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

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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.


YEMEN POST STAFF

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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

The State has Given Up

The State has Given Up

President Asif Ali Zardari has “ordered an inquiry” into the public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Swat, and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has taken his famous suo moto notice by asking the IGP NWFP to produce the girl in court. But we all know nothing can be done against the Taliban who did the evil deed, and that the girl will not come to the court unless the Taliban allow it. More likely, she may be killed instead of being allowed to attend the CJ’s court. As for the ANP government, it had better look after Peshawar because it is once again under siege from the Khyber warlord.

What if the girl can actually be brought to the court? What will follow may embarrass us further. There is nothing anyone can do against the deeds of those who rule Swat. Sufi Muhammad is more offended with Islamabad for not signing the sharia deal and less worried about the flogging of the girl. His son-in-law Fazlullah, whose men do the beheadings and the floggings, has actually returned to Imam Dheri and was in the madrassa right after the Friday sermon of the Sufi. He has made his comeback to the place after two years. Things are going well for the Taliban.

The nation has literally shrieked in protest, but the TV channels were not as united as they were when the Long March was taking place. As a majority showed the national outrage, some actually took the line that the video that showed the girl being flogged was “cooked up” somewhere outside Pakistan and released through a lackey NGO to sabotage the peace in Swat. The “liberals” were roundly abused and — and this is new — action was recommended against them because they were “disloyal to Pakistan” and its ideology. One said: “How could she have walked away after the flogging?” The suppressed desire was that the flogging should have been tougher.

The Barelvis spoke out from among the clergy. It was the usually “tight” conservative Mufti Munibur Rehman who said that the flogging was un-Islamic because the punisher did not have recourse to a properly state-backed court. The Sunni Tehreek, which was massacred by Deobandi terrorists in 2006 in Karachi, spoke out too, saying Islam did not tolerate such debasement of women. But the spokesman of the Taliban said it was an old video and the punishment was deserved. Our top Islamic intellectual Javed Ghamidi condemned the flogging but he carries no gun and therefore his opinion carries no weight.

The ANP government spokesman can’t be blamed for being defensive. The Peshawar government knows that over 5000 Swat Taliban have just defeated a 20,000-strong army force there and Islamabad is still interested more in worrying about and fighting India than the terrorists. And Peshawar concentrates blamelessly on getting the Swatis back in Swat plying their trades as of old. It is no longer important who rules and who does what to the people after that. Whether the girl was flogged a fortnight ago or nine months ago, the fact is that the people who commit these crimes are the ones who will possibly rule from now on.

There is impotence peeping out from the fury of the editorials. One paper opined: “You members of the softly-spoken majority have a choice to make. Either you continue to speak but have your words drowned by those who would publicly whip your sisters, mothers, daughters and wives for whatever petty gossip is purveyed by jealous or malicious neighbours; or you raise your voices loud in protest”. Sadly, the time to raise voices is past. The state has to fight back to save itself from dying. But it seems that it plans to surrender quietly simply because its army is more interested in fighting the highly exaggerated “external” enemies on the borders.

More dangerously, the nation is divided between those who are scared and those who want the Taliban order to prevail simply because it is “Islamic”. The Taliban were “mis-described” when they ruled in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda has never been accepted as a real and present danger to Pakistan. And to keep the world out while we succumb, our rulers lean on the guaranteed UN myth of “state sovereignty”. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: …but will the citizens rise?

Karachi’s City Naib Nazim, Ms Nasreen Jalil, said Friday that “the people of Karachi have rejected all forms of extremism because they strongly believe in freedom and democracy and they will thwart any attempt to place the city under the control of the Taliban”. She was talking to some German diplomats who called on her and she must have surprised them with her resolve to fight a national threat that few are willing even to describe in realistic terms.

Ms Jalil further said: “The failure of the Taliban to capture the city as yet is due to MQM’s campaigns. The people of the city have always endorsed MQM’s standpoint against Talibanisation”. Before she spoke, the MQM leader Mr Altaf Hussain had addressed the people of Karachi and told them that his party would fight the Taliban as they converge on Karachi as per the threat issued by their leader Baitullah Mehsud. Unfortunately, the PPP in Karachi is not greatly convinced of the threat, or it simply can’t be seen to agree with the MQM.

