Showing posts from October, 2007

U.S. and Pakistan: A Frayed Alliance?

U.S. and Pakistan: A Frayed Alliance: As Military Efforts Falter, Trust Suffers By Joby Warrick, Washington Post, October 31, 2007; A01

Five years ago, elite Pakistani troops stationed near the border with Afghanistan began receiving hundreds of pairs of U.S.-made night-vision goggles that would enable them to see and fight al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in the dark. The sophisticated goggles, supplied by the Bush administration at a cost of up to $9,000 a pair, came with an implicit message: Step up the attacks.

But every three months, the troops had to turn in their goggles for two weeks to be inventoried, because the U.S. military wanted to make sure none were stolen or given away, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. Militants perceived a pattern and scurried into the open without fear during the two-week counts.

"They knew exactly when we didn't have the goggles, and they took full advantage," said a senior Pakistani government official who closely tracks military opera…

Divisions within Pakistan's Middle Class on how to Tackle Extremism

Urban Pakistanis split on militants
As violence intensifies once again in the tribal areas, polls reveal divisions among the middle class on whether a military response is the best answer to extremism.
By Shahan Mufti | The Christian Science Monitor; October 31, 2007

Islamabad, Pakistan
The suicide bombing a few kilometers away from the Army's General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday afternoon left at least seven dead and dozens wounded. It also reinforced fears that Pakistan's more rapidly modernizing major cities and towns may now feel the fight that the Pakistani Army has lately taken to the militants in its remote tribal areas.

Despite the increasing violence, many educated urban-dwellers – part of a growing middle class of moderate, educated Pakistanis – find themselves stuck in the middle of a war that they are still reluctant to embrace as their own. The public's lack of ownership for the conflict has led to an emerging dialogue here as to whether meeting the Tali…

Justice in Balochistan?

Whither justice for Akhtar Mengal?
Sanaullah Baloch
The News, October 31, 2007

Akhtar Mengal, the son of a prominent Baloch politician, a former chief minister and the head of a moderate Baloch nationalist party, has been detained for the last eight months and is being denied justice through several delaying tactics. Illegal detention and unnecessary delays in his case have exposed the inequality and courts' inability to act without being influenced by the executive. Mengal has been arrested on charges of neither corruption, nor misuse of power. He is not an industrialist, bank defaulter and isn't involved in any land scam, like many pro-establishment politicians of the country.

Akhtar Mengal has been detained and kept in an isolated cell in a prison in Karachi since December 2006. He is facing trial for a two-hour "abduction" of two undercover agents of the security agencies. His case is being heard by an anti-terrorist court. Article 25 of the Constitution says: "…

Nawaz can come back any time: Supreme Court of Pakistan

Nawaz can come back any time: SC
Says PM violated court orders; directs Punjab govt not to issue statements on Sharif’s return
By Sohail Khan: The News, October 31, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated that former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif can come to Pakistan any time and stressed for the implementation of its earlier judgment in letter and spirit. A seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a contempt of court petition filed by the PML-N.

The Supreme Court in its historic judgment on August 23 this year had ruled that Nawaz Sharif has inalienable right to return to the country and participate in political activities with the directions that the federal and provincial governments should not hamper the safe return of the former premier.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court observed that the statements given by the foreign secretary, the chief of protocol and the chairman PIA apparently proved …

British Thinktank accuses Saudi regime over hate literature

Thinktank accuses Saudi regime over hate literature
Matthew Weaver and agencies; Guardian Unlimited, October 30, 2007

The controversial state visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which got under way today with a lavish ceremony, has prompted new criticism over his regime's alleged role in distributing hate literature in British mosques.
The Policy Exchange thinktank found extremist literature in a quarter of the 100 mosques and Islamic institutions it visited, including London Central Mosque in Regent's Park, which is funded by Saudi Arabia.

Some of the literature advocated violent jihad, murdering gay people and stoning adulterers, its researchers found.

Most of the material is produced by agencies closely linked to the Saudi regime, according to the investigation.

The prime minister, Gordon Brown, was urged to challenge King Abdullah about the literature when he meets him tomorrow.

The government is already under pressure to raise concerns that the regime is involved in torture …

Pakistani Universities and Their Web Presence: From All Things Pakistan

Pakistani Universities and Their Web Presence
Posted on October 27, 2007: Junaid Siddiqui

Last year at ATP, there was a post on the HEC (Higher Education Commission)’s Ranking of Pakistani Universities. That single post generated so much interest that in the past one year it has got 30000 hits on it. It not only shows the immense interest among prospective university students but also shows lack of career counseling or guidance available to them.

I have written this article in a hope of building further on HEC’s rankings as well as to show that Pakistani universities have very far to go to make up to any internationally recognized University Ranking.

For complete article, click here

Issues Facing Muslim Immigrants in Canada

Raza and Fatah . Reasonably accommodated
It should be a simple matter for Muslim immigrants to settle in to Canadian society: You accommodate, and we adapt
Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, Citizen Special; the Ottawa Citizen, October 29, 2007

Quebec needs to be thanked for initiating the debate on "reasonable accommodation." It has made it safe for members of the public to honestly express their concerns. Many Canadians find their country being turned into a large transit lounge, where people arrive, never get to know each other, simply wait to leave for different destinations in opposite directions, with little care for the transit lounge itself.

An open, honest debate about too much or too little accommodation is urgently needed in the rest of Canada. We have had enough of political correctness.

However, the Quebec Council on the Status of Women's proposal to bar public employees from wearing religious symbols while at work reflects fear and ignorance, not good judgment. The …

Newsweek's Controversial Title Story

Where the Jihad Lives Now
Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation.
Newsweek; October 29, 2007

Benazir Bhutto was worried she would not survive the day. It was, for her, to be a moment of joyous return after eight years of exile, but also an hour of great peril. Just before she left Dubai for Pakistan on Thursday, Oct. 18, Bhutto directed that a letter be hand-delivered to Pervez Musharraf, the embattled Pakistani autocrat with whom she had negotiated a tenuous political alliance. If anything happens to me, please investigate the following individuals in your government, she wrote, according to an account given to NEWSWEEK by her husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, then proceeded to name several senior security officials she considered to be enemies, Zardari said. Principal among those she identified, according to another supporter who works for her Pakistan Peo…

Political Developments in Baluchistan - Changing Perceptions

Baloch nationalists’ dilemma
By Jamil Ahmed: Dawn, October 29, 2007

ELECTIONS appear to be round the corner as the incumbent — though powerless — assemblies are about to complete their term.

Political parties in Balochistan have started consultations to decide on suitable candidates and chalk out their election strategy. The situation in the province is, however, different from the rest of the country.

Faced with a military operation, the Baloch nationalists face a dilemma. The educated youth is radicalised and along with the defunct Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) they reject parliamentary politics, considering it to be an utter waste of time.

The Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) and the National Party are the major nationalist parties which had participated in the 2002 general elections. The BNP (Awami), which had contested the polls, also claims to be a nationalist political entity but it is not recognised as such by the people. It is perceived to be clos…

No Evidence that Iran is Developing Nuclear Weapons: IAEA Chief

Concern Raised About Anti-Iran Rhetoric
Guardian, October 28, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Sunday he had no evidence Iran was working actively to build nuclear weapons and expressed concern that escalating rhetoric from the U.S. could bring disaster.

``We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization,'' said Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency. ``That's why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks.''

``But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.'' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran this month of ``lying'' about the aim of its nuclear program. She said there is no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the IAEA about its intentions.


Pakistan Hires another Lobbying firm in the US - Making a Poor Country Poorer

Pakistan hires another lobbyist in Washington
* Former assistant secretary of state for South Asia to represent Pakistan for $1.2m
* Lobbying contract has a year’s validity
By Khalid Hasan: Daily Times, October 29, 2007

Washington: Pakistan has got itself yet another lobbyist at a yearly cost of $1.2 million, which brings the number of those it has been using to sell itself on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of the government to two, though there could be more.

The other firm representing Pakistan here is Van Scoyoc Associates, which is paid $55,000 a month. “We continue to represent the embassy and work with the ambassador and his team on a daily basis,” according to Mark Talvarides, vice president for Van Scoyoc and lead lobbyist on the contract.

Pakistan’s representative:The new lobbyist for Pakistan is a firm called Cassidy and Associates, and the person who would be carrying Pakistan’s flag will be former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Robin Raphael. Raphael, who retir…

Justice - A new rallying cry in Pakistan

Picture: Imran Khan, founder of the Pakistan Justice Party, speaks at an October anti-government rally in Pakistan. (Getty Images)

A new rallying cry
Why the concept of justice - not freedom, not democracy - is becoming a potent tool for political reform in the Muslim world
By Shahan Mufti | October 28, 2007: Boston globe

PAKISTANIS ARE USING the Urdu word zulm a lot these days. The twin suicide bombings last week in the port city of Karachi that left hundreds injured and dead were zulm. So is a deal between political rivals that left millions of dollars stolen from the state unaccounted for. The Pakistan Army's continuing military assault on the tribal areas is being termed zulm. The bombing of girls' schools by Taliban militants in the same tribal belt along the Afghan border, the US military's operation in Iraq - all zulm.

The word signifies severe cruelty or injustice. The Arabic root implies doing wrong, and is used in the Koran as the most basic reference to sin. Zalime…

How to resurrect the pro-democracy movement in Pakistan?

Still time for a salvage mission
By Ayaz Amir: Dawn, October 26, 2007

THE anti-Musharraf movement in full bloom this summer has passed. The opposition parties fluffed it or our stars were not in the right conjunction. We have entered a new phase in our political life, calling for a shift in strategy and a new order of battle.

No army general in power has ever been removed by a popular upsurge in Pakistan. Ayub Khan, self-appointed field marshal for wars unknown, does not count. He was not army chief when he faced a popular uprising. Yahya was the army chief who conspired against him to engineer his ouster.

When the wheel turned for Yahya he went because of defeat in East Pakistan. Zia was blown out of the skies. But before that his power was diminished after the 1985 elections when Mohammad Khan Junejo became prime minister.

Gen Pervez Musharraf has arrived at the same twilight zone in his presidency. As long as he enjoys the army’s backing he will remain in power. But he faces a general e…

Who is responsible for this turn of events?

Militants behead law-enforcement men in public
By Hameedullah Khan; Dawn, October 27, 2007

SWAT, Oct 26: Militants on Friday publicly executed four law-enforcement personnel in a village, 16km west of Mingora, the district headquarters, and exchanged heavy gunfire with security forces in a nearby sub-district.

“It was gruesome,” was how a resident of Shakkardarra described the scene of beheading of the law-enforcement personnel.Requesting anonymity, he told Dawn on phone that masked militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles brought the four men to the village at around 5pm, fires a few shots in the air and then beheaded them.

The men, said to be in their mid-20s, had their hands tied together. They were pushed to the ground on the main Matta-Mingora road and had their heads chopped off.

“Let this serves as a warning to all those who spy for the government or help the government. All sons of Bush will meet similar fate,” the resident quoted one of the militants anno…

Conspirators & Rioters: Gujrat Violence in India

Conspirators & Rioters: A Cold Eclipse

There were the cool strategists — leaders, officials, ideologues. And then there were the foot soldiers, who raped, killed and looted. The genocide was clinical Nov 3, 2007

THERE WAS no spontaneity to what happened in Gujarat post- Godhra. This was no uncontrived, unplanned, unprompted communal violence. This was a pogrom. This was genocide.

In a planned, coldly strategic manner, Muslim neighbourhoods across both urban and rural Gujarat were targeted. Large sections of Hindus were united under a single objective: to kill Muslims, wherever and by whatever means, preferably by first stabbing and mutilating them, and then by setting on fire what remained, whether dead or alive. During the course of the TEHELKA sting, many accused said they preferred burning Muslims alive over other forms of death since cremation is considered unacceptable in Islam.

For three days after the February 27 fire on the Sabarmati Express at Godhr…

Swat Operation - How People in NWFP are reacting to the developments

NWFP citizens voice support for Swat military operation
Daily Times, October 27, 2007

* Many hold Fazlullah responsible for military operation, but also blame federal and NWFP governments for not taking timely action against radicals

By Akhtar Amin

PESHAWAR: A large number of people across the Northwest Frontier Province voiced support for the military operation in Swat. They said the government had no option but to take action against growing militancy, perpetual attacks on public property and security forces.

“We are not upset about the operation against militants. They challenged the government’s writ and have been trying to establish a parallel government through violence and harassment,” said Jan Mohammad, a Peshawar resident told Daily Times.

He criticised renegade cleric Maulana Fazlullah for going underground to protect himself while leaving innocent people to face the military operation. “The Maulana is definitely responsible for the casualties in the Swat military operation,” he …

Unravelling the Pakistani Elite

VIEW: Unravelling the Elite — Saleem H Ali
Daily Times, October 27, 2007

A few weeks ago, I met an award-winning New York Times writer, who has written numerous news stories about Pakistan. As we started a conversation about Pakistan’s politics, he remarked that he had many friends there and I’d probably know them since everyone seems to know everyone in the ‘elite circles of South Asia’.

While there is indeed some truth n this statement, I also felt a bit slighted to be lumped with the “elite”, implying perhaps a less-than-deserved career-trajectory on an inflated cushion of prestige.

My immediate response was that I was not one of the elite, despite my professorial credentials. That my father grew up in abject poverty near Bhati Gate and was the first in his family to attend college. Not too long ago, I had also conversed with award-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who takes pride in mentioning that she is the first woman in her family to have attended college.

It is a…

Battle at TNSM's Stronghold in Swat

Battle at Pakistan Cleric’s Stronghold
By ISMAIL KHANNew York Times, October 26, 2007

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Oct. 26 — Pakistani security forces exchanged heavy gunfire with militants at the sprawling seminary of an increasingly powerful extremist cleric in the troubled North-West Frontier Province today, according to regional police officials.

The fighting was in the same region where a bomb attack on Thursday killed 17 members of a civil armed guard and 3 civilians.

The cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, is also known as Maulana Radio for his illegal radio broadcasts urging Taliban-style Islamic law. The provincial government deployed 2,500 troops to the area, known as Swat, two days ago, to join army forces trying to quell the rise of extremism the cleric has fostered. He is believed to have gone underground since the troops arrived.

Swat, once a peaceful tourist area, has been transformed in the past few months by a series of deadly bombings that have been aimed at civilians. The cleric is bel…

A lesson in humility for the smug West: William Dalrymple

From The Sunday Times
October 14, 2007
A lesson in humility for the smug West
Many of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world
William Dalrymple

About 100 miles south of Delhi, where I live, lie the ruins of the Mughal capital, Fateh-pur Sikri. This was built by the Emperor Akbar at the end of the 16th century. Here Akbar would listen carefully as philosophers, mystics and holy men of different faiths debated the merits of their different beliefs in what is the earliest known experiment in formal inter-religious dialogue.

Representatives of Muslims (Sunni and Shi'ite as well as Sufi), Hindus (followers of Shiva and Vishnu as well as Hindu atheists), Christians, Jains, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians came together to discuss where they differed and how they could live together.

Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with explo…