Showing posts from June, 2010

Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition

Shades Of The Old Punjab
Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition
Chander Suta Dogra, Outlook India, July 5, 2010

Brothers In Arms

•Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years
•Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities
•In some cases, the Jamaat-e-Islami is involved, but most are unorganised village-level efforts
•It’s a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab’s unique religious and cultural synthesis

The Ghuman family of Sarwarpur, near Ludhiana, cannot understand what the fuss is about. Ever since Sajjan Singh Ghuman, an NRI Sikh living in England, rebuilt a mosque in his native village that was damaged during Partition, the shrine, as well as his family back home, have attracted the curiosity of outsiders. “We never imagined we would be on a Punjabi TV channel just because my elder brother rebuilt…

Building Bridges: Community Policing in South Asia

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is organising an online conference from July 5-10 entitled “Building Bridges: The Police and the Public – Experiments with Community Policing in South Asia”. The Conference will feature experts from the region and outside providing their thoughts on this critically important aspect of genuine police reform.

The coming conflagration By Kamran Shafi

The coming conflagration By Kamran Shafi
Dawn, Tuesday, 29 Jun, 2010

But first to Gen Stanley McChrystal who was always quite a favourite with me if only because he understood that if innocent lives were lost in the struggle against terrorism some form of apology, if not outright recompense, were immediately in order.

So, there he was, this rough and ready general, standing on the doorstep of those who had been affected, saying sorry. He was there too, his lean and businesslike look for all to see, leading his men from the front.

But, to say what he said must have taken some brass, some idiocy! “Biden who?” about the vice president; likening Holbrooke to a wounded animal and the president’s national security advisor Gen James Jones to a joker or some such; and describing certain events in barrack language which does not bear repeating in this family newspaper.

As someone has already said, McChrystal’s shooting off at the mouth could be a direct result of his being exposed rather a …

Pakistan in the Danger Zone: New Report from Atlantic Council

Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous U.S. - Pakistan Relationship
by Shuja Nawaz, Atlantic Council, June 25, 2010

The Afghanistan war may be lost on the battlefields of Pakistan, where a vicious conflict is now being fought by Pakistan against a homegrown insurgency spawned by the war across its Western frontier. A year after we at the Atlantic Council raised a warning flag about the effects of failure in Afghanistan and the need to meet Pakistan’s urgent needs in its existential war against militancy and terrorism, the situation in Pakistan remains on edge. Domestic politics remain in a constant state of flux, with some progress toward a democratic polity overshadowed by periodic upheavals and conflicts between the ruling coalition and the emerging judiciary. The military’s actions against the Taliban insurgency appear to have succeeded in dislocating the homegrown terrorists but the necessary civilian effort to complement military action is still not evident. The government does n…

Bad News, Good News from South Asia

Bad News, Good News from AfPak and South Asia
Asia Society, Jun 28, 2010
“U.S. policy options in Afghanistan have become more complicated by the day. Following the Gen. McChrystal fiasco, a silver lining is the appointment of Gen. Petraeus as new commander -- the best bet for the U.S. in this scenario. However, it appears the Afghan leadership is busy charting its own path, which doesn’t necessarily coincide with U.S. interests. CIA Director Leon Panetta’s disclosure that according to his organization's estimate, Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan's tribal region -- FATA -- adds a new twist to the whole story. The million dollar question: If that is indeed the case, then why is the U.S. spending billions of dollars in the security sector in Afghanistan? Reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai secretly met the notorious Haqqani recently (most likely through the good offices of Pakistani intelligence) also explains the diminishing space for a U.S. role in defining the future of Af…

New Insights about 1965 Indo-Pak War


Book Review by Agha H Amin, June 26, 2010,

The Army has bought all copies of a book written by a former intelligence chief fearing it may explode the myth victory in the 1965 war with India, a source has said” , thus reported Amir Mir for Gulf News on 01 October 2006.

Although not wholly correct this was a brave job of reporting the prevalent intellectual dishonesty par excellence in Pakistan.

22,000 copies of a book earlier cleared for publication and distribution by the Army Book Club were thus wasted and assigned to dusty store rooms.All so that the truth remains enchained and suppressed , even when written by a three star general without whom Musharraf would have been behind the bars on 12 October 1999.
The book was however not titled The Myth of 1965 Victory, as claimed by Amir Mir but History of Indo Pak War 1965. Another Pakistani analyst Hassan Abbas claimed that Mahmud had requested Mus…

Veiled Truths: The Rise of Political Islam in the West

Veiled Truths
The Rise of Political Islam in the West
Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010

In The Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman argues that it is not violent Islamists who pose the greatest danger to liberal societies in the West but rather their so-called moderate cousins, such as Tariq Ramadan. Such a reading of contemporary Islamism, however, misses the many nuances of the movement and the real battles between reformers and Salafists.

This spring, Tariq Ramadan arrived in the United States nearly six years after being denied a visa by the Bush administration. The U.S. government had previously refused Ramadan entry on the grounds that he had donated to a French charity with ties to Hamas. Then, last January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Ramadan was welcome. His appearance in the United States seemed to manifest the White House's changing rhetoric about the Muslim world. In June 2009, President Barack Obama spoke in Cairo of reaching out to…

'Engaging the Muslim World: A Conversation with Hassan Abbas': Fletcher Forum

Engaging the Muslim World: A Conversation with Hassan Abbas
Fletcher Forum, Vol.34:2 Summer 2010

FLETCHER FORUM: Let’s start with President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009, almost a year ago. Has that speech altered U.S.–Muslim relations? Was it a step in the right direction or simply words that remain unsubstantiated?

HASSAN ABBAS: I think we should start even earlier than the Cairo speech. President Obama, during his presidential campaign, provided many indicators regarding his insights about the politics of the Muslim world, and particularly about his knowledge of the Muslim minority within the United States. His nuanced policy statements about Islam and Muslims created many expectations among Muslims early on. Newspapers and magazines published in various parts of the Muslim world sounded very pro-Obama during the presidential election season in the United States. His statements during the campaign—where he made a case for creatively engaging the Muslim worl…

A 'do over' in Afghanistan after McChrystal's fatal error

Stanley McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House

By Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone, Jun 22, 2010

'How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies – to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who ha…

A Terrorism Expert Turns Her Gaze Inward

A Terrorism Expert Turns Her Gaze Inward
By Karin Fischer, The Chronicle Review, June 20, 2010

Cambridge, Mass.
When the jihadis plied her with a bowl of fruit, Jessica Stern briefly considered: Were they being hospitable, or were they trying to do her harm?

It was 1999, and Stern, a Harvard-trained expert on terrorism, was at the compound of Lashkar e Taiba, or Army of the Pure, a Pakistani militant group believed to be associated with Al Qaeda and, later, behind the attacks in Mumbai that left nearly 175 people dead. She was alone, a woman, an American, and a Jew.

But Stern pushed her fear of poisoning away, allowing herself, she said later, to feel only curiosity and empathy: Who were these men, this henna-bearded emir and three elders, and what impelled them to acts of violence?
Stern's interview with the chiefs of Lashkar e Taiba, and her conversations with aspiring mujahedin at Pakistani madrassas, with Jewish radicals in West Bank settlements, and even with a former Christi…

AfPak Behind the Lines: Punjab's growing militant problem

AfPak Behind the Lines: Punjab's growing militant problem
AfPak Channel, Foreign Policy, June 22, 2010

The AfPak Channel is pleased to continue a new weekly feature, AfPak Behind the Lines, where we interview an expert on a hot topic in Afghanistan and Pakistan circles. Today, we speak with Hassan Abbas about the growing threat from militancy in Punjab.

1. Your article in the CTC Sentinel last spring defined the conglomeration of militant groups known collectively as the ‘Punjabi Taliban.' We hear most often, however, about the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militant groups based in the tribal regions. What are some similarities and differences between the two? How has the ‘Punjabi Taliban' developed since your CTC article?

First, I would prefer to tweak the title of the group to ‘Punjabi militants,' for there are many differences between the band of militants operating in Punjab and those based in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province (p…

Iran's Nuclear Ambitions: Myth or Reality?

The Birth of a Bomb

A History of Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
By Erich Follath and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online, June 17, 2010

In the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, the UN Security Council has imposed new sanctions. Is Iran truly building a nuclear bomb as Western countries claim? Or are countries playing up the dangers to bring Iran to its knees? SPIEGEL traces the history of Tehran's nuclear program -- with stops in Washington, Vienna and Isfahan.

It is yet another of those secret meetings at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The deputy director general of the agency, who works on behalf of the United Nations to prevent nuclear bombs from getting into the wrong hands, has invited 35 diplomats to a meeting on the fifth floor of the UN building in Vienna. Some take pictures with their mobile phones of the ice floes on the Danube River drifting by below. Everyone is prepared for a routine meeting. But everything will be different this time. With the help of …

Harnessing Local Capacity: U.S. Assistance and NGO in Pakistan By Nadia Naviwala

Harnessing Local Capacity: U.S. Assistance and NGO in Pakistan
Harvard Kennedy School Policy Analysis Exercise, Spring 2010
By Nadia Naviwala

The motivating question for this Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) is: How can USAID spend the new $7.5 billion development assistance package for Pakistan more effectively by engaging local NGOs and leaders?

The challenge for USAID is to work with Locally Funded NGOs without converting them into foreignfunded NGOs. This PAE suggests that USAID can achieve this by following principles of “non-distortionary” and “demand-driven” assistance...

For complete report, click here

The challenge of Islam

The challenge of Islam
By Gerard Russell, Foreign Policy, June 3, 2010

"America," said Alexis de Tocqueville, "is a country of freedom where, in order not to wound anyone, the foreigner must not speak freely." By these standards Akbar Ahmed, a professor at American University and formerly an administrator on Pakistan's north-west frontier, has published a particularly audacious book.

His book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, which comes out on June 15, speaks freely about the Muslim perspective on American society. It knowingly comes in the aftermath of acts of terrorism carried out by American Muslims. Its focus is rightly much broader, but this sharpens its relevance.

In the spirit of de Tocqueville, whom he frequently quotes, Ahmed led a mixed team of Muslims and Christians, Americans and foreigners, to examine American Muslim society with the eye of an anthropologist and an expert on Islam. Over the course of a year the author and his team tr…

The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier - Asia Society Book Event on June 15 in New York

The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier
Asia Society, New York, Tuesday, June 15 at 6:30 pm
To register for the event, click here

Imtiaz Gul, Author, The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier

In Conversation with
Hassan Abbas, Bernard Schwartz Fellow, Asia Society

Jeff Laurenti (Moderator) - Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign Policy Programs Program, Century Foundation

Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have always been only loosely under government control. Since the US toppled the Taliban in 2001, Al Qaeda has set up shop in Pakistan and turned this area into a Taliban mini-state. In The Most Dangerous Place, Imtiaz Gul, veteran Pakistani journalist, broadcaster and author, chronicles Pakistan's descent into chaos following 2001, and explains the dilemma facing the Obama Administration as it tries to shape a new policy to turn the tide in Afghanistan. The book brings into question some of our fundamental assumptio…

The ISI-Afghan Taliban Link and the "Discovery" of Minerals in Afghanistan

Adding Fuel to Conspiracy Theories Along the Af-Pak Border
Asia Society, Jun 14, 2010

"Although the news item in today’s New York Times about the discovery of major mineral resources in Afghanistan may come as a surprise for Americans, it adds weight to a conspiracy theory long-held by many Afghans and Pakistanis: Many in the region believe that U.S. forces are there because of some hidden resources in Afghanistan! Hence, this news is likely to be interpreted in Pakistan and Pashtun-dominated areas of Afghanistan in a way that will increase anti-U.S. feelings,” says Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas.

Separately, “the 'Af-Pak' scenario becomes more critical with a newly released report from the London School of Economics speculating about links between Pakistan's infamous intelligence organization ISI and the Afghan Taliban. The information is not new but the fact that a leading academic institution has published a paper on it adds credibili…

The ISI-Afghan Taliban Link?

The cloud in the sky
By Huma Imtiaz, Foreign Policy, June 13, 2010

The LSE Development Studies Institute report by Matt Waldman titled "The Sun in the Sky," released on Sunday, details the relationship between Pakistan's notorious spy agency the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Afghan Taliban. The report details the ISI's close relationship with the Taliban and its involvement with the Quetta Shura, along with claims from Taliban commanders that the ISI is heavily involved in the planning and execution of attacks on schools and other government targets in Afghanistan. In short, the ISI, an important part of the Pakistani Army, is hoodwinking the United States by still heavily supporting the Taliban movement, in order to ensure they have a permanent voice in deciding the future of Afghanistan.

While the report details how ISI trains militants, manipulates the Quetta Shura and more, one of the most astounding accusations is this:

"According to a Talib who ha…

Sweetened poison: How Obama lost Muslim hearts and minds - Fawaz Gerges

Sweetened poison: How Obama lost Muslim hearts and minds
Fawaz A. Gerges, The Middle East Channel, Foreign Policy, June 4, 2010

A year after President Obama's historic speech last June 4 in Cairo, the reality of his Middle East policy is in sharp contrast to the promising rhetoric and high expectations he raised. Obama's address, coupled with a concerted outreach strategy, made a deep impression among Arabs and Muslims. Many hoped that the young African-American president would seriously confront the challenges facing the region and establish a new relationship with the world of Islam.
Although it is not too late for Obama to close the gap between rhetoric and action, sadly for now, he has not taken bold steps to achieve a breakthrough in America's relations with the Muslim arena. His foreign policy is more status quo and damage control than transformational. Like their American counterparts, Muslims desperately long for real change that they believe in.

Unless Presiden…

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan...

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan...
Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts -- when Kabul had rock 'n' roll, not rockets.

BY MOHAMMAD QAYOUMI, Foreign Policy, MAY 27, 2010

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it "a broken 13th-century country." The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He's hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by "barbarians" with "a 1200 A.D. mentality." Many assume that's all Afghanistan has ever been -- an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages.

But that is not the Afghanistan I remember. I grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and…

What is happening in North Waziristan?

Accord in NWA
By Mushtaq Yusufzai, The News, June 08, 2010
20 militants freed, Army convoy let go

PESHAWAR: Situation in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region has witnessed a gradual improvement following an agreement on Monday that led to the release of 20 Taliban by the government and in return the militants allowed an Army convoy, stranded in Miramshah for the last 45 days, to proceed.

Relations between the government and Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban had turned sour 45 days ago after an attack on a security forces convoy by suspected militants near the Hamzoni village, 25 kilometres west of Miramshah.
Eight soldiers were killed and several others injured in the attack on the convoy. The government later imposed a curfew on the Miramshah-Dattakhel Road and launched a crackdown against the Hamzoni tribe under the collective responsibility clause of Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). It arrested 50 people, including Taliban militants and some tribesmen.

The incident generated rum…

India Takes a Softer line on Pakistan ?

A softer line
Editorial Dawn, 07 Jun, 2010

Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna reiterated his country’s desire for dialogue with Pakistan to resolve outstanding issues during his recent visit to Washington. This is in keeping with India’s changed, softer line towards this country. But the fact that Mr Krishna chose to make these remarks in the US capital suggests that Washington is gently nudging New Delhi to keep lines of communication open with Islamabad. The minister made the remarks at a reception attended by President Obama. In keeping with standard practice the American president chose not to publicly comment on Pakistan and India’s bilateral relations. But a senior State Department official has confirmed Pakistan featured in the US-India strategic dialogue. India has long rejected ‘outside’ mediation concerning its relations with Pakistan, yet all signals indicate the Indians are listening to what the Americans have to say.

The call for dialogue was coupled with the …

Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris First - New ICG Report

Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris First
Asia Briefing N°106, International Crisis Group, 3 Jun 2010


India and Pakistan have consistently subjected Kashmiri interests to their own national security agendas and silenced calls for greater autonomy. With the start of their composite dialogue – comprehensive negotiations to resolve all contentious bilateral issues, including Kashmir, launched in February 2004 – both appeared willing to allow more interaction across the Line of Control (LOC) but failed to engage Kashmiris in the process. As a result, they did not take full advantage of opportunities to enhance cross-LOC cooperation by identifying the most appropriate Kashmir-specific confidence-building measures (CBMs), and bureaucratic resistance in both capitals resulted in uneven implementation of even those that had been agreed. India has suspended the composite dialogue since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistan-based militants, but neither New Delhi nor Islamab…

With U.S. Aid, Warlord Builds Afghan Empire

With U.S. Aid, Warlord Builds Afghan Empire
By DEXTER FILKINS, New York Times, June 6, 2010

TIRIN KOT, Afghanistan — The most powerful man in this arid stretch of southern Afghanistan is not the provincial governor, nor the police chief, nor even the commander of the Afghan Army.

It is Matiullah Khan, the head of a private army that earns millions of dollars guarding NATO supply convoys and fights Taliban insurgents alongside American Special Forces.

In little more than two years, Mr. Matiullah, an illiterate former highway patrol commander, has grown stronger than the government of Oruzgan Province, not only supplanting its role in providing security but usurping its other functions, his rivals say, like appointing public employees and doling out government largess. His fighters run missions with American Special Forces officers, and when Afghan officials have confronted him, he has either rebuffed them or had them removed.

“Oruzgan used to be the worst place in Afghanistan, and n…

Essence and Perception: Changing the Perception of Islam in the West - Dr. Robert Crane

Essence and Perception: Changing the Perception of Islam in the West - Dr. Robert D. Crane, The American Muslim, May 30, 2010

Introduction: The biased perception of Islam, common especially in America, results not only because extremist Muslims resort to reactionary violence and claim that this is Islamic, but because other Muslims fail to explain the essence of Islam in ways that Americans can understand.

Biased perceptions about Islam and Muslims result also, especially in Europe, from bias against all religion, because in European history religion has usually been a cause rather than a cure for conflict.

Changing the perception of Islam in the West requires education about the essence of all religions, as well as credible demonstration of this essence in practice. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others must join in solidarity to rehabilitate the role of religion in the world, in both essence and practice, by providing a new paradigm of faith-based, compassionate justice f…

Who will be Pakistan Army's Next chief?

Global Insider: Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff
Kari Lipschutz, World Politics Review, 04 Jun 2010

Late last month, Pakistan's Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar denied rumors that the government was planning to extend Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's term as chief of army staff. In an e-mail interview, Hassan Abbas, Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society and Quaid-i-Azam Professor at Columbia University, discusses the possible candidates for one of Pakistan's most powerful positions.

WPR: As Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's honorable retirement in November 2010 draws nearer, what are the prospects of his term as Pakistan's chief of army staff being extended?

Hassan Abbas: There have been credible rumors about a possible extension in service for Gen. Kayani, and indications are that the Obama administration is supportive of this possibility. The primary reasons for this support are to maintain the working relationship between the Pentagon and the Pakistani army&#…

The Polite Islamophobia of the Intellectual!

The Polite Islamophobia of the Intellectual
A Book Review By Bruce B. Lawrence, Religion Dispatches - June 1, 2010

The Flight of the Intellectuals
by Paul Berman (Melville House, May 2010)

Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend
Andrew Shryock, ed. (Indiana University Press, June 2010)

Lauded by Foreign Affairs as “one of America’s leading public intellectuals,” Paul Berman was recently identified in a flattering New York Times review as “a man who identifies ‘with the liberal left.’” If Berman inhabits and projects the liberal left, then the conservative right has lost its claim to being at the forefront of Islamophobia.

The huge mistake of the Times (and almost every outlet of mainstream media reporting) is to assume that Berman is a public intellectual who can speak about Islam, that his is an authoritative voice to be heeded, his insights accepted and thus, perhaps most importantly, his warnings followed. In fact, the message in Flight of the Intellectuals…

U.S.-Relations with the Muslim World: One Year After Cairo - Excellent CSID Conference

U.S.-Relations with the Muslim World: One Year After Cairo
Wednesday, April 28, 2010, Ronald Reagan Building Amphitheater
Washington, DC 20004 - organized by CSID

On Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) organized its 11th Annual Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. The conference was perfectly situated amidst the great policy-shaping institutions, many of whose representatives were present and active at the conference. With the increasingly critical and timely theme of "U.S. Relations with the Muslim World: One Year After Cairo," CSID hosted a diverse range of speakers and participants from around the world to discuss the aftermath of President Barack Obama's famous Cairo speech in June, 2009, and the road forward in transforming his inspiring and well-intentioned rhetoric into tangible policies and actions. CSID President, Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, and Conference Program Committee Chair and Co-Director of …

Lahore attacker reveals key information about suicide Bombing Newtworks in Pakistan

Lahore attacker reveals key information
By Umar Cheema, The News, June 04, 2010

ISLAMABAD: A surviving attacker of the Lahore carnage, Abdullah alias Muhammad, has disclosed that he was misled into believing that Ahmedis were involved in drawing blasphemous caricatures of the Holy Prophet (SAW) so their bloodshed was a great service to Islam. An official of Lahore police privy to the interrogation told The News that Abdullah was fed the idea by his masterminds that Ahmedis, being a driving force behind the caricature controversy, deserved exemplary punishment and he together with his comrades were sent on this mission. The attacker belongs to a militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda. A member of the Ahmedi community, when contacted and told about Abdullah’s statement, repudiated the claim as a total farce, saying they believed in the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW).

Abdullah was trained in Miramshah in North Waziristan and is a resident of that area and his seminary-mate in Kar…

Saving Israel From Itself

Saving Israel From Itself
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York, June 2, 2010

When reports first circulated on Twitter of a deadly attack by Israeli commandos on the Gaza flotilla, I didn’t forward them because they seemed implausible. I thought: Israel wouldn’t be so obtuse as to use lethal force on self-described peace activists in international waters with scores of reporters watching.

Ah, but it turned out that Israel could be so obtuse after all. It shot itself in the foot, blasting American toes as well, and undermined all of its longer-term strategic objectives.

Abba Eban, the former Israeli statesman, is famously reported to have said in 1973: “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The quotation resonated because it was largely true.

Palestinians were locked for years into a self-defeating dynamic of violence and self-pity that led to terrorism and intransigence. Feeling misunderstood, they shrugged at global opinion and lashed back wherever they could, un…

Slashing of Education sector budget in Pakistan?

Gut reaction
Friendly budget
Lubna Jerar Naqvi, The News, June 03, 2010

With the budget hovering, there are reports that the education-sector allocation will be slashed down. According to reports, the amount allocated to the education sector in the 2010-11 budget will be slashed by one billion 70 million rupees, leaving five billion 20 million rupees. Higher education will face a cut of two billion 70 million rupees. And as if that wasn't enough, there are reports that school fees may see a spike by 15 per cent during the next academic year.

This is strange since only last September, while addressing a seminar on International Literacy Day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government aimed to achieve 85 per cent literacy in Pakistan by 2015. He declared 2010 as the year of literacy. He had also said then that the government had allocated over Rs31 billion in the budget for the education sector. He claimed that the education allocations would be raised to four per cen…

Indian Intel's assessment about Pakistan army's border deployments

Pakistan removes third of army's border deployment
Suman Sharma / DNA, June 2, 2010

A recent assessment by the military intelligence (MI) of the Indian Army of the Pakistan Army’s deployment in a counter insurgency (CI) role in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has concluded that 35% of Pakistan Army troops are engaged in that role, thereby creating ‘gaps’ or ‘holes’ on the Indo-Pak border.

In the assessment, presented at the Ambala-based 2 Strike Corps, it was acknowledged that the Indian Army is more than prepared to face any 26/11-type situation during the

Commonwealth Games in October, because the holding reserve forces of the Pakistan Army are not in full strength at the border. The assessment says the order of battle (Orbat) and deployment of Pakistani troops and their commitment to internal security duties have made the border porous.

Out of nine Pakistan Army brigades responsible for holding the border at the Shakargarh bulge, four are engaged in CI operation…

US and the' War on Terror': Chess or chequers?

Chess or chequers?
Dr Maleeha Lodhi, The News, June 01, 2010

The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK, and a former editor of The News.

Fighting terrorism should be like a game of chess but the US approach has been more akin to playing chequers, says Bruce Hoffman, an American scholar who has spent years studying the phenomenon.

A chess-game approach means understanding the threat and enemy and being able to anticipate and thoughtfully respond to how it changes and adapts. This means a strategy that uses reason and guile, not just brute force. Chequers (known as draughts in Pakistan) becomes a one-dimensional numbers game which measures gains more by how many leaders or militants are eliminated than how the flow of recruits is retarded.

One of the great advantages of spending time at Washington's leading think tank, the Woodrow Wilson Centre, is to be able to meet and listen to authorities on important issues. There is no shortage of terrorism experts, but what Bruce Ho…