Showing posts from September, 2009

India-Pakistan Peace Process in the Doldrums

India and Pakistan Fail to Restart Negotiations
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times, September 28, 2009

UNITED NATIONS — An attempt by India and Pakistan to agree on resuming either open or back-channel negotiations over the full range of their differences stalled on Sunday, stuck once more by the fallout from the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai by Pakistani militants.

After meeting for nearly two hours on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Shah Mahmood Qureshi of Pakistan and S. M. Krishna of India, said both sides endorsed the idea of resuming negotiations but failed to concur on a timetable.

India, without making it an outright condition that resuming talks depended on Pakistan’s prosecuting of those responsible for the Mumbai attacks, made clear that substantial progress would be required before negotiations could restart, said Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, the No. 2 in the ministry.

“It has not been spelle…

Terror’s Training Ground By Ayesha Siddiqa

Terror’s Training Ground
By Ayesha Siddiqa, Newsline, September 2009

A few years ago, I met some young boys from my village near Bahawalpur who were preparing to go on jihad. They smirked politely when I asked them to close their eyes and imagine their future. “We can tell you without closing our eyes that we don’t see anything.”

It was not entirely surprising. South Punjab is a region mired in poverty and underdevelopment. There are few job prospects for the youth. While the government has built airports and a few hospitals, these projects are symbolic and barely meet the needs of the area. It’s in areas like this, amid economic stagnation and hopelessness, that religious extremists find fertile ground to plant and spread their ideology.

The first step is recruitment – and the methodology is straightforward. Young children, or even men, are taken to madrassas in nearby towns. They are fed well and kept in living conditions considerably better than what they are used to. This is a simple…

Statement from Co-Chairs of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Summit in New York



The Friends of Democratic Pakistan, established as a forum in September 2008, held its first Summit in New York City on September 24, 2009, under the co-chairmanship of President Barack Obama, President Asif Ali Zardari, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Also attending were twelve Heads-of Government and senior representatives of nine countries and five multilateral institutions.

1. The Summit Leaders congratulated the people of Pakistan for achieving significant progress in the democratic transformation of their country, and recognized the great significance of democracy to the stability of Pakistan, the region and the global community of nations. They recognized that democracy must be enabled to deliver on the promise of a new hope and for realizing the aspirations of the people for prosperity and peace.

2. Reflecting on the positive Ministerial and senior officials meetings of the Group of…

Obama’s AfPak metrics miss the mark on Pakistan

Obama’s AfPak metrics miss the mark on Pakistan
By Hassan Abbas, AfPak Channel at FP, September 21, 2009

The draft metrics devised by the Obama administration to evaluate progress in the AfPak theater, while providing a useful list of issues to follow, analyze and gauge the developing situation in Afghanistan, leaves much to be desired in its treatment of the Pakistan side of things. The informed and constructive analysis of said metrics by Steve Coll and Katherine Tiedemann in this forum are must reads to understand the context of this discussion. I almost entirely agree with their assessments but believe that a few additional lacunas in the document must be addressed. Of course, not having access to the ‘classified annex' (regarding Objective 1: disruption and degradation of terrorist networks and their capability in Afghanistan and Pakistan) limits one's ability to grade the overall effort (if you may)!

It is quite striking that framers of the metrics have avoided the merest m…

Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan - New Revelations

Investigation: Nuclear scandal - Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan
The Pakistani scientist who passed nuclear secrets to the world’s rogue states has been muzzled by his government. In a smuggled letter, AQ Khan reveals his side of the story
Simon Henderson, Times online, September 20, 2009

It could be a scene from a film. On a winter’s evening, around 8pm, in a quiet suburban street in Amsterdam, a group of cars draw up. Agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, accompanied by uniformed police, ring the bell and knock on the door of one of the houses. The occupants, an elderly couple and their unmarried daughter, are slow to come to the door. The bell-ringing becomes more insistent, the knocks sharper. When the door opens, the agents request entry but are clearly not going to take no for an answer.

The year was 2004. The raid went unreported but was part of the worldwide sweep against associates of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist and “father of the Islamic bomb”, who had just…

American Rose fights for Pakistani husband: Dawn

American Rose fights for Pakistani husband By Salman Siddiqui
Dawn, 17 Sep, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Rose, a 32-year-old American woman in Islamabad, is seeking justice for her Pakistani husband, Hasan, who claims that he was detained and tortured by officials of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before being deported in 2006.

The couple, who have asked that their last names be withheld for security reasons, is currently appealing to the US embassy in Islamabad to review their case so that the family can be repatriated to the US, where Hasan was a legal resident since 2003. They have not filed a lawsuit against Hasan’s detention in the US civilian courts as they cannot afford legal counsel. However, a motion on Hasan’s behalf has been filed in the International Criminal Court by a Florida-based human rights’ campaigner.

Although Hasan has been back in Pakistan since 2006 – Rose and the couple’s two children followed in 2008 – the couple chose not to pursue Hasan’s case e…

The Real Issues in Pakistan

The real issues
Dawn Editorial, 18 Sep, 2009

PEOPLE are dying queuing for grain in Pakistan. This is a country where food inflation is forcing parents to pull their children out of school – they can eat sparsely or be educated, not both. Lives are being lost to ailments that are easily curable. Street crime is rampant across a country where human life is worth less than a cellphone. Yet our political leaders appear oblivious to the misery that is everywhere. They seem to have no perspective, no grip on reality. Does a man who can’t feed his children really care whether or not Pervez Musharraf is tried for treason? Is a mother whose child has died of gastroenteritis likely to give much thought to America’s military presence in the region? Will a jobless person be impressed by the president’s much-touted ‘achievements’ during his first year in office? Our leaders have clearly lost sight of the core issues.

This is a country where religious minorities are targeted by Muslim mobs while th…

Growing questions on death of Benazir Bhutto: New Revelation

Growing questions on death of Benazir Bhutto
Bruce Loudon, The Australian, September 19, 2009

UNITED Nations investigators are preparing to question former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, amid mounting doubts over official versions of how she died and claims of a cover-up.

The Weekend Australian Magazine reveals today evidence that a bullet - probably sniper fire from a high-velocity rifle - killed the former prime minister.

The Musharraf regime said a "bump on the head" resulting from a Taliban or al-Qa'ida suicide bomber killed Bhutto on December 27, 2007, shortly before an election she was expected to win.

This evidence contradicts the regime's claim that the murder was the work of the Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US unmanned drone attack.

There is no history of the militants using sniper fire - or even regular gunfire - in any of the hundreds of suicide attacks they have mounted in Pak…

Nawaz Sharif - Osama Bin Laden Links?

‘Nawaz Sharif was ready to join hands with Musharraf League to block Zardari’s presidential election’
Amir Mir, M E Transparent, Thursday 10 September 2009

LAHORE: In a desperate bid to obstruct Asif Ali Zardari’s election as the President of Pakistan, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had gone to the extent of agreeing to join hands with the Musharraf-backed Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) to field a joint presidential candidate. However, the plan could not get through despite several meetings between the leadership of the two Leagues, mainly due to Nawaz Sharif’s indecisiveness, says Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) officer who had been close to Osama bin Laden and who himself claims to be a part of the “stop Zardari plan”.

Khalid Khawaja, a retired squadron leader of the Pakistan Air Force, who currently runs a non-government organisation with the name of Defence for Human Rights, has claimed in a recent interview that Nawaz Sharif had been seeing Osa…

The Road to Corruption in Pakistan...

The road to corruption? By Zubeida Mustafa
Dawn, 16 Sep, 2009

For many decades governments in Pakistan considered it a waste of resources to invest in education.

This was such a neglected sector that those aspiring to a ministerial portfolio generally shunned the offer to head the education ministry. Then the scene changed when foreign donors demanded that we educate our children.

The education sector turned lucrative as billions began to flow in from abroad. Fabulous projects were designed and education became the fashion. This new interest in education was on two counts.

First, as one of the largest employers in the country this sector provided openings for jobs. According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2008-09, the country has over 1.3 million teachers at all levels — an increase of 7.6 per cent per annum over the last decade. This is in addition to the substantial non-teaching staff in the administration. With the political advantage that control over jobs offers, the education secto…

Review of Two Important Books on Pakistan and Afghanistan - By Ahmed Rashid

The Afghanistan Impasse
By Ahmed Rashid, New york Review of Books
Volume 56, Number 15 · October 8, 2009

To Live or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan
by Nicholas Schmidle
Henry Holt, 254 pp., $25.00

Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda
by Gretchen Peters
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, 300 pp., $25.95

On August 5, Baitullah Mehsud, the all-powerful and utterly ruthless commander of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in a US missile strike in South Waziristan. At the time of the strike, he was undergoing intravenous treatment for a kidney ailment, and was lying on the roof of his father-in-law's house with his young second wife. At about one o'clock that morning, a missile fired by an unmanned CIA drone tore through the house, splitting his body in two and killing his wife, her parents, and seven bodyguards.

