Showing posts from December, 2007

The Future Pakistan Deserves

The Future Pakistan Deserves
By Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Washington Post, January 1, 2008; A11

LAHORE, Pakistan -- There is no law and certainly no order in my country. What happened this past week has shaken every Pakistani. Benazir Bhutto was no ordinary person. She served as prime minister twice and had returned to Pakistan in an effort to restore our country to the path of democracy. With her assassination I have lost a friend and a partner in democracy.

It is too early to blame anybody for her death. One thing, however, is beyond any doubt: The country is paying a very heavy price for the many unpardonable actions of one man -- Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf alone is responsible for the chaos in Pakistan. Over the past eight years he has assiduously worked at demolishing institutions, subverting the constitution, dismantling the judiciary and gagging the media. Pakistan today is a military state in which a former prime minister can be gunned down in broad daylight. One of my own political r…

Pakistan: Looking Ahead

The elections must go ahead
Hassan Abbas, Guardian's Comment is free.., December 31, 2007
Click here to see a shorter version in today's Guardian

Pakistan is reeling in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto's murder, as anger and overwhelming sadness drive its people towards hopelessness and violence. In the midst of all this, the government is foolishly trying to distort the facts surrounding Bhutto's killing by trying to shift the blame from its own incompetence and possible involvement. Without credible elections, restoration of the independent judiciary and effective curbs on the activities of the country's intelligence agencies in internal affairs, Pakistan cannot be rescued from a certain slide into more chaos.

Pakistan's history is full of cover-ups and Bhutto's murder is proving to be no different. Innumerable acts of violence creating choreographed instability in the country, abrupt dismissals of various governments and assassinations of many political and …

Indian view on Benazir's Assassination and its aftermath

Tolerating terror By Vikram Sood
Hindustan Times, December 30, 2007

In the preface to the revised edition of her autobiography, Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto begins by saying: “I didn’t chose this life; it chose me. Born in Pakistan, my life mirrors its turbulence, its tragedies and its triumphs.” She goes on, “Once again Pakistan is in the international spotlight. Terrorists who use the name of Islam threaten its stability. The democratic forces believe terrorism can be eliminated by promoting the principles of freedom. A military dictatorship plays dangerous games of deception and intrigue. Fearful of losing power, it dithers, keeping the forces of modernisation at bay while the flames of terrorism flourish.” She wrote this in April 2007.

Bhutto represented modernity to the increasingly obscurantist power-brokers in Pakistan and, therefore, a threat to them. She represented, in some ways, a democratic hope for ordinary Pakistanis. She was thus perceived as a threat to the entren…

Beyond Pakistan’s 9/11 —Suroosh Irfani

View: Beyond Pakistan’s 9/11 —Suroosh Irfani
Daily Times, December 31, 2007

Telescoped into Bhutto’s assassination is an ongoing struggle within Islam that globalisation is bringing to a head. In all probability, Bhutto has dealt with this crisis in her forthcoming book that attempts at reconciling Islam and modernity

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on December 27, 2007 virtually amounts to Pakistan’s 9/11. As the country was rattled by shock, disbelief and outrage, Baitullah Mehsud, Al Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan, and a cleric in Waziristan were congratulating each other on Bhutto’s killing, as indicated by the transcript of a telephonic conversation between the two released by the government on Friday.

The terrorists had every reason to be jubilant: they had silenced the one voice that consistently warned of the grave danger religious extremism posed to Pakistan’s viability as a modern democratic state. Indeed, the struggle for democracy for Bhutto was inseparable from reclaiming the ‘rea…

Democracy is best revenge

PPP demands UN probe into Benazir’s assassination
The News, December 30, 2007

NAUDERO: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the party of Pakistan's murdered opposition leader Benazir Bhutto called for a United Nations probe into the circumstances of Benazir slaying in a gun and suicide bomb attack Thursday.

PPP named her 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as its new leader Sunday and announced it would contest upcoming general elections.

Bilawal Bhutto, a student at Britain's Oxford University, was named party chairman at an emergency meeting, taking the reins of the party formerly led by his mother and grandfather, both of whom met violent deaths.

The party also appointed Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari as co-chairman.

"Democracy is the best revenge," Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a chaotic news conference in the Bhutto family's ancestral home here, vowing the party's "long and historic struggle for democracy will continue with a new vigour."


Political reform Pakistan's only hope

Political reform Pakistan's only hope by Wendy Chamberlin and Marvin Weinbaum
The Sydney Morning Herald; December 31, 2007

Rarely in situations of such volatility as Pakistan faces today is the objective so clear. Pakistan needs stability. The greatest threat to the country derives from internal terrorism, lawlessness and fractured regional politics.

Can national stability best be secured through a strongman government of the kind offered by the President, Pervez Musharraf? Or is stability best guaranteed through a democratic election that restores civilian rule committed to cracking down on extremist violence, building the rule of law and delivering services to the people? Benazir Bhutto promoted the second option. Tragically, she died doing so.

The former prime minister's assassination is being called a victory for the forces of extremism and a heavy setback for the cause of democracy. Her murder brought down an eloquent advocate for both a progressive state and society and mo…

Analyzing Various Theories About 'Who Killed Benazir"

'You Can Name Musharraf As My Assassin If I Am Killed': Benazir
Her exchange of e-mails with a confidant shows Benazir was on the verge of exposing an ISI operation to rig the January 8 election
by Amir Mir; - December 29, 2007

O n November 13, 2007, I had a one-to-one meeting with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto at the Lahore residence of Senator Latif Khosa. She said she had no doubt about the people who had masterminded the attack on her on October 18, the day she had returned to Pakistan from exile. Benazir told me, "I have come to know after investigations by my own sources that the October 18 bombing was masterminded by some highly-placed officials in the Pakistani security and intelligence establishments who had hired an Al Qaeda-linked militant—Maulvi Abdul Rehman Otho alias Abdul Rehman Sindhi—to execute the attack." She said three local militants were hired to carry out the attack under the supervision of Abdul Rehman Sindhi, an Al Qaeda…

Benazir Bhutto Tribute

The Making of a Murder in Pakistan

The making of a murder in Pakistan By Hassan Abbas
Zaman, Turkey, December 29, 2007; The Australian, Dec 31, 2007; Taipei Times, Taiwan, Dec 31, 2007; The Sunday Times, Srilanka - Dec 31; The Jodon Times, December 31, 2007

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the first Muslim woman to lead a Muslim country, is a serious blow to Pakistan’s prospects for democracy and, indeed, its viability as a state.

As chaos and confusion set in, we should not lose sight of President Pervez Musharraf’s partial responsibility for this turn of events. At the very least, he cannot be absolved from his government’s failure to provide Bhutto with adequate security.

Instead, Bhutto had to pay with her life for courageously challenging extremists of all stripes -- from al-Qaeda and Taliban to the country’s religious political parties and military hardliners.

As heir to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the legendary democratic leader who was hanged by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s government in 1979, Benazir emerged as a sym…

Latest Analysis on Developing Situation in Pakistan...

Daily Times, December 29, 2007

The void left behind by AHMED RASHID, Zaman, Turkey, December 29, 2007
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has left a huge political vacuum at the heart of this nuclear-armed state, which appears to be slipping into an abyss of violence and Islamic extremism.
The question of what happens next is almost impossible to answer, especially at a moment when Bhutto herself seemed to be the only answer.
Pakistanis are in shock. Many are numb and others are filled with unimaginable grief. Thousands have taken to the streets, burning vehicles and attacking police stations in an explosion of violence against the government. Bhutto’s death Thursday will almost certainly lead to the cancellation of the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections (already, the nation’s second-largest opposition party has called for a boycott if the vote is held) and the possible imposition of extraordinary measures by the military -- anothe…

"We Will Not be Deterred" - Benazir's Memorable Quotes

‘We will not be deterred’- Benazir’s memorable quotes
Daily Times, December 28, 2007

* "I told him on my oath in his death cell, I would carry on his work." — Recalling a visit to her father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, before his execution in 1979.

* “The primary message of the visit and the talks will be that freedom has returned to Pakistan. It is not only a success for the people of Pakistan but for all those who believe in freedom." — Preparing for a visit to the United States in 1989, a few months after she first took office as prime minister.

* “The voter has gotten more demanding. In 1988, the voters just wanted democracy. Our campaign was much more general then. Now we are more specific." — 1993 Associated Press interview on her ultimately successful bid for re-election. She had been ousted in 1990.

* “I always said that I was innocent and a victim of a politically motivated trial." — Commenting in 2001 when her 1999 conviction on corruption…

Bhutto's Legacy

Bhutto's Legacy
By HUSAIN HAQQANI; Wall Street Journal December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto's tragic assassination highlights the fears about Pakistan that she voiced over the last several months. Years of dictatorship and sponsorship of Islamist extremism have made this nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 160 million people a safe haven for terrorists that threaten the world. Bhutto had the courage and vision to challenge both the terrorism and the authoritarian culture that nurtured it. Her assassination has already exacerbated Pakistan's instability and uncertainty.

Riots have been reported from several parts of the country as grief has fanned anger against a government that is deeply unpopular. As Pakistanis mourn the death of a popular democratic leader, the United States must review its policy of trusting the military-dominated regime led by Pervez Musharraf to secure, stabilize and democratize Pakistan.

The U.S. should use its influence, acquired with more than $10 billion in …

Benazir Assassination...

Benazir Bhutto, 54, Lived in Eye of Pakistan Storm
By JANE PERLEZ and VICTORIA BURNETT; New York times, December 27, 2007

Charismatic, striking and a canny political operator, Benazir Bhutto, 54, was reared in the violent and turbulent world of Pakistani politics and became the country’s and the Muslim world’s first female prime leader.

A deeply polarizing figure, the “daughter of Pakistan” was twice elected prime minister and twice expelled from office in a swirl of corruption charges that propelled her into self-imposed exile in London for much of the past decade. She returned home this fall, billing herself as a bulwark against Islamic extremism and a tribune of democracy.

For Complete Story, click here

Bhutto's death heightens democracy concerns
Story Highlights - CNN - December 27, 2007
NEW: Musharraf blames terrorists; appeals for solidarity, cooperation
Karzai says Bhutto "sacrificed her life for the sake of Pakistan"
Bush calls on Pakistan to honor Bhutto by continuing…

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Bhutto Killed in Suicide Attack on Election Rally
By Naween A. Mangi and Khalid Qayum

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, died of injuries sustained in a suicide bomb attack on an election rally in Rawalpindi. She was 54.

``She's dead,'' a Bhutto aide, Imran Hayat, said as he sobbed in a telephone interview from Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she was treated after the blast. At least 15 people were killed in the bombing and more than 60 injured, police said.

The opposition leader survived an assassination attempt on the night of her return to Pakistan in October after eight years in self-imposed exile. At least 136 people died when suicide bombers attacked her welcome procession on Oct. 19 in Karachi, where thousands of supporters had gathered to receive her.

Harvard and Oxford-educated Bhutto was born in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, and was the eldest of two sisters and two brothers. She is survived by her husband, Asi…

Pakistan & the "War on Terror" - New Items Worth Looking into

Pakistan's missing are doubly lost
With a Supreme Court installed by Musharraf, hundreds allegedly picked up by security forces have no champion in the judiciary.
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2007

KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- Abid Raza Zaidi winces occasionally as he tells how police hung him upside down and beat him with leather straps to get him to confess to taking part in a deadly bombing in Karachi.

He remembers being forced to stand for hours without rest, and the strange serenity he felt when police said they had determined he was guilty and would execute him in the morning.

For Complete Story, click here

Karzai in Pakistan to Mend Ties
By SALMAN MASOOD and CARLOTTA GALL, New York Times, December 27, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan signaled an improvement in relations between their countries after an unusually cordial meeting here on Wednesday and called for greater cooperation in fighting …

Restoration of Pro-Nov 3 Judiciary Most Important

Looking beyond the polls
By I.A. Rehman: Dawn, December 27, 2007

WITH polling day less than a fortnight away, the greatest cause of anxiety among democratic-minded people is whether the anti-authoritarian stirrings of the past few months will survive the so-called general election. The question touches on the present society’s capacity for realising a democratic change as well as the direction of its strivings.

Whatever the outcome of the electoral exercise, it has already split the political community into two camps, one of them hoping for salvation by joining the process and the other by boycotting it. Neither camp apparently has a reason to be sanguine about its success.

Those joining the electoral race are crying themselves hoarse that the establishment is determined to rig the election and their inability to foil such designs will hardly be challenged. The boycott group argues that, instead of leading to a democratic dispensation, the election will only extend and legitimise authorit…

JUI's Fazl Under Threat from Suicide Bombers - What Goes Around Comes Around!

Suicide attacker stalking Fazl
* Interior Ministry sends a letter to the JUI-F chief about threats of potential suicide attacks against him
Staff Report; Daily Times, December 27, 2007

islamabad: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maualna Fazlur Rehman has stopped attending public meetings in the wake of intelligence agencies’ reports that pro-Al Qaeda organisations in Pakistan are planning to kill him, presumably for his offering support to the United States against militants along the Durand Line.

Letter: Sources said that the Crisis Management Cell, after receiving reports from intelligence agencies, sent a letter to Fazl five days ago, revealing the threats of potential suicide attacks on him. The letter has also been forwarded to the provincial and federal authorities concerned.

The sources said that according to secret agencies’ reports Muhammad Tariq Musa, a resident of Multan, had been tasked to kill Fazl.

The reports said the Taliban had chosen Musa to kill the JUI-F chief bec…

Talking to Taliban?

Urgent talks on Afghan expulsions: BBC, December 26, 2007

Foreign officials in Afghanistan are in urgent discussions with the Afghan government over two diplomats who have been ordered to leave the country.
The men, based in Kabul, are accused of posing a threat to national security.

One is a high-ranking United Nations employee, the other was acting head of the EU mission in Afghanistan.

The expulsion order follows speculation that the men - one British, one Irish - had held talks with the Taleban in Helmand province in the south.

The Afghan government has given the pair 48 hours to leave.

But a spokesman for the UN in Afghanistan, Aleem Siddique, said the affair was a misunderstanding, which he hoped would be resolved.

Mr Siddique denied that the diplomats had been talking to Taleban militants.

He said they had been discussing the Afghan situation with all people on the ground to help the country's stability.

"We are currently trying to clarify the situation with the Afghan…

American Jews and Muslims Seek Paths to Peace

U.S. Jews, Muslims Seek Paths to Harmony
Council on American-Islamic Relations, 12/24/2007

Muslims and Jews, a tiny slice of the U.S. population, are looking for new ways to get along that could set a worldwide example for two ancient but often alienated faiths, religious leaders and experts say.

"I've encountered (among Muslims) a more centrist, a more moderate voice that is looking to the Jewish community to help project that voice ... to the greater world," said Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York, speaking of a national summit of imams and rabbis he helped organize earlier this year.

He also cited a recent incident in a New York subway "where four young Jews were being verbally and physically assaulted on a train for wishing the passengers a happy Hanukkah, and the only individual to come to their rescue was a young Muslim man," Hassan Askari, of Bangladeshi heritage, who was beaten.

"That is a very, very powerful example" of what can happen. The challe…

Pakistan's Hushed Media on the eve of Elections

Pakistan's hushed media is criticized
Groups say the code stifles chance for a fair election
By LAURA KING, Dec. 24, 2007, Los Angeles Times

KARACHI, PAKISTAN — It's the height of election season, and Pakistani television audiences might expect the airwaves to be crackling with live campaign coverage, argumentative talk shows and sharp-tongued political commentary.

Instead, two weeks before the country's most hotly contested parliamentary vote in years, broadcast outlets continue to operate under a stringent code of conduct imposed by President Pervez Musharraf during a six-week period of de facto martial law, which ended earlier this month.

Political activists, human rights organizations and media groups believe the restrictions, which are to remain in place indefinitely, seriously diminish prospects for a free and fair election.

"Being on the air is not the same as being free," said Ali Dayan Hasan, a Pakistan-based representative of the New York-based group Human R…