Editor's Choice

Featured Post

"Let us build Pakistan" has moved.
30 November 2009

All archives and posts have been transferred to the new location, which is: http://criticalppp.com

We encourage you to visit our new site. Please don't leave your comments here because this site is obsolete. You may also like to update your RSS feeds or Google Friend Connect (Follow the Blog) to the new location. Thank you.


Friday, 31 October 2008

Suspected Indian Army Personnel's involvement in Malegaon blasts - ISI versus RAW and sectarianism in India and Pakistan

Indeed, it is not just ISI (or 'was not' just ISI) that has (had) connections with organizations which are (were?) involved in terrorist/sectarian activities in and outside Pakistan. Indian Army too does not seem to be not much different.

BJP = Jamaat-e-Islami, MMA, (and other right wing parties in Pakistan)

Vishwa Hindu Preshad = All sectarian and jihadi organizations in Pakistan particularly those sponsored by ISI (e.g. Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad etc)


There are however three key differences.

1. Unlike Mullah-Military Alliance in Pakistan, there is no VHP military alliance in India.

2. Their police is authorized to arrest a serving colonel.

3. India is far behind Pakistan in terms of the operation and effectiveness of disinformation cells which spring into action against every democratic government in Pakistan notwithstanding party affiliations, convincing many people that Musharraf and Zia were much better than Sharifs and Bhuttos.

Suspected involvement in Malegaon blasts: Indian Army says police can quiz its officials

By Iftikhar Gilani (Daily Times)

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army said on Thursday it was extending full co-operation to police to question its serving officials found in league with recently arrested Hindu terrorists involved in the bomb blasts in Muslim localities and mosques. “‘In the course of investigations by the Maharashtra police in the Malegaon bombing, some inputs of possible linkages of a serving army officer with other suspects have come to light. Accordingly, the police have, at this stage, sought to interact with the officer concerned and seek clarifications from him so as to proceed with further investigations,” said a statement issued by the Army Headquarters.

Sources said the army had already “moved” the suspected serving officer, Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, to Mumbai so that he could be questioned by the police in connection with the blasts on September 29. The Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of the Mumbai police suspects Purohit was associated with Major (r) Ramesh Upadhye, who is also under arrest in connection with the blasts. The ATS claims it has evidence of Purohit and Upadhye’s telephone conversations. It suspects Purohit was also in contact with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a Hindu woman ascetic, who is under arrest in connection with the blasts.

Purohit and Thakur allegedly met at the Bhonsle Military School in Nashik on September 16. The army, in a press statement, said it would provide all assistance to the investigating agencies to probe suspects as and when required. “While no formal application has been received from the police authorities, the army headquarters have decided to extend full co-operation and facilitate interaction of the officer with the concerned investigating officials of the police. The officer has been moved to Mumbai to facilitate interaction at a mutually convenient date,”’ said the statement. Sources, however, said the army gave permission to quiz the officer with the stipulation that he would be interrogated in the presence of another army officer. It is learnt that the officer could be discharged from the army if his involvement in the crime is preliminarily proved and may be tried by a civilian court.


Also, read BBC Urdu dot com article:


How rich are our parliamentarians, across the boad? A 2007 assessment of the richest Senators....

Senate excels NA with two richest parliamentarians
Saturday, March 03, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The wealthiest of all members of the parliament, including those sitting in the Lower House, belong to the Senate. Senator Muhammad A. Swati and Senator Ishaq Dar have emerged as the two richest MPs in the country's parliament today.

While many known billionaires sitting in the two houses of the parliament are giving us to believe they are penniless, Swati has acknowledged having assets worth more than a billion rupees. He is the only declared billionaire in the parliament. PML-N's chartered accountant Ishaq Dar is second in the run with over Rs820 million declared assets.

The leader of the house in the Senate -- Senator Wasim Sajjad -- has tripled his assets as compared to his previous return. Sajjad is now a 100-million-rupee man. However, the leader of the opposition in the Senate did not show much of a difference in his assets as compared to 2005.

The two houses belonging to the spouse of Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani that were valued in 2005 at just Rs6.4 million are assessed by him at Rs50 million in his 2006 return.

Amongst the Sardars, Khosas, Chaudhrys and Khans, Senator Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa is amongst the declared richest ones as he showed more than Rs160 million worth of assets. Humayun Akhtar's younger brother Haroon Khan has shown over Rs475 million worth assets, which are 15 times more than what the big brother has declared as an MNA.

Amongst women senators, Mrs Rehana Yahya Baloch tops the list with declared assets worth Rs312 million. Mrs Semeen Siddiqui follows Baloch with her declared assets worth around Rs190 million.

The newcomer in the Senate, Shujaul Mulk declared assets worth Rs200 million, whereas the rising star of Saifullahs -- Salim Saifullah -- declared assets valued around Rs104 million, including Rs15,000 worth mobile sets. Saifullahs are partners in the Mobilink.

Details of the assets as declared by the aforementioned senators are given below:

-- Muhammad Azam Khan Swati: Declared Rs25m Abbottabad house; Rs0.45m another Abbottabad house; 10 plots worth Rs12m in Bahria Town; Rs13 million of worth 8 plots in Top City; Rs11m four plots; total current assets US$4.8m including personal banks accounts, note receivable etc; US$15m worth fixed assets including real estate, 46% equity in Swati Enterprises and 100% equity in Swati Investment co.; other assets worth US$0.59m include household furniture, jewellery etc. His liabilities are US$5.2m. Worth of Swati's total assets comes to US$20.5m (about Rs1.2 billion).

-- Muhammad Ishaq Dar: Declared assets include house in Gulberg Lahore having present value around Rs25 m; two Islamabad plots Rs1.2m; two apartments in UAE worth UAE Dirham4.7m; Sterling Pounds5.6 m and $2500 invested abroad; Rs4m and Rs0.8m shares; Rs7m deposits; Rs5m worth Land Cruiser, Rs1.1m Corolla and UAE Dirham0.58m worth vehicle called Bentley Arnage; jewellery worth Rs225,000 and Dirham26,455; cash and bank balance include Dirham0.6m and Rs4m; FFA worth Rs250,000; and arms worth Rs23,825. Wife's assets included.

-- Wasim Sajjad: Total assets declared include Rs5m plot in Jhika Gali, Murree; share in Rs20m Lahore house; share in another Lahore house Rs1.6m; Rs30m share in the construction cost of farm house in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad; 1.4 kanal plot Abbottabad Rs1m, share in 2.3 kanal plot in Nathiagali Rs3m; House in F-7/4 Islamabad Rs15 m; another plot in Islamabad Rs1m; Rs3m paid as advance for 2 kanal plot in Lahore; Rs1.1m paid as advance for two plots; Rs3.4m investment in shares; almost Rs12m in banks/cash; Rs1m library, furniture, fixtures (FFA) etc; Rs2.7m prize bonds; and Rs1.3m worth car. Sajjad assets grew from 2004's Rs20.9m, 2005's Rs35.3m to the present Rs100m.

-- Mian Raza Rabbani: Present value of his assets include Karachi property worth Rs5.5m; and Lahore property worth Rs5m; two cars worth Rs1m and Rs0.87m; jewellery Rs1.4m; cash Rs0.96m and bank cash Rs1.2m; and FFA worth Rs0.5m.

-- Muhammad Ali Durrani: Two houses (in wife's name) in Lahore worth Rs40m; agriculture land at Ahmadpur Rs2.8m; agriculture land at Lahore Rs4m; three plots worth Rs4m; Rs432,760 capital investment; Rs25,000 paper mills and Rs505000 investment in Infinity Engineering; Rs1m defence saving certificates; three cars worth Rs2m; jewellery worth Rs0.56m; Rs1m prize bonds; and FFA Rs85,000. Unsecured loan Rs2.9m.

-- Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa: Present value of Lahore house Rs20m; Khosa Chamber Lahore Rs5m; house Lahore II Rs6m; commercial building Lahore Rs6m; 3 kanal Lahore plot Rs6m; Lahore house III worth Rs20m; Multan house/residence Rs3m; Flour mill Multan Rs50m; Multan plot Rs20m; share of DG Khan house Rs1m; DG Khan agriculture land Rs1m; DG Khan plots worth Rs3m; Rawalpindi flat Rs1.2m; agriculture land in Kasur Rs3m; share of house in DG Khan Rs0.5m; Rs0.35m advance for Islamabad society plot; three vehicles, one worth Rs1.3m, one valuing Rs1m and another Rs0.7m; Rs5m jewellery; Rs1m cash; Rs1m in banks. FFA 5m. Wife and scions assets included but explained that all of them have independent source of income.

-- Haroon Khan: Decaled assets include plots worth Rs33.8m; 1/4 share in house Rs25.5m; agricultural equipments Rs2.5m; stocks and shares Rs177m; unsecured loans Rs231.8m; jewellery worth Rs0.2m; Rs4.8m cash and Rs0.8m in bank; and Rs0.7m worth FFA.

-- Shujaul Mulk: Declared 34 shops in Mingora worth Rs34m; Mingora Cinema Rs2m; share in Mingora market Rs3.5m; 40% share in flour mill Rs0.6m; plot in Kalam Rs0.6m; 1/4 share in six residential houses at Mingora Rs1.8m; Saidu Sharif house Rs9.5m; share in agri-land Rs68m; business capital Rs17m; bank deposits worth Rs51m; remitted amount Sterling Pounds50,000; shares Rs3.2m; saving certificates Rs0.6m; two cars worth Rs2m; jewellery Rs1.7m; Rs95,000 cash and Rs0.5m FFA.

-- Salim Saifullah Khan: Declared Rs69.8m of family's property; Rs20m shares etc; Rs0.5m saving certificates; Rs8m unsecured loans; Rs0.9m jeep; 30 tola gold; Rs1.9m cash in hand; Rs0.5m in banks; Rs1.7m FFA and Rs15,000 worth mobile sets. Saifullah's debts stand at Rs211,290.

-- Mrs Rehana Yahya Baloch: Declared assets include Rs150m Quetta house; Rs150m Karachi flat; Rs8m Kalat farm house and Rs4m Kalat agriculture land. The ECP notification does not show the richest lady Senator having declared a car, jewellery, cash or bank balance.

-- Mrs Sameen Siddiqui: Declared Rs27.5m Karachi house; Rs40m another Karachi house; Rs80m agriculture land in Karachi; Rs40m Karachi plot; 162 acres of leased land in Karachi and Thatta; Rs0.25m shares; three old model Mercedes cars worth Rs0.7m; jewellery worth Rs0.9m; Rs150,000 cash and Rs1m in banks; and Rs250,000 worth FFA.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/print3.asp?id=6260 (The News)

Fighting terror in South Asia - By Kuldip Nayar

“THERE is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,” Julius Caesar tells him. Pakistan could have told India the same thing at the meeting of the joint anti-terror mechanism: recent bomb blasts at Malegaon and Modasa were not the doing of ‘Muslims from across the border’.

Nor did the Pakistani delegation point out that India had its own Hindu terrorists, led by a woman and trained by some ex-army men belonging to an old Sainik school. The meeting, fourth in the series, was ‘positive’, although quiet.

The earlier ones generally ended up with New Delhi demanding the custody of criminals who had taken shelter in Pakistan and Islamabad asking for more evidence. New Delhi has given ‘more evidence’ of the ‘involvement of the ISI’ in the attack on India’s embassy in Kabul. Yet, the purpose was not to put Pakistan on the mat because it was conceded at that very meeting that there could have been ‘some other elements’ involved in the incident. The matter was left at that pleasant note. It was a new beginning of sorts.

On the day the representatives of India and Pakistan met in Delhi the prime ministers of the two countries discussed terrorism in Beijing. Both reiterated that they were committed to work together to clamp down on terrorist forces. “Terror is a common enemy of both India and Pakistan,” said Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani concurred with him. The equation between the two holds promise for the future.

What creates doubts is that a similar exercise was done more than a year ago. But that wasn’t translated into a joint anti-terror mechanism. The Musharraf-led army dragged its feet. However, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has put terrorism at the top of his agenda. This may mean the end of infiltrators into India. But if the policy has changed the reasons are not difficult to comprehend.

One, the terrorists have become a menace to Pakistan itself. But the most important development is the change in the attitude of the rulers. President Asif Ali Zardari is at the helm of affairs. His approach to Pakistan’s problems with India is different from that of the earlier regimes. He wants to befriend India.

I saw this happening from close quarters when I heard the national security advisers of the two countries. At a small dinner given by the Pakistan high commissioner in Delhi, they said certain things which were unbelievable. India’s National Security Adviser M.K. Nayaranan admitted that he was a hawk but had come around to believe what Manmohan Singh told him: “India and Pakistan were destined to be together.” I do not know what transpired between the two during official meetings but Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani told me that the talks were more successful than he ever expected.

It looks as if the clouds of hostility that loomed over India and Pakistan are thinning. Both Manmohan Singh and Zardari reached some understanding on how to fight terrorism in the two countries when they met at New York. Both Narayanan and Durrani were asked to prepare the ground which they did at Delhi. The joint mechanism will be built on it in the days to come. It is obvious that the different agencies operating in the two countries will have to fall in line, stopping what they are doing within and without. In the next few days, the Pakistani training camps which are a sore point with India may be dismantled.

All these measures are laudable. But they are only the means, not the end by themselves. The end is to normalise relations between the two countries. This is not possible until both curb radicals, Hindus and Muslims, in their own territory and stop efforts at mixing religion with politics.

India, a secular polity, is under pressure. Hindutva is gaining ground. Despite their anti-national activities, New Delhi is reluctant to take action against the Sangh Parivar which has spread all over, opening Hindu Jagran Manch offices in every state. The members recruited are getting training and weapons. With its eyes on the forthcoming assembly elections and later to the Lok Sabha, the Congress is found too timid, too faltering.

It is already a bit too late because the politics of hate is spreading as has been seen in Bihar and Maharashtra where the lumpen are fighting on the streets. Hindu terrorists want an ethnic purity in the areas where they live. A new avatar of the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray, has created his counterparts in Bihar. One of their leaders came to Mumbai this week and killed four persons while looking for Raj Thackeray to wreak vengeance.

This trend is reminiscent of MQM’s violence in Karachi and it is tearing apart the society in both countries and creating fear in the minds of ordinary people. How will the joint mechanism check those who have communalised terrorism in India and politicised it in Pakistan? Both are contaminating the liberal and democratic atmosphere as the Tamil extremists (the LTTE) are doing in Sri Lanka and the Harkatul Jihad-i-Islami (HJI) in Bangladesh.

The entire South Asia requires a common mechanism to fight against the growth of disruptive tendencies. India had kept them in check with some courage and determination. But lately it looks as if politics has taken over because of the impending elections. India cannot fail South Asia when liberal, democratic values are beginning to matter in the region.

For that reason, Islamabad cannot afford to talk to the Taliban in the NWFP and Fata. This would look like buying peace. It makes no sense to New Delhi if the Taliban are won over for the time being. They will resume pushing their archaic thinking after having consolidated themselves.

It is a pity that Nawaz Sharif, who is all for a strong viable Pakistan, favours a settlement with the Taliban. He should have drawn a lesson from what has happened to Asfandyar Wali Khan. Wali, along with his family, has taken refuge in London because the Taliban tried to kill him and threatened to eliminate the entire family. They are against any liberal thought. Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League should stand by the Pakistan People’s Party to eliminate the Taliban who have a dream to rule both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The region’s dream is different.

The writer is a leading journalist based in Delhi

Shame on you Zardari, Shame on you Shahbaz Sharif, Time to say "NO" to opportunists i.e., "Lotas"

Fatiana, Hiraj, Kashmala lining up for ministries

ISLAMABAD: Riaz Fatiyana, Ahmed Yar Hiraj and Kashmala Tariq – members of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) – are likely to be inducted in the federal cabinet as ministers, a source privy to the developments told Daily Times. President Asif Zardari invited members of a PML-Q dissident group to dinner on Thursday. An Aaj TV report said he told them he believed in political consensus and would respond to whoever contacted him in national interest. But Zardari denied he had created a ‘forward bloc’ in any party. Zardari did not announce the decision, but Aaj TV quoted him as saying that the federal cabinet ‘will be finalised soon’. “Members of the PML-Q forward bloc may get cabinet slots and the names of Riaz Fatiana and Ahmed Yar Hiraj are on top of the list,” the source said. He said the participants of the meeting discussed the political and economic situation in Pakistan and Zardari asked them for support. Fatiana, Kashmala, Sumaira Malik, Zubaida Jalal, Hamdan Bugti and Aslam Bodla were among the participants, according to various reports. The PML-Q forward bloc needs the support of 27 members to bring an in-house change. Dissidents have made unsubstantiated claims of support from 30 members. staff report (Daily Times)

Bhutto Haters must learn some lessons from Maldives... Respect deomcracy...Asadullah Ghalib


Pakistan-Iran relations: It is time to reconcile and develop a new strategic relationship.... By Nazir Naji



Thursday, 30 October 2008

Imran Khan's favorite friends Taliban cum Sipah-e-Sahaba kill three Shia Muslims in D.I.Khan

Unknown motorcyclists kill 3 in DI Khan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Three persons were killed due to firing by unknown motorcyclists in front of Mufti Mehmood Hospital, Dera Ismail Khan.

According to details two motorcyclists killed three persons named Qalab Hussain, Munir Hussain and Rizwan Haider and managed to escape while police has started searching of them in the city and its suburbs. Till the last information police has found no clue about the killers.

It is pertinent to mention that all three persons who were killed belonged to Shia sect.

Read detailed news on BBC Urdu dot com:



Being secular and a Muslim - By Aneela Babar

By Aneela Babar

IF Pakistan had an annual Eid address to the nation, much like the Queen’s Christmas address, the president would not have been amiss in quoting her in referring to the past year as Pakistan’s annus horribilis.

As Pakistanis at home and overseas witnessed the bloodshed that has engulfed their country, they wondered how long will be the wait for dawn to break? In this era of globalisation some have attempted to articulate the tragedy befalling our nation this Ramazan in the very New York-words of ‘Pakistan’s 9/11’, however it is very clear that the crisis that faces our country is one unlike any other.

So, at such a difficult time in Pakistan’s history as we are battling numerous domestic and international crises, would it be a case of misplaced priorities on my part if I revisit the long-debated argument on whether it is possible to be secular, Muslim and Pakistani today?

I am confronted with the same barrage of queries every time there is an act of violence in our part of the world, “do many Pakistanis want to be fundamentalist?” Every time I fumble to explain that it is just not religion but a smorgasbord of ethnicity, history, deprivation and location that drives some to violence, so yes it still remains pertinent to return to some debates that we have long abandoned.

It is not that our leadership has abandoned these questions, in fact it is the first exercise that any Pakistani head of state undergoes to exhibit the ‘urbane face’ of Pakistan to the rest of the world. It is the sign of the times and the deterioration of the quality of our leadership that these attempts have corroded from Jinnah’s astute observation of the difference between a country for Muslims that maintained a secular spirit and an Islamic nation that was a theocracy per se. This as elaborated in his much quoted address to the Constituent Assembly when he asked of us to embrace our freedom to frequent our places of worship in the new state of Pakistan and told us how our caste, religious or ethnic affiliation was outside the purview of the state.

It is our misfortune that in more recent times our leaders have shown less imagination. So for President (then Chief Executive) Pervez Musharraf a ‘secular Muslim’ meant posing with his pet dogs. This to assure the world that unlike other military men who took to wooing the clergy to bolster their popular support, this general could afford to be a bit daring.

President Zardari might have thought he could accomplish it by conducting his charm offensive in New York. That his attempts towards being the sophisticated man about town became the stuff that enrages women everywhere and that makes late-night talk show hosts rub their hands in glee is another story.We have suffered the lack of a coherent debate on this issue because for one we have absorbed an authoritarian and one-dimensional narrow definition of Islam. For another there has been state control of any kind of dissent towards the ‘official definition’ of Pakistani Islam, whether it has been the particularly Wahhabi shades of the ’80s or the post-9/11 diktat that today we are all Sufis.

This has coincided with the religious extremists controlling any available platform to conduct such a debate. For instance, what would one mean by a secular Pakistani? This is crucial, for religious elements in Pakistan read secularism as ladeeni (having no belief system at all).

In today’s times we have to lower our expectations of the Pakistani public’s perception of secular Islam, suffice to say it would be enough if they interpret it as not approving acts of violence in the name of defending their Muslim brethren.

There are many voices, especially amongst young Muslim men that I encounter in my classroom lately, with their own common-sense perception of what being Muslim means. They are of the thought that being violent or militant comes naturally to Muslims. Hence the urgency to bring to their attention alternative spaces and definitions where one can be both a good Muslim and non-violent and identify an ethic of self- reform that makes legitimate other readings of Islam.

Amartya Sen’s work on inter-communal dialogues in the recent past has shown that “tolerance towards diversity of opinion was not alien to the South Asian region” (this is Sen, 2005 in The Argumentative Indian). Episodes where our leaders have sponsored and supported dialogues to address difficult problems of religious upheaval should be dusted off the cobwebbed library shelves and be shared with the larger public.

Even if they are the ubiquitous tales of Akbar’s “pursuit of reason” rather than “reliance on tradition” and his “visionary insistence on the need to have conversations and interchanges among holders of different convictions”. (All this as Sen impresses on us in a time when “Giordano Bruno was being burnt at the stake in Rome for heresy, in the public space of Campo dei Fiori.”)

However it was the father of our nation who impressed upon us in his much-censored and diluted address of 1947 how he believed that: “History shows that in England conditions some time ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some [s]tates in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class.

“Thank God we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens of one state.”

Words to remember and stand by in the long, difficult months ahead as we turn upon particular ethnicities within our nation accusing them of sponsoring violence, accuse a particular class and ‘liberal ideology’ for being the bane of all our woes, and emulate an ostrich head in the sand in our declaration that abandoning a particular alliance will resolve our current woes. Yes, an absence of the background noise of drones might simplify our conflict but it is not the only solution. May we be blessed with wisdom and prudence today and tomorrow. (Dawn)

Ali Ahmed Kurd, the SCBA elections, some perspectives... by Abbas Ather and other analysts

The Vote Count

In the 2007 SCBA elections, the candidate opposing Aitzaz Ashan secured only 175 votes. In the 2008 SCBA elections, the candidate opposing Ali Ahmad Kurd secured 506 votes.


Kurd secured 144 votes in Islamabad, while his rival M Zafar got 70 votes.

Overall, Kurd secured 1397 votes (66.43 percent) while Zafar got 706 votes (33.57 percent).

In Lahore, Kurd won 1,009 votes while Zafar got 506 votes.

In Peshawar, Kurd polled 62 votes while Zafar bagged 37.

Kurd got 44 votes in Quetta against 18 polled in his rival’s favour.

In Karachi, Kurd secured 138 votes, while Zafar got 75 votes according to the unofficial vote count. staff report (Daily Times)

Analysis by Abbas Ather

Also must read, what kind of reservations PPP has about Iftikhar Chaudhry?


‘Fiery’ Kurd and lawyers’ movement

The fiery lawyer from Quetta, Mr Ali Ahmad Kurd, has won the election to the office of president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the forum that has proved the credentials of the country’s apex lawyers’ organisation. His victory was convincing and reflective of the lawyers’ resolve to reject the overtures of the government and hold fast to the decision to get the deposed chief justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, back into his office by removing the incumbent chief justice who they think is in illegal occupation of the post.

The newspapers have described Mr Kurd as a “fiery” person. This he indeed is, among the group of top lawyers and retired judges who led the movement beginning 2007 when President Pervez Musharraf fired Chief Justice Mr Chaudhry. Mr Kurd’s speeches were highly emotional and flecked with the political rhetoric worthy of a movement that promised to go beyond being just a professional trade union agitation. As the movement shows signs of languishing a little, he is just the man to make the blood in its veins run more briskly. Whereas Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the outgoing president of SCBA, ended up moderating the high intensity of the movement, Mr Kurd will have the difficult task of intensifying its flagging resolve. (Daily Times)



Congratulations. Kurd is a man of honor and courage. He is a true democrat and a Human Rights believer. Nation needs people like him.

I also consider other leaders of lawyers movement to have the same qualities. People like Aitezaz, Munir Malik and Tariq Mahmood are great Pakistanies.

I honestly believe that this group of lawyers should form a new political party under the leadership of Iftikhar Ch., organize it around the country and start home work for next elections 5 years down the road. That will be a gr8 service to the nation instead of indulging useless confrontation and agitation.

Unfortunately the lawyers movement died the day they came in trap of Imran Khan and Qazi and decided to boycott the elections. Nation rejected their call. Both major parties were ready to support Kurd and Aitezaz and many other lawyer movement leaders. They decided to rock the boat of constitutional change. Now they have nothing. Iftikhat Ch. don’t get more than few hundred ppl in his rallies now. Calling the movement alive is just a wishful thinking.

Remember, Kurd won the same position that Aitezaz and Malik Qayum won before him. Not a big deal.

Judiaciary is not the name of an individual. An overwhelming majority of judges have accepted restoration. Less than 1/2 dozen left out should accept the verdict of majority. They have become over-political. Now the only place for them is politics. They should try to come back to parliament thru elections and change the laws the way they want. How can a group rejected in elections and with no voice in parliament can challenge the elected President and parliament?


Bahadar Khan:

You guys, most of you, want Imran Khan, who doesn’t have even district level party organization. Talking and speaking sober is easy unless you don’t have any responsibility. I wanted to vote for Imran Khan, but he didn’t even go for elections. Now how should I expect him in power or is he going to use 111 brigade?

Others are, PML(N) supporters. Do you seriously think, if Nawaz Sharif would have been PM or president, he would have done otherwise what Zardari group is doing now?

And then there are those who are digrunted because of betrayel to lawyers movement. Guys, 90% of ‘Good” judges have already taken oath. This is what politics is all about. PML(N) wanted to take credit for judges restoration so that they could call early elections and clinch more votes. At the same time PPP also wanted to manipulate that issue, which they have partly resolved without taking or giving anybody any political mileage.

Indeed “Missing Persons Cases” are a human tragedy. If they have done something wrong they should be presented in the court of the law.

However, do you seriously think, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is the reason for all the good? Certainly he is a courageous person but shouldn’t we build courageous and independent institutions? My well wishes are with Justice Chaudhry, but please do admit that he is an individual, a human being. And humans can be decapicitated because of many reasons. I think when institutions get stronger, we’ll not even have the cases like ‘Missing Persons Cases’ in the first place.


As I said earlier IMC is a courageous judge.

When system is rickety you cannot fix it by hard blow. You start a slow process. CJ, went far ahead and created enemies on the both sides of the establishment.

And we should certainly agree that judiciary and executive are two different branches of government and certainly has their own mendate. When one branch tresspasses the other, the friction gets started. Although CJ done commendable job against Musharraf but when his restoration campaign became pliticize then this was bound to happen. One party PML (N) got votes and other PPP sloganized their campaign. But this is how politics is, you don’t want somebody to become hero, so that he might get after you.

PPP is certainly scared of his (CJ ) popularity and popularity is the Achile’s heel for CJ.

But CJ has done his job, he will always be a legend. But I am sorry to say, this is all he would be able to get.

The last thing I can do is to talk against Imran Khan. He is the only rose in the desert. But what I mentioned about him is true as well. I beleive in democracy and I, as a voter, cannot help Khan Sahib, until he doesn’t contest election and organise his party.

I am not an advocate for Zardari or PPP. But I am afraid all of us are hapnatized by the propeganda launched against PPP. We like it or not PPP is a fact.

The character assassination campaign against politicians is never good. This helps undemocratic forces. Zaradari always takes comemrcial flights for his foreign trips but nobody would mention that. I have never ever seen in the Pakistani history that I know of, where somebody has actually circulated a photocopy of the guest book at Quaid-e-Azam’s masoleum for anyone else except Zardari.

Pakistan’s annual budget is something like this:
50% Debt Services
32% Defence
18% for poor public.

I have never seen anybody gave any example of people squandering 32% of the federal budget, do you know how many 10 percents would be there? Nobody talks about them.

Zardari, of his wedded life of 20 years, spent 12 years in prison. Even if he did some corruption that almost amounts to life imprisonment senetence and I think he has been brought to justice already.

I only like one thing about Zardari, he came to president house through pariament votes and not on the army tanks.

Rehamn Malik is not elected but Sherry Rahman is an MNA from Karachi, for the sake of record.


Well done General Kayani, Shame on you RAW Totay (anti-Army and pro-Taliban parrots of media and politics)

(Asadullah Ghalib)

Balochistan quake death toll rises to 236

Updated at: 1100 PST, Thursday, October 30, 2008

QUETTA: The death toll in an earthquake hit Ziarat division of Balochistan has risen to 236 whereas 391 people were injured. The toll is expected to climb further

Balochistan police sources said that Ziarat, Khawas, Varshoom are the worst affected areas where more than 300 houses have been destroyed completely and recovery of bodies and injured from the rubble is still underway.

Meanwhile, series of aftershocks continue in Ziarat. Metrological office predicted cloudy weather in quake-hit areas of Balochistan.

DG Met office Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry said rains are not expected in these areas, however, cold will be increased.

He told Geo News that last night temperature was ranged between –1 to –4 C. About aftershocks, DG said so far 44 aftershocks have been recorded and it still continues. (The News)

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim: A great example of inter-faith harmony

King David, in Birmingham, is a state primary where the children learn Hebrew, recite Jewish prayers, eat kosher food and wave Israeli flags. So how come the majority of pupils are followers of Islam? Jonathan Margolis investigates

Thursday, 1 February 2007

It's infant prize day at King David School, a state primary in Moseley, Birmingham. The children sit cross-legged on the floor, their parents fiddling with their video cameras. The head, Steve Langford, is wearing a Sesame Street tie.

A typical end-of-term school event, then. But at King David there's a twist that gives it a claim to be one of the most extraordinary schools in the country: King David is a strictly Jewish school. Judaism is the only religion taught. There's a synagogue on site. The children learn modern Hebrew - Ivrit - the language of Israel. And they celebrate Israeli independence day.

But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school's catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the people some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world.

The Muslim parents, mostly devout and many of the women wearing the hijab, say they love the ethos of the school, and even the kosher school lunches, which are suitable because halal and kosher dietary rules are virtually identical. The school is also respectful to Islam, setting aside a prayer room for the children and supplying Muslim teachers during Ramadan. At Eid, the Muslim children are wished Eid Mubarak in assembly, and all year round, if they wish, can wear a kufi (hat). Amazingly, dozens of the Muslim children choose instead to wear the Jewish kipah.

At the prize morning Carol Cooper, the RE teacher, says: "Boker tov," (Ivrit for "Good morning").

"Good morning Mrs Cooper," the children chant in reply. The entire school, Muslims, Jews, plus the handful of Christians and Sikhs then say the Shema, the holiest Jewish prayer, all together.

The Year Four violin club (five Muslims, two Jews) play "Little Bird, I Have Heard". Just as many prizes are being distributed to Hussains and Hassans and Shabinas as there are to Sauls and Rebeccas and Ruths. In fact, if anything, the Muslim children have beaten the Jewish ones. Thus does the Elsie Davis Prize for Progress go to a beaming little lad called Walid, the religious studies prize to a boy called Imran wearing a kipah and the progress prizes for Hebrew, to a boy called Habib and a girl called Alia.

Times being as they are, King David doesn't advertise its presence in a city where its pioneering multiculturalism could raise all kinds of unwelcome attention. There's a discreet signboard outside that reveals little about the school's unique nature. There are watchful video cameras high up on the walls, plus two electronic gates to pass through. Sadly, it is, to a significant extent, says Laurence Sharman, the (Christian) chairman of the PTA, "an undercover school".

The Muslim parents, however, are only too keen to talk in the playground about what might be seen by some in their communities as a controversial schooling decision.

"We actually bought a flat in the catchment area for the children to come here," says Nahid Shafiq, the mother of Zainah, four, and Hamza, nine, and wife of Mohammed, a taxi driver. "We were attracted by the high moral values of the school, and that's what we wanted our kids to have. None of us has any problem with it being a Jewish school. Why on earth should we? Our similarities as religions and cultures are far greater and more important than our differences. It's not even an issue.

"At the mosque, occasionally, people ask why we send the children here, but there is no antagonism whatsoever, and neither is there from anyone in our family. In fact, it was a big family decision to try and get them into King David. This is the real world. This is the way real people do things in the real world. All the violence and prejudice and problems - that's not real, that's just what you see on the news."

Fawzia Ismail (the mother of Aly-Raza, nine, and Aliah, six) is equally positive. "My nephew came here and my brother showed me the school, so it's a bit of a family tradition now. We're very, very pleased with the school. It's so friendly. All the kids mix and go to one another's parties and are in and out of each other's houses. They teach a bit about Israel, but we don't have any problem with that. There are such similarities between our people and our societies."

Irum Rashid (mother of Hanan, nine, and Maryam, four) says that a lot of people in Small Heath are considering moving to Moseley because of King David. "It's a very happy school, the behaviour is fantastic, the food is great - because it's kosher - and so are the SATs results."

But what about learning Hebrew and the Jewish prayers? "I think it's great. The more knowledge, the more understanding," says one of the mothers. "They learn all they need about Islam at mosque school. Actually, the kids often sing Hebrew songs in the bath, which is a bit confusing because we speak Gujarati at home, but I think it's great."

The Jewish parents and teachers I speak to are just as enthusiastic. "You know, in these difficult times in the world, I think we show how things should be done. It's really a bit of a beacon," says one teacher, whose three children all went to King David and ended up at Oxford University.

Parent Trevor Aremband is from South Africa. "In Johannesburg, we have Jewish schools, but they're 100 per cent Jewish, so we were a bit shocked when we first came here. But the integration works so well. It's clearly the way to go in today's world. My son is eight and has loads of Muslim friends."

The most important thing, I am told repeatedly, is that the cross-cultural friendships forged at King David last a lifetime. I hear a conversation about how a Rebecca is going to fly over from the States for a Fatima's wedding. I am told about a pair of lads, one Jewish, one Muslim, who became friends the day they started in the nursery, went to senior school together as well as to university and are now living close to one another with their wives and families and are currently on holiday together.

King David was not designed to be such a beacon of inter-faith cooperation and friendship. Founded in 1865 as The Hebrew School, it was 100 per cent Jewish until the late 1950s.

Then two things began to happen: there was a growth in the Muslim population in middle-income areas such as Moseley, and a shrinking of Britain's Jewish community, especially outside the main centres of London and Manchester. Muslim children started coming to the school in the early 1960s, but the current position, in which they are in the majority (Jewish children comprise 35 per cent, Muslims 50 per cent, Christians, Sikhs and other, 15 per cent) is very new.

"One of the things that surprises people about this school," says Langford, "is that it's not an especially privileged intake. Half of our kids have English as an additional language. But the amazing thing is how well it all works. We have a new little boy here from China, whose only English a few weeks ago was to ask for the toilet. He now speaks English - and can say the Shema perfectly.

"If you gauge success, for instance, by racial incidents, which schools always have to report to the LEA, we have at the most one a term. And that can just mean some harsh words with a racial slant used in the playground. At multicultural inner city schools where I've taught, there will be far, far more than that, possibly one or more a week."

In terms of SATs and Ofsted inspections, King David has also shone. It is rated as good - the second highest possible ranking - in all areas, and Ofsted made a special mention at the last inspection of the integration between children of different faiths and races. In the recent SATs results, the school also came in well above the national average in all subjects.

Steve Langford, a Warwick University economics graduate, is himself a bit of a paradox. He is Church of England on both parental sides and only became interested in Judaism when he worked in a Jewish summer camp in Massachusetts in his gap year. His interest paid off when he got a teaching job a King David. Now he is learning Ivrit at evening classes and goes to Israel for holidays.

The Rabbi of Birmingham's Singers Hill Synagogue, one of the financial backers of King David, is proud of Steve Langford and of the school's extraordinary interfaith record.

"King David School is amazing," says Rabbi Tann. "The reason I think it works well is that racism is engendered entirely by adults. Children don't have it within themselves. Their natural mode is to play happily with everyone. It's only when adults say, 'Don't play with him, he's black, or don't have anything to do with him, he's Muslim, that troubles begin.'

"We never have any racial or inter-faith problems at all. Not ever. In 20 years here, it's simply never happened in any significant way. We teach that if you don't like someone, you avoid them. Don't play with them. Go to the other side of the playground. I believe that if more people followed the lead of King David School, we'd have a much more peaceful world." (The Independent)

FCR in Pakistan's Tribal Areas

What to do with FCR?

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had declared last April that he would like to abolish the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) in the Tribal Areas because it was “a barbaric colonial-era law that had ruled the tribal areas through the threat of collective punishment”. But Maulana Fazlur Rehman, whose party (JUIF) had joined Mr Gilani’s coalition, didn’t want the FCR abolished. In fact, there was such a variety of views on the subject that one did not hear of the planned ‘reform’ again after it was given over to a committee.

Surveys didn’t help either. A poll found that 39 percent of tribesmen wanted the FCR to be amended and 31 percent wanted it abolished. And old civil servants, who had served in the Tribal Areas, have been recommending a return to the system of the Political Agent, the linchpin of the FCR which doled out collective punishments that violate the fundamental principle of precise designation of the criminal. This view is gaining strength after the perceived failure of the military operations in the Tribal Areas against the terrorists.

A former ambassador and former consul at Afghanistan’s northern province of Mazar-e-Sharif has recommended a return to the old system in an article published recently. He says: “The deployment of the army in FATA has already weakened the established system of governance (the Political Agents). Despite the fact that many of us have strong reservations about the system, such as the powers of the Political Agent, it was in use for a long time and people are somehow used to it. It should be restored and given full support to ensure implementation of the new policy”.

We disagree. We believe that circumstances no longer allow for the revival of a system whose weaknesses were apparent for a long time. Territories administered with weak institutions are vulnerable to trespass and occupation. And the “non-success” of the military operations does not recommend a roll-back and a worsening of the disorder that had brought the army into the areas in the first place. Reading the political signs in Islamabad, one comes to the conclusion that parties which want to retain the FCR want to “Islamise” it, weaken the powers of the Political Agent and make punishments subject to appeal at a higher court.

Will that work? We suppose that the “rough justice” of the Political Agent is what is causing nostalgia about the old system. But the pro-FCR lobbies want this justice under sharia, presided over by ulema as a tandem authority. And if appeal is to lie over and above the authority of the Political Agent and his tribal jirga, where is that court to be located? And if it has to be established in Peshawar, then why should not the state of Pakistan amalgamate the Tribal Areas in the normally administered judiciary under the Federal Shariat Court?

The Tribal Areas have stopped being amenable to the system of the FCR established by British Raj in 1901. This started happening over 30 years ago when Pakistan’s national security establishment began using the Tribal Areas as the frontline territory for jihad and allowed the borders abutting on them to be punctured again and again till there was radical change in the indigenous economic and political forces there. The elements with the help of whom the Political Agent used to administer were superseded by new power centres. This state of affairs was quickly overtaken by “loss of territory” and those who controlled it used beheadings to get rid of the remnants of the old system.

Even the British had thought of changing the FCR. In 1919, 1920 and 1935, committees were formed for the purpose of reviewing it but consensus was not achieved. The condition of semi-lawlessness suited the Raj. But does it suit Pakistan? Today, one can hardly talk of law. The crisis is that of retrieving a territory being controlled by elements which’ve declared their own law there and are calling the area their “emirate”. The law can only come after the state of Pakistan has retrieved what belongs to it in the first place. No “interim” peace agreement that allows outsiders to rule the Tribal Areas in the name of sharia or anything else that stands outside the Pakistan system should be acceptable.

The erstwhile religious alliance of the MMA wanted to exit from the judicial system of Pakistan and enforce its inquisition-like “Hasba” laws but failed because the Supreme Court found them unconstitutional. A hot-house of sharia in the Tribal Areas with hand-cutting and “rijm” as its instruments of correction will destabilise the judicial system in the rest of Pakistan. Today we have 12 representatives of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) sitting in the parliament while the parliament doesn’t have the power to legislate for FATA. Why not move towards consolidation instead of a split system? (Daily Times)

American Muslims and Obama

According to an American survey, about 90 percent of American Muslims are expected to vote for Barack Obama on November 4. But strangely the Muslim organisation that carried out this survey doesn’t want the fact publicised widely because “it might hurt rather than help Mr Obama’s bid for the White House”. This is because a part of America thinks that Mr Obama is a Muslim — which he is not — and may favour policies that might make America vulnerable to Muslim terrorism. But a majority of the population clearly wants a changeover from the “neo-con” model of governance that has hurt the national economy. Even the Republicans want to make this change. But fear of terrorism reigns in the American mind and that might hurt Mr Obama.

The American Muslims have adopted the right stance. According to Mr Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Taskforce on Universal Rights and Elections, “Our goal is to maximise Muslim voter turnout, support candidates who support civil liberties, world peace, universal healthcare, better education, a fair immigration policy and social justice”. That is how most Americans think and that is not specific to Muslims. There are old policies to revamp and new ones to adopt and Mr Obama promises to do that for the American nation. Those who think that he would sacrifice any American interests at the global level are completely mistaken. (Daily Times)

Haroon-ur-Rashid, the undeclared propaganda secretary of Imran Khan.... Shame on you and your leader....

In his love with Imran Khan, Haroon-ur-Rashid has become blind. He is counting the number of flags of JUI and PPP. What does he think about the number of Imran Khan's PTI flags in the so called movement for the restoration of judiciary.

He compares this 'storm-in-a-tea-cup' movement by only two parties, Imran Khan' PTI and Qazi Hussain Ahmed's Jamaat-e-Islami, with the Pakistan movement led by Jinnah and Iqbal. He thinks that Qazi is Iqbal and Imran is Jinnah? These two shameless leaders have been continuously and persistently rejected by the people of Pakistan in various elections. Shame on you Haroon-ur-Rashid for distorting the facts.


tharapolitics said:

Haroon ur Rashid, wrote “excellent” regarding bringing democracy in parties.
Surprisingly, his today column is without any praising statement for Imran Khan. :)
Harron Rasheed’s changing stance on heroic personalities:
-Start writing columns praising JI
-Switch to support to Zia and Akhtar Abdul Rehman in 80’s
-Wrote for IJI
-Then next hero was Mian Nawaz in 90’s
-Sudden change and shift stance to Abdul Sattar Eidhi and Hamid Gul in late 90’s
-Next his hero was “Maulana Akram Awan” (Shahnoor Studio fame)
-Then MMA
-Since two years Imran Khan
and TODAY Khawja Asif
Nice to see “a person” who is famous for “Qabza Group” in Rawalpindi is preaching us for “revolution” bla bla bla…..

Also read:

Haroon-ur-Rashid, a brilliant columnist, a follower of General Zia-ul-Haq and Zia's son Imran Khan...

Haroon-ur-Rashid, the undeclared propaganda secretary of Imran Khan.... Shame on you and your leader....

Can Imran Khan be Pakistan's Obama? Haroon-ur-Rashid, the ex-lover of General Zia, Akhtar Abdul Rehman & Hamid Gul found his lost love in Imran Khan

Is Imran Khan the new choice of agencies (ISI) in Pakistan?


Congratulations Imran Khan. Your friends Taliban kill Gayle Williams, a British-South African aid worker, who believed in doctrine of love...

In the name of love

SOME would see it as a profession of faith. Others may call it a religion of humanity. Either way, such intrepid devotion to the cause of basic humanism can only merit pure homage — as chaste as the aspiration itself, free of doubt and dismay. Gayle Williams, a 34-year-old British-South African aid worker, was one of many who believed in the doctrine of love. Last week, she lost her life to a bullet in Afghanistan and was laid to rest amid tight security in a Kabul cemetery where, reportedly, 50 family, friends and colleagues were in attendance — and in tears. Williams’ end may have been both unfortunate and dramatic but her last wish was nothing short of memorable — she had asked to be buried in Afghanistan where she worked with disabled children. Her murder has been claimed by the Taliban and fellow aid workers assert that the deceased had been targeted because Serve Afghanistan, the organisation she worked for, was spreading Christianity. Perhaps her desire to be put in the ground in a beleaguered Muslim country — instead of her own, amid her kin — will put such callous cynicism to rest.

Regrettably, Gayle Williams is not the first whose desire to serve humankind in the name of love has been denigrated in the name of either religion or suspicious intentions. Take the case of arguably the greatest ‘seraph’ of our times, Mother Teresa, hailed as the Saint Of The Gutters; she was also subjected to barbs such as the infamous book The Missionary Position and undying accusations of accepting aid regardless of its source. Then there is our indigenous and legendary humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi who, despite working miracles in areas such as rescue, refuge and rehabilitation, has been hounded by accusations as vile as child trafficking. Perhaps societies such as ours deserve fallen heroes. We either destroy our own idols or ensure that they are not free of clay feet. (Dawn)

At least 135 dead in Balochistan quake

QUETTA: The death toll from the earthquake in Balochistan has risen to 135, Dilawar Kakar, a mayor in the area said.

The 6.4 magnitude quake hit a rural area of the province before dawn on Wednesday.
Kakar said 135 deaths have been confirmed and that the figure will likely rise as rescuers reach remote villages.

He said hundreds more have been injured and some 15,000 people left homeless and appealed for help.

Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation Zamaruk Khan said the government was preparing to provide food, shelter and medical care to survivors of the quake.
'Eight villages in Ziarat have been badly affected and there are still many areas which have not yet been reached,' Khan told Reuters.

Separately, a district offiial said at least 80 people were killed when the quake struck the region bringing down hundreds of mud-walled houses.
The US Geological Survey said a 6.4 magnitude quake hit 60 km northeast of the city of Quetta before dawn.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department put the magnitude at 6.5 and said the quake struck at 05:10 a.m.

'I'm telling you that 80 people are dead in this area where I am standing right now,' Sohail-ur-Rehman, a top district administration official in Balochistan province told Dawn Television by telephone from Wam district.
Officials in Ziarat district, 70 km northeast of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, said many houses collapsed in the quake and some were destroyed in landslides trigged by the quake.

'Hundreds of mud houses have collapsed. We are using whatever resources we have to help the people and have asked for help from the provincial government,' said Ziarat district chief Dilawar Khan.

'There is a large number of injured people but we don't have an exact figure,' he said.
Khan said people in the worst-hit areas had been rescued but teams had yet to reach some remote places in mountains above the Ziarat valley.
Ziarat district has a population of about 50,000. Its scenic valley is a picnic spot.
Five people had been killed in neighbouring Pishin district, to the north of Quetta, district government officials said.

'We were fast asleep when the tremor struck. We grabbed the children and ran outside. The earth continued shaking for more than a minute,' said Habibullah, a resident of Pishin. He said no one had been hurt in his neighbourhood.
District government officials and hospital staff in the provincial capital, Quetta, said scores of people had been injured, most when mud walls collapsed or in the panic when people rushed from their homes.

The Meteorological Department said two tremors had struck before dawn, the second one bigger than the first.

Quetta resident Amjad Hussain said there had been panic in the city. 'There were two tremors, the second one was serious and people rushed out of their houses,' Hussain said.

Quetta was largely destroyed and about 30,000 people were killed in a severe earthquake in 1935.

The region's worst earthquake was in October 2005 when about 75,000 people were killed, most of them in mountainous northern Pakistan, in a 7.6 magnitude quake.
Large parts of south Asia are seismically active because a plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province but its most thinly populated. It has the country's biggest reserves of natural gas but there were no reports of damage to gas facilities. (Dawn)


Updated at: 1120 PST, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

QUETTA: More than 100 people have been killed in an earthquake struck parts of Balochistan whereas scores of people still trapped under the rubbles.

Dozend of injured are under treatment as government has imposed emergency in all the hospitals of the province.

Pishin, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Chaman, Loralai, Sibbi, Mastung are hit badly areas. Several houses and buildings have been collapsed.

According to geological survey of Pakistan, the epicenter of the quake was in Chiltan mountains. Ziarat is the worst hit area where 10 people were killed after land sliding whereas four people were killed in Khanozai. Death toll in different parts of Balchistan has reached to 33. Ten bodies had recovered from the rubbles and shifted to hospital in Ziarat.

According to ISPR, contingents of FC have been dispatched in affected areas for rescue operations along with medical team. Two army helicopters have also been sent in Wachun and Kowas villages for rescue operations.

Deputy director of geological survey of Pakistan Asif Rana told Geo News that more aftershocks are expected in these areas within next 48 hours. (The News)


BBC Urdu link:


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Well done, Imran Khan, Hamid Gul, Kashif Abbasi and Hamid Mir. Your friends Taliban have destroyed another girls school in Swat.

Well done, Imran Khan, Hamid Gul, Kashif Abbasi and Hamid Mir. Your friends Taliban have destroyed another girls school in Swat. Imran Khan? Why don't you admit your children to a Taliban jihadi madrassah? Is that your insaaf?

Read full story at the following link:


FROM Karachi to Swat, the Taliban are active. Shame on you Imran Khan, Hamid Gul, Kashif Abbasi, Mushtaq Minhas. Are you still in a state of denial?

From Karachi to Swat

FROM Karachi to Swat, the Taliban are active. The ‘executions’ in what once was a tourist paradise and a police informer’s abduction in the port city show both, their tentacles in society and the ruthlessness of their philosophy and action. Pakhtun tribal traditions include respect for mediators. But on Sunday militants belonging to Maulana Fazlullah’s camp ambushed tribesmen on the way to a peace jirga and took 12 of them hostage, and when other tribesmen attacked the Taliban the hostages were shot. Later they were hanged to ‘teach a lesson’ to the non-Taliban. The police informer in Karachi was murdered because he tipped off the authorities about an Al Qaeda-Jundullah cell. How they kidnapped him is immaterial. It is doubtful he was trussed up and taken to Swat all along in that condition. Most probably he was lured into visiting his home district and then trapped. But what is shocking is the Taliban did not confine their wrath to the informer; they beheaded his wife, children and parents — a deed that testifies to their moral depravity.

The murder of the peace jirga members is not the first of its kind. The Taliban have been murdering non-combatants as a matter of policy now for years. In the past they have bombed mosques, Eid congregations, and civilian targets, including girls’ schools and UN relief offices, without any qualms of conscience. What is shocking, however, is that sections of society friendly to the Taliban keep mum about these barbaric acts and, thus, indirectly encourage terrorism. The government’s own handling of this menace has been anything but scientifically planned. The crackdown launched on the Swat rebels in November last has no doubt made some headway, but as Sunday’s crime shows Fazlullah’s men are far from vanquished and are still quite capable of making mischief. In Bajaur the military for the moment seems to have the upper hand, and the militants have shown a desire to negotiate. However, a well-coordinated strategy to crush the rebellion appears to be missing. Notice, for instance, the prime minister’s unhappiness with the FC commander’s remarks — later clarified — that it will take a full year for the authorities to restore peace to Fata. The unanimous parliamentary resolution demonstrated the nation’s will to combat terrorism, but regrettably some religious parties still have a soft corner for the terrorists and condemn suicide bombing and others acts of terrorism only for record’s sake. (Dawn)

PPP's strategy for Balochistan

A strategy for Balochistan (Daily Times)

The secretary of the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Reconciliatory Committee on Balochistan, Senator Babar Awan, says he has a strategy for a solution to the problems of Balochistan. He has it narrowed down to “three Rs”: reconciliation with all political forces, rebuilding national institutions and reallocating resources. The roadmap will have “five steps” and it will kick off with a jirga of intellectuals and other stakeholders from Balochistan on October 31 in Islamabad. After that another jirga comprising all the political parties of the province would be held.

Let us admit one thing straightaway. Islamabad today is in a good position to address the Balochistan problem. The PPP government has been able to tone down the insurgency that showed no signs of abating during the tenure of the previous government. Credit must also go to the PPP chief minister of the province, Nawab Aslam Raisani, who has established his credibility among the major players in the politics of Balochistan by rising above partisan politics and taking a pro-Balochistan stance. Now this development places on Islamabad the onus of going much farther ahead of the advances made in the past to bring Balochistan back on board the federation.

This point of time in the history of Pakistan is least suitable for a radical devolution to the provinces. The state is hardly in control of its territory elsewhere, its institutions are weak to the point of non-delivery, and there are foreign elements freely challenging the writ of the state. Yet the pledge to devolve has been made time and again and is now inevitable when the jirgas convene to examine the demands of those who represent Balochistan. But any effort to meet the demands of Balochistan will have to be done under the Constitution. And if the Constitution no longer helps in its present shape — and this is what the Baloch point out — the government should be prepared to muster the kind of parliamentary consensus needed to carry out amendments in the Constitution.

If the situation in Balochistan is unique to it, the solutions proposed for the resolution of its problems will have to apply to all the provinces. The quantity of devolution acceptable to the people of Balochistan should be applicable to all the provinces although under this devolution a certain degree of preferential treatment can be apportioned to Balochistan because of its special conditions.

We hope that the jirga will highlight as well as compress the long tally of demands that appear in the media; and that the Balochistan Assembly is able to formulate a final list that is acceptable to all, including elements that have fled into the mountains and are engaged in what they see as some kind of “liberation struggle”. Most demands related to administration are aimed at reducing the interference of the federal government in the province. This applies not only to the bureaucracy but also to such forces as the frontier constabulary and the police. The biggest “nationalist” demand grows out of what modern-day textbooks call “resource-based” nationalism.

The “feelings” of the Baloch must be understood with sympathy. Their focus on the resources of the province has become sharp over the years because of lack of development in the province. Had Balochistan been developed into a modern self-sufficient province, no one would have become conscious of what Pakistan extracts from its soil and how it is disposed of. But now the law that guides the control of the natural resources and their royalties and ownership will have to be revisited. A survey of what the Baloch leaders have highlighted in the past will give us a measure of the scale of the task lying ahead of the federation.

Economic backwardness hounds areas in Ormara, where Pakistan’s modern naval base is constructed; Chaghai and Kharan, where the nuclear test was conducted and where copper and gold are being mined; Lasbela, where an industrial town and strategic facilities are located; Dera Bugti, known for its gas wells; Quetta and Bolan, where coal is being mined. And so on. Balochistan is 78 percent without electricity; and 79 percent of its population is without the facility of gas. Balochistan has just 3.4 percent of all gas consumers, as compared to 64 percent of Punjab.

If peace is arranged in Balochistan, much can be given to Balochistan in return for a lot of new land that can be opened for exploration to enhance Pakistan’s national capacity to produce energy. But the final solution must attract the people of Balochistan. Because its population is relatively small, constitutional provisions can be made to create this attraction so that the rest of the provinces can collectively benefit from Balochistan’s natural endowments without making the people there feel cheated. In return Balochistan must make itself governable by strengthening the writ of the state in its territory. (Daily Times)

Balochistan matters (Dawn)

THE Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Reconciliatory Committee on Balochistan that was formed last April is finally showing signs of stirring. On Sunday, it revealed a roadmap incorporating among other things a plan to work on reconciliation, reconstruction of national institutions in the province and the reallocation of resources. A jirga is scheduled for later this week to discuss the strategy that has President’s Zardari’s approval. It is to be hoped that there are no delays and its composition will be inclusive of all opinion. The government, in all sincerity, should attempt to implement the proposals aimed at dispelling Baloch grievances and bringing back the alienated people of the province into the national mainstream. True, there is some doubt on this score considering that some very concrete proposals made by a parliamentary committee in 2005 to address Balochistan’s woes fell by the wayside. But unlike the previous political dispensation, this government is the outcome of a popular mandate and there is greater pressure on it to turn in a better performance.

This is the right time to strive — and to be seen as doing so — for Balochistan’s uplift. The ceasefire declared by Baloch militants last month has largely held while the army has scaled back its operations. It may be difficult to effect a reconciliation among the various aggrieved segments of society at the moment, especially in view of the thousands of ordinary civilians who were made to feel the military’s wrath during an intense operation against the militants. But it is imperative that the path leading to reconciliation is paved with positive actions involving major development in the province, greater provincial autonomy, more equitable resource-sharing and job opportunities for the Baloch many of whom feel that outsiders are being given preference in employment.

Promises have to be translated into reality to make the Baloch have a real sense of ownership in their province. These include making the necessary constitutional amendments envisaged by the roadmap and promised earlier by the prime minister who said after the February polls that the Concurrent List would be abolished within a year to allow the provinces more autonomy in their affairs. It is equally important to give a fair hearing to Balochistan’s demand for more equitable resource distribution. It is incumbent on the new National Finance Commission to ensure that the next award guarantees satisfactory gains for the province which has long wanted factors such as poverty and under-development to be among the main criteria for distribution. Balochistan, along with the other smaller provinces, has strongly felt the injustice of a population-based formula that has favoured Punjab, and it is about time its voice was heard in this regard. Failing to do so would mean a return to militancy in the province and the consequent weakening of the state. (Dawn)

New Pak effort against terrorism encouraging: US, Canadian dailies

WASHINGTON: A US and a Canadian daily found Pakistan’s new efforts against terrorism ‘encouraging’ and said US should respond accordingly. An editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin noted that the anti-Taliban lashkars are poorly armed with aging rifles, while Taliban fighters are equipped with rocket launchers and heavy guns. “However, newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari this month arranged for the purchase of assault rifles and other small arms from China to better arm the lashkars.” The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, said that besides encouraging volunteer militias against Taliban, The Pakistani military has also accepted nearly three dozen US special forces trainers to help improve the effectiveness of their own counterterrorism forces. “Both, admittedly, are but small first steps. But at least they are steps in the right direction,” the Post stresses. The Canadian daily alleges: “Our troops have occasionally witnessed Pakistani agents and border guards loading Taliban trucks or cheering them on as they drive over the Pakistan border and into Afghanistan.” “Since General Musharraf resigned earlier this year, the situation in the tribal regions has worsened, and there have emerged hints that the mood in Islamabad has changed,” the editorial states. khalid hasan (Daily Times)

New Pakistani effort against terrorists encouraging: US daily

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Recent actions taken by the new democratic leadership of Pakistan give encouraging signs of a new effort against the terrorists, and the US should respond accordingly, says an editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Noting that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban have found a haven in the northwestern territories of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, the newspaper recalled that last month President Bush had authorised strikes by US troops into Pakistan from Afghanistan and Sen Barack Obama had called for such action more than a year ago, with or without Pakistan's approval, in cases of "actionable intelligence" about terrorist targets in the region. The newspaper argued that ideally, Pakistani forces would carry out the offensives, but anti-Taliban militias or lashkars are poorly armed with aging rifles, while Taliban fighters are equipped with rocket launchers and heavy guns. “However, newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari this month arranged for the purchase of assault rifles and other small arms from China to better arm the lashkars,” the editorial noted.

While pointing out that the US has spent more than $10 billion in counterterrorism assistance to Pakistan's military since 2001, the newspaper admitted that Americans are widely distrusted by Pakistanis. Changes in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which has been “aiding terrorists,” are encouraging, said the editorial, while taking note of the fact that the new government had replaced the head of that agency with a new chief (now in Washington for meetings with CIA director Michael V Hayden). Recalling that Gen David H Petraeus this week becomes head of the US Central Command, in charge of US forces in the Middle East and South and Central Asia, the Honolulu daily suggested that he should regard coordination of military objectives with Pakistan's non-military needs as essential for a new approach to be successful. (Daily Times)

Listen Hamid Gul: The controversial Pakistani policy of creating strategic depth in Afghanistan has now become a noose around our neck.

Hope and fear in NWFP
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Khalid Aziz

FATA and the NWFP are in the midst of "interesting times." According to the Chinese such periods are unstable and bring a whirlpool of difficulties. Pakistan has entered a sinkhole of problems and will need adroit handling to prevent a further slide.

When Pakistan joined the war on terrorism in 2001 it conceived an impractical game plan of trying to play two contradictions against each other. Gen Musharraf had prevailed on the US to accept a policy of more lenient handling of the Afghan Taliban by military and intelligence operations inside Pakistan, compared to a more coercive treatment of foreigners and al-Qaeda. This policy was implemented by Gen Musharraf to keep intact the goodwill of the Pakhtun political forces in Afghanistan as an asset to balance the increasing influence of India, as well to avert the ethnic backlash of the Pakhtuns in FATA and the NWFP in sympathy for Afghan Pakhtuns.

As the US pressure increased on the Afghan Taliban inside Afghanistan they needed to create a new centre of gravity to prevent their movement from falling apart. Pakistan's duality regarding the Taliban came in handy and they turned the Pakistani strategy on its head and entered the political and military space in FATA, the NWFP and Balochistan from 2002. This was the period when many Taliban who fled the war in Afghanistan found refuge inside Pakistan. Pakistani ambivalence in dealing with this problem within its territory has come in for a lot of criticism from the US; this soft policy has been considered collusive and used as a proof of secret dealings between the militants and Pakistani intelligence services.

The controversial Pakistani policy of creating strategic depth in Afghanistan has now become a noose around our neck. The giving of refuge to the Afghan militants in FATA allowed them to quickly recruit a following amongst marginalised Pakhtuns who inhabited these isolated regions and they were quickly radicalised. The presence of Afghan Taliban elements in FATA permitted an easy resurrection of their militant ideology. Training camps were established in the isolated region outside the control of the military. Gradually militant bands began to launch raids into Afghanistan. However, owing to the tribalism prevalent in the region it did not permit such bands to make a major difference in the pattern of the overall fighting inside Afghanistan. The reason for this is plain; FATA warriors could not venture further than about an hour's distance from the Durand Line. This limit on their area of operation was forced by the aerial and artillery reaction by NATO or US forces; it normally took about an hour for the Western reaction to occur and that was the limit of the depth of operations from FATA. After 2007 the region opposite Waziristan was thickly populated by Afghan intelligence that quickly reported incursions, reducing attacks from this source. Previously the contribution of violence by FATA tribesmen could not be more than five percent of the total insurgent attacks inside Afghanistan. However, the availability of a bolt hole for escaping Afghan Taliban leaders to Pakistani territory remains an area of criticism.

Where Pakistan was hurt most by its policy of ambivalence was the radicalisation of the NWFP's population, especially in Malakand and some other parts of the province. It has been suggested that the MMA government, which ruled the NWFP from 2002 to 2007, was complicit. It is true that during this period there was a reduction of violence in the NWFP, but not in FATA. Apparently, FATA was chosen as the centre of fighting to divert charges of collusion against the MMA government.

The increased level of violence in FATA and the NWFP has created a security crisis, as well as a humanitarian one, with a large displacement of people from the area of operations. Local populations condemn both the government and the militants for their miseries. Such discontent will generate future challenges and needs to be handled immediately within a framework of assistance, protection and early return to original locations. However, this can only happen after stability has been assured in the disturbed regions.

At the macro level the economy is generating another set of challenges that include increase in prices, inflation and rising unemployment in the NWFP. Apparently the worsening of this triad will add to the ranks of the discontented that may join the militants. This view of Pakistan's economic woes suggests that Pakistan's friends must loosen up their purse strings to assist, or prepare to spend on more fighting which would then become a never-ending litany of death and destruction.

If one remained fixed within this narrative one would think that nothing good was happening in Pakistan. That's not true. The resolution passed by Parliament regarding terrorism is truly remarkable. This for the first time provides a basis for the long-term strategising of efforts against terrorism. Secondly, through the resolution the Pakistani people have given their consent to a definite policy of dealing with terrorism in a holistic manner. Thirdly, the government has accepted the sanctity of Afghan territory and has thus condemned the provision of safe havens within Pakistani territory.

It is now for the government to use this opportunity to create strategies and supporting legislation to make the resolution meaningful. A resolution is not law and thus not binding. But it provides a direction to the government. If Pakistan now fails to build on the principles laid down by the resolution the fault will lie with the government. While Pakistan has been trying in the National Assembly to get to grips with the problems related to terrorism, the US policy related to drone attacks is a cause of concern and creates a lot of ill will against the US – each attack reduces the good will for the US. The drone attack near Miranshah only six hours after the passage of the resolution clearly challenged the principle laid in paragraph four of the resolution that condemns violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. This attack is not a good sign and the US must reconsider its drones policy, because it is not winning the Americans any friends. It also embarrasses an ally which has begun to shape events in a better manner than before.

As Gen Petraeus takes over at the end of October, Pakistani security establishment needs to game-plan the strategy of "surge" which would very likely be brought into play by the US in Afghanistan and perhaps in FATA. Higher casualties and displacement of large numbers of people has been a by-product of the surge in Iraq. It is not the best policy for this region. A surge in diplomatic handling of the militants will bring higher dividends and greater stability. Militancy cannot be ended but can definitely be brought to a minimal level. Thus, the situation in Pakistan shows areas of hope. But at the same time there are other areas of concern that create fear in the mind; there is therefore a need for prudence and careful planning in the days to come. (The News)

The writer is a former chief secretary of NWFP and heads the Regional Institute of Policy Research. Email: azizkhalid@gmail.com

Pakistan-USA relations and Muslim community, an objective analysis by Khurshid Nadeem



Iftikhar Arif - By Ataul Haq Qasimi


Monday, 27 October 2008

Time to purge ISI from the pro-Taliban and pro-Sipah-e-Sahaba goons...

Spanish report ties ISI to Taliban

* Claims agency funded training camps and weapons acquisition
* Pakistan army chief vehemently denies Madrid claim

Daily Times Monitor

MADRID: A confidential Spanish Defence Ministry report has alleged Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped arm the Taliban in 2005 for assassination plots against the Afghan government.

The confidential report, obtained by Cadena Ser radio and posted on the station's website on Wednesday, also alleges ISI helped the Taliban procure roadside bombs.

“The Taliban, with the help of Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), received explosives that were to be activated at long distance,” according to the report.

“The plan was that the Taliban used these devices against vehicles to assassinate ... even though it did not specify against what type of targets,” according to the report.

Training camps: CIFAS, Spain’s military intelligence body, also noted the “possible existence of training camps for the production of improvised explosives devices (IEDs) in Pakistani territory, where Taliban received training, support and information from the Pakistani secret service.”

The report says ISI planned to have the Taliban use the explosives “to assassinate high-ranking officials.”

The August 2005 document does not describe its sources and Cadena Ser did not say how it obtained the report.

Denial: Chief Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said on Wednesday the Spanish report was “baseless, unfounded and part of a malicious, well-orchestrated propaganda campaign to malign the ISI.”

“ISI is the first line of defence of Pakistan and certain quarters are attempting to weaken our national intelligence system," Abbas said, without elaborating.

In Spain, the Defence Ministry and prime minister's office said they had no comment.

Western intelligence agencies have long suspected elements of Pakistan's spy service have aided the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But this report appears to be the first leaked to the media that spells out such a connection in writing.

Fernando Reinares, a terrorism analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid and former chief counter terrorism adviser at Spain's Interior Ministry, said the document appeared to be an internal report intended for high-level officials.

Spain has about 800 soldiers deployed in northwest Afghanistan.

Reinares said the report on the alleged ISI-Taliban link is in keeping with information from other Western spy agencies.

“The intelligence services have done nothing more then confirm a reality which has also been reported by other Western agencies,” he told The Associated Press.

Reinares said Spain has developed a strong military and police intelligence operation in Pakistan, particularly since the deadly terrorist attacks of March 11, 2004 on commuter trains in Madrid.

A 2006 report by a British Defence Ministry think-tank discussed an ISI-Taliban link and said the Pakistani spy agency was supporting terrorism in Afghanistan, but the opinions expressed in the document did not constitute official government policy.

Despite Wednesday's strong denial though, one Pakistani government spokeswoman acknowledged in August that the government needs to root out Taliban sympathisers from its intelligence service.

Some analysts say elements in the spy agency may want to retain the Taliban as a bulwark against long-time rival India, believing Pakistan's strategic interests are best served if Afghanistan remains a weak state. (Daily Times, 4 October 2008)

In Asfandyar Wali’s defence

by Gulmina Bilal

Asfandyar Wali Khan has fled the country. Or so people will have you believe. In recent days, friends and family have bombarded me with questions and snide remarks about his whereabouts. Some have found this to be an excellent material for text-message jokes about Mr Wali. Others have expressed disappointment and anger. People ask as to how Asfandyar can “run away” in fear from a terrorist attack? How he could have accepted the security of the Presidency? How can he claim to be the leader of the Pakhtuns when he has left them in the lurch, they ask? Does he really expect to be accepted as the leader of the Pakhtuns now that he has left the province burning in the violent extremist fire? His critics ask as to how come he did not commiserate with the people injured in the suicide bomb blast over Eid? How can he leave the province when it is facing acute flour shortage? How can he leave the province when the internally displaced people of Bajaur Agency are in agony?

Another set of allegations against the Awami National Party and the person of Asfandyar Wali is that they have received money from the US to turn a blind eye towards US clandestine and overt activities in the province. Rumours abound of dollars being brought in suitcases into the party headquarters—i.e., the Bacha Khan Markaz in Peshawar. I must confess that initially when these rumours surfaced I countered them with jokes like “suitcases get heavy. We accept online transfers and even American Express.” However, in a country which thrives on rumour mongering, and that too political rumour mongering, I decided to give my point of view. This article is an attempt to do that, although it is not being written at either the party’s or the party’s behest. The views expressed are strictly my own.

Asfandyar Wali Khan has not fled the country. He is away from the country, no doubt, and is busy with personal and party commitments abroad. Undoubtedly, I would imagine that he must be concerned about his security. Anyone who has even been mugged, let alone been the target of a suicide attack, would be. How many of us have started avoided crowded places like high profile hotels in the wake of suicide bombings in the country? Why can’t political leaders be allowed to confess that they are concerned about their own security? Sure, they have more responsibility. That is why it is said that you should never congratulate anyone for winning an election. His/her life just got tougher because of the responsibilities that come with the election. Asfandyar Wali Khan is the leader of a party that has been voted into power by the majority of the inhabitants of Pukhtunkhwa. He therefore has more responsibility and it is precisely this responsibility that makes him the subject of suicide attacks, rumours, snide remarks from his critics and heightened expectations by his supporters.

No one is denying that the country as a whole, and the province of Pakhtunkhwa in particular, is confronted with the worst ever challenges. The list of these challenges is long and all equally important. For instance, when we talk about security, we have to talk about all kinds of security, including food security, energy security and, the most basic of all, life security. The people of Swat and Bajaur are particularly insecure, adding internal displacement to the problem. However, is it realistic to expect that Asfandyar Wali Khan visit each and every refugee of the Bajaur camp?

He is the leader of the party and not the party itself. To say that the “party has folded” just because one individual is out of the country is to dispense with the whole party politics structure and democracy. Other leaders and parliamentarians and members of the party are very much in the country, in their constituencies, in the government and are trying to address the problems confronting the province. They are facing the same threats of violence and bombs, yet they trudge along. Of course, some of them are taking security measures, such as not flying official flags on their cars, as the media has reported, but is that to be taken as a sign of cowardice? Is it cowardice to protect yourself, or is it intelligence? A three-year- old child will take risks because s/he does not have a concept of fear. Adults protect themselves because intelligence has taught them the concept of fear.

The people are well within their right to expect the ANP-PPP coalition government to provide them security. Perhaps, in some cases the government can do a lot more. But, then, if we look at the politics of the region, can we honestly say that this is a 100 day old problem which has not been resolved by the almost 240 days old government? Isn’t the challenge confronting us complex and multi-faceted with numerous reasons, interests, players and implications? Are the people of Bajaur internally displaced today only because of the alleged incompetence of the ANP-PPP coalition government? Is Swat a no- go area because the provincial government is allegedly complacent? Are the people concerned about bombs going off just because Asfandyar Wali is not in the country?

As for the other allegation of the “dollars in suitcases,” given so that the ANP will turn a blind eye, consider the following: Newspapers every day are publishing reports of how the ANP leaders are being threatened by the extremists. Their houses are being fired upon. Will you accept money to turn a blind eye against acts committed against yourself, your families and property? Also, if one were to be politically cynical one could perhaps also ask as to whether the Americans really need to spend money to get things done their way? Over the years, haven’t we as a country been losing parts of our sovereignty anyways?

Years ago, the late Wali Khan penned a book titled Facts are Facts. Perhaps we need to seek new facts and divorce them from baseless rumours.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance consultant and a member of the Awami National Party. Email: gbaanp@ gmail.com (Daily The News)

Pakistan's Army is successfully achieving its aims in operation against terrorists in Bajaur...

Bajaur: an interim assessment

The Frontier Corps (FC) inspector-general in Bajaur, Major-General Tariq Khan, has told visiting journalists that the army has flushed out militants from some of their strongholds and regained control of most of the troubled spots, including the contested Lowi Sam. The reported death toll has been as follows: about 1,500 militants have been killed while at least 300 foreigners have been captured since August last. On the Pakistani side, 73 soldiers — 42 belonging to the Army and 31 to the FC — have lost their lives while 269 others have been injured.

Is the army going to leave Bajaur in the near future? No, according to Maj-Gen Khan, who thinks it may take “several months to extirpate the militants”. He said, “An immediate withdrawal of the army from the region was not possible as the operation might last another few months” and that “four additional wings of FC would be deployed to the area soon”. The determination of the army to stay put in the agency is in line with the “consensual” resolution of the parliament which recommended operation against militants and negotiation with those willing to abide by the Pakistan Constitution.

The army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, has reiterated that the army will back the parliament’s decision to seek negotiation while protecting the integrity of Pakistan’s territory. The fact that 300 foreigners have been arrested from Bajaur alone reemphasises the role the army has to play to come to the help of the people living in the Tribal Areas. In Bajaur, increasingly the local people are forming posses of armed resistance to the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine and expect the national army to back them up as they take on the alien groups.

This is a positive interim assessment of the operation in Bajaur, markedly different in its aspects from what is going on in Swat, a region that had stayed for five years under the control of the clerical alliance, the MMA, ruling in the NWFP. The operation in Bajaur is more focused because success here is going to affect other tribal areas around it. The terrorists had gotten hold of strategic places like Lowi Sam and converted the houses there into bunkers. The return of Lowi Sam to government control means that the roads to Dir in Swat and Mohmand will now not be easily available to the Taliban to affect the outcome of the battle going on in Swat.

Bajaur is linked even more easily to the province of Kunar in Afghanistan. Lately, there was a trickle of Afghan fighters coming in to help the Taliban and Al Qaeda in their fight against the Pakistan army. The ISAF-NATO forces have been alerted to this trespass that will clearly influence the result of the operation. There is also news that some kind of reinforcement of the Bajaur-Kunar border is being carried out too. According to the army, 200,000 Bajauri people have had to flee from the agency because of the battle taking place on the ground and from the air.

Bajaur was not properly assessed for its strategic value after 2001 as a potential hiding place of the fleeing Taliban and Al Qaeda elements. Indeed, Islamabad was completely unmindful of the rapid internal change taking place here. Therefore by 2005, there were some “32,000 Afghans” living in camps in Bajaur, cannon-fodder for such religious movements as Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with top Al Qaeda leaders surrounded by foreign warriors as they surveyed the agency as their future caliphate from where to challenge the world.

There are many factors that can bring pressure to bear on the operation. Foremost is the task of looking after the displaced Bajauri population at present forced to live in the NWFP. These camps are not very different from the ones in which the displaced Afghans had to live for decades. Their camps may breed the same kind of violence seen in areas where these Afghan refugees have concentrated. The authorities must therefore quickly start reconstruction and psychological rehabilitation of the people in the areas now pacified by the military operation. If possible, the injection of funds into Bajaur must go in parallel to the military operations.

Bajaur has a large population, given its smaller area compared to other tribal agencies. Its economy is rudimentary, as in other agencies, and is dependent on what its expatriates in Karachi and abroad send home. There is a dire need for the generation of a local economy to remove reliance on smuggling. This is the aspect of the problem that has not been looked at before. In some ways the local tribes are dependent for their incomes today on the “foreigners” brought in by Al Qaeda. The Al Qaeda economy must be replaced by Bajaur’s own, brought in by the state agencies from outside with the help of the international community. (Daily Times)