Showing posts from May, 2008

US must understand nuances of situation in FATA

US must understand nuances of situation in FATA: Washington Times
* Zardari tells WT ‘it’s time to engage tribal leaders’
* Says US policy strengthened extremists
By Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, May 30, 2008

WASHINGTON: The United States needs assurances that Pakistan is not handing the Taliban and related groups even greater sanctuary in the region than they already enjoy, however, it must also understand the differences between “the many actors in this very important drama,” according to an editorial in the Washington Times on Thursday.

The newspaper also carries an interview given by Asif Ali Zardari to its columnist Harlan Ullman, in which the PPP co-chairman is quoted as saying, “The Government of Pakistan will never negotiate with terrorists, but we fully intend to engage tribal leaders who have been abandoned by the previous government and have been co-opted by extremists by coercion.

“We will engage them on the condition that they yield their arms and cease their attacks on the Paki…

Premier Seeks More U.S. Aid For Pakistan: WSJ

Premier Seeks More U.S. Aid For Pakistan By Zahid Hussain
The Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2008

Pakistan 's new prime minister said he is urging the U.S. to increase its economic and defense assistance to help strengthen his country's newly elected democratic government.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also said he is willing to work with President Pervez Musharraf, a main U.S. ally in its battle against Islamist terrorism, but he would let his party decide whether to try to force the president from office.

Mr. Musharraf is facing mounting pressure from his political opponents to resign or face removal from office. Earlier this week, the new government introduced measures designed to reduce the president's powers to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament.

Mr. Gilani said further U.S. assistance "will help deliver a democracy dividend to the people" after Pakistan held landmark elections for a new parliament …

Dr. A Q Khan Speaks to BBC

Disgraced nuclear expert speaks By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad, May 28, 2008

The disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, has said that allegations he passed on nuclear secrets are false.

In a rare interview, he said that there was pressure put on him to accept the charges "in the national interest".

Four years ago he admitted passing on nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

He confessed to using Pakistan as the hub of a large proliferation network. He was then put under house arrest.

'Not free'

President Pervez Musharraf granted him a full pardon, but Western countries believe he did not come clean on the scale of his nuclear activities.

"These are all false allegations," Dr Khan told the BBC Urdu service.

Dr Khan quoted politicians and a former army chief, who said the allegations against the scientist were false and there had been pressure on him to confess.

When asked why he was put under pressure, he said: "If one pers…

Gen Kayani looks Musharraf in the eye: Countdown begins...

Gen Kayani looks Musharraf in the eye By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
The News, May 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held an extremely important meeting with President Pervez Musharraf at the Army House Rawalpindi late on Wednesday.

The meeting continued till after midnight lasting more than three-and-a-half hours. This was their longest one-on-one encounter. The meeting, which was significant in view of the current political and security situation in the country, gained further importance as it took place after day-long consultations of the Army chief with his important commanders.

Brigadier Faheem Rao has taken over the command of the Triple-One Brigade in place of the president's loyal commander Brigadier Aasim Bajwa. The commando unit looking after the security of the Presidency has been changed with another unit.

Highly placed sources told The News late on Wednesday evening that President Pervez Musharraf has made up his mind to call it a d…

Misreading the Arab Media: NYT

Misreading the Arab Media
New York Times, May 25, 2008

“ARABIC TV does not do our country justice,” President Bush complained in early 2006, calling it a purveyor of “propaganda” that “just isn’t right, it isn’t fair, and it doesn’t give people the impression of what we’re about.”

The president’s statement, along with the decision by the New York Stock Exchange to ban Al Jazeera’s reporters in 2003, is a prime example of how the Arab news media have been demonized since the 9/11 attacks. As a result, America has failed to make use of what is potentially one of its most powerful weapons in the war of ideas against terrorism.

For proof, in the last year we surveyed 601 journalists in 13 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. The results, to be published in The International Journal of Press/Politics in July, shatter many of the myths upon which American public diplomacy strategy has been based.


