Scenes from the 2003 film “Control Factor”, Universal Studios. Plot deals with mind control, behavior modification, and psychotronic warfare
Icann oversees the structure of the net
The US government has relaxed its control over how the internet is run.
The US has signed a four-page “affirmation of commitments” with the net regulator Icann, giving the body autonomy for the first time.
Previous agreements gave the US close oversight of Icann – drawing criticism from other countries and groups.
The new agreement comes into effect on 1 October, exactly 40 years since the first two computers were connected on the prototype of the net.
“It’s a beautifully historic day,” Rod Beckstrom, Icann’s head, told BBC News.
By: Abrar Saeed
ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani assured the annoyed FATA ministers, who had handed over their resignations to him Monday night, that on the return of President Asif Ali Zardari from his foreign tour, all their genuine demands including the replacement of the NWFP Governor would be met, source privy to the development disclosed.
The sources in the Government disclosed that the decision of replacing NWFP Governor Awanis Ghani was made much before the departure of President Zardari’s visit abroad and government was looking for some suitable replacement acceptable to all stakeholders including Awami National Party leading the NWFP Government.
These sources further disclosed that the new NWFP Governor would be installed in the first half of the next month and a few names were under consideration.
Premier Gilani had assured the FATA ministers who had handed over their resignations to him that all their demands would be met on return of President Asif Ali Zardari from abroad.
A source amongst the FATA MPs informed TheNation that besides removal of the Governor NWFP another major demand was regarding the launching of operation in South and North Waziristan agencies, which almost all the FATA members had opposed in their meetings with Governor NWFP and other concerned quarters.
The FATA members were of the view that instead of going for military offensive the matter should be resolved through negotiations and by empowering local Maliks and chieftains to form Lashkars to contain these miscreants; as according to them in this way they would achieve their targets without annoying general public in these areas.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has directed the concerned authorities to expedite the implementation and completion of development projects particularly those relating to electrification and infrastructure development as adequate funds had already been released for this purpose. The remaining amount of Rs. 600 million should be utilised on priority basis, he added.
The Prime Minister also directed the Minister of State for Finance Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar to oversee and monitor the implementation of the developmental work in FATA and, to ensure better coordination, hold monthly meetings with the FATA Parliamentarians.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A terrible notion has been put forward by a British newspaper. It suggests officials in Washington may be planning drone strikes on Quetta – to target key militants who they believe are based there. The story suggests this idea was discussed with the Pakistani team that has been visiting the US. It has been met at home with shock. The spectre of aerial strikes over a major city is simply unthinkable. Perhaps this is a result of Islamabad’s failure to oppose the Predator strikes in our tribal areas. It is a well-established fact, for all the official denials, that the flights that have brought death to some militants – but also many innocent people – where tacitly backed by successive governments. According to reports in the western media, there was an agreement to make a lot of noise but do nothing in more concrete terms to stop the unmanned aircraft. It is this that seems to have led to the new and still more audacious proposal to take out targets in a heavily populated area.
Our interior minister has denied the presence of Afghan Taliban leadership, including Mullah Omar, in Quetta. The problem is that the government has little credibility. We must also ask what it has done itself to track down key militant figures who many believe remain in Pakistan. Had our own security forces apprehended some of them, the case for drone attacks might have been considerably weakened. Pakistan’s request that they be carried out as joint operations is in fact an acknowledgement that they have been successful. The strike that killed Baitullah Mehsud is a prime example of this. But the expanded use of drones presents an enormous risk to all of us. Some intelligence insiders say the Taliban have been deliberately moving leaders to cities to try and keep them safe. By doing so they put all of us at greater risk. The US must be told there can be no drone strikes over heavily populated areas. Pakistan must voice the strongest opposition to this and dissuade Washington from finalizing a strategy for which the people of the country would never forgive it and indeed their own government.
PESHAWAR: Supporting the military operation against Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam, a tribal elder on Tuesday asked the government to continue the military operation against militants and demanded compensation for the displaced people from Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency.
Addressing a press conference, Akbar Khan, an elder of Malikdinkhel tribe, said: “We want to get rid of Mangal Bagh and his merciless supporters who have played havoc with our lives.” He said that people of Bara were happy with the government initiative of launching military operation as they were fed up with Mangal Bagh and his ruthless policies. He alleged that Mangal Bagh slaughtered innocent people and forced the dwellers to grow beard and offer prayers at mosques regularly. “Islam is the religion of peace and such steps are earning a bad name for the religion,” he added.
