the threat. This is about men caught by the demon of disbelief of their state and society. Glance through the literature on state making and you can find how monopoly over violence and making sure it stays that way is one of the many characteristics of a viable and efficient state. However, here is the issue of men, who join a profession to guard the state then turning away, because they suddenly suspect the state is not legitimate. The whole concept of jihad or takfir is not a simple issue of people becoming devil-like but erosion of their faith in legitimacy of the state. They begin to desire a perfect Islamic state which can only be brought about by fighting the existing system. Penetrating an armed force becomes an attractive option since achieving such objective tantamount to a force multiplier. A well-trained and oiled war machine can take you places.

Just imagine a situation where militants would try to rebel and take control of a vessel while at sea. Notwithstanding many of the earlier claims that all three services were cleaned during the Musharraf regime, these attacks suggest otherwise. Various religious groups have always had access to men in uniform under one pretext or the other. If it is not the militants then it is Deobandi or Salafi reformation movements such as the Tableeghi Jamaat or Al Huda that are allowed to access military personnel and their families. Reportedly, the households of one of the two smaller services were opened up for Al Huda by the senior leadership. The problem here is not with increased interest in religion but the fact that after a while these families and their men begin to get totally confused about where does duty to religion end and to the state begin. Not that they want to kill innocent colleagues and other people but they are blinded by their understanding of dogma to believe that they have to bring suffering in order to improve the world as ordained by God.

The PNS Zulfiqar attack is yet another reminder that things are getting serious. We need to look at this development in the backdrop of the expansion of militancy and extremism in the form of IS and the al-Qaeda’s Qaedatul Jihad in Indian Subcontinent (QJIS). While many analysts tend to see IS and QJIS from the lens of internal competition amongst militants, especially Zawahiri’s need to build up his strength, some observers argue that the two forces may have different tactics and partners but similar strategic objective. They both want to consolidate and establish a caliphate. In this regard, other existing organisations like the Hizb-ut-Tahrir also have the same desire.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/760623/a-wake-up-call-2/

Is Imran Khan the biggest threat to democracy in Pakistan?

On the website of the leading Pakistani daily Dawn, two (of the four) articles in the section dedicated to editorials are as follows: ‘PTI’s bizarre proposals‘ and ‘The mask of anarchy‘.

The first, presumably written by the edit page staff of the paper, underlines the absurdity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s demands placed before the Nawaz Sharif government. Last week, the protest march, led by Imran Khan had stormed Islamabad’s red zone, proceeded towards the country’s parliament with next to no resistance from the government.

While, it was read as a victory for the protesters demanding Nawaz Sharif resign immediately the events that followed revealed that Sharif had played well. Because in the course of the next few days, the events unfolded in a way to make Imran Khan look increasingly vacuous, while Sharif held fort, quietly. From threatening to storming Sharif’s house, Imran Khan came down to demanding a temporary resignation, where he asked Sharif to step aside for a month so that the judicial commission’s enquiry into the alleged rigging in the country’s polls concluded without government pressure.

Naturally, national and international media reacted with ridicule. Almost in the way India’s media reacted when AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal first organised a dharna against his city’s police force, then quit the government and then decided to run for the general elections this year by challenging Narendra Modi. Like Kejriwal’s recent political trajectory in India, Imran Khan’s gimmicky ‘protest’ has not been received well by the media in Pakistan and abroad.

Understandably, therefore, the editorial in Dawn punches several holes in PTI’s stand on the Nawaz Sharif government by observing, “Consider that the very elections that the PTI is disputing were held under a caretaker government. Clearly then, even within the PTI’s scheme of things, if the PML-N was allegedly able to rig an election when not in office, could it not affect the outcome of a judicial inquiry when the party has governments at both the centre and in the principally electorally disputed province of Punjab?”

Almost as a nod to Dawn’s stand, an editorial on another Pakistan daily Express Tribune describes Imran Khan’s situation as ‘Lose Lose’. Talking about Khan’s grand announcements, the writer Saroop Ijaz says about PTI’s stir, “Everybody wants it to stop, except maybe Mr Imran Khan. One can only speculate on how those who truly care for him will be pained to see all this happening to him. It is all heading towards ending with a whimper; any banging sound will only be made by heads.”

The second editorial in Dawn spells it out without mincing words: “What is the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s great revolutionary idea that will fix our broken homeland? Replacement of Nawaz Sharif with Imran Khan? Is the PTI fighting for a goal larger than the political aggrandisement of Imran Khan?”