Amnesty International Critises the US for Supporting Musharraf's Emergency Imposition in November 2007

Amnesty International condemns US, China in report
By MEERA SELVA – AFP, May 28, 2008

LONDON (AP) — The United States is shirking its duty to provide the world with moral leadership and China is letting its business interests trump human rights concerns in Myanmar and Sudan, a human rights group said Wednesday.

Amnesty International's annual report on the state of the world's human rights accused the U.S. of failing to provide a moral compass for its international peers, a long-standing complaint the London-based group has against the North American superpower.

This year it also criticized the U.S. for supporting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf last November when he imposed a state of emergency, clamped down on the media and sacked judges.

"As the world's most powerful state, the USA sets the standard for government behavior globally," the report said. It charged that the U.S. "had distinguished itself in recent years through its defiance of international la…

‘If you carry out a suicide attack, you will not die’

‘If you carry out a suicide attack, you will not die’
* Pakistani teenager detained in Afghanistan narrates how he was brainwashed by clerics
Daily Times, May 28, 2008

KABUL: A 14-year-old Pakistani “suicide bomber”, who is currently in an Afghan intelligence agency’s detention, was convinced by clerics that if he carried out a suicide attack, he would not die, according to a report published in Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.

Shakirullah, who is from Barwan village in North Waziristan, said he agreed to carry out a suicide attack on foreign troops in Afghanistan.

“They said, ‘They’re only foreigners. They’ll die, and you won’t’,” he told the newspaper correspondent, referring to his clerics.

He said he did not know how to drive a car or read a book, and that his only schooling was four months in an Islamic madrassa. Shakir was arrested allegedly in a car filled with explosives.

The report said that it was impossible for the Tribune reporter to independently verify the story because Western jo…

Has the bomb helped us? By M B Naqvi

Has the bomb helped us? By M B Naqvi
The News, May 28, 2008

Today is the tenth anniversary of Pakistan's test explosion of nuclear weapons in Chagai ordered by then prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. The tests were in response to India's actions of May 11 when it tested five nuclear devices.

Let's get one thing clear. All test explosions are basically military threats to the enemy: On May 11 and 13, 1998, India was threatening to nuke Pakistan if it did not stop its proxy war in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan's reply was, We too will nuke you; come on. Both India and Pakistan paid a price in sanctions that in fact hurt Pakistan more than they did India.

A second truth about the Bomb is that it unavoidably causes its intended enemy to reply in kind and a competitive build up of atomic weaponry ensues. Western bomb-making was aimed at communist powers. Nobody could mistake that communists' nukes were aimed at Western targets. Israeli nukes are meant to annihilate Arab st…

‘Pakistan gets less than half of what it spends’

‘Pakistan gets less than half of what it spends’: Anti-terror efforts
By Anwar Iqbal, Dawn, May 28, 2008

WASHINGTON, May 27: What Pakistan gets as reimbursement for its efforts to combat militants along the Afghan border is less than half of what it spends, diplomatic sources say.

Under a programme known as the Coalition Support Fund, the US military reimburses Pakistan for terrorism-related operations, particularly by the army and the air force.

A US Government Accountability Office report issued last week said that of $5.8 billion in US support for anti-terrorism efforts in the Fata between 2002 and 2007, about 96 per cent had gone towards reimbursing the Pakistani military, three per cent on border security and one per cent on development aid projects.

Talking to Dawn, sources said the $5.8 billion Pakistan received from the CSF was reimbursement of what the country had already spent.

“It is not easy to deploy 100,000 troops in a troubled area,” said one diplomatic source. “Look, how the…

US Senator Feingold wants Pakistan's judges restored

Sen. Feingold wants Pakistan's judges restored
By NAHAL TOOSI – AFP, May 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — A top U.S. senator on Tuesday urged Pakistan to quickly restore dozens of judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf, wading into a subject that has pushed the country's new coalition government to the verge of collapse.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), one of several American lawmakers visiting Pakistan this week, also said it was important for the United States to engage the country's various political parties to make up for the past "mistake" of relying solely on Musharraf.

