Baluchistan At The Cross Roads

Baluchistan At The Cross Roads

Friday July 28, 2006 (1648 PST)

Farzana Shah
janashah_1@yahoo.com

Pakistan is increasingly becoming a focal point of the regional economy with the development of Gwadar Port and other mega projects in its Baluchitsan province. This coupled with its strategic location is the main reason for getting the attraction of the world and regional powers. Its critical importance can be gauged from the fact that the port of Gwadar could provide the ‘window’ to monitor the entire Persian Gulf, which according to the analysts is being used by many countries of the West, Middle East, Far East, China and India.

Due to the ever increasing needs of energy resources the world powers are watching keenly and looking for ways and means to control the oil and gas supply from Central Asia, for which Gwadar again could become a major

outlet.  However, Chinese interest and presence in the region has not only caused great concern to them but also to our next door neighbour – India.

A political turmoil causing unrest in Baluchistan could serve their designs to a great extent, where by funding and arming the rebels and miscreants could provide them with the foothold in the region. Baluchis being mostly a feudal and tribal society, the task of misleading them against the legit authorities becomes easier as only a handful of their tribal chiefs (Sardars) are to be inculcated.  The media war, seminars, discussions at various fora of the world and similar other ‘intellectual’ activity is a pre-requisite to lend credence to such insurgency and ‘freedom’ struggles.

In this regard the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) United Kingdom arranged a seminar on Baluchistan province of Pakistan in collaboration with the so-called Baluchistan Rights Movement on 27th June 2006 in the House of Commons, London. It was highly disappointing as it was abashedly a one-sided cheap propaganda rather than discussing the real situation. By a mere look at the panel of the participants of the seminar one could easily figure out that it consisted of only anti-Pakistan elements and some self-styled activists advocating terrorism in the province. There were no representatives from government of Pakistan or even from the elected provincial government of Baluchistan in the seminar. It is just unfortunate that the Foreign Policy Centre which is expected to present fair suggestions to the British government to engage a country of their concern for important issues, indulged in such a blatant one-sided propaganda against Pakistan through the said seminar.

The seminar seemed to focus only at propagating the views of the rebels and miscreants active in Baluchistan at targeting the civilians and vital government installation to halt the development projects in the province.

It certainly put the credibility of the Foreign Policy Centre in doubt, although Hugh Barnes who chaired the event claimed FPC to be an ‘independent’ think tank committed to holding events of such nature with speakers and audience members from each side of the debate. He fell much short of the claim as in the said seminar there were many sides missing and only those opposed to the government advocating the cause of the miscreants were invited to it. Had there been any representative from the Government of Pakistan or from the elected government of Baluchistan, the centre would have been justified in its such claim.

FPC’s credibility becomes further questionable when one finds Pro-Israel Stephen Twiggs as its chairman and influencing its activities cleverly. He joined the Foreign Policy Centre as Director in August 2005. He is involved with the FPC from its conception in 1998 and since then as a Member of the Board from 1998 to 2006. He also chairs the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) a Westminster based pro-Israel lobby group working within the British Labour party. It is considered one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks by the Labour MPs.  The committee wields considerable influence in Westminster and is also consulted routinely by the Foreign Office and Downing Street on matters relating to the Middle East. Tony Blair is known to consult its members over Middle East policy.

Very strangely, according to one Mir Azad Khan Baluch, at his blog http://governmentofbalochistan.blogspot.com, the Baloch Diaspora in April 2006 established the newly formed “democratic, liberal and secular” Government of Balochistan (GOB) in Exile in Jerusalem, Israel.

The address of which is as under

The World Baloch Jewish Alliance Building

PO Box 5631

Jerusalem, 91000

ISRAEL

No wonder the formation of the above GOB confirms the anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam role of the chair of the FPC, in misleading the British government and the audience through such seminar.

An other speaker, Dr Naseer Dashti, a relatively unknown entity of  Baluchistan mostly delved at maligning the non-Baluchis and trying to convince the British audience that if the UK sided with the miscreants fomenting trouble in the province, all the problems will be solved there. Interestingly he had altogether negated the entire ideology of the country

and that of Balochis. No one in Pakistan is in any way against the lifestyle of the Baluchs or their languages or culture as propagated by Dr Dashti.

Senator Dr Sanaullah Baloch, one of the anti-government elements in Pakistan, mostly focused on spitting venom against Pakistan Army through baseless allegations. Putting a cursory look at his comments one can only shake his/her head in disappointment as he even did not spare the development projects initiated by the government of Pakistan for the uplift of Balochs.

Similarly the speech by Mehran Baloch of the Baluchistan Rights Movement was one-sided opinion of an individual mainly focused on advocating insurgency in Pakistan just to benefit few Sardars for subjugating the common Baluchs.

Mr Laku Luhana, World Sindhi Congress was also no different from others only focusing on criticism of the Army. Although an ethnic body’s head has nothing to do with the situation in Baluchistan, however he was being given chance to speak and add to hatred against Pakistan.

Ryszard Czarnecki, a member of European Parliament from Poland, also spoke against Pak Army. He said “Pakistan came into existence through restrictive voting and is being ruled by the Punjabi army. Baluchs are a distinct ethnic group and not part of Pakistan.” It is laughable as every province of Pakistan has the population consisting of different ethnic groups. Does it mean that all the provinces are not part of Pakistan?

All the above speakers seemed to have been assigned the task of speaking against the army and none of them for once mentioned the atrocities being committed by a few (read only three) Sardars against the common Baluchs.

None of them even mentioned how Nawab Akbar Bugti has subjected his own very people to torture and humiliation. He has not even spared his own relatives who are against his arbitrary rule. He expelled the Kalpars and Masuries (Baluchi) tribes from their own land compelling them to live in Punjab until the army restored peace in the province and they could return to their ancestral homelands. The FPC should have noted the fact that very recently about 600 commanders of Nawab Akbar Bugti surrendered voluntarily to the government. Bangan Khan Bugti, one of his commanders, is on record to have clearly revealed that Nawab Bugti had used all the funds provided to him by the government of Pakistan for his own personal interest and for buying the arms to wage war against the government and to subjugate his own tribesmen.

If these Sardars were so interested in the welfare of the Baluchs, why did not  Nawab Akbar Bugti carry out any development in the province when he was the Chief Minister of Baluchistan?  What stopped him from doing that?

Did the FPC try to peep into hundreds of ‘Farari’ camps established by the Sardars and Nawab Bugti which were being used as torture cells committing great Human Rights violation against the common Baluchs. Why did Mehran Baloch the great Human Rights activists over looked it?

Daily attacks by scores of missile were a routine matter during the last year and  the beginning of this year against the common Baluchs and the government installations by the terrorists, mainly comprising the  Bugti terrorists and the so called  Balochitsan Liberation Army which, incidentally,  has been banned recently by the British government as a terrorist Organisation,  which is indeed a commendable step.

However, despite the fact that terrorism is the biggest concern for the western world and insurgencies and political struggle in Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine have been condemned and dubbed as terrorism, UK had led FPC to hold such a seminar wherein supporters of the trouble makers were advocating terrorism in the name of so called liberation urging British government to side with the terrorist against Pakistan.

An institution like FPC is expected to work towards education, information and better awareness about political and foreign policy issues to help them  resolve and not to provide prestigious platform for one-sided propaganda, hateful speeches and misinformation against a sovereign country.

Solution to the turmoil in Baluchistan lies in dialogue, greater democracy at grassroots level, and end to the aged-old primitive tribal system where powerful Sardars hold their private armies, have prisons, hold subservient courts and dispense justice as they wish. Unfortunately the selected participants in the seminar never addressed such any such issues and mainly seemed bent upon supporting the Sardari rule.

In the Pakistani mindset a feeling already exists  that Balochistan trouble is being fomented from outside with help and funding from western sources to destabilise the Pakistani state, to thwart Chinese strategic investment in the area, to compel Pakistan to co-operate in (the ensuing) operation against Iran and to divert attention from India’s problems in Kashmir. Such patently unbalanced and flawed seminar panels only add to such suspicions.

“Blood borders,” What the Neoconned Middle East Would Look Like

Blood borders

How a better Middle East would look

By Ralph Peters

International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference — often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.

The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa’s borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East — to borrow from Churchill — generate more trouble than can be consumed locally.

While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone — from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism — the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region’s comprehensive failure isn’t Islam but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats.

Of course, no adjustment of borders, however draconian, could make every minority in the Middle East happy. In some instances, ethnic and religious groups live intermingled and have intermarried. Elsewhere, reunions based on blood or belief might not prove quite as joyous as their current proponents expect. The boundaries projected in the maps accompanying this article redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant “cheated” population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia, but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities. And one haunting wrong can never be redressed with a reward of territory: the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians by the dying Ottoman Empire.

Yet, for all the injustices the borders re-imagined here leave unaddressed, without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East.

Even those who abhor the topic of altering borders would be well-served to engage in an exercise that attempts to conceive a fairer, if still imperfect, amendment of national boundaries between the Bosporus and the Indus. Accepting that international statecraft has never developed effective tools — short of war — for readjusting faulty borders, a mental effort to grasp the Middle East’s “organic” frontiers nonetheless helps us understand the extent of the difficulties we face and will continue to face. We are dealing with colossal, man-made deformities that will not stop generating hatred and violence until they are corrected.

As for those who refuse to “think the unthinkable,” declaring that boundaries must not change and that’s that, it pays to remember that boundaries have never stopped changing through the centuries. Borders have never been static, and many frontiers, from Congo through Kosovo to the Caucasus, are changing even now (as ambassadors and special representatives avert their eyes to study the shine on their wingtips).

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.

Begin with the border issue most sensitive to American readers: For Israel to have any hope of living in reasonable peace with its neighbors, it will have to return to its pre-1967 borders — with essential local adjustments for legitimate security concerns. But the issue of the territories surrounding Jerusalem, a city stained with thousands of years of blood, may prove intractable beyond our lifetimes. Where all parties have turned their god into a real-estate tycoon, literal turf battles have a tenacity unrivaled by mere greed for oil wealth or ethnic squabbles. So let us set aside this single overstudied issue and turn to those that are studiously ignored.

The most glaring injustice in the notoriously unjust lands between the Balkan Mountains and the Himalayas is the absence of an independent Kurdish state. There are between 27 million and 36 million Kurds living in contiguous regions in the Middle East (the figures are imprecise because no state has ever allowed an honest census). Greater than the population of present-day Iraq, even the lower figure

makes the Kurds the world’s largest ethnic group without a state of its own. Worse, Kurds have been oppressed by every government controlling the hills and mountains where they’ve lived since Xenophon’s day.

The U.S. and its coalition partners missed a glorious chance to begin to correct this injustice after Baghdad’s fall. A Frankenstein’s monster of a state sewn together from ill-fitting parts, Iraq should have been divided into three smaller states immediately. We failed from cowardice and lack of vision, bullying Iraq’s Kurds into supporting the new Iraqi government — which they do wistfully as a quid pro quo for our good will. But were a free plebiscite to be held, make no mistake: Nearly 100 percent of Iraq’s Kurds would vote for independence.

As would the long-suffering Kurds of Turkey, who have endured decades of violent military oppression and a decades-long demotion to “mountain Turks” in an effort to eradicate their identity. While the Kurdish plight at Ankara’s hands has eased somewhat over the past decade, the repression recently intensified again and the eastern fifth of Turkey should be viewed as occupied territory. As for the Kurds of Syria and Iran, they, too, would rush to join an independent Kurdistan if they could. The refusal by the world’s legitimate democracies to champion Kurdish independence is a human-rights sin of omission far worse than the clumsy, minor sins of commission that routinely excite our media. And by the way: A Free Kurdistan, stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan.

A just alignment in the region would leave Iraq’s three Sunni-majority provinces as a truncated state that might eventually choose to unify with a Syria that loses its littoral to a Mediterranean-oriented Greater Lebanon: Phoenecia reborn. The Shia south of old Iraq would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf. Jordan would retain its current territory, with some southward expansion at Saudi expense. For its part, the unnatural state of Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan.

A root cause of the broad stagnation in the Muslim world is the Saudi royal family’s treatment of Mecca and Medina as their fiefdom. With Islam’s holiest shrines under the police-state control of one of the world’s most bigoted and oppressive regimes — a regime that commands vast, unearned oil wealth — the Saudis have been able to project their Wahhabi vision of a disciplinarian, intolerant faith far beyond their borders. The rise of the Saudis to wealth and, consequently, influence has been the worst thing to happen to the Muslim world as a whole since the time of the Prophet, and the worst thing to happen to Arabs since the Ottoman (if not the Mongol) conquest.

While non-Muslims could not effect a change in the control of Islam’s holy cities, imagine how much healthier the Muslim world might become were Mecca and Medina ruled by a rotating council representative of the world’s major Muslim schools and movements in an Islamic Sacred State — a sort of Muslim super-Vatican — where the future of a great faith might be debated rather than merely decreed. True justice — which we might not like — would also give Saudi Arabia’s coastal oil fields to the Shia Arabs who populate that subregion, while a southeastern quadrant would go to Yemen. Confined to a rump Saudi Homelands Independent Territory around Riyadh, the House of Saud would be capable of far less mischief toward Islam and the world.

Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today’s Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Persia. Iran would, in effect, become an ethnic Persian state again, with the most difficult question being whether or not it should keep the port of Bandar Abbas or surrender it to the Arab Shia State.

