Showing posts from October, 2010

A New Book by Nir Rosen on Iraq War and its dark consequences


An extraordinary feat of reporting, Aftermath follows the contagious spread of radicalism and sectarian violence that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ensuing civil war have unleashed in the Muslim world.

Nir Rosen has spent nearly a decade among warriors and militants who have been challenging American power in the Muslim world. In Aftermath, he tells their story, showing the other side of the U.S. war on terror, traveling from the battle-scarred streets of Baghdad to the alleys, villages, refugee camps, mosques, and killing grounds of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and finally Afghanistan, where Rosen has a terrifying encounter with the Taliban as their “guest,” and witnesses the new Obama surge fizzling in southern Afghanistan.

Rosen was one of the few Westerners to venture inside the mosques of Baghdad to witness the first stirrings of sectarian hatred in the months after the U.S…

A Victory for Democratic and Liberal Forces in Pakistan - Asma Jahangir Wins Supreme Court Bar Association Elections

Asma Jahangir wins SCBA election
Dawn, October 27, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Advocate Asma Jahangir became the first women president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) after she defeated her opponent marginally by 38 votes in election held on Wednesday.

According to an unofficial vote count, Ms Jahangir bagged 834 votes while Ahmed Owais got 796 votes. Highest numbers of votes were polled in Lahore where Ms Jahangir received 419 votes and Owais 409. She was leading in Quetta, Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi while Owais was ahead in Multan.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Chaudray Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Musharraf welcomed Ms Jahangir for winning the presidential seat.
Ms Jahangir said her success is a victory of liberal and democratic forces.—DawnNews

Bio - Jazba Magazine; For career details, click here
My mission is to serve mankind with dignity: Asma Jahangir - Daily Times
Profiled among Asian Heros - TIME
Interview with Asma Jahangir - Asia Society
For more interviews,…

Turkey Leaps forward...

Turkey Steps Out
By Roger Cohen
New York Times, October 25, 2010

ANKARA — Davutogluism is a mouthful. It’s not going to make Fox News any time soon. But if I could escort Sarah Palin, Tea Partiers and a few bigoted anti-Muslim Europeans to a single country illustrating how the world has changed, it would be the home of the D-word, Turkey.

Ahmet Davutoglu, who birthed a foreign policy doctrine and has been Turkey’s foreign minister since May 2009, has irked a lot of Americans. He’s seen as the man behind Turkey’s “turning East,” as Iran’s friend, as Israel’s foe, as a fickle NATO ally wary of a proposed new missile shield, and as the wily architect of Turkey’s new darling status with Arab states. The Obama administration has said it is “disappointed” in Turkey’s no vote on Iran sanctions last June; Congress is not pleased, holding up an ambassadorial appointment and huffing over arms sales.
Nostalgia is running high in Washington for the pliant Turkey of Cold-War days. Davutoglu is h…

Women, violence and the law

Women, violence and the law
S Iftikhar Murshed, The News, October 24, 2010

The woman's head was covered with a sack, her hands were tied and she was tethered to the ground – while a group of turbaned, bearded men hurled rocks at her, breaking her bones and then crushing her skull. According to reports in the press, she had been walking unescorted and was presumed guilty of adultery. The barbarity, allegedly perpetrated by the Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), was shown on Dubai's Al Aan television. The same footage was televised by a private Pakistani channel on Sept 28 and the story also featured that day in the local print media.

There was no reaction from civil society, no politician demanded that the government bring the criminals to justice, no resolution was passed by parliament expressing concern over the outrage, no statement emanated from the president or the prime minister condemning the incident, and the atrocity faded from public memory bec…

New Report: Militancy in Pakistan’s Borderlands: Implications for the Nation and for Afghan Policy

The Century Foundation - New Publications:
Militancy in Pakistan’s Borderlands: Implications for the Nation and for Afghan Policy
by Hassan Abbas
New York, October 22nd, 2010:

As part of a series of expert papers commissioned to inform the work of its International Task Force on Afghanistan in Its Regional and Multilateral Dimensions, as well as the broader national and international debate on Afghanistan policy, The Century Foundation announces publication of a new monograph exploring the Pakistan’s ambivalent policies toward Islamic militants in its borderlands and the implications for international efforts in Afghanistan.

President Obama, in first introducing his policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in March of 2009, called their shared border region “ the most dangerous place in the world.” This timely paper provide a critical perspective on past Pakistani policy toward militant groups, the growth of their influence in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Kyber Pukhtunkhw…

The U.S. - Pakistan Strategic Dialogue...

Talking at Cross-Purposes
By H.D.S. GREENWAY, International Herald Tribune, October 20, 2010

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — When Americans and Pakistanis sit down in Washington this week for the third round of their “strategic dialogue,” it will come at a time of mutual tension. Seldom has the relationship been more strained.

For Pakistan, the recent hot-pursuit incursion that killed three of their soldiers meant that a red line had been unpardonably breached. For Americans, the retaliatory closing of the Khyber Pass, their main supply route into Afghanistan, and the images of burning fuel-tankers rankles.

If there were to really be what diplomats call a full and frank exchange, the dialogue might go like this:

America: It’s quite simple. Stop sitting on your hands and go into North Waziristan and clear out that nest of terrorists you’ve been sheltering.

Pakistan: It’s not at all simple. You are scapegoating us after having failed in Afghanistan for nine years. We may not be entirely innocen…

The U.S. - Iran Relations: 'Obama wrote Khamenei twice, Ahmadinejad wrote Obama twice'

Ex-official: Obama wrote Khamenei twice, Ahmadinejad wrote Obama twice
Laura Rozen on Foreign Policy, Politico, October 15, 2010

Veteran diplomat John Limbert served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran in the Obama administration for nine months, departing this past summer.

He writes in a forthcoming U.S. Institute of Peace Iran primer on the Obama administration's frustrated attempts to negotiate with Iran so far and how both sides, but particularly Iran, beset by internal pressures and deep mutual misunderstandings, "claim the other is not responsive to its messages, and ... risk falling into the familiar, dysfunctional ways of the past."

Among his key points, Limbert reveals that Obama "twice wrote Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but did not receive a response to his second letter." Meantime, "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad twice wrote Obama, but did not receive a reply."

I remember hearing that one letter from the offic…

Sunnis in Iraq Allied With U.S. Rejoin Rebels

Sunnis in Iraq Allied With U.S. Rejoin Rebels
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and DURAID ADNAN, New York Times, October 16, 2010

BAQUBA, Iraq — Members of United States-allied Awakening Councils have quit or been dismissed from their positions in significant numbers in recent months, prey to an intensive recruitment campaign by the Sunni insurgency, according to government officials, current and former members of the Awakening and insurgents.

Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.

The defections have been driven in part by frustration with the Shiite-led government, which Awakening members say is intent on destroying them, as well as b…

The U.S. - Pakistan Relations and the 'War on Terror'

Trying to win Pakistani trust, 1 flight at a time

The Associated Press, Sunday, October 17, 2010

SWAT, Pakistan -- The flood waters have mostly receded from the Swat Valley, leaving a vast swath of silt littered with the remains of houses, roads, and bridges.

Above it, there's the incongruous sight of lumbering U.S. Army Chinook helicopters, like twin-rotored flying trucks, ferrying refugees in one direction, and cement, rice and other relief supplies in the other.

Aboard this flight is U.S. Army Brigadier Michael Nagata, second in command of the U.S. military mission to Pakistan.

"I tell my people, we are ruthlessly focused on being here for the people of Pakistan," said Nagata. He rejects any notion that U.S. aid relief was about boosting U.S. approval rating in Pakistan, which is somewhere in the 17 percent range.

The Chinooks - together with a fleet of smaller Black Hawks - could well be a visual symbol for the almost schizophrenic military and…

'Pakistan Is Not America's Enemy': WSJ Op-ed

Pakistan Is Not America's Enemy
A sustained U.S.-Pakistani partnership after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan could have produced a very different history than the one we wrestle with today.
By RYAN CROCKER, Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010

The news from Pakistan is grim. NATO helicopters engage suspected militants inside Pakistan, killing three, only to discover they are Pakistani soldiers. The angry Pakistani government blocks NATO fuel shipments at the Khyber Pass, and militants attack the stalled trucks. An Obama administration report to Congress charges that the Pakistanis aren't doing enough against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Press accounts quote unnamed officials asserting that elements in Pakistani intelligence are encouraging the Taliban to step up attacks on NATO forces. And Bob Woodward cites President Obama as saying "the cancer is in Pakistan."

One could easily conclude that we are describing an enemy, not an ally. Many in Pakistan feel the sam…

Drone attacks may be legal, but are they moral? - Varying Viewpoints

Drone attacks may be legal, but are they moral?

The silence from human rights groups on America's use of 'targeted attacks' in Afghanistan is deafening, says Alasdair Palmer
By Alasdair Palmer, Telegraph, October 9, 2010

Abdul Jabbar, a British citizen from Birmingham, was killed last week in Pakistan by a missile launched from an American drone. If Jabbar was indeed planning a Mumbai-style massacre in a British city, as the intelligence services claim, his death will be a relief. Yet the degree to which it now seems to be acceptable for the US to use drones to kill those it believes to be involved in planning terrorist attacks is alarming.

Since the beginning of September alone, President Obama has authorised at least 25 targeted killings. The total since he came to office is more than 100. These have certainly killed some of the senior operatives of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. They have also killed dozens of people, including a large number of women and children, who were …

Terrorists Target Abdullah Shah Ghazi Shrine in Karachi

Eight killed in Karachi shrine suicide attacks
Staff Report, Daily Times, October 8, 2010

KARACHI: The twin suicide bombings at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi is a continuation of sectarian killings that have been witnessed in the city during the last few months.

There are two sectarian wars going on in the city simultaneously: one between the Deobandi-inspired Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat, formerly Sipah-e-Sahabah and the Shia sect; and the other between Sunni Tehrik and the Deobandi sect for the control of mosques.

The blasts at the shrine took place after the funeral prayer of Maulana Amin, who was gunned down in a targeted attack on Tuesday.

Targeted killings of banned outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) activists started last year that fuelled sectarianism in the city. Since then sectarian killings have claimed lives of 23 people belonging to the Deobandi school of thought. In the aftermath of their killings, a number of Shias including doctors and high profile personalities wer…

Crisis Guide: Pakistan - Council on Foreign Relations

Tensions over U.S. attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas, and concerns about stability after recent floods, highlight Pakistan's importance to U.S. policy in the region. This interactive guide examines the roots of Pakistan's problems and offers paths to a solution.

Executive Summary
This summary is part of “Crisis Guide: Pakistan,” published on - It may be viewed at

Pakistan represents one of the world's most troubling states in crisis. It is home to an array of terrorist groups that pose threats to international security and, increasingly, to Pakistan itself. It possesses a nuclear arsenal of about seventy to ninety weapons that is rapidly growing, and in the wake of growing instability, could become vulnerable to militants. Bordering a conflict-ridden Afghanistan and poised on a seemingly permanent war footing against India, what happens inside Pakistan's borders matters deeply to the region and the wider world.

The considerable g…

Why doesn't the U.S. take credit for aiding Pakistan?

Why doesn't the U.S. take credit for aiding Pakistan?
David Ignatius, Washington Post Blog, October 4, 2010

Islamabad -- Hundreds of Americans have been working their butts off to help Pakistan cope with their flood disaster, and they haven't been getting much credit for it -- including from me.

I wrote last week from a village called Pir Sabak in northwestern Pakistan that U.S. flood relief wasn't evident there, or along the way. "The U.S. military has been working hard to provide flood assistance, but most of that is invisible to Pakistanis," I noted. That seemed to me to be a missed opportunity -- and characteristic of a weird misfire in U.S. public diplomacy. For a superpower, we can be oddly shy about advertising our good works.

I talked more about this problem with U.S. officials managing the relief effort, who felt their colleagues' work had been slighted. They're right; America has been making a big effort to help the flood victims, more than any…

Inside Pakistan Today?

Capital suggestion
Dr Farrukh Saleem, The News, October 4, 2010

President Zardari, PM Gilani, Mian Nawaz Sharif, our media, Pak Army and the judiciary have all contributed to the instability, insecurity and uncertainty we call Pakistan. There's recession, depression and despair everywhere.

No more politics, please. Time out. Stop the clock. We were loosing ourselves and our country in the 'vast abysses of space and time' even before the Great Flood; the abode of evil spirits is now just around the corner. Our budget was redder than blood even before the Great Flood -- and now we are trying to wash blood with more blood.

Please take stock of the situation. Over the 2003 to 2010 period, the total Pakistani fatalities in terrorist violence now stand at 31,243. Over the same period there have been 2,571 bomb blasts. Over the same period there have been 247 suicide attacks. All this and we still don't have a consensus on how to counter terror.

No more politics, please. T…

Games India Isn’t Ready to Play

Games India Isn’t Ready to Play
By Pankaj Mishra, New York Times, October 2, 2010

ON Friday afternoon, public spaces across north India were flooded with policemen and paramilitaries. Thousands of alleged “troublemakers” were arrested. The sending of bulk text messages from mobile phones was banned. These precautions had nothing to do with the opening on Sunday of the Commonwealth Games, the athletic competition among the nations of the former British Empire that so many Indians have hoped would be their country’s symbolic coming out as a world power.

Rather, the police were out in force because an Indian court had pronounced its verdict on the site in the town of Ayodhya that has been long claimed by Hindu nationalists as the birthplace of Lord Rama. The government did not want a repeat of the horrific mob violence that in 1992 had followed the destruction by Hindu nationalists of a 16th-century mosque standing on the land in question.

Shortly after the verdict, which split the dis…