Parveen Rehman and the growing might of Land Mafia

March 15, 2013

By Zara Zulfiqar

No militants, no ethnic drama, Parveen Rehman’s death was a consequence of the land mafia politics that has consumed Karachi to the core. Parveen, an architect by profession, switched her field under the guidance of her mentor since, Akhter Hameed Khan, the founder of Orangi Pilot Project. Since 1982 Rehman had worked her way up the ladder at OPP, uplifting slum communities using microfinance, minimizing the need for World Bank loans building bridges between the government and the community.

The nature of violence in Pakistan, and especially Karachi has been labeled ethnic and political one after the other. According to Parveen Rehman the bloodshed was not ethnic, but land related. A bold social worker, though media shy, she openly criticized the establishment, and the police forces for being party to the land mafia. Drug mafia armed the people. The news of a pathan firing spreads like fire in the media, but seldom do people ask: who armed them? The drug mafia disappears when they sniff an operation and ambiguous claims of ethnic and sectarian differences fill the empty spaces.

Read more…

An American goes to Pakistan: The Raymond Davis Case

February 7, 2011

By Shemrez

The Government of Pakistan, its electronic media and its people, have been captivated by the case of one Raymond Allen Davis, an ‘American’ allegedly using a pseudonym and a ‘diplomatic passport’ to come to Pakistan and shoot two Pakistanis in Lahore in broad daylight. The incident happened apparently in self-defense, and in addition to conspiracy-prone Pakistani society, a few questions remained unanswered which led to more and more sensationalism, and concealment of important facts.

First, there should be no doubt by now that ‘Davis’ is a US DoD contractor. His name seems more of a pseudonym because of General Raymond Gilbert Davis, a US Marines General who fought in World War II and retired from the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marines. There is also Raymond Davis Jr., a chemist and physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. This only rings a bell if one remembers the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad who got ratted out; Jonathan Banks, apparently another pseudonym, because web searches for the name yield websites related only to an American TV/film actor.

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When Will We See the Next Mass Murder?

September 7, 2010

By Jeff Gates

(Special to Opinion Maker) Here’s a news flash for Tel Aviv: it’s not a sign of respect when the bulk of humanity views you as psychopathic. Pakistan, in particular, should be concerned.

The concerns of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are misplaced. The legitimacy of Israel is no longer threatened. It’s already lost. Long gone. Kaput.

Nation states are shared states of mind. The mindset in Iceland differs from India. Israel is the most unlike of all. Founded by extremists and terrorists, it’s been downhill ever since.

Psychopaths want to be loved. That’s why they’re so charming, albeit only superficially. They’re also pathological liars, egocentric, callous and remorseless.

Those qualities have long been familiar to Israel’s neighbors, particularly the Palestinians. After WWII, Harry Truman was charmed into treating this extremist enclave as an ally.

That decision may well go down in history as America’s greatest mistake.

Though we’ve served for 62 years as Israel’s patron, pocketbook and apologist, the respect and affection has flowed in only one direction.

Psychopaths should not be confused with megalomaniacs. The mental states are quite different. Megalomaniacs seek to be feared, not loved. Control is the common trait.

That not-so-subtle distinction matters, at least for those of us who are not dual citizens.

For instance, it’s now known that Israel and its advocates fixed the intelligence that took us to war in Iraq. That fact is no longer in dispute.

That fact alone confirms the split personality evident in the shared state of mind we call Israel. Those who share that state charmed us into committing our blood and treasure for goals long sought by Israel. That’s the psychopath component.

The megalomaniac component felt they had a right to make us fearful. As Chosen (by a god of their own choosing), devotees of this shared mindset truly believe it’s their right to deceive. Those complicit see themselves as “of us but above us.”

When we dispatched our military to pursue their goals, Americans were killed and maimed as we borrowed our way into a fiscal morass from which there’s no clear route to recovery.

Score another victory for the U.S.-Israel special relationship.

Why Don’t Americans Get It?

Nothing about this “state” is legit. Never was. Its founding traces to a multi-decade reign of terror built on a phony historical foundation. Even the most dull-witted now question how Israel came into being. And why the U.S. ever deemed it special.

Americans are learning to fear Israel-as they should. A few of us remain charmed-despite the facts. For the True Believer, facts are likely to remain irrelevant.

Those familiar with the facts know better. Thus the fast-growing concern that troublesome behavior patterns are emerging once again.

Those most knowledgeable are deeply concerned about recent events.

On August 26th, a leaked memo from the Central Intelligence Agency cited American Jews as exporters of terrorism. Then came the news on August 30th from Sephardi chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who urged that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “vanish from our world” and that “God strike (Palestinians) down with a plague.”

Neither story gained traction in mainstream U.S. media. Instead, news coverage was reserved for August 31st when four Israelis were shot dead in the West Bank.

The most lethal attack in four years-blamed on Hamas-occurred just hours before Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with Hamas leaders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The timing revived memories of the many well-timed “incidents” during the reign of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. No one dares suggest that Tel Aviv may be the source of this latest incident. Yet consider just a few of the many precedents:

On April 12, 2002, at the same moment Secretary of State Colin Powell was meeting with Ariel Sharon, a suicide bombing occurred in Israel, killing 8 and injuring 22.

On May 10, 2002, at the same moment President Bush was meeting with Ariel Sharon, a suicide bombing occurred in Israel.

On June 11, 2003, on the same day Ariel Sharon visited the White House, a suicide bombing killed 17 and wounded 100 on a bus in Jerusalem.

On November 11, 2003, while the president of Italy was visiting the U.S., Italy suffered its greatest wartime casualties since WWII when 19 Italians were killed in Iraq.

On November 20, 2003, while President Bush was visiting Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, the British envoy to Istanbul was among 27 killed by a blast.

On November 30, 2003, while the president of Spain was visiting the U.S., seven Spanish intelligence officers were killed in Iraq.

The Source of Terror

What happens to Israel’s fast-fading legitimacy if the fear of terrorism-all of it-traces back to those long known for their expertise at waging war “by way of deception.” That’s the founding credo of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign operations directorate infamous for its worldwide expertise as an agent provocateur.

Would a state founded by terrorists resort to terror to sustain a narrative essential to its survival? Would Tel Aviv again deceive the U.S. to pursue its expansionist goals?

Zionist media mogul Haim Saban spoke candidly when, in the May 10th issue of The New Yorker, he boasted of “three ways to be influential in American politics:” make donations to political parties, establish think tanks and control media outlets.

His only omission: terror.

Was this dual citizen conceding how the U.S. was induced to war-for Israel?

Was he describing how Zionists shape U.S. policy-in plain sight?

Was he describing how psychopaths wage war on the U.S.-from within?

Was he divulging how megalomaniacs influence U.S. decision-making-with fear?

Americans have long been charmed by this “special” relationship. Now it’s time to be fearful. When a mental state of this malevolent sort becomes transparent and its operatives apparent, that’s when “psycho-megalomania” becomes its most dangerous.

Will we see another terrorist attack? You can bet on it. The only question is: When?

Special days are often chosen for special events. Will the next mass murder be on Rosh Hashanah (September 8th)? How about the ninth anniversary of September 11th? Or Yom Kippur on September 17th?

Will the next incident be nuclear or conventional? Will it be staged in the U.S. or the E.U.?

And most important of all: will it be blamed on Hezbollah or Hamas? Or will the “Pakistan Taliban” be portrayed as the requisite Evil Doer responsible for the next mass murder?

Stay tuned.

A Vietnam veteran, Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. He served for seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He is widely published in the trade, popular and academic press. His latest book is Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. Topical commentaries appear on the Criminal State website.

Fear grips Pakistani-Americans

May 6, 2010


WASHINGTON: A Pakistani-American girl, only 12, refused to go to school on Tuesday, saying she fears other students will ask her questions about the suspect held in New York for a failed attempt to bomb Times Square.

Another girl, 11, went to school when her mother persuaded her to but the mother had to go back to school during the lunch break to counsel her. A 53-year old man throttled his laughter at a dinner in a Virginia restaurant as a US television channel identified the suspect as a Pakistani-American. “That’s it. We are cooked,” he remarked. “Sad, very sad,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US and Britain who is now working on a book in Washington. “It will hurt all Pakistanis, particularly those living in the United States.”

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We are committed to Ram temple: BJP on Babri anniversary

December 7, 2009

On the 17th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday reiterated that building a temple to Lord Ram at the mosque site was a “commitment” and the party would seek a resolution to the issue through negotiation or judicial verdict.

“The Ram temple remains a commitment for us. The BJP will prefer a solution through mutual negotiation or a judicial verdict,” party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told IANS.

The BJP also trashed the findings of the Liberhan Commission report which probed the Dec 6, 1992, razing.

“The report in itself is redundant, lopsided and a political document,” Prasad added.

The BJP’s comments came as different groups in the Capital organised protest marches while one group held a celebratory march to mark the anniversary.

Staging a protest at the Jantar Mantar near the central business hub of Delhi, members of the All India Babri Masjid Rebuilding Committee (AIBMRC) demanded that the mosque be rebuilt on the disputed site of Ayodhya.

They also submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil to put behind bars those named by the Liberhan Commission report.

Meanwhile, members of the little-known Rashtrawadi Sena marked the day as “Vijay Divas” (victory day) by holding a march in east Delhi.

Bharat Lal Sharma, secretary of the group said: “Our party chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal said this was a historic day which should be celebrated with pomp and show.”

Goyal was one of the 68 people mentioned in the report of the Liberhan Commission, as culpable for “leading the country to the brink of communal discord”.

The report, which was tabled in parliament Nov 24, has indicted members of the Sangh Parivar for demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya.

Sahmat, a group of artists held a discussion with journalists and photographers who were witness to the demolition along with historians to give their perspective. A photo exhibition ‘Hum Sab Ayodhya’ was also organised.

Identity And Religious Conversion

June 1, 2009

By Tomichan Matheikal

“We did not convert because we are poor. If I am poor but accepted by my community, there is no [social] terror in that poverty…. We did not convert for money. We converted because of the society that saw us as lesser, not worthy. We were ‘lower caste’, ‘untouchable’, ‘lowly’. Now we are Christian. Our god wants us. We can walk into his temple. We are worthy. You understand?” [Spoken by a Dalit convert in Orissa. Quoted in Violent Gods by Angana P. Chatterji, Three Essays Collective, Gurgaon, 2009]

The driving force behind religious conversions is, more often than not, a desire to live a “worthy” life, to have an identity that one can be proud of. The caste system being practised even today in Hinduism, despite all governmental efforts to eradicate it, is a major cause of religious conversions in India. Poverty and attendant exploitation is also another cause. But it appears that poverty and exploitation are intertwined with the caste system.

The caste system in India was seen by Dr Ambedkar, principal author of India’s Constitution, as the country’s greatest evil since it treated millions of people as subhuman by the simple fact of their birth. The man who tried his best to replace the discriminatory caste system with an egalitarian society, the Buddha, ended up as yet another god among the millions of deities in India. His teachings were suppressed by the Brahmins who feared that their stranglehold on society would be undermined.

Orissa is a state in India which witnessed much terrible violence in the name of religion and religious conversions. The violence still continues.

The Sangh Parivar organisations are opposed to the alleged mass conversions into Christianity of Oriya adivasis (tribal people) and others belonging to the lower castes. Many acts of outrageous violence have been perpetrated on the Christians and thousands of them are displaced from their hometowns. The Hindutva organisations allege that Christian missionaries allure the poor people with money and other enticements. How much water does the allegation hold?

Angana P. Chatterji, from whose book the introductory quote has been taken, has done a commendable job researching into the violence in Orissa. According to her, the adivasis and other lower caste people of Orissa seldom considered themselves Hindus. In her words, “The Paika Bidroha of 1817-1825, the Kol insurrection of 1831-1832, the Kanika agitation of 1921-1922, the Praja Mandal (peasant) Movement of the 1930s and 1940s speak powerfully of Adivasi and subaltern refusal to submit to cultural colonialism and Brahminical imposition” (199). Even in the 1990s there were conflicts between the adivasis and the exponents of Hindutva including Lakshmanananda Saraswati (who claimed to be working for the welfare of the adivasis and the lower caste people of Orissa). For example, the RSS and Lakshmanananda Saraswati opposed the adivasis when they fought for indigenous child rights (359). These Hindutva leaders did not want the adivasis to be organised. They opposed the adivasi struggle for Kuidina (a state for themselves). They tried to suppress the Kandhamal Nari Jagaran Samiti and the Kuidina Ekta Samiti. “They (the RSS and Lakshmanananda Saraswati) are dangerous people,” Chatterji quote some Kui people. “They want to kill our people like animals. They do not understand religious differences. They do not understand our connection to our land. We are neither Christians nor Hindus. We are Adivasi. We worship the Earth. There are Christian Kui’s. The Mission [church] never forced us to convert. Not in Kandhamal, before or after 1947…” (359)

Chatterji exposes the myth that the adivasis considered or were eager to consider themselves Hindus. In May 2006, at a convention attended by about 50,000 adivasis, the Bisu Sendra Tribal Council, which serves the tribal communities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, determined to ban Hindu customs and rituals, representations and priests from Adivasi spiritual and religious ceremonies (96).

Not different is the case with the lower caste people. Caste oppression has been a bone of contention for long in Orissa as in other parts of India. In Orissa, says Chatterji, “Dalit students and teachers have been denied employment and entry into schools and community events, and Dalit community members have been assaulted for participating in Hindu religious ceremonies” (69). Chatterji lists a number of incidents to show the disaffection between the people belonging to the higher and lower castes. Such incidents led to the conversion into Buddhism of about 3000 Dalits in Dec 2006.


Poverty also plays its role in this complex issue. Orissa is one of the most backward states in India. In the words of Ramachandra Guha, “In 1999 Orissa overtook – if that is the word – Bihar as India’s poorest state” [India After Gandhi, Picador India, 2007, p.707]. The adivasis and the lower caste people were exploited economically in the attempts to set up various industries. The Utkal Alumina, which brought together Canadian and Norwegian firms with the Aditya Birla Group, led to the displacement of many adivasis from their land. 3000 acres of land cultivated by the adivasis was taken over by the Biju Janata Dal government and given to the industrialists. The same government also acquired land in Kalinganagar at much less than the market rate and handed it over to Tata Steel to build a factory processing iron ore for the Chinese market.

Apart from the capitalist industrialists are other exploiters such as the money-lenders who stand to benefit much by keeping the adivasis and the low caste people poor. All these exploitations have made Orissa a hotbed of Maoists. Christian missionaries also creep in with the intention of helping the poor and the downtrodden.


The solution seems to lie in two factors:

1. Put an end to the discriminatory caste system. This would engender a sense of respectability among the adivasis and the lower castes. Then there would be no need for religious conversion as a means of attaining respectability.

2. Give economic independence to the adivasis and the lower castes. This would put an end to the Maoist violence as well as the charm held out by poverty to Christian missionaries.

The Pakistan factor in the Indian elections

May 7, 2009

Ashraf Engineer exclusively for

People attend a Congress party election rally in Lucknow in April 2009. – Reuters

As India steps into the polling booth, the ghost of Pakistan is peering from around the corner. It lurks in the voter’s mind like a silent poltergeist you don’t see, but that influences events anyway. That said, it would be a mistake to think of this year’s election as a Pakistan-centric election. Yes, terrorism and security matter. But jobs matter more. Youth matters more. Local issues are important. Caste is a game-changing issue.

Phase One – Opens in Indian elections

The first phase of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) elections ended last week. All indicators show that there are two things uppermost on India’s mind as it pushes the button on the electronic voting machine: the economy and security. It is to the second that Pakistan is now inextricably linked, as far as India is concerned.

Exclusive from Delhi – Predicament of Indian voters

Two barbaric attacks, spaced virtually a generation apart, have shaped Indians’ perception of Pakistan. The first were the March 12, 1993, serial bombings in Mumbai. The second was the more recent terror strike on November 26, 2008. There is a genuine worry that the guy next door is about to blow himself up and some of the embers may land on our house. After all, we share a border that’s 2,308 kilometres long. The Line of Control stretches along 740 kilometres. And Kashmir is a flashpoint.

But there is a change that has come about in the 15 years that separate the two worst terrorist attacks in Indian history. Pakistan matters, but only to an extent. There is a kind of laissez-faire approach to it, almost as if, as one colleague put it, ‘it’s there and you live with it.’ It’s part of the mix in voters’ minds, but not the dominant issue.

The Hindustan Times, Mumbai, conducted two separate surveys to gauge the mood in India’s financial capital. The first one was across demographic sections and age groups. When asked what the most important poll issue is, 35 per cent said it was the economy. Security came second at 31 per cent, followed by stability (19 per cent) and infrastructure (15 per cent). There was also a strong opinion that younger members of parliament were the need of the hour. And an average of 74 per cent said local issues should be a priority for the new MPs.

In the second survey, conducted only in the 18- to 35-year age bracket, the economy mattered to even more people – 45 percent. Security came a distant second at 29 percent. This survey is in a way more critical than the first because, this year, 4.3 crore of the 71.4 crore voters are first-timers. As you can see, Pakistan isn’t top of mind.

Indians have reacted very differently to the November 26 attacks from the way most expected them to. Instead of an across-the-board demand for retribution, Indians have turned the microscope on their own system and the people they elected.

Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times’ editorial director, explains this wonderfully well on his website in a post dated April 7: ‘I can think of few societies where an attack – clearly planned and launched by a hostile neighbour – should not result in a desire for war. Instead, India spent its time working out what went wrong and in looking for those who failed in their duty to protect our cities and our civilians.’

Sanghvi explains it this way: ‘Indians are used to terrorism. It no longer shocks us as it once did. Nor are we startled by the recognition that Pakistan might be involved. We have come to accept this as a part of our lives. We are not like the United States before 9/11, secure in some cocoon, believing that nobody can touch us.…’

India has begun asking tough questions of those in power. For weeks after the attack, there were public protests in various cities. TV channels were flooded with images of people demanding more accountability and a greater say in governance. Cyberspace is overflowing with voter-registration campaigns as well as those for responsible voting. Several people who have not had any political experience or affiliation have jumped into the electoral fray, hoping to make a difference, including ABN Amro chairperson and country executive Meera Sanyal in Mumbai and danseuse Mallika Sarabhai in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat.

The terror attacks were, of course, a catalyst for a sentiment that had been simmering for long. Public resentment against ineffective governance had been a problem for years; November 26 was merely the last straw. It is telling that the outcry that followed wasn’t terror-centric – all sorts of issues were raised, from corruption to infrastructure. So, even if Pakistan can’t claim to dominate mindshare during this election, it has indirectly made a difference. The 26/11 terror, which India is certain arrived from its neighbour’s shore, has strengthened our democracy by awakening the spirit of public participation in governance.

Ashraf Engineer is Associate Editor at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He can be reached at He also writes a blog,

Owning responsibility for terror

April 29, 2009

By Mazhar Qayyum Khan

Three decades after the United States had raised a force of guerrilla fighters to drive out the Soviets from Afghanistan and, a decade later, abruptly left the arena on succeeding in that mission, it has condescended to own up part of the responsibility for sowing the seeds of present-day militancy. The guerrillas were then known as mujahideen (holy warriors) since they were fighting the ‘infidel’ communists but now into the second or third generation are called terrorists since they are resisting the foreign occupation led by the US.

Washington’s departure from the region in the eighties was utterly myopic but consistent with the follies it had been known to commit in the realm of foreign policy. That it had successfully manoeuvred the fall of the only other superpower gave it the feeling of freedom to tread the whole wide world like a colossus who, its policymakers felt, could glower any power into submission. No nation or group could dare defy its command. Highly respected strategists like, for instance Henry Kissinger, could not resist the temptation of believing that the era of an unchallenged US global dominance had ushered in and talked of ways of preserving it “in perpetuity”. It did not take long for their dreams to shatter; and they began to see the inevitable emergence of a multipolar world taking shape right before their eyes, largely because of the adventurous forays of their country into foreign lands.

Wisdom, on the other hand, demanded that the US remained engaged in the region in the post-Soviet period to help sort out things their interference had created. Pakistan and Afghanistan had no choice but to muddle through the mess all by themselves, which other regional were busy making it worse. The result: the pervasive curse of extremism and militancy that the mighty Americans are finding it hard to eliminate.

That brings us to the Obama phase and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s description of Pakistan as a “mortal threat to the world”. However, it seems that no sooner had she uttered this alarmist view before a Congressional committee to which Islamabad reacted angrily than Washington thought of toning it down. Secretary Clinton’s view of the scenario the next day appeared more like an expression of contrition at past policies of the US. Her words: “But the problem we face now to some extent we have to take responsibility for having contributed to it. We also have a history of kind of moving in and out of Pakistan.”
Logically, the remark provides a hint of the understanding of Pakistan’s difficulties while facing the militant phenomenon and assumes that serious thinking about forging a long lasting friendship is afoot. So far, however, the US has failed on both these counts. Its stress has been on the ruthless use of force to bring the terrorists to heel, ignoring the adverse backlash that would hit the country when it takes up arms against its population. On giving a tangible shape to the expression of “abiding friendship” that Pakistanis heard so much about for quite some time after 9/11, there is little to suggest that Washington is serious. On the contrary. It has gone out of the way to pamper India, not bothering about Pakistan’s sensitivities and grouses against it. There is a strong feeling of having been let down once again.

But should one hope that the soul-searching Secretary Clinton appears to have done leads the Obama Administration to make the removal of differences between the two major nations of the Subcontinent as an integral part of its policies about terrorism? That would require Washington to intercede to heel the rankling sore of Kashmir and extend adequate help to Pakistan in carrying out socio-economic projects that should pave the way for the eradication of extremist thinking. The reality that with all the determination in the world the evil cannot be got rid of quickly would also require Washington to show patience.

assive help to put Pakistan on the road to becoming a developed country would carry the dividend much sought-after by the US. The Pentagon also needs to shed its hesitation to make up-to-date, appropriate equipment available to Pakistan Army to enable it to successfully take on militancy and also share timely intelligence with it. The present US attitude reinforces distrust that hampers anti-terrorist activities.
The sooner the Americans realise that the anger and hatred, which the deaths of innocent persons from drone attacks are creating among the tribesmen, are defeating the very purpose of killing militants whose toll looks insignificant against civilian deaths. The exercise gives terrorism fresh recruits. It is high time it was discontinued. Unfortunately, however, their present attitude does not inspire much optimism. On the contrary, American officials have repeatedly suggested that the aerial attacks are proving useful and have killed important Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives and might even be intensified.

Unless, the US corrects its focus on the issue and comprehends the causes that are giving rise to militant feelings, it will find it hard to get the desired results. The cold-blooded murder of ordinary people, including women and children, raises a veritable outrage among the tribal people, known for harbouring the feeling of vengeance for ages. The consequences of the attacks are unmistakably clear: they swell the ranks of insurgent forces that cause trouble to both the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the loss of lives and security all over the country.

Should one hope that the US would re-examine the issue in the light of its fallout? Or would it have to wait for another three decades before realising that the Predators hurling Hellfire missiles on tribal people were a big mistake?


Blackmail In Balochistan

April 16, 2009

The truth is that the three murdered Pakistani Baloch politicians had become a political liability and a security risk for Brahamdagh Bugti and a threat to his entire infrastructure of terror inside Pakistan. The three had developed a good working relationship with Pakistani security officials during hostage negotiations. Brahamdagh and his handlers knew that the three were in direct contact with Pakistani security officials and could compromise the security of the terrorist activity and the routes of secret funding from across the border and the terrorist hideouts inside Pakistan. The inside story of five days that changed Balochistan, a story of deception, intrigue and espionage.



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-Two distinct sketches are emerging of what happened in Pakistan‘s largest province -Balochistan- over the past ten days.

The three murdered Pakistani Baloch political activists were in contact with Pakistani security and intelligence officials during the negotiations to release John Solecki, an American citizen and U.N. official. The three were also in contact with U.S.diplomats, U.N. officials, and with the kidnappers. In fact, the three politicians were considered to be part of the political front of the terrorist-insurgent movement that has its logistical, financial, and military bases in Afghanistan, built with generous funding over the past five years after the American occupation of that country.

So there is no question that Pakistan‘s security agencies were in direct contact with the three politicians. Before their murder, the terrorists-separatists did not dare publicize their presence and actions and relied on sporadic violence to spread terror and create media impact. The triple murder changed everything. It gave these separatist and terrorist elements an opportunity for the first time to publicly display their anti-Pakistan activities. In a tribal society like that of the Pakistani Baloch, controlled by a handful of tribal bosses through intimidation, brutality and economic control, the majority succumbed to the terror.

But who murdered the three local politicians?

The following report is based on firsthand information of what transpired between April 4 and April 9, five days that give the clearest insight yet into the wider battle in and around Pakistan.


What is beyond doubt is that Mr. Solecki was kidnapped by terrorists trained and financed by Brahamdagh Bugti, a grandson of the late politician-turned-terrorist Akbar Bugti. [Mr. Bugti was a smalltime village thug who murdered his cousins and relatives, stole their lands and exiled them to other parts of Pakistan. He got lucky when huge reservoirs of natural gas were found in the lands under his forced control. Mr. Bugti received a fortune every year from the federal government as 'royalty' for selling the gas. For three decades, his village lived in abject poverty as Mr. Bugti refused to allow the government to build schools or allow the poor villagers to improve their lifestyles. Mr. Bugti spent the money on building and maintaining a small army, a chain of underground prisons and on defending himself against his numerous enemies. After the occupation of Afghanistan, it is believed that the Indians and the Americans sold him on the idea that he could launch a war for an independent country. He apparently received strong guarantees that he will be supported and protected by the United States and India in case of an angry Pakistani reaction, which encouraged him to go to extremes. An advanced insurgency infrastructure complete with printed material in Urdu and English, audio and video tapes and propaganda in local dialects was prepared inside Afghanistanand smuggled to Pakistan. Mr. Bugti launched the war in January 2005, with massive supply of weapons and money. He died almost two years later when his own cousins backed by the Pakistani government stormed into his stronghold and seized their lands and forced him to flee to the mountains.]

Brahamdaghwas last sighted in Kabul. Indian intelligence agents posing as diplomats in the Afghan capital are some of his most frequent visitors. The Indian diplomacy and intelligence have been keen since 2002 on finding ways to drive a wedge between Washingtonand Islamabad. India‘s diplomatic actions in this regard are well known but the British and the American media have been silent on growing evidence of Indian covert activities in Afghanistanunder an American nod.

One of the earliest Indian actions in Afghanistanafter 2002 included acting as a spoiler, poisoning the minds of U.S.military commanders on the ground regarding Pakistan. One of the most common tactics has been to identify and penetrate groups of Afghan resistance fighters and then indirectly goad them into attacking the Americans and leaving behind evidence pointing the finger at Pakistan. Similarly, there have been attacks inside Pakistanwhere evidence was left behind implicating U.S.intelligence operatives to mislead Pakistani investigators.


One line of thinking in the current Pakistani investigation into the murder of the three politicians is that there is a high probability that the Indians initially encouraged Brahamdagh to kidnap Solecki to add new tensions to the frail Pak-American relationship. That was the original plan. The would jump on the story as another example of anti-Americanism in Pakistanand embarrass the Pakistani government and military. The upshot for Brahamdagh would be more international news coverage.

That was apparently the original plan. What Brahamdagh and his handlers did not expect is that the kidnapping would backfire and blow the cover of the terrorists and their links all the way inside Afghanistan.

Rich Akbar Bugti, poor people of his village

Immediately after Solecki’s kidnap, the Pakistani authorities wasted no time in reminding the Americans of the information that Pakistanshared at the highest levels with the United StatesinJuly 2008 about Indian activities inside Afghanistan. Adm. Mullen and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Stephen R. Kappes were shown irrefutable evidence on how the Indians were using Brahamdagh right under the nose of the U.S.military in Afghanistan.

In February 2009, after kidnapping Solecki, Brahamdagh’s men and his backers tried to create the impression that there are many separatist groups backing his cause. The first demand made by the kidnappers was to release Pakistani Baloch women detained by security forces. This turned out to be an outright lie. Prisons in the entire province and other parts of Pakistanwere checked and it was confirmed there was not a single Pakistani Baloch woman in jail or detention. No one had registered any case of missing Pakistani Baloch women as the separatist propaganda from Afghanistanalleged. The elected provincial government of Balochistan, which is considered to be sympathetic to the separatist tribal chiefs including Brahamdagh, was allowed access to all parts of the Pakistani security establishment – civilian and military – to ascertain this fact. This proved a blessing in disguise. One of the most lethal propaganda tools exploited by Brahamdagh Bugti and his backers was proven false.

In the initial days after Solecki’s kidnapping, some of the Baloch tribal chieftains sympathetic to Brahamdagh and his grandfather [and equally corrupt and tyrannical like him] tried to mislead Washington and the U.N. against Pakistanby suggesting that Pakistani intelligence agencies were behind the kidnapping of Solecki.

But the Pakistani government moved quickly to turn the tables on the terrorists and their Afghan-based masters.

On Feb. 27, 2009, Frontier Corps Chief Maj. Gen. Saleem Nawaz told reporters in Quettathat all the four major separatist groups that release statements to the media don’t even exist. “Organizations like the Balochistan Liberation United Front, the Baloch Liberation Army, the Baloch Republican Party, and the Baloch Republican Army are one and the same. Brahamdagh Bugti is behind these organizations,” he said. “Brahamdagh is involved in a series of kidnappings, targeted killings, sabotage and attacks on forces and installations in different parts of the province.”

None of these groups existed before the Americans came to Afghanistanin 2001.

So the writing was clear on the wall for the Pakistanis, the United Nations and the United Statesthat the Indians at some level were involved in kidnapping Mr. Solecki through Brahamdagh Bugti and their recruits inside Pakistanand that individuals based in U.S.-run Afghanistanissued the orders for the kidnap.

But did Pakistani intelligence agencies kill the three politicians who helped release Solecki?

Terrorist Brahamdagh Bugti: An Indian asset working from US-run Afghanistan

Why The Three Were Killed

The timeline here is very important:

  1. 4 April 2009: Mr. Solecki is released by the terrorists after receiving a huge payment worth several million dollars.

  1. 6-7 April 2009: Mr. Richard Holbrooke receives the biggest cold shoulder any senior U.S.official has received on Pakistani soil since 9/11.
  1. 9 April 2009: The mutilated bodies of the three politicians are found dumped in a public area.

Pakistani police, security and intelligence organizations are not beginners in their fields. Even if any one of them were to kill the three activists, no one would have dumped the bodies in full public view and certainly never after a high profile hostage negotiation involving the three murdered activists where they also interacted with U.N. and U.S.officials.

The truth is that the three murdered Pakistani Baloch politicians had become a political liability and a security risk for BrahamdaghBugti and a threat to his entire infrastructure of terror inside Pakistan. The three had developed a good working relationship with Pakistani security officials during hostage negotiations. Brahamdagh and his handlers knew that the three were in direct contact with Pakistani security officials and could compromise the security of the terrorist activity and the routes of secret funding from across the border and the terrorist hideouts inside Pakistan.

Mounting evidence indicates that Brahamdagh or his handlers in Afghanistanordered the elimination of the three Baloch politicians. The triple murder has clearly served the interest of the separatists-terrorists and their backers. The Pakistani state has been a net loser.


After Mr. Holbrooke’s failed visit to Pakistanon April 6 and 7, three things happened in fast succession.

One, Britaindiscovered a “very big” terrorist plot, as a British police officer described it, involving 12 Pakistani students. The British Prime Minister immediately telephoned President Zardari and threw his usual line about Pakistanneeding to do more in the war against terror. The interesting part is that the Brits failed to offer any evidence to support the existence of the “very big” terrorist plot. Knowing that the charge won’t stick in the courts, Londonannounced it was arbitrarily deporting the students.

At the same time, Indian prime minister made the startling announcement that the Afghan Taliban, who have never operated outside their country, were planning to bomb Indian elections. Again, no evidence whatsoever.

Pakistani officials smelled a rat in both of these statements coming from two close allies of the United States.

These statements, and the dramatic terrorism in Pakistan‘s Balochistan province, came immediately after the dressing down that Mr. Holbrooke received in Pakistan.

Could there be an American connection to the disturbances in Balochistan in addition to the Indian connection? The answer, in my view, is yes. Balochistan has U.S.military bases dating back to 2001. Washingtonhas been opposed to Chinaconstructing the Gwadar sea port in the province overlooking the Gulf oil supply lines. And CIAis using Pakistani Balochistan to infiltrate the Iranian provinceof Sistan-Balochistanand ignite a Sunni rebellion there against Iran‘s religious Shia regime.

Within hours of the news that the bodies of the three Pakistani politicians were found near the Iran border, and while separatists and terrorists exploited the story to ignite violence and destroy public property, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad released a press statement that appeared to pour fuel on fire and give the impression that Pakistan was somehow responsible for killing its own three politicians. The statement was also a blatant interference in an internal Pakistani issue where the U.S.diplomats had no business sticking their noses.

Encouraged by this unexpected support from the U.S. Embassy, some of the opportunist tribal chiefs in Balochistan who are supporting terrorism were emboldened to demand a U.N. probe, scoring a cheap point against Pakistanand implying that the state was involved in the murders.


Feudal chiefs in Pakistan, whether in Balochistan or Punjab, Sindh, and NWFP, have traditionally been protégés of the British colonial rule. While there are bright exceptions of Pakistani nationalism by some of the feudal gentry, the majority damaged the interests of Pakistanover the longer run and has generally shown little commitment or a sense of nationalism and destiny with regards to the homeland.

For the short term, Pakistanneeds to register murder cases against Brahamdagh Bugti and other terrorists. They should be charged of murdering the poor Pakistani Baloch driver who accompanied Mr. John Solecki’s. The driver was killed in cold blood by Brahamdagh’s terrorists.

The issue of Balochistan is part of a wider problem facing a failed Pakistani political system led by failed feudal politicians. This system needs to be changed and de-politicized to focus on economic development and providing opportunities to Pakistani citizens.

Ethnic-based provinces need to be abolished and existing districts converted into provinces with their own directly elected governors and local parliaments and development budgets. This way Pakistani politics will be localized and prevented from becoming a source of constant headache and destabilization for the state.

This change cannot come through democracy and requires a period of technocratic government backed by the military in the background and tasked with strictly executing a list of urgent political and administrative reforms.

The clearly working against Pakistan‘s vital security and economic interests in the region. Islamabadshould declare Washington‘s occupation of Afghanistanas illegal and advise the desist from using Afghan soil to destabilize neighboring countries. Pakistanneeds to immediately distance itself from the messy American agenda in Afghanistanthat is fast turning Pakistaninto a war zone. Islamabadshould also confront the Americans and the Indians with the evidence that both are exporting terrorism into Pakistanand fostering insurgencies using the Afghan soil. Let the world know what the Americans and their Anglo-Indian poodles are doing in the region.

Excessive paranoia

April 16, 2009

IT must have been an excessive paranoia of the British Police, which arrested several Pakistani students thought to be planning a terrorist attack in the UK. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented that the police was dealing with a big terrorist plot and criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to fight terror. However, the case took a new turn altogether when no evidence linking the students to an alleged terror plot could be found. Unfortunately, instead of letting them off the hook or making some kind of an apology, the law enforcement authorities have decided to deport them to Pakistan, which will be an injustice not only to the students but their families, which had paid sizeable amounts of money to bear the cost of their education. The incident moreover illustrates the dangers posed by racial profiling in the UK, and the vulnerabilities of Pakistanis there, who are frequently subjected to systematic discrimination at airports, hotels and other public places. This will send a strong message to Pakistanis who will be compelled to raise questions over the system of justice in the UK. It would also undermine the moral high ground on which British society is built.

The Minority Perspective On The BJP Manifesto

April 15, 2009

By Firdaus Ahmed

A party’s manifesto is not taken too seriously since the compulsions of power impact the promises in it considerably. In the coalition era, this is even more so. Therefore to assess the BJP’s position on security through its manifesto may be neither fair nor accurate. However, the exercise needs to be done if only to point out that the manifesto in its references to national security shows a remarkable insensitivity to minority concerns.

The very first reference to national security is on the Congress’ ‘abysmal failure to protect citizens from terrorism’. The verdict on counter measures is that ‘this is clearly not enough.’ Understandably the very first section after the Introduction is on national security. In this the first point is on terrorism. Unsurprisingly excluded from the list of terrorist activity in the Congress’ tenure is missing Malegaon. The overall impression is that the major instances of terror have been Muslim perpetrated, culminating in the 26/11 attacks by Pakistani terrorists.

Clearly, this bracketing of all terror instances is untenable as insufficient evidence exists of a minority linkage with the pattern of blasts in major cities last year. Since Malegaon investigations have not progressed adequately and the other possibilities with regard to BAD (Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi) have been buried with the Batla House ‘encounter’. As intended by perpetrators other than the ‘usual suspects’, the trail has not been picked up. A canard thus takes on the status of a truth or ‘common sense’. It bears reflection as to why these attacks have mysteriously stopped since the Malegaon revelations. That the manifesto propagates the error as a given is explicable in light of the ideological orientation of the party. Having deliberately misperceived the problem, the solution can only be persistence in error.

The manifesto is keen that Afzal Guru hang. That this has not already happened, despite the strong incentive for the Congress to have wanted to profit from the action, indicates there is more to the Parliament attack case than meets the eye. Afzal Guru is perhaps an innocuous victim of a larger conspiracy which in media reports spread to the considerably autonomous ‘dirty tricks’ department of J&K police. Since invoking national security can help legitimize anything, one Indian less in keeping its secrets secure is really no big deal. That Afzal Guru lives bespeaks of substance to the book ’13 December: The strange case of the attack on the Indian Parliament’.

Illegal immigrants are seen as the unwitting foot soldiers of terror with their ‘vulnerability…exploited by the ISI and its jihadi front organisations as well as local terror cells to carry out bombings and provide logistical support to foreign terrorists (italics added).’ Securitisation of the problem of economic migration as an ‘internal security’ issue helps focus attention on the need for their eviction. Its yet another handle on the minority since the party intends to in ‘Launch a massive programme to detect, detain and deport illegal immigrants’ in its very first hundred days.

There is an element that has been missed in reflection on this issue thus far. It is the possibility of such a targeted drive arousing Bengali nationalism. Nationalism is multi dimensional with one or other identity facet coming to the fore. The break up of Pakistan in which religion was trumped by ethnicity is an example. The Bengali ethnic group is the largest on the subcontinent. Presently it is divided on lines of religion. It would be prudent to preserve the status quo from point of view of Hindu nationalism. That this possibility has not entered the discourse points to the religion tainted limitation of cultural nationalism.

More disturbing is that reference to a reversion to 2002, despite its lesson. The Manifesto states: ‘Coercive measures, including diplomacy, will be used to deal with countries which promote cross-border terrorism.’ This is accentuated in the linkage drawn between the global war on terror and internal security in its very next sentence: ‘India will engage with the world in the global war on terror while not compromising on its domestic interests, primarily protecting citizens from the ravages of terrorism.’ This portends a more proactive engagement with GWOT as it unfolds with greater potential for violence in wake of the Riedel-Holbrooke-Petraeus ‘Af-Pak’ strategy recently unveiled by President Obama. The contrived linkage with India’s internal security makes for a continuing overhang over India’s largest minority.

That peace would continue to prove elusive with Pakistan is a given if the manifesto were to guide its actions when in power. It maintains that, ‘There can be no ‘comprehensive dialogue’ for peace unless Pakistan…hands over to India individuals wanted for committing crimes on Indian soil.’ This eminently avoidable condition gives out the agenda of using Pakistan as the threatening other to deepen the roots of the BJP’s brand of majoritarian nationalism.

Security issues comprise the first 17 pages. Other issues are also given the by now mandatory ‘security’ tinge such as ‘food security’, ‘social security’ or ‘energy security’. The civilian led militarization of mother India is virtually complete.

In saying that ‘the BJP repudiates the division of Indian society along communal lines which has been fostered by the Congress and the Left in pursuit of their vote-bank politics’, the BJP attempts to obfuscate it’s resort to and greater success at the same game in attempting to make the denominational majority its vote bank. It has contradicted itself in stating that, ‘categorisation of communities as ‘minorities’ perpetuates notions of imagined discrimination and victimhood; it reinforces the perception of the ‘minority’ identity as separate from the national identity’ in a section title ‘Minority Communities’. This slip indicates that the defining reality of India is its being a symphony of minorities along differing dimensions. Forging of majorities therefore should not, and hopefully cannot, be on lines of religion as the BJP seeks. Its effort in this direction is laid bare from the last section of the manifesto detailing measures for ‘Preserving our Cultural Heritage’.

The manifesto indicates that secularism continues as an embattled concept. Giving secularism a fresh lease of life requires a judicious and informed exercise of the vote.

Relatives tell a tale of terror for Muslim inmates of Sabarmati Central Jail

April 3, 2009

By staff reporter

Ahmedabad: Even as the prison authorities on Monday submitted in the Gujarat High court that there was no “severe beating” of the Sabarmati jail inmates, mostly Muslims, the relatives of the inmates who met them inside the jail today said that as many as 22 inmates were severely beaten up and are in a serious condition.

Speaking to, the relatives of the inmates alleged that the prison authorities were neither providing them treatment nor giving adequate food, thus allowing the condition of inmates from bad to worse. According to relatives, inmates were attacked when they were performing `salat’ or `namaz’ at around 5:15 p.m. and were in prostrating posture (sajda).

Though the alleged physical torture of the inmates had been going on for more than a week, the relatives came to know of it when an advocate linked to NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) Shamshad Pathan visited the jail premises in connection with some legal matters.

Their doubts were further confirmed when neither relatives nor the advocates fighting the cases of these inmates were allowed to have meeting with the inmates inside the jail on Saturday (March 28). The jail authorities had fixed Saturday as the day for allowing POTA and July 26 Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts undertrials to meet their relatives and advocates. Most of those targeted by the police and jail staff for torture are POTA accused in post-Godhra 2002 cases or Jul 26 serial blasts.

However, after three days of moving from pillar to post to secure permission, family members of the inmates finally managed to visit the jail on Monday evening. And what they saw inside the jail in 10 to 15 minutes as they were allowed only a short visit was very terrifying.

According to the relatives, most of the inmates beaten up by jail and police staff have sustained head injuries and got their legs and hands fractured. And most of them were not in a position to stand and walk and even to go to toilet to answer the nature’s call.

Bomb blast accused and an undertiral Shamsuddin’s mother Nasimbano alleged that her son had been beaten so seriously that he was notable to walk and even sit.

“Shamsuddin has suffered serious injuries on back side of his head and both of his legs and hands have been broken”, she said, after visiting the jail.

She also alleged that her son was not being provided medication nor was he given proper and adequate food; with the result he had become weak and lean. “The jail has been converted into a torture cell”, she charged.

Farzana, wife of Arif Sheikh, alleged that Arif had got fractured both of his hands due to severe beatings and one of his ribs had also broken, making it extremely difficult for him to sit or walk.

Another inmate Zahid Sheikh’s sister Saleha was very angry while talking to reporters as, according to her, police and jail staffers urinated on her brother before beating him when he was in prayer.

She refuted the charges of the jail and police officials that inmates indulged into clashes with jail staff and this forced the policemen to resort to lathi charge. “it is a false and fabricated thesis of the police and jail staffers to hide and justify their crimes”, she stated.

Shazia, wife of Sajid Mansuri considered to be one of the main accused in the July 26 serial bomb blasts, alleged that Sajid was performing `Asr’ prayers and was in `sajda'(prostrating position with his head on the ground) when the cops began hitting him on head and legs.

“My husband has suffered serious injuries on the back of his head and both the legs are fractured. There are severe injuries on both the arms, including fingers”, she said.

According to her, Sajid was also being denied food, barring a cup of milk. She alleged that there was no medical treatment, except pain killers, given to him.

Afsanabano, wife of Yunus Mansuri, another blast accused, alleged that a group of about 20 cops attacked her husband when he was offering prayers. She alleged that jail authorities were neither sending the injured to the government hospital outside for treatment nor making medical arrangement in the jail.

She alleged that cops asked Yunus not to narrate the story of torture but talk about personal family matters only. She was also allegedly advised by the cops not to talk to media about conditions in the jail.

When questioned about provocation, Afsanabano said there was no provocation at all from inmates’ side. On being asked that inmates were reported to have attacked the jail staff with weapons, she retorted: “even food was checked by the jail staff before being allowed inside, how then the inmates could procure weapons as alleged by the jail officials.”

Vaddoara-based Hameedabano, mother of another blast accused Imran Sheikh, told mediapersons that her son was badly beaten in the abdomen by cops. His right hand is fractured.

With tears rolling down her eyes, mother of another undertrial Gayasduddin alleged that the life of her son was in danger as the cops had beaten her son very badly. “I could not ever imagine that policemen would be so savage,” she said.

Court asks for report from jail authorities

Meanwhile, the court of designated metropolitan magistrate G M Patel hearing the cases of the serial bomb blasts accused on Monday directed the jail authorities to submit a report on the injuries sustained by the accused and the treatment provided to them within a period of two days. The magistrate also allowed two defence lawyers Javedkhan Pathan and I M Munshi to meet the inmates on March 31.

IGP(Prison) denies the allegation of beating

In an affidavit submitted to a division bench comprising chief justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi of the Gujarat high court on Monday (March 30), Inspector General of Police (prisons) Keshav Kumar denied there was any “severe beatings” of the inmates. The affidavit was submitted by him in response to a notice issued to him by the court on March 27 on a public interest litigation filed by Jan Sangharsh Manch representative Shamshad Pathan.

However, the high court asked Ahmedabad additional sessions judge P B Desai to submit a report of the incident inside the jail by April 3 and fixed the next hearing on April 6.

In his petition, Pathan had alleged that several inmates were subjected to severe torture and inhuman treatment by jail superintendent V Chandrashekhar who had in fact created an atmosphere of terror in the jail and had violated all norms of a civilized society. He had also demanded immediate transfer of Chandrashekhar.

Pathan’s petition had pointed out that one Akbar, a convicted prisoner was severely beaten and his leg was fractured. Another prisoner Silvester who was one of the witness in the infamous Sohrabuddin fake-encounter case and brought from Udaipur (Rajasthan) on March 20, 2009 was brutally beaten. He was handcuffed on one hand and another hand was tied with the bars of the ventilator and was made to stand facing the wall and was brutally beaten on back with sticks by Chandrashekhar. It was also reported that his life was in danger.

According to Pathan’s petition, a Nigerian undertrial Louis was also severely beaten. Two prisoners Ashraf Ismail Nagori and Rahim alias Ferozkhan Pathan convicted under POTA were denied medical treatment.

Apart from specific complaints of brutality and atrocity committed on prisoners, Pathan had submitted that the jail authorities were completely unsympathetic towards the welfare of the prisoners. Knowingly and deliberately they flouted the directions given by the Gujarat High Court in its order dated May 7, 2004 in Special Civil Application No.16198/2003. He submitted that Chandrashekhar after taking over the administration of Sabarmati Central Jail had curtailed all the amenities and welfare measures which the prisoners were entitled to under law.

Human rights organizations condemn torture

Meanwhile, several human rights group and organisations have condemned the alleged torture of inmates in the Sabarmati jail. The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM) said that Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s handpicked jailors are subjecting prisoners to continuous inhuman treatment and denying them medical treatment and visits by relatives and lawyers.

Fr. Cedric Prakash of NGO Prashant described the incident as barbaric and demanded immediate restoration of human rights of the inmates in the prison and action against the guilty police and prison authorities.

PUCL activist J S Bandukwala described the incident very heinous deserving severe condemnation. But he said that one could not expect anything good in Modi’s Gujarat.
Senior lawyer and representative of NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch demanded setting up of a court commission comprising of advocates, court official and a government official other than the police to inquire into the issue and submit a report to the Gujarat High Court for initiating action in the matter.

The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan

April 2, 2009

In announcing his new Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, President Barack Obama articulated “a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

This is a sound conception of both the threat and U.S. interests in the region. Mr. Obama took a giant step beyond the Bush administration’s “Afghanistan policy” when he named the issue “AfPak” — Afghanistan, Pakistan and their shared, Pashtun-populated border. But this is inverted. We suggest renaming the policy “PakAf,” to emphasize that, from the perspective of U.S. interests and regional stability, the heart of the problem lies in Pakistan.

The fundamental question about Afghanistan is this: What vital national interest does the U.S. have there? President George W. Bush offered an ever-expanding answer to this question. As he once put it, America’s goal is “a free and peaceful Afghanistan,” where “reform and democracy” would serve as “the alternatives to fanaticism, resentment and terror.”

In sharp contrast, during the presidential campaign Mr. Obama declared that America has one and only one vital national interest in Afghanistan: to ensure that it “cannot be used as a base to launch attacks against the United States.” To which we would add the corollary: that developments in Afghanistan not undermine Pakistan’s stability and assistance in eliminating al Qaeda.

Consider a hypothetical. Had the terrorist attacks of 9/11 been planned by al Qaeda from its current headquarters in ungoverned areas of Pakistan, is it conceivable that today the U.S. would find itself with 54,000 troops and $180 billion committed to transforming medieval Afghanistan into a stable, modern nation?

For Afghanistan to become a unitary state ruled from Kabul, and to develop into a modern, prosperous, poppy-free and democratic country would be a worthy and desirable outcome. But it is not vital for American interests.

After the U.S. and NATO exit Afghanistan and reduce their presence and financial assistance to levels comparable to current efforts in the Sudan, Somalia or Bangladesh, one should expect Afghanistan to return to conditions similar to those regions. Such conditions are miserable. They are deserving of American and international development and security assistance. But, as in those countries, it is unrealistic to expect anything more than a slow, difficult evolution towards modernity.

The problem in Pakistan is more pressing and direct. There, the U.S. does have larger vital national interests. Top among these is preventing Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. This danger is not hypothetical — the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, is now known to have been the world’s first nuclear black marketer, providing nuclear weapons technology and materials to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

Protecting Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal requires preventing radical Islamic extremists from taking control of the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. rightly remains committed to preventing the next 9/11 attack by eliminating global terrorist threats such as al Qaeda. This means destroying their operating headquarters and training camps, from which they can plan more deadly 9/11s.

The counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan that has emerged since last summer offers our best hope for regional stability and success in dealing a decisive blow against al Qaeda and what Vice President Joe Biden calls “incorrigible” Taliban adherents. But implementing these operations requires light U.S. footprints backed by drones and other technology that allows missile attacks on identified targets. The problem is that the U.S. government no longer seems to be capable of conducting covert operations without having them reported in the press.

This will only turn Pakistani public opinion against the U.S. Many Pakistanis see covert actions carried out inside their country as America “invading an ally.” This makes it difficult for Pakistani officials to support U.S. operations while sustaining widespread popular support.

As Mr. Biden has warned: “It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world’s second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalists’ hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined.”

Avoiding this nightmare will require concentration on the essence of the challenge: Pakistan. On the peripheries, specifically Afghanistan, Mr. Obama should borrow a line from Andrew Jackson from the battle of New Orleans and order his administration to “elevate them guns a little lower.”

Mr. Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and author of “Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe” (Holt Paperbacks, 2005). Mr. Deutch is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton.

Dangerous Policies

March 31, 2009

Ever since the Cold War ended and the US gained primacy in what still is a uni-polar world the US has been struggling to find a way to use its primacy. This search led the US into Afghanistan and then into Iraq. A leader is judged by the legacy he leaves behind. George Bush’s legacy is the thousands of dead and maimed Americans and their grieving kin and of course the quagmire that Iraq and Afghanistan have become and the economic recession. For 25 years the folly of Viet-Nam was accepted because of the Cold War but what is the excuse for the strategic blunder of a war without end in two countries that cannot possibly threaten the primary military power in the world today and its NATO allies.

President Obama’s arrival was to herald a change as he moved to tackle the recession and the joblessness that it had brought to America. He was expected to get into meaningful talks with North Korea and Iran. He was supposed to extricate out of Iraq and create the environment for an eventual exit from Afghanistan. None of these events are in sight. Iraq may drift into civil war and violence as the US leaves and the forces struggling to free Afghanistan are getting ready to welcome the troop surge that the US/NATO are planning. The US/NATO operations in Afghanistan are fuelling the expansion of terror into Pakistan.

The AF-PAK strategy will do nothing to resolve conflict. Pakistan has lost, and is losing, far more than it is getting. The promised 1.5 billion dollars will not shore up Pakistan’s shattered economy and the regulatory conditions have alienated Pakistanis. Why could not the US set up a partnership with the private sector in Pakistan to develop projects that will create jobs, step up production and create an economy that could be a bulwark against terror and extremism?

Pakistanis are also asking that if Pakistan is an ally and if there is a strategic dialogue with Pakistan then why the Pentagon is making public statements against the military and the ISI—statements that may be music for Afghans and Indians but hurt Pakistanis deeply. Why is it that the US only listens to those who have made careers out of saying what the US wants to hear? Surely the US knows that this will undermine those who are its real allies and well wishers in Pakistan. Supporting a civilian government should not be at the cost of alienating the military and its intelligence apparatus—that would be counter-productive.

If the US is to succeed in Afghanistan then it must get rid of those in the Afghan government with past baggage. The Afghan government must be made representative by giving the majority Pashtuns of Southern Afghanistan enough space. The drug economy must be destroyed and the smuggling routes strangled. Financial inflows must be checked and sources for weapons dried up. The Afghan people must be provided security. Talks with moderate Pashtuns must be started. These actions must take priority—nation and capacity building in Afghanistan can continue over a longer period but the environment must change now. The US presence in Afghanistan should change from a destabilizing to a stabilizing influence in the interest of regional harmony.

If there is a struggle within extremists and moderates within Islam the US should not take sides. Islam is within the US, the UK, Europe, India and other countries. By taking sides the US is creating a bigger problem for the world. Islam can resolve any conflicts within it without outside interference. Those who did 9/11 must be amazed at the success that they have achieved.

Pakistan’s ISI rendered many sacrifices in terror war

March 31, 2009

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Army on Saturday rejected as baseless and mala fide the allegations by top American military officials about support being extended to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants by some elements in the ISI.

An ISPR spokesman said, “The allegations levelled in a section of international media about ISI are totally baseless and mala fide.” According to media reports, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command said the United States had indications that elements of ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, provide support to Taliban or Al-Qaeda militants.The top US military officials also said reportedly that the agency must end such activities.

However, the ISPR spokesman in a statement said the commitment of Pakistan in fighting terrorism could be judged from the sacrifices rendered by its security forces including the intelligence organisations.
He said, “Such unauthenticated reports are part of a malicious campaign to discredit and bring disrepute to our security organisations. We, therefore, reject the allegations levelled against our security organisations.”

Also see:

Allegations of ISI-Qaeda nexus baseless: Pak ISPR

Islamabad, Mar 29 : Allegations levelled against Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in a section of international media are “baseless and malafide,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations spokesman.

“The commitment of Pakistan in fighting terrorism can be judged from the sacrifices rendered by its security forces, including intelligence organisations,” he said in a statement.

“Such unauthenticated reports are part of a malicious campaign to discredit and bring disrepute to our security organisations,” the Daily Times quoted him, as saying.

“We, therefore, reject the allegations levelled against our security organisations,” he added.

Earlier, US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen had confirmed media reports that the ISI has close links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban network, and is offering logistical support to them.

“There are certainly indications that’s the case,” The Dawn quoted Admiral Mullen, as saying.

Talking to media persons right after President Barack Obama announced a revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said that the nefarious network must be severed to thwart the extremist’s upsurge in the region.

“Fundamentally that’s one of the things that have to change,” Mullen added.

He said Islamabad has also expressed concern over the increasing influence of the outlawed terror groups and was working to curb the menace, but more sincere efforts were needed to tackle the issue. (ANI)


2. ISPR rejects allegations against ISI – Pakistan News

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Saturday rejected the allegations levelled against the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) saying that sacrifices rendered by Pakistani forces and intelligence agencies are ample proof of commitment of Pakistan to war on terror. The allegations levelled in international media against the ISI are totally baseless and mala fide, said a spokesman.

“The commitment of Pakistan in fighting terrorism can be judged from the sacrifices rendered by its security forces including intelligence organisations,” the spokesman said. He said that such unauthenticated reports are part of a malicious campaign to discredit and bring disrepute to our security organisations. “We, therefore, reject the allegations levelled against our security organisations,” the spokesman added.


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