Rather than how we’re known abroad now, a “nation that talks law, but is an international bully, a rogue state, participating in murder, drug smuggling, economic theft, theft of natural resources not its own, and an empire-building, the-end-justifies-the-means government of criminals–with a citizenry too frightened to do anything about it. (You do know that the NSA’s illegal wiretaps are still in place, right now, today, and Obama’s administration has taken legal steps to block ACLU FOI access to information about it, right? Tell me what’s changed? I’m slightly disappointed. Ditto that the same Wall Street types who helped plunge the nation into debtor nation status in 1984-85 under Reagan have served continuously since then, through Bush I, Clinton I, Bush II and now Obama I. And their party designation hasn’t changed, either. All are members of the AIP, or American Incumbents’ Party.)
|Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By By Khalid Mustafa
|ISLAMABAD: Turkmenistan has provided to Pakistan much-awaited gas reserves certification of new Yasrak gas field from where gas will be supplied to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan under TAPI pipeline project, a senior official told The News.
Pakistan’s five-member delegation, headed by the Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, attended the Ministerial Conference on Energy, Risk and Security held in Turkmenistan and took the opportunity to hold general discussion on TAPI with Turkmenistan’s leadership on the sidelines of the conference.
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan held a meeting with Dr Asim Hussain, and apprised him that Pakistan will be provided gas from the Yasrak gas field instead of Dualtabad gas field and the Japanese firm has provided the gas reserve certification of the Yasark gas field.
When contacted, Secretary Petroleum GA Sabri who was elevated to grade 22 on Monday as Special Secretary confirmed that Pakistan has been given the gas certification of Yasrak gas field. The said field has the potential reserve of four to 14 trillion cubic feet of gas, which is enough for Pakistan to meet the future needs.
However, the official also divulged that Pakistan during the recent visit to Turkmenistan has also suggested a new route for import of gas to Pakistan under Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
Under the new route the pipeline will pass through the small portion of Afghanistan’s territory and enter Balochistan to Gawadar. Pakistan has floated this new route to minimize the security threat in war-torn Afghanistan.
“We have asked Turkmenistan to carry out the study on the new route for implementing the project within next four to six weeks.”
Sabri also confirmed the floating of new route by Pakistan for implementing the project. To a question he said that Pakistan and Turkmenistan would initiate formal dialogue to materialize the much-delayed project under new strategy.
To a question as to whether Pakistan during the visit also discussed the option to import Turkmenistan gas via Iran, he said that it was a general meeting. But when both the countries still start formal talks, this option will also be brought under discussion.
Under the TAPI project, the official source said, Turkmenistan is to provide 3.2 billion cubic feet gas to Afghanistan and Pakistan and India. If the work on this project kicks off very soon which seems impossible, then Afghanistan will be having $1 per MMBTU as transit fee.
|Updated at: 2026 PST, Wednesday, April 29, 2009|
|WANA: Eight people were killed in two U.S. missile strikes at a house in South Waziristan, sources said on Wednesday.
According to initial reports reaching here, American unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a house situated in Kanigoram area of South Waziristan, killing at least eight people.
While the targeted house and a vehicle were also destroyed in the attacks.
[If this latest Predator attack had been on a target selected by the Pakistani Army in Buner or Swat then it might have been explainable as assisting Pakistan. The fact that this attack took place outside the combat zone designated by Pakistan is proof that the United States is doing its utmost to sabotage the government of Pakistan in its efforts at self-defense. The drones succeeded in uniting the TTP forces in a war against the government, now their intent becomes even more obvious, to embroil Pakistan in an all-out war across the entire nation!]
Updated at: 2021 PST, Wednesday, April 29, 2009
WANA: US drone has fired two missiles at a house in Kanigoram area in which casualties are feared, Geo News reported on Wednesday.
[An excellent idea that should be the law in both Pakistan and India, as well as every developing country that suffers health care shortages, that would be ALL OF THEM.]
* Health minister says proposal meant to check brain drain of fresh medical graduates
By Muhammad Bilal
ISLAMABAD: The government is considering making practice obligatory for all medical graduates in the country for at least three to five years before letting them move abroad, State Minister for Health Afzal Sandhu told the Senate during question hour on Tuesday.
He said the proposal, meant to check the brain drain of fresh graduates, was floated in the draft health policy to be unveiled before the next budget’s announcement.
The minister said there was a growing trend among graduates of medical colleges of moving abroad, despite most of their studying expenses being borne by the government.
He said 57 private and public medical colleges operated in the country and of them, 24 were in the Punjab, 18 in Sindh, 12 in the NWFP, two in Islamabad and one in Balochistan.
In reply to a question, Planning and Development Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin said the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) outlay for the year 2008-09 had been slashed to Rs 219 billion from Rs 371 billion due to the economic crunch. He said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package valued at $3.1 billion was for the balance of payments, not for budgetary support.
Shahabuddin said the government had allocated one billion rupees in the PSDP for the development of Larkana where work on 11 development schemes was underway.
PPP senators Safdar Abbasi and Dr Khatu Mal called for strict monitoring of the use of the funding.
State Minister for Industries Ayatullah Durrani informed the House that around 45 small and 21 large industrial estates, along with nine export processing zones (EPZs), were operational in various parts of the country.
He added that the government was considering providing land to friendly countries for setting up special EPZs.
The minister also told the House that the Establishment Division had appointed the incumbent managing director for the Utility Stores Corporation on a deputation basis with the prime minister’s approval. He said the post had not been advertised.
NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court has ordered the Special Investigation Team to inquire into the role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendera Modi in the anti-Muslim riots in 2002, which took place in the state of Gujarat.
The order was issued on the complaint of Zakia Nasim Ahsan, wife of former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jaferi, who was killed in Gulbarg Society in Gujarat.
A two-member bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and A K Ganguly directed the special team to complete the inquiry in three months against Modi and sixty-two others who orchestrated the riots with the help of police officials and senior bureaucrats.
They will face the inquiry after seven years of the incidents, which left 2,000 dead.
Prashant Bhushan, the petitioner’s lawyer submitted to the court that no first information report was registered on the basis of the complaint dated June 8, 2006 sent to the then Gujarat director-general of police. app
By Mazhar Qayyum Khan | Published: April 29, 2009
Three decades after the United States had raised a force of guerrilla fighters to drive out the Soviets from Afghanistan and, a decade later, abruptly left the arena on succeeding in that mission, it has condescended to own up part of the responsibility for sowing the seeds of present-day militancy. The guerrillas were then known as mujahideen (holy warriors) since they were fighting the ‘infidel’ communists but now into the second or third generation are called terrorists since they are resisting the foreign occupation led by the US.
Washington’s departure from the region in the eighties was utterly myopic but consistent with the follies it had been known to commit in the realm of foreign policy. That it had successfully manoeuvred the fall of the only other superpower gave it the feeling of freedom to tread the whole wide world like a colossus who, its policymakers felt, could glower any power into submission. No nation or group could dare defy its command. Highly respected strategists like, for instance Henry Kissinger, could not resist the temptation of believing that the era of an unchallenged US global dominance had ushered in and talked of ways of preserving it “in perpetuity”. It did not take long for their dreams to shatter; and they began to see the inevitable emergence of a multipolar world taking shape right before their eyes, largely because of the adventurous forays of their country into foreign lands.
Wisdom, on the other hand, demanded that the US remained engaged in the region in the post-Soviet period to help sort out things their interference had created. Pakistan and Afghanistan had no choice but to muddle through the mess all by themselves, which other regional were busy making it worse. The result: the pervasive curse of extremism and militancy that the mighty Americans are finding it hard to eliminate.
That brings us to the Obama phase and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s description of Pakistan as a “mortal threat to the world”. However, it seems that no sooner had she uttered this alarmist view before a Congressional committee to which Islamabad reacted angrily than Washington thought of toning it down. Secretary Clinton’s view of the scenario the next day appeared more like an expression of contrition at past policies of the US. Her words: “But the problem we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan.”
Logically, the remark provides a hint of the understanding of Pakistan’s difficulties while facing the militant phenomenon and assumes that serious thinking about forging a long lasting friendship is afoot. So far, however, the US has failed on both these counts. Its stress has been on the ruthless use of force to bring the terrorists to heel, ignoring the adverse backlash that would hit the country when it takes up arms against its population. On giving a tangible shape to the expression of “abiding friendship” that Pakistanis heard so much about for quite some time after 9/11, there is little to suggest that Washington is serious. On the contrary. It has gone out of the way to pamper India, not bothering about Pakistan’s sensitivities and grouses against it. There is a strong feeling of having been let down once again.
But should one hope that the soul-searching Secretary Clinton appears to have done leads the Obama Administration to make the removal of differences between the two major nations of the Subcontinent as an integral part of its policies about terrorism? That would require Washington to intercede to heel the rankling sore of Kashmir and extend adequate help to Pakistan in carrying out socio-economic projects that should pave the way for the eradication of extremist thinking. The reality that with all the determination in the world the evil cannot be got rid of quickly would also require Washington to show patience. Massive help to put Pakistan on the road to becoming a developed country would carry the dividend much sought-after by the US. The Pentagon also needs to shed its hesitation to make up-to-date, appropriate equipment available to Pakistan Army to enable it to successfully take on militancy and also share timely intelligence with it. The present US attitude reinforces distrust that hampers anti-terrorist activities.
The sooner the Americans realise that the anger and hatred, which the deaths of innocent persons from drone attacks are creating among the tribesmen, are defeating the very purpose of killing militants whose toll looks insignificant against civilian deaths. The exercise gives terrorism fresh recruits. It is high time it was discontinued. Unfortunately, however, their present attitude does not inspire much optimism. On the contrary, American officials have repeatedly suggested that the aerial attacks are proving useful and have killed important Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives and might even be intensified.
Unless, the US corrects its focus on the issue and comprehends the causes that are giving rise to militant feelings, it will find it hard to get the desired results. The cold-blooded murder of ordinary people, including women and children, raises a veritable outrage among the tribal people, known for harbouring the feeling of vengeance for ages. The consequences of the attacks are unmistakably clear: they swell the ranks of insurgent forces that cause trouble to both the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the loss of lives and security all over the country.
Should one hope that the US would re-examine the issue in the light of its fallout? Or would it have to wait for another three decades before realising that the Predators hurling Hellfire missiles on tribal people were a big mistake?
Submitted 8 hrs 35 mins ago
Pakistani troops dropped from helicopters onto hillsides behind Taliban fighters holding entrances to the Buner valley, according to witnesses, as the second day of an offensive began Wednesday. Pakistan’s demonstration of military resolve will reassure U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, when they meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Washington on May 6/7 to discuss regional strategy. The Taliban’s entry into a region just 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad earlier this month had sent shivers through Pakistan and sparked alarm in the United States. The army, however, said a few hundred militants holed up in the mountains did not represent a real threat to the capital of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation, despite their proximity. Residents could see and hear the fighting on the slopes overlooking Buner town Wednesday, and several saw troops rappelling down ropes from helicopters in a drop behind enemy lines. “We saw a helicopter dropping troops on the hills early this morning. It came about seven or eight times,” said Arshad Imran standing in the town’s central bazaar. “We hear sound of explosions off and on and we can see helicopters flying over the mountains.” The military estimated some 500 militants were in Buner, and that it might take a week to clear them out. Jet fighters and helicopters gunships provided air support for army and paramilitary troops leading the offensive Tuesday.
By Atif Nadeem
LAHORE: A large number of citizens thronged the General Post Office here on Tuesday to post letters to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, urging them to halt rapid Talibanisation of the country by launching an aggressive military operation against the Taliban.
Though the citizens posted the letters to the heads of all major organs of the state but a large number of citizens addressed their letters to Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani at General Headquarters, Rawalpindi, hoping that their appeal might urge the army to combat the militants with determination.
The citizens were holding banners inscribed with demands like ‘stop Talibanisation in Pakistan, protection of women, law and order and supremacy of constitution and parliament.’ They also chanted slogans against Talibanisation in the country in front at the GPO Chowk. People from all walks of life reached the GPO to voice their concern against the Taliban.
The students on the occasion were of the view that the Taliban should dispel the impression that people would welcome them in the whole country. They warned the Taliban that people are aware of the dangers of the Talibanisation. They said the Taliban were forcing people to practise religion at gun point which was highly repugnant to basic spirit of Islam.
They, while quoting the content of letter, said: “The failure of the government to evolve a counter-narrative to the Taliban propaganda is dereliction of the highest order. The government must immediately devise and implement a strategy to counter the insidious propaganda by the Taliban, which fills newspaper columns and airwaves.”
Talking about the Nizam-e-Adl Regulations 2009, the students said any agreement signed at gun point and under threats from violent extremists could never lead to lasting peace. They said it had become clear how naive the government had been in thinking that the Taliban could be contained in Swat.
While talking to The News, the citizens demanded the government take stringent measures to halt advancement of the Taliban in other parts of the country after their complete takeover of Swat and Malakand.
The citizens said that the army and security agencies had not paid any heed to threats hurled at the masses and state by the militants in Swat. They, in the letter, said: “We the citizens of Pakistan are angry and dismayed at the abject capitulation of the state of Pakistan before the Taliban insurgents in Swat. With one stroke of pen, you and the parliament have signed away any real prospects of a stable, tolerant and progressive Pakistan as envisioned by its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.”
The lawyers, present on the occasion, said civil society and lawyers played the main role in the movement for independence of judiciary and now the judiciary should play its role and exercise the full extent of its authority to safeguard fundamental rights of all citizens including those of Swat.
The citizens continued coming to the GPO for posting their letters to the heads of major organs of the state from 3pm to 5pm. To avoid any untoward incident, a heavy contingent of police were deployed outside the premises of the GPO.
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR: Armed militants in Pir Baba area of Buner district took hostage, at least, 71 security officials after inviting them to talks in a local mosque near the famous shrine, a source from the troubled district told The News.
It was learnt that those who were made hostage included the station house officer (SHO) of the Pir Baba police station, his 20 cops and around 50 personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary (FC).
The sources said that the militants had invited the SHO and other cops to the mosque for talks at around 7:00 pm. They were later made hostage and armed militants were directed not to let any of them go outside. It may be mentioned here that the FC is at the disposal of the local police in Buner as is the case in several other troubled areas.
Says security of foreigners beefed up
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Rehman Malik on Tuesday said the government would come down hard on terrorists and miscreants and would not allow anyone to challenge the government’s writ in any part of the country.
“We are not taking any action due to the fear of collateral damage, but enough is enough, if the government writ is challenged, or any terrorist activity takes place anywhere in the country, we will take strict action against them,” he told media persons at the Parliament House.
He was replying to a question on the media reports of arrival of Baitullah Mehsud’s men in Islamabad and other major cities to carry out suicide attacks. “These were media reports. The security is well in place, but if any terrorist incident takes place anywhere, we will take stern action against them,” Malik said.
He advised Baitullah Mehsud to refrain from giving such statements. “If he considers himself a Muslim, he should refrain from giving such statements, because Islam does not allow suicide attacks on the Muslim brethren,” the minister said.
Regarding the military action in Lower Dir, he said it was against the miscreants who wanted to sabotage the peace process in the area. He said as many as 70 miscreants had so far been killed in the action, while there were reports of the presence of 450 more miscreants in the area.
About nuclear assets, Malik said a well command and control system is in place to supervise the nuclear assets. “Nobody should be worried about our nuclear assets. It is in secure hands,” he added.
Malik warned militants to leave Buner district otherwise the government machinery would come into action with full force, adding that 70 militants had been killed in Dir. Some 450 to 500 terrorists were seen entering Buner area and if they do not leave the area and continue to challenge the writ of the government then the government would also take action against them, he said.
He admitted insurgency in some areas but made it clear that the government writ would be established at all costs and said situation in the country is fully under the control of the government. The real face of the Taliban has been exposed before the nation and they want to destabilise the country, he said. Those who try to challenge the writ of the government would have to face the music, he said, adding that “we have clear and uniform policy to counter insurgency and we are following it”.
Answering a question, he said: “This morning I held talks with the director general Frontier Constabulary and he has told me that some 70 terrorists have been killed in the operation so far”. He also asked the media to visit the area and see the Taliban had sophisticated weapons.
He appealed to terrorists not to challenge the governmentís writ and lay down their arms. Terrorists would not be tolerated and pardoned, he said. Answering a question whether the operation would be expanded or not, the minister said it is operational secrecy but the militants should leave Buner area. “We had given chance to peace by striking Swat peace deal first but the Taliban were not abiding by the agreement,” he said.
He asked the Ulema around the country to declare suicide attacks as un-Islamic and play their role in stopping the suicide attacks. Talking to media at the Chaklala Air Base while sending back the body of Polish engineer who was kidnapped and killed, Malik said the government has beefed up security of foreigners across the country.
The minister said it was an unfortunate incident and was first incident of its kind where the kidnappers made no demand for the safe release of the Polish engineer. “We don’t want to let this body to go like this. We will get to the murderers who have done it, and would give them maximum punishment. It was a crime against humanity and the culprits deserve no mercy.”
He said the investigation into the murder of the Polish engineer is underway and soon the culprits would be punished. Malik said the government has strengthened the security of foreigners working for the development of Pakistan. “We have assured the deputy ambassador (Poland) that their workers will be provided with more security and safety and they should continue their work for the development of Pakistan,” he added.
ANKARA (AFP) — Turkey’s army chief Ilker Basbug on Wednesday brushed aside Israel’s criticism of his country’s first ever joint military exercises with neighbouring Syria.
“Israel’s reaction does not interest us. We do not have to explain to a third country any military exercise that we undertake with another country,” General Basbug told a news conference here.
“The exercises only concern Turkey and Syria,” he added, describing the three-day manoeuvres as a “small-scale” affair between teams of border troops.
On Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called the exercises as a “worrying” development.
“The military manoeuvres are a worrying development, but the strategic ties uniting Israel and Turkey will prevail,” Barak said.
Non-Arab and secular Turkey is one of Israel’s rare allies in the Muslim world, with the two countries signing a military cooperation accord in 1996, much to the anger of Arab countries and Iran.
Syria is one of the Jewish state’s top foes, and the two countries remain in a technical state of war since 1948.
On the other hand, Turkey has significantly improved ties with Syria after a long period of animosity during which Ankara threatened war over what it saw as Damascus’s support for separatist Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey.
Turkey had hosted indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria last year, but the efforts were suspended following Israel’s deadly offensive on Gaza in December-January.
The Gaza offensive also hit Israel’s ties with Turkey, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos with Israeli President Shimon Peres after accusing the Jewish state of “barbarian” acts against the Palestinians.
[Tamil terrorist wanted for assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.]
Indo-Asian News Service
Why should I keep him… India has the right… a man who is responsible for killing Rajiv Gandhi (former Indian prime minister in 1991), one of the greate
India has reiterated that Sri Lanka capture Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran alive and extradite him to India, sources in the external affairs ministry said on Tuesday.
“India will continue to request that Prabhakaran be caught alive,” a ministry source said.
At the same time, New Delhi is aware that Colombo will hand him over only after trying him in Sri Lanka for the crimes he has committed in that country, the source pointed out.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Monday Colombo would extradite Prabhakaran, if caught alive, to India – but after first putting him through trial in his country.
In an interview to CNN IBN channel, Rajapaksa said it was “almost over” for the LTTE chief and he could be caught very soon.
Asked whether Prabhakaran would be extradited to India, Rajapaksa said: “First he will have to go through our trial… And then might send him to India.”
“Why should I keep him… India has the right… a man who is responsible for killing Rajiv Gandhi (former Indian prime minister in 1991), one of the greatest leaders,” he said.
A Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomber had blown up Gandhi during a poll rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu in May 1991.
The sources also said that as the Sri Lanka military ceased its combat operations against the LTTE, its conventional capabilities had been hit but its command and control systems remained intact.
Thus, there was a possibility of suicide bombings in Sri Lanka in the wake of the operations against the Tigers.
The sources send two de-mining teams would be sent to clear the areas that have been recaptured from the rebels.
This apart, India will step up its humanitarian assistance to Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka who have been displaced by the military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels, the sources said.
“India is still very concerned about the civilian population in the no-combat zone. We will step up our humanitarian assistance to the Tamil civilians by sending shipments of food, medicine and other essential supplies,” the source said.
[Blowback for British plots to maintain lost empire. SEE: Another London Link to Southeast Asia Terror, Wahabbi Madrassas, ALSO: UK charity head held over Bangladesh "bomb factory", AS WELL AS: South Asian Terrorism: All Roads Lead To The British Empire]
|www.chinaview.cn 2009-04-29 18:36:27|
COLOMBO, April 29 (Xinhua) — A group of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks protested against Britain here Wednesday as Foreign Minister David Miliband is making a 24-hour visit to the island.
Activists of ultra nationalist JHU or the Heritage Party gathered opposite the British High Commission while Miliband was being received by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama.
A group of around 150 including JHU’s leading legislators were present at the demonstration.
“Miliband is a representative of terrorists. He is here to help (Tamil Tiger rebels’ leader) Prabhakaran,” Udaya Gammanpila, a JHU spokesman told the gathering.
Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner arrived in the island in the early hours of Wednesday for the visit.
They would meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and travel to the northern town of Vavuniya to look at welfare centers for the war-displaced civilians.
“Britain did not provide even a biscuit to the displaced, but trying to help the terrorists,” the JHU spokesman added.
Britain and France, both with a large Tamil diaspora, have been calling for a ceasefire in the battle against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.
The Anglo-French foreign ministers’ visits came closely on the heels of a visit by the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, who failed to reach an agreement with the Sri Lankan government on the access to the conflict area by the UN.
The international focus on Sri Lanka has been raised since last week when a large number of Tamil civilians trapped in the northern battle zone escaped into government-controlled territory.
The Sri Lankan government said its combat operations against the LTTE in the north had reached their conclusion and the security forces would end the use of heavy weapons which could cause civilian causalities, but it clarified later that its operation of rescuing civilians would continue.
The government said it is on the verge of totally crushing the LTTE as almost all of the 15,000-sq-km territory held by the LTTE has been captured by the government in a military offensive launched in 2006 while the LTTE have been boxed in a safety zone less than 10 sq km.
| ISLAMABAD: Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas Wednesday said 50 militants were killed when security forces pounded militants positions in Buner on Wednesday.
Giving a press briefing here, the DG ISPR said 2 caches of militants’ arms were also destroyed in Buner.
He said operation is underway in Ambela and Milandar and that stiff resistance is being faced by the troops in mountainous area of Ambela.
The DG ISPR said the armed forces secured control of Dagar after a successful operation and the civil administration has been asked assume control of the area. One security man was killed and three injured in the action.
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the forces also managed to recover 18 FC men out of 70 abducted by the militants. However, he said the militants’ siege on Ziarat Pir Baba, Sultan Was and Nawagai police staions continues.
He said Pakistan’s armed forces possess the capability of dealing with any kind of security challenge. The armed forces will never disappoint Pakistan’s nation, he added.
BUNER: Security forces Wednesday took control of Dagar town, headquarters of Buner district.
Security forces sources told media that heliborne forces successfully landed at Dagar and surrounding areas and secured Dagar, headquarters of Buner district,” the military added in a statement.
Troops launched an operation in Buner town near the Swat valley on Tuesday, in an intensified effort to flush out Taliban militants.
Earlier, security forces ended operation against militants in Lower Dir. Minister for Interior Rehman Malik Regarding the military action in Lower Dir, said it was against the miscreants who wanted to sabotage the peace process in the area. He said as many as 70 miscreants had so far been killed in the action, while there were reports of the presence of 450 more miscreants in the area.
Meanwhile, Dagar and Pir Baba areas remained under curfew as shelling by gunship helicopters continued in Dagar, Pir Baba, Babaji Kand and Karakar areas of Buner.
GENEVA, Apr 28: Up to one million people are displaced in northwestern Pakistan where militants are feeding on local discontent and strife, humanitarian and local officials from Pakistan warned on Tuesday.
Officials from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province appealed for international relief aid at an unprecedented meeting with relief agencies and donor countries in Geneva.
‘We are hearing a lot of pledges and promises made from the international community to Pakistan, and many of them are for security, for the police and the army, but the civilians are not getting what they are supposed to,’ said Sitara Ayaz, minister for social welfare and development in the province.
‘In our province we need more support and help from the international community,’ she said after the two-day meeting in Geneva.
The UN’s World Food Programme is working on an estimate of about 600,000 people for food aid in the area, spokewoman Emilia Casella told AFP.
Local officials put the figure at closer to one million, with about 80 per cent of them housed with friends or relatives, sometimes five or six families to a home.
‘It is a serious humanitarian situation of major magnitude,’ warned Dennis McNamara, an adviser at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which organised the meeting.
‘The registered UN figure for displaced civilians is over half a million. The NWFP relief commissioner says if we get registration completed it may be closer to a million in total.’
‘It is a certainly a major displacement, one of the world’s biggest if these figures are right,’ added McNamara, a former senior UN refugee official.
A provincial minister said in Pakistan on Tuesday that around 30,000 people in the northwest have been displaced since the weekend by a military offensive to flush out Taliban militants.
Participants at the Geneva meeting said impoverished civilians were paying the price for the unrest and the humanitarian strife, and were easily wooed by militants such as the Taliban.
‘They can easily be recruited, because they are bitter and they have suffered,’ said one of the participants from North West Frontier Province.
Updated at: 0430 PST, Wednesday, April 29, 2009 GENEVA: Up to one million people are displaced in northwestern Pakistan where militants are feeding on local discontent and strife, local officials and humanitarian workers warned on Tuesday. Officials from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province appealed for international relief aid at an unprecedented meeting with relief agencies and donor countries in Geneva. “We are hearing a lot of pledges and promises made from the international community to Pakistan, and many of them are for security, for the police and the army, but the civilians are not getting what they are supposed to,” said Sitara Ayaz, minister for social welfare and development in the province. “In our province we need more support and help from the international community,” she said after the two-day meeting in Geneva. The UN’s World Food Programme is working on an estimate of about 600,000 displaced who need food aid in the area, spokeswoman Emilia Casella told media. Local officials put the figure at closer to one million, with about 80 percent of them housed with friends or relatives — sometimes five or six families to a home. “It is a serious humanitarian situation of major magnitude,” warned Dennis McNamara, an adviser at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which organised the meeting. “The registered UN figure for displaced civilians is over half a million. The NWFP relief commissioner says if we get registration completed it may be closer to a million in total. “It is a certainly a major displacement, one of the world’s biggest if these figures are right,” added McNamara, a former senior UN refugee official.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the sides participating in the fighting in the Pakistani tribal region? Would you give us an idea about those that bore arms against the Pakistani army?[Gul] There are two categories of fighters in the tribal region. The first category consists of those that are fighting to avenge what took place in Pakistan following the 11 September 2001 attacks, especially those that are fighting to avenge what happened during the military operation that was carried out in the Red Mosque or the Lal Masjid. But these are not currently active after the new government took over power in Islamabad. This issue could be settled if we had an independent judicial authority in Pakistan that would investigate the killing that took place in the Red Mosque. These citizens continue to carry out acts of vengeance in some places. The second category consists of the criminal elements that fled from the Pakistani cities and found refuge in the tribal region. For example, one armed sectarian organization that was pursued in the Pakistani cities has fled and found refuge in the tribal region. The mujahidin know that these are criminal elements and do not provide them with any support. At the same time, however, they do not wish to open two fronts at the same time and thus they do not wish to fight them. Third, the US intelligence service has established more than 50 units in the Pakistani tribal region. These units are backed by the Indian intelligence services. These recruit the locals and foreign elements in the tribal region. Fourth, there are the mujahidin who wish to leave Pakistan and fight. But when the Pakistani army launched operations against them, they had no choice but to fight the Pakistani army. And this is what the Americans want. They want to see these mujahidin fighting against the Pakistani army and not crossing the borders to fight the Americans and the international forces.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How did the Pakistani intelligence services help in establishing the Taliban movement? Is it paying the price at present?
