Showing posts from March, 2007

A nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown?
By Ghazi Salahuddin
The News, April 1, 2007

We now know what this military-led government cannot do. It cannot establish its writ in the very heart of the capital, when challenged by female students of Jamia Hafsa seminary. It also cannot prevent the Talibanisation of Pakistan, as certified by the attack by hundreds of heavily-armed militants on security forces in the town of Tank in north-west of the country.

Ah, but you should also look at what it can do with its immense power and authority. It can organise a public meeting for President General Pervez Musharraf to address and take care of such details as to close down the educational institutions, commandeer a large number of buses and vans to bring people from near and distant places to attend the meeting and deploy over 8,000 security officials in and around the meeting place, Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh.

A lot has happened this week to demonstrate the power and the powerlessness of this government. And all t…

Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps: A Policy Brief

Transforming Pakistan's Frontier Corps
By Hassan Abbas
Terrorism Monitor, Volume 5, Issue 6 (March 29, 2007)

While the jury is still out on whether General Pervez Musharraf's limitations in overpowering the Taliban in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas are primarily an outcome of "incapacity" or "unwillingness" (or both), the United States has committed itself to helping Pakistan transform its Frontier Corps into an effective fighting force. This effort is intended to improve Pakistan's ability to tackle the Taliban resurgence and eradicate al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the region. A grant of US$75 million a year is expected for the purpose as part of a $750 million fund to be disbursed in the next five years for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan (Dawn, March 17). It is a constructive step in principal, but without an innovative reform plan and implementation monitoring, the prospects of real improvement are…


Jamiatul Ansar, Khudamul Furqan merge
By Mohammad Imran
Daily Times, March 31, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Abdul Jabbar, the head of the Khudamul Furqan, has merged his banned militant outfit with Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil’s Jamiatul Ansar, also a banned organisation, sources told Daily Times on Friday.

Founded by Khalil, Jamiatul Ansar was previously known as Harkatul Mujahideen, which was banned by the Pakistani government following the 9/11 attacks because of the organisation’s involvement in militant activities.

The sources said the merger of the two groups – both from the Deobandi school of thought – took place last month, and common friends had been trying to resolve differences between the two militant commanders over the last three months. The sources said that Maulana Abdul Jabbar would be offered a key position in Jamiatul Ansar, currently being headed by Maulana Badar Munir.

Law-enforcement agencies arrested Maulana Jabbar some three years ago for his alleged involvement in a…

Count down to civill war begins now...

Cleric gives govt a week to impose Sharia
Daily Times, March 31, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Abdul Aziz, the prayer leader at Lal Masjid and principal of Jamia Hafsa, on Friday gave the government a week’s deadline to “enforce Sharia” in the country, otherwise “clerics will Islamise society themselves”. “If the government does not impose Sharia within a week, we will do it,” Aziz told a gathering after Friday prayers. Similarly, he gave the Islamabad administration a week to shut down “brothels”, otherwise “seminary students will take action themselves”. “If we find a woman with loose morals, we will prosecute her in Lal Masjid,” he said. Sources told Daily Times that the Jamia Hafsa administration would compile a record of brothels and gambling dens over the week, and then launch a drive. They said the seminary believed these places were being run in collaboration with civil society organisations. “Jamia Hafsa will hold a conference on April 5-6 at Lal Masjid, where ulema will finalise a …

Remember Caesar, thou art mortal

From this turmoil some good must come
By Ayaz Amir - Dawn, March 30, 2007

THIS is a movement different from other movements in our history. Sparked in the first instance by the courage and fortitude of one man, My Lord the Chief Justice, it has been given body and shape by the legal fraternity whose unity and enthusiasm, from Khyber to Karachi, have been exemplary.

It is hard praising gentlemen of the bar and the bench. Some of our best lawyers have served military dictators with aplomb and distinction. And there has been no shortage of judges who have felt proud to collaborate with generals and deliver the most extraordinary verdicts in their favour. But our fortunes may be about to turn. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of our existence, a new history is being written and new traditions set.

Not for nothing are leading lawyers reluctant to come to the government’s defence. It is not easy living with the open contempt of one’s colleagues.

The media (most of it) has also been remarkable,…

Who will fight this Talibanisation in Pakistan?

Who will fight this Talibanisation?
Editorial, The News, March 30, 2007

The events of recent days in the NWFP town of Tank and in Islamabad should shatter the assessment of all those policymakers, government functionaries and members of civil society who thought that Talibanisation was a feature only of FATA or some other remote and backward area of the country. Tank, which is now under curfew, and where several people were killed as extremists (thought to be allied with a Waziristan militant commander with whom the government brokered a 'peace deal' last year) launched an all-out attack on Tuesday night, is the district headquarters of Tank district and not far from Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Lakki Marwat, all reasonably large towns of NWFP. The violence there began on Monday after a school principal had the courage to call in the police after jihadis barged into his institution and tried to win new recruits to their cause. The local SHO also responded and he sadly paid for …

Back in the Game – Tribes and Society in Pakistan

Back in the Game – Tribes and Society in Pakistan
Hamid Hussain
Defence Journal, April 2007

It is not a question how much a man knows, but what use he can make of what he knows. Josiah Gilbert Holland

Human beings live with various identities and these identities transform over the course of time. Family, clan, tribe, ethnicity, nation and religion are some of the manifestations of these identities. These identities can be like circles and various circles interacting or at times clashing with each other. Intertribal relationship, access to external resources and interaction with central authority are key elements of the tribal society. Modern India took its current shape under British rule. In case of agriculturalist tribes inhabiting plains, central government had an upper hand and they were easily brought under central authority with little bloodshed. Centralization of state under British Raj had a mixed effect on the tribal structure of sub-continent. The effect of urbanizati…

Jihadis roaming free in NWFP

Jihadis in a school
Editorial The News, MArch 29, 2007

Monday's incident in the NWFP town of Tank near Kohat, where militants wanting to recruit young people to their cause forced their way into a school and which then resulted in a gun battle between the police and them, is a very disturbing indicator of just how bold the obscurantists and militants have become in the country. The gunfight that ensued resulted in the death of three people, injured over a dozen and endangered the lives of innocent schoolchildren. One can only wonder how in the world these extremists can justify their audacious and illegal action through religion. The incident is also worrying because it shows the level of intolerance, bigotry and coercion that seem to be on display in the province. The one good thing out of the incident is that the police at least put up a valiant effort and managed to kill one of the extremists. For many months now, the settled districts of NWFP bordering FATA have experienced a r…

The US-Pakistan Relations

A people-to-people relationship with Pakistan
By Ryan C Crocker
The News, March 28, 2007

Over the past five years the United States and Pakistan have built an extraordinarily close relationship as allies and strategic partners at the government-to-government level. But relations between peoples are the cement that holds together the elements of a strategic partnership. During my tenure as US ambassador to Pakistan I have been very interested in promoting these human and cultural bonds between our two countries. Nothing better demonstrates the breadth and the depth of the long-term, strategic partnership between Pakistan and the United States than the rapid growth in education programmes between our two countries.

Our USAID programme has provided over $200 million to education programmes in Pakistan over the last five years, encouraging student learning in some of Pakistan's most remote regions by training teachers in participatory learning, increasing parental involvement and supporti…

Musharraf's Fate

VIEW: Musharraf can’t rule forever —MOHSIN HAMID
Daily Times, March 28, 2007

General Musharraf must recognise that his popularity is dwindling fast and that the need to move toward greater democracy is overwhelming. The idea that a president in an army uniform will be acceptable to Pakistanis after this year’s elections is becoming more and more implausible

I was one of the few Pakistanis who actually voted for General Pervez Musharraf in the rigged referendum of 2002. I recall walking into a polling station in Islamabad and not seeing any other voter. When I took the time required to read the convoluted ballot, I was accosted by a man who had the overbearing attitude of a soldier although he was in civilian clothes. He insisted that I hurry, which I refused to do. He then hovered close by, watching my every action, in complete defiance of electoral rules.

Despite this intimidation, I still voted in favour of the proposition that General Musharraf, who had seized power in a coup in 1999, …

The Truth About Talibanistan: Time

The Truth About Talibanistan
Time, March 22, 2007
By Aryn Baker / Kabul, Afghanistan

The residents of Dara Adam Khel, a gunsmiths' village 30 miles south of Peshawar, Pakistan, awoke one morning last month to find their streets littered with pamphlets demanding that they observe Islamic law. Women were instructed to wear all-enveloping burqas and men to grow their beards. Music and television were banned. Then the jihadists really got serious. These days, dawn is often accompanied by the wailing of women as another beheaded corpse is found by the side of the road, a note pinned to the chest claiming that the victim was a spy for either the Americans or the Pakistani government. Beheadings are recorded and sold on DVD in the area's bazaars. "It's the knife that terrifies me," says Hafizullah, 40, a local arms smith. "Before they kill you, they sharpen the knife in front of you. They are worse than butchers."

Stories like these are being repeated across the t…

The Turkish Dilemma

Confident Turkey looks east, not west
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian: March 26, 2007

Turkey was not invited to Europe's big birthday bash on March 25 despite being an official candidate for EU membership. Ankara expressed disappointment at a 'missed opportunity'. Media reaction to the perceived snub was sharper.

"In the 1990s, the EU was a giant organisation governed by prominent leaders," said leading columnist Mehmet Ali Birand. "Today it has become a fat midget that lacks perspective and is governed by small-thinkers."

Disillusion with the EU has deepened since Brussels part-suspended talks in December after a row over Cyprus. The hostility, as seen from Ankara, of French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has poisoned the pot further.

But anger and frustration is slowly giving way to a new, more assertive idea: that perhaps Turkey does not really need Europe after all ... -- ... and the EU will come to regret i…

The US-Pakistan Relations

US senators seek exiled leaders' participation: Musharraf urged to hold fair elections
By Anwar Iqbal
Dawn, March 25, 2007

WASHINGTON, March 24: Chairman and three senior members of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have urged President Pervez Musharraf to ensure that the coming elections are open and free and the exiled leaders of the PPP and the PML-N are allowed to participate.

In a letter to President Musharraf, released to the media on Saturday, the four senators remind him that no democratic government can be credible without the protective check of a free press and urge him to order Pakistan's security and intelligence agencies to stop harassing journalists.

The senators -– Joseph R. Biden, John F. Kerry, Patrick J. Leahy and Blanch L. Lincoln -– describe the coming year as "a crucial one" for Pakistan's democratic development and for its relationship with the United States.

"Handled properly on both sides, the relationship has the potential…