Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?

Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?

By: Peter Chamberlin

In a world where all the Western media and most of the foreign press has proven that it cannot be trusted to tell the truth we cannot possibly know who our soldiers are fighting in Pakistan or why.  Every news source gives another version of the “official truth” as determined by the powers that be.  We know that we are witnessing at least one strategic “great game” unfolding in the region, more likely, there are multiple psychological warfare operations playing-out in Pakistan’s western region.

When both American and Pakistani governments regularly lie about the Taliban that they fight and others that they want to fight, then it makes as much sense to find reports by someone who has interviewed the accused militants theselves.  The following quotes [in yellow] are from Pakistani Taliban TTP leader Maulvi Nazir, taken from an interview with him on the Islamic site As-Sahab.

Should we ever believe the word of a “terrorist/freedom fighter,” for that matter, should we ever believe words crafted by psy-operators?  Whatever the truth about this man’s words, the As-Sahab interview is a rare opportunity to peer into the mind of a TTP leader.

At 34, Mulla Nazeer Ahmad is representative of the new Taliban, just like his teammates Nek Mohammad, Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah and the Dadullah brothers.

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This is the new Taliban, most of them bearing the honorary title of “Mullah, Maulvi or Maulana,” because they are graduates of the radical Saudi/US Sunni madrassas where, from an early age, they were brainwashed, by studying radicalized texts, such as the disinformative “jihadi textbooks” which were produced for the CIA by the University of Nebraska’s Afghanistan Department.  Tutored in the guerilla sciences in the CIA/ISI training camps which were built for “jihad” against the Soviet occupation forces, too young to participate themselves, these “extremist” radicalized boys were ticking time bombs, awaiting the next jihad.

Here in the tribal areas, The Mujahideen are content with war. When there is no war, they start depressing. We are not afraid of war. War has raised the spirits of the Mujahideen.

This second-generation militant army was set into play as part of the long-range plans of the first extremist American president and vice president, Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., by the same two out-of-control spy agencies who had trained and armed their brothers and fathers in the eighties. The continuity of their plan determined US foreign policy for the next thirty years.  In 1996 a second extremist American president set these mujahedeen veterans and trainees loose upon the people of the former Yugoslavia.  Again, in 2001, a third extremist American administration called forth the militant militia, this time to play act the part of a mythic Islamic army of superpower stature.  From the remnants of the final battle of the Cold War arose “al Qaida,” the threatening slayer of superpowers.

This interview with Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir/”Nazeer” offers a unique glimpse into this “enemy” conjured-up by the CIA and the Pakistani secret service ISI, to represent all of the Islamic world in this apocalyptic Republican production of a “clash of civilizations.”  In contradiction to every story on the unfolding war against Pakistan that is carried by the subservient American, Pakistani, Indian and British presses, Nazir tries to set the record straight on who he is and who his men are fighting, before the Obama escalation gets underway and every unofficial news story gets swept away by the Western news filters.

Maulvi Nazir should know the truth about recent CIA/ISI collaboration in the war on terror, since he has lately been the focus of a psychological warfare operation known as the “Taliban split.”  For the past year he has been a special target of the most expensive manhunt in history, with Predator drones sweeping the land in “open season” hunts on Pakistani Taliban leaders. Dozens of remote controlled hunter/killers have prowled the skies over S. Waziristan trying to get a Hellfire missile shot at this slippery leader (they wounded him once).

In the interview, Nazir dispels the manufactured myth that he has been working with the Pakistani Army to separate the “moderate Taliban” from the unreconcilable “al Qaida” types.  He claims that the dispute within the Pakistani Taliban between himself and Baitullah Mehsud was brought about by the ISI to split the movement.  He denies that the Taliban have attacked anyone other than military forces, or that they were part of the group that attacked Mumbai, alluding to another militant group at work in the area.

We do not know the Mujahideen who sacrificed their lives in India, but we lament our loss that why we could not go forth ourselves to lay down our lives there. The sacrifice they offered was a very great one. It lofted the spirits of the Mujahideen. We pray for them and consider them to be sincere with Allah.
As for India, it should know that immense numbers of the Mujahideen lie await for them here in the tribal areas and inside Pakistan. If it proceeds to attack, then let it be aware that Allah willing, we are fully able to answer back and too ready to give away our lives.

He rejects the separate peace deal signed between the TNSM militant group led by Maulana Fazlullah as a deception to divide the organization.  He rejects the militant groups waging war against India in Kashmir as tools of ISI.

This is an affair running under the ISI and it is ludicrous to hope that the Shariah or Islam shall come this way. Thus the Jihad through which the ISI has put people into deception can bear no fruit. Our advice to those of our brothers is that they should support us here and join forces with us. We offer sacrifices to establish the Shariah and the law of Allah. The Kashmiri Jihad does not help us forward in achieving our objectives. There is a law of kufr in India and a law given by the British in Pakistan. One of these two brands of kufr shall prevail in Kashmir. It isn’t Islam that would reign…and so our sacrifices will go in vain.

It is our sincere advice to those of our Mujahid brothers that they should renounce servitude to the ISI.

Nazir refutes local conspiracy theories that claim his group works for, or is funded by India, Russia or Israel (but he fails to mention Iran).

These tribes have done Jihad against the British and the Soviets before this, and we simply are Mujahideen. This propaganda against us is absolutely false. We have rose for Jihad and give sacrifices to establish the rule of Shariah. The assertions that we have come from India and that MOSAD finances us are a stratagem of the ISI. We haven’t received money from anyone and have been Mujahideen from old times. These tribes have been sacrificing since the British era and are laying down their lives to this day. We fight with them in Afghanistan too and are enemies of the occupation forces there. Such propaganda is utterly false and groundless. Anyone who is in doubt should come here and observe us and have a look at the state of affairs…and then come to a decision about who gives us money…is it India or someone else? Pakistan has put the people in deception that India or perhaps Russia finances us. Come on! We have warred Russia before this! And we are enemies to India and MOSAD.

He says that the terror attacks against other Muslims at local markets and mosques are the work of the government or someone hired by the government.

Actually, it is the ISI that executes operations at mosques, not the Mujahideen. They are enemies to us and so they scare people about us being thugs and things like that. We are Mujahideen and we never carry out martyrdom operations in the vicinity of Muslims. It is the Army upon which we execute such operations. The Army is our target because it has aided the Americans. We do carry out martyrdom operations throughout Pakistan but we renounce and condemn those of them in mosques and marketplaces. It is our enemy that does it.

Nazir claims that all the “spies” who were executed lately for planting tracking devices for Predator drone attacks worked for the ISI.  Nazir also contends that the whole public uproar over the Predator attacks is a stage-managed production, since the ISI already controls the targeting of the drones by planting these SIM-card transmitters.

Pakistan has misled the common population that America carries out these attacks and we cannot do anything to stop them. All the spies that we have caught turned out to be employees of Pakistan. The location-tracking SIMs that they use had been provided by Pakistan. We have also released their video clips. The spyware and intelligence is fully associated with the Army. A couple of days ago, an American CIA officer confessed that Pakistan’s airbases are being used for these attacks and that Pakistan itself is involved in them. They have even threatened us themselves that it is we who are striking you and that either you should renounce Jihad or we would attack. The assertion that America is behind this and we are helpless is only meant to deceive the public. All these attacks that have happened and are still happening are the work of Pakistan.

The entire drama generated in the international media over these ongoing drone attacks has been intended to raise Americans’ temperatures and to agitate the Pakistani people into embracing a war against the American and Pakistani-created “Taliban.”  It is extremely difficult to understand why individuals within the Pakistani government and military would participate in this plot to dismember Pakistan.  The pay-off must have been irresistible.  It should be obvious by now that a large segment of Pakistan’s leaders work for the American government.

The purpose of the “Taliban split” psyop was to convince the people of Pakistan and the United States that there was a growing division between our governments, especially between our spy agencies.  We were supposed to believe that the Taliban were exclusively a Pakistani creation, forgetting that the entire operation was CIA from start to finish, in order to create a straw man foil to America’s role of hero, as it led a Western crusade to end this international “terrorist” operation.  Pakistan was to be our patsy in a genocidal operation, intended to sacrifice India and Pakistan to save the gods of Wall Street.

The entire Taliban/”al Qaida” operation from start to finish was a massive genocidal plot to sacrifice nation after nation (beginning with the Soviet Union), in order to preserve American capitalism.  The “jihadi” ideology was created to salvage “free market” ideology from the eventual consequences of its own unrestrained freedom to pursue profit.  Now that capitalism’s great moment of testing has arrived, the jihadi operation is being exploited to the fullest, in order that the military crisis might override the financial crisis and eventually provide the means to end both crises by presidential emergency powers and the mere stroke of a pen.

Forged in the fires of jihad, which burned in the sick and deranged mind of Ayatollah Khoemeni, in the latter nineteen-seventies, the British and American Zionists of MI6 and the CIA hatched this devastating plot to conquer the world.  In the mass panic and confusion that is sure to accompany this Christian/Jewish war on “radical Islam” the Western world could easily take possession of the Middle Eastern oil region and simultaneously eliminate the major source of resistance to the Zionist plans (if it can kick its public aversion to nuking civilian populations).

By bringing forth the first “colored revolution” in Iran, the spy-lords played upon the fears running rampent in the  minds of the Saudi royals, manipulating them by magnifying their fearful visions of an imminent fundamentalist revolution erupting amidst their own population, especially among the Shia minority. They convinced the Wahabbi leaders to finance and to organize an operation to transplant an outpost of militants, radicalized by their own corrupt religion, into the fringes of the Soviet empire, exporting their problem to the unsuspecting Pakistanis, whom them called “brothers.”

Through a succession of ploys and military campaigns, the ISI managed to keep this growing jihadi army busy fighting Pakistan’s enemies, or at least it managed to keep them divided through inter-tribal warfare and manufactured political splits.  The “Taliban split” was one of these manufactured divisions.  We were led to believe by Western media reports that this was a natural division that arose from differences of opinion within the ranks about proper tactics.

Pakistani and Indian sources played the conspiracy angle in the psyop, revealing that there was a foreign hand at work, causing the division.  The best conspiracy is one that functions by successfully ridiculing or maligning the unconcealable truth about itself.  There really was a foreign hand at work in the Frontier Region; in fact, several of them.

A second, non-Pashtun “Taliban” group had entered Pakistan, led by Guantanamo graduate Abdullah Mehsud.  This false “Taliban,” composed of several thousand mercenaries and thugs, was recruited from Uzbek and Afghan Northern Alliance fighters. Steadfast Iranian support for the Northern Alliance forces against the Taliban reveal Iran’s favorites in this struggle and may explain Pakistani Taliban financing, as well as indicate that Amrullah Saleh, the head of the Afghan secret police (NDS) might be working for Iran.  He organized Abdullah’s present for Pakistan (to “poison the soil where terrorism grows”), with overwhelming CIA funds and expertise.  This may help explain the billions of missing dollars and missing weapons that have been reported.  Saleh has been a key player in the decades old psyop since he informed the CIA two days before the 911 attacks that charismatic Northern Alliance leader Massoud was assassinated.

Once in Pakistan, this false “Neo-Taliban” began to stage terror attacks and sow discord, bringing down the wrath of the Pakistani Army on the FATA supporters of the war against the American occupation forces.  This scuttled peace treaties between the Army and Taliban and instigated new conflict.  During this period mysterious anonymous attacks began against Taliban leaders, local Shiites and other civilian targets.

Maulvi Nazir and his tribesmen were encouraged to blame the local Uzbeks for the mischief of the invading Uzbek “neo-Taliban,” in an attempt to re-ignite the long-simmering Mehsud/Waziri feud.  They formed Lashkars of hundreds of local fighters and declared a mini-war against the “al Qaida” Uzbeks.  The Pakistani Army embraced the Lashkar idea and spread it among the tribes, claiming Nazir as a collaborator.  To enhance the idea that he was leading the “split,” local reporters such as “CIA mouthpiece” Syed Saleem Shahzid gave voice to the story, encouraging belief in the intra-Taliban war.

We are being targeted in drone attacks. I was targeted in a drone attack myself. How come we are Pakistan’s serving militia?! We are the soldiers of Islam and we are Mujahideen, not some Pakistani horde. In fact, we are hostile to Pakistan and we are an Islamic army. Pakistan attacked me and attacks the rest of our brother Mujahideen by their drone aircrafts. How can we be Pakistan’s men?

the Pakistani Army, as they have accepted servitude to the Americans. Pakistan is foremost among the forty, forty-five of America’s allies. About 75-80% of the captives at Cuba have been handed over by Pakistan. The others of America’s friends have not served it so well. About two to three hundred containers of American supplies cross from over Pakistani land daily. This is the extent to which Pakistan serves America. 70% of the assistance America receives is provided by Pakistan. They have martyred our Mujahid brothers; those of them who were leading us and were our elders. Whenever we raise our head, Pakistan pursues us. Thus we are compelled to war Pakistan. It is not because India or Russia has bribed us…not at all…rather, we have been compelled to do so. Pakistan does not leave us alone. Neither do they spare any base camp, nor do they spare any Mujahid. Rather they kill us even in our homes. So you should forsake Pakistan’s friendship and join the Mujahideen.

