Spearhead Analysis: Elections held hostage

April 22, 2013

By Nida Afaque

As elections draw near, the political climate within Pakistan has turned sober. Contesting parties are working industriously to widen their voter base, the Election Commission is overworked with verifying candidates’ credibility and the interim government is struggling to contain the country’s affairs until the next government is ready to take charge. But there is another kind of force, one that is becoming more elusive than ever, which is busy opposing efforts to a peaceful democratic transition.

These anti-state forces have been involved in harmful activities for quite long. Pakistan has had to pay the price of these terrorist elements through money, blood and an overall loss of security. Since the beginning of this year, the weekly death toll averages 175, with most violence concentrated in Karachi, Baluchistan, KPK and FATA. Various religious extremists like Jundullah, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and most commonly, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been found responsible for the attacks on senior politicians and government and security buildings across the country. Other civil separatist movements like the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) have targeted government officials and security personnel.

Read more…

FP: Standing strong with our Hazara brothers

February 22, 2013


Quetta was still recovering from the heart wrenching January attacks when it suffered another tragedy last week. A Sunni militant organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, planned a horrific bomb blast which left at least 80 people dead and more than 200 people injured. Their targets were the Hazaras.

Sectarian violence against the Hazara community goes backs to the late 1970s and even today they continue to be victims of terrorism. Its people live in perpetual fear; staying in their homes would make them the target of bomb attacks and venturing out in the world means they can be taken hostage, dragged out of buses and shot dead.

More than 1000 Hazaras have died and an additional 3000 injured from attacks since 1999. Law enforcement agencies and courts have failed to bring the victims any justice. It is no surprise that around 55000 people have chosen to migrate abroad for their safety. Some say this aggression is the result of Zia’s Islamisation which was supported by Wahabi Muslims. Others believe it is the Hazaras’ superior economic wellbeing in comparison to their Pashtun counterparts that has instigated this violence. Hazaras are known to value education and over time have flourished in businesses and real estate. Together these socio-economic and ethnic tensions have complicated the case against Hazaras.

It is natural to feel frustrated and angry at the government who can’t provide the fundamental right of security to its minority communities. But there is a silver lining in these gloomy days too. In the past two incidents of massacre in Quetta, we saw hundreds of people from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds all around the world stand up for the rights of the Hazaras. Demonstrations were seen in many countries including Canada, UK, and Australia appealing to their governments, human right organizations and the UN for affirmative action.

In Pakistan especially we saw an overwhelming support from non-Shias and the youth. Many included students who advocated for human rights. Others were young employees who chose to take a day off from work or devote their lunch break to help the protesters. Some people chose to express their support in an unconventional yet peaceful way. They collected donations and used it to offer protesters food and refreshments. Police officers were even invited to lunch. One volunteer said he wanted to do this to keep the morale of the protesters high. In Karachi, a group of boys offered to perform security checks of all people entering the protest. The level of commitment shown in ensuring peaceful protests was impressive and must be appreciated. Volunteers demonstrated great cooperation in organizing their efforts. The small difference that each individual made proved the sincerity of their feelings for their Hazara brothers.

News of this massacre spread through online media platforms which were also used to invite and organize people for protests. Information about the venue, time and even transport arrangements were provided. Twitter and Facebook were two common forums which people used to denounce the killings and discuss the media’s and government’s response. Live updates from participants in the rallies gave distant family members and friends a clear picture of the ground reality.

We may come from different backgrounds and follow different belief systems but we are all connected to each other through humanity. The extraordinary bravery that the Pakistani public has exhibited in these testing times should continue for not just the Hazaras but for all other minorities who have suffered injustices on the bases of their religion, race or ethnicity. A strong unity over human rights could be the hidden strength the country needs to take down extremism.

PML-N and The Truth: Why So Anti-Army?

May 18, 2011

By Ahsan Waheed

The aftermath of the OBL debacle resulted in a blame game at almost all levels of state infrastructure in Pakistan. Neither civil government officials not members of the military establishment were spared – by each other, or by the Pakistani media and the speculation-ridden conspiracy-driven people of Pakistan.

