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30 November 2009

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Saturday, 31 October 2009

The future of Pakistan People's Party

The last chance saloon
By Irfan Husain
Saturday, 31 Oct, 2009 (Dawn)
Despite his many limitations, Asif Zardari has tried to fill the huge void left in the PPP after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.— Photo from File
LEGEND has it that at the edge of many towns in the old American West stood a last chance saloon where cowboys could get a final drink before setting off to spend months in the open prairies.

More and more, the presidency is coming to resemble this mythical watering hole where all manner of dubious characters gather.

Talking to a senior PPP figure, I got the sense that the old guard are aware that this is the last time the party is likely to come to power. A number of those in authority and their front men appear therefore determined to rake it in while they can.

If they were also providing the country with decent governance and decisive leadership, we could perhaps put up with ministers sticking their snouts into the public trough. But back in Pakistan on a brief visit, I find the same power shortages, a mounting insurgency and runaway inflation. In addition, we have the ongoing scandal of the sugar shortage.

All countries have problems of one sort or another, even though we seem to be blessed with more than our share. But elsewhere, there is usually an attempt to come to grips with them. Islamabad currently appears to be good only for issuing statements increasingly divorced from reality.

There is a lot of realism in the tacit admission that this is probably the PPP’s last stint in power. Quite apart from this government’s abysmal track record over the last 18 months or so, demographic forces have been quietly at work to marginalise Pakistan’s biggest and most popular party.

Even a cursory analysis of last year’s general elections will reveal that the PPP’s power base is now limited to rural Sindh and southern Punjab, also a largely rural area. It has been virtually eliminated as a political force in Pakistan’s major cities. With the PML-N dominating north and central Punjab, and the MQM calling the shots in Karachi and Hyderabad, the PPP is being squeezed in areas where it was at least competitive earlier.

This trend has been evident for some time now, but the PPP chose to do nothing to arrest it. Increasingly, the rising Pakistani middle class looks to more than the traditional PPP promise of roti, kapra aur makan. They want good governance, education, security and employment. And unfortunately for the PPP, they think that the PML-N is the party that can deliver on these key issues.

Despite his many limitations, Asif Zardari has tried to fill the huge void left in the PPP after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. And to be fair to him, he has managed to keep the ship of state afloat by attempting to bring Nawaz Sharif on board, and forging some kind of consensus in the fight against terrorism. But at the end of the day, leadership is about more than backroom deals.

By withdrawing to the presidency and surrounding himself with cronies, Zardari is doing himself no favours. Another problem is the abundance of black hair dye on display in cabinet meetings. This underlines the absence of younger members at the upper levels of the party hierarchy. While experience is all very well, the PPP could certainly do with some energy, dynamism and fresh ideas. Above all, it could do with some idealism.

And although Bilawal Zardari Bhutto is being groomed for a future role as party leader, I’m afraid he does not appear to be cut out for the job. I saw him in London last year when he addressed a press conference soon after his mother’s murder. While he came across as a sensible and articulate young man, I thought then that he lacked the fire in the belly that set his mother and grandfather apart.

Never having lived in Pakistan for any length of time as an adult, and speaking little Urdu, I do not see him capturing the hearts of the PPP jiyalas as his mother and grandfather did.

Even more serious is the security threat he would be under were he to campaign in future elections. The reality is that the Bhuttos have many enemies in Pakistan, and not just from among the Taliban. Minus the Bhutto charisma and given the changing map of Pakistani politics, I do not see how the PPP can avoid the fate of being in permanent opposition.

If one adds the failure of leadership it is currently displaying to this depressing mix, I can visualise the PPP breaking up once the glue of power evaporates after the next election. Again, it was Benazir Bhutto’s personality that held the party together. The downside to her grip on the party was her unwillingness to encourage a strong second tier to emerge that could take over if the need arose.

For me, this analysis is tinged with considerable sadness. Ever since it came into being over four decades ago, I have supported the PPP. While I have been critical of many of its policies and politicians, I have broadly approved of what it stood for, even though it seldom delivered on its promises. Nevertheless, by at least addressing the concerns of the poor and the oppressed, it positioned itself as a champion of women, the minorities and the marginalised.

Even now, I find myself hoping that somehow it will drag itself up as it has done in the past. Alas, I just do not see the kind of leadership needed for this miracle to come to pass. The truth is that given his close proximity to religious extremism, I cannot support Nawaz Sharif and his faction of the Muslim League. I have always opposed the politics of ethnicity, so that rules out the MQM, despite its secular moorings. Obviously, I could never support army rule or a theocracy.

I suspect this is the dilemma many thinking Pakistanis face today. Many have stood behind the PPP over the years, but now find themselves frustrated and isolated. While I fervently hope this government will complete its term of office, I fear that deprived of the claim that it was not allowed to govern for five years, it will have its last electoral card trumped.

Finally, I do wish Zardari would stir out of his presidential bunker once in a while to express his sympathy for the victims of terrorism. It might pose a security risk, but as the old saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.



Hillary Clinton's meeting with the 'ghairatmand' journalists: A summary

The secretary of state didn't shy away from sharp questions in bid to alter public opinion.

Last update: October 30, 2009

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has had her ups and downs in the news media, faced sharp rebukes in Pakistan on Friday, including one woman who accused the United States of conducting "executions without trial" in aerial drone strikes.

Slapping back, Clinton questioned Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorists. "Somebody, somewhere in Pakistan must know where these people are," she said in an exchange almost as blunt as her exasperated comments a day earlier that Pakistani officials lacked the will to target Al-Qaida.

Clinton rolled with the punches this week in a media-saturated tour of Pakistan. She submitted to four roundtable interviews over three days in which Pakistan's leading journalists took their best shots at her, when they were not busy whacking one another.

By the time she left Islamabad on Friday, she appeared to have fought Pakistan's fourth estate to a draw.

Najam Sethi, editor in chief of the Daily Times, another English-language daily, said Clinton "did well to interact. She may not have made many new friends, but she certainly didn't make new enemies."

Engaging Pakistan's unruly media was perhaps Clinton's most important job on this visit. Newspapers and television drive public opinion more here than in many countries, and the coverage is sharply critical of the United States, partly because it sells papers and lifts ratings.

That poses a problem for the Obama administration, which needs Pakistan to join its campaign to fight extremists and stabilize Afghanistan. The recent spike in anti-American sentiment here was driven by media reports that a new aid bill would infringe on Pakistan's sovereignty.

"I will admit that clearly there is a lot of misperception, and perception is reality, so therefore it is up to us to try to set it straight," Clinton said in an interview with seven leading TV personalities.


Clinton's call
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Hillary Clinton's three-day visit to Pakistan, her first as US secretary of state, marks a fairly distinct break with the past. Unlike her tough-talking and deliberately abrasive predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, Ms Clinton went out of her way to be charming, open and to talk to a wide range of people. Her experiences in the US Senate also meant she brought in a mature handling of queries and a better understanding of how complex the regional situation is. The interaction with students at the Government College University in Lahore should have been especially instructive for the person who will be playing a key role in devising foreign policy in Washington. The students who lined up to question her were not hostile. But they made it clear they shared with the majority of citizens a lack of trust for the US and scepticism about intentions. To her credit Ms Clinton accepted there were good grounds for this lack of faith. Her assurance that the Obama administration represented real change is one that will need though to be proven through deeds and not just words. The sometimes startled response from the secretary of state to the far tougher questions thrown at her by a TV panel made up of top anchor people suggests the government functionaries she met in Islamabad may have offered up a typically sanitized picture of prevailing sentiments. It is, therefore, encouraging that despite the immense security concerns Hillary Clinton made it a point to see the 'real' Pakistan, also holding a meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif in his home city.

But for all her pleasant smiles, Ms Clinton did not shy away from making some things quite clear. She stated that she believed the Al Qaeda leadership was indeed in Pakistan, she stressed an all-out effort on every front was needed against terrorism and she focused on how much Pakistan had to gain, especially in economic terms, by normalizing ties with India. If we are honest, we cannot deny that much of what she said was true. For reasons buried in ideology, many of us, whether we draw influence from the right or the left of the political spectrum, have difficulty in suggesting that an alliance with the US could benefit Pakistan. It would also be naïve to assume that Washington wishes to 'help' Pakistan as an ally. International relations are after all geared around self-interest and self-preservation. There is nothing noble about Washington's focus on Islamabad. But it is possible that at this particular moment in history the interests of both nations coincide. This is something we should use to our advantage.

Overcoming the militant threat and entering in to a less acrimonious relationship with India would benefit most citizens. There are segments that would stand to lose, but ways must be found to prevent them from subverting the interests of the majority. They have done so repeatedly through the decades since 1947. The current US setup seems to have recognized some of this. Ms Clinton also emphasized in this respect a dramatic change in policy from those of the George W Bush-led team. The Bush administration's virtually blind backing for former president Musharraf created a number of the problems we face today. Our political leaders must assess the way we can most effectively counter these. In realistic terms, going beyond rhetoric or wishful thinking, it is inevitable that we will need to work with the US at least for some years to come. We cannot on our own hope to conquer that monster of terrorism that Washington's policies helped create. Nor do we have the economic or moral wherewithal to do this. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated a willingness to better understand concerns in Pakistan and to open wider the doors of communication. There are still plenty of reasons to be wary of US intentions. But for now, the opportunities for a more open relation laid out by the secretary of state need to be seized and utilized to pull our country out of the pit into which it has stumbled as a result of errors made in the past. (The News)

(Asadullah Ghalib)

(Nazir Naji)
(Hasan Nisar)

Some comments: (Source: pkpolitics)

hasankhan said:

these anchors (who met Hillary Clinton) are liars,biased,maniplators,twisters of events,supporters of taliban.on the other hand pakistani people are innocent and simple they follow anchors blindly.there should be strict rules to control these destructive anchors.government should not leave the innocent people of pakistan on the mercy of these anchors.

Nonaligned said:

News media and electronic media never stop scolding Musharaf for the restriction he applied on media (if any). I think our news media has short memories, reporters were tortured, jailed and some even got killed when Zia-ul-Haq was the president, Almost same happened to reporters when Nawaz Sharif and Benazir were the Prime Ministers. I think our news-media has enjoyed complete freedom since last ten years but now the future does not look so rosy, let us wait and see, they may miss Musharaf era soon..

Kashif said:


You are spot on. These anchors can only be checked by GHQ. They sided with GHQ on KLB for 1.5b $$ civilian aid. On 1.5 B $$ military aid that Pentagon just appropriated no one say anything. Why Dr. Moeed, Talat Hussein, Hamid Mir, SM and all these GHQ puppits criticise that. Why don’t they say refuse aid for bombs and guns …. This is not free media …. Why video of Army Jawans interogating Swati Talibans was not relayed by channels. Hamid Mir admitted in London … they are not as free as people think, they were not allowed by GHQ to broadcast that tape.

They ‘d blame Zardari, Rehman Malik, Nawaz Sharif for drones but won’t say a word about Gen Kiyani and Gen . Pasha …. Nusrat Javed and Najam Sethi are among very few exceptions … rest of the lot in urdu media is there to discredit Politicans on GHQ’s guidelines…..

Also read:

Clinton’s encounter with media and Talat Hussain's $640 million mistake


The good Taliban, the bad Taliban and the story of Veronica Guerin

On the Pakistani side, there is a tendency to divide the terrorists into three categories: the Afghan Taliban who are good, the Pakistani Taliban who are bad, and the “foreigners” sheltered by some Pakistani Taliban who are bad too. These categories are patently false as is often proved by printed notices issued by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) naming Osama bin Laden and Mullah Umar as its patrons.

Is Al Qaeda in Pakistan?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, talking about Al Qaeda, said in Lahore on Thursday that she found it “hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to”. She added: “As far as we know, they are in Pakistan”. The stock answer from Pakistan of course is: “If you have any hard information about where the top leaders of Al Qaeda are, tell us, and we will get them for you”.

This has gone on for a long time. The argument between the US-NATO forces in Afghanistan on the one side and the Pakistani authorities on the other could not be conclusive, and so the formulation both accepted on the issue is: Al Qaeda leaders are somewhere on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This absolves both sides of the charge of not taking on the terrorists on the territories they control (sic!). But this is a logically untenable formulation.

Al Qaeda and its leaders could not locate themselves on the Durand Line as a line drawn on ground. If Osama bin Laden were to stand on it he would either fall on the Pakistani side or the Afghan side. The only conclusion one can draw is that there is obfuscation here and a measure of “passing the buck” by two parties not fully in control of things. There is a possibility that there is also an insufficiency of intent to take on Al Qaeda and finish it off. Meanwhile Osama bin Laden teeters on the Durand Line.

Circumstantial evidence is unending. Drone attacks regularly kill foreigners who can only be interpreted as Al Qaeda adjuncts. On the Pakistani side, there is a tendency to divide the terrorists into three categories: the Afghan Taliban who are good, the Pakistani Taliban who are bad, and the “foreigners” sheltered by some Pakistani Taliban who are bad too. These categories are patently false as is often proved by printed notices issued by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) naming Osama bin Laden and Mullah Umar as its patrons.

Pakistan can hardly know what is going on in the areas it has lost control of. Its intelligence was always weak in the tribal areas but it tapered off in 2001 after Pakistan decided to join the US in its war against terrorism. The strategic ambivalence practised by General Musharraf actually gave rise to rumours that the intelligence agencies were playing both sides and that retired officers were involved in implementing this strategy even as Pakistan caught the largest number of Al Qaeda terrorists found anywhere in the world and handed them over to the US.

The world outside knows more about the activities of Al Qaeda in Pakistan than do Pakistanis. Most of them believe that Al Qaeda doesn’t exist and that Osama bin Laden is in an American jail even as America manufactures excuses to invade Islamic nations. The news that the passport of Said Bahaji, a prominent member of the Hamburg cell that carried out the 9/11 attacks, was found in South Waziristan has been carried in the Pakistani press after appending “so-called” before Hamburg.

Pakistan never had much of a clue about what Al Qaeda was doing in Pakistan. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the 20th attacker who could not make it to the US, was caught in Karachi after American investigators located him. Abu Zubayda was only reluctantly confronted and caught by the local police in Faisalabad on the “pointation” of US investigators. Since Al Qaeda stayed close to the jihadis, and since the jihadis were kosher, they had a free run of Pakistan. Today, Pakistanis certainly don’t hate Al Qaeda as much as they hate the US.

The distraction is actually spread by the state institutions. The people are shown two enemies: the US and India. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who is usually quite factual, hints that the “bad” Taliban are being financed and armed by the US and India. His condemnation of Al Qaeda falls on deaf ears because of the logic he destroys every time he speaks like that: why should Al Qaeda be condemned if the suicide-bombers are being bought and sent out with Indian and American money? At times Al Qaeda must be put off by the fact that Pakistanis deny it the credit of having carried out the 9/11 attacks. * (Daily Times)


In the following op-ed, Tanvir Qaiser Shahid suggests that despite being threatened by the Taliban, committed and honest Pakistani journalists will not refrain from revealing the true ugly face of terrorists. He offers the example of Veronica Guerin as a model of bravery and integrity in journalism (very different from Pakistani yellow journalists such as Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Javed Chaudhry and Irfan Siddiqi).


Pakistani media's somersaults on air - By Nadeem Paracha

Somersaults on air

Talking to DawnNews, veteran journalist Agha Murtaza Poya called America, India, and Israel an ‘axis of evil out to destroy Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.’

There is absolutely nothing new or original about Poya’s grand ‘geopolitical’ assessment, but when such unsubstantiated claptrap comes from a respected journalist, what common sense or responsibility can one expect from the hoards of TV anchors and print journalists whose figurative 15 minutes of fame have already overstayed their cacophonic welcome.

It is a ‘fame’ gathered from cheap fist-clenching demonstrations of populist nonsense and so-called political discourses that are thoroughly anti-intellectual in nature and akin to deal more in sardonic barbs and thrilling sound bytes for an audience that seems not to have the patience, or for that matter, the capability to enjoy a more rational discourse.

TV screens and the pages of some newspapers are choked with hosts, journalists, and ‘experts’ dishing out the most worn out clichés that can be wonderful fodder for fast food spy fiction, consequently announcing the demise of any semblance left in this society to actually understand international and local politics as a dynamic science instead of reading it as a rapid-fire script of a racy James Bond film.

Accusations are conveniently floated about ‘corruption’ and ‘foreign hands,’ and not even once have they been proven as something more concrete than drawing room gossip or obsessive finger-wagging.

Thankfully, those sickened by such baloney have gotten down to systematically dismantling the many myths and conspiracy dribble that are smugly rolled out as ‘facts.’

Take the books written on the subject of Islamists and terrorism in the region by well known author Ahmed Rashid. In Decent into Chao (2008), Rashid uses reliable sources to turn the already known narrative of Pakistan being its own worst enemy into an elaborate and convincing intellectual and journalistic exercise.

But myth-busters – including Rashid, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dr. Mubarak Ali and others – may seem ‘too dry’ in their style compared to the many compelling babblers, journalists, and columnists who have turned spouting populist twaddle and worn-out conspiracies into an industry. Now, however, the myth-breaking brigade have found their own shock troopers.

This is a vital development in which sanity in this respect seems to be evolving a muscular side to challenge the sheer brawn of gaseous drawing room jocks such as Zaid Hamid, Aamir Liaquat, Mubashhir Luqman, Shahid Masood, Ansar Abbasi, et al.

Urdu columnist and TV host Hassan Nisar and investigative journalist Aamir Mir have been the frontline shock troopers. They have continued to dent the jocks’ numerous theories not only with arguments rooted in facts, but also with a punch.

In his book, Talibanisation of Pakistan, Mir, like Rashid, uses the most convincing investigative tools, smartly gathering on-ground facts from various competing intelligence agencies in Pakistan to lay out a harrowing narrative that puts Pakistan’s many schizophrenic intelligence agencies smack-dab in the middle of all that has gone so terribly wrong with Pakistan in matters of extremism and terrorism.

Mir’s book is a warning, but without the holier-than-thou approach that many of his detractors usually take.

The more we remain in denial about our own agencies’ historical dabbling in civilian political matters, and the many deadly games that these agencies played moulding armies of fanatical and violent Frankenstein Monsters, the deeper we shall tumble into the bottomless pit we have managed to dig for ourselves.

Interestingly, every time certain awkward truths about our own political and societal failures start to become a hot topic among the amoral chattering classes, there are always those who suddenly up the ante of their respective TV shows and their newspaper ‘scoops’ and columns, diverting the attention of the people either back to the wrecking and scheming ways of ‘foreign hands,’ or, of course, the Kerry-Lugar Bill and the NRO.

I’ve been associated with both investigative and desk journalism for more than 15 years now, and I know how vulnerable to exploitation journalists can get; quite like the politicians we so self-righteously bash. And even though I have very little experience with electronic journalism, one can quite easily point out the cynicism that cuts across it.

In 2007, the army (for the TV news channels) became the villain and the lawyers our saviours; terrorists were dealt with velvet gloves, even glorified as men who were creatures of circumstance instead of the cold-blooded murderers that they really are.
The same year, when late Benazir Bhutto met with Pervez Musharraf, she was mocked and put down as a ‘puppet of America.’ Soon after her tragic death, she suddenly became a heroine, and whole documentaries were dedicated to her.

In 2008, the army was still the villain and democrats became supermen. Terrorists were still seen to be fighting a noble war against America, and those who were blowing themselves up in mosques and schools were ‘Indian agents.’

In 2009, after the government and the army finally took decisive action against the terrorists, the army returned to the TV screens as heroes. Terrorists, meanwhile, became an elusive cross between barbarians and men funded by foreign powers. Last year’s supermen, the elected democrats, on the other hand, become ‘corrupt,’ ‘incompetent,’ and a laughing stock.

Suddenly, for TV news channels in Pakistan, it seems democracy isn’t all that cool anymore. They’re back indulging in Pakistani journalism’s all-time favourite pastime: looking for those ‘dark clouds’ of army intervention to ‘control corrupt politicians.’ They just never tire of this hollow, reactive exercise. It’s been going on ever since 1958.

The electronic media claims these somersaults are undertaken in the fine name of ‘democracy,’ and ‘freedom of speech.’ But the truth is, much of our electronic media is simply driven by what is better described as a mobocracy! Even a casual glance at any ‘talk show’ should suffice as proof.

nadeem_80x802 Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.



Friday, 30 October 2009

An analysis of Takfiri thought and actions in Pakistan

Wusatullah Khan of BBC Urdu offers an analysis of the Takfiri (Khariji ) thought and actions in Pakistan.

Some renowned (notorious) Takfiris (Kharijis) include (some of them are hidden Takfiris):

Osama Bin Laden
Mullah Omar
Qazi Hussain Ahmed
Munawar Hassan
Imran Khan
Dr Shahid Masood
Irfan Siddiqi
Javed Chaudhry
Hafiz Saeed Ahmed
General Hamid Gul
General Aslam Beg
Shirin Mazari
Ansar Abbasi

ایک سو تیرہ جائز ہلاکتیں!

اصناف: ,

وسعت اللہ خان | 2009-10-29 ،16:38

تکفیر کی اصطلاح کفر سے نکلی ہے۔ تکفیری ایسے شخص کو کہتے ہیں جو دیگر مسلمانوں کو عقیدے کی کمزوری یا خرابی کے سبب کافر یا مرتد سمجھے اور ایسے مسلمانوں کے قتل کو جائز جانے۔

کسی بھی مسلمان کو مرتد یا کافر قرار دینے کا ایک شرعی طریقہ کار ہے جس کی روشنی میں صاحبِ علم اور مجاز علما ہی کسی کے عقیدے کا فیصلہ کرنے کے اہل ہیں۔ لیکن بہت سے گروہ جن میں سے غالب اکثریت سلفی نظریے سے متاثر ہے خود کو اس کا اہل گردانتے ہیں کہ وہ کسی فرد یا گروہ کے ایمان کے بارے میں فیصلہ دے سکیں۔ یہ وہ گروہ ہیں جو سلفی نظریے کی مذید انتہا پسندانہ شکل کے نمائندے ہیں۔ ان کے نزدیک جو شخص یا گروہ یا مسلمان حکومت اسلام کے بارے میں ان کی تشریح سے متفق نہیں وہ ایک خالص اسلامی معاشرے کے قیام کی راہ میں اپنی بدعقیدگی کے سبب ایک رکاوٹ ہے جسے ہٹانے کے لیے تشدد سمیت کوئی بھی طریقہ جائز اور شرعی ہے۔

تاریخ میں اس سے ملتا جلتا نظریہ خارجی فرقے کے ہاں ملتا ہے۔ اور تکفیری عقیدے کی جدید شکل طالبان، القاعدہ، مصر اور الجزائر میں متحرک جماع الاسلامیہ جیسے شدت پسند گروہ سمجھے جاتے ہیں۔

اسامہ بن لادن کا ذاتی نظریہ یہ ہے کہ نتیجہ اہم ہے اس تک پہنچنے کے لیے کوئی بھی راستہ اختیار کیا جاسکتا ہے۔ بقول ان کے'ضروری نہیں ہے کہ جو بھی اس جہاد کا حصہ بنے وہ اسلامی اصولوں پر اپنی ذات کی حد تک پوری طرح سے عمل پیرا ہو۔ اسکی نیت زیادہ اہم ہے۔'

جب امریکی ٹائم میگزین نے مصر کی شدت پسند تنظیم جماع الاسلامیہ کے فکری قائد شیخ عمر عبدالرحمان سے انٹرویو میں پوچھا کہ جو عام شہری کار بم کے دھماکوں میں بے گناہ مارے جاتے ہیں ان کے بارے میں آپ کیا کہتے ہیں۔ شیخ عمر کا جواب تھا کہ اگر یہ ایکشن دورانِ جنگ لیا گیا ہے اور اس کے نتیجے میں عام لوگ مارے جاتے ہیں تو یہ تشدد کے بدلے تشدد کا عمل ہے اور اس کی ذمہ داری تشدد کا جواب دینے والے پر عائد نہیں کی جاسکتی۔

تکفیری اسے بھی جائز سمجھتے ہیں کہ اگر دشمنوں کو مارنے کے لیے ایک شخص جان بوجھ کر خود کو ہلاک کرتا ہے تو وہ شہید ہے۔

ڈاکٹر ایمن الزواہری تکفیری سوچ کا ایک سرکردہ نشان ہیں۔ جب وہ سن اسی کے عشرے میں صدر انور سادات کے قتل کے بعد قاہرہ کی جیل میں تھے تو ان کے بقول وہ لوگ جو ایک فاسق و فاجر حکومت کے ہوتے ہوئے چپ رہتے ہیں یا مزاحمتی اسلامی قوتوں کی مدد نہیں کرتے تو وہ بھی فاسق و فاجر حکومت کے مددگار اور واجب القتل ہیں۔ اسی دور میں قاہرہ میں دھماکوں کی ایک مختصر لہر بھی آئی جس میں عام شہریوں کے ساتھ غیر ملکی سیاح بھی ہلاک ہوئے۔

پشاور میں ایک سو تیرہ عورتوں، بچوں اور عام مردوں کی ہلاکت آپ کے نزدیک درندگی ہو، لیکن تکفیری نظریے کی روشنی میں ان کی ہلاکت ایک شرعی اور جائز عمل ہے۔۔


Understanding the nature of Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan - By Ayesha Siddiqa

The nature of the beast
By Ayesha Siddiqa
Friday, 30 Oct, 2009 - Dawn
Soldiers keep guard on top of Kund mountain near Kotkai village. The state has buried its head in the sand by arguing that while there is a problem in Waziristan, there is hardly anything to worry about in Punjab. –Photo by Reuters/Faisal Mahmood
The series of recent terrorist attacks call for a close analysis of the militant threat and the formulation of a strategy to ward off such tragedies. At the moment, we seem to be jumping from one target to another, fighting some enemies and denying the existence of others. Hence the plan lacks strategic depth as the state appears to pursue one type of enemy leaving out others.

It will help to explain that the state of Pakistan is confronted with three enemies that are closely intertwined. Firstly, there is Al Qaeda, which comprises Arabs, Uzbeks and a select group of Pakistanis. Then there is the Taliban who consist of different branches including the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. The latter are ideologically connected to the group known as the Pakistani Taliban who, although they consider Mullah Omar their ameer-ul-momineen, are engaged in fighting a battle inside Pakistan to capture the state.

This is considered essential to establish a system that could then be taken to the rest of the world. A glance through Farzana Sheikh’s recent book Making Sense of Pakistan demonstrates that some modern Muslim thinkers such as Abul Ala Maududi and Allama Iqbal also considered the state as a forum. However, this is not to suggest that these two thinkers advocated using violence in the same way as the Taliban.

Then there are the Punjab-based Salafi-jihadi groups wrongly termed as the Punjabi Taliban. Actually, Taliban is a term that has a certain historical context and can only be used in the case of the Afghan Taliban. Nevertheless, the Punjabi jihadis are ideologically-driven and keen to take on the state.

The various Punjab-based groups or those connected with Punjab assist others in Waziristan and Swat. They even use the tribal areas as a hideout. For example ‘Commander’ Ilyas Kashmiri, who heads the 313 Brigade of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-ul-Islami (Huji), took refuge in Waziristan in 2005 after he developed problems with Pakistan’s military. Then there is the Amjad Farooqi group, which was also involved in the assassination attempt on Pervez Musharraf.

The above description is meant to demonstrate that since the enemy is diverse, it cannot just be seen through the single lens of the Taliban. Unfortunately, the state has buried its head in the sand by arguing that while there is a problem in Waziristan, there is hardly anything to worry about in Punjab. The Punjab government in particular seems to deny the fact that there are Punjabis involved in religious militancy. The Punjabi jihadis, in fact, are crucial because they mingle easily with the crowd in places where the attack is to be carried out.

The attackers must reconnoitre the target in advance before chalking out a plan. An outsider can be spotted easily. Thus the dependence on Punjab-based militants to carry out attacks in the capital or Lahore. Recently, it was claimed that the mastermind of the Marriott bombing and the GHQ attack was caught from Bahawalpur.

Reading such reports one wonders why the Punjab government is going on the defensive, withholding information about the presence of militants in Punjab, especially southern Punjab. Naming southern Punjab as a possible place for jihadi recruitment does not mean that youth from other places such as Faisalabad, Gujranwala or Lahore are not involved. However, the concentration of religious militants is in this region.

This fact is logical because of the link between three major militant outfits in southern Punjab. One could argue that the government might not want people to concentrate on this region because of the presence of outfits which do not fight the state, such as Jaish-i-Mohammad or Lashkar-i-Taiba, and that the problem is only with the breakaway factions, as ISPR spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas recently argued. But the fact is that no one can control individuals or groups breaking away from the mother organisation and linking up with the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

It is amazing the extent to which the government can go to withhold information about the seemingly ‘friendly’ groups. For instance, recently during a television programme Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah went out of his way to suggest that the Jaish-controlled madressah, which is also the outfit’s headquarters, is not a no-go area. He even tried to make a lame excuse when informed that a team from a local channel was attacked when they tried to take shots of the area from the outside.

More interestingly, the minister immediately accused me of using a western lens to look at the situation, an accusation also made by Jaish-i-Mohammad in its weekly magazine Al Qalam. The article was written with the specific purpose to incite people against me. The writer had twisted words and facts from one of my previous articles and presented them in a way that made me appear as an enemy. This was immediately brought to the knowledge of the interior ministry, which promised to provide help. Intriguingly, it took the Bahawalpur DPO more than three hours to make the first contact. The lapse might have been at either end but considering that I could survive for three hours I declined their help.

In any case, one does not expect sympathy from a district administration that has lately been going out of its way to hide the activities of an outfit. The game is that you are not allowed an opportunity to prove anything because the evidence suddenly disappears once you raise a hue and cry.

The Punjab government’s attitude reflects political expediency. A lot of big traders in southern Punjab and other parts of the province who are constituents of the different factions of the Muslim League are believed to finance the outfits both directly and indirectly. This is not to suggest that other political parties are any better.

However, the bottom line is that while as an individual one feels unprotected by the state, it is sad to think that the authorities believe they can deal with religious militancy on a piecemeal basis. A holistic strategy is necessary, not to protect western interests but to safeguard the state and its citizens.

The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst. ayesha.ibd@gmail.com

And the obvious corollary: how can we expect to win this war if we aren’t fighting all the pieces in the militancy jigsaw? Have a look at the names and domiciles of the militants blamed for the current wave of violence in the country. At least half, if not a majority, of them are Punjabi, not tribal.


From jihadi Taliban to media Taliban - By Sohail Qalandar

Our own monsters

Political leaders, intellectuals, influential media personalities and the military leadership of the country have to be united on a single-point national agenda: the elimination and total destruction of all militant organisations and their supporters from the soil of Pakistan. The blame game has to stop. We just cannot afford to indulge in conspiracy theories and blame every body under the sun for our own home grown indigenous misfortunes. Our self created terror structure has to be destroyed; we just cannot afford to support, pamper and nourish the jihadi outfits mistakenly labeled as our strategic assets by successive previous regimes and our intelligence agencies.

Political parties, irrespective of their manifestoes, have to be united on the question of religious fanaticism and terror. This issue should be treated like the Kashmir cause or the nuclear issue. Since the birth of Pakistan, the leaders and parties have never differed on Kashmir or the nuclear policy why can't they unite on the policy on terrorism? Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and the leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami have to stand up and be counted; Either they are with Pakistan or with the evil forces of religious fanaticism. The Zardari-Gilani regime must ensure sincerity, transparency and seriousness in their efforts to root out the scourge of religious fanaticism. The government of the day has issued stringent security guidelines for all educational institutions to implement or face closure. Do these rules apply to the innumerable deeni madaris mushrooming all over the country? Our leaders and security agencies are not blind to the fact that many of the religious seminaries are the breeding grounds of terror and religious intolerance. Have we forgotten the lessons of Lal Masjid? Why have we not heard anything about reining in fanatical mullas preaching hatred and sectarian violence in the madras?

Pakistan of today is held hostage by many religious militant organizations. We are looked upon with suspicion by various western countries. Foreign capital is flying out of the country and Pakistan is fast becoming the most difficult country to govern. The choice before the elected government is clear: face the forces of fundamentalism and obscurantism and defeat them, or hand over the country to these forces so that they can implement their own version of Islamic law in the country. (Source: Our own monsters, Tariq Aqil, The News, http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=205793)


Slaughterhouse in mad house - Taliban in Pakistan

Pagal khanay mein zabah khana - by Mohammed Hanif

پاگل خانےمیں ذبح خانہ

’تو پھر کیا تمام پنجابی طالبان، وزیرستان ہجرت کر جائیں گے یا ایک چھوٹی سے خلافت ملتان اور رحیم یار خان کے بیچ میں بھی قائم ہو گی‘

گذشتہ ہفتے ایک غیر صحافی دوست نے سوال پوچھا کہ آخر پاکستانی طالبان کے سیاسی مقاصد کیا ہیں۔ میں نے اسکو سنی سنائی باتیں بتائیں لیکن اسے کیا یقین آنا تھا مجھے خود اپنے جواب پر یقین نہیں آیا۔ تب سے میں ہر صحافی، دانش ور سے پوچھتا ہوں، ادارتی صفحے کھنگالتا ہوں اور جو جواب ملتے ہیں اس سے میرے ذہن میں مزید سوال اٹھتے ہیں۔ اب تک ملنے والے جوابات اور میرے سوال در سوال کچھ یوں ہیں۔ جواب پہلے ہے سوال بعد میں۔

ج: پاکستانی طالبان، افغانستان کے طالبان کے ساتھ مل کر امریکی فوجوں کی واپسی چاہتے ہیں اور یہ چاہتے ہیں کہ پاکستان قبائلی علاقوں میں مداخلت نہ کرے تاکہ وہ اپنے قبائلی رسم و رواج اور شریعت کے مطابق زندگی گزار سکیں۔

س: تو پھر کیا تمام پنجابی طالبان وزیرستان ہجرت کر جائیں گے یا ایک چھوٹی سے خلافت ملتان اور رحیم یار خان کے بیچ میں بھی قائم ہوگی؟

ج: پاکستانی طالبان کا کوئی وجود نہیں یہ صرف قبائلی انتظام ہے۔ خون کا بدلہ خون۔ پاکستانی فوج نے ان پر چڑھائی کی۔ وہ صرف بدلہ لے رہے ہیں۔

س: اگر یہ صرف قبائلی انتقام ہے تو گزشتہ دہائی میں شیعوں سے اور اس سے پہلے قادیانیوں سے کون سا انتقام لیا جا رہا تھا؟

ج: یہ تحریک اس عالمی اسلامی نشاۃ الثانیہ کا حصہ ہے جو نو گیارہ کے بعد شروع ہوئی۔ یہ تحریک اس وقت تک جاری رہے گی جب تک مسلمانوں کا ازلی دشمن امریکہ گھٹنے نہیں ٹیک دیتا۔

س: اس عالمی تحریک کے پوسٹر بوائے اسامہ بن لادن ہیں اور گیارہ نو سے پہلے ان کا سیاسی مشن تھا سعودی عرب میں اسلامی نظام کا نفاذ۔ سعودی عرب میں اسلامی نظام کا نفاذ؟ ہمیں تو بچپن سے پڑھایا گیا تھا کہ سعودی عرب وہ واحد جگہ ہے جہاں اسلامی نظام موجود ہے۔ تو اب کیا مقصد ہے؟ کیلیفورنیا میں اسلامی نظام کا قیام؟ اور کیا یہ عظیم مقصد پشاور کے معصوم بچوں کو زندہ جلائے بغیر حاصل کیا جاسکتا ہے؟

ج: آپ واقعی توقع رکھتے ہیں کہ قبائلی پٹھان کسی سیاسی منشور پر عمل کر رہے ہیں؟ یہ سوال ہی لغو ہے۔

’میڈیا میں اور مسجدوں میں انکا دفاع کرنے والے کس کے ایجنٹ ہیں‘

س: الیاس کشمیری، ڈاکٹر عقیل، حاجی اسحٰق، اکرم لاہوری، مولانا مسعود اظہر نہ تو قبائلی ہیں نہ پٹھان۔ یہ سب پاکستان میں کبھی کسی ایجنسی، کبھی کسی مذہبی جماعت کے ہیرو بھی رہے ہیں۔ تو کیا یہ سب لوگ بھی طالبان کے ساتھ تعلق بنانے کے بعد پٹھان ہو گئے ہیں؟ کیا ان سادہ دلوں کا بھی کوئی سیاسی منشور نہیں ہے۔ اور کیا اس نامنشور پر عمل کے لیے ضروری ہے کہ غریبوں کے بچے بارود اور کیلوں سے بھری جیکٹیں پہنا کر اڑادیے جائے؟

ج: یہ سب امریکہ، اسرائیل اور بھارت کے ایجنٹ ہیں۔

س: سب کے سب؟ اور میڈیا میں اور مسجدوں میں انکا دفاع کرنے والے کس کے ایجنٹ ہیں؟

ج: یہ ملک ایک پاگل خانہ ہے۔مصری عالم سید قطب کے پیروکاروں کے ذہن میں آیا کہ اس پاگل خانے کے بیچ ایک ذبح خانہ قائم کر دیا جائے تو سارے پاگل اپنے کام چھوڑ کر یا تو تالیاں بجائیں گے، یا روئیں گے، یا خون میں ہاتھ دھو کر اپنے چہروں پر ملیں گے۔گوشت کے لوتھڑے بھنبھوڑیں گے، ڈر کے سجدوں میں گر جائیں گے، ذبح خانے میں سجدوں میں جھکی گردنیں کاٹی جائیں گی، پرانی قبروں سے ڈھانچے نکال کر انہیں چوراہوں پر پھانسی دی جائے گی۔ چھوٹے بچوں کو چھوٹی قبروں میں دفنا کر اللہ کی رضا قرار دیا جائے گا۔ ذبح خانہ تکبیر کے نعروں سے گونجے گا۔ اور یوں سارے پاگل سید قطب کے خواب کی تعبیر پائیں گے اور بخشے جائیں یا نہ جائیں پاگل خانے کی پاگل زندگی سے نجات ضرور پائیں گے۔

س: آمین ثم آمین

War and politics

Reality check

Friday, October 30, 2009
Shafqat Mahmood

Their claim of fighting for Islam was always a sham. That they are barbarous animals has been exposed by the bombing of innocent people in Peshawar. This is not the first time and it will not be the last. They will stop at nothing to get what they really want; power to lord it over you, and tell you how to live your life.

Is this slaughter of poor men, women and children happening because they hate the United States? Were they cutting throats and whipping women in Swat because of the drone attacks? Are these the kind of people who can be talked to, as Imran Khan, Rustam Shah Mohmand and others would have us believe?

They tell us that we the people of Pakistan are being targeted because our governments, past and present, collaborated with the US in fighting the Al Qaeda and Taliban. Let us for a moment accept their logic. How will they explain that these groups had already created cadres, prepared suicide squads, armed themselves and were ready to take on the Pakistani state?

Did this occur because of US-Pakistan partnership after 9/11 or was this happening anyway? The Sufi Mohammads of this world were on the warpath much before September 2001 as were the Punjab-based radical sectarian outfits. Their power and organisation was growing and they were all prepared to assert themselves whether or not the US-Pakistan collaboration took place.

The American presence in Afghanistan has of course added to the problem. After it was occupied, Al Qaeda and other radical groups shifted to Pakistani border regions, adding their money, leadership and skills to the growing strength of local groups. Drone attacks and the overbearing American attitude did not help either. But to say that the terrorism we face today is only because of Pakistan-US collaboration is delusional.

The US could indeed help us to fight this home-grown insurgency better by making its attitude towards Pakistan clearer. It is not just a question of giving us money and arms, although given the state of our economy and the militancy challenge it is not something to sneer at. It could go further by giving greater respect to our sovereignty and not appear to assist our adversaries.

Unwelcome drone attacks are just one aspect of it. The growing footprint of US advisors and security personnel on the ground in Islamabad and other parts of the country is disturbing for the Pakistani people. Some of them have even been caught roaming the capital with arms and others allegedly stopped close to our nuclear installation in Kahuta. Such stories fuel the already high levels of anti-Americanism in the country.

The US attitude in Afghanistan is also giving rise to misgivings. It is allowing Indian presence there to enlarge rapidly. The opening of new consulates is just one part of it. Indian civil institutions and private contractors in every field are also a growing presence. If the US wants to win hearts and minds in Pakistan, it has to show greater sensitivity to our concerns.

The Americans also need to clarify their attitude towards known anti-Pakistan figures, such as Brahmdagh Bugti and others, who are being given refuge in Afghanistan. There is sufficient evidence, according to Pakistan government, of Indian meddling in Balochistan. By giving refuge to the so-called Baloch nationalists, the Americans appear to be colluding with them.

It is in this context that the conditions attached to the Kerry-Lugar Bill raised so many doubts in Pakistan. If there had been no worries regarding American intentions, some of the intemperate language may have been tolerated given the larger framework of support contained in it. But the feeling that Americans are not playing straight, led to the strong response in the country. (The News)

(Ayaz Khan)


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Death toll from Peshawar blast rises to 104

Extremism, whatever the historical reasons that are bent around trying to understand it and place it in our national and cultural context, now envelops all of us in a deadly and debilitating cloud. There will be the usual cries that 'those who did this are not Muslims'…but of course they were. This was not some plot hatched and executed by mad Hindus or Sikhs, this is a plot that will have been hatched within a few miles of where the blast occurred, by men who believe that their piety and vision of a Muslim future world, wherein their own paradigm will rule supreme, is best achieved by shredding the bodies of their fellow Muslims. There are groups of extremists in every province, not all coordinated by any means nor sharing the same agenda, which are steadily eroding the national morale. The government is standing fast and firm in Waziristan, but the blowback is there for us all to see every day. The forces of law and order, especially the police, are nowadays stretched beyond reasonable limits, and we should refrain from laying the blame at their door seconds after every blast or atrocity. Simply, the police are a finite resource – in every country – and those that we have here in Pakistan are poorly paid, badly equipped and often indifferently led. (We will leave aside issues relating to corruption for today.) Given that the police forces of every town and city across the land are just beginning to get to grips with the demands of securing the nations schools, their scant resources cannot be spread much thinner to provide security to every bazaar and shopping mall nationwide. There will be other blasts in the future, as there have been today and in the past. Some terrorists we will intercept, but it only needs one to get through. The blitz they inflict on us may be awful but we must show our resolve, our unwillingness to be cowed, and say 'No, you shall not pass, neither shall we give you relief….now get you hence, Beast, because this is our land, not yours. (The News, Editorial, 29 Oct 2009)

Death toll from Peshawar blast rises to 104
By Ali Hazrat Bacha
Thursday, 29 Oct, 2009 (Dawn)
Volunteers rush an injured child to a hospital after an explosion in Peshawar.—AP

PESHAWAR: At least 104 people, mostly women and children, were killed and over 150 injured when a huge car bomb ripped through a crowded market here on Wednesday.

The blast triggered a huge fire which engulfed a number of buildings near the Meena Bazaar. A plume of dust and smoke billowed from narrow lanes of the market situated in the old part of the city.

A senior intelligence official blamed terrorists based in Darra Adamkhel for the attack. ‘We intercepted a call last week in which militants were talking about a ‘heart-rending’ attack in Peshawar,’ he said.

A representative of the shopkeepers’ association said threats had been received in recent days with militants demanding that women be forbidden from going to the market.

The blast took place in two narrow lanes between Meena Bazaar and Kochi Bazaar frequented by women.

A cotton warehouse in the market caught fire which spread to several buildings on the Cheri Koban road. A number of shops along the narrow road, vehicles and carts were gutted.

Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition and till late night only 25 of them had been identified.

Hospital sources said the death toll could rise because scores of badly burnt and injured people were in a critical condition.

‘It was a car bomb blast and over 150 kilograms of explosives were used,’ in-charge of the bomb disposal unit AIG Malik Shafqar Mahmud said.

He said that an initial investigation suggested that explosives had been detonated by remote control. The blast caused massive losses because it had taken place in a narrow and busy market, he added.

‘About 70 of the dead are women and children. Scores of the injured are in a critical condition,’ said Dr Sahib Gul, the in-charge of Trauma Centre at the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.

‘The blast was so huge that it jolted the entire area and within seconds plumes of smoke and dust started emitting out of a building near Al-Falah Mosque,’ Karim Khan, a shopkeeper, said.

Ezat Khan, another shopkeeper, said that parking of vehicles outside shops was not allowed, but it could not be ascertained how the driver of the explosives-laden car had managed to park it there.

Fire-engines, ambulances and other rescue vehicles faced difficulty in reaching the scene because of congestion and narrow lanes. People were seen taking the bodies and the injured to hospitals in cars, rickshaws and even on motorcycles.

A fire-fighter said that many children and women trapped in the debris of several buildings were crying for help, but rescue workers could not reach them because of huge flames.

A group of men trapped under the roof of a nearby mosque were rescued.

Rescue work was in progress till late night and workers were finding it difficult to remove the debris.

It was feared that some people were still trapped in the rubble because rescue personnel had heard them wailing and crying.

All shops in the area were closed after the blast and people started searching for their relatives.

A crowd of people inside the trauma room and emergency hall of the Lady Reading Hospital made it difficult for medical staff to perform their duty.

Distressed people, including women, were seen searching for relatives in the hospital, but recognising them was difficult because most of the bodies were mutilated. Stench of blood and human flesh hung in the air in the hospital.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Car bomb kills 91 in Peshawar, and Imran Khan's stance on Taliban

Car bomb kills 91 in Pakistani city of Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A car bomb tore through a busy market in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 91 people as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the country and pledged American support for its campaign against Islamist militants.

More than 200 people were wounded in the blast in the main northwestern city of Peshawar, the deadliest in a surge of attacks this month. The government blamed militants seeking to avenge an army offensive launched this month against al-Qaida and Taliban in their stronghold close to the Afghan border.

The bomb destroyed much of a market selling bangles, dresses and toys that was popular with women and children.

It collapsed buildings, including a mosque, and set shops on fire in an old part of the city crisscrossed with narrow alleys and clogged with stalls. Wounded people sat amid burning debris and body parts as a huge plume of gray smoke rose above the city.

Crying for help, men grabbed at the wreckage, trying to pull out survivors trapped beneath. One two-story building collapsed as firefighters doused it with water, triggering more panic.

"There was a deafening sound and I was like a blind man for a few minutes," said Mohammad Usman, who was wounded in the shoulder. "I heard women and children crying and started to help others. There was the smell of human flesh in the air."

Clinton, on her first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state, was a three-hour drive away in the capital, Islamabad, when the blast took place. Speaking to reporters, she praised the army's anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan and offered U.S. support.

"I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan's alone," Clinton said. "These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well."

Appearing with her, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the violence would not break his government's will to fight back.

"The resolve and determination will not be shaken," Qureshi said. "People are carrying out such heinous crimes — they want to shake our resolve. I want to address them: We will not buckle. We will fight you. We will fight you because we want peace and stability in Pakistan."

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but that is not unusual, especially when the victims are Pakistani civilians. Sahib Gul, a doctor at a nearby hospital, said 91 people were killed and more than 200 injured. Many of the victims were women and children.

Three bombs have exploded in Peshawar this month, including another one that killed more than 50 people, part of a barrage of at least 10 major attacks across the country that have killed some 250 people. Most have targeted security forces, but some bombs have gone off in public places, apparently to undercut support for the army's assault on the border and expose the weakness of the government.

The Taliban have warned Pakistan that they would stage more attacks if the army does not end a new ground offensive in the South Waziristan tribal region, where the military has dispatched some 30,000 troops to flush out insurgents. South Waziristan is a major base for the Pakistani Taliban and other foreign militants.

North West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain blamed the militants for Wednesday's attack.

"We are hitting them at their center of terrorism, and they are hitting back targeting Peshawar," he said. "This is a tough time for us. We are picking up the bodies of our women and children, but we will follow these terrorists and eliminate them."

Imran Khan's Stance (based on his statement on a previous terrorist activity by the Taliban)

The following discussion has been sourced from Imran Khan's official website (Insaf.pk):

madeel: 27/10/2009 8:20 PM
This is a long held view by many respectable analyst that IK lacks political instinct. Recently Haroon Rasheed who is most outspoken supporter of PTI in the media has also joined that group of analysts. By the way, this group is largely consists of PTI sympathizers. I want to analyze whether such criticisms carried some weight.

This present Waziristan operation is not on the US dictation. Army took the initiative due to political dysfunctionality of the government. My point is that we can't criticize this operation on the ground that it is on the US demands. In fact, one of the US army officials regards this operation fruitless from the US viewpoint.

The second point is that if some Pakistani come out on the street and kill innocent Pakistanis what we should do with him? Even if he has genuine grievences against the Pakistani givernment, he can not be allowed killing innocent people. Therefore we should control them using the available tools.

We don't have any counter-insurgency force. We can't have any in the next three or four years. Frontier Constablaury is not equipped with advanced equipment nor is well-trained to counter the fasadis. So the only tool we left with is the Pakistan Army.

PTI stance should be that: "We oppose any military operation in principle but given the circumstances and resources we left with no other option."

IK may be kinf of administrator which we need as a prime minister. But he does lack political acuman. I repeat this view held by credible and respectable analyst who are well wisher of PTI.

Along with IK, CEC also carry the major share of political mistakes committed by IK. It may be the reason PTI why PTI is not able to challenge PPP or PML-N so far. That too is despite the broad viewership and respect IK enjoys.

To have a further discussion, a column is also posted. Aamir Khawani is an independent columnist who writes for Express Newspaper.

che guevera: 28/10/2009 2:07 AM
Well I agree with Adeel on this. Imran's logic is that there were no pakistani taliban before 2004 and this all started once we entered FATA. Also the solution he proposes is that we should talk to them, isolate the friendly groups and then ,if needed and as last resort, do prescion strikes with commando attacks on the those who are against us. Then he also says that we should talk to US about withdrawing form Afghanistan.

I think the way this operation is done and the one in swat were required, could have been done in a better way. In fact they were done in above manner ( look at Waziristan for example with Waziris and other group are siding with army)Therefore it does not make sense to totally oppose these operations without giving a solid alternative. FC is too weak to tackle such insurgency. The result of above stance is that in each talk show it consumes 10 mins and we get more confused.
farjad: 28/10/2009 9:20 AM
Talk to whom,TTP barbarians who killed a 100 men women and children in Peshawar today.Now dont tell me they did so becoz an American drone killed civilians in the FATA. I have no sympathy for these killers who massacre fellow Muslims and Pakistanis. I find IK's logic on the operation deeply flawed and his stand adamant. He refuses to concede that he was wrong about TTP and took the JI line of preaching the idealist line. The only language these retards understand is of force and violence and talking logic to them is foolhardy. IK is loosing credibility by being too philosophical about the TTP issue. I am one of his die-hard fans but on this issue I refuse to tow his line if that makes a difference at all.


Frankenstein’s Monster and General Zia-ul-Haq's jihadis

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A useless meeting between Zardari and Nawaz?

(Nazir Naji)


Negative expectations from ‘Z-N’ meeting

The general impression in the media about Monday’s meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and the PMLN leader Mr Nawaz Sharif was that it broke no new ground. One TV channel was so upset that it called the meeting a “zero”. It is true that nothing radically different was visible — after the meeting — in the past tenor of the PPP-PMLN relationship. It would be interesting to find out what the media wanted the meeting to achieve.

Some anchors could not hide the fact that they had nursed negative expectations from it. They wanted Mr Sharif to challenge Mr Zardari and put conditions before him that would end the latter’s alleged dominance in the country’s governance and possibly get from him a credible pledge about sacking a number of ministers. The anti-PPP media did not spell out what it wanted from the meeting of the two party bosses, but they kept talking about the “unconstitutionality” of the NRO, corruption in the government and a sell-out of national honour to the US while accepting the Kerry-Lugar law.

For them the meeting was a damp squib. They, and the “guests” they brought to the talk-shows, kept “advising” Mr Sharif to stand firm and say no to Mr Zardari on all the three above-mentioned “national issues”. The more passionate of the critics relied on the “suffering of the people” at the hands of a government that could not resolve the power crisis, failed to carry out the Supreme Court orders to provide cheap sugar to the common man, and was impervious to people committing suicide. They wanted Mr Sharif not to cooperate with Mr Zardari but to deliver a Darwinist coup de grace to a government they thought was too weak to last.

The meeting delivered nothing of this. What it did deliver clearly was an assertion by the PMLN that it will not participate in the collapse of the political order created by the 2008 elections. It did not discuss the NRO which is sub judice and in the cognisance of the parliament. Mr Sharif did not ask Mr Zardari to get rid of the governor in Punjab or to say no the grant-in-aid coming in from the US, because of which, together with the IMF assistance, Pakistan’s economy still enjoys a measure of international trust. There was however a discussion of the removal of the 17th Amendment disabilities through the 18th Amendment which the parliament is already seized of.

All kinds of “conspiracy” theories flew around. Politicians who specialise in reading the tea-leaves of Pakistan’s meta-history said that both the big parties had once again decided to take dictation from America and line up together to welcome the US Secretary of State Ms Hilary Clinton whose forthcoming visit will hand over the next bit of the American agenda in Pakistan. The absence from the meeting of Mr Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was interpreted in the same context: they were punished through a blackball for having gone and met the army chief who was opposed to American aid.

The biggest item that has infused the paranoid aspects of the Pakistani state and has surfaced once again — the expected American attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities — was also not discussed. After all the hype created by the media and those who influence it, Mr Sharif thought it was not necessary for him to put Mr Zardari on notice on the subject. The Americans are supposed to be beefing up their diplomatic facilities with mercenary soldiers to make a dash for Kahuta to steal the bomb.

What Mr Zardari has achieved by inviting Mr Sharif to Islamabad is a reiteration from the latter of his resolve not to topple the government before its term. What Mr Sharif has achieved is no major shift from the political stance that has made him the most popular politician in the country. Those who think that he should do what most ordinary politicians do after becoming popular — rock the democratic boat and unleash all sorts of undemocratic forces — have been disappointed. (Daily Times)

A positive sign
Dawn Editorial

Wednesday, 28 Oct, 2009

No breakthrough in Zardari-Nawaz talks No breakthrough in Zardari-Nawaz talks That the meeting between President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif did not yield any breakthrough is being seen as a sign of failure in some quarters. We have a different view. Held in a congenial atmosphere where hawks such as Chaudhry Nisar of the PML-N were excluded and where controversial subjects such as the National Reconciliation Ordinance were avoided, the meeting demonstrated a much-needed maturity among our political leaders that has not been in evidence lately.
By now, the primary political disagreements between the PML-N and the PPP are well known: the PML-N wants the anti-parliamentary presidential powers enshrined in the 17th Amendment revoked and the bar on a third-term prime minister removed, while the PPP argues that partners such as the ANP and MQM need to be won over by the PML-N for a constitutional amendment package. Add to that the reluctance, as some believe, of President Zardari to give up powers he currently enjoys and it is easy to see why there has been an impasse for several months now.

But concentrating on the differences between the two parties can lead to the mistaken conclusion that they are inevitably on a collision course. There is at least one important point of agreement between President Zardari and Mr Sharif specifically and their two parties generally: the need to protect democracy against extra-constitutional forces. In this regard, it is significant that in the wake of the army’s public objections to the Kerry-Lugar bill, Mr Sharif has elected to meet President Zardari. That it was not just the two leaders but high-powered delegations from both sides that met on Monday has sent an unmistakable signal: the politicians want the space to sort out their disagreements for themselves. This is how it should be; keep the channels of communication between the largest political parties open at all times and present a united front in the face of unwanted interference from the non-parliamentary forces.

Nevertheless, we also feel that the PPP and the PML-N need to strike a deal on the constitutional amendment package sooner rather than later. Political instability is an unfortunate fact of life here, and the longer the matter is drawn out, the more it will encourage mischievous elements outside the PPP and PML-N and hawks within to goad the leadership of the two parties onto a dangerous path of confrontation. While meetings and summits are good, they also need to yield results. There is agreement on the broad parameters of constitutional changes; President Zardari and Mr Sharif need to compromise on the peripheral issues for the sake of the bigger picture.
(Ayaz Khan)
(Hamid Akhtar)