The Pakistani Army reacted to the ongoing terror and bent to the American will, beginning a series of operations against the heavily armed militants in Swat and Bajaur.  Into this brewing cauldron of division, the CIA began a highly-publicized concentrated series of Predator attacks upon the Pakistani Taliban which targeted Mullah Nazir but spared Mehsud.  The discrimination in targeting encouraged rumors that Mehsud worked for the CIA and Nazir worked for ISI.  This twisted operation was leading to its inevitable conclusion of total upheaval in Pakistan, when Pres. Obama came on the scene and began to “tweek” the program by targeting Baitullah Mehsud.  This too had its inevitable conclusion, in Maulvi Nazir’s own words:

All praise is to Allah, the Mujahideen have now joined forces; Gul Bahadur, Baitullah and we have all become one,”

The “Taliban split” between the S. Waziristan warlords has been miraculously healed by America’s airborne avengers, just as a new political rift was being opened between the Pakistani Taliban and their allies the TNSM of Sufi Mohamed and Maulana Fazlullah in Swat.  This completes the division process of separating the “reconcilable” Taliban represented by the Swat deal from the unreconcilables of Waziristan, opening the way for waging total war against the targeted Pushtun tribes.  [It is unknown at this time what changes, if any, will flow from Sufi calling-off the agreement today.]

The Pakistani Government is not sincere in their gesture with the people of Malakand. It is not true in its promise of giving them the Shariah system. This is no more than a warfare tactic of theirs. There is a war of Kalashnikovs and bullets and there is a war of politics.

With these individuals remaining in power, it is ridiculous to think that Shariah would ever be as it should be. These are cronies of America. Pakistan has the British law implemented in it, and its educational system is that devised by Lord Macaulay. With this at hand, we cannot accept the supposed Shariah. The Supreme Court remains imposed upon our heads and then they say: “We donate the Shariah to Waziristan while they work under us”…sorry, we can’t accept this.

It is true that there are no “moderate Taliban;” there are only Taliban. The Wahabbi madrassas produced only one kind of brain-washed student, the kind that believed the shortest path to heaven was through violent jihad.  This is exactly what the deranged CIA planners hoped for, when they planted the foundations of the jihadi university in Pakistan thirty years ago.  Pakistan is under attack from multiple directions today because of that partnership with the CIA.   For its own sake, the Pakistani Army must expunge itself of all the CIA collaborators from within its own ranks and within the government and establishment.  Only then will it be safe to proceed with eliminating the CIA mercenaries from its western and northern regions.

The truth about the claims that Nazir makes can only be confirmed by new revelations from inside sources, or by time itself.  His controversial claims about covert collusion between the secret services of Pakistan and the US seem to make sense, considering their dark shared history.   If looked at from a “great game” perspective, where everything is played-off against everything else, in a series of gambits to gain strategic advantage, it makes perfect sense.  Rumors of a secret FBI network embedded in FATA would explain the successful guided missile attacks upon key militants, but it seems more logical that Pakistani informants would blend more readily among the tribal militants than would American agents.  While it seems highly improbable that Army agents would bomb mosques and kill Shias, as Maulvi Nazir contends, his disavowal of guilt for these terrorist acts could point to another anonymous group staging false flag attacks, to be blamed on the local Taliban.  Likewise, insisting that there was no connection between his group and events in India and Kashmir does point the finger at ISI-connected groups, but it also, once again, raises the probability of a separate anonymous terror organization.  This other group is the one that must be exposed, if there is to be anything resembling peace in Pakistan’s future.

But the bearded mullah also raises the thorny issue of the Taliban’s true intentions.  Is there any possibility of a negotiated peace with the militant group?

our Jihad is against kufr, and to get back our lands that kufr has occupied, and our Jihad is meant to make supreme the Word of Allah and to establish the system of Shariah. Our Jihad isn’t limited to Pakistan or Afghanistan. We do not even accept these parting boundaries that “this shall be Pakistan” and “that shall be Afghanistan”…this is nothing but an inanity devised by the Jews and we reject it. All Muslims are our brothers, may they be in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Palestine or anywhere in the world. It is impossible to create division between Muslims, and the present partitions are utterly rejected. Our Jihad is a global Jihad, and we aim to liberate Muslims throughout the world and obliterate tumult, oppression and mischief, and establish the system of Shariah all over the world. We want the Law of Allah on the Land of Allah.

In this militant’s words (the same with them all), their goal is a global “caliphate,” just as the neocons claim.  But does this mean that overwhelming military force is the only answer to jihadi ambition?  In the most advanced cases, the answer obviously has to be “yes,” but in a majority of these contests, overwhelming military force is not the correct answer.  Since this type of religious-oriented militancy, feeds on violence, growing stronger with each self-defensive reaction, then the correct answer is to attack the illogical ideology that has misled the devout Muslim populations with superior moral force, true Islam.  In the case of a militant faith that enforces adherence to its warped religious tenets, such as “al Qaida” cites when  using violence to enforce their version of “Sharia Law,” the faithful naturally turn away from the mob in righteous indignation and sheer survivalism, whenever they see their own families and their beloved Prophet’s words brutalized.

Pakistan will likely choose to follow the path set by its secret rulers from afar, but it might also just decide to blaze an independent trail in its effort to deal with the Wahabbi militant threat.  If it chooses to accept the path of military escalation, then the entire region will be set ablaze, with all that that implies in a nuclear weapons zone.  But if its leaders can convince America to help them bottle-up the threat, while they fix the economic problems that feed the revolution and eliminate the foreign influence in the battle zone, then support for extremism would start to fade away just as it was doing in FATA and formerly did in Anbar Province in Iraq.  If, after restoring some sort of law and order to the region that Musharref destabilized in order to satisfy Bush and Cheney, Pakistan then seeks to revive this “moderate Taliban” search, that would be the time to re-introduce targeted assassinations in FATA, not before then.

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com

Britain is the Official Testing Ground for Global Police State

‘Will you open fire on UK citizens’ Army personnel being asked

In a stunning conversation with a friend, who is a serving member of the Armed Forces, over the weekend, it was revealed that transfers to regiments and other units in the UK on home duties are being undertaken by the MOD based upon whether an individual was prepared to ‘open fire’ on UK citizens during civil disturbances.

I found this long and extracted conversation to be both bizarre and frightening. I will state at this point that he is someone that I have known for years, and trust implicitly. The fact that service personnel are actually being asked in special briefing sessions whether they would fire on their own nationals indicates that the rumours about the Army being put on standby are indeed very true.

As if to add weight to this, it was reported yesterday as a tag on a posting about UKIP by Richard North on EUReferendum that plans for Army involvement were well advanced:

Recently, from a confidential source, I received information that the MoD was buying up unusually large quantities of tear gas and other riot equipment. Clearly, it has no intention of being caught out, as it was at the beginning of the Troubles, having to ration tear gas and riot shields. Maybe they might even find a use for all those Snatch Land Rovers, when they are returned from Iraq.

The implications of putting the Army on the streets, though, are horrendous. Currently, the Army is riding on the crest of a wave of public approval but, as it did in Northern Ireland, sentiment can very quickly turn. The ramifications for the campaign in Afghanistan might be significant. An Army which is sent out against its own people is not likely to attract much support for its other activities.

But there is not much prospect of the Army disobeying orders. As we saw in the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic, it went to work with a will, engaging in illegal activities, intimidating ordinary people and conspiring with the civil authorities to enforce false arrest. It will do so again if ordered, with the back-up this time of the Civil Contingencies Act which makes legal much of what was illegal back in 2001.

It goes a long way to explain why our servicemen and women are not getting the equipment they need in the war zones, lack of transport, lack of helicopters, lack of personal protection equipment. We know for instance that there are several hundred Italian made soft personnel vehicles in storage in the UK for use here, bought by the MoD to replace the snatch Land Rovers, but never sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, and the fleet of 8 Chinooks that was due to be dispatched this month are now to be kept in the UK.

We believe that this Government is looking for that confrontation with the people in order to invoke the Civil Contingencies Act and make use of the plethora of authoritarian laws it has prepared over the 12 years in control.

It continues to introduce new rules, rulings and guidelines on a daily basis designed specifically to inflame the anger in the population, hoping that they will eventually snap and take to the streets.

Armed with this latest knowledge, I would advise extreme caution and suggest that we heed the words of warning from Leg-Iron.

If we don’t riot, Labour are likely to be obliterated in a general election.
If we do riot, there won’t be one.

This Government is looking for a fight. Don’t give it to them.

This trend needs to be discussed at the highest levels, the very idea that the Government is plotting against its own people is repugnant in the extreme, and I would like to call for confirmation that this disgusting process of briefings is indeed being undertaken.

UPDATE:
The Daily Express is reporting.

TOP secret contingency plans have been drawn up to counter the threat posed by a “summer of discontent” in Britain.

The “double-whammy” of the worst economic crisis in living memory and a motley crew of political extremists determined to stir up civil disorder has led to the ­extraordinary step of the Army being put on ­standby.

The Questions that really needs to be asked here is this.

Is the Army legally entitled to support a Government no longer wanted by the people?.
Would the Army comply with such orders on the British Mainland?

I want to know exactly what this Government has planned for Military deployments in the UK, and whether they would be deployed against their own citizens.

It is known that many of the senior personnel in the MoD have received Common Purpose training. The content and purpose of that secret training now needs explaining.

‘Devil’s Advocate’ jury finds no proof he was behind Sept. 11

Dutch TV show exonerates Osama bin Laden

‘Devil’s Advocate’ jury finds no proof he was behind Sept. 11

By Scott Roxborough

April 9, 2009, 12:37 PM ET

BERLIN — A Dutch TV jury has found Osama bin Laden not guilty of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the conclusion Wednesday night to the show “Devil’s Advocate” on Dutch public broadcaster Nederland 2, the jury of two men and three women, along with the studio audience, ruled there was no proof bin Laden was the mastermind behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

The Netherlands, home to “Big Brother” creator Endemol, is known for being on the cutting edge of format-based television. But even for Dutch standards, “Devil’s Advocate,” from Amsterdam production house AVRO, pushes the envelope.

The show features star defense attorney Gerard Spong standing up for some of the world’s worst criminals.

In the latest show, Spong was able to convince the jury that bin Laden’s connection to Sept. 11 was a product of “Western propaganda.” The jury also ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove bin Laden was the real head of terrorist network al-Qaida. However, the jury did rule that bin Laden is a “terrorist who has misused Islam.”

The show is certain to provide further ammunition in the already heated Dutch debate over immigration and the country’s large Muslim minority. The Netherlands saw a sharp rise in anti-immigration and anti-Islamic sentiment after the 2004 murder of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist.

Spong has been at the center of the debate, supporting legal action against anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders.

Dutch TV show exonerates Osama bin Laden

‘Devil’s Advocate’ jury finds no proof he was behind Sept. 11

By Scott Roxborough

April 9, 2009, 12:37 PM ET

BERLIN — A Dutch TV jury has found Osama bin Laden not guilty of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the conclusion Wednesday night to the show “Devil’s Advocate” on Dutch public broadcaster Nederland 2, the jury of two men and three women, along with the studio audience, ruled there was no proof bin Laden was the mastermind behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.

The Netherlands, home to “Big Brother” creator Endemol, is known for being on the cutting edge of format-based television. But even for Dutch standards, “Devil’s Advocate,” from Amsterdam production house AVRO, pushes the envelope.

The show features star defense attorney Gerard Spong standing up for some of the world’s worst criminals.

In the latest show, Spong was able to convince the jury that bin Laden’s connection to Sept. 11 was a product of “Western propaganda.” The jury also ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove bin Laden was the real head of terrorist network al-Qaida. However, the jury did rule that bin Laden is a “terrorist who has misused Islam.”

The show is certain to provide further ammunition in the already heated Dutch debate over immigration and the country’s large Muslim minority. The Netherlands saw a sharp rise in anti-immigration and anti-Islamic sentiment after the 2004 murder of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim extremist.

Spong has been at the center of the debate, supporting legal action against anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders.

