Showing posts from January, 2008

Book Reviews: How jihad went freelance

How jihad went freelance
Jan 31st 2008: From The Economist print edition
Al-Qaeda has evolved from a single group to an amorphous movement. Does that make it less dangerous or more so?

TERRORISTS are a bit like you and me, or so Marc Sageman suggests. It might be comforting to think that angry young Islamists are crazed psychopaths or sex-starved adolescents who have been brainwashed in malign madrassas. But Mr Sageman, a senior fellow at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, explodes each of these myths, and others besides, in an unsettling account of how al-Qaeda has evolved from the organisation headed by Osama bin Laden into an amorphous movement—a “leaderless jihad”.

Mr Sageman is a leading advocate of what is called the “buddy” theory of terrorism. He has spent much time asking why well-educated young men, from middle-class backgrounds, often with a secular education and wives and children, become suicide bombers. He suggests that radicalisation is a collective r…

On Benazir Bhutto By Nafisa Hoodbhoy

Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? Looking Back on a Life in Politics
Written by Nafisa Hoodbhoy
Toward Freedom, Thursday, 31 January 2008

Benazir Bhutto, 1988On the morning of December 27, a simple e-mail alert to my cell phone confirmed my worst fears for the indomitable and courageous woman leader I knew as a former reporter covering politics in Pakistan: `BB Killed’. It did not matter that Benazir Bhutto, campaigning to return to power for a third time, would have merely stayed a symbolic leader. Her tragic murder has cut short the dream for Pakistan’s impoverished millions and increased their sense of desperation.
The grieving is most pronounced in her home province of Sindh, where she was buried in Larkana next to three murdered family members – her father former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and brothers Murtaza and Shahnawaz Bhutto.

For nearly two decades of her political career, Benazir grappled with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. It was a struggle I saw up front as the on…

Pakistani Taliban warlord arises as terrorist leader

Pakistani Taliban warlord arises as terrorist leader
By Saeed Shah and Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers; Wed Jan 30,

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan _The shadowy new terrorist leader who's being blamed for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto embodies a growing threat to the U.S.-backed Pakistani government, to America's supply line to Afghanistan and to the Bush administration's hopes for tracking down Osama bin Laden and defeating al Qaida.

A few months ago, few Pakistanis and even fewer Americans had heard of Baitullah Mehsud, and there are no pictures of the face of the Pashtun-speaking tribal chief from the rugged border area with Afghanistan . But in December, he was chosen to lead the Taliban Movement of Pakistan , a nascent Islamist insurgent coalition on Pakistan's northwestern frontier that preaches a radical form of Islam and opposes nuclear-armed Pakistan's secular regime.

According to Pakistani authorities, Mehsud is behind the murder…

What Former Pakistani Generals Must Apologize For

Editorial: What the generals must apologise for
Daily Times, February 1, 2008

The group of retired Pakistani generals and military officers who have asked General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf to resign as president of Pakistan have now reportedly decided to “apologise” to the nation “for imposing martial laws in the past, abrogating the Constitution several times, and not letting democracy flourish in the last 60 years”. The first “apology” session was to have taken place Thursday to which the retired brass had invited President Musharraf himself.

There is a newspaper report that the “letter” to President Musharraf by the retired generals was mishandled because the group, led by General (Retd) Faiz Ali Chishti, could not organise its composition properly and had allowed names to be named without first getting permission from those named. However, the first speaker is said to be General (Retd) Abdul Majid Malik, “who was a major in 1956 when he drafted a resignation which General Ayub Khan for…

US Air Strike kills Al-Qaida's Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan

Top al-Qaida Figure Killed in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — One of al-Qaida's top figures, Abu Laith al-Libi, has been killed in Pakistan, an Islamist Web site announced Thursday. Pakistani officials and residents said a dozen people, including seven Arabs, died in a missile strike in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Al-Libi was believed to be the key link between the Taliban and al-Qaida and was blamed for masterminding the bombing an American base while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Afghanistan last year. He was listed among the Americans' 12 most-wanted men with a bounty of $200,000 on his head.

Pakistani officials denied any knowledge of al-Libi's death. The killing of such a major al-Qaida figure is likely to embarrass President Pervez Musharraf, who has repeatedly said he would not sanction U.S. military action against al-Qaida members believed to be regrouping in the lawless area near the Afghan border.

A Web site that…

FRONTLINE/World | Talat Hussain on Musharraf's Policies

Hamid Karzai in Trouble?

Hamid Karzai gets tough with Lord Ashdown
By David Blair; Telegraph, January 29, 2008

Of the 10 men who have served as Afghanistan's president in the past three decades, four were murdered and one strung up from a lamppost and disembowelled.

David Blair: President Pervez Musharraf's many faces
Bear this in mind when you judge President Hamid Karzai's erratic behaviour and his abrupt withdrawal of support for Lord Ashdown's appointment as UN envoy in Kabul. The former Lib Dem leader knows from personal experience that the worst possible fate for a British politician is swift elevation to the House of Lords.

Hamid Karzai must demonstrate his independence from the West

The penalty for political failure in Kabul can be very bad indeed. Mr Karzai must live with the knowledge that every one of his predecessors for the past 107 years, whether kings or presidents, was overthrown violently. You have to go back to King Abdur Rahman, who died in 1901, to find an Afghan leader who mana…

Musharraf's Trip to Europe for Pakistan's 'Image-building'

'Denigrating Pakistan'
By Husain Haqqani, The Nation (Pakistan) January 30, 2008

Most heads of state paint a positive picture of their nation. During his recent tour of Europe, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf did the exact opposite. According to him,Pakistan's people are "ill disciplined," "tribal" and "feudal," and certainly not ready for modern democracy. Pakistan's politicians, in his view, are "corrupt." Its Supreme Court judges are "politicized," "inept," "corrupt," and "nepotistic." Its most respected media personalities are "undermining our forces and [their] own country." Pakistan's religious leaders, we have repeatedly been told, are "extremists."

The impact of Musharraf's assertions was reflected in the question posed to me by a European intellectual in the Conference Centre Lounge of the World Economic Forum inDavos, Switzerland. "When he has so …

Journalism in Pakistan: An American's Experience

For Journalists in Pakistan, That's the Way It Is
By Nicholas Schmidle
Washington Post, January 31, 2008;

The police came for me on a cold, rainy Tuesday night last month. They stood in front of my home in Islamabad, four men with hoods pulled over their heads in the driving rain. The senior officer, a tall, clean-shaven man, and I recognized one another from recent protests and demonstrations. Awkwardly, almost apologetically, he handed me a notice ordering my immediate expulsion from Pakistan. Rain spilled off a nearby awning and fell loudly into puddles.

I asked, somewhat obtusely, what this meant. "I am here to take you to the airport," the officer shrugged. "Tonight."

The document he'd given me provided no explanation for my expulsion, but I immediately felt that there was some connection to the travels and reporting I had done for a story published two days earlier in the New York Times Magazine, about a dangerous new generation of Taliban in Pakistan. I …

An Open Letter from Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry


His Excellency
The President of the European Parliament,

His Excellency
The President of France,

His Excellency
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,

Her Excellency
Ms. Condaleeza Rice,
Secretary of State,
United States of America,
Washington D.C.

Professor Klaus Schwab,
World Economic Forum,

All through their respective Ambassodors, High Commissioners and representatives.


I am the Chief Justice of Pakistan presently detained in my residence since November 3, 2007 pursuant to some verbal, and unspecified, order passed by General Musharraf.

I have found it necessary to write to you, and others, because during his recent visits to Brussels, Paris, Davos and London General Musharraf has slandered me, and my colleagues, with impunity in press conferences and other addresses and meetings. In addition he has widely distributed, among those whom he has met, a slanderous document (hereinafter the Document) entitled: "PRO…

Autumn of the patriarch

Autumn of the patriarch
Tuesday January 29, 2008: The Guardian

President Pervez Musharraf is undoubtedly sincere in his belief that he, and he alone, can save Pakistan from the twin perils of terrorism and anarchy. Yesterday he met Gordon Brown, but he has been saying the same thing to anyone he met on his latest European tour: Pakistan is in the centre of the fight against Islamic militancy, and if it loses that battle the effects will be felt all over the world; elections are to be held on February 18 and they will be free and fair; a state of emergency had to be imposed because no country could tolerate anarchy. But sincerity is not the issue with Mr Musharraf. It is whether he is truly in touch with what is happening in his country.

Take his conflicted relationship with the Pakistan media, the independence of which he claims to support. The question put to him by a respected Pakistani journalist at the Royal United Services Institute on Friday was an eminently fair one. How co…

The Rise of Pakistani Taliban

18 Orakzai tribes form Lashkar against Taliban
* Any tribe sheltering Taliban will be fined Rs 10m, have 100 houses burnt down
* Jirga decides to temporarily end mutual enmities
Daily Times Monitor: January 30, 2008

LAHORE: After the killing of three levies personnel by local militants in Orakzai Agency on Saturday night, 18 tribes of the agency have decided to form a Lashkar (tribal army) against the Taliban to flush them out of the area, reported BBC Urdu on Tuesday.

A grand jirga of the 18 tribes was held in Ghuljoo, Orakzai Agency headquarters, on Monday morning, which was attended by around ten to fifteen thousand armed men.

Talking to BBC, head of Rabiakhel tribe Malik Zaman Shah said all tribes had unanimously decided not to give shelter to any militant in the area and any tribe breaching the pledge would be punished with Rs 10 million in fine and a hundred houses of the tribe would be burnt down.

End to fight: He said the jirga had also settled ‘Islam Zona’ to temporarily end mutual…

Pakistan-Israel Relations: Convergence & Divergence

Musharraf met Israeli defence minister
By Baqir Sajjad Syed; Dawn, January 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Jan 28: President Pervez Musharraf last week met Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in Paris and the Foreign Office described it as ‘a chance encounter’.

There are reports that the two leaders met again and discussed the nuclear arms issues, especially the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and Iran’s nuclear programme; the Middle East peace process; and the situation in Gaza.

The second meeting is said to have lasted about an hour.

Pakistan and Israel have no diplomatic ties and their officials rarely meet. But there have been several ‘chance meetings’ between the two sides in the past, apart from an arranged meeting between the then foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri and his then Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom in Turkey in 2005.

Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Sadiq confirmed to Dawn that President Musharraf had met Mr Barak in the lobby of Raphael Hotel in Paris on January 22 by chance wh…

The World Renowned Pakistani Social Worker Being Deported from New York - Highly Condemnable

Edhi’s passport seized by US officials
Daily Times, January 29, 2008

LAHORE: Renowned social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi was interrogated by US immigration officials at the JF Kennedy Airport in New York, who also seized his passport and other documents, a private TV channel reported on Monday.

Edhi told Geo News that US immigration officials had questioned him for eight hours at the airport. “They asked me why I don’t reside permanently in the US despite having a green card,” he said. “I told them that I’m a social worker and I have to travel extensively around the world, and so cannot live there permanently,” he added.

Edhi said he had faced the same behaviour from US immigration officials when he visited America in June last year.

According to Geo News, the immigration officials allowed him to leave following the intervention of Pakistani officials, but did not return his passport and other documents. Edhi said the US officials, through a letter, had also asked him to appear in court for…

in memoriam: Benazir Bhutto — Aitzaz Ahsan

in memoriam: Benazir Bhutto — Aitzaz Ahsan
Daily Times, January 29, 2008

“The first thing I want to do is to release all political prisoners,” she announced as our meeting on November 30, 1988 began at Dr Zafar Niazi’s house in Islamabad. In the elections held after the death of General Zia-ul Haq, the PPP, despite all efforts of the agencies, had succeeded in the elections. After failing to prop up any rival, then-President Ghulam Ishaq had finally agreed that very day to accept her as prime minister of Pakistan.

The historic meeting of PPP leadership was being held to set top priorities for Bibi’s first government. It was here as prime minister-designate that she showed her mettle. So far her life and emotions had been premised on the bitter fact that her dearest father had been deposed, imprisoned, humiliated, falsely charged, hanged and then buried without due ceremony. But she brought to that meeting only her winning smile and the undiluted optimism of a political idealist.

Zia ha…