Writer Babar Sattar observes, “If its sole purpose is to fix a perceived unproven wrong inflicted on the PTI voter in 2013, this movement by definition is a narrow partisan struggle not aimed at empowering ordinary citizens but a means to snatch power from the PML-N and hand it to the PTI.”

And it’s not just Pakistanis who seem to be discomfited by Imran Khan’s flashy political rhetoric and confusing political message. New York Times’ Declan Walsh observes in a piece on the protest that the mood at the protests is mostly carnival-esque. He writes, “On the streets, Mr. Khan’s movement has the boisterous feel of a midsummer music festival. Pop stars introduce his speeches, which are punctuated by songs during which his supporters, many of them women, burst into dance. A disc jockey known as DJ Butt is part of his entourage.”

It’s almost impossible to ignore the glaring similarities with the anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare, steeped in rousing youth support. Like that movement was almost a performed, with all its pop culture ramifications, Imran Khan’s ‘protest’ seems theatrical, almost an elaborate attempt to confer heroism on Imran Khan, anew.

It’s equally hard to ignore, how, like the anti-corruption movement that AAP’s grandiose anti-establishment politicking ran out of fizz. And the latter got branded as ‘anarchists’ – a brand they anyway decided to flaunt with impudence. However, the petulance had its effect on the voters, reflected in the shoddy performance of the party in the general elections.

Imran Khan, might, well be headed in the direction. The Wall Street Journal notes that despite all the sound and fury, despite Khan promising at least a million protesters, the officials numbers could be anything between just 20,000 and 50,000. Definitely not more than 60,000.

Like we had noted in our live blog in the past, Khan’s call to stop paying taxes and utility bills was met were severe criticism from the business communities and intellectuals of the country who pointed out that he is encouraging the citizens to serve a death blow to their own country’s economy.

Also, PTI’s voters in Peshawar were reportedly wary of Khan’s theatrics and said that none of the promises made to them have even been taken up by Khan in the past few months. The region continues to suffer from the same old ills.

Walsh notes in The New York Times article, “Mr. Khan’s call for supporters to stop paying taxes and utility bills met with widespread derision because few Pakistanis pay income taxes, and the country is already crippled with power shortages.” Much like Kejriwal’s call to Delhi to stop paying bills was met with a fair amount of concern.

If the alarm bells ringing about Khan manage to shake his voters up, this protest movement might be just his undoing.

Courtesy: First Post
http://m.firstpost.com/world/is-imran-khan-the-biggest-threat-to-democracy-in-pakistan-1680387.html

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Religious extremism: A deadly threat.

By Akbar Hussain

Mankind reached up to this level after much struggle and sacrifices. The threat of evil was always there but our unified determination and goodness defeated all evils and poised to go further forward. Throughout history mankind faced disease, wars caused by barbaric invasions and natural disasters but the indomitable human spirit withstood all the calamities with resolution and resolve.

When Hitler threatened the modern world with his demonic power the entire humanity fought shoulder to shoulder to defeat the evil forces of Nazism. But now we are facing an enemy of religious extremism equipped with modern technology to cause destruction and war. The most dangerous part of this evil is its claim of divinity which is false and fake but they have millions of supporters behind them. This threat is not confined to any specific place it’s a universal issue now. They are in Somalia as well as in Sweden. This threat is not recognized by a vast majority of Muslims who tend to minimize its threat or put blame on others. They fail to understand that extremism is not an option for anything. No one can make a brew of progress and extremism. Islam basically needed a renaissance but after 9/11 a vicious degeneration has gripped the entire community.

They are universally loathed and degraded but this shame is not felt or recognized by the community. May be we are marching forward to another calamity but there is slim hope that posterity may not like to live in this perpetual threat forever. They may take arms again to defeat the evil once for all to restore peace, fraternity, dignity and faith.

Courtesy: Facebook

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

By: Malik Siraj Akbar, Editor in Chief, ‘The Baloch Hal’

A Pakistani Muslim scholar with Canadian nationality has announced to transform Islamabad into “the world’s biggest Tahrir Square” on January 14th ahead of this year’s upcoming general elections. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a cogent public speaker, has made an abrupt but a robust comeback in Pakistan’s politics after spending nearly five years in Canada. Qadri, previously an unpopular politician but still a cleric with a large following of religious disciples, is asking for electoral reforms prior to the next polls.