[Gul] We helped the Taliban at first but we ended the training in 1989 and everything came to a stop. Most of the members of the Taliban movement were Afghan veterans that were trained during the Afghan war. We did not train anyone after 1989. So this training stopped about 20 years ago. Naturally, those that we trained have become older. So you give the wrong impression when you say that they are the same citizens that we trained.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But is the support network that you established for the Afghan jihad active now in fighting against the Pakistani army?
[Gul] No, it is not the same network but the same spirit of jihad dominates the scene. There is no network. Only look at the scene in the tribal region. There is no network there. Each tribe is fighting in its region and no tribe crosses to the region of the other tribe. Each tribe has its command structure. At present, they have formed the “Tehrik-e Pakistan Taliban” (The Pakistani Taliban Movement) but it does not control all the Taliban groups in the tribal region.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How and from where did the Pakistani Taliban Movement obtain their resources, such as arms and funds?
[Gul] The Americans are supplying them with arms and equipment. This is a unique characteristic of the tribal region. They are prepared to accept arms from any source. During the period of the Afghan jihad, the Russians gave them arms to fight against the Pakistani army. The citizens in these regions accepted money and arms from the Russians but they did not fight against the Pakistani army as the Russians wanted. Now there is a difference. They are accepting arms and money from the Americans and also fighting the Pakistani army. Why this difference? It is very simple: The Pakistani army is killing them and conducting major operations against them.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that the Pakistani army generals are turning a blind eye to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban that cross the border to fight the international forces in Afghanistan?
[Gul] They are indeed crossing the border and entering Afghanistan, but this is not confined only to the residents of the tribal region. Let me tell you that citizens from Punjab are going and fighting in Afghanistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you totally reject the idea that the Pakistani intelligence service has connections to the Taliban movement?
[Gul] No, let me tell you what kind of connections. I am a retired official but the al-Qaeda Afghan elements – Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Karzai, and others – are against Pakistan but they are my friends. As far as I am concerned, they are old friends. So there are social relations. But it is not true at all to say that Pakistani intelligence officials are now supporting the Taliban movement and that this is their policy. This is incorrect.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] A report published in The New York Times has said that Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander in the Taliban movement, is backed by the Pakistani intelligence services. Is this true?
[Gul] Jalalludin Haqqani is a personal friend of mine. When I sent my two sons to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Soviet forces they fought alongside Jalalludin Haqqani’s men. He is a very, very good man. However, this does not mean that I am in a position now to give him support. His family has been in Pakistan for 30 years. There are 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and they will continue to come and go from and to Afghanistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You mentioned having social relations with Afghan leaders and Taliban commanders. Did you ever meet Ayman al-Zawahiri or Mullah Omar or Osama Bin Laden?
[Gul] Let me make one point clear: During the Afghan jihad the Pakistani intelligence services trained Afghans only; we did not train non-Afghans. We received people for training through Afghan sides; no one came to us directly. We made sure that they were all Afghans. The Arabs and other nationalities had their private camps in Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden was never in contact with us. The first time I met Osama Bin Laden was in Sudan after I retired. We used to hear from the Americans that Osama Bin Laden is a great warrior but we had no direct contact with him or with Abdullah Azzam (Osama Bin Laden’s spiritual guide during the Afghan jihad; he is Palestinian). We did not train anyone except Afghans.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your opinion, what are the goals for which the Taliban movement is fighting in Afghanistan and its goals for fighting in Pakistan?
[Gul] There are two goals and they are clear and simple. The first goal is to fight for freedom and the second is to apply Shariaa. When they were in power in Afghanistan, they applied Shariaa there and made gains. It is also true that they made many mistakes; they were young and had no experience in management. But in general, the resulting government was good. They established a central authority in Afghanistan and women were given their inheritance rights for the first time in the history of Afghan society. There were excesses, such as forcing women in the Afghan towns to put on the Burqu and men to grow beards. But they established the rule of law and order in the country and provided protection to the Afghan citizens. So the Taliban movement wants to apply Shariaa as an alternative system in Afghanistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] On one hand you say that the Americans are supplying the Taliban with arms and on another hand you say that the Americans oppose the Taliban movement.
[Gul] Yes, they are doing all those things. They are executing their plans. They want the national Pakistani youths to fight against the Pakistani army and they have succeeded in this.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are there any contacts between the Pakistani intelligence services and the Taliban movement at present?
[Gul] No, there may be social relations as I just told you. Many Afghans come to meet me and I never ask them whether they are Taliban or which side they follow.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But don’t you have official contacts with the Taliban?
[Gul] The Taliban surfaced as a movement three years ago after it became independent from the Pakistani intelligence services. It had a relationship with the Afghan mujahidin. The Taliban movement as an organization appeared later.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is it possible that some neighboring countries, like Iran and Pakistan, are helping them?
[Gul] This is not true; it is mere propaganda to turn Arab public opinion against Iran. Iran is involved in Khoram [place name as transliterated], close to the Afghan border, where there are sectarian clashes. But let me tell you that the Americans are involved in the sectarian clashes in Pakistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that some Al-Qaeda leaders are now present in Iran?
[Gul] You know that after the Al-Qaeda dispersed in Afghanistan following the US attack there, many of them were arrested in Pakistan and some of them were killed. After that, they turned to Iran and the Iranian government did not arrest any of them. Some of them were put in prison but they were later released. This is very suspicious. The Americans did not say a word regarding this. Osama Bin Laden has three wives and about 18 children. Where did they all go? They all fled via Iran.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that the Taliban will regain power in Afghanistan once again? If so, what is the timeframe?
[Gul] I am not saying that the Taliban will regain Afghanistan. But I am certain that the freedom-loving Afghan citizens will soon be in power in Afghanistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When will this happen? What is the timeframe that you expect for this to happen?
[Gul] Not more than two years. I think the United States will have to leave Afghanistan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How long do you think the Americans will remain in Afghanistan?
[Gul] If the Americans are wise, they will leave Afghanistan within one year. If they are not wise, Pakistan will witness a revolution as a result of the US presence in Afghanistan. They will be defeated in Afghanistan and they will have to leave Afghanistan in 2010 or 2011.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that Al-Qaeda has or has tried to procure weapons of mass destruction?
[Gul] This is sheer US propaganda because it wants to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear power. The Pakistani nuclear program is the main goal of the Americans.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Who is in charge of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal? Is it under the command of the army or the president?
[Gul] In principle, these are elastic arrangements. The nuclear arsenal was under the command of the army in the days of former President General Zia-ul-Haq. After that, the nuclear command body was formed and a very detailed structure was put in place to control the nuclear weapons. In practice, the arsenal is under the control of the Pakistani president. The problem is that former President Musharraf changed the political system into a presidential system although we are a parliamentary system. Thus, the responsibility of protecting the Pakistani nuclear program is in the hands of President Asif Ali Zardari.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When former President Pervez Musharraf was in power, we used to hear that his life was in danger because Al-Qaeda wants to kill him. Do you think that Al-Qaeda is threatening Zardari?
[Gul] This depends on Asif Ali Zardari’s behavior. So far, he has not done anything to provoke such a threat except the military operation in the tribal Bajwar regions under pressure from the Americans. But so far, Zardari has not reached the point where his life may be a target for Al-Qaeda.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you spend your time since you retired from your post?
[Gul] I lecture in some universities and other educational institutions. I keep in touch with the media, I tour Pakistan, and I address various gatherings of Pakistanis.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you feel threatened? Do you need or do you have private bodyguards to protect you?
[Gul] Some come to me and say I need some kind of protection. But I put my faith in God. Second, the area where I live is well protected but I put my faith in God.
[Critique of interview with former ISI chief, Gen. Hamid Gul.]
There are certain explanations of the phenomenon of the Taliban which tend to strengthen the broad misconceptions on the subject in Pakistan. When these come from retired Pakistani generals, such “theorising” points to the intent behind the policies followed in the past; it also complicates the collective effort in Pakistan to face up to the threat of the Taliban. Above all, it highlights the “psychological” problems among the officers who dealt with the Americans on the one hand and Afghan warlords on the other as “partners” in Afghanistan, and their ultimate “break” with the post-9/11 decisions made in Islamabad.
Some retired officers say the Taliban are fighting to avenge what took place in Pakistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks, especially those [Taliban] fighting to avenge what happened during the military operation that was carried out in Lal Masjid. But, they claim, these are not currently active after the new government took over power in Islamabad. Who, then, are these Taliban who apparently went to Afghanistan after 9/11 to “fight the Americans” and then got offended with the Lal Masjid operation in 2007, and then in 2008 simply stopped existing?
What has been left out in these claims is the “creation” of Pakistani Taliban to help the Kabul government of Mullah Umar after 1997 against resistance from what later came to be called Northern Alliance, whose leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was killed by Al Qaeda hours before 9/11. No reference is made by these retired army officials to the despatch of thousands of seminarians from the Pakistani border areas into Afghanistan as warriors. Before 9/11, when the Americans were bothered by Al Qaeda and wanted Pakistan to help get the Taliban to oust Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan, Pakistan decided to pursue strategic depth instead of fighting global terrorism. In fact, there is some evidence that on the Pakistani side, policy was “diversified” on the basis of “personal” affiliations between Mullah Umar and some key Pakistani officials.
One general interviewed proudly said that when “he sent his two sons to jihad” against the Soviet forces “along with the Afghan jihadi leader Jalaluddin Haqqani” it was on the general pattern of intelligence officers pursuing state policy without letting their personal friendships with the Taliban get in the way. Here is one classic view: “I am a retired official but the Al Qaeda Afghan elements — Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Karzai (sic!), and others — are against Pakistan, but they are my friends”. What applies to this gentleman is, however, not supposed to apply to the personnel now in service. This is supposed to mean that the “allegations” that Pakistan has a nexus with Haqqani and Hekmatyar today are incorrect. The opposite is the case actually.
The part about those among the Taliban who were offended by the Lal Masjid affair and then “gave up” after the coming to power of the new government in 2008, remains obscure. Lal Masjid was the underside of Pakistan’s Taliban policy of “strategic depth”. The non-Islamists within the structure of the state focused on its India-specific intent and were not bothered by the nexus they thus formed with officials who interpreted “depth” as a transformation of Pakistan itself. Lal Masjid was allowed to become a watering-hole of all kinds of terrorist organisations with Al Qaeda affiliations. The proof of this came when revenge against the Lal Masjid operation was vowed by Aiman Al Zawahiri himself in a special message and echoed by the Taliban in South Waziristan and Swat.
The assertion that “we helped the Taliban at first but we ended the training in 1989”, leaves out the entire swath of activities that involved the preparation of jihadi organisations inside Pakistan used in Indian-administered Kashmir as “freedom-fighters” despite the fact that they were beginning to be dubbed terrorists at the UN Security Council and put on watch-lists in the West. As Mr Rehman Malik says, these Pakistan-trained militias are now with the Taliban.
To say that “the Americans are supplying the Taliban with arms and equipment” today is to reject the logic of war through an intricate imagination of conspiracy. It is like saying that Baitullah Mehsud is supplied with money and material by the US and India and then bombed through drones to get him to strike at Pakistan at Manawan in Lahore. But the interviewee calls this logic “very simple”. Also the argument that the Taliban were able to dominate in Afghanistan because of their advocacy of sharia, and that women had rights under them, is also “very simple”. It is also “very simple” that after this interview, Pakistan will have even less credibility in the eyes of the world. *
[Here is the man who knows all the smoking guns in the madrassa program to radicalize Pakistani youth and the secret program to create an international jihadi force, "the base."]
