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Showing posts from July, 2006

Finally!

Daily Times, August 1, 2006
NAB files case against Gen Zahid Akbar
By Zulfiqar Ghuman

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau on Monday filed a corruption reference against Lt General (r) Zahid Ali Akbar, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), in an accountability court in Lahore on Monday.

Gen Akbar is among 14 military personnel working in civil departments against whom NAB started corruption investigations in 2003. He also served as the corps commander of Rawalpindi during the military government of Gen Ziaul Haq.

Gen Akbar is accused of corruption as WAPDA chairman and PCB chairman from 1987 to 1992, says a press release issued by NAB headquarters. The NAB investigation found that Gen Akbar has assets worth Rs 176 million in his name and in the names of his dependants. These include 77 bank accounts in rupees and US dollars in Pakistan in his name and in the name of his relatives and business concerns. He made o…

"Winning Muslim Hearts and Minds": A Project in Doldrums?

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Guest post for Watandost
Project "Winning Muslim Hearts and Minds" in Deep Trouble
Omar Khawaja from Chicago - July 31, 2006

Watching media images of massacred children in the city of Qana in Lebanon is very painful for any human being. For the Bush administration's efforts to win over the hearts and minds of Muslims, this is devastating. The "mistake" was committed by Israel, but Muslims see the United States in every frame.

The Israel-Hezbollah bloody conflict is in its fourth week (now) and civilians on both sides of the border have paid heavily, though the destruction of infrastructure and loss of human life is much more pronounced in Lebanon. Israeli claims that they are (very) cautious not to target civilians cannot be taken at its face value given the facts on ground. Hezbollah is not blameless, but Muslims believe that Israeli technology and resources are so great that calling civilian casualties "collateral damage" has a hollow ring.


A glance at …

The Core Issue: Musharraf

The Core Issue: Musharraf
A cautiously aggressive India wins in its bid to veer global powers toward virtually marking Pakistan
V. Sudarshan
Outlook India, 31 July 2006

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh first met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf two years ago in New York, there was hope that the two "could do business". A year later, in April 2005, Musharraf came down to Delhi. Such was the warmth between him and Manmohan that the two leaders felt confident enough to declare the peace process "irreversible". In a joint declaration, they even enshrined the intention of not allowing terrorism to impede the historic process.

Since the heady April days of 2004, a string of horrifying bomb blasts has rocked India: Ayodhya happened, Delhi’s Diwali turned bloody, then followed Varanasi. And now Mumbai. Each incident has knocked a big hole in the avowed intention of ensuring that terrorism didn’t nix the peace process. So, hasn’t the prime minister’s assessment of Musharra…

Where is the intelligentsia?

The News, July 30, 2006
Where is the intelligentsia?
Prof Khwaja Masud

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
— WB Yeats

One is keenly reminded about the above-mentioned verses of Yeats, when one confronts the tragic reality of the West Bank and Lebanon; and at the same time the debate that our TV channels are carrying on — debate full of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The word ‘intelligentsia’ is Russian in origin. During the 19th century, members of the Russian intelligentsia thought of themselves as united by something more than a mere interest in ideas. They considered themselves as belonging to a dedicated order.

The Russian intelligentsia had accepted the doctrine that every man was called upon to perform a mission beyond mere selfish purpose of material existence. They had an education superior to their suppressed brothers. Therefore, they had a direct du…

Understanding how rumors are "manufactured" in Pakistan by media managers

Daily Times, July 30, 2006
POSTCARD USA: Shortcut to fame and fortune? Not really —Khalid Hasan

After news having travelled from yet another “well informed” of my countrymen as to what transpired at a secret, off the record meeting held in the middle of the night under tight security in Islamabad, I have decided to do a tell-all, keeping nothing back. Truth like murder must out.

I have never ceased wondering what it is that makes us Pakistanis tittle-tattle so much when we could be doing something far more useful, such as reading a book or listening to the BBC World Service radio. Why is it that the simple explanation is never acceptable? Why do we find embellished accounts of even minor and utterly inconsequential events so fascinating? Why are we always willing to believe the sinister and the secret, rather than the simple and the verifiable? Why do we gossip so much? Why not instead go to the F-9 Park in Islamabad and fly a kite? That would at least have the advantage of violating on…

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's grand-daughter Reports from Lebanon: A very popular story in Pakistan

The News, July 25, 2006
'We are all Hizbollah'
By Fatima Bhutto

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Apparently I am a hardliner. I've been told on several occasions since I've started writing about being under siege in Lebanon that my obvious support of Hizbollah means I should start growing a beard and stop listening to Western music. "How can you reconcile yourself to Hizbollah's intolerant/fundamentalist/Islamic/anti-secular/authoritarian agenda?" I am often asked.

But the fact of the matter is Hizbollah is none of those things. They have come a long way since their formation in the 1980s. Hizbollah is no al-Qaeda — killing innocent men and women in terror attacks around the world. I was in New York for 9/11 and I was in London for 7/7 and I know what it feels like to be paralysed by such senseless violence. But I have also been in Lebanon for 7/13, 7/14, 7/15, 7/16 — you get the picture, sorry, but we are without a catchy slogan here. Hizbollah is not led by a Abu Mus…

A Statement From Pakistani-Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 29th, 2006: We condemn the mindless attack on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. This is obviously an action of an insane individual. All the undersigned organizations who are representatives of the Pakistani American Community and also American Muslim Organization condemn this individual’s brutal actions and also call for broader dialogue and conversations amongst the religious and cultural communities to pursue understanding, peace and harmony that we continue to enjoy in our homeland.

We must do whatever is in our power to prevent the current conflict in the Middle East from being transplanted to our Country. We foresee the good friendship that the Pakistani Americans and American Muslims enjoy with Jewish Americans to help build an important lasting relationship which would serve as a mechanism to spread peace in the Middle East, rather than the other way round.

Any attack on one place of worship or community is actually an attack on all places of w…

Condemnable

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Comment: Its tragic. And its very painful to know that a Pakistani-American is the culprit. Attack on innocent civilians and that too in a religious place cannot be justified on any grounds whatsoever.


CNN - July 28, 2006

One dead in hate-crime shooting at Jewish center
Suspect in custody; three women in critical condition

(CNN) -- One person was killed and five others were wounded, three critically, in a shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle, Washington, police said.

Police have detained a suspect who is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent.

"This is a crime of hate, and there's no place for that in the city of Seattle," Mayor Greg Nickels said. "This was a purposeful hateful act, as far as we know, by an individual acting alone."

The attack promoted Seattle police to increase security at Jewish temples and Islamic mosques around the city, Chief Gil Kerlikowske said.

"We are also protecting mosques, because there is always the concern of retaliato…

New Book on Eqbal Ahmed: Highly Recommended

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The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad

Eqbal Ahmad; edited by Carollee Bengelsdorf, Margaret Cerullo, and Yogesh Chandrani
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
Columbia University Press, August 2006

"It is a fascinating experience to view major events of the past half century through Eqbal Ahmad's discerning eye."
—Noam Chomsky

"Eqbal Ahmad was perhaps the shrewdest and most original anti-imperialist analyst of the postwar world. Ahmad's themes were always liberation and injustice, or how to achieve the first without reproducing more of the second. Humanity and genuine secularism in this blood-drenched old century of ours had no finer champion."
—Edward Said, author of Orientalism

"Eqbal Ahmad is a brilliant man with brilliant insights. My only complaint about him is that he is not here now, when we need him most."
—Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things

"Ahmad's world outlook transcends nationalist pride, expressing a profound passion for the equal r…

Text book Reforms

Daily Times, July 29, 2006
Include Jesus in our textbooks, says Aitzaz
Staff Report

LAHORE: Pakistan People Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) member of the national assembly Aitzaz Ahsan has asked the federal education minister to include a chapter on Jesus Christ and Christianity in the Punjab Textbook Board’s Ethics textbook for grade nine and the Sindh Textbook Board’s textbook for grades nine and ten.

In a letter to Federal Education Minister Lt Gen (r) Javed Ashraf Qazi, he said that while these books had chapters on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Shri Krishan Jee and Guru Nanak, there was no mention of Jesus Christ, which was tantamount to discrimination against the Christian community of Pakistan. Aitzaz said that he would take up the matter in the National Assembly and demanded that immediate steps be taken to resolve the situation.

Talking about the invaluable contributions of eminent Christians, he recalled the efforts of former chief justice AR Corneliu…

Worrisome Developments in North Waziristan

Daily Times, July 29, 2006
Militants taking over check-posts
Staff Report

PESHAWAR: The Taliban have taken over military check posts in North Waziristan, BBC Radio reporter Dilawar Khan Wazir said in his ‘Miranshah Diary’ on Friday.

Wazir said that more than a dozen check posts monitoring the highway between Kajhori and Miranshah earlier had been abandoned and that he had seen the Taliban patrolling the highway between Mir Ali and Miranshah in twin cabin pick-ups. “They were carrying automatic rifles and in some cases, rocket launchers. Militants now stand guard at the check points previously controlled by army soldiers,” he said.

Wazir warned that “North Waziristan was being taken over by the Taliban”. “The movements of the tribal jirga members have also been restricted and it is difficult for them to meet friends or family,” he added. Wazir reported that authorities in North Waziristan had stopped officials, tribal elders and jirga members from speaking to the media. “Tribal elder Mal…

What should Musharraf Do?: Visit "ALL THINGS PAKISTAN"

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Poll at ALL THINGS PAKISTAN on Musharraf's Options:
In Adil Najam's fascinating blog, a very interesting poll is being conducted on what Musharraf should do regarding the issue of continuing with both his positions - President as well as Chief of Army Staff. Visitors to this blog are highly encouraged to participate in that. To get to the poll either click the title of this item or visit: http://pakistaniat.wordpress.com
Picture above: From Adil's Blog, who in turn has acquired it from The Friday Times

Who is pulling the strings?: Why to Ditch Musharraf now?

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The News, July 28, 2006
MQM decides to send resignations to the President, Governor Sindh

LONDON: Muttehida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has decided to send the resignations of MNAs, senators, federal ministers to the president and the resignations of provincial ministers, MPAs and advisors to the Governor Sindh.

The decision was taken after the third session of the meeting of MQM Coordination Committee here on Thursday.

Convener MQM Coordination Committee Dr. Imran Farooq has asked the ministers and advisors to stop working and withdraw government perks and privileges forthwith.

When asked Dr. Imran said the meeting did not discuss about the resignation Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad.

Earlier, reacting to delay in redressing its concerns and non-implementation of steps pledged by the Sindh and federal government, MQM collected resignations from all its provincial ministers and advisors.

The Chief Minister Sindh continues rejecting the summaries and files regarding development projects put up by…

Muslim reactions to Mumbai blasts

VIEW: Muslim reactions to Mumbai blasts —Yoginder Sikand

In the wake of the blasts, several Muslim organisations all over the country have organised meetings to condemn them, to argue that Islam does not allow such heinous deeds and to demand that the government constitute an impartial investigation into the blasts. They have appealed to Muslims to struggle for their constitutional rights as citizens of India through democratic means
Although the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai have been widely condemned by numerous Indian Muslim organisations and leaders, their voices have gone unheard in large sections of the Indian media or else have received only passing mention. While the identity of the perpetrators of the blasts is still uncertain, scores of Muslims have been arrested by the police in different parts of the country. Muslim and human rights organisations claim that many of these people are innocent and have nothing whatsoever to do with militancy. Always on the prowl for any excuse t…

Kargil Irregularities: Opening up a pandora box

Comment: Last minute shopping is often more expensive - the Air Force had little clue about the Kargil planning and was informed at the end - hence they had to shop for necessary logistics hurriedly!

Daily Times, July 26, 2006
‘Irregularities in PAF purchase of wood during Kargil operation’
Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) has reported that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) violated government rules by buying expensive wood to pack fuel tanks during the Kargil operation.

The AGP reported that PAF authorities at Chaklala Air Base bought expensive firewood, resulting in an “extra expenditure of Rs 0.502 million in violation of government rules”.

The PAF replied: “It (Kargil operation) was a national emergency and the purchases concerned dispatch of aircraft.”

The Defence Ministry said that private vehicles were hired to transport the wood. “Drop tanks, being huge, expensive and fragile equipment, required seasoned wood for packing before long-distance transportation…

Handling Media

Daily Times, July 26, 2006
Government seeks to ‘soften-up’ 30 ‘negative’ journalists
‘Handlers’, ‘coordinators’ and ‘butterers’ appointed
Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: In a major PR exercise, the government of Shaukat Aziz has prepared a list of 33 columnists, writers and reporters in the English and Urdu print media of Pakistan and assigned its top “spin doctors” to neutralise the “negativism” of these writers by making them “soft and friendly”.

Understandably, no editor or owner-editor has been so targeted, suggesting that the government thinks it best to directly deal with the troublesome writers than indirectly through their prickly bosses.

The glib new information minister, Mohammad Ali Durrani, will lead his team of spin doctors along with the affable information secretary, Shahid Rafi, to work on the targeted columnists and reporters and “soften” them up so that their criticism of the Aziz government’s policies and decisions is muted.

The top Urdu columnist, Irshad Haqqani of Jang, is to b…

Leveraging Musharraf

Daily Times, July 25, 2006
Leveraging Musharraf
By Dr Mubashir Hasan

Nations devise their foreign policy in pursuit of their national interests. Governments come and go. Sometimes one party is in opposition, sometimes another. The national interests change little with time. In fully sovereign countries, the government and the opposition parties support the main thrust of national interest policies. However, the party in power conducts foreign relations.

A wide consensus seems to exist in Pakistan on at least those aspects of the foreign policy of President Pervez Musharraf which relate to the peace process with India and his stand on the current war in Lebanon. Dissent from hard line conservative elements is limited, for instance, to the tactics of tackling the Kashmir dispute while talking peace with India. On questions of Pakistan’s general alliance with the US and the direction of the country’s economic policies – privatisation, deregulation and globalisation – the PPPP and PML-N, the …

Pakistan's New Nuclear Reactor

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For original ISIS report on the topic, click the title above or go to:
http://www.isis-online.org/publications/southasia/newkhushab.pdf

VOA News
Pakistan Reportedly Working to Expand Nuclear Weapons Base By Benjamin Sand
Islamabad, 24 July 2006

Pakistan has refused to comment on news that it is building a powerful new plutonium nuclear reactor, which could signal a major overhaul of the country's nuclear weapons program. A Washington-based research group released this week what it says are satellite photographs of what appears to be a new reactor under construction at a Pakistan nuclear site.

The photographs, released on-line (on an Internet web site) Sunday evening, appear to show a large, partially completed nuclear reactor inside the Khushab complex in central Pakistan.

According to the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), the heavy water reactor could potentially produce more than 200 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium per year, enough for 40…

"Who Owns Pakistan": Good question!

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Picture: The Attock fort with the Indus below it
Source: http://www.taimurkhan.info/images/gallery/

Daily Times, July 24, 2006
CAM DIARY: Who owns Pakistan? —Sir Cam

Where do you think you’re going?” challenged the commando at the checkpoint on the road to Mangla Dam in Mirpur. To the Mangla Fort, I replied, resisting the temptation to ask him what the hell he was doing blocking my way. He was heavily armed, and it seemed pointless arguing. “The Mangla Qila has been closed for two years and it’s going to be closed for at least another two years,” he scoffed. That was a shocker for my guidebooks indicated the ancient fort was open to the public.

Never take no for an answer in Pakistan. There is always a way out (well, almost). And I don’t mean bribing people with laddoos or Cadbury’s chocolate. “Actually”, I offered in a sweet-as-mango voice, “I’m visiting the Boating Club”. That did it! After checking my ID and confiscating my car steering wheel lock (I did get it back on the way out) bec…

A Commendable Initiative

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Dawn, July 22, 2006
Ex-generals, MPs want military out of politics
By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, July 22: A group of retired generals, sitting and former parliamentarians and academics have called for disengagement of military from political power by separating the offices of the president and army chief.

“Besides being a constitutional office, the office of president of Pakistan is also a political office (and) combining presidency with the office of Chief of Army Staff politicises the latter post as well as the army,” said the group in a letter addressed to President Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and heads of political parties.

Expressing concern over political polarisation and extremism in society, the group stressed the need for conducting dialogue for peace and conciliation.

“Democracy can only be authentic when there is real separation of powers and when all institutions of the state abide by the roles assigned to them by the constitution.

“True federalism will o…

"Peace Process in Jeopardy": Why?

The Nation (Pakistan), Gulf News July 19, 2006
Peace Process in Jeopardy
Husain Haqqani

Pakistan ’s official response to India ’s allegations about the complicity of Pakistan-based groups in the Mumbai attacks has been technical, not politically substantive. The Foreign Office spokeswoman argued that India had not conveyed “anything in writing or talked of any evidence.” But that is hardly the point of contention at this moment. Pakistan ’s argument would have been much stronger if Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group named by India as being responsible for the attacks, did not operate freely at all within Pakistan despite having been officially banned five years ago.

It may well be true that India has not yet found conclusive evidence of LeT’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks and that the attacks might have been the handiwork of a homegrown Indian terrorist group. But the fact that LeT operates in Pakistan as Jamat-ud-Dawa, and even received acknowledgement from General Pervez Musharraf…

US training for Pakistani security services

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Comment: The news item below is a positive thing for Pakistani law enforcement organizations. Historically, Pakistan Army had been the only beneficiary of the US training courses, whereas police rarely received any attention. It is hoped that rather than Army's Special Services Group (SSG), it will be police personnel who will get this training and advanced equiment.


Daily Times, July 23, 2006
Musharraf, Aziz’s security: US to train Pakistani security men
Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The US government will train Pakistani security personnel in the protection of VVIPs, Daily Times has learnt

Sources said that as a first step towards this new training programme, Washington is posting a federal prosecution officer to the US Embassy in Islamabad whose primary duty would be to act as a liaison officer for the training programme.

The US State Department wants better security for Pakistani officials it considers important in the war on terror, the sources said, adding that these ‘VVIPs’ were Pres…

"The Taliban’s Silent Partner": Views of a leading American Journalist

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New York Times, July 20, 2006
The Taliban’s Silent Partner
By ROBERT D. KAPLAN

WHEN the American-led coalition invaded Afghanistan five years ago, pessimists warned that we would soon find ourselves in a similar situation to what Soviet forces faced in the 1980’s. They were wrong — but only about the timing. The military operation was lean and lethal, and routed the Taliban government in a few weeks. But now, just two years after Hamid Karzai was elected as the country’s first democratic leader, the coalition finds itself, like its Soviet predecessors, in control of major cities and towns, very weak in the villages, and besieged by a shadowy insurgency that uses Pakistan as its rear base.

Our backing of an enlightened government in Kabul should put us in a far stronger position than the Soviets in the fight to win back the hinterland. But it may not, and for a good reason: the involvement of our other ally in the region, Pakistan, in aiding the Taliban war machine is deeper than is commo…