Showing posts from July, 2009

Pakistan's Supreme Court Reins Supreme

SC demolishes Musharraf’s unconstitutional edifice
The News, August 01, 2009
Lays foundation for far-reaching future decisions; Islamabad High Court sent packing
By Sohail Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, in its landmark verdict, on Friday declared the actions taken on November 3, 2007, by former military dictator General (R) Pervez Musharraf as unconstitutional and invalid.

The apex court declared all judges of the superior courts who took oath by showing personal loyalty to the former military dictator on November 3, 2007, in violation of the order of the seven-member bench of the apex court as illegal and the court ordered them to stop function forthwith.

In a coincidence showers blessed the people as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry started reading out the landmark verdict, bringing down the high temperature and humidity in the jam-packed courtroom No 1, declaring all the acts taken on November 3, 2007, as void, illegal and unconstitutional.

The larger bench took at least four …

Terrorism - Latest Trends and Patterns

Al Qaeda changing, training, plotting
By CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank
July 31, 2009

Editor's note: This story is based on interrogation reports that form part of the prosecution case in the forthcoming trial of six Belgian citizens charged with participation in a terrorist group. Versions of those documents were obtained by CNN from the defense attorney of one of those suspects. The statement by Bryant Vinas was compiled from an interview he gave Belgian prosecutors in March 2009 in New York, and was confirmed by U.S. prosecutors as authentic. The statement by Walid Othmani was given to French investigators, and was authenticated by Belgian prosecutors.

(CNN) -- When Bryant Neal Vinas spoke at length with Belgian prosecutors last March, he provided a fascinating and sometimes frightening insight into al Qaeda's training -- and its agenda.

Vinas is a young American who was arrested in Pakistan late in 2008 after allegedly training with al…

Why Afghanistan is not Obama’s Vietnam?

Winning the Good War: Why Afghanistan is not Obama’s Vietnam
By Peter Bergen
Washington Journal, July 2009

hroughout his campaign last year, President Barack Obama said repeatedly that the real central front of the war against terrorists was on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. And now he is living up to his campaign promise to roll back the Taliban and al-Qaeda with significant resources. By the end of the year there will be some 70,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan, and the Obama administration is pushing for billions of dollars in additional aid to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This has caused consternation among some in the Democratic Party. In May, fifty-one House Democrats voted against continued funding for the Afghan war. And David Obey, the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls federal spending, says the White House must show concrete results in Afghanistan within a year—implying that if it doesn’t do so, he will move to turn off the money sp…

Indian Prime Minister's Positive Step

Singh Defends Effort to Improve Ties With Pakistan
By KETAKI GOKHALE and PAUL BECKETT, Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2009

NEW DELHI -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is preparing to explain an agreement to improve relations with Pakistan after facing sustained political flak from his opponents -- and lukewarm support from his own party -- on the issue.

Mr. Singh is scheduled to address parliament Wednesday in a speech an official from his party said "will set at rest all questions, apprehensions and speculations relating to the India-Pakistan joint statement."

In the joint statement two weeks ago, Mr. Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani agreed to decouple discussions about terrorism from broader talks between the two countries on issues such as trade and travel.

That was a risky stance with an Indian public that has been particularly wary of its neighbor since November's attacks in Mumbai, in which over 160 people were killed by terrorists from Pakist…

Not a Victim, but a Hero

Not a Victim, but a Hero
New York Times, July 25, 2009

After being kidnapped at the age of 16 by a group of thugs and enduring a year of rapes and beatings, Assiya Rafiq was delivered to the police and thought her problems were over.

Then, she said, four police officers took turns raping her.

The next step for Assiya was obvious: She should commit suicide. That’s the customary escape in rural Pakistan for a raped woman, as the only way to cleanse the disgrace to her entire family.

Instead, Assiya summoned the unimaginable courage to go public and fight back. She is seeking to prosecute both her kidnappers and the police, despite threats against her and her younger sisters. This is a kid who left me awed and biting my lip; this isn’t a tale of victimization but of valor, empowerment and uncommon heroism.

“I decided to prosecute because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anybody else,” she said firmly.

