The Egyptian Gazette
CAIRO – The Muslim Brotherhood will not field a candidate for Egypt’s presidency and will not support any member, who runs for the post, the group’s chief said on Wednesday, warning that any Brotherhood member who defies this decision could be dismissed.
|Supreme Guide of Brotherhood Mohamed Badei|
“I repeat it again the Brotherhood will not nominate any member for presidency. Those who will run for the post are expected to be dismissed from the group,” Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei said. He added that the Brotherhood “neither manipulates politics nor resort to lies”.
“We have a big organisational force due to our popularity among the Egyptian people,” Badie said.
Badei at a rally in the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag, dismissed claims that his group receives foreign funding. “Those who propagate such accusations have to provide evidence,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organised political group, has been seeking to allay fears of secular and liberal groups as well as the Christians and the West in regard to an Islamist ascent to power.
Badei has drawn criticism in recent months for his view that women and Christians should not be allowed to serve as president of Egypt and for backing the incorporation of Sharia (Islamic law) punishment into Egyptian criminal law.
The Parties’ Affairs Committee this week approved the Brotherhood’s new Freedom and Justice Party.
For decades, the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide and senior members were targets of the now-defunct State Security Agency. They now have offices in Cairo and other governorates and are holding conferences freely.
[I picked-up a very nasty little "Trojan" from the govt. "Prevent" site a couple of years ago, so I killed the link in the (pdf) given below.]
For the Home Office, its recently relaunched ‘Prevent’ strategy (pdf) was its third attempt at creating an effective counter-extremism strategy.
Whilst previous efforts were often hamstrung by a lack of focus, version three was supposed to avoid that mistake. For example, rather than being aimed blunderbuss fashion at British muslims in general, Prevent 3 makes clear that:
“In future Prevent will be prioritised according to the risks we face and not (as has been the case) on the basis of demographics.”
Government efforts now have three objectives:challenging extremist ideology, supporting vulnerable people and working with key sectors (including the internet).
This should give the strategy the kind of structure it often lacked in the past. Moreover, key areas where radicalisation occurs, particularly online and in universities, are specifically named, helping to ensure they will receive the attention they require.
Just as importantly, Prevent will no longer adopt the naive and short-sighted tactic of thinking that the government can identify and use non-violent extremists who can be effectively deployed against violent extremists:
“Neither government departments nor the police will rely on extremists to address the risk of radicalisation.”
It is one of the government’s less well kept secrets that it had to fight tooth and nail with certain civil servants to get this line inserted into the policy.
While Theresa May and David Cameron won the day over working with extremists, they have been forced to make some other obvious concessions.
Rather than trying to ban the revolutionary Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Conservatives’ only real manifesto pledge related to counter-extremism policy - pdf) the government will now focus on banning terrorist groups but countering the arguments of non-terrorist, but nonetheless extremist, Islamist groups, just as the BNP’s racism is already challenged:
“Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home secretary has the power to proscribe groups currently ‘concerned in terrorism’. This power aims, inter alia, to curtail radicalising activity by terrorist organisations.
“It should be the role of government to address some of the claims made by terrorist and extremist groups, for example the assertion that the West is at war with Islam and that it is deliberately mistreating muslims around the world.
“Challenging other parts of terrorist and extremist narratives is at least partly a role for government; but can equally be a task better addressed by people and organisations in communities in this country whose own experiences often best disprove the claims made for and about them.”
This is a victory for common sense as the manifesto pledge to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir was simply not possible under British law which (rightly) only allows groups involved in terrorism to be banned.
Unfortunately, there are also a number of areas in Prevent 3 that are less convincing. In particular, the key fault lines in the battles between Cameron and his opponents can still be traced in a number of areas that lack adequate detail to make the policy effective. Neither side appears to have been willing to concede defeat, leading to a number of ugly compromises which those drafting the policy have tried to disguise with vagueness.
The most prominent example of this is as follows. Although Cameron opposed usage of the term ‘Islamist’ back in 2007, by the time he gave his Munich Speech in February 2011, he had become convinced of its value for giving focus to counter-extremism policy.
“We have got to get to the root of the problem, and we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.”
“Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority. At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia. Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values.
