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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Taliban's FM Radio "Intolerance 101" - By Tariq Aqil

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
by Tariq Aqil

The month of September witnessed the brutal and senseless murder of three Ahmedis in Pakistan. This gruesome tragedy happened in the aftermath of a popular TV programme in which Ahmedis were blamed for everything under the sun. It appears as if some of our TV channels have been taken over by the dark and sinister forces of obscurantism. All non-Muslims and those who dare to stand up to the forces of religious fanaticism are declared infidels and worthy only of death.

Despite the carnage at the Marriott in Islamabad, and many other similar incidents before it, much of the educated elite of the country still believes in the fallacy that 'Muslims cannot do such a thing'. Regrettably, large sections of the media also refuse to accept this ground reality and mimic the same line. This is accompanied with America-bashing – virtually every suicide bombing, atrocity, every senseless killing is blamed on America, India, and the CIA. Another all-time whipping boy is the Jewish lobby or the 'Yahood-o- Nasara' meaning Jews and Christians. We seem to blame everyone including Charlie's aunt except our own homegrown obscurantist religious bigots. We are so blinded by our religious intolerance and hatred of Western nations that our vision is now limited to the tip of our nose. If we do not wake up from our deep slumber of ignorance the country is very likely to tear apart at the seams.

After the creation of Pakistan, religion became politicized. Most religious parties became political outfits that used the name of Islam and exploited religion for their own political objectives. Religious scholars, clerics, pirs, and sajjada nashins became politicians or stooges of politicians and the phenomenon of 'mullahism' was born. Illiterate, narrow-minded clerics became willing tools in the hands of greedy and corrupt politicians. The rise of the mullah, in Pakistan and in other parts of the world, is a direct cause of sectarianism and religious intolerance – creating sectarian schisms and conflict in not only Pakistan but India, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Jordan and Iraq.

The Taliban in Pakistan are a recent phenomenon hell-bent on taking us back to the Dark Ages. They have complete disregard for human life, human rights or even human values. Dozens of girls' schools have been torched or dynamited in Swat and FATA, men have been forced to sport beards and music and CD shops have been bombed. Many schools in Islamabad have also received threats and warnings from these so called champions of Islam. Imagine the state of affairs in the country if these mindless religious fanatics take control of the state.

Many of our political leaders and intellectuals argue that terrorism in Pakistan is a direct result of Pakistan's support to the US in their war on terror after the happenings of 9/11. They fail to recognize the simple fact that the roots of terrorism lie deep within Pakistan and its chequered past. The terrorism we face today is a direct offshoot of sectarian violence and religious killings of the past. Who created the Sipah-e-Sahaba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad? These extremist militant groups were founded well before 9/11 or even before the birth of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And the fact also is that they were founded, nurtured and led by Pakistanis and not by the 'Yahood-o-Nasara'. Also, take a look at the case of Harakat-ul-Ansar or Harakat-ul-Mujahideen. Who founded, supported and financed these groups? Today we have Swat's Maulana Fazalullah spitting fire and brimstone from his electronic pulpit, an FM radio station, spreading hatred and venom across the beautiful valley. All these gentlemen are Pakistani Muslims up in arms against the state of Pakistan.

The founders and leaders of our home grown religious extremist groups did not spring up overnight. They were educated, nurtured, trained and finally launched by the numerous madressahs which have mushroomed all over the country. There is a clear co-relation between the rapid growth of madressahs and intolerance and extremism. Some of the madressahs which have been established by semi-literate mullahs are spreading intolerance and helping produce today's and tomorrow's suicide bombers. Such madressahs have played a pivotal role in creating the hardcore terrorists of today.

These madressahs function without any supervisory body and their syllabus is based on a doctrine of intolerance and rigid obscurantism. In their worldview women who do not wear a veil and men without beards are all kafirs. Listening to music or watching TV or movies is forbidden, and the only way to reform society and those who live in it are imposition of Sharia, by force if necessary. They also teach that suicide bombing is okay if done against infidels and that those who die as suicide bombers will find a place in Paradise. It is this teaching and preaching that has resulted in the dozens of suicide attacks that have taken place inside Pakistan and have killed women leaders such as Benazir Bhutto and provincial minister Zille Huma (killed by a self-professed fanatic in Gujranwala). The Lal Masjid fiasco is too recent to forget but let us not forget it was the maulanas of the mosque who motivated their students to occupy government property illegally, destroy video shops and kidnap citizens.

The Taliban have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fear and horror. The Taliban philosophy has destroyed the ideals and beliefs of a free society. According to them, freedom of thought and expression is not needed at all and anybody who dares to disagree with them is butchered. The image of the country has suffered irreparable harm the name of our religion has been defamed by the acts of these barbarians. This scourge is not confined to the tribal areas only and is slowly but surely creeping towards the settled urban areas of the frontier, Punjab and Sindh. The choice before us is pretty simple: face this menace and defeat it or hand over the country to these obscurantist forces. (The News)

The writer is a teacher and freelance writer. Email: taqil17@hotmail.com

Zardari’s challenge (Zardari's brave words - interview to the International Herald Tribune

Zardari’s challenge

Those are brave words addressed to the International Herald Tribune by President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday: “It is my decision that we will go after them [Al Qaeda and terrorists], we will free this country”. The words came with stern advice to the US too about attacks inside Pakistani territory: “It is counter-productive and a political price is paid”. He also took a personal view of terrorism with which many Pakistanis would agree: “I will fight them because they are a cancer to my society, not because of my wife only, but because they are a cancer, yes, and they did kill the mother of my children, so their way of life is what I want to kill. I will suck the oxygen out of their system so there will be no Talibs”.

It is this kind of commitment that people in the US and Europe want to hear before they take on the job of helping Pakistan out of its economic crisis. But there are many inside Pakistan, even inside the establishment he heads, who will not entirely agree with his way of looking at the phenomenon of Al Qaeda and its legions of Taliban unleashed on Pakistan. Also, he has a party that follows him and it is the largest party in Pakistan. But there are many among its leaders who would draw a line on the extent to which they may commit themselves to the war against Al Qaeda.

The question of thinking as one and acting as one is still the basic problem. Indeed, the market of domestic opinion is doing a hard sell on hatred of the US and is interpreting the crisis in Pakistan as a fallout of America’s policies in the region in respect of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are some who still question the definition of terrorism accepted by the West, who question the incident of 9/11 itself and are recommending jihad against the West in general and the US in particular. In fact, even within some state institutions there are important functionaries who are swayed by the rhetoric pouring out of the media against the US and not against Al Qaeda. Thus there is an important part of the stakeholder community who thinks that the war in Afghanistan is actually another war against India.

After the Marriott blast, the uppermost thought in the mind of many commentators was not of fighting Al Qaeda but of rebuking the US for its trespasses into Pakistani territory because they thought that what was happening to Pakistan was a kind of reaction of “good Muslims” and not an act of heinous crime. Mr Zardari himself is a man of compromises and some of them have run counter to the aims he has expressed in this interview. For instance, to carry the clerical party of Maulana Fazlur Rehman he returned the Lal Masjid complex of madrassas to the Deobandis who dominate in the Tribal Areas and are fighting as auxiliaries of Al Qaeda. In fact, since Mr Zardari arrived on the scene, a number of illegal madrassas have actually opened in Islamabad, which, together with Peshawar, is the most “Al Qaeda-infected” city in Pakistan.

The establishment in Pakistan and especially its military component has not fully distanced itself from the paradigm of threats that Mr Zardari wants to break. The entire world is complaining about the ISI and its alleged double-dealing in respect of war against terrorism in Pakistan. His reaction was: “The ISI will be handled, that is our problem. We don’t hunt with the hound and run with the hare, which is what Musharraf was doing”. While what he said was true of General Musharraf. He was a torn figure believing in what he was doing for the war against terror, but unable to dissociate himself from the thinking of the military establishment, and was not able to bring about the change of paradigm he was prescribing for Pakistan.

The last time the PPP government tried to reorganise the ISI it did not succeed, and orders given in this regard were rescinded by other centres of power in Islamabad. Therefore Mr Zardari has to develop a “consensus of the minimum” in Islamabad before he can embark on the war he has promised. There is no doubt that he is the one politician in the country who has the personal will to face the one challenge among many troubling Pakistan. But alas he is not well liked or trusted because of the allegations of disrepute that cling to him. His enemies are now resorting to forgeries and hoaxes to undermine him in the eyes of the masses he wants to save from Al Qaeda. He also runs the risk of expressing himself too freely, out of proportion to the level of support he enjoys in the country. Notwithstanding all this, however, he deserves to be supported if only because he wants to do exactly what Pakistan needs in order to survive. Above all, he needs his PPP to stand behind him and work hard to deliver his political promises no less than the bread and butter ones to the people. (Daily Times)

Why is Chaudhary Nisar speaking against Zardari? Why are Taliban angry with Rehman Malik? What is the aim of disinformation cell? By Abbas Ather


Monday, 29 September 2008

19% of Pakistanis have a positive view of Al-Qaeda: BBC Poll

(In our view, most of these terrorist supporters or sympathizers are likely to be voters of right wing (mostly Deobandi) parties in Pakistan, including Jamaat-i-Islami, (defunct) Sipah Sahaba, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Imran Khan, and JUI.)

Al-Qaeda not weakening - BBC poll


US-led efforts to tackle the al-Qaeda group are not regarded as successful, an opinion poll carried out for the BBC World Service suggests.

Some 29% of people said the "war on terror" launched by President George W Bush in 2001 had had no effect on the Islamist militant network.

According to 30% of those surveyed, US policies have strengthened al-Qaeda.

The most commonly held view of al-Qaeda in the 23 nations polled was a negative one - except in Egypt and Pakistan.

Terror stalemate

Asked who is winning "the conflict between al-Qaeda and the US", 49% said neither side while 22% believed the US had gained the upper hand. Just 10% said al-Qaeda was winning.

US soldier in Afghanistan, file image
The US made al-Qaeda a prime target in its "war on terror"

BBC defence analyst Rob Watson said the overall verdict across the world appeared to be that the war on terror had produced something of a stalemate.

The next question the pollsters asked was: "Do you think what US leaders refer to as the 'war on terror' has made al-Qaeda stronger, weaker or has had no effect either way?"

Just 22% said US action had made the organisation weaker - that figure rising to 34% in the US itself.

Losing hearts and minds?

Our correspondent says there is plenty in this survey to worry the governments of Egypt and Pakistan.

When asked "overall would you say your feelings about al-Qaeda are positive, negative or mixed", some 60% of Egyptians said they had either a positive or mixed view.

Analysts say the group continues to have many Egyptians among its leaders.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, where much of the battle against al-Qaeda is being fought, just 19% said they had a negative view of Osama Bin Laden's organisation.

Doug Miller, from polling agency Globescan, said the findings from Egypt and Pakistan were "yet another indicator that the US 'war on terror' is not winning hearts and minds".

Some 24,000 adults across 23 countries were polled for the BBC World Service between 8 July and 12 September.

Defining the Taliban - By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi

WHILE President Asif Ali Zardari says we are in a state of war, it is amazing that the government and the media have not yet clearly spelled out how the enemy is to be defined.

Normally, an enemy is an enemy. But every war has, and must have, a well-developed jargon that conveys to the world and to the people the idea of the enemy as perceived by the belligerent power.

We know that in the First World War, Germany was the principal enemy. But the western allies told their people that they were fighting a “war to end all wars”. In the Second World War, Germany and Japan were the main foes, but to prove that they were not waging a war for territorial gains, the western Allies said their aim was to rid the world of fascism.

As for the Cold War that waged with full fury for more than four decades, it spawned a lingo that would remain surpassed for long for its venomous contents, astonishing variety and mind-boggling abundance. The media on both sides played a major part in denouncing the other bloc’s way of life.

Much of it has been forgotten — iron curtain, bamboo curtain, free world, brainwashing, rectification camps, gulags, communist subversion, double-speak, anti-people forces, exploiting classes, comprador capitalism, imperialism, classless society, class struggle, the Party, and much more.

In 2001, following 9/11, America coined a term which the Bush administration saw to it the world accepted — a ‘war on terror’. The shibboleth has caught on.

Today, Pakistan is at war, but who are we fighting and who is the enemy? The answer is the Taliban. But does the word Taliban convey to our people the contempt and revulsion attached to an enemy? For many, the Taliban represent a religious movement, not necessarily hostile to Pakistan and not necessarily an enemy of the people. For some, the Taliban are merely misguided zealots, who can be tamed and won over through dialogue and reason. Many people in this category — and they are a powerful segment of society, state and media — are not prepared to accept the Taliban as the enemy of the state of Pakistan.

The reason behind the government’s inability to evoke the cooperation of the vast majority of the people against the Taliban is its failure on the propaganda front. In fact, the government can hardly be said to be aware of the need for developing an intelligent and well-coordinated strategy for a media blitz on the enemy; on the contrary, it is the Taliban who are waging a very successful propaganda war against the government, advancing their cause insidiously and winning supporters through sections of the media with deep sympathy for them.

One popular channel calls the Taliban mazahmat kaar. This is a newly developed translation for resistance fighters. Mazahmat kaars is a term that can be applied to the Kashmiri guerillas in the Indian-occupied Valley and to the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territory. By no stretch of the imagination can Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar, D.I. Khan, Charsadda, Mingora and large tracts of Swat be called occupied territory.

In these cities and elsewhere the Taliban have murdered Pakistani soldiers, including a general belonging to the medical corps, have attacked military and civilian installations, mosques, Eid congregations, a peace jirga, at least one funeral procession and crowded markets, and blown up army, navy and air force buses carrying students. Chinese nationals are their favourite targets, because China is Pakistan’s “all-weather friend”. They have also slaughtered captured Pakistani soldiers. To call these criminals and rebels mazahmat kaars is to honour them and betrays a very clever attempt to whitewash their criminality.

The government has not bothered to evolve an appropriate term for the enemy. The state-controlled PTV refers to the Taliban as askaryet pasand — a very awkward translation for ‘militants’, as if we are talking not about a rebellion at home but about the distant Tupamaros in Uruguay.

There is only one and obvious term for the Taliban enemy — rebels in English and baaghi in Urdu. The Taliban have gone beyond terrorism; they are no more, like the Basque separatists in Spain, part-time terrorists. They have an army — a highly motivated one — and their sources of funding are unlimited; procuring arms is not a problem for them, some of their arms come from powers known to be hostile to Pakistan, and the sophistication of their weaponry has surprised our military.

Their intelligence system has been working efficiently, and often they hoodwink the Isaf and Americans on the other side of the Durand Line by disinformation. This has led quite often to wrong targets being bombed, with civilians being the casualties. This earns them sympathy points and the American-Isaf leadership loses.

They believe they are a state within a state, they have set up a parallel judicial system and are bold enough to show their judicial system in action to the media. Pakistan, thus, has to accept the challenge and crush the rebellion. For that it is essential that the Taliban and their supporters are stripped of the halo of respectability and presented to the people of Pakistan in their ugly reality for what they are — rebels. Helping crush these rebels is the duty of all Pakistanis because the Taliban are waging war on the Islamic world’s only nuclear power. (Dawn)

Taliban killed my wife. ‘I will suck oxygen out of their system so there will be no Talibs’ (Zardari's commitment)

‘I will suck oxygen out of their system so there will be no Talibs’:

Zardari ready for US training of army anti-terror units
* Vows to rid country of terror threat, calls Taliban ‘cancer for society’
* Says anyone not conforming with govt policies will be thrown out

Daily Times Monitor

NEW YORK: We want to co-operate with the United States in training specialised counter-insurgency army units for use in the Tribal Areas, President Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview on Sunday.

Talking to International Herald Tribune, the president said, “I mean business. We will train ourselves with the US present as trainers to raise the quality of certain forces.”

But he warned against US military incursions inside Pakistan. “It is counter-productive and a political price is paid,” he said. President Zardari did not mince words in his determination to defeat a growing Taliban insurgency, the Herald said.

“It is my decision that we will go after them, we will free this country,” he said, “Yes, this is my first priority because I will have no country otherwise. I will be the president of what?”

After the massive bomb attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, that’s a fair question. Pakistan’s finances in a free fall, its security crumbling, the nuclear-armed state stands at the brink just as a civilian takes charge after the futile zigzagging of former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s US-supported rule, the Herald said.

President Zardari was asked if the assassination of his wife last year motivated him to confront insurgency. “Of course,” he said, “It’s my revenge. I take it every day.”

Cancer: He continued, “I will fight them because they are a cancer to my society, not because of my wife only, but because they are a cancer, yes, and they did kill the mother of my children, so their way of life is what I want to kill. I will suck the oxygen out of their system so there will be no Talibs.”

He said he was concerned but not fearful for his life. “Because I don’t want to die so soon, I have a job to do,” he said.

Billions of dollars in US aid to Pakistan’s former military government have not stopped the Tribal Areas from becoming the new Al Qaeda-Taliban central, the report said.

It said money was worthless unless some basic things changed in democratic Pakistan. It alleged that one was the double game played by the nation’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in an effort to ensure Afghanistan remained weak.

Conformation: “The ISI will be handled, that is our problem,” Zardari told the Herald. “We don’t hunt with the hound and run with the hare, which is what Musharraf was doing.”

He said, “We’ve changed a lot of things and a lot more will happen, and anyone not conforming with my government’s policy will be thrown out,” Zardari said, specifically mentioning the ISI.

Zardari said his ‘new medicine’ for the Tribal Areas would include industrial investment, incentives for alternative crops to poppy and a firm message that ‘we are hitting the Taliban’ so make sure ‘your space is not being used by them’.

Zadari added, “I am not a warmonger. I am not interested in physical might, which is not the expression of my strength. I have many strengths, and one of them is that I can take pain, not give pain.” (Daily Times)

Friends of Pakistan - hosted by Pakistan, UK and USA...

(Asadullah Ghalib)

Crimes of Fasadis (worngly known as Fasadis) done in the name of Islam.... Abbas Ather

Imran Khan, Hamid Gul, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Ansar Abbasi, Irfan Siddiqi, Kashif Abbasi, and Hamid Mir say: Terrorist activities against innocent Pakistanis are a reaction against the US policies. Shame on terrorists and their supporters.


This is our war against Zia's legacy of Islamist extremists.... Shafqat Mehmood


Zardari and Diplomacy: Achievements of Zardaris' USA trip - By Aftab Iqbal

(Aftab Iqbal)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Buck up Karachi Police - Home-grown sectarian and extremist outfits are but extensions of global terrorist networks like Al Qaeda.

A job well done

FRIDAY’S police action against suspected terrorists in a Karachi locality comes as a reality byte that home-grown sectarian and extremist outfits are but extensions of global terrorist networks like Al Qaeda. There is no ambiguity now that the terror machine that has unleashed itself against targeted individuals and the public alike in Pakistan is more organised than hitherto believed; it can and does strike at a place and time of its own choosing, as the recent bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad shows.

The Sindh Police must be given credit for the coordinated effort they launched together with the intelligence agencies that made Friday’s operation a success. The nabbing alive of a main suspect, Rahimullah alias Ali Hasan, who was wanted for many a bombing in Karachi, and who led the police to the scene of his accomplices’ hideout on Friday, was a rare accomplishment which brought about dividends. The three terrorists killed in the operation had kidnapped the oil trader who transported supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan and whom they shot dead soon after the police surrounded their house, which speaks of the brutal and inhuman mindset of the terrorists. They were planning more ghastly attacks in and around Karachi in the days ahead, as details from the scene revealed. If such pre-emption and thus prevention of acts of terrorism become a priority with our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the menace can be curbed more effectively than has been the case so far.

On a different note, one feels that perhaps a bit of restraint was in order as the provincial home minister gave vent to his anger against a section of the media while collecting kudos for his ministry and divulging details of Friday’s operation. Mr Zulfiqar Mirza may be entitled to feel like a hero sticking it out for the underdog, as he claims, but that does not make the public office he holds immune from scrutiny. The media, too, acts as a public watchdog in a representative set-up. Moreover, isn’t tolerance of diversity of opinion a basic ingredient of democracy? (Dawn)

Silent majority stirs - People in FATA rise agains Taliban

FATA’s silent majority now seems to be stirring. It has for years watched in agony the destruction of its environs. Its once peaceful valleys and ravines are now a theatre of war, with homes, fields and shops destroyed, the tribesmen’s means of livelihood disrupted, and hundreds of thousands of men, women and children turned into internal refugees. Even though seething with anger, the tribesmen had failed to act, overawed as they were by the ubiquitous Taliban’s ruthlessness and presumed invincibility. However, things seem to be changing. A report by our correspondent in Landi Kotal informs us that a tribal lashkar in Khyber Agency captured on Thursday nine militants and freed a prayer leader whom the Taliban had kidnapped. Those taking the lead in challenging the Taliban and rescuing the cleric belonged to the Malagori tribe. This is not an isolated example. In the Bara tehsil, the Kalakhel tribe has raised a lashkar and warned those giving shelter to the Taliban that they would be fined Rs5m and their homes demolished. In Bajaur, the main battle theatre, the Othmankhel and Salarzai tribes have openly come out against the militants and are taking vigorous actions permitted by tribal traditions to get rid of the terrorists. Similar trends are emerging in Dir, Buner and Shabqadar.

In 2003, too, some tribal elders had attempted to mobilise their tribesmen against the militants, but the campaign failed because it was government-inspired. This time, however, it is the tribesmen’s own effort, because they have seen havoc being wreaked on their traditional way of life by local and foreign Taliban. The government has to build on this positive development and secure the active cooperation of those among the anti-militant tribesmen who are willing to take on the Taliban and restore peace to their area. One major reason for the change in the tribesmen’s attitude is the losses the Taliban have suffered in the ongoing military operation. The operation must be carried on relentlessly, and the enemy given no respite.

During Ramazan the Taliban have blown up gas and water pipelines and destroyed electric installations to cause hardship to the people in order to arouse anti-government feelings. The authorities must, therefore, ensure the security of vital installations by enlisting the community’s cooperation. Also, to ensure against collateral damage, the people should be warned in advance of a crackdown so that the non-combatants are evacuated well in advance. (Dawn)

Friends of Pakistan - Well done, Zardari.

MAKE no mistake about it — this is Pakistan’s hour of economic reckoning. We need every friend we have ever had and every dollar we can possibly get. It seems then that the Friends of Pakistan forum, which will hold its first meeting in Abu Dhabi next month, could be the right tonic for our economic ills. But caution is in order. Pakistan is running out of dollars at an alarming rate. According to Agost Benard, an associate director at Standard & Poor’s, “The external liquidity position which is now the key concern is continuing to deteriorate rapidly.” What Mr Benard says matters because his agency can dramatically affect Pakistan’s ability to do business in the international market.

Economic analysts are worried by Pakistan’s current account deficit — last year it stood at $14bn, while in just July and August it ballooned to $2.6bn. With foreign exchange reserves standing at a paltry $8.8bn last week, Pakistan simply does not have the foreign currency to sustain the current account deficit. In the medium term, a current account deficit can be turned around by exporting more and importing less. In the short term, foreign aid is the only realistic chance of improvement. The problem is that foreign aid will likely come with strings attached — which will impose wrenching change on the average Pakistani. Through US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Friends of Pakistan forum has indicated that it is not keen to give Pakistan quick money on easy terms. “We are engaged with Pakistan through international financial institutions,” Ms Rice told the news media, and also mentioned the need for economic reform.

The IFIs have a fairly basic recipe for Pakistan: strip away subsidies, increase tax revenues and cut down the budget deficit. These are good, necessary steps that Pakistan must take in order to improve its long-term economic outlook. The problem is — and experience bears this out — that steps such as these taken in a panic follow a fairly predictable pattern: the cost of living for the poor is driven up, development expenditure is slashed and meaningful reform is shelved once the worst has passed. However, there are several reasons to give Pakistan the benefit of the doubt for now. First, there are international factors involved in Pakistan’s economy going sour — most notably the price of oil and food. Second, the economy is seized by the worst level of inflation in decades. Third, Pakistan has already done away with most subsidies and has planned to slash expenditure. Fourth, Pakistan is struggling to come to terms with a militancy threat that could destabilise the very foundations of the state. Surely the Friends of Pakistan must realise how much more costly it would be to rescue Pakistan later were money to be delayed right now. (Dawn)

Zardari is no Musharraf - By Asadullah Ghalib

(Asadullah Ghalib)

Friends rally around Pakistan (Buck up Zardari)

A permanent forum known as Friends of Pakistan was launched in New York on Friday with the mission to help Pakistan out of its economic crisis. It has been estimated that Pakistan would need around $15 billion to prevent its economy from collapsing. The Forum’s first substantive session, hopefully meaning actual execution of commitments, will be held in Abu Dhabi early October. The future host of the forum, UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, said in New York that his country fully backed the initiative to “show our commitment to Pakistan”.

Others too have shown commitment: the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “We are engaged with Pakistan through international financial institutions. We will support the steps Pakistan must take for its economy”. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband saw “a very strong signal of political and economic support to the democratically elected government in Pakistan”. Those who attended the Friends of Pakistan forum meeting were: The United States, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, China, Australia, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

President Asif Ali Zardari, whose presence at the UN helped the campaign for Pakistan’s economic survival, appropriately remarked: “I don’t want them to give us the fish. I want to learn how to fish and do it myself”. Needless to say, the forum couldn’t have been launched without the help of the United States and the commitment shown by the PPP leadership in Pakistan to fighting Pakistan’s war against terrorists and extremists which cannot be sustained without a dramatic economic revival. And that is exactly why the international community is ready to offer financial help.

According to reports, “Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves are falling fast and, if forward liabilities are included, the real reserves may actually be just $3 billion”. This is money to meet the import bill of just one month. Pakistan’s credit rating has plunged and people who would normally do business with Pakistan are talking of possible default. Mr Zardari said that the world had rallied around Pakistan because of Pakistan’s return to democracy after an eight-year rule by a military dictator. That may not be accurate. The real reason is that Pakistan could go under the anarchism of Al Qaeda after an economic meltdown. An even more down-to-earth reason is that Islamabad is officially committed to the war against Al Qaeda’s terror.

It is, however, unfortunate that back home in Pakistan the perspective of many people is infected with prejudice and politics. A consensus has formed in the media about the lack of wisdom of President Zardari in deciding to go to the United States after the Marriott blast. It was tediously argued that a wounded nation needed its leadership in Islamabad for solace and that Mr Zardari had let them down by leaving the country. Worse, the visit to New York was publicised as a pleasure trip that actually made fun of the suffering of the people back home. Everybody was included in this frog chorus: the economists as well as numberless retired ambassadors and one ex-permanent representative of Pakistan at the UN.

Those who think emotion should come before economic realism also believe that the war against terrorism is not Pakistan’s war and that America is the real enemy of Pakistan because it is working in tandem with India, Pakistan’s traditional foe. They want the Pakistan army, already badly stretched against Al Qaeda, to fight the two enemies — one a global superpower and the other a regional power — with the help of the tribal people of Pakistan who need immediate humanitarian bailout rather than jihad against two such foes. They want to suspend the logistics provided by Pakistan to the NATO-ISAF forces in Afghanistan, knowing full well that Pakistan receives the running expenses of its military action in the Tribal Areas from these facilities.

There are a number of misconceptions in the “consensus” at home. It is believed that if Pakistan acted defiantly like Iran and North Korea it would become powerful and prosperous and may even get international support. But nothing could be further from the truth. Iran and Venezuela are leading the isolationist group, and the latter even spends money out of its pocket to encourage more states to act like them, but they don’t have the kind of money needed to support Pakistan. In any case Iran would be most unwilling to fund a pro-Al Qaeda Pakistan because the terrorists in Pakistan kill Shias as their side business. China too has complaints about its Sinkiang Muslims training with Al Qaeda apart from the fact that Al Qaeda doesn’t help by kidnapping Chinese engineers in Pakistan.

There is too much anger and unrealistic emotionalism over the electronic and print media. Unfortunately there are campaigns launched to malign the government through forgeries and planted lies. This is not the way to treat an elected government especially since it deserves the time and space to prove its worthiness. There will be time enough for that later if it fails to deliver the goods. (Daily Times)

Lashkar-e-Jhangavi = Sipah-e-Sahaba = Al-Qaeda = Taliban = Jaish-e-Muhammad = Other sectarian and jihadi organizations

Protégée terrorists attack Karachi

Three would-be suicide bombers were killed along with a handcuffed hostage when one of the bombers blew himself up following a police raid on a house in Karachi’s Baldia Town on Friday. They were members of Lashkar-e Jhangvi. The operation came after the police arrested the mastermind terrorist Rahimullah. He had planned the April 2006 Nishtar Park suicide attack, the killing of Allama Hassan Turabi in July 2006 and the twin blasts at Karsaz, targeting Ms Bhutto, on October 18, 2007.

The MQM had warned a month ago that Al Qaeda had decided to send its attackers to Karachi. The government thought the statement was exaggerated. And what followed instead were two shows of “terrorist” strength in the city, one by Sipah Sahaba and the other by Lashkar-e Tayba, while the intelligence agencies stood aside and watched. The Lashkar-e Jhangvi has now become a Pakistani branch of Al Qaeda, so has Jaish-e Muhammad in Swat. All these were once the protégées of our intelligence establishment. Today they are killing innocent Pakistanis and the agencies have no clue what is happening. This is what Prime Minister Gilani was referring to when he complained last week about the failure of intelligence in Pakistan. (Daily Times)

The so-called Sarah Palin-Zardari scandal and our anti-PPP journalists


Friends of Pakistan Consortium: Zardari's success

By Irshad Ahmed Haqqani

Zardar's achievments: The PPP haters are blind - Disinformation Cell by Democracy Haters in Pakistan - By Nazir Naji


Ansar Abbasi, Irfan Siddiqi, other PPP haters and their 'Khopay' - Disinformation cell against democracy in Pakistan - By Dr. Babar Awan

(Dr Babar Awan)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Talking to Mullah Umar and Hekmatyar?

The NWFP Governor, Mr Owais Ghani, has asked the United States “to talk to Mullah Omar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, to negotiate peace in Afghanistan”. His contention is that “political stability will only come to Afghanistan when all political power groups, irrespective of the length of their beard, are given their just and due share in the political dispensation in Afghanistan”. He wants the US to know that “all three militant commanders are in Afghanistan”. He also says, though with less credibility, that “Pakistan has no favourites in Afghanistan”.

Alas, Governor Ghani’s assertion that the three warrior chiefs are in Afghanistan has already been challenged by independent observers of the Afghan scene. No matter. It is good that he has come out in the open and claimed a Pakistani strategic stake in Afghanistan. The US should listen to what he is saying. There is a strong message in his statement. If the US can give India a strategic stake in building up the Northern Alliance Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan, there is no reason why it can’t do the same for Pakistan and the Pashtuns. It may be recalled that Mullah Umar and the US did not have any problems during the Taliban regime in Kabul in 1997-99 until Osama Bin Laden stepped in and drove a wedge between them by bombing New York. Indeed, the Taliban regime and the US were discussing oil pipelines from Central Asia to Pakistan through Afghanistan at the time. The best way to crush Al Qaeda is to drive a wedge between it and the Afghan Taliban by inviting the latter to sit at the table in Kabul and negotiate a power sharing arrangement with the key stakeholders of Afghanistan. Pakistan can and should play a facilitating role. (Daily Times)

US general’s warning - General David Petraeus's assessment on war on terror and Taliban

MANY Pakistanis will tend to agree with what one of America’s top generals said on Thursday — the extremists threaten the very existence of Pakistan. Gen David Petraeus, who is to take over next month as commander Centcom (US forces in the Middle East and South-West Asia), told the media in Paris that Pakistani and American forces would have to work together, because Pakistan faced “an existentialist threat”. The general identified what he called the “common enemy” as a syndicate that contained within its fold Al Qaeda, the Taliban “and in between different forms of extremist movements”. Talking about the situation in Afghanistan he emphasised the need for “absolute engagement” with Pakistan and said there had to be “coordination, cooperation and very constructive dialogue” for the success of the war on the common enemy. Again Afghanistan was on his mind when he spoke of the need for developing an infrastructure to cope with troop increase, and most welcome was his belief that the American and Nato forces must be seen as liberators, not occupiers. One wishes this was emphasised by other political and military leaders on the other side of the Durand Line.

There are two aspects to Gen Petraeus’s statement: one is his diagnosis of the disorder, the other his prescription. There is no doubt that the war on terror is Pakistan’s own war. The more civilians the Taliban kill, the more girls’ schools they bomb and the more they intensify their war on the state of Pakistan, the more they unite the people of Pakistan in their common resolve to crush terrorism. If the Taliban had been a little circumspect about their targets, perhaps the people of Pakistan would not have united against them the way they have after the Taliban decided as a matter of policy to resort to reckless acts of terror, no matter how many innocent men, women and children get killed and maimed. This spirit of national unity against the Taliban needs to be sustained, and America and the Nato governments can do this by demonstrating a sense of responsibility and respecting Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The “skirmishes” between the two sides on Thursday show a lack of clarity on the rules of engagement. Let the Americans leave it to Pakistan to fight terrorism within its borders; what Islamabad needs is economic and military assistance that could strengthen the country’s own ability to take on the enemy. Its forces, for instance, need equipment specific to guerilla war in the mountains. Rash actions like the violation of Pakistan’s borders by American forces not only do not help, they undermine the democratic government in Islamabad, and lend support to the Taliban propaganda that portrays America as a threat to Pakistan. (Dawn)

Pakistan opts out of isolationism, Zardari's address at the UN

President Asif Ali Zardari’s address at the General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday has to be rated as a good speech that fairly expressed Pakistan’s point of view on the problem of terrorism while avoiding the kind of isolationism that exuded from the speech of his Iranian counterpart, Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr Zardari sounded a firm and persuasive note to the United States and NATO-ISAF forces in Afghanistan while committing Pakistan to the war against terror and to interdiction of cross-border attacks from inside Pakistan.

Understandably, there was detailed reference to the assassination of his wife, Ms Benazir Bhutto, and to her “doctrine of reconciliation” between the West and the Islamic world, which he joined with another grand economic gesture after the Second World War in the shape of America’s Marshall Plan. While he asked the UN Secretary General to initiate a UN inquiry into her death, he clearly linked her killing to Al Qaeda: “If Al Qaeda and the Taliban believed that by silencing Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, they were silencing her message, they were very wrong”.

He couched his appeal for economic cooperation in the same words as were used by President Bush while addressing Pakistan after 9/11: “The question I ask the world’s leaders in this august chamber is whether you will stand with us, just as we stand for the entire civilised world on the frontlines of this epic struggle of the new millennium?” Then he made the most important pitch as a representative of the people of Pakistan: “Yes, this is our war, but we need international support — moral, political and economic”.

The burden of his message was: this is not your war alone; it is also Pakistan’s war, but Pakistan will not fight it alone or come under pressure from policy made against the interests of Pakistan: “We must all fight this epic battle together as allies and partners. But just as we will not let Pakistan’s territory to be used by terrorists for attacks against our people and our neighbours, we cannot allow our territory and our sovereignty to be violated by our friends”.

On the sidelines of the United Nations’ session, Mr Zardari also met the prime minister of India, Mr Manmohan Singh, with whose government the ongoing bilateral dialogue for normalisation was disrupted after the suicide-bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul. The body language of the two was positive and Mr Zardari made an appropriate reference to India in his UN speech too: “We will continue the composite dialogue with India so that our outstanding disputes are resolved. Whether it is the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, or cooperation on water resources, India and Pakistan must accommodate each other’s concerns and interests; we must respect and work with each other to peacefully resolve our problems and build South Asia into a common market of trade and technology”.

It is deplorable that after the Indo-Pak joint statement on the opening of four trade routes, some people have tried to create the impression that this would be a bad departure from Pakistan’s “historic position” since India has not relented on the issue of Kashmir. In fact, it is time for sensible departures from bad policies in the past that have laid us low. So it is quite clear that there are powerful elements inside the state that oppose “reconciliation” more than they oppose terrorism and may in fact be counting on terrorism and such people in and out of the media to bring about a change in Pakistan to their liking. These vested interests must be resisted.

In response to Mr Zardari’s initiatives, the US is making efforts to stage a high-level international conference of European, Asian and Gulf Arab countries to debate “common strategies” to help Pakistan defeat the terrorism threat. It is expected that Pakistan will help the G8 countries arrive at a package of economic assistance that will tide Pakistan over its problems of coping with the global price hikes and internal market downturn. The United States has to step forward in this regard and give the lead.

Robert M Hathaway, the director of the Asia Programme at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, wrote thus last week: “As it currently stands, US trade policy actually discriminates against Pakistan. US tariffs on Pakistani textiles are far steeper than on similar goods from other countries...Each container of exported towels puts 500 Pakistani men and women to work. Yet, textile exports from literally dozens of developing countries around the world face lower US tariffs than do Pakistani textiles. The least we could do is to level the playing field for Pakistani goods”. Right you are, Mr Hathaway!

Pakistan would dive into a most dangerous isolationism if the swelling domestic opinion against American cross-border attacks were to become decisive. The world needs a nuclear-armed Pakistan to be part of the global effort against Al Qaeda. And Pakistan needs to avoid the Taliban like the plague and not fall into the trench of isolation without the economic cushion needed to break this fall. President Zardari has put Pakistan’s case clearly in a spirit of cooperation. This is a foreign policy posture that has more chances of success than any other approach divorced from reality. (Daily Times)

A shameful forgery (by Ansar Abbasi and other anti-PPP Junoonis)

The past week has seen a vicious electronic and press campaign maligning President Asif Ali Zardari through a forgery. Someone forged a garbled version of his remark recorded in the visitors’ book at the mausoleum of the Quaid-e-Azam and sent it around. Mr Zardari had carefully written, “May God give us the strength to save Pakistan”. This was changed to, “May Gaad give us strut to save Pakistan”. After a week of this vicious campaign in which people in Lahore were seen handing around copies of the forgery in restaurants, the hoax has been exposed.

The paper which showed a photographic comparison between the real text of the message and the forgery, wrote: “Some hidden hands have sent an email to different journalists, newspapers and electronic organisations claiming that the President had misspelled the words God and strength”. As for the probity of the journalists who received it, the newspaper said: “It was distressing to note that a senior English-language columnist did not bother to verify the facts and added fuel to fire in his column while referring to this fabricated story”. (Daily Times)

Zardari's misspelled remarks proved fabricated - Disinformation cell in action by yellow journalists/Zaradari haters

By SHAFI BALOCH (Daily The Nation)

KARACHI - The ongoing campaign against President Asif Ali Zardari regarding his poor knowledge of English during his recent visit to Mazar-e-Quaid has proved a malicious and wicked electronic campaign that has tarnished his image in the eyes of the general public and analysts who did not bother to verify the facts.
Some hidden hands have sent an email to different journalists, newspapers and electronic organisations claiming that the President had misspelled the words God and strength.
However, a verification of this matter by TheNation revealed that the campaign was a venomous propaganda against President Zardari that was aimed at tarnishing his image in the eyes of the masses.
The upshot of President’s comments in the visitors’ book during his visit to Mazar-e-Quaid made it clear that Asif Zardari had impeccably written “May God give us strength to save Pakistan” instead of “May Gaad give us strut to save Pakistan” that was being propagated by the hidden hands through the email.
President Asif Ali Zardari wrote his views in the visitors’ book on September 11, 2008, when he visited Mazar-e-Quaid on the 60th death anniversary of the Father of the Nation.
It was distressing to note that senior Eglish-language columnist did not bother to verify the facts and added fuel to fire in his column while referring to this fabricated story.
The propaganda was launched at a time when the President had gone to the United States on an official visit and during his absence nobody bothered to counter the venomous campaign and tried to present the truth before the media and the people.
When contacted Muhammad Arif, Resident Engineer, Mazar-e-Quaid, produced the book containing the views of the President.
Arif said that he was accompanying President Asif Ali Zardari during his visit of the mausoleum and witnessed him express his views by writing in the visitors’ book: “God may give us strength to save Pakistan”.
After the visit of President Zardari, several high-ranking officials of Sindh government including Governor Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, chiefs of the armed forces and Naib Nazima Karachi Nasreen Jalil also visited Mazar-e-Quaid and expressed their views in the visitors’ book.

All of them had written their views in English except Naib Nazima Nasreen Jaleel, who wrote her comments in Urdu language, Arif concluded.


‘Stability in Bajaur within two months’

* FC IG says 1,000 Taliban, 63 soldiers killed in operation
* Says 65% of problem would be eliminated if Taliban defeated in Bajaur

KHAR/TANG KHATTA: The situation in Bajaur Agency will be stabilised within two months, the Frontier Corps (FC) chief in the region said on Friday.

“My timeframe for Bajaur is anything from between one-and-a-half to two months to bring about stability,” FC Inspector General Maj Gen Tariq Khan told reporters on an army-organised trip to Bajaur.

Taliban killed: Khan said troops had killed more than 1,000 Taliban and injured 2,000 others since the offensive began in early August. Khan said five top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders were among those killed in the month-long operation. He said they included four foreigners. They were Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri, Arab Abu Suleiman, Uzbek Mullah Mansoor, and an Afghan commander called Manaras.

The fifth was a son of Faqir Mohammad, the top Taliban commander in the region. Faqir himself was believed to be injured. Some 63 troops had died and 212 were injured in the operation so far, Khan said.

65 percent: Khan estimated 65 percent of the Taliban problem would be eliminated if they were defeated in Bajaur, describing the region as a ‘centre of gravity’ for the Taliban. “If they lose here, they’ve lost almost everything,” he said.

Military officials paraded 10 blindfolded and handcuffed men said to be Taliban fighters – arrested during the operation – before the reporters who joined the trip.

Khan also showed reporters photos of tunnel systems and trenches, suggesting the Taliban were well established in the region that is considered a likely hiding place for top Al Qaeda leaders including Osama Bin Laden.

He put the Taliban’s strength at around 2,000, including Afghans, Uzbeks and Arabs as well as Pakistani Taliban. He said the Taliban’s fighting strength had not gone down appreciably despite heavy casualties due to reinforcements coming in from the northwest as well as Afghanistan. “I personally feel that trained squads have been moved in,” Khan said. agencies (Daily Times)

War on terror & India’s stake

By Kuldip Nayar

THE burning of Islamabad’s Marriott hotel that Indian channels showed at length is still etched in the memory of horrified people. They are worried about Pakistan. Even the hawks do not conceal their anxiety.

The intelligentsia’s concern is that the nascent democratic government in Islamabad might not be able to cope with the likes of the Al Qaeda and Taliban and might have to depend on the military which would want its price.

People do not know how far the Al Qaeda-Taliban combine has penetrated Pakistan. But the belief is that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and, to a large extent, the NWFP province, is under the control of the Taliban. Were they to ‘capture’ more territory, what would be its effect on India is the greatest worry. President Asif Ali Zardari’s remark that “the Taliban have an upper hand” is all the more unnerving. America agrees with him.

A Pakistani television commentator has challenged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to travel from Kohat to Bannu. The commentator’s contention is that the Pakistan government had already “withdrawn” from this area. If this is true, there is some truth in the repeated allegation that former President Pervez Musharraf, even while in uniform, was never serious about curbing Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He found it an effective way to milch America. That he connived at the intervention of the US troops on Pakistani soil is an open secret.

In contrast, Zardari’s statement or that of army chief Gen Kayani that Pakistan’s sovereignty would not be allowed to be trifled with has come as a welcome surprise. Islamabad is defending its territory and there are signs of it when its guns drove away American helicopters the other day. Pakistan is careful not to engage the superpower but whatever Islamabad is doing to keep its dignity intact needs to be commended.

I do not think that the Al Qaeda-Taliban combine is seeking territory in Pakistan. They want the northern areas which would help them to recapture Afghanistan which was under their rule until they were pushed out by nationalist Afghan forces with the help of America.

In fact, the US is responsible for the birth of the Taliban. During the Cold War when Washington wanted to bleed Moscow to death, America trained and armed fundamentalists to oust the irreligious Soviet Union from Afghanistan. America won the Cold War when the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of what happened to it in Afghanistan. Those fundamentalists are today’s Taliban and they have the weapons which were liberally provided by America.

Indian civil society does realise that Al Qaeda’s progress in Pakistan is a danger. Already the presence of Al Qaeda has been reported in Kerala, India’s southern-most state, and in Kashmir, the northern-most part. An intelligence agency has linked the recent bomb blasts in the country to the outfit.

What is not probably appreciated amply is that Pakistan’s war against the Taliban is India’s war too. If ever Pakistan goes under, India’s first line of defence would collapse. The Taliban would have secured the launching pad to attack India’s values of democracy and liberalism which do not fit into their scheme of things. These are the same Taliban who destroyed the Buddha statues at Bamiyan despite the appeal of the entire civilised world.

Terrorism is the means, and a ‘Talibanistan’ is the end. New Delhi and Islamabad should jointly fight against the menace. The two had decided at one time to set up a joint mechanism to fight terror. There is still nothing on the ground. Some joint action should have been visible after the blasts in Delhi and Islamabad. Mutual suspicions are so strong that they cannot override them even when the enemy is at work from within. One hopes that the New York meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Zardari will change the scenario as both are keen on normalising relations.

Making peace with the militants or having a ceasefire, as proposed by certain influential quarters in Pakistan, may stall the Taliban but not defeat them. Terrorism is a cancer as Zardari has diagnosed correctly, and it must be eliminated. The villain of the piece is Musharraf who said he was fighting against the Taliban when he was conniving at their penetration. He should be put on the mat for having aggravated the situation. His plan to have them in Afghanistan to gain ‘strategic depth’ for Pakistan started the whole thing.

There is a lesson for New Delhi which is a sad picture of inaction and ineptness when assessed in terms of action taken against communal forces. Law and order has always been a state subject. Still the centre’s response has been lukewarm. It sent to Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala a piece of advice on the lines of Article 355 which enjoins upon the Union to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance. Had New Delhi’s order gone under Article 355 itself, the Bajrang Dal, a SIMI among Hindus, would not have openly butchered Christians and burnt churches. Surprisingly, there is no ban on the Bajrang Dal. New Delhi has done well to reject the demand of the Bharatiya Janata Party for bringing back the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act which authorised the state to detain people for months without trial. It was used against the Naxalites and Muslims mercilessly. In this atmosphere, the Muslims would have been the target.

Terrorism, no doubt, leaves death and destruction in its wake. But the most fearsome fallout is that the confidence of the people is shaken. Governments can see, after every event, the gaps in their intelligence and other apparatus and promise to do better. But the impact of the incidents may well be irreparable because certain communities feel alienated.

This is what has happened after the encounter at Zakir Bagh in Delhi where two terrorists and one police inspector were killed. The debate over the veracity of the ‘encounter’ is still raging. The locality believes it was stage-managed. Why such a feeling arises is because of the credibility gap between the people and the authorities.

The matter is much more serious: Muslims and Christians have lost faith in the fairness of the state. This will be hard to restore if the secular forces do not assert themselves and retrieve Muslims, Christians and, more so, the Hindus from the bias and prejudice in which many are stuck.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by a television network in four big cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai — has shown that 67 per cent of the people feel insecure. They are haunted by the fear that they do not know what would happen to them if they were to step out of their homes. This is, indeed, a sad reflection on the central and state governments.

The writer is a leading journalist based in Delhi. (Dawn)

Jihad revised

By Q. Isa Daudpota

IMAGINE you are a radical Islamist leading a war against the infidels from the badlands bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. In front of you is the statement, “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that.”

You are Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second highest leader of Al Qaeda, and this thunderbolt comes from your comrade, a long time spiritual and intellectual leader of your group and a former fellow medical student in Cairo University.

Around 1977, the author of the statement, Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, joined Egypt’s Al Jihad terrorist group formed by Zawahiri. Sharif (Dr Fadl being his underground identity) and Zawahiri were two of the original members of Al Qaeda, the formation of which dates back to August 1988 when they met Osama bin Laden in Peshawar. Earlier, Dr Fadl escaped arrest when thousands of Islamists were rounded up after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by soldiers affiliated with Al Jihad. Zawahiri suffered torture in prison and was released after three years, thirsting for revenge. His reputation also came under serious doubt in prison as he divulged the names of his comrades under torture. Dr Fadl, during this time, moved to Peshawar to join the Afghan war and worked as a surgeon for injured combatants.

Jihadis needed guidance through a text on the real objective of fighting battles which was not just victory over the Soviets but martyrdom and eternal salvation. Fadl’s The Essential Guide for Preparation appeared late for the Afghan war but became one of the most important texts for jihadis’ training. Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, notes that the Guide begins with the premise that jihad is a natural state of Islam: Muslims must always be in conflict with non-believers. Fadl asks that peace is recommended only in moments of severe weakness. Otherwise every Muslim must seek divine reward through sacrificing his life for Islam and thereby bring about an Islamic state.

After 1989 Zawahiri and most of Al Jihad moved to Sudan. From there they watched the Islamic Group wage a vicious war against the Egyptian state. The Group launched a social revolution, ransacking video stores and cinemas, demanding hijabs for women and bombed churches of the Coptic minority. One of the founders was Karam Zuhdy, who ended up living in prison for two decades with about 20,000 Islamists. During the ’90s, the Group killed more than 1,200 in terror attacks.

In 1994, Fadl wrote the 1,000-page Compendium of Pursuit of Divine Knowledge. In it he declared war on the rulers of Arab states and considered them infidels who should be killed. The same punishment was to be meted out to those who served them and to others working for peaceful change. The Compendium gave Al Qaeda the mandate to murder all who opposed it. This is just the book that Zawahiri wanted, but it went a bit too far. Fadl was livid when he learnt that parts of the book had been removed and the title changed and published under Zawahiri’s name.

With so many years wasted in prison since 1981, the leaders of the Islamic Group began reading books and analysing their past, and realised that they had been manipulated into pursuing a violent path. Zuhdy, the Group’s founder, found that any such discussion led to strong opposition within and outside the prison.

Meanwhile, secret talks continued with the Egyptian government until they became known in 1997. Zawahiri was disappointed by the move away from violent jihad, which to him was the main galvanising force for his movement. Along with Islamic Group leaders outside Egypt, he arranged for the murder of 62 tourists near Luxor, hoping the move would derail rapprochement between the Group and the state.

The Group’s leaders countered by issuing a statement condemning the act, and followed up with writing a series of books and pamphlets collectively known as The Revision in which they explained their new thinking. Zuhdy publicly apologised to the Egyptian people for the Group’s violent deeds. The government responded by releasing over 20,000 Group members.

Meanwhile Fadl who had landed in a Yemen prison was smuggled onto a plane and taken to Cairo in 2005. It is from his cell that he wrote his latest book, Rationalising Jihad. To avoid the charge that he had been tortured or coaxed into writing it, a majority of the Al Jihad members in prison signed the manuscript. To exclude the possibility of coercion, an editor interviewed Fadl extensively.

Here’s a summary of some of the controversial points raised which clearly will not go down well with radical Islamists such as Zawahiri: (a) There is nothing more that invokes divine wrath than the unwarranted spilling of blood and wrecking of property; (b) the limitation placed on jihad restrict it to extremely rare circumstances; (c) it is forbidden to kill civilians — including Christians and Jews — unless they are actively attacking Muslims, (d) indiscriminate bombing such as blowing up hotels, buildings and public transportation is not permitted, (e) there is no legal reason for harming people in any way, (f) one cannot decide who is a Muslim or a non-believer, and (g) the end does not justify violent means.

Zawahiri warned that Fadl’s revision of the jihad concept placed restrictions on action which, if implemented, would destroy the jihad completely. Zuhdy commented that this exchange between the Al Qaeda ideologues showed that the movement is disintegrating due to internal dissent.

Pakistan, which is being torn apart by jihadis from within and across its border, needs to make Fadl’s latest work widely available in translation, to be studied in madressahs and discussed in the media. Who knows what reformation this could bring about?

The writer is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.

Zardari, Sarah Palin, pro-Taliban journalists and the disinformation cell by the democracy haters - By Abbas Ather

Abbas Ather

Hey, Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Gul and other emotional blackmailers, stop begging for dollars...



Zardari's English...


Is it America's war our our war? The colour between black and white: Ayaz Amir



Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Tehreek-e-Taliban, a gang of anti-Pakistan criminals and mercenaries - Muhammad Amir Khakwani

(Muhammad Amir Khakwani, Express)

Ancestral leadership in Pakistan: Haroon-ur-Rashid


Militants in the tribal areas of the NWFP have established firm networking (with jihadi groups) in southern Punjab

An unknown terrorist outfit calling itself Fidayeen-e Islam has telephoned the Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV office in Islamabad to claim responsibility for the attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday. The phone call was made from within Pakistan but not from Islamabad. But that doesn’t mean that Islamabad is free of terrorists and that the dumper truck that brought a ton of explosives to the Marriott came from any distant place. The killers are very much within us.

The investigators have lost no time in concluding that the explosives were brought piece-meal into Islamabad and then loaded onto the truck inside the residential area. The truck was not sent from the Tribal Areas where masked Indian agents may have loaded it with RDX “because Pakistan is free of such quantities of lethal material”. In fact, the truth is that Pakistan is full of lethal material and Islamabad is the centre of the ideology of Al Qaeda; and its exponents include people inside the organs of the state.

The governor of the NWFP, Mr Owais Ghani, visited Lahore on Monday and briefed a gathering of senior media persons about the state of terrorism in the country. He argued that Pakistan should counter the so-called Islamist ideology of the terrorists with the ideology of Pakistan as a bastion of Islam, by which he did not mean the ideology of India’s RAW but the ideology posited by Al Qaeda and followed by the Taliban and the jihadi militias once sponsored by the Pakistan state. But the problem is not as simple as that. Alas, this ideology of radical Islamists is also partly the propagated ideology of Pakistan, with a vast difference of interpretation. We have problems of deciding what terrorism means, whether jihad is to be practised by the state or by non-state actors, and whether suicide-bombing is illegal, because we share part of the Islamist basis of Al Qaeda’s case-making. So it might be a better idea to expose Al Qaeda’s Islamist ideology with a truer and more genuine expression of Islam in general rather than its particular self-serving national security version as espoused by the Pakistani state that is partly responsible for spawning it in the first place.

Governor Ghani also revealed a fact that most of Punjabis will deny. He said: “Militants in the tribal areas of the NWFP have established firm networking (with jihadi groups) in southern Punjab and most fresh recruits for suicide attacks are coming from there. Militant leaders and commanders are also coming from Punjab. The militants’ field commander in Swat too is from Punjab”. But was Peshawar safe? Even as he spoke, mosques in the posh areas of Peshawar were sounding with calls to jihad. The newspapers named a person allegedly belonging to Lahore-based “banned” jihadi organisation favoured by the agencies making the call for jihad against America in the capital of the NWFP. When people got scared and asked the caretaker of one such mosque to stop the outfit from spreading aggression, he said, “Under what law?” Needless to say, he spoke from the point of view of “Pakistan’s ideology”.

Who is going to counter this trend towards extremism and terrorism? Clearly, it is not just the job of the state but also of the media and opinion writers. And it has to be done in an environment of free discussion, even if it is becoming more difficult to speak out without fearing a violent reaction from the terrorists and those who now fervently believe in an aggressive “reactive” ideology. With all due respect to Governor Ghani, it is not ideology that has to be challenged with another ideology but the facts that are deployed to underpin the anarchic point of view of the extremists. This is where the media must play its role.

Tragically, it is not “unity” that is being created but a “uniformity” of opinion that is dangerous now as it was dangerous on the eve of the separation of East Pakistan in 1971. If the Quaid-e Azam wanted uniformity instead of unity he could have given us the slogan: “Uniformity, Faith, Discipline”, instead of “Unity, Faith, Discipline”. When an angry viewer rings up in an interactive TV discussion and starts eulogising the isolationist defiance of Iran and North Korea, it is incumbent on us to “correct” the facts. Without being impolite one can state the different situation of Pakistan and its compulsion of avoiding isolation. Similarly, when a caller rings and says “India never accepted Pakistan” and then links the current wave of suicide-bombings to India, one can politely counter him by saying that it is not so much India as Pakistan which never accepted an “incomplete Pakistan” and fought a number of “corrective” wars, the last of which was lost on the peaks of Kargil and was not even a popular war. It is very important to retain a balance of opinion and not allow the “common view” to tilt to one extreme. Already, the rising slogan is “do what the people want” and, according to one argument, there is no other way to go for the government but one, because “the people of Pakistan hate America”.

We can counter the oppressive order of Al Qaeda and its “school-destroying” minions through our freedom and free discussion. Governor Ghani has spoken frankly. More and more politicians must speak what they feel and not what suits their current strategy of toppling the party in power. (Daily Times)

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

So, let us pull out of the war on terror. What is the alternative?

Digesting the Marriott blast

Some facts about the Marriott Hotel blast are coming out gradually as the scene of destruction is carefully examined and videos from the security cameras are scrutinised. More and more people are put off by the concept of suicide-bombing and are criticising it. The fifty-odd clerics who had issued the fatwa against it in 2005 — but were made to cower later by more aggressive clerics — are making their voice heard again. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) of Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan is reluctant to own it because of this change in public opinion.

But there is a difference of media opinion, mostly mutually intolerant, over the direction of the war to which the blast points. Unfortunately, the side that refuses to face reality is the one which says “it is not our war”, and relies on the now quite old and unacceptable pan-Islamist position that whatever Muslim extremists do is not “action” but “reaction” to some perceived injustice. What these people want everyone to believe is that the real unjust “action” is undertaken by someone else. This approach is supposed to decide the moral question of what is or isn’t “wrong doing”. Their argument is: what Muslims undertake is “reaction” and therefore doesn’t come in the category of “doing” something wrong, therefore there can be no moral judgement made on it. In this line of thinking, under all moral and criminal codes there is either absolution or mitigation for “reaction”. The question of looking for “causes” comes next. Since the Muslims have not “acted”, the argument goes, they have not caused anything to happen, hence the West and the United States have to sit down and admit to the criminality of their actions, and once they have done so, and properly compensated the Muslims for their past actions, the problem of violence and terrorism will go away automatically. Thus all moral obligations on the part of Muslims are dispensed with nicely.

But the blast at the Marriott has jolted this catechism and caused a rift. This rift undermines the unity among those who say “it is not our war”. The message behind this slogan is not a simple one. It has many ramifications and each has to be studied separately. On the face of it, the slogan gained strength after the “land invasion” of the CIA in South Waziristan earlier this month which caused the Pakistan Army and the PPP government to react in severe protest. The first message is that innocent Pakistanis die because the government is involved in the wrong war. The message has been repeated so much that most Pakistanis now believe that if Pakistan were to pull out of the “American war on terror”, innocent Muslims will no longer be killed.

But let us ask what will happen if Pakistan pulls out of the “war on terror”. The presumption, which is not spelled out, is that once this happens there will be no contradiction between Al Qaeda and its foot soldiers in FATA on the one hand and the state of Pakistan on the other. But what about the well established fact that Al Qaeda has a programme of “Islamic reform” that is global and which will start by converting Pakistan into a state based on Al Qaeda’s radical caliphate which will be the base area of its declared war on the US and the West? If we accept the assumption that our military capacity is not equal to engaging Al Qaeda in a civil war-like conflict, the unspoken assumption is that the Muslims of Pakistan will and should accept the Al Qaeda philosophy as “true faith” and allow the transformation of the state to Al Qaeda’s liking and standards. Of course, the “liberals” will be eliminated in the new order and this “wish” is apparent from the term “liberal fascists” that is being used these days in some reactionary Urdu columns.

This “it-is-not-our-war” group is clueless about what the Americans and their European allies — and others stretching as far eastward as Japan — can and may do after they no longer have to regard us as an ally but face as an ally of their enemies. Why doesn’t this group make any reference to the alternative strategy — “eat grass honourably?” — in the presumed post-pullout phase? Who will face up to the trespasses made by the NATO-ISAF forces into Pakistan? How will trespasses by Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in safe havens in FATA violate our sovereignty any less? Are we ready to trust the security of the state to Al Qaeda who will, if all goes according to its plan, of course be in charge of the armed forces and will control our nuclear capability? In fact it is this thought about nuclear weapons that inclines the “it-is-not-our-war” club to pre-emptively allege that the Americans are in Afghanistan to “grab our nuclear weapons”. But surely the global consensus on taking out the nuclear weapons acquired by Al Qaeda will develop much more dangerously than it is developing now.

Abandoning the war against terrorism is no solution to the problem of Al Qaeda and its radical global agenda. Those who propose it are now faced with the growing objection to the killing of innocent citizens. And they cannot convincingly argue that, after we have pulled out, either the Americans will stop attacking Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda will stop attacking us if the state of Pakistan does not capitulate to it. (Daily Times)

Significance of the Marriott bombing - By Khalid Aziz

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
by Khalid Aziz

The writer is a former chief secretary of NWFP and heads the Regional Institute of Policy Research

The suicide attack on the Marriott has brought into question Pakistan's participation in the war on terrorism. In a sense the attack was the consequence of the flawed policies which permitted our territories to be used as a place of refuge by the multinational militants who fled Afghanistan after the US attacked and destroyed the Taliban government in Kabul in November 2001.

From January 2008, Pakistan began to confront the militancy in FATA more vigorously. This new military trend was heralded with the launching of operation "Zalzala," against Baitullah Mahsud and his group. This operation was in the nature of collective punishment in which homes and property worth a considerable amount were destroyed, including the main market in Kotkai Razgai.

After the Mahsud operation the insurgency situation in parts of FATA and the NWFP has aggravated considerably. The operation in Bajaur has developed into a small war and the level of violence there is greater than in past confrontations. There are a considerable number of internally displaced persons generated by this new violence. More than 300,000 people have fled from the battle zones to other parts of Pakistan. Due to the increase in collateral deaths the number of motivated tribesmen seeking revenge by joining the ranks of suicide bombers has also increased. This is probably the cause of the Marriott bombing.

On the other hand Pakistan and its ally, the US, have differences over strategy. Pakistanis are upset by the violation of its sovereignty by the US. However, it is for consideration whether we should criticize others when the militants have already usurped Pakistani sovereignty over large tracts of territory south of Kohat; it barely exists in Waziristan. Obviously the loss of control over territory means that the militants have not only obtained control over people and resources but also have the space to plan and prepare operations in Pakistan.

It is now generally acknowledged that the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan have mastered the art of communication operations. These aim to shift the perception of Pakistanis and Islamists around the world in their favour. The Marriott bombing is in the nature of an announcement that aims to challenge official Pakistani claims of ascendency in Bajaur and Swat. It is a statement telling the Pakistani political elite that the war and the cooperation with US will cost it dear.

Let us examine some of the other aspects of the Marriott bombing. This hotel is located within a security zone, which includes national institutions like the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister's Office and Parliament. On the day of the bombing the new Pakistani president was making his inaugural address to Parliament and the assembly was packed with Pakistan's civil, military and intellectual elite. One can conclude with a high degree of certainty that the target of the suicide raid was the National Assembly. If the attempt had succeeded the loss to Pakistan would have been great. It is surmised that the failure of the militants to penetrate the security around the Parliament forced them to divert to a secondary target, which happened to be the unfortunate hotel. A more successful militant attack would obviously have spread chaos and disorder causing destabilisation in Pakistan.

Secondly, the attack copied a strategy followed by Al Qaeda in Iraq in the Samarra bombing. That bombing was aimed at causing a Shia-Sunni war, which would have destroyed Iraq. A similar effect would have occurred in Pakistan had the National Assembly been hit. Is there a link between the Marriott bomber and the transnational militants fighting in Khost, Paktika and Paktia provinces of Afghanistan? The existence of such a connection cannot be over ruled.

What are the likely consequences of this tragedy? First, it is clear that its impact on Pakistani people will be one of revulsion and hatred against the militants; this is the sentiment which prevails in FATA when collateral deaths are caused by Pakistani or US attacks. The sufferers are infused with hatred and wish revenge. The families of those who suffered in this attack must feel the same way. Although the militants carried out a strategic information attack but the effect on their cause is negative. It will build the resolve of Pakistanis to support their government more.

What other messages can one get from the Marriott tragedy? First, we must implement a "zero tolerance" policy on militancy of any kind. It is extremely dangerous to believe that we would benefit from distinguishing between good and bad terrorists, as Gen Musharraf did. Gen Musharraf allowed safe refuge in Waziristan to militants who fled from Afghanistan after the US attack in November 2001. By doing so Musharraf endangered Pakistan's national security. By permitting such war-hardened radicals to fraternise with Pakistani tribes permitted the establishment of a very dangerous type of social networking. It is this association which has spread the virus of militancy throughout FATA and the NWFP and could soon infect other parts of Pakistan. The Jamia Hafsa episode is yet another example of the radical type of networking reaching critical mass right in the heart of Islamabad. American political scientist Paul E Petersen has remarked that "people don't get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social network." If Pakistan wants to move away from this self-created calamity then it needs to transform itself and reject association with proxy warriors of any kind, irrespective of any strategic advantage that they may provide.

If social networking is at the heart of terrorism then the Marriott bombing is a call to put into practice a whole range of policies to counter the anti-Pakistan social networks. It would mean the mobilisation of communities in FATA and the NWFP to protect themselves against the militants. Techniques and plans for such an approach exist and need to be examined for implementation. If one can re-occupy the national space in an average Pakistani's heart, then one could say that the country has achieved the threshold for success. One of the central principles of this approach is to address effectively the everyday problems of a poor Pakistan. In order to do so the leadership will have to become more responsive to the needs of the average Pakistani.

Furthermore, we need to re-examine our security policies related to Afghanistan, FATA and the US. One of the problems of this war is that the operations in Afghanistan are planned by the US military, the CIA and NATO. While there can be coordination between the US military, NATO and Pakistan, the same cannot be said for the CIA, which is a law unto itself. Otherwise, how else can one explain the embarrassment of the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee during his recent meeting with Pakistani authorities? At the very moment Admiral Mullen was making a commitment to the Pakistani leadership that US attacks on the country would cease, US Predators were attacking Waziristan. To end this confusion it is essential for the US to have a single commander in Afghanistan who is in charge of both overt and covert operations. Pakistan must remain in the information loop if we want to win the war on terrorism.

Pakistan needs to carry out a security overview of lapses that occurred during the Marriott bombing. Security was woefully poor and badly compromised. It is time that we emphasised the protection of the people of Pakistan. Only then will we succeed in meeting this challenge.

Email: azizkhalid @gmail.com (The News)

This is Pakistan's war - Khurshid Nadeem


Good bye Pakistan, Welcome terrorists

Nazir Naji

Liar, Taliban supporter, Ansar Abbasi must be tried in an anti-terrorism court because of his lies in the Marriott Hotel Attack Report - Mumtaz Gilani

MNA threatens to sue journalist

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Mumtaz Alam Gillani, member national assembly (PPP) on Monday strongly contradicted a news item appearing in a section of the press on September 21 that he was witness to a US embassy white truck carrying steel boxes, which were unloaded and shifted inside the Marriott hotel.

Mumtaz Alam Gillani told APP that this was just a conversation in a light mood with the reporter when he along with his friends was coming out of the hotel and some foreigners were going inside the hotel. “I had just roadside chit-chat in a friendly manner with the newsman and told him that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism”, Gillani clarified.

He further said he would be issuing a legal notice to the reporter of the newspaper whose story is based on “pack of lies” and contrary to all professional ethics.

“I have asked the reporter to contradict the news item and tender unconditional apology as he tried to belittle my image as member of parliament in the eyes of the people, particularly of my constituency”, Mumtaz Alam Gillani said.

The MNA further said that on expiry of 10-day notice if the apology is not tendered and contradiction not issued, he will sue the reporter and the newspapers in a Court of law.—APP (The News)

Monday, 22 September 2008

Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Mir - Read this editorial in your own paper, Daily News.

Pakistan’s 9/11
Monday, September 22, 2008

The Marriottt in Islamabad is no more. This is a reality that many are still finding it hard to come to terms with. The hotel, where wedding guests assembled, where friends chatted, where journalists covering key events gathered, where business deals were struck and from where tourists ventured out to explore Pakistan has been converted into a charred ruin. The last ‘Iftaris’ taking place at it turned into a dark nightmare as a suicide bomber rammed a truck loaded with explosives into its entrance. At least 60 people have died; more than 300 injured. The precise toll is still impossible to determine with bodies still being pulled out from rooms engulfed by an inferno unleashed by the blast.

Even in a nation that has become resilient to shock and accustomed to terrorist violence, the attack has created horror. It is being described as the worst suicide bombing yet to take place in the country - Pakistan’s very own 9/11. The bomber is believed to have used 1000 kilograms of high-quality explosives in the attack. There can be no doubt about his intentions. The act has proven too that terrorism is an evil that Pakistan must fight. It is not a war that involves the US, or other powers. It directly affects each and every one of us; we must therefore fight it. The people who died are almost all Pakistanis. Most among them are poor security guards, drivers, waiters, hotel staff - caught as the explosion ripped through the building. Those who killed them are too Pakistanis. They are not aliens, not outsiders. It is our flawed policies that have allowed them to grow and to develop the maddened mindsets of hatred that spurs their actions. It is senseless to point fingers elsewhere. We must wake up to the fact that these people come from amongst us; they target venues within the country and they kill their own countrymen.

It is time we accepted this war is our own. There must be no ambiguity about this. The Marriott, for many, was the face of Islamabad. Its destruction is a reminder of the scale of the threat we face. No one in the country is safe, no place secure.

The opinions we still hear everywhere, in roadside cafes, in offices - and among the country’s establishment - that the militants who have entrenched themselves in northern areas are ‘good’ people, that force should not be used against them - is one reason why we today face such high levels of peril. Pakistan is now rated as the most dangerous place in the world. All those who have seen the charred graveyard of vehicles, of trees torn apart, of ash covering green belts, of people writhing in hospital beds, will not disagree with this assessment. Yet the fact that so many still believe the forces capable of the mayhem we saw in Islamabad on Saturday deserve some kind of protection, that they deserve to be regarded as men of honour with whom dialogue is possible, explains why they have so far proved invincible. Such thinking needs to change. There must be a consensus across society about the need to act with unity and determination to save what still remains of our wounded country. We must try to breathe life back into it. As inevitably happens after any major incident, rumours, theories, conjecture about why the Marriott was targeted will continue to circulate. There has been vague talk of US nationals being present, of equipment being moved in. This is irrelevant. It is senseless to attempt to decipher the motives driving killers to acts of evil. What is important is to find a way to vanquish them. The President, in the immediate aftermath of the blast, has spoken of the need to turn sorrow into strength, to face the situation with courage. The words express the right sentiments. What is crucial is to find the means to act on them and to ensure that everyone in circles of decision-making is working towards the same goal. The civilian and military government must ensure cooperation and combined planning towards this end.

There are now several key challenges ahead. They go beyond the question of immediate arrests or an investigation of the blast itself.

These are of course important, but we need to look further and draw up a plan of action that in time will help us build a country where people are safe and where the terror that lurks everywhere in Islamabad and indeed other cities does not forever haunt us. How can this be done? Indeed can it now be achieved at all? These are questions we must face up to. Too much time has already been lost. The actions being contemplated today should have come years, perhaps, decades sooner. After all, suicide bombings were, even five years ago, almost unknown in the country. We must ask ourselves how we so rapidly descended in the abyss of violence we face today. In 2003, 189 people in the country died in terrorist related incidents. In 2007 this figure stood at over 3,500. In 2002, 20 died in two suicide attacks.

For 2008 the figure already stands at over 300. Who knows what the toll will be by the time the year reaches its bloody end. An understanding of how this happened, and why it was allowed to happen, is crucial to developing a strategy to deal with the ghastly realty we face.

But there are ways to try and overcome terror, provided there is will, and commitment and a shared vision. The measures that are required include an improvement in security and the training of personnel at checkposts. In Iraq, such an enhancement in their skills has helped bring down the number of bombings and the number of deaths. But far more is needed than mere security. The fact is that today, thousands of persons recruited through the years for ‘jihad’ by militant outfits - with or without official patronage - roam in our cities, our towns, our tribal areas. In most cases their only skills involve the use of guns, grenades and bombs. A means has to be found to rehabilitate these people and prevent them from leading still others down the staircase that leads to violence. In times of high unemployment and high desperation such recruitment is taking place rapidly. We must also act decisively against key militants, their outfits and their seminaries. Many in northern areas are able to identify seminaries where killers are trained. Such institutions exist too in our cities.

They must be closed down. The immediate task for the government is to build the consensus required to go about this. There is no time to lose, no time to waste. The still smouldering remains of the Marriott are a reminder of the need for urgent action. If we fail now, there will yet be worse to come in the days ahead.