What Afghanistan would lose to Persia in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren (the point of this exercise is not to draw maps as we would like them but as local populations would prefer them). Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.

The city-states of the United Arab Emirates would have a mixed fate — as they probably will in reality. Some might be incorporated in the Arab Shia State ringing much of the Persian Gulf (a state more likely to evolve as a counterbalance to, rather than an ally of, Persian Iran). Since all puritanical cultures are hypocritical, Dubai, of necessity, would be allowed to retain its playground status for rich debauchees. Kuwait would remain within its current borders, as would Oman.

In each case, this hypothetical redrawing of boundaries reflects ethnic affinities and religious communalism — in some cases, both. Of course, if we could wave a magic wand and amend the borders under discussion, we would certainly prefer to do so selectively. Yet, studying the revised map, in contrast to the map illustrating today’s boundaries, offers some sense of the great wrongs borders drawn by Frenchmen and Englishmen in the 20th century did to a region struggling to emerge from the humiliations and defeats of the 19th century.

Correcting borders to reflect the will of the people may be impossible. For now. But given time — and the inevitable attendant bloodshed — new and natural borders will emerge. Babylon has fallen more than once.

Meanwhile, our men and women in uniform will continue to fight for security from terrorism, for the prospect of democracy and for access to oil supplies in a region that is destined to fight itself. The current human divisions and forced unions between Ankara and Karachi, taken together with the region’s self-inflicted woes, form as perfect a breeding ground for religious extremism, a culture of blame and the recruitment of terrorists as anyone could design. Where men and women look ruefully at their borders, they look enthusiastically for enemies.

From the world’s oversupply of terrorists to its paucity of energy supplies, the current deformations of the Middle East promise a worsening, not an improving, situation. In a region where only the worst aspects of nationalism ever took hold and where the most debased aspects of religion threaten to dominate a disappointed faith, the U.S., its allies and, above all, our armed forces can look for crises without end. While Iraq may provide a counterexample of hope — if we do not quit its soil prematurely — the rest of this vast region offers worsening problems on almost every front.

If the borders of the greater Middle East cannot be amended to reflect the natural ties of blood and faith, we may take it as an article of faith that a portion of the bloodshed in the region will continue to be our own.

• • •

WHO WINS, WHO LOSES

Winners —

Afghanistan

Arab Shia State

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Free Baluchistan

Free Kurdistan

Iran

Islamic Sacred State

Jordan

Lebanon

Yemen

Losers —

Afghanistan

Iran

Iraq

Israel

Kuwait

Pakistan

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Syria

Turkey

United Arab Emirates

West Bank

Finding Clarity in the Baluchistan Conundrum

Finding Clarity in the Baluchistan Conundrum

By Talha Mujaddidi in Pakistan
Axis of Logic Exclusive

Editor’s Note: As in all of his analyses of the battle for Pakistan, Talha Mujaddidi provides a rare look into the internal struggle of the Pakistan people and the interference in their domestic affairs by the United States, India and other foreign elements. For those who are unfamiliar with the terms, places and names in this report, Talha provides a glossary at the end of the article. It is especially important that we learn and understand what is happening in Pakistan as Washington is opening up a new front in this country in their “war on terror”. - Les Blough, Editor;


(Source: PNAC)

April 23, 2009

Excerpt: “The problem for US is that BLA alone is not able to break away Baluchistan from Pakistan. Of the 5% population of Baluchistan they don’t even have support of 10% Balochi population. The Pakistan Army and ISI are resisting the assault in national and strategic interests of Pakistan. The Great Game of Brzezinski will surely continue in Baluchistan and rest of Pakistan, the people of Pakistan are ready to counter this great game now we need leadership and some courage. It will take some time to achieve courage and leadership but it will come eventually. Street revolutions are easy to carry out the hard part is the mental revolution. That is what is required right now to challenge the US global hegemony.”

Baluchistan is strategically located East of Iran and to the South of Afghanistan. It has a port at Gwadar that was built by China. Gwadar lies at the opening of Strait of Hormuz. Baluchistan has huge quantities of natural gas, and unexplored oil reserves. More importantly US wants to control the port of Gwadar, and eventually start their dream oil pipeline from Central Asia, through Afghanistan into Baluchistan and Gwadar. Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area and it covers almost 48% of Pakistan’s area. But its population accounts for only 5% of the total population of Pakistan. Ethnically Baluchistan is divided into Balochs, and Pathans, followed by other small minorities. The state capital is Quetta, (recently termed as nerve center of Taliban by US Generals).

Like all histories in South Asia, or Middle East, the history of Baluchistan is long, complex, and would require a long article to cover all the details. So a brief synopsis is sufficient to get us rolling before we come to the point.

Baluchistan has the worst human rights record out of all the provinces of Pakistan.

Baluchistan like, Afghanistan and Tribal Areas of Pakistan is a tribal society. Many different Sardars (tribal chiefs), rule their respective tribes, often with serious disregard for human rights. Development wise, Baluchistan is the most backward province in Pakistan. There may be some weight in the argument that the federal government in Pakistan has neglected the development of Baluchistan, but equal responsibility lies with the Sardars of Baluchistan who enjoy immense power in their tribes. They are unwilling to come into the main stream society, have monopoly over the laws and regulations of the state, while they themselves sit in provincial and national parliaments, yet they don’t work for the development of their own people.

Baluchistan has the worst human rights record out of all the provinces of Pakistan. Every time horrific human rights atrocities are committed in Baluchistan tribal chiefs defend the abuses by claiming them to be part of their tribal cultural norms. Since the independence of Pakistan, most of the tribes have accepted Pakistan as their homeland and have tried to come into the mainstream Pakistani society. But Bugti and Marri tribal leaders have always been a source of trouble for Pakistan. Currently Brahamdagh Bugti (grandson of former Bugti tribe leader and former chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti5 is the leader of a runaway terrorist group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)4 operating out of Kandhar, Afghanistan. Before Brahamdagh, Balach Marri, son of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, was leader of BLA, and he was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

Covert Operations against Pakistan

A new dirty game of geo-politics has already started in Baluchistan, Pakistan. To understand the recent wave of violence in Baluchistan we must understand the vested interests in Baluchistan. The root cause of violence in Baluchistan is not internal poverty or lack of development but the covert operations of foreign intelligence agencies. Internal issues might act as catalysts to inflame the situation but the root cause is foreign interference in internal affairs of Baluchistan. The main group responsible for violence in Baluchistan is the BLA4. Chief of the BLA Brahamdagh Bugti, in his recent interview with Pakistani news channel AAJ TVm declared that he will attack and kill non Baloch population of Baluchistan. In other words he threatened killing of innocent Pakistani civilians on ethnic lines. This is just taking words out of Col Ralph Peter’s plan for balkanization of Pakistan, along the lines of Yugoslavia (June 2006 issue of The Armed Forces Journal). Bugti also asked for support of India and other powers to help him break away Pakistan’s Baluchistan. (For related news read two of my older articles on Axis of Logic, Playing with Fire in Pakistan, – and Now or Never. Pakistan must change its policy in war on terror).

According to Global Research scholar, Michel Chossudovsky:

“In the current geopolitical context, the separatist movement is in the process of being hijacked by foreign powers. British intelligence is allegedly providing covert support to Baluchistan separatists (which from the outset have been repressed by Pakistan’s military). In June 2006, Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defense accused British intelligence of “abetting the insurgency in the province bordering Iran” [Baluchistan]..(Press Trust of India, 9 August 2006). Ten British MPs were involved in a closed door session of the Senate Committee on Defense regarding the alleged support of Britain’s Secret Service to Baloch separatists (Ibid). Also of relevance are reports of CIA and Mossad support to Baloch rebels in Iran and Southern Afghanistan.”

In a 2006 research article on Baluchistan which was published in Pak Tribune in 2006, Farzana Shah, a current affairs analyst for BrassTacks, a think tank based in Islamabad, highlighted the role which is being played by a British think tank against Baluchistan. Shah writes,

“In this regard the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) United Kingdom arranged a seminar on Baluchistan province of Pakistan in collaboration with the so-called Baluchistan Rights Movement on 27th June 2006 in the House of Commons, London. It was highly disappointing as it was abashedly a one-sided cheap propaganda rather than discussing the real situation. By a mere look at the panel of the participants of the seminar one could easily figure out that it consisted of only anti-Pakistan elements and some self-styled activists advocating terrorism in the province. There were no representatives from government of Pakistan or even from the elected provincial government of Baluchistan in the seminar. It is just unfortunate that the Foreign Policy Centre which is expected to present fair suggestions to the British government to engage a country of their concern for important issues, indulged in such a blatant one-sided propaganda against Pakistan through the said seminar.”

Shah also points out in the article how a Government of Baluchistan is setup in exile in Jerusalem, Israel. She gives the details in her article.

Two Indian assets: Brahamdagh Bugti & Balach Marri (R). Marri died in an ambush in 2007 while crossing from Afghanistan to Pakistan after meeting his sponsors there.

The question is, what is the role of US, Afghanistan, India, and Iran in Baluchistan quagmire and what is at stake for these countries?

Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s soil has been used again and again to cause trouble inside Pakistan.”

Afghanistan was the only country that did not welcome Pakistan in 1947 at the time of our independence. The only time when there was no trouble inside Pakistan from Afghanistan was during the time of Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Taliban being Pukhtoon cleaned Afghanistan of Indian and Iranian assets (both India and Iran supports Northern Alliance, which is in government right now in Afghanistan). Afghanistan’s soil has been used again and again to cause trouble inside Pakistan. Currently BLA is operating from Kandahar, Afghanistan. BLA enjoys support from Indian RAW in terms of finances, logistics, and weapons. Recent report of Foreign Affairs, by Christine Fair of RAND Corporation gives us the inside.

“Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar, Afghanistan (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan. Kabul has encouraged India to engage in provocative activities such as using the Border Roads Organization to build sensitive parts of the Ring Road and use the Indo-Tibetan police force for security. It is also building schools on a sensitive part of the border in Kunar–across from Bajaur (Pakistan’s Tribal Area where Pakistan Army had to carry out a major operation to eliminate TTP6 militants).

“Kabul’s motivations for encouraging these activities are as obvious as India’s interest in engaging in them. Even if by some act of miraculous diplomacy the territorial issues were to be resolved, Pakistan would remain an insecure state. Given the realities of the subcontinent (e.g., India’s rise and its more effective foreign relations with all of Pakistan’s near and far neighbors), these fears are bound to grow, not lessen. This suggests that without some means of compelling Pakistan to abandon its reliance upon militancy, it will become ever more interested in using it — and the militants will likely continue to proliferate beyond Pakistan’s control.”

Iran

Iran historically has enjoyed good relations with its neighbors including Pakistan during the time of Shah of Iran, but since then their relationship with Pakistan and Arab world has deteriorated. Strategically, Iran would like to maintain balance of power tipped in its favor in the region, this means the Pakistan’s strategic interests should be undermined, as they are at the moment. Taliban, Iran’s nemesis in Afghanistan is no longer in power, India, Iran’s ally and Pakistan’s arch enemy is enjoying a strong foothold in Afghanistan at the moment. Iran is also afraid of Jandullah’s covert operations against Iran, from Baluchistan. According to an April 2007 report by Brian Rossand and Christopher Isham of ABC News, the United States governmenthad been secretly encouraging and advising the Jandullah in its attacks.

Jandullah is a terrorist group that was created by CIA, and is responsible for terrorist activities inside Iran. Iran has spent a lot of money developing its Chabahar port, which is just 100 miles from Gwadar port of Pakistan. Gwadar port was built by China. Iran does not want Gwadar to become prominent and Chabahar to be sidelined, especially since Iran is isolated in the world at the moment. Iran has huge reserves of gas and it would like India to gain access to these reserves since India is its ally and Iran-India friendship will grow if India can gain access to Iranian gas reserves. Iran would also like trade with India to increase in future.

TAPI: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India

IPI: Iran, Pakistan, India

India

India also believes that an independent Baluchistan will likely become a proxy of Iran, India and Afghanistan.”


India is Pakistan arch enemy, first of all India has never accepted Pakistan as an independent sovereign nation. India was directly responsible for breakup of East Pakistan and formation of Bangladesh. India and Pakistan have fought three wars with each other. India is at the moment chief regional ally of US, and NATO. India believes that Pakistan is at the brink of break up and India must focus on building its relationship with Central Asia, Iran, and Afghanistan, and capture oil and gas reserves from Central Asia and Iran, through Afghanistan and Pakistan. India also believes that an independent Baluchistan will likely become a proxy of Iran, India and Afghanistan. Capt (r) Bharat Verma of Indian Defense Review, writes,

“That New Delhi is its own enemy became obvious, when it permitted the creation of a pure Islamic State on its borders. This nation-state contradicts every democratic and multi-cultural value dear to India. Therefore, if New Delhi has not slept a wink since the creation of Pakistan, it has no one except itself to blame! Many conveniently propose the myth that a stable Pakistan is in India’s interest. This is a false proposition. The truth is that Pakistan is bad news for the Indian Union since 1947-stable or otherwise. With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist. Multiple benefits will accrue to the Union of India on such demise.”

Verma Continues

“If ever the national interests are defined with clarity and prioritized, the foremost threat to the Union (and for centuries before) materialized on the western periphery, continuously. To defend this key threat to the Union, New Delhi should extend its influence through export of both, soft and hard power towards Central Asia from where invasions have been mounted over centuries. Cessation of Pakistan as a state facilitates furtherance of this pivotal national objective.