The elder accused Federal Minister for Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi of supporting Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh and his policies. He said the minister was equally responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation in Khyber Agency. He demanded of the government to make the operation target-specific and eliminate the militants as early as possible so that the people of the area could take a sigh of relief.
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: There has been no claim or evidence yet that Tahir Yuldachev, leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), died in a US drone strike in South Waziristan recently but a man claiming to be his bodyguard phoned the Radio Liberty in Prague on Tuesday to claim that the Uzbek commander was dead.
The caller, who spoke Uzbeki language and claimed he was calling from somewhere in Pakistan, maintained that Yuldachev was killed after the death of Baitullah Mahsud in a similar US missile attack. The man who phoned Radio Liberty refused to identify himself. He claimed to have served as bodyguard to Yuldachev, who is also known as Tahir Yuldash, for a year in the past and quit the IMU as he wasn’t happy with its policies.
The caller disclosed that an Uzbek militant, Abdur Rahman, had taken Yuldachev’s place as the new IMU head. He said Yuldachev failed to recover from head and leg injuries sustained by him in the missile attack.
There was no way to confirm the claim made by the identified caller. The IMU or its allied Uzbek militant group, Islamic Jehad Union, hasnít commented on this claim yet. They would be expected to deny the claim, though the militant groups in recent times have been arguing that such claims are made at the behest of their enemies to provoke some of the most wanted militants to come forward and show their presence so that they could be tracked down.
Yuldachev, stated to be in his late 30s, became the head of the IMU after the death of Juma Namagani in fighting against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan in late 2001 or early 2002. There have been sightings of Yuldachev in South Waziristan, mostly in Wana area before he and his fellow Uzbeks were expelled by Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen following intensive fighting a couple of years ago. He and his fighters then shifted to parts of South Waziristan controlled by Baitullah Mahsud. Before moving to Waziristan, Yuldachev and his Uzbek militants were living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and trying to destabilise Uzbekistan by sending fighters there across the Afghan-Uzbek and Afghan-Tajik border. Yuldachev has been producing videotapes to propagate the IMU cause against the government of President Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. In his messages, he has also been criticising the US for its alleged anti-Muslim policies and praising the al-Qaeda and Taliban for resisting the Western powers.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
WASHINGTON: Former president Pervez Musharraf said here on Monday that the US would make a “disastrous” mistake if it withdrew from Afghanistan and warned that a delay in sending more troops would be seen as a sign of weakness, the Washington Times reported.
Asked by reporters and editors at The Washington Times whether the US and its allies might be seen as weak because of the prolonged debate over whether to send more forces to Afghanistan, Musharraf said, “Yes, absolutely. … By this vacillation and lack of commitment to a victory and talking too much about casualties shows weakness in the resolve.”
He said al-Qaeda was less of a threat than the Taliban, which he said was growing in strength among ethnic Pashtuns who straddled the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We must win in Afghanistan,” Musharraf said, warning that otherwise it would become a haven again for al-Qaeda as it was before the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.
“Quitting is not an option,” he said. “We should not delay. Earlier the better.”
Musharraf said US commanders shouldn’t “pursue in areas” where they have the advantage but “draw them out” into areas where the US coalition has the upper hand.
The Taliban “move with bread and onions,” Musharraf said, and don’t require the elaborate logistical support that US troops do.
Musharraf conceded that insurgents cross the border but said that money and weapons were flowing primarily from Afghanistan into Pakistan, not the other way around.
Asked whether the ISI was still helping the Taliban in order to hedge against a US withdrawal and oppose Indian interests in Afghanistan, he denied it.
“I don’t think that is correct at all,” Musharraf said.
“ISI behaves as they are ordered by the government. They never go against government policy.”
He added, “If our attitude is that the army and ISI are the culprits, God save all of us.”
Asked about Pakistan’s previous support of the Taliban, Musharraf said that Pakistan had no other option after the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan but to recognize the Taliban because a rival movement, the Northern Alliance, was supported by India and other opponents of Pakistan. “Is it in our interest to be on the Taliban side now? No,” Musharraf said.
Musharraf also denied reports that Abdul Qadeer Khan sold nuclear weapons materials and designs to Iran, North Korea and Libya with the knowledge of the Pakistani government.
ISLAMABAD: US ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson has said that the Afghan Taliban “Quetta Shura” is high on Washington’s list, reports The Washington Post.
According to report, US officials are expressing new concerns about the role of fugitive Taliban leader Mulla Omar and his council of lieutenants in Quetta.
But US officials acknowledge they know relatively little about the remote and arid Pakistani border region, have no capacity to strike there, and have few windows into the turbulent mix of Pakhtun tribal and religious politics that has turned the area into a sanctuary for the Taliban leaders, who are known collectively as the “Quetta Shura”.
“In the past, we focused on al-Qaeda because they were a threat to us. The Quetta Shura mattered less to us because we had no troops in the region,” Patterson said. “Now our troops are there on the other side of the border, and the Quetta Shura is high on Washington’s list.” She also acknowledged that the United States is far less familiar with the vast desert region than with the northwestern tribal areas.
As Patterson put it, bluntly: “Our intelligence on Quetta is vastly less. We have no people there, no cross-border operations, no Predators.”
According to Pakistani analysts, the Taliban’s presence in the Quetta region is more discreet than it was earlier in the decade, when Omar fled there from US and Afghan military attacks. He was joined by thousands of fighters, who blended into ethnic Pakhtun neighbourhoods and refugee camps.
“Quetta is absolutely crucial to the Taliban today,” said Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani expert on the Taliban, in a telephone interview. “From there they get recruits, fuel and fertilizer for explosives, weapons, and food. Suicide bombers are trained on that side.
They have support from the mosques and madrassas.” Michael Semple, a former UN official in Afghanistan now based in Islamabad, described the Quetta region’s refugee camps as “a great reserve army” for the Taliban. He said Pakhtun tribes in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s ethnic and spiritual base, have strong ties with those on the Pakistan side. “They are intermarried, they have Pakistani ID cards, and you can’t tell the difference,” Semple said. On the other hand, he said, reports of Taliban leaders living openly in Quetta, even attending weddings, are nonsense. “They are deeply suspicious of the Pakistanis, and they have their own agenda,” he said.
This is from NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. Peter Kenyon talks to Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies about the ramifications of a military strike against Iran. Kenyon asks Inbar about potential blow back here. Here is Inbar’s response. Note: Inbar is not an extremist but a highly respected and credentialed Israel academic and expert on military strategy.
First Inbar addresses the west’s resistance to going to war.
“In Western Europe, they have a strategic culture which views military action as something anachronistic, a thing of the past. Maybe Obama administration has changed somewhat its tone, but I must say that in the Middle East, Obama is still viewed as very weak. And I don’t think that another Obama speech will impress very much the Iranian elite.”
Then he explains why the fear of terrorist attacks here is no reason not to attack Iran. We can learn to live with terrorism.
“Even 9/11 is something that America recuperated [from], you know, within a few months. The attacks on London, on Madrid, were things which those two countries were able to absorb relatively easily despite the tragedy in the loss of lives. Israel obviously has been subject to terrorism for so many years, and we have learned to live with it. So, terrorism is something that should not deter, you know, the West from attacking Iranian nuclear sites.”
In other words, to prevent Iran from developing a single bomb (Israel has 200, a rather intimidating deterrent) we should simply learn to live with more terrorism here. After all, “even 9/11 is something that America recuperated [from] within a few months.”
That is true. “America recuperated.” Just not the thousands of families who lost their sons, daughters, parents or siblings.
By: Kanchan Lakshman
The madrassa (religious seminary) has long been a principal component of the supply chain of Islamist extremism in Pakistan. Most much-publicised but altogether half-hearted attempts at fixing this problem have inevitably failed, substantially for want of any real commitment to reform. The Pakistani madrassa, consequently, continues to provide foot-soldiers for the jihad in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere in India, as well as in Afghanistan, Iraq and other theatres of Islamist extremism and terrorism across the world.
Successive Governments, both at the federal and provincial levels, have announced reforms of the madrassa system, to and bring them at par with the mainstream education system. These have, however, inevitably run into a dead-end, as they come up against opposition from the various organisations controlling the seminaries, as also because of the lack of any serious intent within the administration.
