Berman Legislation to Help Strengthen U.S.-Pakistan Ties, Boost Development Assistance

“Pakistan must also redouble its efforts to root out the Taliban and Taliban-affiliated groups that support insurgents in Afghanistan and not support any group that conducts “activities meant to instill fear or terror in India.

The bill, H.R. 1886 makes boost in aid dependent upon Pakistan dissolving Kashmiri militant groups.

Berman Legislation to Help Strengthen U.S.-Pakistan Ties, Boost Development Assistance

Washington, DC – Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, last evening introduced bipartisan legislation establishing a new framework for U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“This bill has one essential purpose: to strengthen our relationship with Pakistan,” Berman said. “Our commitment to Pakistan’s political stability and economic development is matched only by our sense of urgency in ensuring that Pakistan has the right tools to protect its people, secure its borders and intensify its operations against extremist elements.”

The Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (the PEACE Act) triples U.S. economic assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year, with a particular emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic development and improving Pakistan’s education system. The bill, H.R. 1886, also establishes a permanent Pakistan Democracy and Prosperity Fund, which demonstrates America’s long-term commitment to Pakistan. To ensure that U.S. assistance is truly benefiting the Pakistani people, the legislation requires rigorous oversight and auditing.

H.R. 1886 also boosts military aid to help Pakistan disrupt and defeat al Qaeda and insurgent elements, but requires that the vast majority of such assistance be focused on critical counterterrorism efforts. In addition, the bill requires that all military assistance flow through the democratically elected Government of Pakistan. Finally, the legislation establishes conditions on military assistance, including a requirement that the Government of Pakistan has demonstrated a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and made progress towards that end.

“The bill was drafted with a clear understanding that we need to create a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan – one that transcends our mutual counterinsurgency and counterterrorism goals, and speaks to the needs of average Pakistani citizens,” Berman said.

Iran Policies and Agendas, Sophisticated and Blurred

Iran Policies and Agendas, Sophisticated and Blurred


Dr. Murad Alazzany
UPM University, Malaysia
For Yemen Post

As the Mullahs of Iran, led by Al-Khomeini, succeeded to overthrow the Shah of Iran in 1979, they declared the establishment of an Islamic republic of Iran. Subsequent to their success, they revealed aspirations to regional hegemony – both geostrategic and religious. They showed a determination to export the principles of what is claimed to be an Islamic revolution to the neighboring Arab Countries. Exporting the revolution was declared an essential and global need. In his first appearance following the revolution, Al-Khomeini declared the message of the revolution to be global, and not restricted to a specific time or place, “It is a human message, and it will move forward. It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world.” Exporting the revolution, in fact, means promoting a messianic Shi’ite vision that stresses the imminent appearance of the last twelfth imam and the re-establishment of the Persian Empire.

Iranians in general, whether religious or not, never forget the glorious past of the Persian Empire. They grew aggrieved of Muslim Arabs whom they accuse of destroying that Empire and of marginalizing their culture. In the writing of many of their scholars and thinkers, including the Mullahs themselves, one can feel a sense of shame and sense of injury against Islam and Arabs among Iranians for the loss of that Empire. Being hunted by that past, the Iranians keep looking forward to any chance to re-establish and to restore the centuries of that Persian Empire. As a matter of fact, promoting the messianic Shi’ite vision is taken by the leaders of Iran as an endeavor to weaken the Sunni Islam and then to reestablish the Persian Empire. The mullahs of Iran regard the Sunni Islam as a radical apostate political sect that has taken over the Muslim holy places, and pointed a finger at Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, as a real enemy since they patronize this ideology.