LAHORE: The Pakistan Army did not want to intervene in politics, but there could be a coup if the civilian government did not improve its performance, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, said on Monday. He said Pakistan could survive the Taliban threat provided its military remains intact. The former ambassador to Washington also called for the speedy withdrawal of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces from Afghanistan, saying that they are “not welcome” there. “As long as the armed forces are intact, the state is not going to be at risk,” he told The Washington Times. The prince, who oversaw the funding two decades ago that helped create the Taliban during the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, downplayed concerns about Pakistan’s stability. The former Saudi intelligence chief said the Taliban were not a monolithic organisation and suggested that Islamabad had not found the right way of dealing with them. He added that “one of the biggest stumbling blocks” in his work, as intelligence chief until 2001 was the United States protection of sources coming from other countries. daily times monitor
LAHORE/MINGORA: The Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) has warned of a ‘storm’ across Pakistan if the Malakand peace deal collapses. “The peace accord has weakened and is shaky,” Sufi Muhammad’s son Rizwanullah Farooq said by telephone from Swat on Tuesday. “If it breaks, there will be a storm in the whole country.” Meanwhile, TNSM spokesman Ameer Izzat Khan said at a press conference that the Taliban had neither destroyed public property in Maidan nor declared war. He said there was no justification for the operation in Maidan. daily times monitor/ghulam farooq
PESHAWAR: Only 17.2 percent of people in the Tribal Areas see armed resistance as the most preferred type of jihad, while 57.4 percent say it is learning the Holy Quran and modern sciences, a study reveals. As many as 24.1 percent thought that jihad is the name of peaceful resistance to oppression, the study by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) said. According to the study, 21.9 percent respondents held bad governance structure for the extremism while 24.4 percent said poverty was driving people towards extremism. Around 44.8 percent respondents believed illiteracy was responsible for rising religious extremism in the borderlands while 26.4 percent said the Afghan conflict was equally responsible for the situation prevailing in their areas. As many as 88.58 respondents said that firearms proliferated from from Afghanistan, while 1.52 percent thought the Dara Adam Khel, the study said. iqbal khattak
Last year U.S. military operations crossed another threshold in Pakistan. For the first time, a Predator ‘drone’ fired missiles into Bannu area in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), away from the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas where it conducts raids with impunity.
Attacking the self-governing and semi-autonomous FATA on the Afghan border, is one thing, but targeting the North West Frontier Province, or settled areas, is quite another. The people apprehend, this and similar acts if not stopped by Zardari government, the drone raids would escalate to settled areas including the metro cities like Lahore and Karachi as well. In other words it will no more be a war on terror but a war on Pakistan itself.
by JONATHAN S. LANDAY
Even as the Obama administration launches new drone attacks into Pakistan’s remote tribal areas, concerns are growing among U.S. intelligence and military officials that the strikes are bolstering the Islamic insurgency by prompting Islamist radicals to disperse into the country’s heartland.
Al-Qaida, Taliban and other militants who’ve been relocating to Pakistan’s overcrowded and impoverished cities may be harder to find and stop from staging terrorist attacks, the officials said.
Moreover, they said, the strikes by the missile-firing drones are a recruiting boon for extremists because of the unintended civilian casualties that have prompted widespread anger against the U.S.
“Putting these guys on the run forces a lot of good things to happen,” said a senior U.S. defense official who requested anonymity because the drone operations, run by the CIA and the Air Force, are top-secret. “It gives you more targeting opportunities. The downside is that you get a much more dispersed target set and they go to places where we are not operating.”
U.S. drone attacks “may have hurt more than they have helped,” said a U.S. military official who’s been deeply involved in counterterrorism operations. The official, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, called the drone operations a “recruiting windfall for the Pakistani Taliban.”
“A significant number of bad actors aren’t where they used to be,” but have moved to “places where we can’t get at them the way we could,” he added.
As a result of the drone attacks, insurgent activities are “more dispersed in Pakistan and focusing on Pakistani targets,” said Christine Fair of the RAND Corp., a policy institute that advises the Pentagon. “So we have shifted the costs.”
President Barack Obama for now has embraced the drone strikes, which U.S. officials said have killed up to one dozen important al-Qaida operatives.
“If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we’re going after them,” Obama said in a March 29 interview with CBS News.
Several U.S. intelligence, military officials and independent experts, however, said that they’re especially worried by an influx of extremists from the tribal areas into the slums of Karachi. The capital of southern Sindh Province, with a population of at least 12 million, is Pakistan’s financial center and main port as well as the entry point for most of the supplies bound for U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Many militants are thought to have taken refuge among Karachi’s estimated 3.5 million Pashtuns, the ethnic group comprising the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their presence is stoking tensions with other groups in the southern city, which has a long history of communal bloodshed and terrorism, including against Western targets.
“The who’s who of extremism is present in Karachi,” said Faisal Ali Subzwari, a Sindh government minister. “There are many areas where police and (paramilitary) Rangers cannot even dare to enter. It is a safe haven for those who want a hiding place.”
Subzwari, whose Mohajir Quami Movement represents immigrants from India and has repeatedly warned of the “Talibanization” of Karachi, said that part of his own constituency is one of these “no-go” areas.
U.S. officials have long identified Karachi as the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban’s fundraising committee, and many top militants were educated at the Binori Mosque, a key center of radical Islamic ideology. A “feeder” network of militant seminaries in Karachi supplies young suicide bombers, they said.
An upheaval in Karachi, home to Pakistan’s stock exchange and other financial institutions, would be catastrophic for a country that has only avoided bankruptcy with a $7.6 billion International Monetary Fund emergency credit line. Financial activities, as well as imports and exports for both Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan, could be paralyzed, as could supplies for U.S.-led NATO forces in the region.
Concerns over “blowback” from the drone strikes is fueling a debate in the Obama administration over whether they should be extended from the Federally Administered Tribal Area, the region bordering eastern Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding, to Baluchistan Province, the alleged refuge of the Afghan Taliban leadership, U.S. officials said.
Proponents of the drone strikes cite the killing of key al-Qaida operatives and the disruption of the terrorist network’s ability to plot new attacks; opponents, said to include some senior administration officials, fear that the operations are too destabilizing for nuclear-armed Pakistan and are doing nothing to halt the insurgencies tearing through the country and Afghanistan
“There is no uniform opinion on this,” the senior defense official said. “You have some concerns that they are causing a ripple effect, that the consequences are too large for Pakistan to absorb.”
Several U.S. officials argued that it would be easier for U.S. and Pakistani authorities, including the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, to track down militants who leave the remote border region for the cities. They pointed out that senior al-Qaida operatives in U.S. custody were found in Pakistani urban areas.
Critics, however, noted that the ISI and the Pakistani military can’t be relied on to cooperate, because while they’ve turned over foreign militants, some former and current ISI and army officers are believed to support Afghan and Pakistani groups.
There have been dozens of drone strikes in the past year, the most recent killing 13 people in the tribal region of North Waziristan. The next day, a top Pakistani Taliban leader threatened to launch two suicide attacks every week unless the strikes stop. His threat followed a series of suicide bombings in the heartland province of Punjab.
A senior Pakistani official reiterated the government’s opposition to the drone operations after talks in Islamabad with Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“They (drone strikes) are counterproductive,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. “My view is they are causing collateral damage, my view is that they are alienating people, my view is that they are working to the advantage of the extremists. We (Pakistan and the U.S.) have agreed to disagree on this
Source: McClatchy Newspapers, Wshington
Tariq Al-Maeena | firstname.lastname@example.org
|The Western reaction to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN Conference on Racism, dubbed Durban II, has run on predictable lines.
At the precise moment that Ahmadinejad mentioned Israel, many of the Western diplomats took it as a cue to walk out. Said the UK’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham: “As soon as President Ahmadinejad started talking about Israel, that was the cue for us to walk out. We agreed in advance that if there was any such rhetoric there would be no tolerance for it.” He concluded by adding that Ahmadinejad was guilty of anti-Semitism.
