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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Iran demonstrations: Imperialist pathway to democracy?



Eyewitness Iran: What is the true character of the demonstrations


By: Mazda Majidi

Imperialists do not embrace true revolutionary movements

The eyes of the world have focused on Iran since the June 12 presidential election. The turnout was exceptionally high, with 42 million people, 85 percent of the electorate, going to the polls. Incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with 63 percent of the vote. Ahmadinejad's chief rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, declared himself the winner and called the announced results fraudulent. Iran has since been the scene of large daily protests.


A landslide victory by Ahmadinejad was not improbable. An op-ed piece by Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty published in the June 15 Washington Post states that the election results conform to their pre-election polling.

"Our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin—greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election," Ballen and Doherty asserted.

The survey of 1,001 respondents, conducted by phone between May 11 and May 20, had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The study was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Neither the Fund nor the Washington Post could be accused of having a pro-Ahmadinejad bias.

Of course, we are not in a position to know if fraud took place and to what extent. Nor can one be sure whether one or both sides engaged in some level of voter fraud. Voter fraud is rather widespread in the United States and both the Democratic and Republican parties have engaged in it. If the allegations of the opposition in Iran were true, this would have had to be voter fraud on a huge and massive scale. Interestingly, the opposition only seeks an annulment of the election rather than a recount of the disputed votes.

Bourgeois elections

In bourgeois elections, the citizenry is offered a choice between candidates that are acceptable to ruling class interests. In Iran's elections, as in those of other countries, the candidates running for president were all acceptable options to the regime. All four had a long history of holding key posts. Ahmadinejad was the incumbent president; Mousavi was the prime minister of Iran in the first decade of the revolution; Mahdi Karroubi was a two-term head of Majliss (Iran's Parliament); and Mohsen Reza'i was a long-serving commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The array of the class forces lined up behind the candidates is far more important than the electoral details. Mousavi's social base is primarily among the upper and middle class elements, professionals, people with a higher education and students. Ahmadinejad's social base, on the other hand, is primarily among the lower sectors of the middle class, the urban poor and most people of all classes in the provinces and rural areas. A cursory glance at the photos of the demonstrators on both sides confirms this class composition.

The class character of the conflict is more obvious when we look at the key issues in the elections. Mousavi and the other candidates have accused Ahmadinejad of economic mismanagement and inflationary policiesbuying votes by giving "handouts" to poor and large state-funded projects in the provinces. These "handouts," ongoing during Ahmadinejad’s four-year tenure, consisted of substantial increases in state employees' salaries and pensions, cash benefits to the needy and other forms of benefits including expanding healthcare. In a May 15 speech Mousavi attacked these programs, saying: "Distribution of money and opportunities as alms is hardly an instrument of growth and development." (Irantracker.org, May 13)

Ahmadinejad's "adventurous" foreign policy has been another key election issue. His foreign policy has consisted of an uncompromising stance against the United States on the nuclear energy issue, outspoken opposition to the racist state of Israel, steadfast support for liberation movements in Palestine and Lebanon and expanding friendly relations with revolutionary and progressive governments around the globe, including those of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.

As noted in the June 21 Associated Press article titled "Israeli president [Peres] applauds Iran street protesters," the Israeli ruling establishment is openly hoping for the victory of what they call "the revolution" in Iran. The June 22 Jerusalem Post features an article on how the pro-U.S. regimes in the Arab world echo Peres sentiments, which begins: “Many Arab governments, including the Palestinian Authority, are quietly hoping that the latest crisis in Iran will mark the beginning of the end of the radical regime of the ayatollahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

Ahmadinejad is certainly no representative of the working class. The only true working-class orientation is a socialist orientation; moving in the direction of eliminating private ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class. But within the confines of capitalist relations, Ahmadinejad's political line represents more income and benefits for the poor.

Anti-government protests embraced by imperialism

The post-election events have made the stakes much higher than a simple presidential election and a choice between candidates. Between June 13 and June 19, hundreds of thousands, some reports say millions, have demonstrated in Tehran demanding the annulment of the June 12 elections. There were other smaller demonstrations during the week in other major cities. While people of all classes with various grievances have joined the demonstrations, the central political thrust of the protests has a righward trajectory, in regard to both domestic and international issues. The dominant composition of the protests has been middle class and the privileged sectors of society.

Imperialist media sources, to which many Iranians, particularly the more privileged sectors, have access through satellite TV, played a key organizing role. BBC Farsi and Voice of America, continuously broadcasting into Iran, did their part in announcing the time and place of planned demonstrations. They also provided live coverage by interviewing people who used their cell phones to call and transmit images.

The Islamic Republic has attempted to jam these broadcasts with some success. Still, demonstrators rely on many other sources, including counter-revolutionary monarchist channels based in Los Angeles that do their best to broadcast information, and misinformation, to increase the size and intensity of the demonstrations.

During some of the street protests, buses were burned, buildings were vandalized and destroyed, large fires were made in the streets and rocks were thrown at the police. The millions of dollars of U.S. funding for "promoting democracy" in Iran were put to use. Among the demonstrators were agents and provocateurs whose specific purpose was to wreak havoc and cause maximum destruction. Iranian TV channels aired interviews with captured agents of the MKO, the imperialist supported terrorist organization, who acknowledged having been instructed to set gas stations on fire and destroy buildings. During the first week, repression of the demonstrations was limited, as evident from the number of demonstrators and the relatively low instances of state violence.

On June 19, Ayatollah Khamenei, the central leader, made an important speech at the Friday prayers, attended by hundreds of thousands of supporters. Khamenei announced that the specific complaints of the three losing candidates would be fully reviewed and the ballots of the disputed boxes would be recounted. This was followed by a June 20 announcement that, as a confidence building measure, a randomly selected 10 percent of the ballots would be recounted and the results announced. Khamenei also warned that unpermitted demonstrations that had been allowed in the week following the elections would now be dealt with legally and forcefully.

On the next day, anti-government protesters attempted to demonstrate in central Tehran. Western sources put the number of people at 3,000. But this time, the police in riot gear met would-be demonstrators with force, using water cannons, tear gas and batons. This turned into a violent confrontation. Iranian TV showed police being beaten by demonstrators. Western media sources showed footage of the police attacking the demonstrators. The street clashes caused at least 10 deaths, bringing the total number of people killed since the elections to 17.

On the day of this writing, June 21, there were no reports of significant protests in Tehran or elsewhere.

With typical arrogance, imperialist powers have directly intervened in the internal affairs of Iran, a sovereign country. President Obama has called "on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." On June 19, the U.S. House voted 405-1 to condemn the crackdown on protest rallies. The Senate passed a similar resolution. The House resolution openly backs anti-government demonstrators, supporting "all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law."

Some imperialist leaders, including French President Sarkozy, have openly called the Iranian elections fraudulent, with no evidence to back their claim. George W. Bush stole the 2000 presidential elections after being fraudulently declared the winner in the state of Florida by five appointed-for-life millionaires who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Gore won the popular balloting by more than a half-million votes. But the great "Democracies" did not intervene. The U.S. elections were considered an internal matter.

Diplomatic norms of behavior like refraining from commenting on and interfering with other countries' internal matters do not apply to the relationship between imperialist and oppressed countries, particularly ones that take an independent course. Imperialists see it as their prerogative to preach democracy and human rights even while brutally occupying other countries against the will of the occupied people. Ironically, but not coincidentally, two of those coutries—Iraq and Afghanistan—share long borders with Iran.

Some liberal and progressive forces in the United States, as well as some that claim to be leftists, have echoed the U.S. Congress and the whole imperialist establishment, expressing full support for the demonstrators. Some have even declared the demonstrations as the start of a new revolution in Iran.

Not a new revolutionary movement

There are no examples in history when a true revolutionary movement has been embraced and supported by all the imperialist governments in the world. There have been occasions when an imperialist government temporarily forges an arrangement with a communist or national liberation movement or even a socialist government that is fighting the same "enemy." There are examples of this in both the first and second World Wars. When the entire imperialist world lines up to support a protest movement that seeks to topple a government that has already been targeted for "regime change," one can be sure that they know that this so-called revolution is in fact a movement to the right.

Imperialism is about subjugating the people around the globe to steal their resources. Why would all the imperialists defend a revolutionary movement? Are there any examples in history when a revolutionary movement has been led by privileged layers of society against the poor and working people? The point of a revolution is to eliminate inequitable social relations. How could the privileged classes in any society lead a "revolutionary" movement that seeks to reduce and cutback the benefits and services of poor and working people? That is Mousavi’s program! And that program has an appeal to the privileged classes who have been in the streets.

Street demonstrations do not constitute revolutionary movements. In today's imperialist-dominated world, the character of true revolutionary movements in oppressed countries is either socialist or nationalist, depending on whether the working class or the national bourgeoisie leads them. In either case, the revolutionary movement aspires to free the country of imperialist dominance, protect the country's resources and win independence.

Counter-revolutionary movements move in the opposite direction, aspiring to move the country towards an imperialist-friendly regime that implements neoliberal economic policies and restores or increases the privileges of the propertied classes.

Mousavi, the main losing candidate in Iran's elections, is no imperialist pawn. The demonstrations since the elections have not really been about Mousavi, as openly acknowledged by many demonstrators and their supporters. The demonstrations have become the rallying point for elements in Iranian society, mostly from the privileged classes, against the Islamic Republic regime and in favor of a pro-west, capitalist regime. If the demonstrations manage to destabilize and ultimately topple the Islamic Republic, the result will definitely not be a pro-worker, independent regime.

The political character of the anti-regime movement, no matter how many people have demonstrated, is not a left opposition to the Islamic Republic regime; it is a right opposition. U.S. and British imperialism hope that a victory of this movement would result in the counter-revolutionary overthrow of the anti-colonial 1979 revolution. That is why all the imperialist countries are unanimous in their support for the demonstrators, some stated overtly and some in more subtle ways. The character of the movement against the regime is similar to those of the U.S.-orchestrated color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and the counter-revolutionary student protests against the progressive Chavez regime in Venezuela.

The task of revolutionaries and progressives in the United States is to condemn imperialist intervention in Iran and support the right of self determination for the Iranian people. U.S. Hands Off Iran!



.....

ایران: سماجی طبقوں کی جنگ؟

کیا ’ثروت مند‘ طبقہ صدر احمدی نژاد سے خوش نہیں ہے؟

ایران کے شہروں میں بارہ جون کے انتخابات کے نتائج کے خلاف ہونے والے مظاہروں میں عوامی شرکت اگرچہ اس بات کا تو ثبوت ہے کہ وہاں تبدیلی کے خواہاں لوگوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد موجود ہے، تاہم اگر چند بنیادی حقائق کو متواتر ذہن میں نہ رکھا جائے تو نشریاتی اداروں میں گردش کرنے والی خبریں بلا شبہ گمراہ کن ثابت ہو سکتی ہیں۔

انتخابی نتائج کو’تقلب‘ یعنی دھاندلی کہنے والے لوگ شہروں کے امیر یا متوسط طبقے سے تعلق رکھتے ہیں۔تہران میں یہ طبقے شہر کے شمال اور مرکزی علاقوں میں رہتے ہیں جبکہ جنوبی تہران میں کم آمدنی یا لوئر مڈل کلاس کی آبادیاں ملیں گی۔ تقریباً یہی تقسیم چھوٹے شہروں اور قصبوں میں دکھائی دیتی ہے۔

شاید اسلامی انقلاب کے تیس برس ایرانی معاشرے سے وہ طبقاتی اثرات مکمل طور پر ختم نہیں کرسکے جو ایران کے بادشاہی نظام نے کئی صدیوں میں مرتب کیے تھے۔ اس کے نتیجے میں لیڈری صرف ایلیٹسٹ لوگوں کےلیے مخصوص سمجھی جاتی رہی ہے۔

تاریخی طور پر دیکھا جائے تو ایران کے امیر طبقے جنھیں مقامی اصطلاح میں’ ثروت مند‘ کہا جاتا ہے، دنیا بھر کے دوسرے معاشروں کی طرح صرف اپنی سہولت کے بارے میں فکر مند ہوتے ہیں۔ اگر آپ نے محسن حامد کا ناول ’دا ری لکٹنٹ فنڈامینٹلِسٹ‘ پڑھا ہو تو اس میں جس پاکستانی ائیر کنڈیشنڈ کلاس کا ذکر کیا گیا ہے وہی تہران کے شمالی علاقوں کا طبقہ ہے۔

ایران میں بادشاہت کے زمانے سے لے کر اور اب بھی، یعنی اسلامی انقلاب کے بعد کے دور میں، ان کی غرض صرف یہ رہتی ہے کہ ان کے کاروبار اور نفع کے رستے میں کوئی رکاوٹ حائل نہ ہو۔ انقلاب کے دوران اور بعد میں جب اس طبقے نے دیکھا کہ ہوا کے ساتھ ہونے میں فائدہ ہے تو ان لوگوں نے اسلامی شعار اپنا لیے، مثلاً حجاب اوڑھ لیا یا داڑھی رکھ لی۔

سابق صدر ہاشمی رفسنجانی پر صدر احمدی نژاد نے انتحابی مہم کے دوران کئی الزامات لگائے تھے

اس طرح سے یہ طبقہ اسلامی انقلاب کے تیس برسوں میں ایرانی سیاست میں کسی نہ کسی طرح فعال رہا ہے۔ دوسرے ملکوں میں، خاص کر مغربی معاشروں میں، یہ سرمایہ دار طبقہ، عام طور پر عملی سیاست سے دور رہتا ہے۔ یہ طبقہ اپنے مفادات کے تحفظ کے لیے بیک وقت بظاہر متضاد سیاسی گروہوں کواستعمال کرتا رہتا ہے۔ لیکن ایرانی معاشرے میں اس قسم کے طبقے کے افراد کا عملی سیاست میں شرکت کرتے رہنا ذرا منفرد ہے۔

شاید اس کی وجہ یہ ہو کہ اسلامی انقلاب کے تیس برس ایرانی معاشرے سے وہ طبقاتی اثرات مکمل طور پر ختم نہیں کرسکے جو ایران کے بادشاہی نظام نے کئی صدیوں میں مرتب کیے تھے۔ اس کے نتیجے میں لیڈری صرف ایلیٹسٹ لوگوں کےلیے مخصوص سمجھی جاتی رہی ہے۔ ایسے کئی تاریخی شواہد موجود ہیں کہ ایران کی کمیونسٹ پارٹی کی قیادت سے لے کر دیگر سیاسی جماعتوں کی قیادتیں اسی طبقے نے پیدا کی ہیں۔

ہاشمی رفسنجانی کے آٹھ برسوں کے دور صدارت جتنی بھی اقتصادی ترقی ہوئی اس کا فائدہ سرمایہ داروں کے چند مخصوص گروہوں کو پہنچا۔

انیس سو اناسی کے اسلامی انقلاب کے بعد ایران کے پسماندہ طبقوں کو پہلی مرتبہ قائدانہ کردار ادا کرنے کا موقع ملا مگر شروع شروع میں اسلامی انقلاب کے اندر بھی اس کے خلاف ثروت مند طبقے نے مزاحمت کی۔ مثلاً جب ابوالحسن بنی صدر ایران کے پہلے صدر منتخب ہوئے تو انھوں نے اس وقت کے ایک غریب خاندان سے تعلق رکھنے والے سکول ٹیچر، محمد علی رجائی، کو اپنی حکومت کے وزیر اعظم کے طور پر قبول کرنے سے انکار کردیا تھا۔

اس طرح انقلاب کے بعد بھی روایتی سرمایہ دار اور ان کے پروردہ طبقے کی فضیلت برقرار رہی۔ دوسرے لفظوں میں ایرانی معاشرہ اپنے اندر موجود برہمن طبقے کی برہمنیت ختم نہ کرسکا۔ لیکن بعد کے حالات کی پیش رفت نے آہستہ آہستہ اس طبقے کو کمزور کرنا شروع کردیا خاص کر جب ایرانی حکومت نے غریب طبقوں کی ترقی کے لیے بڑی بڑی رقمیں مختص کرنا شروع کردیں۔

جب احمدی نژاد صدر بنے تو انھوں نے تیل کی برآمد سے حاصل ہونے والی دولت کو عوام میں برابری سے تقسیم کرنے کا نعرہ دیا اور صدر بننے کے بعد اس پر عمل درآمد شروع کردیا

جب اسلامی جمہوریہ ایران کے پہلے صدر ملک سے بھاگ گئے تو محمد علی رجائی صدر منتخب ہوئے۔ مگر انتخاب کے دو ہنتوں کے بعد ہی وہ اپنے وزیراعظم، جواد باہنر، کے ہمراہ اگست انیس سو اکیاسی میں ایک بم دھماکے میں قتل کردیے گئے۔ اس طرح امام خمینی کی زندگی میں ہی پسماندہ طبقے کے لوگوں کو اعلیٰ قیادت حاصل کرنے کا جو موقع ملا تھا وہ اس دھماکے کے ساتھ ہی پھر سے خواب بن گیا۔

رجائی کے بعد آنے والے تین صدور جنھوں نے مجموعی طور پر چوبیس برس تک حکومت کی ان سب کا تعلق براہ راست یا بالواسطہ ایران کے روایتی اعلیٰ طبقہ سے تھا۔ تا وقتیکہ ایرانی عوام نے اگست دو ہزار پانچ میں متومل طبقے کے ایک اہم ترین رکن، ہاشمی رفسنجانی، پر ترجیح دیتے ہوئے ایک غریب کاریگر کے بیٹے محمود احمدی نژاد کو اپنا چھٹا صدر منتخب کرلیا۔

جب ابوالحسن بنی صدر ایران کے پہلے صدر منتخب ہوئے تو انھوں نے اس وقت کے ایک غریب خاندان سے تعلق رکھنے والے سکول ٹیچر، محمد علی رجائی، کو اپنی حکومت کے وزیر اعظم کے طور پر قبول کرنے سے انکار کردیا تھا۔

تاہم اس دوران ایرانی معاشرے کے سرمایہ داروں اور ان کے پروردہ طبقوں کے مفادات کی حفاظت ایلیٹسٹ صدور کے ہونے کی وجہ سے خود بخود ہوتی رہی۔ اور اس طرح یہ طبقے اگرچہ خود تو سیاست میں صف اول کا کردار ادا کرتے نظر نہ آئے مگر انھیں ہر صدارتی اور پارلیمانی انتخابات کے موقع پر اپنے ڈالے ہوئے ووٹوں کی بدولت اپنے مفادات کی حفاظت ہوتی نظر آتی رہی۔

خاص کر ہاشمی رفسنجانی کے آٹھ برسوں کے دور صدارت جتنی بھی اقتصادی ترقی ہوئی اس کا فائدہ سرمایہ داروں کے چند مخصوص گروہوں کو پہنچا۔ اس طرح ایران کی دولت چند لوگوں میں مرتکز ہوتی رہی۔ ان چند گروہوں میں کچھ علما بھی ہیں جن کی نمائندگی رفسنجانی کرتے ہیں۔

اپنی دو مدتی صدارت کے اختتمام پر جب وہ انتخاب نہ لڑ سکے تو ہاشمی رفسنجانی نے اپنی ہی طرح کہ ایک امیر عالم، ناطق نوری کو صدارتی امیدوار کے طور پر میدان میں اتارا۔ مگر عوام نے ناطق نوری کے برعکس اس وقت کے ایک صاف ستھرے اور قدرے غیر معروف امیدوار، سید محمد خاتمی کو منتخب کیا۔

خاتمی تھے تو صاف صدر مگر ان کا تعلق بھی روایتی طور پر اعلیٰ طبقے سے ہے۔ ان کے دور میں سیاسی اصلاحات کے لیے پیش رفت تو ہوئی مگر اقتصادی طور پر عدم مساوات کو دور کرنے کے لیے کوئی قابل ذکر کام نہ ہوا۔ امیر طبقے امیر ہوتے رہے اور غریبوں کیلئیے نسبتاً حالات تنگ ہی رہے۔

تاہم جب احمدی نژاد صدر بنے تو انھوں نے تیل کی برآمد سے حاصل ہونے والی دولت کو عوام میں برابری سے تقسیم کرنے کا نعرہ دیا اور صدر بننے کے بعد اس پر عمل درآمد شروع کردیا۔ ایران کے پسماندہ طبقہ سے تعلق رکھنے والے اس صدر نے اپنے طبقے کی مقبول اقدار جنھیں ایران کے مذہبی لوگ اسلامی اقدار کہتے ہیں، انھیں پورے تہران کے معاشرہ پر لاگو کرنے کی کوشش کی۔

اس طرح انقلاب کے بعد پھر سے تہران کے سرمایہ دار اور اس کے پروردہ طبقے نے اپنے آپ کو سیاسی طاقت سے محروم سمجھنا شروع کردیا۔ ایسا لگنے لگا ہے کہ ان کے لیے صدر خواہ کوئی بھی ہو مگر ایک پسماندہ طبقے کا فرد صدر نہیں ہونا چاہیے۔ مثال کے طور پر بارہ جون سے قبل انتخابی مہم کے دوران احمدی نژاد کے خلاف جو نعرے لگے ان میں ایک مقبول نعرہ یہ تھا ’یک ہفتہ، دو ہفتہ، محمود حمام نہ رفتہ‘ یعنی ایک ہفتہ یا دو ہفتہ سے محمود حمام نہیں گیا ہے۔

احمدی نژاد کی سابق صدر رفسنجانی اور سپریم لیڈر آیت اللہ خامنہ ای کے ساتھ ایک تصویر

اس طرح کے اور بھی کئی نعرے لگائے گئے جو محمود احمدی نژاد کے پسماندہ طبقے سے تعلق کی طرف اشارہ کرتے ہوئے ان سے تہران کے ثروت مند طبقے کی بیزاری کا اظہار کرتے تھے۔ میر حسین موسوی جو اپنی ذات میں ایک شریف شخص ہیں، بہرحال روایتی طور پر شمالی تہران کے ثروت مند طبقے کے رکن ہیں۔ موسوی کے حامیوں میں تمام کی تمام بڑی شخصیات ثروت مند طبقے سے ہی تعلق رکھتی ہیں۔

ان لوگوں کی امید بندھی کہ بارہ جون کے انتخابات میں موسوی کی فتح سے وہ اپنی کھوئی ہوئی سیاسی قوت دوبارہ سے حاصل کرلیں گے۔ مگر ایسا نہ ہوا۔ اب جب کہ قدرے پسماندہ طبقات اور دیہاتی ایران نے محمود احمدی نژاد کو دوبارہ چار برسوں کے لیے صدر منتخب کرلیا ہے تو اس ایلیٹسٹ سیاسی قیادت کے لیے یہ کسی طور بھی قابل قبول نہیں ہے۔

اس طبقے کی سیاسی محرومی صرف احمدی نژاد کے صدر منتخب ہونے کی وجہ سے ہی نہیں ہے بلکہ ایران کے پارلیمانی انتخابی نظام کا ایک خاص انداز بھی ہے۔ ایران میں پارلیمانی انتخاب جغرافیائی حلقوں کی صورت میں نہیں ہوتے ہیں بلکہ یہ متناسب نمائندگی کے نظام کے تحت ہوتے ہیں۔ اس کی وجہ سے تہران کے متمول علاقے کے لوگ اس بڑے شہر کے تقریباً بیس اراکین پارلیمان میں سے کسی ایک کو بھی اپنے مفادات کا نمائندہ محسوں نہیں کرتے ہیں۔

صدارتی انتخاب میں ہی اب تک وہ کسی نہ کسی کو اپنے طبقے کا نمائندہ سمجھتے رہے ہیں۔ لیکن احمدی نژاد کے بعد سے وہ اپنے آپ کو ایران کے سیاسی نظام میں سے خارج سمجھتے ہیں۔ اور جب یہ طبقہ اپنی پوری طاقت کے باوجود ایک باہر کے شخص کو شکست نہ دے سکا تو یہ اپنے ہی بنائے گئے اصول و ضوابط کو توڑ کر حکمرانی اپنے طبقے میں لانے کے لیے کچھ بھی کر گزرنے کو تیار ہے۔

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2009/06/090617_iran_social_saqlain_uk.shtml



....

Some Relevant Comments:

http://www.independent.co.uk


Keep up the pressure
floppsiefrog wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 12:46 am (UTC)

Macho Miliband, another gobby creepy opportunist like Netanyahu, must be in his prime milking the Iran election fiasco to score points against an inconvenient regime of stuffed shirts who, besides other innumerable sins, are at a loss to know how to meet the aspirations of the country's young elite. Whatever stunts his expelled diplomats were pulling to attract attention, they certainly weren't keeping a low profile innocently pushing bits of paper around the office. Never mind. With any luck Iran's social order will implode, the economy will collapse and the country will need Western humanitarian assistance. A new multi-billion dollar American embassy in Tehran and giant military bases in the provinces should do the trick.



Radical decision, lateral or unilateral
mackname wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 02:59 am (UTC)

Sanction does not work

What is happening in Iran is GENOCIDE.

Look what Iranian regime does to its people and ask yourself what it is going to do to those that it is not happy with.

We need to consider a similar action that we took in 1995 against Serbs in old Yugoslavia.

Let us remember what happened in Iran after the events of regime change in 1979 that led to establishment of current dictatorial regime with a primarily objection of destroying West (us).

Desperate people do not need our sympathy alone, they need our might.

We did not stop helping occupied Europe in the Second World War.
Nazi Germany was killing millions, bombing us with its V1 and V2 rockets, testing its A10 rockets to hit America and, about to make its nuclear bomb.

No dear, it is not a joke.
It is what is going to happen if we do nothing!



Re: Radical decision, lateral or unilateral
ancientoneuk wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 12:15 pm (UTC)

A post shining with half ignorances....

Comparing the Iranians to the Nazi's does not wash I am afraid, Iran has not crossed its border in might in many many years nor is it bombing nations or annexing its neighbours.

As for needing our "might", Iraq is tiny compared to Iraq and it couldn't with "all its might" bring the country under control, America is getting its ass kicked in Afghanistan daily, Iran is a country that has refurbished and renewed its military hardware fresh with cutting edge material from Russia, Iran has the SunBurn Missile in good numbers, a missile that can obliterate a aircraft carrier, it can drive the US navy out of the gulf if it so chose, close the straits if it so chose, bring the world to a grinding halt if it so chose.

On land, Iran also possesses other little gifts ready to be given freely, the reason Israel or the US never did bomb the nuclear facilities is because they can't without massive losses, as the Iranians have state of the art Russian air defences now, defences that can take out the B-52 and stealth bombers.

And remember Chavez... If Iran was violated by the US or its allies, Chavez will turn off ALL oil exports to the west, so think about it, Iran stops all oil export except to its allies of Russia and China, so the EU suddenly faces a huge crisis, Chavez finishes that off by turning his exports off except to Russia and China and America is dependent to a quarter of its CRITICAL needs on Chavez's oil, the closure of the straits too would see this planet save Russia and China suddenly without oil, America would be cutting its own throat.



The failed Green Revolution
ancientoneuk wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 12:04 pm (UTC)

Anyone with half a brain can see this is a promulgated CIA/Mossadi ploy that is failing...

America's goal here is to remove democracy and reinstall the monarchy, this is born out by recent statements by the Shah's son, think about it... America wishes to end ALL democratic process in Iran in order for a paid dictatorial puppet to run the nation for American interests only.

If you check the pictures from spurious rallies in the US, the people are all waving the flag of the Persian crown, not the standard Iranian flag, flags being handed out by unknown people straight from the boxes. Link this with the upsurge in "I'm ready to rule Iran" messages from the Crown Prince himself, it just stinks.

A poor attempt by the CIA but it has failed, the plan was to use Mousavi who is their man, to incite the people, then when Mousavi drew the Iranian government's ire, to switch support to the son of the Shah.

This has media collusion stamped all over it as well, the election exit polls much of which done by foreign media e.g. BBC have never been published, showing that the current President did enjoy hugely populist support, nor is the media linking Mousavi's extreme terrorist past in his attacks against the Americans and the curious situation why the Americans are suddenly supporting a man that has done much harm to them in the past makes him sound like another Osama Bin Laden...


Israe/US/UK vs Iran
johnjackson wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 12:22 pm (UTC)

$400 million allocated by US for covert actions against Iran; UK allows Jundallah terrorists responsible for blowing up mosques full of worshippers in Iran a safe haven in Britain; Israel continues to push US/UK to attack Iran. And it's all Iranian paranoia is it?.


Re: Israe/US/UK vs Iran
09843ut09843 wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 01:05 pm (UTC)

Another point worth noting. The article states that the BBC's coverage was not "less than scrupulously accurate". This statement is untrue:

http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/editordetail.php?id=365

Re: Israe/US/UK vs Iran
jerusalem1 wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 01:21 pm (UTC)

It's mullahs' nightmare - they may lose their grip on power and oil money. Poor souls! They won't be able to fund Hamas, Hizbullah, and blow up Jewish community centres around the world. Maybe then Iran will invest more money into its own infrastucture rather than wasting millions on islamic caliphate.

You crazy lefties - Iranians want decent life, and not dance to the tune of mullahs, and it's all of course CIA plot! Blaming CIA, Israel is more important for you that standing up for people's freedom.


Re: Israe/US/UK vs Iran
ancientoneuk wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 01:22 pm (UTC)

Do you remember when Bush said a few years ago "As I speak British and US special forces are in Iran right now taking the fight back to them..."? That was a week where 400 Iranian soldiers were blown up in a border town and the Americans were certainly in the frame on that one.

This was around the time the British soldiers dressed up as Arab's were caught with that bomb laden car and huge arsenal of weapons were caught and the British response was very out of character too, blowing open the prison to retrieve the soldiers, you wonder what they might have said if interrogated...

Then there was the odd incident of the British forces killed on a boat, lots of sympathy because the sergeant was a nice looking girl, regardless of the fact she was MI6 and the soldiers with her were experts in covert surveillance, intrusion and demolitions, I always suspected they "pulled" the plug before they were about to be captured by Iran.

Although the funniest was the "munitions" ploy, ancient 105mm artillery shells and 80mm mortar shells written on in English and claimed to be Iranian but someone forgot to mention Iranian munitions have Farsi on them and the stenciling bore a marked similarity to British shell stenciling...

And when the Iranian navy captured those sailors... strange how quickly rumours here in the UK of US manipulating GPS transmissions was buried, that it was very very likely and this accepted now by the MoD that those sailors were well within Iranian waters, sounded to me at the time those people were sent in there as a lure and a trap but the Iranians didn't play ball and treated them ever so nicely hehe

lkdamo wrote:
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 02:20 pm (UTC)

It's funny how the Iranians can get the bbc for free, yet I have to pay for it.
Read more...

Friday, 19 June 2009

Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi: a revolution against the Deobandi-Wahhabi violence in Pakistan


Suicide Attack In Lahore Religious Scholar Sarfraz Naeemi Killed


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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Mr. Imran Khan condemn the Taliban terrorists or prepare for funeral of PTI !




view: Preparing for a funeral —Samad Khurram

Imran Khan has made us proud on so many occasions. From the world cup to the first cancer hospital in Pakistan, he has given his all for the country, often at immense personal costs. Even his biggest political foes recognise these contributions and agree that his heart is in the right place. Washing off all personal attacks with his charismatic persona and eloquent tongue, Imran Khan has become a necessary guest for every talk show on TV.
In 1997, when Imran Khan started a political party based on justice, transparency and accountability, many sensed hope. He was not interested in winning via establishment meddling or cheap political sloganeering. The only way to break away from the status quo was through a message that resonated with the common man.However, the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf has not managed to reach the average Pakistani, even with the extensive media presence of Imran Khan, for twelve years now.
In the latest IRI polls, only 5 percent of Pakistanis think Imran Khan is the best leader for Pakistan; only 3 percent said they’d vote for PTI. The average person seeks justice, but yet would rather vote for the PPP or the PMLN.
Why?
The answer is in the biases that Imran Khan exhibits, and his evolution into a myopic reactionary to the West. Time and again, Mr Khan has let his opposition of the West turn into a manifestation of anti-progress ideals and glorification of defunct tribal traditions. There is nothing wrong with genuine criticism of the West and its policies. The problem is with endless bashing driven by animosity, resulting in the kind of extreme paranoia and delusions where even upset stomachs are blamed on the ‘Zionist Hindus’.
In an article titled “Why the West craves materialism and why the East sticks to religion”, (Arab News, January 14, 2002), Imran Khan joined the ranks of Sarah Palin and George W Bush by claiming that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is “half-baked”. Those in the field of science, whether Muslim or not, have virtually unanimous consensus on Darwin’s “half-baked” work and its implications. For instance, Pakistani scientist AQ Khan in a recent article explained that the “unprecedented rate of recent advances in biological knowledge has...been driven by the realisation that all organisms...share a common evolutionary origin.” (The News, April 1, 2009)Another example of his hate for the West evolving into support for regressive ideals is his endless praise of the jirga system. Imran Khan claims that these systems provide “speedy justice”.In fact the jirga system is a travesty of justice. The three essential elements of justice are 1) to permit all sides have a fair chance to present their case; 2) to have the case be decided by an independent arbitrator in light of the available evidence; and 3) appropriate decisions are executed in accordance with the law.
In a jirga, which is clearly defined by centuries of practice, tribal elders decide cases on their own will. Results are often based on arbitrary tests such as walking on coals, and the accused are awarded unconstitutional and barbaric punishments. They have awarded gang rape, live burial, forced marriage and murder as punishments for centuries.Most Pakistanis are aware of this and would rather choose a slow court over a speedy jirga. Nothing can justify brutality at the pretext of speed.
The term “jirga” may have popular connotations among Pashtuns, explaining Imran Khan’s popularity in Pashtun dominated areas, but is loathed by the rest of Pakistan.Even if jirgas were not brutal in their punishments, they are fundamentally flawed. A jirga does not translate into a lower court because of the fundamental flaws in its selection of the adjudicators and decision-making. Tribal leaders are neither independent — as they inevitably have a stake in the decisions — nor versed in the law of the land. Authorising non-state personnel to make decisions for the state only weakens the government and creates a state within a state. When the criteria of selection are genetic lineages, not expertise, the system is bound to be flawed. The solution is to control avoidable delays and raise the number, expertise and impartiality of judges — as has been suggested by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
The biggest reason why PTI has lost public support is Imran Khan’s impression as a tacit supporter of the Taliban. When the Taliban were blowing up schools and beheading Pakistani soldiers, it was Imran Khan who claimed that this was government’s propaganda (ARY News, September 25, 2008), a claim that even the Taliban’s spokesman did not make. Imran Khan’s historic stagnation — that the war is America’s and not ours — has contributed to his unpopularity.Majority of Pakistanis do not agree with him. They see Pakistanis dying in Pakistan, mercilessly butchered by the Taliban.
In a recent web-poll (pkpolitics.com), over 64 percent of the 1800 respondents not only considered this to be Pakistan’s war, but also supported the military operation. Many who oppose the military operation oppose it in methodology — that perhaps the operation may not be able to eradicate all the Taliban — but unlike Imran Khan, they are not living in 2001.
The only half-statement he ever issued against these elements was telling Sufi Mohammad to stick to his word as those who break promises are not Muslims. Imagine this: instead of criticising Musharraf for martial law hundreds of times, at every possible venue, if Imran Khan had only said to the PCO judges “you are not Muslims, you broke your oath”, and that too a year later, would anyone actually consider him to be against Musharraf’s martial law?
Even the ‘B team’ of Musharraf, the PMLQ, has given more statements against Musharraf than Imran Khan has ever given against Taliban!
A proper condemnation requires naming the actors, as well as their leaders, condemning their specific actions and asking for legal recourse, as evident from Imran Khan’s hundreds of press releases against the MQM.
Public sentiment is overwhelmingly against the Taliban. The Q League did not realise how hugely unpopular Musharraf’s NRO and martial law were, and by choosing to remain Musharraf’s sidekicks, they have now become a non-entity in Pakistani politics. The same will be the fate of Imran Khan and other ‘B teams’ of the Taliban, unless they take their opposition of the Taliban to the same level as their earlier opposition of Musharraf and America.
If Imran Khan is not the B team of the Taliban, then he will have to rise to the occasion, retract statements where he claimed Taliban atrocities are all government propaganda and condemn these barbarians properly. The issue has been raised for months now and the party’s unflinching attitude, at the cost of losing popular support, suggests it is preparing for its funeral.

The writer is a student at Harvard University. samadkhurram@gmail.com

(Daily Times --- 18th June, 09)

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Saleem Safi: A critical analysis of Pakistan's military operation against Taliban.





Jang, 16-17 June 2009

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Editorial-The News: A terrible threat (to Shia community)

File Photo: Banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) is now operating as "Sunni Action Committee" and "Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jammat". In above picture activists of SSP demonstrating in front of Karachi Press Club.

A terrible threat


Monday, June 15, 2009


The letter sent to an Imambargah in Lahore, and reproduced by this newspaper, says nothing that is very new. It threatens an attack on the place of worship unless Shias stop ‘anti-Islamic’ activities. It insists the Shias are in fact ‘non-Muslims’. What is shocking is that we as a people, and as a state, have done so little to stop such attacks, to act against those who promote hatred for a community that according to some estimates forms around 20 per cent of the country’s Muslim population.
The attempt to label the Shias as ‘non-Muslims’ has been on for decades. The process has gained pace since the 1990s, when the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) initiated a systematic process of murdering Shias by bombing mosques or gunning down leaders. Retaliation by Shia groups triggered sectarian violence that killed hundreds and devastated numerous families. The ban placed on extremist groups has not ended this process. The Taliban, with their distorted beliefs linked to orthodox Sunni schools of thought, have carried forward the process. In the Kurram Agency – the lone tribal areas where Shias formed a sizeable chunk of the population – there has been something akin to genocide. According to some accounts the killings continue.
This is a part of a larger process. The effort to cast the Shias in the role of a religious minority stems from the fact that the state connived with orthodox forces in the 1970s. Pakistan after all is made up of many diverse groups. It can flourish only if each of these communities can do so. And for non-Muslims, the situation is of course still more perilous. Our government must wake up to reality. Only by acting now can we save our state from further violence and halt the process of irrational violence that has led to more and more schisms.

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Saturday, 13 June 2009

Cyril Almeida: President Zardari: By accident or design?


By accident or design?
By Cyril Almeida
Friday, 12 Jun, 2009
But Zardari is reactive not proactive. He’s tugged in opposing directions but controls very little in terms of real policy. - Reuters/File photo
But Zardari is reactive not proactive. He’s tugged in opposing directions but controls very little in terms of real policy. - Reuters/File photo
MUCH has been said about the Zardari presidency thus far and almost all of it is negative. From anyone other than his acolytes a familiar litany of complaints pours out: he’s too weak; he’s never here; he’s autocratic; he hasn’t a clue about governance; his freewheeling approach to politics is dangerous and destabilising; he’s unpresidential.

And yet, from the point of view of results, Zardari seems pretty successful at the moment. Remember that there were three major issues that confronted the country at the time of the elections in February ’08: militancy, a sinking economy and an uncertain transition to democracy.

Lo and behold, 18 months later, things have stabilised if not improved on each front. For the first time ever the militants have been dealt a serious blow in the north-west and it appears the military operation will switch next to the ground zero of militancy: the Waziristan agencies. Most remarkably, there is a political consensus on the need for such operations and the public and the media appear supportive too.

Economically, the country has taken a pummelling, but after a painful, arguably unnecessary, phase of macro stabilisation the international spigot is being turned on again: money is set to pour into the development sector while the IMF/World Bank/ADB have seemingly been told by the US to back off on insisting on tough targets.

And politically, after the disastrous gambles in Punjab and on the judges’ issue, the storm clouds over the horizon have cleared. With Zardari’s nemeses, CJ Iftikhar and Nawaz Sharif, holding their fire for now, the months ahead look to be relatively plain sailing. Even within the PPP, the murmurs of discontent are lower than ever and the possibility of an imminent en masse rebellion against Zardari appears far-fetched. Don’t be surprised if Aitzaz Ahsan accepts a seat at the table of power one of these days.

So what’s going on? Have Zardari’s detractors been so blinded by the man’s reputation in the past that they haven’t realised a learning curve is at work; that Zardari may be growing into a job — running this country — that would challenge even the best and the brightest? If not quite like an ugly duckling growing into a beloved swan, could Zardari be purposefully hacking his way out of the thicket to emerge bruised and battered but still standing? The people rightly want a leader they can be proud of, but could the qualities needed to steer the country out of the mess it is in require less master orator and brilliant statesman and more huckster and hustler?

Or has Zardari just got very, very lucky, buoyed up by forces that are trying to set the country right and that have left him in place to earn the plaudits for their successes because he’s the least bad option and a lucky beneficiary of happenstance?

Judging that — luck or smarts? — requires going to the heart of power, to know what happens in the meetings behind closed doors, to piece together the story of the Zardari presidency from evidence both public and private. And from there emerges a picture that is very unsettling.

Whether he’s just not interested or simply can’t grasp the basics, Zardari has still not switched gears to governance mode. He sits at the apex of the civilian government pyramid, but the flow of ideas on how to govern and handle the myriad crises afflicting the country come from outside the civilian set-up.

The usual prime suspects — the army and America — along with a group of international actors, the international donor agencies and friendly governments, are the ones who are gently nudging Zardari’s government along. It’s not quite as simple as telling the president what to do. He still makes the decisions, but it’s largely a case of picking from the menu of demands and suggestions and ideas that are placed before him.

Zardari does have one idea of his own: more, more, more money for the government to spend, spend, spend. Frankly, truckloads of cheap money poured into the economy — somewhere, anywhere — at this time isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so pear-shaped has the economy gone over the last year and a half. Having said that, if a large chunk of the money is borrowed money and it’s funnelled into the wrong sectors of the economy, the country will be setting itself up for another painful cycle of boom and bust.

The bigger point though is that a government bereft of ideas at the top is a government vulnerable to being steered by outside forces with interests of their own. Take the issue of militancy. Yes, we are doing the right thing by fighting in the north-west and preparing to go into South Waziristan. But forget the national consensus on the issue, the operation would have been a non-starter had the army not been prepared to fight. So did the government convince the army to fight or did the army decide to fight based on its own security calculations?

There is a world of difference between those two positions going forward. If the army is still completely calling the shots on the militancy issue, we’re no closer to being rid of the wretched good Taliban/bad Taliban distinction. Happily, everyone can and does agree that Maulana Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud are bad. Unhappily, there is little evidence that Zardari’s government has any idea about how it can convince the security establishment to go after the ‘good’ militants.

The other side of the coin are US interests. At the top of the Americans’ agenda in Pakistan is taking out what some in our security establishment see as the good militants: the men fighting in Afghanistan. Given a choice, the Americans would happily have us eliminate the militants that worry them the most, get their troops out of this neighbourhood as quickly as possible and ‘manage’ the less worrisome Pakistani militancy issue from afar. There’s no point in blaming the Americans; every country looks after its own interests first and foremost, especially in a very messy part of the world.

Neither of those positions is good for the future of this country. A civilian government beholden to neither power but striking a working partnership with both while having a very clear idea of its own policy against militancy — that alone would hold the promise of a better future.

But Zardari is reactive not proactive, he weighs received ideas rather than generate his own, he sits back rather than grasp the nettle — in short, he’s tugged in opposing directions without having an idea of where he wants to go and how he will get there. He’s perched in the driver’s seat, but controls very little in terms of real policy. The problem for the rest of us? We’re stuck in the back seat of that vehicle.

cyril.a@gmail.com

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Friday, 12 June 2009

The Wahhabi-Deobandi (Al-Qaeda/Taliban/Sipah-e-Sahaba) alliance martyred Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi in Lahore


Who killed Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi? Hear from himself
.





Sarfraz Naeemi martyred in Lahore attack
Updated : Friday June 12 , 2009 2:55:09 PM

LAHORE (Nasarullah Malik): Renowned religious scholar and head of Jamia Naeemia Lahore Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi among four others were martyred in a suicide attack at a seminary here Friday, reports ARY NEWS.The blast that apparently was a suicide attack occurred following the Jumma prayer in Jamia Naeemia situated at Garhi Shahu area of the metropolis.According to preliminary reports, the blast was occurred in the office of Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, the head of one of the largest religious seminary of the city. Naeemi was present in his office at the time of the blast, says an eyewitness.An eyewitness told ARY NEWS that a suicide bomber, 18 to 20, blew himself up inside the office of Dr Naeemi when he arrived after leading Jumma prayer in the seminary’s mosque.Dr Naeemi was severely injured in the incident and was brought to Mayo Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.Principle of Jamia Naeemia, Dr Khalil and two students of the seminary were also among the deceased, it was reported.The blast was as powerful as it completely destroyed the office building and the roof of one portion of the building was also caved in.Rescuers and law enforcement personnel arrived at the scene soon after the blast and cordoned off the madarsah building. Injured and corpses were rushed to Mayo Hospital, Ganga Ram Hospital and other nearby hospitals.Police have also arrested two suspected persons from outside the seminary.

http://www.thearynews.com/english/newsdetail.asp?nid=28247

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Congratulations to Taliban supporters namely Imran Khan, Munawar Hasan, Fazlur-Rehman, General Hamid Gul, Roedad Khan, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Javed Chaudhry, Orya Maqbool Jan, Irfan Siddiqui, Dr Shahid Masood, Dr Israr Ahmed, Dr Zakir Naik, Dr Farhat Hashmi and General Aslam Beg.

...

Anti-Taliban cleric killed in Pakistan blast
Fri Jun 12, 2009

Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A prominent anti-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric was killed on Friday in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Lahore, police said.

In another blast at around the same time, a suicide car-bomber set off explosives near a mosque in the north-western town of Nowshera, killing at least three people, police said.

The blasts came as Pakistani forces stepped up attacks on militants across the northwest after the U.S. House of Representatives approved tripling aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for the next five years.

Security forces have made progress in more than a month of fighting against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, and in recent days have begun operations in several other parts of the region.

The militants have responded with a series of bomb attacks.

Moderate cleric Sarfraz Naeemi was attacked at his mosque complex just after leading Friday prayers.

"Unfortunately, Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi has been martyred," Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore told Reuters.

In Nowshera, in North West Frontier Province, three people were killed and more than 20 were wounded, police said.

Rising Islamist violence has raised fears for Pakistan's stability and for the safety of its nuclear arsenal but the offensive in Swat has reassured the United States about its commitment to the global campaign against militancy.

Pakistan is a vital security ally for the United States as it struggles to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda.

U.S. officials said on Thursday insurgent violence in Afghanistan had accelerated sharply alongside the arrival of new U.S. troops, reaching its highest level since 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta said he believed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and he hoped joint operations with Pakistani forces would find him.


(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Hasan Mehmood, Javed Hussain and Augustine Anthony; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)


http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKTRE55A1JH20090612?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=11559


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A prominent anti-Taliban Pakistani cleric has been killed in one of two blasts which have gone off in Pakistan.

The blast in Lahore killed a moderate anti-Taliban cleric and injured many more

Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Lahore, police have confirmed.
The moderate cleric was attacked at his mosque complex just after leading Friday prayers.
Mr Naeemi was nationally recognised for being critical of the Taliban.

A separate car-bomb blast also killed at least three people near a mosque in the northwestern town of Nowshera. Police chief Abdullah Khan said the second bomb had wounded 32 people "and we fear that some of them are dead."

In Lahore, 10 people were injured outside Jamia Naeemia mosque.

The blasts came as Pakistani forces stepped up attacks on militants across the northwest after the US House of Representatives decided to triple their aid to Pakistan.

http://news.sky.com/


....

"Go Taliban Go" Rally in Lahore

After Jamat e Islami demonstrated a good support for Taliban on the weekend, another section of Ulema have announced to start a drive AGAINST Taliban. The ‘Go Taliban Go’ drive was announced in “Save Pakistan conference” led by Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi of Jamia Naeemia. The Ulema decided to take out a rally in the city on June 2 in support of Swat military operation against the Taliban miscreants.

The itenrary was announced by rally being taken out from Data Darbar and would end up to the Regal Chowk on The Mall. All of the Ulema present in the conference were of the strong opinion that Swat operation should be completed with its logical end. Putting weight behind the Swat operation, they also accused entities supporting Taliban and termed it against country’s solidarity. They also accused and challenged Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad who stated Pakistan as Un-Islamic and maligned two nation theory. Other Ulema present at the conference were Syed Mahfooz Mashhadi, Maulana Hanfi Saifi, Maulana Moinuddin, Shahid Husain Gardezi and others.

[Via: Dawn.com]

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Pakistan Clerics Speak Out Against Taliban `The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all`, said Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior cleric said.

Pakistan's moderate clerics, for years mute in the face of growing Islamist influence, are mobilising support for the government as it battles the Taliban, warning that militants could take over the country.

Most of predominantly Islamic Pakistan's 160 million people are moderate Muslims, but for years they have been reluctant to speak out against the spread of the hardline Taliban.

Not any more.

"The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all," Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior cleric of the moderate Barelvi branch of Sunni Muslims, told Reuters.

"Otherwise they will capture the entire country which would be a big catastrophe."

The military launched a major offensive against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, last week after the Taliban tried to capitalise on a February peace pact by pushing out of the valley to conquer new districts.

Pakistanis overwhelmingly supported the pact aimed at ending violence in Swat but were shocked to see the Taliban, emboldened by the deal, vowing to impose their rule across the country.

That raised alarm, not only in the United States which needs Pakistan to tackle the militants for success in Afghanistan, but also among ordinary Pakistanis, for the first time confronting the possibility the Taliban might appear in their towns.

Naeemi said the Barelvis had wanted to avoid confrontation with the Taliban so had not spoken out against aggression. But they could not stand by and let the Taliban impose their rule.

"They want people to fight one another, that's why we have kept silent and endured their oppression," Naeemi said.

"We don't want civil war ... But God forbid, if the government fails to stop them, then we will confront them ourselves."

"BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL"

Most Pakistanis are Barelvis, adherents of Islamic Sufi mysticism, who venerate saints and their shrines dotted across the country.

The austere Taliban, adherents of the Deobandi school of Islam, reject mystical Islam and recently blew up a famous shrine in the northwest, to many Pakistanis' shock.

For the first time in Pakistan, protesters have been taking to the streets to denounce the Taliban.

Barelvis have been holding anti-Taliban rallies across the country and are organising a gathering of 5,000 clerics in Islamabad on Sunday to drum up support for the military in Swat.

"We support the army operation in Swat because it is a battle for the survival and defence of Pakistan," Sahibzada Fazal Karim, leader of Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Pakistan, a moderate Islamic party, and an organiser of the weekend conference, told Reuters.

"What these militants were doing was un-Islamic. Beheading innocent people and kidnapping are in no way condoned in Islam."

A political analyst said there was a degree of self-interest in the newfound outspokenness.

"Politicians are realising there is no future for the country if the militants continue to expand their influence," said retired general and analyst Talat Masood.

"The moderate clergy is also feeling threatened because their role will be over. So everyone is trying to look at his own turf ... It's in their self-interest as well as the national interest."

Most Pakistanis, including political parties and the media, have backed the offensive in Swat, 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, which comes after the United States accused the government of "abdicating" to the militants.

Deobandi strength grew in the 1980s thanks to an Islamisation drive by then military ruler, General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq.

At the time, Pakistan was channelling support from the United States and Saudi Arabia to Deobandi and other radical groups battling Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan.

http://www.javno.com/en-world/pakistan-clerics-speak-out-against-taliban_257669

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Ulema vow to fight Taliban if army fails
Thursday, 14 May, 2009

ISLAMABAD, May 13: Prominent religious leaders, for years mute in the face of growing hardline religious influence, are mobilising support for the government as it battles the Taliban, warning that militants could take over the country. “The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all,” Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior scholar of the Barelvi school of thought, told Reuters. “Otherwise they will capture the entire country which would be a big catastrophe.” Mufti Naeemi said that ulema had wanted to avoid confrontation with the Taliban so had not spoken out against ‘aggression’. But they could not stand by and let the Taliban impose their rule. “They want people to fight one another; that’s why we have kept silent and endured their oppression,” he said. “We don’t want civil war ... But God forbid, if the government fails to stop them, then we will confront them ourselves.” For the first time in the country, protesters have been taking to the streets to denounce the Taliban. They have been holding anti-Taliban rallies across the country and are organising a gathering of 5,000 ulema in Islamabad on Sunday to drum up support for the military in Swat. “We support the army operation in Swat because it is a battle for the survival and defence of Pakistan,” Sahibzada Fazal Karim, leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, a moderate party, and an organiser of the weekend conference, told Reuters. “What these militants were doing was un-Islamic. Beheading innocent people and kidnapping are in no way condoned in Islam.”—Reuters

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/ulema-vow-to-fight-taliban-if-army-fails-459

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Clerics Back Pakistani Offensive Against Taliban
By ZAHID HUSSAIN in Islamabad and MATTHEW ROSENBERG in New Delhi

MAY 12, 2009

Pakistani soldiers battling Taliban fighters in the country's northwestern mountains are getting support from more moderate Muslim clerics who say they, too, fear a militant takeover.

The clerics hail from the more tolerant Barelvi Muslim tradition whose followers in Pakistan far outnumber the extremist strain preached by the Taliban and their allies in al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups in the country. But the Barelvis have usually offered only passive resistance to extremists, reflecting their more inclusive version of Islam.

Now, some prominent Barelvi clerics are publicly supporting the broad military offensive launched last week against the Taliban in the Swat Valley and, in one case, offering to send volunteers to fight. The moves are being greeted as a sign that a growing number of Pakistanis are beginning to realize just how fragile the situation has become after years of ignoring or denying the militant threat.

The offensive in Swat continued Monday with Pakistani fighter jets strafing Taliban positions as soldiers pounded them with artillery. Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief, Rehman Malik, said 700 insurgents had been killed in the past four days, a significantly higher number than previous figures given by the military.

The United Nations said some 360,000 refugees have already fled Swat and two neighboring districts, adding to the half a million Pakistanis who were uprooted in past offensives against the Taliban in the northwest and remain homeless.

Diplomats, analysts and some Pakistani officials say they fear images of refugees in squalid camps could turn public opinion against the offensive and prompt the army to pull back.

That's happened in the past, and support for the Swat offensive is far from universal, especially among influential religious leaders in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 175 million people.

Pakistan's largest religious political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which straddles the country's competing religious traditions, has demanded the government resume peace talks with the Taliban. Many of the more extreme leaders from the Deobandi and Wahhabi schools that inspire the Taliban and al Qaeda, respectively, support the militants.

But the Barelvis, perhaps trying to ride a wave of public anger over the Taliban's brutal rule of Swat, are pushing the government to sustain its assault on the Taliban in the valley and eventually widen it to other regions under the sway of the militants.

"We can't allow the Taliban to take over the country," said Mufti Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, a leading Sunni cleric who heads the Darul Uloom Naimia, a major Islamic seminary. Mr. Naeemi is among a group of Barelvi clerics and political parties that on Friday announced the formation of a council whose goal, they said, would be to fight spreading "Talibanization" in Pakistan.

"Taliban are destroying our sacred religious places and killing religious leaders. They are working on an anti-Islam agenda," Mr. Naeemi said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. pushed hard for Pakistan to move against the Taliban in Swat. But the Barelvi leaders cautioned that their support for the offensive shouldn't be read as backing for the U.S., which remains deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Pakistanis, many of whom see the fight against the Taliban as America's war.

The Barelvis, whose tradition is drawn from Islamic Sufi mysticism, believe humans can connect to the divine through holy men or saints, many of whose tombs are now important shrines.

The Taliban and al Qaeda, in contrast, view such practices as heresy and have repeatedly destroyed or taken over Sufi shrines. Such actions have angered many in Pakistan. But the clerics, like most Pakistanis, had until now remained largely silent. But with hundreds of thousands refugees now fleeing Swat, many of them telling tales of the Taliban's harsh justice -- floggings, beheadings and general intimidation -- there's a growing public backlash, and top civilian and military officials say they believe they now have the public support needed for a sustained offensive in Swat.

"It is against Islamic tenants to enforce Shariah through violence," said Maulana Sarwat Qadri, chief of Sunni Tehrik, a group that in the late 1990s and early 2000s tried to retake mosques it said had been taken over by Deobandi and Wahhabi adherents. Sunni Tehrik had since fallen dormant, but it formed a new political wing over the weekend, and, said Mr. Qadri in a telephone interview, "We are ready to send volunteers to fight along the military against Taliban."

Barelvis, like the Taliban, are from Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority. The Taliban has also targeted the country's Shiite Muslim minority -- who account for about 20% of the population -- repeatedly attacking their mosques.

Non-Muslims have come under assault, too. About 50 Sikhs were expelled from a tribal area by the Taliban last month for refusing to pay special taxes imposed on non-Muslims under the Taliban's Shariah. And in Swat, about 800 Hindus and Sikhs have fled the valley.

Write to Matthew Rosenberg at matthew.rosenberg@wsj.com

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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Amir Mir: Pakistan extradites ten Taliban terrorists to China



10 terror suspects extradited to China



By Amir Mir

LAHORE: Pakistan has extradited 10 arrested terrorists belonging to the pro-independence Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to China, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed to The News on Friday.

The spokesman in Islamabad, confirming the extradition, said the ETIM militants had actually been arrested after they attacked Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas. Ten of the over two-dozen arrested Chinese were handed over to Beijing after it was established that they belonged to the ETIM, which Beijing describes as an armed secessionist group with bases in Xingjian-Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the northwest of China, and in Pakistan.

The extradition of the Chinese militants came as a result of three agreements signed between Pakistan and China to curb militancy and extremism. During interrogations by the Pakistani authorities, most of the ETIM militants had refuted terrorism charges, saying they were members of a Chinese separatist movement founded by Turkish speaking ethnic majority of over eight million people whose traditional homeland lies in Xingjian Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

According to interior ministry sources in Islamabad, the 10 Chinese militants, who had been arrested from the country’s tribal areas, were extradited following the Chinese President Hu Jintao’s request to Islamabad for taking stern action against the fugitive Chinese militants hiding in Pakistani tribal areas and running terrorist activities in China.

While using diplomatic channels to approach President Zardari, sources said, President Hu had expressed his concerns over the presence of the ETIM in the Pakistani tribal areas, saying they might threaten the security of over 5,000 Chinese nationals working on different development projects in Pakistan.

East Turkistan had maintained a measure of independence until early 1950s when Mao’s victorious rebel armies turned to the peripheries and began securing Chinese borders, capturing Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet and East Turkistan. The native Uighurs resisted the Chinese occupation until the 1960s, but failed to win support from neighbouring Muslim states due to their fractured tribal nature.

Since the mid-1980s, however, an active pan-Islamic movement has been trying to cement the opposing groups together against the Chinese occupation of their homeland, pressing for an independent East Turkistan state. Yet Beijing, which views Xingjian as an invaluable asset due to its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves, is adopting all possible measures to quell the separatist movement.

The Chinese authorities had been blaming the Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and shootouts in the past, causing an atmosphere of insecurity and fear in China. Due to intense Chinese lobbying against the ETIM, it was listed a terrorist organisation by the United States as well as the United Nations in 2002.

But a subsequent 2003 report by the Amnesty International had observed the evidence that formed the basis for the UN decision remains unclear. The report further said China continues to make little distinction between the Uighurs involved in peaceful or violent nationalist activities, branding them as ‘separatists’ or ëterrorists’.

According to some sources in Islamabad, the Chinese militants were extradited despite opposition by the Amnesty International. In March 2009, Tim Parritt, Deputy Director of the Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme, had observed that whatever these EMIT militants were accused of, the risks posed to them were extremely grave, if forcibly returned to China.

He had maintained that under the international law, states were obliged not to expel, return or extradite any person to a country where they risk torture or other ill-treatment. However, the Pakistani authorities insist that all those who had been extradited to Beijing were involved in terrorist activities both in China and in Pakistan and had also developed links with al-Qaeda network in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

They said the fact that the ETIM militants had extended their network of terrorist activities to Pakistan was evident from a threat they had conveyed to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, saying they intended to kidnap Chinese diplomats and consular officers stationed in the Pakistani federal capital with a view to highlighting their cause.

The Chinese mission subsequently informed the Pakistani authorities in a letter that some members of the ETIM had already reached Islamabad and planned to kidnap their staffers from the federal capital.

The letter reportedly pointed out that terrorist groups located in Pakistan, including al-Qaeda, had been providing support to the ETIM activists for the likely kidnappings. Subsequent investigations had established that the anonymous threat was issued by none other than the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and that the would-be kidnappers had first travelled to Jalalabad in Afghanistan to finalise their plans. (The News, 6 June 2009)

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Rahimullah Yusufzai: Swat operation and the fallout beyond




Though the armed forces are carrying out operations against Taliban primarily in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir, the fallout of the action in neighbouring districts and beyond should remain a matter of concern. Dislocated from their bases and scattered as a result of the army assault, the militants are finding sanctuaries in new places and striking in areas outside their traditional strongholds.

This reminds one of Afghanistan in the pre- and post-9/11 period. Prior to the US invasion of the country in October 2001, Al Qaeda was headquartered in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Following the fall of Taliban regime, Osama bin Laden and his men lost most of their sanctuaries in Afghanistan and had to relocate elsewhere. Most came to neighbouring Pakistan, from where some of them embarked on a risky journey to their native countries or to new trouble-spots such as Iraq. The majority stayed put in the region, mostly in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and became a threat to the governments in Kabul and Islamabad by making and strengthening alliance with like-minded militant groups in the two countries. Rather than being contained, Al Qaeda and the Taliban spread their influence beyond borders and become an even bigger threat to the established order than they were when well-entrenched in Afghanistan during the 1994-2001 period. It also became difficult to apprehend them as they were no longer confined to one place and country.

Upper Dir, which became a separate district when Dir was split into two some years ago, is part of Malakand division but it wasn't supposed to be an active front in the ongoing military operations. But it is fast becoming one due to Taliban activities in the remote Dhog Darra area. The security forces have already bombed the few villages where the Afghan Taliban got refuge and built sanctuaries. Troops also moved artillery batteries to the Khal area to fire at Taliban hideouts in the adjoining Swat valley. Gradually, Upper Dir was getting engulfed in the military action. However, the situation deteriorated following the recent suicide bombing in a mosque during Friday prayers at the Hayagai Sharqi village. The death of 50 villagers, including children, in the attack could have provoked anyone to take revenge. And that is what the aggrieved villagers and their allies are now doing, raising a lashkar, or armed volunteer force, and storming the three pro-Taliban villages - Shatkas, Ghazigay and Salambekay -, because they are convinced the suicide bomber came from there. After months of social boycott of these villagers and clashes, the majority anti-Taliban villages are now bent upon settling scores with the enemy.

For obvious reasons, the government is taking no step to stop the fighting. Instead, it seems to be encouraging or could even be supporting the lashkar to go for the kill. This is the kind of battle that is fuelled by new blood-feuds and is never-ending until one side is vanquished and forced to accept the terms of surrender. Heavily-armed villages and clans hostile to each other cannot co-exist in peace, more so if they are supported and supplied by the government or militant groups such as Taliban. In the past also, the government has backed similar anti-Taliban lashkars in Swat, Buner, Bajaur, Orakzai, Darra Adamkhel and other places. Such a policy has generally caused lot of bloodshed and sowed the seeds of turmoil. The Taliban have ruthlessly retaliated by sending suicide bombers to attack jirgas of tribal elders and clerics hostile to them in Darra Adamkhel, Bajaur and Orakzai or causing harm to anyone in sight and terrorizing entire villages as was the case in Shalbandai in Buner, Hayagai Sharqi in Upper Dir and Mandaldag in Swat where the late anti-Taliban commander Pir Samiullah had dared to raise a lashkar against them.

The Shangla district, lacking a strong civil administration and police, had always been vulnerable to incursions by the militants. However, it never had a strong Taliban presence. Even now most of the Taliban fighters gathered in its Puran and Chakesar areas came from Swat and Buner or crossed over from the mountainous Kala Dhaka, or Torghar area, in Mansehra district. Shangla residents are now suffering and getting displaced due to the Taliban's decision to set up roadside checkpoints or use the district as a hideout for its retreating cadres. If pushed further, they would cross over to Kala Dhaka and Battagram, where the militants have recently carried out attacks against the police and exploded bombs. Other parts of Mansehra district including Shinkiari and Oghi too have experienced terrorist strikes as part of the fallout of the situation in Swat, Buner and Shangla. Kohistan, another district of Hazara, could meet the same fate as a few hundred Kohistani militants operating in Swat's Kalam and Bahrain tehsils have reportedly returned home to escape an onslaught by the security forces. They may not sit idle for long and some of them could become active upon receiving instructions from their commanders, who presently are in disarray.

Though Malakand Agency is part of Malakand division, it didn't fall into the category of the Taliban-infested Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts where active military operations were planned. However, the militants have struck a few times in Malakand Agency, where the poorly-armed and trained Malakand Levies were deployed until now to provide a semblance of security to the people. The main road to Swat and rest of Malakand division passes through the Malakand Agency and curfew has to be frequently imposed to protect military convoys using the Mardan-Malakand-Chakdarra-Mingora road. The militants are finding it tempting to attack the army convoys using this busy road. Though there is controversy regarding the recent incident in Sakhakot, a town in Malakand Agency, in which the army says the detained TNSM leaders Maulana Mohammad Alam and Amir Izzat Khan were killed along with a soldier in an attack by the militants, it nevertheless showed the vulnerability of the troops to such attacks on this critical route. By the way, the government would have to do a lot more to clear the doubts regarding the killing of the two TNSM leaders, who were in custody of the security forces and hadn't been charged for any crime. The uncertainty about the whereabouts of the TNSM head Maulana Sufi Mohammad also needs to be cleared because the death and detention of Islamic leaders waging peaceful struggle for Shariah could complicate matters and push their followers to join forces with the Taliban.

More worrying are the Taliban incursions into districts outside Malakand division. Mardan is the prime target for the Taliban due to its proximity to both Buner and Swat. As host of the biggest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) both in and outside the camps, it has received its share of disguised militants waiting for an opportunity to strike back at the security forces and law-enforcement agencies. The recent attack, which employed the classic guerilla tactic of planting and exploding an improvised explosives device (IED) to target a military convoy and then ambushing the troops and police sent as reinforcements, on the Rustam-Buner road showed how crucial has Mardan district become in tackling the militants and stabilizing Buner as well as Swat. Up to 10 soldiers and cops were killed in this attack, which explained how quickly the Swati and Buneri Taliban using local militants adapted themselves to the changed circumstances and planned and executed a deadly strike.

Similar attacks could take place in Swabi, Charsadda, Nowshera and even Peshawar, all part of the vast and fertile Peshawar valley where the battle against militancy and extremism is gradually shifting and where its fate could be eventually decided. In fact, the Peshawar valley is also facing fallout of the military action in the tribal areas of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai and Darra Adamkhel. It is here that the political elite of the province lives and where the big army garrisons, seat of the government and the commercial hubs are located. By destabilizing the vale of Peshawar, the militants would be hoping to paralyze the government and consolidate their hold in Waziristan and other tribal areas in the south and in Malakand division in the north of the province. (The News, 9 June)


The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Email: rahimyusufzai @yahoo.com
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Monday, 1 June 2009

Zahid Hussain: From much sought after to ‘most wanted’


The faces of militant commanders for whose capture the government has announced millions of rupees seem all too familiar. Just three weeks before the start of the latest round of military operation in Swat I met most of them — not in their mountainous hideouts, but in the official residence of a top bureaucrat in Mingora, barely a few hundred metres from the army garrison.
Accompanied by dozens of well armed Taliban fighters, Muslim Khan, Sirajuddin, Mahmmod Khan and some others (who are said to be responsible for killings of hundreds of soldiers and civilians) were being hosted by the former commissioner of Malakand, Syed Mohammad Javed.
The only person conspicuous by his absence was Maulana Fazlullah, the man with a head money of Rs50 million. ‘He is in Kabal for some important work,’ I was told by one of his lieutenants.
It was April 12 and the commissioner had just returned from Buner where he had apparently brokered a truce between the Taliban threatening the district after the Swat peace deal and the local Lashkar who had long resisted the militant onslaught. It later transpired that the so-called peace accord virtually disarmed the Lashkar and handed over the control of Buner to Taliban.
There was little doubt that Mr Javed, who was known for close links with Sufi Mohammad, had drawn the accord to the advantage of the Taliban. But even he couldn’t have anticipated the consequences.
It seemed that the militant commanders had gathered at the Commissioner House that evening to celebrate the takeover of Buner after consolidating their hold on Swat on the back of the controversial peace accord.
Sitting in a corner of a large open veranda crammed with gun wielding Taliban fighters, I saw them arriving one by one with their armed escorts. There was Muslim Khan with his unruly grey beard, curly locks cascading down from his black turban, walking arrogantly past the police and paramilitary soldiers.
The man who now has a reward of Rs4 million on his head looked at home in the hospitable setting of the Commissioner House that night. I was taken aback to see top government officials standing there to receive the man who was responsible for ordering the execution of innocent civilians.
Earlier in the day when I went to interview him in Imam Dehri Madressah, he showed me a list of people whose execution orders were to be issued. Among them was a woman whose husband had allegedly served in the US army.
‘We are looking for her and she will soon come under the knife,’ the chief spokesman for the militants said smugly. Interestingly enough, Mr Khan himself had lived in the United States for many years before returning to Swat in 2002 to join Maulana Fazlullah’s ‘holy war’. It was bizarre to see him being entertained by government officials.
Sirajuddin, a former spokesman for Maulana Fazlullah who also has a bounty of Rs4 million for his capture, was huddled in a corner with some of his comrades. A thin framed man, he was appointed by Maulana Fazlullah to look after the rich emerald mines which the Taliban had seized after the February peace deal.
A former left-wing activist, he received his higher education in Kabul in 1980s during the communist rule in Afghanistan. He planned to join Lumumba University, but had to return home for reasons not known.
His transformation from a hard core socialist to a radical Muslim came in late 1990s when like many young men he fell under the spell of Maulana Fazlullah’s fiery sermons.
I met Sirajuddin for the first time in November 2007, just few weeks after the start of the first army operation in Swat. The area around Dehri was under militant control. Masked gunmen were entrenched in their bunkers just a few hundred metres from Saidu Sharif airport, where army troops had taken up positions. The sound of artillery shells landing was getting ominously closer. The meeting abruptly ended after a shell exploded outside the house where we were sitting. He looked triumphant when I met him again on the evening of April 12.
More shock was in store when later that evening I saw Faqir Mohammed walking in with a large entourage. Escorted by an Uzbek bodyguard he was whisked inside a large hall where a number of commanders squatted on a carpeted floor.
One of the top leaders of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Faqir Mohammed, has been spearheading the bloody war against Pakistani forces in Bajaur tribal region.
Because of his close links with al Qaeda, security agencies considered Faqir Mohammed more dangerous than Baitullah Mehsud. The presence of Pakistan’s most wanted militant leader at the Commissioner House that evening, when the fighting still raged in Bajaur, was intriguing, to say the least.
The widespread public cynicism about the action against militants was not without any basis. It is almost four weeks now since the army launched the new offensive against the militants in Swat and Buner, dislocating more than three million people and leaving around 100 soldiers killed.
The army now seems determined to eliminate Fazlullah and his commanders. ‘But will there be any accountability of those who were responsible for the return of Taliban in Malakand division. Could not the current devastation have been avoided if these wanted men were eliminated earlier instead of being patronised by the administration,’ wondered a Swat resident now forced to live with his family in Mardan.
(Daily Dawn)

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