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Posts Tagged ‘War on Terrorism’

From Kabul to Wagha to Dehli: A Plot for #Terror Consortium

Posted by yourpakistan on November 15, 2014


After a lull of a few months, the country was once again rocked by a deadly explosion on November 2nd, at the border village of Wagah. The target of the attack was the border post closing ceremony, held routinely at the only land crossing between Pakistan and India. This was not the first targeted terror attack since the commencement of the military operation in North Waziristan but the most deadly, nonetheless, as regards the number of civilian casualties incurred.

Wagah Border Terrorist Attack

The attack in which 62 people lost their lives and around 200 got injured occurred on the 8th of Muharram – a time when the security arrangements across the country are beefed up generally, due to sensitivity of the Ashura days of the holy month of Muharram. The attacks that occur during Muharram are customarily sectarian in nature but in case of the Wagah attack, no sectarian link was established or claimed.

Three different militant outfits claimed responsibility for the attack, the first being Jundullah; soon afterwards, the TTP splinter group, Jamat-ul-Ahrar and later a lesser known outfit called the Mahar Mehsud group accepted responsibility. It is interesting to point out that it is not the first time that the responsibility for a terror attack was claimed by two or more different terrorist organizations. Most terrorist outfits are merely names to achieve different ends. The assertion over terrorist activities serves many different purposes for these militant organizations. It can be a recruitment gambit to attract or engage new members and/or to avoid backlash from sympathizers that are ever present within our society.

As far as the Jundullah is concerned, it has often represented the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the past, especially the Mohmand faction of the TTP, that has now splintered to form the TTP Jamat-ul-Ahrar (TTPJuA), headed by Omer Khalid khorasani. These two groups are similar in the sense that they have same ideology, goals, involvement in targeted sectarian activities and have close ties with the Al-Qaeda. They have simultaneously accepted responsibility for terror attacks previously also, such as in the case of  the ISI-Sukkur headquarter attack, the Peshawar church blast and the Gilgit tourist killings, to name a few. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nexus Among Terror Mongers

Posted by yourpakistan on July 11, 2014


Terrorism in Pakistan is International Agenda

By Qudsia Farhat – Opinion Maker

The milieu in Pakistan presents happy hunting grounds for terror mongers of various ilks. They find it prudent to have a happy nexus to achieve their heinous agenda of destabilizing the state of Pakistan at the behest of their foreign masters. The various components of this unholy nexus are the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Baloch Sub Nationals (BSNs) and other terrorist organizations’ with one odious aim: weaken Pakistan and bring it to its knees at the bidding its foreign mentors.

Even a cursory glance at recent events points towards this machination. The carnage, which resulted in the massacre of innocent Shia pilgrims in Balochistan, the attack on Karachi airport and suicidal attack on Security Forces at Boya; all within a span of 24 hours proves the fact that TTP, LeJ, BSNs and other banned terrorists outfits have an unholy alliance with a single aim to subvert Pakistan. Like puppets on a string, the nexus is manipulated to come into action and their sleeper cells are activated to strike at targets of opportunity. Their abhorrent agenda is one: create chaos and mayhem, cause enough bloodshed to traumatize the people, expose the weaknesses in the law enforcing agencies’ capacity and capability to defend their assigned vulnerable points and reduce the confidence of the masses in their leadership.

All these detestable tasks are to reduce Pakistan to ashes. Their foreign masters synchronized these cowardly acts in darkness to hurt Pakistan domestically, regionally and internationally. Take the attack on Karachi airport and the firing on an international airlines aircraft in Peshawar. Both have caused the international airlines to reconsider operating through Pakistani airports. Gradually various airlines have terminated their operations to and from Pakistani airfields, completing the isolation of the war ravaged country. The 2009 atrocious attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore has already removed Pakistan from the sporting map of the world. Foreign teams are reluctant to engage in sports fixtures staged on Pakistani grounds and stadiums. As a result Pakistani standards of sports has deteriorated, being deprived of opportunities to test their mettle with foreign teams on home ground. Pakistan’s sports industry has suffered badly and the people have been shun of the opportunity to witness sports tournaments on home ground, adding to their frustration and sense of deprivation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorism: Terrorists “The Sons of Hell”

Posted by yourpakistan on February 18, 2014


Pakistan is a vicitim of extreme foreign and local terrorism

 

The face of war however, has changed as “terrorism” has overwhelmed the world and is inflicting chaos, mayhem, mass murder and destruction.

This more hideous face of war is more dangerous than armed conflicts between nations. The enemy is faceless, resides among the local population, hides his identity as well as his heinous agenda and strikes with impunity when least expected. His targets are schools, hospitals, places of worship, entertainment and trade centers.

By S. M. Hali – Opinion Maker

Renowned playwright William Shakespeare, in his epic play ‘Henry VI, Part II. Act V, Scene 2, states: “O war, thou son of hell, whom angry heavens do make their minister. Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part. Hot coals of vengeance! Let no soldier fly.” The bard, who is famous for his allegories, metaphors and symbolism, addresses “war” as “son of hell”. This poetic expression holds good even in contemporary times, where war continues to wreak havoc, devastation and bloodshed.

