Tag Archives: weapons

Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons in Aleppo attack

U.S. looking into allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria

Syrian state TV blames rebel ‘terrorists’ for the attack near Aleppo, in which around 25 people were killed, but rebels blame Assad regime; Russia says rebels to blame for attack.

By Reuters, The Associated Press and Amos Harel

Israeli security sources said on Tuesday that the reported use of chemical weapons in an attack near Syria’s Aleppo looks reliable, but stopped short of confirming the incident.

The Syrian government and rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack near the northern city of Aleppo, in which at least 25 people were killed early on Tuesday.

The United States said on it was evaluating allegations of chemical weapons use in the attack but dismissed charges that the opposition had used such weapons in the two-year-old conflict.

“We are looking carefully at allegations of … chemical weapons use, we are evaluating them,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

“We have no evidence to substantiate the charge that the opposition has used chemical weapons,” he said.

“We are deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility and we would also warn the regime against making these kinds of charges as any kind of pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons.”

The State Department echoed those comments and the Pentagon said it was monitoring the situation.

“I have no information at this time to corroborate any claims that chemical weapons have been used in Syria,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. “The use of chemical weapons in Syria would be deplorable.”

Carney reiterated that President Barack Obama has said there would be consequences and the government of President Bashar al-Assad would be held accountable if chemical weapons were used. Carney would not say what those consequences would entail.The United States has been concerned that the Assad government would consider using chemical weapons as it becomes “increasingly beleaguered and finds its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate,” Carney said. “This is a serious concern.”

He said the U.S. position is still that it is supplying only non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. “Our position is and remains that we are not supplying lethal assistance to the opposition,” Carney said.

Earlier Tuesday, Russia accused Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons in the morning attack, and said it was an extremely alarming and dangerous development.

“A case of the use of chemical weapons by the armed opposition was recorded early in the morning of March 19 in Aleppo province,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said after President Bashar Assad’s government and rebels accused each other of launching a deadly chemical attack.

“We are very seriously concerned by the fact that weapons of mass destruction are falling into the hands of the rebels, which further worsens the situation in Syria and elevates the confrontation in the country to a new level,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia has been the main ally of President Bashar Assad’s regime since the start of the uprising, in which more than 70,000 have died.

Moscow has warned Assad’s government not to use chemical weapons and said in December that Damascus had taken steps to ensure that chemical agents were secure by concentrating them at a smaller number of sites.

Syria’s state news agency accused rebels earlier Tuesday of using chemical weapons in the attack.

“Terrorists fired a rocket containing chemical substances in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo and initial reports indicate that around 15 people were killed, most of them civilians,” SANA news agency said in an initial report.

A Syrian rebel commander denied reports that the opposition forces were behind the chemical weapon attack in Aleppo, saying the government had fired a rocket with chemical agents on the town of Khan al-Assal.

Continue reading Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons in Aleppo attack

Hafiz Saeed calls for jihad against America

By AFP / Rana Tanveer

MUZAFFARABAD / LAHORE: In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

Saeed, who recently became the centre of attention after the US announced a $10 million bounty on him for his affiliation with the banned Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), said that the JuD is not afraid of anyone and will continue with its jihad. “They [US] are even scared of my name.”

“This is the same jihad which caused the USSR to break and now America is failing because of it. Analysts and journalists don’t realise why America is failing, the only reason is jihad.” he remarked. “There are many parties in Pakistan, but America has only sent a message to Jamaatud Dawa, because we do jihad.”

Commenting on the Raymond Davis saga, Saeed said that everyone knows what he was doing in the country and what the American spy agency Central Investigative Agency (CIA) is trying to accomplish in Pakistan. “America should leave Pakistan and Afghanistan peacefully. Then, we will not come to you with guns but will instead invite you to Islam.”

Saeed added that the reason why the media is against jihad is because it is influenced by the west, and the western education makes them degrade jihad.

After the sermon, a rally was taken to the Lahore press club which was joined by union traders, some Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz leaders, other Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders and was led by Convener of Hurmat-e-Rasool Committee Ameer Hamza. Saeed himself did not participate in the rally.