The Wafaq-ul-Madaris, Pakistan’s main confederacy of seminaries, which runs over 8,200 institutions, has been at the forefront of opposition to madrassa reform, along with the Tanzeemaat Madaris Deeniya and Tanzim-ul-Madaris Ahle Sunnat. The ulema (religious leaders) claim that the reform process is intended to curb the ‘independence and sovereignty’ of madrassas and is, consequently, not acceptable. A majority of the seminaries source funds from local businessmen, domestic and foreign religious foundations, charities and the Pakistani Diaspora. With financial independence and enormous social and political power, seminaries in Pakistan are entirely unwilling to accept any oversight by the Government.
Most of the officially estimated 15,148 seminaries (unofficial estimates range between 20,000 and 25,000, with some approximations going up to as much as 40,000) in Pakistan, with an enrolment of about 1.5 million students, have squarely rejected tentative reform proposals – essentially requiring the registration of madrassas and the maintenance of accounts, including records of domestic and foreign donors, as well as the teaching of ‘secular’ subjects as part of the curriculum – initiated by the Government in 2003. They maintain that the proposed reforms are a conspiracy to secularise or de-Islamize the education system at the behest of the United States.
Among the objectives of proposed reforms is to register, regularise and supervise the operation of madrassas within the ‘mainstream’ education system, and to introduce a more secular and modern curriculum. In the national capital Islamabad itself, however, at least 18 seminaries have, according to reports on September 10, 2009, outright refused to register themselves with the Government, claiming that they will cooperate only if they are contacted through the madrassa body, the Tanzim-ul-Madaris. Official sources told Dawn that 122 madaris or religious schools have, however, been registered with the capital’s District Administration. The Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, Amir Ali Khan, stated that he had directed the Auqaf Department to invite representatives of the 18 openly non-compliant religious schools for a meeting to persuade them to register, since there is no existing law through which the Government can force religious schools to do so. In fact this has been the story with many an attempt at seminary reform over the years. Absent a system of penalties, there is not much that the state can do. For the record, Jang reported on June 18, 2009, that the Government had discovered that there were 260 seminaries in Islamabad, out of which at least a dozen were altogether illegal.
Saleem H. Ali of the University of Vermont, in an empirical study of madrassas in Pakistan (under a grant from the United States Institute of Peace), conducted a survey of every single madrassa in one district of rural Punjab, Ahmedpur, and found that only 39 out of 363 surveyed madrassas were registered with the Government. This study also found evidence of a link between a large number of seminaries and sectarian violence, particularly in rural Punjab. Analysis of Police arrest data for sectarian attacks between Shias and Sunnis clearly shows that “sectarian activity in areas of greater madrassa density per population size was found to be higher, including incidents of violent unrest.” Furthermore, the number of madrassas has increased over a ten year period by around 30 per cent, and in some areas they are competing with Government and secular private schools for enrolment.
In the Punjab province, there is currently an impasse between the Auqaf and Education departments and administrators of five seminary bodies on the issue of constituting religious boards on the pattern of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education. Office bearers of the five establishments, including Tanzim-ul-Madaris (Barelvi), Wafaq-ul-Madaris (Deobandi), Wafaq-ul-Madaris (Shia), Wafaq-ul-Madaris (Ahle Hadith) and Rabita-ul-Madaris (Jamaat-e-Islami), are insisting that they be given the status of a secondary board to conduct exams by themselves and issue certificates/degrees equivalent to Matriculation/SSC (Secondary School Certificate) without any Government interference. The Government had offered to allow the seminaries to continue issuing their own certificates of religious education like Dars-e-Nizami, Hafiz Quran and Nazra, The Nation reported. However, the Government has demanded that students of these seminaries also study subjects like Mathematics, English and Pakistan Studies, and appear in the respective proposed boards for SSC at par with the students passing examinations in Government and recognised private schools. The Government has “also offered teachers’ employment in accordance with Government standardised scale in the three subjects along with computer labs. It has also agreed that the appointment of teachers will be made in consultation with the proposed religious boards.”