"This is a terribly important country for the United States and vice versa," Feingold said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I've indicated to everybody we want to strengthen the relationship between our two countries."

Musharraf, long an ally of the U.S. in the war on terror, purged the benches of some 60 judges and declared emergency rule last year to avo…

A Case of Exploding Mangoes - A Book Worth Reading

EXCERPT: The invisible hand
Dawn, May 25, 2008
Excerpted with permission, the novel re-imagines the conspiracies and coincidences leading to the mysterious 1988 plane crash that killed Gen Zia.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
Knopf, May 2008

YOU might have seen me on TV after the crash. The clip is short and everything in it is sun-bleached and slightly faded. It was pulled after the first two bulletins because it seemed to be having an adverse impact on the morale of the country’s armed forces. You can’t see it in the clip but we are walking towards Pak One, which is parked behind the cameraman’s back, in the middle of the runway. The aeroplane is still connected to an auxiliary fuel pump, and surrounded by a group of alert commandos in camouflaged uniforms. With its dull grey fuselage barely off the ground, the plane looks like a beached whale contemplating how to drag itself back to the sea, its snout drooping with the enormity of the task ahead.

The runway is in the middle…

Baitullah Mehsud Speaks...

Afghan jihad will continue: Mehsud
By Alamgir Bhittani, Dawn, May 25, 2008

KOTKAI (South Waziristan) May 24: Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud on Saturday ruled out the possibility of cooperating with a UN probe into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, saying the world body was not neutral.

“The United Nations is not a neutral body. It is subservient to the United States. I don’t expect it to conduct an impartial enquiry,” the leader of the Pakistani Taliban said. “We will not work with it.”

Addressing a press conference at the Government High School at Kotkai, the only building intact amid bombed out houses, the short-statured, burly militant commander questioned the UN role in Muslim countries, pointing to the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestine.

Baitullah denied that he was involved in Ms Bhutto’s assassination.

“Her father and two brothers had also been killed. Do we know who killed them? Politicians have their own rivalries. They know who their ene…

A new drugs crisis in Afghanistan

A new drugs crisis
By Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, London

AFGHANISTAN, struggling with a huge indigenous drug problem, has a new crisis. Its drug treatment centres — particularly in the capital, Kabul — are being inundated by heroin-addicted former refugees, many forcibly expelled from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan.

The new dimension to Kabul’s spiralling problem of opiates abuse is most visible in the war-ruined shell of the city’s Russian Cultural Centre, a warren of rubble and faeces-strewn rooms, where each night hundreds of addicts and street children come to sleep.

It is a place of disturbing images. Outside, men play cricket while addicts lie dozing. Inside, users gravitate to the dark places, crawl into disused turbine pipes to smoke heroin from foil or crowd into tiny rooms underground. The youngest and most nimble scale the walls like rock climbers to reach places beneath the roof where they sleep for safety. The most far gone inject their wasted legs and arms in full view of …

Benazir-like tragedies can happen again, warns US

Benazir-like tragedies can happen again, warns US
Dawn, May 27, 2008

BAGRAM AIR BASE (Afghanistan), May 26: Pakistan should strike back at ‘terrorism’ or it will see more attacks like the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, US Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

Extremists in Pakistan are a threat to that country as well as Afghanistan, he said when asked about Islamabad’s peace talks with pro-Taliban militants.

And it was important for the Pakistan government to see that “it ensures control and strikes back against terrorism,” he told reporters at the US military base at Bagram, 60km north of Kabul.

“Otherwise they’re going to see more of the kind of tragedies that they saw when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated or some of the bombings we’ve seen in the last several months in Pakistan and here in Afghanistan as well,” he said.

Chertoff was at the Bagram air base for a ceremony to award US citizenship to 44 troops from 12 countries serving in Washington’s…

Pakistan’s Governance Imperative: Paula R. Newberg

Pakistan’s Governance Imperative
Paula R. Newberg, May 2008, MIT Centre for International Studies
Cambridge, Mass.

After the kind of year that no country ever wants, with its government in crisis, repression replacing even the most remote notion of good government, political assassination, and terror standing in the wings, Pakistan elected a new parliament in February. Led initially by a coalition of three parties previously deemed outcasts by President Pervez Musharraf, its cabinet of familiar political faces quickly agreed in principle, and at least in public, on a compelling and daunting political agenda. It reversed some emergency rulings, negotiated a hasty truce with insurgents living in the contentious tribal agency of Waziristan—and then broke down on divisive issues left to them by Musharraf.

Domestic politics and foreign policy alike are now fair game for ambitious politicians long removed from power. This isn’t the first time that civilians have inherited the detritus of a mi…

US favours civilian control of Pak spy agencies

US favours civilian control of Pak spy agencies
The News, May 24, 2008
By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: The United States has told top political leaders of Pakistan including the ruling coalition partners that Washington supports civilian control of military and intelligence operations, including the money spent on them.

A document titled US Mission Pakistan, prepared by the American Embassy Islamabad, that was distributed during separate briefings to leaders of different political parties outlined the US goals as: “To strengthen a long-term, multi-dimensional US-Pakistan relationship: support the new coalition government; support civilian control of military and intelligence operations, including budgets; combat extremism that threatens US and Pakistan; and assist economic development to improve the lives of the Pakistani people.”

Briefings based on this document, a copy of which is available with The News, have been given to top leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim …

Zardari Vs. Musharraf

Highlights of Zardari’s interview
Daily Times, May 23, 2008

* Musharraf is a ‘relic of the past’

* People want Musharraf out of power

* Doffing uniform does not make Musharraf legal president

* Proposed constitutional reforms will curtail president’s powers including 58 (2b)

* Coalition in politics is a selfish phenomenon

* ‘I’d rather go now than take all the difficult decisions and go after 15 months or two years’

* India should reduce army deployment in IHK

* Pakistan can be a ‘force-multiplier’ for India

* ‘I can feed India and the world’

* PPP and PML-N want to do away with visa restrictions for India

* ‘I’ve requested India to help us with request to UN for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination probe’

Terrorist violence down, support for Qaeda on the wane: study

Terrorist violence down, support for Qaeda on the wane: study
* Canadian academics say downswing result of counter-terrorism efforts, global Islamist networks’ infighting, Muslim rejection of violence, extremist ideology, repressive policies
Daily Times, May 23, 2008

PARIS: Global terrorist violence declined markedly in 2007 and popular backing for Al Qaeda is slipping, according to the authors of a Canadian study based on US statistics.

The study — ‘Human Security Brief 2007,’ authored by lecturers at Simon Frazer University in Vancouver — reports that terrorism fatalities were down by around 40 percent in 2006 compared to 2001, and dropped even further in mid-2007 according to preliminary data. The figures were based on three US sources: the National Counter-terrorism Centre, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism at the University of Maryland. The study describes a “dramatic collapse in popular support throughout th…

Preserving Coalition Government Key to U.S. Objectives in Pakistan: Lisa Curtis

Preserving Coalition Government Key to U.S. Objectives in Pakistan
by Lisa Curtis, Heritage Foundation, WebMemo #1935, May 21, 2008

A power struggle is underway between Pakistan People's Party (PPP) co-chairman (and widower of Benazir Bhutto) Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League/Nawaz (PML/N) leader Nawaz Sharif, and President Pervez Musharraf. This struggle threatens to unravel the newly elected coalition government and plunge Pakistan back into political chaos.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani is desperately trying to maintain the integrity of Pakistan's coalition government. Zardari and Sharif have failed to agree on a formula to restore judges deposed by President Musharraf last November, and as a consequence, nine PML/N ministers have submitted their resignations, which the Prime Minister has refused to accept.

The U.S. should support Gillani's efforts to keep the coalition intact, which involves fulfilling election promises, including the reinstatement of deposed j…