But the Karachi police say the Taliban are already in Karachi and making life miserable for them because the size of the city police is half what it should be and those on duty are poorly paid and poorly equipped. The Rangers remain standoffish and the army says it has to be ready for the Indians when they attack on the border. If the police is not good enough and scared of being caught like sitting ducks in their unprotected training centres — Karachi training centres are without walls — then who will fight the terrorists and their suicide-bombers?

It develops that the MQM is the only entity in national politics capable of fighting the terrorists after the state has given up. The charges against the MQM include past incidents of terrorism, the latest being the May 12, 2007 firing during a lawyers’ rally in Karachi last year. Despite efforts to “normalise” its ethnic identity by going “national” the MQM is looked upon as a shadowy organisation allegedly living on protection money or “bhatta”. But relative to who else is doing what in Karachi, the MQM has the people’s vote and deploys a modern political strategy. Its willingness to fight the Taliban when the state is unable or unwilling or a bit of both, gives it the honour of leading a citizens’ resistance to terrorism when others are simply complaining.

Counter-terrorism confusion

Counter-terrorism confusion

—Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

The menace of extremism and terrorism has now become the major internal threat to Pakistan. The recent attacks in Lahore and suicide bombings elsewhere, coupled with increased religious-sectarian killings, aim at discrediting the state and causing insecurity among the people

The terrorist attack on the Police Training Centre in Manawan on March 30 underlined the mounting challenge terrorism poses to Pakistan. A small group of well-trained and ideologically motivated attackers carried out the assault in a coordinated manner. Though the attackers were neutralised in eight hours by the Elite Force, Pakistan Rangers and the Army, the attack displayed the confidence these groups have gained to undertake a second high-profile raid in Lahore in March.

Pakistan is under siege by religious extremists and hard-line groups that are using violence in an indiscriminate manner to create fear among the people and threaten the Pakistani state in pursuit of their narrow, intolerant and bigoted socio-political agenda in the name of Islam.

The menace of extremism and terrorism has now become the major internal threat to Pakistan. The recent attacks in Lahore and suicide bombings elsewhere, coupled with increased religious-sectarian killings, aim at discrediting the state and causing insecurity among the people. They expose the inadequacies of Pakistani state institutions to protect the lives and property of its citizens.

If such groups continue to carry out attacks at the times and places of their choosing, the state cannot sustain its primacy. Such attacks also aim at undermining Pakistan’s reputation at the international level and isolating it from the rest of the world. If Pakistan is isolated internationally, terrorist groups will find it easy to paralyse the state and establish their authority in mainland Pakistan.

This growing threat has not produced a broad consensus in political circles about terrorism and how the state and society should cope with it. The overall disposition of official and non-official circles towards terrorism is generally ambiguous, and they lack the much-needed unity of mind on who is to blame and how this problem should be handled. This confusion runs deep in society as well as government, as well as the military and intelligence agencies. Divided or weak political will is the main reason for the inability of the Pakistani state and society to cope with terrorism.

The media and political leaders described the March 30 terrorist attack as ‘an act to destabilise Pakistan’, a ‘conspiracy against the people of Pakistan’, and termed the terrorists ‘enemies of Pakistan’. However, the shared perspective falters when it comes to who did it and what should be done to cope with the growing menace of religious extremism and terrorism.

Only three political parties take a clear and categorical position on the issue, and they openly identify the groups involved — the PPP, the ANP and the MQM. Most other parties maintain varying degrees of vagueness on the issue, at times avoiding blaming a group and instead holding the government responsible for not providing security to the people.

The PMLN is indecisive on three key issues: religious extremism and terrorism; who should be blamed; and how Pakistan should deal with it. Nawaz Sharif shies away from taking a categorical position on this matter. However, some of his close associates, including Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, have declared that the war on terrorism is not Pakistan’s war and that Pakistan is serving the interests of others.

Commenting on the Manawan attack, Sharif said that “no Muslim or Pakistani can engage in bloodshed of his brothers.” It is interesting to note that when a terrorist was arrested outside the police training centre, the first thing he said to the security forces was that he was a Muslim. Most of the people engaged in such activities view themselves as genuine Muslims and are convinced that those who do not subscribe to their religio-political worldview are bad or misguided Muslims.