The consolidation of radical madaris, however, continues apace. A report in London’s The Telegraph stated that the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has acquired a 4.5-acre compound outside Bahawalpur city in Punjab province in addition to the madrassa named Usman-o-Ali inside the city. While the local authorities acknowledge that the group has “spread out of the city, they deny that the new acquisition is anything more than a cattle farm to supply milk to the Jaish seminarians.” The city, with a population of 408,395 (1998 Census) and counting, already has an estimated 1,000 seminaries. Bahawalpur, where the JeM is headquartered, has for years been “a centre for ideological indoctrination and terrorist planning due to its isolation.” Daily Times reported on September 14, 2009, that the group “openly runs an imposing madrassa, Usman-o-Ali, in the centre of the town, where it teaches its extremist interpretation of Islam to hundreds of children every year.” Jaish’s new compound, approximately five kilometres outside Bahawalpur at Chowk Azam, on the main road to Karachi, is much larger, The Telegraph has reported. It said there is evidence “it could contain underground bunkers or tunnels, adding that it has a fully-tiled swimming pool, stabling for over a dozen horses, an ornamental fountain and even swings and a slide for children – contradicting claims by the group and Pakistani officials that the facility is simply a small farm to keep cattle. On the inside walls, extremist inscriptions are painted, including a warning to “Hindus and Jews”, with a picture of Delhi’s historic Red Fort.” Unsurprisingly, the local administration (Bahawalpur also has a huge cantonment) has chosen to overlook the issue. Mushtaq Sukhera, the Regional Police Officer for Bahawalpur, while confirming that both facilities belong to the JeM, claimed that “there’s nothing over there except a few cows and horses… No militancy, no military training is being imparted to students (at Usman-o-Ali),” he said, adding, “There is no problem with militancy (in south Punjab), there’s no problem with Talibanisation. It’s just media hype.” Some security personnel, however, were quoted by Daily Times as stating that the new facility is a “second centre of terrorism” designed to complement the existing Jaish madrassa in the middle of Bahawalpur.
Having failed over the decades to strengthen the mainstream education system, Governments are now declaring that the madrassa system is doing great ‘social service’ by providing free education to more than 1.5 million students in Pakistan, articulating the dangerous viewpoint that there is no alternative to the seminary system, both in terms of its large reach across the country and the state’s own failure to generate adequate financial and other resources for a secular and modern education system.
The failure at reforming the seminary system and the state’s inability to have a secular pedagogy also has to do with Pakistan’s power structure. It is the feudal-cleric bloc which wields enormous power and patronage across the country and this bloc has an entrenched vested interest in persevering with an education system which supports extremism and militant violence. In addition, the articulation of Pakistan’s identity in terms of an exclusivist and dogmatic religious state has, over the years, consolidated the system of madrassa education.
In July 2009, the Pakistan Government informed the United States that it would not close the madrassa system of education in the country, and it has become a habit for regimes in Pakistan to whine about the lack of money for social sector reforms. However, there is now increasing evidence that Pakistan clearly lacks intent to reform a system of education that essentially teaches a brand of Islam which produces suicide bombers and militant youth. The Federal Government has virtually shelved a US-aided, multi-million dollar plan to reform seminaries considered nurseries of terrorism, as it has failed to garner the support of clerics. The Government had initiated the project in 2002 in an attempt to introduce a secular curriculum in the seminaries. The project sought to introduce computer skills, science, social studies and English into the predominantly religious curriculum at thousands of madrassas across Pakistan. “We had a huge budget of Rs. 5,759 million (USD 71 million) to provide madrassa students with formal education but we could not utilise it,” Education Ministry spokesman Atiqur Rehman disclosed. The Government has failed to meet the target of reforming around 8,000 seminaries within five years. “We reached 507 madrassas only, spending Rs. 333 million and the rest of the [money] – Rs. 5,426 million – has lapsed,” Rehman said. “The Interior Ministry held talks with various madrassas… but many of them refused to accept the Government’s intervention,” said Mufti Gulzar Ahmed Naeemi, a senior official of the Sunni clerics’ alliance, the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat.
There is a school of thought in Pakistan which fervently believes that, since Government schools have not had any comparable measure of success with nation-building, and since there is also a severe ‘resource crunch’, madrassas, which purportedly fill a social void by offering free education and sustenance for the vast majority of the poor in the countryside, need to be engaged and also encouraged. The state appears to have no immediate interest in diminishing recruitment into the seminaries and has, on the contrary, decided to engage with the madrassa system, without any process of internal reform, to take advantage of its vast physical and financial infrastructure. That these schools are also the base of an intense radicalisation of impressionable minds is knowingly ignored.