Difa-e-Pakistan activists protest US bounty on Hafiz Saeed

Hundreds of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) activists took to the streets Friday, calling for “holy war” and torching a US flag to condemn a $10 million US bounty on Jamaatud Dawa’s (JuD) founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

DPC, an alliance of religious groups, has called for rallies to denounce the move against Saeed, whose Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In Muzaffarabad, around 500 activists shouted “Al Jihad, al Jihad (holy war)” as they marched on the city and set fire to a US flag in a main square.

DPC activists also staged demonstrations outside Lahore Press Club and Faisalabad.

Speakers asked President Asif Ali Zardari to cancel a planned visit to India on Sunday and demanded an American apology for the bounty.

Continue reading Hafiz Saeed calls for jihad against America

Catch me if you can – Pakistan’s army the best business corporation

Pakistan’s answer to the iPad is the PACPAD

By CHRIS BRUMMITT

Catch me if you can … Mohammad Imran holds a locally-made PACPad computer tablet at his electronics store in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Inside a high-security air force complex that builds jet fighters and weapons systems, Pakistan’s military is working on the latest addition to its sprawling commercial empire: a homegrown version of the iPad.

It’s a venture that bundles together Pakistani engineering and Chinese hardware, and shines a light on the military’s controversial foothold in the consumer market. Supporters say it will boost the economy as well as a troubled nation’s self-esteem.

It all comes together at an air force base in Kamra in northern Pakistan, where avionics engineers – when they’re not working on defense projects – assemble the PACPAD 1.

“The original is the iPad, the copy is the PACPAD,” said Mohammad Imran, who stocks the product at his small computer and mobile phone shop in a mall in Rawalpindi, a city not far from Kamra and the home of the Pakistani army.

The device runs on Android 2.3, an operating system made by Google and given away for free. At around $US200, it’s less than half the price of Apple or Samsung devices and cheaper than other low-end Chinese tablets on the market, with the bonus of a local, one-year guarantee.

The PAC in the name stands for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, where it is made. The PAC also makes an e-reader and small laptop.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/tablets/pakistans-answer-to-the-ipad-is-the-pacpad-20120220-1tk59.html#ixzz1n7Mx84Bb

Invisible Tank

Invisible ‘Chameleon’ Tank Finally Revealed at World’s Largest Weapons Fair

By Allison Barrie

Adaptiv — an armor encasing that looks and feels as one imagines a dragon’s scales to — turns tanks into chameleons, allowing them to disappear into the environment behind them or to even look like a snow drift, trash can, crowd, or a soccer mom’s station wagon.

Read more: » http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/14/exclusive-revolutionary-chameleon-tank-gets-invisible/#ixzz1bFCZCL3K

Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

– Analysis » By Khaled Ahmed

The planned committee that will ensure that the APC statement is acted upon will have a tough time bringing the Haqqanis under control because in this instance the tail is wagging the dog

During the APC against America on 29 September 2011 in Islamabad, Maulana Samiul Haq said that the Haqqani network was ‘indigenous to Pakistan’. How could he say that except on the basis of the fact that both the founder of the Network, Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son the current commander Siraj, are graduates of his Madrassa Haqqania in Akora Khattak, Nowshehra, near Peshawar?

Continue reading Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

ANP leaders being paid by US to win polls: Altaf

SINDH – KARACHI: MQM Chief Altaf Hussain has addressed his supporters and the media in a televised press conference.

He had said that there are various conspiracies at work that want to harm Pakistan and that he would make a number of important revelations. He said that he may not be able to have another chance to make a speech.

Altaf Hussain commiserated with people who had lost their loved ones during the violence that has engulfed Karachi.

He said that a number of MQM workers have been targeted in Karachi and that many of them had been subjected to torture before being murdered. Altaf Hussain said that his party workers had been ruthlessly killed.

Altaf Hussain also accused the Peoples Aman Committee of being involved in the gang warfare taking place in Lyari and of being responsible for target killings in Karachi.