The ten hour long in-camera parliamentary session was one of a kind in the political history of this country – where both General Ashfaq Kiyani and General Pasha (DG ISI) were present. General Kiyani, throughout the session, seemed to be much of a silent observer; it was General Pasha, the Director General of the ISI, who beared the brunt of all the barrage of criticism thrown at him. At one point, when he offered his resignation, parliamentarians initiated a ruckus and shouted in the august house that the resignation should be accepted. While many argue that the military establishment of Pakistan is not subservient to the parliament or civil administration, it should also e or outside the legislature – have no respect for the military institutions of the country. This disrespect had obviously crossed all bounds after May 02, as has become obvious to everyone.

According to certain media reports, the most acerbic remarks were given by Ch Nisar of PML-N. He criticized the Army and their role in the politics of the country. He did not stop anywhere, not even where the matters could result in projecting a repulsive image of Pakistan being a terrorist state – where the army was possibly playing a double game by pleasing both the US and the Taliban. Ch Nisar’s rampant opposition for the sake of opposition severely damaged Pakistan’s intelligence sharing mechanism with the US – CIA Director Leon Panetta stated as matter of fact to the DG ISI that when his own country’s opposition leader couldn’t trust him, how could the CIA.

Such criticism needs to be seen in the light of how the whole situation has been outplayed after OBL’s death, and not just the difficulties faced by Pakistan’s institutions because of political ineptitude in general. No doubt that the army gets a major chunk of the budget; such a magnanimous budget endowment means that the army should be doing their job of defending the country and not dabble in the political processes of running the country. It is also important to point out that our role in the War on Terror has been to support the United States; it has only become evident since 2007 that Pakistan is actually a front in the War on Terror, after terrorists themselves declared Pakistan and Pakistanis as legitimate targets, and proceeded to conduct daily attacks ever since then.

Ch Nisar’s brother, Ch Ibtisar, was a high-ranking Pakistan Army official who became Chief of General Staff as well as Defence Secretary – most famously, he refused to sign Gen Musharraf’s removal orders and Gen Butt’s appointment orders, which led to uncertainty that was capitalized on by Musharraf’s corps commanders and helped in the 1999 coup – or Musharraf’s “countercoup” as he himself calls it. When the PPP and PML-N were “allies” before the judiciary issue forced them to part ways, it was assumed that Ch Nisar would be given the post of Defence Minister – obviously that did not happen, because maybe Ch Nisar was not as cultured as his brother.

Ch Nisar, being a representative of the people and a senior leader of the PML-N, should take a look into his party’s history as well. The PML-N was originally the PML reincarnated by Gen Zia – the architect of the Afghan jihad and the first head of state to use Islamic terrorism as national policy – so that he could have a dummy parliament that could rubberstamp his Ordinances into law. Incidentally one of Zia’s ministers is also currently Pakistan’s Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif – one of Zia’s favorites – took the advantage of a rift between party leader Junejo and president Zia to carve out his own PML, and he attached his own name to it so that nobody could take it away from him. After this, Nawaz took it upon himself as a personal mission to counter Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan’s liberals – at Zia’s death anniversary, Nawaz Sharif swore on his tomb that he would carry forward “Zia ul Haq Shaheed’s Mission”. Again, incidentally, a lot of religious extremists, takfiris, Wahabbi fundamentalists, and traditionalist conservatives in Pakistan are also pursuing Zia ul Haq’s distorted and macabre mission.

Up till certain years ago, it was alleged that links exist between Al Qaeda and the funding of PML-N – especially in the 1997 elections. Gen Musharraf was quick to remind the international community about this throughout the last decade, in order to dissuade world leaders from considering Sharif a valid political contender. However, with immense Saudi backing, and despite the financial malfeasance and daylight robbery the Sharif brothers conducted in Saudi Arabia – while they were the Kingdom’s guests and protectees – the Sharifs were given a new political lifeline after a deal was reached to allow former PM Benazir Bhutto to come back to the country. The judiciary decreed that it was also Nawaz Sharif’s fundamental right to return to his country – that is when everything hit the fan. By this time, Nawaz Sharif had a huge bone to pick with the Army, who had propped him up in the first place. Sharif could act like a reborn Bhutto who had escaped the military gallows and would come back as a revolutionary leader of the masses who is strictly against military intervention in politics – only because it packed up his government the last time it happened. Evidently, Sharif’s politics are not defined by national interest or public progress, but only by his personal sentiments and his prevalent feelings about the country, its institutions and its general political scenario. Of course, if President Zardari does not open the Hudaibiya Paper Mills cases and other scams, Nawaz Sharif will “silently” trumpet the Swiss cases issue, the NRO and other incidents of corruption that put the PPP in the docket. That is why Nawaz is aware that people call him a “friendly opposition”; while he hates the label, he should be glad that he’s not the “King’s opposition” and live with what the people call him – that is his reality.

