Showing posts from July, 2008

ISI's Role in Kabul Attack?

Pakistanis Aided Attack in Kabul, U.S. Officials Say
New York times, August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.

The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.

The American officials also said there was new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

For complete report, click here

Washington disappointed by new face of Pak democracy: Shaheen Sehbai

Washington disappointed by new face of Pak democracy
Shaheen Sehbai, The News, August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani came to Washington and has returned to Islamabad but the decision makers of DC are still confused what to make out of his unofficial ‘official’ visit.

The eagerness at every level to meet and see him was to assess and evaluate the man in terms of his usefulness as a replacement to their long-trusted but fading friend, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and the plain fact is that Washington is disappointed and has decided not to take him seriously.

It is so because the man who represented democracy in Pakistan fell short on many scores. Not that the official Washington did not know but the real Washington needed to have a firsthand look at the man they were being asked to deal with after Gen Musharraf.

This real Washington comprises scores of think tanks, lobbyists, Congressmen, retired diplomats, bureaucrats, generals and media gurus. They did not go home with the …

FATA's Growing Disconnect

Fata’s growing disconnect
By Afrasiab Khattak, Dawn, July 31, 2008

IT is hardly an exaggeration that the security of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the entire region and indeed that of the whole world will be defined by developments in Fata over the next few months. Different scenarios are being painted by military strategists and political experts.

Al Qaeda, after regrouping in the militant sanctuaries of the area, is acquiring the capacity to repeat attacks in North America or Europe similar to those carried out in 2001 in the US.

If reports about the exchanges between Pakistan and the US at the highest level are anything to go by it is pretty clear that the US will retaliate against Pakistan, probably even more severely than it did against the Taliban-dominated Afghanistan. Similarly the use of these militant sanctuaries for cross-border fighting is so large in scale (in fact all the six political agencies bordering Afghanistan are being used) that denial in this regard is no longer plausible.

Pakistan needs strong judiciary for stability: Aitzaz Ahsan's Talk at Harvard

Pakistan needs strong judiciary for stability

News: July 25, 2008; Author: Beth Maclin , Communications Assistant;
Belfer Centre, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The United States should change its tactics in Pakistan to win the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar president, Aitzaz Ahsan, said recently.

Rather than looking at Pakistan through the "war on terror" lens, Ahsan suggested that the United States focus on winning over the local population. "If the local population looks at you as a tyrant, you have given up your most effective weapons," he said.

Ahsan is a leader of Pakistan's lawyers' movement, which began in response to President Pervez Musharraf's suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry from his position on March 9, 2007. Despite Parliament unanimously reinstating Chaudhry in July 2007, Musharraf continued attacks against the judiciary by arresting Chaudry again and by rem…

Not Charlie Wilson's war but Bhutto's, says Gilani

Not Charlie Wilson's war but Bhutto's, says Pakistani PM
Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2008

The black limousines snaked all the way down the street last night as a veritable who's who of South Asia-philes gathered to fete visiting Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani at the Embassy of Pakistan in northwest Washington.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, who flew in for Gillani’s visit to Washington this week, CIA Director Michael Hayden and chief deputy Stephen Kappes, the State Department's South Asia assistant secretary, Richard Boucher, and other inside-the-Beltway luminaries.

Gillani, tapped as prime minister after the first democratic elections in Pakistan in a decade, said little publicly of his meetings with President Bush and other officials, in which he was pressed aggressively to do more to counter the growing threat from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous areas bordering Afghanistan.

But Gillani and Pakistan&…

How peace deals in NWFP/FATA help only militants

How peace deals help only militants
The News, July 31, 2008
Sayed G B Shah Bokhari

A very dangerous trend has taken root among some elected representatives, hailing from constituencies adjacent to FATA. For the sake of short-term gain and their personal glory, these people are actively involved in brokering so-called peace deals between the government and militants. All this does is give much-needed respite to the militants, enabling them to re-group and re-organise themselves. This respite is also crucial from the militants' point of view because in most cases they would not otherwise be able to fight for long periods of time against the might of the government's security forces.

Also, the behaviour and role of these legislators before the law and order situation takes a turn for the worse also needs to be scrutinized. For instance, as the situation begins to get out of hand, these people's representatives remain silent spectators and do nothing to stop it from worsening. T…

IslamExpo in London - Building bridges?

IslamExpo: building bridges or burning them down?
Josef Litobarski;, 24 - 07 - 2008

IslamExpo, Europe's biggest Muslim cultural event, was first held in London in 2006 on the first anniversary of the 7/7 bombings. The timing might seem slightly confrontational, but it was an unfortunate coincidence rather than a political statement; the deposit for the venue having been paid before the bombings. This year's IslamExpo, attended by some 40,000 people, was held at London's Olympia from July 12-14. The event was organised to build bridges and promote understanding and to celebrate the culture and history of Islam. Critics, however, have compared the event to a BNP rally and allege that shady links exist between the organisers and groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The controversy surrounding the event became such that, hours before he was due to speak at the opening ceremony, Shahid Malik, the UK international development minister, was forced to p…

"C.I.A. Outlines Pakistan Links With Militants": NYT

C.I.A. Outlines Pakistan Links With Militants
New York Times, July 30, 2008

WASHINGTON — A top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan’s most senior officials with new information about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to American military and intelligence officials.

The C.I.A. emissary presented evidence showing that members of the spy service had deepened their ties with some militant groups that were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service’s activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Isl…

Karachiites cheer deposed CJ amid ban on live TV coverage

Karachiites cheer deposed CJ amid ban on live TV coverage
The News, July 30, 2008
By our correspondents

KARACHI: Thousands of cheering lawyers, students, rights organisations and activists of political parties accorded a warm welcome to deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on his arrival here on a two-day visit.

But on the other hand, the Sindh High Court administration has imposed a ban on live transmission of TV channels, entry of political parties’ leaders, activists, civil society members in SHC building for today (Wednesday). On Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA)’s invitation, the deposed chief justice is to inaugurate a commemorative plaque on main door of the SHCBA, which is named as Justice Iftikhar Hall.

For Complete story, click here
Iftikhar gets warm welcome in Karachi - Daily Times

Bush Administration Sticks with Pakistan Army: EURASIA

Richard Weitz: 7/29/08; EURASIA

President George W. Bush is talking to Pakistan’s civilian leaders, but the US presidential administration continues to exhibit a stubborn preference for maintaining close ties with the Pakistani military, an institution that is widely discredited inside the South Asian state.

Bush welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the White House on July 28 for talks that focused on the deteriorating security situation along the Pakistani-Afghan border. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Gilani said the Pakistani government is determined to contain Islamic militants. Bush told journalists that the Pakistani leader had “made a very strong commitment” to restoring Islamabad’s control over the tribal areas. Questions remain, however, over whether the Pakistani government, even if it has the will to take action, possesses the means to break up the militants’ safe havens.

Amid th…

A Fresh Start With Pakistan: NYT

Editorial: A Fresh Start With Pakistan
New York Times, July 28, 2008

Pakistan’s new civilian prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, is in Washington this week for what we are sure will be a difficult set of meetings.

Mr. Gilani’s constituents deeply resent the United States for propping up and enabling their former dictator, Pervez Musharraf. President Bush, who directed that enabling, must have his own serious doubts about Mr. Gilani’s willingness to fight Taliban and Qaeda forces that are using Pakistan as a safe haven.

That is why Mr. Bush needs to use this visit to recast relations — making clear that he is committed to strengthening both Pakistan’s democracy and its ability to fight extremism. That will require a lot more economic assistance and more carefully monitored military aid.

For their part, Pakistan’s civilian leaders must provide more honest and effective governance. They must tell their voters that extremism also threatens Pakistan — and that this is not just America’s fig…

PM Gilani in Washington D.C.

Joint communique: $115.5m US food security assistance
By Our Correspondent, Dawn, July 29, 2008

WASHINGTON, July 28: The United States will provide $115.5 million in food security assistance to Pakistan, including $42.5 million over the next nine months, says a joint communiqué issued here on Monday after a meeting between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The statement also supports a move in the US Senate to provide $15 billion to Pakistan over 10 years.

The two leaders welcomed recent efforts in the US Congress to extend the United States’ commitment to help address Pakistan’s most urgent needs, including education, agriculture and energy. The president will continue to work with Congress to ensure the continued support of the United States to Pakistan over the long term, says the communiqué.

The two leaders agreed to institute a separate track for agricultural cooperation under the Strategic Dialogue. The United States will assist with disease control act…

America's Opportunity in Pakistan’s Tribal Belt

America's Opportunity in Pakistan’s Tribal Belt
By Ziad Haider

Lahore, July 28: When Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, visits Washington today, he will face tough questions about securing Pakistan ’s federally administered tribal areas (FATA) along its border with Afghanistan . So will his hosts in Congress. For a key question on Islamabad ’s mind is the fate of stalled legislation creating reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZs) to spur development and combat militancy in FATA.

Today FATA is the alleged epicenter of the war on terror. A 2008 DNI assessment states that Al Qaeda is finalizing its next plan of attack against America in FATA. The Taliban is using these areas to launch attacks in Afghanistan where last month more troops were killed than in Iraq . FATA-based militants have also turned their guns inward. The CIA has accused Baitullah Mehsud’s network of assassinating Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto while security forces continue to be brazenly attac…

Who Controls ISI - The Controversy Continues...

Shiites flee enclave in Pakistan after Taliban lay siege

Shiites flee enclave in Pakistan after Taliban lay siege
By Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, International Herald Tribune, July 27, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: It was once known as the Parrot's Beak, a strategic jut of Pakistan that the U.S.-backed mujahedeen used to carry out raids on the Russians just over the border into Afghanistan. That was during the Cold War.

Now the area, around the town of Parachinar, is near the center of the new kind of struggle. The Taliban have inflamed and exploited a long-running sectarian conflict that has left the town under siege.

The Taliban, which have solidified control across the Pakistani tribal zone and are seeking new staging grounds for attacking U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, have sided with fellow Sunni Muslims against an enclave of Shiites settled in Parachinar for centuries. The population of about 55,000 is short of food. The fruit crop is rotting, residents say, and the cost of a 30-kilogram, or 65-pound, bag of flour has skyrocketed to $10…

U.S. war on terrorism loses ground in Pakistan: LAT

U.S. war on terrorism loses ground in Pakistan
By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 27, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Although the "war on terrorism" remains a consuming focus of the U.S. government, the Bush administration appears poised to leave behind a situation not unlike the one it inherited nearly eight years ago: a resurgent Al Qaeda ensconced in South Asia, training new recruits, plotting attacks against the West, and seemingly beyond the United States' reach.

In dozens of interviews, senior U.S. national security, intelligence and military officials described a counter-terrorism campaign in Pakistan that has lost momentum and is beset by frustration.

for Complete Story, click here

Kayani factor & the withering PPP - PML-N Coalition

Kayani factor & the withering PPP,PML-N coalition
By Sohail Iqbal, Pulse, July 24, 2008

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has reportedly threatened to finally quit the ruling alliance, if the sacked judiciary is not restored by the Independence Day on August 14 and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) doesn’t take a decision on impeaching President Pervez Musharraf. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, which withdrew from the coalition government in May, has conveyed to the PPP that it won’t rejoin the cabinet, if these two crucial decisions are not taken by the time when the nation will celebrate its 61st Independence Day, claims a report. The reported date coincides with an important day because the PML-N probably wants to present a gift to the nation on August 14, freeing the people of a dictator, who is at the lowest ebb of popularity, yet, refuses to give up power.

The differences among the PML-N and the PPP, which together in March had formed the strongest coali…

ISI and IB under Interior Minister?

ISI, IB put under interior division’s control
By Syed Irfan Raza, Dawn, July 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD, July 26: The government on Saturday placed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the direct control of the interior division.

The landmark decision was notified by the cabinet division after the approval of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The notification, issued the day the prime minister left Islamabad for Washington, said: “In terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business of 1973, the prime minister has approved the placement of the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect.”

The country’s three main intelligence agencies have been working under various authorities. The ISI and the IB were working directly under the prime minister, while the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was being overseen by the interior minister.

Following the …

Blasts in India

29 die, 88 injured as blasts hit western India
By R.K. MISRA – July 26, 2008

AHMADABAD, India (AP) — At least 29 people were killed and 88 wounded when a series of small explosions hit the western Indian city of Ahmadabad on Saturday, a top official said, a day after seven similar blasts struck a southern city.

Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state where Ahmadabad is located, said at least 16 bombs went off Saturday evening in several neighborhoods of the busy city.

Modi called the blasts "a crime against humanity," and said the state government would cover the medical costs of all those wounded in the attacks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either set of blasts, and it was not clear if they were connected but Modi said that the attacks appeared to be masterminded by a group or groups who "are using a similar modus operandi all over the country."

Distraught relatives of the wounded crowded the city's hospitals and television channels …

Revisiting a Conspiracy

Recalling a conspiracy
By Anwar Syed, Dawn, July 27, 2008

WHEN two or more persons make plans to commit a crime, they may be said to have hatched a conspiracy.

Discussion of the project does not become a conspiracy unless the participants have agreed to carry it out.

It has been said repeatedly in recent weeks that conspiracies are being hatched in the presidency to disrupt the rapport between the PPP and PML-N. If this is indeed happening, the enterprise may be called dirty politics but, strictly speaking, it is not a conspiracy since breaking a rival coalition is not a crime.

We have had only a few known conspiracies in our history. There was the Rawalpindi Conspiracy to overthrow Liaquat Ali Khan’s government in 1951, a conspiracy between President Iskander Mirza and Gen Ayub Khan to dismiss the civilian regime and bring in military rule (1958), and a conspiracy between Gen Yahya Khan and some of his associates to use military force to crush the separatists in East Pakistan (1971). One …

Future of Muslims in India

BOOK REVIEW: Muslim future in India by Khaled Ahmed
Daily Times, July 27, 2008

Living with Secularism: The Destiny of India's Muslims
Edited by Mushirul Hasan, Manohar India 2007

In 2004, the elections in India have brought a new hope for Muslims but the BJP is still strong in opposition and continues to echo Golwalker, the founder of RSS who had said in 1947 that non-Hindus in India must learn to glorify only the Hindu religion. NC Chatterjee of Hindu Mahasabha had said in 1949 that Muslims must accept Mahabharata and Ramayana as their own instead of Arabic and Persian classics

In 2004, Indian scholar Mushirul Hasan had challenged Indian secularism under the BJP dominance and its doctrine of Hindutva with his book, Will Secular India Survive?, but the general election the same year brought the Congress-led UPA government to power as a people’s response to majoritarian communalism of the BJP and its ‘family’ of organisations.

This selection of essays presents a more satisfying analysis…

India Ratifies Parkinson's Law!

India Ratifies Parkinson's Law
By Niranjan Ramakrishnan
25 July, 2008;

"A nuclear reactor is so vastly expensive and complicated that people cannot understand it, so they assume that those working on it understand it. Even those with strong opinions might withhold them for fear of being shown to be insufficiently informed. On the other hand, everyone understands a bicycle shed (or thinks they do), so building one can result in endless discussions: everyone involved wants to add his touch and show that he is there"

--Parkinson's Law of Triviality (from Parkinson's Law, 1955)

The fellow was standing on his 25th floor balcony contemplating the evening sky, when he heard someone shout, "Hey Banta Singh, your daughter Jeeto has committed suicide!". In his grief he jumped from the balcony. When he passed the 20th floor it occurred to him his daughter was not called Jeeto. As he passed the 15th, he remembered he had no daughters. And as he passe…

How to Deal with Militants in FATA?

Dealing with militants
By Aqil Shah, Dawn, July 26, 2008

STATES are supposed to wield legitimate monopoly over the means of coercion in the territory under their control. That’s what makes them states.

In Pakistan, however, Taliban militants have successfully challenged and displaced state authority in many parts of Fata and even some settled districts of the NWFP. While the image of a state collapsing before marauding Taliban militants might be far-fetched, it is not a good sign when they can routinely kidnap and slaughter security personnel with virtual impunity and openly threaten the NWFP provincial government with dire consequences if it does not call off military operations against them. And their actions across the border in Afghanistan are creating grounds for US threats of unilateral action in the tribal areas.

What is the federal government doing about all this? In view of the prime minister’s forthcoming visit to Washington, the coalition principals’ meeting held on July 23 exp…

Obama and Muslim voters: Reuters

Obama and Muslim voters a "double whammy?"
Jul 25, 2008, Reuters
By Michael Conlon - Analysis

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Barack Obama should be able to count on heavy support from U.S. Muslims in the November election, if polls are correct, but he risks offending some members of that faith by having to explain he is not one himself.

The number of votes at stake is small since Muslims account for only a fraction of the U.S. population and there are no reliable figures on how many are registered to vote.

But with a recent history of close presidential elections, no vote can be discounted when Democrat Obama, who would be the first black president, faces off against Republican John McCain.

A survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Politics found that 63 percent of U.S. Muslims either considered themselves to be Democrats or leaned in that direction, compared with 11 percent who said they were Republican or identified with that party.

At the same time, about 12 percent of Americans think Ob…

Three 'terminal' narratives of Pakistan By Khaled Ahmed

Three 'terminal' narratives of Pakistan By Khaled Ahmed
July 18-24, 2008 - The Friday Times, Vol. XX, No. 22

The three clashing and merging narratives causing upheaval in Pakistan are like the end-of-the-world theorems, and Pakistan must choose one of them to perform the act of dying as a state. The state and Al Qaeda rival each other for the status of enemy. And the state seems to be losing out all the time

A s Pakistan moves into the turbulence of a global economic downturn, three invasive discourses cause diversions and distortions. The world outside thinks Pakistan has become the centre of international terrorism. It is ground zero for the West in its hunt for Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden. Inside Pakistan, there is an opposed people's narrative, starting with a protest against the definition of terrorism and ending with a pledge of confrontation against the West. The third narrative is an India-driven narrative which serves to delay any reconciliation betwee…