Showing posts from April, 2008

The relevance of 1857

The relevance of 1857
By Mubarak Ali; Dawn, April 29, 2008

ON the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the uprising of 1857 against the British Raj in India, we organised three conferences — in Lahore, Karachi and Gujrat. The idea was to recall and analyse the events of that historic year.

Some friends raised questions about its relevance to the times in which we are living. We realised how people can misunderstand history and take it as an obsolete discipline.

True, all historical events are not relevant to the present. But very often those events which are forgotten surface again in a pattern that sheds light on the happenings of today and inspire us to learn lessons from the past. The commemoration of 1857 not only serves to revive the past and to help us remember the sacrifices of those who fought against foreign rule, it also helps us understand the people’s response to such rule. Thus we can grasp its consequences.

The revolt of 1857 was a widespread popular reaction against British …

Pakistan, Iran clear hurdles in IPI gas line

Pakistan, Iran clear hurdles in IPI gas line
Ahmadinejad meets Musharraf, Gilani; Tehran offers 1,100MW electricity to Islamabad
By Mariana Baabar, The News, April 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Monday cleared all hurdles over the proposed $7.5 billion IPI gas pipeline and announced that an agreement would be signed soon in Tehran. The foreign ministers of both the countries are to meet soon to fix the date for signing the deal.

A go-ahead to the long-awaited project was given at a meeting between the visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Pervez Musharraf here on Monday. Later, Ahmadinejad also called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who hosted a lunch in his honour. Both Musharraf and Ahmadinejad held a one-on-one meeting before the delegation level talks.

Despite stiff opposition from the United States which discouraged Pakistan from finalising the gas deal with Iran, Pakistan views the project as economical to meet its growing energy demands. Iran h…

'Questions, answers, months of brutality'

'Questions, answers, months of brutality'
Three accounts accuse MI5 men of complicity in interrogation ordeals
Ian Cobain The Guardian, Tuesday April 29 2008

After two weeks in a secret prison run by Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani security agency denounced by human rights activists as one of the most vicious in the world, Salahuddin Amin says he was ready to do whatever he was asked. The college graduate from Luton claims he had been deprived of sleep for several days before being beaten, whipped and threatened with an electric drill. Then, he says, he was suspended by his wrists and beaten some more. His suffering appears to have been filmed, through a poorly concealed camera in the corner of the ceiling of his cell.

After about 15 days of interrogation, he says, he was taken from his cell, blindfolded, hooded and shackled and pushed into the back of a car. After 20 minutes the car stopped and he was led into a building, up some stairs, and left alone in an air-condi…

Namal College: A Great Step

Namal College: another feather in Imran Khan’s cap!
The News, April 28, 2008
By Mumtaz Alvi

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister, along with the chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, launched the quality Namal College in Mianwali on April 27.

The college is the brainchild of Imran Khan, who was appalled at the high level of unemployment among the youth of Mianwali. Therefore, in order to provide high quality training and employable skills, so that the youth of the district could earn a decent living, he wanted to open a college.

A large number of people gathered on Sunday for the inauguration of the college, including government ministers, educationists, and donors alongside the people of Mianwali, who have so generously donated the land on which the college has been built.

Imran's vision is to create a world-class research university and knowledge city where scholars can work and study in an Oxford-like academic environment. "This is the most beautiful location,” said Imran referring…

Afghanistan: more troubled than troubling

Analysis: Afghanistan: more troubled than troubling —Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times, April 29, 2008

After more than six years of international involvement, Afghanistan has not clearly emerged out of the danger zone and remains a troubled country with high levels of violence. The Taliban attack on the military parade yesterday in the heart of Kabul was a stark reminder that the state and nation building process is still incomplete, infirm and vulnerable to clash of interests among social and political groups.

In the failure of the reconstruction of state and its institutions, the Taliban have found an opportunity to stage a comeback with larger numbers in their ranks, and perhaps with greater motivation. With every daring episode, it appears to indisputable that the Taliban have greater fighting capacity than they have had in years. What is more troubling is that they have found a great deal of support among the disillusioned local populations.

