Showing posts from June, 2008

Peshawar Operation Moves Ahead Swiftly

Pakistan Shells Islamic Militants Near Peshawar
By JANE PERLEZ and PIR ZUBAIR SHAH, New York, June 29, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — With Islamic militants tightening their grip around Peshawar, kidnapping residents and threatening the city itself, the new coalition government of Pakistan delivered its first military response to the Islamists on Saturday.

The action was limited, with security forces shelling territory outside Peshawar held by an extremist leader. Army forces were not used, and the intent apparently was merely to push the militants back from the city’s perimeter.

But the shelling was the first time the new civilian government, which has been committed to negotiating peace accords with Pakistani Taliban and other Islamic militants, resorted to military action.

In response, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, announced that he had suspended his participation in peace talks.

The Pakistani channel Samma TV reported that Mr. Mehsud had threatened to take the fig…

For the sake of the federation By Farahnaz Ispahani

For the sake of the federation
By Farahnaz Ispahani
The News, 6/27/2008

As I sat in the National Assembly through the long and onerous budget session for the first time, I felt that the hours were strenuous and what was expected of us demanding. A huge finance bill needed to be read and understood and the arcane though undoubtedly important systems involved in and surrounding the passing of the bill, had to be learnt.

In the process, however, I also learnt what it means to be a public servant and what it means to be part of the great Federation of Pakistan. Each MNA who spoke in the National Assembly during the budget debate addressed concerns, fears and attitudes that reflected the situation in their home provinces and districts.

The unavailability of electricity, a basic need, has been totally ignored since the last government of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is tormenting the people of this nation. Scarcity of water – clean, potable and otherwise – is also an issue that affects the …

How Pakistan and India lost it

How Pakistan and India lost it
By Rahul Singh, Dawn, June 30, 2008

WHICH system is better for economic progress: democracy or dictatorship? In India, except for a brief period of Indira Gandhi’s ‘Emergency’ rule, there has been democracy throughout, a flawed democracy, to be sure, but democracy nevertheless.

Many Indians feel that this democracy has often come in the way of economic growth and that if we had more of the kind of discipline — and the use of the ‘danda’ — that comes with dictatorship, we would have done better.

I don’t agree. Look at countries that, after years of dictatorship and the danda, have turned to democracy: almost all the nations of South America, along with Spain and Portugal, not to forget the Soviet Union. They have all done far better economically under democracy.

More relevant to our region, however, are the ‘Asian Tigers’ — South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, even Malaysia. Except for brief periods of authoritarian rule, they prospered under d…

Military Action in Kyber Agency (FATA)

Editorial: Action in Khyber, reaction in FATA
Editorial, June 30, 2008

Paramilitary forces, whose personnel were freely held for ransom by warlord Mangal Bagh, have gone into the Khyber Agency in the neighbourhood of Peshawar and destroyed the warlord’s house and made his “hundred-thousand strong” army flee from its stronghold. What started three years ago and swelled into a near autonomous state is finally being challenged by the state of Pakistan. It will be adjudged to be a late operation by historians and blame will be apportioned to President Pervez Musharraf during whose watch the problem arose and the civilian rulers of the day who woke up late.

Warlord Mangal Bagh has fled to Tirah, the high altitude valley that Pakistan once proudly called a tribal no-man’s land. He became the ruler of Khyber after killing those who resisted him. He got his income by imposing heavy fines on the local inhabitants for petty neglect of religious pieties and began recruiting his army. The syndrome…

Banned militant outfits regroup in Karachi

Banned militant outfits regroup in Karachi
* Groups distributing pamphlets, CDs and leaving graffiti messages across city
By Faraz Khan, Daily Times, June 29, 2008

KARACHI: Banned militant outfits are resurfacing in Karachi and reopening their offices, Daily Times learnt on Saturday.

Some of them have taken on new names. Rival sectarian outfits, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan (SMP), have reopened their sealed offices and have temporarily changed their names to Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal Jamat and Shia Ulma Council, respectively. The Tehreek-e-Jafferia Pakistan (TJP) has also changed its name to the Jafferia Student Organisation.

According to reliable sources, the government has, informally, lifted the ban on the organisations and assured them there will be no interference in their activities. Over the past two months, the SSP and its sister organisation, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), are the only ones to have held major gatherings, in Nagan Chowrangi, Orangi Town, Shah Faisal…

Next stop Islamabad?

VIEW: Next stop Islamabad — Zahid Hussain
Daily Times, June 29, 2008

The massacre of 22 rival tribesmen by Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban fighters in Jandola, close to the Frontier Corps headquarters, and attacks on girls schools in the Swat Valley indicate the impunity with which the militants are operating

Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province, lies besieged by the advancing Taliban who have been steadily wresting legal and territorial controls from a state unable to battle them with resolve. Islamic militants now control the region’s main arteries and can cut off communications at will.

Organised under the banner of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, the militants are now challenging the writ of the state not only in the lawless tribal belt but have also established their parallel rule in large swaths of NWFP’s settled areas.

They are now active in many cities, including Dera Ismail Khan, Nowshera, Mardan, Kohat and the Swat Valley and pose a direct challenge to provincial author…

Taliban in Peshawar

Taliban bring vigilante law to Peshawar
Daily Times, June 28, 2008

PESHAWAR: The Taliban are no longer at the gates of Peshawar, they’re inside, making their presence felt in the largest city in the NWFP.

Their brazen movement is a chilling demonstration of the political and military failure to resist a militant Islamist tide rolling in from the Pashtun tribal belt on the Afghan border.

“This speaks of a complete lack of control by the government over the situation,” said Mehmood Shah, a former tribal region security chief.

President Pervez Musharraf warned more than two years ago that Talibanisation, the spread of the militants’ puritanical culture, was the greatest threat that Pakistan faced.

These days Taliban fighters do not sneak in to Peshawar. They arrive in broad daylight on the back of pick-up trucks, brandishing automatic weapons, and threatening owners of music stores to close down. “They had long hair and flowing beards, and were carrying Kalashnikovs. They told me to close do…

The U.S. - India Nuclear Deal

Can India Say Yes?
New Delhi comes to a crossroads over nuclear cooperation with the United States.
Washington Post, June 25, 2008; A12

INDIA IS clearly destined for a greater role on the world stage, and there are sound reasons to hope that it will increasingly find itself in sync with the United States as its influence grows. India, a culturally diverse and economically booming democracy of more than 1 billion people, and America share political values and strategic priorities -- such as blunting Chinese military power and resisting Islamist terrorism. These considerations led the Bush administration to pursue a "strategic partnership," the heart of which is a far-reaching nuclear cooperation agreement. It would permit a resumption of U.S. sales of nuclear fuel and technology to India for nonmilitary uses, despite India's development of nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Why, then, is India balking at the deal, the final contours of which were settled al…

There Are Two Pakistans

There Are Two Pakistans
Haider Ali Hussein Mullick
June 25, 2008, The Washington Post (PostGlobal)

Uniting Pakistan the military state and Pakistan the nascent democracy is our generation's calling.

There are two Pakistans. The first is stuck in an illusion of undisturbed national stability and unity through military management; the second stands on the weak shoulders of a nascent democracy, perpetually insecure and sporadically functional.

For more than sixty years, Pakistan has struggled with its split personality, brought about by its military or political parties. Historically the United States has preferred the first Pakistan – managed by the military and governed by the free market. The challenge for today's generals and politicians is to find a way to merge, secure, and present the country in a way that attracts the better of the two Pakistans, and preserves U.S. support in the war on terror.

Today, more than any other time in the nation's history, Pakistan needs …

Pakistan Through the Lens of Iraq

Pakistan Through the Lens of Iraq
June 20, 2008
Marvin G. Weinbaum and Edward P. Joseph

This Commentary first appeared in The Daily Star in collaboration with Search for Common Ground on June 03, 2008

"There is no military solution in Iraq, only a political one." General David Petraeus's aphorism is about the only thing on which war proponents and opponents agree. The question is why so few American policy makers hold the same view about Pakistan.

As Pakistan's recently elected government negotiates a ceasefire with militants, Washington worries – with good reason – that the deal will simply give Pakistan's Taliban and their allies a free hand to launch attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan or plan the next 9/11-type attack on the United States. As General Petraeus takes over Central Command, which has military responsibility for 27 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, America's options in Pakistan become much clearer when examined through…

Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan

Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan
By CARLOTTA GALL, New York Times, June 24, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is in a leaderless drift four months after elections, according to Western diplomats and military officials, Pakistani politicians and Afghan officials who are increasingly worried that no one is really in charge.

The sense of drift is the subject of almost every columnist in the English-language press in Pakistan, and anxiety over the lack of leadership and the weakness of the civilian government now infuses conversations with analysts, diplomats and Pakistani government officials.

The problem is most acute, they say, when it comes to dealing with militants in the tribal areas that have become home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Although the political parties and the military all seek a breather from the suicide bombings and nascent insurgency that have roiled Pakistan in recent years, there are fundamental disagreements over the problem of militancy that they have not begun t…

FATA, Taliban and the Future of Pakistan?

Are the woods approaching?
By Palvasha von Hassell, Dawn, June 27, 2008

IN Shakespeare’s play, a desperate Macbeth is reassured by the three witches that the likelihood of his losing power is as high as that of a forest some distance away moving to the castle gates. Reassured by this, Macbeth feels secure until the day of his downfall, when his incredulous eyes witness the said forest making steady and unrelenting progress towards him. It is enemy soldiers, camouflaged by the branches of trees.