Assiya’s case offers a window into the quotidian corruption a…

Afghans Want NATO Forces Out: World Public Opinion Poll

Global Poll Finds Widespread Belief that Afghans Want NATO Forces Out
WorldPublicOpinion.Org; July 23, 2009

A new poll of nations around the world finds that most publics polled believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave Afghanistan now. On average 53 percent have this belief, while 30 percent assume that most Afghans want NATO forces to stay.

Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay. Overall, on average, 37 percent think that NATO forces should remain in Afghanistan, while 50 percent think the mission should be ended now.

At the same time there is considerable concern about the possibility of the Taliban regaining power. In 18 of 20 nations polled most think that it would be bad if the Taliban were to regain power in Afghanistan, with an average of 61 percent say…

India Launches Nuclear Submarine: Consequences for Pakistan?

India Launches Nuclear Submarine
New York Times, July 26, 2009

NEW DELHI — India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine in a ceremony in southern port city of Vishakhapatnam on Sunday, becoming one of just six nations in the world to have successfully built one.

After years of relying on rented Russian submarines, the government unveiled the 367-foot Arihant, which means “destroyer of enemies” in Hindi. The new vessel is part of a broad effort by the Indian government to create a military that matches India’s rising global stature.

Indian military officials said the submarine would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, however Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the ceremony, said that the it was not built to threaten India’s neighbors.

“We do not have any aggressive designs,” he said. “We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems.”

India first tested a nuclear bomb in 1974, bu…

Who is responsible for the mess in Pakistan?

Architects of our own fate
the News, July 27, 2009
Zafar Hilaly

It has become almost a fad to decry the absence of good governance and lay the blame at the doorstep of civil servants, politicians, “key stakeholders,” a euphemism for generals, and others. However what few shed light on is why they have failed so often and so regularly.

The failure is one of society as a whole. In other words, failure taints the rich and the poor alike, the educated and the illiterate, the political activist as much as the silent majority. It is a comprehensive failure of a life credo and a value system; of a work ethic and mores that we, as a society, rather than merely individuals, have crafted and by default adopted. This credo/value system to which most subscribe is threatening to convert Pakistan to a failed state.

Some deny this and say that it is more in the nature of a systemic failure. The dysfuctionality of the system itself is the fault of the credo and values that society has adopted. A good or…

Tales From Rural Pakistan

Tales From Rural Pakistan, Lived and Shared
New York Times, July 24, 2009

IN the steamy heat of central Pakistan, a novelist is writing. He describes a hidden world of servants and their feudal masters, the powerlessness of poverty and the corruption that glues it all together.

These lives, tucked away in the mango groves, grand estates and mud-walled villages of rural Pakistan, are rarely seen by outsiders. But the writer, Daniyal Mueenuddin, a Pakistani-American who lives here, has brought them into focus in a collection of short stories, “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders,” published this year.

They are intimate portraits that raise some of the biggest questions in Pakistan today. Why does a small elite still control vast swaths of land more than 60 years after Pakistan became a nation? How long will landlords continue to control the law and the lives of the peasants on their land in the same way British rulers did before them?

Mr. Mueenuddin, 46, offe…

Pakistan Objects to U.S. Plan for Afghan War: NYT

Pakistan Objects to U.S. Plan for Afghan War
New york Times, July 21, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is objecting to expanded American combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan, creating new fissures in the alliance with Washington at a critical juncture when thousands of new American forces are arriving in the region.

Pakistani officials have told the Obama administration that the Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will force militants across the border into Pakistan, with the potential to further inflame the troubled province of Baluchistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Pakistan does not have enough troops to deploy to Baluchistan to take on the Taliban without denuding its border with its archenemy, India, the officials said. Dialogue with the Taliban, not more fighting, is in Pakistan’s national interest, they said.

The Pakistani account made clear that even as the United States recommits troops and other re…

Police Reforms in Pakistan: PIPS Event in Islamabad

PIPS Events
Cooperation between Law Enforcement Agencies Can Make Counter-terrorism Strategies Effective
Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, July 23, 2009

“Efforts and strategies to counter insurgency and terrorism can be successful only when the local police and other law enforcement agencies will cooperate,” said Hassan Abbas, author of Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism, addressing a seminar on “Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Need for Police Reforms” on July 23, 2009 organized by the Pak Institute for peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad at its premises.