His death marked the first major breakthrough in the war against extremist leaders in Pakistan since 2003, when several top al-Qaeda me…

Resolving the Afghanistan Quagmire

Afghanistan’s Other Front
By JOSEPH KEARNS GOODWIN, New York Times, September 16, 2009

ALLEGATIONS of ballot-stuffing in the presidential election in Afghanistan last month are now so widespread that a recount is necessary, and perhaps even a runoff. Yet this electoral chicanery pales in comparison to the systemic, day-to-day corruption within the administration of President Hamid Karzai, who has claimed victory in the election. Without a concerted campaign to fight this pervasive venality, all our efforts there, including the sending of additional troops, will be in vain.

I have just returned from Afghanistan, where I spent seven months as a special adviser to NATO’s director of communications. On listening tours across the country, we left behind the official procession of armored S.U.V.’s, bristling guns and imposing flak jackets that too often encumber coalition forces when they arrive in local villages. Dressed in civilian clothes and driven in ordinary cars, we were able to move ar…

Links Between Sri Lankan LTTE and Pakistani Militant Groups

‘LTTE had links with jihadi groups’ By Frances Bulathsinghala
Dawn, 14 Sep, 2009

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan experts on terrorism have said that the LTTE maintained a front company in Karachi to arrange arms smuggling and a safe house in Peshawar for contacts with Taliban.

According to Shanaka Jayasekara, who carried out research on terrorism at the Macquarie University of Australia, LTTE’s arms procurer Selvarasa Pathmanathan alias KP travelled from Bangkok to Kabul via Karachi on May 19, 2001, and met Taliban leaders to discuss matters relating to the so-called ‘Sharjah network’, an arms supply line run by the Russian dealer Victor Bout who operated three to four flights a day to Kabul to transport weapons.

Lakbima News online quotes Mr Jayasekara as saying that the LTTE operated a cargo company in Dubai, 17kms from the offices of the Sharjah network.

The company named ‘Otharad Cargo’ was headed by Daya, younger brother of Nithi, a Canada-based member of LTTE’s arms procurement unit under K…

Who's coming to Clinton's Iftar dinner?

Who's coming to Clinton's Iftar dinner?
Laura Rozen, Politico, September 15, 2009
Who's coming to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Iftar dinner tonight at the State Department?

At quick glance of the 10-page guest list: the ambassadors of Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Sweden, France, Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Albania, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Uganda, Chad, Senegal, Cameroon, Gabon, Guinae, and Madagascar, Al Arabiya's Hisham Melham, Al Jazeera's English language bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, Al Hayat's Joyce Karam, Pakistani GeoTv's Khamran Khan, Harvard's Hassan Abbas, and other academics, the Islamic Institute of Boston's Talal Eid, assistant secretaries of state Robert Blake, Jeff Feltman, Johnnie Carson, Kurt Campbell, AfPak envoy Richard Holbroo…

Inside Afghanistan...

Official Says Contractor in Kabul May Be Ousted
By GINGER THOMPSON, New York Times, September 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — The State Department official responsible for overseeing private contracts said Monday that the government was seriously considering terminating its $189 million arrangement with ArmorGroup North America because of recent disclosures of misbehavior by guards at the United States Embassy in Afghanistan.

At a hearing before a federal commission investigating wartime spending, Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, said ArmorGroup managers had failed to notify the government about parties in which drunken, half-naked guards had urinated on and groped one another.

In response to commission members’ demands that the company be held accountable, Mr. Kennedy said, “We are seeing a very, very serious case being made for termination.”

Mr. Kennedy spoke at a hearing of the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan that was scheduled…

Musharraf quit as part of negotiated settlement: Zardari

Musharraf quit as part of negotiated settlement: Zardari
* Int’l, local stakeholders acted as guarantors
* President hoped Musharraf would ‘play golf’
* Wants Asma to head truth commission

By Sajjad Malik, Daily Times, September 14, 2009

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari on Monday disclosed for the first time that his predecessor General (r) Pervez Musharraf had resigned as part of a negotiated settlement guaranteed by “international and local” stakeholders.

“All international and local powers, which have stakes in the region, were guarantors of General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s negotiated resignation,” the president told journalists at an iftar-dinner he hosted for them.

Though the president did not say much on the issue, he tacitly conceded that Musharraf could not be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution as was being demanded by some opposition parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). “I had been hoping that he (Musharraf) would play golf.”

When a journalist asked w…

Saudi Charity Links with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

Saudi charity funds al-Qaeda linked Pak terror outfits
The News, September 14, 2009
News Desk

ISLAMABAD: A Saudi Arabian charity believed to be a front for al-Qaeda has provided USD 15 million (55 million dirhams) to extremist groups in Pakistan for carrying out terror attacks, according to a secret report prepared by Pakistani police.

A major chunk of the funds provided by the Al-Haramain Foundation went to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, said the report prepared by the Crime Investigation Department.

The Al-Haramain Foundation has been banned by the UN Security Council for its links to al-Qaeda. According to the CID report, Hakimullah Mehsud, the successor to slain Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud, has vowed to avenge his killing in a US drone attack in August.

“The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is likely to strike major cities of the Punjab,” said the report.The report further said: “The joint plans of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan are to target Shias.…

Explaining 9/11 to a Muslim Child

Explaining 9/11 to a Muslim Child
By Moina Noor, The New York Times Magazine, September 11, 2009

Recently on the morning drive to school my 8-year-old son asked me a question I’ve been dreading since he was a baby, “Mom, what happened on 9/11?”

Mass murder is impossible to explain to yourself, let alone a child. But how do I, as a parent, explain the slaughter of innocent people in the name of a religion that I am trying to pass on to my boy?

Bilal was just 8 months old when September 11 happened. He was just starting to crawl and put everything in sight into his mouth, and I remember having to peel my gaze away from the television screen and remind myself to keep a watchful eye on where he lay nearby.

After Bilal was born I viewed everything — especially current events — through the lens of parenthood. I knew the world had changed irreparably on 9/11, and while I mourned the innocent and raged against my crazy coreligionists, my nagging anxiety was for my son.

Even in those early surrea…

Watandost Blog in News

Watandost blog creator ultimate fixer?
Staff Report,, September 9, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY: An American student who has won a scholarship competition for her essay about Pakistan has named Watandost blog founder Dr Hassan Abbas as the person who could come up with an achievable solution to the Pak-Afghan problem.

Kelsey Price wrote about the region in Pakistan that borders Afghanistan and the problems it poses for a successful relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. She will use the $1,000 award on tuition at the University of Utah.

The Our Voice Our County contest encouraged entrants to identify an urgent national problem and propose solutions or nominate experts to help address the problem.

She nominated Dr. Hassan Abbas as a problem solver who could come up with an achievable solution. Abbas is now a Bernard Schwartz fellow at the Asia Society in New York.

For complete article, click here

U.of U. freshman's Pakistan proposal earns national prize - The Salt Lake Trib…

More Americans empathizing with Muslims

More Americans empathizing with Muslims
A change in attitude towards Islam and Muslims in America is undoubtedly the result of more American Muslims making the effort to reach out to their neighbors and explaining away the misunderstandings about their faith.
By Parvez Ahmed, September 11, 2009,

Eight years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the latest survey from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press shows an unmistakable trend of Americans slowly but surely beginning to appreciate the challenges and aspirations of its fellow Muslim citizenry. Perhaps this trend is a result of nearly half of Americans saying that they personally know someone who is a Muslim. The fact that so many Americans profess knowing a Muslim is surprising given the fact that American Muslims makeup fewer than 2 percent of the overall U.S. population. The latest Pew poll shows the percentage of Americans who view Islam to be a violent religion is at its lowest level in recen…

Latest in Counter-insurgency Campaign in Pakistan

Thousands flee new Pakistan anti-militant push
(AFP) – September 7, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Thousands of civilians have fled a fresh military bombardment against Islamist rebels in northwest Pakistan, officials said Monday, as dozens of militants were reported dead in the push.

Fighter jets and helicopter gunships began strafing suspected militant hideouts in the fabled Khyber district bordering Afghanistan about a week ago, sparking an exodus of civilians who fear being caught in the crossfire.

"Thousands have fled the military operation in Khyber. Around 30,000 people have arrived in Peshawar since yesterday," said Sahibzada Mohammad Anis, administrative chief in the northwest capital Peshawar.

Khyber local government chief Tariq Hayat also told AFP that as many as 30,000 civilians had left when a military curfew was relaxed on Sunday.

"More than 30,000 people have arrived in Peshawar so far. More are coming today (Monday) as the curfew was lifted again," he said.


Healthcare in Pakistan

SIUT is a philosophy of life, says Dr Rizvi
* Says SIUT operates free of cost on 3 patients daily and on every organ transplant Rs 200,000 are spent
By Amar Guriro, Daily Times, September 8, 2009

KARACHI: Pakistan's leading organ plantation expert and founder of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) Dr Adib Rizvi has said that SIUT is not just a building but a philosophy of life.

"Healthcare is the fundamental right of every newborn and not charity," said Dr Rizvi. "The difference should be clear and not like the education sector where blue and yellow schools are separate, which is not fair."

A doctor is a friend of the patient and should guide him till he gets well.

"A doctor's duty is not limited to diagnose the disease and prescribe the medication, but he or she must follow the patient in the treatment process, as everyone knows that majority of the patients in Pakistan are unable to buy medicines," he said.

Addressing an Iftar par…

The Demand for Pakistan and the Partition of India

“It is a mistake to equate the demand for Pakistan with the partition of India”
Ayesha Jalal, Pakistani historian and author of The Sole Spokesman, picks through the tangle of the Jinnah controversy with Shoma Chaudhury
By Shoma Chaudhury,, September 5, 2009

What strikes you, personally, as the sharpest irony of the Jinnah- Jaswant Singh controversy and its fallout in India?

What strikes me as most ironic is the extent to which the '''secular' Congress and the 'communal' BJP end up subscribing to the same common idioms of Indian nationalism when it comes to Pakistan and its most potent symbol, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Jinnah of the 1916 Lucknow Pact where Sarojini Naidu hailed him as the “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”; Jinnah of the 1940 Lahore Declaration and two-nation theory; Jinnah who wanted Pakistan to be a “laboratory of Islam”; the secular Jinnah of the August 11 1947 address. And the Jinnah of the personal domain: a Parsi wife, smoking, drinki…

Islam and Democracy Debate

In spite of Islam
Moataz-Bellah Abdel-Fattah explains to Gihan Shahine why democracy is severely lacking in Muslim-majority countries even though its principles are deeply-rooted in the basic tenets of Islam
Al-Ahram, 3 - 9 September 2009

As a firm believer in the benefits of democracy, Moataz-Bellah Abdel-Fattah attempts to find answers to the tough question of whether the attitude of ordinary, educated Muslims constitutes a barrier to the adoption of democracy. Abdel-Fattah is the author of eight books and several academic and journalistic articles in Arabic and English, but what is interesting about Democratic Values in the Muslim World -- and was probably the reason why the study was chosen as one of the most outstanding books in 2006 by Choice Academic Review -- is the fact that Abdel-Fattah allowed Muslims to speak for themselves rather than draw conclusions about them by equating all Muslims to "a group of extremists and anti-modernity radicals" who, according to Abdel-…

Assassination attempt on Pakistan's Religious Affairs Minister

Pakistan critic of attacks now victim of one
Zarar Khan, Associated Press
San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2009

Suspected militants opened fire on a vehicle carrying Pakistan's religious affairs minister Wednesday, wounding him and killing his driver in a brazen attack in the heart of the capital.

Hamid Saeed Kazmi had been critical of Muslim extremists blamed for scores of attacks in Pakistan over the last 21/2 years.

Fellow ministers said the Taliban were suspected in the shooting, which took place as police in Islamabad were on high alert amid fears of revenge attacks following the Aug. 5 killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in a CIA missile strike.

"We are not scared - we are not afraid of these cowardly acts," said Health Minister Ejaz Jhakrani.

The broad daylight ambush raised fresh fears for security in Pakistan's cities, in addition to the northwestern border areas where the military has battled al Qaeda-linked extremists.

Pakistan recently inte…

NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan - Consequences?

NATO Strike Magnifies Divide on Afghan War
New york times, September 4, 2009

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — A NATO airstrike on Friday exploded two fuel tankers that had been hijacked by the Taliban, setting off competing claims about how many among the scores of dead were civilians and raising questions about whether the strike violated tightened rules on the use of aerial bombardment.

Afghan officials said that up to 90 people were killed by the strike near Kunduz, a northern city where the trucks got stuck after militants tried to drive them across a river late Thursday night.

The strike came at a time of intense debate over the Afghan war in both the United States and Europe and after a heavily disputed election that has left Afghanistan tense and, at least temporarily, without credible leaders.

Though there seemed little doubt some of the dead were militants, it was unclear how many of the dead were civilians, and with anger at the foreign forces hi…

Helping Pakistan Defeat the Taliban: ISPU Report

Helping Pakistan Defeat the Taliban: A Joint Action Agenda for the United States & Pakistan
By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick, ISPU, August 2009


In late April 2009, taking full advantage of a failing state, the Pakistani Taliban were sixty miles away from the capital of nuclear-armed Pakistan. Pakistan had capitulated in the Swat Valley by granting carte blanche to the Taliban to exercise administrative and judicial control, thus placing even more territory under direct Taliban rule after Pakistan lost control of most of its tribal agencies abutting Afghanistan. Two months after an unprecedented military operation, however, Taliban forces were in retreat and more than 2.5 million denizens of the Swat valley were displaced. After five years of a failed counterinsurgency policy, the Pakistani military was finally willing to strengthen the “lessons learned loop” in its decision-making process. While this transformation is anything but complete, the civil-military complex in Islamaba…