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Showing posts from June, 2007

Who Holds the Cards in Pakistan?

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Memo From Islamabad
As Pakistan’s Chief Looks Ahead, Army Holds the Cards
By CARLOTTA GALL: New York Times, June 28, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Speculation has been rife in political circles recently that Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, may not survive his wrangle with the chief justice and hold on to power, but a great silence emanates from the one place that may count the most: the barracks and the mess halls of the armed forces, the other great part of Pakistan’s ruling equation.

What the army thinks about the political logjam, and what it decides to do in the event of continuing stalemate, instability or violence, will be the defining factor in General Musharraf’s future, most commentators agree.

If and when the army feels it is being damaged by its association with General Musharraf, and his insistence on retaining the dual posts of president and chief of army staff, they will act to safeguard the reputation of the army, they say.

Historians and columnists have been out…

Flooding in Pakistan

More than 800,000 stricken in wake of Pakistan flooding
The Associated Press June 28, 2007 (Published in International HErald Tribune)

TURBAT, Pakistan: Helicopters dropped relief supplies to some of the more than 800,000 people hit by monsoon flooding in southwest Pakistan, as flash floods killed 20 in an area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

Many of those affected were stranded in high open areas or on roofs in Baluchistan province following Cyclone Yemyin.

Twenty people died in flash floods Thursday in the northwestern Khyber Agency tribal region, said government official Ilyas Khan.

The total number of lives lost in the unusually severe flooding is still unknown.

Floods have also ravaged four eastern provinces of neighboring Afghanistan, causing at least four deaths, a NATO statement said.

NATO troops and Afghan police rescued 42 trapped villagers in Kapisa province Wednesday. Flooding was also reported in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan and Kunar, where four died Tuesday when the…

Ex-army officers train bureaucrats

Ex-army officers train bureaucrats
By Azaz Syed: Daily Times, June 29, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Top training institutions for bureaucrats are headed by retired military officers, Daily Times has learnt.

A report has been submitted to the National Assembly Secretariat in reply to a question raised by MNA Dr Farid Ahmed Piracha. It has disclosed that Maj Gen (r) Sikandar Shami is the director general of the Civil Services Academy (SCA), Lahore. The SCA is a unique academy where all newly selected bureaucrats are trained.

National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), where officers get training before being promoted from grade 18 to 19, is run by retired army officers, says the report.

Maj Gen (r) Khalid Naeem is the director general of NIPA Karachi, Air Commodore (r) Shaukat Haider director general of NIPA Quetta and Maj Gen (r) Akbar Saeed Awan is the director general of NIPA Peshawar.

Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) has also been run by retired military generals over the years. Curre…

US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing on Dr. AQ Khan

June 27th - - US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee - Mark Fitzpatrick's testimony
Nuclear Black Markets: Can we win the game of catch-up with determined proliferators?

‘Khan network no longer exists’
From Khalid Hasan: Daily Times, June 29, 2007

WASHINGTON: Experts testifying before a congressional committee on Wednesday agreed that the AQ Khan network “is no longer in existence”.

The hearing by the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, headed by Gerry Ackerman of New York, and the subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade, was devoted to the theme: US policy and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The three witnesses who presented testimonies and answered questions were: David Albright of the Institute of Science and Technology, Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London and Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation.

Under persistent questioning by members of the committee wanting to know if the AQ Khan network has been e…

Role of Army in Pakistan

Army said to control all segments of Pakistani society
By Khalid Hasan: Daily Times, June 28, 2007

WASHINGTON: Under General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan Army has made deep inroads into every facet of life, suggests a long report published in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

The report, filed from the village of Daulat Nagar near Kharian by the newspaper’s Pakistan-based correspondent, quotes one Dr Nusrat Riaz who complains that the clinic he has run for three years has been sent an administrator “to look over his shoulder,” though he has no medical background, no experience in supervising doctors and who, in addition, is “functionally illiterate”. He is from the army. It is not clear if the officer is still serving or retired. The report notes that under Gen Musharraf, the military has “quietly exerted its influence over nearly every segment of Pakistani society. Active-duty or retired officers now occupy most key government jobs, including posts in education, agriculture and medici…

NATO Strikes in Pakistan's Tribal Areas

NATO Strikes Taliban Militants in Pakistani Territory
Terrorism Focus, Volume 4, Issue 20 (June 26, 2007), Jamestown Foundation
By Hassan Abbas

