The kingdom has so far sat on the fence over the spread of Taliban militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but the issue will be on the agenda when the President meets King Abdullah in Riyadh today.
Mr Obama’s defence secretary Robert Gates has already asked Saudi Arabia, which has a close relationship with Pakistan and major influence in the region, for help in countering the terrorist threat.
Many experts say the Sunni-majority kingdom could be crucial in mediating reconciliation with extremists, and it could also help cut off large sums of money flowing to militants from wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities.
Saudi Arabia has historical ties with the Taliban, having worked with Pakistan to facilitate its rise in the Nineties and, along with the United Arab Emirates, was one of only two countries to recognise Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
Mr Obama is using his Middle East tour to repair America‘s image in the eyes of the Muslim world. The next stop on his trip will be Egypt, where he will deliver what is one of the most important speeches of his presidency.
He is expected to use his speech at the University of Cairo to portray a new America that is not at war with the Muslim world and is willing to listen.
He will point out that al Qaeda is not only an enemy of the US but of Muslims worldwide. Mr Obama will also outline the US view on Middle East peace talks, Iran, the war in Afghanistan and unrest in Pakistan.
In an NBC interview last night, Mr Obama acknowledged that there will be no quick fix to the hatred many Muslims feel towards the US. “One speech is not going to transform very real policy differences,” he said. “I don’t expect that people will come away saying, We agree with every single thing that the President said.’ I do hope that we can start opening a dialogue that will be more constructive.
“I hope people will have a better sense of how America views its relationship to the broader world and to Islam. I hope Americans will recognise that Islam is not a monolithic faith, that there are debates within Islam about how to adjust to a modern world.”
The story that the CIA uses tny homing beacons to guide their drone strikes in Pakistan may sound like an urban myth. But this sort of technology does exist, and might well be used for exactly this purpose. It might even have been the “secret weapon” that Bob Woodward said helped the American military pacify Iraq.
The military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars researching, developing, and purchasing a slew of “Tagging tracking and locating” (TTL) gear — gizmos designed to keep covertly tabs from far away. Most of these technologies are highly classified. But there’s enough information in the open literature to get a sense of what the government is pursuing: laser-based reflectors, super-strength RFID tags, and homing beacons so tiny, they can be woven into fabric or into paper.
Some of the gadgets are already commercially available; if you’re carrying around a phone or some other mobile gadget, you can be tracked – either through the GPS chip embedded in the gizmo, or by triangulating the cell signal. Defense contractor EWA Government Systems, Inc. makes a radio frequency-based “Bigfoot Remote Tagging System” that’s the size of a couple of AA batteries. But the government has been working to make these terrorist tracking tags even smaller.
Sandia National Laboratories have carried out development on “Radar Responsive” tags, which are like a long-range version of the ubiquitous stick-on RFID tags used to mark items in shops. The Radar Responsive tag stays asleep until it is woken up by a radar pulse. The tags in Wal-mart have a range of a couple of meters, Sandia’s tags can light up and locate themselves from twelve miles away.
This document from 2004 describes the tags as being credit-card sized and with a “geolocation accuracy” of three feet. The radio waves penetrate buildings. Suggested application include “search and rescue, precision targeting, special operations.” The selection of aircraft used to illustrate the system includes a Predator drone.
The reports from Pakistan suggest that the CIA knew which village to strike, they just needed to locate the exact building (descriptions like “third house on the left” can be dangerously ambiguous, especially when viewing from the air). A Radar Responsive tag would be very handy for guiding a strike from a drone a few miles away.
Nor is this the only technology out there. A 2002 Defense Science Board report on counter-terrorism mentioned, among other things, the possibility of using invisible chemical dye to mark terrorists, so they could be spotted using a suitable viewer.
The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review — the Pentagon’s once-every-four-years grand strategy document — included a section on defeating terrorist networks, which mentioned the importance of tagging and tracking both terrorists and their gear. Two methods suggested are tinier-than-tiny radar tags, and dynamic optical tags. Darpa, the Pentagon’s way-out research arm, spent years developing these “small, environmentally robust, retro reflector-based tags that can be read by both handheld and airborne sensors at significant ranges.” They rely on small silicon reflectors which return a laser signal — as long as that signal can be seen from the air. “Each Dynamic Optical Tag or DOT is an inch across and based on a ‘quantum well modulator,’” the agency explains. “They are read using a laser interrogator, which can be mounted on an aircraft; the laser ‘wakes up’ the tag, which sends a return signal at over 100 kbps. This can be simply the ID of the tag, or it can be data that it has recorded – for example, details of where it has traveled since last interrogated, or recorded video or audio.”
Covert radar tags were descried in a 2004 report by the National materials Advisory Board. Inkode, a company that also provides cheap RFID tags for supermarkets, has developed a means of embedding aluminum fibers in paper and other materials. The fibers are described as 6.5 millimeters long and 1.5 micrometers in diameter.
When illuminated with radar, the backscattered fields interact to create a unique interference pattern that enables one tagged object to be identified and differentiated from other tagged objects,” the company says. “For nonmilitary applications, the reader is less than 1 meter from the tag. For military applications, the reader and tag could theoretically be separated by a kilometer or more.”
The fibers can be embedded in “paper, airline baggage tags, book bindings, clothing and other fabrics, and plastic sheet.” Eight thousand fibres can be embedded in a typical 8½ by 11 inch piece of paper, which could be seen by radar at a similar distance to a meter-square target. So even something as small as a cigarette paper could be detected through walls, uniquely identified and precisely located from a tactically-useful distance in order to direct a missile strike.
This 2007 briefing from U.S. Special Operations Command hints at research into even more exotic ways to keep tabs on a target. Technology goals include spotting a “human thermal fingerprint at long distance,” “augmentation of natural signatures: e.g. ‘perfumes’ and ’stains.’” The presentation also mentions a “bioreactive taggant” that is a “current capability.” Next to the words in a picture of a bruised arm.
We do not know if any or all of these technologies are actually in use. After all, mobile phones are also a good way of locating an individual from long range, and there are numerous other sensors that can be used to direct a strike. But technologically speaking, the miniature homing beacon calling in CIA drone strikes is not just another urban myth.
– David Hambling and Noah Shachtman
[Photo: Sandia National Labs]
Pakistan strikes highlight the increasing use of remotely piloted aircraft
Report Ties Dubious Iran Nuclear Docs to Israel
Analysis by Gareth Porter
June 04, 2009 — WASHINGTON, Jun 3 (IPS) – A report on Iran’s nuclear programme issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month generated news stories publicising an incendiary charge that U.S. intelligence is underestimating Iran’s progress in designing a “nuclear warhead” before the halt in nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.
That false and misleading charge from an intelligence official of a foreign country, who was not identified but was clearly Israeli, reinforces two of Israel’s key propaganda themes on Iran – that the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is wrong, and that Tehran is poised to build nuclear weapons as soon as possible.
But it also provides new evidence that Israeli intelligence was the source of the collection of intelligence documents which have been used to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons research.
The Committee report, dated May 4, cited unnamed “foreign analysts” as claiming intelligence that Iran ended its nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 because it had mastered the design and tested components of a nuclear weapon and thus didn’t need to work on it further until it had produced enough sufficient material.
That conclusion, which implies that Iran has already decided to build nuclear weapons, contradicts both the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, and current intelligence analysis. The NIE concluded that Iran had ended nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 because of increased international scrutiny, and that it was “less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005″.
The report included what appears to be a spectacular revelation from “a senior allied intelligence official” that a collection of intelligence documents supposedly obtained by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from an Iranian laptop computer includes “blueprints for a nuclear warhead”.
It quotes the unnamed official as saying that the blueprints “precisely matched” similar blueprints the official’s own agency “had obtained from other sources inside Iran”.
No U.S. or IAEA official has ever claimed that the so-called laptop documents included designs for a “nuclear warhead”. The detailed list in a May 26, 2008 IAEA report of the contents of what have been called the “alleged studies” – intelligence documents on alleged Iranian nuclear weapons work — made no mention of any such blueprints.
In using the phrase “blueprints for a nuclear warhead”, the unnamed official was evidently seeking to conflate blueprints for the reentry vehicle of the Iranian Shehab missile, which were among the alleged Iranian documents, with blueprints for nuclear weapons.
When New York Times reporters William J. Broad and David E. Sanger used the term “nuclear warhead” to refer to a reentry vehicle in a Nov. 13, 2005 story on the intelligence documents on the Iranian nuclear programme, it brought sharp criticism from David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
“This distinction is not minor,” Albright observed, “and Broad should understand the differences between the two objects, particularly when the information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.”
The Senate report does not identify the country for which the analyst in question works, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff refused to respond to questions about the report from IPS, including the reason why the report concealed the identity of the country for which the unidentified “senior allied intelligence official” works.
Reached later in May, the author of the report, Douglas Frantz, told IPS he is under strict instructions not to speak with the news media.
After a briefing on the report for selected news media immediately after its release, however, the Associated Press reported May 6 that interviews were conducted in Israel. Frantz was apparently forbidden by Israeli officials from revealing their national affiliation as a condition for the interviews.
Frantz, a former journalist for the Los Angeles Times, had extensive contacts with high-ranking Israeli military, intelligence and foreign ministry officials before joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. He and co-author Catherine Collins conducted interviews with those Israeli officials for “The Nuclear Jihadist”, published in 2007. The interviews were all conducted under rules prohibiting disclosure of their identities, according to the book.
The unnamed Israeli intelligence officer’s statement that the “blueprints for a nuclear warhead” – meaning specifications for a missile reentry vehicle – were identical to “designs his agency had obtained from other sources in Iran” suggests that the documents collection which the IAEA has called “alleged studies” actually originated in Israel.
A U.S.-based nuclear weapons analyst who has followed the “alleged studies” intelligence documents closely says he understands that the documents obtained by U.S. intelligence in 2004 were not originally stored on the laptop on which they were located when they were brought in by an unidentified Iranian source, as U.S. officials have claimed to U.S. journalists.
The analyst, who insists on not being identified, says the documents were collected by an intelligence network and then assembled on a single laptop.
The anonymous Israeli intelligence official’s claim, cited in the Committee report, that the “blueprints” in the “alleged studies” collection matched documents his agency had gotten from its own source seems to confirm the analyst’s finding that Israeli intelligence assembled the documents.
German officials have said that the Mujahedin E Khalq or MEK, the Iranian resistance organisation, brought the laptop documents collection to the attention of U.S. intelligence, as reported by IPS in February 2008. Israeli ties with the political arm of the MEK, the National Committee of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), go back to the early 1990s and include assistance to the organisation in broadcasting into Iran from Paris.
The NCRI publicly revealed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in August 2002. However, that and other intelligence apparently came from Israeli intelligence. The Israeli co-authors of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran”, Yossi Melman and Meir Javeanfar, revealed that “Western” intelligence was “laundered” to hide its actual provenance by providing it to Iranian opposition groups, especially NCRI, in order to get it to the IAEA.
They cite U.S., British and Israeli officials as sources for the revelation.
New Yorker writer Connie Bruck wrote in a March 2006 article that an Israeli diplomat confirmed to her that Israel had found the MEK “useful” but declined to elaborate.
Israeli intelligence is also known to have been actively seeking to use alleged Iranian documents to prove that Iran had an active nuclear weapons programme just at the time the intelligence documents which eventually surfaced in 2004 would have been put together.
The most revealing glimpse of Israeli use of such documents to influence international opinion on Iran’s nuclear programme comes from the book by Frantz and Collins. They report that Israel’s international intelligence agency Mossad created a special unit in the summer of 2003 to carry out a campaign to provide secret briefings on the Iranian nuclear programme, which sometimes included “documents from inside Iran and elsewhere”.
The “alleged studies” collection of documents has never been verified as genuine by either the IAEA or by intelligence analysts. The Senate report said senior United Nations officials and foreign intelligence officials who had seen “many of the documents” in the collection of alleged Iranian military documents had told committee staff “it is impossible to rule out an elaborate intelligence ruse”.
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.
(The middle correspondent for UK’s “The Independent” newspaper)
“The fact is that Muslims live their religion”.
as Quoted in Christian Cherfils, ‘Bonaparte et Islam,’ Pedone Ed., Paris, France, 1914, pp. 105, 125.
“Moses has revealed the existence of God to his nation. Jesus Christ to the Roman world, Muhammad to the old continent… “Arabia was idolatrous when, six centuries after Jesus, Muhammad introduced the worship of the God of Abraham, of Ishmael, of Moses, and Jesus. The Ariyans and some other sects had disturbed the tranquility of the east by agitating the question of the nature of the Father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. Muhammad declared that there was none but one God who had no father, no son and that the trinity imported the idea of idolatry…
“I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of Qur’an which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.”
in ‘The Genuine Islam,’ Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.
“If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.” “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.”
“I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”
in ‘History of Western Philosophy,’ London, 1948, p. 419.