For long considered a nursery for the global jihad, the madrassa system in Pakistan is closely linked to the country’s foreign policy objectives in Kashmir and Afghanistan, which have dominated the country’s historiography since its creation. Attempts to control or neutralize the growing threat from this supply line of extremism would undermine an entire spectrum of Islamists in their present positions of power, their memberships of the national Parliament and State Assemblies, and their influence across the countryside.
The failure of madrassa reform has also a great deal to do with fear. The feudal-clerical elite (with considerable help from state agencies) have captured a great deal of grass-root support and, more ominously, linkages – indeed controlling interests – in many of the jihadi groups. There is a latent threat that too hard a push release even greater terrorist violence than is already manifested across Pakistan.
The central problem of curricular reform has been ignored for decades in Pakistan. Instead of pluralistic interpretations of Islam, an exclusionary doctrine is taught in most of the seminaries. These doctrines, Mustafa Qadri opines, have developed to the extent that “today the more fundamentalist, puritanical views of Salafist Islam, while not inherently synonymous with extremism, are the most organised, vocal and hence powerful religious voices in Pakistani politics and society. They have historically been the greatest apologists for Taliban violence, especially during their rule in Afghanistan before September 2001.”
Seven years after its inception, the Madrassa Reform Project has been an unambiguous failure. While there is certainly resistance and even confrontation at the ground level, ambivalence and a reluctance to implement the reforms dominate the state’s agencies and initiatives. The collapse of the seminary reform project is a clear indication that the power of the extremist infrastructure across the country has not diminished in the post 9/11 era, and that the state lacks both the will and the capacity to dismantle this radical network.
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution
CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA, TNN
Pakistan has been put on a US legislative terror watch.
Effectively implicating Pakistan in acts of terrorism in the region and across the world, including against India, US lawmakers have imposed stringent conditions on Pakistan (requiring monitoring of compliance by Washington) while okaying a five-year, $ 7.5 billion dole for Islamabad till 2014.
The conditions, which should settle some unease in New Delhi that the US is blind to terrorism affecting India, include six-monthly evaluations by Washington of efforts by Pakistan to A) disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other extremist and terrorist groups in the FATA and settled areas; B) eliminate the safe havens of such forces in Pakistan; C) close terrorist camps, including those of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed; D) cease all support for extremist and terrorist groups; and (E) prevent attacks into neighboring countries.
Although there is no specific reference to India in keeping with Pakistan’s plea that any India-specific conditions would be humiliating, the so-called Kerry-Lugar bill leaves no doubt that Islamabad risks losing US aid if it keeps up its terror campaign against India. Underscoring the language in the entire bill is the premise that Pakistan has been using terrorism as state policy against India, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said recently.
Section 203 of the Senate Bill S. 1707 enjoins the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan has made progress on matters such as "ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against the United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighboring countries."
The Secretary of State also has to certify that Pakistan is stopping terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed from operating in the territory of Pakistan, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighboring countries, dismantling terrorist bases of operations, including in Quetta and Muridke, and taking action when provided with intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.
Muridke is widely known to be a terrorist pilgrim center with jihadis of all hues and vintage gathering there for congregations patronized by the Pakistani intelligence establishment. Quetta is where western agencies suspect Pakistan is harboring the Taliban shura headed by the one-eyed Mullah Omar.
The legislation has caused much disquiet in Pakistan, where there has been long-time denial of its practice of terrorism, despite telephone and intelligence intercepts implicating its top generals, including Pervez Musharraf and Parvez Ashfaq Kiyani, in terrorism. In more recent times, Pakistani military personnel and special forces’ commandos seconded to jihadi groups, such as Ilyas Kashmiri, have been killed in US drone strikes, exposing the nexus between the Pakistani military and terrorism, and US knowledge of the connection and its intent to act.
Proxies of Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment are now pillorying the Zardari-Gilani civilian government for submitting to excessive US scrutiny and oversight, saying it is ‘insulting’ and sends a wrong message to the world. In fact, according to some reports from Pakistan, the military itself is angry about the bill, which clearly seeks to extend Pakistani civilian control over the country, and has flagged it for discussion.
Section 302 of the bill enjoins the Secretary of State, in consultation with Secretary of Defense, to assess and report to Congress every six months whether "the Government of Pakistan exercises effective civilian control of the military, including a description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and parliament exercise oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, the process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration."
