Showing posts from April, 2010

Why Indian diplomat Madhuri befriended ISI?

Indian diplomat’s arrest
Dawn Editorial, April 30, 2010

A second secretary in the press and information section of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad is detained in Delhi amid allegations of possible espionage on Pakistan’s behalf.
The arrest comes on the eve of the Saarc summit in Bhutan, on the sidelines of which the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers are to meet (the meeting is likely to happen today). Coincidence? Very unlikely. The timing of the Indian government’s announcement sends a clear signal: India is not ready to move towards improving ties with Pakistan any time soon. While the spying case has not completely overshadowed the Bhutan summit, it has competed for headline space and buried any talk of positive developments.

Pak-India relations have been held hostage by Indian intransigence since the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. India wants Pakistan to shut down the Kashmir- and India-centric militant groups before it is willing to talk to Pakistan again. But by re…

Former MI chief faces investigators today

Former MI chief faces investigators today
By Iftikhar A. Khan and Syed Irfan Raza
Dawn, 28 Apr, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Maj-Gen Nadeem Ijaz, a former director-general of the Military Intelligence (MI), will appear on Wednesday before a three-member fact-finding committee investigating the hosing down of the site of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

The commission recorded on Tuesday statements of four police officials allegedly involved in washing the site shortly after the gun and bomb attack that claimed Ms Bhutto’s life near Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on Dec 27, 2007.
Official sources said the committee had sent a notice to the former MI chief. They said Maj-Gen Ijaz had arrived in the city.

The sources said the former MI chief’s statement would be crucial because if it was proved that he was behind the episode, it would bring more people at the helm of affairs at that time into the fray. When asked if former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf would also be implicated, they said it d…

Tariq Ramadan: Muslims and the West - PBS

Tariq Ramadan: Muslims and the West
PBS, April 15, 2010

In 2004, the Bush administration barred prominent Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan from entering the United States, accusing him of giving money to a charity that funds terrorists. For the last six years, Ramadan has been fighting the ban, saying the charity was not on any terrorist watch lists at the time and he was unaware of any ties to terrorists. The Obama administration lifted the restrictions against Ramadan in January, and last week he made his first visit to the US since the ban was reversed. Watch excerpts from his April 12 address at Georgetown University and his conversation with journalists, including Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly managing editor Kim Lawton. Ramadan discusses fear of the religious “other” and the need for policies that foster a better understanding of Islam, US relations with the Islamic world in the wake of President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, and the new visibility of Islam in the West and current…

Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan

Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
By TIM SULLIVAN; AP, Washington Post, April 25, 2010

KABUL -- Across Afghanistan, behind the obvious battles fought for this country's soul, a shadow war is being quietly waged. It's being fought with spies and proxies, with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money and ominous diplomatic threats.

The fight pits nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan against one another in a battle for influence that will almost certainly gain traction as the clock ticks down toward America's military withdrawal, which President Barack Obama has announced will begin next year.

The clash has already sparked bloody militant attacks, and American officials fear the region could become further destabilized. With Pakistani intelligence maintaining ties to Afghanistan's Taliban militants, India has threatened to draw Iran, Russia and other nations into the competition if an anti-Indian government comes to power in Kabul.

"This is a …

Kashmir solution just a signature away?

Kashmir solution just a signature away: Kasuri
Says previous govt had completed 90 pc spadework on dispute; ‘we agreed on a point between complete independence and autonomy’
By Babar Dogar & Ranjan Roy, The News, April 24, 2010

LAHORE: Former foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri has said the solution to the Kashmir dispute is just a signature away once India and Pakistan decide to pull the file from the rack.

While addressing the concluding session of the two-day seminar — held as part of the ongoing Aman ki Asha campaign, launched by the Jang Group and Times of India — and later talking to The News and the Times of India here on Friday, the former foreign minister revealed the previous Musharraf government had completed almost 90 per cent of the spadework on the half-a-century old Kashmir dispute by 2007 as the whole exercise just needed the formal signature of all the three parties to the issue - Pakistan, India and representatives of Kashmir.

“All India and Pakistan now nee…

Confessions of a Pakistani spy

Confessions of a Pakistani spy
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, April 24, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Retired squadron leader Khalid Khawaja, a former Inter-Services Intelligence official and a close friend of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during the resistance in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s, has explained in videos sent to Asia Times Online how he was on a mission to broker a deal between militants and the army when he was captured by militants, and how he played a double game by deceiving a radical cleric into being arrested.