“Our use of phrase ‘The Dark ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1,000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe… “From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary…
“The Islamic teachings have left great traditions for equitable and gentle dealings and behavior, and inspire people with nobility and tolerance. These are human teachings of the highest order and at the same time practicable. These teachings brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression and injustice were the least as compared with all other societies preceding it….Islam is replete with gentleness, courtesy, and fraternity.”
in ‘History of Intellectual Development of Europe’
“During the period of the Caliphs the learned men of the Christians and the Jews were not only held in great esteem but were appointed to posts of great responsibility, and were promoted to the high ranking job in the government…. He (Caliph Haroon Rasheed) never considered to which country a learned person belonged nor his faith and belief, but only his excellence in the field of learning.”
in ‘Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History,’ Lecture 2, Friday, 8th May 1840.
“As there is no danger of our becoming, any of us, Mahometans (i.e. Muslim), I mean to say all the good of him I justly can… “When Pococke inquired of Grotius, where the proof was of that story of the pigeon, trained to pick peas from Mahomet’s (Muhammad’s) ear, and pass for an angel dictating to him? Grotius answered that there was no proof!…
“A poor, hard-toiling, ill-provided man; careless of what vulgar men toil for. Not a bad man, I should say; Something better in him than hunger of any sort, — or these wild arab men, fighting and jostling three-and-twenty years at his hand, in close contact with him always, would not revered him so! They were wild men bursting ever and anon into quarrel, into all kinds of fierce sincerity; without right worth and manhood, no man could have commanded them. They called him prophet you say? Why he stood there face to face with them; bare, not enshrined in any mystry; visibly clouting his own cloak, cobbling his own shoes; fighting, counselling, ordering in the midst of them: they must have seen what kind of man he was, let him be called what you like! No emperor with his tiaras was obeyed as this man in a cloak of his own clouting. During three-and-twenty years of rough actual trial. I find something of a veritable Hero necessary for that, of itself…
“These Arabs, the man Mahomet, and that one century, – is it not as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Granada! I said, the Great man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame…”
in ‘Short History of the Arabs.’
“During all the first part of the Middle Ages, no other people made as important a contribution to human progress as did the Arabs, if we take this term to mean all those whose mother-tongue was Arabic, and not merely those living in the Arabian peninsula. For centuries, Arabic was the language of learning, culture and intellectual progress for the whole of the civilized world with the exception of the Far East. From the IXth to the XIIth century there were more philosophical, medical, historical, religiuos, astronomical and geographical works written in Arabic than in any other human tongue.”
in ‘The Philosophers of Islam,’ Paris, 1921.
“Finally how can one forget that at the same time the Mogul Empire of India (1526-1857 C.E.) was giving the world the Taj Mahal (completed in 1648 C.E.) the architectural beauty of which has never been surpassed, and the ‘Akbar Nameh’ of Abul Fazl: “That extraordinary work full of life ideas and learning where every aspect of life is examined listed and classified, and where progress continually dazzles the eye, is a document of which Oriental civilization may justly be proud.“The men whose genius finds its expression in this book were far in advance of their age in the practical art of government, and they were perhaps in advance of it in their speculations about religious philosophy. Those poets those philosophers knew how to deal with the world or matter. They observe, classify, calculate and experiment. All the ideas that occur to them are tested against facts. They express them with eloquence but they also support them with statistics.”…the principles of tolerance, justice and humanity which prevailed during the long reign of Akbar.”
in ‘La Turquie, Passe et Present,’ Paris, 1938.
“Many proofs of high cultural level of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent are to be found in the development of science and law; in the flowering of literary works in Arabic, Persian and Turkish; in the contemporary monuments in Istanbul, Bursa, and Edirne; in the boom in luxury industries; in the sumptuous life of the court and high dignitaries, and last but not least in its religious tolerance. All the various influences – notably Turkish, Byzantine and Italian mingle together and help to make this the most brilliant epoch of the Ottomans.”
as Quoted in ‘Michael the Elder, Chronique de Michael Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d’ Antioche,’ J.B. Chabot, Editor, Vol. II, Paris, 1901.
“This is why the God of vengeance, who alone is all-powerful, and changes the empire of mortals as He will, giving it to whomsoever He will, and uplifting the humble beholding the wickedness of the Romans who throughout their dominions, cruelly plundered our churches and our monasteries and condemned us without pity, brought from the region of the south the sons of Ishmael, to deliver us through them from the hands of the Romans.“And if in truth we have suffered some loss, because the Catholic churches, that had been taken away from us and given to the Chalcedonians, remained in their possession; for when the cities submitted to the Arabs, they assigned to each denomination the churches which they found it to be in possession of (and at that time the great churches of Emessa and that of Harran had been taken away from us); nevertheless it was no slight advantage for us to be delivered from the cruelty of the Romans, their wickedness, their wrath and cruel zeal against us, and to find ourselves at people. (Michael the Elder, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch wrote this text in the latter part of the twelfth century, after five centuries of Muslim rule in that region. Click here for a relevant document sent to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai, 628 C.E.)
“Khalif (Caliph) Al-Ma’mun’s period of rule (813 – 833 C.E.) may be considered the ‘golden age’ of science and learning. He had always been devoted to books and to learned pursuits. His brilliant mind was interested in every form of intellectual activity. Not only poetry but also philosophy, theology, astronomy, medicine and law all occupied his time.”“By Mamun’s time medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib to Persia.”
“The city was systematically looted, destroyed and burnt. Eight hundred thousand persons are said to have been killed. The Khalif Mustasim was sewn up in a sack and trampled to death under the feet of Mongol horses. For five hundred years, Baghdad had been a city of palaces, mosques, libraries and colleges. Its universities and hospitals were the most up-to-date in the world. Nothing now remained but heaps of rubble and a stench of decaying human flesh.”
Stop and smell the roses in Pakistan (A tribute to the movement for the ‘rule of law’ in Pakistan)
By Mona Eltahawy in the Jewish Journal, August 20, 2008
As an Egyptian whose country’s military dictators are either taken by God or an assassin’s bullet, I envy the Pakistani people’s ability to now use the term, “former president.”
As former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf contemplates how his friends in the U.S. administration dropped him quicker than you can say “hot freedom fries,” for those of us from the Muslim world — awash in military dictators who have friends in high places in Washington – his exit from Pakistan’s frenetic political stage is miraculous.
The naysayers will remind us of all the “ifs” and “buts” that remain for Pakistan. For starters, Musharraf’s two main rivals, who engineered the threatened impeachment elbowing him toward resignation – Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari – are nowhere near perfect leaders, especially since the only factor uniting them is now contemplating the real estate of exile sites in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Sharif – the former prime minister swept aside by Musharraf’s bloodless 1999 coup – was himself in exile until last year, when he returned home vowing political revenge. He wants to try Musharraf for treason. Meanwhile, Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has taken a more conciliatory line.
They might disagree on Musharraf’s future, but what they do have in common is ignominious histories of corruption – a reminder that dictators like Musharraf are experts at stifling the life out of their country’s politics and leaving poor alternatives to their rules by coup d’état.
We will be reminded that the Taliban and Al Qaeda and all those other scary figures Musharraf dutifully fought as part of his card-carrying membership in the war on terror are now celebrating in every cave that straddles Pakistan’s troubled border with Afghanistan.
Last year, militant friends of the newly insurgent Taliban and its Al Qaeda allies slaughtered hundreds of Pakistanis in waves of suicide bombings across the country. But much like his fellow Muslim dictators befriended by Washington, Musharraf just perfected his technique of using them as Islamist bogeymen.
My country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, points to the Muslim Brotherhood. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas points to Hamas. But neither can beat having Osama bin Laden allegedly hiding somewhere in his country.
Although he presented himself as a secular leader, Musharraf gave free rein to those same Islamists that he was warning the West about, because they were a foil to Pakistan’s vibrant liberal community.
It’s unclear who will become Pakistan’s next president, but there’s no doubt that the ruling coalition’s challenges are many now that Musharraf is out of the picture: fighting inflation, reducing the gap between rich and poor and continuing to fight militancy in the nuclear-armed country. For Pakistan, politics has been a roller-coaster ride since its birth in 1947 as a partition from India.
But let’s stop for a moment and appreciate what has just happened in Pakistan: The constitution and the justice system of a Muslim country were about to impeach a sitting president who was once head of the armed forces. Rather than face such accountability, that president resigned.
To further put Pakistan’s achievement in context, consider that had he insisted on fighting impeachment, Musharraf faced charges of violating the constitution and gross misconduct. Why?
Because he imposed six weeks of emergency rule and fired dozens of judges last November, when the Supreme Court met to decide his eligibility to stand for re-election for a third term as president while still army chief.
Egypt has lived under emergency rule for each and every one of Mubarak’s four terms in power straddling 26 years. In 2006, his regime showed a similar allergy to an independent judiciary. Mubarak’s regime disciplined two senior judges and arrested and beat dozens of their supporters when the judges had the temerity to press for an inquiry into electoral fraud during the 2005 parliamentary elections, which Mubarak’s party swept. The elections were marred by violence, several deaths and plenty of intimidation.
Just like Musharraf, Mubarak recognized the dangers of an independent judiciary – which in many Muslim countries constitutes the most potent secular opposition. But don’t hold your breath for Mubarak’s impeachment any time soon.
“Let’s hope we can learn from this in Egypt,” my dad told me as we discussed Musharraf’s resignation. “It will tell our dictators, ‘You are not more powerful than the people.’”
It will also signal to our various dictators that no matter how tight you are with Washington, no matter how well you have managed to persuade your American friends that you’re the only thing that stands between them and Islamist lunatics, they will look away when your people have had it with you.
For years, Pakistan has been home to much that ails the Muslim world: coups, dictatorship, militancy and corruption. Let’s recognize it now as home to judges and lawyers who won their stare-down with the dictator.
And let’s remind Sharif, Zardari and whoever becomes Pakistan’s next president: “Hey, those same judges and lawyers against whom Musharraf foolishly picked a fight and lost are there keeping an eye on you, too.”
To the people of Pakistan – I salute you!
Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning New York-based journalist and commentator and an international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues.
By Patrick Martin
05 June, 2009
The speech delivered by US President Barack Obama in Cairo yesterday was riddled with contradictions. He declared his opposition to the “killing of innocent men, women, and children,” but defended the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US proxy war in Pakistan, while remaining silent on the most recent Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. These wars have killed at least one million Iraqis and tens of thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories.
Obama declared his support for democracy, human rights and women’s rights, after two days of meetings with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, two of the most notorious tyrants in the Middle East. He said nothing in his speech about the complete absence of democratic rights in Saudi Arabia, or about the ongoing repression under Mubarak’s military dictatorship. In the days before the US president’s arrival at Al-Azhar University, the campus was raided by Egyptian secret police who detained more than 200 foreign students. Before leaving on his Mideast trip, Obama praised Mubarak as a “steadfast ally.”
While posturing as the advocate of universal peace and understanding, Obama diplomatically omitted any reference to his order to escalate the war in Afghanistan with the dispatch of an additional 17,000 US troops. And he tacitly embraced the policy of his predecessor in Iraq, declaring, “I believe the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.” He even seemed to hedge on the withdrawal deadline of December 2011 negotiated by the Bush administration, which he described as a pledge “to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012.”
Obama rejected the charge that America is “a self-interested empire”—a perfectly apt characterization—and denied that the United States was seeking bases, territory or access to natural resources in the Muslim world. He claimed that the war in Afghanistan was a “war of necessity” provoked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This is the same argument made by the Bush-Cheney administration at the time, which deliberately conceals the real material interests at stake. The war in Afghanistan is part of the drive by US imperialism to dominate the world’s two most important sources of oil and gas, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Basin.
There was of course a distinct shift in the rhetorical tone from the bullying “you’re either with or against us” of George W. Bush to the reassuring “we’re all in this together” of Obama. But as several commentators noted (the New Republic compared the speech line-for-line to that given by Bush to the United Nations on September 16, 2006), if you turned off the picture and the sound and simply read the prepared text, the words are very similar to speeches delivered by Bush, Condoleezza Rice and other officials of the previous administration.
The vague and flowery rhetoric, the verbal tributes to Islamic culture and the equal rights of nations, constitute an adjustment of the language being used to cloak the policy of US imperialism, not a change in substance. Obama made not a single concrete proposal to redress the grievances of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. That is because the fundamental source of this oppression is the profit system and the domination of the world by imperialism, of which American imperialism is the most ruthless.
Obama made one passing reference to colonialism, and to the US role in the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953. But in his litany of “sources of tension” in the region, he offered the same checklist as his predecessor, with the first place given to “violent extremism”, Obama’s rhetorical substitute for Bush’s “terrorism.”
The reaction to the Obama speech in the American media was across-the-board enthusiasm. Liberal David Corn of Mother Jones magazine said Obama’s great advantages were “his personal history, his non-Bushness, his recognition of US errors, his willingness to at least talk as if he wants to be an honest broker in the Mideast.”
Michael Crowley wrote in the pro-war liberal magazine New Republic, “to see him unfold his biography, to cut such an unfamiliar profile to the world, is to appreciate how much America will benefit from presenting this new face to the world.”
Perhaps most revealing was the comment by Max Boot, a neoconservative arch-defender of the war in Iraq, who wrote: “I thought he did a more effective job of making America’s case to the Muslim world. No question: He is a more effective salesman than his predecessor was.”
In his speech in Cairo, Obama was playing the role for which he was drafted and promoted by a decisive section of the US financial elite and the military and foreign policy apparatus. This role is to provide a new face for US imperialism as part of a shift in the tactics, but not the strategy, of Washington’s drive for world domination.