Many of the police officers in Pakistan say that they have lack of infrastructure, motivation and resources. He said that military actions are failed to counter insurgency and terrorism always because primarily it is a task of law enforcement agencies and local police to file a case and monitor the suspected individuals’ activities. When these forces are sure that one is involved in a crime then the action should be taken.

For complete report, c…

Afghanistan Theatre: A war that cannot be won or lost

A war that cannot be won or lost By Irfan Husain
Dawn, 25 Jul, 2009

We should be careful of what we wish for. For years now, there has been a chorus from the right as well as the left in Pakistan, calling for foreign troops to pull out of Afghanistan.

There are indications that they might get their wish before too long.Although July is still not behind us, Britain has already lost 19 soldiers killed in combat, while 150 have sustained serious injuries in this month alone. The war in Afghanistan has already lasted longer than the Second World War, and has cost the British government £5.6bn. And the military still cannot give any timeframe for the duration of the campaign.

No wonder, then, that ordinary people are growing weary of the conflict, especially in the wake of the recent spike in casualties. These days, it’s hard to pick up a newspaper, watch a TV chat show, or listen to a newscast without some criticism of the government’s conduct of the war. In a recent poll, the majority of…

Waziristan and after

Waziristan and after
The News, July 20, 2009
By Asad Munir
The writer is a former brigadier who served as chief of the Military Intelligence and the ISI for NWFP, FATA and the Northern Areas.

The armed forces are all set to start an operation in South Waziristan, the stronghold of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other foreign militants.

In 2002, the agency served as the headquarters of Al Qaeda with Hadi Al Iraqi as the operational commander. Abu Laith Al Libi was the commander in North Waziristan, with headquarters in Norak. In South Waziristan, three different groups were operating, Arabs, a mix of Libyans and Algerians, other Africans and Central Asians. The Ahmedzai Wazirs initially provided them shelter in Wana and surrounding areas, while subsequently they moved to Mehsud territory. Their strength kept on increasing in South Waziristan.

Initially the militant stayed in groups of 30 to 35 in compounds provided by local Wazirs, but after an operation in June 2002, they preferred to stay i…

Pakistan’s Emerging Counterinsurgency Strategy

Lions and Jackals
Pakistan’s Emerging Counterinsurgency Strategy Haider Ali Hussein Mullick
Foreign Affairs, July 15, 2009

Summary -- The Pakistani military's new counterinsurgency strategy is propelling it to victory against the Taliban. But to consolidate its gains, Pakistan will need international support.

HAIDER ALI HUSSEIN MULLICK is Senior Fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University, Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and the author of the forthcoming book Pakistan’s Security Paradox: Countering and Fomenting Insurgencies.

Two months ago, the Taliban were 60 miles from the capital of nuclear-armed Pakistan. Four weeks later, the Pakistani military, using helicopter gunships, fighter jets, and special forces, destroyed Taliban strongholds, pushing them north -- and nearly three million refugees south -- out of the Swat Valley. Behind the operation's success lies a new hybrid counterinsurgency strategy that is emerging in Pakistan …

Pakistan's Swat Refugees - Riz Khan Show - Aljazeera TV

Pakistan's Swat Refugees - Riz Khan Show, Aljazeera TV - July 15, 2009

For Part II, click here

Pakistan witnessed its largest population movement since independence as residents of the Swat Valley fled their homes amidst fighting between Pakistan's military and the Taliban.

Claiming that the area is now free of Taliban forces, Pakistan's government has begun the process of resettling the more than two million refugees from Swat.

But what are they returning to and is it really safe?

On Wednesday's Riz Khan, we take a look at Pakistan's fight against the Taliban and ask: What is in store for those returning to the Swat Valley?

Hassan Abbas, author of Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror, joins the programme from Islamabad. Abbas previously served in the administrations of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf.

We will also be joined in New York by Kristele Younes, an advocate for Refugees International who was rec…

The faded roadmap to India-Pakistan peace

The faded roadmap to India-Pakistan peace
Dawn, July 20, 2009

LONDON: India and Pakistan may have begun talking to each other again but as yet there is no clear vision on where those talks might lead.

As a result many analysts are looking to a roadmap agreed in secret two years ago — and which only really came to light this year — as probably the best model around for a peace deal.

‘It's a good deal for Pakistan, for India, for the Kashmiris,’ said Bruce Riedel, who led a review of strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan for President Barack Obama.

Negotiated by advisers to former president Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the accord made an ambitious attempt to lay out a framework for peace in Kashmir, which has been divided between the two countries since independence.

While there was to be no exchange of territory, borders were to be made irrelevant by encouraging the movement of people and trade across the Line of Control which divides Kashmir.

At the same time, a joi…

Pakistan Police - Performance?

Police not ‘people-friendly’ despite official claims
* Many officials suspended for misconduct in last week
By Rana Tanveer, Daily Times, July 20, 2009

LAHORE: Despite claims by senior police officials of making the Police Department people-friendly and free of corruption, policemen continue to demand illegal gratification from the citizens during checking at the pickets and in the police stations, incidents in the last week indicate.

Punjab Inspector General (IG) Tariq Saleem Dogar and Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Parvaiz Rathore have time and again directed police officials to seek people’s cooperation in uprooting terrorism from the society. The IG and the CCPO have also issued several statements claiming that no corrupt official would be tolerated in the department.

The police have installed pickets on almost all roads of the city. Some policemen on motorcycles — some of these non-officials and without even number plates — were observed bothering motorists by stopping them at dif…

NATO gets its supply route from Russia: What it means for Pakistan?

Editorial: NATO gets its supply route from Russia
Daily Times, July 8, 2009

The summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev at the Kremlin on Monday has produced an agreement that will let the NATO-US forces fly their troops and weapons across Russian territory. The agreement allows 4,500 US military flights annually over Russia “at no extra charge”. A White House announcement stated: “This agreement will enable the United States to further diversify the crucial transportation routes used to move troops and critical equipment to re-supply international forces in Afghanistan”.

The joint statement issued after the summit had the following comment bearing on the situation in Afghanistan: “The two countries will work together to help stabilise Afghanistan, including increasing assistance to the Afghan army and police, and training counter-narcotics personnel. They will work together with the international community for the upcoming Afghan elections and they will help Afghanist…

Unrest in China's Xinjiang between Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese

As Unrest Spreads, Chinese President Skips Summit
Clashes Continue in Western City Amid Crackdown
By Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post, July 8, 2009

URUMQI, China, July 8 -- Chinese President Hu Jintao canceled plans to attend a major summit in Italy and flew home early Wednesday after reports that chaos and panic had spread throughout the capital of China's far western region of Xinjiang.

Since clashes erupted Sunday between the region's Muslim Uighur minority and the dominant Han Chinese, leaving more than 150 dead, the government has deployed police and paramilitary troops, closed mosques, instituted a curfew and rounded up at least 1,400 people. Hu's withdrawal from the Group of Eight summit, reported by state media, signaled his government's growing concern about the unrest that continued to flare across this city.

Early Tuesday morning, a group of several hundred Uighur protesters, most of them women in head scarves, gathered to demand that their detained husband…

Asia's Hour by Jamie F Metzl

VIEW: Asia’s hour? — Jamie F Metzl
Daily Times, July 2, 2009

Despite the growing promise of a multi-polar world with Asian powers playing a greater role in addressing global challenges and sharing leadership with a weary US, that world does not yet exist

As Asia emerges from the global economic crisis faster than the rest of the world, it is increasingly clear that the world’s centre of gravity is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is equally clear that Asian states are not yet ready to assume the more meaningful leadership in global affairs that will be necessary to ensure that this tectonic shift can make the world more stable and secure than it has been. Asian states have a tremendous opportunity to rise to this challenge.

The signs of Asia’s rise are unmistakable. Over the past five years, China’s contribution to world GDP growth has steadily increased from one-fifth to one-third, and India’s from approximately 6 percent to 16 percent. Given their growing footprints on glob…

Pakistani Public Turns Against Taliban

Pakistani Public Turns Against Taliban, But Still Negative on US; July 1, 2009

Most Pakistanis now see the Pakistani Taliban as well as al Qaeda as a critical threat to the country--a major shift from 18 months ago--and support the government and army in their fight in the Swat Valley against the Pakistani Taliban. An overwhelming majority think that Taliban groups who seek to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan.

However, this does not bring with it a shift in attitudes toward the US. A large majority continue to have an unfavorable view of the US government. Almost two-thirds say they do not have confidence in Obama. An overwhelming majority opposes US drone attacks in Pakistan.

These are some of the results of a new poll conducted May 17-28, 2009. The nationwide random sample included 1000 Pakistani adults, selected using multi-stage probability sampling, who responded in face-to-face interviews.…

Pakistan Fights, Congress Sleeps: WSJ

Pakistan Fights, Congress Sleeps
Democrats slow-roll aid to an ally.
Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2009

More now than ever, Pakistan is acting as if it is committed to fighting the Taliban. The military in recent days has expanded a high-stakes offensive along the Afghan border, while the government enjoys wide public support, even as casualties and refugees mount.

So naturally, the U.S. Congress is finding a way not to help. An aid package has hit repeated hurdles on Capitol Hill, while U.S. allies shortchange Pakistan on humanitarian assistance for the people displaced by the fighting. This is myopic and dangerous. If Pakistan fails to defeat the Islamist insurgency, the consequences will resonate far and wide, in the worst case with al Qaeda getting Pakistan's nuclear stockpile.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration prodded, pleaded and shamed Pakistan to fight. Passive acceptance of Taliban gains turned into the current counteroffensive. The military has since taken back the S…

Investigating Kargil

Investigating Kargil
The News, July 02, 2009
Taj M Khattak
The writer is a retired vice-admiral and former vice-chief of the Naval Staff, Pakistan Navy.

'What have you done, my friend, Nawaz Sharif?' was how, as narrated in Bill Clinton's memoirs My Life, the Clinton-Nawaz discourse began soon after the photo-op at the steps of the White House on July 4, 1999. Nawaz Sharif had embarked on that fateful sojourn a little over ten years ago for a face-saving climb-down from Kargil. It triggered politico-military consequences for the country and within a span of another three months, Sharif was overthrown, and the country is still reeling from its effects. Musharraf's unceremonious exit after a rule of nearly nine years has made little or no difference at all.

During much of the eight week period preceding the July 4 meeting in Washington, we had looked helplessly at TV images of pinpoint artillery shoots and resultant instant pulverization of some of the nation's bravest …

Changes needed in US bills for Pakistan

Changes needed in bills By Ahmer Bilal Soofi
Dawn, 01 Jul, 2009

The Kerry-Lugar and Berman bills are being moved simultaneously in the Senate and House of Representatives. A joint committee of legislators from both the houses shall then sit and merge them to enact what is likely to be called a PEACE Act through which Pakistan shall be given an annual aid package.

Both these bills contain several conditions as a prerequisite for aid to Pakistan. However, the text of both bills leave out certain necessary provisions that are expected in a country-specific legislation of this nature. Here I intend to collectively review the text of both bills and also propose the inclusion of certain issues.

The draft law that would be eventually adopted after merging the Kerry Lugar and Berman bills must contain a provision to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan. Right now such a statement is missing. The US government needs to recognise the territorial integrity and political independence of Pakistan. Th…

Women in Fata find a voice

Women in Fata find a voice By Huma Yusuf
Dawn, 30 Jun, 2009

PESHAWAR: In a small recording studio in Peshawar, Asma rushes around with a minidisc recorder. She has to finish editing a news bulletin and make it back to her home in Nowshera before it gets dark. ‘If I don’t get the bulletin done in time for this evening’s show, the station won’t let me continue as a radio journalist,’ she says. ‘But if I don’t get home on time, then my parents won’t let me continue working either.’

Asma is one of 15 reporters for Radio Khyber, a Jamrud-based FM radio station, and one of the few legal media outlets in Pakistan’s tribal belt. The station, which is supported by the Fata Secretariat, aims to counter the extremist, pro-jihad and anti-West programming that is typical of dozens of illegal radio stations run by hard-line clerics throughout the tribal agencies.

The station’s programming is notable – listeners enjoy a mix of infotainment shows, call-in talk shows, development-oriented programmes th…