Showing posts from March, 2010

Pakhtunkhwa or ‘Bengali Model’?

Pakhtunkhwa or ‘Bengali Model’, says Bilour

The News, March 30, 2010
By our correspondent

LAHORE: Railways Minister and a central leader of the Awami National Party, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour has said Bengalis chose to end their allegiance to Pakistan to get recognition and ìnow it is up to the politicians of the country whether they recognise the Pakhtuns by naming their province after them or go for the 'Bengali Model.'

Talking to media men at the Railway Headquarters on Monday, he said it was not only disturbing but disappointing to see such a hue and cry over a legitimate and reasonable demand. Bilour regretted the reservations expressed by Mian Nawaz Sharif over the issue, saying if he had any problem with the issue why he did not bring it up for discussion during at least 75 parliamentary committee meetings.

He said Nawaz Sharif had agreed to everything, but all of a sudden he was blessed by an unexplainable revelation dawning upon him that he had serious reservations over ren…

The changing politics of Nawaz Sharif - Amir Mateen of 'The News' looks at PML-N Politics

The changing politics of Nawaz Sharif
By Amir Mateen, The News, March 27, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s slip of the tongue about requesting the Taliban to spare the Punjab may have triggered graver concerns as to the inner thinking of the party supposedly in waiting to hold power in Islamabad. The changing style of Nawaz Sharif’s cult politics, the pointed-top organisational pyramid and his party’s ambivalent position on crucial issues like the growing religious militancy and terrorism, the security paradigm, economic revival, and stance towards the US, India and Afghanistan necessitates more explanations than are available from the second biggest party of Pakistan.

The PML-N offers a vague one-size-fits-all policy on most issues. The idea is to keep the mainstream swing voters in a flux and show the real teeth once the levers of power are in control. The same strategy is in practice within the party where nobody knows who is going to do what in a future power…

The Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan

GHQ winning like never before
By Farrukh Saleem, The News, March 29, 2010

ISLAMABAD: What is so strategic about the strategic dialogue? Not too long ago, the Pentagon tried to play with the GHQ’s India-centric national security paradigm. Finally, the GHQ won, the Pentagon had to give in. Not too long ago, the US State Department tried to pressurise the GHQ into submission to civilian executive. Finally, the GHQ won, the State Department lost out.

Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, now says, “How can you have a strategic dialogue without including the military?” The New York Times announced, “Army Chief driving Pakistan’s agenda for talks.” The Washington Post declared, “Gen Kayani is driving the nation’s agenda.” Reuter’s announced, “General Kayani in Washington: Pakistan’s most powerful man.”

Within Pakistan, the GHQ won Operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat, Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla and Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Wa…

At the Presidency: Tearful on Pakistan Day - By Adil Najam

At the Presidency: Tearful on Pakistan Day
Adil Najam, All Things Pakistan, March 25, 2010

On March 23 I was at the Presidency in Islamabad for the Pakistan Day Awards Ceremony.

This is usually a festive occasion full of pomp and ceremony and amongst the most elaborate state occasions of the year. The grandest room at the Presidency is all spruced up. There are starched military uniforms bedecked with chests full of shining medals (most of the awards handed out are always military awards). The President as well as the Prime Minister of the Republic preside over the proceedings. National power-brokers - political as well as bureaucratic - are all assembled. Everything is choreographed to convey a sense of pride.

This is how it should be. After all, it is the nation and the state honoring those who they choose to honor. In normal times this should be a day of pride and joy.

But these are not normal times. These tend to be tearful times. And so, too, was the ceremony this year. It was no…

The Constitutional Amendment Crisis in Pakistan: Changing colors of Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz isolated as reform committee stands its ground By Ahmad Hassan
Dawn, 27 Mar, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms rejected on Friday a proposal by Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss with the chief justice of Pakistan proposed amendment to the Constitution pertaining to appointment of superior court judges.

The 26-member panel recognised the renaming of the NWFP as the only matter pending for incorporation into the draft of the 18th amendment and put off its deliberations till Wednesday after the PML-N sought more time to settle the issue with the Awami National Party.