Soon after the revolution, the Mullahs of Iran marked their attitudes towards the neighboring Sunni Arab countries with a religious and historical enmity. Stemming from this enmity, the first thing the Mullahs did when they got into power was taking practical actions to promote and export their shi’ite ideology. They nominated themselves saviors of Muslims and protectors of the virtues of Islamic societies. They labelled the ruling regimes in the neighboring countries tyrant, corrupt and apostate. They encouraged the people in these countries to emancipate their principles and to revolt against these regimes. Iraq felt the threat of the Mullahs once they started to support the Shi’ite groups in Iraq and to encourage them to revolt against the ruling regime. Iraq, led by the late Sadam Hussein, took prompt actions in confronting the Iranian influence in the area. He waged a war against Iran which continued for 8 years and took the lives of almost three millions from both sides.
When Iraq won the war, the Iranian Mullahs realized how difficult it was for them either to penetrate Arab countries or to export the Shi’ite ideology. The war put a siege on their project, weakened them, paralyzed their political and religious agenda and stopped their expansion. It was reported that when Al-Khomeini signed the end of the war, he described it as he was swallowing a poison. After they lost their war against Iraq, the Mullahs of Iran realized a necessity to adopt new strategies to export their revolution to the neighboring countries. They were convinced that in order to succeed to establish their Persian Empire, they had to avoid any direct confrontation with Arabs. In effect, they resorted to a cold war in their confrontation with Arabs. In the light of this strategy, Iranian politicians made a silent but concerted effort to support the Shi’ite minorities in some Arab countries. Supporting the Shi’ite minorities was used as a tactical weapon to cause a rift and turmoil in Arab Countries. Causing turmoil and havoc in Arabic Countries was viewed by Iranian politicians as an important strategy to weaken Arabs and to accelerate their project of establishing a Persian Empire. This effort resulted in the emergence of some Shi’ite groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shi’ite group in Bahrain and later Al-Hauthi movement in Yemen.
The Iranian financial and military support for Hezbollah transformed it into a state within a state. It enabled Hezbollah to elaborate a network of social services for the Shi’ites of Lebanon and to build a military structure which is stronger than the government’s armed forces. The same thing has happened with the Shi’ites in Bahrain, who are wreaking havoc in their country in an attempt to establish a Shi’ite state alongside the Sunni Bahraini kingdom. Thus, Hezbollah and the other Shi’ite groups became more or less spawns for Iran and one of the tools of its Persian colonolisation. A senior Iranian official recently described Hezbollah as “one of the pillars of Iran’s security strategy”. These Shi’ite groups violated their loyalty to their homelands, and replaced it with loyalty to Iran whom they share with the same ideology. This helped Iran to gain more political influence to interfere in Arab internal affairs and to discuss any issue regarding the security of the Gulf.

However, Iran’s religious-political influence throughout the Arab world became stronger soon after the invasion of Iraq by Americans. In fact, when Baghdad fell for the American forces, it was not the American forces that triumphed but the Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. The American support for the new statues of Shi’ites in Iraq paved the way for Iran to position herself as a regional military superpower. After the fall of Baghdad, Iran started to act as a powerful country which decides the future of Iraq. The revolutionary rhetoric flared up again as Iran became again ambitious to control the region by spreading its ideology. It interferes with the internal affairs of Iraq and Arabs by supporting the status of Shi’ites there, it even started to pose threats to its neighboring countries like Bahrain and Emirates. This new position of Iran is compounded by its determination to develop nuclear technology. The insistence of Iran to develop nuclear technology despite international opposition helps her to win more supporters and admirers among the common Arabs who have started to look at her as a symbol of resistance against the West.

In order to further impress these supporters, the Iranian politicians adopt a strong political rhetoric which seems to be supportive to many Islamic issues and in correspondence with the positions of Muslim public. For instance, they use a strong rhetoric speech that seems to support the Palestinian issue. All the Iranian politicians including Khomeini used a rhetoric speech which is full of bellicose statements and combative words that challenge Israel and defy its hegemony. They declare Israel as a terrorist state and call for Israel’s destruction and wiping it from the map. Ahmad Nejad has been always using these statements since his rise into power in 2005 without showing any respite.
These statements, however, are never realistic and will never be followed by real actions against Israil. Contrary to that, both Iran and Israel avoid any direct confrontation with each other. In practice, the two states have a great deal in common more than what any one of them will admit. Their strategic interests coincide in the area and both consider Arabs as an enemy. An Iranian revolutionary close to Khomeini, stated that the Iranians never wanted to get directly involved in the fights against Israel. A former Iranian deputy foreign minister also stated that decision-makers were very clever not to substitute or replace Israel as a direct threat to Iran because Arabs are. In spite of the nature of these provocative remarks, the Israelis treated Iran as a potential regional ally. For instance, while Khomeini called for the destruction of Israel, the Israelis were lobbying Washington to sell weapons to Iran during its war with Iraq. In 1982, Ariel Sharon proudly announced on NBC that Israel would continue to sell arms to Iran – despite of the American ban on such sales. When Iran routinely introduced resolutions to expel Israel from the United Nations in 1985 – the Israelis responded by selling more arms to the Khomeini regime.

It is obvious that Iran uses such bellicose statements and combative words to promote itself as the leader of the Islamic world. Iran understands the Muslim mentality that embraces resistance as the only way to defeat Israel and to get back the invaded land. For this reason, it uses this rhetoric speech to win wave of solidarity with its Islamic revolution throughout the Muslims world. They even showed a strong support for the Islamic resistance of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. The Iranian leaders boasted of their support to Hamas claiming that such an action emanates from their Islamic orientation and corresponds to the goals of the Islamic revolution. However, Iran’s support for Hamas does not emanate from a religious urge or orientation. Rather, it emanates from its concern to protect its interests in the area. She uses the support it gives to Hamas as a strategy to win the support of Arabs to ensure that it is accepted as the principal of regional power. This is particularly true when the common Arabs compare Iran’s position towards Hamas to that of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other allies that belong to what is called the moderate Arab axis. Iran uses her support for Hamas to undermine the position of this axis and to expose its helplessness. As Arabs find the moderate axis feeble to speak their minds and to adopt their positions, they get influenced by Iran’s provocative remarks considering it as an excellent model of an Islamic state. They never realize that Iranians use this support just to market illusions that hide their true intentions which are to take control of the region and to annex it to the empire they hope to re-establish in the long run. Such an intention is shown in statements by an Iranian parliamentary member in which he declared Bahrain and some parts of emirates to belong to Iran.

The Iranian politicians keep claiming that their stand and support for Islamic issues throughout the Muslim world emanate from their Islamic orientation. Nevertheless, their claims are not as they are stated but complicated, blurred and unclear. While Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Islamic movement of Hamas in Palestine, it leads a conspiracy against Taliban in Afghanistan and the Sunni Muslims in Iraq. It supported America to invade Afghanistan and showed a great cooperation with it to invade Iraq. By adopting such contradicting polices, Iran in Afghanistan appears totally different from that Iran in Lebanon and Palestine.

However, we really wish that Arabs can adopt policies which are as sophisticated as those of Iran. For the past thirty years, Arabs appear to be distracted and confused. They adopt political positions that merely serve personal views and relation but never support or promote particular agendas. Their policies are designed either to fulfill vested interests, to meet short-termed-goals or to support some individuals. Their alliance most of them does not have a far-sighted vision or long-term goals. While Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, a party which represents an ideology, Saudi Arabia encounters that by supporting Sa’ad Al-Hareri, a person who does not represent any ideology but himself and his own interest. It is a matter of fact that supporting ideologies triumphs over supporting individual in the long run. Supporting individuals collapses by the death of those individuals and then to become a waste. While supporting ideologies never collapses by the death of people but might cherish and grow further.

Leave aside the role of Egypt whose policies confining it up to the borders. But after every political scene with Israel, the Egyptians boast around that nobody can negotiate their support to Islamic and Arab issues or even bid over their duties. One wonders how pathetic it was when they left the Palestinians alone on a siege facing the ferocity of Israeli war machines. Yesterday, Gaza was the very embodiment of resistance but the most hegemonic Arab Countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia chose to be indifferent. They blamed Hamas of receiving a support from Iran and one wonders what Hams was supposed to do when it was classified as an enemy by a brother. We have no right to blame the Islamic resistance of Hamas for accepting the Iranian support as long as the Arab regimes choose to isolate it and to classify as an enemy. Hamas, despite getting a financial support from Iran, it never changes her principals, it didn’t become a Shiite movement, It is a still a purely Sunni movement with a principal intention of fighting Israel to restore the lost land and the dignity of Arabs. It is true that Iran is using it to polish its image as an Islamic State and to promote its ideology, but did our Arab rulers leave any choice for her.

It is not late for the Arab regimes to repair themselves and to follow the right track. They have to critically review their local situation and their surroundings, then to rise up with a strong determination to bring about a critical change in the whole area. They have to realize that they are now in between the jaws of Israeli and Iran who will never show a mercy in fighting and defeating them. They shouldn’t give Iran a chance to speak on behalf of every Muslims in the world. Nothing can encounter Iran hegemony in the area except an ideology accompanied by a strong will and determination. They have to get united under the umbrella of Islam and adopt decision that emanate from their Islamic orientation. They have to be up to the challenges that threaten them and the expectations of their people. Once they do that, Iran’s polices in the area will vanish like bubbles, its ideology will liquidate and all her agendas will be weakened.



Barbarity in Swat

Barbarity in Swat

Dawn Editorial

A 17-year-old girl being publicly flogged by Taliban in Swat. — File

She is not the first victim of the Taliban’s barbarity nor is she likely to be the last. But the grainy footage of a 17-year-old girl being publicly flogged in Swat has brought home for many the reality of the living hell that is today’s Pakistan. Pinned to the ground and encircled by onlookers, the screaming girl was lashed at least 30 times. Her ‘crime’, according to the Swat Taliban, was to be seen with a man who was not her husband. The identity of her companion is wholly immaterial.

The point at issue is this: what gives the Taliban the right or authority to act as judge, jury and executioner? And this is the answer: their authority stems from the decisions taken by successive administrations, including the government now in power, who chose to cede the writ of the state by striking deals with mass murderers. The state has failed the people of Pakistan and stands guilty by association.

The turning point came in September 2006 with the signing of the Waziristan deal by the Musharraf regime. The state abandoned the people and gave the militants space to regroup, rearm and administer ‘justice’ as they pleased. It should be clear by now that the desired results can never be achieved by negotiating with people who abhor our core values and wish to gain total control over Pakistan.

A complete rethink is in order if we wish to keep at bay forces that will never allow a nuclear state to fall into the hands of the Taliban. A spokesman for the Swat Taliban said the girl who was flogged was shown ‘leniency’. If that is the militants’ concept of compassion, those who argue that there is no such thing as the ‘moderate’ Taliban may have been right all along.

Today we repeat the need to develop a political and social consensus on the issue of militancy. Though in a small minority, there is no shortage of apologists who are either blind to reality or sympathise with the Taliban. An NWFP minister belonging to the ostensibly secular ANP was at pains to stress that the flogging took place before the peace deal was struck in Swat.

The timing, sir, is of no consequence whatsoever. What is clear is that the Taliban will never change their ways until they are compelled to do so. Some religious groups have condemned the incident, but the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami repeatedly evaded the issue in an interview with a television channel. He asked what is “so special” about the girl’s flogging that it deserves so much hue and cry, conflating the incident with the completely unrelated issue of US drone attacks.

Top government leaders have been strong in their condemnation but statements alone will not suffice. The Taliban are not answerable to anyone. But the elected government has some serious explaining to do.

Indians express solidarity with Pakistani marchers

Indians express solidarity with Pakistani marchers

By Jawed Naqvi

Human rights activists shout slogans during a protest against militants in Lahore.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Groups of activists from different cities in India held meetings and rallies to express their solidarity with protesters in Lahore who staged a march in their city on Saturday against growing terrorist attacks and religious fanaticism in Pakistan.

‘We are here to extend solidarity with the Pakistani people, as our neighbour bleeds and falls victim to one terror attack after another, even as US extends its stranglehold in the region,’ said Radhika Menon of the Delhi-based Forum for Democratic Initiatives during a march at Jantar Mantar, near the parliament.

Saajhi Duniya, a group of gender rights activists in Lucknow, passed a resolution to voice concern at the scourge of religious bigots and terror groups gaining strength in Pakistan.

The group’s representative Ms Rooprekha Verma, a former vice chancellor of Lucknow University, sent a message of solidarity to Ms Salima Hashmi, a key organiser of the march in Lahore.

‘We join the voice of activists of Pakistan against terrorism,’ Ms Verma said.

Legal rights activist and gender rights campaigner Teesta Setalvad sent a message on behalf of her Mumbai-based group, Sabrang Communications.

She voiced concern at the reported flogging of a young girl by the so-called ‘good’ Taliban in Swat.

‘All the more reason that we must join hands to work harder to check the rising power of barbarism and terrorism.’

Dozens of citizens staged a rally in the Indian capital ‘to demonstrate the people’s will to resist and defeat the terrorists.’

A statement at the rally said: ‘While Pakistani people have had no respite from terror attacks, the American drone strikes are on in North West Pakistan, clearly violating the country’s territorial sovereignty and bringing grist to terror mills.’

The statement slammed the Indian government for having ‘turned down the request of early resumption of the composite dialogue process that was stalled at India’s instance after the terror attack on Mumbai.’

Instead, New Delhi has welcomed the new US strategy to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and sought a role in the US campaign as a ‘responsible power’ with a stake in defeating extremism.

While the BJP continues on its hard state plank, drumming up communal hatred before elections, the Congress-led government refuses to talk to a bleeding neighbour which is also a victim of terror attacks.

‘It also does not wish to let go the opportunity to further harden the hard state and trample democracy on Indian soil on the pretext of fighting ‘Pakistani-inspired’ terror. But the people of India cannot allow this to go on.’

Salafi Terrorists Kill 17 Shia (“Non-believers”)

17 killed in Chakwal suicide attack

A Bomb exploded in a religious centre for minority Shia Muslims in Chakwal. -File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A bomb exploded in a religious centre for minority Shia Muslims in Chakwal 100km from the Federal capital on Sunday, killing 17 people and wounding around a 100, police said.

‘According to information received so far at least 17 people have died and some 100 were injured in the suicide attack,’ Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told AFP

‘The bomber was intercepted at the entrance otherwise he could have caused large scale casualties,’ Sanaullah said.

‘We have sent two helicopters to move the injured to hospitals in Islamabad,’ he added.

Blast victims are being taken to the local DHQ Hospital in Chakwal.

Police said some 1,200 people were attending the religious gathering when the attack occurred.

‘Our policemen deployed at the gate tried to stop the attacker from going inside where some 1,200 people were attending a majlis,’ senior police official Chaudhry Zulfiqar told AFP.

According to an eye witness’ account, Adeel Raza, a young man about 16-17 years old, dressed in black, got out of a car and detonated his explosives at the entrance of the Imambargah.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack and has ordered an immediate inquiry.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director has deployed his team at the site of the attack and is expecting a report by this evening.

The blast came a day after eight paramilitary soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in the capital, Islamabad.

Indians show solidarity with Pakistanis

Indians show solidarity with Pakistanis

NEW DELHI: Scores of journalists, teachers and students took to the streets on Saturday to express solidarity with Pakistani people in their struggle against terrorism and US drone attacks. The Forum for Democratic Initiatives (FDI) organised the protest. The protesters said they favoured better ties between both countries. Delhi University teacher Radhika Menon lamented that the Indian government was supporting drone attacks in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. “We are here to oppose American attacks as well as terrorism and extremism within Pakistan. These are inter-linked issues,” she said. Menon also called on New Delhi to resume peace process and promote people-to-people contacts between the two countries. Noted journalist Jawed Naqvi said India should not remain a silent spectator to what is happening in Pakistan. “Pakistanis need us. They are fighting a grim battle against terrorism and imperialist invasion,” he said. iftikhar gilani