Police arrests Indian, five others in Sihala

Police arrests Indian, five others in Sihala

The alleged Indian spy admitted that he and others were planning terror attacks on Police College Sihala. — APRAWALPINDI: Police arrested five more suspects in Sihala on Friday, after an Indian national arrested earlier in the day confessed to planning an attack on Police College Sihala, DawnNews reported.

Interrogation of the five arrested was underway. They were seized on a tip off by the arrested Indian.

The earlier arrest was made in the jurisdiction of Police College Sihala, near Rawalpindi, DawnNews reported.

He was arrested on suspicion after being seen in the area, officials said.

An investigation team has been set up to question him, Deputy Inspector General of Police and commandant of the college Fateh Sher Joyia told DawnNews.

However, sources said the alleged Indian spy admitted that he and others were planning terror attacks on Police College Sihala, DawnNews reported.

The alleged spy has been handed over to secret agencies for further investigation, sources told DawnNews.

Officials declined to give the name and other information on the Indian saying details could be shared only after the investigation process has been completed.

However the DIG confirmed that maps of important Pakistani cities along with some phone numbers were recovered from his possession.

The Indian was wearing five thick shirts and a belt, a police official said.

Who killed the Baloch leaders?

Who killed the Baloch leaders?

Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

A man removes burning tyres set alight by protesters in Karachi April 9, 2009. The protesters were demonstrating against the killing of political activists in Balochistan. — Reuters

KARACHI: Riots have broken out in Karachi as well as Quetta, Khuzdar and other areas of Balochistan after the bodies of three Baloch political activists were located by the police near Turbat late on Wednesday.

Baloch National Movement (BNM) President Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir, also of the BNM, and Sher Mohammad Baloch of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) were found dead in a mountainous area 40 kilometres away from Turbat.

The three were picked up by unidentified armed men from the chamber of Advocate Kachkol Ali in Turbat on April 3, 2009. ‘I was right there when three cars full of men dressed in civilian clothes showed up outside my chamber.’

‘On that day, the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) Turbat had dismissed all cases against Ghulam Baloch, Lala Munir and Sher Mohammad Baloch and there were no more cases against the three.’ The activists had been accused of sparking political unrest in Quetta and Karachi in relation to the Baloch nationalist movement and the increasing number of missing persons cases. In the past few months, Baloch politicians and nationalists have alleged that members of nationalist groups have been abducted by government agencies.

‘The unidentified men stormed into my office and began tying the three up,’ says Advocate Ali. ‘A scuffle followed and one of the lawyers there started resisting. They tied him up but he was released once the men ascertained his identity,’ he says. ‘I believe they were killed soon after they were picked up.’

‘All three of them were shot in the head and the conditions of their bodies indicate they were killed soon after they went missing,’ adds BNM’s acting president Asa Zafar. According to a report, the dead bodies were at least six days old.

It is notable that Ghulam Mohammad Baloch was also a member of the 10-member committee constituted by Hyrbyar Marri to ascertain the identities of Balochistan’s missing persons as well as to negotiate the release of UNHCR’s Quetta director John Solecki. Ghulam Baloch was abducted from the advocate’s chamber on April 3 and Solecki was released the very next morning.

‘After the government of Pakistan denied knowledge of the 1,109 missing as demanded by the Balochistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), this committee was constituted to ascertain the numbers and the identities of the missing,’ a cousin of Ghulam Baloch says.

‘Only two days before Ghulam was taken away from Advocate Ali’s chamber, a United Nations committee had met Khairbux Marri. On that same day, Ghulam Baloch spoke to the press and said the committee was making headway in its attempts to secure Solecki’s release.’

Asked as to what prompted Solecki’s abductors, whose demand was justice for Balochistan’s missing, to release the UN official when a committee member aiming to secure that very release had also gone missing, Asa Zafar said: ‘We are a political party. We do not know any of Solecki’s abductors and what happened with Ghulam Baloch is nothing but a conspiracy against our party and against the people of Balochistan.’

‘When Solecki was abducted, a crackdown had started against Baloch nationalist groups. Ghulam had told me on several occasions that he was being threatened with death,’ Ameen Baloch, BNM’s representative in Karachi, adds.

‘It is possible that Ghulam Baloch was deeply involved in some of the investigations regarding the missing and had uncovered something crucial.… Maybe that is why he and his colleagues were killed,’ Ghulam’s cousin suggests.

But BRP’s Riaz Badeni says that ‘Solecki’s is a separate subject altogether.’ His opinion is echoed by BRP Karachi chapter’s leader Shahnawaz Baloch, who argues that there is no connection between the abduction and the subsequent killing of the three activists and Solecki’s release. ‘It is only elements from within the government who have orchestrated the attacks,’ he says.

For his part, Advocate Ali argues that a new tactic is transpiring, which involves the abduction and extra-judicial killing of people. ‘The abduction of Ghulam, Lala Munir and Sher Mohammad was a downright insult of the ATC’s decision,’ he adds.

According to the advocate, after the April 3 incident, he tried to register an FIR against the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Frontier Corps (FC), but no case was registered. ‘I was shooed away by the police,’ he says.

Meanwhile, Provincial Minister for Irrigation Aslam Bizenjo expresses outrage at the death of the Baloch activists. ‘[The perpetrators] want to disrupt peace in Balochistan,’ he says. Bizenjo alleges that this is the work of government agencies and claims that he, along with several other members of the provincial assembly, will be registering an official protest.

While protests and rioting continues, a three-member tribunal, comprising Balochistan High Court judges, has been constituted by Balochistan’s Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani to investigate the activists’ death.

The Balochistan High Court has also taken a suo motu notice in this regard. It has summoned the provincial home secretary, police chiefs of the Turbat and Panjgur districts and the concerned area’s Station House Officer (SHO) on April 16 while taking notice of the incident.

Earlier, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Ali Ahmed Kurd announced a boycott of courts in Balochistan for three days as well as a boycott across Pakistan on April 13 to condemn the killings. He had demanded that the killers be arrested and produced before the courts.

The writer can be contacted at quratulain.siddiqui@gmail.com

A state adrift

A state adrift

By Cyril Almeida

Knowing nothing about Swat’s militants has allowed them to carry the flag of Islam with impunity. —File photo

Knowing nothing about Swat’s militants has allowed them to carry the flag of Islam with impunity. —File photo

YOU’VE been declared Public Enemy No 1. Your suicide bombers have wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s cities in recent months.

There is a $5m bounty on your head. The Americans finally seem to be training their drone-mounted Hellfire missiles on your neighbourhood. What would you do?

Probably not pick up a phone, casually dial a reporter’s number and vow to send yet more suicide bombers. But that’s what Baitullah Mehsud is doing, and nobody seems to know how he gets away with it.

The official Pakistani line is that while we can track Mehsud, we don’t have the technology to wipe him out from the sky. And that when we ask the Americans to take him out for us instead, they find a million excuses to avoid doing so.

Fine. So America is playing its own double game. But if we can’t and the Americans won’t take Mehsud out, does that mean we do nothing instead?

Actually, we are doing something: we’re obfuscating the truth. Mehsud’s enormous and sophisticated war machine in South Waziristan is being financed by India, so go the whispered accusations in our intelligence circles. It’s a neat little theory: Pakistan’s oldest enemy supporting the country’s latest enemy.

Except it has little basis in the truth. One of Mehsud’s favourite fund-raising techniques is kidnapping the rich in cities in the north, and even as far away as Karachi in the south. At the moment the going rate at the high end is Rs90m. Do the math: 35 such victims a year comes to over Rs3bn.

And this in addition to the rents he extracts from the denizens of his kingdom. Commit a crime, smuggle stuff, steal your neighbour’s goat or wife, look at the wrong person the wrong way – and you’re liable to pay a fine, duly deposited in Mehsud’s kitty.

And then there’s the mysterious disbursement of development funds in Mehsud’s area. Eventually, perhaps when it’s no longer relevant or nobody cares, the truth will come out about how the state lined the pockets of the very man who turned his guns on it. But for now, the lie of Indian support continues.

The mystery of Baitullah Mehsud is only one, albeit prominent, example of the terrible reality of recent years: despite being one of the foremost victims of terrorism in the world, we as a nation remain stunningly clueless about its perpetrators and their motives.

Look no farther than Swat for proof. Despite being in the full glare of the national media for nearly two years, what do we really know about the militants there? Who is Maulana Fazlullah? What does he want? Where did he learn to not just fight but defeat the Pakistan armed forces? Are his fighters local or foreign? Who is Muslim Khan? What are the tactics of Swat’s militants? Are there similarities to fighters elsewhere?

Knowing nothing about Swat’s militants has allowed them to carry the flag of Islam with impunity and camouflage their bid to wrest territorial control from the state as a crusade for the Sharia.

And it’s allowed canards to flourish. Militancy in Pakistan would disappear if the Americans left Afghanistan. But what does the American presence there have to do with flogging a girl here? Up in the Khyber Agency there is a rumour that the thug Mangal Bagh, another crook who has wrapped himself in the cloak of Islam, ordered the stoning to death of girl for committing adultery. Nobody made a video of it, so the incident hasn’t travelled outside.

But the fault isn’t of the media and the people alone. For all its talk of militancy being the biggest threat to the state, of ‘new strategies’ and of the 3 Ds, the government has yet to do something elementary: flesh out a coherent plan to take on the militants.

The desultory, purposeless, piecemeal actions of the government would be laughable were the consequences not so horrifying. Of the ‘deterrence’ component of the anti-militancy strategy – what is it supposed to mean? Surely a coherent response would begin with a thorough review. Identify the threat. Identify the resources available to fight it. Study the literature. Identify the doable, and what’s needed to do more. Explain how it will be done.

But instead of serious policymaking we’re flying by the seat of our pants. Intelligence coordination failures? Hmmm … let’s set up a new body. Enter the National Counter Terrorism Authority. Never mind that the national coordinator doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to do and that the agencies he’s supposed to coordinate among aren’t really interested.

Cities unsafe? Let’s recruit anti-terrorism squads. Their brief? Protect public officials and property. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find and eliminate the terrorists rather than wait, guns at the ready, to mow down suicide bombers dashing towards their targets?

The army has fared little better. Gen Kayani tells us that the army is alert to the threats, internal and external, that confront the nation. Excellent. But what about learning how to confront the threat you’re so alert to?

Three phases of Operation Rah-i-Haq in Swat and the militants were unbowed. What has the army learned from it? Has the institutional army, responsible for organising, training and equipping the armed forces, absorbed any of the lessons the combat forces learned in engaging the militants?

Is the army studying counterinsurgency strategies used by other armies? How many Pakistani officers have read Gen Petraeus’s COIN manual? What is the army’s view on killing the enemy versus protecting the population? The army has learned to live with drone strikes in Fata, but what exactly does it understand about safe havens?

There is a growing debate in American military circles about the validity of the assumption that safe havens are a necessity for modern trans-national militant groups. Which side wins that debate could have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan, given the current American obsession with safe havens in Fata and even Balochistan.

But what about the likes of Qari Hussain, Ustad-i-Fidayeen, who trains his suicide bombers in South Waziristan and sends them to Pakistan’s cities to attack the state and occasionally Shias? Could there be a more direct link between safe havens and the upsurge of militancy inside Pakistan?

Following a perverse security agenda is one thing, not knowing or understanding its effects another. The fact is Pakistan isn’t the world’s most dangerous place because of rampant militancy. It is the world’s most dangerous place because it doesn’t know what to do about it.

cyril.a@gmail.com

Analysing drone attacks

Analysing drone attacks

—Najmuddin A Shaikh

Where army operations have been successful, and Bajaur is a prime example, the collateral damage in terms of displacement of the population has been terribly high. More than half a million people from Bajaur have left their homes and have received little assistance in the settled districts to which they have fled

Increasing discontent in Pakistan over the purport of President Obama’s AfPak policy has many elements.

Let’s begin with the reiteration of an old Obama position: “And we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets”.

This has been correctly interpreted as meaning that drone attacks in the tribal areas would continue despite Islamabad’s position that they violate Pakistani sovereignty and are counter-productive. Pakistan has consistently argued that the collateral damage makes this war an even harder sell for any government in Pakistan, causes further alienation and increases support for the common enemies of Pakistan and the United States.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement at the joint press conference with Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Mike Mullen that Pakistan would neither accept nor offer blank cheques has been widely welcomed as is his assertion that there is a gap between the Pakistani and American positions on the drone attacks and that Pakistan would continue to get the Americans to see the light. Pakistan, it is being said, is now behaving like a self-respecting nation that would not yield to the bullying of a superpower.

And yet, what is the truth about the drone attacks? That such attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty is unquestionable. No nation has the right to enter our territory or air space, let alone carry out aerial operations without our permission. But do we control this territory? Do we really know how much collateral damage is caused and how counter-productive it is?

For many months I have read carefully every account that has appeared about the drone attacks in our newspapers. Invariably we are told that the “local Taliban” surround the area of the incident, remove the bodies for burial and take the injured to hospitals of their choice and then let the press know what the collateral damage has been.

Independent corroboration, clearly, is not possible since there is no local authority present, no reporter has access to the area and the local populace is too cowed to offer an account of the incident that differs from what the Taliban have said. We have to fall back on damage assessments offered by the Americans.

We claim that for every innocent civilian killed in these attacks ten new Taliban recruits are created and our effort at dialogue is frustrated. And yet have we asked ourselves the question why among these very people ten new anti-Taliban fighters have not emerged for each of the hundreds perhaps thousands of tribal Maliks and elders that the Taliban and their foreign cohorts have slaughtered even more mercilessly than the drones.

The truth is that the government and our security forces have not been able to reassure the people of the region that they would protect them against the Taliban if they stood up to offer resistance and the local populations, like the people of Swat after an initial period of resistance, have decided that they do not have the means to prevent the small but well-armed Taliban and Al Qaeda groups from exercising control and imposing their reign of terror in the region.

Where army operations have been successful, and Bajaur is a prime example, the collateral damage in terms of displacement of the population has been terribly high. More than half a million people from Bajaur have left their homes and have received little assistance in the settled districts to which they have fled. The army has reached a truce with the Taliban in the area on terms that seem to suggest a Taliban acceptance of the State’s right to impose its writ. But even this has not been enough to convince the Bajaur people to return to their homes; nor, as far as one can tell, has this led to the return of the local administrators and the commencement of development work.

Why did the Bajaur displacement occur?

I think it would be fair to say that the area had to be softened up by ground artillery and aerial bombardment before troops could move in. The collateral damage was high because Pakistan has precious little by way of precision guided munitions in its arsenal and ordinary bombs and shells kill many more than the people they are aimed at. Perhaps as we acquire more sophisticated equipment and training we will be better able to avoid such collateral damage in our bid to reassert the government’s writ.

But how do you, in the meanwhile, avoid a Bajaur situation and still disrupt Taliban and Al Qaeda dominance of the area.

Let us think at least that the drones may be one way of doing so and rather than the current emphasis on protecting Pakistan’s sovereignty the government should be explaining that this is what the drones are seeking to achieve and that we are trying to acquire the know-how and equipment to do this ourselves.

This is what our conversations with the Americans on this subject should also focus on. Better intelligence sharing, better equipment for and training of our forces and such better coordination as would put us in the driver’s seat with regard to choice of targets and drone targeting. By this I mean that we should be able to target those who are specifically carrying out operations against Pakistani security forces as also those who are attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan.

There has been a great deal of talk about the expanding drone attacks to Balochistan where the Americans believe the leadership of the Afghan Taliban have found safe haven and from where they are said to plan operations in Afghanistan. Balochistan is not the badlands of the Tribal areas and the highly urbanised areas there cannot be treated as such.

I think this is a redline that the Pakistan government has drawn and which the Americans will not cross. I believe that all this talk has been generated to suggest that the Pakistan authorities need to be more aware of American and Afghan concerns on this account and to use their own means to tackle this problem.

While advising the government one would also like to suggest that its spokespersons must also lead the way in convincing the people that Baitullah Mehsud’s claims notwithstanding his suicide bomber attacks in Pakistan are not just retaliation for drone attacks but part of a wider plan to create the sort of instability which allows obscurantist forces to make a bid for power or cause Pakistan to fall apart. One hopes that that in doing so the government will take account of what has been happening under its nose.

There are disquieting reports about the growing influence of extremist forces in parts of the country that should theoretically have the greatest revulsion towards extremism. In Sindh, where the Sufi interpretation of Islam — love and tolerance — has been dominant there has been graffiti according to press reports in which satellite dishes, cable TV and VCRs are described as “three signs of the approaching doomsday”.

A TV channel was forced to cancel a musical show in Nawabshah after the local court issued a restraining order at the behest of a religious party. More recently, with the approval of the local police, a musical dance event was cancelled in Shahdadkot district again at the instance of a religious party. The PPP, a strongly secular party is in power in Sindh; its ally the MQM is even more determinedly secular and yet this happens.

Why is the police acting in this fashion and why is the government not defending freedom of expression in the courts?

Up North it is now almost commonplace to see reports such as the one from Mansehra two days ago about the killing of three female workers of the National Rural Support Programme presumably by militants and presumably because they were like other NGO representatives spreading vulgarity by having males and females working together. No reports have yet surfaced about any arrest in connection with the killing of three people last year when militants stormed the office of an NGO in that area. Is this what we will see coming to the rest of the country?

Our free media makes these facts public and, in the absence of a clearly enunciated and forcefully implemented policy of nipping such ominous trends in the bud, civil society remains largely quiescent. What then should the rest of the world think about the direction in which events are moving in Pakistan and what then is likely to happen? Food for thought!

The writer is a former foreign secretary

‘Afghan intelligence helping Taliban’

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‘Afghan intelligence helping Taliban’

LAHORE: Afghan intelligence agents are sharing information about US and NATO troop movements with the Taliban, wanted Taliban commander Sirajiddin Haqqani has told NBC News. In an interview, Haqqni said, “The Afghan intelligence officials are sympathetic to the Taliban and they communicate the movements of the occupying forces [US and NATO] to us.” He said there were no moderate Taliban willing to talk to America.

Violence in Balochistan after 3 Baloch leaders killed

Violence in Balochistan after 3 Baloch leaders killed

* Baloch political parties decide to observe three-day mourning

By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: The mysterious killing of three leading Baloch nationalist leaders – who were allegedly arrested by intelligence agencies last Friday – have sparked a wave of massive protests and violence all over Balochistan that has so far killed one police official.

Police found the decomposing bodies of the three Baloch leaders – veteran politician Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Lala Munir of the Balochistan National Movement (BNM) and Sher Muhammad Baloch of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) – in Pidrak area of Turbat district on Wednesday evening.

The Baloch leaders were allegedly arrested last Friday by the state intelligence apparatus from the office of Kachkol Ali Baloch, a former leader of the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly.

According to local sources, the Baloch leaders had been shot in the head, and their faces were hardly recognisable.

The killing of the Baloch leaders has invited widespread condemnations – including by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Senator Hasil Khan Bizanjo and Sanaullah Baloch. Baloch political parties have decided to observe a three-day mourning period, and the Baloch National Front has announced a strike on April 11 and 12. Violence and protests broke out across Balochistan soon after the news of the Bloch leaders’ killing broke out. Reuters reported that two people had been killed in the violence.

The Conspiracy to Use Pakistan as Base to Destabilize the World

Are we in denial about terrorism?

Reality check

Friday, April 10, 2009
Shafqat Mahmood

A fundamental debate is on among the intelligentsia of our country regarding terrorism. The way it plays itself out will determine whether we win or lose. A consensus will help put all our energies towards winning. Discord or confusion will certainly lead to defeat.

One set, perhaps a majority, believes that we have no inherent problem of terrorism. It is only a reaction to American presence in Afghanistan. The attacks on our cities are explained away and sometimes condoned as a punishment for our support to the American war effort.

When confronted with evidence regarding presence of armed and dangerous foreigners in our tribal territory, the explanation is ingenious. They came here in the eighties, we are told, because the Pakistani government, with American help, invited them to fight the Soviets. After the Afghan war was over, meaning after the Taliban victory, they were living peacefully here until the Americans invaded Afghanistan.

The first part is true as far as Arabs are concerned. They indeed came here in the eighties motivated by jihad against the infidel Soviets. And they were facilitated by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which was managing the Afghan war on behalf of the Americans. But it is factually incorrect that they continued to live here peacefully after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, whose members were living in FATA, had claimed responsibility for the attack on the American navy ship Cole in Yemen and on American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Osama bin Laden later also took credit for the 9/11 attacks in the United States. One of his accomplices, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, has confessed to his role and given details of how the attack was planned and carried out.

But no heed is paid to these accepted facts. The last part, particularly, is greeted with incredulity because, does not everyone know that 9/11 was an American intelligence operation launched with the help of the Israeli Mossad!

Leaving aside whether the Americans were attacked from Pakistani territory or not, the bare fact that these Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, Afghans and even Chinese Turks are illegal aliens in our country is of no concern to the “all because of America” cabal. Any activity on the part of the Pakistani government to apprehend these people is thus treated with ridicule and condemned.

Little note is taken, if indeed it registers, that “our best friends in the world,” the Chinese, have formally complained to the government that their dissidents have established headquarters in FATA. Other countries, including many in Europe and the Middle East, have also expressed fears that attacks on their territory may emanate from here. President Obama has actually said as much.

This almost unanimous concern in the West and the United States is brushed aside and seen through a conspiracy lens. These people are out to get us because we are a nuclear power. They are creating circumstances, we are told, to invade and defang us. Remember, Baitullah Mehsud is their agent. We gave them his coordinates, yet he was not killed. Indeed, this entire insurgency in FATA has been engineered by the Americans aided by the Indians. The Indians, particularly, have a special role in training the Taliban. This Maulvi Fazalullah is probably working for them, and so on.

Let us believe that a part of what they say is correct. The Americans, the Europeans, the Indians and sundry others are indeed fearful of our nuclear power and would, if they could, take control of our nuclear assets. And let us also assume that to achieve this nefarious end they want to destabilise the country and create so much chaos that they have grounds to intervene.

The question is, why should we make it easier for them by allowing our territory to be used for terror attacks in their countries? Would our fears not become self-fulfilling prophecies if we continue to give our adversaries a cause to get angry with us?

One reason why we fail to reach a rational conclusion is that the security fears of other countries are not acknowledged by us, at all. If the 9/11 attacks are rubbished as a CIA/Mossad operation, then it follows that the London train attacks or the Spanish bombing in which hundreds died were also internal operations carried out by the British and Spanish intelligence agencies. In a similar vein, the person who tried to blow up airplanes in the sky, the Shoe Bomber, must also be an agent, and so also everyone else who has been plotting planning or carrying out terror operations in the West.

This line of thinking is not complete if the rationality behind the conspiracy is not explained. Why would the Americans and others kill their own citizens in hundreds and thousands and create so much fear? That pet answer is that they needed an enemy because none was left to fight after the end of the Cold War.

In other words, it is being said, that they have killed their own people in large numbers, emptied their treasuries fighting wars, created massive security apparatus at great public inconvenience, curtailed their citizens’ liberties through intrusive surveillances and done much else only as a decoy to create Islam as an enemy.

The absurdity of this argument is not obvious to the “we are a target” crowd. The sad part is that even others who aware of the world and have no particular prejudice against the West, get taken in. Paranoia lurks in recesses of the brain and when problems or difficulties are not easy to explain, it takes charge. Collective paranoia is particularly dangerous because it leads to irrationality and fascism. It happened in Germany and Italy and Spain. Why should we consider ourselves immune?

One way to overcome irrational fears is to look within carefully and identify what we can do to make things better. The conspiracy cabal will however take issue with everything that is proposed. To the argument that no one should be able to use our territory to launch attacks outside, and that it is our duty to prevent them, there is no logical answer. Yet, this does not deter them from diverting the topic and saying how nasty and offensive others are.

If told that if our territory is used to launch attacks outside it is just as much a breach of our sovereignty as the American drone strikes, there is outrage. How can drone assaults be put in the same category as alleged terror attacks emanating from here. The fact is there is a huge blind spot when it comes to our own culpability. And this by well-meaning people who are not extremists. Those who believe in the Taliban version of a state actually applaud such attacks.

It is time that we as a nation open our eyes and understand what is happening. District by district our territory is being taken over by the extremist. It was FATA and Swat yesterday now Buner, Dir, Hangu, Mansehra, and even Mardan and Charsadda, are under direct threat. We are being occupied and yet we cannot agree on who our enemy is.

The world is becoming increasingly concerned and is prepared to help, but only if we are ready to help ourselves. If we remain in denial, a terrible catastrophe awaits us.

Email: shafqatmd@gmail.com

Has America gone mad?

Has America gone mad?

Dissenting note

Friday, April 10, 2009
Dr Masooda Bano

What an idea: joint US-Pakistan military operations in the tribal belt. If the “war on terror” policies pursued in Pakistan under the Bush administration have not already succeeded in making a complete mess of Pakistan, it seems that the action plan being evolved by the Obama administration will. The idea that joint operations in the tribal areas can help eliminate militancy in the tribal belt represents such a flight of imagination that it is actually scary. It indicates that the US administration is simply clueless about the recruitment dynamics of Islamic militancy and also of the very basic characteristics of the Pashtoons. A sense of injustice is the primary mobilising tool for the Islamic groups, and “revenge” and “honour” are the two defining characteristics of the Pashtoon culture. In such a context, military operations led by the Pakistani army themselves are enough to mobilise more resistance, adding the US military to it is a recipe for making Pakistan another Afghanistan.

The real problem with the US planners and Pakistanis who are in favour of military operations as a solution to the militancy is that they refuse to understand how Islamic militants groups operate. They rely on a heavy moral discourse to justify their acts. It is a vocabulary of justice, of honour. The Pakistanis who went to fight in Afghanistan during the Soviet war were not mainly madrasa students, they came from all walks of life, many came from Pakistani universities. They went to Afghanistan because they were convinced of the injustice against Afghan Muslims.

As one of my respondents from liberal elite circles in Islamabad once said, “all the people that I can recall from my university who went for jihad in Afghanistan were actually the more committed people. It takes courage to come out on a street to protest, it takes further courage to take the police beating, and it takes even more courage to go to jail in defence of the cause that you believe in. The real jihadis are such people, who have a strong sense of justice, a strong will, and the ability to take pain.” Of course, other factors such as a sense of adventure, the nature of networks, and a sense of purpose in life, also play role in attracting people towards the militant group. The other main factor, which has been shown to be important in my research, is the sense of revenge.

This is not to argue that the leaders of the militant groups are all noble people but to suggest that in order to mobilise people to join a militant group they have to adopt a very moral discourse and a discourse based on justice. A recent publication analysing the speeches of leaders of Al Qaeda shows how the discourse is built all around justice and morality. The US support for Israeli aggression against Palestinians, the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are the central mobilising tools for militant groups across the Muslim world. Knowing all this and yet proposing more military operations and that also joint ones thus raises serious concerns about Obama administration’s ability to check militancy in Pakistan. The casualties emerging from these operations only further raise the mobilising power of the militant groups they don’t reduce it.

The more the Obama action plan is being unveiled the more difficult it is becoming to see the differences between the proposed policies and those of the Bush administration. Military operations in the tribal belt and unchecked flows of aid to military and civilian elites in Pakistan were the two main pillars of the policies of the Bush administration in Pakistan. The former has increased the recruiting power of the militant groups, the latter has built vested interests within the military and civilian elites to perpetuate militancy in Pakistan because the aid flows that these elites have so much started to enjoy are contingent on Pakistan continue to have militancy.

To say that pursing more of the same set of policies that have created a complete mess of Pakistan in the past seven years will deliver a new dawn is asking too much from the Pakistani public. Unless the US administration can show how its proposed military operations will differ from the options pursued in the past, it presents no hope for ordinary Pakistanis. The real cause of militancy in Pakistan as seen today are not the Taliban, it is the vested interests within the Pakistani elite who are using the myth of the Taliban to keep the Pakistani public and the world community hostage. Unless the US can figure out a way to deal with them, more aid will only mean more militancy in Pakistan.

The biggest concern however is that increasingly it is not clear why US is concerned about Pakistan. Is it actually that is fears an attack from likes of Baitullah Mesud or is it that after Sept 11, the US administration has to show the US public that it is doing something to fight Islamic militancy and having casualties in Pakistan just becomes a way of proving to the US citizens the government’s resolve to protect them. Who were the Pakistanis who were killed in these operations, and how these operations are destabilising the Pakistani nation are in then questions better not asked.

The writer is a research fellow at the Oxford University. Email: mb294@ hotmail.com

Expansionist aims

Expansionist aims

Friday, April 10, 2009
It would be foolish to say this had not been expected. For months it has been quite clear the Taliban have now set their sights on the whole of NWFP, and indeed on the entire territory of Pakistan, not just on the remote northern areas where they have so far concentrated their efforts. One day, not very long from now, we may see women being flogged on the streets of Islamabad or Lahore or Karachi; our Armani-suited elite may be forced into shalwars that rise above the ankle and made to grow unruly beards. The signs of what the Taliban plan are visible everywhere. There is no point living on in a state of denial.

Taking advantage of the peace accord, hordes of the Taliban from Swat have now moved south into the Buner region. They have made it quite clear they intend to take control of the area and impose the same restrictions that now rule life in Swat. Local people from Buner have sworn they will resist – but the task is not so easy. Already at least two members of a ‘Lashkar’ that dared to oppose the Taliban have been slain. The militants will no doubt kill others as they endeavour to spread their tentacles into Buner – and then after that to other parts of NWFP. The people of Buner and elsewhere face terrible danger.

The fact is that we are now confronting a Hydra-headed monster, capable of rearing up in various parts of our country. The Lal Majid incident in Islamabad proves even the capital is not beyond their reach. New reports suggest the Taliban aim to capture it. There has also been increasing violence in Dir, another region that lies adjacent to Swat, as the Taliban try to get a foothold there.

Our government must realize that striking deals with these extremists, attempting to appease them or reach agreements with them is a means only to encourage their growth. It is the lull in fighting in Swat that has enabled them to send truckloads of fighters into Buner. The leaders of the Taliban are canny enough to use such accords to their advantage. They have done so before, they are doing so again and they will, undoubtedly and if given the opportunity, do so in the future. The Taliban need to be tackled with all the might we can muster up. Their evil threatens us all; it could overtake us. The will to stop the militants must be found. We must act before it is too late to save a state that is now under siege.

Worst case scenario if Swat deal fails: speakers

Worst case scenario if Swat deal fails: speakers

Friday, April 10, 2009
by Daud Khattak

PESHAWAR: Urging the president to save the Swat peace deal by signing Nizam-e-Adl Regulation apace, the NWFP government feared there were 80 percent chances of Pakistan becoming another Iraq if the situation continued progressing on the same track.

“Only 20 per cent hope is there for the return of normalcy in the present circumstances,” said a provincial government spokesman, who sought help from political parties, civil society, non-government organisations, media and other stakeholders in bringing peace to the restive Malakand region.

Speaking at a day-long seminar on “Nizam-e-Adl Regulation: A review,” NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said civil society and the international community must accept the ground realities, without which nothing could be achieved to bring peace to the troubled Swat valley.

The seminar was organised by the Peshawar Press Club (PPC) in collaboration with the provincial Information Department. Besides others, provincial ministers, senior government officials, political leaders and representatives of NGOs and civil society attended the seminar.

Mian Iftikhar said that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani were taken into confidence ahead of signing deal with Maulana Sufi Muhammad regarding enforcement of the proposed regulation in the Malakand region.

A wide gap was seen in the point of view of the provincial government and representatives of the civil society with both sides presenting arguments and counter-arguments in support of or against the February 16 deal with the banned Tanzeem Nefaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and the enforcement of the proposed Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in Malakand.

“We should not miss this final chance as the country would become another Iraq if the situation was not brought on the track, he said. Condemning the canning of the 17-year-old girl in public, the minister also questioned the time selected for the release of the ‘controversial’ video as well as its validity.

Terming the release of the video a conspiracy against NWFP government’s peace deal, Iftikhar said: “Why the video and reports about Taliban occupation of the emerald reserves were not released before the agreement?”

Opposing the US drone attacks, he said these strikes were creating indirect support for the militants. Pakhtun Awareness Movement chairman Dr Said Alam Mahsud said the NWFP government signed peace agreement with a man who termed democracy through ballot as un-Islamic the very next day of the deal.

He said the deal was neither in line with the Constitution nor the Pakhtunwali (Pakhtun code of life). He opined that the government had surrendered everything to the banned TNSM chief Sufi Muhammad by making him an unannounced Ameerul Momineen (chief of the faithful).

Council member of the provincial chapter of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Kamran Arif called the situation in Swat as a full-fledged insurgency and added that the militants did not want speedy justice rather they wanted to impose their own system of governance in the area.

JUI-F’s drive against drone raids from 28th

JUI-F’s drive against drone raids from 28th

Wants President Zardari to sign Nizam-e-Adl Regulation

Friday, April 10, 2009
by Yousaf Ali

PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has announced to launch a protest campaign across Frontier to show concern over growing US drone attacks in the tribal areas and delay in the implementation of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

“A full-fledged protest drive would be launched from April 28 to condemn the drone attacks,” said Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, provincial president of JUI-F, after a meeting of provincial executive council of the party, here Thursday.

JUI-F is the coalition partner in the federal government, who has come up with a clear stance about increasing drone attacks. The matter came under discussion in a meeting of executive council of the party for federally administered areas a few days back. The meeting of Fata executive council had suggested to the central leadership of the party to quit federal government, if the drone attacks are not stopped.

Gul Naseeb said that the provincial executive council discussed in detail the issue and decided to go on a province-wide protest campaign to press the government to take effective measures for stopping the drone attacks.

He said that the drone attacks were a bare aggression against the sovereignty of the country and the nation would never afford such offensives. He said that the innocent people, women and children were the direct target in the US Predator strikes, adding, the process should be stopped forthwith.

The JUI-F leader also came down hard on President Asif Ali Zardari for using delaying tactics to sign the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation. He said that due to delay in signing the regulation fear and doubts have spread among the people of the restive Swat valley about the future of peace agreement.

He urged the president to immediately sign the draft regulation so that the peace in Swat valley could not be disturbed again. He also criticised the ANP-led provincial government for what he called “losing its writ” in the province. He said law and order situation in the province was presenting its worst ever shape. Killing, kidnapping for ransom and other outlaw activities have become a routine business and the provincial government had failed to overcome this sorry situation, he claimed.

“It is the basic responsibility of every government to provide security and safety to its people, but our government is relying on others,” he added. He urged the NWFP government to build pressure on the federal government to immediately sign the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation and enforce the promised system in Malakand division or quit government.

Gul Naseeb termed the video of flogging of a girl in Swat as conspiracy to de-rail the peace process, saying that some non-governmental organisations and anti-state elements were busy defaming religious seminaries only to appease their western masters.

He announced that district level conventions of the party would be held from June11 to 18 at provincial level from October three and a training convention for women would be held on April 30.

‘Red Zone’ security tightened

‘Red Zone’ security tightened

Chains of international schools asked to take precautionary measures

Friday, April 10, 2009
by Shakeel Anjum

Islamabad

The law enforcement agencies were put on high alert on Thursday after threats from terrorists that they would hit the Parliament House and chains of international academic institutions in the metropolitan.

The intelligence agencies, in their report, informed the government about the planning and activities of an outfit of terrorists, warning that international chains of schools, especially British and American, and Parliament House could be targeted, sources in the interior ministry told ‘The News’.

Stringent security measures were adopted to counter any such terrorist attack on the Parliament House and academic institutions. Large contingents of police were deployed around the Parliament House. The ‘Red Zone’, marked around the Parliament House, Aiwan-e-Sadr and Prime Minister’s House, Diplomatic Enclave and other sensitive buildings along Constitution Avenue, was under a kind of siege to thwart any terror attack. The security supervision of the ‘Red Zone’ and its surrounding areas were supervised by the intelligence agencies while the marked area was virtually sealed.

Talking to ‘The News’, SP (East) Saqib Sultan said “The law enforcement agencies have taken all precautionary and preemptive measures to avert any troublesome incidents.” He said that the security was beefed up and no private vehicle was allowed to enter the ‘Red Zone’, adding that extra force was deployed at sensitive points and bomb disposal squad and fire-fighting force were ready for immediate response.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner (Islamabad) Asadullah Faiz held a meeting with representatives of schools, particularly private schools, to beef up their security, the DC’s office said.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Rana Akbar Hayat was assigned the task to visit all schools to check security measures and arrange for random combing and sweeping of school areas along with police.

The meeting was attended by officials of the Capital Development Authority, Islamabad Traffic Police and Islamabad Capital Territory Administration.

It was decided in the meeting that the managements of academic institutions would install walkthrough gates and CCTV cameras at the entry and exit points. It was decided that traffic police would regulate traffic around academic institutions. The deputy commissioner urged managements of academic institutions to take all precautionary measures to beef up security in the prevailing scenario and private guards should be directed to remain vigilant while on duty.

They were asked to install CLIs in their telephone sets. They were asked to make arrangements for car parking at a distance from their premises. Moreover high boundary walls should be constructed and particulars of lower staff should be verified from police.

The CDA was asked to remove bushes around academic institutions. Police were asked intensify their patrolling in the city.

Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner directed the magistrates to start combing of greenbelts from today (Friday). SDPOs will accompany them during this exercise.

Murders to worsen situation in Balochistan: JI

Murders to worsen situation in Balochistan: JI

Friday, April 10, 2009
By Our Correspondent

LAHORE

JAMAAT-e-Islami Ameer Syed Munawwar Hasan expressed shock over the murder of kidnapped Baloch nationalist leaders, saying it would add fuel to the fire engulfing the troubled province of Balochistan.