Afghanistan is once again gripped with fear, u…

Dialogue in the tribal areas

Analysis: Dialogue in the tribal areas — Najmuddin A Shaikh
Daily Times, April 27, 2008

The release of Maulvi Sufi Mohammad of the Tehrik-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Mohammadi (TNSM) after 6 years of self-requested incarceration has been the first step taken by the new ANP government in the NWFP to commence a dialogue with “reconcilable” elements among those in the tribal areas who have hitherto followed the extremist path. The ISPR spokesman has made it clear that the armed forces were not involved in the negotiation of the agreement that led to the release and which apparently commits Sufi Mohammad to a renunciation of violence and the pursuit of his objectives through peaceful means.

There are of course questions about the degree of influence that Sufi Mohammad can exercise in today’s Swat or Malakand Division. He sought incarceration because following his disastrous effort to help the Taliban by sending thousands of callow impressionable youths from Pakistan to their death in Afghanistan, g…

Western allies must give Pakistan peace a chance

Western allies must give Pakistan peace a chance: analysts
AFP - April 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's new government is expected to sign a peace deal with Taliban rebels this week, but the pact can only succeed if US and NATO allies with troops in Afghanistan give it time, analysts say.

The government last week drew up a draft accord with militants in Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan -- the possible hiding place of Osama bin Laden -- while a rebel commander declared a unilateral ceasefire.

But Washington and Kabul have expressed fears that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will regroup in the lawless mountain region if the new administration abandons President Pervez Musharraf's hardline support for the "war on terror".

"Pakistan's new leaders must be given a chance to address the issue through political means," said Hasan Askari, a political analyst at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC.

"If they can wean away some groups from milit…

Target: Bin Laden By Steve Coll

Target: Bin Laden By Steve Coll
Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2008
The shaky politics of Pakistan and doubts about Al Qaeda could soon put the terrorist leader in our grasp.

Osama bin Laden lives among friends, follows news on satellite television or the Internet and reads books about American foreign policy; this much can be safely inferred from his periodic audio and video statements. His latest topical punditry surfaced just a few weeks ago on jihadi websites when he addressed violence in Gaza and the pope's travels.

Because of his passable grasp of current events, Bin Laden may well understand what many Americans do not: that he is more likely to be killed or captured during the next year or so than at any time since late 2001, when he escaped U.S. warplanes bombing him in eastern Afghanistan, at Tora Bora.

This welcome change in probabilities has almost nothing to do with the Bush administration's counter-terrorism strategy, which remains rudderless and starved of resources …

Who is Mangal Bagh?

Bus driver who now rules the Khyber Pass
Scotsman, April 27, 2008

AN ISLAMIC warlord who holds sway in Pakistan's famous Khyber Pass may now be the only force stopping Pakistan's Taleban from swooping in to cut off vital Nato supply routes to neighbouring Afghanistan.

Former bus driver Mangal Bagh, who leads a group called Lashkar-i-Islam, said that he has rebuffed an offer from Pakistan's Taleban to join them. Although he voiced his disdain for the United States, his continued independence is likely to be pivotal for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

The Khyber agency, which is part of Pakistan's tribal belt and is now largely in Mr Bagh's control, is the lifeline for Nato soldiers in Afghanistan. Lorry loads of food, equipment and fuel wind through the Khyber Pass daily to the bustling border at Torkham. Last week, fighting between Mr Bagh's men and a pocket of resistance around the town of Jamrut closed the "Pak-Afghan" highway for days.

Mr Bagh'…

Civil Services facing unprecedented downfall

Civil Services facing unprecedented downfall
The News, April 25, 2008
By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The country's Civil Services structure is facing an unprecedented downfall with educated youth losing interest in civil bureaucracy as the latest Central Superior Services (CSS) competition could not even produce the number of successful candidates against the available posts.

Against the total 290 available posts, the number of successful candidates in the 2007 CSS competition was merely 190, leaving almost 100 vacancies unoccupied till fresh induction is made through the next CSS competition. The government is now in the process of allocating services to successful candidates of the 2007 CSS competition.

"This is an extremely serious trend," a senior government servant told this correspondent, adding that because of the government's apathy, the civil bureaucracy had lost its charm for the country's talented and educated youth, who were now more interested in joining priv…

Book Review: Links in Sustainable Development: South Asian Perspectives

REVIEW: Considering South Asia: Reviewed by Moniza Inam
Dawn, April 26, 2008

Missing Links in Sustainable Development: South Asian perspectives
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
Sama Editorial & Publishing Services, Karachi; ISBN 969-8784-60-7; 385pp. Rs795

The book under review is an anthology published by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on its ninth annual conference. The theme for the year — which is also the title of the book — is Missing Links in Sustainable Development: South Asian perspectives. The collection has been divided into three major sections: gender and human security; economics of globalisation; and peoples’ rights and livelihood. The issues addressed are not new for South Asians. What is distinctive is the manner in which the writers have presented their views both intelligently and creatively. The book presents a thorough evaluation of topics in the broad spectrum of theoretical and policy perspective.

Saba Gul Khatak and Kiran Habib…

Don't Hang Sarabjeet Singh

COMMENT: Don’t hang him — Moeed Pirzada
Daily Times, April 27, 2008
Musharraf must be persuaded to let Sarabjeet Singh walk freely to embrace his daughter Swapandeep. But for that to happen, the Indian media and leadership must do some soul-searching

Sarabjeet Singh, accused of working for the Indian intelligence agency, Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), was convicted by Pakistani courts for causing series of bomb blasts in Lahore, in 1990. He is set to die by hanging anytime after April 30. But this won’t serve anyone and shouldn’t happen.

He has already spent 18 years in jail. President Musharraf can commute his sentence or set him free to embrace his young daughter, Swapandeep Kaur, who was a toddler when he left. But this is not an easy decision for a president who has often been accused of being an appeaser to the Americans and Indians by his countrymen.

Sarabjeet was found guilty of three separate bomb blasts, 14 deaths, dozens injured and fear and havoc in the cities of Lahore and…

Never Again?

Never Again
By Javed Hussain; Dawn, April 15, 2008

SINCE the founding of Pakistan 60 years ago, army chiefs have ruled over the country for 33 years, while for 11 years after the crash of the C-130, they remained the real power behind the throne.

They had a golden opportunity to modernise Pakistan and earn for it an enviable position in the world. Their names would then have been carved with pride in the hallowed earth of their country. Instead, they throttled democracy, mutilated the constitutions, destroyed the institutions of the state, blundered into two major wars and a minor one, destroyed the basis on which Pakistan was founded, and put the country back in time and space.

They are reviled by the people, for all the money invested in their institution has given the people nothing in return except tinpot dictators, a truncated country, national humiliation and wasted years.

Yet for all their transgressions against the state, the people would still have forgiven the first two dicta…

Pakistan, India eye double gas pipeline projects for energy need

Pakistan, India eye double gas pipeline projects for energy need
Xinhia, April 25, 2008

ISLAMABAD, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan and India on Friday resolved their difference on the transit fee of the much-delayed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, also known as the peace pipeline.

The "complete consensus" was reached after Pakistan petroleum minister Khawaja Asif held length talks in Islamabad with his Indian counterpart Murli Deora, whose visit to Pakistan marks the first formal contact between India and Pakistan since the new Pakistani coalition government took office last month.

"We have agreed to consult with our respective government for an early conclusion of the agreement on the above issue," Deora told a press conference.

The project will not only meet gas requirements but also strengthen economic ties of the two countries, Asif said.

The IPI gas pipeline is a proposed 2,775-kilometer pipeline project to deliver natural gas…

Karzai Criticizes U.S. om Conduct of War

Afghan Leader Criticizes U.S. on Conduct of War
By CARLOTTA GALL; New York Times, April 26, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai strongly criticized the British and American conduct of the war here on Friday, insisting in an interview that his government be given the lead in policy decisions.

Mr. Karzai said that he wanted American forces to stop arresting suspected Taliban and their sympathizers, and that the continued threat of arrest and past mistreatment were discouraging Taliban from coming forward to lay down their arms.

He criticized the American-led coalition as prosecuting the war on terrorism in Afghan villages, saying the real terrorist threat lay in sanctuaries of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The president said that civilian casualties, which have dropped substantially since last year, needed to cease completely. For nearly two years the American-led coalition has refused to recognize the need to create a trained police force, he said, leading to a criti…