|Written by http://www.daily.pk|
|Saturday, 18 October 2008 02:20|
|In Pakistan, a weak government and a blind parliament are leading a nuclear-armed nation behind George W. Bush’s policy of self-destruction.
1. The U.S. wants Pakistan to lessen its focus on Kashmir, ignore how India is using Afghan soil to export terrorism to Pakistan, ignore the Indian water blockade of Pakistan, and focus instead on firmly toeing the U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Basically Washington wants us to protect their back while they refuse to commit to protecting the back of their Pakistani ally. [SEE PRESIDENT ZARDARI’S RECENT INTERACTIONS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS AND PM GILANI’S MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON IN EARLY AUG. 2008, and the U.S. media reports and leaks surrounding these two visits].
2. In order to sell Pakistanis Bush administration’s new policy line that Pakistan should ‘own’ America’s war on terror, the government of President Asif Zardari called a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad that lasted for almost a week in the hope that the politicians from all parties will endorse Washington’s desire to expand the war into Pakistan. The briefing took place in the week ending Oct. 17, 2008.
3. To rope in the Pakistani military, Mr. Zardari’s government invited the army to open the briefing. The military did send a senior officer to give a presentation that was limited to operational issues. But the briefing was not that of a military given to politicians. It was a briefing by a PPP-led government, reflecting PPP policies, which are very close to the U.S. position. Evidence:
3.1 Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the religious JUI-F party, a coalition partner of the PPP government, issued a statement 0n Oct. 15 saying that his party sees the briefing as PPP’s own and that it does not reflect the view of all the coalition parties.
3.2 President Zardari’s statement to a Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens saying India is not a threat to Pakistan and that Kashmiri freedom fighters are terrorists. He also failed to raise the question of India blocking Chenab water. [Times of India published a commentary titled Why Zardari said what America wanted to hear, Oct. 12, where the author says, “Is there any rational explanation for what Zardari definitely told the Wall Street Journal--that those who had picked up the gun and bomb in Kashmir were terrorists, and that India has never been a threat to Pakistan?”]
3.3 The sudden emergence of expensive newspaper and TV advertisement on Pakistani channels and newspapers with the message that America’s war in Afghanistan is ‘Pakistan’s own’. It is not clear who is paying for these ads and who they represent.
3.4 Another evidence that this was a partisan, one-sided briefing is how Indian-occupied Kashmir was shown as part of India in a map during Information Minister Sherry Rehman’s briefing on Oct. 14, 2008. The same day, the Pakistani military distanced itself from the briefing and DG ISPR told The News in a report that the military’s briefing was restricted to the first round and had nothing to do with the Minister’s briefing. The spokesman also said that the military followed the government policy.
4. There is no question that the military cannot take the lead in making public some harsh truths if the PPP government is not prepared to own the consequences, especially regarding the role of some of our allies in fostering secessionism and terrorism inside Pakistan.
5. In his briefing, DG ISI/ex-DGMO alluded to weapons and support to militants inside Pakistan coming from Afghanistan. This implicates a country whose President was invited as a guest of honor when President Zardari was sworn in. How is the PPP government dealing with this challenge? Has it taken up this matter with Kabul and Washington?
6. On 5 Aug., 2008, Geo journalist Kamran Khan reported the following both on his TV show and on the front page of The News: “Impeccable official sources have said that strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.” QUESTION: Did President Zardari or Prime Minister Gilani or the Defense Minister or the Foreign Minister raise this urgent question of our national security when all of them visited Washington in the period between August and September 2008?
7. How come the government’s briefing failed to address what Interior Advisor Rehman Malik told a private TV channel in an interview on July 24, 2008, reported by Pak Tribune news site and I quote: “The Prime Minister’s advisor to Interior Rehman Malik has said that India was supporting the terrorist elements like Bramdagh Bugti in Pakistan, and evidences in this connection will be soon presented.”?
8. How does Rehman Malik’s statement of July 24, 2008 match with President Zardari’s statement of Oct. 4 in the Wall Street Journal where he said “India is not and has never been a threat” to Pakistan?
9. U.S. military’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said in a TV interview on Oct. 11, 2008, that U.S. is considering changing its Afghanistan strategy to include India, possibly allowing Indian soldiers to jointly patrol the Pak-Afghan border. This is a serious issue. Why is it that the PPP government kept quiet on it and the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister have not responded to the U.S. official? What is the government policy on Adm. Mullen’s statement?