Nearly two years ago, former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gave his public backing to the presidential candidacy of a still-obscure senator from Illinois, holding out the prospect that as an African-American with family ties to the Muslim world, Obama would improve the worldwide image of the United States.
Brzezinski was the leading hawk in the administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter and helped instigate the political upheavals in Afghanistan in the hopes of inciting a Soviet invasion that would trap the Moscow bureaucracy in a Vietnam-style quagmire. He has remained steadily focused on what he calls the “great chessboard” of Eurasia, and particularly on oil-rich Central Asia, where a struggle for influence now rages between the United States, Russia, China and Iran.
According to Brzezinski in August 2007, Obama “recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America’s role in the world… Obama is clearly more effective and has the upper hand. He has a sense of what is historically relevant and what is needed from the United States in relationship to the world.”
Brzezinski, a ruthless defender of the interests of US imperialism, has issuing warnings to the American ruling elite of the danger of what he calls the “global political awakening.”
In one particularly pointed comment, he told the German magazine Der Spiegel, only months before he endorsed Obama, that the vast majority of humanity “will no longer tolerate the enormous disparities in the human condition. That could well be the collective danger we will have to face in the next decades.”
To call it by its right name, what the more perceptive elements in the US ruling class fear is world revolution. The effort to prevent such a social upheaval is what impelled them to install Obama in the White House and what set him on his pilgrimage to Cairo.
Copyright © 1998-2009 World Socialist Web Site
|www.chinaview.cn 2009-06-02 17:14:41|
NEW DELHI, June 2 (Xinhua) — India and Pakistan have started an annual meeting of the Indus Water Commission on issues related to the sharing of water according to the Indus River Treaty of 1960, local newspaper the Mail Today reported Tuesday.
In the three-day meeting which began Monday, the two sides are also due to discuss the sharing of Chenab river water in the backdrop of Pakistan’s allegations that India had choked the supply in August last year to fill the newly constructed Baglihar Dam in India-controlled Kashmir.
Pakistan has claimed that it had suffered crop losses because of reduced water flow and demanded compensation. India has rejected the charge.
India ignores Israel, mends ties with Pakistan
President Pratibha Patil during a foreign policy speech on Thursday ignored any mention of Israel.
Patil told joint session of the parliament’s two houses on Thursday that the newly elected government led by Premier Manmohan Singh ‘will seek to reshape our relationship’ with Islamabad.
“India has a vital interest in the stability and prosperity of our neighbors,” she said.
Also last week, describing Pakistan as a potential strategic partner, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna had said that Islamabad wanted to mend fences with New Delhi.
Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors have sunk to a new low after militants, allegedly belonging to the Pakistan-based LeT terrorist group, attacked several areas across the Indian port city of Mumbai in November 2008.
However, Patil linked new ties to the sincerity of Pakistan’s actions “to confront militants groups who launch terrorist attacks against India from its territory”.
While ignoring any mention of Israel, which has emerged as a key arms supplier, she spoke of improving ties with several counties around the globe.
Indian senior officials have frequently condemned the Israeli offensives against the Palestinian civilians in impoverished Gaza strip.
Friday, June 05, 2009
The stakes couldn’t be higher nor the opportunity hidden in this hour of seeming distress more promising. Provided we don’t prove exceptionally unlucky once more — or exceptionally stupid — the crisis in which we find ourselves is an opportunity to change the face of Pakistan, change our direction and our established modes of thinking and make up for all the lost years — years lost to mediocre leadership, both civil and military.
It is not us who have created this moment of opportunity. Indeed it lay not in our power to do so. It has come our way through a combination of factors: America’s presence in Afghanistan; the growing Taliban threat within Pakistan; and Barack Obama as US president.
It is Obama’s approach to Afghanistan which has enhanced Pakistan’s importance — whether Pakistan’s inept leadership understands this or not. Crucial to any American success in Afghanistan — anything that enables the US to make a half-dignified exit from there — is Pakistan’s role or, specifically, the role of its army.
On its own, the US is in no position to commit the kind of resources and troops that could bend Afghanistan to its will. For that it needs the active engagement of Pakistan’s 600,000 strong army. Which should explain the Obama administration’s desperation to get the Pakistan army involved in seriously fighting the Taliban.
For reasons we need not go into here, the army was reluctant to take on the Taliban. And this is how things would have remained had it not been for the Swat Taliban’s ineffable stupidity. Their aggressiveness, when a quieter posture would have suited their interests better, left the army with no choice but to shake off its lassitude and commence serious hostilities.
American pressure also played a part. But by itself this pressure, without the unerring folly of the Swat Taliban, would not have created the tipping point which led to the Swat operation.
The leadership of the Swat Taliban can now rue the consequences of their overreaching belligerence. A thousand drone attacks could not have done to them what an aroused Pakistan army is now doing. If the Pakistan army’s will to fight which it had sadly lost, now stands restored, it is because of these bearded warriors. The Pakistani nation owes them a debt of gratitude. As does the CIA and the Pentagon.
But we will be kidding ourselves if we think that what we are in is a passing storm. The Swat Taliban are on the run but they haven’t been eliminated. They have taken to the mountains and will remain a threat unless they keep being pursued. Which means that the army will have to remain in Malakand division for a long time.
FATA, especially the two Waziristans, remain no-go areas. Sooner or later the army will have to take them back. Everything is negotiable except Pakistan’s unity and integrity. There cannot be space in Pakistan for any independent emirate, which is what South Waziristan to all intents and purposes presently is.
So we are in this for the long haul. This is not going to be a summer’s campaign. The Taliban are not about to vanish overnight and the US too is not about to disappear from Afghanistan in a hurry. In truth, Pakistan is the new Cambodia, which requires some explaining.
At the height of the Vietnam war, the Americans said that there was no defeating the Viet Cong unless Cambodia, through which Viet Cong supply routes passed, was secured. The Americans went into Cambodia but the Viet Cong were not defeated. Forty years later Cambodia has still not recovered from what the US did to it.
Pakistan is not a soft state like Cambodia. Still, those at the helm of affairs will need to be extra careful, and its leaders will have to be a whole lot better than they are, to ensure that Pakistan doesn’t go Cambodia’s way.
Ideally, the civilian government should be in effective control of events. Actually, not least because of the vacuum resulting from Zardari’s inadequacy and Prime Minister Gilani’s various limitations, it is the army which is calling the shots, making the army chief, Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, the first among equals in the present setup. Small wonder if the Americans increasingly turn to him in important matters.
