Tag Archives: trouble

Burma acknowledges mass burnings and massacres of Muslims in country. The silence of Aung San Suu Kyi is troubling

Burma acknowledges mass burnings in Rakhine unrest

Burma’s president has acknowledged major destruction in the west of the country, scene of recent ethnic unrest.

“There have been incidents of whole villages and parts of the towns being burnt down in Rakhine state,” Thein Sein’s spokesman told the BBC.

He was speaking after Human Rights Watch released satellite pictures showing hundreds of buildings destroyed in the coastal town of Kyaukpyu alone.

It says the victims were mostly Muslim Rohingya, targeted by non-Muslims.

Presidential spokesman Zaw Htay told the BBC the government was tightening security in Rakhine state, which is also known as Arakan.

“If necessary, we will send more police and military troops in order to get back stability,” he added.

There is long-standing tension between ethnic Rakhine people, who make up the majority of the state’s population, and Muslims, many of whom are Rohingya and are stateless.

Continue reading Burma acknowledges mass burnings and massacres of Muslims in country. The silence of Aung San Suu Kyi is troubling

Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Tensions Flare Amid Bombardment Claims

By: Sharon Behn

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Afghan forces say they are ready to retaliate against Pakistan for cross-border shelling along the country’s northeastern border. Analysts in both countries are extremely concerned about what the situation means for the future of the region.

Afghanistan Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi said that if diplomacy fails to stop Pakistan’s alleged shelling of Afghan soil, his forces are ready to react accordingly.

“Afghan forces,” he said, “are ready to sacrifice their lives and properties to defend their homeland,” said Mohammadi.

Trouble at Durand Line ….

Read more » VOA

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

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

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

By Bruce Riedel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Wrong with Pakistan?

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.

Questions Surround New Supreme Court Order Disqualifying Prime Minister

The Supreme Court of Pakistan removed the Prime Minister in what is known as a “short order” – essentially a court order lacking a full explanation. These orders often begin, “For reasons to be recorded later…” – a practice that seems the beg for abuse and controversy – and then proceed directly to ordering some specific action on the part of an individual or institution. In this case, though, the specific action was not given until almost two months later – and made retroactive.

On April 26, the Supreme Court issued an order “for the reasons to be recorded later” that found then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani “guilty of and convicted for contempt of court.” The Supreme Court did not declare the Prime Minister disqualified from office and sentenced him to a symbolic detention of about 30 seconds.

The Supreme Court having chosen not to disqualify the Prime Minister, the issue was then taken up by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, who ruled that Mr. Gilani was not disqualified. That was last month.

Today, nearly two months after the Supreme Court issued its controversial conviction, a new short order, “for reasons to be recorded later,” was issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry – this time declaring that “Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has become disqualified from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)…on and from the date and time of pronouncement of the judgement of this Court dated 26.4.2012…”

This raises several very interesting questions. If the Prime Minister was disqualified pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order on April 26, why did they wait until June 19 to say so? Some have suggested that the Supreme Court was giving the Prime Minister the opportunity for appeal, but this is doubtful for a number of reasons: One, the Supreme Court could have declared the Prime Minister disqualified and then stayed the order pending appeal. But more to the point, to whom would the Prime Minister have appealed? The original order was given by a 7 member bench of the Supreme Court – there was no higher authority to appeal to.

Then there is the matter of the ruling by the Speaker of the National Assembly. If the Supreme Court had determined that Mr. Gilani was disqualified as of April 26, why did they allow Dr. Mirza to proceed with deliberations and a ruling on Mr. Gilani’s status as parliamentarian? If the Supreme Court believed that Dr. Mirza did not have the authority as Speaker of the National Assembly to issue such a ruling, why did they not issue an injunction stopping the Speaker from carrying out the act?

While these questions remain unanswered, at least until the Supreme Court delivers more than the two pages made available today, they suggest very troubling possibilities. By allowing Mr. Gilani to continue serving as Prime Minister for months, the Supreme Court has created a policy nightmare for Pakistan. Making the disqualification retroactive to April 26 means that any decisions made by the government since are effectively nullified. Pakistan has, essentially, been operating without a government for over 8 weeks.

Moreover, by allowing the Speaker of the National Assembly to deliberate and issue a ruling without comment, only to nullify that decision weeks later, the Supreme Court has undermined the authority of parliament and created confusion about fundamental issues of separation of powers and constitutional authority. What government official can now carry out their duties without the fear of Supreme Court action if the Chief Justice does not like the outcome.

This gets to what is perhaps the most troubling question of all – would the Supreme have issued this new order had the Speaker of the National Assembly herself disqualified Mr. Gilani? In other words, is Pakistan’s Supreme Court acting pursuant to due process or desired outcomes?

Courtesy: http://americansforpakistan.com/2012/06/19/questions-surround-new-supreme-court-order-disqualifying-prime-minister/

Via – Twitter

Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice.

The developments, reported on the Web site of the official newspaper Al Ahram, further escalated tensions over court rulings on Thursday that invalidated modern Egypt’s first democratically elected legislature. Coming on the eve of a presidential runoff this weekend, they thrust the nation’s troubled transition to democracy since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year into grave doubt.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominates the Parliament, disputed the court’s ruling and its authority to dissolve the legislature. Saad el Katatni, the Brotherhood-picked Parliament speaker, accused the military-led government on Friday of orchestrating the ruling. ….

Read more » The New York Times

Our Man in Pakistan – Why didn’t the U.S. help get Shakil Afridi out of trouble?

Since Osama bin Laden met his demise in the garrison town of Abbottabad last May, Pakistani officials say they haven’t found anyone who helped him hide out for most of a decade in their backyard. But our supposed allies have spared no effort to hunt down the people who helped the U.S. find the al Qaeda mastermind.

Soon after the successful American raid, the Pakistani army picked up locals suspected of supplying fuel to SEAL Team Six’s helicopters and firing flares to …

Read more » WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mohajir Sooba (Jinnahpur) conspiracy is a new occupation in the 21st century. A big NO by the people of Sindh to this occupation.

By: Comments of Sindhis on facebook

A big “fitna” (trouble) is raising its head as some former MQM legislators, Rabita Committee members and others have addressed a press conference and demanded a Mohajir Province (Jinnahpur). This is indeed a recipe for disaster in Pakistan. A big trouble ahead that will result in unprecedented bloodshed, which will not have different results than in Sri Lanka. The foolish demand is not only Alarming but could be a lethal as well because the fascist city group is a culprit as they have facilitating these efforts only for the sake of power or rather because the Master is same .

Why MQM can not learn from mistakes of others? Why they would insist on dividing people instead of bringing them together?

This is tantamount to a new occupation in the 21st century…!!!… occupations result in glory for the occupiers & slavery for the occupied.. .the people of Sindh prepare themselves to say a big NO to this occupation …

Though we know the history’s course is brutal and painful. It doesn’t give SUBSIDY (wazeefo) to indigenous people of Sindh (Sons of the soil). Tomorrow may all fascist groups will join each-other for their SHARE (BOTTY) pushing Sindhis into isolation. Now  days it is impossible to crush aboriginal, indigenous people. Take the example of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Kashmir and we have a long list to go on. Sindhis are the real and true sons of Sindh soil and let me assure you that  nobody can snatch our mother land.  yes, NOBODY. But I agree that JANG WADEE AAHEY SABHNEE KHEY QURBANI DIANI PAWANDEE.

PPP can’t afford to be hand in glove with the MQM in this conspiracy… international forces may push the MQM to do this to weaken the state of Pakistan. But the occupation of Sindh by the fascist city group is not so easy. It does not come by drawing maps. The capital city of Sindh, Karachi is inhibited by the people, belonging to each ethnicity in Pakistan. The MQM should be most worried from the deep state of Punjab than Sindhis. Majority of the population in Karachi belongs to Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa, who are otherwise well organized and have major economical interests in the city. Besides, Sindhis (the real sons of soil), MQM will have to face a lot from such ethnic population. We feel that the drama of division of Sindh is being staged by the deep state influenced by Punjab elite forces and the agencies, so as to create unrest in Sindh and at the same time garnering support against the creation of Seraiki province in Punjab.

During a research paper writing on ‘ethnic conflict in Sindh and democratization of Pakistan’ (thanks to Shuhab Usto for his intellectual input) an Urdu speaking (and a proud Sindh lover) asked a question ‘ Do you know why a little town of Khartoum took too many days to get captured by Anglo-Egyptian garrison and why a huge city Damascus was surrendered in hours to French forces?’- I kept quit and humbly requested the great social scientist, town planner and historian to explain. He said because Khartoum’s water line (river systems) was complicated and Damascus water lines (river systems) were simple to invade and capture. Then he confidently told me that please don’t be defensive while fighting/ arguing/ debating the case of Sindh’s integrity and sovereignty. He taught me that those who lives with this foolish and wishful thinking that the capital city Karachi shall be separated from rest of Sindh don’t forget that the principle flow of water of Indus to Karachi is like Damascus’s water supply.

This is a precious time to organize a mass campaign to mobilize the public opinion towards a united stand that ‎”There is no Sindh without it’s capital city Karachi. If we don’t for Sindh, we don’t fight for any thing else. Sindh will not be divided – not half n half, not 60-40, not 75-25, nothing. Full stop.”

Courtesy: Facebook/ Social media

Saving Pakistan via India

Saving Pakistan… and India?

by Omar Ali

Pakistan is in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan has always been in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan’s interminable existential crisis is, in fact, getting to be a bore.  But while faraway peoples can indeed get away from this topic and on to something more interesting, Pakistanis have little choice in this matter; and it may be that neither do Indians.

The partition of British India was different things to different people, but we can all agree on some things: it was a confused mess, it was accompanied by remarkable violence and viciousness,  and it has led to endless trouble. The Paknationalist narrative built on that foundation has Jihadized the Pakistani state, and defanging that myth is now the most critical historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie.

Well, OK. We don’t actually all admit any of those things, but all those are things I have written in the past. Today I hope to shed my inhibitions and go further.

First, the crisis. Some friends think I am being unnecessarily alarmist and the only crisis is the presence of American infidels/imperialists in the region. Let America leave and all will be well. Others believe that if the army had a “free hand”, they would have things under control within days.  Let us dispense with both theories. The crisis is not primarily American generated (though they have a long and glorious history of feeding dollars to the crisis) and no one is in complete control.  The existing corruption-ridden state is a British colonial creation struggling to get by alongside an unstable mix of Islamist ideology and a very shallow and self-contradictory foundational myth. Even though the karma of the Raj is potent stuff, it will not last forever against these forces. When it goes, the next step will not be the dawn of Chomskyan enlightened anarchy or democratic socialism; it will either be Salafist Islam or the dissolution of the state. Dissolution being physically and diplomatically difficult (who will handle the scramble over borders that would follow?), Salafist Islam administered by the army (perhaps with a charismatic cricketer as its public face) is the likely option.

Unfortunately, it is not likely to work very well. In fact, it is incapable of sustaining even the bare minimum of modern statehood. Unlike Iranian Islam (which is literate, modern and sophisticated compared to Salafist fantasies) there is no there there.  A militarized salafist Pakistan may hold together a few years in the name of war against the infidels, but after the war (and who wants a war that could go nuclear?) we are left with little more than the vague notion of a rightly guided caliph, the whipping of uppity women and the accelerated cleansing of undesirable smaller sects. After all, if you have a religious state, then you cannot have ten different interpretations of religion (not to speak of ten different religions). Which vision is in charge has to be clear. The state must enforce religious uniformity or become secular. There is no third option.  One can see this principle in operation in Pakistan ever since General Zia started Islamizing in earnest.  Ahmedis were already beyond the pale, but Shias, a sect that provided the founder of Pakistan and were an integral part of Pakistan, now face the prospect of second class citizenship or worse. If you happen to believe in the Salafist project you may find this a desirable endpoint, but everyone else will want to stop this process and reverse it if possible.

Continue reading Saving Pakistan via India

Pakistan heading towards anarchy, cautions author

By: Reuters

Excerpts;

…. Pakistan’s escalating problems are rooted in its reliance on US aid, its complex politics, the government’s lack of control over both its military and intelligence service and its failure to protect minorities and secure regions controlled by the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups, the book maintains. That spells more trouble for Washington if such groups gain further control in a nuclear-armed country where the military now largely controls foreign and security policies and has taken the lead in relations with the United States, he said. “Pakistan has all the potential of becoming a failing state,” Rashid, 63, said in an interview, explaining the title of the book that follows bestsellers including “Taliban” and “Descent Into Chaos” that were translated into dozens of languages. “I feel very much that the lack of state control, the lack of state authority is going to mean there is going to be increasing anarchy in many different parts of the country,” said Rashid, who has received numerous death threats and was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 global thinkers. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

The price of Baloch blood

By: Hashim bin Rashid

The ‘clink, clink’ reverberate

Who are these benevolent youth

The gold coins of their blood

Clink clink, clink clink –Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Salima Hashmi, Faiz sahib’s daughter, dug out this gem of a poem and dedicated it to the Baloch martyrs at the Faiz Aman Mela in Lahore last Sunday. The very next day, Monday, three bodies of Baloch missing persons, including former BSO-Azad Chairman Sangat Sana Baloch were found. The day after, Tuesday, Baloch-dominated areas in Balochistan observed a shutter down strike.

‘Chhan chhan, chhan chhan,’ Faiz’s words reverberated across the province.

The body of Sangat Sana was found only two weeks after the Domki murders, murders that had sent the entire Balochistan Assembly, generally the most complicit of the Baloch, up in a furore. Three Baloch ministers stood up to narrate a gruesome incident in which two Baloch youth were bound up and shot by FC troops on the Quetta-Turbat road.

The trouble was that the consequences of the murder of Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister were not fully contemplated by the most likely murderers, although they should have. The lesson of Balochistan always was: blood spilt is thicker than blood flowing. This was indeed why Nawab Akbar Bugti’s killing in an army operation bestowed the legacy of a martyr on him and spurred insurgency.

Balochistan has been under siege since 1947, with the current insurgency that started in 2005 being the fifth: the last four were brutally suppressed through similar military action. It is only this one which is spiralling out of control.

The almost abandon with which intelligence agencies operate in the Baloch province is matchless. Barely anyone is left in doubt as to who picked up whom for allegedly ‘anti-nationalistic’ sentiment and the message is delivered forcefully with every punctured, dumped body of a Baloch missing person.

While the same matters went unnoticed in the last four operations, what changed on the ground was that the Baloch intellectuals and leadership, fearing for their lives, began to take up outposts in exile and developed lobbies to relay the situation in Balochistan to international organisations. In Balochistan, the BLA, the BLF and the BRA continued to fight from the mountains while Baloch political parties and the various factions of the BSO continue to develop the space on the ground to unite the Baloch community and speak to the few in the Pakistani media that still want to hear a Baloch speak about Balochistan.

Coverage has been selective. When the BLA killed 15 FC troops in the army-operated Chamalang coal mines area in response the Domki killings, media splashed the event. But when a counter-military operation was launched in Chamalang, there was complete silence by the media on it.

The reason: journalists based in Balochistan were instructed not to – at the risk of their lives. 20 journalists had been killed in the last decade. However, Baloch resistance websites, forced to operate from outside Pakistan, and still banned in Pakistani cyberspace, began to carry gruesome accounts of unchecked brutalities. However, Pakistani airwaves and cyberspace remained clear of any such ‘anti-state’ accounts.

Baloch blood was being spilled with no one brave enough to speak of it. Amidst this re-launched operation, exiled Baloch leaders were able to play the card they had wished to play much earlier: the US Congress took up a debate on Balochistan and tabled a bill to acknowledge the Baloch ‘right to self-determination’. The same ‘right to self determination’ was, of course, something Pakistan itself had been campaigning foreign powers for in the similarly gruesome 64-year old Indian-occupation of Kashmir. The US is telling Pakistan: what about the suppression in Balochistan?

Balochistan is the thaw no one in Pakistan wishes to admit as much as discuss – or solve. The late politics over it by Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan has come to naught, so clear is Baloch nationalist sentiment. Imran Khan’s pseudo-rally in Quetta, announced for 23 March, seemed to be an attempt to engineer and announce a new Pakistan resolution from the Baloch capital amidst a flailing nationalist project. Nawaz Sharif’s All-Parties Conference on Balochistan fell apart because Baloch parties refused to join in, making the attempt look silly.

No Baloch takes the more than 270 ‘killed-and-dumped’ bodies as a joke. No Baloch believes the army high command when it says, “No military operations are being carried out in Balochistan and no security forces have been involved in human rights abuses.”

And this is the worst part: all political actors and intellectuals in Pakistan, including this writer, are speaking about the Baloch but not to the Baloch. Journalists from Balochistan are able to relay how the army views the mere act of putting up a Pakistani flag as a victory. To the Baloch, the rising flag means being conquered. And it is being conquered that the Baloch resist when they are whisked away and they return as tortured, bullet-ridden bodies.

The price of Baloch blood is not that Pakistan might split again – it is that we will fool ourselves again, as we do now, when the Foreign Office issues condemnations of the US Congress debate on Balochistan, on why we split. To condemn the military operation, to condemn the killing-and-dumping and to return the missing Baloch, that is what should have been the government’s response. In its absence, it will be sure to learn the price of Baloch blood the hard way.

Continue reading The price of Baloch blood

Wonderful article by Haider Nizamani – States do let go of territories

In an op-ed titled “Be strong, not hard”, published in these pages on February 21, Ejaz Haider problematises conflict in Balochistan and offers suggestions to Islamabad on how to tackle the crisis in the troubled province. The premise of his argument is on the assumption that all states are alike when it comes to dealing with people wanting to secede from them. He puts it unequivocally in following words: “Balochistan is indeed Pakistan’s internal issue. Those who want Balochistan to secede from Pakistan will get the state’s full reply. That too, given how states behave, is a foregone conclusion. Hell, states don’t even let go of disputed territories and care even less about whether or not people in those territories want to live with them.”

Historical and empirical evidence of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, fortunately, does not validate Ejaz Haider’s claim. States do care if people living in their jurisdictions want to stay under existing arrangements or not. Contrary to Ejaz Haider’s claim, states do let go of people and territories through peaceful means.

I will cite three cases where the states in question have behaved peacefully while dealing with political actors who have championed the cause of independence from them. My argument, therefore, is that not all states are alike and the outcomes of independence movements vary significantly.

Let us look at the former Czechoslovakia, a state where leaders peacefully decided in 1992 to split into two countries — Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1989, Vaclav Havel’s Civic Forum led the peaceful movement against the communist regime. This movement because of its ability to affect political change through nonviolent means got the title of the Velvet Revolution. Viladimir Meciar’s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia emerged as a leading party in Slovakia demanding greater autonomy for the region. Unable to get along in a federation, the Czech and Slovak leaders passed the law on December 27, 1992 to go their separate ways. Three years into the Velvet Revolution, Czech and Slovakia opted for the velvet divorce.

The Quebec sovereignty movement in Canada is another case where the central government has chosen to deal with the demand for sovereignty through peaceful means. The Parti Quebecois (PQ), pro-sovereignty party in Canada’s second most populous province, was in power in the 1990s. The PQ held a referendum in the province in 1995 asking people if they would like to form an independent country. The PQ lost the referendum by a razor-thin margin of less than one per cent. The Canadian government, at no point, had indicated or implied the use of force to suppress the Quebec separatists.

Continue reading Wonderful article by Haider Nizamani – States do let go of territories

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 court throws out PM contempt appeal

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s top court Friday threw out a last-ditch appeal from embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, ordering him to appear in court on Monday to be indicted for contempt.

If convicted, Gilani faces six months in jail and being disqualified from office in a case fanning political instability that expected to force elections within months in the country troubled by Al-Qaeda and Taliban violence. ….

Read more » ONE PAKISTAN

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DAWN – US Congressional hearing may spell trouble for Pakistan

By Malik Siraj Akbar

The United States (US) Committee on Foreign Affairs is set to convene a congressional hearing on Wednesday (February 8), for an exclusive discussion on Balochistan.

The extraordinary event has generated great interest among followers of Pakistan-US relations, as the allies’ mutual relationship seems to be deteriorating. The powerful House of Representatives committee oversees America’s foreign assistance programs and experts believe it can recommend halting US assistance to Pakistan over human rights violation in Balochistan.

Calls for ‘independence’
While Islamabad has strictly treated Balochistan as an internal matter, the debate on such a divisive topic by the powerful committee has highlighted the level of American interest in Balochistan and its support, if any, for the nationalist movement. On its part, Pakistan has kept Washington at arm’s length on the Balochistan issue, by refusing to grant it permission to open a consulate in Quetta.

A Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently co-authored an article with Congressman Louie Gohmert expressing support for an independent Balochistan, will chair the hearing.

Continue reading DAWN – US Congressional hearing may spell trouble for Pakistan

Killing of Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister and niece could be sending him a chilling message by Pak military

DAILY TIMES EDITORIAL: Balochistan: a self-fulfilling prophecy

The Balochistan Assembly passed a resolution against the brutal murder of MPA Nawabzada Bakhtiar Khan Domki’s wife and daughter in Karachi. A complete shutter-down strike was observed all over Balochistan to condemn their murders. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for a retaliatory attack on four Frontier Corps (FC) checkposts near Margat coalmine area in which at least 15 FC personnel were killed and a dozen sustained injuries. This attack, according to the BLA spokesman, was in reaction to the murders of the Domki women. Karachi is no stranger to target killings and it seems that this horrible trend along with bhatta (extortion) activities have started again after a brief lull. But the murder of Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) chief Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister and niece in Karachi was unlike any other target killing. The claim by the Karachi police that this could be the result of a ‘tribal feud’ could not be further from the truth. It is highly unlikely that women and children would be targeted even in a feud between the Baloch tribes. This is completely against the culture of the Baloch. Reasonable suspicion thus arises that this was not the work of any Baloch tribe but our own intelligence agencies that are busy harassing and assaulting the Baloch.

The murder of Mr Domki’s wife, daughter and driver is political, and there are genuine reasons to speculate that it is related to Brahamdagh Bugti, who is one of the leaders of the Baloch resistance movement and has often been hounded by our military and its operatives. So far, they have not been successful in extraditing him from Switzerland, where he has obtained political asylum. Killing his sister and niece could be one way of sending him a chilling message. It also points to the military’s callous attitude towards all norms of humanity. Women, children and old people are not deliberately targeted in wars. What kind of a despicable regime is this that would kill women and children in cold blood just to make a point? The police are still clueless about the murderers but they must investigate properly and get to the bottom of this horrific incident. No words can do justice to the sense of outrage at this atrocious crime.

It seems that there is now a sinister plot to hunt the Baloch outside Balochistan too. In December 2011, Faisal Mengal — a Baloch activist — was killed in Karachi. The death of two Baloch females along with their driver in Karachi also points to this new ‘trend’. The military’s ‘kill and dump’ policy in Balochistan has wreaked havoc in the lives of the Baloch. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently pointed out that “…the [Pakistan] military and its spy agencies have supra-constitutional authority to deal with the Baloch people, who are struggling for their constitutional rights of self-rule in the province”. The policy of eliminating members of the Baloch resistance movement, moderate nationalists, intellectuals and youth has led to more hatred and more alienation in the province. Now this policy is seemingly being extended to women and children. Independence from Pakistan is now being demanded openly all over Balochistan. The death of two Baloch women will certainly stoke the fire even more. Nobody can blame the Baloch for this demand given the atrocities being committed against them every single day by our military. Even the veteran Baloch leadership has nothing to offer the disgruntled Baloch youth fighting in the mountains because of the criminal military operation. The military’s highhanded policies have hardly left any space for a political solution now. The federation is definitely in trouble.

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201222\story_2-2-2012_pg3_1

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

Round 1 to the Civilian Government

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

By Mohammad Taqi, Columnist, Daily Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy: Tehelka.com

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

When was Pakistan’s fate sealed?

Pak paying heavily for its mistakes in the 1970s: Tony Blair

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “paying heavily” for its mistakes in the 1970s when it started mixing religion with politics and promoted extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

“I think Pakistan is paying a heavy price for the mistakes of 1970s by linking religion with politics and developing religious schools which are, in some cases, dangerous sources of extremism,” Blair told Karan Thapar in an interview to a news channel.

The former British prime minister was responding to queries relating to the role of ISI in spreading terrorism and its links with the Haqqani group in Afghanistan.

When asked if the US, after eliminating Osama bin laden, should also go after the Haqqani faction, Blair said it was something which the Americans have to decide.

“The trouble with these groups is that there is no way to use them wisely. On these issues like Pakistan might have to say about its influence in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India’s influence there, there will be nothing good out of supporting these groups,” he said.

“If ISI is engaged in such activities, in the end it will not merely affect US, UK, Afghanistan or India, it poisons the atmosphere in Pakistan also,” Blair said.

The former British prime minister said that if there was any linkage between the ISI and terror groups such as the Haqqani group and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, “it is a mistake.”

Blair said there was a need to engage “modern and open-minded” Pakistanis who are involved in a struggle against the extremists.

“We have to see how we can engage elements in Pakistan who believe that this was a mistake. The best way is to allow Pakistan to change and evolve and there are a lot of decent people in Pakistan,” he said.

Blair said that Pakistan itself has suffered a lot due to terrorism as thousands of people have been killed. There was a “struggle going on in the country between those with modern and open-minded attitude towards future against those who are in the power struggle and will play dangerously,” he said. ….

Read more → TOI

China blames terror camps in Pak as 20 killed in Xinjiang

Beijing, Aug 1: China today (Aug 1) blamed “extremists” trained in terror camps in Pakistan for orchestrating attacks on civilians in the troubled Xinjiang province, where 20 people, including alleged militants, were killed in violent incidents over two days.

While nine people were killed in a violent attack on Saturday, another 11, including five suspected militants, were killed in another attack last night.

A statement by the Kashgar municipal government said militants trained by the ”East Turkistan Islamic Movement” in Pakistan were responsible for the recent flare up in violence.

“A group of religious extremists led by culprits trained in overseas terrorist camps were behind the weekend attack on civilians in China’s far-western Xinjiang,” state run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

“Initial probe has shown that the heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang to organise terrorist activities,” it said.

The Xinjiang region witnessed massive riots in 2009, when almost 200 people were killed in its capital Urumqi, following which China launched a major crackdown against Uyghur Muslim separatists.

On July 18 this year, 14 “rioters” were killed when they reportedly attacked a police station and killed four people in the province’s Hotan city. ….

Read more → news.oneindia

More details → BBC urdu

Chronicles foretold – By Najam Sethi

– The cold-blooded torture and murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad by “invisible agencies” roused the journalists of Pakistan to unite and demand an independent and credible commission of inquiry to unearth the facts and punish the perpetrators. A media “dharna” outside parliament in Islamabad was aimed at securing an independent supreme court judge to head the inquiry instead of Justice Agha Rafiq, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, nominated by President Asif Zardari.

Two questions arose. First, why did the media unite in such an unprecedented manner in this case when it didn’t do so in the case of the sixteen journalists so far killed this year in Pakistan? What was so particularly frightening or significant about this murder that compelled the media to stand up and be counted? Second, why did President Zardari originally pick a “Zardari-loyalist” to head this commission? Was this aimed at shielding any slip up or criminality on the part of the PPP government? And if it wasn’t, who was President Zardari trying to shield and why?

The answers are straight forward enough. Saleem Shehzad had recorded his problems with the ISI and left a testament indicting it if he was harmed. He was writing a book exposing the inroads into the armed forces and ISI made by retired or serving officers sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s violent ideology. Such exposure was deemed irrevocably embarrassing to the national security establishment. It explained the lack of preparedness on the part of the military to defend and protect itself — as evidenced in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Abbottabad in recent times. It also confirmed the fears of the international community about the security of the nukes, triggering scenarios of pre-emptive action against them in the event of their seizure by rogues allied to Al Qaeda. When Saleem Shehzad went ahead and published his book, he had to be silenced.

That, at least, is the media’s perception of what happened to him and why. Thus the media banded together to demand accountability so that the same fate did not befall any other journalist. If this perception was wrong, an independent commission of inquiry should have been able to establish the innocence of the ISI and redeem its credibility. If it was right, the ISI had to be chastened and cleansed of such elements. What is wrong with this way of thinking? Indeed, when an attempt is made to hide the facts behind a stooge commission, such suspicions and perceptions take deep roots and protests are inclined to become more widespread and violent. If President Zardari hadn’t finally heeded the journalists’ threat and appointed Justice Saqib Nisar to head the commission instead of Mr Agha Rafiq, the media was all geared up to announce a blackout of all government news and military press statements and advice.

Much the same sort of trouble for the government and military may be forecast for another commission of inquiry pledged by parliament to uncover the truth behind the Abbottabad debacle. In this case, too, the military seems to have leaned on the weak PPP government to desist from seriously inquiring into the mishap because it would deeply embarrass the “national security establishment” and conceivably jeopardise its “strategic relationship” with its Pentagon counterpart in the United States.

In both instances, however, there is one critical factor that threatens to derail the unholy nexus between a weak government and an arrogant military that are clutching at each other for protection. That is the opposition lead by Nawaz Sharif. The PMLN stood solidly with the fearful media in the first instance and will back the outraged public in the second. No less significantly, the sympathies of the newly independent judiciary are with the media, opposition and public. This is an inherently unstable and precarious situation. Where do we go from here?

The military has no option but to press the strategic “Paradigm Reset” button. The media and judiciary have joined the stake holders’ club. The military must realize that it is no longer capable of “managing” or “manipulating” or “blackmailing” the twice-bitten opposition to do its bidding blindly. The media too has been empowered by a wave of “citizen-journalists” who cannot be repressed. There are 20 million internet users in Pakistan and 4 million Facebook freaks and Tweeters. This organic new species had defied the dictators of the Middle East and smashed their censors. It is destined to do the same in Pakistan.

The situation is fraught with dangers of unmanageable upheaval. The military must adjust its sights accordingly. If, for example, the US were to launch any new unilateral action that outraged the Pakistani media, opposition and public, the military would be caught in the eye of the storm. It won’t be able to resist the public pressure but it also wouldn’t like to be savaged by America. Thus it could be the biggest loser in the game. Forewarned is forearmed.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

Anti-American Coup in Pakistan?

By Stanley Kurtz

The Washington Post and New York Times today feature above-the-fold front-page articles about the deteriorating situation in Pakistan. Both pieces are disturbing, the Times account more so because it explicitly raises the prospect of an anti-American “colonels coup” against Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. With all the bad news coming out of this part of the world, and plenty of trouble here at home, it’s easy to ignore stories like this. Yet these two reports are among the most alarming and important we’ve seen in a long string of bad news from Pakistan and the Middle East.

Both articles make plain the extraordinary depth and breadth of anti-American sentiment among the commanders and the rank-and-file of Pakistan’s army. While America’s insistence on keeping the bin Laden raid secret, as well as our ability to pull it off without Pakistani interference, are the immediate causes of the anger, it’s obvious that a deeper anti-American sentiment as well as some level of sympathy for al-Qaeda are also at work.

Even now Pakistan’s army is forcing American operations out of the country. They have blocked the supply of food and water to our drone base, and are actively “strangling the alliance” by making things difficult for Americans in-country.

Unfortunately, it’s now time to at least begin thinking about what the United States should do in case of either an overt anti-American coup within Pakistan’s army, or in case Kayani himself is forced to effectively break relations. Although liberation from Pakistan’s double-game and reversion to honest hostility might come as a welcome relief to some, I see no good scenario here.

Should anti-American elements in Pakistan’s army displace Kayani, they would presumably hold our supply lines to Afghanistan hostage to a cessation of drone attacks. The step beyond that would be to cut off our Afghanistan supply lines altogether. Our minimum response to either of these moves would likely be a suspension of aid (on which Pakistan’s military is now dependent) and moves to provide India with technology that would give them major advantages over Pakistan. Pakistan may run eagerly into the arms of China at that point.

These developments would pose many further dangers and questions. Could we find new supply lines, and at what geo-strategic price? Should we strike terrorist refuges in Pakistan, perhaps clashing with Pakistan’s own forces as we do so? Would Pakistan actively join the Taliban to fight us in Afghanistan? In short, would the outcome of a break between America and Pakistan be war–whether low-level or outright?

There is no good or easy answer here. If there is any single spot it would be hardest for America to walk away from conflict, Pakistan is it. Bin Laden was not alone. Pakistan shelters our greatest terrorist enemies. An inability to strike them there would be intolerable, both in terms of the danger posed for terrorism here in the United States, and for the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.

Yet the fundamental problem remains Pakistan’s nuclear capacity, as well as the sympathy of many of its people with our enemies. Successful clashes with Pakistan’s military may only prompt sympathizers to hand nuclear material to al-Qaeda. The army is virtually the only thing holding Pakistan together. A military defeat and splintering of the army could bring an Islamist coup, or at least the fragmentation of the country, and consequent massive expansion of its lawless regions. These gloomy prospects probably explain why our defense officials keep counseling patience, even as the insults from Pakistan grow.

An important question here is just how Islamist the anti-American elements of Pakistan’s military now are. Is the current trouble primarily a matter of nationalist resentment at America’s killing of bin Laden, or is this a case of outright sympathy for al-Qaeda and the Taliban in much of the army?

The answer is probably a bit of both. The difficulty is that the precise balance may not matter that much. We’ve seen in Egypt that a secular the military is perfectly capable of striking up a cautious alliance with newly empowered Islamist forces. The same thing could happen in Pakistan in the advent of an anti-American military coup. Pakistan may not be ethnically Arab, but it’s continued deterioration may be the unhappy harbinger of the so-called Arab Spring’s outcome, I fear.

At any rate, it’s time to begin at least gaming out worst-case scenarios in Pakistan.

Courtesy:  National Review Online

Via Wichaar

Pakistan’s ‘secret’ war

Author: Karlos Zurutuza, Balochistan
Editor: Rob Mudge

Excerpt:

Armed groups of Balochs in southwest Pakistan are gaining momentum at a critical point for the country’s future. Deutsche Welle looks at the phenomenon which presents yet another problem in the troubled region.

A province marked by floods and images of burned-out NATO tankers, Balochistan is the land of the Baloch, who today see their country in southwest Asia divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan is the size of France and boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, as well as untapped sources of oil and uranium. The exploitation of these natural resources in combination with repressive and discriminatory state-run policies have led to armed uprisings in the region.

In his book “Descent into Chaos,” best-selling writer and renowned Afghanistan commentator, Ahmed Rashid, says that the Baloch have instigated five insurgent uprisings to date. These insurgents take shelter in the rugged mountains of southern Pakistan and across the border, in Afghanistan.

The Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups: the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRA (Baloch Republican Army), the BLF (Baloch Liberation Front) and Lashkar-e Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. Accordingly, the BLA, BRA and Lashkar-e Balochistan are led by the local main clans of the Marris, the Bugtis and the Mengals respectively, while the BLF is a more heterogeneous movement.

Despite the apparent fracture, all these groups are markedly secular movements – at odds with the Taliban – who share a common agenda focusing on the independence of Balochistan. They organize their actions around guerrilla attacks, primarily against military targets and government infrastructures like gas pipelines.

Growing discontent

“Given that parliamentary politics is a fake option for us, we are forced to make politics with weapons. Since the partition of India in 1947, we have had to chose between slavery and death,” Khair Bux Marri told Deutsche Welle from his residence in Karachi. The 90-year old Marri is the leader of the biggest Baloch tribe. His life-long struggle against Pakistan has taken him from years of exile in Afghanistan to terms in Pakistani prisons.

His son, Balaach Marri, led the BLA and was killed in 2007 by the Pakistani army. The portrait of this guerrilla leader, wearing a Baloch cap and holding an assault rifle, is almost ubiquitous in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan and can often be spotted alongside Hayrbyar’s, his younger brother, also considered to be a “national hero” by many Baloch.

From his London exile, Hayrbyar Marri calls for the independence of Balochistan and defends the right of “self defence” by his people. When asked about a possible dialogue with Islamabad, he is categorical. “There’s only one thing to negotiate with Islamabad and that’s the immediate pull-out of their occupation troops,” he told Deutsche Welle from his house in London. ….

Harrison also said that the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan enjoys sympathies in the neighboring Sindh province which, according to the journalist, “has brought back the ancient dream of a state or a Sindhi-Balochistan federation extending along the Arabian Sea, from Iran to India.”

Read more: Deutsche Welle

The truth will set you free – Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain

Excerpt:

That Osama was hiding in Pakistan in ‘plain sight’ for all these years was clearly the result of a fractured sense of national purpose. The people are consumed by anti-American sentiment and overwhelmed by a sense of religiosity that allows many to tolerate and even encourage the terrorists within our midst.

First and most importantly, we the people of Pakistan must accept the simple fact that we are a country in serious trouble. Our economy is shaky, terrorism does not seem to be going anywhere, and now even our ‘allies’ are starting to worry openly about what we as a country want from them. Let our leaders, civilian and in the military, start telling us the truth, however hard it might be for us to digest. And let us as the people learn to accept it and try and do what needs to be done. A tall order but doable. Let us also accept upfront that Abbottabad was a collective failure but the army and the intelligence agencies must accept some direct responsibility and some high-up official must resign, not as punishment but rather as a gesture of goodwill. Perhaps then we can start building a sense of mutual trust. The next step is for our politicians and our generals to get together and come up with a comprehensive rethink of our foreign policy as well as our policy towards terrorism. Perhaps in its ‘time of need’, the army high command will be willing to accept civilian input concerning our national defence priorities.

As far as the people are concerned, it is time for us to accept three basic facts. First, Pakistan cannot win a war against India; second, Afghanistan is an independent country and we can at best be good neighbours and third, terrorism is our problem and it will not disappear if the Americans leave Afghanistan.

Finally, for those self-styled ‘patriots’ crying themselves hoarse about our loss of national honour, all I can do is repeat what Samuel Johnson said a long time ago: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

To read complete article : Daily Times

THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

Something has changed

By: Huma Yusuf

TWO weeks after Abbottabad, the jury’s still out on Pakistan. Who knew? Who didn’t? And does anyone at all feel bad about the whole thing?

While international journalists and US lawmakers continue to ask these questions, Pakistan observers are at pains to point out that the answers matter little given that nothing has changed — the status quo has been maintained.

Continue reading THIS ARTICLE SHOWS NO HOPE FOR POOR PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN IN NEAR FUTURE

Pakistan, India & China: A tale of triplets

COMMENT: A tale of triplets — by Shahab Usto

Pakistan’s utmost priority should be to follow the Chinese model: shun external engagements and turn inwards to focus only on economic, social and human development. Remember, we have missed the bus twice

Independent Pakistan, India and China were born at almost the same time, inherited the same decrepit state structures, and shared the same trajectory of international wars and civil strife. But they do not share the same present. China is the fastest growing economy. India is catching up fast with it. But Pakistan lags far behind both.

As it is, China (closely followed by India) is all set to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, if not the world. The US-led West is jittery. Stuck in a financial crisis, the West has lost faith in its economic philosophy based on unregulated markets. “The teachers are in trouble,” as one Chinese minister put it, referring to the ideologues of the failing Anglo-Saxon corporate and financial models. …

Read more : Daily Times

Bringing Punjabiyat Back

By Omar Ali

Excerpt:

…. 1. In the near future, the decline of Punjabi in Pakistan will continue since the state ideology is biased in favor of Urdu (vehicle of Islamism and the “two-nation theory”, as well as the first or second language of the educated elite), mainly since Punjabi is not taught in schools. Schools are the brain-washing institution of choice in modern society, so no surprises here.

2. But in the long run, it is Urdu which is in serious trouble in Pakistan. Its native speakers are a minority and have not been able to enlarge and grow a living breathing literary and musical culture…this is a controversial statement, but I have anecdotal evidence: The older generation of the Pakistani elite actually read Urdu poetry, knew hundreds of verses by heart, even read a few novels and many excellent short stories. The new generation is reading English or reading nothing. There are exceptions, but in the long run, the culture of Urdu is dying in Pakistan (i have no idea of its health in India). …

To read full article : Brownpundits

Pakistan’s populist judges : Courting trouble

– An overactive judiciary might undermine a fragile democracy

PAKISTAN’S chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is riding high. At a time when most of the country’s political leaders are despised as venal, lazy or inept, its senior jurist is held in esteem. People tell pollsters they trust him more than anyone. They cheer his efforts to take on the corrupt and hapless president, Asif Ali Zardari. Yet Mr Chaudhry may be crossing a line from activist judge to political usurper.

His judges pass up no chance to swipe at the government. Mr Chaudhry spent months trying to get Swiss officials to reopen a corruption case that could have toppled Mr Zardari (in Pakistan, criminal proceedings against a sitting president are prohibited). After that failed, the courts took up a thin-looking case in which the president is accused of unconstitutionally holding an office for profit. That looks vindictive: the office in question is his post as head of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

The courts quickly adopt populist causes, especially those that squeeze Mr Zardari. After an American diplomat shot dead two men in the street in Lahore last month, the mother of one victim appealed for justice on television, saying that she would trust only Mr Chaudhry to help. The High Court in Lahore promptly ordered that the diplomat, who had been arrested, must not be allowed out of the country—even if the government were to rule that he had immunity. In this case, as in many others, the judges have shown themselves to be able self-publicists. Their stance has won approving coverage.

And on the country’s illiberal but widely popular blasphemy law, the Lahore High Court intervened to forbid the president from issuing an early pardon to anyone convicted by lower courts. Before the murder last month of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab and critic of the blasphemy law, Mr Zardari had told him he was planning such a pardon. The courts seem set on boxing him in. …

Read more : The Economist

Raymond Davis: fact & fiction – Najam Sethi’s Editorial

The case of Raymond Davis has outraged the imagination and sentiment of Pakistanis mainly because of a distortion of key facts by powerful sections of the Pakistani media. It has also become a vicious ping pong game between the PPP and PMLN governments, with both trying to score nationalist points regardless of the consequences for political stability and national security. Ominously, though, it has soured a troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US who claim to be “strategic partners” in the region. Let’s sift fact from fiction.

Fiction: Mr Davis “murdered” two Pakistanis. He shot them in the back, suggesting he was not threatened by them. They were not robbers. Their handguns were licensed. Fact: Two men on a motorbike, armed with unlicensed pistols, held up Mr Davis’ car. He expertly shot them through the windscreen, stepped out and took pictures of the gunmen with weapons as evidence of self-defense. Later, an autopsy report showed that four out of seven bullets had hit the gunmen in the front, confirming the threat to him. The criminals had earlier robbed two passersby of their cell phones and money.

Fiction: Mr Davis is not a diplomat because he doesn’t have a diplomatic visa or status registered with the Foreign Office. Hence he cannot claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions. Fact: Mr Davis has a Diplomatic Passport. His visa application by the US State Department to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC of 11 September 2009 lists him as a Diplomat who is on “Official Business”. The US government has claimed diplomatic immunity for him. This is the norm. For example, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Spain in 1975, Haroon ur Rashid Abbasi, was granted immunity following discovery of heroin from his suitcase. Col Mohammad Hamid Pakistan’s military attaché in London in 2000, was caught having sex with a prostitute in his car in a public place. He invoked diplomatic immunity and avoided arrest. Mohammad Arshad Cheema, Pakistan’s First Secretary in Nepal, also invoked diplomatic immunity after 16kg of high inte4nsity RDX explosives were recovered from his house and he was suspected of being involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814. And so on. …

Read more : Wichaar