“South Stream will most certainly go through Serbia”

Mr. Petar Skundric: “South Stream will most certainly go through Serbia”

16. April 2009. | 07:32

Source: EMportal

Minister of Energy and Mining, Mr. Petar Skundric, announced that during the last talks with representatives of Gaspromexport he had been given strong confirmations that the South Stream gas pipeline would most certainly go through Serbia.

Minister of Energy and Mining, Mr. Petar Skundric, announced that during the last talks with representatives of Gaspromexport he had been given strong confirmations that the South Stream gas pipeline would most certainly go through Serbia.

At the Third Annual Conference “The Future of the Energy Sector in the Balkans”, organized by Ekonomist Media Group, Mr. Skundric said that the South Stream route running through Serbia from Dimitrovgrad to Subotica had turned out to be the most optimal and most economical solution.

The Minister also said that 53 companies had applied for the pre-qualification tender for selection of a strategic partner for construction of two blocks of the thermal power plants Kolubara B and Nikola Tesla 3. “Twenty-six companies have applied for Kolubara B and 27 firms for the third block of TENT,” Mr. Skundric says.

“Fourteen respectable energy companies have expressed interest in construction of one or both facilities, while other letters of intention have been sent by construction companies, equipment producers and electricity traders,” he said, adding that by the end of April the Power Industry of Serbia would present a list of candidates that had fulfilled the pre-qualification tender terms.

He said that the Government had also given its consent for announcing a public invitation for construction of a gas-fired thermal power-heating plant of 450 megawatts in Novi Sad.

“I expect that by the end of the year we will be able to give the same consent to beginning of construction of one gas-fired thermal power-heating plant in New Belgrade as well,” Skundric said.

South Stream construction contracts to be signed

Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Petar Skundric said also that separate contracts concerning the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline are expected to be signed between Gazprom and various national gas companies at the energy summit, to be held from April 24 to 25 in Sofia.

Speaking to the press after the conference on the energy future of the Balkans, being held at the Hyatt hotel, Skundric said that the contracts will be signed in the presence of the heads of states of the countries which are taking part in the project.

He said that the national gas companies of these countries will sign separate agreements with Gazprom at the summit in Sofia, adding that it is expected that delegations of over 100 countries, including Serbia, will be present.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will also be present on the occasion, said the Minister.

Skundric explained that after the signing of separate contracts every country will conduct a feasibility study in order for a final agreement to be signed.

He said that Serbia has to complete the feasibility study by September this year and general preparations for the project must be completed by the end of June next year.

He said according to all estimates the gas pipeline link through Serbia is considered to be the most realistic and most economical option.

Skundric said that work has begun on demining the area through which the gas pipeline link will be built in Serbia, adding that Russian experts engaged by Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu are currently working on clearing the area of bombs left over from the 1999 NATO bombing.

Ethiopia/USA/Somali pirates’ cover-up

Ethiopia/USA/Somali pirates’ cover-up

By Thomas C. Mountain
Online Journal Contributing Writer


ASMARA, Eritrea — One of the best kept secrets in the international media these days is the link between the USA, Ethiopia and the Somali pirates. First, a little reliable background from someone on the ground in the Horn of Africa.

The Somali pirates operate out of the Ethiopian and USA created enclaves in Somalia calling themselves Somaliland and Puntland. These Ethiopian and USA backed warlord controlled territories have for many years hosted Ethiopian military bases, which have been greatly expanded recently by the addition of thousands of Ethiopian troops who were driven out of southern and central Somali by the Somali resistance to the Ethiopian invasion.

After securing their ransom for the hijacked ships the Somali pirates head directly to their local safe havens, in this case, the Ethiopian military bases, where they make a sizeable contribution to the retirement accounts of the Ethiopian regime headed by Meles Zenawi.

Of course, the international naval forces who are patrolling the Horn of Africa know all too well what is going on for they have at their disposal all sorts of high tech observation platforms, ranging from satellites to unmanned drones with high resolution video cameras that report back in real time.

The French commandos started to pursue the Somali pirates into their lairs last year until the pirates got the word that for the right amount of cash they were more than welcome in the Ethiopian military bases in their local neighborhoods. Ethiopia being the western, mainly USA, Cop on the Beat in East Africa put these bases off limits to the frustrated navies of the world, who are no doubt growling in anger to their USA counterparts about why this is all going on.

Now that the pirates have started attacking USA flagged shipping, something that was until now off limits, it remains to be seen what the Obama administration will do. One thing we in the Horn of Africa have learned all too well, when it comes to Ethiopia, don’t expect anything resembling accurate coverage by the media, especially those who operate under the cloak of “freedom of the press.”

Stay tuned for more on this from the Onlinejournal.com, the only site willing to expose the truth on matters no one else will touch.

Thomas C. Mountain, the last white man living in Eritrea, was in a former life an educator, activist and alternative medicine practitioner in the USA. Email thomascmountain at yahoo.com.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

The Story of Bugti’s Death

The Story of Bugti’s Death

From: Behind the Chairman’s Door

I am taking a break from writing the Pakistan’s Bermuda Triangle series to discuss what happened in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province early this morning. Some people are making very interesting comments about Akbar Bugti, but noone wants to tell the true story of what caused the action by the military early this morning, so here we go.

Nawab Akbar Bugti (leader of the Bugti tribe), his grandson and 37 militiants were killed early this morning in a massive military operation in Tartani, Baluchistan. I personally don’t have much respect for anyone who is a Nawab and I will explain why, but this discussion is more about the man than the designation he held. Since my family’s background is from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which is littered with Nawabs, we have a lot of personal experience with these “leaders” and their methods of control, which I will try to explain.

A Nawab is the king of a specific area. These are remnants from the British rule that used to exist in Pakistan. The British, when pulling out of Pakistan in 1947, gave massive amounts of land to individuals to rule and control as they wished. Traditionally, the Nawab has never allowed the government to interfere in the workings of their area to the point of taking armed resistances. How do people live in these areas? Everyone who lives and works in an area that has a Nawab is under their control, not the government’s. They receive no benefit from the government nor is the government allowed to enter these areas. Now, it should be clear that these people only exist in the tribal areas of Pakistan (except in Bugti’s case), which are extremely backward and kept that way by these same Nawabs. By backward, I mean no education, no rights, no property ownership, unless the Nawab says so. For example, as a subject under a Nawab, you are required to work their lands, defend their home, and pay a “tax” from your earnings to them. In return, they will exercise a violent rule over the people, jailing them at will, seizing their lands and punishing them for whatever they feel.

If you look at a map of Pakistan, you will see certain areas that are specifically marked as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which are mainly on the border with Afghanistan. These areas were set up to absorb the massive Afghani refugee population during the Soviet occupation and their loyalties are firmly with Afghanistan. For those who watch the news, you may have heard the name South Waziristan, Khyber Agency, Mohmand Agency, which are all FATA areas and are the sources of terrorism and massive weapons stores that are used to keep the government out, militiants in and Nawabs in power.

As a matter of fact, my home area of Pakistan was once ruled by a Nawab that gave up power in 1971, when it became part of Pakistan. Prior to that, it had its own military, civil (government), educational and medical structure and did not incorporate itself with any of the laws and regulations of the Government of Pakistan. In 1971, when it formally became part of Pakistan, Wali Swat, our Nawab, gave up his control of the region and disassembled the military militia. But when Wali Swat was in power, the system of government was based on executive order from the Nawab, nothing was written down and everything operated on the whims of the Nawab. But I digress….

When it comes to this Nawab, Akbar Bugti, who is British educated, you are talking about the most extreme form of Nawabdom that Pakistan has ever seen. Akbar Bugti established his Nawabdom on Pakistani soil, not in a FATA, making him answerable to government laws. Akbar Bugti has been a staunch ally of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was exiled by President Musharraf for corruption, extrajudicial killings and various other crimes against the state. He has served as Chief Minister of Baluchistan and was a member of the National Assembly. He hates Pakistan’s other ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto because she allowed rival tribesman to return to Dera Bugti after Bugti kicked them out of the region. When President Musharraf came to power, his first act was to re-settle 10,000 tribesman back into Dera Bugti, again after Akbar Bugti had kicked them out and seized their lands. But none of this is the reason for what happened in the early hours of the morning. Akbar Bugti was involved in anti-state activities. As the President said in July, “Dera Bugti has a population of 9,000; 5,000 of which are now able to return to their homes, with land, cattle and the promise of a better life.”

In December of 2005, while President Musharraf was visiting Baluchistan, Bugti instructed his militia to launch a rocket attack against the President. Earlier this year, Bugti fled Dera Bugti to the mountains when the military started a crackdown against his militia and the illegal arms holds. When I say arms holds, I am not talking about shotguns and grenades; I am talking about rockets, surface to air missiles, mortars, automatic weapons among other military equipment. GEO TV, Pakistan’s largest satellite channel, has been broadcasting recent video footage of Bugti in the mountains watching weapon capabilities being demonstrated, from shotguns to rocket launchers. For almost 7 months, he has been living in a cave, which could only be reached via a long camel ride through the mountains, and using his militia to fight the Pakistan Army. Over the course of the year, hundreds of his tribesman and commanders have accepted amnesty offers from the government and had started handing over their weapons because they were tired of fighting the Army. However, Bugti was not ready to give up the resistance, which brings us to the events of the past few days….

On August 23rd, 2 Army helicopters while flying surveillience missions over the areas were met with ground fire, resulting in the downing of 1 helicopter and heavy damage to the second. The Army sent another helicopter to the area to perform search and rescue, but it was also fired upon and was able to return to base with minimal damage. On the 24th and 25th, another ground search operation was started against the suspected camps where the firing came from, where the Army was again attacked with rockets, machine gun and mortar fire which resulted in the death of 2 additional soliders and 3 injuries. On the 26th, the Pakistan Army started airstrikes against the caves where he was hiding, collapsing the cave after ground forces came under heavy fire.

Bugti and his militia are credited with the numerous bombings of the natural gas pipeline running through Baluchistan, attacks on power generation plants and towers. This militia and its leader believed it to be their mission to destabilize the government and cause untold losses to the national resources. Why did he do it? Because Bugti claimed that the natural gas that was in Baluchistan’s earth belonged to his tribe and they should recieve a larger share of the profits for allowing its provision to the rest of the nation. In his words, “The gas belongs to me. It is a Baluchi resource.”

Now, you are probably wondering, why did this guy take so much time to explain all of this? If you check any Pakistani newspaper, satellite television channel or web blog, you will find people singing the praises of Akbar Bugti and calling him a “Shaheed” (Martyr), which is unjustified. A martyr dies for an honorable cause, Bugti died for other reasons.

From 2 am Pakistan time to the writing of this entry, I have been glued to the television listening to the various political and religious leaders saying that the military operation was unjustified and it could have been resolved by discussion. Hmm… let’s see: Militant walks away from the bargaining table because he isn’t getting what he wants, goes into hiding in the mountains and launches attacks on the Pakistan Army with illegal weapons (successfully shooting down a helicopter and killing Pakistan Army soldiers) and the government should invite him for tea? That’s like asking Osama bin Laden to lay down his weapons and war cry against the West by sitting down at a table and talking to George Bush and Tony Blair? Do you think it would work? When you take a militant stand, you will be dealt with as a militant; not as a politician. I was most shocked at ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pouring accolades on this man and comparing him to historically respected leaders of Pakistan. What a farce! A corrupt Prime Minister that begged to be exiled to Saudi Arabia, after plundering the country exchequer, only to move to the UK for “medical reasons (read hair transplant).” But then the UK has traditionally been a haven for the criminals of Pakistan like Nawaz, Benazir Bhutto and other Pakistan politicians that won’t return to Pakistan to face numerous criminal charges. A request for the UK government, these people have stolen millions, if not billions, from Pakistan and placed the funds in your country, how about you help Pakistan out and bring them to justice for us?

Now, I don’t want to go as far as calling his militia terrorist in nature, but let’s look at the events immediately after Bugti’s death was announced:

  • Massive weapons cache of rockets, surface to air missiles, mortars, automatic weapons among other military equipment
  • 2 banks were set on fire in Quetta, Baluchistan
  • 16 cars at Baluchistan University and the Bolan Medical College’s (Baluchistan) bus were set ablaze (200 students arrested)
  • Borders from Baluchistan to Punjab and Sindh were sealed by the Army
  • Quetta has had a full lockdown curfew enforced with the Army patrolling the streets
  • Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad Police were put on high alert with predominately Baluchi areas put under lockdown
  • All airports, rail stations and bus terminals have become heavily patrolled areas by the police, Rangers and Army

Even though the whole country is bracing for retailiation, I don’t want to call his militia terrorist in nature…..

On the bright side, through the morning, updates reported on the various domestic news channels that people were going to the mosques to give prayers of thanks that this tyrant was removed. People from Dera Bugti are happy, especially when Minister for Information M A Durrani announced that the Bugti lands, bank accounts and assets had been seized by the government and would be re-distributed to the people that had suffered under this tyrant’s rule.

The military has vowed to continue the operation until all terrorist activities are brought to an end. So for the remaining Nawabs and militants in Pakistan, either shape up or ship out. Your days are numbered and we are looking forward to a new Pakistan.

PML-N to back govt sans joining cabinet: Nawaz

SEE:  Behind the Chairman’s Door

SEE:  Media slams killing of Nawab Bugti

SEE: Nawaz Sharif Calls For Commission To Probe Bugti’s Murder

PML-N to back govt sans joining cabinet: Nawaz

Submitted 1 hr 4 mins ago

PML-N to back govt sans joining cabinet: Nawaz

The chief of Pakistan Muslim League-N Mian Nawaz Sharif has demanded of the government to formulate a judicial inquiry committee to probe into the killings of Baloch leaders, a private TV channel reported. He was addressing a news conference after chairing the Central Working Committee of his faction. He said that Martial Laws and unconstitutional government have created severe problems for Baloch people and they are still passing through sense of deprivation. He said PML-N severely condemns the assassination of three Baloch leaders adding that PML-N may lodge FIR against the association of veteran politician Nawab Akbar Bughti. Nawaz told reporters that a committee has also been constituted to hear the issues of NWFP and Balochistan people. “One party can not single-handedly address the issues facing the country”, he mentioned. PML-N would not create any king of hurdle for the government in future, Nawaz pledged.

IG orders action against madrassas promoting terrorism

IG orders action against madrassas promoting terrorism

Staff Report

LAHORE: Punjab Inspector General (IG) Shaukat Javed has issued directions to identify religious institutions involved in misleading the youth to inculcate tendencies of violence and terrorism, and take stern action against them.

Javed issued the instructions in a meeting with the regional police officers of the province and heads of the investigation, Criminal Investigation Department, patrolling, training, communications, operations, headquarters, crime, and establishment wings of the Punjab Police. He said it had become exceedingly important to take steps to prevent such activities of such religious institutions.

The IG also directed the officials to take stern action against those involved in sectarianism, misuse of loudspeaker, violation of the laws on graffiti, and publication of literature that promoted religious hatred. He said the system of transmission of information be made effective in order to eliminate terrorism across the province. He said increase in salaries of police force was a historical step.

Javed said the role of the Muttahida Ulema Board should be made effective and religious scholars helping to promote religious harmony in Punjab be encouraged.

He also directed the officials to set up checkposts on all entry and exit points of big cities, and keep an eye on the suspicious elements to avert any possible act of terrorism.

He said the strategy formulated to counter terrorism should be implemented effectively, and foolproof security be ensured in all major cities of Punjab.

Muslims should not lay down weapons: TTP

Muslims should not lay down weapons: TTP

LAHORE: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Swat (TTP) spokesman Muslim Khan has said Muslims should take up arms instead of laying them down, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday. Khan told the channel that the Taliban were not subservient to the constitution of Pakistan but were committed to sharia. He said the Taliban had not captured the Pir Baba shrine in Buner, adding that they had only stopped the people from carrying out un-Islamic activities at the holy shrine. He said the Taliban had never talked of laying down arms, adding that it was the right of the Pashtuns to keep conventional weapons in their possession. “Pashtuns don’t have any tanks or helicopters, they only possess conventional weapons which all Muslims have been ordered to keep.”

Sikhs in Orakzai pay Rs 20 million jizia to Taliban

[So, if Sikhs pay “jizia” (extortion/blackmail) the Taliban will let them live in peace, then Obama’s plan to pay millions in tribute to “reconcilable” Talilban should prove to be a resounding success!]

Sikhs in Orakzai pay Rs 20 million jizia to Taliban

By Abdul Saboor Khan

HANGU: The Sikh community living in Orakzai Agency on Wednesday conceded to Taliban demand to pay them jizia – tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic rule – and paid Rs 20 million to Taliban in return for ‘protection’.

Officials told Daily Times that the Taliban also released Sikh leader Sardar Saiwang Singh and vacated the community’s houses after the Sikhs accepted the Taliban demand.

The officials said the Taliban announced that the Sikhs were now free to live anywhere in the agency.

They also announced protection for the Sikh community, saying that no one would harm them after they paid jizia. Sikhs who had left the agency would now return to their houses and resume their business in the agency, the officials said.

Thrown to the wolves for peace

Thrown to the wolves for peace

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Saba Gul Khattak

Pakistan is full of contradictions and betrayals. Often the two go together. This time, the betrayals are at several levels: the betrayal by the ANP of its ideology of non-violence; the army’s betrayal of the soldiers and civilians killed and injured during the fighting with Fazlullah and his cronies, and the massive destruction that followed (which is being compared to the 2005 earthquake); the betrayal of women by women’s representatives in the assemblies; and the great betrayal by almost the entire parliament voting to approve the unjust Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan (popularly called Bacha Khan) must be turning in his grave. The provincial information minister stated that opposing Nizam-e-Adl means opposing the ANP’s ideology of non-violence. The ANP leadership needs a primer in what resistance meant then and now. Non-violence was used to rid India of British colonialism, not to continue it in the name of the people.

Bacha Khan was fighting, not promoting, religious obscurantism. He condemned the mullahs for opposing education, arguing that they deliberately wanted to keep his people backward. Sufi Mohammad and his ilk are opposed to women’s education, political, social and economic rights; their concept of justice and rule is based upon fear. They have imposed “jizia” upon minorities. Bacha Khan may well have said to the ANP leadership what he said to the Congress 64 years ago: “You have thrown us to the wolves.”

One-third of the NWFP has been handed to the Taliban on a platter. Parts of several other districts in southern NWFP are also under de facto Taliban control. Why hasn’t the ANP ceded these districts to the Taliban for bringing “peace” there as well? Is the grand plan to turn the NWFP into a place like Taliban-controlled southern Afghanistan, a black hole from where people’s voices do not reach the world? The few voices that come through are asking for education, for employment, an end to cruel and unjust speedy justice, for peace, for contact with the rest of Afghanistan.

For years the ANP leadership demanded that Pakistan’s policies be made in the Parliament instead of in the GHQ. However, the ANP criticised the president for giving the proposed regulation for debate to the Parliament and threatened to quit if the regulation was not enforced. It is determined to fulfil the unfinished MMA agenda!

The National Parliament is the ANP’s partner in capitulation to the militants’ terms. A stunning majority, representing almost all major political parties in the national Parliament, hastily approved, without debate, the regulation that denies basic human rights to the people. This exposes the criminality of most political representatives and raises some questions: if the Parliament can vote a separate system of speedy justice for one part of the country, what prevents it from voting in unjust systems in other parts? And, in doing so, do they not disqualify themselves from representing the people who would then only be represented by those with the weapons of fear?

The implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl brings into question the relevance of the MNAs and MPAs from Malakand Division. Who do these MPAs and MNAs represent when the entire government accepts Sufi Mohammad and Fazlullah as the “true” representatives of the people? Should not Sufi Mohammad appoint/nominate Fazlullah, et al, to the national and provincial assemblies?

The silence of the women MNAs and MPAs — a majority of whom entered the assemblies on women’s seats — is yet another betrayal. They voted in a system that will render all women of Malakand Division unequal citizens. Their failure to condemn the Taliban treatment of women, and the ANP-PPP government’s attack on women activists, shows that these women are too grateful to their male-dominated political parties for their appointment, for them to question misogyny.

Chances are that like the MNAs and MPAs from Malakand Division, the women’s representatives will not stay in the assemblies too long as the Taliban disapprove their presence in such arenas. By keeping mum, the women’s representatives have not only betrayed themselves, they have also betrayed their constituency — the women of Pakistan.

For military officers to offer prayers led by Fazlullah must raise questions of loyalty from soldiers in the future. Precious lives of soldiers were lost, without a cause. It will confirm the misgivings that officers betray their soldiers. The military needs to answer the families of civilians, who were killed, injured, displaced and who lost their assets and livelihoods, why it attacked them when it exists to defend them.

Meanwhile, the government continues to pretend: after bartering away people’s rights, exposing them to medieval punishments, it asks donors to provide $45 million for the reconstruction of Swat! When it cannot maintain its writ, and acts as a subsidiary for the Taliban, what justification can it provide for asking the international community for the reconstruction of the district after throwing the people to the wolves?

The voices of sanity from Swat have been silenced through the weapons of fear, whose use the Taliban are well skilled in. The provincial government’s propaganda in favour of obscurantist forces has added to their plight. The national Parliament has betrayed them also. Who will speak for the people of Malakand Division and the rest of Pakistan?

Are there any avenues for the numerous women, men and children of all ethnicities, religions and classes who do not want medieval systems of justice before being bombed or cut to pieces? In the past, WAF had challenged Zia-ul-Haq’s violations of women and minorities’ human rights. Today, it would have to be WAF and other brave civil society organisations that raise their voice against the multiple betrayals that the people of this country continue to suffer.

The writer is a researcher with a PhD in political science. Email: Saba@sdpi.org

Psychological warfare

Psychological warfare

Thursday, April 16, 2009
The militant groups which operate in our midst are also, quite apparently, expert psychologists. As has been done in the past, elite schools, especially those for girls, are once more being targeted in Punjab. The provincial government has been advised of intelligence reports pointing to such a threat and the police chief in Lahore acknowledges fears that such institutions may become a target. The aim of the militants seems to be to paralyse life. In markets, at parks, at other busy places there is said already to have been a reduction in the number of people venturing out. As we all know, the main aim of terrorists is to create fear. This they have succeeded in doing in all large cities. In Quetta and Peshawar there are now growing fears of a full Taliban takeover.

It is also quite clear the majority of people have no sympathy with the extremists and their motives. Most realise they have no connection at all with religion and are interested only in amassing power. We need to find a way to fight back. The government and citizens must come together for this. The reduction in the number of concerts, fairs and other entertainment events being staged amounts to a victory for the militants. Perhaps their attempt to impose a puritan life that lacks colour should be challenged through some kind of cultural offensive, involving dance and music and all else that makes up life in our society. This would be one way of undoing the mental damage inflicted by the militants and regaining some modicum of control over the kind of life we wish to lead.

The capitulation continues

The capitulation continues

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Within hours of the signing of the Nizam-e-Adl regulation, TNSM chief Sufi Muhammad Khan has claimed its provisions grant militants immunity against prosecution for crimes they have committed. This means that murderers, rapists and torturers – such as those who flogged a hapless woman on the streets – will get away scot-free. It is hard to know if the government agrees with the militant interpretation of the new law; an NWFP minister, when asked, declined to comment – but given that we saw what amounts to complete capitulation by the National Assembly as it recommended that the law be signed, it is not hard to believe that this stance by the militants will be greeted only with the silent acceptance of the defeated.

The spineless display by the provincial government and parliament means the militants are more confident than ever. They have stated they will be ‘touring’ districts of Malakand and neighbouring Buner to ensure peace is kept. This is rather ominous given that the militants have so far brought with them nothing but violence and suffering. The ban placed on the display of arms in public means nothing, given that this can of course be ended at any time. There has been no mention of de-weaponisation or a surrender of guns, which could perhaps bring longer-term peace in the area. We must see if the government makes any effort to respond to Sufi’s claims or whether it is too scared of the militant might to do even this. When finalising its policy, it must also consider what impact the imposition of the militant-dictated law in Swat is having on people. Within the country there has been a wave of despondency, with many fearing the caving-in we have seen in Malakand could be a first step in a more strident charge by militants out to seize the country as a whole. Some have already threatened to march on Islamabad.

The demoralization and de-motivation we see everywhere as many of us feel that their government cannot and will not protect them can have only a negative effect. The insistence by the PPP that it is a ‘liberal’ party now has even less meaning than before. In the eyes of the international community, the events of the past few days prove Pakistan is, on its own, not able to stand up to the terrorists. At a time when we need support from the world in the form of both investment and encouragement, this is not the message the world should get from us. The latest talk of immunity from the TNSM chief prove the militants now speak from the mighty pedestal of power, while the rest of us cower below. They will use this power, as they have done before, to crush ordinary people – particularly the most helpless. A failure to punish those guilty of crime will only encourage others to follow similar courses of action and this could spell disaster for the state of Pakistan.

The actual story of Parachinar Pakistan

The actual story of Parachinar Pakistan

Posted by Akhtar Zaidi

Salam-Un-Alaykum,

A group of students compiled from different sources though mainly from the factual report “The actual story of Parachinar Pakistan”.I have to share this factual report with you.

The Parachinar Report

1. Introduction:

This report is a summary of the situation in Parachinar, and Kurram Agency in general, as reported by the relatives of Parachinari students currently studying here. We would like to make clear that this report should not be misinterpreted as having a sectarian bias because we believe that the real roots of the humanitarian tragedy in Parachinar are not sectarian but part of a larger agenda designed by the neo-colonial powers and orchestrated on their behalf by their surrogates in the Pakistani establishment. Even the sectarian conflict in this area is artificial in nature, and as any unprejudiced analysis quickly reveals, is linked with the current international strategy of sparking sectarian tensions in Muslim countries worldwide.

2. History and background:

In 1947 the British Government granted independent status to the northern areas of Pakistan and they were henceforth called agencies. There are a total of 7 agencies and most of them border Afghanistan. Kurram Agency that is landlocked by Afghanistan on three sides is 250 kilometers from Peshawar. The central city of this agency is Parachinar with a population of 500,000 people with Shias being a clear majority.

According to the locals, attempts to create settlements of extremists Taliban elements in this area have been a part of Government policy since the time of General Zia ul Haq. At first the idea was to purchase land from the indigenous population but when this land acquisition drive was resisted the picture quickly turned much uglier.

A crucial turning point was when, after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the local population under the leadership of Allama Arif al Hussaini (himself a Parachinari) displayed a clear leaning towards the newly established Islamic Government in Iran. This was obviously perceived as a threat by the American backed military junta in power at that time. Especially when it was seen that the figure of Allama Arif Hussaini was becoming a rallying point for Shias and this became even clearer when the Shia population rose up against the draconian and discriminatory so-called Islamic Laws of the Zia regime. It was not long after that Allama Arif Hussaini was murdered and thus an active campaign against Shias was started with Parachinar being the primary target because of its strategic location and its demographic concentration of Shias unparalleled in Pakistan. It must be noted that if the Agencies were ever to become a province it will be the country’s first Shia-majority province, reminding us that sectarianism is the most self-destructive factor in the state of Pakistan.

Thus, systematic attempts at ethnic cleansing have continued periodically in this area since 1970.

3. Current situation

According to people on the ground, American forces in Afghanistan and their allies within the Pakistani government have recently sought to resettle 6000 Taliban combatants from Afghanistan into sensitive areas such as Alizai (where Shias are a majority) , the city of Sadda and in Parachinar. The purpose of these resettlements is to create an excuse for the deployment of NATO forces in these areas, once the violent situation created by this deliberate and well thought out policy becomes sufficiently “uncontrollable” that it “forces” the government to request NATO intervention.

On the 17th Rabi ul Awwal (April 2007) government forces attacked a Shia Procession in order to spark a sectarian conflict, knowing well the psyche of the tribal population. Four people were killed and from that day war started in a radius of 90 km of Parachinar. Army helicopters targeted Shia areas were and this continued for several days.

The Government in some areas also provided arms to the Talibans, for example in Boshehare. It is important to note, that in recent times the local administration has allowed and given permits to the Taliban to build madrassas and mosques along strategic roads and on elevated positions, these are used in their military campaign against the Shia population (for example snipers are housed in extra-ordinarily tall minarets providing a panoramic view of the area and we have video evidence of these structures). Recent evidence of the Taliban hold upon all roads feeding into the area was the burning of ten government aid trucks, and the brutal decapitation of the drivers, at one of such bottlenecks controlled by the Taliban [1]. Apparently a Pakistani Army Colonel and a few soldiers were also killed in this incident and this was obviously allowed so as to create the impression that the government was itself helpless against these terrorist elements. Several videos of Pakistani Army soldiers, belonging to the Shia sect, have been released (Al Qaeda style) showing them being slaughtered, with their throats being slit by children on tape. (Note the similarities in propaganda strategies between the CIA backed terrorist cells operating in Iraq and their counterparts here).

A timeline of battles in this continuous war is as follows:

1970: From 1970 this region has witnessed sectarian wars every two years.

1986: General Zia allowed a “purge” of the Turi Shias in the divided city of Parachinar. The First major war with the help of Afghan Refugees, Gulbadin Hikmatyar and leaders of other Afghan factions began, with the support of Government of Pakistan. In this War some of the villages were burnt.

1988: 40 Days war in these areas.

1996: 72 people killed and numerous casualties in the War with Taliban and Afghan refugees.

2007-08: In this war over a 100 people were killed and over 500 people were injured. Other than Parachinar, Tirah (Aurakzai) and Bangash have also been trapped in war in throughout these years.[2]

4. Economic embargo

Parachinaris are basically agrarian people and have some family members, working in UAE and other Arab states, sending back money to their families in these poverty stricken areas.

The Taliban an their, behind the scenes, allies have employed a strategy of starving out the local population and, as we said before, have cut off the area from the rest of Pakistan by occupying crucial points on all incoming roads and declaring all people buying from or selling to Shias as “infidels” deserving death.

Due to the current embargo the prices of all commodities have inflated three folds. An 11 kilo gas cylinder costs 600 rupees. A wheat sack, which had previously been priced at 1500 rupees, now costs 4000 rupees. Cooking oil is selling at 2000 rupees and all other items are at least 3 times costlier than the rest of the country. There is no electricity for months now, and also no medical facilities and communication, reminding us of apartheid strategies used by the current regime in Israel. Almost 70% of all income has to be spent in buying weapons by a population paralyzed and trapped within this war zone. If anyone seeks to come from Parachinar to Pakistan (this is not a typing error, Parachinar has been rendered completely cut off from the rest of the country) he must pay an afghan agent 5000 rupees and travel via Kabul so as to access his own country, and that too at the pain of being discovered and beheaded by Taliban militia on various stopping points.

5. Government Bias

A clear government bias exists towards the indigenous Shia population. The local Federal Agent administrating the area has always favored the Talibans, who hold even the sunni population hostage to their terror. The government has systematically allowed the Taliban to gain access to and control strategic locations in the area, and have allowed them to arm themselves with sophistication and heavy weaponry. No objection was ever raised, even after complaints being filed by the local residents, about unusually high and fortified minarets (which provide a huge tactical advantage to the Taliban forces) and thoroughly fortified mosques and madrassa which are in reality weapons dumps and barracks.

The government has not even flinched from offering its own personnel as sacrificial lambs so as to further the conflict and strengthen the writ of the Taliban over the local population. This is all too evident when we see CDs being “leaked” showing innocent soldiers being slaughtered like lambs because they allegedly were carrying books written by Shia Scholars.

6. Media silence

No major news network has paid even an ounce of attention to the plight of these forgotten people and all information available is only from independent foreign sources or from personal accounts by people who have relatives in the area. This silence is shameful beyond measure.

7. Conclusion

It would be a dire mistake to think that the situation in Parachinar is an isolated event. Recent occurrences in Pakistan have shown that elements within the establishment have it as their plan to allow Taliban related individuals to penetrate mainland Pakistan and create sectarian disruption strife with the logistic support of secretive government agencies. The Lal Masjid debacle, which occurred right under the noses of the ISI and the Government, was an indication of this strategy. Parachinar is, therefore, an incubator and a launching pad for sectarian violence all over Pakistan. It is also important to note that the Lower Kurram Valley has beeng controlled completely by the anti-Shia organisation earlier called Sipah Sahaba (SSP). Azam Tariq, the Punjabi chief of SSP, became a leader of these Pushtuns and the Kurram Valley factor was clearly the cause of his strength. Therefore, if this situation is not dealt with properly the fate of the country, where 20% of the population is Shia, could soon be turned by conspiratorial forces into another Iraq.

Source:

[1] http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-19-Pakistanconvoy_N.htm

[2] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=32188&sectionid=351020401

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-19-Pakistanconvoy_N.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-11-18-pakistansectarianclashes_N.htm

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2007/04/2008525143211273493.html

http://potpourri.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=128090

Parachinar: The Valley of Death

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Parachinar: The Valley of Death

By Ali Jawad

15 April, 2009
Countercurrents.org

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Tucked away between soaring snowy-peaks and deep gorges in the fragile north-western region of Pakistan is the tiny town of Parachinar.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, one of the more charismatic leaders in the history of this troubled nation, is said to have called it Pakistan’s own “Switzerland”. Humbled by towering snow-tipped mountains and covered by endless fruit orchards, Parachinar’s natural charm is breathtaking. Its narrative for the last two years however, has been anything but reflective of the serene beauty of its surroundings.

Strangled by recurring sieges laid on the town, and a plight concealed from the consciences of the outside world by a silent media, the lives of Parachinaris have been a tale of untold suffering. Since early 2007, violence has gripped the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which holds Parachinar, and the surrounding North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) leading to the deaths of hundreds. Even more have been left homeless and without means of sustenance with homes and local businesses regularly torched down just because their owners happen to fall under the wrong “sect”. Despite the periodical nature of sectarian violence in these regions, the unrelenting wave of the recent outbreak has been by far the bloodiest in recent memory.

Tensions began in April 2007 when a procession of Shias came under fire from fanatical Wahhabis who view Shia Muslims as heretics. What followed on from that initial attack however, has been a systematic attempt to wipe out Parachinar of its’ Shia presence. Shias represent a majority of the population in Parachinar constituting over fifty-percent (50%) of the population. They also have a considerable presence in neighbouring towns in the north-west of the country with a strong and historic Hazara presence further north of the FATA.

During the rule of General Zia-ul-Haq, the Kurram Agency (which hosts the town of Parachinar) came under increased focus for its strategic location as it provided the shortest route from within Pakistan to the Afghan capital, Kabul. Jutting out into Afghanistan almost like an island peninsula, it was famously nicknamed the “Parrot’s Beak” by US forces during the Soviet-Afghan War and was regularly used as a launching-pad by American-backed “jihadists” to strike out at the Soviets. As a result of this strategic importance, towns in the FATA region were flooded by inflows of Wahhabist and Salafist anti-Soviet “jihadists” well-known for their hatred towards Shias.

Following on from the early and comparably minimal killings unleashed in April, armed Wahhabi groups have since caved in on the local Shias of Parachinar from all sides. The Shia residents of Parachinar have repeatedly claimed that Wahhabi elements from Afghanistan have joined in the attacks against the town’s Shias, but these cries have been met by deaf ears in Islamabad’s Pakistani central government.

An all-out attack against the Shias of Parachinar has been underway for a long time now; even Sunni locals seen to be “friendly” towards Shias have not been spared in this maelstrom of killing. Gruesome images of beheaded and mutilated bodies, with arms and legs chopped off from corpses, have surfaced on the Internet since the outbreak of violence.

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Such showings of utter barbarity are not altogether unique. The collective massacres of Hazara Shias in next door Afghanistan – more notably in Mazari Sharif in 1998 where during a 48-hour period over 8,000 Hazaras were mercilessly slaughtered – evoke similar images of ruthlessness. By the end of the killing spree then, corpses littered the streets of the city after express orders were given out by the Taliban government for the dead to be left unburied.

Eerily reminiscent of massacres conducted against Afghan Shias in the recent past, Riaz Ali Toori, a villager from Parachinar, protested in a letter to a Pakistani daily:

“Today Parachinar is burning: daily bodies of more than five beheaded persons reach Parachinar. The situation of Parachinar is getting worse day by day and so is the life of all people living there. It’s a matter of great sorrow and shock that Pakistan, in spite of bringing Fata into the mainstream of the country, has been pushed into fighting a continuous war and facing terror.” (Letters to the Editor, The Dawn, April 08 2008)

Surprisingly, at a time when the “civilized” world is on a so-called offensive against “terror”, coverage of the sorrow-filled plight of Parachinaris within western media has been periodical at best. The reasons for this are unclear. May be it is because Parachinar, fatefully, does not sit over barrels of oil; or perhaps our probing of the historical context behind these massacres will lead us to discover that Parachinar is yet another piece of anecdotal evidence of the much disregarded “blowback” stemming from the Soviet era.

In July of 2008, the New York Times ran a piece highlighting the rise of “sectarian conflict” in Parachinar. By then, the town had already been subject to a siege that had spanned for months; food and medical supplies had been in severe shortage after the main Thal-Peshawar highway leading to the town was blocked off by armed groups. The New York Times article carried the story of Asif Hussain, a Sunni driver, in a relief convoy headed for Parachinar; the convoy was ambushed, and its drivers taken captive. Asif Hussain was let off after convincing his captors that he was Sunni, the other eight drivers were not as lucky. (Power Rising Taliban Besiege Pakistani Shiites, New York Times, July 26 2008)

Today, the violence has spread out over a larger radius extending all the way through to the southern tips of the NWFP. Attacks on Shias in Hangu, Chakwal and as far south as Deira Ismail Khan have become a thing of the norm. Late in August of last year, a suicide bomber detonated himself inside the DI Khan hospital killing thirty-two Shia followers who had come to claim the remains of one of their leaders slain earlier in the day.

As recently as last week, another suicide bomber struck a Shia mosque in Chakwal instantly killing thirty and leaving hundreds more injured.

Pakistani tribesmen gather as they take part in rescue work at the site of suicide blast near Jamrud in the Khyber agency tribal region, about 30km (19 miles) from the Afghan border on Friday.Suicide blast in Khyber agency mosque kill 50, dozens other injure

The systematic targeting of followers of the Shia sect in various regions of Pakistan, more specifically in the north-west of the country, amounts to nothing other than a project of ethnic cleansing. According to a reputed scholar of the phenomenon of ethnic cleansing, Drazen Petrovic, he defines it as such:

“ethnic cleansing is a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory on the basis of religious, ethnic or national origin. Such a policy involves violence and is very often connected with military operations. It is to be achieved by all means, from discrimination to extermination …”

The above definition provides an almost perfect fit to the present situation on the ground in Parachinar. If international silence continues as it has over the last two years, the same story will have repeated across many towns in the FATA and NWFP.

That the Pakistani government holds principal blame for its failure to restrain the killings is indisputable and goes without mention. Wider global apathy to an ongoing project of ethnic cleansing however, is certainly not comprehensible and deserves a great deal of mention.

Parachinar deserves better. And the people of Parachinar certainly deserve better. The least we can do is speak out and urge our leaders to press the Pakistani government to bring an immediate end to these massacres. Then, and only then perhaps, can it be said that we have extended a hand to the forgotten victims of Parachinar.

Ali Jawad is a political activist and a member of the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM); http://www.aimislam.com/.

Several killed in Pakistan bombing

Several killed in Pakistan bombing

The bombimg came after police officers were put on high alert to ward against attacks [AFP]

At least 18 people have been killed by a suicide bomber who attacked a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan.

The assailant drove a car loaded with explosives into the Hari Chand checkpoint in the Charsadda district on Wednesday, police said.

“Bodies of two civilians were found near the site of the attack, raising the death toll in the attack to 18,” Nasrullah Khan, a local police official, told the AFP news agency early on Thursday.

Asif Ali Zardari, the president, and Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, have condemned the attack.

“The president said that the perpetrators of such a heinous crime would be brought to justice,” a statement from Zardari’s office said.

High alert

Police in the region were said to have been put on high alert before the attack.

“We had intelligence reports that a car bombing could take place in any of three districts of the province,” Malik Naveed, a provincial police chief, said.

Charsadda district is 35km north of Peshawar, the capital of the restive North West Frontier Province, on the Afghanistan border.

The province is an area of activity and refuge for pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who have increased their attacks in the past two years.

Charsadda borders the Malakand division which includes the Swat valley, where a government accord was signed on Monday allowing a stricter interpretation of sharia (Islamic law).

The state made the move in an attempt to bring under control a long-running conflict with tribal groups in the region.

Bomber strikes Charsadda post

Bomber strikes Charsadda post

By: Nader Buneri | Published: April 16, 2009

Bomber strikes Charsadda post

PESHAWAR – At least 18 people, including nine policemen, were killed and several others injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpost at Harichand, an area near Char-sadda, Wednesday evening.
According to official sources, six passers-by, nine policemen including SHO Jahangir and ASI Qayyum, were also among the dead. Jahangir was known for foiling an attempt by a bomber to kill Sikandar Sherpao.
The sources also informed that apart from the explosive-laden car, another suspected vehicle was also seen near the checkpost, which disappeared immediately after the blast. Police have launched a search operation for the suspected vehicle.
Soon after the incident, the rescue workers reached the site of the blast and shifted the injured to District Headquarters Hospital Charsadda.
According to eyewitnesses, it was a high-intensity blast, which blew the bodies into pieces up to 100 metres off the site of the blast and shattered the windowpanes of the nearby buildings. The explosion left a three-metre wide crater. The area was littred with blood and body pieces were strewn around, they said.
The area borders Malakand Division which includes scenic Swat Valley where the government Monday signed an accord to enforce Sharia law as part of efforts to end an insurgency, despite fears that it could encourage extremism.
Charsadda District has seen several suicide bombings and is home to the chief of the ruling Awami National Party, Asfandyar Wali Khan, who himself narrowly escaped a suicide attack last year.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the suicide attack.
In their separate messages, the President and Prime Minister vowed that the perpetrators of such a heinous crime would be brought to justice.
They also directed the concerned authorities to investigate the matter as early as possible. They ordered the provincial government to provide best medical treatment to the injured of the blast.