“The self-destructive path that Islamabad chose will either splinter the state into many parts or it will wither away-a case of natural progression to its logical conclusion. In either case Baluchistan will achieve independence. For New Delhi this opens a window of opportunity to ensure that the Gwadar port does not fall into the hands of the Chinese. In this, there is synergy between the political objectives of the Americans and the Indians. Our existing goodwill in Baluchistan requires intelligent leveraging.”

India does not have natural gas reserves, and it desperately needs gas from Iran. But US is against Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline. If IPI project comes through than the stability and security of Iran, Pakistan and India will be in the interest of these respective countries. US would not like this, since it takes away an important leverage from a superpower, that of playing one nation against another. US have proposed the idea of Independent Baluchistan, which India does not mind at all. India has gained strong foot hold inside Afghanistan. A road link connects Iranian port of Chabahar to Afghanistan. India has built a ring-road inside Afghanistan linking Iran to Afghanistan. With back channel diplomacy going on between Iran and US, India and Iran both would like NATO and US supplies to go through Chabahar, Iran rather than Karachi, Pakistan. India strongly believes that Independent Baluchistan is inevitable and is casting all its bets on this deal.

Road link from Iran into Afghanistan
(see checkered line, lower left arrow)

Washington’s interest in Baluchistan

“It is imperative the Baluchistan, an energy rich province must not come under control of China.”

According to a study titled “Baloch Nationalism and the energy politics of energy resources: the changing context of separatism in Pakistan”, by Robert G.Wirsing, of Strategic Studies Institute, a think tank of U.S army, it is imperative the Baluchistan, an energy rich province must not come under control of China. China built Gwadar port, and would like to expand more trade and energy routes through Pakistan via Baluchistan.

To begin with China is interested in a gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan’s into Western China. This is something that is not acceptable to US. China could station some of its naval ships at Gwadar in future should the need arise to provide security to its cargo; this is again something that is not acceptable to US. On the list of US agenda is to secure the Indian Ocean and its strategic routes, and Gwadar right at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz is one of those routes. As mentioned before US is using Baluchistan as a base to carry out covert operations against Iran using Jandullah. After 9/11 US is also using an airfield of Pakistan Air force in Baluchistan for its operations in war on terror.

The U.S. is looking into taking direct control of Gwadar, possibly by capturing Gwadar port, so that they can make a land route through Baluchistan into Southern Afghanistan, this will give them an alternate supply route for their troops. Baluchistan must be under US control so that gas pipelines from Central Asia can pump gas through Afghanistan into coast of Baluchistan. The US believes that Balkanization of Pakistan and setup of independent Baluchistan will dismantle the hope of resurgent Pakistan in the near future, paving the way for a dominant Iran taking control of Middle East while India will be able to take control of South Asia including Afghanistan. Brzezinski believes that Iran not Arab world is the natural ally of US in the Middle East. The current US government is using the foreign policy ideals of Brzezinski, which calls for using Islamic militant and Iran against China and Russia.

Conclusion

The solution of Baluchistan lies with a strong government in Islamabad that is a nationalist government and not a puppet of IMF/WB/CIA.


Current Pakistani government is not able to safeguard Pakistan’s national interests. When Zardari3 became president he authorized release of many BLA terrorist who were held up by security forces in detention. BLA has gotten ample time to regroup and re-arm during the last few months. It is very interesting that the current Chief Minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani before becoming CM, said in an interview, “We will not go for any type of compromise,” says Nawab Raisani. “We want total autonomy.”

According to author of bestselling book, ‘The Way of the World’, Ron Suskind, Raisani is on the payroll of top western intelligence agencies. Given the level of US penetration in Pakistan’s domestic politics it is no surprise.

The solution of Baluchistan lies with a strong government in Islamabad that is a nationalist government and not a puppet of IMF/WB/CIA. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that BLA does not represent the aggrieved Baloch people. BLA is a terrorist outfit and it must be dealt with accordingly. We need to get rid of this government that is working nothing like a democracy. Key decisions are taken by either Zardari or his important Washington approved advisors. We need a new setup of nationalist that are willing to stand up to US and make independent policy decision in the best interest of Pakistan. To counter the growing influence of India, Iran and US in Baluchistan it is a must that old contracts with China be renewed and new development projects must be initiated with Chinese help. The local population of Baluchistan must be given more shares in jobs and resources. This is only achievable if we have patriots in the provincial government of Baluchistan, not scoundrels who are abusing patriotism for their personal greed.

The problem for US is that BLA alone is not able to break away Baluchistan from Pakistan. Of the 5% population of Baluchistan they don’t even have support of 10% Balochi population. The Pakistan Army and ISI are resisting the assault in national and strategic interests of Pakistan. The Great Game of Brzezinski will surely continue in Baluchistan and rest of Pakistan, the people of Pakistan are ready to counter this great game now we need leadership and some courage. It will take some time to achieve courage and leadership but it will come eventually. Street revolutions are easy to carry out the hard part is the mental revolution. That is what is required right now to challenge the US global hegemony.

Glossary of Terms and people mentioned

1. Pervaiz Musharraf is former dictator-turned- president of Pakistan. He was forced out of office due to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and his loss of support by his former sponsor, the U.S. government.

2. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is the ruling political party under President Zardari.

3. Asif Ali Zardari is the current president of Pakistan. He is the former husband of Benazir Bhutto and came into power on her coat tails after she was assassinated. He is also the son of veteran politician Mr. Hakim Ali Zardari. Mr. Zardari is commonly known in Pakistan as “Mr. Ten Percent” due to his well-known cuts on various government deals.

4. BLA is Baloch Liberation Army, officially declared a terrorist outfit by Pakistan, US and UK. Is responsible for various terrorist activities in Pakistan that includes killing civilians, security forces, and blowing up natural gas pipelines.

5. Nawab Akbar Bugti was former head of the Bugti tribe of balochistan, also 13th governor of Baluchistan and the 5th Chief Minister of the province. He and his family favored creation of Pakistan. Bugti was killed on Aug 26th 2006 in a military operation when he was surrounded in a remote hill in Baluchistan.

6. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the main anti-government party in Pakistan at the moment. Because the TTP bears the name “Taliban” the western media often confuses them with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is a grave mistake. The Afgan Taliban rejects the TTP. The TTP views the ANP to be pro-US and part of the pro-US Pakistan government. The TTP is a group based on Takfiri ideology (a Muslim who believes that all other Muslims, even orthodox Muslims are not true Muslims. They view all others as collaborators with the West. All Muslim scholars are unanimous in declaring Takfiris ‘heretics of Islam

Maps taken from Strategic Studies Institute Report on Baluchistan.

TALHA MUJADDIDI LIVES AND WORKS IN PAKISTAN. READ HIS BIO AND MORE OF HIS UP-TO-DATE ANALYSES OF THE BATTLE FOR PAKISTAN IN THE U.S. “WAR ON TERROR”.

© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a “live link” to the article. Thank you!

“Hamas Is a National Resistance Seeking to End the Occupation”

“Hamas Is a National Resistance Seeking to End the Occupation”

Readers Number : 90

23/04/2009 Hamas’ politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal made statements in an address to British lawmakers via satellite on Wednesday. “Resistance is means to an end and not the objective itself,” said Mashaal, “and if we find another way to end the occupation – we will use it.”

According to Mashaal, the only way to promote peace in the Middle East is by pressuring Israel. Ignoring the Palestinian problem and leaving it unsolved would lead to “an explosion in the region,” he warned the Parliament members.

Mashaal stressed that any settlement with the Palestinians will have to include Israel’s’ withdrawal to the 1967 borders and the right of return.

In his speech Mashaal accused Israel of leaving every peace initiative empty, and said that the road to peace and stability in the region runs through ending the occupation. “The Palestinian people must be able to exercise their right for self determination, have sovereignty and be allowed to have a state like every other nations in the world,” he stressed.

Mashaal defined Hamas as “a national resistance movement that seeks to get rid of the occupation and allow the Palestinian people to have freedom and very other legitimate right. “Israel is stronger than us, but force alone cannot decide the campaign – Israel has failed to do so time and again,” he stated.

Hamas’ leader referred to Europe as a “major player” that ought to play a positive role in resolving the Palestinian issue, because “the US’ foreign policy will not change.”

British leaders are divided in their attitude towards Hamas: While the government considers it a “terrorist organization2 and refuses to talk to Hamas, many politicians believe that dialogue with the group is the only way to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The army must face up to Taliban

The army must face up to Taliban

The majority opinion which not so long ago favoured the Nizam-e Adl Regulation (NAR) in Swat is now shifting away from a pro-Taliban stance and conceding that Pakistan might have to fight them as Pakistan’s own war after all. This has happened owing to developments that were predictable to the entire world but not to most Pakistanis because of a media bias. The Swat Taliban have finally said that they are not bound to honour the peace accord between the government and the TNSM cleric Sufi Muhammad. That puts paid to the NAR.

Sufi Muhammad was supposed to declare war against the Taliban if they did not abide by the NAR, but he has instead condemned the Constitution of Pakistan as an infidel institution. A kind of jihadi nepotism has overcome him as he refuses to see what his son-in-law Fazlullah is doing in Dir and Buner in violation of the accord. Indeed, the Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan has denounced those who criticise the Sufi’s “verdict” against democracy and insists that his brand of shariat will be applied throughout Pakistan, with jiziya (protection tax) imposed on non-Muslims. (Jiziya can be retrospective, amounting to crores of rupees, as happened in the case of the Sikh community in Orakzai.)

There’s more disquieting news. Like all Taliban, including some pro-Pakistan warlords like Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban spokesman has welcomed Al Qaeda and its leadership to the areas conquered by the Taliban and vowed to help such formerly state-backed jihadi organisations as Lashkar-e Tayba and Jaish-e Muhammad in addition to the “foreign” outfits such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to consolidate their hold on Pakistan’s territory. The chief of the Lashkar is in protective custody and the Jaish chief has been made to “disappear” for the same reason — if they are visible, there may be pressure to extradite them.

The message is clear: the Taliban are linked to Al Qaeda and they are counting on such elements in Punjab to help them take their war down to other parts of Pakistan. When the Swat deal was being sewed up, only the MQM objected, but it was soon isolated in parliament when the National Assembly voted in favour of the NAR. The media-mujahideen acted in the same irresponsible manner in which they had acted during the Lal Masjid affair by siding with the Taliban over the videoed whipping of a 17-year-old girl. The Supreme Court added its bit by releasing the Lal Masjid cleric who immediately announced his resolve to spread the Taliban shariat in Pakistan.

Interior Adviser Mr Rehman Malik has growled ineffectually in reply and the advocate general in Peshawar has asserted that the High Court will exercise full authority over the qazi courts in Swat. But everyone knows that the advocate general will never go to Swat to say this and risk getting his head chopped off at a Mingora square. Mr Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern after his party kept saying it was not Pakistan’s war that the army was fighting against the Taliban. His refusal to morally support the PPP government earlier and his party’s rejection of an ISI briefing on the matter in a joint parliamentary session had actually made the army back off.

Finally, it is the army that has to step forward and face the Taliban. It has baulked so far because of adverse public opinion and an equally lethal media tilt. But now that the politicians are waking up to the danger and the media is increasingly disabused, the army must end its India-driven strategy and try to save Pakistan from becoming the caliphate of Al Qaeda. In fact, Islamabad has to reach an understanding with New Delhi over the matter in order to get the army to mobilise in the numbers required. However, if this is not done, the people will have to fight the war on their own. The MQM is asking the right question: what if the Taliban come and the army is not there to protect us?

Swat is the challenge staring us in the face. If we don’t accept it and fight the Taliban, then the world will have to come and fight it the way it thinks fit. *

Major operation in the offing: Residents asked to leave Orakzai Agency

Major operation in the offing: Residents asked to leave Orakzai Agency

HANGU: Orakzai Agency residents have been warned to leave the area before a major military offensive against the Taliban, as army gunship helicopters and air force jets pounded the Taliban’s positions in the tribal agency on Wednesday, witnesses and officials said. The hideouts were targeted in the Ghaljo, Mohajir Camp and Garhi areas. Pamphlets saying “leave the area before April 24, as a major offensive against the Taliban will be launched” were dropped by helicopter in the areas targeted on Wednesday. abdul saboor khan

Pentagon “Brainiac” Wants Broader Ties, Leading to American Troops In-country

US to pursue broader mily ties

Published: April 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – With the Taliban tightening their grip on parts of Pakistan, the United States has said Tuesday it wants to pursue broader military ties with the South Asian country to help it counter the threat from militant groups.
Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy, who co-chaired the Afghanistan-Pakistan Interagency Policy Review along with Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and Bruce Riedel, said Washington wants to provide the Pakistan army with training and advice on counterinsurgency tactics developed in Iraq and Afghanistan and support ongoing operations with intelligence and other assistance.
“We need to substantially increase our military assistance and broaden the form”, she said at a forum hosted by the Washington based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIC).
“If we could get beyond a transactional sort of equipping, support and reimbursement relationship to a strategic relationship where we are also training, advising, working together on the ground … we would be much more effective and get a lot farther down the road of achieving our common objectives”.
Flournoy’s comments come as the Obama administration moves to implement a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan stressing military action against insurgents combined with economic and social development initiatives in areas where militants hold sway.
The new US plan effectively seeks a new “strategic partnership” between Washington and Islamabad, she said, “We need a fundamental shift in this relationship for things to work”.
US officials want Pakistan to step up military operations to eradicate safe havens for militant groups like Al-Qaeda that serve as bases for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
Afghan and US officials have recently expressed concern over a decision by Pakistan to accept Taliban demands and impose Islamic law in the Swat valley, where militants have gained ground.

