The boy who cried wolf

February 21, 2013

ZoneAsia-Pk

The announcement for the annulment of assemblies on March 16th was a wakeup call for political parties all across Pakistan. The clock is ticking and the time to make changes, stir up electoral issues and leave a lasting impression on voters in now here. It is thus quite remarkable how projects like the Metro Bus in Punjab, the promise of target operation against religious extremists in Quetta and MQM’s concern for Karachi’s insecurity transpired at this momentous time.

Withdrawal of murder cases of Lyari’s criminal gang members’ specifically those belonging to the Peoples Aman Committee and the failed implementation of Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance (SPLGO) in Karachi were the last straw for MQM. In a televised briefing on February 16th, Dr. Farooq Sattar, MQM Coordination Committee Deputy Convener, officially terminated MQM’s alliance with PPP at both the federal and provincial level. He accused PPP of delaying the process of justice by harboring criminals identified as absconders by the courts. MQM had expressed its reservations a few days earlier too but PPP representatives either denied the withdrawal order for or gave reassurances of reconciliation efforts.

It must be noted that this is not MQM’s first attempt to break their alliance with PPP. It has done so several times in the past and soon afterwards tends to mend fences. Given this trend, other political parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehreek, Save Sindh Movement, National Peoples Party and PML-Q (Likeminded) were suspicious of a conspiracy. Chaudhry Nisar, Leader of the Opposition and member of PML-N called MQM’s move a “joke”. He refused to consult MQM in the formation of a caretaker setup.

MQM’s separation will not have an impact on the overall functioning of the government. As far as provincial politics are concerned, MQM continues to have a strong voter bases in Karachi and Hyderabad. PPP might have lost MQM but it would translate to the loss of only a few seats since PPP has a dominating presence in many areas of Sindh.

Many have questioned what MQM can achieve in this short period of time as part of the opposition. If they hope that breaking ties with PPP will exonerate them from being an accessory to the nation’s insecurity and economic downfall and thus prove the sincerity of their motives, they are badly mistaken. Its party leaders argue that an earlier break would have risked derailing the government. It is however, quite unlikely that they would reconcile with PPP since the government is set to be dissolved on March 16th.

So how is this breakup different from the rest? This time MQM may in fact be planning for a pre-election scenario. The government is bound to take into consideration the view of the opposition in installing a caretaker setup. As members of the opposition, MQM will prevail over other nationalist parties especially PML-F in appointing an opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly. This will give MQM a chance to contribute to the selection of a caretaker chief minister and therefore, maintain their influence until the elections. MQM’s move puts the 17-month stalled appointment of a leader of opposition in a new light. It seems that Governor Dr. Ishrat ul Ebad may have been saving the seat for his MQM brothers. The fact that contrary to the claims of MQM leadership, Ebad has not handed in his resignation means that MQM plans to have the cake and eat and eat it too.

Another explanation for PPP withdrawing cases was also offered; it may be seeking voters from People Aman Committee. While this may be true, it is more likely that the MQM-PPP fight is a farce. Contesting elections from both sides of the fence, this duo could crush PML-N, which has been making headway in building alliances with Sindh’s political parties and emerge successful in Sindh. If PPP is unable to win a re-election, as leader of the opposition MQM will still have the opportunity to negotiate a partnership with the ruling party.

On Saturday, MQM chief Altaf Hussain said “When forces, instead of providing protection to the masses, are protecting criminals, the people will take extreme steps for their safety.” What Hussain doesn’t realize is that these very masses also know that he may not be more than just a boy who cried wolf.


Pakistan Comes Together For Brave Pakistanis Of Waziristan

April 26, 2011

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has finalized arrangements for its protest sit-in (April 23-24) against the US drone strikes and Nato supplies passing through Pakistan. The city has been decorated with banners and posters carrying large portraits of the party chief Imran Khan.

A car rally was also arranged by the party workers on Thursday to mobilise public in support of the move. The rally started from the Nishtarabad Chowk and passing through different roads of the city culminated at the Bagh-e-Naran Chowk, the venue where the protest sit-in is scheduled to be held.

The party activists carrying flags raised slogans against the US and Pakistan governments. A large number of motorcyclists participated in the rally. It was led by the PTI provincial information secretary Zahid Hussain Mohmand, Zafar Khattak and Amjad Orakzai.

PTI has decided to register its protest against the CIA-operated drone strikes in the tribal areas and the supply to Nato forces in Afghanistan. Different political parties have announced support for the sit-in. These include the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Jamiat-Ulema-Islam-Fazl, Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Istiqlal.

Talking to The News, PTI leader Zahid Hussain Mohmand said that representatives of the Tajir Ittehad had also assured support for the protest. He said the lawyers would also join to express anger over the drone attacks.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party-Shaheed Benazir Bhutto group in its meeting announced support to the sit-in against the drone attacks and killing of innocent citizen in Pakistan’s tribal agencies.

Speaking at the meeting, Arbab Khyber Hayat said the people should stand up against the US drone attacks and block the supply for the Nato forces in Afghanistan. He said the next generation would not forgive them if they failed to raise voice against the ongoing US injustices against innocent citizens of Pakistan.

A known film actor and producer Ajab Gul also announced to join the protest. He said that his other colleagues were also eager to make the drive a success as innocent people were being killed in the drone attacks.

PTI women wing provincial office-bearers urged the people belonging to every walk of life to participate in the sit-in. The party meeting, chaired by its president Naseem Hayat, said the US was carrying out extrajudicial killings despite the unanimous resolution by the Pakistani parliament against the drone attacks.


Can it get Worse?

January 17, 2011

Tariq Ali

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri smiled as he surrendered to his colleagues after shooting Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, dead. Many in Pakistan seemed to support his actions; others wondered how he’d managed to get a job as a state bodyguard in the carefully screened Elite Force. Geo TV, the country’s most popular channel, reported, and the report has since been confirmed, that ‘Qadri had been kicked out of Special Branch after being declared a security risk,’ that he ‘had requested that he not be fired on but arrested alive if he managed to kill Taseer’ and that ‘many in Elite Force knew of his plans to kill Salman Taseer.’

Qadri is on his way to becoming a national hero. On his first appearance in court, he was showered with flowers by admiring Islamabad lawyers who have offered to defend him free of charge. On his way back to prison, the police allowed him to address his supporters and wave to the TV cameras. The funeral of his victim was sparsely attended: a couple of thousand mourners at most. A frightened President Zardari and numerous other politicians didn’t show up. A group of mullahs had declared that anyone attending the funeral would be regarded as guilty of blasphemy. No mullah (that includes those on the state payroll) was prepared to lead the funeral prayers. The federal minister for the interior, Rehman Malik, a creature of Zardari’s, has declared that anyone trying to tamper with or amend the blasphemy laws will be dealt with severely. In the New York Times version he said he would shoot any blasphemer himself.

Taseer’s spirited defence of Asiya Bibi, a 45-year-old Punjabi Christian peasant, falsely charged with blasphemy after an argument with two women who accused her of polluting their water by drinking out of the same receptacle, provoked an angry response from religious groups. Many in his own party felt that Taseer’s initiative was mistimed, but in Pakistan the time is never right for such campaigns. Bibi had already spent 18 months in jail. Her plight had been highlighted by the media, women had taken to the streets to defend her and Taseer and another senior politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Sherry Rehman, had demanded amendments to the blasphemy laws. Thirty-eight other women have been imprisoned under the same law in recent years and soon after a friendly meeting between Yousaf Gillani, the prime minister, and the leader of the supposedly moderate Jamaat-e-Islami, a member of the latter offered a reward of ten thousand dollars to whoever manages to kill Bibi.

Taseer’s decision to take up Bibi’s case was not made on a whim. He had cleared the campaign with Zardari, much to the annoyance of the law minister, Babar Awan, a televangelist and former militant of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He told journalists he didn’t want the socio-cultural agenda to be hijacked by ‘lunatic mullahs’, raged against governments that had refused to take on fanaticism, and brushed aside threats to his life with disdain. He visited the prison where Bibi was detained – the first time in the history of the Punjab that a governor has gone inside a district jail – and at a press conference declared his solidarity with her. ‘She is a woman who has been incarcerated for a year and a half on a charge trumped up against her five days after an incident where people who gave evidence against her were not even present,’ he told an interviewer. He wanted, he said, ‘to take a mercy petition to the president, and he agreed, saying he would pardon Asiya Bibi if there had indeed been a miscarriage of justice’.

Two weeks after this visit Taseer was dead. I never much cared for his business practices or his political affiliations and had not spoken to him for 20 years, but he was one of my closest friends at school and university and the two of us and the late Shahid Rehman – a gifted and witty lawyer who drank himself to death many moons ago – were inseparable. Some joyful memories came back when I saw his face on TV.

It’s 1960. The country is under a pro-US military dictatorship. All opposition is banned. My parents are away. The three of us – we are 17 years old – are at my place and we decide that something has to be done. We buy some red paint and at about 2 a.m. drive to the Cantonment bridge and carefully paint ‘Yankee Go Home’ on the beautiful whitewashed wall. The next morning we scrub the car clean of all traces of paint. For the next few weeks the city is agog. The story doesn’t appear in the press but everyone is talking about it. In Karachi and Dhaka, where they regard Lahore as politically dead, our city’s stock rises. At college our fellow students discuss nothing else. The police are busy searching for the culprits. We smile and enjoy the fun. Finally they track us down, but as Taseer notes with an edge of bitterness, Shahid’s father is a Supreme Court judge and one of my aunts is married to a general who’s also the minister of the interior, so naturally we all get off with a warning. At the time I almost felt that physical torture might be preferable to being greeted regularly by the general with ‘Hello, Mr Yankee Go Home.’

Two years previously (before the dictatorship) the three of us had organised a demonstration at the US Consulate after reading that an African-American called Jimmy Wilson had been sentenced to death for stealing a dollar. On that occasion Salman, seeing that not many people had turned up, found some street urchins to swell our ranks. We had to stop and explain to them why their chant of ‘Death to Jimmy Wilson’ was wrong. Money changed hands before they were brought into line. Years later, on a London to Lahore flight, I met Taseer by chance and we discussed both these events. He reminded me that the stern US consul had told us he would have us expelled, but his ultra-Lutheranism offended the Catholic Brothers who ran our school and again we escaped punishment. On that flight, more than 20 years ago, I asked him why he had decided to go into politics. Wasn’t being a businessman bad enough? ‘You’ll never understand,’ he said. ‘If I’m a politician as well I can save money because I don’t have to pay myself bribes.’ He was cynical in the extreme, but he could laugh at himself. He died tragically, but for a good cause. His party and colleagues, instead of indulging in manufactured grief, would be better off taking the opportunity to amend the blasphemy laws while there is still some anger at what has taken place. But of course they are doing the exact opposite.

Even before this killing, Pakistan had been on the verge of yet another military takeover. It would make things so much easier if only they could give it another name: military democracy perhaps? General Kayani, whose term as chief of staff was extended last year with strong Pentagon approval, is said to be receiving petitions every day asking him to intervene and ‘save the country’. The petitioners are obviously aware that removing Zardari and replacing him with a nominee of the Sharif brothers’ Muslim League, the PPP’s long-term rivals, is unlikely to improve matters. Petitioning, combined with a complete breakdown of law and order in one or several spheres (suicide terrorism in Peshawar, violent ethnic clashes in Karachi, state violence in Quetta and now Taseer’s assassination), is usually followed by the news that a reluctant general has no longer been able to resist ‘popular’ pressure and with the reluctant agreement of the US Embassy a uniformed president has taken power. We’ve been here before, on four separate occasions. The military has never succeeded in taking the country forward. All that happens is that, instead of politicians, the officers take the cut. The government obviously thinks the threat is serious: some of Zardari’s cronies now speak openly at dinner parties of ‘evidence’ that proves military involvement in his wife Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. If the evidence exists, let’s have a look. Another straw in the wind: the political parties close to the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, have withdrawn from the central government, accusing it of callousness and financial malfeasance. True, but hardly novel.

Another necessary prerequisite for a coup is popular disgust with a corrupt, inept and failing civilian government. This has now reached fever pitch. As well as the natural catastrophes that have afflicted the country there are local wars, disappearances, torture, crime, huge price rises in essential goods, unemployment, a breakdown of basic services – all the major cities go without electricity for hours at a stretch and oil lamps are much in demand in smaller towns, which are often without gas and electricity for up to 12 hours. Thanks to the loan conditions recently imposed by the IMF – part of a gear change in the ‘war on terror’ – there have been riots against the rise in fuel prices in several cities. Add to this Zardari’s uncontrollable greed and the irrepressible desire of his minions to mimic their master. Pakistan today is a kleptocracy. There is much talk in Islamabad of the despised prime minister’s neglected wife going on a shopping spree in London last month and finding solace in diamonds, picking up, on her way back home, a VAT rebate in the region of £100,000.

Can it get worse? Yes. And on every front. Take the Af-Pak war. Few now would dispute that its escalation has further destabilised Pakistan, increasing the flow of recruits to suicide bomber command. The CIA’s New Year message to Pakistan consisted of three drone attacks in North Waziristan, killing 19 people. There were 116 drone strikes in 2010, double the number ordered in the first year of the Obama presidency. Serious Pakistani newspapers, Dawn and the News, claim that 98 per cent of those killed in the strikes over the last five years – the number of deaths is estimated to be between two and three thousand – were civilians, a percentage endorsed by David Kilcullen, a former senior adviser to General Petraeus. The Brookings Institution gives a grim ratio of one militant killed for every ten civilians. The drones are operated by the CIA, which isn’t subject to military rules of engagement, with the result that drones are often used for revenge attacks, notably after the sensational Khost bombing of a CIA post in December 2009.

What stops the military from taking power immediately is that it would then be responsible for stopping the drone attacks and containing the insurgency that has resulted from the extension of the war into Pakistan. This is simply beyond it, which is why the generals would rather just blame the civilian government for everything. But if the situation worsens and growing public anger and economic desperation lead to wider street protests and an urban insurgency the military will be forced to intervene. It will also be forced to act if the Obama administration does as it threatens and sends troops across the Pakistan border on protect-and-destroy missions. Were this to happen a military takeover of the country might be the only way for the army to counter dissent within its ranks by redirecting the flow of black money and bribes (currently a monopoly of politicians) into military coffers. Pakistani officers who complain to Western intelligence operatives and journalists that a new violation of sovereignty might split the army do so largely as a way to exert pressure. There has been no serious breach in the military high command since the dismal failure of the 1951 Rawalpindi Conspiracy, the first and last radical nationalist attempt (backed by Communist intellectuals) to seize power within the army and take the country in an anti-imperialist direction. Since then, malcontents in the armed forces have always been rapidly identified and removed. Military perks and privileges – bonuses, land allocations, a presence in finance and industry – play an increasingly important part in keeping the army under control.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Kabul earlier this month, the US homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, announced that 52 ‘security agents’ were being dispatched to the Af-Pak border to give on the spot training to Afghan police and security units. The insurgents will be delighted, especially since some of them serve in these units, just as they do in Pakistan.


Aafia Siddiqui Sentenced: A Grievous Miscarriage of Justice

September 27, 2010

By Stephen Lendman

On September 23 in federal court, US District Court Judge Richard Berman sentenced political prisoner Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison. Outrage most accurately expresses this gross miscarriage of justice, compounding what she’s already endured following her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus charges.

Earlier articles explained her case in detail, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/12/abduction-secret-detention-torture-and.html
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/03/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html

In modern times, she’s one of American depravity’s most aggrieved victims, now given a virtual life sentence for a crime she didn’t and couldn’t have committed, explained in the above articles.

In recent months, she’s been in New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in maximum security solitary confinement, during her trial, conviction and September 23 sentencing. Importantly, her life was effectively destroyed by years of horrific tortures, repeated rapings, and other abuses in Bagram Prison at America’s Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

Addressing the court, said said “I’m not paranoid. I’m not mentally ill. I don’t agree with” anyone saying so, though it’s hard imagining why not after years of horrific brutalization. A Pakistani/American scientist, years of torture and abuse destroyed her persona, yet somehow she survived and endured more stress from prosecution, a travesty of a trial, conviction and sentencing.

Reporting on the court’s decision, the BBC repeated government lies, including her possessing bomb making instructions to blow up New York landmarks – “evidence that she was a potentially dangerous terrorist.” Yet her indictment was on totally different charges – preposterous ones accusing her of the following:

In the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army officers, this frail 110 pound woman allegedly assaulted three of them, seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she alone was severely wounded.

At trial, no credible evidence was presented. The charges were concocted and bogus. None accused her of plotting to blow up New York or any other landmarks or facilities.

Yet proceedings were carefully orchestrated. Witnesses were enlisted, pressured, coerced, and/or bribed to cooperate. Jurors were then intimidated to convict, her attorney Elaine Whitfield Sharp, saying their verdict was “based on fear, not fact.” No evidence was presented except claims government prosecutors invented to convict.

The International Tribune also highlighted today’s proceedings, headlining “Dr. Aafia sentenced to 86 years imprisonment,” saying:

It was on seven counts “for allegedly firing at US troops in Afghanistan.” After the announcement, protests erupted across Pakistan. In Karachi, civil society and political party workers rallied “in front of the Karachi Press Club….ask(ing) the federal government” to intervene on her behalf.

Jamaat-e-Islami, PASBAN, Defense of Human Rights, and other civil society members marched toward the US Embassy, expressing outrage and demanding she be released “as a goodwill gesture.”

“Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister Ms. Sharmila Farooqui asked the United States to release (her) on humanitarian (grounds) as a goodwill gesture to Pakistan….Now is the time for the US to show goodness and pardon a Pakistani woman who is innocent.”

Farooqui said Aafia was wrongly abducted, then handed over to US authorities. She’s “an innocent woman,” outrageously treated, convicted and sentenced.

Explaining further she said:

“In Islam and Pakistan, handing over a woman to foreign countries is a sin, but it is a pity that an innocent woman was mercilessly given in(to the) hands of the (previous) US” government.

She also urged international human rights organizations to actively pursue her release.

A Final Comment

At issue is 9/11 truth, the subsequent bogus “war on terror” based on a lie, America’s war on Islam that followed against Iraq, Afghanistan, and Muslim Americans, victimized for political advantage. Aafia is perhaps its most aggrieved living victim, her persona destroyed and life ended by a virtual life sentence unless clemency or world pressure saves her.

Her case should incite everyone’s moral outrage. It also reveals America’s true face, its rogue agenda, targeting Muslims for their faith and ethnicity, making us all equally vulnerable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com


India cannot suppress Kashmiris’ struggle by force: Mirwaiz

June 14, 2010

SRINAGAR (IHK): In occupied Kashmir, the Chairman of all Parties Hurriyet Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has maintained that India will not be able to suppress Kashmiris’ liberation struggle by resorting to brute force, reports KMS.

The APHC Chairman in a statement issued in Srinagar flayed the occupation authorities for imposing restrictions in Srinagar to prevent people from protesting the killing of an innocent student by Indian police.

He pointed out that India’s military might policy during the last sixty-three years could not break Kashmiris’ spirit of freedom from Indian bondage.

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JI protests against detention of Pakistani-American

May 7, 2010

Pakistani activists of a Pasban, a subgroup of hardline Sunni Muslim party Jamaat-e-Islami, chant slogans in Karachi on May 6, 2010 against the US intelligence agency the CIA in connection to the detention of a Pakistani-origin US citizen.


Bombs at Peshawar market, school kill 24

April 20, 2010

First bomb explodes outside Police Public School killing a young boy
DSP, JI Peshawar leader killed in second blast

PESHAWAR: At least 24 people, including a child and police officials, were killed on Monday in bombings hours apart at a school and a crowded market in Peshawar, police said.

Students_Sit_Inside_Vehicle_After_Bomb_Explosion_Targeted_a_School_in_Peshawar.JPG

By Akhtar Ali

Around 49 people were injured in the attacks, they said.

The first bomb exploded outside a school run by a police welfare foundation in the city, killing a young boy and injuring eight others, police and hospital sources said.

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