Showing posts from December, 2010

Special Operations in Pakistan ?: Alternate Scenarios

A March of Folly in Pakistan
By ANATOL LIEVEN, New York Times, December 29, 2010

LONDON — News reports that senior U.S. commanders in Afghanistan want to expand Special Operations ground raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas may well have been leaked deliberately in order to increase pressure on Pakistani military leaders to take tougher action against Taliban fighters seeking refugee in their country.
However, if American generals genuinely want to increase such raids, then it needs to be stated emphatically that this is not just a lunatic idea, but one that demonstrates how far senior American (and British) commanders have become obsessed with the war in Afghanistan at the expense of the struggle against terrorism as a whole.
Pakistan, with its huge population (around 200 million), large army, nuclear weapons, extensive extremist networks and diaspora in the West, is a far more important country than Afghanistan and presents a vastly greater potential threat of anti-Western terrorism. M…

The Future of Black Law in Pakistan

EDITORIAL: The black law is here to stay
Daily Times, December 31, 2010

In an effort to appease the extreme religious right, the government has taken a regressive step backwards in a move that will cost the nation dearly in terms of extremism, intolerance and the abuse of its citizens, especially its minorities. Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah has categorically stated in the National Assembly that no amendments and no repeal of the dreaded Blasphemy Law are contemplated. After months of heated debate on this issue for the government to dash all hope is an eye-opener. It has opened the nation’s eyes to the blatant disregard the government has for its minorities and it has alerted the citizens to the fact that the intolerant elements of society have gained yet another victory. However, one would like to remind the government of a few sharp facts. If our representatives think that the shutter-down strike called by the Tahafooz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat today will be abandoned just lik…

Khaki puppetry in Pakistan: In the Light of Wikileaks Evidence

Khaki puppetry
Babar Sattar, The News, December 28, 2010

Disclosure of information is a good thing not because it is an end in itself but because free flow of information results in greater transparency, debate and accountability. Frequently disclosure of information only confirms what people already know. But it is significant because once backed by facts, conjecture becomes reality. And while no one ought to be held to account on the basis of speculation alone, can an entire nation look the other way when stark facts stare it in the eye? In this regard our response to Wikileaks has been extremely instructive. The ruling elite - civil and military - has conveniently responded to the former US envoy’s cables simply with denial. What they are denying is unclear. Are they saying that the reported conversations never took place, or that they do not reflect the context and thus the whole truth? Or do they believe that Shaggy’s “wasn’t me” is a perfectly legitimate response even in statecr…

Muslim Women in America

Muslim Women Gain Higher Profile in U.S.
By BRIAN KNOWLTON, New York Times, December 27, 2010

ATLANTA — Around Sept. 11, 2001, not long after she founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, Soumaya Khalifa heard from a group whose name sounded like “Bakers Club.” It wanted a presentation.

The address was unfamiliar, but she went anyway. The group turned out to be the Bickerers Club, whose members love to argue. Islam was their topic du jour and their venue was a tavern. Ms. Khalifa laughed, and made the best of it.

Ms. Khalifa, who was born in Egypt and raised in Texas, wears a head scarf but also juggles, comfortably, the demands of American suburbia: crowded schedule, minivan and all.

She is one of a type now found in most sizable U.S. cities: vocal Muslim women wary of the predominantly male leadership of their community and increasingly weary of suspicions of non-Muslims about Islam.

These women have achieved a level of success and visibility unmatched elsewhere. They say …

Remembering Benazir Bhutto

Remembering a Legend
Yusuf Raza Gilani, Express Tribune & The News, December 27, 2010

December 27 is a day of immense grief and national tragedy because it was, three years ago to this day, when Pakistan in particular and the world in general lost a leader of high stature in the person of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. It also conveys the message in no uncertain terms that even in her martyrdom Shaheed Benazir Bhutto continues to be the symbol of the federation of Pakistan that she was in her life.

Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s life is a classic study of courage, commitment towards people’s welfare, and steel-like determination to accomplish the goals she set for herself. She took over the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party from her illustrious father Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the most trying circumstances. She then carried forward his mission and braved the oppression of a dictatorial regime for eleven years with utmost courage. She continued to inspire millions and ke…

Pakistan - Jinnah's Dream

Lost Vision
Editorial, The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2010

Let us imagine that Mohammad Ali Jinnah were to step into the country he founded today, on his 134th birth anniversary, and walk down the streets of Karachi, the city he made his home. What he found would almost certainly shock him: slogans suggesting ethnic discord scratched out on graffiti-covered walls, drug users gathering at chosen spots to inject heroin into veins, a shattered civic infrastructure and an atmosphere permeated with intense political and sectarian tensions. Of course, he would encounter similar horrors in other places: from the Taliban in the north, to flood victims in the south, existing on the shores of a sea made up of mass despondency as a consequence of unemployment, inflation and social inequality. We can only imagine his feelings and his thoughts.

Quite obviously this was not the vision Jinnah had for the country he had carved onto the map in 1947, after three decades of assiduous effort. As Pak…

“It is important that we reach out in solidarity with those affected by extreme poverty”: Zinédine Zidane

More than 30,000 turn out to support Pakistan, Haiti
DAWN.COM, December 15, 2010
UNDP press release

Athens, Greece: More than 33,000 football fans demonstrated their support tonight for the people of Pakistan and Haiti by filling the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, to watch top players reach a 2-2 draw in the eighth Match Against Poverty.

As in previous years, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and two of its goodwill ambassadors, Zinédine Zidane and Ronaldo, organized the match in support of the Millennium Development Goals which seek to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods worldwide by the year 2015.

This year, the host football club, Olympiacos, invited more than 50 players from teams across the world to compete in the star-studded match broadcast live in more than 30 countries.
“It is important that we reach out in solidarity with those affected by extreme poverty,” said Zidane at a press conference preceding the match. “We cannot allow the people of Haiti and …

How to Understand Pakistan's Counterterrorism Strategy ? - Ayesha Siddiqa's Insights

Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy: Separating Friends from Enemies
Ayesha Siddiqa, Washington Quartely, Winter 2011, Volume 34, No. 1

On October 1, 2010, the government of Pakistan shut down the supply route for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after an incursion into Pakistan’s territory by NATO forces, killing 16 Pakistanis in collateral damage. Two days later, militants torched 28 NATO supply trucks near Shikarpur in the southern province of Sindh. These events reflect the inherent tension both in Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy and in its relationship with the United States and its allies in fighting the war in Afghanistan. The future of U.S. military operations in South Asia depends on the convergence of policies between the United States and Pakistan, but since the war began in 2001, interpreting Islamabad’s counterterrorism policy has been difficult.

Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan is rife with inherent contradictions, caught betwe…

How to Deal with Pakistan?

Dealing With Pakistan
By H.D.S. GREENWAY, New York Times, December 21, 2010

’Tis the season to bash Pakistan. That’s the message that leapt from the Obama administration’s Afghan strategy review last week. It’s Pakistan fault that we Americans are not winning the war, so we better get tough with Pakistan.

We “will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorists safe havens within their borders must be dealt with,” said President Obama. Others, such as retired Gen. Jack Keane, put it more bluntly: “Don’t just put a finger in their chest, put a fist in their chest.” But the message is the same — “U.S. Will Widen War On Militants Inside Pakistan,” headlined the New York Times. “Pentagon Planning More Attacks With Drones And Commandos.”

There can be no doubt of what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, called — in Pentagon-speak — “the criticality of Pakistan in terms of overall success.” But is putting a fist in Pakistan’s chest really going to solve the…

America's Tikka Diplomacy

COMMENT: America’s ‘tikka diplomacy’ — Cameron Munter
Daily Times, December 22, 2010

As diplomats, we do not just work in Pakistan — we live here too. Whether eating the food, enjoying the music, or appreciating the beautiful landscape and wonderfully rich art and culture, we seek to embrace life here.

Last week, my wife Marilyn and I visited Lahore for the second time since we arrived in Pakistan in October. During our trip, we met provincial government officials, opened a new Apple retail store, and talked to journalists about US-Pakistan relations. In addition, we met women civil society leaders at the Human Rights Commission, where we discussed gender issues in Pakistan, as part of the United Nations’ 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.

And, as your media noted, we also sat down at a desi restaurant to sample some of the traditional food for which Lahore is justly famous. We enjoyed an open-air breakfast of halva-puri, chanay, naan and lassi. Just like the dishes I grew …

The Future of Afghanistan?

Let's Un-Surge in Afghanistan
The current policy is diverting scarce military resources when threats like Iran and North Korea loom. We can prevent the return of al Qaeda with far fewer troops..
Richard Haas, Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2010

The Obama administration has completed its third review in two years of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. It argues the current approach is making progress, with success defined as building up Afghan national army and police forces until they can hold their own against a Taliban that is being weakened by ongoing combat. Some officials also believe that several more years of military pressure will persuade many Taliban fighters to switch sides rather than fight.

There are good reasons to be skeptical. While the situation on the ground in Afghanistan should improve in areas where U.S. military forces are operating in strength, the gains are likely to fade in the wake of their departure. The inherent weakness of central governmen…

Interesting Developments in Turkey

Turkey's leader asks Obama to thwart genocide vote
Washington Post, AP story, December 20, 2010

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's prime minister has asked the U.S. president to prevent a possible House vote on a resolution declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament on Monday that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sent U.S. President Barack Obama a letter asking he prevent the vote, saying it could damage ties between the two allies.

Davutoglu said: "we cannot allow the resolution to hang over Turkish-US ties like a Sword of Damocles."
A vote could take place before Democrats hand over leadership of the House to Republicans next month.
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide.

After WikiLeaks, U.S.-Turkish relations in need of catharsis not recriminations - Today's Zaman 

China-Pakistan Relations - Dynamics and Prospects

A History of China-Pakistan Ties
By James Lamont in New Delhi and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad, Financial Times, December 19 2010

When China’s prime minister opened the gleaming white latticed China-Pakistan friendship centre in Islamabad at the weekend, the gesture of friendship might easily have been mistaken for naked ambition.

Wen Jiabao was simultaneously unveiling $35bn worth of trade and investment deals to give wings to Pakistan’s stumbling economy by binding it closer to the world’s fastest growing economy. Alongside a newly agreed $16bn package with India, the engagement with Pakistan gives China a sizeable economic footprint in south Asia

Pakistan is the latest country where Beijing is deploying economic power for diplomatic ends. Last month, China agreed $20bn worth of deals with France and is considering the possible purchase of Portuguese government bonds.

The three-day visit by Mr Wen to Pakistan was a crowning moment in a 40-year partnership underpinned by military har…

Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins??

Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins
The Morningside Post, Nadia Hasham, December 17, 2010 In a successful attempt to highlight and question the emerging trends of one of the most dynamic nations, the Columbia-Paris Alliance Program together with the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion (CDTR), the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL), and the South Asia Institute presented a conference on the domestic and regional issues surrounding the future of Pakistan. The panel on “The Domestic Scene in Pakistan” was the morning session of a larger full-day symposium provocatively entitled Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins, which proved to be a wonderful blend of scholars highlighting differing and often conflicting elements in Pakistan, from civil-military relations, to the police force and the judiciary. .....
Columbia’s own Dr. Hassan Abbas provided an interesting perspective, able to draw on personal experience to discuss the is…

'The Rising Tide: New Direction in Art From Pakistan'

Pakistan’s Palette of Blood and Tears By Jane Perlez, New York Times, December 17, 2010
KARACHI, Pakistan — In this chaotic city of 18 million people, an exhibition of works by Pakistan’s most significant contemporary artists shows just how imbued with violence daily life here is: on the street, in the air and in the debate about the future course of the nation.

Installed in the elegant rooms of the Mohatta Palace Museum, a confection of Mughal architecture in pink stone, the exhibition, “The Rising Tide: New Direction in Art From Pakistan,” includes more than 40 canvases, videos, installations, mobiles and sculptures made in the past 20 years. Its curator, the feminist sculptor and painter Naiza Khan, said her aim was to show the coming of age of Pakistani art, which blossomed when censorship was lifted after the death of the American-backed Islamic dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq.

Violence was not an intended theme. “I wanted the works to reflect the many strands of the urban condition,” …

Lessons From Karbala: Islamic History's Most Tragic Episode

Lessons from Karbala
Farhan Bokhari, The News, December 17, 2010.

“I am not rising (against Yazid) as an insolent or arrogant person, or a mischief-monger or tyrant. I have risen (against Yazid) as I seek to reform the Ummah of my grandfather. I wish to promote good and forbid evil.” – Excerpt from the last sermon of Imam Hussain (AS) before departing from Madina on his journey for the epic battle at Karbala, Iraq, 61 Hijri (680 AD).

This week has seen a wave of congregations across the world, dedicated to mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the younger son of Hazrat Ali (AS) and Bibi Fatima (AS), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

On Friday, the 10th day of the month of Muharram, remembered as Ashura, the commemoration peaks as mourners recall and seek to relive. to the extent possible, each step through this tragic day whose memory has only become increasingly powerful with the passage of time.

But in this continued remembrance almost 14 centuries …

Richard C. Holbrooke, 1941-2010

Post-Holbrooke Question: ‘What Now?’
By MARK LANDLER, NEw York Times, December 14, 2010

WASHINGTON — When President Obama turned to Richard C. Holbrooke during a White House meeting on Afghanistan last year, Mr. Holbrooke spoke gravely of the historic challenge the two men faced, likening it to when Clark M. Clifford advised Lyndon B. Johnson about what to do in Vietnam.

“Richard,” an impatient Mr. Obama interrupted him, “do people really talk like that?”

That strained exchange helps explain why Mr. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was an awkward fit in the Obama administration. A man of high drama and an acute sense of his own role, he ruffled feathers in a White House that prides itself on team-playing and a lack of drama.

With Mr. Holbrooke’s death on Monday, the administration has lost one of its most resonant voices, just as it completes its latest review of its Afghan war strategy. His death confronts the White House and State Department with…

Thank you Muslim Lakhani

D.C. Man Funds Meals for Homeless Year Round
NBC4 News - December 13, 2010

"I believe in the spirit of sharing, in the spirit of tolerance..." - MUSLIM LAKHANI

For more details about Muslim Lakhani, click here, here and here

Beyond Wikileaks: Afghanistan Review & The Story of the Afghan Drug Lord who was US Informer!

Jailed Afghan Drug Lord Was Informer on U.S. Payroll
By James Risen, New York Times, December 11, 2010

WASHINGTON — When Hajji Juma Khan was arrested and transported to New York to face charges under a new American narco-terrorism law in 2008, federal prosecutors described him as perhaps the biggest and most dangerous drug lord in Afghanistan, a shadowy figure who had helped keep the Taliban in business with a steady stream of money and weapons.

But what the government did not say was that Mr. Juma Khan was also a longtime American informer, who provided information about the Taliban, Afghan corruption and other drug traffickers. Central Intelligence Agency officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents relied on him as a valued source for years, even as he was building one of Afghanistan’s biggest drug operations after the United States-led invasion of the country, according to current and former American officials. Along the way, he was also paid a large amount of cash by the U…

Shameful: Fake Wikileaks - Failing To Learn....

Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India
Declan Walsh, Guardian,9 December 2010
They read like the most extraordinary revelations. Citing the WikiLeaks cables, major Pakistani newspapers this morning carried stories that purported to detail eye-popping American assessments of India's military and civilian leaders.
According to the reports, US diplomats described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal; they said India's government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists; and they claimed Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt and Balochistan.

"Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Waziristan, Balochistan," read the front-page story in the News; an almost identical story appeared in the Urdu-language Jang, Pakistan's bestselling daily.

If accurate, the disclosures would confirm the worst fears of Pakistani nationalist hawks and threaten relations between Washington and Ne…

America's War With Itself in Central Asia

America's War With Itself in Central Asia

By Philip Shishkin
Originally published by Project Syndicate on Nov. 30, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – In its decade-long slog to secure Afghanistan, the United States has juggled contradictory foreign policies in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the fragile Central Asian states with key supporting roles in the war. There's the policy of engaging the two post-Soviet states for their own sake, promoting good governance, human rights, and business ties—the usual grab-bag of US diplomacy. Then there’s the policy of using them as logistical hubs in the Afghanistan war.

Unfortunately, the two policies have often worked at cross purposes, diminishing America’s long-term influence in the region and at times hurting its ability to conduct the war. And, as the US pours more troops and money into Afghanistan, military expediency is once again trumping other policy goals in Central Asia.

In some ways, that is understandable: the US has a war to wage on a …

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: Close Relations?

WikiLeaks: The Saudis' Close but Strained Ties with Pakistan
By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME, December 6, 2010

As Hassan Abbas, a professor of South Asian studies at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, notes, the cables also illustrate where Saudi and U.S. interests in the region possibly diverge. "Saudi Arabia is a monarchy and not interested in seeing many Muslim countries going down the road of democracy," he says. An April 2009 cable claims the Saudis are fearful of a "Shi'a triangle" of hostile Shi'a-led governments in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, while others depict the Saudis as desperate to counteract the growing clout of Turkey, another rising Muslim democracy. Whatever their differences, however, the WikiLeaks cables reveal a belief in Washington that Pakistan's road to salvation still winds through Riyadh.

For complete article, click here
External actors: Saudi Arabia’s covert role in Pakistan - The Express Tribu…

How to Reform Pakistan's Criminal Justice System?

Reforming Pakistan’s Criminal Justice System
International Crisis Group, Asia Report N°196 - 6 Dec 2010


The ineffectiveness of Pakistan’s criminal justice system has serious repercussions for domestic, regional and international security. Given the gravity of internal security challenges, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government in Islamabad, and the four provincial governments should make the reform of an anarchic criminal justice sector a top domestic priority.

The low conviction rate, between 5 and 10 per cent at best, is unsurprising in a system where investigators are poorly trained and lack access to basic data and modern investigation tools. Prosecutors, also poorly trained, are not closely involved in investigations. Corruption, intimidation and external interference in trials, including by the military’s intelligence agencies, compromise cases before they even come to court. Given the absence of scientific evidence collection me…

Afghan Wish List - in the Post Wikileaks Scenario

Afghan wish list: Kabul pushes for end to interference
Express Tribune, December 6, 2010

KABUL: Afghanistan is seeking greater interaction with the civilian apparatus in Islamabad in a bid to end Pakistan military’s alleged “interference” in its affairs, an official accompanying Prime Minister Yousaf Raza on his Kabul tour told Express 24/7 on Sunday. Many observers in Kabul believe Islamabad is blocking attempts at finding a political solution to the conflict in that country.

They also said that Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of the Afghan High Council for Peace, has called for restoring the Loya Jirga for initiating contacts with the Taliban in a bid to reintegrate them into mainstream Afghan society. Officials quoted Rabbani as saying that initiating talks with the Taliban without restoration of the Loya Jirga would be useless.

The Associated Press of Pakistan quoted him as saying a day ago that the objective of the High Peace Council “is precisely to develop close political bilat…

Wikileaks and Pakistan: Various Perspectives

From WikiLeaks to PakiWeaks
By Cyril Almeida, Dawn, Dec 3, 2010

WIKILEAKS has vindicated at least one American diplomat: Anne Patterson. The recent US ambassador to Pakistan comes across as one sharp cookie, learning quickly on the job, and soon enough cutting through much of the fog of Pakistani politics and security to get to the bottom lines.

Sometimes the outside observer can tell a lot more about a place than those immersed in it for long years. And so it is that Patterson hones in on many truths.

My personal favourite, her comment about the Pakistani psyche after Nawaz Sharif thanked the Americans for ‘selecting’ Kayani: “The fact that a former prime minister believes the US could control the appointment of Pakistan’s chief of army staff speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here.”

But there is another little passage in a cable in the run-up to the lawyers’ long march last year which is remarkably revealing, and perhaps goes to the heart of what is the problem in P…

Gul-e-Khandana : ‘I told school attackers to burn me first’: Those who challenge Terrorists in Pakistan deserve recognition

 For the love of her school: ‘I told school attackers to burn me first’
Express Tribune, December 3, 2010

SWAT: While fear and terror in the valley of Swat pushed everyone into acquiescence, Gul-e-Khandana not only resisted the militants but also saved her school from being blown up.
Gul-e-Khandana, who hails from Matta tehsil, is the headmistress of a primary school for girls in Sijban, Matta. “I have intense love for this school. Where I now teach, I studied as a young girl in primary school,” she tells The Express Tribune.

She is the first woman from her family who chose to work outside the house, despite family pressure. “My family did oppose me but I resisted them because I wanted the girls of my village to be educated. For the first two years, I taught without a salary,” she said.

Education and literacy have never fared very well in Swat and when the militants intensified their hold in the region, education suffered the most. While most residents took fright, Gul-e-Khandana ref…

Wikileaks Bombshell - Latest Information about Pakistan - III

General Assessment - Lessons for the US and Pakistan: From the latest revelations, it appears that US diplomats and officials based in Pakistan routinely spend a lot of time discussing, analyzing and reporting domestic political issues in Pakistan that are of little consequence for the US interests. That explains why they often fail to understand and project major developments in Pakistan and South Asia in a timely fashion. Many of the conspiracy theories popular in Pakistan about US efforts to get a pardon for Musharraf in 2008 and undue interference in domestic political developments are substantiated by these revelations.  
WikiLeaks cables: Pakistani army chief considered plan to oust president Army chief considered pushing President Zardari from office to prevent opposition leader Nawaz Sharif taking power - Daclan Walsh, Guardian, Nov 30, 2010
Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, considered pushing President Asif Ali Zardari from office and forcing him into exile to r…