Pakistan is bearing the brunt of terrorism, which has spread like the contagious Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which is extremely feeble and elusively fragile to withstand environmental exposures. Thus HCV moves through concealed routes of blood and secreted material to reach the sensitive organs like the human liver and brain to eke out its survival and consolidate its position, waiting months and maybe years to strike when it is strong enough to destroy the entire microcosm of the human body and cause a painful death.

Terrorism, being illegitimate and unconstitutional, tends to secure its existence and broaden its sphere of influence through clandestine means. Foreign support including ideological direction, lethal weapons and sophisticated equipment, training in militancy, financial sustenance, and ensuring availability as well as the management of space within local population, provides the terrorists the necessary impetus to solicit their warped philosophy, twisted logic and criminal designs. In fact it would not be out place to argue that the terrorists without the support of local sympathisers become “fish out of water” and their misguided thoughts leading to criminal acts of violence also die a natural death in the absence of requisite support.

Recent upsurge in terrorist activities and deadly attacks have traumatized the local population and left deep scars on the minds of every Pakistani. Thus William Shakespeare’s apt and pertinent description for the terrorists being the real “sons of hell” remains valid. These “sons of hell” have no respect for human life, be they women, children, old persons, invalids, sick or even those engaged in religious rituals. The terror mongers continue to spread the fires of hell for humankind although in return they earn the curses, condemnation and hatred of society. The sad part is that these “sons of hell” demand the imposition of Sharia Law but forget that no religion in the world propagates, slaughter, carnage and butchery of innocent people in the name of religion. Islam, on the other hand, is the religion of peace while the Almighty Allah has ordained that “…if any one slew a person —- it would be as if he slew the entire humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” (Al-Quran 5:32).

It is also ironical that the “sons of hell” motivate, brainwash and subliminally program their agents of death, the suicide bomber by promising a permanent place in heavens, where 72 houris await them after they pull the string of their suicide jacket causing death and destruction of the innocent victims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakistan a Victim Of Geopolitics – Analysis

Posted by yourpakistan on December 28, 2012


Pakistan_orthographic_projection.svg_

 

By: Shabbir H. Kazmi

Since independence Pakistan has remained the focus of global and regional powers. The country is termed a natural corridor for trade ‑ including energy products ‑ gateway to Central Asia and landlocked Afghanistan. There is a perception that often regimes are installed and toppled in Pakistan by the super powers to achieve their vested interest. This is evident from cold war era to occupation of Afghanistan and from love and hate relationship with India to creation of Taliban (phantom now having many offspring).

At present Pakistan is facing extremely volatile situation, which has become a threat for its own existence. Fighting a proxy war for United States in Afghanistan for nearly four decade has completely destroyed the economic and social fabric of the country.

Pakistan is suffering from the influx of foreign militant groups getting funds and arms from different global operators.

Analysts say over the years Pakistan has been towing foreign and military policy of the United States, which has often offended USSR, China, India and Iran. Therefore, one needs to analyze Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan, India and Iran, enjoying common borders with the country. It may not be wrong to say that at present Pakistan doesn’t enjoy cordial relation with none of these countries.  Read the rest of this entry »

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War Against or for Terrorism

Posted by yourpakistan on August 21, 2011


By Hamid Waheed – Opinion Maker

The event of 9/11 proved a major shift in Pak US relationship which had gone from bad to worse after US left Pakistan in aftermath of Russian defeat in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton Publically told American audience that Jehadi organizations were US creations for defeating Russia.

It was though easy for US sitting thousands of miles away to walk away and let Pakistan face the music and turn back in 2011 with a report “Country Reports on Terrorism 2010”’ published by United States Department of State .The report illustrates that coop b/w ALQ, Afghan and Pak-based militants was critical. The report discussed the danger posed by LeT and increased resource-sharing b/w ALQ & its Pak-based allies and associates i-e TTP and the Haqqani Network as a source of threat in South Asia. But it fails to speak the complete truth that LeT was created in 1984 at Kunar in Afghanistan by CIA and the fact that Pakistan has played its role in arrest of Lakhvi head of the hardliner faction in LeT after 26/11 at Mumbai. The report also does not mention the role played by JuD a welfare organization in Pakistan out of moderate group thus visibly reducing LeT’s potency.

The converging interests after 9/11 this time more in favor of US, Pakistan once again decided to help a friend. Pakistani leadership came out to reverse anti U.S sentiments and defeat terrorism by convincing public that partnership in war on terror (WOT) is in interest of both Nations. However this way forward could only move few paces when it was challenged by adverse international hands .The U.S was targeted from within by creating a silent divide between Pentagon, the government and CIA.

Media proved one of the major weapons, Western media and a group of American officials became part of a perception war on Pakistan, accusing it of double dealing in the war against terrorism, where as in reality on Afghanistan side there have been some mind boggling events which shows that Raymond Davis was not the start of a problem but was part of issues happening for quite some time. In April 2008 Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, told a parliament security committee that “coalition forces” intended to place weapons, ammunition and food at a police checkpoint in a remote section of the southern province of Zabul in late March, a coalition helicopter by mistake dropped somewhere far from the checkpoint.

Later the Taliban came and they picked it up,” Later Hamidullah Tukhi, a lawmaker from Zabul, told the security commission the weapons were placed 300 feet from the home of a Taliban commander named Mullah Mohammad Alam. He said the supply drop contained heavy machine guns, AK-47s, rockets and food. Lawmakers discussed the issue with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. “I think Gen. McNeill himself said that it was a mistake, but I don’t believe it”.