This is not Gen Kayani’s fault. Even so, it bears remembering that we have paid dearly for Bonapartism before and there is no reason to think the consequences are going to be any different if we succumb to its temptations once again. Even with inadequacy a hundred times greater than Zardari’s, the truth still holds that the Pakistan army acts best when it remains within its own sphere. The moment it steps outside that magic circle it invites disaster and ignominy. There is no more enduring lesson in our history than this.
There’s more to nation-building than merely seizing power. And there’s more to war than merely being on the winning side. In the present context, defeating the Taliban will never be enough unless the causes which led to their rise in the first place are eliminated.
The army has to be re-educated. Pakistan’s strategic depth lies not in the spaces of any other country but in its own capacity to build a functioning nation. If our streets and cities are clean, if we learn the virtues of public transport, if our schools and hospitals deliver, if we learn to treat the environment with respect, we will have all the strategic depth that we need.
With India for the foreseeable future we will have an uneasy relationship. It is not easy living with an elephant as your neighbour. But the old notion of India being enemy number one has been overtaken by events. In fact both countries need to grow up. There is no sense any more in keeping our strike formations pointed at each other. India’s tanks are only good for Pakistan. Our tanks are only good for India. There’s no sense in this deployment. Both countries have nuclear weapons. What more do we need for deterrence?
In the new Pakistan that we should be creating there should be no room for armed warriors dedicated to the liberation of Kashmir by force. Thus Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed may have had their uses, or relevance, once upon a time but not any more. Their time is past.
The ‘jihadi’ mindset cannot be divided into separate categories. It is of a piece. ‘Jihad’ can’t be good for one border and bad for another. It doesn’t happen that way. It was the genie of ‘jihad’ which mutated into the Taliban. If we are now up in arms against the Taliban, we will have to bid a final farewell to the original genie.
There are so many other jihads, more real than the ones consuming our energies in the past, awaiting our attention: against poverty, ignorance and disease. The Pakistan of our dreams will not be realised unless these are fought.
General Ziaul Haq’s Islam was a homage to hypocrisy. Pakistan’s soul can never be at peace unless what he wrought in the name of a spurious religiosity, including the Hudood laws, is not rolled back. The muck of the Augean stables was nothing compared to the garbage pitch-forked into our Constitution. We need to go back to the Constitution as it was in 1977. We don’t need to turn Pakistan into any kind of permissive Babylon. That just won’t do. But in social terms we need to make Pakistan a freer place. Too many taboos, too many social restrictions, are not good for the spirit of any nation.
All this needn’t remain a utopian ideal. Just as steel is forged in the heat of fire, in the stress and storm of the present conflict against the Taliban our best minds should be thinking about how best to rethink the direction of Pakistan.
Those of us who are critical of the power of the Israel Lobby have been intrigued by the fact that the Obama administration seems to be standing up to the Israelis — and, by implication, to the Israel Lobby. After all, during the election campaign Obama did all the right things to show his support of the Israel Lobby and calm the fears of some Jewish activists that he would not be sufficiently pro-Israel, including which Philip Weiss termed a “truckling” speech at the AIPAC convention.
Obama was rewarded for his apparent fealty. Around 80% of Jews voted for Obama, and Jews contributed more than 50% of the Democratic Party’s money during the campaign. His choice of Rahm Emanuel (who served with Israeli Defense Force during the 1991 Gulf War) as Chief of Staff and the presence iof seasoned pro-Israel activists like Dennis Ross in the State Department also made it seem that Obama’s policy toward Israel would not be a major departure.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration has appointed George Mitchell (who has a reputation as relatively evenhanded) as Middle East envoy and made conciliatory statements toward the Muslim world. More importantly, the administration has called for a two-state solution and pressed Israel to put a meaningful freeze on settlement expansion—including what Steven Walt terms the “fig leaf of ‘natural growth’”. (The New York Times reports that if all the currently approved West Bank housing units were actually built, it would almost double the total.)
One could be excused for being skeptical about these developments. Walt interprets the Obama administration’s behavior as entirely in keeping with the thrust of the ideas presented in The Israel Lobby. He interprets the stance of the Obama administration as a hopeful sign that the United States is at last pursuing a policy that is in the interests of both the US and Israel. But he warns that thus far, it’s all rhetoric.
Indeed, other presidents—most notably Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush—have put pressure on Israel, only to be thwarted because of the power of the Israel Lobby in Congress. There have already been murmurs of dissent in Congress about Obama’s statements among both Democrats and Republicans—the latter doubtless sensing a political opening.
It doubtless must concentrate the minds of the Obama administration to realize that Carter and Bush were one-term presidents who were heavily criticized by the Israel Lobby. Jimmy Carter was widely viewed as hostile to Israel during the 1980 election, and his policy toward Israel was the main impetus to the migration of neoconservatives to the Republican Party. Many believe that George H. W. Bush’s loss in 1992 stemmed from his attempt to rein in the settlements. (George W. Bush apparently got the message and decided not to alienate the Lobby on the settlement issue. This resulted, among other things, in his administration becoming bogged down in a needless and costly war in Iraq.)
One wonders if many American Jews feel they would have been better off with John McCain and his neocon foreign policy advisors—especially considering that McCain’s treasonous attitudes on immigration and the rest of his domestic agenda were compatible with Jewish attitudes.
The reaction to the Obama administration’s rhetoric by Jewish fanatics in Israel has been predictably over the top. National Religious Party’s leader, Science Minister Daniel Herschkowitz, compared Obama to an archetypal anti-Semite from the past: “The American demand to prevent natural growth is unreasonable, and brings to mind Pharaoh who said: Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river.”
Israeli activists are launching protests, and posters of “Obama Hussein Obama” (middle name included) in Arabic headgear with the statement “Anti-Semitic Jew Hater” are being distributed throughout Israel.
Poster of President Obama Wearing a Kaffiyeh
Philip Weiss notes that one of the protests was organized by “none other than Nadia Matar, who when we last saw her was raising [tax deductible] money in a New York synagogue and calling for Mahmoud Abbas to be assassinated.” The following statement by an activist gets at the depth of emotion involved:
I’m here to tell Obama that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people. What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God? I’m not going to stand by and let Obama, or anybody else, tell me where I can live and where I can’t live.
J Street and the Israeli left (and commentators such as Steven Walt) believe that freezing the settlements and agreeing to a viable Palestinian state are good for Israel. I have expressed doubts about this in my review of The Israel Lobby—the main point being that Israel has the power, especially with the cooperation of the US, to achieve its goal of seizing substantially all of the West Bank and relegating the Palestinians to a completely degraded status to the point that most will emigrate.
Of course, these aggressive, expansionist policies make Israel into an international pariah. But the Israel Lobby has a long and successful track record in rationalizing Israeli behavior, at least in the United States.