In a statement on Thursday, Munawwar Hasan said the killings caused an outbreak of violence in entire Balochistan causing public properties to set ablaze on a large scale and situation was getting out of control.

Regarding closure of peace camp in Swat by Maulana Sufi Mohammad, Munawwar Hasan said unnecessary delay in signing of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation by President Asif Zardari created frustration and mistrust, adding that subjecting the signatures with the condition of establishment of complete peace was a lame excuse.

Power of No

SPECIAL SERIES BY “THE NEWS” INTERNATIONAL ON PAKISTAN’S RECENT SUCCESSFUL PRO-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS AND THE SUBSEQUENT RESTORATION OF THE JUDICIARY WHICH HAD BEEN SUSPENDED BY THE DICTATOR.  IT IS QUITE LONG, AFTER THE MESSAGE FROM CHIEF JUSTICE IFTIKHAR MOHAMMED CHAUDHRY.  CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE.


Quaid-e-Azam

No man should lose his liberty or be deprived of his liberty without a judicial trial in accordance with the accepted rules of evidence and procedure… the powers which are going to be assumed by the executive, which means substitution of executive for judiciary, such powers are likely to be abused, and in the past we have instances where such powers have been abused… there is no precedent or parallel that I know of in any civilized country where you have laws of this character enacted… it imperils the liberty of the subject and fundamental liberties of a citizen.

– Speech on Criminal Law Emergency Power Bills, Imperial Legislative Council,

6 February 1919

MESSAGE

Chief Justice
Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry

I thank Allah Almighty for His immense blessings in giving me strength to stand by a principle – a principle no less than adherence to the norms/principles of the Constitution and independence of the judiciary. I was not alone. Many joined the movement. My heart goes out to those brave and courageous people who supported me and stood like a rock to defend the principle. It was a worthy cause, achieved finally, as a result of the heroic struggles of the brave soldiers of rule of law. All segments of population extended support: some forcefully and enthusiastically and others quietly and yet others, through their prayers and good wishes. I have to thank so many in so many words. But words are inadequate to reflect the inner sentiments of gratitude and admiration I have for the nation. I thank the people of Pakistan for believing in me, and for standing up with me. It was a long and arduous struggle. Many sacrificed their time, energy and resources. Many suffered financial losses and faced economic difficulties. Some offered the supreme sacrifice of their life. I thank them for their sacrifices and struggle. I pray for the departed souls. The nation will always remember them and cherish their memory.

With the Notification for making the judges functional again, the active struggle has come to an end but the ultimate objective is yet to be achieved. I am conscious of the confidence and trust that the people of Pakistan have reposed in me. I will try my best to meet their expectations. I am determined to make earnest efforts to improve the system of administration of justice in the country. As Chief Justice of Pakistan, I am conscious of my role and responsibilities. It is my resolve and commitment to perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability and in accordance with the law and Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour and affection or ill-will. I am oath-bound to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution.
I am aware of the issues and problems the system of administration of justice is faced with. These issues/problems are diverse and of great magnitude, but so is my will and determination. I will strive to take steps and make efforts to improve the situation. The people of Pakistan expect a great deal from this 3rd pillar of the State i.e. the Judiciary. There are huge backlogs and prolonged pendency at all tiers of judicial hierarchy. There are problems of inefficiency and corruption. The people are running from pillar to post to seek justice. Delay in justice is indeed denial of justice. It is therefore crucial for the administration of justice to come up to the expectations of the people and deliver. Corruption will not be tolerated and prompt action will be taken on such complaints.

The people expect the courts to play an active role in resolving conflicts, deciding disputes and punishing the guilty, in accordance with the law. It shall be my constant endeavour to bring about gradual reform and improvement in the system of administration of justice. It is going to be a long process. However, the people of Pakistan would feel a change. This is very crucial and must be done on priority basis. Giving access to justice is a fundamental right of every citizen. The fundamental rights are guaranteed to all people, irrespective of any consideration of caste, creed, colour, or social or political distinction. Special attention will be given to those who, on account of poverty, ignorance or social or economic deprivation, are unable to get justice. All citizens are equal before the law and entitled to equal benefits and protection of law.
Insha Allah with the support of the nation, my brother judges and cooperation of the legal fraternity, we will achieve the objectives that we have set before ourselves.
Pakistan Paindabad


Era of independence of judiciary
By Palwasha Iftikhar Chaudhry

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.
–Helen Keller

Today, I feel extremely proud to be a Pakistani. The reason for my pride is the ultimate victory of the untiring people of Pakistan including lawyers, members of civil society, media and all the political workers who, even after being put through extreme agony and distress, never relinquished their cause. It is the victory for all those unwavering judges who refused to bow before a tyrant. They did not surrender.

They sacrificed their livelihood for the sake of supremacy of the constitution and independence of judiciary. As a result, they were incarcerated along with their families, including children, but they did not lay their arms down. At last oppression has now ended, the continuous struggle has paid off and the credit goes to everyone who sacrificed their lives for this dignified cause.

No one could have imagined on November 3, 2007, what the day had in store for us and in the long run; it was the public whose rights were taken away from them by strangling the judiciary. Almost 60 honourable judges were illegally removed from their offices and were put under house arrest. I, along with my family members, was put under virtual house arrest against all norms of morality and law. We were not allowed to attend our schools since there were sizeable locks applied on our doors. Our landlines were cut, our mobile phones were blocked via jamming devices and we were not allowed to meet anyone. My sister Ifrah, had to take her exams at home, as the Chief Justice House was declared her centre of examinations not once but twice, once by the British Council for her A-level exam and later on for her BA examinations. However, we were ready to face anything to save one of the most important pillars of this country – the judiciary. On November 3, 2007, in the evening a seven-member bench gave an order in which they declared emergency and the PCO illegal; only brave and independent judges could do that. The bench was headed by my father and he came back home around 7’O clock that evening. My sister, Ifrah and I were standing at the window when we saw heavy trucks of contingents coming and surrounding our home with barbed wires, after which the Intelligence and Police took position outside our home, giving us an impression of being in a war zone! I watched silently and I knew at that time that I could not do anything but I had hope in my heart, that Insh Allah everything would come to normalcy, because we were on the path of righteousness.

Judicial independence is unacceptable to the powerful elite. Whatever my father did he did for the down-trodden of this country; he did it because he just could not tolerate the injustices being meted out to them. He took suo moto notices for the deprived segment of the society and made the mighty and powerful accountable and equal in the eyes of law. He belongs to the liberal school of thought, where the rule of law is supreme and people of Pakistan are highest. The protection of civil rights, human rights and constitutional rights of the people of this country are his chief priorities. My father never – I actually mean never and I am not exaggerating at all –lost hope in these two years, in fact he was always a beacon of hope for all of us, he was quite confident that ultimately, this country will be governed by the constitution, it would be ruled by the law, not the whims of one man.

After the elections when the democratic government came in to effect, the first order it passed was the release of all the detained judges of the Supreme Court and High Court; it was overwhelming step towards the achievement of the independence of the judiciary. Ultimately on March 16, 2009, the dream of an independent judiciary, witnessed by the people of this country, became a reality through the restoration of judiciary as it was on November 2. In doing so the dictatorial action was nullified and the democratic demand of the public at large was honored.
Long Live Pakistan


Some lessons of the lawyers’ movement
By Aitzaz Ahsan

The Chief Justice and his independent colleagues were uprooted in November 2007. In response the lawyers spearheaded a brave and hugely popular movement. It led to the holding of elections and the ouster of General Musharraf. As a result the Chief Justice and his independent colleagues have now been reinstated.

Attitudes towards the Lawyers’ Movement have been varied. An overwhelming majority of the people have supported it. By the recent IRRI polls, as many as 83% Pakistanis wanted the CJP back. Many of those who vehemently opposed his return have had to eat their video-recorded words. However, they now claim, with some pluck, that they were always for his restoration. On the other hand the US and the West ignored the issue altogether to the point that though the Chief Justice and his school-going children were locked up inside the building of their house for five long months, none in the Bush administration uttered the faintest decibel of concern even for the children. That was perhaps on account of a mistaken perspective of Pakistan which the Lawyers’ Movement should, most likely, change.
The essential fault lay in that perspective. The Movement should disabuse everyone of the belief that Pakistan is a Middle-Eastern Arab Muslim state. This perception was formed in the 1950s when Pakistan was persuaded to tie the knot in the Baghdad Pact and today it continues with grievous consequences. The Baghdad Pact (later CENTO), was a part of the policy to encircle the Soviet Union. But the more significant aspect for us Pakistanis was that the Pact bonded Pakistan, essentially, to a set of Middle Eastern states. This was fully in line with the US perception of Pakistan as a Middle Eastern Muslim state. This is what we are not.

Pakistan is no doubt a Muslim state. But it is neither Arab nor Middle Eastern. It is a South Asian state. The implications of that have not, alas, been properly understood.

Being of South Asia, Pakistanis are wedded, besides cricket, to the idea of an independent judiciary. The Arabs have none, nor as much as a desire for it. Pakistanis cherish and embrace the concept. Even though all of them may not be aware of the actual names, they invoke, in routine, the remedies of habeas corpus, prohibition, mandamus and certiorari. They rejoiced in the CJP’s resort to these jurisdictions suo moto. South Asians aspire for due process. That is the Pakistani citizen. Anyone who underestimated the Pakistani’s urge and commitment to the concept of an independent judiciary has thus been perceived as an adversary.

There is no doubt that the South Asians also embrace democracy. And the Lawyers’ Movement had no cavil with that. We did not want to weaken the edifice of democracy or disrupt its process. We wanted in fact, the completion and consolidation of that edifice and process.

To that end it must be understood that no democratic structure is complete, nor is it sustainable without the existence of an independent judicial system peopled by fearless and independent judges. That is axiomatic. Even India and Sri-Lanka are cases in point. Democracy has been sustained in both countries, as in the US, UK and the West, by an independent and fearless judiciary. It was indeed in the democratic Government’s own interest to re-establish the independent judiciary. And that could not be done without the re-induction of the independent-minded judges with dignity and honor. That was what I was pleading all along with my Party colleagues. That is what has been conceded now.

In another aspect too, the concept of ‘democracy’ was given a narrow meaning by the opponents of the restoration. They argued that the people had voted in February last year. As a result of which a Parliament was in place. It is now time to let it do or not do its job. What is left is to wait for February 2013 for the next elections and vote the Government out.

Democracy however, does not mean the mere casting of the ballot once every five years with no enforceable rights in the intervening periods. Democracy means the complete system consisting of periodic franchise as well as enforceable rights at all times guaranteed by clean parliamentary as well as judicial processes. Bare ballot democracy must be distinguished from full constitutional democracy. This important lesson was also imparted by the Lawyers’ Movement. It was particularly necessary for another reason.

Pakistan and its neighborhood are, alas, the theater of not one but several different wars: Afghan Taliban fight against perceived NATO occupation, FATA Taliban fight the Pakistan Army in perceived sympathy with the Afghan Talibs, Swat Taliban are a social insurgency seeking to impose a medieval dogma, Sectarian terror groups (shia/sunni, or anarchic) strike at points of their choice and then there are the Kashmir-India focused militants. Finally there are also the insurgency in Baluchistan.

The secret is to find that one lowest common factor that may help in addressing all these. That factor, in my estimation, is the provision of due process and rule of law that was destroyed by General Musharraf, but has finally, after much resistance, been partially redressed by his successors.

The lowest common denominator is demonstrated in the irony that the Taliban themselves give nothing to the population they control. They do not build roads, bridges, hospitals or schools. In fact they blow all these up with impunity. They have blown up 200 schools so far and tens of bridges. What the Taliban do give is what to the mind of many locals, though not to our minds, passes as ‘justice’: even if it be rough and brutal ‘injustice’. Incredible though it is, that is the only Taliban ‘charm’ to many among the subject population. People actually petition their ‘courts’ even if these are convened in the open and under trees. It is all a question of the ‘justice system’.

Remember also that much of what is happening on the Pakistani soil is a social phenomenon that cannot be addressed with high-tech weapons alone. Nor can it be countered by cash and dole either. Nor indeed by capitulation such as the Swat deal.

It is a mind-set that has to be combated as well as changed. This challenge requires social engineering, more than military or economic responses (though these are also necessary and must be effectively and surgically undertaken with single-mined resolve). The issue is systemic and can only be countered with systemic solutions like the re-enforcements of civilian institutions. The re-installed judiciary has therefore to be respected and obeyed.

No doubt Pakistan needs to develop economically. But the restitution of the independent judges will not, at once, put an end to the load-shedding or provide jobs for all. However it is a fact, that, in the contemporary world nations do not grow on aid and dole alone. Kerry-Lugar Bill though a positive initiative, may not be a complete answer. We need private investment. And few investors venture where they fear that their contracts will not be enforced. These are the countries where the judiciary is not independent. The only exceptions, out of more than 150 investment receiving countries are China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

After much and costly delay an independent justice system has partially been re-installed in Pakistan. It was most urgently required. The fact that it will be presided over by a Chief Justice who has a high international profile and has been honored by such premier institutions as the American Bar Association, the NY Bar and Harvard will greatly help bring down the barriers in the way of investment provided that the Executive does not contrive to frustrate him and his judgments. That is crucial.

The earlier display of a negative attitude towards reinstatement does not bode well. The manner in which the then US and present Pakistani administrations jointly tried to underplay the CJP’s visit to the US last November was wanting in grace. He had gone there to receive Harvard law School’s Medal of Freedom previously granted only to Justice Thurgood Marshall and President Nelson Mandela. This was great news from an embattled Pakistan. It needed to be spread, celebrated and built upon particularly as it had behind it a popular sentiment in a theater of war. The Governments of both countries had an opportunity to highlight the real, moderate, liberal and enlightened face of Pakistan. Both, instead, co-operated to underplay the achievement of a distinguished Pakistani only because he was the Chief Justice a dictator had removed. Neither the Pakistani Ambassador nor any one from the State met him during his stay in the US. (He of course, did not seek any such interface). I am sure if he had been even an ordinary Indian citizen receiving such an honor the Ambassador of his country would have received him and conducted him around. This negative attitude has to be discarded.

The Chief Justice will have some challenges ahead of him. Two are particularly notable: the myriad composition of the Court and the pressure of public expectations. The first can easily be addressed on the basis of the precedent of the Supreme Court in the Al-Jehad or the Judges case (1996) as well as Article 209. The second can best be tackled by the Court in accordance with applicable law. Yet the test is of the executive: will it let and facilitate the law take its course without grudging the Chief Justice his authority to apply it? That is the real challenge.
Finally, the Lawyers’ Movement has emerged as perhaps the only progressive, moderate, democratic, non-violent, tolerant and above all plural and hugely popular movement in the entire Islamic world. It was sustained over two years despite police brutality and the cold and stench of prison floors.

The success of the lawyers has been the success of a peaceable and tolerant civil society. A success much needed in this region. It needs to be consolidated by willing and complete acceptance of this victory even by those high officials who fought them tooth and nail and only grudgingly conceded victory. Mercifully this conclusion came before the frustration of broken promises could force even this movement to concede space, won by it in the hearts and minds of the people, to the terrorist insurgent.

Sufi Mohammed calls off Swat peace deal

Sufi Mohammed calls off Swat peace deal

SWAT, Apr 9: The chief of outlawed Tehreek e Nifaz e Shariat Mohammedi has withdrawn from the peace deal with the government and has said all peace camps in the region will be abolished, DawnNews has reported.

Mohammed, who brokered the peace deal between the Taliban and the government of Pakistan has claimed that the authorities have used delaying tactics in imposing the Nizam-i-Adal (Islamic courts) in the Swat region.

The announcement casts serious doubt on the durability of a cease-fire in the Swat valley that U.S. officials worry will create another sanctuary for allies of al-Qaida responsible for a rising tide of violence in the nuclear-armed country.

Imposing Islamic law in Swat, a one-time tourist haven, was the key plank of an accord worked out in February between the provincial government and Sufi Muhammad, a cleric who once led thousands of volunteers to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan but has since renounced violence.

Thanks in part to Muhammad’s mediation, the agreement ended 18 months of terror and bloody clashes that had left hundreds dead and forced up to one-third of the previously prosperous valley’s 1.5 million residents to flee.

But the militants have retained their arms and this week pushed into a neighboring area where they fought deadly gunbattles with villagers and police.

President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will only sign an order introducing Islamic law in the region once peace has been restored _ without saying how that would be determined.

Muhammad, who had been camped out in the valley’s main town of Mingora with hundreds of black-turbaned supporters, said they were leaving to protest Zardari’s ‘negative attitude.’

‘From now on, President Zardari will be responsible for any situation in Swat, ‘ the white-bearded cleric told reporters. ‘The provincial government is sincere and our agreement with the provincial government is intact, but we are ending our peace camp.’

Television footage showed dozens of Muhammad’s supporters crammed into a column of cars and driving out of Mingora, some of them clutching black and white flags.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the government of North West Frontier Province, said he believed the federal government was ‘sincere’ in supporting the peace effort, but said he couldn’t say when the Islamic law bill would be signed.

‘We are committed to bringing about a durable peace and we will continue our efforts in the changed situation,’ Hussain said.

Zardari aides said officials were looking into the matter but gave no further comment.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political and military analyst, said Zardari may have delayed signing off on the agreement because of concerns within the year-old civilian government over negotiating with militants.

‘The opinion is divided,’ Rizvi said. ‘A good number of people in the government think that this is not the right approach.’

Zardari’s foot-dragging also lets him save face with Western critics of the deal, he said.

Under former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan struck a series of peace deals with militants along the Afghan border that U.S. officials say let the Taliban and al-Qaida regroup and focus their energy on attacking American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama has made a sharp increase in financial aid to Pakistan conditional on it demonstrating more commitment to rooting out al-Qaida and other extremist groups.

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said Tuesday after meeting Zardari in Islamabad that the situation in Swat had helped persuade more of Pakistan’s political elite of the need to combat extremism at America’s side.

Pakistan desperately needs economic aid to ease the fallout from an economic crunch. It also faces an exodus of foreign investors in the face of rising violence and political uncertainty.

On Thursday, one policeman died and five more were injured as protests erupted across the southwestern province of Baluchistan after the discovery of the mutilated bodies of three missing political activists.

The trio included the leader of one of an array of Baluch groups campaigning _ or fighting _ for more autonomy and control over natural resources in the impoverished province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

Activists immediately blamed Pakistan’s spy agencies for the political activists’ deaths. Police said they were investigating.

Over the weekend, a previously unknown Baluch group freed an American U.N. worker after holding him for two months to press the government to release political prisoners.

On remembering Deir Yassin

On remembering Deir Yassin

Marcy Newman, Body on the line

deir-yassin_b1.jpg

April 9, 2009

today is the anniversary of the massacre of dier yassin. it is not the only massacre that jewish terrorists enacted upon palestinians during an nakba in 1948. not by far. nor is it the only time since 1948 that they have committed a massacre. one need only to look at gaza to know the answer to that question. but deir yassin is a touchstone for palestinians because of the symbolic nature of this particular massacre. it was widely publicized, including in newspapers like the new york times to spread terror among Palestinians so that they would flee their homes so jews could steal them and occupy them. here are the events according to the deir yassin remembered website that took place 61 years ago today:

Early in the morning of Friday, April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. It was several weeks before the end of the British Mandate. The village lay outside of the area that the United Nations recommended be included in a future Jewish State. Deir Yassin had a peaceful reputation and was even said by a Jewish newspaper to have driven out some Arab militants. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and one plan, kept secret until years afterwards, called for it to be destroyed and the residents evacuated to make way for a small airfield that would supply the beleaguered Jewish residents of Jerusalem.

By noon over 100 people, half of them women and children, had been systematically murdered. Four commandos died at the hands of resisting Palestinians using old Mausers and muskets. Twenty-five male villagers were loaded into trucks, paraded through the Zakhron Yosef quarter in Jerusalem, and then taken to a stone quarry along the road between Givat Shaul and Deir Yassin and shot to death. The remaining residents were driven to Arab East Jerusalem.

That evening the Irgunists and the Sternists escorted a party of foreign correspondents to a house at Givat Shaul, a nearby Jewish settlement founded in 1906. Over tea and cookies they amplified the details of the operation and justified it, saying Deir Yassin had become a concentration point for Arabs, including Syrians and Iraqis, planning to attack the western suburbs of Jerusalem. They said that 25 members of the Haganah militia had reinforced the attack and claimed that an Arabic-speaking Jew had warned the villagers over a loudspeaker from an armored car. This was duly reported in The New York Times on April 10.

A final body count of 254 was reported by The New York Times on April 13, a day after they were finally buried. By then the leaders of the Haganah had distanced themselves from having participated in the attack and issued a statement denouncing the dissidents of Irgun and the Stern Gang, just as they had after the attack on the King David Hotel in July 1946. A 1987 study undertaken by Birzeit University’s Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society found “the numbers of those killed does not exceed 120″.

The Haganah leaders admitted that the massacre “disgraced the cause of Jewish fighters and dishonored Jewish arms and the Jewish flag.” They played down the fact that their militia had reinforced the terrorists’ attack, even though they did not participate in the barbarism and looting during the subsequent “mopping up” operations.

They also played down the fact that, in Begin’s words, “Deir Yassin was captured with the knowledge of the Haganah and with the approval of its commander” as a part of its “plan for establishing an airfield.”

Ben Gurion even sent an apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But this horrific act served the future State of Israel well. According to Begin:

Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of “Irgun butchery,” were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.

Of about 144 houses, 10 were dynamited. The cemetery was later bulldozed and, like hundreds of other Palestinian villages to follow, Deir Yassin was wiped off the map. By September, Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland, Rumania, and Slovakia were settled there over the objections of Martin Buber, Cecil Roth and other Jewish leaders, who believed that the site of the massacre should be left uninhabited. The center of the village was renamed Givat Shaul Bet. As Jerusalem expanded, the land of Deir Yassin became part of the city and is now known simply as the area between Givat Shaul and the settlement of Har Nof on the western slopes of the mountain.

einsteinletter041048

interestingly, the deir yassin website has posted a copy of a letter that albert einstein wrote (see above) the day after this massacre to a man seeking funding for more such terrorist attacks on palestinians. clearly, the man wrote to the wrong person:

Prior to the creation of the State of Israel, two Jewish terrorist groups were working to cleanse Palestine of its Arab inhabitants and its British occupiers. The more brutal of these groups was Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) also known as the Stern Gang after its founder Avraham Stern.

Much of the financial support for these Jewish terrorists came from the United States. The Stern Gang received money collected under the more perfidious name, American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel. Mr. Shepard Rifkin was the executive director after the UN Partition of Palestine and prior to the creation of Israel in May 1948.

Against his better judgment Rifkin solicited Albert Einstein to help the Stern Gang raise American money for arms to drive out the Arabs and help create a Jewish state. On April 10th, the day after the infamous massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassin, Einstein replied calling the Stern Gang terrorists and misled criminals.

but, of course, to really understand what happened it is important to listen to the survivors. to their oral history. here is a film featuring zeinab mohammad ismail attieh who tells you how she survived the massacre:

there are a few testimonies of survivors by people like abu yusef on a nakba site hosted by the khalil sakakini center in ramallah, here is abu yusef’s:

“(..)After the battle, the Jews took elderly men and women and youths, including 4 of my cousins and a nephew. They took them all. Women who had on them gold and money, were stripped of their gold. After the Jews removed their dead and wounded, they took the men to the quarry and sprayed them all with bullets.

(..)One woman had her son taken some 40 to 60 meters away from where she and the rest of the women stood by, and shot him dead. Then they brought Jewish kids to throw stones at his body. They later poured kerosene on his body and set it ablaze while the women watched from a distance. We later collected ourselves, & checked who was missing. At Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, we were gathered by the Arab Supreme Committee. Each of us was looking for a son, a daughter, a sister or a mother.

All men were busy fighting. Eyewitnesses were only women. The elderly men were told to remove the dead, both Arabs and Jews. They took the bodies of the Jews and left the Arab bodies until they later were thrown in a well in the village center.”

there are other such testimonies and more information on the palestine remembered website as well. of course, this website provides oral histories of many people who survived numerous massacres and whose villages were destroyed when their land became colonized by the zionist entity starting in 1948.

one of the prime terrorists involved in the terrorism of the villagers of deir yassin was, of course, menachem begin as a member of the terrorist irgun (just like rahm israel imanuel’s father). upon learning of begin’s visit to the united states on december 2, 1948 albert einstein, among others, wrote an open letter that was published in the new york times:

TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:

Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the Emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menahem Begin, leader of this party to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American Support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents. Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had Taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants – 240 men, women and children – and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan.

But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party. Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority.

Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their Stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for Not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

DISCREPANCIES SEEN

The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and His party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has Refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.

ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ,

HANNAH ARENDT,

ABRAHAM BRICK,

RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO,

ALBERT EINSTEIN,

HERMAN EISEN, M.D.,

HAYIM FINEMAN,

M. GALLEN, M.D.,

H.H. HARRIS,

ZELIG S. HARRIS,

SIDNEY HOOK,

FRED KARUSH,

BRURIA KAUFMAN,

IRMA L. LINDHEIM,

NACHMAN MAJSEL,

SEYMOUR MELMAN,

MYER D. MENDELSON, M.D.,

HARRY M. ORLINSKY,

SAMUEL PITLICK,

FRITZ ROHRLICH,

LOUIS P. ROCKER,

RUTH SAGER,

ITZHAK SANKOWSKY, I.J.

SHOENBERG,

SAMUEL SHUMAN,

M. ZNGER,

IRMA WOLPE,

STEFAN WOLPE.

the main issue with deir yassin–the lesson from this historical even that we remember every year–that should never be forgotten and never forgiven–is that we should resist at all costs any attempt for continuing ethnic cleansing plans devised by the zionist entity. which has gone on for more than 61 years now. and it continues today. the way that palestinians are being terrorized off their lands by colonists and israeli terrorist soldiers alike is the same thing. maybe not as big, maybe not new york times headlines, but it is the same thing. it is a continuation of the same process. here is yet an example of that ethnic cleansing from al quds, with beautiful palestinians refusing to be terrorized into flight. instead they are steadfast and they will rebuild their houses again and again and again:

60 drone hits kill 14 al-Qaeda men, 687 civilians

AVERAGE 49 CIVILIANS KILLED FOR EVERY “AL QAIDA” HIT–JUST LIKE OUR ISRAELI “HEROES”!

60 drone hits kill 14 al-Qaeda men, 687 civilians

Friday, April 10, 2009

By Amir Mir

LAHORE: Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.

Figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities show that a total of 701 people, including 14 al-Qaeda leaders, have been killed since January 2006 in 60 American predator attacks targeting the tribal areas of Pakistan. Two strikes carried out in 2006 had killed 98 civilians while three

attacks conducted in 2007 had slain 66 Pakistanis, yet none of the wanted al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders could be hit by the Americans right on target. However, of the 50 drone attacks carried out between January 29, 2008 and April 8, 2009, 10 hit their targets and killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda operatives. Most of these attacks were carried out on the basis of intelligence believed to have been provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen who had been spying for the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The remaining 50 drone attacks went wrong due to faulty intelligence information, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children. The number of the Pakistani civilians killed in those 50 attacks stood at 537, in which 385 people lost their lives in 2008 and 152 people were slain in the first 99 days of 2009 (between January 1 and April 8).

Of the 50 drone attacks, targeting the Pakistani tribal areas since January 2008, 36 were carried out in 2008 and 14 were conducted in the first 99 days of 2009. Of the 14 attacks targeting Pakistan in 2009, three were carried out in January, killing 30 people, two in February killing 55 people, five in March killing 36 people and four were conducted in the first nine days of April, killing 31 people.

Of the 14 strikes carried out in the first 99 days of April 2009, only one proved successful, killing two most wanted senior al-Qaeda leaders – Osama al Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both had lost their lives in a New Year’s Day drone strike carried out in the South Waziristan region on January 1, 2009.

Kini was believed to be the chief operational commander of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and had replaced Abu Faraj Al Libi after his arrest from Bannu in 2004. Both men were behind the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dares Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others.

There were 36 recorded cross-border US predator strikes inside Pakistan during 2008, of which 29 took place after August 31, 2008, killing 385 people. However, only nine of the 36 strikes hit their actual targets, killing 12 wanted al-Qaeda leaders. The first successful predator strike had killed Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander of al-Qaeda who was targeted in North Waziristan on January 29, 2008. The second successful attack in Bajaur had killed Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al-Qaeda’s external operations chief, on March 14, 2008. The third attack in South Waziristan on July 28, 2008, had killed Abu Khabab al Masri, al-Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief. The fourth successful attack in South Waziristan on August 13, 2008, had killed al-Qaeda leader Abdur Rehman.

The fifth predator strike carried out in North Waziristan near Miranshah on Sept 8, 2008 had killed three al-Qaeda leaders, Abu Haris, Abu Hamza, and Zain Ul Abu Qasim. The sixth successful predator hit in the South Waziristan region on October 2008 had killed Khalid Habib, a key leader of al-Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army.

The seventh such attack conducted in North Waziristan on October 31, 2008 had killed Abu Jihad al Masri, a top leader of the Egyptian Islamic group. The eighth successful predator strike had killed al-Qaeda leader Abdullah Azzam al Saudi in east of North Waziristan on November 19, 2008.

The ninth and the last successful drone attack of 2008, carried out in the Ali Khel region just outside Miramshah in North Waziristan on November 22, 2008, had killed al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubair al Masri and his Pakistani fugitive accomplice Rashid Rauf.

According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, a total of 537 people have been killed in 50 incidents of cross-border US predator strikes since January 1, 2008 to April 8, 2009, averaging 34 killings per month and 11 killings per attack. The average per month killings in predator strikes during 12 months of 2008 stood at 32 while the average per attack killings in the 36 drone strikes for the same year stood at 11.

Similarly, 152 people have been killed in 14 incidents of cross-border predator attacks in the tribal areas in the first 99 days of 2009, averaging 38 killings per month and 11 killings per attack.

Since September 3, 2008, it appears that the Americans have upped their attacks in Pakistani tribal areas in a bid to disrupt the al-Qaeda and the Taliban network, which they allege is being used to launch cross border ambushes against the Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The American forces stationed in Afghanistan carried out nine aerial strikes between September 3 and September 25, 2008, killing 57 people and injuring 38 others. The attacks were launched on September 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 15, 17, 22 and September 27. However, the September 3, 2008 American action was unique in the sense that two CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters landed in the village of Zawlolai in the South Waziristan Agency with ground troops from the US Special Operation Forces, fired at three houses and killed 17, including five women and four sleeping children.

Besides the two helicopters carrying the US Special Forces Commandos, two jet fighters and two gun-ship helicopters provided the air cover for the half-an-hour American operation, more than a kilometre inside the Pakistani border.

The last predator strike on [April 8, 2009] was carried out hardly a few hours after the Pakistani authorities had rejected an American proposal for joint operations in the tribal areas against terrorism and militancy, as differences of opinion between the two countries over various aspects of the war on terror came out into the open for the first time.

The proposal came from two top US visiting officials, presidential envoy for the South Asia Richard Holbrooke and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. However, the Pakistani military and political leadership reportedly rejected the proposal and adopted a tough posture against a barrage of increasing US predator strikes and criticism emanating from Washington, targeting the Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and creating doubts about their sincerity in the war on terror and the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Federal cabinet okays purchase of Iranian natural gas

Federal cabinet okays purchase of Iranian natural gas

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet Wednesday accorded approval to construction of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline and gave the go ahead for purchase of 750 million cubic feet gas from Iran to fulfill the growing local requirements.

The cabinet, which met here with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the chair, also decided to make gas import agreement with Iran and utilise the imported gas for power generation in place of furnace oil which would prove about 40 percent economical, said Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira.

Briefing the media about the decisions of the cabinet meeting here at the National Press Club (NPC), he said the Cabinet called for aggressive planning for exploration of natural resources so that the country’s dependence on import of oil and gas could be reduced.

CIA abandons use of contract interrogators

CIA abandons use of contract interrogators

[WHAT ABOUT CONTRACTED “BLACK OPS”?]

Associated Press
Last updated: Friday, April 10th, 2009 01:00:18 AM

The CIA is preparing plans to permanently shut down its secret overseas prisons.

Agency director Leon Panetta says the CIA has stopped using contractors to interrogate prisoners and fired private security guards at the now-shuttered prisoners.

Panetta told agency employees in an e-mail message that the guards will be replaced with CIA officers at the sites, which President Barack Obama ordered closed on his second day in office. Panetta says the secret prisons are now empty, and the agency has not taken any new prisoners since he became director in February.

An intelligence official says the facilities have to be cleaned of any potentially sensitive materials before they can be closed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the process of shutting down the secret sites.

The CIA still has the authority to hold and interrogate prisoners for short periods.

Georgians demand President Saakashvili resign

Georgia protesters

Sergei Grits / Associated Press
Supporters of Georgia’s opposition attend a rally in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi. Tens of thousands of protesters thronged the streets of the capital, calling on U.S.-backed President Mikheil Saakashvili to step down.
In a reversal from five years ago, tens of thousands of protesters want him out of office. Critics, including onetime allies, accuse him of being autocratic.
By Megan K. Stack
April 10, 2009

Reporting from Tbilisi, Georgia — They crammed into the streets by the tens of thousands Thursday, students and pensioners and merchants. They stood on the same scrap of ground, in front of the Stalinist stone hulk of the Georgian parliament building, demanding democracy and screaming the same slogan: Tzadi! (Go!)

This time, adoring crowds were not gathered to sweep the young, flamboyant Mikheil Saakashvili to power. Little more than five years after they cheered the U.S.-backed politician into the presidency, people returned with an air of disgust, in the hope of shaming him into a resignation.

Saakashvili is besieged by protest in his own capital, with a broad consortium of opposition figures — including some former members of his government and onetime political allies — vowing to keep the crowds in the street until he steps down. Opposition leaders insulted and reviled the president Thursday, calling him a coward and a womanizer and mocking his moments of public fear.

“When so many ask for his attention, he should go out to his people, but he is not like that,” Conservative Party leader Zviad Dzidziguri told the crowd.

“He’s a rabbit. Some of our boys are taking carrots to his residence. . . . It’s all of our shame to see this person as the head of our country.”

Against a backdrop of growing popular disaffection, Saakashvili’s presidency has been punctuated by moments of scandal. His government has shut down critical news media, beaten and tear-gassed peaceful demonstrators, and, most disastrously, charged into an ill-advised war with Russia that in effect left Georgia’s two breakaway republics under Russian occupation.

At the same time, roads were fixed, electrical service expanded and a notoriously corrupt traffic police corps was purged. Street crime decreased and foreign investment rose. Saakashvili lobbied hard for Georgia to turn away from Russian influence and toward the West, and cultivated ambitions to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.

But the soaring rhetoric and bread-and-butter achievements did little to quiet Saakashvili’s growing chorus of critics, especially as Georgians feel the pinch of the global financial crisis. One by one, many of Saakashvili’s former allies from the so-called Rose Revolution have peeled off to join the opposition, complaining that the president is becoming more autocratic.

The political crisis gripping Georgia is the fruit not only of Saakashvili’s missteps and ambitions, but also of U.S. efforts to gain influence in a traditionally Russian-dominated region by supporting democratic, pro-Western governments in the former Soviet Union.

Critics here say that, in its eagerness to shore up Georgia’s fledgling democracy, the United States ignored signs that Saakashvili’s government was veering into heavy-handed rule. Instead of supporting the country and its institutions, they say, the U.S. backed a man.

“Support for democracy became support for Saakashvili,” said Salome Zourabichvili, a former foreign minister. President George W. Bush “proclaimed too early that we were a beacon of democracy, without asking us to prove it.”

Thursday’s demonstration brings Tbilisi full circle: Open-ended protests are underway again. Bush, who was so adored here that a major thoroughfare now bears his name, is out of office. Georgia’s political future, at home and abroad, is murky.

Facing this round of protests, the government appears determined to avoid more criticism. The demonstrators have every right to gather peacefully, officials say repeatedly, and can keep up their protests as long as they like. The government ordered police to keep a low profile and consulted Western European security officials for advice on crowd management, the Interior Ministry said.

But no matter how long the demonstrations continue, Georgian officials say, Saakashvili won’t resign. His term doesn’t expire until 2013.

“It’s their constitutional right,” Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said. “They can call for his resignation, but they won’t get it.”

With both sides steeling themselves for a standoff, it wasn’t clear how long the demonstrations would drag on. Nor is there any charismatic leader who stands out as a clear alternative to Saakashvili.

“As a plain citizen of the country, I don’t know the opposition’s plans,” said Shalva Pichkhadze, a political analyst and head of the Georgia for NATO organization. “It will be a war of patience and nerves. They’ll both wait for their rivals to make a mistake and violate the law.”

Pressed tightly together in the street Thursday, Georgians split sunflower seeds with their teeth, dragged on cigarettes and idly discussed who would be the best person to replace Saakashvili.

“The Americans are right!” a white-haired man exclaimed to his neighbors. “The president should be more than 42 years old.” President Obama is 47; Saakashvili is 41.

“Maybe we should just wait until Misha gets older,” cracked another man, using Saakashvili’s nickname.

Gathered on the 20th anniversary of the slaughter of unarmed Georgian demonstrators by Soviet troops, opposition leaders drew unabashed parallels between the struggle against Soviet power and the current fight to unseat Saakashvili.

“Twenty years ago our people were an example of heroism in the fight for independence, unity and freedom. Today we have to show the same,” said Eka Beselia of the Movement for United Georgia. “Today we start a fight to stop the president, and we won’t step down. We won’t give up. We’ll go until the end.”

megan.stack@latimes.com