Another popular theme with the PMLN regarding the two terrorist attacks in Lahore is that the security arrangements were weakened in Lahore due to the removal of Shahbaz Sharif’s provincial government, the imposition of Governor’s Rule, and the resulting transfers of a number of bureaucrats and police officials.

Islamist political parties often act as the political front of the militants, defending their activities with one explanation or another. At times, political parties and various people condemn terrorism and suicide attacks in principle. However, when it comes to the involvement of the Taliban or mainland-based groups, they either avoid comment or give obscure explanations.

Some such explanations are: these attacks are sponsored by the adversaries of Pakistan like India, Afghanistan and Israel to destabilise Pakistan; the US wants to destabilise and divide Pakistan in order to justify taking control of its nuclear programme; Pakistan’s participation in the global war on terrorism alienates the Taliban and other militant groups who retaliate in different ways; if Pakistan stops playing the American game in the region, the Taliban and other militant groups would again become Pakistan’s friends as they have nothing against Pakistan; terrorist activities are a reaction to injustice faced by the Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir and elsewhere.

These explanations do not focus on the ideological and power ambitions of militant groups; they want to establish their territorial domain at the expense of the Pakistani state for advancing their ideological agenda in Pakistan and abroad. These explanations also shift the blame of violence in Pakistan to ‘foreign devils’ and their ‘anti-Islam’ policies. The argument is that others have wronged Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslims; that needs to be rectified if terrorism is to be stopped.

Such a mindset developed gradually because of the carefully orchestrated policies and administrative strategies of the military government of General Zia-ul Haq and the army and intelligence agencies from the mid-1980s. The army/intelligence agencies continued to pursue these policies even after the restoration of civilian government in 1988.

A generation has been socialised into religious orthodoxy and militancy, which continues to sympathise with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. A half-hearted attempt was made in 2002-2003 to pull back from open support for militancy, but the Musharraf government could not pursue this to its logical conclusion because it needed to woo the MMA to hold on to power.

This pro-militancy mindset consciously cultivated by the Pakistani establishment has resulted in divided thinking on terrorism in non-official and official circles, including the security and intelligence apparatus. The argument that terrorism is a threat to Pakistan does not necessarily mean that they think Pakistan’s counter-terrorism is justified or that militant groups are responsible for Pakistan’s predicament.

The opposition parties view the government’s counter-terrorism policy from their partisan interests. They are not willing to help the government overcome the problems caused by intellectual disarray on terrorism in society and state institutions. It seems that the government will continue to find it difficult to pursue a coherent and sustained counter-terrorism policy.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Up shitcreek

Up shitcreek

—Ejaz Haider

Listen to Haji Muslim Khan on tv channels. What kind of system and society would have him, with his pathetic knowledge of almost everything, including Islam for which he supposedly stands up, as a public figure?

Apropos the faith -reviving video from Swat: let me congratulate, not necessarily in the same order, various people — Mr Imran Khan, the Jama’at-e Islami leadership, Lt-Gen Hameed Napoleon Gul, the ANP government in the NWFP, the majority of Urdu-language columnists, some English ones who write poetic prose, and yes, tv anchors and my fellow Pakistanis.

Finally, we have something to emulate, straight from the pure times of the rightly-guided caliphs. Islam, ladies and gentlemen, is here. General Zia’s dream has been fulfilled. Allah be praised.

Since yesterday I have this strange sensation coursing through my veins, the feeling one gets after reading about the brave Muslims of yore in a Naseem Hijazi novel. I can’t forget the sight of three specimens of Islam’s purity, two of them pinning down a fallen young woman and one flogging her backside for having allegedly committed zina while the girl, may she be damned, cried and repented.

This is Islamic justice at its most effective. It is simple, straight, speedy, effective, earthy and devoid of the meanderings and trappings of modern existence, historical accretions and bid’a-infested innovations. That’s the stuff the satanic West is made of.

Okay, sure. I am bullshitting. But really? How far from the truth am I? Let me recount.

Columnist upon columnist has been writing about the brave Taliban in Afghanistan; how Taliban rule had recreated khilafat-e rashida; how there was peace in that country; how everyone was secure and so on.

Mr Khan has been hell-bent on reversing all his great contributions to this country, both as a scintillating cricketer and a remarkable philanthropist, by misguiding this nation on issues of politics and inter-state relations — about which his knowledge rivals only that of a kindergarten student. He has been talking incessantly about ghairat, how this is not our war and how our sovereignty is under attack from outside etc etc.