The more important point is that it really doesn’t matter if it’s good for Israel. The present government is the most right-wing in Israeli history, and many of its supporters are the types of fanatics putting up posters stating that Obama is an “Anti-Semitic Jew hater.”
The extremists have had a powerful say in Israeli politics, at least since the 1967 war. They are now more entrenched than ever. There is simply no way that these people are going to make major territorial concessions without a fight.
Any attempt to rein in the settlements or make a meaningful withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem or allow a viable Palestinian state would produce a civil war among Israelis. But it’s also quite clear that there is no political will in Israel for supporting such policies. The Labor Party functions mainly to collaborate with the right in order to give it a fig leaf of respectability (see also here). (Predictably, Labor leader Ehud Barak was sent to the US to present the Israeli position on the settlements.) According to my calculation, the ethno–religious–nationalist–pro-settlement right holds 92 of 120 seats in the Knesset.
As throughout Jewish history, it is the most committed members who determine the direction of the entire group. This is doubtless true of most groups, but it is especially the case with Jews where there is a long history of fanaticism. In the present case, the most fanatical members of the Jewish community are firmly in support of territorial expansion in the West Bank. They are a solid majority in Israeli politics.
I am reminded of Christiane Amanpour’s depiction of Jewish fanatics in her excellent TV documentary, God’s Jewish Warriors (now back online[!]). One of the early scenes shows a large force of Israeli soldiers forcibly removing settlers from a Hebron neighborhood. Imagine what it would be like to remove anything approaching the nearly 500,000 settlers (as of 2006) now living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.
These West Bank settlers and Jewish activists are massively ethnocentric, and they do not accept Western values like democracy and free speech. They live in a completely Jewish world where their every thought and perception is colored by their Jewish identity. Theirs is an apartheid world separated by high concrete walls from their Palestinian neighbors, where even tiny settlements are necessarily protected by the Israeli army.
At a time when Americans are constantly being encouraged by Jewish organizations like the ADL to be ever more tolerant of all kinds of diversity, these people are anything but tolerant. Calls for expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinians are commonplace among them. Many believe that God gave Jews all of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Such people may not be representative of the Jewish community, at least in America. But their numbers are large, and they have created “facts on the ground” that make any kind of reasonable settlement impossible.
In the foreseeable future, it is quite clear that no Israeli government will fail to promote their interests. And the problem will only exacerbate as time goes on because the fanatics are the ones having the children. Already, the calls for “natural growth” of the settlements are rationalized because of the high fertility of the settler population.
As Walt points out, there are indeed signs in America that the less fanatic Jews, such as J Street, may have some influence in blunting the force of the Israel Lobby or possibly even turning it against the settlement movement. However, in keeping with the general finding that the most extreme Jews tend to win the day within the Jewish community, I predict that in the end Jews will be forced to choose between supporting their extremist brethren, or become marginalized or even ostracized from the Jewish community. The great majority of activist Jews in the US will support Israel even if it continues to stand firmly behind the settlement movement.
And when push comes to shove, Jews will go along with the activists who lead the organized Jewish community. One can talk about U.S. interests or Israeli interests all one wants, but this is a fight to the finish.
I’m not sure that Obama realizes what he’s getting into.
Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.
[As I keep pointing-out, the solution to Pakistan's tribal militants remains with the tribal elders and their legal system. Pakistan can either destroy and uproot all of FATA, or else it can restore the power of the jirga that has been under systematic attack since the beginning of the "Taliban split" and trust them to do the right thing. The Mehsud tribe is sick of the destruction left in their madman's wake, just as the Wazirs are. This, or the American way, what's it going to be?]
By Mushtaq Yusufzai & Malik Mumtaz Khan
PESHAWAR/MIRAMSHAH: The Taliban on Thursday released the remaining 46 kidnapped students and two teachers of the Razmak Cadet College from the South Waziristan Agency and handed them over to a Jirga of Torikhel and Utmanzai Wazir tribes near Razmak.
The cadets and two staff members of the college were released without any condition. They were held somewhere in South Waziristan after their kidnapping from the Frontier Region (FR) Bakakhel, Tribal sources said their release was negotiated by a tribal Jirga of Torikhel and Utmanzai Wazir tribes and members of a peace committee of North Waziristan Ulema and Taliban leaders.
After the release, the students and their two teachers were brought to the Razmak Officers Mess where they were received by Political Agent North Waziristan Muttahirzeb Khan and senior military officials. The political agent also hosted a lunch for the students, their teachers and all those tribal elders and Ulema who had played a role in their release.
The Torikhel elders played a key role in the release of the kidnapped lot. It may be mentioned here that Torikhel tribesmen, living in Razmak Tehsil of North Waziristan, had signed a Rs20 million surety bond with the government, pledging to safeguard the college, students and teachers on assurance of the government that the college would not be shifted from Razmak on security concerns.
The Torikhel tribe had also raised a Lashkar, which raided a village in the adjoining South Waziristan and recovered four vehicles and luggage of the students. The Torikhel elders warned the Mehsud tribesmen of stern action if they did not release the students and teachers within three days.
Tribal sources said besides the Torikhel tribal elders, the North Waziristan Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur also played a positive role in the sordid affair. After the brief Razmak stopover, the students and teachers were airlifted to Bannu in Army helicopters to their eagerly waiting parents and relatives. Parents of some students said they could neither sleep nor eat since the kidnapping of their children. Some of the excited parents started dancing in the streets in Bannu to celebrate their sons’ release.
AFP adds: A Taliban commander confirmed that they unconditionally released all remaining students and staff of Razmak Cadet College. “We have released them in the interest of peace in the region. We accepted the request of the tribal Jirga,” Hakimullah Mehsud, spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud, told AFP by telephone.
Spokesman says channel always presents truth
RAWALPINDI: US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke on Thursday accused Geo TV of being anti-US in its policies and coverage and advised the channel to tell the truth to Pakistanis about the huge financial assistance Washington was providing for the displaced persons from the Malakand Division.
In an interview with a Geo TV correspondent after visiting an IDPs camp near Mardan, Holbrooke said the US was now the single largest donor to help the displaced persons and Geo TV should highlight this fact.
In a sarcastic tone, Holbrooke said, “Geo should not be anti-US and should now tell the truth as well and inform the people that the US had provided more than half the total help given by all the countries.”
A spokesman of Geo TV said that the channel had always informed the people of Pakistan of the truth and the criticism of Mr Holbrooke was unjustified.
A top Geo executive said the TV channel was committed to pursuing the truth and will continue to show multiple points of view as it tries to create an environment of thinking and questioning in Pakistan.
Geo also has a “social contract” with its viewers, the Geo executive said. The contract has been formulated as a guiding document and is available for all viewers and readers at http://www.geo.tv/asool, the Geo spokesman said.
PESHAWAR: A bomb exploded at a mosque in northwest Pakistan on Friday at the time of prayers and casualties were feared, police said.
The explosion happened in the town of Dir Bala in Upper Dir, a district which neighbours a region where the military has been pressing a determined offensive against Taliban militants for six weeks.
‘There was a bomb blast in the mosque. We fear casualties but we are getting information,’ Ijaz Khan, police chief in Dir Bala, told AFP.
By Nicanor Perlas
|Without warning, terrorists struck at the symbols of US economic and political power: the World Trade Center and Pentagon. US authorities estimate around 5000 dead. Together with the world, we mourn the waste of human lives and condemn the acts of terrorism. Images of people leaping from the higher floors of the World Trade Center to their death and other dramatic pictures of violent death continue to haunt us.
As we mourn, however, we are also starting to become concerned. The US, in the words of President Bush, is mobilizing for the “first war in the 21st century”. And most heads of states are supportive. Yes, justice must be pursued. Yes, terrorists must be held accountable. But there is a growing sense that this does not mean engulfing the world in war and making it hostage to a vicious cycle of escalating violence.
History teaches us. Violence begets violence and a greater capacity for more violence. In the present case, how will the US contain the retaliatory strikes of the victims of its “first war in the 21st century”? A “star wars” defense system will be totally useless against biological warfare weapons created through genetic engineering and spread on selected US targets. How about sophisticated attacks on US nuclear power plants? Or chemical poisoning of water systems? Or the poisoning of the food chain? Terrorist bombings incarnate evil in the world. A scorched-earth policy will only hasten the incarnation of greater evil in the world.
Bush announced that he will not make a distinction between terrorists and the countries which harbor them. But one can ask. Did the children and the citizens of these countries really make the decision to harbor terrorists? An Afghan, Tamin Ansary, captures the futility and destructiveness of this blind, angry approach to containing terrorism.
“Make the Afghans suffer? They’re already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that. . . . Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today’s Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They’d slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans. They don’t move too fast, they don’t even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn’t really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban–by raping once again the people they’ve been raping all this time.”
Chris Buckley, Program Officer of Christian Aid for Afghanistan, shares a similar sentiment.
“The real Afghanistan is one where 85 per cent of the population are subsistence farmers. Most Afghans don’t have newspapers, television sets or radios. They will not have heard of the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon, and most will have no idea that a group of zealots has attacked these icons of western civilisation. There isn’t even a postal service.
“Now, in these isolated villages, families are down to their last few weeks of food and already men women and children in the bulging refugee camps are dying of cholera and malnutrition. I have spoken to orphans with swollen bellies. I have spoken to men who have no money to hire trucks to escape the drought and make it to the camps. I have spoken to families who say they will wait in their villages for death.”
One-sided reporting also does not help the situation. It glorifies half-truths, thereby encouraging action on the basis of illusion. The US wants to lead the global war against terrorism. But is it morally qualified?
US policies have created terrorist groups and have resulted in de facto terrorism against hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. The CIA trained Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists groups to serve its interests in Afghan war versus the USSR. In the process, the US military resurrected jihad or “holy war”, a concept that was last used in the 10th century. If you hear jihad in the Mindanao war, you have the US military operatives to thank for proving a moral basis for terrorist kidnappings.
To hurt Bin Laden, after he turned against US interests, the US military bombed a “chemical weapons factory” in Sudan, destroying half of the country’s pharmaceutical industry. Tens of thousands of Sudan’s poor died for lack of medicines. Yet the US blocked a UN investigation of their terrorism against the Sudanese. These are terrorist acts by the US, yet we rarely get to know about them, much less to mourn the death of thousand innocent Sudanese children and parents. Are our heartaches only reserved for people of specific color and status in the world?
The US stresses the close relationship between the Taliban and Bin Laden. Yet the Taliban are the product of those US and UK-supported holy warriors once praised for stopping the USSR. There is still another bizarre connection of the Taliban with US covert military and economic policies. The military government of General Musharaf, the self-declared president of Pakistan, protects the Taliban. But the military of Pakistan have long benefited from the financial and technical support of the Pentagon and the State Department – the same departments now reeling from enemy attack and espousing a global war on terrorism.
Half-truths also whip up emotions. Imbalanced reporting is fueling division and hatred against innocent Muslims and those that look “Arabic”. In the US, Pakistani taxi drivers are being stabbed. Deli owners of Middle East origin are being forced to close shop. Mosques are being shot at and defiled with blood. This last is ironic given that the CIA often used mosques as fronts for their recruitment of Muslim fighters during their clandestine war with the Russians in Afghanistan.
Superficial media reporting is also encouraging a narrow, materialistic response to the tragedy. Trauma, especially a national one, requires sensitive handling. There has to be an in-depth, sober, objective process of taking stock of the root causes of global terrorism and developing an appropriate response to it. Without justifying the current terrorist attack on the US, we can ask the following questions.
Is the US reaping the terrorist policies it has sowed? Why the intense hatred for the US? Will the ordinary US citizen awaken to the global impacts that US government policies are having, policies that are crafted by a few in power? Are US economic policies that one-sidedly glorify competition and profit over equitable human development, resulting in massive poverty, de facto terrorist policies?
If the present hysteria for bloody revenge continues and the media continues to fan the flames of hatred, then we can only expect more evil, violence and devastation to be sown in the world.
On the individual level, humanity has been forced to cross a threshold. The sense of security is gone. US friends write. They no longer feel secure. They now join others, all over, who know that physical safety is an illusion in today’s world.
This situation forces us all to re-evaluate where our hearts are. Do we place all our trust in physical security? Or shall we now learn to live in this lack of security and the attendant sense of homelessness in order to awaken our spirit to fill the desolate void that can no longer filled with materialistic self-assurance. And what world policies will emerge if we learn to view the present tragedy from the perspective of active non-violence?
There is a bright spot in the dismal state of affairs. Global civil society organizations, including those in the US, are starting to give a different, more-balanced picture. As the independent cultural force in their societies, they are starting to counter one-sided political and economic reporting and are providing alternative analysis and action on the US tragedy. They are also bringing into discussion the quality of soul needed to confront the global trauma.
The terrorist attack in the US is tragic and needs a measured response. But an irrational, self-righteous pursuit of war, including the attendant intrusion of privacy and the possible rebirth of the totalitarian state, will be even more tragic. It will drag humanity, including government leaders who blindly follow the US war policy, into the abyss.
Please watch David Ray Griffin’s lecture at Boston University on April 11, 2009 (9/11, Time For a Second Look) . Dr. Griffin meticulously presents the case for a new investigation of the 9/11 attacks–the 9/11 Commission Report on the “official” conspiracy theory is full of contradictions and apparent lies.