The MQM chief said that he is not the enemy of Pashtuns and paid tribute to political figures such as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

He said that the MQM had always stood against feudalism in Pakistan and that he opposed the exploitation of the resources of the country.

Altaf Hussain also said that anti-state elements want to dismember Pakistan and accused ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan of being on the payroll of the Americans and that he had been given millions of dollars by the United States to win elections.

He also accused other politicians in Pakistan of following orders that were given to them by America.

MQM leader Altaf Hussain also accused the ANP of misleading its workers in Karachi. He said that the PPP and PML-N have both failed to live up to the Charter of Democracy agreement that was signed between the two political parties.

Altaf Hussain said that the PML-N was in possession of a large cache of weapons in Punjab.

The MQM chief also said that former prime minister and PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif withdrew forces from Kargil after being told to do so by the United States. …..

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Link → http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/09/mqm-chief-altaf-hussain-addresses-supporters.html

Zardari should resign if guilty: Mirza

SINDH – KARACHI: Former Sindh home minister, Zulfiqar Mirza Monday said that whoever was a tool in breaking up the country should resign even if that meant President Asif Ali Zardari, Geo News reported.

Zulfiqar Mirza was speaking during Geo News program ‘Lekin’ and once again lashed out at the MQM and Interior Minister, Rehman Malik. He accused MQM leader Babar Ghauri of being behind the theft of NATO weapons containers. He also accused the MQM of collecting Rs 5,000 on every container which left the Karachi Port. He added that the US was providing support to the MQM.

Mirza said he had spoken to Khursheed Shah and informed him about his decision to resign, to which Shah had told him that he needed time to speak with the Prime Minister. According to Mirza his only demand was the removal of Interior Minister, Rehman Malik and that Malik’s appointment was a mistake made by President Zardari.

On the Lyari Amn (Peace) Committee, the former provincial minister said that he was with them and why was it that the army was not conducting an operation at the MQM headquarters Nine Zero.

Courtesy: → The News

Former federal law minister and prominent human rights activist Iqbal Haider endorsed Zulfiqar Mirza

– Iqbal Haider endorses Mirza

BY: IMDAD SOOMRO

SINDH – KARACHI – Former federal law minister and prominent human rights activist Iqbal Haider endorsed Zulfiqar Mirza’s statements about the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that he made at Karachi Press Club on Sunday, and said that Mirza had confirmed his point of view that he had been expounding for a long time.

The senior lawyer, human activist and former senior leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told Pakistan Today that it was high time for all patriotic Pakistanis, politicians and media to expose the mysterious aims and designs against the integrity and interests of the country and its people without any fear of terrorists or political victimisation.

We have suffered already from, and we should get rid of, the politics of dead bodies,” said Haider. “Dr Zulifqar Mirza has confirmed my point of view, which I have been expressing since long,” he added.

The MQM from day one is an ethnic organisation and created by military dictator General Zia in his era. It is clearly a separatist organisation and wants to break up Pakistan,” he said. “Altaf Hussain said in 1996 at the birthday of GM Syed at Sindh University Jamshoro… that he would fulfill the programme of GM Syed of breaking up Pakistan and creating Sindhudesh,” he added.

In 1986 at Nishtar Park, Altaf Hussain, in a public gathering under the shadow of sophisticated weapons, gave a message to the people to sell their assets. In 1993, when the operation cleanup had started in 1992, the slogan of the MQM was ‘Sindh mai hoga kaisay guzara, adha tumhara adha hamara’ (how will we survive in Sindh, half is yours and half is ours) and at that same time there was also the ‘rule’ that anyone who betrays Altaf Hussain needs nothing less than the punishment of death. Under the same slogan, several people including Azeem Tariq were assassinated and the last target was Imran Farooq, the founding general secretary of the MQM. Several ministers and hardcore activists went underground for fear of getting killed,” said Haider.

He said there was no example in the world that any leader whose party was in the federal government, provincial government and city government lived outside the country and claimed he would be killed if returned.

Haider also said the MQM should clarify why the US issues hundreds of visas to its activists.

Courtesy: PakistanToday

Abdul Qadeer accuses Pakistani military figures of accepting bribes from North Korea

The nuclear scientist considered the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb has claimed that North Korea gave millions of dollars in bribes to senior military figures in exchange for weapons secrets.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Abdul Qadeer Khan signed a confession in 2004 admitting that he had handed classified information to Iran, Libya and North Korea but his supporters have long claimed he was made a scapegoat by a government which cast him as a rogue operator.

Now documents passed to a US nuclear weapons analyst by Dr Khan suggest that high-level Pakistani military officials knew about – and personally profited from – his sales of nuclear weapons technology.

In a written statement, Dr Khan describes helping transfer more than $3m to senior officers, delivering the cash in a canvas bag and cartons, including one in which it was hidden under fruit.

The revelations, which have been denied by Pakistani officials, will only heighten already difficult relations between Islamabad and Washington. …

Read more →  telegraph.co.uk

North Korea paid Pak generals for nuclear secrets

Pakistan’s nuclear-bomb maker says North Korea paid bribes for know-how

By R. Jeffrey Smith

The founder of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program asserts that the government of North Korea bribed top military officials in Islamabad to obtain access to sensitive nuclear technology in the late 1990s.

Abdul Qadeer Khan has made available documents that he says support his claim that he personally transferred more than $3 million in payments by North Korea to senior officers in the Pakistani military, which he says subsequently approved his sharing of technical know-how and equipment with North Korean scientists.

Khan also has released what he says is a copy of a North Korean official’s 1998 letter to him, written in English, that spells out details of the clandestine deal.

Some Western intelligence officials and other experts have said that they think the letter is authentic and that it offers confirmation of a transaction they have long suspected but could never prove. Pakistani officials, including those named as recipients of the cash, have called the letter a fake. Khan, whom some in his country have hailed as a national hero, is at odds with many Pakistani officials, who have said he acted alone in selling nuclear secrets.

Nevertheless, if the letter is genuine, it would reveal a remarkable instance of corruption related to nuclear weapons. U.S. officials have worried for decades about the potential involvement of elements of Pakistan’s military in illicit nuclear proliferation, partly because terrorist groups in the region and governments of other countries are eager to acquire an atomic bomb or the capacity to build one.

Read more → THE WASHINGTON POST

[See → letter from North Korean official to A.Q. Khan]

Pakistan media ridicules military after attack

By Chris Allbritton

ISLAMABAD: (Reuters) – Pakistan’s military was ridiculed and accused of complicity in the media on Tuesday after a small group of militants laid siege to a naval air base, holding out for 16 hours against about 100 commandos and rangers.

As few as six militants infiltrated the PNS Mehran naval base in Karachi, the headquarters of Pakistan’s naval air wing, on Sunday night, killing 10 security forces and wounding 20.

“Our mujahideen who conducted this operation were equipped with faith as well as with sophisticated weapons and that’s why they fought with hundreds of security forces and inflicted heavy losses on them,” Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters from an undisclosed location. …

Read more : Reuters

Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Guantánamo files paint Aafia Siddiqui as top al-Qaida operative

Documents claim neuroscientist – jailed in US for attempted murder – aided al-Qaida bombing, poisoning and hijacking plots

by Declan Walsh in Islamabad

Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist whose case has become a flashpoint of Pakistani-American tensions, plotted to smuggle explosives into America and offered to manufacture biological weapons, according to the Guantánamo files.

The allegations are a combination of US intelligence analysis and direct testimony by at least three senior al-Qaida figures, including the 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They cannot be independently corroborated and the testimonies were likely to have been extracted under conditions of torture.

Muhammad, known as KSM in intelligence circles, was waterboarded 183 times in the month after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003.

But several of the accounts do overlap, linking Siddiqui, a diminutive 39-year-old mother of three, with some of Osama bin Laden’s most senior lieutenants. They help explain why the FBI placed her on a list of the world’s seven most wanted al-Qaida fugitives in 2004.

Siddiqui disappeared from Karachi in March 2003 only to reappear five years later amid murky circumstances in Ghazni, central Afghanistan. There was an altercation in a police station and the US accused Siddiqui of trying to shoot two soldiers and two FBI agents.

She was sent to the US, tried and last year sentenced to 86 years’ jail. At home in Pakistan she became a cause célèbre widely viewed as an innocent victim of American injustice.

During the recent stand-off over Raymond Davis, the CIA spy who shot two people in Lahore, a chorus of Pakistani politicians demanded the US repatriate Siddiqui in exchange for the American.

The Guántanamo files offer a murky perspective, placing Siddiqui at the heart of an al-Qaida cell based in Karachi between 2002 and 2003. Emboldened by the success of the 9/11 attacks and led by KSM, the cell conspired to mount fresh attacks in the US, on Heathrow airport and inside Pakistan.

According to the files, the cell planned to smuggle explosives into America under the cover of textile exports – 20 and 40ft foot containers filled with women’s and children’s clothes. The explosives would be used to attack “economic targets” inside the US, according to KSM.

The operation would take place through an import-export business run by Saifullah Paracha, a Pakistani businessman who worked as a New York travel agent for 13 years before developing ties to Osama bin Laden. Paracha, 64, is currently in Guantánamo Bay.

According to Paracha’s file, Siddiqui’s role was to “rent houses and provide administrative support for the operation”. As part of this brief she travelled from Pakistan to the US in January 2003 to help renew the American travel papers of Majid Khan, a co-conspirator who had been ordered to bomb petrol stations and water treatment facilities in America.

According to Khan, he provided Siddiqui with money, photos and a completed application for an “asylum travel form” that “looked and functioned like a passport”.

Then, according to Khan’s file, “Siddiqui returned to the US and opened a post office box in detainee’s name, using her driver’s licence information”.

The plot collapsed after Khan was picked up in Pakistan and sent to Guantánamo. A co-conspirator in America, Uzair Paracha, was arrested in possession of the post box key.

Paracha, son of Saifullah Paracha, was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in 2006; details of Siddiqui’s role in the plot surfaced during his trial.

Continue reading Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Guantánamo files reveal her as top al-Qaida operative

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Pakistan’s Nuclear Folly

With the Middle East roiling, the alarming news about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons buildup has gotten far too little attention. The Times recently reported that American intelligence agencies believe Pakistan has between 95 and more than 110 deployed nuclear weapons, up from the mid-to-high 70s just two years ago.

Pakistan can’t feed its people, educate its children, or defeat insurgents without billions of dollars in foreign aid. Yet, with China’s help, it is now building a fourth nuclear reactor to produce more weapons fuel.

Even without that reactor, experts say, it has already manufactured enough fuel for 40 to 100 additional weapons. That means Pakistan — which claims to want a minimal credible deterrent — could soon possess the world’s fifth-largest arsenal, behind the United States, Russia, France and China but ahead of Britain and India. Washington and Moscow, with thousands of nuclear weapons each, still have the most weapons by far, but at least they are making serious reductions.

Washington could threaten to suspend billions of dollars of American aid if Islamabad does not restrain its nuclear appetites. But that would hugely complicate efforts in Afghanistan and could destabilize Pakistan.

The truth is there is no easy way to stop the buildup, or that of India and China. Slowing and reversing that arms race is essential for regional and global security. Washington must look for points of leverage and make this one of its strategic priorities.

The ultimate nightmare, of course, is that the extremists will topple Pakistan’s government and get their hands on the nuclear weapons. We also don’t rest easy contemplating the weakness of Pakistan’s civilian leadership, the power of its army and the bitterness of the country’s rivalry with nuclear-armed India.

The army claims to need more nuclear weapons to deter India’s superior conventional arsenal. It seems incapable of understanding that the real threat comes from the Taliban and other extremists. …

Read more : The New York Times

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

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

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

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

Read more : Wichaar

Pakistan’s nukes: How many are enough?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The latest news from America must have thrilled many: Pakistan probably has more nuclear weapons than India. A recent Washington Post article, quoting various nuclear experts, suggests that Pakistan is primed to “surge ahead in the production of nuclear-weapons material, putting it on a path to overtake Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power”.

Some may shrug off this report as alarmist anti-Pakistan propaganda, while others will question the accuracy of such claims. Indeed, given the highly secret nature of nuclear programmes everywhere, at best one can only make educated guesses on weapons and their materials. For Pakistan, it is well known that the Kahuta complex has been producing highly enriched uranium for a quarter century, and that there are two operational un-safeguarded plutonium-producing reactors at Khushab (with a third one under construction). Still, the exact amounts of bomb-grade material and weapons are closely held secrets.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that the claims made are correct. Indeed, let us suppose that Pakistan surpasses India in numbers – say by 50 per cent or even 100 per cent. Will that really make Pakistan more secure? Make it more capable of facing current existential challenges?

The answer is, no. Pakistan’s basic security problems lie within its borders: growing internal discord and militancy, a collapsing economy, and a belief among most citizens that the state cannot govern effectively. These are deep and serious problems that cannot be solved by more or better weapons. Therefore the way forward lies in building a sustainable and active democracy, an economy for peace rather than war, a federation in which provincial grievances can be effectively resolved, elimination of the feudal order and creating a tolerant society that respects the rule of law. …

Read more : THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Pakistan nears bankruptcy, yet its Army poaches most of the resources of the nation

As Pakistan nears bankruptcy, patience of foreign lenders wears thin

BY GRAEME SMITH

ISLAMABAD — A terrifying kind of mathematics has become popular among aid workers, analysts and others who spend their lives tracking the fate of Pakistan. It’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation about how the country will get through the coming years without declaring bankruptcy: take the country’s foreign debt ($53-billion), add interest, subtract the $1.8-billion that won’t arrive as scheduled on Jan. 1 from the International Monetary Fund because Islamabad failed to meet loan conditions. Add the staggering cost, perhaps $10-billion, of rebuilding after summer floods.

The numbers seem bleak. The government floated the possibility last week of running a deficit for the coming year of $15-billion.

Islamabad’s latest plan to raise revenue, a reformed tax law, has become bogged down by stubborn opposition parties, front-page criticism and street protests. The cabinet’s economic team is threatening to quit.

Pakistan needs a bailout. But is the country still a good investment?

“That’s the conversation people are having now, about whether you’d be throwing good money after bad,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, a development expert and policy analyst based in Islamabad.

The international community has accused Pakistan of poor financial management for years. Cables recently posted by the website WikiLeaks show a U.S. intelligence official complaining in 2008 about the country’s preference for spending money on strategic military hardware instead of development: “Despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world.” …

READ MORE : Globe and Mail

HAARP!

Case of bogus science – By Pervez Hoodbhoy

COMSTECH is the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ highest scientific body. It has received millions of dollars from OIC countries, including Pakistan.

Comstech’s magnificent headquarters are located on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. It has been headed by Dr Atta-ur-Rahman since 1996. Although its performance has been consistently mediocre, the organisation has now descended to an all-time low.

Recently Dr Rahman published an eye-popping article entitled HAARP (Dawn, Oct 17). The article claims that a physics research project, based in Alaska, may have been used by the US to trigger earthquakes globally, and could also have caused the catastrophic floods in Pakistan. Dr Rahman concludes with a chilling question: “Is the HAARP then, a harmless research tool — or a weapon of mass destruction far more lethal than nuclear weapons? We may never know.”

Given Dr Rahman’s prominent place in Pakistani science, and that he is fellow of the Royal Society, one must consider seriously his claim that HAARP can cause earthquakes and floods. But even the briefest examination makes clear his claims make no scientific sense.

HAARP stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme. Its website states it is a research programme run by the University of Alaska in collaboration with various US colleges and universities. If HAARP is a secret military project conceived by evil and diabolical minds, it is hard to see why visitors, including foreign nationals, are said to be allowed on site. The website says that the last open house was on July 17, 2010.

At least on the face of things, HAARP does not have the trappings of an American secret weapons facility. (Google Earth, which I used, blacks these out.) Readers will see a field of antennas, as well as some cars and two ordinary looking buildings.

No security barriers are visible. This does not appear to be a classified project.

But, of course, appearances can be deceptive. So let us simply use common sense and physics. Assume therefore that the power of the transmitters is many times that declared on the website (3.6MW). This may mean HAARP could potentially disrupt radio communications during war, or blind incoming missiles. But science cannot accept Dr Rahman’s claim that “It (HAARP) may also affect plate tectonics causing earthquakes, floods through torrential rains and trigger tsunamis.”

Does the good doctor believe in magic and demons? How else can massive tectonic plates be moved by radio waves? Will HAARP tickle a sleeping subterranean monster that awakes and sets off earthquakes? This kind of thinking was what irate and ignorant village mullahs used after the 2005 Pakistani earthquake. They blamed cable television, after which followers smashed thousands of television sets.

Weather change simply cannot be caused by HAARP’s radio waves. …

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan : weapons missing

Missing weapons – Dawn Editorial
It could well mean the Taliban and a large number of other terrorist militias have sympathisers and activists well-entrenched in the provincial law-enforcement machinery.

Even though there is little that surprises people at this juncture, the report that no less than three million weapons have disappeared from official warehouses in Punjab is appalling.

The details are shocking and give us an idea of the layers of corruption in the law-enforcement structure in the country’s most populous province. Yesterday, this newspaper carried a report based on an official document that revealed the ways in which weapons including grenades and Kalashnikov submachine guns seized from criminals and terrorists went missing: one, not all the arms seized by the police from individuals and gangs were deposited in the district and provincial malkhanas; two, no less than three million of a bewildering variety of arms deposited in the two categories of malkhanas and arsenals of the official bomb disposal squad disappeared.

The Punjab home department must be commended for preparing the report. In fact, it must have been shocked by the contents of the finding. It is a mystery though why the Punjab government did not deem it fit to order an inquiry to fix guilt and take action against those involved in a criminal enterprise of such dimensions. While the details of the weapons that have disappeared have been covered in the Dawn story, it bears repetition to recall that the number of lethal weapons which have gone missing include 3,454 grenades and 4, 490 of the killing machines that are Kalashnikovs.

One can only guess the modus operandi and motives behind the weapons lost. A large number of the weapons must have been sold to criminals by men who are supposed to guard the arsenal, and many others must have been gifted to terrorist outfits. If this is established, this could well mean the Taliban and a large number of other terrorist militias have sympathisers and activists well-entrenched in the provincial law-enforcement machinery.

The disappearances could also mean that Punjab warehouses are one of the terrorists’ major sources of arms ….

Read more : DAWN

Bread Not Bomb

Nuclear weapons in South Asia – by: ZULFIQAR HALEPOTO

MAY is known as a sinister month for peace in South Asia when on May 11, 1998, India tested three devices at the Pokhran underground testing site, followed by two more tests on May 13, 1998.

On May 28 the same year Pakistan exploded five underground nuclear devices in response to India’s nuclear tests. Tests were justified as an instrument of ‘deterrence’ to avoid any conventional war in the future.

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Time running out for stable Pakistan

– Ali Gharib and Jim Lobe

Wichaar.com
WASHINGTON (IPS/GIN) – The United States and its allies must act urgently to prevent Pakistan from descending into a spiral of economic, security, and political crises, according to a new report released here by an influential think tank.

The 27-page report, “Needed: A Comprehensive U.S. Policy Towards Pakistan,” called for at least $4 billion to $5 billion in new aid for Islamabad of which $1 billion should be earmarked for the military and the police, to help ward off the growing threat posed to the central government by Islamic militants based in the frontier regions with Afghanistan and linked to Al-Qaeda.

“Simply put, time is running out for stabilizing Pakistan’s economy and security,” the task force warned. “We cannot stress the magnitude of the dangerous enough nor the need for greater action now,” it stressed, adding that failure to provide needed assistance could well result in “state failure.”

Continue reading Time running out for stable Pakistan