Similarly, until some months ago no one in Pakistan would have seriously believed that certain areas of the country could possibly be in danger from Pakistan’s Taliban elements. True, the Jamia Hafsa stand-off in Islamabad and bombings in Lahore and Rawalpindi were alarming examples of disruptions the militants were capable of in areas hitherto regarded as beyond their reach. But what is currently happening in the NWFP raises nothing less than the chilly prospect of fanatics from tribal areas taki…

Justice for Our Justice

Justice For Our Justice
The whole of Pakistan, a nation known for its violent differences, came together to push for a single lesson.
Aitzaz Ahsan, NEWSWEEK, Jun 21, 2008

In mid-June, a young Pakistani student was called on to accept an achievement award by Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad. When Samad Khurram strode onto the stage, however, he announced to Pakistan's gathered elite that he could not, in good conscience, accept an award from a government that's remained silent in the face of President Pervez Musharraf's suppression of Pakistan's judiciary. Bowing his head slightly, Khurram then walked off the dais and sat down.

The young man is no radical. Khurram is a polite Harvard undergraduate who looks up to Martin Luther King Jr., not Mullah Omar. He professes a deep fondness for America: not the imperial power that backs Third World dictators, but the nation of laws that he's discovered during his stay in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Khurram's fa…

US plans to triple non-security aid to Pakistan

US plans to triple non-security aid to Pakistan in new strategy
AFP, June 26, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States is considering a new aid strategy for Pakistan that will triple unconditional non-security aid to 1.5 billion dollars annually but tie security funding to counterrorism performance, lawmakers said.

In coming weeks, bipartisan legislation will be introduced in the US Senate laying the foundation for the new approach, senior Democratic Senator Joseph Biden said Wednesday.

Biden, who chaired a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the new strategy, proposed that the central elements of the new plan include tripling non-security aid to 1.5 billion dollars annually over a 10-year period.

"A significant increase in non-security aid, guaranteed for a long period, would help persuade the Pakistani populace that America is not a fair-weather friend but an all-weather friend; it would also help persuade Pakistan's leaders that America is a reliable ally,&quo…

Army Will Lead the Counter-terrorism Efforts in Pakistan

COAS to call the shots in military action
The News, June 26, 2008
PM chairs high-level meeting; decides to stop hostile movement across border
By Asim Yasin

ISLAMABAD: In a major development on Wednesday, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani gave his approval to a multi-pronged strategy to fight the menace of terrorism and extremism with the main thrust to counter this challenge by engaging the people through their elected representatives, tribal elders and local influential people.

However, the meeting decided that the Army chief will have the authority to determine the quantum, composition and positioning of the military effort. While the chief of the Army staff would supervise the application of the military, the Frontier Corps and the law enforcement agencies, the instruments of the governor and the chief minister in their respective jurisdictions for law and order, will fall under the command of the COAS for operations.

It also decided that focus will be to initiate swift operatio…

Crisis in Pakistan-US relations

Crisis in Pakistan-US relations
The News, June 23, 2008
Khalid Aziz

A few days ago I had the opportunity to present a paper, “FATA: internal security and Pakistan’s international obligations,” to a conference in Islamabad. It included five proposals for tension reduction between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The conference came at an opportune time. NATO and the ISAF are dismayed at the peace negotiations Pakistan has decided to initiate with the militants, and charge that Pakistan’s peace deals transferred militancy to Afghanistan and raised the death and injury rates among allied troops.

President Karzai added a strident warning of military intervention by Afghan forces into Pakistan if the militants were not stopped from entering Afghanistan. The immediate cause of his wrath against Pakistan was the Kandahar jailbreak executed by the Talibans. It led to the escape of about 1,400 prisoners, including 400 Taliban. Karzai said that his forces would launch raids into Pakistan to hit …

Nuclear Security Imperatives

Nuclear Security Imperatives
By MIRZA ASLAM BEG, June 23, 2008

The story of Pakistan's Nuclear weapon programme is unique, as regards 'intent and the sacrifices' made to acquire the capability. In 1974 when India carried-out the first explosion, our Prime Minister Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, declared that Pakistan would acquire nuclear weapon capability, to maintain the balance of power in South Asia, no matter what price it had to pay. Thus Pakistan became the first country in the world to pronounce its 'intent' to acquire nuclear weapon technology overtly, though it could be possible only through great deal of covert activity. And the price Pakistan had to pay was very little, in terms of money, but very high in terms of personal sacrifices of our national leaders, who made it possible to achieve the objectives of the programme within a period of 22 years – 1975-1998.

There were mainly five persons, to whom our nuclear programme is indebted to – Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto…