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Showing posts from March, 2011

Cricket Diplomacy in South Asia - A Constructive Approach

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'Cricket Diplomacy': Even Saddened Pakistani Fans See Some Good
NPR, March 30, 2011

Though deeply disappointed that Pakistan's cricket team lost to India today in their semifinal World Cup match, mechanical engineering students Arsalan Ghazi and Danish Ilyas were also struck by the potential meaning of the match between the two archrivals (politically and sportingly).

They watched with thousands of other fans on a large screen set up in an Islamabad park. Afterward, Ghazi said, "It's a game." He mused about how even though one match can't bring peace, "sports does unite nations." More matches in the future can only help that process, the friends said.

This was indeed a competition laden with political significance. As my NPR colleague Corey Flintoff and I reported on All Things Considered, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani watched the game with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh.

Pakistan's loss notwithstanding, Gilani said afte…

Unrest in Jordan and Syria after Tumoil in Bahrain and Yemen - Arab Reawakening in full swing?

Riot Police Destroy Protesters’ Camp in Amman
By RANYA KADRI and ETHAN BRONNER
New York Times, March 25, 2011

AMMAN, Jordan — Riot police stormed a pro-democracy rally here in the Jordanian capital on Friday, leaving one man dead, injuring scores of other people and dispersing with water cannons a 1,000-person tent camp set up the previous day to resemble Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Witnesses said the violence — the worst since demonstrations began in Jordan in January — came after some 200 pro-government counterdemonstrators using sticks and rocks attacked the protesters, who fought back. The riot police were called in, and they broke up the fighting as well as the tent camp.

The Interior Ministry said the man who died in the fighting, Khairi Jamil Saad, 56, an unemployed father of five, suffered a fatal heart attack, But his son, Nasser Saad, said in an interview that the riot police had attacked and beaten them both. He said he saw his father’s body at the hospital. His teeth were bro…

How to End the Afghan War? - Century Foundation Task Force Report on Afghanistan

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Settling the Afghan War
By LAKHDAR BRAHIMI and THOMAS R. PICKERING
New York Times, March 22, 2011

DESPITE the American-led counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, the Taliban resistance endures. It is not realistic to think it can be eradicated. Efforts by the Afghan government, the United States and their allies to win over insurgents and co-opt Taliban leaders into joining the Kabul regime are unlikely to end the conflict.

The current strategy of “reintegration” may peel away some fighters and small units, but it does not provide the political resolution that peace will require.

Neither side of the conflict can hope to vanquish the other through force. Meanwhile, public support in Western countries for keeping troops in Afghanistan has fallen. The Afghan people are weary of a long and debilitating war.

For their part, the Taliban have encountered resistance from Afghans who are not part of their dedicated base when they have tried to impose their stern moral code. International aid has…

Murder of History - Remembering 'East Pakistan' on March 23, 2011

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Blind spots of history
By Manan Ahmed
Pakistan Today, March 23, 2011

Today, on March 23rd, the Pakistani national cricket team takes the field in the World Cup Cricket quarterfinals. The attention of the nation is focused on the men in green and their determined gazes at the next round. This national team is a motley crew – young and old, new and experienced, hailing from various parts of the nation-state.

It may have been a bit slow coming but cricket fever is now everywhere. This enthusiasm is a fitting scene and a fitting scenario for the team. After all, the cricket team has epitomised Pakistani nationalism since the heady days of General Zia-ul-Haq’s “cricket diplomacy” and the tours with India under Imran Khan. Some say that nothing really changed between India and Pakistan as a result of that “diplomacy” but it did – Imran Khan and his team became the purest, brightest national symbol the nation ever had. When they lifted the World Cup trophy in 1992, it was the triumph of n…

India Cables: Views 0f Pakistani Punjabis about 'Who conducted Mumbai Attacks?'

181158: Most Punjabis believe Indian groups are behind Mumbai attacks
The Hindu, March 23, 2011

SUBJECT: MOST PUNJABIS BELIEVE INDIAN GROUPS ARE BEHIND MUMBAI ATTACKS
CLASSIFIED BY: Clinton Taylor, Acting Principal Officer, Consulate Lahore, U.S. Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (d)

1. (C) Summary: Although a few Punjabis see the possibility the Mumbai attacks could have been launched in Pakistan, overall politicians and lawyers in Punjab province believe that India should look to internal insurgent groups as the sole actors of the Mumbai attacks. After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's initial reaction blaming Pakistan, which angered Punjabis, they welcomed the December 1 statement from the White House, saying that the U.S. government had found no evidence implicating the Pakistan government, which they saw as absolving Pakistan of any responsibility. The innocence felt by most Punjabis will make it difficult for the government to crack down on Pakistani perpetrators. End Summary…

Police, Not Military, Is Key to Fighting Terrorism in Pakistan

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 South Asia Scholar Says Police, Not Military, Is Key to Fighting Terrorism in Pakistan by Melanie A. Farmer and Tanya L. Domi The Record, Columbia University, March 2011
Fourteen years ago, Hassan Abbas served on the police force in his homeland, Pakistan. Now from his perch at the School of International and Public Affairs, Abbas has come up with a plan to reform his cuntry’s weak police system, which he argues would be far better than the military at fighting terrorism. 
“Nuclear bombs and attacks are not going to save Pakistan from militant threat,” says Abbas, the Quaid-i-Azam Professor with the South Asia Institute. “You need better law enforcement mechanisms to tackle the growing violence and crime in the country.”
In February, Abbas’ research was published in a report released by the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace. His recommendations include improving coordination between various policing agencies, streamlining the decision-making process, modern…

Challenges Faced by the Government of Pakistan!

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Daily Times, March 20, 2011 - source

A Story of Hope from Multan College of Arts

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A Story of Hope by Richard Seck
Dawn Blog, March 18, 2011

After the longest strike in the history of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), the students of the Multan College of Arts were forced back into the classrooms on Monday, March 16, 2011. They had stood united for 21 days while facing harassment and threats of expulsion by the administration, and threats of physical violence from politically-backed student groups. They continued to stand and peacefully protest after disappointment followed disappointment in meetings with the highest-level officials in the Punjab Government. The core of what they were fighting for was truth, justice and a proper education. In the end, none of their goals were achieved.

It is not without irony that I write a tale that can be construed as another damning story in the long legacy of the horrendous politics of this nation. I, who arrived in Karachi in December of 2006 with sole purpose of celebrating the people, places, and incredible history of land …

Crisis in Bahrain Worsens - 'Pearl Roundabout' destroyed

Bahrain Pulls a Qaddafi
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times, March 16, 2011

It is heartbreaking to see a renegade country like Libya shoot pro-democracy protesters. But it’s even more wrenching to watch America’s ally, Bahrain, pull a Qaddafi and use American tanks, guns and tear gas as well as foreign mercenaries to crush a pro-democracy movement — as we stay mostly silent.

In Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve seen corpses of protesters who were shot at close range, seen a teenage girl writhing in pain after being clubbed, seen ambulance workers beaten for trying to rescue protesters — and in the last few days it has gotten much worse. Saudi Arabia, in a slap at American efforts to defuse the crisis, dispatched troops to Bahrain to help crush the protesters. The result is five more deaths, by the count of The Associated Press.

One video from Bahrain appears to show security forces shooting an unarmed middle-aged man in the chest with a tear gas canister at a range of a few feet. The…

Pakistan Education Task Force Report - An Outstanding Initiative

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[http://educationemergency.com.pk/]
Unleashing Pakistan's Education Potential - Shahid Kardar
March for education in Pakistan,Daily Times, March 9, 2011

Pakistan Education Task Force (PEFT) has issued its report titled ‘the Education Emergency Pakistan Booklet’ as part of its March for Education campaign to improve education in Pakistan. Here are the excerpts:

TODAY, Pakistan is crippled by an education emergency that threatens tens of millions of children. No country can thrive in the modern world without educated citizens.

But the emergency has disastrous human, social and economic consequences, and threatens the security of the country. 2011 is Pakistan’s Year of Education. It’s time to think again about Pakistan’s most pressing long-term challenge.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan received Presidential assent on 19 April 2010. For the first time, education is no longer a privilege, but a fundamental right for all children: The State shall provide free and com…

Lessons from Raymand Davis Case

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Davis Release Highlights Fragility of US-Pakistan Partnership
Hassan Abbas, Asia Society, March 16, 2011

Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor the US claimed had diplomatic immunity, was arrested in Pakistan after a deadly shooting incident in January. He was freed today after victims' families pardoned him in exchange for financial compensation, as per a provision of Islamic law applicable in Pakistan's legal system.

For the sustainability of US-Pakistan relations this is a positive step, especially from the US perspective. On the Pakistani street this is likely to create some tension, and the media also appear to be up in arms against the government as it is clear to all and sundry that the government (both its political and military sides) played an active role in this resolution.

The situation in Pakistan can still turn ugly if handled poorly, as rumors are circling in local media that the victims' family members agreed to this pardon under duress — or they may be saying th…

The ISI-CIA Deal - Drones, Davis and Bilateral Relationship

Drone Attacks in Pakistan: Truth and Consequences
Hassan Abbas, Asia Society, March 15, 2011

In an unprecedented move, a Pakistani general has proclaimed that most of the targets of US drone attacks in Pakistan’s Pushtun tribal belt are "hardcore militants" and the number of "innocent people being killed is relatively low."

This must be music to the ears of CIA officials who run this program. However, everyone else is surprised because this statement has come at a time when the Raymond Davis controversy has sullied the bilateral relationship.

It was a known fact, especially after the WikiLeaks disclosures, that Pakistan's political as well as military leaders were generally supportive of this mode of counterterror operation—even if they were publicly critical of it in view of strong public opposition.

In this context, it appears that after a meeting of senior military officials from both sides, some adjustments have been agreed upon—Pakistan's army will…

Bahrain: Severe Human Rights Violations by Security Forces

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News Analysis: Bahrain's Revolution Reaches What Could Become Decisive Phase
by: Husain Abdulla, t r u t h o u t , 09 March 2011

The people's revolution is on its track, calling for the removal of the regime and performing various activities on the road to victory. In the past week, several remarkable activities were undertaken with resounding success. First came the picketing of the financial harbor owned by the regime's Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. It was conducted at night when hundreds of protesters moved from their base at Pearl Square and took position near the main financial center. Then came the massive demonstration and picketing of the main torture headquarters at Bahrain's Fort, where a human wave flooded to highlight the role that place had been playing in torturing Bahrainis over the years. It stands as a reminder of the most brutal periods of the Al Khalifa reign of terror. The revolutionaries then organized another qualitative demonstrat…

Sufi University in Sindh - Better Late than Never....

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Sindh Saves the Day
Nadeem F. Paracha, Dawn, March 11, 2011

Plans are afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh. The main purpose of the institution would be to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle extremism in the country.

Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has beengoing through in the last many years.

Not only have the country’s other provinces – especially the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) – become central targets of horrid terrorist attacks by extremist organisations, the Punjab in particular has also been witnessing a steady growth of faith-based conservatism within its urban middle and lower middle-classes.

When extremists (calling themselves ‘Punjabi Taliban’) attacked the famous Sufi shrine, Data Darbar in Lahore late last year, economist and political analyst, Asad Sayeed, made a rather insightful observation.

He said that had such…

A Valuable EU Lesson for South Asia

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An EU lesson for India & Pakistan
TNN , The Times of India, Mar 11, 2011

KARACHI: India and Pakistan must establish counter-terrorism centres to institutionalize anti-terrorism cooperation and strengthen the joint terror mechanism agreed to in Havana, said a communique at the end of the second Aman Ki Asha strategic seminar in Karachi on Wednesday.

"CTCs be established in New Delhi and Islamabad (and) involve regular communication, early warning, exchange of actionable intelligence, monitoring of terrorist organizations, joint training in counter-terrorism and potentially joint responses/operations," said the communique from the two-day event. It proposed that the centres be headed by a secretary-level officer and include senior officers from intelligence and criminal investigation agencies besides a hotline and monthly meetings in New Delhi and Islamabad between their heads.

French and German envoys to Pakistan attended the seminar and asked New Delhi and Islamabad to…

Mosques are a positive force in America

Mosques are a positive force in America
By Karam Dana and Matt A. Barreto, Special to CNN March 9, 2011 (CNN) -- In 2004, Rep. Peter King stated that 80% to 85% of mosques in America were controlled by Islamic fundamentalists and amounted to "an enemy living amongst us." In 2007 he said, "Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country" and called for FBI surveillance and infiltration of mosques because that's where terrorists were being "homegrown."

Just a month ago he repeated the claim that over 80% of mosques are controlled by radical imams. Now, he is holding a congressional hearing to expose the radical elements of Islam in America.

In direct contrast to his claims, a study we conducted -- the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS) -- found that mosques and religiosity are actually associated with high levels of civic engagement and support for the American political system. Our study interviewed 1,410 American Muslims across the na…

Pros and Cons of Congressional Hearings on Radicalization among American Muslims

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Fair to Muslims?
By AKBAR AHMED, New York Times, March 8, 2011

MANY American Muslims are fearful and angry about the Congressional hearings on Islamic radicalism that will start Thursday, with some arguing that they are a mere provocation meant to incite bigotry. But as a scholar, I view the hearings, to be led by Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, as an opportunity to educate Americans about our community’s diversity and faith.

The topic is urgent, and the hearings overdue. It is undeniable that the phenomenon of homegrown terrorists appears to be increasing in frequency. A successful attack would set back relations between Muslims and non-Muslims for many years. The backlash would effectively sweep away the slow but steady progress in interfaith dialogue that has been achieved since 9/11.

Muslim leaders must acknowledge that many Americans are fearful of religiously motivated terrorism. Simply to protest the hearings and call f…

What Pakistan Army Thinks about Drone Attacks?

Most of those killed in drone attacks were terrorists: military
By Zahir Shah Sherazi, Dawn, March 9, 2011

MIRAMSHAH: In a rather rare move, the Pakistan military for the first time gave the official version of US drone attacks in the tribal region and said that most of those killed were hardcore Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and a fairly large number of them were of foreign origin.

General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing here: “Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.

“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.”

The Military’s 7-Dvision’s official paper on the attacks till Monday said that between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over …

Tragic death of Shahbaz Bhatti - What it means for Pakistani Christians?

Uniting Pakistan’s minority and majority
By Mohsin Hamid, Express Tribune, March 3, 2011

There’s a nurse I know in Lahore. She’s tall and stocky, middle-aged. She is on call 24 hours a day and works six days a week. She’s also a freelance headhunter, placing cooks and drivers and maids. She sleeps little. She has five children she hopes to give better lives. Last year, she donated time and money to flood victims.

She is a Pakistani Christian. And on Wednesday, I saw her weep.

She was staring at a TV set. It was reporting the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s federal minister for minorities, a Roman Catholic. “What’s going to happen to Christians in this country?” she asked me.

I had no answer. But her question is searingly important. A country should be judged by how it treats its minorities. To the extent it protects them, it stands for the ennobling values of empathy and compassion, for justice rooted, not in might, but in human equality, and for civilisation instead of s…

Re: Davis Case - Getting US-Pakistan Ties Back on Track

Getting US-Pakistan Ties Back on Track
Asia Society, February 28, 2011

As the Raymond Davis case drags on, “a serious and urgent review of U.S.-Pakistan relations is in order -- on both sides,” says Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Hassan Abbas. Davis, an American, was arrested in Pakistan after he shot dead two men, and the revelation that he worked for the CIA has roiled ties.

Yet, “Pakistan needs U.S. development and military aid to face impending economic and extremist challenges, while the U.S. without Pakistan's help will be handicapped in planning its eventual pullout from Afghanistan. There is a history of a long relationship between the two states which has helped both sides in their respective geopolitical and security interests. Whenever they drifted away from each other, the consequences proved to detrimental to both states. The Raymond Davis controversy is a disaster in this context. Pakistan wants to renegotiate the privileges given to the U.S .during the Bush-Mu…

Money Matters for Taliban Too...

Money matters: Taliban strapped for cash as funding routes blocked
By Zia Khan, Express Tribune, February 28, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is facing a serious financial crisis since its slain founding leader Baitullah Mehsud combined several scattered groups from all over the tribal belt to form the most feared terror network of homegrown militants back in 2007.

“The Taliban have seriously run out of funds…they have hardly any money anymore,” at least three associates of the group said amid a surprising halt in their activities – suicide bombings and terror attacks across Pakistan and in parts of Afghanistan – in recent months.

Also mysteriously silent are long-cannoned guns from the artillery of Pakistani military that is involved in an operation against the TTP in their South Waziristan stronghold since 2009.

The TTP is apparently not able to fund its operations for the want of money, the group’s members told The Express Tribune.

“The group is in a fix even t…