The fact is the boycotting delegates never heard his speech throughout. What the Iranian leader stated in his speech is there for all to see: “How can we expect the realization of justice and peace when discrimination is legalized and the origin of the law is dominated by coercion and force rather than by justice and the rights?
“The victorious powers called themselves the conquerors of the world while ignoring or treading upon rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements.”
And referring to the continuous appeasement of Israel’s genocides by the UN Security Council, he added, “…they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering and they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine. 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.”
“The Security Council helped stabilize the occupying regime and supported it in the past 60 years giving them a free hand to commit all sorts of atrocities. It is all the more regrettable that a number of Western governments and the United States have committed themselves to defending those racist perpetrators of genocide while the awakened-conscience and free-minded people of the world condemn aggression, brutalities and the bombardment of civilians in Gaza. The supporters of Israel have always been either supportive or silent against the crimes.”
He went on to question the immoral war against the Iraqi people. “Why, indeed, almost a million people were killed and injured and a few more millions were displaced? Why, indeed, the Iraqi people have suffered enormous losses amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars? And why was billions of dollars imposed on the American people as the result of these military actions? Was not the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists and their allies in the then US administration in complicity with the arms manufacturing countries and the possessors of wealth?”
Were these words fueled by anti-Semitism or simply a statement of the cold realities that have engulfed the Middle East since this pariah state was imposed on the region, a state whose morals are predicated by the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians? There is nothing in his speech that could be construed as racist.
Were not the boycotting diplomats aware of the holocausts being perpetuated against the lawful residents of the land for the past 60 years? Were they not aware of what happened in Lebanon and more recently in Gaza?
Just what prompts a diplomat to shy away from truth? Perhaps they are following US foreign policy mandate that no one should criticize Israel, whatever its actions or policies. And there is documented evidence to prove that war crimes had been committed against the innocent civilians in Gaza in the recent war.
Or were the seasoned diplomats who walked out intimidated by the fear they would be dubbed anti-Semite had they chosen to remain seated? Does this collective fear of hearing the truth reside deep in their subconscious, or is it a reflection of the unspoken guilt that perhaps persists within them, a guilt borne of their inability to prevent the first Holocaust during World War II. Or was it simply because they did not have the courage to hear and speak the truth? Any way you look at it, it smacks of hypocrisy.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store stated it best during a news conference. “If we start walking out every time we feel uncomfortable dealing with our ideological rivals, the world would be the one to lose,” he said.
Stephen Zunes | April 27, 2009
Editor: John Feffer
It is time for peace in the region. The only way this is possible is for the U.S. military to let the Afghans freely choose their next president, order U.S. military to stand down, end combat operations, and ensure that no country establishes intelligence outposts in Afghanistan. This especially includes India. If this does not happen, the U.S. military will continue to destabilize the region for a long time to come. And India should expect a bloody conflict if it establishes a military presence in Pakistan’s backyard. Of all people, Indian officials know this is no walk in the park. Hence India’s reluctance to make its Afghan plans public.
By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan— A five-point plan to bring peace to Afghanistan and the region:
1. NATION BUILDING INSTEAD OF MILITARY FORCE:
A unilateral ceasefire should be announced by U.S. and NATO saying that military operations, henceforth, will only be undertaken in self-defense. Simultaneously, the offer of peace talks must be made to the Afghan Taliban.
A resolution must come forth from all the stakeholders—i.e., the USA, the UN Security Council, NATO, the UK, other major EU and NATO countries, and from Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India—that they all resolve to bring peace to Southwest Asia by replacing military activity with developmental activity.
2. Military Stand Down
The United States must also announce unilaterally after the preliminary rounds of peace talks that it will relocate its forces to their prewar, non-combat posture as a prelude to an eventual and complete military evacuation within a reasonable time frame.
3. Free & Fair Presidential Elections in Afghanistan
The upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan must be treated as a window of opportunity and they should be conducted by the Afghan people themselves, with the help of observers and expert teams from Islamic countries chosen by the Afghans, for the sake of neutrality. The U.S., although militarily present in Afghanistan, should voluntarily adopt the role of a non-interfering observer after having made it clear that violence will not be tolerated. The U.S. should let it be the fairest of elections. Let anyone who the people of Afghanistan genuinely want to elect win. The Afghan Taliban must be allowed to field their candidate(s) and let them all contest freely. Whatever government then comes into existence in Afghanistan must take up nation building activity of that war-ravaged nation in right earnest.
4. End Indian Presence On Afghan Soil
The US should order all Indian presence out of Afghanistan as this is seen by Pakistanis as an outright hostile act against Pakistan. It cannot be said in any other way because the US and NATO facilitation of the Indian intelligence agencies to operate against Pakistan’s interests from outposts in Afghanistan can only be seen as detrimental to Pakistan’s integrity. Ask anyone on the street anywhere in Pakistan‘s remotest corner and he or she will wonder why the government of Pakistan is not protesting to the US on this point. Being an ally in what is called by the Americans themselves “a common war” the US has no alternative but to put a stop to Indian activities in Afghanistan forthwith in order to win the friendship of the Pakistani nation. Let Afghanistan become sovereign again and then decide for itself how much Indian presence they would want in Afghanistan. The Indians should also know that if they accept any military role in Afghanistan they will get a taste of unconventional warfare that they will not be able to sustain for even a few weeks. Occupied Kashmir violence will be so dwarfed that the Indians will be wonderstruck if they ever choose to accept any military role in Afghanistan.
5. US must Stop the Demonization of Pakistan
Lastly, if it wants Pakistan to be on its side as an ally, the US should immediately stop demonizing the Pakistani military establishment. The allegations against the ISI and the Pakistani army are unwarranted. Who has suffered more casualties in hostilities at the hands of the Taliban: The Pakistani army or the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan?
Pakistan has already done enough at the cost of its own national fabric being torn to shreds. It is now time for peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire region.
It is in the long-term interest of the United States itself to seek peace rather than continue to destabilize the region through a heavy military presence in a combat role.
It is also not going to be long before the cash starved US public starts calling for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; a call no US administration will be able to ignore. This region will then be lost to the USA for many decades to come.
The above exit strategy will have enormous dividends for all the stakeholders—i.e., the USA, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Contrarily, indefinite US military occupation of Afghanistan will create a devastating turmoil in the region. Resultantly, the US will lose its present foothold in Afghanistan and Pakistan just like it lost its foothold in post-1979 Iran.
The writer is former Director-general of the Intelligence Bureau and former vice-president of the PPP Parliamentarians. This is a reduced and edit version produced by AhmedQuraishi.com extracted from the original published by Pakistan’s The News International. Mr. Khattak can be reached at masoodsharifkhattakATgmail.com