The closeness of the PML-N to religious extremists and even terror elements like the SSP (Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT, now the JuD, or Jamaat-ud-Dawa, led by Hafiz Saeed), and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) are well known. In fact, Nawaz Sharif was only recently attending talks and rallies with Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the JuD and India’s enemy number one. India blames Hafiz Saeed and his JuD for the 26/11 attacks. Nawaz Sharif, while claiming that Pakistan’s India-centric military focus should be altered, immediately jumped into Hafiz Saeed’s lap: this was done within days of each other, leading the people of Pakistan to believe that the N in PML-N stands for “neurotic”.

When the ISI indicated last year that some areas in Southern Punjab had become a breeding ground for terrorism, the PML-N refused their intelligence inputs and assessments outright, refuting the argument by saying that terrorists do not belong to any religion or ethnicity, and trying to pin Punjab as the centre of terrorism is a ‘plot’ against the people of the province. Of course, the PML-N – running the Punjab province more dictatorially than Musharraf’s henchmen the Chaudhry brothers – believes ignore and avoid is the best policies, especially when it comes to critical matters of national importance. South Punjab is a hub of extremism and marginalization, which has become more evident after last year’s floods, and the state is completely absent, while madrassas and religious charities have mushroomed. Of course, after giving them the benefit of the doubt, it still remains to be investigated whether terrorists and suicide bombers are being recruited from poor helpless families of South Punjab, or not. The PML-N, since it is indebted to the vote bank of religious extremists and banned political parties, will never let the provincial government, federal government, or even the army, take action in South Punjab.

And so, terrorism and extremism will fester in Pakistan, while Nawaz Sharif dreams of becoming Prime Minister for the third time. He may even become President. After all, the Charter of Democracy is used again and again to imply that the PPP and PML-N are going to take turns ruling Pakistan and administering its federal government. How democratic!

The Case Against Raymond Davis

March 2, 2011

The CIA’s Killing Spree in Lahore


When CIA-agent Raymond Davis gunned down two Pakistani civilians in broad daylight on a crowded street in Lahore, he probably never imagined that the entire Washington establishment would spring to his defense. But that’s precisely what happened. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen, John Kerry, Leon Panetta and a number of other US bigwigs have all made appeals on Davis’s behalf. None of these stalwart defenders of “the rule of law” have shown a speck of interest in justice for the victims or of even allowing the investigation to go forward so they could know what really happened. Oh, no. What Clinton and the rest want, is to see their man Davis packed onto the next plane to Langley so he can play shoot-’em-up someplace else in the world.

Does Clinton know that after Davis shot his victims 5 times in the back, he calmly strode back to his car, grabbed his camera, and photographed the dead bodies? Does she know that the two so-called “diplomats” who came to his rescue in a Land Rover (which killed a passerby) have been secretly spirited out of the country so they won’t have to appear in court? Does she know that the families of the victims are now being threatened and attacked to keep them from testifying against Davis? Here’s a clip from Thursday’s edition of The Nation”:

“Three armed men forcibly gave poisonous pills to Muhammad Sarwar, the uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of Fahim shot dead by Raymond Davis, after barging into his house in Rasool Nagar, Chak Jhumra.

Sarwar was rushed to Allied Hospital in critical condition where doctors were trying to save his life till early Thursday morning. The brother of Muhammad Sarwar told The Nation that three armed men forced their entry into the house after breaking the windowpane of one of the rooms. When they broke the glass, Muhammad Sarwar came out. The outlaws started beating him up.

The other family members, including women and children, coming out for his rescue, were taken hostage and beaten up. The three outlaws then took everyone hostage at gunpoint and forced poisonous pills down Sarwar’s throat.” (“Shumaila’s uncle forced to take poisonous pills”, The Nation)

Good show, Hillary. We’re all about the rule of law in the good old USA.

But why all the intrigue and arm-twisting? Why has the State Department invoked the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to make its case that Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity? If Davis is innocent, then he has nothing to worry about, right? Why not let the trial go forward and stop reinforcing the widely-held belief that Davis is a vital cog in the US’s clandestine operations in Pakistan?

The truth is that Davis had been photographing sensitive installations and madrassas for some time, the kind of intelligence gathering that spies do when scouting-out prospective targets. Also, he’d been in close contact with members of terrorist organizations, which suggests a link between the CIA and terrorist incidents in Pakistan. Here’s an excerpt from Wednesday’s The Express Tribune:

“His cell phone has revealed contacts with two ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has led to the public conclusion that he was behind terrorism committed against Pakistan’s security personnel and its people ….This will strike people as America in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda against the state of Pakistan targeting, as one official opined, Pakistan’s nuclear installations.” (“Raymond Davis: The plot thickens, The Express Tribune)

“Al Qaeda”? The CIA is working with “ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan”? No wonder the US media has been keeping a wrap on this story for so long.

Naturally, most Pakistanis now believe that the US is colluding with terrorists to spread instability, weaken the state, and increase its power in the region. But isn’t that America’s M.O. everywhere?

Also, many people noticed that US drone attacks suddenly stopped as soon as Davis was arrested. Was that a coincidence? Not likely. Davis was probably getting coordinates from his new buddies in the tribal hinterland and then passing them along to the Pentagon. The drone bombings are extremely unpopular in Pakistan. More then 1400 people have been killed since August 2008, and most of them have been civilians.

And, there’s more. This is from (Pakistan’s) The Nation:

“A local lawyer has moved a petition in the court of Additional District and Sessions … contending that the accused (Davis)… was preparing a map of sensitive places in Pakistan through the GPS system installed in his car. He added that mobile phone sims, lethal weapons, and videos camera were recovered from the murder accused on January 27, 2011.” (“Davis mapped Pakistan targets court told”, The Nation)

So, Davis’s GPS chip was being used to identify targets for drone attacks in the tribal region. Most likely, he was being assisted on the other end by recruits or members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban.

A lot of extravagant claims have been made about what Davis was up to, much of which is probably just speculation. One report which appeared on ANI news service is particularly dire, but produces little evidence to support its claims. Here’s an excerpt:

“Double murder-accused US official Raymond Davis has been found in possession of top-secret CIA documents, which point to him or the feared American Task Force 373 (TF373) operating in the region, providing Al-Qaeda terrorists with “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents,” according to a report.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is warning that the situation on the sub-continent has turned “grave” as it appears that open warfare is about to break out between Pakistan and the United States, The European Union Times reports…..The most ominous point in this SVR report is “Pakistan’s ISI stating that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents”, which they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that is warned is just months away from collapse,” the paper added. (“CIA Spy Davis was giving nuclear bomb material to Al Qaeda, says report”, ANI)

Although there’s no way to prove that this is false, it seems like a bit of a stretch. But that doesn’t mean that what Davis was up to shouldn’t be taken seriously. Quite the contrary. If Davis was working with Tehreek-e-Taliban, (as alleged in many reports) then we can assume that the war on terror is basically a ruse to advance a broader imperial agenda. According to Sify News, the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, believes this to be the case. Here’s an excerpt:

“Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US envoy to Afghanistan, once brushed off Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s claim, that the US was “arranging” the (suicide) attacks by Pakistani Taliban inside his country, as ‘madness’, and was of the view that both Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who believed in this US conspiracy theory, were “dysfunctional” leaders.

The account of Zardari’s claim about the US’ hand in the attacks has been elaborately reproduced by US journalist Bob Woodward, on Page 116 of his famous book ‘Obama’s Wars,’ The News reported.

Woodward’s account goes like this: “One evening during the trilateral summit (in Washington, between Obama, Karzai and Zardari) Zardari had dinner with Zalmay Khalilzad, the 58-year-old former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN, during the Bush presidency.

“Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of the two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didn’t think India could be that clever, but the US could. Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming the claims made by the Pakistani ISI.”

“Mr President,” Khalilzad said, “what would we gain from doing this? You explain the logic to me.”

“This was a plot to destabilize Pakistan, Zardari hypothesized, so that the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons. He could not explain the rapid expansion in violence otherwise. And the CIA had not pursued the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a group known as Tehreek-e-Taliban or TTP that had attacked the government. TTP was also blamed for the assassination of Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto.” (“Pakistan President says CIA Involved in Plot to Destabilize Country and Seize Nukes”, Sify News)

Zardari’s claim will sound familiar to those who followed events in Iraq. Many people are convinced that the only rational explanation for the wave of bombings directed at civilians, was that the violence was caused by those groups who stood to gain from a civil war.

And who might that be?

Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to derail the investigation, the case against Davis is going forward. Whether he is punished or not is irrelevant. This isn’t about Davis anyway. It’s a question of whether the US is working hand-in-hand with the very organizations that it publicly condemns in order to advance its global agenda. If that’s the case, then the war on terror is a fraud.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state and can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

Detained US official ‘in telephone contact with Islamic terror group’

February 11, 2011

By: Rob Crilly

A US official, detained in Pakistan after shooting dead two men, had made contact with Taliban-linked extremists in the country’s lawless, tribal region, according to details of phone records leaked by the police.

Sources close to the investigation said Raymond Davis, 36, had made a series of telephone calls to South Waziristan, a tribal area along the border with Afghanistan synonymous with militant activity.

The mystery surrounding Davis has deepened since he was arrested in Lahore two weeks ago. He has told police officers he shot dead two men in self defence.

The US insists he is a diplomat based at the embassy in Islamabad and should be granted immunity.

However, security sources have leaked a series of details suggesting that he may have had a clandestine role.

“His phone records clearly show he was in contact with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, for what reason we can only speculate,” said a police officer, referring to a terrorist group with close links to the Pakistani Taliban.

Let’s stop flattering India so much

December 27, 2010

Ayaz Amir

The centre of the Pakistani solar system is not the sun, as innocents may tend to believe, but our elephant-like neighbour to the east, from whose bosom once-upon-a-time we were carved: India. We may be fighting a war on our western frontier and the greatest threat to the idea envisioned by our luckless founding fathers may come from the forces of religious extremism – whose creation in present form and shape is one of the singular achievements of our defence establishment – but all our war doctrines are based on the real or presumed threat from the east.

Thus, while the world marches on we remain trapped in a time warp, fighting the battles of the past, obsessed with the perception of a threat which spurs us on to a nuclear arms race underpinned by no sense of logic or rationality…as the rest of the world understands these terms.

How much land does a man require?… famously asked Leo Tolstoy. How much nuclear security does a country require? In a reasonable world five nuclear bombs would be enough to ward off real or chimerical dangers. If Al-Qaeda had a single nuclear device the United States would not know how to deal with the threat. We may be a beggar country but, Allah be praised, we have enough nuclear bombs, and missiles to carry them, to spread death and destruction across the entire sub-continent.

Yet our supreme custodians of the national interest, self-appointed protectors of our ideological and geographical frontiers, are not satisfied, continuing to articulate and champion a national security doctrine out of sync with the times.

If the bombs at our disposal and more than half a million men, and mercifully a sprinkling of women, under arms are not enough to impart a sense of security to this putative citadel of Islam – another of our mythical notions – then Ares, the god of war, can descend from Olympus and we will not be secure.

Yes, we have problems with India and will continue to have them. But surely we are not envisaging a recourse to arms to settle these problems. We should stick to our viewpoint on Kashmir and, in this regard, be guided by the wishes of the Kashmiri people. If we have water problems with India we must talk to resolve them. If both countries are engaged in the most senseless of standoffs anywhere in the world – on the dizzying heights of the Siachen Glacier, the only way for common sense to make an appearance is through negotiations.

Except for the first Kashmir war, 1947-48, which allowed us to acquire the portion of Kashmir in our possession, all our subsequent wars with India were exercises in unmitigated folly. In the name of the national interest and, from Gen Ziaul Haq’s time onwards, in the name of ‘jihad’, our supreme keepers of the national flame have done things which in other countries would have called for the requisitioning of a determined firing squad.

Haven’t we gone through enough but must we still learn no lessons? Yes, the Pakistan-India border remains one of the most militarised frontiers in the world. Yes, there is an unbroken chain of military cantonments on the Indian side of the border, just as there is a similar chain – from the mountains of Kashmir to the sea – on our side. But we should be reversing this state of affairs, not advancing it.

Yes, we must remain eternally vigilant, I suppose an inescapable cliché in this sort of discussion. But the point is that we have enough, and to spare, to meet and even exceed the demands of vigilance. There may be sections of Indian public opinion hostile to Pakistan. But that shouldn’t cause us any sleepless nights. There are many things about official India which we don’t like. To hear Indians talk about their economic achievements, the implication being that Pakistan has been left far behind, can be tiresome, especially when repeated too often.

But the mark of being a civilized people is not to eliminate prejudice – it would be a dull world without anger and prejudice – but to keep it in check. We can indulge our fancies in private but when fancy and fantasy cloud public discourse or become substitutes for wisdom in government policy we invite trouble for ourselves.

Pakistan is not a morsel that can be chewed and swallowed. Contrary to what many in the chattering classes assert, Pakistan is not a banana republic. The United States does not run Pakistan and indeed could not, because some of our most glaring stupidities in the name of ‘jihad’ and national security are entirely indigenous, capable of concoction in no other laboratory.

Without under-estimating the ingenuity of the CIA, would the CIA have been able to create something quite like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or the Lashkar-e-Taiba? The Kargil adventure could have been dreamt up only by the best and brightest in our own general staff. The fortress-of-Islam narrative can only be a Pakistani production. Making regular asses of ourselves in the name of religion is very much a home-grown talent.

So let us not run ourselves down and put India on too high a perch. India cannot harm us. Let us get this dangerous nonsense out of our heads. India is not about to attack Pakistan. Its leaders would have to be crazy – crazier than us – to even contemplate the possibility. India attacked us only once, in 1971, and even then we had made such a mess of East Pakistan that it was almost like inviting India to intervene. The rest of the times we attacked India, with nothing but disaster to show for it. We should get the balance of this accounting right.

Pakistan stands in greatest risk from itself, from our incapacity to look hard at our real problems and from our failure to confront those problems. Religious extremism especially in its Taliban and Al-Qaeda variety is a product of 30 years of distortion starting from the Zia era (or rather the 1977 rightist movement against Bhutto which set the stage for so much occurring thereafter). Reversing the tide of this extremist is not just a question of conducting military operations in one area of FATA or another but of reinventing the Pakistani state and making it less of a playground for theocratic forces.

This task of reinvention has to include the country’s most powerful institution, the army…which, unluckily for Pakistan, instead of having a reformist and progressive influence on the nation has been the smithy for the forging of some truly strange concepts and doctrines.

And the time for this reinvention is very short. The Americans begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, as they are priming themselves to do, and a new period of uncertainty, to put it no stronger than this, will begin in that embattled country. We have to get things right between now and then.

None of the principals in Islamabad (to name them is to spoil one’s mood) inspires much hope in this regard. But for the general staff at least, the self-appointed custodians of all that is holy, this should be a cue to change gears and spend less time fretting about India and more time in sizing up the threat of religious extremism – which won’t grow less when the Americans depart.

With all the nonsense assiduously cultivated over the years about strategic depth and our legitimate interests in Afghanistan, and the threat from India, we have managed to turn what could have been a perfectly beautiful country, a crossroads of East and West, the gateway on the one hand to India and on the other to Central Asia, into an abnormal country.

The foremost task facing us as a nation is to return to normality and make education and the march to civilization our central preoccupations, instead of the totem poles currently the greatest objects of our worship: bombs and nuke-carrying missiles.

Tailpiece: Shahzain Bugti being held by the scruff of his neck as he was arrested…a photo, in the context of Balochistan, about as damaging as the one which showed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry being pushed by the head into a waiting car. Will we never learn?

Email: winlust@yahoo.com

‘Govt to launch operation against banned outfits’

March 18, 2010

Interior minister claims 90 percent of terrorist activities carried out by SSP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

ISLAMABAD: A decisive operation will be launched against banned sectarian outfits if they do not refrain from carrying out terrorist attacks in the country, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday.

Malik made these comments at a joint-press briefing along with Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira after a special meeting of the federal cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Responsible for attacks: Malik claimed that the defunct Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were behind 90 percent of the terrorist attacks in Punjab.

“They are operating on the instructions of their foreign masters with the ulterior motive to destabilise Pakistan,” he said.

“We are fighting an ideological war and we have to unite to defeat these anti-state elements,” the minister said, adding that these elements had tried to create sectarian and ethnic strife.

The cabinet meeting was attended by the chief ministers of all four provinces, their secretaries, the inspector generals, the chief of general staff, the AJK PM and the Gilgit-Baltistan governor besides the federal and state ministers. The meeting reviewed the law and order situation in the country and decided that the federal government would provide all possible technical and financial resources to provinces to deal with the unabated wave of terrorism in the country.

It also decided to enhance cooperation between the federal government and provinces over ‘intelligence sharing’ and the training of law enforcement agencies to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the country.

The PM directed Malik to carry out a ‘comprehensive exercise’ to assess the financial and equipment requirements of law enforcement agencies in consultation with the provincial governments and ministry of finance and come up with recommendations.


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