According to sources, the committee decided to take an initiative in this regard if the two parties failed to resolve the issue.

The chairman of the committee, Mian Raza Rabbani, expressed his determination to protect the constitutional reforms proposed by representatives of the people.

Haji Mohammad Adeel of the ANP lik…

Jaswant Singh Speaks about his book on Jinnah at Asia Society

Jaswant Singh on Jinnah - Asia Society

Leading Indian politician Jaswant Singh, formerly of BJP,  reassesses the events leading up to India's 1947 partition with Devesh Kapur and Steven I. Wilkinson at Asia Society on March 25, 2010.

To watch complete program, click here
BJP expels Jaswant Singh over Jinnah remarks - Times of India
Jaswant Singh Website

Pakistan’s War of Choice - NYT

Pakistan’s War of Choice
By MICHAEL E. O'HANLON, New York Times, March 23, 2010

WHAT are Americans to make of all the good news coming out of Pakistan in recent weeks?

First, the Afghan Taliban’s military chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested in a raid in February. Around the same time, several of the Taliban’s “shadow governors” who operate out of Pakistan were captured by Pakistani forces. Last week, the C.I.A. director, Leon Panetta, announced that thanks in large part to increased cooperation from Pakistan, drone strikes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are “seriously disrupting Al Qaeda,” and one killed the terrorist suspected of planning an attack on an American base in December that caused the deaths of seven Americans. Meanwhile, Pakistan has mounted major operations against its own extremists in places ranging from the Swat Valley in the north of the country to Bajaur on the Afghan border to South Waziristan further south. Yes, extremists continue to do g…

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed: 'Do I look like a terrorist?' - By Robert Fisk

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed: 'Do I look like a terrorist?'
The banned Islamist militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba has been branded 'the next al-Qa'ida'. In a remarkable encounter in the Pakistani city of Lahore, the group's founder tells Robert Fisk he runs a charity, not a feared network which has Western targets in its sights

Independent, UK, 26 March 2010

For America, the European Union and India, he is the most wanted man in Pakistan, the founder and leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the "Army of the Righteous", blamed for the mass killing of 188 civilians, 54 of them women and children, in Mumbai in 2008, for three assaults on Delhi, for the deaths of 211 civilians in a 2005 train bombing also in Mumbai, and last month's suicide attack on Indians in Kabul.

His "army" has been banned as a "terrorist organisation" by the US, the EU, the UN Security Council, Russia, India, Pakistan and Australia. But when Hafiz Muhammad Saeed walks into …

Walking With The Comrades By Arundhati Roy


Walking With The Comrades
Gandhians with a Gun? Arundhati Roy plunges into the sea of Gondi people to find some answers...
Arundhati Roy, Outlook India, Mar 29, 2010

The terse, typewritten note slipped under my door in a sealed envelope confirmed my appointment with India’s Gravest Internal Security Threat. I’d been waiting for months to hear from them. I had to be at the Ma Danteshwari mandir in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, at any of four given times on two given days. That was to take care of bad weather, punctures, blockades, transport strikes and sheer bad luck. The note said: “Writer should have camera, tika and coconut. Meeter will have cap, Hindi Outlook magazine and bananas. Password: Namashkar Guruji.”

Namashkar Guruji. I wondered whether the Meeter and Greeter would be expecting a man. And whether I should get myself a moustache.

There are many ways to describe Dantewada. It’s an oxymoron. It’s a border town smack in the heart of India. It’s the epicentre of a war. It’s a…

Reinventing Pakistan By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Reinventing Pakistan By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Dawn, 23 Mar, 2010

PAKISTAN is not a nation although it has been a state since 1947. Missing is a strong common identity, mental makeup, shared sense of history and common goals. The failure to effectively integrate flows from inequalities of wealth and opportunity, absence of effective democracy and a dysfunctional legal system.

Notwithstanding the recent outburst of Punjab’s chief minister, most Punjabis think of themselves as Pakistani first and Punjabi second. But not the Baloch or Sindhis. Schools in Balochistan refuse to hoist Pakistan’s flag or sing its national anthem, Sindhis accuse Punjabis of stealing their water, the MQM runs Karachi on strictly ethnic grounds, Pakhtuns adamantly want the NWFP renamed Pakhtunkhwa against the wishes of other residents, caste and sect matter more than competence in getting a job and ethnic student groups wage pitched battles against each other on campuses.

Pakistan’s genesis explains the disunity. …

"Man Versus Afghanistan" - Robert Kaplan in Atlantic Monthly

Man Versus Afghanistan

Divided by geography, cursed by corruption, stunted by poverty, staggered by a growing insurgency—Afghanistan seems beyond salvation. Is it? From Somalia and the Balkans to Iraq, the U.S. military has been embroiled in conflicts that reflect an age-old debate: Can individual agency triumph over deep-seated historical, cultural, ethnic, and economic forces? Drawing on his experiences in Iraq, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, has his own answer to that question.

By Robert D. Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly, April 2010

We were there to fight, to do PT, to eat, to sleep, then to fight again. There was no big-screen TV or other diversion in the barracks. It was a world of concrete, plywood, and gun oil, and it was absolutely intoxicating in its intensity and unlike anything that existed in the British military.” So recollected retired Lieutenant Colonel Richard Williams of the elite British Special Air Service, concerning the worst da…

U.S. Sees Hope in Pakistan Requests for Help

U.S. Sees Hope in Pakistan Requests for Help

In Document, Islamabad Seeks Military and Civil Aid from Washington; Perceived as Exchange for Crackdown on Taliban
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG And PETER SPIEGEL, Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2010

Pakistan sent a 56-page document to the U.S. ahead of strategic talks scheduled for Wednesday, seeking expanded military and economic aid in what some American officials believe is an implicit offer to crack down in return on the Afghan Taliban.

The previously undisclosed document includes requests ranging from U.S. help to alleviate Pakistan's chronic water and power shortages to pleas for surveillance aircraft and support in developing the country's civilian nuclear program.

U.S. officials say the document and the talks surrounding it could help redefine one of America's thorniest foreign-policy relationships, if it leads to a serious Pakistani clampdown on the Taliban.

The Taliban uses Pakistan, a U.S. ally, as its rear base in its figh…

Miliband: time to push for Afghan settlement

Worldly Boston
Miliband: time to push for Afghan settlement
James F. Smith, Boston Globe, March 10, 2010

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told an audience at MIT today that the government of Afghanistan should launch a push for a broad political settlement with Afghan rebel leaders to take advantage of the momentum generated in recent months by the US and British military push against Taliban insurgents.

In an address titled "the War in Afghanistan: How to End It," Miliband said the Afghan government should not only try to win over low-level rebel fighters but should also try to engage insurgent leaders and other political foes who are willing to enter into a dialogue, even if that means making concessions to rivals.

"The idea of political engagement with those who would directly or indirectly attack our troops is difficult," Miliband said in a prepared text. "But dialogue is not appeasement and political space is not the same as veto power or dominati…

Blogging from New Dehli: Asia Society's Conference at Taj Palace - March 18-20, 2010

Watandost Blogging from New Dehli:

Asia Society's 20th Asian Corporate Conference
Mar 18 -20, 2010Visit Conference Website:
Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi

Following a sweeping victory in India's recent elections, the new Congress-led government has mandated that its main focus will be to address the global economic downturn and to boost the country's economic growth. With a reinforced prerogative to introduce new policies and push forward long-awaited reforms, India is well poised to accelerate its pace of growth of and capitalize on its robust economic potential. Amidst the global recession, the Indian economy has shown encouraging signs of revival, and international investors are demonstrating a reinvigorated interest in India. How will this giant address its critical challenges in order to truly emerge as a global leader?

Join government leaders, key decision-makers, and industry experts from the international and Indian business community to discuss how India will fulfill…

Pakistan's role in Afghanistan: Tickets to the endgame?

Pakistan's role in Afghanistan
Tickets to the endgame
Pakistan wants a say in ending the war, and it knows how to ask
Mar 18th 2010, The Economist

A HIGH-LEVEL delegation of Pakistanis is due to sweep into Washington for the restart on March 24th of a “strategic dialogue” with America. The Pakistanis have muscled their way to the table for what looks like a planning session for the endgame in Afghanistan. The recent arrest of the Taliban’s deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and a clutch of his high-ranking comrades, has won them a seat.

The Pakistani team, led by the foreign minister, will include both the army chief and the head of the army’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). America has upgraded its own representation at the talks, last held in mid-2008, from deputy-secretary to secretary-of-state level. The dialogue is supposed to cover the gamut of bilateral issues, including help for Pakistan’s fragile economy, and even, on its ambitious wish-list, ci…

Let Pakistan Make Its Own Progress

Let Pakistan Make Its Own Progress
By NADIA NAVIWALA; New York Times, March 16, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — What do we do about Pakistan? Because I am a Pakistani-American who recently spent several months there, people here are constantly trying to get me to answer that question. One of the most important things I can offer them is a reality check.

I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, but my family moved to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, in the early 1990s. Those were Karachi’s worst years and constitute my earliest memories of terrorism.

Political and ethnic violence wracked the city, becoming, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan today, an excuse for every type of crime — shootings in mosques, kidnappings, violent break-ins and streetside executions if you belonged to the wrong ethnic group. By 1996, my family gave up on Pakistan and came back to the United States. By 1999, Pervez Musharraf gave up on Pakistan and overthrew the government.

Worse than the violence, for a P…

'Our dogmatic liberals' By Humeira Iqtidar

Our dogmatic liberals  By Humeira Iqtidar
The News, March 17, 2010

The writer is a research fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and teaches courses on globalization, religion and politics of South Asia.

"Why are Pakistanis so prone to conspiracy theories?" a colleague at Cambridge recently asked. He was referring to recent debates about the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan. A version of this question is echoed by the liberal intelligentsia of Pakistan. The local version emphasises the focus on Blackwater within the rhetoric of a segment of society, notably the Islamists. A common refrain amongst the liberal intelligentsia to the question of Blackwater presence in Pakistan is that we must look inwards, we must critique ourselves and our own creations such as the Taliban before we focus on Blackwater. Through framing any critique of Blackwater as conspiracy theory, there is some congruence between the stance of my colleague at Cambridge, who…

Out of the tribal areas and into the cities of Pakistan By Kulsoom Lakhani

Out of the tribal areas and into the cities of Pakistan
By Kalsoom Lakhani, Foreign Policy, March 15, 2010

The last week has been tough for Pakistan. A series of attacks occurred throughout the country, including a siege of the World Vision International office in Mansehra last Wednesday that killed six aid workers, and a suicide bombing in Swat over the weekend that killed around a dozen people and wounded at least 37. However, the wave of bombings targeting the city of Lahore garnered the most attention. Last Monday, a car bombing targeted the Special Investigations group of the Federal Investigative Agency, the Pakistani equivalent of the FBI, killing at least 14 people and wounding 89 others. News correspondents said the amount of explosives "was so large it brought down the two-story building."

And this past Friday, two suicide bombers struck within15 and 20 seconds of each other in R.A. Bazaar in Lahore, killing at least 45 people and injuring scores more. The attacks…

The crazy Right and rump Pakistan By Kamran Shafi in Dawn

The crazy Right and rump Pakistan By Kamran Shafi
Dawn, 16 Mar, 2010

I was to regale you with other stories to do with our security establishment’s tortured and seemingly futile hunt for the very elusive holy grail of strategic depth in Afghanistan (I ask you) this week, but the ever-increasing assault on our poor country and its innocent people by unlettered and brainwashed and murderous yahoos leads me elsewhere.

Who saw clips of the unintentional video shot by a shocked bystander who burst into uncontrolled moans as he filmed the Yahoo blow himself up and tens of others with him, limbs and blood and gore flying in all directions?

Well, I did, and while one has almost been inured to such scenes, the live images were shocking in the extreme and outraged me more and more every time they were repeated. Not for long though, because soon the scenes began to be censored, the more gory parts cut out of the film. Bad move by whoever for the people at large must be shown the extent of the b…

Pentagon Contractors' Role as Spies - Investigations underway...

Pentagon to investigate intelligence unit that allegedly used contractors
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, March 16, 2010

The Pentagon said Monday that it was looking into allegations that a Defense Department official had set up an intelligence unit staffed by contractors to hunt insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the guise of social and cultural information-gathering.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to confirm or deny whether a criminal investigation had been opened into activities by Michael D. Furlong, a former Special Operations officer who now works as a senior civilian officer for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center at Lackland Air Force Base, Tex.

Furlong's operation, which included numerous former intelligence and Special Operations officials now in the private sector, raised hackles at the CIA, where it was considered "a semi-independent intelligence-collection operation in a war zone," according to a U.S. official familiar …

Hobnobbing with Terror by Babar Sattar

Hobnobbing with terror by Babar Sattar
The News, March 13, 2010

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

What are the irresistible compulsions of power politics that forced the PML-N to jump into bed with the proscribed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its head Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi to win the provincial assembly seat in Jhang this week? Is this simply a case of reprehensible electoral politics with the PML-N stooping low to mix with hate-mongers in order to defeat the PPP in a heated election contest?

Is this a reflection of the PML-N's political ideology that has traditionally pandered to the politics of the religious right that nurtures bigotry, intolerance, hate, obscurantism and paranoia to garner public support? Does it not raise serious questions about the ability and willingness of this mainstream party to attack the menace of terrorism that is rooted in an ideology of religion-inspired intolerance and violence that organisations such as the SSP and Jamaat-ud-Daawa stand f…

Support Peace in Pakistan


We ask all citizens to sign up on a petition seeking peace for Pakistan, the region and all its people.

Let us through this petition state clearly that we want justice. We deserve democratic governance. And call for accountability.

Let us challenge the old ways
Let us call for change and demand equal opportunity,
Let us respect and involve all citizens,
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A State that ensures all its citizens a life of dignity
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Safe from terror, from exploitation and insecurities,
Safe from violence

Let us for…

US Relations with the Muslim World: Biden Condemns Israeli Settlement Plan in East Jerusalem

Biden Condemns Israel's Approval Of Plan To Build New Settlements In East Jerusalem
Huffington Post/AP, March 9, 2010

JERUSALEM -- Israel approved the construction of 1,600 new homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem on Tuesday - a move that immediately clouded a visit by Vice President Joe Biden aimed at repairing strained ties and kickstarting Mideast peace talks.

The Interior Ministry announced the construction plans just as Biden was wrapping up a series of warm meetings with Israeli leaders.

Biden issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon in response:

I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not…

Shirin Ebadi Warns Against Sanctions at an Asia Society Event

Ebadi Warns Against Sanctions
Asia Society, March 3, 2010

NEW YORK, March 3, 2010 - Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi warned against additional international sanctions against Iran, claiming that they would harm the population, not the government.

"We oppose military action or economic sanctions because that is to the detriment of the people," she said. The focus should instead be aimed at preventing global corporations from providing technology that assists direct repression, Ebadi argued. An opponent of boycotting any country, she also encouraged foreigners to travel to Iran and meet with ordinary people to better understand the country.

Speaking at Asia Society headquarters in New York, Ebadi was joined by President Vishakha Desai in a wide-ranging conversation on topics that included the political situation in Iran, the importance of the women's movement in opposing the current regime, and the country's prospects for democracy.

Marking International Wom…

How a new chapter opened between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

How a new chapter opened
The News, March 11, 2010
Saleem Safi

The misunderstandings between Pakistan and Afghanistan should not be attributed to the wrong policies of Kabul alone. The monumental mistakes of our own policymakers in tackling the situation in Afghanistan after the US attack and the subsequent fall of the Taliban have contributed in equal measure to the Afghans' hostility towards Pakistan.

For the last eight years our policymakers ignored the importance of courting Hamid Karzai. With the exception of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Afzal Khan Lala, who have a good understanding of Afghan politics and society, no one supported the idea of developing close contacts with the Afghan president.

However, the emergence of Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, two staunch anti-Pakistan political leaders, as opponents of Karzai in the recently held presidential elections came as a rude shock to our policymakers.

Pakistan had established secret contacts wit…

ISI Chief Gets One-Year Extension

Key Pakistan spy chief gets one-year extension
Reuters - March 10, 2010
Pakistan's prime minister has extended the term of the head of the country's main intelligence agency by a year in a move expected to preserve continuity in the fight against Islamist militancy

Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, director general of the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was due to retire this month but will remain in office for another year, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's office said in a statement.

"Given the domestic and regional jihadist insurgency situation, the development is obviously based on Pakistan's need for continuity of policy," international intelligence firm STRATFOR said.

"But it is equally important for the American strategy for Afghanistan."

Pasha, a former head of military operations for Pakistan's army, was appointed head of the ISI in September 2008, months after U.S. officials questioned the reliability of the…

The Future of Islam

The Future of Islam
By John Esposito
Read Preface by Karen Armstrong by clicking here

John L. Esposito and Karen Armstrong: Author One-to-One

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous works on comparative religion, including the critically-acclaimed The Case for God. She spoke with John L. Esposito about Western perceptions of Muslims and the issues facing the world’s fastest growing religion.

Armstrong: How did you view Islam before you began to study it seriously? How did study affect your understanding of Muslim faith and culture?

Esposito: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, surrounded by Italian Catholic neighbors, I knew little about the one Irish girl in my class, and much less about Arabs or Islam who were invisible in the American landscape. And what I did know (much of it, I discovered later, was the product of bias and stereotypes) did not attract me to “these strangers”. In addition, since most theology and religion departments did not teach Islam, the prospect of getting a teaching p…

Punjabi Taliban avenge Qari Zafar’s death?

Punjabi Taliban avenge Qari Zafar’s death
The News, March 09, 2010
By Amir Mir

LAHORE: The March 8 suicide bombing in Lahore’s Model Town is believed to have been carried out by the Punjab chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to avenge the killing of Commander Qari Zafar, the acting Amir of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on February 24, 2010.

While confirming Qari Zafar’s death in a statement faxed to local journalists on February 25, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi spokesman had described him as a martyr and pledged to avenge his death. “The Mujahideen will soon take revenge from the Pakistani government for his killing by resorting to suicide bombings anywhere in the country,” the LeJ spokesman added. Qari Zafar was killed, along with nine other Punjabi Taliban in the Peerano Killay area of Miramshah, when a drone struck his hideout.

He was wanted by the US as well as Pakistani authorities for his alleged involvement in the March 2, 2006 car bombi…

Now India and Pakistan Can Get Down to Business: WSJ Op-ed

Now India and Pakistan Can Get Down to Business

High-level talks in February, billed by some as a failure, actually set the stage for progress.
By Najam Sethi, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2010

On initial appearances, the first high-level bilateral talks between India and Pakistan since November 2008 weren't a success. When the two foreign secretaries convened in New Delhi on Feb. 25, at times it was as if they were at different meetings. The Indians tried to focus on terrorism sponsored from within Pakistan, while the Pakistanis wanted a broader dialogue. In the end, there was no noteworthy result. But appearances in this case are deceiving. This meeting is likely to prove more successful than many expect.

That's because interests on both sides are at last correctly aligned to give talks a shot at success. For India, it has been a matter of reaching several conclusions at the same time. First, New Delhi has failed to browbeat Islamabad into steps like cracking down on Lashkar…

Support Needed for the continued publication of "The Annual of Urdu Studies"

With special thanks to Professor Tahira Naqvi of New York York University for creating awareness about this issue.


Dear Readers and Friends of The Annual of Urdu Studies (AUS),

As you know, the AUS is not a profit-making enterprise and it has managed to stay alive largely thanks to the hard work of its two-person, part-time staff and to the financial support of the Center for South Asia, the Graduate School, and the College of Letters and Science of the University of Wisconsin, and, mainly, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), which has heroically assumed the responsibility to pay the half-time salary of the Assistant Editor Jane Shum, without whose exemplary service the AUS would have folded a long time ago.

Sadly, the AIPS has decided it must curtail drastically its funding to $4000 a year, effective 1 July 2010. This amount is too small to keep the AUS alive. We immediately need to raise $7000 to even publish the next issue,…

"US helped ISI create extremists: Petraeus" - The News

US helped ISI create extremists: Petraeus
The News, March 07, 2010

WASHINGTON: Noting that Pakistan has made significant progress in its fight against extremism that threatens its existence, a top US military general has refused the certificate of “American satisfaction” to Islamabad in its war against terrorism.

“I wouldn’t allow you to put words in my mouth,” General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command told Charlie Rose of the PBS in an interview when he asked: “So the bottom line is you are satisfied with the Pakistani effort and the Pakistani cooperation and the Pakistani effort to wipe out the Taliban in Pakistan?”

Rose posed such a question to Petraeus, when the American general was praising Pakistan for its recent success against the Taliban and arrest of its top leaders inside the country. “What I would say is that Pakistan has made significant progress in its fight against extremists threatening its existence. And there is a growing recognition that the other…

Taliban leader's Biography: Humanising the monster

BOOK REVIEW: Humanising the monster — by Dr Mohammad Taqi, Daily Times, March 5, 2010

My life with the Taliban

By Abdul Salam Zaeef
Translated from Pashto and edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn; Hurst/Columbia University Press; Pp 331

In his foreword to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef’s book, Professor Barnett Rubin of New York University sets the stage for the launch, ostensibly, of a refreshingly authentic work of this inaccurate and revisionist take on contemporary Afghan history.

My Life with the Taliban, written by the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, has been praised across the board by the media ‘Afghanologists’ such as Ahmed Rashid and Peter Bergen to academics like Antonio Giustozzi of the London School of Economics, without any critical evaluation. Some, like Christina Lamb, have gone as far as calling it a must read.

To those of us who grew up in the NWFP or Afghanistan at the height of US-Saudi-Pakistani anti-Soviet war, the crude lies presented in the acco…

Will Others Follow Dutch and Leave Afghanistan?

Will Others Follow Dutch and Leave Afghanistan?
VOA, March 3, 2010

The Dutch government has collapsed over whether to keep its soldiers in Afghanistan. In this report from Washington, Senior Correspondent André de Nesnera looks at what effect - if any - that will have on other nations that have troops in that country under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

About 2,000 Dutch troops have been in Afghanistan's southern province of Uruzgan since 2006. They are part of the 86,000 troop NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Analysts say NATO has three objectives in Afghanistan. The first is to assist the Afghan government in its efforts to rebuild and stabilize the country. The second is to train the Afghan army and police. And the third is to hunt down and eliminate insurgents in southern Afghanistan - home of the Taliban, ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.

About 1,500 of the 2,000 Dutch troops, along with American and British forces, a…

Tahir Qadri’s Fatwa for terrorists: Hell waits for you

Tahir Qadri’s Fatwa for terrorists: Hell waits for you

The News, March 03, 2010
By Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: A highly influential Sufi Muslim scholar on Tuesday issued a historic Fatwa (religious edict) against acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, calling perpetrators of violence and their mentors as destined for hellfire.
Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, the founder of formidable Minhajul Quran movement, used a lecture in London to unreservedly condemn terrorist attacks and suicide bombers and urged the Muslim world to take a firm stand against those who bring Islam in disrepute.

Dr Qadri was joined at the Fatwa launch event by government ministers Jim Fitzpatrick, Shahid Malik, Muhammad Sarwar, MP, Dominic Grieve, MP, representatives of various Muslim organisations, government departments and security think tanks. The 600-page Fatwa on Suicide Bombings and Terrorism has been extracted from Dr Qadri’s latest research work titled Dehshet Geri aur Fitna-e-Khawarij, in a reference…