Zionist Hillary Outlines Israeli/American Position on Pakistan-vs-Iranian Threats

[SEE: Lieberman: U.S. to accept any Israeli policy decision]

US asks Pakistanis to snub govt policy

Published: April 23, 2009

US asks Pakistanis to snub govt policy

WASHINGTON – Nuclear-armed Pakistan is becoming a “mortal threat” to the world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday.
“Pakistan poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world,” Hillary Clinton said. “And I want to take this occasion … state unequivocally that not only do the Pakistani government officials, but the Pakistani people and the Pakistani diaspora … need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents … .”
“(We) cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances now within hours of Islamabad that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state.”
“I don’t hear that kind of outrage or concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan,” she added.
In her first testimony to Congress since her confirmation as the US chief diplomat in January, Hillary also defended President Barack Obama’s overtures to Cuba, which has been under a broad US economic embargo for decades.
She sought to reassure Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who backed a new dialogue with Iran but asked if Washington could garner enough support to impose “crippling sanctions” if it failed.
She said the administration has “more leverage with other nations” through its negotiations with the other four UN Security Council members – Russia, China, France and Britain – plus Germany.

Voices of Pakistan

[This is what it has come down to; denial of Pakistani ISI complicity in the CIA's war plans has successfully brought forth a "Frankenstein monster" that has to be destroyed.  ISI and CIA are equally guilty for turning Pakistan into the "epicenter of terrorism" that is now bleeding your country dry.  Pakistan's long time partnership with America in this endeavor (to create for America a credible replacement enemy for the decimated Soviets) is killing all hope.  Destroy what has been created, only do it yourself, as much as possible.  Don't let the White House set the agenda for you.]

Time to take on the Taliban head-on

The Taliban are going around toting guns, flogging women, blowing up schools, killing and raping people, and no one is stopping them. We the sons and daughters of this great country of the Indus must and will stop the Taliban. We must fight them for every inch of Pakistan. They destroyed Afghanistan with the help of imperialism. They took billions of dollars from US imperialism to ruin that country, plunge it into chaos, anarchy and backwardness. They destroyed the lives of millions. They call themselves anti-American. They are not anti-American. They are the scum that US imperialism left in our region. They are scoundrels and counter-revolutionaries.

We call on the brave people of Pakistan to fight against the Taliban for every inch of our great country. Every stone is sacred, every field flourishes with our blood and sweat. The Taliban think they can terrorise the Pakistani people with suicide bombs and slaughter. They don’t terrorise us. We the great people of Pakistan will fight them and their masters (US imperialism) and liberate our country.

The sons and daughters of Pakistan will throw you into the gutter. If our army refuses to fight, we will raise a new army to fight you, if our parliament surrenders we will raise a new parliament that will fight you. We will never surrender. We will never let our sacred homeland be desecrated by the Taliban or US imperialism. The five rivers of the Punjab will rise in flames and the valleys of Pakhtunkhwa will ring with the battle cry of the people of Pakistan against these marauders and the imperialist masters that created them.

Taimur Rahman

(Laal)

Lahore

*****

The people of Swat especially the businessmen have suffered a lot and they had a lot of hope from Sufi Mohammad. However, after what he said in his speech in Mingora on April 19, the situation in the area is again very grim.

Tajul Haram

Swat

*****

It is fascinating to see the pro-Taliban elements in the media extolling the virtues of giving legitimacy to thugs in Swat and calling others ‘liberal extremists’. It was these liberal extremists who spearheaded the non-violent lawyers’ movement. It was these liberal fascists who raised their voice when the dictator of the time clamped down on the country on Nov 3, 2007. The lawyers’ movement did not resort to any violence despite the violent crackdown.

Ali Ahmed Kurd, despite his fiery speeches, never advocated suicide attacks. Atizaz Ahsan never said that regardless of the results, arms would never be laid down. Their objective was justice for all!

Adnan Cyprian

Riyadh

*****

I am at a loss to understand how and why the Swat Taliban have set up a bureau for facilitating love marriages? I say this because on the one hand they flog a woman because she is walking outside her home with her father-in-law and on the other they are saying to men and to women that they can approach the Taliban if they want to marry the person of their choice. I am most perturbed.

Salman Asghar Yousafzai

Mardan

*****

I am very depressed and disappointed at the promulgation of Nizam-e-Adl in Swat. What is the need for spending a huge chunk of taxpayers’ money on the armed forces when they can’t even defend their country from a few thousand miscreants?

Emmad Toor

Rawalpindi

*****

Those who heard Sufi Mohammad’s speech on April 19 must have been stunned by the man’s audacity. Instead of asking the Taliban to lay down their arms, he called the Supreme Court and the high courts un-Islamic. If this is what is going to happen from now on then I am afraid that the ANP has played a very mischievous game with the people of Malakand and left them at the mercy of barbarians.

I am Muslim and I for one cannot for the life of me understand which version of Islam Sufi Mohammad wants to enforce. Does he not know that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and unity? I appeal to the people of Pakistan to forge unity against such elements and expose them.

Nasir Mehmood Shafqi

Mardan

*****

I would most respectfully like to ask the chief of army staff why the military has failed to handle the situation in Swat and FATA. Are the misdirected miscreants and terrorists stronger than the army? How can a nuclear state be so weak that it should be dictated to by a group of terrorists? Some theories in the past — especially when General Musharraf was in power — said that these terrorists were like our teeth, which we would show to Europe and America, to make them back off. If that is indeed happening even now, then I am afraid this is a strategy that has thoroughly backfired — and now is putting Pakistan’s very existence in peril.

Instead, it has demoralised the whole nation which is now questioning the need for such a large army when it cannot defend us from these monsters. I would humbly request the government and the military establishment to take immediate action to stem the demoralisation of the nation. We need you to take on the Taliban with unity of purpose and action.

Ashfaq Azmi

Karachi

*****

In the past, political parties have accused the army of engineering the collapse of their governments, covertly or overtly. However, given the abysmal performance of the current setup, perhaps this time, no one would need to make an effort. The way all the ‘so-called’ secular and democratic parties of the country capitulated to the thugs and terrorists, it is safe to assume that they will die their own natural death. At this point, one hates to admit that given the not-so-charming past of the MQM, at least this time they have proven their secular and democratic nature, giving a feeble hope to the citizens amidst growing depression and frustration with every single day.

On the contrary, the ANP, once the party of Bacha Khan, has lost much of its following and respect in the eyes of many ordinary Pakistanis.

Muhammad Ali Asghar

Islamabad

*****

With the army having walked out of Swat because it could not or would not tackle the militants, would anyone mind explaining what the ANP government should have done other than agreeing to the Nizam-e-Adl regulation?

Mahnaz Qaiser

Peshawar

*****

As a Muslim, as a Pakistani, and as a Pathan, I feel horribly about what is transpiring in the world today. The happenings in Swat are just a reflection of the problem that we all face. Whose side are we on? Do we even have a side? The government, obviously, has failed us in more ways than one and I cannot, with a clear conscience, support our rulers. But, neither can I support the ones who declare democracy to be a sham and who establish their own writ while alluding vaguely to God’s law. Sharia is indeed God’s law, but does God’s law make the likes of Maulana Fazlullah and the Taliban — the supreme rulers of our beloved Swat?

And to top it all, we as a country are facing a west that believes its actions to be legitimate and that we are incapable of governing ourselves. The picture painted is dismal, but it is for us to forge a path of our own, and to decide what is right and what is wrong. Instead, we’ve been reduced as a nation which is trying to choose the least of a myriad of evils. At this point, neither the democracy-toting government nor the anti-government factions are the answer. What is the answer? I wish I knew.

Khadija Mahsud

Islamabad

*****

I fail to understand why the mainstream media gives so much importance to the pronouncements of a semi-educated man who has the blood of hundreds of Pakistanis on his hands and who does not recognise the constitution of Pakistan. And by the way, what exam has he passed to qualify for the title of ‘maulana’?

Muhammed Islam

Lahore

*****

The NWFP police have gained evidence from the interrogation of terrorists, including a would-be suicide bomber, arrested in connection with the Charsadda bombing, which suggests that the bombing was planned in Swat by Fazlullah. The plan was made in Swat but the responsibility was deliberately taken by Baitullah Mehsud so that Fazlullah escapes any criticism. This clearly shows that Fazlullah is using the Swat peace deal as a cover to conduct more terrorist acts.

This also shows that either Sufi Mohammad is being used or that he has now shown his true colours after declaring the Pakistan constitution as being against Sharia and that calling the high courts and the Supreme Court un-Islamic. In addition the Swat Taliban have invited Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leadership to come to Swat and have safe sanctuary there. This is an open challenge to the government and the state of Pakistan. The government has to act now — because if it does not then there will be no turning back.

The Charsadda bombing report should be made public and the people and the media be shown exactly what was behind it all. An effective media campaign needs to be launched to expose the real motives of these militants — enough is enough.

Eschmall Sardar

Peshawar

*****

Another part of my beloved country — Buner — has fallen into the growing darkness that is the Taliban. I am dumbstruck by the proportionately growing insensitivity of the country’s political and military leadership to this lethal cancer. The president and the prime minister keep saying that terrorism and militancy are our biggest dangers but they are not doing anything at all to put their words into action. I am losing my faith and pride in our military. Do we need a messiah to come from the heavens and take us out of our predicament?

Dr Muhammad Amir

Lahore

*****

Starting from South Waziristan in 2002, the Pakistani Taliban and their Al Qaeda mentors progressively occupied one agency after another. In September of the same year, a ‘peace deal’ was signed in North Waziristan. The Taliban simply used it to expand their activities to Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, and to attack US and Afghan troops in Afghanistan. Since 2004, the army signed three agreements with militants in FATA and all three failed. After that, the Taliban have steadily advanced into the settled areas. General Musharraf basically lied to the Americans, the Afghans and to the people of Pakistan. His two-faced policies have directly led to the dangerous advance of the Taliban, who now occupy over a third of NWFP.

The ‘peace deal’ in Swat is another fraud with the people of Pakistan. Sadly, only the MQM had the guts to call a spade a spade, and point out the critical danger the unchecked advance of the Taliban is posing for Pakistan’s existence. Our policy makers and particularly the military establishment would do well to remember that Pakistan can sacrifice the Taliban for the sake of its existence but under no circumstances can Pakistan itself be sacrificed for the sake of the Taliban. I appeal to the president and the army chief to please wake up and take resolute action before it is too late.

Tariq Nazir Syed

Rawalpindi

*****

When the flogging video of a girl appeared on the media, representatives of the Taliban denied it by saying that the video was fake. Yesterday I saw a video where four FC personnel were being slaughtered like animals and beheaded. I am sure that not a single horror movie could be compared with this video. I am a religious person, pray five times a day, preferably in the mosque, and fast in Ramazan. But if what I saw in that video is Islam then I should be sorry for being a Muslim.

If it is not so then why those committing such heinous and barbaric crimes are being welcomed and rewarded by the government with a peace deal — they should be punished with the full force of the law.

Anwar Ali Khan

Islamabad

Prepare for the war

Prepare for the war

Zafar Hilaly

South Asian experts from over half a dozen institutions in the US, when asked about Pakistan’s prospects in confronting the Taliban challenge, gave a huge thumbs down. Our own pundit in residence, the much travelled and deservedly famous Ahmed Rasheed, is even more pessimistic in his candid moments. If then one were to sum up the take of the experts, both foreign and domestic, on Pakistan’s future prospects it would be: “Pakistan is on the verge of disintegration. Nothing can save it. The present government is not able to mobilize the economic and political resources to push back the Taliban challenge. And, by the way, this is not the worse case scenario but a realistic version based on militant gains and the failure of the Pakistan establishment to respond. In sum Pakistan is beyond redemption.”

Of course our prime minister disagrees, so do some more cerebral politicians but that is to be expected. Their response must per force have a Churchillian ring about it, although one friend remarked that the prime minister sounds like the infamous “Bagdad Bob”, Saddam’s information minister, who had the gall to say, even as he was being evicted from his office by American troops, that Bagdad had been cleared of all US forces.

As for what are public feelings due to the lack of reliable polls we are less certain. However, my admittedly unscientific private poll of taxi and rickshaw drivers, usually perspicacious political watchers, suggests that the public too believes that all is lost. About the only segment of the population which feels optimistic about Pakistan’s future appear to be those who live off the domestic Stock Markets which are experiencing a mini boom. An ex-banker when asked how he could account for this sliver of optimism in a sea of pessimism remarked, “The individual you asked is one of the four biggest manipulators of the market, so what else do you expect him to say?”

Pakistanis are understandably loath to write off Pakistan not because the omens are good or because better leadership is at hand, in fact the failure of the civilian leadership to stem the violence is a warning that the end may well be nigh; but because the battle to rid Pakistan of the militant threat has not yet been joined in earnest. This will only happen once the military, which has kept itself aloof from the conflict, except when unavoidable, decides to enter the fray or alternatively stays out; and when the Pakistani middle classes, as yet uninvolved, are mobilised to join the fight that is under way.

This war, unlike that of 1971 is not a battle exclusively between the Taliban and the forces of law and order, nor is it one of secession. On the outcome of this war will depend how Pakistanis live and think, dress and eat, talk and pray, what they read, the games they play, etc. In this war not only Pakistan’s unity or territorial integrity but also our version of life and religion is at stake.

The battle lines between the two sides are clear. On the one side are the Taliban extremists, their tribal supporters, the laskars and jaishes and the fanatical thousands groomed in some of the 18000 or so Wahabi funded madaressas that have proliferated. Facing them will be the military if, that is, it chooses to fight; and the masses. In the case of obtaining the support of the masses there is a caveat, namely, provided a serious and countrywide attempt is made by the government to energise/mobilise the masses, which is not happening.

Indeed, the outcome of the war may well be decided before the battle commences. It will depend on which side offers the best hope to the populace and how they move to garner mass support. Successful strategising rather than any feat of arms is how the Taliban captured Afghanistan. They are past masters at the art of promoting defections, sowing discord in the ranks of their adversaries, separating the commander from his forces, taking advantage of the widespread demand for law and order, putting themselves on a par with the people whose support they need to enlist, providing moral clarity, a promise of a just and safe society and hence a true Islamic state.

All baloney, of course, as Afghans discovered during the six years the Taliban ruled Afghanistan and returned the country to a state of pristine medievalism. Small wonder then that Afghans joyously welcomed the demise of the Taliban after a brief but conclusive defeat in 2001 at the hands of fellow Afghans supported by the US.

It is in the crucial realm of strategising that our government is losing the battle. The government and parliament must cease behaving as if we are merely taking on misguided brothers and their followers who are basically “patriotic Pakistanis”. We are in fact taking on a blood thirsty horde that has hijacked Islam, trashed the image of Islam as a peace-loving religion, ignored the Quranic injunction that “There is no compulsion in Islam” and now mean to impose their version of the Sharia on Pakistan regardless of the cost in terms of human life and the security and safety of the country and the people.

To them no opponent who disagrees with their world view is a Muslim and all who do are worthy of death. It does not stop there, as they demonstrated in Swat, every relative, supporter and well-wisher of an opponent, however innocent, will receive the same punishment. In the face of such barbarism a pusillanimous and vacillating response won’t do. As the Taliban give no quarter parliament should work up the courage to warn them that they can expect none in return.

Motivation is the staple on which wars are fought, and won or lost; and of this there is no better example than the striking contrast between the performance of our soldiers in Swat and those of their brothers in Kargil. In Swat, despite having the upper hand in terms of fire power, considerable reserves and the air force on call the army received a drubbing from a guerrilla force. In Kargil, on the other hand, not withstanding the lack of any backup support or being outnumbered and outgunned, and knowing that there was no way down from those heights except in a coffin our jawans fought heroically on an empty stomach till their ammunition ran out; and then only when the order came to cease fighting.

The reason for the contrast in performances is not because in Swat the enemy was a fellow Muslim while in the other India but rather the failure of their leaders to convey to the troops the reason and rationale of the war against the Taliban and why defeat was not an option. Swat has been a singular failure of civil and military leadership.

A highly motivated force of extremists does not fear death; in fact they vie to get killed, such is their longing for the rewards of paradise and their fearsomeness as opponents. We know that and hence the job of a disciplined army is to help them achieve their goal and enter paradise as quickly and in as vast numbers as possible. And if in the process we need to solicit the assistance of foreign powers by way of modern and appropriate weaponry we should do so.

To defeat one devil we should be prepared to sup with another. Talk of sovereignty, hidden US/Israeli/Indian conspiracies to defang/break up Pakistan is just so much idle prattle. Anyway, if the Taliban win the US will not need to “conspire to set the stage for their intervention” they will have a ready made excuse.

The war effort must be a national effort in which the entire population and every segment of society plays their assigned roles in the fight against the enemy and not, as at present, to leave matters to a weak, demoralised and underpaid police and overextended rangers while the army is ensconced in its bunkers on the Line of Control looking over its shoulder passively as large swathes of the country fall to the enemy.

The writer is a former ambassador. Email: charles123it@hotmail.com

PM under threat, warn agencies

[Gilani rocking boat of contract terrorism.]

PM under threat, warn agencies

By Shakeel Anjum

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is under a serious threat, intelligence agencies have claimed in a letter addressed to concerned quarters of the government, including the Ministry of Interior, sources told The News.

The PM could be targeted in Islamabad, Lahore or Multan, the sources, quoting the letter, added. “Tribal area based terrorists are planning to target Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani through a combination of explosion and a suicide attack, or gorilla attack similar to the Sri Lankan cricket team and the Manawan police training centre,” the report said. “Three teams of terrorists are reported to be working simultaneously at Islamabad, Lahore and Multan.”

Meanwhile, to counter serious threats to Islamabad, the federal government has called troops of the Northern Area Scouts (a paramilitary force under the Army command) to aid the civil administration in protecting important personalities and sensitive installations of the capital city, Interior Ministry sources told The News.

The ministry has asked concerned authorities to arrange the required force of the Northern Area Scouts (NAS) to counter threats from extremists. “At least, 20 companies of the NAS are required to tackle any possible untoward situation,” the sources said. The NAS would be deployed at sensitive installations and included in the motorcade of important personalities.

SSP (Security Division) Zubair Hashmi, when contacted, confirmed the report. “A proposal to summon the NAS has been sent to the concerned authorities.” Meanwhile, the capital city police are hunting for an explosive laden ambulance and a car bearing ‘Press’ plate on the information of an intelligence agency, sources said. However, it could be a mock exercise, they added.

Pakistan’s Future Rests on Ability to Debunk Wahabbi “Islam”

PHCBA takes exception to Taliban threat in Shangla

PESHAWAR: Angry at the recent threat to the legal fraternity in Shangla district, the Peshawar High Court Bar Association on Wednesday asked the federal and provincial governments to provide full protection to the Malakand Division lawyers.

The demand came through a unanimous resolution passed by the participants of an emergency meeting of the PHCBA, convened by its Secretary General Mohammad Essa Khan after the Taliban threatened that Shangla lawyers would be liable to be killed if they appeared in regular courts.

The PHCBA asked the government to provide full protection to the lawyers of Malakand Division to enable them perform duties without Taliban fear in the region.

“The government should convene a national conference comprising all political parties, especially of religious parties and explain its policy on ‘fatwas’ [decrees] that called lawyers

profession, democratic system and apex courts un-Islamic,” the PHCBA proposed to the

government through the resolution.

Mohammad Essa Khan, in his address to the meeting, condemned Taliban ban on lawyers’ entry to regular courts, saying there was no bar on legal profession in Islam. He said Islam allowed the Muslims to seek lawyers’ help in several matters of life.

He also called upon the bar associations across the province to hold a one-hour protest meeting in the barrooms to condemn the Taliban ban and threats to the lawyers of Malakand Division.

PHCBA President S M Attique Shah said today Taliban banned law practice in Swat and Shangla districts calling regular courts un-Islamic and tomorrow they would place restrictions on lawyers in Buner, Dir districts and finally the Peshawar High Court lawyers would be barred from appearing in the regular courts.

The PHCBA chief said to cope with the Taliban threat to the Malakand Agency lawyers, he would soon call a lawyers convention to discuss the issue and press the government to safeguard lawyers’ profession and their lives in the trouble region.

Former PHCBA president Abdul Lateef Afridi said after the peace accord and enforcement of Nizam-e-Adle Regulation in Malakand Division, instead of laying down arms and remaining peaceful Taliban had occupied 75 percent of Buner district.

“If lawyers could run a successful movement for the restoration of the deposed judges, they must launch such a movement against Taliban to save their counterparts in Malakand and ensure their protection,” Afridi went on to say.

Afridi, who is also an Awami National Party leader, said that ANP-led provincial government seemed helpless against Taliban, adding there were only 1600 policemen in the entire Malakand Division, out of which 131 had been killed, 800 had quit duties and only less then 700 remained there to establish the state writ.

Coming down hard on the military’s “ineffective” operation in Swat, Afridi said Taliban took control of Swat during military operation, claiming that before that Taliban were limited to only 5 percent areas and after operations they were in full control of the entire Swat valley.

Barrister Baacha, Tehmina Kakakhel and Said Tahir also criticised chief of banned Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad for terming regular courts un-Islamic. They said after enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, Taliban were not interested in Shariah but wanted to set up a parallel judicial system in Malakand Division.

US Readies “Crippling Sanctions” for Next Phase of Iran’s Punishment

US prepares for tough Iran sanctions: Clinton

WASHINGTON: The United States is preparing for “very tough sanctions” against Iran if the new US approach to Iran fails, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told US lawmakers on Wednesday.

Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that President Barack Obama’s administration is pursuing a dual-track strategy with Iran, when asked about the risk that US dialogue fails to check Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“We are more than willing to reach out to the Iranians to discuss a range of issues,” if Tehran reciprocates, Clinton said.

“We are also laying the groundwork for the kind of very tough sanctions, I think you said crippling sanctions, that might be necessary in the event that our offers are either rejected or the process is inconclusive or unsuccessful,” Clinton said.

Clinton gave her testimony when she appeared in Congress for the first time since her confirmation hearings in January.

Iran said on Wednesday it is ready for “constructive dialogue” with world powers on its nuclear drive, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed the US policy shift towards Tehran.

Chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili, quoted by local news agencies, declared that Iran would not halt its nuclear program, which Western nations fear could be a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb, but which Iran insists is aimed only at generating electricity.

Ahmadinejad said last week he would present a new package for negotiations aimed at resolving the nuclear stand-off, after the so-called P5+1 group of world powers called for dialogue with Iran.

Wahabbi Justice, Coming to a Courtroom Near You

Buner courts closed

PESHAWAR: Thousands of under trial cases goes into pending due to closure of courts in district Buner.

The courts have been shut down after April 23 deadline given by Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad for the establishment of Darul Qaza and appointment of Qazi. The people of Bunar appealed the government to take immediate notice of the situation.

Taliban trained over 5,000 kids for suicide bombings

Taliban trained over 5,000 kids for suicide bombings

KARACHI: More than 5,000 children have been trained by Taliban for suicide bombing, a foreign news agency revealed this in a report.

Intelligence estimates suggest more than 5,000 children have been trained by Taliban for deadly missions.

Hundreds more children are still undergoing brainwashing at dozens of ‘suicide nurseries’ run by the ethnic Pashtun Taliban commander. Mehsud. He heads Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group for around a dozen Taliban outfits and has close links with Al Qaeda.

The notorious commander is believed to have been behind several dozen suicide bombings across the country, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in late 2007.

According to a report, in January 2008, during a short offensive, the military discovered a suicide nursery in the Spinkai area of South Waziristan.

Four months later, the military showed reporters video footage of a classroom where a masked teacher taught children how to carry out a suicide attack. The children, sitting in rows, were wearing white headbands inscribed with Quranic verses. Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the army’s chief spokesman, said that soldiers had rounded up over 50 boys who were undergoing suicide attack training.

According to intelligence estimates, more than 5,000 child suicide bombers between the ages of 10 and 17 have been trained by the Taliban so far.

The Law of Pakistan Pre-dates Invasion of Radicalized Wahabbi Islam

‘1973 constitution, institutions are Islamic’: Kundi rules

ISLAMABAD: The Deputy Speaker of National Assembly, Faisal Karim Kundi ruled on Thursday that the 1973 constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was Islamic and the institutions working under it were also constitutional and according to Shariah.

The session began with Faisal Karim Kundi in chair and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani also attended the NA proceedings. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s Haider Abbas Rizvi criticised the TNSM chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad for his anti-parliament remarks and requested the deputy speaker to pass ruling on Sufi’s statement.

The deputy speaker then ruled that the 1973 constitution and all institutions working under it were Islamic (according to Shariah). Kundi said the 1973 constitution provides for the protection and preservation of Islamic Concept of life and it also attempts to propagate and implement the basic teachings of Islam.

The NA was also informed that 14 non-career diplomats have been appointed in 13 countries by the government. They are from various walks of life and are eminent personalities, businessmen, politicians, journalists, bankers and retired senior personnel from armed forces, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in written reply to a question by Rana Mehmood-ul-Hassan.

The countries where these non-career diplomats are appointed include Austria, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Portugal, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, Ukraine, USA and UN (New York).

In reply to another question, the foreign minister said that a total of 43 Pakistan embassies are housed in buildings owned by the government.

Prominent capitals where Pakistan owns the embassy buildings are Beijing, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dubai, New Delhi, London, Manchester, New York, Washington, Riyadh, Paris, Ottawa, Berlin and Frankfurt.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan laid before the National Assembly the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance, 2009 (No II of 2009) as required by clause (2) of Article 89 of the Constitution.

Awan also presented the statement of accounts of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan certified by the auditors and Auditors’ Report along with the Annual Report of the Commission for the year ended on 30th June, 2008 as required by sub-section (6) of Section 25 of the Securities Commission of Pakistan Act, 1997.

Government Vascillates in Buner, Where to Draw the Line in the Sand?

Cop killed in Buner police mobile attack

BUNER: A policeman was killed and another injured in a firing incident on police mobile in Buner.

According to sources, the incident happened when unknown persons opened fire on a police mobile escorting with FC vehicles. The injured police official was shifted to hospital.

Meanwhile, a jirga of local notables and Taliban has been ended here with consent on several issues.

Sources said Taliban in a jirga announced that they will not interfere in administrative issues of Buner, no attack or action will be carry out against NGO’s. Likewise, no action will be taken against government officials and institutions.

Taliban said they do not welcome military presence in Banur. They also announced to hold a peace jirga in Buner. The general pardon has been announced in the jirga for those involved in anti Taliban activities; however, this is not applicable on chief of local lashkar.

Govt to revisit Swat accord if peace not restored: PM

Govt to revisit Swat accord if peace not restored: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Thursday that the peace deal with the militants could be re-looked if peace did not return to Swat.

The prime minister said that the Parliament had unanimously approved the peace accord; President Asif Ali Zardari gave his assent to it and it is meant to restore peace. If peace does not return, we can think otherwise,” Gilani told reporters here at Cabinet Block.

At the same time, Gilani expressed hope that peace would return to Swat. The premier said that the government would not allow a parallel government to be formed.

To a question, Gilani said the constitution of Pakistan is supreme and all institutions are working under it.

President, PM refuse to meet British special envoy

President, PM refuse to meet British special envoy

The News
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani are reluctant to meet with the British special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles who is presently visiting the country, sources told Geo News on Wednesday.
According to sources, the government has expressed its resentment over Pakistani students’ arrest in Britain in the absence of evidence and the ensuing media trial.
The British envoy was to meet the President and Prime Minister but they refused in protest of the above.
Meanwhile, Pakistani High Commissioner in Britain, Wajid Shams-ul-Hasan has said that Lodon should offer an apology to Islamabad.
However, spokesman of British High Commission has said that a request for meeting with President and Prime Minister has been forwarded but there is no information of it being turned down.

Kerry: Administration lacks real strategy for handling Pakistan

[Sen. Kerry almost understands the errors in Obama's Pakistan policy.]

Kerry: Administration lacks real strategy for handling Pakistan


WASHINGTON: Sen. John Kerry says the Obama administration’s plan for Pakistan, rolled out last month with great fanfare, “is not a real strategy.”
“Pakistan is in a moment of peril,” Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a session with USA TODAY reporters and editors. “And I believe there is not in place yet an adequate policy or plan to deal with it.”In an interview after the session, Kerry advised the Obama administration to stop using the term “Af-Pak,” to describe a unified strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, because “I think it does a disservice to both countries and to the policy. The two governments, he said, are “very sensitive to it” and “don’t see the linkage.”
Kerry’s spokesman, Frederick Jones, said that the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan are scheduled to embark on a rare joint visit to the U.S. for meetings in May, and Kerry plans to host them for lunch May 7.
Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has said the United States must have a unified strategy for both countries, which share a mountainous border region that is a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity.
Kerry’s comments amounted to one of the sharpest appraisals by a Democrat of one of Obama’s signature foreign policies. They marked a change from his initial reaction to Obama’s announcement of his plan for the region in a speech March 27, when Kerry issued a statement calling it “realistic and bold.”
“Obviously the president disagrees with the chairman on this, and the issues he raised are being aggressively worked in the president’s new strategy,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an e-mail.
As an example of how he believes counterinsurgency strategy is lacking, Kerry cited the example of a recent Pakistan army operation in Peshawar.
“The army went in, they expended a lot of energy for us, some lives, and you know, nothing came in underneath it – absolutely nothing. So you’re going to wind up with a bunch of folks who are going to hate you.
“If the army’s going to take the risk of going in there, for God’s sake you have the civil component coming in, so you win something for it,” Kerry said.
The Massachusetts senator has sponsored a bill that would steer $1.5 billion a year in aid to Pakistan. He said he opposes language in a companion bill in the House requiring the president to certify that Pakistan does not support terrorists. Pakistanis consider that “insulting,” he said.
Kerry praised Obama’s stepped-up attacks against insurgents in Pakistan by unmanned U.S. drone aircraft, saying they had driven “bad guys” into Yemen.
“I think it has had a dramatic impact, and I think that is one of the reasons why people are screaming about it,” he said, adding that he did not think there has been inordinate civilian casualties.

Taliban oust Pakistani authorities in Swat Valley sharia zone

Students in Mingora sift through the rubble of their school allegedly destroyed by Taliban militants

Students in Mingora sift through the rubble of their school allegedly destroyed by Taliban militants. Photograph: BK Bangash/AP

Taliban oust Pakistani authorities in Swat Valley sharia zone

• Fighters force out judiciary, police, politicians and aid agencies
• Clinton attacks Islamabad’s appeasement of Islamist militants

Taliban fighters spilling out of the Swat Valley have swept across Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad, as Hillary Clinton warned the situation in Pakistan now poses a “mortal threat” to the security of the world.

The US secretary of state told Congress yesterday that Pakistan faced an “existential” threat from Islamist militants. “I think the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists,” she said. Any further deterioration in the situation “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world”, she said.

In Buner, Taliban fighters occupied government buildings, ransacked the offices of aid agencies and ordered aid employees to leave. Fighters brandishing guns and rocket launchers patrolled villages, forcing beleaguered local police to retreat to their stations. Local courts have stopped functioning and judicial officials have gone on indefinite leave.

This morning the provincial government said it was deploying six platoons of paramilitaries – between 180 and 300 troops – to retrieve control of the government installations.

The turmoil in Buner, a district of about 1 million people, does not pose an immediate threat to Islamabad, which lies across a mountain range and the river Indus. But the speed and aggression of the militant advance has stoked a sense of alarm across the country, even among normally conservative forces.

“If Taliban continue to move at this pace they will soon be knocking at the doors of Islamabad,” Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema e Islam party, told the national assembly yesterday.

The Taliban could soon seize control of Tarbela Dam, a strategic reservoir, Rehman warned.

Blame for the turmoil has focused on a controversial peace deal the provincial government signed with militants in February. Hoping to defuse the insurgency, the Awami National party-led government acceded to demands for sharia law in Swat and seven surrounding districts, known collectively as Malakand Division.

The changes were ratified by the national parliament last week with cross-party consensus. Since then, the Taliban have moved to establish much more than judicial control.

In Mingora, the commercial hub of Swat, the police retain a low-key presence, reduced to directing traffic. Most politicians have fled, many under death threats. Many residents said it was not clear who was in control of the town.

In Imam Dheri, the Taliban headquarters near Mingora, a Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, told the Guardian their goal was the establishment of an Islamic caliphate first in Pakistan and then across the Muslim world.

“Democracy is a system for European countries. It is not for Muslims,” he said. “This is not just about justice. It should be in education, health, economics. Everything should be under sharia.”

The drive into Buner signals the next step in that strategy. Khan said Taliban fighters were being deployed to ensure sharia law was implemented there too.

They are also muscling in on other areas. On Wednesday, militants kidnapped a senior government official in Upper Dir, west of Swat, for a few hours before releasing him.

Defending the government, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, said Islamabad was pushing for a negotiated peace just as the US had done with Iraqi militants.

“To think that that strategy somehow represents an abdication of our responsibility towards our people and towards the security of our country and the region is incorrect,” he told CNN.

Lieberman: U.S. to accept any Israeli policy decision

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, right, standing with U.S. envoy George Mitchell after a meeting in Jerusalem last week.
(Reuters)

Lieberman: U.S. to accept any Israeli policy decision

[FLASHBACK: "WE, THE JEWISH PEOPLE, CONTROL AMERICA. AND THE AMERICANS KNOW IT." -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel SharonOctober 3, 2001]

By Lily Galili and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.

“Believe me, America accepts all our decisions,” Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets.

Lieberman granted his first major interview to Alexander Rosensaft, the Israel correspondent of one of the oldest Russian dailies, not to an Israeli newspaper. The role of Israel is to “bring the U.S. and Russia closer,” he declared

During the interview, Lieberman said Iran is not Israel’s biggest strategic threat; rather, Afghanistan and Pakistan are.

This comes after years of Lieberman warning about the growing Iranian threat. Now, he has dropped Tehran to number two, with Iraq coming third.

Lieberman also discussed Moscow’s under-utilized role in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and said he aims to correct this. The newspaper emphasized Lieberman’s intention to develop closer ties with Russia and to resolve international issues jointly.

“Russia has a special influence in the Muslim world, and I consider it a strategic partner that should play a key role in the Middle East,” Lieberman said in the interview.

“I have argued for some time that Israel has insufficient appreciation for the ‘Kremlin factor’; I intend to mend this gap,” he said.

Political sources in the Commonwealth of Independent States have told Haaretz that they believe Lieberman’s appointment will result in “greater understanding” between Israel and Russia.

Regarding his changing view on Israel’s greatest threats, Lieberman said that since he began warning against the nuclear threat from Iran, nuclear threats have become more prevalent. Meanwhile, a more urgent problem has developed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is nuclear and unstable, and Afghanistan is faced with a potential Taliban takeover, and the combination form a contiguous area of radicalism ruled in the spirit of Bin Laden,” Lieberman said.

“I do not think that this makes anyone in China, Russia or the U.S. happy … these countries [Pakistan and Afghanistan] are a threat not only to Israel, but to the global order as a whole.”

In response to a question on Israel’s role in countering these threats, Lieberman said, “Our role is that we should bring the U.S. and Russia closer … it is unclear to me why the U.S. needs to confront Russia on Kosovo or Ukraine’s entry to NATO; however, Russia needs to understand that close cooperation with Hugo Chavez does not build western confidence.”

Later in the interview, the foreign minister spoke unkindly of the road map, which he called binding, unlike the Annapolis process, in his view. The Palestinians “are not very familiar with the document,” he said. Lieberman called a two-state solution a nice slogan that lacks substance.

On Tuesday, Army Radio reported that Lieberman ruled out an Arab peace initiative, after previously announcing that Israel was not bound to the U.S.-backed Annapolis process.

“This is a dangerous proposal, a recipe for the destruction of Israel,” he was quoted as telling a closed meeting of senior Foreign Ministry officials.

Meanwhile, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was due in Israel on Wednesday for talks with senior officials, but as of Tuesday night, there were no plans for a meeting with Lieberman.

A senior political source in Jerusalem said Tuesday night that a meeting would take place, but neither the Foreign Ministry nor officials in Cairo would comment on the matter.

Suleiman was scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.

This will be the first exchange between the new Israeli administration and Egypt. The senior Egyptian official will discuss the security situation along the Gaza border, the Hezbollah terror ring uncovered in Egypt, and arms smuggling through Sinai.

Another central issue in the talks will be the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, and Israel’s position on the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Lieberman sparked outrage in Egypt last year when he criticized its president, Hosni Mubarak, in a speech before the Knesset, saying that the Egyptian leader could “go to hell.”

His remarks were over Mubarak’s refusal to make an official state visit to Israel. The Egyptian leader’s sole trip to Israel was for the 1995 funeral of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

At another time, Lieberman said Egypt’s Aswan Dam should be bombed.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said earlier this month that Lieberman would not be welcome in Egypt unless he changes his positions.

“If I meet him I will keep my hands to myself,” Aboul Gheit told a television reporter in Cairo, declaring that he would refuse to shake the hand of Israel’s foreign minister.

There is a power struggle over Israel within Egypt, between the General Intelligence Service and the Foreign Ministry. The former manages the Israel “file,” while the Foreign Ministry officially represents Cairo vis-a-vis Israel. If Suleiman and Lieberman do meet, it will be another factor within this power struggle.

Full Text of President Ahmadinejad’s Remarks at U.N. Conference on Racism

Ahmadinejad speaks at the U.N. conference on racism (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahmadinejad speaks at the U.N. conference on racism (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

This is a rush transcript of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks at the United Nations Durban Review Conference on racism in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 20, 2009. Transcribed from the translation given in the U.N. webcast of the speech.

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful… [Protestors in clown costumes escorted out by security] May he bestow upon his prophets… Praise be upon Allah, the Almighty, who is just, kind, and compassionate. May he bestow upon his prophets his blessings and his grace from Adam to Noah; Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and His last prophet, Mohammed. Peace be upon them all who are the harbingers of monotheism, fraternity, love … [Applause] … human dignity and justice.

Mr. Chairman. I call upon all distinguished guests to forgive these ignorant people.

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be upon Allah, the Almighty, who is just, kind, and compassionate, and praise and salutations of the Almighty God to the great prophet. May he bestow upon [us] His blessings, His grace. We thank the Almighty God. Praise be upon him who is just and who is compassionate. And the salutations and regards of Allah to his prophets, from Noah to Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and his last prophet Mohammed. Peace be upon them all who are the harbingers of monotheism, fraternity, love, human dignity, and justice.

Mr. Chairman. Honorable Secretary General of the United Nations. Madam High Commissioner. Ladies and Gentleman. We have gathered here in the follow up to the Durban conference against racism and racial discrimination to work out practical mechanisms for our holy and humanitarian campaigns. Over the last centuries, humanity has gone through tremendous suffering and pain. In the middle ages, thinkers and scientists were sentenced to death. It was then followed by a period of slavery and slave trade, when innocent people in millions were captivated and separated from their families and loved ones, to be taken to Europe and America under worse conditions; the dark period that also experienced occupations, lootings, and massacres of innocent people.

Many years passed by before nations rose up and fought for their liberty and freedom, and they paid a high price. They lost millions of lives to expel the occupiers and proclaim their independence. However, it did not take long that the coercive powers imposed two wars in Europe which also plagued a part of Asia and Africa. Those horrific wars claimed about 100 million lives and left behind massive devastation. Had lessons been learned from the occupations, horrors, and crimes of those wars, there would have been a ray of hope for the future. The victorious powers called themselves the conquerors of the world while ignoring or downtreading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us take a look at the U.N. Security Council, which is one of the legacies of World War II and World War I. What was the logic behind their granting themselves the veto rights? How can such a logic comply with humanitarian or spiritual values? Could it be in conformity with the recognized principles of justice, equality before law, love, and human dignity? [Applause] Or rather, with discrimination, injustice, violation of human rights, or humiliation of the majority of nations and countries?

That Council is the highest decision-making world body for safeguarding the international peace and security. How can we expect the realization of justice and peace when discrimination is legalized and the origin of law is dominated by coercion and force rather than by justice and the right?

Coercion and arrogance is the origin of oppression and wars. Although today many proponents of racism condemn racial discrimination in their words and in their slogans, a number of powerful countries have been authorized to decide for other nations based on their own interests and at their own discretions. And they can easily ridicule and violate all laws and humanitarian values, as they have done so.

Following World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish sufferings. And they sent migrants from Europe, the United States, and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine… [Delegates walk out in protest. Applause] And in fact in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe… Okay, please. Thank you. And in fact in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive, racist regime in Palestine. [Applause]

The Security Council helped stabilize this occupation regime and supported it in the past 60 years, giving them a free hand to continue their crimes. It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defend those racist perpetrators of genocide whilst the awakened conscience and free minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutalities and bombardments of civilians in Gaza. They have always been supportive or silent against their crimes. And before that, they have always been silent with regard to their crimes.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, what are the root causes of U.S. attacks against Iraq or invasion of Afghanistan? [Shouts from audience] What are the root causes of U.S. attacks against Iraq invasion of Afghanistan? Was the motive behind the invasion of Iraq anything other than the arrogance of the then U.S. administration and the mounting pressures on the part of the owner of wealth and power to expand their sphere of influence, seeking the interests of giant arms manufacturing companies, affecting a noble culture with thousands of years of historical background, eliminating potential and practical traits of Muslim countries against the useful Zionist regime, or to control and plunder energy resources of the Iraqi people? Why, indeed almost a million people were killed and injured and a few more millions were displaced and became homeless. Why, indeed the Iraqi people have suffered enormous losses amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. And why was hundreds of billions of dollars imposed on the American people and its allies as a result of these military actions? Wasn’t the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then U.S. administration in complicity with the arms manufacturing companies and the owner of the wealth?

The invasion of Afghanistan; restore peace, security, and economic well being in this country. The United States and its allies not only have failed to contain [?] in Afghanistan, but also the illicit cultivation of narcotics multiplied in the course of their presence. The basic question is: What was the responsibility of the job of the then U.S. administration and its allies? Did it represent the world? Have they been mandated by them? Have they been authorized on behalf of the people of the world to interfere in all parts of the globe? And of course mostly in our region aren’t these measures a clear example of egocentrism, racism, discrimination, or infringement upon the dignity and independence of nations?

Ladies and gentlemen, who are responsible for the current global economic crisis? Where did the crisis start from? From Africa? From Asia? Or was it first from the United States, then spreading to Europe and to their allies? For a long time they imposed inequitable economic regulations. By their political power on the international economy they imposed a financial and a monetary system without a proper international oversight mechanism on nations and governments that played no role in the repressive trends or policies. They have not even allowed their people to oversee of monitor their financial policies. They introduce all laws and regulations in defiance to all moral values only to protect the interests of the owners of wealth and power. They further presented a definition of market economy and competition that denied many of the economic opportunities that could be available to other countries of the world. They even transferred their problems to others whilst the wave of crisis lashed back, plaguing their economies with thousands of billions of dollars in budget deficits. And today, they are injecting hundreds of billions of cash from the pockets of their own people into the failing banks companies and financial institutions making the situation more and more complicated for the economy and their people. They are simply thinking about maintaining power and wealth. They couldn’t care any less about the people of the world and even about their own people.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, racism is rooted in the lack of knowledge concerning the truth of human existence as the selected creature of God. It is also the product of his deviation from the true path of human life and the obligations of mankind in the world of creation. Failing to consciously worship God, not being able to think about the philosophy of life or the path to perfection that are the main ingredients of divine and humanitarian values, have restricted the horizon of human outlook, making transient and limited interests a yardstick for his actions.

That is why the cells of the Devil’s power took shape and expanded its realm of power by depriving others from enjoying equitable and just opportunities to development. The result has been the making of an unbridled racism that is posing the most serious threat against the international peace and has hindered the way for building peaceful coexistence in the entire world. Undoubtedly, racism is the symbol of ignorance which has deep roots in history. And it is indeed a sign of frustration in the development of human society. It is therefore crucially important to trace the manifestations of racism in situations or in societies where ignorance or lack of knowledge prevails in the societies. This increasing general awareness and understanding towards the philosophy of human existence is the principle struggle against such manifestations; which is the key to understanding the truth that humankind centers on the creation of the universe, and the key to a return to the spiritual and moral values, and finally the inclination to worship God the Almighty. The international community must initiate collective moves to raise awareness in the afflicted societies where the ignorance of racism still prevails so as to bring to a halt the spread of these malicious manifestations.

Dear friends, today the human community is facing a kind of racism which has tarnished the image of humanity in the beginning of the third millennium. The world Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuse religious sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces. However, it is of great importance to bring into focus the political goals of some of the world powers and those who control huge economic resources and interests in the world. They mobilize all their resources, including their economic and political influence and world media to render support in vain to the Zionist regime, and maliciously endeavor to diminish the indignity and disgrace of this regime. This is not simply a question of ignorance, and one cannot conquer this ugly phenomenon through cultural campaigns. Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and their supporters of political and international means and respect of the will and aspirations of nations. Governments must be encouraged and supported in their fights aimed at eradicating this barbaric racism [applause] and to move towards reforming … [applause] … the current international mechanisms.

There is no doubt that you are all aware of the conspiracies of some powers and Zionist circles against the goals and objectives of this conference. Unfortunately, there has been literature and statements in support of Zionism and their crimes, and it is the responsibility of honorable representatives of nations to disclose these campaigns which run counter to humanitarian values and principles. It should be recognized that boycotting such a session as an outstanding international capacity is a true indication of supporting the blatant example of racism.

In defending human rights it is primarily important to defend the rights of all nations to participate equally in all important international decision making processes without the influence of certain world powers. And secondly it is necessary to restructure the existing international organizations and their respective arrangements. Therefore this conference is a testing ground and the world public opinion today and tomorrow will judge our decisions and our actions [applause].

Mr. President. Mr President. Ladies and gentlemen. The world is going through fundamental changes, radical fundamental changes. Power relations have become so weak and fragile. The sounds of cracks in the pillars of world oppression can now be heard. Major political and economic structures are at the brink of collapse. Political and security crises are on the rise. The worsening crises in the world economy for which there can be seen no bright prospect, amply demonstrate the rising tide of far reaching global changes. I have repeatedly emphasized the need the change the wrong direction in which the world has been managed today. And I have also warned of the dire consequences of any delay in this crucial responsibility.

Now, in this [?] and valuable event, I would like to announce here to all leaders thinkers, and to all nations of the world present in this meeting and those who have a hunger for peace and economic well being, that the management, the inequitable and unjust management of the world, is now at the end of the road. This deadlock was inevitable since the logic of this imposed management was oppressive.

The logic of collective management of world affairs is based on noble aspirations which centers on human beings and the supremacy of the Almighty God.  Therefore it defies any policy or plan which goes against the interest of nations. Victory of the right over the wrong and establishment of a just world system have been promised by the Almighty God and his messengers and it has been a shared goal of all human beings from different societies and generations in the course of history. Realization of such a future depends upon the knowledge of the creation and the belief in the hearts of all the faithful [applause]. The making of a global society is in fact the accomplishment of a noble held in the establishment of a common global system that will be run with the participation of all nations of the world in all major and basic decision making processes and the definite route to this sublime goal. Scientific and technical capacities as well as communication technologies have created a common and wider spread understanding of the world society and has provided the necessary ground for a common system.

Now it is incumbent upon all intellectuals, thinkers, and policy makers in the world to carry out their historical responsibility with firm belief to this definite route, I also want to lay emphasis on the fact that the western liberalism and capitalism, like communism, has reached to its end since it has failed to perceive the truth of the world and human[kind] as it is. It has imposed its own goals and directions on human beings with no regard for human and divine values, justice, freedom, love, or brotherhood; has based the living on the intensive competition securing individual and collective material interests.

Now we must learn from the past by initiating collective efforts by dealing with present challenges, and in this connection and in closing my remarks I wish to draw your kind attention to two important points. One: It is absolutely impossible to improve the existing situation in the world. However, it must be noted that it could only be achieved through the cooperation of all countries in order to get the best out of existing capacities and resources in the world. My participation in this conference is because of my conviction of these important issues, as well as to our common responsibility to defending the rights of nations vis-a-vis the sinister phenomenon of racism, and being with you, the thinkers of the world. [Applause]

Two: Mindful of the inefficacy of the current international political, economic, and security systems on the world scene, it is necessary to focus on the divine and humanitarian values and by referring to the true definition of human beings, and based upon justice and respect for the rights of all people in all parts of the world, and by acknowledging the past wrongdoings in the past dominant management of the world undertake collective measures to reform the existing structures. In this respect, it is crucially important to reform the structure of the Security Council, including the elimination of the discriminatory veto right … [applause] …  and change the current world and financial monetary systems. It is evident that lack of understanding on the urgency for change is equivalent to the much heavier costs of delay.

Dear friends, be aware that to move in the direction of justice and human dignity is like the national rapid flow in the current of a river. Let us not forget the essence of love and affection, the promised bright future of human beings is a great asset that will serve our purpose in keeping us together to build a new world and to make the world a better place full of love fraternity and blessings; a world devoid of poverty and hatred, [inaudible] the increasing blessings of God Almighty and the righteous management of the perfect human being. Let us all join hands in amity in playing our share in the fulfillment such a decent new world.

I thank you Mr. President, Secretary General, and all distinguished participants for having the patience to listen to me. Thank you very much.

Momentum builds against Taliban in Pakistan

Students in Pakistan’s Swat Valley attend class on Tuesday at a school allegedly attacked by Taliban militants.

Momentum builds against Taliban in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A public backlash is building against the Pakistani Taliban, who looked triumphant after gaining control of the northern Swat region last week.

Since Pakistan’s parliament approved a peace deal turning Swat over to militants on April 13, their leader Sufi Muhammad has moved forces into a neighboring district, rejected the legitimacy of the country’s elected leaders, vowed to spread Islamic law across the country, and offered sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and other foreign terrorists.

These moves have turned hopes for peace in a strife-torn area into fears that the entire country will fall into the hands of militants, said Shoaib Bhutta, a journalist and confidant of Pakistan’s president.

Muhammad is overreaching and that “may deprive him of the fruit of his life-time achievement,” prominent political commentator Ansar Abbasi wrote Wednesday on the front page of The News International.

“If there is no peace, the government will use force,” Rehman Malik, head of the Interior Ministry, told parliament Wednesday.

Even conservative politicians appear to be distancing themselves from the Swat militants. Sayed Munawar Hasan, new head of the religious Jamaat Islamic party, ridiculed Muhammad for labeling as “infidel” anyone who participates in democratic elections, noting that the militant leader had run — and won — in local elections a few years ago.

“Does this mean he is some sort of infidel?” Hasan said. “Whatever Sufi Muhammad said is not serious. He should not make these statements. He should consult mainstream clerics in the country.”

In Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists.”

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose followers include religious conservatives, told USA TODAY this week that he had misgivings about the peace agreement and was worried the militants would try to expand control beyond Swat.

Over the past year, Pakistan’s army proved unable to prevent Swat militants — led in combat by Muhammad’s son-in-law Mullah Fazalullah — from terrorizing the district by executing local politicians, burning schools and publicly flogging anyone who violated their harsh version of Islam by trimming their beards or wearing their pants too long.

The secular Awami National Party, which governs the province that includes Swat, negotiated a peace deal with Muhammad’s militants after seeing its ranks decimated by assassinations. The national parliament approved the deal last week.

But the deal — and Sufi Muhammad’s audacious comments rejecting democracy and calling for imposing Islamic law nationwide — have drawn heavy criticism.

“He is denying the legitimacy of higher courts and the political system,” said Murtaza Mughal, head of the Pakistan Economy Watch think tank. “It’s not the proper attitude.”

“They have a misunderstanding that the government has surrendered,” Bhutta said. “But the government wanted to show the people and supporters of the militants what kind of people they are. Now all those who were in favor of the militants and of the agreement are turning against them and are unified on one issue: supporting this evil, which is eating our own people, would be a sin. If there is war, the public will support the government to crush the militants by force.”

German trial opens over 9/11-sized anti-US plot

German trial opens over 9/11-sized anti-US plot

Posted: 23 April 2009 0441 hrs

DUESSELDORF, Germany : Four suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting attacks on US citizens in Germany aimed for bloodshed on the scale of the 9/11 attacks, prosecutors said as their trial opened here Wednesday.

In what authorities call one of their biggest terror cases in decades, three Germans and a Turkish national face charges of belonging to a terrorist group and conspiring to mount a series of devastating bombings in German cities.

“They were determined to exterminate the enemies of Islam, in particular Americans and American institutions,” federal prosecutor Volker Brinkmann told the court.

“The attacks were to be on the scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

Prosecutors say the four are hardened members of the Islamic Jihad Union, an extremist group with roots in Uzbekistan and ties to Al-Qaeda which is believed to have set up militant training camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The defendants are accused of planning to car-bomb US institutions in Germany and nightclubs popular with Americans.

Authorities said the men had planned bombings between early September 2007 and mid-October 2007, when the German parliament was to vote to extend participation in the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. They were captured in September 2007.

Their aim, authorities say, was a deadly bombing “of unimaginable size”, according to chief federal prosecutor Monika Harms, which along with targeting Americans would also punish Germany for its military presence in Afghanistan.

Attorneys for the four defendants said the state’s case was based in part on testimony by inmates in countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan who may have been subjected to torture.

“That endangers not only the prisoners… but also the rights of the accused to a fair trial,” lawyers Dirk Uden and Hannes Linke said in a statement presented in court.

Security was extremely tight around the courtmhouse in this city in western Germany, with long lines at airport-style checkpoints, and the four bearded defendants separated from the five-judge panel by bullet-proof glass.

German media have called it the biggest terror trial since urban guerrillas of the Red Army Faction answered to murder charges in the 1970s. It could last two years and the defendants could face 15 years in prison.

The so-called Sauerland terror cell was named after a region east of Duesseldorf where authorities captured the suspects nearly two years ago along with 26 detonators and 12 drums of hydrogen peroxide.

After months of surveillance, police using US and German intelligence said they caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make the equivalent of 410 kilogrammes (900 pounds) of explosives — 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people.

A fourth suspect was extradited from Turkey to Germany last November.

Two of the suspects, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, are German converts to Islam; a third is a German citizen of Turkish origin, Attila Selek, 24, and the fourth a Turkish national, Adem Yilmaz, 30.

The cases of Gelowicz, 29, and Schneider, 23, have particularly shaken the country, raising questions how seemingly “normal” Germans could convert to a radical brand of Islam and plan attacks on their home soil.

Yilmaz sparred with the judges Wednesday, at first declining to remove his white knit skullcap, then repeatedly refusing to stand before the court.

“There is only one for whom I will stand — Allah,” he said.

The prosecution has built its case around vast records of wiretapped conversations and e-mails in which the cell discussed its plans.

In one exchange, a suspect asks the amount of hydrogen peroxide solution required to kill an American: “How many grammes do you need to blow him to bits?”, according to prosecution evidence.

A man believed to be Schneider responds: “If you pack it in steel, 20 grammes, 30 grammes. Then he’s dead.”

Germany, which opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq but has around 3,700 troops in Afghanistan under NATO command, has beefed up security and surveillance in response to the threat of militant attacks.

Posted: 23 April 2009 0441 hrs

Photos 1 of 1


Lawyer Johannes Pausch (R) talks with German convicted Daniel Schneider (L)

DUESSELDORF, Germany : Four suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting attacks on US citizens in Germany aimed for bloodshed on the scale of the 9/11 attacks, prosecutors said as their trial opened here Wednesday.

In what authorities call one of their biggest terror cases in decades, three Germans and a Turkish national face charges of belonging to a terrorist group and conspiring to mount a series of devastating bombings in German cities.

“They were determined to exterminate the enemies of Islam, in particular Americans and American institutions,” federal prosecutor Volker Brinkmann told the court.

“The attacks were to be on the scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

Prosecutors say the four are hardened members of the Islamic Jihad Union, an extremist group with roots in Uzbekistan and ties to Al-Qaeda which is believed to have set up militant training camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The defendants are accused of planning to car-bomb US institutions in Germany and nightclubs popular with Americans.

Authorities said the men had planned bombings between early September 2007 and mid-October 2007, when the German parliament was to vote to extend participation in the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. They were captured in September 2007.

Their aim, authorities say, was a deadly bombing “of unimaginable size”, according to chief federal prosecutor Monika Harms, which along with targeting Americans would also punish Germany for its military presence in Afghanistan.

Attorneys for the four defendants said the state’s case was based in part on testimony by inmates in countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan who may have been subjected to torture.

“That endangers not only the prisoners… but also the rights of the accused to a fair trial,” lawyers Dirk Uden and Hannes Linke said in a statement presented in court.

Security was extremely tight around the courtmhouse in this city in western Germany, with long lines at airport-style checkpoints, and the four bearded defendants separated from the five-judge panel by bullet-proof glass.

German media have called it the biggest terror trial since urban guerrillas of the Red Army Faction answered to murder charges in the 1970s. It could last two years and the defendants could face 15 years in prison.

The so-called Sauerland terror cell was named after a region east of Duesseldorf where authorities captured the suspects nearly two years ago along with 26 detonators and 12 drums of hydrogen peroxide.

After months of surveillance, police using US and German intelligence said they caught three of the suspects red-handed, mixing chemicals to make the equivalent of 410 kilogrammes (900 pounds) of explosives — 100 times the amount used in the 2005 London bombings that killed more than 50 people.

A fourth suspect was extradited from Turkey to Germany last November.

Two of the suspects, Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider, are German converts to Islam; a third is a German citizen of Turkish origin, Attila Selek, 24, and the fourth a Turkish national, Adem Yilmaz, 30.

The cases of Gelowicz, 29, and Schneider, 23, have particularly shaken the country, raising questions how seemingly “normal” Germans could convert to a radical brand of Islam and plan attacks on their home soil.

Yilmaz sparred with the judges Wednesday, at first declining to remove his white knit skullcap, then repeatedly refusing to stand before the court.

“There is only one for whom I will stand — Allah,” he said.

The prosecution has built its case around vast records of wiretapped conversations and e-mails in which the cell discussed its plans.

In one exchange, a suspect asks the amount of hydrogen peroxide solution required to kill an American: “How many grammes do you need to blow him to bits?”, according to prosecution evidence.

A man believed to be Schneider responds: “If you pack it in steel, 20 grammes, 30 grammes. Then he’s dead.”

Germany, which opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq but has around 3,700 troops in Afghanistan under NATO command, has beefed up security and surveillance in response to the threat of militant attacks.

Obama to see Afghan, Pakistan leaders in May

Obama to see Afghan, Pakistan leaders in May

Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will meet early next month with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as he presses a new strategy to stabilize the region against rising insurgent violence.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will meet separately with Obama and then have three-way talks during visits to the White House on May 6 and 7, a U.S. official said.

Obama last month unveiled a new war strategy for Afghanistan with the aim of crushing al Qaeda and Taliban militants based there and operating from across the border in Pakistan. Cross-border attacks have caused tensions between the two neighbors.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the planned Washington summit was part of a process set in motion by the administration’s in-depth policy review.

“The president wants to be personally involved … in seeking to find solutions,” Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama headed to Iowa. “The president will reiterate his hopes, his belief of the opportunities but also responsibilities each leader has.”

Since taking office in January, Obama has sought to shift the U.S. military focus from the unpopular war in Iraq to Afghanistan, which he considers the more important front in the fight against Islamic militancy.

Obama has authorized the deployment of 21,000 additional U.S. troops and hundreds of new diplomatic and other civilian officials to Afghanistan.

The U.S. administration also wants to forge closer cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kabul has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to stop militants crossing the border to carry out attacks. But ties have improved under Zardari, whose country is facing its own Islamist insurgency.

At a meeting in Ankara earlier this month hosted by the Turkish government, Karzai and Zardari agreed to boost military and political ties.

Obama will bring the two leaders together again in an apparent effort to coordinate strategy.

U.S.-led forces ousted Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in 2001 after they refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for the September 11 attacks on the United States. Taliban attacks have increased in recent years along with the number of foreign troops sent to fight them.

Pakistan ‘abdicating to Taliban’

Pakistan ‘abdicating to Taliban’

Despite her criticism, Clinton said Pakistan shared the White House’s goal of fighting ‘terrorism’ [AFP]

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has accused Pakistan’s government of “abdicating to the Taliban” by agreeing to the enforcement of Islamic law in part of the country.

Clinton’s criticism came in comments to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

“I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists,” she said.

Pakistan’s government agreed to the enforcement of the Taliban’s interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat valley in exchange for a ceasefire with the group.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, signed the deal into law earlier in April.

Later in her testimony, Clinton said that the US administration believes the Pakistani government shares Washington’s goal of fighting “terrorism”.

Taliban advance

Earlier, Pakistani officials said that Taliban fighters in Swat had moved into a neighbouring district in what appeared to be a move to expand the region of its control, despite the Swat peace deal.

Hundreds of armed Taliban entered Buner district, only 110km from Islamabad, setting up checkpoints, occupying mosques and ransacking the offices of non-governmental organisations, a local official said.

“The Taliban who have arrived from Swat have increased patrolling, banned music in public transport and rampaged [through] the offices of NGOs and taken their vehicles,” Rashid Khan, a government official, said.

A Taliban commander said that they would set up sharia courts in Buner - as they have done in Swat - to end a “sense of deprivation”, but would not interfere with police work.

“We will soon establish our radio station. Our Qazis [Islamic judges] will also start holding courts in Buner soon,” Mohammad  Khalil, a Taliban commander, said.

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, speaking from Swat, denied that the government was being challenged in Buner saying that the Taliban was not creating “any hurdle in the administration’s work”.

Residents ‘scared’

But several residents said they felt “scared” and planned to leave the Buner area, fearing similar violence to that in Swat.

The development is likely to trigger further criticism of the government’s agreement with fighters in Swat.

“They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody”

Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani Prime Minister

In an interview published in the US newspaper USA Today, Nawaz Sharif, a former Pakistani prime minister, said: “They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody. So we’ve got to avoid that situation.”The Pakistani authorities lost control in Swat, a former ski resort and a major tourist attraction, after a two-year campaign by fighters to enforce the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law.

In its deal with the Taliban, the government allowed sharia courts in Malakand, a district of about three million people in North West Frontier Province that includes the Swat valley, in order to halt the unrest.

But the Taliban has yet to disarm and its fighters appear to be trying to expand their control.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Dir district, a senior administration official was kidnapped by “unknown” people, according to another official.

Pakistani Taliban advance beyond Swat

(Photograph)
Hard-line cleric Sufi Mohammad recentlyaddressed a crowd in Mingora, Swat, where he recently brokered a controversial peace deal between the Taliban and the government.
BK Bangash/AP

Pakistani Taliban advance beyond Swat

They have taken control of Buner next door and made forays into two more districts.

First they won control of Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Then they easily took over Buner District next door. Now the Taliban appear to have set their sights on two more neighboring areas as they continue to drive deeper into Pakistan.

Some analysts say that, for the time being, the Taliban are likely restricted to rural areas in the northwest – it’s unlikely, for example, that they could take over the nearest major city, Peshawar, where the provincial government of the North West Frontier Province is based.

Still, the militants appear intent on expanding their influence. And in the NWFP over the past several weeks they have faced little resistance from either the populace or government security forces.

“If they stay in Buner longer they will continue their drive,” says analyst Rifaat Hussain, of the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. “The fact they were able to take over so easily will encourage Taliban from other districts to do the same.”

The Taliban progress

In Buner, where the Taliban consolidated their control this week, militants have begun patrolling bazaars, villages, and towns, according to a leading English-language daily newspaper, Dawn. For the past six days, they are reported to have been looting government and NGO offices for supplies and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Leading politicians, bureaucrats, prominent businessmen, and judges have fled the area, says local reporter Abdur Rehman Abid. “The people of Buner feel they have been abandoned to God’s will.”

Taliban members have also set up checkpoints along Buner’s borders with the districts of Mardan and Swabi and are making forays into those areas, Mr. Abid continues. Mardan lies southwest of Buner, toward Peshawar, and is home to NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti. Swabi borders Punjab Province, Pakistan’s populous heartland.

The fall of Buner comes at a sensitive time for the government, which is trying to maintain a controversial peace deal with the Swat Taliban that was negotiated by hard-line cleric Sufi Mohammad. The government agreed to impose Nizam-e-Adl regulations, a form of Islamic law, or sharia, in the area if the Taliban stopped fighting their troops.

But since President Asif Ali Zardari and the National Assembly officially approved the deal last week, militants in Swat have declared that no other Pakistani courts have jurisdiction over the area and have refused to put down their guns.

On Sunday, Mohammad sparked further controversy nationwide when he declared at a rally in Mingora, the capital of Swat, that there is “no room for democracy” in Islam – raising concern that the Taliban aim to impose their interpretation of sharia well beyond the northwest.

“They are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody. So, we’ve got to avoid that situation,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has in the past gained popularity for his anti-American stances, told USA Today Tuesday.

Critics of the Swat agreement have called it “appeasement.”

“If [the Taliban] manage to consolidate their influence here [in Buner] they will play the politics of falling dominoes,” says Mr. Hussain, the analyst. “Sufi Mohammad made it clear in his speech – they are targeting the whole of Pakistan.”

And if the government continues to make deals with the Taliban, Hussain continues, they may be tempted “to go for the jugular” and lay siege to the city of Peshawar.

‘We will not lose hope’

But provincial legislators of the Awami National Party, which governs the NWFP, appear more keen on keeping the peace going.

“We will not lose hope. The peace in Ireland took 30 years; we’re asking for 30 weeks,” says Haji Adeel, senior vice president of the ANP. He says that the government has sent for eight platoons of Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, to patrol Buner, but adds that the basic problem is the Taliban expect too much, too soon.

“They [the Taliban] don’t understand we need time and money to meet their demands to create and staff sharia courts. Sufi Mohammad doesn’t understand the way bureaucracy works.”

He adds: “So far, the Taliban haven’t kept to their side of the bargain. We were expecting everyone to lay down arms and live like decent and ordinary citizens, to act according to the rules.”