The Holbrooke Payback

The Holbrooke Payback

Examples of this type of blackmail are rampant in the seven years of bad experience that Pakistan has had with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

By Ahmed Quraishi

Wednesday, 15 April 2009.


Holbrooke Bulldozed?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—We knew there will be consequences. But not this fast. Pakistan stood firm as it received Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen last week. The payback, it appears, came in swift succession: Balochistan erupted in violence, and America’s B-team – Britain and India – chipped in to unsettled Pakistan’s weak rulers:  Britain suddenly discovered a “very big” terrorist plot involving two dozen Pakistani students, and India claimed the Afghan Taliban were planning to sabotage Indian elections.

We in Pakistan have been seeing this pattern over the past seven years of our Afghan occupation alliance with Washington that we can now detect it with a naked eye. As always, the usual suspects are putting Pakistan on the defensive on issues on which they can furnish no evidence.

Washington can offer no evidence that OBL is in Balochistan [more on Balochistan in a moment]. The Brits can offer no evidence linking Pakistani students to what a British policeman described as a “very big” terrorist plot. Since there is no evidence, Britain has decided to arbitrarily deport the kids because British courts won’t be convinced and the plot theory won’t stick. And there is no way that Indian Premier Manmohan Singh’s election campaign firecracker about a Taliban attack on India can be verified or proven.

What is definite, however, is that the dramatic British and Indian claims came on the heels of Mr. Holbrooke’s bumpy visit to Pakistan and served no purpose – in the absence of evidence – except to increase pressure on Pakistan. Islamabad has asked London and New Delhi for evidence. In case adequate proof is not furnished, Prime Minister Gilani’s government should not hesitate in asking Washington to restrain itself and its regional watchdogs from deliberate demonization campaigns against Pakistan that arise every time someone here tries to show some spine. Examples of this type of blackmail are rampant in the seven years of bad experience that Pakistan has had with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Balochistan is an example of this blackmail, a Pakistani province that is in the throes of a terrorist insurgency, remote-controlled from Afghanistan. The ugly murder of three Pakistani Baloch political activists and then the immediate reaction by the U.S. embassy, which appeared to complicate an already explosive situation, are intriguing to say the least.

Two Indian assets: Brahamdagh Bugti & Balaach Marri. Marri

died in an ambush in 2007 while crossing from Afghanistan to

Pakistan after meeting his sponsors there.

John Solecki, an American citizen and U.N. official, was kidnapped by terrorists trained and financed by Brahamdagh Bugti who was last sighted in Kabul. Indian ‘diplomats’ in the Afghan capital are some of his most frequent visitors. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad knows very well about Mr. Bugti’s activities. So do senior U.S. officials since Pakistan did share startling information with them on this subject. Mr. Bugti, a Pakistani citizen, enjoys Indian and Afghan safe houses provided by elements in the Karzai government in return for helping recruit young Pakistanis to wage war against their own country exploiting legitimate grievances. The three murdered activists were in contact with all parties including Pakistani security officials during the effort to secure the American’s release. Pakistani intelligence agencies do not gain anything from kidnapping the three, killing them and then throwing the bodies in full public view.  If anything, the murder of the three activists was designed to create forward motion for the terrorist insurgency and put the Pakistani government in the dock.  Contrary to the anti-state propaganda that seeks to exploit this incident, information suggests that the three activists became privy to a lot of information about the captors and their chain of links outside Pakistan. The contacts that developed between the three activists and Pakistani security officials during the negotiations apparently unnerved the shadowy captors.  Multiple parties benefited from the murder of the three politicians and our security agencies are the least of these beneficiaries.

This is why the calls by some opportunists for a U.N. investigation are malicious to say the least. And equally reprehensible is the statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Apr. 9 that appeared to provoke the inflamed sentiments and pour fuel on fire. For Islamabad to allow such naked displays of challenge to its authority sends a message of weakness and invites more outside interference.

This whole regional dynamic can be traced to a core issue: Pakistan’s right to decide its national interest. For the United States to mislead Pakistan after 9/11 and turn the Afghan soil over to anti-Pakistan players in the region is not what we signed up for. It is preposterous for Washington to unleash a media campaign that portrays Pakistan and its intelligence operatives as supporters of extremism.  National institutions are not purveyors of any ideology. They simply protect the nation’s interest using multiple tools. Imagine us in Pakistan launching a media campaign to expose how the CIA funded and armed Nicaragua’s rightwing Contra rebels in advanced terrorism tactics in the 1980s. Or how the U.S. proxy, the Unita rebels in Angola, planted landmines whose victims’ count today begins at 15,000 amputees.

The only way forward is for Washington to mind its Pakistani ally’s interests as it consolidates its own position in the region. Pakistan will not submit to Indian regional hegemony simply because that suits U.S. interests in this point in time.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. The News International & & PakNationalists

Suspected US Drone Hits Pakistan Militant Camp – 3 Dead

Suspected US Drone Hits Pakistan Militant Camp – 3 Dead

19 April 2009

Pakistani officials say three people were killed and five wounded when missiles fired from a suspected U.S. drone targeted a militant stronghold in northwest Pakistan’s South Waziristan region Sunday.

[insert caption here]

South Waziristan is known as a stronghold for Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused of orchestrating the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The drone strike came a day after a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a military convoy at a security checkpoint in the northwest, killing 25 soldiers and police and two passers-by.

The authorities say another 62 security personnel and three civilians were wounded in the attack Saturday near the town of Hangu in North West Frontier Province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for U.S. drone attacks.  Taliban commander Hakeemullah Mehsud said militants will continue suicide attacks if the drone strikes do not stop.

Both Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued statements condemning the attack.  Mr. Zardari vowed to root out terrorism and extremism from the country.

Northwest Pakistan has experienced a surge of militant attacks by Taliban fighters and other Islamic groups.  Attacks also have been carried out in other parts of Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, and the commercial center, Karachi.

Balochistan’s Unaddressed Grievances


Balochistan’s Unaddressed Grievances

By Rahil Yasin

19 April, 2009

Normalcy returns to Balochistan. The latest wave of violence erupted in strategically important and resource-rich province of Balochistan after the killing of three leaders of Balochistan National Party (BNP), a nationalist political party which believes in national right of autonomy for Balochistan through a peaceful and democratic struggle.

The brutal slaying of these nationalist leaders proved to be another addition in the long list of grievances suffered by the Baloch people. The incident will also be helpful in scratching the past wounds like Gen Musharraf’s army operation, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Nawabzada Balaach Marri, and the disappearance of hundreds of civilians etc.

Among the many grievances expressed by the Baloch nationalists, the most persistent and long-standing has been that the resources, including coal as well as gas, have been exploited by the central government without adequate compensation to the province. Poor handling of Balochistan issue by the past governments fed a sense of alienation in the minds of the Baloch.

Balochistan is a transit site for major proposed natural gas pipelines that would carry gas from either Iran or Turkmenistan to Pakistan and from there potentially to India. One of many obstacles to the implementation of these pipeline projects has been the threat of Baloch militant attacks to disrupt gas supplies.

Balochistan is the site of a major port facility and energy hub at Gwadar on the province’s coast. Gwadar is the terminus of a projected interstate transport corridor that is to link Pakistan by road, rail, air, and, to some extent, pipeline with both China’s Xinjiang province and, via Afghanistan, with the energy-rich Central Asian Republics (CARs).

Baloch nationalists have complained that the government has developed the port and corridor without consultation with, involvement of, or benefit to the Baloch people. The anger of Baloch nationalists has sometimes been directed against China, whose investment in the Gwadar project and in other Balochistan-based ventures has been substantial.

A number of Chinese nationals have been the target of five violent attacks in Pakistan in recent years, with three of these attacks taking place in Balochistan, two of which resulted in fatalities. And recently, the Baloch nationalists abducted UN official John Solecki asking the government to fulfill their demands in return of his release. But later, Mr Solecki was released with the help of the three deceased leaders. These acts of belligerence cannot be stopped unless the grievances of the Baloch are addressed completely and surely.

Baloch nationalist leaders insist they are not opposed to development but are against the exploitation of natural resources that do not benefit local communities. They also insist that the province, not the sardars or the centre, should be the main beneficiary of the income from Balochistan’s natural gas and other mineral resources.

Distribution of resources remains another matter of conflict between Balochistan and the centre. The National Finance Commission (NFC), the mechanism used by the centre to distribute federal grants to the provinces, is contentious because it is controlled by the federal government, and in the Balochistan context, because the main criterion for NFC awards is population. The award should be determined through consensus among the provinces and on an equitable basis. By revising the criteria to account for backwardness, level of development, geographic size and revenue levels of the provinces, the centre would remove at least one major bone of contention.

In a province that already has an excessive security presence, the government’s decision to establish new military cantonments has reinforced local perceptions of the Pakistani army as a ‘colonising force’.

The Baloch opposition has called for the removal of the Frontier Corps (FC) and its checkposts, an end to military operations, the return of the army to the barracks, the withdrawal of politically motivated cases and the release of political prisoners if peace is to be restored. The insurgency is unlikely to subside as long as the military relies on repression, killings, imprisonment, disappearances and torture to bend the Baloch to its will.

Many Baloch ruling provincial parliamentarians also support local ownership of development projects and agree with the opposition that military force will not solve the conflict.

To solve the Balochistan conflict, the federal government should review the checkposts manned by the Frontier Corps and the Coast Guards in interior Balochistan, removing those not needed; redirect the focus of both security agencies on border patrol and interdiction of arms and narcotics; train levies on the police pattern and provide the requisite logistics.

The federal government should halt construction of military cantonments until all major issues are resolved, increase royalties to the gas-producing districts of Balochistan, with the government paying arrears. It must ensure maximum provincial representation immediately on the boards of PPL, OGDC, and Sui Southern.

It is required that oil and gas companies invest 5 percent of total expenditures on social sector projects in consultation with public representatives; distribution companies should provide gas on a priority basis to the areas where it is produced.

The central government should allocate 7 per cent of the GPA’s gross revenue, other than federal levies, for Balochistan’s development, while giving locals employment preference, followed by people from Makran and then the rest of Balochistan; fishermen, displaced by the Gwadar project, must be reimbursed and relocated near the East or West Bays; address under-development in Gwadar, Quetta and Sui, facilitate social sector development province-wide, especially in health, housing and education, and make a one-time grant to improve the province’s medical infrastructure.

The federal government should make the development level and degree of backwardness the first criteria for NFC awards; strictly implement the 5.4 per cent employment quota for Baloch workers in all federal ministries, divisions, corporations and departments and consider special measures to compensate for the lack of recruitment of the Baloch into the armed forces and civil security forces; and create parity between the Baloch and Pashtuns in Balochistan in all spheres of life.

Rahil Yasin is a freelance columnist and independent researcher based in Lahore, Pakistan. He can be reached at

Netanyahu Is Going To Be An Asshole

US Rejects Netanyahu’s Condition for Renewing Talks

Readers Number : 121

19/04/2009 The US State Department said during special envoy George Mitchell’s visits over the weekend to Ramallah and Cairo underlined that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a condition for renewing peace talks was unacceptable to the United States.

The State Department released statements saying that the United States would continue to promote a two-state solution. In Ramallah, Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell’s talks also seem to indicate that the United States does not accept Netanyahu’s position that the renewal of negotiations should be postponed until the Iranian nuclear threat is removed.

While Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak has not spoken publicly on the issue, his associates said Saturday he is obligated to the party platform, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. The platform does not mention Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for establishing a Palestinian state.

Barak also reportedly opposes linking the renewal of talks with the Iranian threat and supports a regional peace agreement that includes dealing with that threat.

The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people was raised for the first time about 18 months ago in talks between Israel and the United States ahead of the Annapolis Conference. Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that the conference’s closing statement mention a nation-state solution, a formulation meant to neutralize a Palestinian demand for refugees’ right of return.

However, the Bush administration accepted the Palestinian objection that the issue should be subject to negotiation. The PLO leadership also told the United States that it supported unequivocally the Saudi peace initiative that includes a clause in favor of a just and agreed-on solution to the refugee problem in keeping with U.N. Resolution 194.

That resolution calls for the right of refugees to return at the earliest practicable date and compensation for those who choose not to return. The Arab League meeting last month appended a comment to its closing statement that its initiative does not include the right of return for refugees.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas rejected over the weekend Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for resuming the stalled peace talks between the two sides.

Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state was “an admission by the Israeli prime minister that he cannot deliver on peace.” Erekat pointed out that the PLO had already recognized Israel’s right to exist when it signed the Oslo Accords, while Netanyahu was refusing to mention a Palestinian state.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said on Saturday that the Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table until Netanyahu publicly accepted the two-state solution.
“This demand illustrates the racist nature of Israel and the extremist policies of its government. It also shows that Israel is not serious about making peace with its neighbors,” he said.
Ahmed also said that the PA would not resume the peace talks until Israel halted all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Omar al-Ghul, an adviser to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, said that Netanyahu’s demand was aimed at transferring the Palestinians to another country.
“No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand even if the whole world recognizes Israel as a Jewish state,” he stressed.

Hamas also rejected the demand, calling it a “dangerous idea” and warning the PA leadership against accepting it.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that accepting the demand was tantamount to legitimizing the “radical terrorist Zionist entity.”
He said that the Palestinians and Arabs must respond to Netanyahu by suspending all forms of contact with the Israeli government, including security coordination between the PA and Israel.

In Cairo, Mitchell met on Saturday with President Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and reiterated the commitment of the Obama administration to the two-state solution.

The US envoy said that Egypt was vital for achieving peace in the region.

“We believe that a comprehensive Middle East peace is not only in the interest of the people of the Middle East, the Palestinians, and Israelis and Egyptians, but it is also in the national interest of the United States and people around the world,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Mitchell’s next stop in his Mideast tour is Saudi Arabia.

The price of moral cowardice


The price of moral cowardice

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Pervert form of religion has been legally sanctified to terrorise the state: Ardesh Cowasjee. — APP

AUGUST 11, 1947, in the constituent assembly of Pakistan at Karachi: “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” — Founder and maker of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah. February 19, 1948, a broadcast to the people of Australia: “But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it.” — Jinnah. Later in February 1948, a broadcast to the people of the US: “In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” — Jinnah. Deliverance into the hands of the theocrats came a mere six months after the death of Jinnah, the delivery made by the man who had succeeded him as the leader of his nation. The Objectives Resolution was adopted on March 12, 1949 by the constituent assembly of Pakistan, proposed by the prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan. It clearly and unambiguously declared that religion had much to do with the business of the state. There could be no recovery, as history has proven over the past 60 years. Now, with the resolution passed in the National Assembly of Pakistan on April 13, 2009, a perverted form of religion has been legally sanctified to terrorise the state, to threaten the nation, to widen the already alarming internal divide, and to spread alarm and despondency amongst those who still had hope that one day the creed of Jinnah would prevail. The Nizam-i-Adl resolution, unanimously passed by the political parties present in the assembly on that disgraceful Monday in April is pure and simple appeasement by a weak government, by parties who have abandoned their principles, by other parties imbued with the bleakness of fundamentalism, all backed to the hilt by an army of over half a million men who were routed by a band of brainwashed terrorists. To those of us who remember our history the signing of the regulation by the president of the Republic is akin to Great Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s gesture on his return to London from Munich at the end of September 1938, when he waved a piece of paper in the air and declared that there would be “peace in our time,” thus setting in place preparations for a long and bloody war. Appeasement is, to put it mildly, a naïve policy denoting weakness. It is a yielding of compromise and sacrificial offerings. More bluntly, it is moral cowardice exhibited by pathetic men and women who offer concessions at the expense of others. Appeasement is doing deals with men who have insatiable territorial appetites with the wish to impose their own brand of false theological practices and beliefs. It is an indulgence in wishful thinking — peace in our time — at the price of surrender. But all was not lost. The Chaudhry of Chakwal, brave and true to himself, spoke up when all were silent. My friend and co-columnist Ayaz Amir salvaged some of the disgrace when he told his fellow parliamentarians just what is what when it comes to dealing with the Taliban, when it comes to giving in to them, and when it comes to appeasement. He was rightly harsh on the government for its moral cowardice, and on the army in which he once served for having crumbled, for the abandonment of its pride. His warnings were valid, but have gone unheeded. He and the many whose heads are not in the sand are now at the mercy of a ragtag and bobble band of maniacal ‘students’ of a cruelly false religion. Reservations are many about the MQM. We cannot forget the early 1990s, nor May 12, 2007. The party cannot be absolved of its past sins and crimes and its ‘cult’ image is somewhat off-putting. But last Monday it went far to redeem itself when Farooq Sattar, minister of this government and parliamentary leader of the party rose, prior to Ayaz, and told the house that a wicked precedent was being set, that the passing of the resolution will embolden all the militant parties of the land — and they are more than sufficient unto the day — that democratic and parliamentary norms were being violated, and that this pernicious resolution may prove to be the last nail driven into Jinnah’s Pakistan. He then led his party members out of the house and later further addressed the press in the same tone. And that was it — just two went out on a limb, two out of the horde of parliamentarians, all of whom have vowed to uphold and honour the constitution of Pakistan, which constitution makes no provision for the passing of any such regulation as the Nizam-i-Adl, nor of the setting up in the country of a parallel judicial system, nor of ceding territory to dangerous fanatical outlaws. The party in power claims to be a secular party as does the ANP of which the less said the better. The PML-N does not openly admit to secularism, its chief not being that way inclined as we know from his attempted 15th Amendment, but it also does not lay claim to be motivated by militant fervour. Those who let down the nation most severely were all the women parliamentarians, the most affected, the prime targets of the Taliban. And where is ‘civil society’, where are the lawyers? They motor-marched for the independence of the judiciary. Why are they comatose when it comes to the imposition of a parallel judiciary by a supine parliament? The fearsome Muslim Khan of the Taliban may have threatened the lives of those who oppose the infamous Nizam-i-Adl, but there should be some, other than Ayaz Amir and the MQM, who can show a bit of spunk. The press, at least some portions of it, are doing their bit and speaking up and out. Where is everyone else? The army chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, went to the rescue of the government at Gujranwala in March, but now he and his army have succumbed to obscurantism. Now, only the US and the rest of the world can step in — we, in nuclear Pakistan, can do nothing but wait and see which way the cards fall. We, including the legislators, are all helpless, they by choice, we by default. Footnote: Karachi is already feeling the Taliban pinch. Co- educational schools in Defence, Clifton and Saddar areas are known to have received visits and been threatened if they do not change, others have been sent letters with the same

Taliban shoot US drone ‘informants’

Taliban shoot US drone ‘informants’

* US official dismisses video showing execution as propaganda

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: In a video released last week, the Taliban are seen shooting a 19-year-old after he confesses to planting small transmitter chips that guide CIA’s drones to their targets.

“I was given Rs 10,000 to drop chips wrapped in cigarette paper at Al Qaeda and Taliban houses,” he said. “If I was successful, I was told I would be given thousands of dollars … The money was good so I started throwing the chips all over. I knew people were dying because of what I was doing, but I needed the money.”

Propaganda: A US official talking to the NBC dismissed the video as “extremist propaganda”. The Taliban, meanwhile, believe they have busted most of the spy networks operated by the US and Pakistani militaries.

“We used to watch these planes, but had no idea they were chasing us and taking pictures of our activities,” said a Taliban commander in North Waziristan. “In the early days … our training camps were visible and people would come and go. We were not so concerned about the security of our locations, but that has all changed now. We [have] abandoned all our old camps and re-located to new places.”

The commander said 40 training camps had been moved because their friends in Afghanistan had tipped them off about planned US attacks.

The commander said that the Americans had then started paying Pakistani and Afghan citizens to identify their locations. “Finally, with the help of our sources in the Pakistani and Afghan intelligence agencies, we detained two Afghan tribesmen, who after five days of interrogation, confessed to spying for US forces in Afghanistan. They revealed other names and then we knew there were entire networks of spies operating in our areas,” he said. A government official said the Taliban had recently executed more than 100 alleged spies in North Waziristan.