“It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other.”
Cameron’s stance runs directly counter to that of the government’s own ‘Research, Information and Communications Unit’ (RICU – based in the Home Office) which had previously issued guidance (pdf) warning civil servants:
“The term needs to be used with care so that community sensitivities are not offended and negative stereotypes are not reinforced among non-Muslim audiences through the perceived linking of Islam with terrorism…
“Try not to use the term ‘Islamist’ as a descriptor for terrorists; or ‘Islamism’ as a descriptor for terrorism.”
Earlier guidance from RICU (pdf) was even more strident, advising against using ‘Islamist’ or ‘Islamism’ at all. The result of this clash is that Prevent 3 uses the term ‘Islamism’, but adopts a definition of it which completely undermines its usefulness.
“Islamism is a philosophy which, in the broadest sense, promotes the application of Islamic values to modern government. There are no commonly agreed definitions of ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamist’, and groups or individuals described as Islamist often have very different aims and views about how those aims might be realised.
“Some militant Islamists would endorse violence or terrorism to achieve their aims. Many Islamists do not.”
This definition is so broad as to even includes devout Muslims who are inspired by their Islamic values to support secular democracy. Such people are clearly not an appropriate focus for a counter-extremism strategy. This leads to the suspicion that the document’s definition of Islamism is the deeply unsatisfactory result of a compromise between Number 10 and RICU.
Whilst Prevent 3 enshrines the goal of opposing Islamist ideology, attempts to do so are holed below the waterline by the document’s list of definitions. It is simply far too broad for effective policy development. Even more dangerously, it will foster suspicions that Prevent is simply aimed at depoliticising Muslims, not opposing a specific political ideology. This risks decreasing public faith in the strategy as a whole.
Similarly, the Prevent 3 is focused purely on countering ‘terrorism’, not (as it was before) the broader concept of ‘violent extremism’. At the same time, it advises that extremism will now be countered where it may be a precursor to terrorism.
“Preventing people becoming terrorists will require a challenge to extremist ideas where they are used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.”
However, it also adopts a definition of ‘extremism’ which will confuse any attempts to do so:
“Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.”
This definition has insufficient detail to serve any practical use. For example, does it include people who support the rule of law and the rights of minorities in the UK, but who advocate the creation of a state overseas in which homosexuals, adulterers and apostates are all killed?
Most people would include this in their definition of extremism – and such beliefs have certainly been a precursor to terrorism in many cases – but the failure to state this categorically is a serious mistake.
By using definitions of ‘extremism’ and ‘Islamism’ which neither include all the phenomena that should be included nor exclude all those that should not, there is a real risk that civil servants will understand these terms as they please. Who they then choose to empower (or challenge) risks bearing little resemblance to what Cameron and May intended.
This raises the suspicion that the definitions listed in Prevent 3 have been left deliberately vague. Whether this was simply because those drafting it didn’t understand these concepts, or whether the vagueness was a sop to those civil servants who opposed their inclusion in Prevent at all, may never be known.
What is clear, however, is that Prevent workers reading this document will receive neither clear guidance about what Islamist extremism is nor how they should challenge it.
Therefore, while the latest version of Prevent is a welcome evolution of the work Labour did in the past, these woolly definitions may be its Achilles heel. There is little point preparing a lengthy counter-extremism strategy if its careless language means its goals cannot be conveyed to those tasked with achieving them.
The announcement could be seen as a snub to the U.S. and an attempt to bolster the military’s popularity following the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reiterated that the army has ceased its training relationship with the U.S. and has restricted the scope of intelligence sharing. He also said American drone attacks are unacceptable and declined U.S. calls for an operation in the militant-infested North Waziristan tribal area.
Kayani’s positions were outlined in an unusually detailed statement issued Thursday after a meeting with his top commanders.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) – Taliban fighters stormed a checkpoint, killing eight Pakistani soldiers in an Afghan border region that the army previously said it had cleared of insurgents, while two bomb attacks elsewhere in the northwest on Thursday killed six civilians, officials said.
The attacks showed the strength of militant groups along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan despite Pakistani army offensives against them and U.S. drone-fired missile strikes. After four years of offensives, there are few signs the authorities have the upper hand.