Khawaja was dismissed from the air force in the late 1980s and subsequently earned a reputation of having close ties to some militant groups. Khawaja has played an important behind-the-scenes role in both regional and national politics. Before the US attack on Afghanistan in late 2001, he was a part of the back-room diplomacy between the US and the Taliban, which failed miserably.

The revelations appear in five video clips sent to Asia Times Online…

Grading Pakistani Leaders - Gilani gaining popularity, Sharif losing

Grading Our Leaders: Some Surprising Poll Results
Adil Najam,, April 18, 2010

At one level the results of our ATP Poll on Grading Pakistan’s leadership and power centers are not surprising at all. However, when we compare the result of this ATP Poll to related ATP Polls held in June 2009 and September 2009, then there is a rather interesting trend that seems to be apparent in the responses from our readers.

For complete, click here

'Khalid Khawaja and 'Col Imam' kidnapped by Punjabi Taliban': It is not that simple....

Missing ex-ISI officers in Fata
Punjabi Taliban behind kidnapping, says family
The News, April 22, 2010 - By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: The mystery of the abduction in tribal areas of two pro-Taliban ISI veterans has virtually been solved as the wife of a kidnapped officer says the Punjabi Taliban were responsible and they invited them to the tribal areas.
One of the kidnapped ISI veterans, Khalid Khawaja, has previously acted as a conduit for Baitullah Mehsud for an intelligence agency. He once handed to late Baitullah a list of the Punjabi Taliban in the tribal belt who were disliked by the intelligence sleuths.

Khawaja, in a recently televised video sent by the captors, said he went to the tribal belt on the advice of former DG ISI, Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, a serving ISI Col Sajjad, and former Army chief Aslam Beg. Col (retd) Imam in the same video said he undertook the tribal area visit on the advice of Gen (retd) Beg.

Retired PAF Squadron Leader Khalid Khawaja and Col (retd) Sultan A…

‘Natural security’ and water By Kashif Hasnie

‘Natural security’ and water By Kashif Hasnie
Dawn, 13 Apr, 2010

IN one of my earlier commentaries for the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., titled 'water Security in Pakistan', I was able to get the attention of the water authorities in Pakistan by explaining to them the grim situation the country is facing with regard to this precious resource.

I wrote that “Islamabad, we have a problem!” Today I write to attract their attention by saying, “Islamabad, we need a solution!”
In the recently concluded ‘strategic dialogue’ between Pakistan and the United States, water issues did not get the prominence they deserved. Water became part of the energy dialogue in one of the second-day sessions, giving it less prominence than required.

Given the high population growth rate, growing poverty, religious militancy and natural disasters, it sometimes feels as if matters in Pakistan could not get worse. Pakistan is ranked 125 out of 163 countries in the 2010 Environmental Perfo…

Collateral damage in Sra Vella - Mosharraf Zaidi

Collateral damage in Sra Vella
The News, April 20, 2010
Mosharraf Zaidi

While Pakistan should be celebrating the passage of the 18th Amendment (once again, cementing the historical place of the PPP in the story of Pakistani democracy) innocent villagers in Tirah Valley are dealing with another mess of Pakistan's own making. If we didn't know any better it would almost seem like someone was trying to rob this country of a well-deserved celebration of its vibrant and raucous democracy.

It is now clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Pakistani military authorised and conducted the aerial bombardment of the Sra Vella area in Tirah Valley with Pakistan Air Force planes that led to the death of at least 61 innocent Pakistanis. Civilian casualties in the theatre of war are neither new nor surprising. What is surprising is the strange and dangerous concoction of lies, truths, emotions, and reason that simultaneously swing the narrative in this country in all directions possible…

Pakistan: a nation or a collection of ethnicities? —Yasmeen Ali

VIEW: Pakistan: a nation or a collection of ethnicities?

In rural Sindh, the PPP rules the roost. In the predominantly Urdu speaking urban Sindh, it is the MQM that will bag the seats. In Punjab, PML-N emerges supreme. In Balochistan and NWFP, it is an assortment of various ethnicity-based political parties that hold the ground. Where are the nation-state building leaders?

Yasmeen Ali, Daily Times, April 21, 2010

The perception today is that Pakistan is a hasty and ill thought-out throwing together of ethnic groups that now, after over 62 years of living together, are at each others’ throats and spewing hatred. The perception is that we have failed to gel together as a nation-state. Some sceptics paint the picture of a doomsday scenario. This may or may not be the reality. However, sometimes, perceptions are stronger than the reality itself.

Two concepts need defining here: ethnicity and the nation state. Ethnicity may be broadly defined as belonging to a group that shares the same cha…

'Asian Tigers' kidnapp Brig. Sultan Amir (Col Imam) and Khalid Khawaja - the two 'legendary' ISI officials ???

Kidnappers release video of former ISI officers Bureau Report
Dawn, 19 Apr, 2010

PESHAWAR: A little known militant group acknowledged on Monday that it was holding two former ISI officers, Colonel (retd) Imam (Sultan Amir) and Squadron Leader (retd) Khalid Khwaja and threatened to execute them if its demands were not met within 10 days.
An email sent along with the video footage demanded the release of senior Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah and Maulavi Kabir.

The group calling itself Asian Tigers, an unusual name for a militant group in Pakistan, is also reported to have demanded a $10 million ransom for journalist Asad Qureshi who also has been missing along with the two retired ISI officers.

In the video clip, Col (retd) Imam is heard saying that his real name is Sultan Amir (Tarar) and he served in the Pakistan Army for 18 years, 11 of them in the Inter Services Intelligence.

“I had consulted with Gen Aslam Beg (former army chief) about coming here,” Col…

Inside Pakistan's NWFP: The Political Landscape of Insurgency

Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper
Inside Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province: The Political Landscape of the Insurgency

By Hassan Abbas, Columbia University & Asia Society; April 19, 2010: New America Foundation

Despite comparatively progressive forces taking control of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)[1] after success in the February 2008 provincial elections, stability remains elusive and the law and order situation has gradually deteriorated, raising important questions about the correlation between politics in the province and the nature and extent of militancy there. This essay investigates how different political and religious forces have influenced the state of affairs in the province in recent years.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of terrorist attacks in the NWFP. In 2009, there were 49 suicide attacks targeting police, security forces, political figures, markets, and social gatherings.[i] Many of the attacks have targeted Pesha…

What are the Three Positive Signs of Change in Pakistan?

Commentary on "Can Pakistan Get Its Act Together?"
Reported by Sandhya Kumar, Asia Society, April 14, 2010
For watching the segment 'signs of change in Pakistan',click here
NEW YORK, April 13, 2010 - In a timely discussion examining the hurdles facing Pakistan's domestic and international state of affairs, Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas seemed buoyed by hope in the nation's ability to prevail, but emphasized that "it's a step-by-step process."
Though there are signals of a return to stable governance, the threats are still pervasive. Abbas noted that while significant progress had been made by the government in strategically targeting centers of the Taliban in Northern and Southern Waziristan and improved collaboration with the US, there remain pockets of militant groups concerned with Kashmir in Punjab which are not being tackled. This poses a serious problem for both India and Pakistan, both equally victims to the violence perpetrated by th…

Fatima Bhutto - Interview with Rediff News

'I am horrified to see these two nuclear countries entangled in this bizarre love story'
Rediff, April 8, 2010

History sits rather lightly on the slender shoulders of the petite and elegant 27 year old who has journeyed nearly 555 miles from across the border, with a bulky hardback to promote in India's book bazaars.

The title of her book -- Songs of Blood and Sword -- seems incongruous with the delicate, fashionably-dressed author, clad in a black embroidered jacket and slacks, facing you, just prior to the book's launch in Mumbai.

For complete article/interview, click here
Fatima Bhutto beats Jaswant Singh but Musharraf still leads - Tribune
'Fatima Bhutto: 'We didn't know what would happen tomorrow' - Guardian

Strengths and pitfalls By Asma Jahangir

Strengths and pitfalls By Asma Jahangir
Dawn, 16 Apr, 2010

The much-awaited constitutional reforms may have sailed through the National Assembly and Senate but there are trials ahead. Senator Raza Rabbani deserves praise as do the other members of the committee that worked on the reforms. The proposed amendments are not perfect but they do lay the foundation for a clearer direction in the future.
However, the amendments may face obstructions — not for their weaknesses but for their strengths. They touch upon three basic parameters: the strengthening of democratic institutions, the recognition of provincial rights and the extension of two new fundamental rights — the right to information and primary education.

In places the reforms are illogical and confused about the basic concept of rights. The committee reinserted the word ‘freely’ in guaranteeing freedom of religion to minorities in the Objectives Resolution, but contradicts this spirit of promoting tolerance elsewhere. By revert…

Sheikh to Terrorists: Go to Hell - By Christian Caryl

Sheikh to Terrorists: Go to Hell
A Pakistani cleric declares jihad on suicide bombers. And the story is just beginning.
BY CHRISTIAN CARYL, Foreign Policy, APRIL 14, 2010

Pakistani newspapers recently picked up an intriguing story from the country's security establishment. Reporters learned that their government had intercepted a secret message circulating within Tehrik-e-Taliban, the most prominent of several militant groups trying to overthrow the government in Islamabad. The jihadists, it seemed, had just added a new target to one of their death lists. His name is Tahir ul-Qadri, and he's no government official. He's one of Pakistan's leading Islamic scholars, an authority on the Quran and Islamic religious law.

It's no wonder the terrorists want to see Qadri dead. Last month he promulgated a 600-page legal ruling, a fatwa, that condemns terrorism as un-Islamic. A few Western media outlets gave the news a nod, but the coverage quickly petered out. And that'…

Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? - UN Report Released

U.N. Report Finds Faults in Pakistani Bhutto Inquiry
By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, April 15, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A United Nations investigation into the assassination of the former opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has concluded that the failure of Pakistani authorities to effectively investigate the killing was “deliberate,” saying that the country’s powerful intelligence agency “severely hampered” local authorities.

The 65-page report, issued in New York on Thursday, did not answer the question of who killed Ms. Bhutto, or even give the precise cause of death. It was concerned instead with looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding her death in a suicide bombing and gun attack at a political rally in December 2007.

“The commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate,” the long awaited report said. “In other cases, the failures were driven by uncertain…

Nuclear Security Summit and South Asia

All on board over N-fuel offer: official By Anwar Iqbal
Dawn, 15 Apr, 2010

WASHINGTON: The decision to offer nuclear fuel services to the world was made at a recent meeting of the National Command Authority, said a senior aide who was assisting Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at a news conference on Tuesday evening.

The aide, who was responding to a question put to the prime minister, said the country’s highest decision-making body on strategic issues had made a consensus decision to create a fuel bank.

The offer, made in a national document presented at the two-day nuclear summit in Washington, reflected the decision made by the National Command Authority, the aide said.

“As a country with advanced fuel cycle capability, Pakistan is in a position to provide nuclear fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards, and to participate in any non-discriminatory nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanism,” said the document presented at the summit, which ended in Washington on Tuesday.


How to End the War in Afghanistan: David Miliband in New York Review of Books

How to End the War in Afghanistan
By David Miliband, New York Review of Books, April 1, 2010

Neither the UK nor the US started the war in Afghanistan. In the 1990s that country’s Taliban government provided a safe haven and support for al-Qaeda. In return Osama bin Laden provided the Taliban with money and fighters. Afghanistan became the incubator for the September 11 attacks. The international intervention in response to those attacks had widespread support around the world. But we never meant for our militaries to be there forever. Eight years later, with al-Qaeda pushed into Pakistan, it is not enough to explain to people why the war started. We need to set out how it will be ended—how to preserve what has been achieved and protect South Asia from a contagion that would affect us all.

The route to progress depends on recognizing the centrality of politics to issues of war and peace. Violence of the most murderous, indiscriminate, and terrible kind started this Afghan war; politic…

Can Pakistan Get Its Act Together? - Asia Society, New York - April 13 from 12:00-2:00 PM

Can Pakistan Get Its Act Together? - Asia Society, New York, April 13 12:00-2:00 PM

Professor Hassan Abbas
Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow
Quaid-i-Azam Chair Professor at Columbia University

In conversation with
Jamie Metzl
Vice President, Asia Society

Stability in Pakistan is vital to both Central and South Asia’s regional security and prosperity. It is also vital to achieving real success on the ground in Afghanistan and in the Overseas Contingency Operation—two of Washington's core aims in the region. Yet stability in Pakistan remains incredibly elusive, dogged by regional rivalries, political instability, military dominance in the policy making arena, and rising religious extremist trends. Please join us for this event, the first in the Pakistan 2020: A Vision for a Better Future and a Roadmap for Getting There public program series, as Professor Hassan Abbas examines Pakistan’s capacity to address the serious political, social, and economic challenges undermining P…

HISTORIC - Constitutional Reform in Pakistan

Dawn Editorial, April 9, 2010

They’ve done it. Proving all the naysayers wrong, dismissing all the conspiracy theorists, rejecting all those who would be spoilers, the National Assembly of Pakistan has approved a constitution that for the first time in decades will have the broad support of the people’s elected representatives.
Such was the bonhomie in the house yesterday that regular watchers of parliament may have rubbed their eyes in disbelief: was that really Chaudhry Nisar, leader of the opposition, the PML-N attacker-in-chief, a seemingly perennially angry man, praising the PPP co-chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari? Yes, it was. It was that kind of a day. A historic day in Pakistan’s parliamentary history, one that the MNAs deserve a heartfelt thanks for.

And yet the 18th Amendment is neither the panacea that its proponents suggest it is, nor will it transform Pakistan’s polity unless implemented with sincerity and purpose. There are four broad areas that this constit…

Afghanistan: From Ramping Up to the Exit Ramp

Afghanistan: From Ramping Up to the Exit Ramp
The Century Foundation & The UNA-USA Southern New York State Division
2/19/2010 United Nations Headquarters, New York

Hassan Abbas, Bernard Schwartz Fellow, Asia Society
Valentin Gatzinski, Director (NY), UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Jeffrey Laurenti, The Century Foundation
Linda Fasulo (Moderator), UN Correspondent for NBC News

The panel examines prospects of the international efforts to assist Afghans in building a secure and peaceful society after nearly thirty years of civil war and political conflict. Hassan Abbas discusses the complicated regional context, including how the India-Pakistan rivalry continues to play out in Afghanistan and the prospects and methods for reconciliation with the Taliban. Century Foundation Fellow Jeffrey Laurenti adds perspective on the scope of the external and especially U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s security, including the political dynamic of sustaining support for military deployment…

War or peace on the Indus? - A very insightful article

War or peace on the Indus?
The News, April 03, 2010
John Briscoe

Anyone foolish enough to write on war or peace in the Indus needs to first banish a set of immediate suspicions. I am neither Indian nor Pakistani. I am a South African who has worked on water issues in the subcontinent for 35 years and who has lived in Bangladesh (in the 1970s) and Delhi (in the 2000s). In 2006 I published, with fine Indian colleagues, an Oxford University Press book titled India's Water Economy: Facing a Turbulent Future and, with fine Pakistani colleagues, one titled Pakistan's Water Economy: Running Dry.

I was the Senior Water Advisor for the World Bank who dealt with the appointment of the Neutral Expert on the Baglihar case. My last assignment at the World Bank (relevant, as described later) was as Country Director for Brazil. I am now a mere university professor, and speak in the name of no one but myself.

I have deep affection for the people of both India and Pakistan, and am dismayed b…

Banned Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan Visiting Chicago and New York

Chicago welcomes once-banned Muslim scholar
Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2010

Six years after the U.S. government barred Tariq Ramadan from entering the U.S., the controversial Muslim scholar will speak in Chicago on Saturday—one of his first American appearances since U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised he would no longer be denied a visa for having alleged ties to terrorism. His opponents warn of danger ahead.

Ramadan, now a professor at Oxford University in England, will address an audience at the Council of American Islamic Relations in Chicago. His visa was revoked in 2004 right before he would have moved to Indiana to take a tenured teaching job at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

A champion of integrating Islam in the Western world, Ramadan criticized the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East. He also has rejected Muslim terrorism as "anti-Islam."

“Anyone who has read any of my 20 bo…

TTP Strikes Again

TTP Strikes Again
Dawn Editorial, April 8, 2010

Last week Qari Hussain, Ustad-i-Fidayeen, warned that the “memory of Khost”, a reference to the bombing of the CIA forward base last December, would soon be refreshed. Intelligence warnings had been provided to the Americans that strikes against them were possible.

In Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, the Taliban had warned that Afghanistan and Pakistan were “one” in terms of a war theatre. And then the TTP struck on Monday, launching a sophisticated attack on the US consulate in Peshawar and a devastating car bombing of an ANP rally in Timergara, Lower Dir. The threat that the TTP continues to pose is very real and very serious.

So yet again, some questions have to be asked. First, where are the Qari Hussains and Hakeemullah Mehsuds (he has risen from the ‘dead’) hiding? The intelligence and security agencies have made some decent progress in the war against militancy but they have still, by and large, failed to capture or kill most o…

U.S. Aims to Ease India-Pakistan Tension - WSJ

U.S. Aims to Ease India-Pakistan Tension
Progress in Afghanistan Hinges on Improved Relations Between New Delhi and Islamabad, Obama Administration Directive Says.By PETER SPIEGEL in Washington and MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Kabul, WSJ, April 5, 2010

President Barack Obama issued a secret directive in December to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without détente between the two rivals, the administration's efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer.

The directive concluded that India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on U.S. goals in the region, according to people familiar with its contents.

The U.S. has invested heavily in its own relations with Pakistan in recent months, agreeing to a $7.5 billion aid package and sending top military and diplomatic officials to Islamabad on repeated visits. The public embrace, which reached a high point last month in hi…

Z A Bhutto's 31st death anniversary

Biography with a twist By Anjum Niaz

Dawn, 04 Apr, 2010

Today, 31-years ago, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged. It reminds me of an email I received on another Sunday morning. It was from ‘Benazir’s brother.’ He had just finished reading my column on Benazir Bhutto’s second death anniversary. “ZAB was my best friend. I was to write his biography,” wrote the e-mailer. “His beloved daughter Benazir gave her life for the restoration of democracy. I was supposed to be killed with her when she arrived in Karachi. In our last meeting in New York we had agreed to adopt each other as sister and brother. But that is another story… I know who killed her.”

The next day we met at an Indian restaurant (in the US). It was an uncanny coincidence that he happened to be in the area I was in. Seated around were American diners blithely unaware of a land called Pakistan and the mysteries it holds. I found it even more surreal to hear the Bhutto ghost being resurrected by this stranger who dropped out of th…

Interview: Delaying release of Bhutto report might help Pakistani constitution reform: Xinhua News

Interview: Delaying release of Bhutto report might help Pakistani constitution reform: expert

UNITED NATIONS, Apr. 1, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The delay in releasing a UN report on the assassination of former Pakistani Primer Benazir Bhutto might help advance Pakistan's constitution reform, an expert said.

"The Pakistani government might be trying to time the report's release according to its own political goals," Hassan Abbas, a senior advisor at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a fellow at the Asia Society, told Xinhua in an interview.

It appears the delay has already helped, said Abbas, a former member of of Pakistan's police service.

On Wednesday, after 10 months of heated debate and one day after President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's husband, requested the UN to delay releasing the report, all major political parties in Pakistan reached consensus on a constitutional amendment bill.

The bill is expect…

Cost of the Kashmir Conflict ? - Two 'Not to be Missed Events' at Asia Society

Discuss: Cost of Kashmir Conflict
Asia Society, New York

The India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir has lingered for six decades. Even though sides have made several efforts to resolve the issue through talks, international mediation, and by fighting three wars, there has not been any significant progress toward peace.

The cost of the Kashmir conflict is always cited in terms of lives lost, and the cost of maintaining large-standing armies to ensure victory in a full-scale war. But children living at the heart of the conflict suffer the most from the effects of decades of turmoil and violence.


In the Valley of Mist – Kashmir’s Descent into Violence
By Justine Hardy, April 5, 2010, Asia Society New York:  6:30pm to 8:30pm

In the book, Justine Hardy recounts the ongoing Kashmir insurgency through the eyes of the Dar family, with whom Hardy has stayed for many years, while reporting on this conflict. In The Valley of Mist is an extraordinary story of family survival, at …

Who's Afraid of a One-State Solution?

Who's Afraid of a One-State Solution?
As Israeli-Palestian peace talks remain at an impasse, a radical solution gains steam.

BY DMITRY REIDER, Foreign Policy, March 31, 2010

In light of the ongoing deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, leaders such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni have raised the specter of a one-state solution. Their intention, of course, is to scare some sense into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his intransigent coalition partners. But, as this once-taboo idea becomes a legitimate part of political discussion in the region, some Israeli intellectuals are making the case that this is not something to fear, but a path toward a viable resolution to the region's long-running crisis.

The two-state solution has presented no shortage of obstacles: Negotiations are mired in talks about talks; the settlement policy is splintering what little territory was envisaged for the Palestinian state; a…

Consensus on Constitutional Reforms: A very positive indicator

Parties strike accord on 18th Amendment By Ahmad Hassan
Dawn, 01 Apr, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms achieved on Wednesday a historic consensus on the draft 18th Amendment by overcoming all contentious issues ranging from the renaming of NWFP to the appointment of superior courts judges.

Members of the committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, signed the draft document at a ceremony held at committee room No 2 of the Parliament House.

Sources said that after the ceremony the committee met again to decide a date for presentation of the bill in the National Assembly and Senate. S.M. Zafar, a PML-Q member of the committee, told reporters that the body would meet again on Thursday to fine-tune the document before taking it to parliament.

After hectic meetings between leaders of the PML-N and ANP and members of the committee throughout the day, the two parties agreed to a new name for the NWFP — ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ — choosing a middle path to end…