Showing posts from May, 2009

Pakistan Continues its Fight...

Pakistan Continues Its Fight in South Waziristan
By SABRINA TAVERNISE and IRFAN ASHRAF, New York Times, June 1, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Fighting broke out late Saturday between militants and the Pakistani military in South Waziristan, a stronghold region for the Taliban and Al Qaeda that the government has said will be the next front in its offensive, a Pakistani military spokesman said.

At least 25 militants and six soldiers were killed overall in the fighting, which began on Saturday evening in the Torwam area, where militants ambushed a military convoy, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman. A battle followed, leaving three soldiers and an estimated 10 militants dead, General Abbas said.

Then, around midnight, the Taliban attacked a military post in Spinkai Raghzai. Soldiers fought militants for several hours through the night, killing at least 15 of them, General Abbas said. Three soldiers, including an officer, were also reported killed.

For the past month, the military…

The FM Mullahs and the Taliban’s Propaganda War in Pakistan

The FM Mullahs and the Taliban’s Propaganda War in Pakistan
Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 14, May 26, 2009
By: Mukhtar A. Khan

The scenic Swat valley is thundering with both aerial bombardments and fiery Taliban FM radio sermons. In a large-scale military operation dubbed Operation Rah-e-Raast (Operation Straight Path), the Pakistani army is hitting Taliban targets with gunship helicopters while the Taliban respond with AK-47s and their powerful propaganda radio broadcasts. More than a million people have fled the scene of battle and millions more are trapped inside the valley. While the government has asked the local people to help the military in identifying Taliban hideouts, the Taliban have been broadcasting warnings against supporting the military. Through their pirate FM transmitters, the Taliban have demanded that local parliamentarians, security forces and other government officials resign from their positions as a mark of protest against the military operations; otherwise …

The audacity of hope for Palestine

The audacity of hope for Palestine
Kishore Mahbubani, Malaysiskini, May 29, 2009

The world will be enveloped in a heavy cloud of gloom and doom this year. Economies will sputter, governments will fall, and companies will fail. But the biggest danger of all is a sense of hopelessness. Preventing this requires resolving some large and apparently intractable problem. Closing the Doha Round of world trade talks provides one such opportunity. But an even better opportunity is provided by the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Many people around the world, especially in the West, have convinced themselves that this conflict is beyond resolution. Several efforts have been made since the famous Oslo accords of 1993. All failed. But few have noticed that an unusual constellation of forces has emerged, opening a remarkable new window of opportunity for a solution. Such geopolitical opportunities are rare, and it would be a great tragedy not to seize this one.

For a start, there seems to be a near-univers…

Obama to offer personal committment to Muslims

Obama speech to offer personal commitment to Muslims
AFP, May 30, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama will offer a "personal commitment" to bridge US differences with Muslims in his long-awaited speech to the Islamic world next week in Egypt, aides said.

But White House advisors said Friday that Obama would not shy away from addressing "tough issues" in the speech on Thursday at the University of Cairo which will be co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, an ancient center of Islam and learning.

"The speech will outline his personal commitment to engagement, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"He will discuss how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.

"He will review particular issues of concern, such as violent extremism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he will discuss new areas for partnership going forwar…

Taliban Vs. Pakistan

Editorial: Baitullah retaliates in Lahore
Daily Times, May 29, 2009

After the Taliban accepted responsibility late Wednesday night for the suicide-bombing of the Police Rescue-15 and ISI offices in Lahore, it is obvious that the Taliban are feeling the heat of the Swat Operation and want to show that the battle is joined on their side too. The Wednesday blast was a “hybrid” one, mixing the techniques employed in the Lahore FIA headquarters and the Manawan Police Training School cases. The explosive-laden vehicle was most probably targeting the ISI office in front of the Rescue-15 building. It was prevented from reaching its target and had to be exploded prematurely.

The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief “Amir” Baitullah Mehsud believes in retaliation, and this time he was reacting to the beating his men in Swat are receiving from the Pakistan Army. There is news about the besieged 4,000 militants there, which must have upset him a great deal. The terrorists are trying to escape thro…

Another nuclear anniversary

PAKISTAN: Another nuclear anniversary
By Pervez Hoodbhoy
Dawn, 28 May, 2009

Once upon a time making nuclear bombs was the biggest thing a country could do. But not any more; North Korea’s successful nuclear test provides rock-solid proof. This is a country that no one admires.

It is unknown for scientific achievement, has little electricity or fuel, food and medicine are scarce, corruption is ubiquitous, and its people live in terribly humiliating conditions under a vicious, dynastic dictatorship. In a famine some years ago, North Korea lost nearly 800,000 people. It has an enormous prison population of 200,000 that is subjected to systematic torture and abuse.

Why does a miserable, starving country continue spending its last penny on the bomb? On developing and testing a fleet of missiles whose range increases from time to time? The answer is clear: North Korea’s nuclear weapons are instruments of blackmail rather than means of defence. Brandished threateningly, and manipulated from tim…

Pakistan's Struggle for Modernity

Pakistan's Struggle for Modernity
The country's voters have never endorsed religious extremism.
By FOUAD AJAMI, Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2009

The drama of the Swat Valley -- its cynical abandonment to the mercy of the Taliban, the terror unleashed on it by the militants, then the recognition that the concession to the forces of darkness had not worked -- is of a piece with the larger history of religious extremism in the world of Islam. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was the latest in a long line of secularists who cut deals with the zealots, only to discover that for the believers in political Islam these deals are at best a breathing spell before the fight for their utopia is taken up again.

The decision by Pakistan to retrieve the ground it had ceded to the Taliban was long overdue. We should not underestimate the strength of the Pakistani state, and of the consensus that underpins it. The army is a huge institution, and its mandate is like that of the Turkish army, w…

An Open letter to President Obama on Democracy in the Muslim World

From: Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy:

URGENT & Open Letter May 22, 2009

President Barack Hussein Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:
First of all, congratulations on your victory in November. Like so many others throughout the world, we find ourselves both hopeful and inspired. Your election is proof of America’s continued promise as a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom. Your presidency presents a historic opportunity to chart a new course in foreign affairs, and particularly in the troubled relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.

We are heartened by your promise to listen to and understand the hopes and aspirations of Arabs and Muslims. By shutting down Guantanamo Bay and forbidding torture, your administration will inspire greater confidence between the United States and the Muslim world. Last month, in your first major interview, millions of Arabs heard your call…

Iran's Michelle Obama

Thousands gather to hear, cheer Iran's Michelle Obama
CNN, May 24, 2009
From Reza Sayah

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Dancing in public is not allowed in Iran, but thousands could hardly contain themselves at a recent presidential campaign rally in the capital city, Tehran.

Supporters hope Zahra Rahnavard will become Iran's future first lady.

On this day, the deafening cheers were not for presidential hopeful Mir Hossein Mousavi, but rather for his wife -- a woman some are calling Iran's Michelle Obama.

The comparisons to the first lady of the United States stem from the role Zahra Rahnavard is playing in her husband's quest for the presidency.

Never in the history of Iranian presidential elections has a candidate put his wife in the forefront of his campaign.

Wherever Mousavi -- a centrist candidate -- goes, Rahnavard is usually nearby. Watch more about Zahra Rahnavard »

"We look at her and we say, 'we want to be like her in the future, ' " said Shakiba Shakerhosse…

News From the War Front...

Peace in Af-Pak
The News, May 21, 2009
Zafar Hilaly

Admittedly these are as yet early days and the army action is far from complete. But already there are disturbing signs that the result of the big push may not achieve the intended results. The Taliban are not being killed or surrendering, at least not in sufficient numbers, instead they are relocating. This is evident from Zahid Hussain's article in the Dawn of May18.

Reporting from Dagger he says that while the Taliban have been flushed out of this town of 10,000 persons, "the militants still lurked in the mountains not far from here". Most Pakistanis recognise that this is a war that had to be fought and are supportive of the army action. They are glad that the government appreciates that the answer lies not in sporadic military forays against the enemy but hunkering down with determination in the territories reclaimed from the Taliban for as long as it takes in order to protect the populace from the enemy.

It is diffic…

Why Zulfiqar Ali should not die

Why Zulfiqar Ali should not die By Zubeida Mustafa
Dawn, 20 May, 2009

ZULFIQAR Ali, a prisoner on death row in Adiala jail since April 1998, is to be hanged. There is confusion about the date.

Since September 2008 when President Asif Zardari rejected Zulfiqar’s final mercy petition, the condemned prisoner has been granted three stays of execution. The last expired on May 6.

But Zulfikar Ali’s case calls for immediate attention. True there are over 7,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan. True they all deserve to be taken note of because there has been a strong opinion building up in the country against capital punishment as has been witnessed worldwide. Today 133 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

Why I add my voice to the pleas from many quarters for Zulfiqar’s amnesty is because he is a man who deserves to live. In a country where good teachers are a rarity it would be a pity if a man who loves teaching is sent to the gallows. I may not even have known a…

Don’t you ever say die By Anjum Niaz

Don’t you ever say die By Anjum Niaz
Dawn, 17 May, 2009

‘Group Captain, give me your Swiss bank account number,’ the vice president of a Fortune 40 company asks Sajad Haider, Pakistan’s air attaché at Washington DC in the 70s. ‘Get out of my office,’ Sajad tells the American. ’I’ll have your company black-listed.’ Sajad kicks up such a ruckus that the president of that company comes running on bended knees. He fires his VP for offering the bribe.

The sacked man gangs up with touts…Pakistanis, Iranians and Americans wanting to make a quick buck from salacious defence deals being offered to Pakistan Air Force. The ticking time bomb against Sajad goes off. Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, the ambassador, tells his air attaché ‘the Shah of Iran wants you to be court marshaled!’ He has personally complained to Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) when they met at Izmir. ‘Remove him immediately and punish him severely for his seditious remarks against me,’ the Shah orders ZAB. Shah’s son-in-law Ard…

Islam and the West: Good vibes from Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) - CNN

Yusuf, formerly Cat Stevens, brings good vibes
By Denise Quan, CNN, May 18, 2009

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- It was the hottest ticket in town. Colin Farrell was there. So were Michelle Branch, Josh Groban and Chris Isaak -- the latter accompanied by his manager's dog, Rodney.

Yusuf, formerly known as Cat Stevens, believes he can help bridge gaps between cultures.

No, we're not talking about a Britney Spears or U2 concert. We're talking about a star-studded, invitation-only club show by Yusuf -- the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens.

It was the legendary folk singer's first L.A. show in 33 years, and the audience gave him a heartfelt "welcome back."

He played for just over an hour: half a dozen songs from his new album, "Roadsinger," plus a few gems from the '60s and '70s. It was "Peace Train" that elicited a singalong, with the entire room participating in the song's signature hand claps.

Branch, who sings backup on Yusu…

Pakistan’s Roll of Honour (and dishonour)

Pakistan’s Roll of Honour (and dishonour)
The News, May 19, 2009
by Mosharraf Zaidi

In Mardan district, Pakistanis from all corners of Swat converge on a union council called Hathian. In eleven school buildings across Hathian, these thousands of innocent Pakistanis, who we call IDPs, have sought shelter from the violence that has consumed the beautiful places they call home in Swat, Buner and Dir. The lowest estimate of the number of people in Hathian is 8,000. Among them are children, pregnant women, and old folks with all kinds of short- and long-term medical problems. These people left their homes in Swat in a hurry. Most didn’t leave with their American Express card. In fact, most didn’t even have time to take along their identification cards.

For com plete article, click here

The Drone War

The Drone War
by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann
Are Predators our best weapon or worst enemy
The New Republic, June 03, 2009

The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage. A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: "Start counting the time." Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning. After flailing about for some minutes, it succumbs to the poisonous gas and stops moving.

This experiment almost certainly occurred at the Derunta training camp near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, conducted by an Egyptian with the nom de jihad of "Abu Khabab." In the late 1990s, under the direction of Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Abu Khabab set up the terrorist group's WMD research program, which was given the innocuous codename "Yogurt." Abu Khabab taught hundreds of militants how to deploy poisonous chemicals, such as ricin and cyanide gas. The Egyptian WMD expert also explored t…

Congress Wins in India

Indian elections: Congress celebrates as party sweeps to victory
Congress supporters celebrated their party's sweeping victory in the Indian elections by dancing in the streets as they hailed Rahul Gandhi as their "new leader".
By Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi, India
Telegraph, May 16, 2009

Ecstatic party workers danced to the beat of folk drums as a supporter stood under the yellow petals of a laburnum tree outside Congress Party headquarters, wiping away tears of joy with her scarf.

"I feel as happy as when a baby is born or your child gets married," said Razia Siddiqui, a Muslim woman from the Old Quarter of the Indian capital. "A new leader has been born (Rahul Gandhi) and he will lead India to prosperity and happiness."

For complete article, click

Also See:
Congress Party's Dominance Shows Swing Towards Continuity And Stability - Huffington Post
More Than the Vote - The Hindu
India's Election With Little Hope - Wall Street Journal

Girls’ madrassas expanding at a dramatic rate

Girls’ madrassas expanding at a dramatic rate
* 1,900 registered madrassas educating almost a quarter of a million girls in country
Daily Times, May 16, 2009

LAHORE: There are more than 1,900 registered madrassas for girls in Pakistan. And the female madrassas are expanding at a dramatic rate, educating almost a quarter of a million girls and providing more than half of the candidates taking the graduate-level examinations every year.

The madrassas are experiencing a boom thanks to the failures of the public education system and an increasing appetite in the lower middle class for traditional Islamic values.

For complete article, click here

Swat – a report from the frontline

Swat – a report from the frontline
The News, May 16, 2009
Farhat Taj

Recently an AIRRA (Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy – an Islamabad-based research organisation) investigation team went to some parts of Swat that had been under army attacks. The team observed whether the attacks were targeted at the Taliban and their installations. It observed two villages -- Ladikas and Watkai in Mingora -- and Khwazakhela, a tehsil in Swat. The team with its access to the people of the area could manage to take Besham route from Islamabad to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela. Though continuous curfew and alternate threats from the military posts and the Taliban posts badly hampered the journey of the team but somehow some of the members could manage to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela and Charbagh with the exodus of the people from different parts of Swat valley. The team was able to access and interview several dozens of those families who were still stuck up in the valley.

The team ob…

A cobweb of myths Dr Tariq Rahman

A cobweb of myths Dr Tariq Rahman
Thursday, Dawn, 14 May, 2009

NOW that a military operation is going on in the Malakand Division it is imperative that it should be supported by the people and that the IDPs should be looked after with all resources at hand and be treated with compassion and respect.

Unfortunately, we have many myths and conspiracy theories which prevent clear thinking and that need to be debunked.

Myth 1: America wants our nuclear weapons and is destabilising Pakistan through the Taliban.

This myth is dangerous because those who subscribe to it also believe that America pays the Taliban to destabilise Pakistan to create an excuse to take away our nuclear weapons. This makes it difficult for the government to fight the Taliban while accepting American aid as the whole thing seems to be a cruel hoax to ordinary Pakistanis.

The US has over 5,400 nuclear warheads and it is thousands of kilometres away from this country. Moreover, it allowed Pakistan to develop these weapons…

The battle for Pakistan

ANALYSIS: The battle for Pakistan — Najmuddin A Shaikh
Daily Times, May 15, 2009

The armed forces are now committed, one hopes, to the elimination of the military threat. It is civil society that has to erode and then eliminate the ideological threat that has been allowed to grow over the last thirty years

Some substantial damage has been done to the Taliban and their cohorts by the continuing military operation in Swat. The ISPR spokesman has claimed, corroborating an earlier statement by the interior advisor, that 751 Taliban (‘miscreants’) have been killed up to May 11, while 71 members of the regular and paramilitary forces have been martyred.

Given the intensity of the operation, these are relatively small numbers and bear testimony to the fact that the armed forces are choosing their targets carefully and are trying to avoid civilian casualties, a task rendered difficult by the Taliban’s use of innocent civilians as human shields.

There has been a massive exodus of civilians from the…

Swat Crisis: The Internally Displaced People in Pakistan

IDPs and the challenges that await
The News, May 12, 2009
by Mosharraf Zaidi

At the end of January this year, the international community’s key humanitarian agencies had done some basic number crunching for how they would deal with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) crisis that was brewing in Pakistan towards the end of 2008. They estimated that the armed conflict in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies would likely drive the numbers of these Pakistanis who are refugees in their own country to about 600,000. To cater to those folks, it was estimated that roughly $36 million would be required to provide for the shelter, water and sanitation, food, and basic health care and schooling needs of the IDPs.

As I write these words, and the long overdue military operation to eliminate terrorists from Swat, Buner and Dir scorches more and more of the earth, that original estimate of 600,000 is exploding into ever larger numbers. Some civil society groups feel that the Swat-Buner-Dir IDPs alone will acc…

Defence or Deterrence

Defence or deterrence? By Haider Nizamani
Wednesday, Dawn, May 13, 2009

THERE was little mention of nuclear weapons during the 15th Lok Sabha election campaign in India. Pakistan is fighting what some term as an ‘existential battle’ without any discernible role of nuclear weapons.

President Asif Zardari was welcomed to the United States with a lecture by his US counterpart as to how Pakistan’s fixation with India was a misplaced security concern. Other officials of the administration expressed their fears about Pakistani nukes falling into unpredictable hands.

Nuclear weapons were supposed to perform assorted wonders for India and Pakistan. Eleven years ago on May 11 the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government authorised the conduct of nuclear weapons tests near the desert town of Pokharan. Pakistan followed suit within weeks of the Indian tests by conducting half a dozen tests of its own in the Chagai region of Balochistan. How have nuclear weapons performed militarily, polit…

Pakistan Can Defy the Odds: How to Rescue a Failing State: ISPU Report

Picture Source: Roll Call TV

Pakistan Can Defy the Odds: How to Rescue a Failing State
Hassan Abbas,ISPU, May 12, 2009

Is Pakistan collapsing? How far are the Taliban from Islamabad? Can al-Qaeda grab the country’s nuclear weapons? These are the types of questions raised every day by the American media, academia and policy circles. And these are critical issues, given the nature of the evolving crisis in Pakistan. The approximately two dozen suicide bombings in 2009 so far, 66 in 2008, and 61 in 2007, all of which have targeted armed forces personnel, police, politicians, and ordinary people not only in the country’s turbulent northwest but also in its major urban centers, indicate the seriousness of the threat. A major ammunition factory area located close to some very sensitive nuclear installations in Wah (Punjab) was targeted by two suicide bombers in August 2008, an act that sent shudders across the country’s security establishment.

Although certainly a matter of very serious concern…

Major Humanitarian Crisis in Pakistan

Refugee Crisis Clouds Pakistan's Anti-Taliban War
By Omar Waraich / Chotha Lahore, TIME, May. 12, 2009

It is in refugee camps like Chotha Lahore, rather than on the battlefields of the Swat Valley, that the outcome of Pakistan's decisive showdown with the Taliban may be decided. The camp, near the town of Swabi, is sheltering some of the hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis displaced by the government offensive to drive the militants out of the Swat Valley and its surrounds. "The purpose [of the campaign] is to cleanse the areas of these miscreants and militants," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told TIME. "It will go on until it achieves its objective." But the Pakistani public's revulsion at the abuses of Taliban rule in the area could be eclipsed by anger at the catastrophic toll inflicted on the local civilian population by the military's campaign to oust the militants.

For complete article, click here

360,000 civilians f…

Public opinion has turned against the Taliban

analysis: Blast from the past — Rasul Bakhsh Rais
May 12, 2009

Public opinion has turned against the Taliban both in the insurgency-hit areas and in rest of the country. Another positive sign is that the major political parties are on the same page

What is happening in the borderlands of Pakistan is blowback from the policies that we pursued in the second wave of the Cold War as an American ally and a front-line state against the former Soviet Union. According to American strategic thinking at that time, communists were the greatest enemies of humanity and a primary threat to the stability of the global system.

Islamists from all over the world were encouraged, trained, financed and supported in the war against the Soviets. The United States and Pakistan gave no serious consideration to the long-term consequences of supporting an Islamist insurgency and effects of the militarisation and empowerment of the multi-national Muslim groups that came to dominate the Afghan jihad.

For complete art…

From The News on Sunday: Where Pakistan Police Stands Today?

"Police need immense support from intelligence services"
The News on Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dr Hasan Abbas is a Research Fellow at Belfer Center's International Security Program at Harvard University and a former Police official who served in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1995-1996) and President Pervez Musharraf (1999-2000). He is also the author of 'Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror' and 'Sovereignty Belongs to Allah: Constitutionalism and Human Rights in the Islamic States'. His latest work is a research paper on Police reforms in Pakistan.

The News on Sunday: What prompted the compiling of the report on the police, in the first place?

Hassan Abbas: I was motivated to compile a report on the subject for two primary reasons: a)In my assessment, there was no report available on the topic that covered the issues relevant today (i.e. counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency angles and the…

How India Looks at Kashmir?

comment: Indifference towards Kashmir — Iftikhar Gilani
Daily Times, May 10, 2009

Despite provocations from communal outfits inside and outside the mainstream, including the Hindutva camp, the Indian political system has not been communalised. So much so that the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 did not end in a cataclysm

Varun Gandhi’s recent diatribe against Muslims is quite understandable. His idea of politicking was to polarise Hindu votes, a move necessitated after the delimitation exercise, or re-mapping of his constituency, by the Election Commission. The process has added a few more Muslim blocs to Gandhi’s Pilibhit constituency, making his victory on a BJP ticket somewhat suspect.

After the delimitation, analysts say, the number of constituencies where Muslims constitute 15 percent or more votes, and are thus in a position to influence election results, have increased from 119 to 164. For the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, this is a nightmare. The capital Delhi has now two…

The Trilateral Meeting - Obama, Zardari and Karzai

The achievements and embarrassments of Zardari visit
The News, May 10, 2009
By Shaheen Sehbai

WASHINGTON: Three major outcomes of the bilateral and trilateral summit talks between Presidents Zardari, Obama and Karzai are now becoming visible as officials of the three countries hammer out details of how much money would be poured in, how it would be spent and how it would be monitored.

According to officials and experts involved in the intense talks and negotiations, the broader picture emerging from the Zardari visit includes the following three conclusions:

* The tensions in relations between President Asif Zardari and President Karzai of Afghanistan have been removed and both have developed a good and cordial working relationship because both are being asked by President Obama to meet almost similar benchmarks, both are looked at suspiciously and are not fully trusted with money and both are believed to be unpopular and weak. In fact in so many ways, President Zardari has been forced to…

Justice on war-footing Needed: CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry

Provision of justice on war-footing, urges CJP
The News, May 10, 2009

HYDERABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said the judges, vacating the Swat valley, are migrating to Peshawar and if it continues to happen so it will be very much on the cards that the same situation props up in other cities also.

He said the judges must ascertain the provision of easy and fast justice to the people on war footing basis.

Addressing the Sindh High Court (SHC) Hyderabad, Iftikhar told attendees that the situation, judges are confronting in Swat, could also become possible here in Karachi, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi and Islamabad if judiciary failed to come to the assistance of oppressed people.

CJP proposed judges to strengthen the courts through their actions and provide people with justice as the judiciary has always pocketed political pressure in past here in this part of the world, which contributed to lift off peoples’ trust from it.

“Five judges thwarted the p…

Talked to Death - New York Times Op-Ed

Talked to Death
By HASSINA SHERJAN, New York Times, May 8, 2009
Kabul, Afghanistan

FOR several years, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been trying to negotiate and reconcile with supposedly moderate elements of the Taliban to end the insurgency. This approach has failed every time. Thus it is puzzling to many Afghans that President Obama has also been talking about negotiating with “moderates.” Let’s hope that when the two men met in Washington this week, along with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, the idea of reaching out to the Islamic extremists was shelved once and for all.

After all, President Karzai’s efforts have simply revealed the weakness of the Afghan government and its international allies. Taliban spokesman have repeatedly demanded unacceptable conditions for talks, including the departure of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and the establishment of Shariah law.

Indeed, shortly after Mr. Obama raised the subject of reconciliation, the Taliban rejected his…

The Talibanisation of minds By Kamila Hyat

The Talibanisation of minds
The News, May 07, 2009
Kamila Hyat

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor

There are two dimensions to the challenge of defeating the Taliban. One of course is the issue of re-gaining control over the territories they have wrested away from the state. The military successes in Dir and Buner, as the army moves into a new phase of aggression, are of course encouraging. The mysteries of how tactics in this respect are decided remain rather obscure though. In the past the civilian governments have implied that the military is unwilling to take on the Taliban. In an unusually strong set of comments the US has meanwhile slammed the government while praising the military.

What wheels are moving behind the scenes we don't quite know – but we have learnt from the past to be wary in such situations. And meanwhile, despite the increasingly nonsensical statements of Sufi Mohammad, who now says democracy is un-Islamic and Sharia must extend acro…

The Swat Exodus

Fear and Taliban sympathisers follow flood of refugees from Swat
Declan Walsh in Mardan, Thursday 7 May 2009

A billboard on the verge of a country lane that glides through the wheat fields of North West Frontier province offers a hopeful vision of the future – a modern, two-storey residence advertising a smart new housing scheme. But the field behind the billboard presents a darker but truer picture of what this corner of Pakistan has become: the overflow of a battle zone.

Instead of smart new houses, the building site is filled with rows of newly pitched tents where desperate, dispossessed people, full of tales of civilian casualties and abuses at the hands of black-turbaned Taliban fighters, have come to seek refuge.

Among them is Imran Khan, a 24-year-old textile worker who fled the Swat valley two days ago after a stray army shell landed near their house, injuring several relatives. "Windows, doors, everything, was blown in," he says.

Abandoning the modest poss…

Obama To Address U.S.-Islamic Relations In Egypt

Obama To Address U.S.-Islamic Relations In Egypt
by The Associated Press, May 8, 2009 · President Barack Obama, who promised to lend a hand to the Islamic world if it unclenches a fist, plans a major speech from Egypt next month as he seeks to repair damaged relations between the United States and Muslims.

The much-anticipated speech will further Obama's efforts to cool down animosities that burst into flame 30 years ago when Iranians overran the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and were fueled by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least two other emotional highlights seem certain. Obama will visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald in Germany on June 5. And he will be in France to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the allies' invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

Obama, whose father was a Muslim from Kenya, said in Turkey last month that the United States "is not and never will be at war with Islam."

His June 4 speech at a yet-to-b…

Boston Globe Talks about "Punjabi Taliban"

Worldy Boston:
More cause for Pakistan worries
James F. Smith, Boston Globe, May 7, 2009

As if there weren't enough crises in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Harvard Kennedy School fellow and Pakistan expert Hassan Abbas is offering more cause for worry.

Abbas, a former Pakistan government official who is one of the leading scholars in the United States on security issues in his homeland, says in a new article that most attention has rightly focused on the threat from the Pakistani Taliban in the border tribal areas and the North-West Frontier Province. Those are the traditional Pashtun Taliban militants, who share that ethnic heritage with Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan (and who received US backing in the 1980s to fight the Soviets).

But in a new study in the CTC Sentinel, a publication of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Abbas describes a growing threat with potentially even greater consequences. He explains that the loosely organized Punjabi Taliban -- from Punjab…

The army finally gets it right

The army finally gets it right
The News, May 09, 2009
Farahat Taj

It was retaliation par excellence. A convoy of the Pakistan army was ambushed by Taliban terrorists in the Kanjo area in Swat. The convoy had intended to go to Mangora to reinforce the army units there. Several soldiers died on the spot. The army responded with robust force and attacked the Taliban holding strategic positions on the heights containing Mangora emerald mines. From those heights the Taliban used to attack the Mangora circuit house, where the army was stationed. All the militants on the heights were killed and the state property, the emerald mines, was regained. Moreover, the army conducted successful attacks on other strongholds of the Taliban in Rahimabad and Takhtaband, and killed them there. "I am so pleased to see the forceful attacks. It is like avenging a slap in the face with a kick in the face," said a resident of Swat from Mangora. He also informed me that all the people in Swat were very …

Taliban Retaliatory Style

Taliban blow up Umar Baba’s shrine
Daily Times, May 9, 2009

PESHAWAR: Taliban on Friday blew up the shrine of Sheikh Umar Baba at Regi area of the city, locals told Daily Times. According to the police, the explosives had been planted near the pillars of the centuries-old shrine, APP reported. Locals said a blast around 3am destroyed the shrine situated on Palosi Road. A local resident said the villagers were now worried about other shrines in the area. Meanwhile, the Taliban also blew up two plazas and killed a local activist in Adezai area in the Mattani Police Station jurisdiction. Adezai Union Council Nazim Abdul Malik told reporters that Taliban had planted bombs in two plazas that went off around 2am on Friday. He said at least 16 shops and houses were destroyed in the blast. Taliban also killed a local activist, Shamim, in the Adezai village around 8am on Friday. staff report/app

Also See:
Taliban vow to eliminate PM, family members - The News

Fighting the Taliban Fascism: What is to be done?

Fighting the Taliban Fascism: What is to be done?
By Dr. Mohammad Taqi
Watandost: May 8, 2009

Begin - to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.

Many in Pakistan and abroad believed that the Taliban would be satisfied after getting their pound of flesh - the Nizam e Adl Regulation (NAR) 2009. However, the fall of Buner and then the April 19, 2009 speech by Sufi Muhammad coming on the heels of videos of the Taliban atrocities, sent shudders down the spine of even those riding the fence, on the issue of fundamentalist militancy in Pakistan.

Detailed reports from individual and organization-based analysts have given excellent account of what now appears to be the primary concern for Pakistan, the United States and the international community at large: the existential threat to Pakistan from the rising Taliban tide.

The question is, then, what is to be done?

But more importantly, where to begin and where do we go from here? What is the pat…