The Taliban raid on the army checkpoint in the Marabi area of South Waziristan happened late Wednesday and two intelligence officials said 10 insurgents who took part in the attack also were killed when soldiers returned fire. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with their organization’s policy.
The deadliest of the two bomb attacks Thursday occurred on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar in the Matani area, where several anti-Taliban militias are based.
The blast hit a passenger vehicle, killing four people, including a woman and a child, said Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan. The target was not immediately clear, but on Sunday another blast in Matani killed six people.
Pakistan supports anti-Taliban militias, which have been relentlessly targeted by the insurgents.
Two other people were killed and three were wounded in a second roadside bombing against a vehicle carrying food supplies for a paramilitary camp in the Upper Dir district of Saber Killy, said police officer Rehmat Khan. Upper Dir saw several large-scale militant attacks last week.
In 2009, the army launched a major operation against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan. The army eventually declared victory in that operation but many of the insurgents fled to nearby areas, including neighboring North Waziristan.
This week, the U.S. launched five missile strikes that hit both tribal regions. A pair of drone-fired strikes on Wednesday killed 23 people in North Waziristan.
North Waziristan is the usual target for U.S. missiles because it is home to more groups who focus on fighting in neighboring Afghanistan and because the Pakistani military has resisted U.S. appeals to launch an offensive there. The army has preferred to pursue militant groups staging attacks on Pakistani soil.
Islamabad officially protests the missile strikes as violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty, but it is widely believed to have secretly aided the program.
The May 2 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a garrison city in Pakistan’s northwest, infuriated Pakistani lawmakers who saw it as another violation of their sovereignty. Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution demanding the missile strikes end, but the U.S. has ignored it.
In Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province on Thursday, two police officers died and one was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded next to their vehicle in the Dasht area of Mastung district, local administrator Ismail Khan said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency that aims to gain the province more independence and a greater share of the money from its natural resources.
Associated Press writers Anwarullah Khan in Khar, Riaz Khan in Peshawar and Abdul Sattar in Quetta contributed to this report.
[Hundreds of uniformed Afghan commandos have overrun Upper Dir; the uniformed terrorists killed in the Mehran attack were described as Uzbeks and Afghans. There is no way that Pakistan's military leadership does NOT know who is training and equipping these Afghan Special Forces/commandos. Why they put-up with these deadly attacks is unclear, surely it cannot all be for the sake of maintaining the flow of American dollars. Whatever the motive for silent submission, it is certain that both Pak and US armies are facilitating the attacks coming from Afghanistan by looking the other way.]
|Written by Prof. Ali Sukhanver|
|Who is responsible for the recent worsening situation along the Pak-Afghan borders; Taliban, NATO forces, the Afghan government or the foreign sponsored miscreants ; surely not a difficult question to be answered. The so-called militant-attacks on a security check post in Upper Dir on the first of June, 2011 continued for more than thirty six hours and ended taking lives of many innocent local people as well as of people from security forces.The security forces of Pakistan did all their best to crush the insurgency and now the situation is under complete control. Meanwhile, a 5,000-strong lashkar consisting of the local people has been formed in Upper Dir which will conduct joint operations with the military against the insurgents. The members of the lashkar vowed to establish peace at all costs.|
The unity of time and action always plays an important role in occurrence of any incident. The important thing to be noted with reference to the recent Dir insurgency is that the attacks on border check-post came at the time when U.S is stressing Pakistan to do more against militants.
A few days back the NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen also stressed Pakistan to intensify the war on Pak-Afghan border. On the other hand the western media as well as the Indian media is reporting the incident as a militant attack but the reality seems altogether different. Various political and defence sections of Pakistan are taking these attacks as a very serious type of engineered insurgency, an attempt to violate the geographical boundaries of Pakistan; an effort nothing different from that which the US guided NATO drones have been doing for the last many years.
Moreover this attack could be taken as an attempt to distort the Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir while conveying his concerns to the Ambassador of Afghanistan stressed the need for stern action by the Afghan Army, US and NATO/ISAF forces in the area against the miscreants and their hideouts in Afghanistan. He also condemned organizational support provided to the terrorists from within the Afghan boundaries.
Here the question arises; who were the attackers, Taliban militants or Islamist extremists or miscreants patronized by the so-called warriors of war against terrorism. According to the details provided by the media the well-equipped attackers were wearing military and police uniforms and they were 200 to 300 in number. They were in no manners tribal warriors; they were looking like trained military commandos.
The involvement of attackers of the same commando get-up was also noted in the Mehran naval base attacks at Karachi and GHQ Islamabad as well. It would be nothing but a criminal ignorance if incidents like that of Upper Dir are considered simply an act of Taliban militancy and Islamist extremism. There could be so many other probabilities behind the scene. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, talking to the Afghan Islamic Press disowned the attacks in Upper Dir district.
He said, “We have nothing to do with acts of sabotage in Pakistan. We are facing a big enemy in Afghanistan and fighting its forces. We are active neither in Pakistan nor any other part of the world. Our operations are restricted to Afghanistan.” Zabihullah Mujahid further stressed, “Not a single Afghan Talib took part in the Dir attacks. These are false and baseless allegations leveled against us. What happened in Dir is not a problem related to us.”
The crust of the matter is that no insurgency from the Afghan side into Pakistan is possible without the consent and support of the NATO troops. No such incident could ever have happened if the NATO troops were serious in stopping the miscreants. Pakistan has always been complaining of the irresponsible behaviour of the NATO hi-ups regarding the deployment of troops along the Pak-Afghan borders.
It has been so many times in media that NATO doesn’t deploy enough troops along the Pak-Afghan border to avoid cross-border insurgency but on other hand it is always expected from Pakistan to put a strict check on the movement of militants across Pak-Afghan border. Though there is a long and tedious mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan that makes it easy for Afghan fighters to cross over for attacks but they rarely attack Pakistani side of the border as per their tribal traditions.
The people living along the Pak-Afghan borders belong to the same Pashtun origin. They have centuries old blood relations based on a lot of cultural and religious similarities. So it is impossible for them to target their Pashtun brothers.
The recent attack was not an attack on the security check-post because the attackers not only blew up at least five schools but also took lives of eight civilians including two teens, four women and a local religious leader. Moreover most of the security persons martyred in the attack also belonged to the Pashtun origin.
In short, it is something very illogical to held Taliban responsible for every act of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban have their own way and style of doing militant actions. They never disown what they do.
If we want to seek the truth and trace the reality, we will have to review carefully all terrorist activities in Pakistan from the terrorists’ attacks on the GHQ to the attacks on Mehran naval base Karachi in which the terrorists had no other target but the P3C Orion aircrafts.
But again it will be a grievous folly if we ignore the Raymond Davis episode which was simply an eye-opener we unfortunately turned a blind eye to.
The writer is a Pakistan based analyst on defence and strategic affairs.
“Either Gen. Kayani submits entirely to Obama’s will, including the planned submission to Indian domination afterwards, or he stands-up to the United States, meaning he stops the drone attacks and reveals the entire ugly scenario that the CIA cannot allow anyone to reveal. “Al Qaida” is fake. The war on terror is a fraud. The fraud is a plan for world war. And we all know that neither Gen. Kayani, nor any other Pakistani official will ever reveal the “great game” or the plot to destroy the Islamic Republic.
The United States corporacracy is a monstrous devouring beast and “Islamist terror” is her illegitimate offspring.”–[Waging War Upon Our Friends]
“The truth is that neither Gen Musharraf nor President Zardari is incentivised to tell the truth. Why would they tell unpleasant truths when they know that they can tell pleasant lies and get some money out of the bargain? They can milk the US taxpayer for the injection of American assistance into the Pakistani economy (albeit in a manner most inefficient) by continuing to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of members of the Unholy Trinity of Dicks — Dick Armitage, Dick Boucher and now Dick Holbrooke. When they are in town, Pakistani presidents don’t need to tell the truth.”
[orig. source, now removed]
June 30, 2009
by Mosharraf Zaidi
President Asif Ali Zardari is the product of a legitimate election, by a legitimate parliament. He could do a lot worse than he already has, and he will always remain a better president than his predecessor. And yet, somehow, the more that Zardari is supposed to be less like his predecessor, the more he seems more and more like his predecessor. As he approaches a full year in office, it is to the enduring shame and ridicule of the PPP that it presides over one of the most farcical constitutional eras in Pakistani history: a people’s government that refuses to live up to the most basic of its promises to the people — to give back the country to parliament of the people.
The keen appetite that President Zardari shares with Gen Musharraf for retaining absolute power through the mutilation of the constitution is only the tip of the iceberg. The more striking and much more insidious resemblance between this president (legitimate, standing tall and all) and the last one (hardly legitimate enough to walk away in shame) is in their foreign policy doctrine. Both presidents have used the art of charm as the single and only instrument of foreign policy available. While Gen Musharraf had truckloads to dispense with of his own, built up over a career filled with tiny exploits made to look bigger with rhetorical bluster, President Zardari uses the substantial stock of charm gleaned from years of sacrifice by the PPP, and the gold mine of charm that the PPP came across when Husain Haqqani stumbled into, and onto the feet of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
Being a charming president to a country of 172 million is no crime at all. Except of course if all the charm is reserved for everybody outside the country, and none at all is reserved for anybody in it. And let’s be frank, being charming only for foreigners isn’t such a bad thing for a country widely seen to be the most dangerous in the world. Unless of course what you consider charming is in fact just disingenuous pseudo-intellectual drivel. And it is this, most depressing of realities, that makes this current, most legitimate of presidents, seem like a rerun of his predecessor, a most illegitimate one.
Gen Musharraf ran out of party tricks with the Bush administration when it became widely accepted conventional wisdom in Washington DC that though he was telling the Americans everything they wanted to hear, the general wasn’t the kind of kitten they had thought, but rather a different kind of cat deep down inside. By the time he left office, Musharraf’s invisible alter ego, to the Americans at least, was a dude with a turban, a long beard, with a chair deep in the heart of the ISI headquarters, ready to take it to the next level in Kabul, Delhi and anywhere else he had to, to deepen Pakistan’s ’strategic depth’.
So now, Uncle Sam and Nephew Pak have a democratic government, led by President Zardari, to deal with. And what’s different about Zardari, clearly, is that he isn’t part of the ‘establishment’, that he’s from the ‘progressive and secular PPP’, that he’s the head of the ‘most popular political party in the country’ and that he’s not ‘Punjabi’. Asif Ali Zardari, unlike the Punjabi-ised General Musharraf of Old Delhi and New Londontown, is none of the things that Washington DC has come to loathe in this Islamic Republic.
President Zardari has lived up to the hype thus far, mostly thanks to his man in Washington DC. Ambassador Haqqani makes sure his master in Islamabad speaks to the nervous ticks and muscular spasms that get any kind of airtime at all in DC. Every speech, op-ed and press conference must inspire a new memo, a new telegram, and a new talking point.
For serious followers of politics and policy in Pakistan, President Zardari’s quotes are nothing more than an entertaining sideshow, not the core of Pakistani foreign policy. In true Pakistani tradition, however, the only tempering mechanism for President Zardari’s pronouncements is American gullibility. So while Pakistan’s dysfunction is entirely Pakistan’s fault, American naivete cannot get a pass because Pakistan is a basket case. In the Age of Obama, America has to do better. Anyone that was really interested in debilitating the Punjabi-dominated, Hindu-hating, right-leaning, military-dominated Pakistani establishment would have to be recklessly foolish if it went and helped rebrand the Pakistan army in the wake of eight years of Musharraf and a devastating and humiliating defeat at the hands of the country’s lawyers. Yet that’s exactly what President Zardari has done since the May 8 offensive was launched into Swat. The Swat offensive has helped rehabilitate the image of the military.
Pakistanis should be ecstatic. No country should have to demonise its own military to enjoy democratic freedoms. But the rehabilitation of the military’s image in Pakistan comes with inherent costs. One of them is the credibility of the Haqqani framework for counter-establishment rhetoric that President Zardari uses with such abandon, such as “the existential threat to Pakistan is from within”, and the classic, “India is not the enemy, the Taliban are”.
Not only are these statements technically debatable, they are logically inconsistent with the purported joint mission of the PPP in Pakistan, and its supporters in Washington DC. This mission, to weaken the undemocratic strains of the Pakistani establishment, and strengthening its democratic credentials, is a noble one. However, good intentions alone don’t cut it in ‘the world’s most dangerous country’.
On existential threats, honest brokers know that countries are not insects, or cigarettes. They don’t disappear. All the post-partition rage, confused liberal mumbo-jumbo, and irrational right-wing bluster can’t change the reality of Pakistan’s existence, and its vitality — no matter how many terrorists attack its innocent people. In South Asia’s real politick, there is no such thing as an existential threat to Pakistan.
On the differentiation between internal threats and external ones, Pakistan’s worldview is best demonstrated by what it does, not what it says. It uses the army, rather than the police (even though the enemy keeps trying to engage the police!) to fight internal threats. More tellingly, if Pakistan really believed that the threat (deep and serious as it is) is internal, would every government minister, army general and armchair pundit be blaming India, Afghanistan, and the US as the sources of the terrorists’ funding, weapons and training? Pakistan can keep towing the American line on who its enemies really are in the Washington Post — but it clearly does not believe it can afford to do so at ministry of interior press conferences in Islamabad, much less on Pakistan’s eastern border.
The truth is that neither Gen Musharraf nor President Zardari is incentivised to tell the truth. Why would they tell unpleasant truths when they know that they can tell pleasant lies and get some money out of the bargain? They can milk the US taxpayer for the injection of American assistance into the Pakistani economy (albeit in a manner most inefficient) by continuing to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of members of the Unholy Trinity of Dicks — Dick Armitage, Dick Boucher and now Dick Holbrooke. When they are in town, Pakistani presidents don’t need to tell the truth.
The truth is that Pakistan — even under heavy moral and tactical compulsion — cannot, and will not, accept Indian dominance in Afghanistan. More urgently, the truth is that in negotiations between India and Pakistan henceforth, the conversation needs to begin with Afghanistan, if Pakistan were to be honest, rather than Kashmir, which is now, a secondary foreign policy issue for Pakistan. Finally, perhaps most urgently, the truth is that Pakistan does not want, and cannot help sustain, an American troop presence in Afghanistan.
None of this is to say that the terrorists are not recognised as a threat to Pakistan. They are. Nor is it to suggest that anybody has a better alternative to a US troop surge in Afghanistan to quell the increasing fortitude of the terrorists there in the present scenario. They do not. Nor is it to suggest that the brave Pakistani soldiers that are taking on the Taliban are not fighting the right war for the right reasons. They are.
But the realities and implications of Pakistan’s lesser-told truths are important. To understand Pakistan’s foreign policy dysfunction, the starting point cannot be a barrel of a gun, or the shining tip of a pen about to sign a $1.5 billion cheque. Pakistan will continue to take the money, its generals will continue to think the way Pakistan is ‘existentially’ wired to think, and Pakistan will continue to confound analysts because the set-piece frameworks in vogue in Washington DC, in London and beyond, simply don’t work. They are spurious, to say the least.
One-liners can’t change the course of the behemoth called Pakistan, nor can money, even $1.5 billion of it. This beast has momentum. To paraphrase the great American poet, Walt Whitman, does Pakistan contradict itself? Very well then, Pakistan contradicts itself. It is large. It contains multitudes.
KARACHI: Russian Consul General, Andrey Demidov has said that America had no right to conduct drone attacks on Pakistan, as no country could ever be licensed for such an open and callous outrage. Addressing a press conference in reference to the 20th Independence Day of Russia, on Wednesday, he berated the inroads against Pakistan’s sovereignty by conducting indiscriminate drone attacks. He said that Russia had taken the issue quite seriously, and has also held talks with Pakistani officials regarding the matter. He said that economic relations between two countries were quite cordial, as compared to the past, while close coordination between the two countries was being carried out in sectors, such as terrorism, economic cooperation, and five channels of countering smuggling. He also informed that President Asif Ali Zardari had signed various memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on economic cooperation; according to which Russia would be upgrading steel mills, and also train experts. He also cited the Russian, satellite company, based in Saint Petersburg to start a $US 10 million annual project, an MOU for which had already been signed, and a deal in this regard was imminent in the near future.
Citing US officials, the Times said a US campaign using armed drones and fighter jets had accelerated in recent weeks as US officials see the strikes as one of the few options to contain al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
With the country in violent conflict, Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to Sanaa, the newspaper said.
Yemen’s authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was wounded on Friday and is being treated in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. He appears to have been wounded by a bombing at a mosque inside his palace, not a rocket attack as first thought, US and Arab officials said.
There were conflicting reports about his condition — ranging from fairly minor, to life-threatening 40 percent burns.
There had been nearly a yearlong pause in US airstrikes after concerns that poor intelligence had resulted in civilian deaths that undercut goals of the secret campaign.
US and Saudi spy services have been receiving more information from electronic eavesdropping and informants about possible locations of militants, the newspaper said, citing officials in Washington. But there were concerns that with the wider conflict in Yemen, factions might feed information to trigger air strikes against rival groups.
The operations were further complicated by al Qaeda operatives’ mingling with other rebel and anti-government militants, the newspaper said, citing a senior Pentagon official.
The US ambassador in Yemen met recently with opposition leaders, partly to make the case for continuing operations in case Saleh’s government falls, the newspaper said.
Opposition leaders have told the ambassador that operations against al Qaeda in Yemen should continue regardless of who wins the power struggle in the capital, the Times said, citing officials in Washington.
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has been linked to the attempt to blow up a transatlantic jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 and a plot last year to blow up cargo planes with bombs hidden in printer cartridges. (Reuters)
June 22, 2009
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] is spending most of his time trying to win international support against terrorism by visiting world capitals. His summit with European Union President Vaclav Klaus of Czech Republic and a visit to NATO headquarter in Brussels on Thursday was a major effort to convince the international community that Pakistan is very much serious about defeating terrorism. No doubt those world leaders from Washington to London [ Images ] and Moscow [ Images ] to Brussels have said very good words for President Zardari and Pakistan but most of them are still cautious.
President Zardari is losing political support very fast not only in public but also in Parliament. A federal minister from the Muttahida Quami Movement walked out from the National Assembly on Friday protesting the long power breakdowns in Karachi. Two ministers belonging to another ally party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazal-ur-Rehman group) are openly opposing the military operation in Swat and South Wazirastan.
A majority of the people of Pakistan supported the latest offensive against the Taliban [Images ] in Swat valley [ Images ]. This offensive displaced about 3.5 million people. More than five weeks have passed and the operation is not yet complete. President Zardari ordered another operation against Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in South Wazirastan. A majority of the Pakistanis would definitely support any decisive action against Mehsud but there is an impression now that the Zardari government does not have a smart plan to defeat the Taliban in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The government did not take parliament into confidence before army operations in Swat and South Wazirastan. Main opposition parties in the National Assembly including the PML-N of Nawaz Sharif [ Images ] supported the operation in Swat but now they have serious reservations on the strategy in South Wazirastan. Sharif held long meetings with his parliamentarians in Islamabad [ Images ] recently and finally decided to ask tough questions regarding the operation in South Wazirastan. He is not happy with the US drone attacks in South Wazirastan and he also has serious reservations on the role of a pro-government militant leader Qari Zainuddin Mehsud. He is now likely to come out publicly against both the US policies and President Zardari in the next few days.
The sudden projection and tall claims in the media by Qari Zainuddin Mehsud have created many questions and set off panic in political circles and diplomatic circles of Islamabad. In some recent interviews, Qari Zainuddin Mehsud and his deputy Haji Turkistan alleged that Mehsud is an American and Indian agent, that he killed Benazir Bhutto [ Images ] and the real jihad is going on in Afghanistan not in Pakistan.
Many diplomats contacted officials in the foreign office and the interior ministry and in the media for some answers. Diplomats from Western countries were mainly confused on the claim made by Qari Zainuddin and Haji Turkastani that Baitullah Mehsud is an American agent and he killed Benazir Bhutto. These diplomats were asking that if Mehsud was involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto does it mean that American authorities were also involved in that conspiracy. No government official had any answer for that question.
Another question by an East European diplomat to a foreign office official was that on one side President Zardari visited the NATO headquarters and the same day the Pakistani establishment allowed Qari Zainuddin to speak with the media openly on jihad against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Qari Zainuddin claimed in his interview that he developed differences with Baitullah Mehsud after the death of Abdullah Mehsud. He never explained the real differences in any interview. The story of the real differences between the two is full of allegations and revelations. According to some sources very close to Qari Zainuddin, the Pakistani establishment wanted to kill Abdullah Mehsud because he was involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in 2005. Pakistani establishment hired the services of Baitullah Mehsud in 2005 against the one legged militant Abdullah Mehsud who spent 23 months in Guantanamo Bay. Baitullah signed the first peace agreement with the establishment in February 2005 which ended in July 2005. He reached another agreement immediately after the killing of Abdullah Mehsud in 2007. Then President Pervez Musharraf [ Images ] released 36 militants in exchange of 200 soldiers the day he imposed emergency in Pakistan on November 3, 2007. Abdullah Mehsud started his anti-Pakistan army activities after the killing of his colleague Nek Muhammad in 2004 but he was more focused against NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Abdullah was finally killed on July 24, 2007 in the Zhob area of Baluchistan. Close aides alleged that Baitullah helped security forces in hunting down the one-legged militant who was returning from Afghanistan. The Pakistan Army [ Images ] claimed that Abdullah was killed after a long gun battle. One Masoodur Rehman Mehsud alleged that Baitullah Mehsud actually provided information to the army about the location of Abdullah Mehsud but later denied that charge. Baitullah Mehsud then killed Masoodur Rehman Mehsud through a remote control bomb in South Wazirastan. Qari Zainuddin Mehsud was the elder son of slain militant and decided to take the revenge. He is heading the Abdullah Mehsud Group in the Taliban and promised to take revenge against Baitullah in July 2008 through a letter circulated to the media. He is a former Khasadar (member of the tribal police) and active in Shakai and Jandola area of South Wazirastan. Intrestingly a powerful Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir is secretly supporting Qari Zainuddin and the areas of Maulvi Nazir were once again were targeted by US drones on Friday.
Not a single US drone has fired on Baitullah Mehsud and that is the reason many people say that Baitullah is an American agent and US is actually playing a double game with Pakistan. Many in US think otherwise. They accuse that Pakistan is playing a double game by supporting a militant like Qari Zainuddin Mehsud who is pro-Pakistan but anti-US.
Qari Zainuddin killed the younger brother of Baitullah Mehsud, Yahya on October 27, 2008 in the Bannu area. In retaliation Baitullah killed a close aide of Qari Zainuddin Muhammad Yousaf on October 29 in the Tank area. More than 95 people have been killed from both sides in last one year. Now Qari Zainuddin has become an ally of the Pakistani security forces against Baitullah Mehsud. He contacted many powerful tribal elders of the Mehsud area recently but most of them are reluctant to cooperate. These tribal elders see no difference between Baitullah and Zainuddin. They say that both are criminals. They fear that Pakistani establishment first used Baitullah against Abdullah, now they are using Zainuddin against Baituallah and ultimately both will be killed. They also fear that Qari Hussain will replace Baitullah as the new commander of the Taliban and Qari Hussain is more dangerous than Baitullah because he is the head of suicide squads.
Many tribal elders of Mehsud area were contacted by the political administration of South Wazirastan to seek help for Qari Zainuddin. One tribal elder told an official of the administration “don’t fool us, President Zardari is assuring cooperation to NATO and you are asking us to cooperate with a person who is openly saying that go and fight against NATO in Afghanistan.”
Some political allies of President Zrdari like Maulana Fazalur Rehman of the JUI-F are again suggesting direct talks with the Taliban but Zardari is not listening. Zardari could ignore Rehman but he should not ignore the whole Parliament. May be Baitullah Mehsud is a double agent and must be gotten rid off but Zardari should take him on with the help of Parliament not with the help of another double agent like Qari Zainuddin. He needs approval and support from Parliament for the operations against the Taliban. Pakistan can defeat terrorism through a bold and transparent military strategy having the support of a broad based political front. Both Pakistan and US should be fair with each other. Double games will no work anymore.