There are two fundamental problems with Qadri’s demand.

First, he has given an absolutely unrealistic ultimatum of mere two weeks to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (P.P.P.) to carry out vague electoral reforms, for example to ensure the election of ‘honest people’ to the parliament. In order to conduct these reforms, Dr. Qadri, while citing the Article 254 of the Pakistani constitution, justifies the postponement of the general elections which are expected to take place in May. The mainstream political parties, such as the P.P.P. and the Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, want to go for elections without any interruptions soon after the completion of the current term of the parliament because they oppose any kind of derailment of the democratic process.

Second, Dr. Qadri is asking for representation for the powerful Pakistani military and the politically active judiciary in the interim government, a demand that clearly clashes with the very spirit of democracy.

Continue reading A Peaceful Islamic Revolution in Pakistan?

Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

By Abdul Manan

Sources said, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours.

LAHORE: It could be the first-ever security threat to a nuclear facility in Pakistan, and the Army and security forces are taking no risks.

Following ‘serious’ security threats from the homegrown Taliban, the Army and Punjab police have deployed heavy forces at one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan (DG Khan), credible sources told The Express Tribune.

Besides the deployment inside and around the nuclear installation, three divisions in South Punjab have also been asked to launch a crackdown against banned outfits, sources added.

“DG Khan houses one of the largest nuclear facilities in the country, and has faced the first-ever serious security threat from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” said a high ranking military officer currently serving at the installation.

According to an official who works at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a key military and civilian fuel cycle site is located 40 kilometres from DG Khan. The site comprises uranium milling and mining operations, and a uranium hexaflouride conversion plant.

‘Serious’ threat

Sources in the military and Punjab Police, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the nature of threat at the nuclear installation is ‘serious,’ with an 80% chance of occurrence.

The Inter-Services Intelligence reportedly intercepted a telephone call from the TTP, wherein they were said to have been finalising their strategy for attacks on nuclear installations in DG Khan, sources said.

Three to four vehicles carrying suicide bombers are about to enter DG Khan and can strike the nuclear facilities at any time, the caller concluded according to sources. Sources said that, according to precedents, threats intercepted via phone calls often materialised in the next 72 hours. Direct threats via phone or letters often do not materialise, the source added.

Foiling the attack

DG Khan District Police Officer Chaudhry Saleem confirmed the threat, while talking to The Express Tribune, and said that DG Khan Police has received instructions from the military officer in charge at the nuclear installation to beef up security around the facility as much as possible.

The TTP started to send threats to the installation after the attacks on Kamra air base, Saleem said, adding that the police has established six new pickets around the nuclear installations and deployed heavy forces over the last 24 hours.

Sources said that a heavy contingent of military from the Multan cantonment has also reached the site and beefed up the inner cordon of the security. Military has also been deployed near the border with Balochistan.

Revenge for Qaisrani

Well-placed sources in law enforcement agencies said that when the TTP attacked Kamra air base, they announced that they would take revenge for killing of their South Punjab head Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani by also attacking nuclear installations in DG Khan.

Sources said the DG Khan Police killed Qaisrani in an encounter in the first week of August, along with eight of his companions, almost clearing his network in the area.The police were able to trace Qaisrani after they interrogated Adnan Khosa, who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore along with Qaisrani, sources said, adding that Khosa is currently imprisoned in DG Khan.

Qaisrani’s elimination caused a major loss to the TTP in South Punjab, and the militant outfit vowed to take revenge.

Earlier attacks

According to local politicians, the DG Khan nuclear site and adjacent areas had previously been a target of ground attacks by Baloch insurgents, but not the TTP.

Continue reading Pakistan – Taliban threat: Nuclear site in DG Khan cordoned off

U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

Washington (CNN) — The word “terrorism” in the United States usually brings to mind plots linked in some way to al Qaeda, while the danger posed to the public by white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing militants is often overlooked.

Militants linked to al Qaeda or inspired by jihadist ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, which have resulted in 17 deaths. Thirteen of them were in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.

Continue reading U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

Supreme Court or supreme power?

By: Fatima Mustafa

On Saturday, Imran Khan, a Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician with a propensity for threatening massive protests, once again threatened to lead a “tsunami march” to the country’s capital if Pakistan’s PPP-led government ignores (for the second time) the Supreme Court’s orders concerning the reopening of corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. This is just the latest development in a growing confrontation between the executive — led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — and the Supreme Court.

In recent months, Pakistan’s judiciary and executive have been engaged in a power struggle that threatens to further destabilize a politically weak government already beset by problems ranging from economic decline to a major electricity crisis. The root of the current conflict lies in the Supreme Court’s insistence that Prime Minister Raja Ashraf write a letter to the courts in Switzerland, asking them to reopen previous corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. In a bold move, the Supreme Court already dismissed previous Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on charges of contempt of court for refusing to write such a letter to the Swiss courts. It has now warned PM Ashraf that it will take “appropriate action in accordance with the law” in the event that he refuses to comply with the Court’s order.

Continue reading Supreme Court or supreme power?

Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Takfir: the ideology of hate —Dr Mohammad Taqi

An ordinary Salafi may believe in the non-violent call to convert to their version of Islam but the Salafi jihadists are proponents of violent jihad. The doctrinal differences that set the jihadist group apart include practising takfir, i.e. labelling other Muslims as infidels or apostates

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Continue reading Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Please, not again

By Saroop Ijaz

Jo shakhs tum se pehle yahan takht nasheen tha/ Usko bhi Khuda hone pe itna hi yaqeen tha” (“The person occupying the throne before you was equally convinced of his divinity”).

It is always slightly discomforting when one is deprived of a metaphor or an agreed upon symbol. ‘Dictatorship’ — of the Pakistani variety — has been defined over the years and now we have the definition down cold, it is almost an intuition now, for e.g., it is khaki in colour, comes from the GHQ etc. However, in the past few days, the term, ‘judicial dictatorship’ is making the rare appearance here and there. This is, admittedly, an awkward term and also perhaps, inaccurate since it seems to suggest that judiciary as a collective is becoming dictatorial. Over the past four years, the authority and decorum of all courts in Pakistan except the Supreme Court has seen tremendous erosion, with lawyers routinely beating judges up in civil courts and using ‘non-parliamentary’ language in the High Courts. There is no point in euphemism now, hence somewhat more precise would be the even more clumsy phrase, ‘dictatorship of the Supreme Court’ or some permutation thereof.

The Pakistan Supreme Court has sent an elected prime minister home. This in itself is disturbing, however, permissible it may be under some circumstances. What is infinitely more worrying is the fact that the Supreme Court did not feel itself constrained by the procedure of law. The argument that the order of the Speaker cannot overrule the Court is a very decent one, yet does not explain why the Court ignored the clear provisions of the Constitution to send the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan. There is also the issue of the three-member bench making a mockery of the seven-member bench. However, there is a vaguely linear progression to all of this. The Supreme Court terminated the employment of  “PCO” judges without reference to the Supreme Judicial Council, which was allowed to go unexamined. More recently, when memberships of members of parliament were suspended for dual nationality, again without reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan, not enough noise was created. Demagogy has a tendency of being incremental sometimes; they have tested the waters and now found it appropriate for a splash. It is likely to get worse now, it always does.

Continue reading Please, not again

Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

WASHINGTON (Dawn) — The U.S.-Pakistan relationship appeared to be heading towards a head-on collision as a U.S. general blamed Friday’s deadly attack on a Kabul hotel on FATA-based militants and the White House vowed to take the steps needed to mitigate this threat.

Earlier on Friday, the U.S. media reported that Washington had considered launching retaliatory attacks at terrorist targets inside Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) but concerns about destabilizing Pakistan prevented it from doing so.

“We’ll take steps necessary to mitigate that threat,” said a White House official, while commenting on AP report.

Continue reading Tehran Times – U.S., Pakistan on collision course: report

Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

By George Bruno

As the NATO military offensive against the revitalized Taliban progresses in Afghanistan, the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains tense in a way that can directly impact U.S. military and political objectives in the region.

I have long believed that the pacification of the extremist threat in South Asia and around the world can only be accomplished in an environment of democracy and the rule of law. Any assault on these values fuels the fires of fanaticism.

Continue reading Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry threatens Pakistan’s democracy

Democracy under threat

By: Asma Jahangir

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Continue reading Democracy under threat

US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

The United States is contemplating a total reversal of its highly ineffective Pakistan policy. This was stated by Prof Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service while delivering a talk on “The situation in the Af-Pak region” at Observer Research Foundation on June 4, 2012.

Frankly expressing her views from both Pakistani as well as American perspectives, Prof. Fair said that the US does not have a long-term policy for Pakistan, and the present practice of granting aid with the aim of fighting the roots of terrorism has not yielded any results. Consequently, despite fighting the Taliban, the US has inadvertently supported them while alienating the civilian population.

Prof. Fair said that the Pakistan’s decision to close ground supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan backfired as the NATO forces soon developed alternative air routes. This, in turn, led many Western leaders to recognise the futility of engaging Pakistan in the war on terror. She also pointed out that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan further convinced policy makers in Washington of its duplicity.

Asked about the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s perceived lack of understanding about the situation in the West Asia and the Af-Pak region, Prof Fair said that presidential candidates learn very quickly once they take office. As an example, she pointed out Barack Obama’s similar naïveté four years ago and how he learnt and adapted his foreign policy within months into his presidency.

Prof. Fair said that President Obama is disappointed with Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance, and that the US administration is contemplating containment to force it to abide to its obligations.

According to Prof. Fair, the futility of attempts to alter the pro-jihadist worldview of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite make a serious case of containment, which would hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorist attack with its ’signature’ on it.

Prof. Fair challenged the conventional wisdom that civilian governments in Islamabad are more responsible. She argued that past history suggests a linearity of foreign policy making between military and democratic regimes. This is compounded by a drastic transformation of the popular mindset towards fundamentalism and hatred against India.

Continue reading US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

Islamic militants fighting Indian forces in Kashmir will declare war on Pakistan if it weakens its traditional support for their jihad, their senior leader has warned.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

Syed Salahuddin, leader of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of Kashmiri militant groups which includes the Lashkar e Taiba, said they had been fighting “Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” but Islamabad now cares more about trade than jihad.

“We (militants) are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan,” he said in an interview with the Arab News.

His threat emerged as India and Pakistan’s leaders prepare for talks in Islamabad on Monday on proposals to withdraw their troops from the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield close to the Line of Control which divides Kashmir.

Salahuddin and other Kashmiri militant leaders fear Pakistan’s leaders will withdraw its long-standing support for the military strikes against Indian forces in Kashmir as part of its diplomatic campaign to reduce trade barriers and ease movement between the old enemies.

Pakistan’s readiness to grant ‘Most-Favoured Nation’ trading status to India and the opening of new ‘cross-border’ trade routes in Kashmir had sent a message to insurgent leaders like his Hizbul Mujahideen that “Pakistan wants business with India.” Pakistan has long used group’s like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar e Toiba as part of its proxy war with India over control of Kashmir, with military protection for their training camps in ‘Azad’ or ‘Free’ Kashmir.

Continue reading Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

We condemn threats to Asma Jahangir’s life by Pakistan army generals

Assassination plot against Asma Jahangir exposed

If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir. She must be protected from those afraid of her.

Not unlike millions of peace loving, progressive Pakistanis, LUBP editors and team members are concerned over threat to senior human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s life. In Kashif Abbas’s TV program today (Off the Record – ARY TV), Asma Jahangir detailed a plot by the military to assassinate her. Apparently, in view of Asma’s detailed revelations, Kashif took a break, but the show ended.

However, later on Geo TV’s Aapas Ki Baat, Asma did manage to speak to Najam Sethi about the plan by Pakistan army (ISI in particular) to assassinate her. In that show, she clearly stated that senior level army generals were planning to kill her.

Apparently, those with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman!

In Habib Jalib’s words: dartay hain bandooqan walay aik nihatti larki say (men with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman)

They want to eliminate her the way they killed Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Bhatti, Salmaan Taseer, Murtaza Bhutto, and thousands of other unnamed Balochs, Shias, Pashtuns and other citizens of Pakistan.

Continue reading If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir

All they are saying is, Iran should be replaced by Pakistan in international scare scene

Are We Focusing on the Wrong Nuclear Threat?

Americans are wringing their hands about the grave threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to the United States. But the numbers tell a different story.

BY:  VICTOR ASAL AND BRYAN EARLY

As a contentious new round of high-stakes nuclear talks between Iran and world powers wraps up in Baghdad, it is important to think critically about how much of a threat Iran poses to the United States. According to former senator Rick Santorum, for example, a nuclear Iran would have “carte blanche to spread a reign of terror around not just the Middle East, but here in America … [and] across Western civilization.” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has argued that “if the Iranians are permitted to get the bomb, the consequences will be as uncontrollable as they are horrendous.” Several leading U.S. senators penned an op-ed in March stating that “the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world, including particularly the U.S.”

It is not just politicians who hold these views. A recent CNN poll revealed that more than three-quarters of the American public sees Iran and North Korea as “serious” threats while only 44 percent feels the same way about Russia. Indeed, fear of the Iranian threat in the United States is more widespread today than fear of the Soviet threat was in 1985, even though at that time the Soviet Union possessed the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and today Iran doesn’t have a single nuclear weapon.

Which raises an obvious question: Does the dominant perception of the Iranian threat actually square with reality? To answer that question, we designed the Nuclear Annihilation Threat (NAT) Index — a way of systematically and empirically assessing the existential threat that nuclear-weapon states (NWSs), and potential nuclear-weapon states, pose to one another. What we found is striking: Although Israel is right to see Iran as an existential danger, the United States has blown the Iranian threat to itself all out of proportion — and Iran is unlikely to find existential security in a nuclear weapon. In addition, both Israel and the United States should be focusing much more aggressively on the threat posed by Pakistan.

Unlike any other weapon, nuclear weapons can jeopardize a nation’s very existence. We use the term “existential threat” to denote the capability of one state to completely annihilate another. In concrete terms, a nuclear attack on one U.S. city would be catastrophic, but it would not destroy the United States. A similar nuclear attack on Tel Aviv, on the other hand, would potentially kill 42 percent of the Israeli population and most likely spell the end of the Jewish state. By focusing exclusively on existential dangers, we seek to understand how nuclear weapons affect the core survival motivations that drive states’ behavior. While this may be a narrow perspective, we think that isolating this unique characteristic of nuclear weapons yields important insights.

Our NAT Index is a relational metric that draws on four factors in determining the existential threats that nuclear-armed countries pose to one another: 1) the potential damage a country’s nuclear arsenal could cause to a target’s population; 2) the ability of a country to strike a target with ballistic missiles; 3) the presence of a strategic rivalry between the two countries; and 4) the risk of state failure in the country that is hypothetically attacking a target. The NAT Index can also be used to identify which nuclear-armed countries pose the greatest existential threats overall and which are the most vulnerable.

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, for example, is capable of inflicting higher levels of proportional damage to a country the size of Israel than a country the size of China because of geographic and demographic differences. Countries that are rivals of North Korea and are within range of its ballistic missiles face a greater existential threat from Pyongyang than those that are not. We factor in the risk of state failure because an unstable country’s leaders and governmental policies can change on a dime and destabilized regimes can lose command and control of their nuclear weapons, exposing the arms to theft or unauthorized use.

While our index accounts for the heightened existential risks created by rivalries, we do not assume that nuclear-armed allies pose no risks to one another. From a realist perspective, the military power of other states can never be safely ignored — especially with respect to weapons that possess such uniquely destructive power. Beyond realism’s admonishment that today’s allies could become tomorrow’s rivals, the risks of nuclear weapons accidents and misuse exist between both rivals and allies. While it may appear odd to consider Britain as a potential nuclear threat to the United States, remember that Pakistan is also a U.S. ally. In accounting for the threats that even allies’ nuclear weapons pose, our analysis reflects the view that all nuclear weapons — no matter who possesses them — present a grave international security threat.

We coded our NAT Index using the most recent publicly available data. To account for the potential nuclear destruction a country could inflict on a target, we compared the number of nuclear weapons the state possesses to the number of population centers over one million people in the target country. Assuming that it would take four nuclear weapons to ensure destruction of a population center, we noted whether a state could destroy less than 25 percent of a target’s urban centers, 25 to 75 percent of them, or more than 75 percent of them. We classified a country as being able to strike a target with its ballistic missiles if it possesses known ballistic missile capabilities that would allow it to strike any part of a target’s territory. States engaged in strategic rivalries were identified via a highly regarded international relations data set on the subject. Lastly, we coded the country as constituting a state failure threat if it was identified as being at critical risk in Foreign Policy’s 2011 Failed States Index. Like any effort to systematically analyze nuclear threats, the results of our analysis are shaped by the assumptions we make and the data we use. We thus encourage readers to learn more about our methodology we use in the appendix we have provided.

Using the method of aggregation displayed below, our NAT Index produces a measure of the existential threat a state poses to a target state on a scale from .05 (minimal threat) to 9 (maximal threat). ….

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Why Pakistan interferes in Afghanistan

By: Nitin Pai

A strong, independent Afghanistan is perceived as an existential threat to Pakistan

Just why is Pakistan interested in installing a friendly regime in Afghanistan? If you read books and articles written over the last couple of decades, you will come across arguments such as the need for “strategic depth” to counter India, to prevent a pro-India regime in Kabul that will result in the Indian encircling of Pakistan and, even more grandly, to create an Islamic centre of power that stretches from the shores of the Arabian Sea to the Caucasus mountains. Going by the statements of members of the Pakistani establishment and some of its commentators, these are indeed the reasons why Pakistan wants to dominate Afghanistan.

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Pakistan’s Kangaroo Court calls itself “Supreme Court,” but in fact is another front for the Mullah-Military complex

Pakistan’s puppet Court – By Shiraz Paracha

The Supreme Court’s controversial detailed verdict against the elected Prime Minister of Pakistan is one more bad decision by a Court that has a dark history of collaboration with the military in depriving the people of Pakistan of their fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court has been transcending its legal boundaries and constitutional role. Its decisions are biased, unfair and politicized. The Court is not a neutral and objective defender of law and judges have been acting as puppets.

The Judiciary is not independent and appears to be playing someone’s game. Indeed the Supreme Court is acting as a proxy for imposing a controlled democracy in Pakistan. It seems that characters such as Imran Khan and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan are part of this game. The former ISI chief Lt. General Shuja Pasha was an architect of the latest effort to introduce ‘clean democracy’ in Pakistan. General Pasha was not alone in military’s one more political adventure.

Actually, the military considers itself the sole defender of Pakistan and generals have been trying to shape and control the Pakistani politics. In fact, the military never felt comfortable with parliamentary form of democracy. For this reason every few years new campaigns are launched to ‘clean’ the system.

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s recent calls for the establishment of a technocrat government and Imran Khan’s Tsunami are reflections of military’s new efforts to bring a setup that ‘suits’ Pakistan. The Judiciary and media are means to complete that agenda. As the Parliament is about to complete its term, Imran Khan is threatening that he would not accept results of the new elections. Dr. Qadeer, dubbed by some as the future president, has joined hands with Imran Khan. The media and the Judiciary are taking cue from some in the military to pressurize the present government. All these actors want to maintain the status quo by imposing a controlled democracy.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Kangaroo Court calls itself “Supreme Court,” but in fact is another front for the Mullah-Military complex

Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Go figure!

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

There is a genuine fear among some (yes, just some) Pakistanis that their society and state is headed straight to becoming a 21st century model of fascism.

I say the fear is being noted and felt by just some Pakistanis because it seems to most of their compatriots – especially those squirming within the growing, agitated and uptight urban middle-classes – the emergence of such a state and society is actually something to do with abstract concepts like ‘national sovereignty,’ ‘honour’ (ghairat), ‘revolution’ and a ‘positive Pakistan!’

It’s like saying chronic neurosis is a pretty positive thing to have.

Recently in a sharp and pointed article, author and scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, clearly alluded to how the Pakistani society and state are showing signs of the kind of myopic mindset that the German society plunged into in the 1920s and 1930s, setting the scene for Hitler and his fascist outfit and mentality to become Germany’s overlords – eventually taking the nation over the brink and towards widespread destruction.

So is the Pakistani society headed in the same direction?

A number of experts and sociologists have drawn some prominent symptoms to look for in figuring out if a particular society is drifting into the clutches of fascism.

Let’s discuss a few in Pakistan’s context:

• Symptom 1: Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist societies/cultures tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

In Pakistan patriotism has been intertwined with the belief in a divine monolithic deity. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is singing praises of God or the state. It’s as if both are one and the same. Thus, if you are not all that enthusiastic about singing loud patriotic songs or displaying 50X10 Pakistani flags over your 5X2 office cubical, you are a traitor and/or/thus a kafir.

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How PM conviction hysteria overshadows real security challenges

Has the threat diminished?

By: Huma Yusuf

POLITICAL hysterics resulting from the prime minister’s conviction and an equivocal Supreme Court sentence are currently overshadowing discussions about Pakistan’s security challenges.

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Local mullahs and fundamentalist people think that if the Hindus leave they can take their properties

Pakistan supreme court to decide fate of Hindu woman in Muslim marriage row

Rinkle Kumari, 19, claims she was kidnapped, converted to Islam and married against her will

By Jon Boone in Islamabad

The fate of a Pakistani Hindu woman who claims she was kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will is to be decided this week, after weeks of campaigning by the country’s Hindu minority.

The case of 19-year-old Rinkle Kumari has outraged Hindus from her small town in the south of the country, where community leaders accuse Muslims of preying on Hindu girls of marriageable age.

Continue reading Local mullahs and fundamentalist people think that if the Hindus leave they can take their properties

‘Face the truth, Musharraf’ – Mark Siegel on BB’s assassination

‘Face the truth, Musharraf’ – Will there be justice for Benazir Bhutto?

By Mark Siegel / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

I was with Benazir Bhutto on Sept. 25, 2007, when she received a call from Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who was then Pakistan’s president. She was visibly shaken when she hung up the phone: Musharraf had threatened her with dire consequences if she returned to Pakistan to lead her Pakistan Peoples Party in the upcoming elections, where she was the major threat to defeat him. Bhutto quoted him as saying that she would be responsible for what happened to her.

Three weeks later, she returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile. She was greeted in Karachi by 3 million people — and two suicide assassin bombers. Within hours of her arrival, a failed assassination attempt took the lives of 170 of her party workers. Afterward, she emailed me to say that if anything happened to her, she would hold Musharraf responsible. Two months later, she was dead.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s government, after a four-year investigation, requested that Interpol issue an international warrant for the arrest of Musharraf for Bhutto’s murder. He has been summoned before the Supreme Court of Pakistan tomorrow. No one expects him to appear.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/face-truth-musharraf-article-1.1047729#ixzz1pl4l6Kq5

Kidnapped, Forced to Convert to Islam and Married to a Muslim – Sad Story of Rinkle Kumari

A friend on Facebook had status which said (Translated from Sindhi): “Mian Mithoo can harass a helpless, poor girl to say whatever he likes! Let us give this Pir of Bharchundi (alone) to the men of Bal Thackeray and he would convert (to Hinduism) in no time! (sic)”

Sindh has been known for its Sufi culture which has kept pushing the extremism off its borders. It has in it several shrines, religious harmony, coexistence and tolerance, not to mention the centuries-old civilization, Mohen-jo-Darro. Sindhis have always claimed to have secularism and Sufism to be present as if in their gene and, thus, they wouldn’t ever side with religious intolerance and extremism.

Well, this is true to a great extent since we can see that where Pakistan has seen surge in extremism throughout the post-9/11 period, Sindh has remained comparatively more peaceful and, especially, incidents of extremist activities have been equal to none. There definitely was an incidence of burning NATO oil tankers in Shikarpur, Sindh, but the same was condemned by the Sindhi nationalist parties attributing the incidence to the agencies trying to tarnish the soft image of Sindh; in fact, there were massive protests against the blazing up of the oil tankers throughout the land.

Sindh has been home to many religions, all coexisting peacefully. However, there have been certain incidents which would reveal the nature of the ‘rare’.

One such event which took place on the unfortunate day of November 02, 1939, which blotted the humane face of Sindh, was when a saintly Sufi singer and poet of humble and peace-loving nature, Bhagat Kunwar Ram was murdered at Rukk Station, Sukkur (Sindh) in the name of religion – for being a Hindu.

The person booked as the major perpetrator in the murder was Mian Abdur-Rahim of Bharchundi Dargah, a religious center in a small village of the same name. Bhrarchundi Dargah is famous for spreading hatred against the Hindus, and converting them to Islam forcibly for years now.

Thus, to many in Sindh, this news did not come as a surprise, but it did disturb them to come out on roads and protest against the Pirs of Bharchundi — what happened was that Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu teenage girl, was kidnapped on February 24, 2012, forced to convert to Islam and, subsequently, marry a Muslim boy, Naveed Shah (a Punjabi settler). And the person involved is none else than a Pir of Bharchundi Dargah, Mian Abdul Haq (popularly known as Mian Mithoo), the son of Mian Abdur-Rehman, the major perpetrator in the case of Bhagat Kunwar Ram’s murder in the past. Mian Mithoo also happens to be an MNA of the Pakistan People’s Party, the ruling party.

Continue reading Kidnapped, Forced to Convert to Islam and Married to a Muslim – Sad Story of Rinkle Kumari