What Is Going On in Tripoli?

What Is Going On in Tripoli?


What Is Going On in Tripoli?

After 6-months-long failing attempts to overthrow Gaddafi by the hands of ‘Libyan rebels’ and to weaken his regime by permanent bombings, the ‘democratic’ powers have put their last ace on table.

On Saturday evening August 20, 2011 they have launched a large-scale special land operation in Tripoli with the support of NATO aviation. British SAS, French GIGN and Foreign Legion, several US-based private paramilitary armies and few local jihadist groups are participating in this massacre. More than 1300 Libyan civilians are already reportedly killed in the action.

According to the Russian sources in Tripoli, the situation is still uncertain. There is no notable presence of the foreign seals in the city centre. The combat thunder is being heard from the outskirts of Tripoli. ‘The shops are closed, the streets are being patrolled by the Libyan army and police units,’ – says the source. Anyway, the chances for army and civil militias to fight back professional thugs should not be overestimated. Libyan national TV and radio stations are reportedly captured by the Western Special Forces.

At the same time it is even more curious to note the tricks undertaken by global mainstream media to show a supposed ‘public rejoicing’ in Tripoli. The footage, broadcasted by Al-Jazeera and other ‘independent’ channels, was actually taken in a special pavilion built last month near Doha, the capital of Qatar. This pavilion reproduces the fragments of Tripoli squares, but some details reveal the deceit, e.g. the absence of existing architectural forms (on picture).


Another evidence is a number of lifting cranes at the background of ‘Al-Jazeera correspondent on Green Square’ (on picture), which are not the case in reality. Apparently the cranes were used for construction works at the false Tripoli complex in Doha, but were not removed in time as there was no leakage of the exact date of assault and launch of media war.

What will be the main intrigue of the following days? It is how are they going to conceal (or explain) the hundreds of corpses of dead European and American elite special forces’ officers to be brought back from Libya in zinc? Post-Gaddafi mopping-up will not be a one-day routine for sure. A bloody partisan street war in Libya is ahead. And jihadist groups alone have no chances for success. The NATO gangster is about to tear off its mask.


Holbrooke’s Ghost Pushes Imperial Silk Road Pipe Dream

[Picking-up the tune being piped by that old piper Richard Holbrooke, now echoed by Hillary, the mistress of pipe dreams, Grossman is feeding the world the same old bullshit, without even giving it a different slant (SEE:  Washington’s Silk Road Pipe Dream).  It is extremely doubtful that the numbers he is spewing in the piece below about school attendance and telephone subscribers are accurate.  I cannot believe that half of all Afghan households have telephones.  The statement that the US “seeks neither permanent military bases in Afghanistan, nor a long-term military presence that aimed at power-projection or threatening Afghanistan’s neighbors,” can only be described as pure horse shit, or an outright lie.  Recent news that the discussions being held with the Afghan govt. concern basing rights until 2024, help to dispute his denial. 

The old “Balkanizer” is surely smiling in his tomb.]

Success in Afghanistan: It takes a region


Six months ago this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out in a speech in New York three foundations for American policy in Afghanistan: a strong military effort to defeat al-Qaida and support Afghans as they secure their sovereignty; a civilian push to promote economic development and good governance; and a diplomatic surge to support an Afghan-led reconciliation process designed to end 30 years of war.

Six months later there is progress to report. The military campaign, supported by the efforts and sacrifices of NATO and other allies and friends, has dealt the Taliban an important blow. Afghanistan’s security forces have grown by over a hundred thousand soldiers and police. The transition to Afghan security lead has begun. Because of this progress, President Obama has begun a U.S. military drawdown that will bring 33,000 American soldiers home by the end of September 2012.

There is progress in civilian reconstruction as well. Afghanistan’s GDP has tripled since 2001. In 2001, 1 million Afghan children were in school – almost all boys. Today, more than 8 million children attend school – a third of them girls. Eighty percent of Afghans have access to basic health-care facilities, almost twice as many as in 2005. Half of Afghan families now have telephones; almost no one had a phone a decade ago.

We are creating the diplomatic surge Clinton called for by leveraging a broad range of contacts at many levels across Afghanistan and the region, including preliminary outreach to members of the Taliban. As part of this diplomatic effort the United States has focused special attention since February on the need for regional support for Afghanistan. Pakistan and India, Iran and China, Russia and the Central Asian republics would all benefit from an independent and stable Afghanistan integrated into a secure and prosperous South and Central Asia.

There are specific regional actions to applaud. Both Pakistani and Indian leaders have announced their support for Afghan-led reconciliation. In June, Russia, China and India joined the United States in voting to split the United Nations’ Taliban and al-Qaida sanctions regimes, an endorsement of Afghan efforts to reconcile with insurgents ready to break ties with al-Qaida, renounce violence, and accept the Afghan Constitution, especially the rights of women and minorities.

Pakistan has a leading regional role to play and has legitimate interests in any reconciliation process. Islamabad has formed a Joint Peace Commission with Afghanistan, and is in regular contact about the peace process with Afghanistan and the United States. Islamabad can demonstrate its further support for Afghan-led efforts by preventing Pakistani territory from being used to destabilize Afghanistan.

Two important international conferences – a summit of regional leaders hosted by Turkey in Istanbul in early November and the “Bonn+10” conference chaired by the Afghan Government and hosted by Germany in December – should build further regional and international support for Afghanistan.

In Istanbul, Afghanistan’s neighbors can commit to a stable and independent Afghanistan and define a mechanism to judge how well they live up to their commitments. In Bonn, the international community can endorse this regional vision and reaffirm a long-term investment in Afghanistan.

One other point is clear: there will be no secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan inside of a secure, stable and prosperous region without private sector fueled sustainable economic growth from Central Asia to Bangladesh. Regional power, transport, and transit infrastructure and new trade agreements will build economic connections. A vision for this “New Silk Road,” launched in Bonn, would bind the region together and help Afghanistan attract new sources of investment and consumers for its goods. Afghanistan and Pakistan have just implemented a new transit trade agreement. Expansion of this agreement to Central Asia, and perhaps even to India, would create further incentives for regional cooperation.

The region’s capacity to overcome old suspicions requires confidence in the international commitment to see through the current mission in Afghanistan. A new Strategic Partnership Declaration will outline the U.S. commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s security forces and civilian institutions. The United States seeks neither permanent military bases in Afghanistan, nor a long-term military presence that aimed at power-projection or threatening Afghanistan’s neighbors.

People in Islamabad, Astana, New Delhi and Washington have an interest in achieving a secure, increasingly prosperous Afghanistan at peace with its neighbors, and a region free from al-Qaida. Only the Afghan people can reconcile with the insurgency. But Afghanistan’s neighbors must support their efforts.

There is hard work to do in each of the three areas Clinton highlighted last February and again in India in July. Building on these actions will require difficult choices and consume enormous diplomatic energy. A status report six months from now can show further progress if the region comes together to support Afghanistan.


Marc Grossman is the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

Iran punishes Hamas for not backing Assad

Iran punishes Hamas for not backing Assad

Tribune Media Services

"Syria will not fall unless there will be a crisis." Bashar al-Assad“Syria will not fall unless there will be a crisis.” Bashar al-Assad Photo: Reuters

GAZA: Iran has turned off the tap of funds to Hamas after the Islamist movement that controls Gaza failed to show public support for the embattled regime of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported.

It said that Hamas did not pay the July salaries of its 40,000 civil service and security employees. Diplomats and intelligence agencies told Reuters that Hamas receives funding from Iran and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, but that funding had dropped off over the past two months as Tehran showed displeasure at Hamas’s failure to hold public rallies in support of President Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood diverted funds to support Arab Spring revolts.

Last year, Hamas said its budget was $US540 million ($518.8 million), with just $US55 million of that raised through local taxes on merchants and goods brought into the Gaza Strip from Israel or smuggled in from Egypt.

Earlier, Mr Assad repeated promises of reforms and warned of ”repercussions” should the West choose to intervene militarily in the uprising threatening his family’s four-decade rule.

His remarks, during a choreographed question-and-answer session that aired live on state TV, did not diverge from the message his regime had sent since the start of the rebellion last spring: reforms are coming soon, the uprising is the work of militants, and interference from the West is an assault on Syria’s sovereignty. He said the uprising could be ”controlled”.

”Syria will not fall unless there will be a crisis that will finish Syria and this can’t happen,” he said. ”I am reassured that the Syrians will come out of this crisis.” Syrian opposition activists, in interviews and through social-networking sites, immediately rejected Mr Assad’s words as hollow, and vowed to continue their efforts to unseat him. But the opposition lacks cohesion and remains divided on such issues as whether to take up arms now that five months of peaceful demonstrations have failed to bring down – or even severely cripple – the regime.

”Although the regime is very violent towards the Syrian people, we insist the movement maintain its peaceful stand,” Louay Safi, the chairman of the Syrian American Council and part of a large opposition gathering last weekend in Istanbul, said. ”After months of suppression, there are naturally some groups on the ground who want to use arms. But we are telling them not to do that.”

Human rights activists say nearly 2000 people have died in the government’s crackdown on protesters. The regime banned most independent reporting as it unleashed attacks on rebellious towns by land and sea. Mr Assad’s remarks skirted the issue of the violent unrest in his country. Instead, he focused on proposed policy changes that would allow for freer elections, new political parties and fewer restrictions on media.

”Nobody believes him,” Bassam Bitar, a former Syrian diplomat who is now an opposition activist based in Washington said. ”Everybody, including the international community, knows that he’s a big liar. I am with any international intervention to save Syrian lives, including military.”

No one has called for an intervention such as the NATO-led campaign to back rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. But the United States, Australia and several European allies called explicitly last week for Mr Assad’s ouster.

Tribune Media Services

Pakistan’s General Problem

How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international jihadi tourist resort

HOW TO AVOID A COURT MARTIAL: Pervez Musharraf (bottom centre) and his colleagues should have been court martialed for inflicting the Kargil mission on Pakistan—a humiliating defeat and a diplomatic disaster. Instead, he elevated himself to become the country’s President (Photo: AFP)

HOW TO AVOID A COURT MARTIAL: Pervez Musharraf (bottom centre) and his colleagues should have been court martialed for inflicting the Kargil mission on Pakistan—a humiliating defeat and a diplomatic disaster. Instead, he elevated himself to become the country’s President (Photo: AFP)

What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.

On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)

General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.

General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate in interior Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.

Thirty-four years on, Pakistan is a society divided at many levels. There are those who insist on tracing our history to a certain September day in 2001, and there are those who insist that this country came into being the day the first Muslim landed on the Subcontinent. There are laptop jihadis, liberal fascist and fair-weather revolutionaries. There are Balochi freedom fighters up in the mountains and bullet-riddled bodies of young political activists in obscure Baloch towns. And, of course, there are the members of civil society with a permanent glow around their faces from all the candle-light vigils. All these factions may not agree on anything but there is consensus on one point: General Zia’s coup was a bad idea. When was the last time anyone heard Nawaz Sharif or any of Zia’s numerous protégés thump their chest and say, yes, we need another Zia? When did you see a Pakistan military commander who stood on Zia’s grave and vowed to continue his mission?

It might have taken Pakistanis 34 years to reach this consensus but we finally agree that General Zia’s domestic and foreign policies didn’t do us any good. It brought us automatic weapons, heroin and sectarianism; it also made fortunes for those who dealt in these commodities. And it turned Pakistan into an international jihadi tourist resort.

And yet, somehow, without ever publicly owning up to it, the Army has continued Zia’s mission. Successive Army commanders, despite their access to vast libraries and regular strategic reviews, have never actually acknowledged that the multinational, multicultural jihadi project they started during the Zia era was a mistake. Late Dr Eqbal Ahmed, the Pakistani teacher and activist, once said that the Pakistan Army is brilliant at collecting information but its ability to analyse this information is non-existent.

Looking back at the Zia years, the Pakistan Army seems like one of those mythical monsters that chops off its own head but then grows an identical one and continues on the only course it knows.

In 1999, two days after the Pakistan Army embarked on its Kargil misadventure, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed gave a ‘crisp and to the point’ briefing to a group of senior Army and Air Force officers. Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, who attended the meeting, later wrote that they were told that it was nothing more than a defensive manoeuvre and the Indian Air Force will not get involved at any stage. “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen—to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” General Mahmud told the meeting. “Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Commodore Abid Rao to famously quip, ‘After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!’ as we walked out of the briefing room,” Air Commodore Tufail recalled in an essay.

If Rao Abid even contemplated a court martial, he probably lacked leadership qualities because there was only one way out of this mess—a humiliating military defeat, a world-class diplomatic disaster, followed by yet another martial law. The man who should have faced court martial for Kargil appointed himself Pakistan’s President for the next decade.

General Mahmud went on to command ISI, Rao Abid retired as air vice marshal, both went on to find lucrative work in the Army’s vast welfare empire, and Kargil was forgotten as if it was a game of dare between two juveniles who were now beyond caring about who had actually started the game. Nobody remembers that a lot of blood was shed on this pointless Kargil mission. The battles were fierce and some of the men and officers fought so valiantly that two were awarded Pakistan’s highest military honour, Nishan-e-Haidar. There were hundreds of others whose names never made it to any awards list, whose families consoled themselves by saying that their loved ones had been martyred while defending our nation’s borders against our enemy. Nobody pointed out the basic fact that there was no enemy on those mountains before some delusional generals decided that they would like to mop up hundreds of Indian soldiers after starving them to death.

The architect of this mission, the daring General Pervez Musharraf, who didn’t bother to consult his colleagues before ordering his soldiers to their slaughter, doesn’t even have the wits to face a sessions court judge in Pakistan, let alone a court martial. The only people he feels comfortable with are his Facebook friends and that too from the safety of his London apartment. During the whole episode, the nation was told that it wasn’t the regular army that was fighting in Kargil; it was the mujahideen. But those who received their loved ones’ flag-draped coffins had sent their sons and brothers to serve in a professional army, not a freelance lashkar.

The Pakistan Army’s biggest folly has been that under Zia it started outsourcing its basic job—soldiering—to these freelance militants. By blurring the line between a professional soldier—who, at least in theory, is always required to obey his officer, who in turn is governed by a set of laws—and a mujahid, who can pick and choose his cause and his commander depending on his mood, the Pakistan Army has caused immense confusion in its own ranks. Our soldiers are taught to shout Allah-o-Akbar when mocking an attack. In real life, they are ambushed by enemies who shout Allah-o-Akbar even louder. Can we blame them if they dither in their response? When the Pakistan Navy’s main aviation base in Karachi, PNS Mehran, was attacked, Navy Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir told us that the attackers were ‘very well trained’. We weren’t sure if he was giving us a lazy excuse or admiring the creation of his institution. When naval officials told journalists that the attackers were ‘as good as our own commandoes’ were they giving themselves a backhanded compliment?

In the wake of the attacks on PNS Mehran in Karachi, some TV channels have pulled out an old war anthem sung by late Madam Noor Jehan and have started to play it in the backdrop of images of young, hopeful faces of slain officers and men. Written by the legendary teacher and poet Sufi Tabassum, the anthem carries a clear and stark warning: Aiay puttar hatantay nahin wickday, na labhdi phir bazaar kuray (You can’t buy these brave sons from shops, don’t go looking for them in bazaars).

While Sindhis and Balochis have mostly composed songs of rebellion, Punjabi popular culture has often lionised its karnails and jarnails and even an odd dholsipahi. The Pakistan Army, throughout its history, has refused to take advice from politicians as well as thinking professionals from its own ranks. It has never listened to historians and sometimes ignored even the esteemed religious scholars it frequently uses to whip up public sentiments for its dirty wars. But the biggest strategic mistake it has made is that it has not even taken advice from the late Madam Noor Jehan, one of the Army’s most ardent fans in Pakistan’s history. You can probably ignore Dr Eqbal Ahmed’s advice and survive in this country but you ignore Madam at your own peril.

Since the Pakistan Army’s high command is dominated by Punjabi-speaking generals, it’s difficult to fathom what it is about this advice that they didn’t understand. Any which way you translate it, the message is loud and clear. And lyrical: soldiers are not to be bought and sold like a commodity. “Na  awaian takran maar kuray” (That search is futile, like butting your head against a brick wall), Noor Jehan goes on to rhapsodise.

For decades, the Army has not only shopped for these private puttarsin the bazaars, it also set up factories to manufacture them. It raised whole armies of them. When you raise Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish Mohammed, Sipahe Sahaba, Sipahe Mohammed, Lashker Jhangvi, Al- Badar Mujahideen, others encouraged by the thriving market place will go ahead and start outfits like Anjuman Tahuffuze Khatame Nabuwat and Anjuman Tahuffuze Namoos-e-Aiyasha. It’s not just Kashmir and Afghanistan and Chechnya they will want to liberate, they will also go back in time and seek revenge for a perceived slur that may or may not have been cast by someone more than 1,300 years ago in a country far far away.

As if the Army’s sprawling shopping mall of private puttars in Pakistan wasn’t enough, it actively encouraged import and export of these commodities, even branched out into providing rest and recreation facilities for the ones who wanted a break. The outsourcing of Pakistan’s military strategy has reached a point where mujahids have their own mujahids to do their job, and inevitably at the end of the supply chain are those faceless and poor teenagers with explosives strapped to their torsos regularly marched out to blow up other poor kids.

Two days before the Americans killed Osama bin Laden and took away his bullet-riddled body, General Kiyani addressed Army cadets at Kakul. After declaring a victory of sorts over the militants, he gave our nation a stark choice. And before the nation could even begin to weigh its pros and cons, he went ahead and decided for them: we shall never bargain our honour for prosperity. As things stand, most people in Pakistan have neither honour nor prosperity and will easily settle for their little world not blowing up every day.

The question people really want to ask General Kiyani is that if he and his Army officer colleagues can have both honour and prosperity, why can’t we the people have a tiny bit of both?

The Army and its advocates in the media often worry about Pakistan’s image, as if we are not suffering from a long-term serious illness but a seasonal bout of acne that just needs better skin care. The Pakistan Army, over the years, has cultivated this image of 180 million people with nuclear devices strapped to their collective body threatening to take the world down with it. We may not be able to take the world down with us; the world might defang us or try to calm us down by appealing to our imagined Sufi side. But the fact remains that Pakistan as a nation is paying the price for our generals’ insistence on acting, in Asma Jahangir’s frank but accurate description, like duffers.

And demanding medals and golf resorts for being such duffers consistently for such a long time.

What people really want to do at this point is put an arm around our military commanders’ shoulders, take them aside and whisper in their ears: “Murshid, marwa na daina.


Mohammed Hanif is the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes(2008), his first novel, a satire on the death of General Zia ul Haq

Wages of neoliberalism

Wages of neoliberalism

England’s worst rioting in decades has ended, leaving London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and other cities scarred and large numbers of people shell-shocked at the violent confrontation between the police and angry youth. The rioting, in particular, the looting, has provoked angry condemnations.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the rioters “sick”. He ordered draconian police action close to what the Americans call “zero tolerance”. He said he would fully back “whatever tactics” the police employ and didn’t want to hear about “phoney human rights concerns” regarding intrusive surveillance.

Such responses, and the harsh retribution, as distinct from justice, being delivered to the suspected rioters, including evictions from subsidised housing, miss the point about what caused the violence. So do the tough police methods which have led to thousands of arrests. At the root of the trouble are several pathologies of British society, including the state’s growing credibility crisis.

The violence began with the killing of young Mark Duggan, in Tottenham in north London, a mixed-ethnic impoverished area. Contrary to the early police account that Duggan opened fire on them, ballistics tests confirm that he didn’t. Angry protests ensued after a police station was picketed. The protesters, convinced that Duggan was killed because he was black, vandalised shops. Unchecked by a police force which has become rudderless after the recent resignation of senior officers following the voicemail-hacking scandal, the violence spread.

There is a context to it, revealed during past investigations into riots, such as the 1981 violence in south London. The Scarman inquiry into this was a scathing indictment of the institutional racial prejudice. It said the violence was “essentially an outburst of anger and resentment by young black people against the police.” Part of the context is also high unemployment, great income inequality, and lack of social opportunity.

Haringey, the borough which includes Tottenham, has the fourth highest rate of child poverty in London and an unemployment rate that’s double the national level. For poor ethnic-minority groups, says a recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report, “gateways to opportunity [appear] permanently closed, no matter how hard they try, while others seem to have been issued with an ‘access all areas’ pass at birth”. Two-fifths of blacks and South Asians live in low-income households, which earn 60 percent or less than the median British income.

Cameron seems oblivious of this, and even more inexcusably, of the effect his cruel social spending cuts have had on community services, healthcare and education. The cuts have all but destroyed the youth clubs which used to keep the young usefully occupied, doing something creative. Gone is the sense of community and belonging they created.

Being poor is bad enough. Being poor and totally, desperately, isolated is far worse. That’s the situation of at least one-third of the British youth, who have no future. Deprivation of educational opportunities – aggravated by huge recent hikes in university fees – has made things worse. There are middle class jobs only for those with a high level of education and proficiency in information technology. The skilled manual worker is no longer in demand.

When young people are given sermons about being virtuous and “workfare”, as distinct from welfare, in Margaret Thatcher’s words, they are left unconvinced. When they see that their parents are unemployed despite having had some education, they lose faith in the value of education. Thus, when after the riots, Cameron lectured them in a small town in Oxfordshire about being good family men and women, and taking responsibility for their actions, they heckled him. They said the biggest threat to public order comes from his austerity measures.

The austerity measures come on top of dualistic neoliberal policies pursued for three decades, which pamper the rich and punish the poor. Britain is one of Europe’s most unequal societies, where the richest 10 percent are 100 times wealthier that the bottom tenth. It has the lowest social mobility among OECD countries.

Britain, which once laid claim to inclusive growth, a degree of social cohesion, and the best free healthcare system in the world (the National Health Service), is both a faltering economy and a deeply divided society, whose rifts cannot be healed by “free-market” policy approaches.

Cameron now talks of reversing “the slow-motion moral collapse” of Britain’s “broken” society, which he is unable to relate to these approaches. He said: “We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong… We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said, about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy”.

This is classic reactionary Tory talk, which celebrates conservative middle-class family values. It blames the poor, and regards their troubled lives as the cause, not the consequence, of the collapse of their communities. Poor children are feckless, lazy and on the wrong side of the law because they choose to be. But it is precisely such Thatcherite thinking, and Tory-style policies, followed also under New Labour, that have brought Britain to the present pass.

Cameron has another pseudo-solution: get former New York and Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton to advise British agencies on how to tackle “gang culture”. The move has angered Scotland Yard officers, who believe it’s absurd to get someone “who lives 5,000 miles away”. Hugh Orde, a front-runner for the post of London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said: “I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them…if you’ve got 400 gangs, then you’re not being very effective.”

Britain is moving towards US-style tough strong-arm, fear-inducing policing. The gentle, unarmed, Bobby will soon become a relic maintained for tourists, while draconian policing will take over. Already, the British police have been looking for ways to instil fear among the public, especially demonstrators. There have been more than 330 deaths in police custody since 1998.

The post-riot situation should provoke some soul-searching about the many crises and pathologies of British society. Cameron’s government would do well to seize that opportunity. If it instead uses brute force as a solution to social discontent bred by bad social and economic policies, it will sink into an even deeper crisis of credibility.

Britain is a special case of a society long poisoned by the ideas of the Right, including Thatcherite celebration of acquisitiveness and greed. This explains to a large extent why the rioters looted fancy shops and stole premium-branded garments, shoes and TV sets.

Deplorable as it is, stealing is only the extreme form of acquisitiveness. If you have been brought up to believe that greed is good, and you see the rich and powerful stealing public funds on a massive scale with impunity, you might as well steal when you can and what you can.

Capitalism has plunged Western Europe into a terrible crisis with the 2008 Great Recession. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy are in serious trouble and are being forced by the IMF to adopt mindless austerity plans which impose great hardship upon the people and mock democracy.

Growing popular protest is the only redeeming political feature of these societies. It might hold the key to a less gloomy future – if it leads to equitable policies.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi. Email: prafulbidwai1@yahoo.co.in

North Waziristan: Gul Bahadur’s aide killed in clash with rivals

North Waziristan: Gul Bahadur’s aide killed in clash with rivals

Security forces’ convoy targeted, attackers flee but intercepted by opponents. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

ISLAMABAD: A prominent militant commander of a Taliban group led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an associate of the Haqqani network, was killed in North Waziristan Agency on Sunday during a clash with a rival group.

A tribal leader told The Express Tribune by phone that three militants attacked a convoy of security forces by blowing up an improvised explosive device in the Qutab Khel area, some four kilometres from Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency.

Five officials were injured but the attackers were able to flee the scene and were later intercepted by the Taliban.

Exchange of harsh words led to an armed clash and resultantly Taliban commander Muhammad Hanif and one of the attackers were killed. The two other attackers managed to escape.

The slain commander belonged to Bura Khel Wazir tribe and was very active in the area. Tribesmen said that Hanif was well-known to the locals and was quite famous at a time when Taliban leaders avoid public appearances due to frequent US drone strikes.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur group of the Taliban is not part of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). There have been several attacks on the security forces in recent weeks despite a peace deal signed between the security forces and Hafiz Gul Bahadur in 2007.

Locals said that the Taliban commander’s murder caused tension in the area and there could be an angry reaction from the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group. The group has not yet issued a statement on the incident.

Every Sunday, curfew is declared in North Waziristan for the safe movement of the convoys of security forces but militants are still able to launch attacks.

On August 14, rockets were fired on the fort of security forces in Razmak town of North Waziristan. No one was hurt in the attack. Hafiz Gul Bahadur was made deputy of Baitullah Mehsud when the TTP was formed in 2007. But soon after, Gul Bahadur’s group had distanced itself from the TTP fearing a harsh backlash from the government. Gul Bahadur is a descendant of the Faqir of Ipi, a legendary fighter known for his innovative insurrection against British occupation in the 1930s and 1940.  He rose to prominence in 2004 following military operations in North Waziristan and coordinates closely with the Haqqani network. Pakistan has been increasingly under pressure from the United States to go launch a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqanis who they blame for stoking the Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune