Showing posts from February, 2008

Inside Pakistan Elections - By Caroline Wadhams of Centre for American Progress

Oil for nukes – mostly a bad idea

Oil for nukes – mostly a bad idea
Bartering nuclear technology for oil is a path to the spread of nuclear weapons
By Matthew Fuhrmann, Christian Science Monitor, February 29, 2008

Cambridge, Mass.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a nuclear power selling spree in the Middle East.

He has recently pledged to assist the civilian nuclear programs of three oil-producing countries in this conflict-prone region: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. These pledges were preceded by signed offers of nuclear aid to Algeria and Libya, two other oil exporters.

If history is any guide, two things seem probable. First, these nuclear power sales are an attempt to ensure a stable oil supply at a time when prices are approaching record highs. And second, this oil for nuclear technology swap is a deal that France will later regret.

As part of my research at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, I recently analyzed more than 2,000 nuclear agreements – like the ones France j…

Who Controls Afghanistan?

US: tribal leaders still in charge of Afghanistan
Jeremy Page South Asia Correspondent, From Times Online - February 28, 2008

President Karzai of Afghanistan controls less than a third of his country despite six years of international aid and billions of pounds of international aid, according to the top intelligence official.

Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the resurgent Taleban controlled up to 11 per cent of the country, while Mr Karzai's government controlled up to 31 per cent.

But more than six years after a US-led invasion toppled the Taleban government, the majority of Afghanistan's 32 million people live under the authority of tribal leaders, Mr McConnell told a committee hearing on Wednesday.

His bleak assessment directly contradicted comments made last month by Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary.

“The Taleban occupy no territory in Afghanistan on a continuing basis,” Mr Gates said during a Pentagon …

Missile Attack in Pakistan

Missile Attack, Possibly by NATO, Kills 8 in Pakistan
By ISMAIL KHAN, The New York Times, February 29, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Eight suspected Islamic militants, including four men of Middle Eastern origin and two from Central Asia, were killed early Thursday in a triple missile attack on a house used as a training facility in Pakistan’s tribal areas, a security official and residents said.

The missiles appeared to have been launched from territory controlled by NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan, the second deadly aerial strike in a month. Residents said three other occupants of the house were wounded in the strike, in the village of Kalosha in South Waziristan, one of the most restive tribal regions.

The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his job, said the dead had belonged to a little-known group affiliated with Al Qaeda, working under the name Abu Hamza.

Local residents said they had heard three loud explosions about 2 a.m. tha…

Redefining National Interest of Pakistan

Press Gallery: Zardari to redefine national interest
By Rana Qaisar, Daily Times, February 28, 2008

ISLAMABAD: The 41st session of the Senate was prorogued on Thursday without doing any significant business. The agenda for this opposition-requisitioned session, among other items, had included a resolution to oppose the curbs on media by the PEMRA ordinance. But no debate took place on this issue.

While the Senate discussed the political situation in the country, the message from Senator SM Zafar was loud and clear. A seasoned parliamentarian and constitutionalist, Senator Zafar knows many things and is fully conscious of what he says and implies. Participating in the debate on the political situation emerging after the February 18 elections, he said President Musharraf suffered because he had not fulfilled his promises and the message in his defeat was: “Enough is enough.” He advocated a strong role for politicians and asked the military to take a back seat and let the people’s represent…

Is US Distancing itself from Musharraf?

Negroponte signals US distancing itself from Musharraf
The News, February 28, 2008

WASHINGTON: The United States’ second-ranking diplomat on Thursday signalled that the Bush administration was distancing itself from President Pervez Musharraf after opposition victories in last week’s elections.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told senators that the United States was supporting Pakistan’s people as they choose their leaders after the parliamentary elections. But he made scant mention of President Musharraf during his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senior Bush administration officials, including Negroponte, have previously underlined their view that Musharraf has been “indispensable” to the US-led fight against extremists along Pakistan’s rugged border with Afghanistan.

Negroponte testified that “Pakistan has been indispensable” to that fight and said the US looked “forward to working with the leaders who emerge” from the formation of a new government.


Politicians Versus Establishment

Politicians Versus Establishment
By Husain Haqqani, The Nation, February 27, 2008

The aftermath of Pakistan 's February 18 parliamentary election has created hope of ending Pakistan ’s political dysfunction. The voters overwhelmingly rejected supporters of General (retired) Pervez Musharraf at the polls and the leaders of the country’s major political parties have agreed to work together to build a democratic political order. Pakistan 's politicians have clearly scored a major victory against what is euphemistically called "the establishment" in Pakistan . But the battle between "the establishment" and the politicians is far from over.

Musharraf has yet to understand that his rejection by the people requires him either to step down or, at least, accept a diminution of his role. Soon after Election Day, he extended the tenure of the head of the Intelligence Bureau, a man accused by the late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto of possibly plotting to kill her. It is as …

The State of Pakistan's Economy

Unstable growth & poverty
By Dr Akmal Hussain: Dawn, Feb 28, 2008

IN spite of the claims by the Musharraf regime that they had launched Pakistan’s economy on to a new trajectory of high growth, it has now begun to slow down. There are mounting pressures on the balance of payments, high inflation and severe shortages of energy and water. This clearly indicates that the brief spurt in GDP growth during the Musharraf period was unsustainable.

As the newly elected democratic government prepares to face the challenge of achieving sustained growth with rapid poverty reduction, it may be helpful to examine the roots of unstable GDP growth and endemic poverty in Pakistan.

The latest work of Nobel Prize winning economist, Douglass North, and his colleagues who have pioneered the New Institutional Economics may be relevant in addressing the challenge before the new government. North, et al have shown that in order for markets to function for sustained growth an underlying institutional structur…

Up to 70% of US aid to Pakistan 'misspent' - The Timing of this disclosure is Insightful

Up to 70% of US aid to Pakistan 'misspent'
Declan Walsh in Islamabad, Wednesday February 27 2008

America's massive military aid package to Pakistan has come under scrutiny after allegations that as much as 70% of $5.4bn in assistance has been misspent.

Since 2002, the US has paid the operating costs of Pakistan's military operations in the tribal belt along the Afghan border, where Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are sheltering.

Pakistan provides over 100,000 troops and directs the fight; the US foots the bill for food, fuel, ammunition and maintenance. The cash payments — averaging $80m a month — have been a cornerstone of US support for President Pervez Musharraf.

But over the past 18 months, as militants seized vast swaths of the tribal belt and repelled a string of Pakistani offensives, the funding has come under the microscope.

American officials processing the payments at the US embassy in Islamabad have concluded that the Pakistani expense claims have b…

Democratic Show of Strength

171 MNAs-elect at Asif’s ‘show of strength’ party
By Amir Wasim, Dawn, February 28, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Feb 27: Three major parties — PPP, PML-N and ANP — brought together on Wednesday a total of 171 members-elect at a “show of strength” luncheon meeting to prove their majority in the National Assembly and called upon the government to convene the assembly session immediately.

The “grand jamboree” of newly-elected MNAs at a five-star hotel, at a stone’s throw from the Aiwan-i-Sadr, was described by many participants as the biggest anti-Musharraf show in Islamabad in recent years.

A couple of newly-elected legislators told Dawn the elections were a vote of no-confidence against the president and his policies.

The luncheon, hosted by PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, attracted not only the newly-elected members of the three main parties, but also a host of political workers and diplomats.

“We are not prepared to wait for a single more day for the assembly to be convened,” PML-N chief Nawaz Sh…

Muslim leaders write 'harmony' letter to Jews

Muslim leaders write 'harmony' letter to Jews
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent, Telegraph, February 26, 2008

An international group of Muslim leaders have sent a letter to the world's Jewish community appealing for better relationships between the faiths.

The unprecedented letter, which is being seen as a significant gesture of reconciliation, said: "Many Jews and Muslims today stand apart from each other due to feelings of anger, which in some parts of the world, translate into violence.

"It is our contention that we are faced today not with 'a clash of civilizations' but with 'a clash of ill-informed misunderstandings'."

advertisementSignatories of the letter include Professor Akbar Ahmed, a former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, who also signed a similar statement earlier this year from Muslim scholars to Christian leaders around the world.

The new letter said: "Deep-seated stereotypes and prejudices have resulted…

It’s Democracy’s Turn By Walter Andersen

It’s democracy’s turn
Walter Andersen, February 21, 2008 - Indian Express

Democracy is always messy and Pakistan is in for a period of rather intense messiness as the various winning political parties in the February 18 polls move to establish a more permanent democratic system. Their chances of success are better now than at any time in the country’s past. Pakistan now has an aroused civil society, as witnessed by the huge crowds that turned out last year for the pro-democracy demonstrations led by the country’s lawyers. The overwhelming popular support for the parties opposed to President Musharraf gives them the legitimacy to make significant changes. The military is also committed to staying neutral as the politicians begin their work of reshaping the constitutional order. None of the major parties has challenged the outcome, not even the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Q), and Musharraf has stated he will honour the will of the people.
Pakistani voters braved threats of viol…

Changing Political Landscape of Pakistan

Zardari or Nawaz can be the next President
By Shaheen Sehbai, The News, February 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Helpless victims of General Pervez Musharraf for years, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, who were in political wilderness until just a few months ago and who have suddenly become the virtual controllers of the country’s destiny, realise that they have to get even with the establishment through a systematic, comprehensive and calculated joint strategy, outlines of which have already been agreed between them.

In long meetings with both these leaders in Islamabad in the last two days, it became clear that none of them was interested in acquiring power, just for the sake of power, as they realise that the struggle is much too bigger and multi-dimensional.

Both want to make basic and long overdue corrections in the country’s Constitution, including balancing the powers between the president and the prime minister, making the judiciary independent in the real sense, giving maximum provinc…

Top US experts urge greater trade access, aid increase for Pakistan

Top US experts urge greater trade access, aid increase for Pakistan
Associated Press, February 26, 2008

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (APP): Seeing Pakistan’s parliamentary poll as an historic step towards democratic progress, top South Asian experts have urged the United States to bolster economic aid as well as trade access for the country so that the Pakistani people may genuinely feel that America wants their long-term development.

“We should try to help Pakistan in its economic development, we should try to do things which masses see as genuine gestures which should be seen as trying to help their interest, which we believe, are also in our long-term interest,” said Eric Bjornlund, cofounder of Democracy International that observed last week’s polls in Pakistan.
Speaking on “The Pakistani Election: What Next’ at a Washington think tank, Bjornlund described the Feb 18 polls as representing a landmark stride in the country’s democratic process. He said “there was general acceptance that the resu…

The road to democracy: By Dr. Tariq Rahman

The road to democracy
By Dr Tariq Rahman, Dawn, February 26, 2008

ELECTIONS are an important means to achieve the end which is democracy. The people of Pakistan have always passed this test — that of casting votes for the right kind of political leadership — with commendable success.

In the 1970s elections they voted against Ayub Khan’s long years of dictatorship which had been unfair to the former East Pakistan and had increased the gap between the rich and the poor in the western wing. In 2008, as we have observed, the people have rejected General Musharraf’s policies and those figures of the PML-Q who were his most vociferous apologists.

One thing is common in both elections: the army and its intelligence agencies are said to have distanced themselves from the electoral process or, at least, have not indulged in anti-opposition rigging. This does not mean that there was no rigging — videos of such incidents are shown on TV — but it was not systematic and widespread as it used to be in …

Terror Attacks

Suicide bomber strikes at Pindi Mall, kills army surgeon-general
By Mohammad Asghar, Dawn, February 26, 2008

RAWALPINDI, Feb 25: A suicide bomber blew up an army staff car on The Mall here on Monday, killing the army’s surgeon-general, his guard, driver and three pedestrians.

Lt-Gen Mushtaq Baig, surgeon-general and director general of the army’s Medical Services, was the most senior army officer killed by the militants so far. It was also the first terrorist attack in Rawalpindi after the general election.

For complete report, click here

Four NGO workers die in attack on office
By Nisar Ahmad Khan, Dawn, Feb 26, 2008

MANSEHRA, Feb 25: Four staff members of a non-government organisation were killed and eight others were seriously injured when armed men attacked its office here with hand- grenades on Monday. The attack set the building ablaze and rescuers retrieved four charred bodies, one of a woman, from the debris.
Police and witnesses said six armed men entered the three-storey building o…

Significant Development

Maj Gen Asif to be new DGMI
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, The News, February 26, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Major General Muhammad Asif is to be appointed new Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) of the Pakistan Army in place of Major General Mian Nadeem Ijaz Ahmed who served as DGMI for more than three years, sources said.

The incumbent DGMI Major General Nadeem Ijaz, who belonged to the Armoured Corps, is proceeding for a command assignment, the sources added. The notification pertaining to the new postings is likely to be issued shortly. Major General Muhammad Asif belonged to Infantry and was previously in Moscow as Pakistan’s Defence Attache in Russia. He was concurrently accredited to Republic of Belarus and Ukraine. He served in Russian capital for about two years and five months, the sources said.

Major General Athar Abbas, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, (DG ISPR) when contacted Monday late evening expressed his ignorance about the change. He said it is an internal…

Need for Security and Intelligence Reforms in Pakistan

Security and intelligence
Hassan Abbas, The News, February 25, 2008
Part 1

The gravest challenge that will stare the new government in the face is going to be in the realm of internal security, law enforcement and the safety of the state’s top functionaries. Indeed, establishing a stable national government, revival of independent judiciary, and restoring the spirit of the 1973 Constitution are critical for Pakistan, and the new political leadership of the country should pursue these laudable goals. However, simultaneously, and preferably within the first hundred days of its inauguration, the new government should focus on the reform of the intelligence agencies and law enforcement to equip the state of Pakistan with sufficient tools to secure its future and that of the people. Given the nature of crisis in Pakistan, effective internal security will drive political as well as economic stability.

The Pakistani Army positively contributed towards the holding of free elections on Feb 18, but…

CIA & FBI Network in Pakistan: Myth vs. Reality?

Is cooperation with CIA-FBI posing a threat to Pak strategic interests?
By By Ansar Abbasi, The News, 2/25/2008

ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan might have benefited from hardcore actionable intelligence provided by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the FBI in countering terrorism, one possible negative aspect has been the creation of a vast network of CIA and FBI agents – mostly Pakistanis.

Though intelligence cooperation between Pakistan and the US multiplied extensively after 9/11 and was aimed at the Taliban and al-Qaeda, many in Pakistan fear the network for these foreign agencies within Pakistan was also being used for other tasks, some probably falling into the definition of interference in our internal affairs.

Top authorities in Pakistan are said to be in knowledge of this phenomenal spread in the American spy agencies’ network as the country's intelligence agencies have already reported this matter and even identified a number of those on the payroll of the US agenci…

India -US Intelligence Halt: Secrets Choked?

Secrets Choked
Indo-US intelligence sharing is a misnomer. It's a one-way street.
Saikat Datta, Outlook India, March 3 Issue

India vs US

Intelligence sharing between the US and India has hit a new low. Here's why:

1. Recent US attempts to penetrate Indian intelligence has made New Delhi suspicious

2. The quality and quantum of inputs from the American side have not been satisfactory

3. Washington's intelligence operations in Pakistan-Afghanistan is focused on Al Qaeda and Taliban and not sensitive to Indian needs

4. The US does not wish to upset Pakistan. As a result intelligence inputs on cross- border terrorism is near-zero.

5. The non-cooperation is now mutual. India is also reluctant to share information.

Four months ago, Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, director of US National Intelligence (DNI), called on India's national security advisor (NSA) M.K. Narayanan at his South Block office in New Delhi. McConnell, a key figure in the current reshaping of American intellige…