Pakistan army fighting WOT in Swat, Malakand observed foreign hand supporting terrorists by training and arms supply to fight Pakistan army. Indian conciliates in Afghanistan near to Pakistan borders were suspected but few noticed a 46-page report by the GAO the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress which warned in Feb , 2009 that thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, may be in Taliban or Al-Qaeda hands in Afghanistan because of lax controls. The chairman of the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, John Tierney, asked “What if we had to tell families not only why we are in Afghanistan, but why their son or daughter died at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by US taxpayers?” the Democrat told the hearing. Pakistan was thus confronted with CIA operating through outsourcing which knew no rules, ethics and principles. With time the initial statements of collation supporters in US state department and Pentagon started becoming hostage to perception war of CIA through media.

US journal terms 2010 a year of big success when over 18 senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders were confirmed killed through drone strikes. The drone strikes have increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan society and the region. The terrorists have used the collateral damage to maximize the environment and society to their benefit. Families of people killed in collateral damage become ideal nursery for suicide bombers. Pakistan Army fighting WOT under General Kayani had come a long way from low popularity level due to its political role to its present strength amongst the people of Pakistan. An international survey conducted to understand the FATA situation revealed that Pak military operation in tribal areas is now considered a step in the right direction.

The percentage of the people favoring military operation has been increasing from 16.7% in 2009 to 66.8% in 2010. However, despite public and official requests to US by political as well as military leadership of Pakistan to stop drone or provide them the technology the drone attacks continued. These attacks converged with western media campaign to malign Pakistan armed forces and its intelligence agency leading to increase in distrust. Despite such odds the professional media keeps showing true picture to the American audience. The Report of Aug 2011 by “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” claims that after every four days there is one US drone strike. US drone attacks killed 775 civilians including 168 children.

Over all Bureau reports says some 2029 people have died in drone attacks since 2004. The report also declines a recent claim by President Obama saying that no civilians are being killed by drone attacks. (The host shows a clip of Obama’s administration’s top counter-terrorism official (John Burner) , claiming that “we don’t take action where children and women are present even if we know that terrorists are present in that area.) The Obama administration have labeled this report based on allegations and blame that one of its sources is Pakistani spy Mirza Shahzad Akbar. Chris Wood Bureau of Investigative Journalism explained all allegations during his interview. I quote

AMY GOODMAN: The criticism that’s been launched against your research is that one of the lawyers you’re working with, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, works for the ISI, as well, the Pakistani intelligence. Chris Woods, your response? CHRIS WOODS: I do find that an extraordinary attack. I have met Shahzad Akbar on a few occasions. He seems a very straight-down-the-line man. He’s, I think, the only lawyer in Pakistan trying to bring cases on behalf of civilians killed in CIA drone strikes. And, you know, even the CIA now say they’ve killed 50 civilians in Pakistan. Not a single compensation settlement has ever been made in relation to these drone strikes. And we suspect far more civilians have died. Mr. Akbar is being smeared as a possible agent of Pakistani intelligence. I think that’s unfortunate.

A retired Admiral Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, declared that America’s drone campaign “is eroding our influence and damaging our ability to work with Pakistan.” The drone strikes in Pakistan are affecting U.S. popularity on the ground, according to the Pew Global Attitudes survey, the U.S. favorability rating—long battered by conspiracy theories and an anti-American media—hovers at about 12%. The perception war blurs and suppresses the voices of intelligentsia which believes in rule of law, Human rights and values. The super power which should be winning hearts and minds of world to maximize its peak life cycle is trapped into shortsighted unethical aims and tactical objectives.

The drone is a tactical weapon and has certainly given good results tactically to support coalition forces operation on their sides of the border. Historically, the drone strategies used by US are similar to French aerial bombardment in rural Algeria in the 1950s, and to the “air control” methods employed by the British in the Pakistani tribal areas in the 1920s. The resemblance is more with the recent 2005-2006 Somalian crisis against the forces of Islamic courts. The strikes though killed the militant targets but the public anger over US’s power usage solidified the power of extremists. This eventually led to Ethiopian military intervention giving rise to regional insurgency and offshore piracy. The security dynamics of the area remain complex having far future implications.

Society and environment remain the main area of concern both for LEA and Terrorists to shape up their future strategy. The solutions lie in looking for joint benefit and strategy for the coalition partners and pursue them under umbrella of confidence. This is a war of hearts and minds for peace around the globe. Are we looking to defeat the terrorist or terrorism remains a trillion dollar question.

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Is USA Arming Anti-Pakistan Terrorists?

Posted by yourpakistan on April 15, 2011


TAJ M. KHATTAK | The News International

WWW.PAKNATIONALISTS.COM

India invaded and dismembered Pakistan, but US can’t see this. What to make of the US withdrawal from four bases in Nuristan on the border with Pakistan which allowed anti-Pakistan terrorists to regroup and plan attacks on us? What about terrorists brandishing latest US weapons?

In 1961, US vice president Lyndon B Johnson shook hands with camel-cart driver Bashir Ahmed during a state visit to Pakistan, patted his camel and said: “You come to Washington and see us sometime.”Bashir’s subsequent twelve-day visit to the US shortly afterwards was a media blaze. On his part, in deference to his guest’s unease with silverware, LBJ even selected a menu where they could all eat with their hands. The high point came when Bashir was addressed as “Your Excellency” by former president Harry S Truman. That moment, Gary Powers’ U-2 take off from Badaber airbase near Peshawar the previous May and the spy plane’s shooting down over the Soviet Union, Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev’s threat to wipe Peshawar off the face of the earth and public anxiety over this crisis in Pakistan were all forgotten for a while.Fast-forward to June 2008 and a bright Pakistani student, Samad Khurram, refuses an award from Ambassador Anne W Patterson in protest against US attacks on Mohmand Agency. But it was the thunderous applause for Khurram by the educated audience which accurately reflected the depth to which Pakistan-US relations had plummeted.

Gary Powers’ flight was a watershed event in many ways, but most significantly it defined a moment when, in spite of being sponsor and signatory to the Bandung Pact, which in essence required us not be drawn into the Cold War and respect other countries’ sovereignty, we allowed the use of our soil in a manner that could hardly amuse our neighbors, something which apparently did not stop even after Musharraf’s speech of January 2004.

We ignored a basic tenet, that the security of a state is enhanced more with friendly neighbors than overdependence on distant allies for whom Pakistan will always be a country too far. The result: fifty years down the road, we still need to revisit the fundamentals of Pakistan-US relations, a yearning to start a composite dialogue with India, relations with Afghanistan are unstable and with Iran we are barely managing.

It might have been a different scenario if we had not succumbed to the lure of US aid, largely military and to a negligible extent in the social sector. We have no one but ourselves to blame for these missteps as others will always pursue their own national agendas and interests. Reaching out to China and building an “all- weather” relationship was the only sensible foreign policy decision which has stood us in good stead and is an eyesore for the US and India.

The foundation of Pakistan as a client state of the US was laid when we mortgaged Badaber in the late 1950s. It also ushered in an era in which the US administration was more at ease with successive corrupt and inept military and civilian rulers who kowtowed to the US and its policies but showed no vision with regard to the long-term interests of Pakistan. Pakistan-US relations in the context of the Pakistani people therefore remained a total disconnect to be fully exploited by the religious right on such occasions as the Rushdie affair and the seizure of Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979.

After the latest slump, the White House has issued a 38-page report to Congress which is an indictment on Pakistan but accepts virtually no responsibility on what increasingly looks like 3-D model of conflicting US policies and incoherence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Consider: if the CIA has ownership of drones and spies like Raymond Davis, the State Department pushes the nuclear deal with India but opposes the same deal with Pakistan and the Pentagon manages the United States’ Afghan policy in Kabul at the macro level, thus widening mistrust between Pakistan and the US, why then put the onus of the failures entirely on Pakistan?

The report ignores Pakistan’s national interests, or they are not given sufficient importance. If the US has clarity on achievable war objectives in Afghanistan, they may be known to a few in Washington and the information is not shared with Pakistan.

It is evident that through its heavy-handed policies, US is only interested in lowering militancy threat level on the Afghan side till its drawdown commences and least concerned with any proportionate decrease on this side of the border. Pakistan had been left holding the baby in the past and is unlikely to be fooled so easily this time around. The US makes much of the $8 billions aid and Coalition Support Fund but is insensitive to a nearly $80 billions hit to our economy.

In response to the White House report the Congress panel’s recommendations contained little that was new. It cited the usual differences between the US and Pakistan on their threat perceptions which are adversely affecting operations against extremists. It has also alleged that Pakistan’s military establishment has links with banned outfits.

India and Pakistan have fought three destructive wars and were on the verge of conflict on at least two other occasions. Any country which has dismembered another through use of force would be a threat by any definition of the word and India fits that bill. Neither the US nor India has any interest in a forward movement towards permanent peace in the region. If this is not a threat situation and the US sees it differently, then so be it.

What is one to make of the US withdrawal from four bases in Nuristan on the border with Pakistan which left the north-eastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban-led insurgency to orchestrate local battles? This had a direct negative impact on the Pakistani army’s operations as militants from Afghanistan infiltrated into Mohmand and Bajaur to help the Pakistani Taliban under siege.

Al-Jazeera’s footage of Taliban fighters brandishing US weapons has not been denied either. How is the US administration going to explain to the families of its perished soldiers that not only is the US involved in Afghanistan for all the wrong reasons but has also supplied insurgents with weapons to kill their sons and daughters serving in this godforsaken country? Is there any surprise, then, as to why its frustrated, i-pod equipped soldiers are killing innocent Afghan civilians at random as reported recently by the German magazine Der Spiegel?

The congressmen’s panel report has asked President Obama to abandon Pakistan and embrace India which, according to Congress, is emerging as the brightest light in South Asia. They have conveniently forgotten that the US has never really embraced anyone in the true sense of the word. It has only used countries along the way and then dumped them when they are no longer required. The Indians are too sharp not to understand this.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir would soon be on his way to patch up a floundering relationship. A relationship which is cozy today and in the doldrums tomorrow can hardly be helpful or strategic in nature. One hopes he can successfully plead Pakistan’s case for convergence and not divergence of long-term interests between the two countries.

If not, it might be appropriate to move away from this fractured “close” relationship to a normal one. The strategic relationship is a misnomer and cannot take us anywhere if we are looking in different directions. We need to focus our energies on improving relations with our neighbors in the region. To be sure, there will be economic difficulties in the beginning as we move away from the US orbit.

The Chinese didn’t give up opium in a single day. Our addiction to foreign aid too will take a while to go away. The Y junction on the road ahead and out of the US embrace may well be a blessing in disguise.

The column was published by The News International under the headline, A Relationship Gone Sour.’ The writer is a retired vice admiral. Reach him at tajkhattak@ymail.com

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Pakistan says no to Foreign Troops for any Operation

Posted by yourpakistan on January 1, 2011


Aaj Tv

Pakistan on Thursday categorically stated that it would not allow any foreign troops on its soil to fight extremism & terrorism. Commenting on a report published in the New York Times regarding action by foreign troops inside Pakistan against terrorists, the Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said, “United States knows our red lines on the issue and they will not cross these lines.”

Addressing the weekly briefing the spokesman said Pakistan did not expect that the United States would complicate matters involving counter-terrorism. The spokesman said Pakistan is cognizant of its security requirements and there will be no compromise on this issue. He said Pakistan’s military and political leadership is mindful what is required to ensure security of the country. He also pointed out that the NATO and the ISAF mandate was restricted to Afghanistan only and Pakistan’s security forces are capable of taking action against militants and terrorists.

The spokesman said, “Pakistan is committed to fight against terrorism and extremism.” He said it had been carrying out operations wherever required and Pakistani troops are already present in North Waziristan.He, however, said scope and timing of the operation in North Waziristan would only be determined by Pakistan.Replying to a question he said Pakistan had conveyed its concern to Britain, France and Germany on the statements made by these countries about terrorism. “Pakistan hopes that these important countries with whom it has good relations will understand true perspective of the issue in this region,” he added.

Basit said Pakistan had been working on a successful foreign policy and one of the objectives is to have normal relations with every country and added that this objective was being achieved through good diplomacy. Responding to another question, he said concerns about Pakistan-China nuclear civil cooperation are unwarranted as this is peaceful in nature and under IAEA safeguards.

Replying to questions about Pakistan-India relations and resumption of dialogue process, the spokesman said, “Pakistan is ready to resume the dialogue process as soon as possible but not to the exclusion of Jammu and Kashmir dispute or other important issues.”Commenting on the remarks of the Indian Foreign Minister about Kashmir, he said, “There is need to discuss all issues which continue to bedevil our relations.”

The spokesman also pointed out, unfortunately, India is using terrorism as a propaganda ploy. He said, “It is in the habit of (India) to making hue and cry ignoring its own responsibilities.” The spokesman said almost four years have elapsed to the Samjota Express blast in which 42 Pakistani nationals were killed, but India has yet to share its findings with Pakistan.

 

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Fighting Pashtuns Not Pakistan’s War

Posted by yourpakistan on November 19, 2010


Pakistani Pashtuns cannot be stopped from sympathizing with Afghan Pashtuns. Pakistan must tell United States to solve the Afghan Pashtun problem inside Afghanistan. Islamabad should also dispute US claims about the quality of Al Qaeda presence and strength on the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan’s tribal belt is not responsible for American rout in Afghanistan.

By AHMED QURAISHI – WWW.PAKNATIONALISTS.COM

There is a very simple question that every Pakistani government official needs to ask the Americans: If you fail to pacify the Pashtun in Afghanistan, is it Pakistan’s responsibility to sever historical ties and wage war against them?

This is the mother of all questions because it deals with the issue of some, not all, of the Afghan Taliban using Pakistani territory to attack occupation armies in their country. Apparently this is the excuse the United States is using to expand its failed Afghan war into Pakistan. US officials say Pakistanis are unable to exercise sovereignty over their own territory. US proxies inside Pakistan – in politics and media – then use this argument to ask another question: Isn’t Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban violating Pakistani sovereignty by using our border pockets as hideouts away from action inside Afghanistan? This argument is used to justify US violations of the Pak-Afghan international border. If Afghan Taliban can violate Pakistan’s border, why not the US military? So the justification goes.

Pakistan still has time to come out strongly with two arguments at policy level. One, there is no way of completely stopping Pakistani Pashtuns – who are an integral part of the Pakistani nation – from sympathizing with the Pashtuns in Afghanistan. And Two, US must solve the ‘Pashtun problem’ inside Afghanistan. The solution is not by starting a war between the Pakistani military – manned in substantial part by the Pashtuns – and between Pakistani or Afghan Pashtuns, like the so-called Haqqani network. This will not fix the toy the Americans broke in Afghanistan.

In other words: What is it the US is doing wrong in Afghanistan to spur Pashtun and Taliban resistance, including pushing some of them into Pakistan? And should Pakistan respond by killing the Pashtun because the US says so?

There are two more strong arguments that can strengthen a Pakistani policy review, which is overdue nine years into a failed war.
One is the fact that Pashtun and Taliban resistance against occupation in Afghanistan is not a function of Pakistani tribal areas. The US military dare not claim that Pakistan’s devastated tribal belt is alone responsible for the rout facing US, NATO and ISAF forces across Afghanistan. But this is what the Americans imply when they shift the world focus to Pakistan without anyone from the Pakistani side disputing this twisted American logic.

And the second argument has to do with al Qaeda. Pakistan needs to dispute the American claims about the quality and strength of Al Qaeda presence in the Pakistani tribal belt. London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies is not exactly a den of antiwar activism. In a report last month, the think tank questioned the US policy line that al Qaeda is strong enough to threaten anyone beyond Afghanistan or Pakistan.

If anything, we are seeing a US-occupied Afghanistan becoming a magnet for unknown terrorists from multiple backgrounds and questionable loyalties using Afghan soil to enter our tribal belt, as in the case of the Germans involved in the alleged Mumbai-style Europe terror plot. Washington is conveniently using these conspiracy theories to expand its war inside Pakistani territory without any credible evidence.

Pakistan does not have a quarrel with Afghan Pashtuns or the Afghan Taliban. The latest US reports and assertions that Pakistan or its spy agencies maintain contacts with either are ridiculous. Islamabad must maintain those contacts. In fact, we must expand contacts with the Afghan Taliban in view of the double game the United States played with us in Afghanistan over the last eight years, where it turned Kabul into Anti-Pakistan Central and deliberately expanded and continues to encourage Indian presence on our western borders.

The American duplicity extends to peace talks. Washington wants us to enter into a war with Afghanistan’s Pashtuns while it secretly establishes contacts and tries to win them over behind Pakistan’s back.

The same argument extends to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Kashmiri groups. Islamabad can’t shower bombs on Kashmiris who decide to become part of LeT or support their kin resisting Indian atrocities in Kashmir. The solution there too is for India to resolve its own problems. Its festering occupation in Kashmir, like the festering American occupation in Afghanistan, is breeding two-way violence that first and foremost destabilizes Pakistan. Our answer can’t be to send troops to crack down on our Pashtuns and Kashmiris. Others need to answer for their actions that are destabilizing Pakistan and the region.

 

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9/11: Hope or Hate

Posted by yourpakistan on September 13, 2010


Numerous commentators on the demented, hate filled ramblings of “Pastor” Terry Jones, who may or may not celebrate his 11th September by an evening of Qur’an burnings, have referred to the potential of Muslim retaliation across the globe. General Petraeus is concerned about backlash to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, more or less reiterated his stance – whilst saying they are powerless to stop his hate filled initiative. One can only speculate as to whether they would be as sanguine were it the Torah or Talmud being burned.

Yet the avalanche of comments also create a further divide.

Jones is a man with miniscule “following.” Near no mention is being made of Christians, Jews or those born to both religions, but who have long wandered away, and of other faiths, or none, shamed and repelled to have this action committed in their name – they are American, British, German, Spanish, Polish, Italian and other nations – civilian, but unwillingly “allied” to the “coalition”, who have invaded – and are threatening – Muslim countries. They are part of the millions who marched against war – and the countless more, who first believed the threats spouted by their governments, then acknowledged that they had been mislead and have acted tirelessly, trying to redress their – and governments – mistakes.

One website condemning the action attracted seven thousand protesters near-instantly. A tongue in cheek commentator suggested it is the Pastor who should be burned – in Hell. Another site has attracted more thousands of non-Muslims to a worldwide “Wear a Hijab Day”, on 11th September – and another to convert the anniversary to global: “Buy a Qur’an Day.”Unknown ObjectOne writer wondered what kind of “crazy” now “represents” God. Well, a few actually. There was George W. Bush, who announced he was embarking on a “Crusade” and was enjoined by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, now converted to Catholicism. There was the “Clash of Civilisations”, nonsense. And US and UK soldiers taking in guns with Biblical quotes on the stocks – and distributing bibles in the relevant languages as they incursed – and worse – in to towns, villages, neighbourhoods in Afghanistan and Iraq. A practice, when discovered, which led – ironically – to a photo-op of ceremonial burnings of remaining bible stocks by US troops.

Guantanamo, Bagram and formerly US and UK-operated prisons in Iraq (and elsewhere) including another infamy, Abu Ghraib, filled with near entirely Muslims. Countless languishing for years, uncharged and with no day in Court. Tortured, unimaginably degraded, their Qur’ans have been thrown in to toilets, stepped on and worse. In Fallujah in the original confrontation when the US troops took over a school, they left having written obscenities about Islam on doors and walls, having repeatedly defecated and again, done the unspeakable to Qur’ans.

Book burning is a special kind of savagery, it both destroys and displays an ignorance of and fear of culture, own and that of others. Julius Caesar burned the great library in Alexandria in 48 BC. Nero burned Rome in 64 AD. The Mongul hordes the Baghdad Library and that of the great Munstanstarya University eight hundred years ago. Hitler, of course was in to book burning, organized under Goebbels, the Orwellianly-named Minster of Enlightenment. The new Monguls, in US uniform, allowed or were instrumental, in the same the same, multi-fold, in 2003 – and have continued to bomb and burn property and people – and Qur’ans – for seven years – ongoing, for all the misleading “pullout” nonsense.

Perhaps Mr Jones – who seemingly packs a .40-caliber pistol on his hip – has unwittingly made one progressive step. After what has been revealed, from top to bottom of barking crazy fundamentalism in Christianity, many may think twice before ever again writing or uttering the words: “fundamentalist” with “Islam.”

11th September falls at the start of the three day Muslim celebration of Eid, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a time of abstinence. Eid is joyous meals, new clothes for children, gifts and pristine money for the young. In Afghanistan and Iraq, for the majority it is either scaled down to near nothing, or just a memory, due to grief, invasion, inflicted travel terror, poverty, or all four .

For America, it is the commemoration of the fall of the Towers, with no thought of the 11th September inflicted in casualties, daily, weekly, monthly on the countries invaded since – who had no nationals even accused of being on the flights which allegedly hit the buildings and the Pentagon (facts which over twelve hundred professionals and experts now dispute the official version.)

Anniversaries on 11th September abound, from the mists of time onwards. However, some salutary ones, in relatively recent history, show America is not alone in its suffering, indeed, has created that of others. On 11th September 1919, US Marines invaded Honduras; on 11th September 1941, the ground was broken for the construction of the Pentagon, that source of more subsequent world wide marauding and slaughter. On 11th September 1965, the US First Cavalry arrived in Viet Nam – and on 11th September 1973, the Nixon Administration’s collusion in the overthrow of the democratically elected President Salvador Allende in Chile, came to fruition, ushering in the decades of the “disappeared”, under General Augusto Pinochet.

Ally Britain indulged in a bit of decimation on 11th September 1944, bombing and creating a fire storm in Darmstadt, Germany, incinerating eleven thousand five hundred people. 11th September 1997 is remembered for the loss of fourteen Estonian soldiers on the Russian submarine Kurske, in a haunting disaster. The widow of one who died reflected, memorably: ” If you betray your country (the law is invoked) and you pay the price. But what happens if your country betrays you?” Quite.

Betrayed also are the nationalities of the numerous other countries who died in the Twin Towers – over one in ten of the tragedy. They included nationals of Jordan and Lebanon, India lost forty one, South Korea twenty eight, Canada and Japan both lost twenty four, Colombia seventeen, Jamaica, Mexico and the Philippines sixteen each, Australia and Germany eleven each, Italy ten, Israel five and the UK sixty seven, including nationals of its territory, Bermuda. Deaths in lesser numbers are from nations across the planet. (Wikipedia and others.) In spite of a near uniquely international tragedy, and opportunity for coming together, it seems to have been transformed in to exclusively American grief – and revenge.

Even that wretched dove, symbol of global peace, which adorns cards for all seasons, has become embroiled, with “Pastor” Jones, in naming his strange interpretation of vengeful, not conciliatory, Christianity: “Dove World Outreach Centre.” Jones, of course sent children from his church to school, wearing shirts stating: “Islam Is Of The Devil,” also the title of a book he has written. Impossible not to think of a recent depiction on a card, of a desperate dove, not with an olive leaf, or twig in its beak, but the entire branch. It is depicted struggling through the thermals, drops of perspiration bursting though the feathers.

Those of note who have spoken out appear to be more worried about retaliation on US and UK troops, than the implications of a shaming act. With the news from Pentagon documents, that US troops have alleged to have been involved in further atrocities, collecting of fingers, teeth bones, even skulls of victims, retaliation seems anyway, pretty well guaranteed.

Recently a contributer to a Middle East-orientated website wrote: “I am a Muslim : Kill me & call it “collateral damage”; imprison me & call it: “security measure”; exile my people en masse & call it: “A New Middle East”; steal my resources, invade my land, murder my wife & children, alter the leadership of my country & call it: “democracy.” He speaks for millions. Those representing the West, especially the US and UK need humility, genuine outreach, to listen carefully before they talk and bridge building, not bridge burning. by Felicity Arbuthnot

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America’s Undeclared War on Pakistan

Posted by yourpakistan on July 23, 2010


It was a relatively flawless performance. With Washington stuck in its Afghan review and Pakistan’s cities under bombardment, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched down in a hostile Pakistan in October 2009 on a self-proclaimed propaganda mission. Greeted with bombs from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and treated with hard questions on the freshly signed Kerry-Lugar bill, Clinton left a foul impression after deploying her grating “do more” mantra on al-Qaeda’s leadership.

July 2010 would be different. No major explosions signaled her arrival, which Clinton attributed to Pakistan’s military success in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Drones have lost their controversial potency and US aid, always a third rail, grows increasingly palatable to an economically struggling Pakistan. Clinton beamed throughout her photo-ops and Pakistani leadership reflected the shine. She even managed to accuse someone within the government of knowing Osama bin Laden’s location without drawing attention, having landed in South Korea by the time her Fox News interview aired.

From Islamabad Clinton triumphantly landed in Kabul for what she hailed as a “turning point” in Afghanistan: a six hour international conference that pledged $20 billion in aid and declared Afghan security forces would assume command of all provinces by 2014. The choreography went off as planned, which of course is the point when the show is too good to be true.

Like a bridge, errors in one part of the span expose other flaws and threaten to bring the entire structure down with it.Though Clinton undoubtedly improved upon her last visit, charm can only beautify an ugly reality so much. Promises of aid were automatically linked to a military invasion of North Waziristan rather than Pakistan’s current strategy of negotiating with its hosts, Sirajuddin and Jalaluddin Haqqani. Clinton explicitly ruled out a dialogue with them, tagging US aid as conditional.

Already fearful of military servitude, it doesn’t help that US and foreign aid lacks the track record to inspire confidence among  average Pakistanis. The Kerry-Lugar bill, President Barack Obama’s celebrated achievement in civilian aid, stalled in Congress due to fears of misappropriated funds; a trade bill designed for the FATA similarly gridlocked. Pakistan had to jump through hoops to receive long-delayed reimbursement from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), while the Friends of Pakistan have delivered only $725 million of $5.6 billion pledged in April 2009.

So when Clinton announced “$500 million in several new development programs,” funded in part by the Kerry-Lugar bill, the many strings attached cast ominous shadows over her smiles. The attitude of Pakistan’s press was straightforward: “Given Pakistan’s current plight, any assistance from the outside world has to be welcomed. The recognition by the US that policy cannot be focused only on security issues is also a step in the right direction.”

Whatever the strings and grudges, Pakistan simply isn’t in the position to turn down assistance.

But Islamabad’s endgame is roughly the opposite of Washington’s. While the White House believes its efficiency in delivering military and humanitarian aid determines success in Afghanistan, Pakistanis base success on the effectiveness of Pakistan’s leaders. These aren’t the same goals. America needs Pakistan to improve and thus assist in stabilizing Afghanistan so that it can remain in the region, but Pakistan wants to utilize US aid to regain sovereignty of the state and ultimately rid South Asia of America’s military presence.

“The hugely positive tone adopted by the Secretary of State will of course have brought smiles to the faces of Pakistani leaders,” wrote The News International. “But they must recognize that the relationship between Pakistan and the US is a complex one. Many believe it is in fact the root cause behind our militant problem and that this cannot be solved until the US withdraws from the region.”

Clinton may have missed this not-so-subtle difference, but the chances of her merely ignoring it are higher. While admitting that Pakistani’s negative perception of America “wouldn’t change overnight,” she raved about its new environment – “I could feel a change” – and Pakistani officials who, “really believe that the people are understanding that the United States wants to be a real partner to us and that it’s not just killing terrorists.”

Pew Research Center listed Pakistani approval at 17% in June 2010, up 1% from last year but down from 19% in 2008.The News International warned upon her exit, “There is a very real risk that the latest aid offer will be seen as a kind of bribe intended to ensure that the fighting continues. The effort to persuade people that the war against militancy is Pakistan’s has so far been a faltering one.”

The Dawn analyzed “Hillary’s iron fist in a velvet glove,” while a less generous Nation concluded, “It is time we broke off from the present US stranglehold that is suffocating Pakistan to death.”

But Clinton’s most telltale contradiction: passing the blame off to George Bush. “Of course there is a legacy of suspicion that we inherited,” she argues, when Pakistan is actually one of the Obama administration’s favorite words – a “whole of government” problem. Anti-US sentiment has ran high for over 20 years and spans multiple presidencies, many staffed with the same officials that fill Obama’s cabinet and National Security Council. Pew still has Bill Clinton clocked at 22% in 1999.

Pakistan’s fate has always be decided by how the foreign chips fall, not how they stack up. America may uphold its obligations this time around, it just hasn’t before, and Afghanistan repeats the same story. The Huffington Post digs up the old bones of past “international conferences” and “turning points.”

Paradoxes in Kabul were equally numerous, for instance the massive quantity of foreign aid that may disappear. Karzai called for 50% to funnel through Afghanistan’s ministries by 2012, up from 20%, while dutifully promising to clean up corruption for Western ears. However, the conference followed a report from Integrity Watch Afghanistan that found corruption had doubled between 2006 and 2009. This story never seems to change, whether before or after Karzai’s controversial election victory in 2009, and the West’s power to reform this gray area remains suspect.

Reintegration prospects are dwindling too. Reconciliation appears a non-starter in Washington despite its public support for reintegration, a stance that hinders reintegration. On top of UK reports that few Taliban are switching sides, the idea of transferring authority to Afghan forces by 2014 implies that the West still expects to be fighting the Taliban rather than reintegrating it. This tidal wave of uncertainty finally throws the 2014 deadline into upheaval.

When Karzai insisted, “Afghan national security forces will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country by 2014,” he’s asking for the same three years Iraq needed after its surge.

Given that most deadlines in Afghanistan evaporate, history and the present offer no reason to define 2014 as realistic as NATO did. Marjah and Kandahar’s time-lines already protracted. Obama’s 2011 transfer deadline, if not postponed outright, will amount to a symbolic transition of power, and Vice President Joe Biden recently conceded “a couple thousand troops” is the likeliest withdrawal option. Clinton desperately tried to counter the slippery slope by arguing, “the transition process may be able to begin by the end of this year.”

Yet believing in 2014, let alone Clinton’s new claim, makes no sense in a country where projects rarely start or finish on time.The last few days in Afghanistan brought no surprises. The White House in particular is facing renewed criticism from the US Congress and media to clarify the war’s objectives, and Clinton’s tour was its answer. But instead of leveling with the US, Afghan, and Pakistani peoples and shunning unrealistic expectations, Washington rolled out more smoke and mirrors to conjure the image of success.

Being illusions, the deadlines are likely to vanish one by one and ultimately fail to break the West’s cycle of mission drift in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

James Gundun is a political scientist and counterinsurgency analyst based in Washington D.C. Contact him in The Trench, a realist foreign policy blog,

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