The Napoleon, Lt-Gen Gul — or shall I say Hans Guderian, since Gen Gul is an armoured corps officer and not a gunner — has been mouthing his conceptions of grand strategies even as he carries the weight on his shoulders of the shameful defeat in Jalababad, a veritable fiasco.

The religious parties, especially JI, have been fudging issues and telling lies about everything under the sun.

C’mon folks. Go back and focus on the discourse in this country. From news anchors and tv hosts to columnists and experts and politicians. Revisit the days of the extraction operation against Lal Masjid and how we dealt with that. Recall how we have done everything possible to pull down the state in our enthusiasm to voice dissent on the basis of democracy which, incidentally, will be the first concept to lick the dust when the warriors come knocking on the doors.

I had a hard time deciding how to deal with this issue of the flogging of a girl in Swat: express my deep resentment at the obscenity I saw or congratulate fellow Pakistanis for having successfully brought the state to this. Listen carefully to what people say on tv; deconstruct the discourse; discover the lies; the dissembling; the fudging and you would know why the flogging happened in Swat.

I carried an article some weeks ago in these pages by Nasir Abbas Mirza (“How we lost Swat”, Daily Times, March 9). Go and reread it to see how and why Swat has been lost and how and why we are likely to lose the rest of Pakistan. I see outrage now. Why? Was everyone sleeping?

The Urdu-language tv channels, for the most part, should be ashamed of the role they have played in giving airtime to the likes of Mr Khan, our various Napoleons and moronic politicians; for asking leading questions; for allowing them the opportunity to mouth crap; for supporting extremists in the name of jihad; for giving these thugs an aura of respectability and acceptability.

So what the hell are we shocked about? Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. It’s as simple as that. We are still unclear and confused about the threat. Every outrage begets a standard response: “Muslims can’t do this; this is a conspiracy”. In which case, we deserve what happened in Swat; in fact, far from expressing any outrage, we should celebrate the incident.

The truth, however, is that Muslims can do this and more. They are doing it and will continue to do it. Listen to Haji Muslim Khan on tv channels. What kind of system and society would have him, with his pathetic knowledge of almost everything, including Islam for which he supposedly stands up, as a public figure?

Listen to his fudging and his threats. Listen to what ANP minister Zahid Khan had to say about this being the tip of the iceberg. The question is not about when this incident was filmed but the fact that it did happen; also, that the Taliban, according to their admission, have been giving these punishments and will continue to do so since this is what shariat calls for.

Well, how about telling them to stuff it; that we do not accept such barbaric and medieval practices in today’s world; that Pakistani society is sophisticated enough to reject, in categorical terms, the obscenity the Taliban stand for.

Are we prepared to do it; or will we remain confused about the nature, direction and extent of this threat?

Finally, hello Pakistan Army. Are you guys there? I remember the in-camera briefing given to a select group of analysts back in November 2007. We were told that come March 2008, Swat would be reclaimed. Whatever the hell happened to that? Would someone tell me?

But before I sign off, let me make a confession. Insert in all spaces whatever expletives you can think of because they are all there. That’s the kind of column I wanted to write.

Who gives a f*** about niceties, intellectual and of other varieties, in the face of an existential threat that a collection of people has brought upon itself simply because they have some morbid notion of religion coursing through the body politic. I don’t.

So, fellow Pakistanis, here you are: up shitcreek without a paddle. Enjoy!

Ejaz Haider is Consulting Editor of The Friday Times and Op-Ed Editor of Daily Times. He can be reached at sapper@dailytimes.com.pk

Eight killed in Miranshah suicide bombing

Eight killed in Miranshah suicide bombing

MIRANSHAH: Five civilians, two schoolchildren and a soldier were killed when a suicide attacker blew up his explosives-laden vehicle after being intercepted near a security checkpost and an approaching military convoy. “Five private cars were also damaged in the suicide attack. Security forces opened fire in all directions, pre-empting a possible follow-up attack by the insurgents,” said a doctor at the nearby state-run hospital. Twelve schoolchildren and six soldiers were among 39 injured in the suicide attack. haji mujtaba

8 FC men killed in Islamabad suicide attack

8 FC men killed in Islamabad suicide attack

* Seven injured in blast near Margalla Road checkpost
* SSP says 11 FC men missing after blast
* Police arrest suspect from site

By Fazal Sher

ISLAMABAD: Eight Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel were killed, and seven others injured, when a suicide bomber blew himself up on Saturday evening at an FC checkpost on Margala Road.

The blast, which took place at 7:35pm, was followed by an exchange of fire between FC jawans and unidentified accomplices of the suicide attacker. The crossfire continued for around 20 minutes, an eyewitness told Daily Times. However, police denied any exchange of fire, saying security officials had been firing in the air to scare away other attackers.

Law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area soon after the blast and started combing the area to track down the bomber’s accomplices. Ambulances, and fire fighting vehicles also reached the site and rushed the injured to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences and Polyclinic Hospital. The authorities also placed both Rawalpindi and Islamabad on high alert.

Missing: Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Benyamin confirmed the casualties. He said that 37 constables had been present at the post at the time of the blast, adding that the terrorist used around six kilogrammes of explosives. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Tahir Alam Khan told Daily Times 11 FC personnel were still missing. He said the legs of the suicide attacker had been recovered from the blast site.

Suspect: Police also arrested a suspicious person from the crime scene and spirited him away for instigation. Intelligence agencies had earlier warned of a possible terrorist act in the capital.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blast and offered their sincere condolences to the bereaved, APP reported.

Rally against flogging of girl

Rally against flogging of girl

Sunday, April 05, 2009
By Our Correspondent

LAHORE

THE Minhajul Quran Women League (MQWL) staged a demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club on Saturday to condemn the flogging of a girl in Swat and demanded strict action against those involved in the incident.

The demonstrators were led by MQWL President Fatima Mashadi. They were holding banners and placards and raising slogans against the extremists in the garb of Taliban, who were maligning Islam and Pakistan.

Addressing the protestors, Fatima Mashadi said those who flogged the girl were not following Islam and they had brought a bad name to the religion and the country.

She demanded that incidents like flogging and torture of women should be brought to an end.

Sumaira Rafaqat said Islam gave such respect to women, which the modern day western society could not provide and those involved in the Swat incident were maligning Islam. She demanded action against the culprits.

Meanwhile, the Women Wing of the Pakistan People’s Party, Lahore, on Saturday condemned the flogging of 17-year-old girl in Swat, terming it a shameful incident which had infuriated the whole nation.

In a joint statement, the Pakistan Peoples Party leaders, including MPA Sajida Mir and the party president of PP-143 Talat Bangash, said the perpetrators of the heinous act had nothing to do with Islam.

They said even the local people of Swat had condemned the incident.

They said Islam had always honoured woman and granted equal rights to her whereas the public flogging of a girl over personal enmity was shameful.

The Pakistan Peoples Party leaders said the present government was making efforts to ensure peace and stability in the country and the ceasefire between the militants and the security forces in the insurgency-hit areas proved this.

They said such incidents were meant to sabotage peace by provoking the nation against tribal people who could never support any such act. They demanded stern action against those responsible.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has condemned the flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Swat and praised Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for taking suo moto notice of the incident.

According to a press release issued here, the PTI chief said that this brutal incident had nothing to do with Islam or Shariah. He said the authenticity of the video also needed to be checked.

He said that it was praiseworthy that people, including the Taliban in Swat, had also condemned the incident.

Imran said it was unfortunate that some people drew conclusions about Islam from such gory and brutal incidents whereas millions were brutalized in Afghanistan and Iraq by coalition forces from democratic countries under the false pretext of safeguarding human liberty and freedom.

He said lashing had no link to Islam but was a brutal and violent act carried out by some individuals against a helpless woman.

Imran said that it was all the more important that the deal between the people of Swat and the government should be finalized to bring law and order to Swat.

He warned that if such an incident was allowed to sabotage and derail the peace process “we would be playing in the hands of international conspirators who cannot accept Pakistan struggling back to normalcy after people’s victory in the struggle for the restoration of judiciary”.

Swat flogging sparks protests

“Pakistani laws had to be in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, not with any other Shariah.”

IT IS PROBABLY NOT PROPER THAT I SPEAK TO YOU ABOUT RELIGIOUS MATTERS, BUT, IN THE CASE OF PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN, THE CIA HAS MADE YOUR RELIGION INTO A WEAPON OF WAR, TO BE USED AGAINST YOU.  JUSTICE RIZVI CLEARLY STATED THE PROBLEM, THE “RELIGION” OF THE MILITANTS IS NOT THE SAME RELIGION AS THAT IMPARTED BY THE PROPHET (PBUH).  THE WAHABBI RELIGION TAUGHT AT THE SAUDI-BUILT MADRASSAS TEACHES HATRED, NOT THE PROPER WAY OF LIFE.  ASK THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA WHAT WAS IN THE THOUSANDS OF “JIHADI TEXTBOOKS” THEY SUPPLIED TO THE YOUNG AFGHANS AND PAKISTANIS?

THERE ARE TWO VERSIONS OF ISLAM, WHEREVER IT HAS GROWN (NOT REFERRING TO THE SUNNI/SHIA DIVIDE), THANKS TO THE SAUDI PLANS FOR A NEW CALIPHATE, WITH THE “ROYAL FAMILY” SITTING PRETTY IN THE CENTER.

Swat flogging sparks protests

Women’s organisations, political parties express outrage over incident

Sunday, April 05, 2009
By our correspondent

Karachi

A number of protests were held in the city on Saturday to protest against the flogging of the 17-year-old girl in Swat.

The Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), in collaboration with Labour Education Foundation (LEF) and Progressive Youth Front (PUF), held a demonstration in front of Karachi Press Club (KPC), while a separate demonstration was held by women organisations that included the Women Action Forum, Aurat Foundation, Hisaar Foundation, Shirkatgah, War Against Rape, Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace, and Pakistan Medical Association.

The LPP demanded that the government to publicly execute those involved in this barbaric act. The demonstrators, mostly women, carried posters and banners condemning the act, and chanted slogans against the Taliban and those backing them. They demanded that the federal government should immediately check terrorism and inhumane acts carried out in the name of Islam and take the culprits to task.

Demonstrators noted that the extremist elements were publicly lashing innocent people in the name of “Islamic Adal”, which was a grave violation of fundamental rights.

Addressing the demonstrators, LPP leaders said that it was ironic that parts of the country had been handed over to those who violate human rights, adding that such elements were a grave threat to the integrity of the country.

They said that it was the duty of progressive and democratic forces as well as civil society to put up strong resistance against extremism and extremist elements in the country. They urged the government to involve civil society and democratic forces in the fight against terrorism so that innocent and law-abiding citizens of Swat and other tribal areas could get rid of bombings and flogging at the hands of Taliban.

The speakers mentioned that a female education district officer in Swat was also being threatened by Taliban, and apprehended that the woman might face such humiliation at the hands of Taliban.

In related developments, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), in association with women organisations, demanded that the writ of the government should be established in all parts of Pakistan, including Swat.

In a press conference held on Saturday at the KPC, NCSW Chairperson Anis Haroon and representatives of various organisations have called upon the government, political parties, civil society organisations and the people of the country to join hands to end brutalisation of women across the country.

Haroon also welcomed the suo moto notice taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. “We urge the apex court to take into account the continued violation of women’s right and human rights across Pakistan,” she said.

Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi said that this was not the Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam had dreamt of. Referring to Article 2-A of the Constitution, she said that Pakistani laws had to be in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, not with any other Shariah. She said that if someone believed that an act had not been committed according to Islamic laws, they must bring it to the Federal Shariat Court instead of punishing people on their own judgments.

Rizvi also questioned why the government was shocked about the incident, as government agencies in Swat kept authorities informed about what was happening .

The press conference was followed by the protest from all women organisations. Speakers at the protest said that they rejected all arguments, creeds and pronouncements that justify, promote, perpetrate or tolerate violence and injustices against women in the name of religion, traditions, norms, caste or colour. They demanded that all perpetrators of violence and crimes against women should be brought to book without exception.

They demanded equal rights for all women of Pakistan in all provinces and all territories, as well as the immediate repealing of all discriminatory laws against women, including Hudood Ordinance, Qanoon-e-Shahadat, Qisas and Diyat laws. The government was also urged by the protesting organisations to remove all hurdles to the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Pakistan is a signatory, and to implement it in letter and spirit.

For Alledged “Religious” Leaders, They Sure Lie a Lot

FIRST MEHSUD TAKES CREDIT FOR N.Y. TERROR, NOW HIS HENCHMEN DEFEND THEIR ACTIONS BY CLAIMING THAT IT WASN’T A GIRL, IT WAS A WOMAN THAT WAS BEING FLOGGED AND HUMILIATED IN THE VIDEO, AND ANYWAY “WE” DIDN’T BEAT HER, WE MADE “BOYS” (“BOYS” WITH THICK FULL BEARDS) TORTURE THE VICTIM.

I DON’T BELIEVE THAT VERY MANY PAKISTANI MEN WANT THEIR MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS AND SISTERS TO BE TORTURED LIKE THIS!

TTP claims facts of flogging incident distorted


By our correspondent

MINGORA: Spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Swat chapter, Muslim Khan, has claimed the video clip showing a young girl being flogged by the Taliban is fake and those responsible for the distortion of facts must be awarded exemplary punishment.

Talking to journalists in Dakorak area of Charbagh Tehsil on Saturday, Muslim Khan condemned those responsible for providing the allegedly fake video to the media and said these elements were trying to derail the peace process in Swat.

He said Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should question the originality of the footage and order an inquiry and take action against those responsible for preparing the ‘fake’ video.

He said the Taliban did not lash the girl.

Instead, they used young boys to award the punishment. He said the accused was a 34-year-old woman and not a 17-year-old girl. He said the woman was punished for her illicit relations with her father-in-law.

He said a conspiracy was being hatched against the Swat Taliban and the peace agreement with the provincial government. He said suo moto action should also be taken against the drone attacks in the tribal areas from across the border.

Muslim Khan said the video released to the media was nine months old and was made at a time when the military operation was going on in Swat.

22 die, 200 injured at Chakwal Imambargah suicide bombing

22 die, 200 injured at Chakwal Imambargah suicide bombing

CHAKWAL: The latest information confirmed 22 dead and 200 injured in the Imambagah suicide bombing here.

According to initial information, the suicide bomber blew himself up during an annual Majlis Aza being held at the Sarpak Mohalla Imambargah in the vicinity of City police station here. Some 2000 to 2500 faithful were attending the Majlis, when the blast occurred tearing away the bodies of the faithful into pieces.

Relief operations have started, while the dead and the injured are being shifted to the District Headquarter Hospital. Ambulances have been sent from Jhelum and Rawalpindi. Police high officials and the DCO have arrived at the site of incident and supervising the relief work.

Heavy contingents of police have besieged the area and collecting evidences from the site of incident. Police mobiles including several vehicles were also damaged in the blast.

Meanwhile, some sources told that the blast was carried by detonating a bomb planted on the parked motorcycle near Imambargah.

Down Where the Predators Live

Down Where the Predators Live

Getting a Closer Look at the Killer Drones

By KATHY KELLY and BRIAN TERRALL
http://www.counterp unch.org/ kelly04032009. html

It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.

This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes. We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, – if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the USAF refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.

Creech Air Force Base is headquarters for coordinating the latest high tech weapons that use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for surveillance and increasingly lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (UAVs), take off from runways in the country of origin, controlled by a pilot, nearby, “on the ground.” But once many of the UAVs are airborne, teams inside trailers at Creech Air Force base and other U. S. sites begin to control them.

We’ve become more skilled in spotting and hearing the vehicles.
But, we want to acknowledge that Creech Air Force base pilots guiding surveillance missions over areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they are ordered to hunt down Taliban fighters, are absorbing and processing information which we wish they could disclose to us.

Trainers at the base have arranged for a contractor to hire “extras” to pose as insurgents, walking about the range inside the base, so that pilots training for combat can practice shooting them. This is all done by simulation. Sometimes flares are set up to simulate plumes of smoke representing pretended battle scenes. But when the pilots fly drones over actual land in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they can see faces; they can gain a sense for the terrain and study the infrastructure. A drone’s camera can show them pictures of everyday life in a region most of us never think much about.

We should be thinking about the cares and concerns of people who have been enduring steady attacks, displacement, economic stress, and, amongst the most impoverished, insufficient supplies of food, water and medicine.

The Pentagon stated, today, that the situation in Pakistan is dire. We agree. Pakistanis have faced dire shortages of goods needed to sustain basic human rights. Security issues such as food security, provision of health care, and development of education can’t be addressed by sending more and more troops into a region, or by firing missiles and dropping bombs.

In the past few days, the Taliban have responded to U.S. drone attacks with attacks of their own and with threats of further retaliation which have provoked renewed drone attacks by the United States. Are we to believe that the predictable spiral of violence is the only way forward?

Antagonisms against the US in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced when we actively respond to the reality revealed to us by the drones’ own surveillance cameras: severe poverty and a crumbling or nonexistent infrastructure. Human interaction, negotiation, diplomacy and dialogue, not surveillance and bombing by robots, will ensure a more peaceful future at home and abroad.

We can’t see what the drones’ “pilots” can see through the camera-eye of the surveillance vehicle. But, we can see a pattern in the way that the U.S. government sells or markets yet another war strategy in an area of the world where the U.S. wants to dominate other people’s precious resources and control or develop transportation routes.

We’ve heard before that the U.S. must go to war to protect human rights of people in the war zone and to enhance security of U.S. people. Certainly, the U.S. is nervous because Pakistan possesses a “nuclear asset,” that is to say, nuclear bombs. But so do other states that have been reckless and dangerous in the conduct of their foreign policy, particularly the United States and Israel.

At the gates of Creech Air Force Base, our signs read: “Ground the Drones…Lest You Reap the Whirlwind,” and “Ending War: Our Collective Responsibility. ” Our statement says: “Proponents of the use of UASs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in `real-time’ by `pilots’ sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity. With less risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of `enemy’ noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians. ”

We hope that U.S. people will take a closer look at our belief that peace will come through generous love and through human interaction, negotiation, dialogue and diplomacy, and not through robots armed with missiles.

Kathy Kelly is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the author of Other Lands Have Dreams (published by CounterPunch/ AK Press). Her email is kathy@vcnv.org
Brian Terrell (terrellcpm@yahoo. com) lives and works at the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, IA.

UN appoints Jewish judge to head Gaza inquiry into alleged war crimes

UN appoints Jewish judge to head Gaza inquiry into alleged war crimes

Richard Goldstone has been appointed to lead a Human Rights Council high-level mission on the Gaza conflict and is urging cooperation from the Israelis and Palestinians

Richard Goldstone has been appointed to lead a Human Rights Council high-level mission on the Gaza conflict and is urging cooperation from the Israelis and Palestinians

A Jewish judge said last night he was ‘shocked’ to be named as head of an investigation into claims of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Richard Goldstone, a South African, will examine allegations that soldiers killed Palestinian civilians in the three-week conflict with Hamas.

The appointment by the UN is believed to be an attempt to appease Israeli opposition to the inquiry. But there are fears it could prompt a Palestinian refusal to co-operate.

Mr Goldstone confessed he was ‘shocked, as a Jew’ to be invited to head the mission.

He said it ‘added an additional dimension’ to the four-person inquiry team which also includes British law professor Christine Chinkin.

The judge, who is on the board of governors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, added: ‘I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an even-handed and impartial manner.’

In the past, Israel has snubbed human rights investigations. It was still unclear last night if its leaders intended to co-operate with the latest inquiry.

An explosion after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 13

An explosion after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 13

According to a Palestinian rights group, 1,417 people, including 926 civilians, were killed in the December-January war. Thirteen Israelis also died.

Mr Goldstone is urging Israeli and Palestinian authorities to cooperate with the probe.

Possible Palestinian violations in southern Israel will also be assessed, he said, telling a news conference that his team expects to travel to the region in a few weeks and issue a report to the UN Human Rights Council in July.

‘There are substantial allegations of war crimes having been committed before, during and after the military operations in Gaza,’ Mr Goldstone said.

‘I would request the cooperation of the relevant authorities to enable members of the mission to visit and meet victims both in Israel and in Gaza and in the occupied territories,’ he said.

Israel has accused Hamas fighters in Gaza of using civilians as human shields during the fighting. Rights groups have also criticised Hamas for firing rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel.

The team’s mandate stems from a resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council at a special session on January 12.

The 47 member-state forum, dominated by Muslim countries and their allies, condemned Israel for ‘grave violations’ of human rights during its assault and called for an international probe.