Editorial: A US consulate for Balochistan

It is not known with certainty why the indigenous Baloch media was barred from meeting the US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, during her latest visit to Balochistan. The visiting top diplomat did not meet the Baloch journalists, barring a few, to ascertain the actual state of affairs in Balochistan. Whether the government tired to prevent its critics in the media from meeting Patterson or the decision was made by the officials at the US embassy in Islamabad is anybody’s guess.

There is little information available about the details of Ambassador Patterson’s visit to Balochistan. She called on Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Corps Commander and Speaker of the provincial assembly Mohammad Aslam Bhoothani to discuss matters of mutual interests.

According to the available information, the US government intends to establish a “small consulate” in Balochistan in the coming days. This will mainly focus on the upcoming development works which will be carried out in Balochistan under the Kerry Lugar Bill. Besides this, there were no indications that the consulate would conduct some hardcore political business in Balochistan. Previously, the affairs of Balochistan were monitored by a consulate based in Karachi.

Washington’s decision to open up its consulate in Balochistan, an important province of Pakistan which shares borders with troubled Afghanistan and recalcitrant Iran, is a very positive development. The freedom loving people of Balochistan deeply welcome this move. The United States of America is a country that champions the cause of democracy, liberalism, pluralism and tolerance. It is, unfortunately, the most misunderstood country in the world. Consulates help to improve the image of a country. They do not only help the local communities to clearly understand the message of a country but also prove a great source of understanding the mindset and aspirations of the local people of an area where the consulate is established.

Ironically, the only two counties which have their full-fledged consulates in Quetta, the Baloch capital, are Afghanistan and Iran, which accommodate a chunk of population that deeply dislike Washington, its policies and its leaders. What one learns from the motives stated by the US ambassador, the US consulate in Quetta will predominantly serve as checks and balances on the development projects that will be executed in Balochistan. This is an admirable decision given the loss of confidence of  the local people in the corrupt provincial government and the inefficient bureaucracy.  Let’s hope, the consulate will expand its restricted role in the wake of monitoring the development works and provide the people of Balochistan a better chance to learn more about the US and its people.

While Islamabad continues to insist the US is a good ally of Pakistan, the people of this country often wonder what is it that the US has given to the people of this country in term of its amity. For instance, the Russians gave Pakistan the Steel Mills and the Chinese helped to build the Karakoram Highway and Gwadar Port. The US, on the other hand, has almost done nothing as such to establish an edifice of friendship with Pakistan.

Thus, Balochistan, Pakistan’s poorest and most neglected province, should be chosen as the venue of a such a grand project that should epitomize US-Pak relations. This could come as a university of international standards of a world-class hospital so that it benefits the entire population of the area instead of the ruling elite only. Such a project, if ever offered by the US to Pakistan, is important in order to convince the people of Pakistan as well as that of Balochistan that Washington does not only build relations with the rulers of this country. There is a need to build relations with the people, not solely the rulers, of this country by building some mega projects that will help to reshape the destiny of the people in the health, economic and social spheres of life.

The Quetta Consulate will hopefully assist Washington to closely monitor the alleged Taliban activities in Quetta and observe the ongoing war against terror in Afghanistan. Previously, US Consul General in Karachi, Stephen G Fakan, had said it was unreasonable to say the Taliban do not exist in Quetta. A US foreign policy expert laughingly said in Washington recently while meeting a group of Pakistani journalists that everyone, except the CIA and FBI, knew where the Taliban in Quetta are hiding!

The willingness of the Americans to come to Balochistan at a time when several international organizations are either restricting their movements or shutting businesses from the province due to security problems is a matter of encouragement for Balochistan. This will boost the confidence of foreign companies and investors to come to Balochistan.

We hope that the US consulate in Quetta will remarkably help to make a distinction between the Taliban operations and the Baloch liberal and nationalistic movement which has been systematically crushed by Islamabad. All democratic people in Balochistan welcome the establishment of a US consulate in Balochistan. We hope it will be extended all kinds of support, if required, by the government of Balochistan and the local stakeholders.

Is BLUF False Front For Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)?

Analyst Asif Haroon Raja:

“Some other terrorist outfits like Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Republican Party (BRP) and Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF) have also cropped up. In reality, only BLA is operating while others are phony. All four names have been coined by RAW and fed to Brahamdagh for propagation to give an impression to the world that the separatist movement in Balochistan is wide based.”

BLUF asks ICRC and all UN agencies to leave Balochistan

ccupied Balochistan, QUETTA: While accepting responsibility for threatening the Quetta office of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), an underground Baloch organization, Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF), has asked ICRC and all UN agencies to immediately shut down their activities and leave Balochistan, reported Online News Agency here on Saturday.

BLUF is the same organization that kidnapped the American head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), John Solecki, last year and killed Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan.

According to Shah Haq Baloch, a spokesman of the shadowy Baloch nationalist group who spoke to Online News Agency on a satellite phone, the threat to ICRC Quetta office had been issued by his organization due to its “partial role” in Balochistan.

“The role of these foreign organizations on the issue of the state brutality is partial. The ICRC and other foreign groups have not done anything satisfactory for tens of thousands of displaced Baloch. We warn ICRC and all UN agencies to immediately halt all their activities and leave Balochistan because these organizations kept quite (on the plight of the Baloch people) even after the safe release of John Solecki. This attitude will no longer be tolerated,” said the spokesman.

The BLUF representative, when asked about an earlier statement issued by Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and Baloch Republican Party (BRP) in which they disowned the threats and accused state intelligence agencies for doing so in order to defame the Baloch movement, said BRA was a respectable organization which BLUF admired for its commitment to the Baloch cause.
“We want BRA to confirm things before issuing statements. They should be patient and refrain from issuing policy statements hastily. ICRC has been threatened by BLUF and if it does not suspend its activities, we will take strict action against it,” he warned.

Source: Balochhal news

It must be noted that earlier BRA and BRP had termed the threats to ICRC a conspiracyagainst Baloch resistance Organization by Intelligence agencies of Pakistan.

Balochistan Assessment – 2010

Balochistan Assessment – 2010

South Asia Terrorism Portal


The strategic and resource-rich Balochistan province continues to remain on the periphery of Pakistan’s projects and perceptions. With both the “dialogue with those who are up in the mountains” and the counter-insurgency (CI) operations failing, the Baloch insurrection persists. Worse, subversion from theTaliban-Al Qaeda in the north of the province has added to the region’s complexities.

There has, however, been some reduction in violence during 2009. At least 268 persons, including 148 civilians and 83 Security Force (SF) personnel, have died in the current year (till November 20) according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). Significantly, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of insurgents killed, an indication that CI operations are not yielding results.

Annual Fatalities in Balochistan, 2006-2009

Year
Civilians
SF Personnel
Militant
Total
Injured
Incidents
2009*
148
83
37
268
491
349
2008
130
111
107
348
383
397
2007
124
27
94
245
NA
NA
2006
226
82
142
450
NA
772
Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal
* Data till November 20, 2009

Despite the reduced levels of violence, the insurgency continues to simmer, with a steady stream of bomb and rocket attacks on gas pipelines, railway tracks, power transmission lines, bridges, and communications infrastructure, as well as on military establishments and Government facilities. While there have been at least 126 bomb blasts and grenade explosions across the province in 2009 [data till November 20 (Source: SATP)], there have also been rocket attacks (numbers for which are not available currently) targeting state installations reported almost on a daily basis in the province. Baloch insurgents have also targeted Government officials and politicians. On October 25, 2009, for instance, the Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan was shot dead near his house in Quetta. The Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF) immediately claimed responsibility for the assassination. The BLUF spokesman, Shahiq Baloch, said the Minister, born to Punjabi settlers, was killed due to his anti-Baloch policies, and to “avenge the state-sponsored murders of Baloch nationalist leaders Ghulam Muhammad, Sher Muhammad and Lala Munir in Turbat in Balochistan some time ago.” Earlier, on August 6, 2009, the Minister for Excise and Taxation, Sardarzada Rustam Khan Jamali, was shot dead in Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, which has a significant Baloch population. Though the Police subsequently managed to arrest a key suspect, who is an alleged member of a car lifting gang, investigators are still unclear about the motive behind the mysterious killing, and there is suspicion of Baloch involvement. On October 18, 2009, a grenade was hurled into the house of the Information Minister Younas Mullazai in Quetta, but the Minister was not in at that time and no loss of life or injury was reported. Rahimullah Yusufzai notes,

There have been other targeted killings in the province, along with frequent acts of sabotage against government installations, infrastructure and utility services. A new trend in this campaign is the blowing up of properties of pro-government tribal elders. Frontier Corps soldiers and policemen are attacked and the settlers, the ones whose parents and grandparents came from other provinces to settle in Balochistan, are now a major target of Baloch separatists.

Muhammad Ejaz Khan similarly reported in The News on October 18, 2009, that Balochistan had seen a sharp increase in incidents of targeted killing, especially since 2003. According to a senior official of the provincial Government, there have been two principal kinds of targeted killings – the sectarian and those backed by insurgent or separatist groups. In most reported incidents, the targets were found to have been shot in the head by highly trained shooters. Most of the victims of these targeted killings have been Shias and Punjabis (generally referred to as settlers). In Quetta and other Baloch-dominated areas of the province, Punjabi barbers and labourers have also been routinely targeted. Dr. Farrukh, the Superintendent of Police in Quetta, disclosed that the Police had arrested four high-profile killers and blamed the outlawed Sunni outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), for the targeted killing incidents. The Hazara community in Quetta claims that over 270 of its people have been killed over the past six years.

Currently, there are at least six active insurgent groups in Balochistan: the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), the Baloch Republican Army, the Baloch People’s Liberation Front, the Popular Front for Armed Resistance, the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) and BLUF. BLUF, according to Rahimullah Yusufzai, appears more aggressive and violent even than BLA and BLF. In February 2009, BLUF cadres abducted American John Solecki, who headed the UNHCR mission in Balochistan, but freed him unharmed after “much effort, and probably a deal.” The kidnapping signaled the “arrival of the BLUF as the most radical of the three Baloch separatist groups even though it isn’t clear if these are separate or overlapping factions operating under different names.” In addition, young Baloch separatists “forming part of the Diaspora and living in Kabul, Kandahar, Dubai, London, Brussels and Geneva, are now often calling the shots in Balochistan and setting the agenda.”

The insurgents retain capabilities to carry out acts of sabotage on a daily basis across the province. Acts of violence are, importantly, not restricted to a few areas but are occurring in practically all the 26 Districts, including the provincial capital Quetta. Quetta continues to witness substantial militant activity, both from the Islamist extremists and the Baloch nationalists. There were 73 militancy-related incidents in Quetta during 2009 (till November 15) as against 81 in 2008; 72 in 2007; 75 in 2006; 61 in 2005; 51 in 2004; and 32 in 2003.

While the low-intensity nationalist insurgency continues, there is a far more insidious movement of subversion being orchestrated by the Taliban-al Qaeda combine in the northern part of the province. The Baloch insurgency, in fact, plays out in the sidelines of greater theatre of violence, as Islamist militants in the north orchestrate attacks on both sides of the Afghan border in their areas of domination. According to General Stanley McChrystal, the US Commander in Afghanistan, Taliban militants in Balochistan, known as the ‘Quetta Shura’, operate openly from the provincial capital, conducting attacks inside both Balochistan and Afghanistan. On September 29, 2009, The Washington Post quoted US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, as saying that “In the past, we focused on al Qaeda because they were a threat to us. The Quetta Shura mattered less to us because we had no troops in the region… Now our troops are there on the other side of the border, and the Quetta Shura is high on Washington’s list.” Other US officials claim that virtually all of the Afghan Taliban’s strategic decisions are made by the Quetta Shura, Dawn reported on September 30, 2009. Decisions flow from the group “to Taliban field commanders, who in turn make tactical decisions that support the Shura’s strategic direction,” one such official told the US media. The Washington Post report claims that Pakistani officials have allowed the Taliban movement to regroup in the Quetta area because they view it as a strategic asset rather than a domestic threat. The US Consul General in Karachi, Stephen Fakan, told reporters on October 21, 2009 that a Waziristan-like situation might develop in Balochistan if “necessary action” is not taken against the Taliban in Quetta. According to him, “They have their existence in Quetta and the Government of Pakistan should root them out from here.”

Even as the American apprehension about the top leadership of Taliban hiding in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan were being articulated, there has also been some talk about the Barack Obama administration planning to broaden the scope of its drone attacks to include Quetta and other parts of Balochistan. Interestingly, a Washington Times report now suggests that Mullah Omar, chief of the Afghan Taliban who heads the Quetta Shura, may have been shifted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan external intelligence agency, to safer environs in Karachi, to protect him from the possibility of a US drone strike.

Meanwhile, the Taliban-al Qaeda combine continues to try and disrupt the supply line for NATO Forces in Afghanistan passing through Balochistan. In 2009, there have been at least 12 attacks in Balochistan on oil tankers and trucks ferrying NATO supplies to Afghanistan. These have occurred in the Lakorain area on the National Highway in Khuzdar District, near the Chaman border crossing, Chaman town, Kalat, Pishin District, Western Bypass in Quetta, Wadh in Khuzdar District, on the RCD Highway in Khuzdar, Bolan and in the Chhoto area of Mastung District. Among these was also the first-ever suicide attack in a Baloch-populated area. On June 30, four persons were killed and 11 injured when a bomber targeted a hotel in Kalat in an apparent bid at disrupting supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan. The bomber detonated his explosives inside a hotel in the Sorab area of the District, 250 kilometers southeast of Quetta. Most of the victims were reportedly Baloch tribesmen. Witnesses said the suicide bomber, dressed in white traditional clothes, parked his explosives-laden vehicle outside the hotel on the Quetta-Karachi RCD Highway, and then went into the hotel.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Government, after coming to power at Islamabad in 2008, made some politically correct statements of intent on providing a ‘healing touch’ to Balochistan. However, all of this has remained mere rhetoric and the political process has failed to take off. Making it more difficult for Islamabad to launch an acceptable political process is the inability to find any allies among the nationalist elements in the province. Worse, the PPP regime has now been associated with the custodial killing of at least four prominent Baloch leaders. The mutilated bodies of Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, President of the Baloch National Movement, his deputy Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammed Baloch, Deputy Secretary General of Balochistan Republican Party, were found on a mountain river bed in Pidrak near Turbat on April 8, 2009. Later the body of Baloch National Front Joint Secretary Rasul Bakhsh Mengal, who was abducted on August 23, 2009 from Uthal in Lasbela District, with marks of torture, was found hanging from a tree.

The Federal Government is currently attempting to develop a ‘consensual’ Balochistan package, which would purportedly address the province’s political, social and economic problems. The package, namedAghaze Huqooq-i-Balochistan, reportedly contains three parts, including constitutional, administrative and economic measures. At this point in time, it remains unclear what measures are being suggested to achieve a consensus and, more importantly, get all the stakeholders on board. The past trajectory in Balochistan, however, indicates that packages, essentially financial in nature, have achieved little. Predictably, the latest package seems to have run into rough weather even before its contours have been defined. The Balochistan National Party (BNP), one of the leading political parties in the province, has termed the package a bribe, given to halt their movement, and has consequently demanded the withdrawal of the ongoing military action in the province and the release of missing persons as a confidence-building measure. BNP Secretary, General Habib Jalib Baloch, told The Nation on November 18 that such packages had also been announced in the past, but these always backfired and remained sterile. Abdur Rauf Mengal, a former parliamentarian from the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) stated, further, “We have no faith in the Government’s sincerity.” On November 17, 2009, he asserted, “Our problems include the military operation, which is ongoing regardless of the Government’s denial; then there are the countless missing persons; massive displacement due to the military operation; and fake cases against and the extrajudicial killings of Baloch nationalist leaders.”

Hectic efforts have been underway for some time now to bringing the Baloch rebels to the negotiating table. None of these has, however, had the desired impact in Balochistan as far as Islamabad is concerned. With the ‘peace process’ ignoring the fundamental issues that have sustained the insurgency, and Islamabad focusing only on the suppression of the insurgency, violence continues to be an everyday reality in the Province. The basic issues, which include control over resources, equal authority, and autonomy, are yet to be addressed. There is also the issue of endemic neglect and backwardness. Balochistan has the weakest long-term growth performance of all provinces in the country, according to a World Bank study. The Balochistan Economic Report 2009, which accounted for statistics from 1972-73 to 2005-06, said the province’s economy expanded by 2.7 times in Balochistan, 3.6 times in the NWFP and Sindh and four times in Punjab. Balochistan also has the worst social indicators, scoring the lowest on 10 key variables – education, literacy, health, water and sanitation – for 2006-07. The World Bank study noted that illiteracy is high in Balochistan (approximately 60 per cent) and primary school enrolment is low. The Report only confirms the long-standing disparities between Balochistan and the other provinces, especially Punjab, and underlines the deep disconnect between Balochistan and the rest of the country, as also the resentment of the Baloch.

Clearly, a lasting solution to the long-standing Baloch rebellion looks highly unlikely in the proximate future. Indeed, there could be a rising danger from the augmenting presence of the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine in Balochistan

California Austerity Budget–First Wave of National Economic Collapse

Schwarzenegger’s budget is a blow to the poor

The governor unveils a proposal that would cut the welfare-to-work program and reduce child care for the needy. ‘California no longer has low-hanging fruits,’ he says.

Money talkGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows the state’s revenue fluctuation at a news conference where he presented his $83.4-billion budget plan. (Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press / May 13, 2010)
By Shane Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times

Proposing a budget that would eliminate the state’s welfare-to-work program and most child care for the poor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday outlined a stark vision of a California that would sharply limit aid to some of its poorest and neediest citizens.

His $83.4-billion plan would also freeze funding for local schools, further cut state workers’ pay and take away 60% of state money for local mental health programs. State parks and higher education are among the few areas the governor’s proposal would spare.

» Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox.

The proposal, which would not raise taxes, also relies on $3.4 billion in help from Washington — roughly half of what the governor sought earlier this year — to help close a budget gap now estimated at $19.1 billion. Billions more would be saved through accounting moves and fund shifts.”California no longer has low-hanging fruits,” said Schwarzenegger at an afternoon news conference in Sacramento. “I now have no choice but to … call for elimination of some very important programs.”

Elimination of CalWorks, the state’s main welfare program, would affect 1.3 million people, including about 1 million children. The program, which requires recipients to eventually have jobs, gives families an average $500 a month. Ending those payments would save the state $1.6 billion, the administration said. It would also make California the only state not to offer a welfare-to-work program for low-income families with children.

Lawmakers rejected previous attempts by the governor to eliminate the program.

Families would also lose state-subsidized day care under the governor’s proposal; about 142,000 low-income children would be affected. That would save the state $1.2 billion. Preschool and after-school care would remain in place, as would some federally subsidized day care.

Schwarzenegger’s latest budget proposal is a starting point for negotiations that typically stretch well into the summer. His previous attempts to eliminate landmark state services have been upended by lawmakers who nevertheless agreed to substantial cuts last year. Their alternatives are limited, however; their tens of billions of dollars in temporary tax hikes and program cuts in recent years failed to end the state’s chronic budget problems.

The governor blamed legislative inaction for the deep wound to state services. He said if controls on state spending that he has long sought were in place, the budget gap would be much smaller. He also accused the Legislature of failing to move quickly to rein in spending after he called an emergency session of the Assembly and Senate in January for that purpose.

The Democrats who control the Legislature noted that Schwarzenegger vetoed measures they approved earlier this year to address a piece of the deficit. Voters twice rejected the spending controls the governor seeks.

Democratic leaders immediately vowed to reject the governor’s plans and craft alternatives, which they said could include new taxes on oil companies as well as the abolition of some corporate tax breaks.

“I am disappointed that the governor has chosen to surrender,” said Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), “that he proposes a budget that kills the economy and harms so many. … We will not be a party to devastating children and families.”

Outside the governor’s news conference, scores of union workers shouted, “Shame on you.”

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers, who hold enough votes to block tax increases and budgets, embraced the governor’s approach.

“The Legislature should use this plan as the foundation for the final budget,” said Assembly Minority Leader Martin Garrick (R-Solana Beach). “New taxes are off the table with Republicans.”

Under the governor’s plan, local school funding would be frozen. Education officials say they are owed a $2.8-billion increase, without which they won’t be able to cover scheduled cost-of-living raises and other obligations. Education spending has already been rolled back substantially, forcing many districts to impose layoffs, eliminate programs and increase class sizes.

The governor had been expected to call for the elimination of in-home healthcare for the elderly and disabled. Instead, he proposed cutting roughly a third of the program’s budget to save $637.1 million. Previous efforts to scale back the program have been blocked in federal court.

Sandy Varga, a Los Angeles home care recipient who is partly paralyzed and must use a wheelchair, was outside the news conference protesting the cuts with unionized home health workers. She said she cannot get dressed or get out of bed by herself and may be forced into a nursing home if she loses her home care.

“The program is already at bare bones,” she said.

Another issue the governor’s plan addresses is prison costs. He would reduce them by shifting the responsibility for some state inmates to local governments, as he has proposed before. According to his estimate, the state would save $248 million by sending new low-level felons to local jails instead of to state prisons and by shifting supervision of state juvenile parolees to counties.

The counties would receive $11,500 to $15,000 per offender to help pay for probation, drug courts and “alternative” methods of custody, such as home detention.

Narcotic treatment programs for roughly 160,000 Medi-Cal patients would be eliminated to save the state $53.4 million. And state money for county mental health programs would drop 60%.

“You can’t make these numbers work,” said Rusty Selix, executive director of the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies. “You’re basically destroying the system.”

The governor is proposing to borrow $1.2 billion in gas tax revenue and other transportation-related funds to help balance the budget. He has also revived a plan to raise more than $200 million by installing automated cameras at red-light intersections to ticket speeding drivers.

A bright spot appears in the plan for the University of California and California State University systems, whose slice of the state’s shrinking budget pie would grow after months of student protests over fee hikes, larger classes and faculty furloughs.

The governor also rolled back his plan to help balance the budget with funds from new oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara.

The budget unveiling marked the beginning of Schwarzenegger’s seventh, and final, season of budget negotiations. It was also a reminder that the imbalance between the state’s revenue and expenditures — the “crazy deficit spending” Schwarzenegger first railed against as a candidate in 2003 — remains stubbornly present.

On Friday, the governor said he would use his negotiating leverage to continue to push for changes in state government that the Legislature has blocked year after year.

Among them are installing a less generous pension system for newly hired state workers and significant changes to the state budget process — a requirement that California build a larger rainy-day fund, for example — that Schwarzenegger argues would stop the budget “roller-coaster ride.”

“I will not sign a budget if we don’t have pension reform and budget reform,” he said.

shane.goldmacher@latimes.com

Times staff writers Jack Dolan, Patrick McGreevy and Michael Rothfeld contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Assassination of professor brings focus on Baloch rebels

Assassination of professor brings focus on Baloch rebels

All settlers, mostly from Punjab but some belonging to Urdu and Pashto-speaking communities from outside Balochistan, have been targetted in recent years by the Baloch separatist groups.

  • By Rahimullah Yusufzai, Correspondent
  • Gulf News

Peshawar: The assassination of 53-year old Professor Nazima Talib, a teacher at the Balochistan University, in Quetta recently by the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) once again brought into focus the Baloch groups waging armed struggle against Pakistan’s security forces for an independent Balochistan.

It was the first time that a woman, teacher or otherwise, was killed by the Baloch separatists. The deceased was a settler belonging to Karachi and had been teaching at the Balochistan University for years. All settlers, mostly from Punjab but some belonging to Urdu and Pashto-speaking communities from outside Balochistan, have been targetted in recent years by the Baloch separatist groups.

The BLA justified Prof Nazima Talib’s assassination as its revenge for the recent killing of two Baloch women in Quetta and Pasni and for the arrest of several Baloch women by Pakistan’s security forces and the police. However, moderate Baloch politicians and all mainstream political parties condemned the assassination of a woman who had taught a large number of Baloch and Pashtun men and women in Balochistan. Her death was widely mourned and it was described as against the Baloch tribal traditions in which women, children and the elderly people are never harmed even during a war. However, those traditions have become weak and aren’t strictly followed in the brutal battles going on in parts of Balochistan.

Prof Nazima Talib was the fourth senior educationist to have been assassinated in Balochistan in recent months and all were settlers, mostly from Punjab.

The Baloch separatists in particular target the Punjabis because they are from the same ethnic group to which most of the Pakistani soldiers belong. The Baloch nationalists also blame Punjab for exploiting Balochistan’s resources, monopolising power and denying rights to the Baloch people. The Punjabi settlers are the primary target of the Baloch separatists as they want to force them to leave Balochistan.

Most teachers from Punjab and other provinces at the Balochistan University have applied for transfer as they are afraid of serving in Balochistan. This has alarmed the government and both teachers and students at the Balochistan University have been protesting and criticising the government for its failure to protect the settlers, particularly those from the teaching community.

Washington’s spy network in Pakistan

Washington’s spy network in Pakistan

By Express/Agencies

WASHINGTONTop military officials in Washington continue to rely on a secret network of private spies who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The practise continues despite concerns about the legality of the operation and its negative impact on local public sentiment.

report in the New York Times claims detailed reports on subjects like the workings of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan are submitted almost daily to top commanders and have become an important source of intelligence.

Pentagon press secretary, Geoff Morrell deemed it inappropriate to answer specific questions about who approved the operation or why it continues.

The private contractor network was born in part out of frustration with the CIA and the military intelligence apparatus the report claims.

The contractors were still being paid under a 22-million-dollar contract managed by defense corporation Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy, the paper said.

The US military is largely prohibited from operating inside Pakistan, The Times noted. And under Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors for spying.

The contractors were still being paid under a 22-million-dollar contract managed by defense corporation Lockheed Martin and supervised by the Pentagon office in charge of special operations policy, the paper said.

The US military is largely prohibited from operating inside Pakistan, The Times noted. And under Pentagon rules, the army is not allowed to hire contractors for spying.

Obama Plays Risky Game–Using Stacked Deck With Russia To Disable Iran

Сквозь призму реализма: Обама затевает рискованную игру, меняя ядерную сделку с Россией на санкции против Ирана

© collage Rambler

Obama Administration continues to work on the diplomatic front, keeping policies in the spirit of James Baker: try to persuade Russia to support the introduction of additional, enhanced and tightened sanctions against Iran. This week the president sent to Congress a draft “Agreement-123″ Cooperation in the peaceful atom. For the first time, this initiative was still the Bush administration, but from the consideration of the Congress rejected in 2008 because of the Russian-Georgian war. Now the agreement will take effect unless both houses of Congress would not accept the blocking of the law for the next 90 days.

For the Russian nuclear industry, the agreement will be of great importance, because together with the oil and gas industry sector forms a nuclear “triad”, which gives the country an energy superpower. If the terms of the agreement will enter into force, U.S. firms can form joint ventures with Russia, allowing Russian atom to discover new markets. Moreover, the terms of the agreement Russia will be able to recycle spent nuclear fuel in America, which also creates a considerable flow of money entering the country.

Handing an agreement in Congress, Obama’s administration expects to submit to the Kremlin a clear signal that in the case of Moscow’s support for the UN Security Council a new package of sanctions Protva Iran it will be received specific profit. Did earlier efforts have largely revolved around vague and amorphous promise of America to show “good faith”, but now the team Obama offers Russia an agreement on the peaceful atom for a period of thirty years, and this agreement will bring her real, very real money.

Theoretically gambit should work as follows: Obama administration puts into effect an “agreement-123, and Russia voted in the Security Council for additional sanctions. In turn, Obama’s team gets an opportunity to justify the need for an agreement on Capitol Hill, as represented by Russia will be found a new ally. Congress supported the administration, without imposing a veto on the agreement, and Obama telling everybody that his “reboot” has brought real benefits.

In practice, however, is still too many unknown variables to be able to say exactly what the plan will work.

First: It is unknown whether the Russian leadership believes that the Obama administration would do everything as promised. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin remembers a lot of promises made to “his friend George” never finished anything because of opposition from Congress. Putin could persuade President Dmitry Medvedev on aid, saying that to do a unilateral concession without a guarantee of reciprocity on the part of America – the game is not standing candle (Putin could lead a concrete example: Russia as a “special gift” had a complex exploration in Cuba, and the response gesture was not done).

Second. Congress may not be ready to play by the rules prescribed by the President.Lawmakers may decide that any option of sanctions against Iran, passed through the Security Council with the support of Russia, will be strict enough that because of new sanctions, the Iranian regime has adjusted its nuclear program. It is possible and that Congress simply to express gratitude to Moscow for the share of support – and then lead a long list of grievances against Russia because of that agreement on the peaceful atom would not sign. The President noted that “the situation in Georgia should no longer be regarded as an obstacle in the way” for the approval of the agreement. But Congress – in particular faction, formed in support of Georgia – can politely disagree with that. Finally, the “agreement-123″ may just quietly get rid of – it will depend on what the wording approved in the end the commission formed to link up with each other coming out of the Senate and House of Representatives texts of draft laws, which impose sanctions on Iran. Version of the lower house is such that in case the sanctions will be invalidated nuclear agreement with any country that Tehran will consider providing assistance in the development of nuclear or missile technologies. Thus, it is possible that Congress will “agreement-123″ enter into force, and then put the president on the table such a law, it will already be useless.

Is there a way to avoid this (and perhaps this has been done in private): need to pass congressional leaders and the Russian leadership preliminary version UN Security Council resolutions. Then Moscow will know exactly what it is we are asking her to support us, but at the same time it will become clear whether Congress is ready to “hard-bound” specifically designated package of sanctions against Iran by the US-Russian agreement on the peaceful atom. Thus, the administration would minimize the likelihood of unpleasant surprises, in particular – the appearance of “wish list”, to implement that congressional approval would tie the “agreement-123.

Obama’s Gambit – a manifestation of a creative approach to the diplomatic struggle, and the team president still has about a month time, so to speak, to pull a rabbit out of a hat.Nevertheless, I am personally pessimistic. I can imagine how advisors of President Medvedev in Moscow said he had received the position of Russia on Iran (and trade with Iran, too) and not to accept the dubious contract with the U.S.. Also, I imagine, as congressmen oppose any attempt was made to “appease” Russia. By the end of May, the administration may well not be in active UN resolution on the table it will probably be based on such a bill on sanctions, that the “agreement-123″ with Russia in any form will be meaningless.

Nicholas Gvozdev, was the editor of National Interest; he often commented on developments in foreign policy both in print and in broadcast. He currently teaches at the College of the Navy U.S.

US Drones or More Suicide Bombers Targeting Mangal Bagh In Khyber?

[As you can see from these earlier reports that this is not the first attack of its kind to hit Bagh's Tirah Valley hideout--

US aircraft strike in Pakistan's Khyber agency , November 9, 2008 ; Over 25 killed in Khyber bomb blast , Feb 18, 2010  .  The question is what is the reason for the latest attack upon Lashkar Islami?  Was the attack in support of the Pak Army campaign in Khyber, or was this an attempt at agitation of the bloodthirsty Mangal?]

US strike in Khyber, possibly the first

Protesters set an effigy alight representing US President Barack Obama during an anti-US demonstration in Peshawar on May 15, 2010, in protest of drone attacks. – Photo by AFP.

PESHAWAR: At least five people were killed in Khyber Agency in a purported US missile strike on Saturday. If confirmed, it would be the first such attack in the area, intelligence and government officials said.

The strike could fan fresh anger because it represented a widening of the covert US programme.

Officials gave differing death tolls in the strike, which one said involved two missiles hitting a house and two trucks carrying militants. The death toll ranged from five to 15.

Much of the supplies for US and Nato troops in Afghanistan are transported through the region and the convoys have often been attacked.

Almost all of the more than 30 missile attacks this year have hit targets in the Waziristan tribal region.—AP

Our Correspondent in Landi Kotal adds:

At least 13 militants were killed in Saturday’s incident at Bazaar-Zakhakhel area of Khyber Agency. Officials gave three different causes for the deaths — a bomb explosion, drone attack and a clash between rival militant factions.

The deaths were reported from the Mangal Bagh Kandao and Wargha localities in Bazaar-Zakhakhel sub-tehsil of Landi Kotal. The area is a stronghold of Lashkar-i-Islam, an outlawed militant group of Bara-Khyber Agency.

Khyber Agency Political Agent Shafirullah Khan said there were conflicting reports about a drone attack and a clash between the Taliban and the activists of Lashkar-i-Islam.

“The most credible report, however, is that a vehicle carrying militants was destroyed by a roadside explosive device,” Mr Khan said.

He said a group of militants believed that the May 13 air strike on one of the bases in Tirah had been carried out by government in connivance of with their rivals.

The air strike killed at least 11 Taliban who sources said had come from Swat and were staying in the house of an elder of Kukikhels.

Mr Khan said that 13 militants had been killed in the incident on Saturday and a vehicle was destroyed.

An intelligence official in Landi Kotal confirmed reports about a drone attack.

Another official said that a drone targeted the house of one Dost Mohammad where members of Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur were present. He said an explosive-laden vehicle was also destroyed in the attack.

Is “Hot Pursuit” Into Pakistan Still Authorized?

AP: U.S. gave troops OK to enter Pakistan


8/23/2007

By Scott Lindlaw, The Associated Press
Newly uncovered “rules of engagement” show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.

The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the right to “hot pursuit” across the border.

Pakistan, a key U.S. partner in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, has long viewed such incursions as a threat to its sovereignty. Islamabad protested loudly this month when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama pledged to grant U.S. forces the authority to unilaterally penetrate Pakistan in the hunt for terrorist leaders.

Washington repeated assurances it would consult before any such incursions.

But summaries of the rules of engagement on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in April 2004 say chasing al-Qaeda leaders across the frontier was fair game.

One summary states that “Entry into PAK authorized for” the following reasons:

• “Hot pursuit” of al-Qaeda, Taliban and terrorist command-and-control targets “from AFG into Pakistan (must be continuous and uninterrupted).”

•If the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, approved direct action “against The Big 3,” listed as Osama bin Laden; his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri; and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar. The three are still believed to be hiding in the border region.

• If the Defense secretary approved such an incursion.

Other grounds for incursions into Pakistan, according to this summary, were “personnel recovery,” including rescuing troops after the downing of aircraft; and troops “in contact with” the enemy, meaning under fire.

As for “geographic limits,” the memo states: “General rule: penetrate no deeper than 10 km,” or 6.2 miles.

Told of the guidelines, Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said, “This is all nonsense. Pakistan never allowed the coalition forces to enter into our territory while chasing militants. There was no such agreement, there was no such understanding.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said this week he could not comment. “As a policy we don’t talk about rules of engagement, certainly not about current rules in place for any operations in Afghanistan, Iraq or any other operation,” he said.

The 2004 documents were included among 1,100 pages of investigative documents generated by the Army’s probe into the death of NFL player-turned-Ranger Pat Tillman, whose platoon was operating in the region at the time.

E-mail exchanges between Ranger officers in the documents make no mention of a requirement to inform Pakistan in advance of strikes into that country.

However, one summary mentions a chain of required notifications, which resulted in Pakistan being apprised — apparently after the fact. One rule says “joint task force commander must inform CENTCOM immediately” and ensure the “Mil Liaison team” in Islamabad was notified.

Operations officers had a hotline to that liaison office, which would in turn inform Pakistani officials, according to a U.S. officer who served in the region and is knowledgable about operations within Afghanistan during that mid-2004 period. On some occasions, the officer said, Pakistanis would detect ground or air incursions and request explanations from the Americans, who would open inquiries.

Interviews with officers in the field, and the public statements of top U.S. commanders, indicate similar guidelines remain in place today.

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., asked Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, “Do we have to have the approval of the Pakistani government in hot pursuit across the border?”

No, Lute replied. If U.S. forces spot so much as a “hostile intent” against them and chase the threat toward the border, “then we have all the authorities we need to pursue, either with fires or on the ground, across the border,” he said.

Even a surveillance report of enemy fighters setting up a rocket and pointing it west into Afghanistan is enough to trigger a unilateral military response, said Lute, then the chief operations officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now President Bush’s deputy national security adviser — the “war czar” on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Capt. Scott Horrigan, a former company commander at Camp Tillman, an outpost about a mile inside Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, told the AP earlier this year that rules of engagement allowed U.S. forces on the ground to travel up to a kilometer, a little more than half a mile, into Pakistani territory if they had “eyes on” insurgents, not just terrorist leaders.

Horrigan said that pursuit would require the approval of Pakistani authorities or Horrigan’s brigade commander. It wasn’t clear whether the brigade commander was required to consult with Pakistani officials before such an incursion. Through a spokesman at Fort Drum, where he is currently stationed, Horrigan declined to comment this week.

Horrigan also said in the earlier interview that U.S. aircraft could penetrate up to 10 kilometers into Pakistan, but must seek permission first. And he said his soldiers had fired from Afghanistan into Pakistan “two or three times.” With fire coming from Pakistan, “usually I can fire back,” he said, citing “an inherent right to self-defense.”

Lt. Col. David Accetta, spokesman for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said last week he could not talk about rules of engagement along the Pakistan border. He did say, after an AP reporter informed him of Horrigan’s comments, that the rules haven’t changed since January, when Horrigan spoke.

A high-ranking Ranger officer who has served in Afghanistan and is familiar with the current rules of engagement said that if he found himself “in contact” with the enemy at the border, he would feel authorized to chase them into Pakistan. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the high sensitivity of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Occasionally, there have been signs of American operations in the Pakistani frontier.

In January 2006, tribal elders told the AP that U.S. helicopters had launched an attack on remote Saidgi village, about three miles from the Afghan border in Pakistan’s lawless North Waziristan tribal region.

A tribal leader, Momin Khan, said the Americans took away five tribesmen. The Muslim cleric whose home was attacked was not there, but an explosion had killed eight people and wounded nine.

The U.S. military denied involvement, and Pakistan’s chief Army spokesman said he couldn’t confirm the raid.

A week later, the CIA purportedly sent a Predator drone from Afghanistan into Pakistan, unsuccessfully firing missiles at al-Zawahri. The attack missed bin Laden’s deputy but reportedly killed four other al-Qaeda leaders — although that information was never verified — and 13 villagers. Pakistan officially condemned the attack and said it had no advance notice.

In recent weeks, top Bush administration officials have staked out sometimes varying positions on the matter of penetrating Pakistani’s borders.

On Aug. 5, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was cautious in describing how U.S. officials would handle an incursion. “I think we would not act without telling (Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf) what we were planning to do,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

That was far more tentative than what White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend said last month when asked on Fox News why the U.S. wasn’t sending special operations forces and drones into Pakistan.

“Well, just because we don’t speak about things publicly doesn’t mean we’re not doing many of the things you’re talking about,” Townsend said. She didn’t elaborate.

On Aug. 5 at Camp David with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush wouldn’t say whether he would consult with Pakistan before ordering U.S. forces to act inside that country. “With real actionable intelligence, we will get the job done,” Bush said, without elaborating.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.