Pakistan has not escaped US oversight of its nuclear proliferation activities either, although, in keeping with Islamabad’s sensitivities, there is no specific mention of A.Q.Khan. Section 203 (C) of the bill requires the Secretary of State to certify that the Government of Pakistan "is continuing to cooperate with the United States in efforts to dismantle supplier networks relating to the acquisition of nuclear weapons-related materials, such as providing relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals associated with such networks."
The Secretary is also required to provide a six-monthly assessment to Congress of "whether assistance provided to Pakistan has directly or indirectly aided the expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, whether by the diversion of United States assistance or the reallocation of Pakistan’s financial resources that would otherwise be spent for programs and activities unrelated to its nuclear weapons program."
Halutz — the first career air force officer to lead Israel’s military and a vocal proponent of the use of airpower — oversaw a three-pronged aerial strategy: saturation bombing of southern Lebanon; punitive airstrikes aimed at civilian areas in Beirut deemed to support Hizb Allah politically; and destruction of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and manufacturing base.
According to the Israeli government’s own official inquiry — which criticized the country’s leadership for its failure to win the war while remaining utterly silent on atrocities against Lebanese civilians — Halutz’s “personal involvement with decision making within the army and in coordination with the political echelon was dominant.”
Before describing these three policies in detail, it’s necessary to deal with the most common excuse for civilian casualties, namely that Hizb Allah fighters “hide behind” Lebanese civilians while attacking Israel, and that Israel’s army is a moral one that does everything possible to avoid hurting non-combatants.
“… if you nevertheless want to know what I feel when I release a bomb, I will tell you: I feel a light bump to the plane as a result of the bomb’s release. A second later it’s gone, and that’s all. That is what I feel.” -Dan Halutz, interview with Ha’aretz, 21 August 2002
Extensive onsite investigations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) found that the pattern of bombings and civilian casualties could not be dismissed as accidents nor excused by alleged “human shielding” by Hizb Allah fighters (though both AI and HRW have extensively criticized Hizb Allah as well). Both organizations concluded that Halutz’s forces were bombing without regard to whether they were hitting civilians or fighters, and in some instances targeted civilians and civilian objects directly, both of which are war crimes under international law.
These reports discredited Israel’s main excuse for these casualties, namely that they were the unfortunate but inevitable outcome of Hizb Allah fighters hiding amongst Lebanese civilians . HRW investigated over two dozen incidents that accounted for over 150 of the 500 deaths that had taken place at the time; in none of them was there evidence of Hizb Allah military activity nearby. As Peter Bouckaert, HRW’s emergencies director, wrote:
“Israel’s claims about pin-point strikes and proportionate responses are pure fantasy. As a researcher for Human Rights Watch, I’ve documented civilian deaths from bombing campaigns in Kosovo and Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. But these usually occur when there is some indication of military targeting … In Lebanon, it’s a different scene. Time after time, Israel has hit civilian homes and cars in the southern border zone, killing dozens of people with no evidence of any military objective. My notebook overflows with reports of civilian deaths.” [emphasis added]
Similarly, Mitch Prothero, an American journalist who has worked throughout the Middle East, pointed out that for a guerrilla organization such as Hizb Allah, hiding among its civilian constituents makes little political or military sense:
“… the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah ‘hiding within the civilian population’ clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don’t know what they’re talking about. Hezbollah doesn’t trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well — with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.”
1. Turning the South into a Free-Fire Zone
“Nothing is safe [in Lebanon], as simple as that.” -Dan Halutz, Ha’aretz, 14 July 2006
The towns and villages of southern Lebanon bore the brunt of Halutz’s bombing campaign, with the most notorious incident being the 30 July midnight bombing of a building in Qana that killed dozens of civilians in their sleep, more than half of them children. There was no evidence of fighting or Hizb Allah military activity in the area at the time (video below; warning, graphic images).
Apologists for Israeli policies often point out that Israeli forces warned Lebanese civilians by dropping leaflets from jets before leveling these villages, as if giving a warning is tantamount to a license to bomb. HRW executive director Ken Roth excoriated the policy, accusing Israel of turning south Lebanon into a “free-fire zone”:
“The IDF seemed to assume that, because it gave warnings to civilians to evacuate southern Lebanon, anyone who remained was a Hizbullah fighter. When the IDF saw a civilian home or vehicle that Hizbullah might use, it often bombed, even if, as in Kana, Srifa, Marwahin, or Aitaroun, there was no evidence that Hizbullah was in fact using the structure or vehicle at the time of attack. In weighing the military advantage of an attack against the civilian cost, the IDF seemed to assume no civilian cost, because all the ‘innocent’ civilians had supposedly fled. Through these calculations, the IDF effectively turned southern Lebanon into a free-fire zone.” [emphasis added]
Moreover, even those who heeded the IDF’s threats and fled faced the danger of being bombed on the roads, according to AI:
“Particularly disturbing is a leaflet of 7 August which announced that ‘any vehicle of any kind travelling south of the Litani river will be bombarded, on suspicion of transporting rockets, military equipment and terrorists.’ This flagrantly breaches the principle of distinction and the presumption of civilian status: an attack carried out in implementation of this threat would have been an indiscriminate attack and may also have been a direct attack on civilians.
… At any rate, escaping was no guarantee of safety. Israeli forces attacked civilians who had left their villages and were travelling north in response to instructions from the Israeli military authorities, delivered through air-dropped leaflets and other means. Israel has provided no adequate explanation for specific instances of the killing of unarmed civilians in such circumstances.” [emphasis added]
Israeli jets and drones rocketed civilians vehicles fleeing northward, including ambulances. In one of the better-known cases, Israeli aircraft on 23 July attacked two clearly marked Lebanese Red Crescent ambulances that were carrying civilian victims of a previous airstrike, wounding six medical workers and further injuring the three patients, one of whom, Ahmed Fawaz (picture below), lost his leg:
“Army chief of staff Dan Halutz has given the order to the air force to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings in the Dahaya district (of Beirut) in response to every rocket fired on Haifa” -senior air force officer, quoted by Israeli Army Radio
Haret Hreik (in the Dahiya district) is a large, densely populated, predominantly Shi’i, neighborhood in southern Beirut that was repeatedly bombed by Halutz’s forces during the war. Haret Hreik was far from the front lines but singled out for reprisals by Israel because of its inhabitants’ alleged political support for Hizb Allah. Analysis of satellite imagery taken before and after the war [download here -- warning: large file] shows that at least 178 buildings — most of them multi-story structures — were destroyed in the neighborhood during the war.
“If the [captured Israeli] soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.” -Dan Halutz, interview with Channel 10, 12 July 2006
According to one Israeli analyst and former paratrooper, “From the first day of the campaign, Halutz advocated attacking infrastructure beyond southern Lebanon to pressure the Lebanese government to counter Hezbollah.” During the war, Israeli jets systematically bombed Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure, including 3 airports; 14 power generation stations; 120 water pumping, storage, and purification facilities; 52 medical buildings, including 2 hospitals; and a sewage treatment plant. Some 127 factories, 80 bridges, and 94 roads were partially or completely destroyed. Lebanese officials estimated that the war cost some $US 3.5 billion worth of damage, a massive toll on the country’s economy.
The destruction of infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – also made it extremely difficult for civilians to flee bombing raids, for ambulances to evacuate the wounded, and for aid to reach trapped populations.
AI’s Executive Deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore described attacks on Lebanese infrastructure as “war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy” (AI’s full study of infrastructure attacks is available here).
The most common excuse for these attacks, in addition to notions of unfortunate error and alleged Hizb Allah shielding, was the “dual use” argument: that since a particular object could hypothetically be used by Hizb Allah, its destruction was therefore militarily necessary and justified. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon pointed out the absurdity of this argument in its report:
“Israel justified its attacks on the civilian infrastructure by arguing its hypothetical use by Hezbollah. The Commission appreciates that some infrastructure may have had ‘dual use’ but this argument cannot be put forward for each individual object directly hit during this conflict. By using this argument, IDF effectively changed the status of all civilian objects by alleging that they might be used by Hezbollah. Further, the Commission is convinced that damage inflicted on some infrastructure was done for the sake of destruction.” [emphasis added]
One of the most infamous incidents was the bombing of the Jiyyeh power station 30km south of Beirut on 13 and 15 July, creating a massive oil slick polluting over 170km of Lebanon’s coastline that will require at least a decade to clean up. The extent of the spill can be seen in this satellite image: