Showing posts from January, 2006

On Afghan Security: Insights of a leading scholar

Sowing Afghan security
Robert I. Rotberg
The Boston Globe JANUARY 13, 2006

There is a striking antidote to worsening security in Afghanistan, where suicide bombing and convoy ambushes now occur every day. Increasingly, these Taliban- and Al Qaeda-sponsored attacks are linked to opium and heroin trafficking. Afghanistan supplies 80 percent of Europe's heroin and is the largest grower of poppies in the world. Instead of legalizing poppy growing or attempting to eradicate the stubborn plants and destroy the livelihoods of impoverished farmers, why not pay the farmers to grow something else?

Afghans already grow wheat as their staple grain. Simply exhorting farmers to turn away from poppies to wheat, saffron and pomegranates will not work. But providing serious, guaranteed, long-term incentives that will encourage farmers to grow wheat in preference to poppies could well produce addictions to wheat instead of heroin. Senior Afghans, meeting in December at Harvard University with Americ…

Pipeline Politics Continues....

Daily Times, January 31, 2006
Aiyar’s departure blow to IPI pipeline project
By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline has become suspect with the change of guard in the Indian Petroleum Ministry.

While the previous minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was said to have an anti-west tilt and was considered a strong advocate of this pipeline, his successor Murli Deora is known to be pro-US and often throws parties for visiting US legislators.

Aiyar’s removal from the oil ministry is widely seen as a result of intense pressure from domestic private lobbies and the Americans, who were not happy with his left-oriented view of the global economy.

Deora may not be able to pursue the high-pressure oil diplomacy that Aiyar carried out in the past 20 months which lined up over a dozen countries for partnership with India in the energy field. The journalists who routinely cover the Petroleum Ministry also point out how Aiyar worked to promote public sector oil companies and would not …

Pakistani official was paid $12m for Australian wheat

Daily Times, January 31, 2006
Pakistani official was paid $12m for Australian wheat

SYDNEY: Australia’s monopoly wheat exporter paid a Pakistani government official 12 million US dollars to ensure sales within the country, a Sydney inquiry into Iraq’s UN oil-for-food scandal heard Monday.

The commission of inquiry into the AWB’s (formerly the Australian Wheat Board) business in Iraq is investigating the company’s practices in Pakistan as part of its probe into whether there was a culture of kickbacks in its foreign dealings.

The inquiry has already unearthed allegations of corrupt practices in Pakistan.

Earlier this month it heard that two former AWB employees dealing with the country had demanded legal indemnity in case some payments amounted to bribes and that an Islamabad-based Pakistani agent was paid four million US dollars for securing a one million tonne wheat shipment.

The commission’s senior counsel, John Agius, Monday revealed that AWB agreed to pay the same Islamabad agent, who w…

US-Pakistan Relations under severe stress

The New York Times, January 28, 2006
Editorial: Straight Talk Needed on Pakistan

Pakistan's prime minister came to the White House this week and pretended that the people of Pakistan highly value their country's current close military relationship with the United States. President Bush reciprocated by pretending in his public comments that the American airstrikes that killed 18 Pakistani civilians earlier this month were not Topic A in that relationship. Even diplomacy requires more direct talk than this.

Those strikes were legitimately aimed at top fugitive leaders of Al Qaeda, but hit innocent women and children. Pakistan's people deserve a good explanation, and since they haven't heard one from their leaders, Mr. Bush should have provided it.

Washington needs a strong and healthy partnership with Pakistan if it is to have any chance of eliminating Qaeda's leaders, defeating a resurgent Taliban and turning back nuclear weapons proliferation. But strong and healthy p…

Ten reasons to doubt nuclear deterrence

Daily Times, January 29, 2006
VIEW: Ten reasons to doubt nuclear deterrence —Ahmad Faruqui

It is often said that poor countries have a right to nuclear weapons since the rich countries have them; not letting the former have them is reprehensible and reeks of double standards, a kind of nuclear apartheid. Such an argument is putting forward the specious proposition that rich countries should not be allowed to have a monopoly on making monstrously big mistakes

Pakistanis may disagree on many things but on one issue there is unanimity of opinion — that the country’s nuclear weapons are necessary to keep India at bay. This notion needs to be re-examined.

The genesis of the nuclear programme goes back to the 1971 war. Pakistan drew the wrong conclusions from its defeat. The war would have been unthinkable had General Yahya Khan not connived with certain politicians in West Pakistan to postpone the National Assembly session in March. This decision brought about the death of Jinnah’s Pakistan. …

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's views about Pakistan's Nuclear Policy

Daily Times, January 28, 2006
I can still strike a deal with Musharraf: Nawaz Sharif

“I regretfully say that only one out of three services chiefs supported my decision on the nuclear blasts. This shocked and stunned me. Pakistan’s status as a nuclear power not only enhanced the country’s prestige in the world but also gave pride to the entire Muslim Ummah. The blasts stopped India from translating its dream of establishing its hegemony in South Asia to reality. It also helped the India-Pakistan peace process move forward,” Qadri quoted Nawaz as saying.

Nawaz regretted that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, was declared a criminal and a first information report was lodged against him by the military rulers. He (Nawaz) said that global powers were interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs and its security was “under threat”.

To be or not to be?

Washington Post
The War in Pakistan
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SHORTLY AFTER Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush famously declared that other countries must choose between supporting the United States and supporting terrorism, and that those that harbored al Qaeda would be treated as the enemy. In the years since, he has refrained from applying that tough principle in practice -- which is lucky for Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Ever since the war on terrorism began, this meretricious military ruler has tried to be counted as a U.S. ally while avoiding an all-out campaign against the Islamic extremists in his country, who almost surely include Osama bin Laden and his top deputies. Despite mounting costs in American lives and resources, he has gotten away with it.

Gen. Musharraf and his aides, such as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, boast that Pakistan has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda militants and deployed tens of thousands of troops in the border region near Afghanistan. Yet …

India-US Nuke Deal: Dependent on Vote on Iran at IAEA?

Times of India, January 25, 2006
India should vote against Iran or Nuke deal will 'die': US

NEW DELHI: Just a week ahead of the IAEA meeting on Iran issue, the US on Wednesday made it clear if India did not vote against Tehran's nuclear programme, the fallout on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the Congress would be "devastating" and the initiative will "die".

Washington also feels that the ideas put forth by India on separation of its civilian and military nuclear establishments had not met the "test of credibility" and the negotiations process need to be completed before President George W Bush's visit here in March failing which the "historic opportunity" would be "much less practical".

"We have made it known to them (India) that we would very much like India's support because India has arrived on the world stage and is a very very important player in the world," US Ambassador to India David C Mulford said in …

CIA penetrates ISI?

The News, January 25, 2006
Reports about CIA infiltrating into ISI denied
By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday categorically denied reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States has succeeded in penetrating the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier intelligence network.

"Absolutely rubbish, I categorically deny these allegations as nothing of the sort is happening in the ISI. We have very secure systems for all our communications, especially for sensitive communication for which there are secret codes. Of course, we are aware that the Americans have highly sensitive technical gadgetry and we are aware of the manner that they pick up information on unguarded lines but this does not mean that we let our guard down for a minute," a senior intelligence official told The News.

The official was responding to queries about a report in The Times, reproduced by a local English language daily, which spoke of two issues. One that the Uni…

New Report on Baluchistan Crisis

For a new research report on Baluchistan crisis, see Carnegie Endowment's website:
Pakistan: The Resurence of Baluch Nationalism

A cover up or a hidden truth?

Daily Times, January 24, 2006
‘US has deal with Pakistan on strikes in FATA’
Daily Times Monitor

Washington has an understanding with Islamabad that allows the US to strike within Pakistan’s border regions, providing the US has actionable intelligence and Pakistan cannot take firm action, according to a report in US weekly magazine Time.

The source of the report is a Peshawar-based Pakistani intelligence official. “Pakistan’s caveat (to the agreement) is that it would formally protest such strikes to deflect domestic criticism. Some ranking Pakistani officials deny such an agreement exists,” says the report headlined ‘Can Bin Laden be caught?’

According to the Time report, Pakistani and US intelligence agencies have stepped up their search for top Al Qaeda leaders in recent weeks, “with the skies above the mountains buzzing with spy planes and unmanned Predator drones, and a network of local spies and informants has been scouring the landscape for information”. A Pakistani security officer…

Top level corruption: with facts and figures

Daily Times, January 22, 2006
Take the money and run: Why this prevarication?
Ardeshir Cowasjee

In 1996, Air Marshal Asghar Khan filed a human rights petition in the Supreme Court against General Mirza Aslam Beg, former chief of army staff, Lt General Asad Durrani, former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and Younus Habib of Habib and then Mehran Bank, concerning the criminal distribution of the people’s money for political purposes (HRC 19/96).

During the initial hearing of the petition, General Naseerullah Babar filed in court a copy of a bank account sheet headed “G/L Account. Activity Report. Account 12110101 G. Baig (sic.)” The column heads read “Transaction, Date, Particulars, Debit, Credit.” The numbered transactions took place between October 23 1991 and December 12 1993. The first transaction listed was “Cash-P.O. Karachi Bar Association A/C Gen. Baig (sic.), debit, 5,05,680” (advocate Mirza Adil Beg, Aslam Beg’s nephew, the then president of the KBA, confirms that the K…

Pakistani opposition's complaints to the US

Daily Times, January 22, 2006
Politicians complain about army, Punjab to Nicholas Burns
By Shahzad Raza

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani politicians on Saturday criticised the armed forces, the Punjab province and intelligence agencies in a meeting with Nicholas Burns, the US deputy secretary of state for political affairs. Burns said he supported democracy in Pakistan but refused to comment on the country’s internal matters.

The visiting US official held a meeting with the leaders of opposition and ruling parties. The politicians raised internal matters like unequal distribution of resources and lack of consensus on Kalabagh Dam. “Meeting Pakistani politicians is a learning experience for me. We (the US government) want to play a role in the promotion of democracy in Asia. And Pakistan is fundamentally important to us,” sources privy to meeting quoted Burns as saying.

Burns described his meeting with President Pervez Musharraf as comprehensive. He said his government was looking at political stabili…

Indian Media's Stereotyping of Pakistanis

Against the Grain: Pakistan, Islam and Indian Media Stereotypes by Yoginder Sikand
January 20, 2006

Contrary to Indian media representations, the average Pakistani is just about as religious or otherwise as the average Indian. The average Pakistani is certainly not the wild-eyed fanatic baying for non-Muslim blood or waging violent jihad to establish global Islamic hegemony that our media would have us believe. Like the average Indian, he is emotionally attached to and culturally rooted in his religion, but he does not wear it on his sleeve and nor does it dictate every thought or act of his. In fact, the thing that first strikes the Indian visitor to Pakistan is how almost identical the average Pakistani is, looks and behaves to the average north Indian.

Almost all the many people I met in the course of a recent month-long visit to Pakistan that took me to several places in Punjab and Sindh do not even remotely fit the description of the average Pakistani peddled by our media. Islamis…

Inside the mind of a Pakistani General!

Daily Times, January 20, 2006
‘No changes to Iqbal’s tomb, VIPs can stay out’By Anjum Herald Gill

LAHORE: Punjab Archaeology Department has rejected Pakistan Rangers’ demand for more room in Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum, saying the provincial law did not allow changing the monument, sources told Daily Times on Thursday. The issue began when allegedly the Rangers director general (DG) had to wait outside the mausoleum during a visit by the Chinese premier and his wife, because there was no space left in the room. The grave’s onyx cenotaph presented by the Shah of Afghanistan has been built in a way that it could not be changed, leaving space for only three people to lay floral wreaths and pray. When President Musharraf visited the tomb in April 2001, he was told that the Rangers DG had to wait for the Chinese prime minister outside, and that the tomb needed an extension. The Archaeology Department made a committee thereafter, which suggested that the terrace, which is part of the main cenota…

The coming water crisis

Daily Times, January 18, 2006
World Bank report on Pakistan water resources: Water economy: running dry

Pakistan is one of the world’s most arid countries, with an average rainfall of under 240 mm a year. The population and the economy are heavily dependent on an annual influx into the Indus river system (including the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers) of about 180 billion cubic meters of water, that emanates from the neighbouring countries and is mostly derived from snow-melt in the Himalayas. Throughout history, people have adapted to the low and poorly distributed rainfall by either living along riverbanks or by careful husbanding and management of local water resources. One of the greatest of human civilisations – the Indus Valley civilisation (Harrapa and Mohenjo Daro) – flourished along the banks of the Indus.

This precarious, low-level balance between man and water was decisively shifted with the advent of large-scale irrigation technology in the 19th century. T…

The Mind of the Mullah: Understanding the Fall of Dhaka

Daily Times, January 17, 2006
SECOND OPINION: Wrangling witnesses of Fall of Dhaka —Khaled Ahmed’s TV Review

General Umar was more upset than he should have been. His reference to his own piety was not appropriate. The first thing is to decide about coming to the programme. Once you decide to face it then be prepared to face the questions without getting hot under the collar

For a long time, Pakistan was dominated by the opinion that East Pakistan separated from Pakistan because the Indians engineered it and finally invaded it to assist its agents there. Then in the period of freedom of expression under Prime Minister Junejo, people began to write the real story. Two opinions began to appear, as if in a clash. Even that period passed and now those who say that India broke Pakistan up are increasingly on the defensive. Even the generals have started disagreeing.

GEO (December 2005) in his Jawadeh programme Iftikhar Ahmad grilled Major-General (retd) Ghulam Umar on the Fall of Dhaka. Gen …

A Q Khan Network: How much the US knew all along?

Daily Times, January 17, 2006
‘US knew all along about AQ Khan network’
By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Washington was keeping a close watch on Dr AQ Khan all through the years but finds it “politically inconvenient” do admit that now, according to a lengthy report in a reputable American magazine on Pakistan’s nuclear establishment and the Khan affair.

The first part of the investigative report, written by William Langewiesche, appeared in Atlantic Monthly in November 2005, while the second part has been published in the magazine’s first issue of the new year.

Langewiesche quotes a US source as saying somewhere in the 1980s, “We have a very strong interest in Dr Khan and the Khan Research Laboratories. We pay very close attention to his work. In fact, our interest in this man is so intense that you can assume if he takes a toilet break and goes to the john, we know about it. We know where he is.”

Langewiesche, who visited Pakistan for interviews and information-gathering more than once, writes…

Was Zawahiri there?:

The News, January 17, 2006
Lucky and not-so-lucky Damadola villagers
By Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Teenager Samiullah talks incoherently while recalling the US aerial strike that demolished his home in Damadola village in Bajaur tribal agency last Friday and killed 11 of his family members. He still believes some of his near and dear ones are alive and would be back after undergoing treatment at the hospital.

The 16-year-old boy was lucky to have survived the attack in the dead of the night. In fact, he wasn’t home. He had gone to his uncle’s home located nearby to spend the night with his cousins as part of the Eidul Azha celebrations.

Everybody else in the family home was killed or injured. His 65-year old father, Bakhtpur Khan, and mother Noor Pari, 50, perished in the missile strike on their cemented home. Two of his brothers, 25-year-old Nazeer Mohammad and 18-year-old Amir Mohammad, were also killed. He also lost two sisters named Madia and Sadiqa aged 9 and 10 years, respectively…

What is Happening in Baluchistan: From former KGB Sources

Note: Its an interesting story and analysis about how Baluch insurgency started and what are the geo-political factors involved in this conflict. The news source claims to get it from the two former KGB operators who created Baluchistan Liberation Army. Its very insightful, though it is difficult to assess how much truth it contains.
Blog owner

Pakistan: Unveiling the Mystery of Balochistan Insurgency - Part One
Tariq Saeedi in Ashgabat, With Sergi Pyatakov in Moscow, Ali Nasimzadeh in Zahidan, Qasim Jan in Kandahar and S M Kasi in Quetta, Additional reporting by Rupa Kival in New Delhi and Mark Davidson in Washington

Deception and treachery. Live and let die. The ultimate zero sum game. Repetition of bloody history: Call it what you may, something is happening in the Pakistani province of Balochistan that defies comprehension on any conventional scale.

Four correspondents and dozens of associates who collectively logged more than 5000 kilometers during the past seven w…