10. The PPP government wants Pakistanis to make America’s war on terror our own. QUESTION: Is eliminating the Afghan resistance part of our responsibility? Or is our responsibility limited to eliminating the militants who are fighting us on our own territory? What if the coalition fails in political reconciliation inside Afghanistan, leading Afghans to take up arms? Would fighting the entire Afghan population inside Afghanistan be our responsibility too?
11. Why did the PPP government not give the Parliament and the nation the bigger picture: How Washington is drastically changing the strategic outlook in the region in a way that is detrimental to Pakistani interest? There was no discussion about American plans to formalize an expanded Indian intelligence and military presence in Afghanistan, the effort to cut Pakistan’s ability to influence the future of Kashmir, the near-total Indian control over our waters, or the efforts to reduce Pakistan’s ability to protest Indian involvement in future joint patrols of Pak-Afghan border, which is also on the cards.
Eight years to 9/11, Pakistan’s parliament was expected to retake the initiative, declare that Pakistan will not help United States crush the Afghan resistance, which flourishes due to the blunders of U.S. military and the inept regime of Hamid Karzai, declare Baitullah Mehsud and others of his ilk ‘most wanted terrorists’, expose their links to foreign spy agencies so that all Pakistanis recognize their enemy. Instead, we have a government whose leader, President Asif Zardari, declares in Washington that President Bush has made the world a safer place, and then returns to Pakistan to tell Pakistanis that America’s lost war in Afghanistan ‘is our own.’ Ahmed Quraishi
Posted October 24, 2008
Source close to Tzipi Livni, the new head of Israel’s ruling Kadima Party, accused the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party of having “deceived the entire country” in the wake of today’s announcement that they would not be joining a new coalition government headed by the would-be Prime Minister Livni.
Livni said yesterday that she would call for new elections if a coalition deal was not completed by Sunday. A Livni associate said that through last night, Shas had given the impression that they were close to approving a deal that would have made that possible. Kadima is reportedly investigating a coalition without Shas, but with only two days left before her deadline the election seems increasingly more likely.
If the election does happen, polls suggest that Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party would gain significantly, and could be returned to power. Israeli media suggests that a renewed alliance between Netanyahu and Shas may have played a role in the decision.
Netanyahu is considerably more hawkish than Livni. He has called for attacking Iran, claiming the nation is unique in the world in being completely immune to deterrence. He has also vowed to resume settlement building if he retakes the prime ministry, and has publicly condemned the Gaza ceasefire and peace talks with Syria.
Represented by literally hundreds of small denominations and churches today, particularly in America, Christian Zionism is today a formidable force and a major actor in global politics.
Christian Zionism comes in various shades, but the core of its message is total, unflinching support to the state of Israel and the Zionist imperialist project.
Christian Zionists today exercise an enormous clout in the Bush administration. Bush, too, may himself be characterised in some sense as a Christian Zionist, for his policies in the Middle East and elsewhere clearly reflect or tally with the Christian Zionist agenda.
War, conquest and imperialist domination, based on a fanatic insistence on the absolute truth of Christianity and the racial superiority of the Jews lie at the very heart of Christian Zionism.
Christian Zionists believe that the Jews are God’s ‘Chosen People’ and that God has given the Jews the absolute right to complete control over not just Palestine but, indeed, a vast stretch of territory, extending from present-day Egypt to Iraq, the so-called ‘Greater Israel’.
God, they claim, has selected the Jews above all other people. Hence, they insist, those who oppose the imperialist project of the advocates of ‘Greater Israel’ or the Zionist occupation of Palestine are ‘God’s enemies’, deserving to be crushed by every available means, including outright war and decimation.
Advocating Israel does not mean, however, that Christian Zionists accept Judaism as a legitimate means of salvation after Jesus. Nor does it translate into genuine love for the Jews, a departure from the traditional teachings of the Church that, for centuries, viewed Jews as ‘Christ-killers’.
Since Christian Zionists believe that Christianity is the only religion acceptable to God, and that, as the Bible claims, salvation is possible only through Jesus, they insist that Jews cannot be ‘saved’ unless they convert to Christianity.
Yet, because Christian Zionists are dogged defenders of the state of Israel and are fiercely anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, they have been able to establish a close nexus with right-wing Jewish groups and with the Israeli state and are today an integral part of the American-Israeli axis.
Christian Zionism is a call for global war. The belief that Christianity is the sole truth, that all other faiths are ‘Satanic’ or ‘false’, that the Jews must all gather in Palestine to fulfil so-called Biblical prophecies, and that a grand global war will soon erupt leading to the massacre of hundreds of millions and heralding the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, who will establish his Christian kingdom extending till the four corners of the world, clearly indicate the hate-driven, global expansionist project of Christian Zionism.
John Hagee is a prime example of a Christian Zionist zealot. He is the founder and pastor of the Cornerstone Church, in Texas, USA, which claims some 16,000 members. As with numerous other similar American Christian fundamentalist preachers, his church is richly endowed and media savvy.
Hagee is the president of the ‘Global Evangelism’ media company that broadcasts his daily programmes on television and radio throughout the USA and around the world. He is the author of numerous books on Christian Zionism, some of which have been reprinted by Christian fundamentalist publishers abroad as well.
‘Final Dawn Over Jerusalem’ is one of Hagee’s major writings on Christian Zionism that well exemplifies the imperialist agenda that lies at its very core.
The aim of the book is to defend the Israeli occupation of Palestine, to denounce those who seek to protest Israeli atrocities, and to advocate the cause of ‘Greater Israel’, all this in the name of Christianity and premised on the notion of the Jews as being allegedly God’s ‘Chosen People’.
Racism is integral to the Christian Zionist message, as Hagee makes amply clear. The Bible, Hagee, says, describes the Jews as ‘the apple of God’s eye’ [Zech 2:8].
He quotes the Bible as addressing the Jews and declaring, ‘For you are a holy people to the LORD your God’ and ‘the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth’ [Deut.14:2].
This means, so Hagee argues, that those who harm the Jews or the state of Israel or stand in the way of the design of ‘Greater Israel’ will ‘experience the instant wrath of God’. To those who dare to challenge the oppressive Zionist state, Hagee announces, ‘The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God’.
Such people will, Hagee insists, be ‘cursed’ by God. Hagee’s notion of God thus appears to be that of a tribal Jewish deity, who functions as a willing tool in the pursuit of Jewish expansionism.
The Bible was written by Jewish hands, and given that, as many liberal Christians would themselves concede, much of it is a human product, numerous Biblical verses were written in order to legitimise the interests of the community from which its writers were drawn.
This would seem obvious to any discerning layman, but Biblical literalists like Hagee vehemently disagree.
For them every word of the Bible is sacrosanct and divine. Biblical literalism is pressed into the service of the Christian Zionist imperialist and racist agenda. Drawing upon numerous verses of the Bible, Hagee argues, ‘God watches over Israel as a protective parent hovers over an only child’.
The nation of Israel’, he makes so bold as to declare, ‘was created by a sovereign act of God. All other nations were created by an act of war or a declaration of men, but Israel was intentionally created by God so that He would have a physical place of inheritance on the earth’.
Accordingly, Hagee would have us believe that for this god, who is seen as in need of a ‘physical place’ for himself, non-Jews or Gentiles, are second-rate human beings or less, and so can easily be dispensed with if they are seen as coming in the way of Jewish imperialism.
The tribal Jewish version of God that Hagee presents appears entirely unjust and arbitrary, far from being impartial in the way he deals with His creation. Given the fact that the God of the Biblical literalist imagination is a Jewish deity, and not the universal God who looks upon His entire creation impartially, he is seen as blessing Jewish conquests of territories of their enemies.
Thus, quoting the Bible, Hagee writes that God gave the land of ‘Greater Israel’, a vast swathe of land stretching from Egypt all the way till Iraq, to the Jews, descendants of Isaac, forever.
That being the case, Hagee suggests that people living in those territories, millions of Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, have no right to live there or else must accept to live under Jewish rule. Although Hagee does not say this explicitly, what this means is that those who refuse to accept Jewish rule must, therefore, be either killed or expelled.
The god of Hagee’s imagination appears as an entirely whimsical real estate agent. ‘God established Israel’s national geographic boundaries’, Hagee writes. ‘The exact borders of Israel are detailed in Scripture just as our heavenly Father dictated them’, he goes on, adding, ‘The divine Surveyor drove the original stakes into Judean soil and decreed that no one should ever change these property lines.
The real estate contract and lands covenants were signed in blood and stand to this very hour’. Hence, he argues, ‘Jews have the absolute right as mandated by God to the land of Israel and, more specifically, to the city of Jerusalem’.
Hence, he suggests, Palestinians have no claim to their own historical land, and must make way for Jewish occupiers.
Hagee’s defence of Zionist imperialism goes to ridiculous lengths. Laughable as this may sound, he argues, ‘Israel has a Spy in the sky’—God Himself. God, he claims, provides Israel, the Jewish people and the state of Israel, with special protection.
‘No nation in the world can match the defensive force guarding the State of Israel. The archangel Michael has a special assignment to guard Israel’. And those who, for any reason oppose Israel, and this includes Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation and oppression, are said to incur God’s wrath.
‘The Lord stands watch in the darkest night with an eye trained on the nation of Israel and, more specifically, Jerusalem. Those who fight with Israel fight with Him’, Hagee asserts.
So central is Israel to Hagee’s tribalistic version of God that he goes to the extent of arguing that the fate of each and every person on the face of the planet depends essentially on his or her attitude to the Jews.
‘Prosperity or punishment depends on how we treat Israel’, he alleges, because, he claims, the Jews, as descendants of Abraham ‘enjoy heavenly favour’.
To back his claim he quotes the Bible as saying that when God entered into a covenant with Abraham, He gave him an ‘awesome promise’, saying, ‘I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ [Gen. 12:3].
Hence, Hagee insists, the United States, and, indeed, anyone else who wishes to please God, must consistently engage in ‘compassionate support of the State of Israel’, adding that, ‘The quickest and most effective way to be on God’s side is to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people in their hour of need’.
By doing this, he claims, one can win God’s favour, because, ‘God blesses the man or nation that blesses Israel or the Jewish people’.
At no time before, Hagee firmly believes, has support for Israel and Zionist imperialism, been more crucial than today. This is because, he claims, Jesus is returning to the world soon, and Israel must be protected in order to welcome the Messiah.
Hagee’s image of Jesus in his ‘second coming’ bears no resemblance to the familiar notion of the suffering, loving Jesus. Rather, in his description Jesus appears as a fierce warrior, rallying Christians to arms and heralding the final, global war, ironically in the name of the ‘Prince of Peace’.
In the doomsday scenario that Hagee outlines, what he calls ‘fanatical attacks’ by Arabs on Israel, particularly Jerusalem, would mount.
In response, Christians the world over, he says, must rally behind Israel. At this hour, he insists, ‘we must let the world know that if a line has to be drawn, it will be drawn around Christians as well as Jews. We are united and indivisible’.
The city of Jersualem, Hagee believes, is the crux of the final battle before Jesus’ ‘second coming’. This city, considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, has been ordained, so Hagee argues, by God to be ‘under the exclusive control of the Jewish people’ until Jesus arrives again.
The final battle of Armageddon will, he writes, be centred on this city, with Arabs or Muslims seeking to wrest control of it from the Jews. In this regard, Hagee says, Christians, for their part, must staunchly defend Israel and must refuse any peace offers, such as allowing for a shared Jerusalem or joint control of the town by Jews and Arabs.
In particular, he appeals to the United States to do everything in its power to back Israel and to crush its opponents, claiming this is the only way to win God’s favour. If America fails to do this, he warns, it would be crushed by God Himself!
Quoting various verses of the Bible, Hagee describes what he sees as the unfolding of events of cosmic proportions, ushering in a global war the like of which has never been witnessed hitherto and heralding the ‘second coming of Jesus’.
In this global war, he says, Muslims, whom he regards as followers of a ‘false’ religion, would ally with the Russians to fight against Israel. This would lead to a global nuclear war, with hundreds of millions being killed. At this point, the ‘Anti-Christ’ will appear, attack Jerusalem and will take over the reigns of the world, falsely claiming to usher in peace.
But, this grand deception will not last long, and, instead, will only lead to even more devastating wars. At this time, Hagee says, Christians must defend, by every means possible, the Jews and Israel, and wage war against the armies of those opposed to God’s ‘Chosen Race’, the Jews. Only then can they be saved, he insists.
After years of global war and terrible destruction, Hagee writes, Jesus will be sent by God to deliver the world. Mounted on a white horse, he will arrive at the battlefield at Armageddon. Defeating the ‘Anti-Christ’ and his army, he will establish his global kingdom with his capital in Jerusalem, there to ‘rule and reign forever’.
Hagee’s description of Jesus’ future global kingdom offers little cause to cheer for non-Christians, including, ironically, even the Jews whom he so ardently defends. It would, as he himself makes clear, be nothing short of a global Christian empire, and an antiquated one at that, with kings and queens and presidents still in place!
How they would continue to be around when Jesus rules the whole world is a mystery that Hagee leaves unsolved.
Ruled by Jesus, Hagee writes, ‘Jerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, will become the joy of the world. The city will become the international worship center, and people from all over the world will make pilgrimages to worship in the holy temple.
Kings, queens, princes and presidents shall come to the Holy City’ to adore Jesus. Presumably, these all will be Christians themselves, for Hagee quotes the Bible as predicting that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.
As Hagee’s book clearly indicates, Christian Zionism, rooted in tradition of the Crusades and a long history of Church triumphalism, is a recipe for global war and Christian imperialism.
Moreover, it reflects a total lack of genuine spirituality, seeking to reduce the notion of God into a petty, whimsical and racist dictator who willingly urges the slaughter of innocents in order to protect the expansionist designs of his supposedly ‘Chosen People’.
Of course, Christian Zionism is hardly unique in its use of religion for such blatantly political ends, but given the immense clout enjoyed by its advocates today, especially in America, it is a much more menacing threat to world peace than is sometimes imagined and cannot be simply dismissed as the ravings of lunatics on the fringe.
Dr. Yoginder Sikand writes in Mukto-Mona from Bangalore. Yoginder Sikand did his MPhil in sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and his PhD in history from the University of London; he is the author of several books including Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India (Penguin, 2003) and Muslims in India Since 1947: Islamic Perspectives on Inter-Faith Relations (Routledge Curzon, 2004). etc.
US-MADE SECOND ATTEMPT AT PALESTINIAN CIVIL WAR GETS UNDERWAY
Posted: 25 October 2008 1812 hrs
HEBRON, West Bank: More than 500 Palestinian security reinforcements were deployed in the southern West Bank town of Hebron on Saturday as part of a widening crackdown in the occupied territory, officials said.
Around 500 Palestinian security forces took up positions before dawn in the flashpoint town without incident, Hebron police chief Samih al-Saifi told AFP.
An Israeli security official confirmed the deployment and said it had taken place with the coordination of the Israeli army.
“Five hundred and fifty extra armed police were deployed in Hebron in coordination with the Israeli army to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in its fight against Hamas,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Israel has long feared a repeat in the West Bank of the Islamist movement’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, when it routed forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a week of bloody battles.
The latest deployment is part of a widening crackdown that has seen hundreds of Palestinian security forces deployed in the northern West Bank towns of Jenin and Nablus, both of which were once militant strongholds.
It is also aimed at underpinning the US-backed Middle East peace process which was formally relaunched nearly a year ago with the aim of creating a Palestinian state – talks which have thus far made little visible progress.
The Palestinians have not said publicly that the security plan is directed at Hamas, and Saifi would only say that the troops in Hebron were there to “provide order and security in the town”.
In recent months, however, Palestinian forces have arrested dozens of members of the Islamist group, shuttered several of its charities and organisations, and confiscated weapons and explosives.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza condemned the Hebron deployment, saying it “served the Zionist enemy” by targeting the Islamist movement.
“Their role is to curtail Hamas and take aim at the weapons of the resistance, not to enforce the law or protect citizens,” he told AFP.
The conflict between Hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah movement could worsen in the coming months with the two groups divided on when Abbas’s presidential term expires.
Hamas has said his constitutionally mandated four-year term ends in January, while Abbas’s supporters have said new presidential and parliamentary elections should be held together in January 2010.
With more than 160,000 Palestinian residents, Hebron is the largest town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has long been a flashpoint in the Middle East conflict because of a settlement of around 800 hardline Jews in the heart of the town.
Settlers and Palestinians have frequently clashed near a tomb in the Old City believed to hold the remains of the biblical patriarch Abraham, a site revered by Jews and Muslims.
In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a US-born Jewish settler, opened fire on Muslims praying inside the Ibrahimi mosque built on the site of the tomb, killing 29 Palestinians, including several women and children.
The settlement and the religious site are guarded by hundreds of Israeli soldiers who will remain in Hebron, despite the deployment of the additional Palestinian forces.
Israel has said its force will continue to operate in all parts of the West Bank to prevent attacks on its citizens and West Bank settlers.
• Parliament vows to end military action on border
• Relations with US will be strained by new strategy
Serious doubts multiplied yesterday about Pakistan‘s commitment to America‘s military campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban after parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for dialogue with extremist groups and an end to military action.
The new strategy, backed by all parties, emerged after a fierce debate in parliament where most parliamentarians said that Pakistan was paying an unacceptable price for fighting “America’s war”. If implemented by the government, support for Pakistan from international allies would come under severe strain, adding further instability to a country facing a spiral of violence and economic collapse.
“We need to prioritise our own national security interests,” said Raza Rabbani, a leading member of the ruling Pakistan People’s party. “As far as the US is concerned, the message that has gone with this resolution will definitely ring alarm bells, vis-a-vis their policy of bulldozing Pakistan.”
The resolution, passed unanimously in parliament on Wednesday night demanded the abandonment of the use of force against extremists, in favour of negotiation, in what it called “an urgent review of our national security strategy”.
“Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution,” said the resolution. “The military will be replaced as early as possible by civilian law enforcement agencies.” It also said Pakistan would pursue “an independent foreign policy” and, in a pointed reference to US military incursions into Pakistani territory, proclaimed that “the nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively”.
The force of the resolution was unclear last night, with differences in interpretation between the ruling People’s party and opposition. The document is not binding on the government even though it was party to it. The army remains the ultimate arbiter of security policy. Some analysts believe that differences between the parties will see a tussle over implementation that could temper the resolution’s thrust. The US response was muted, with officials saying they considered it rhetoric for domestic consumption.
But the intense American pressure on Islamabad to take on the militants was underlined yesterday by another US missile strike inside Pakistani territory, an instance of the heavy-handed intervention that parliament railed against. The attack came in Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan, at an Islamic school being used by suspected extremists, killing 11. The madrasa was linked to Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who has an extensive network in Pakistan.
There have been about a dozen US missile strikes inside Pakistan since the beginning of September and a ground assault, fanning widespread anti-Americanism in the country. The US and Nato depend on Pakistan to prevent its tribal area being used as a safe haven for Afghan Taliban.
Past attempts by Pakistan at making peace with militant groups in the tribal area have allowed them to regroup and led to a sharp increase in cross-border attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Yesterday a US official made clear what it expected. “Pakistan needs to and is attacking insurgents in its northern areas,” Patrick Moon, a deputy US assistant secretary of state, said during a visit to Kabul. “Sanctuaries for Afghanistan Taliban in Pakistan complicate our security operations. Pakistani Taliban and other extremists such as al-Qaida are posing a threat to the stability of Pakistan.”
Pakistan is confronting multiple crises, political, security and financial, which threaten to overwhelm the nuclear-armed country and push it into chaos. It is heading towards bankruptcy, forcing Islamabad this week to approach to the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package. But the IMF bailout could be jeopardised if Washington is not on board.
Ordinary people complain that the country feels like it is falling apart, with a severe shortage of electricity causing blackouts of 12 hours or more in many areas, and crippling food price inflation, running at up to 100%, swelling the numbers living below the poverty line.
The country’s north-west, especially its tribal border area with Afghanistan, is under the control of Taliban and al-Qaida, who are connected to militant groups that have networks across the country. Yesterday, in what is now a typical day for Pakistan, aside from the US missile strike, eight anti-Taliban tribal leaders were killed by militants in the Orakzai part of the tribal area, and the army killed 20 fighters in Bajaur, another part of the tribal belt.
In Swat, a valley in the north-west, the headless body was found of a policeman, previously kidnapped by Taliban, and posters went up in Swat warning women against shopping in markets, saying it was “unIslamic”.
“Our country is burning,” said Senator Khurshid Ahmad, a member of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament for Jamaat-e-Islami, a mainstream religious party. “We don’t want Bush to put oil on the fire. We want to extinguish this fire.”
Sherry Rehman, minister for information, said the motion was a “firm resolve to combat terrorism”. But Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said: “The army will be disappointed there was not a clear consensus. I think the army will continue with the existing policy.”
Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine are organizing a major protest of the AIPAC “National Summit” in Chicago. Second only to AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in DC each Spring, the Summit is one AIPAC’s largest events. Taking place October 26 and 27th, it is for “elite activists” in the pro-war lobby, and is likely to feature luminaries from Congress and the Bush administration (and no doubt, representatives from the religious extreme-right). We could not be happier then to report that Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine are drawing up plans to protest this celebration of war and occupation. Go to their website for more info (or check out the StopAIPAC site). Stop AIPAC has helped in that protest by sending 4,000 promotional postcards that have already been distributed in the last couple weeks.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are again planning to protest at the annual AIPAC dinners that come our way. This time we are likely to focus our protest at the San Francisco dinner taking place on the early evening of December 9th (mark your calendar!) at the Hilton Hotel just above Union Square. During the holiday season, this area is packed with people, so this will be an unforgettable protest for a new foreign policy of peace and justice that people demand, and a repudiation of the politics of war that is AIPAC’s agenda.
We also issue a Call to Action on the Hate DVD Obsession.
Do keep in mind, more opportunities for action to defeat AIPAC’s agenda also mean the need for more funding, so don’t miss the appeal below.
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RETURN TO SENDER!
In the past few months, many of you in “swing states” have found hate in your Sunday paper. Not just the kook that had his letter to the editor printed, but a sophisticated and multi-million dollar campaign that had 28 million pieces of DVD’s that promotes fear and hate against our Muslim neighbors. This is not random hate, but organized hate. A Campaign meant to not only sway an election, but ultimately to promote war.
You can read in detail about the Obsession DVD in this excellent paper by Omid Safi. But more importantly, we want you to
Like this important campaign begun by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) we are requesting that if our supporters receive any such mailing or newspaper insert from the non-profit “Clarion Fund”, that folks send that material to us, and it will be returned to AIPAC when it has its “membership dinner” in San Francisco on December 9th. Why to AIPAC? Because it has been promoting many of the speakers featured in the hate DVD, including Daniel Pipes and many others. It is also likely that the funders of the DVD distribution also are big supporters of AIPAC. Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s richest men, funds the extremist group “Freedom Watch” is rumored to be behind the funding of the DVD, though it is uncertain. Adelson also funded AIPAC’s new headquarters in DC. The important point is, AIPAC works day after day to promote fear and hate, using the most vile propaganda, promoting its worst proponents, such as Rev. Hagee and Daniel Pipes. What better way to say “We reject this” than by marking this trash “Return to Sender” and publicly renouncing this campaign.
Please send any copies of the DVD (either “Obsession” or “The Third Jihad”) you may receive to Stop AIPAC, PO Box 11311, Berkeley, CA 94712, and we will make sure AIPAC (and the larger community) gets the message: America says no to hate!
See our action page to keep up on developments.
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In Rare Defeat for AIPAC, Iran War Resolution Shelved.
Because you acted, AIPAC’s central priority for this legislative session suffered a quiet death. A campaign that began on June 21st of this year, when Daily Kos (mostly a Democratic Party forum) had a post that won top attention, and inspired much action (with thousands looking to the StopAIPAC webpage for more information). Other websites also caught on, followed by calls by groups such as True Majority and Peace Action. Letters/Emails/Phone Calls immediately began flooding the House, and all of the President’s men, the Lobbyists and their associated PAC’s could not stop it. The outrage grew. And it was good. Politicians backtracked. Politicians demurred. AIPAC pushed harder, but still they lost. And it was very good.
Not only have we placed a very important obstacle in this march toward war, we have also tied this extremist piece of legislation to the AIPAC reputation. When people think of who is promoting military confrontation and these extremist policies in the Middle East, many more will now think of “AIPAC”. It was a “teachable moment”.
There is a fine “Obit” of the 362 Resolution here. There is much more work to be done to prevent war with Iran, including a call for global nuclear disarmament that includes both the US and Israel. We are off to a good start.