The covert understanding between the Pakistani government and NATO/ISAF in Afghanistan regarding direct U.S. military action in Pakistan's tribal areas is hardly a secret anymore. Officially, the Pakistani government forbids foreign troops from conducting military operations on its soil, whereas in reality many U.S. missile attacks are coordinated with Pakistan beforehand. At times, it appears that the United States acts without informing Pakistan, but the Pakistani government always claims otherwise in order to protect its domestic credibility (The News, June 20). The unraveling of this relationship could not have occurred at a worse time for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, as he currently faces the toughest challenge of his presidency in the shape of growing political unrest in the country. Two aerial attacks last week in Pakistan…

Pakistan's general problem

Pakistan's general problem
Popular resistance to Musharraf's rule has seemingly caught the U.S. off-guard.
By Ali Dayan Hasan
ALI DAYAN HASAN is South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2007

IN RETURN FOR cooperation in the war on terror since 9/11, the United States has provided Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, with billions of dollars in aid and almost total support in his quest to remain president — until recently.

Eight years after seizing power in a coup, Musharraf is trying to grab five more years through political manipulation and blatant coercion. However, even as he rewrote it, the Pakistani Constitution prohibits him from being president unless he stops being army chief.

That would normally be a minor irritant, easily ignored. But the ground is shifting under Musharraf's feet. Pakistanis are turning out in mass demonstrations led by lawyers whose tolerance for Musharraf has been replaced with a newfound regard…

How the US Media Portrayed Pakistan after 9/11

Jumping on the US Bandwagon for a “War on Terror”
Major US newspapers struggle to eliminate bias and exaggerations in their reports on terror
Susan Moeller: YaleGlobal, 21 June 2007

Summary:Since the 9/11 attacks, a US priority has been to eliminate global terror. The US has spent and accrued billions in debt, invading Afghanistan and Iraq and enhancing security procedures in travel and everyday routine. A study of newspaper coverage of Pakistan, following the 9/11 attacks, suggests that journalists, either willingly or unwittingly, contributed to overall public confusion regarding global terrorism. Susan Moeller, director of the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda and author of the study “The ‘Good’ Muslims: US Newspaper Coverage of Pakistan” points to some trends of bias in reports. For example, journalists often use words such as militant, extremist and terrorist interchangeably, discounting distinctions in motives, politics or history. Rather than inform, newspapers …

Lal Masjid theatrics: mob rule or 'topi drama'?

Lal Masjid theatrics: mob rule or 'topi drama'?
By Prof Adil Najam: The News, June 26, 2007

The standoff created by the attack on a 'massage' centre in Islamabad by the Lal Masjid militia and the abduction of a number of Chinese nationals lasted less than a day. The criminality of this shameful act notwithstanding, the matter was thankfully resolved and the 'pious posse' from Jamia Faridia and Jamia Hafsa released the kidnapped individuals. However, far from resolving the larger crisis of puritanical vigilantism, this episode has only deepened it. The government has succumbed, yet again, to the militant tactics of the Lal Masjid leadership who have, in turn, declared victory. This episode will further embolden the already violence-prone brigands at the two madressahs and we are likely to see an escalation in their demands as well as their tactics. Meanwhile, with the government has once again demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness to act decisively. The …

Role of Intelligence Agencies in Pakistan

Agencies ruling the roost since Oct 1999
By Tariq Butt: The NEws, June 26, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Who runs the government that rules Pakistan since October 2002? Civilians, they say. But who will believe it?

All principal decisions taken since October 1999 and after the restoration of democracy of a unique nature, special to Pakistan, in October 2002 throw up the role of premier intelligence agencies and their chiefs as the solitary decisive factor.

This mighty state structure had little dominant role in the decision-making process when Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto had ruled twice each. Then, the involvement of the federal cabinet and the ruling party, obviously comprising civilians alone, was ensured, maybe at times to a limited extent. The “kitchen cabinets”, of the two prime ministers, consisting of small bands of their confidantes, used to take vital decisions.

But for three years from 1999 to 2002 and after the last general elections, the intelligence agencies had performed an unquestiona…

Opium Production in Afghanistan Soars

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Afghan opium production 'soars'
By Imogen Foulkes; BBC News, Geneva ; June 25, 2007

Opium production in Afghanistan is soaring out of control, the annual UN report on illegal drugs says.

The World Drug Report says more than 90% of illegal opium, which is used to make heroin, comes from Afghanistan.

It says cultivation of opium poppies increased dramatically in the country, despite the presence of more than 30,000 international troops there.

The report says Afghanistan is unlikely to regain real security until the production of illegal drugs is tackled.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan produced some 30% of the world's opium, but now that figure has more than tripled, the UN document says.

It says that Helmand province alone cultivates almost half the world's illegal opium.

Thomas Pietschmann, the report's author, says production in Helmand has now outstripped that of entire countries.

"The province of Helmand itself is around 70,000 hectares under cultivation, which is t…

Pakistan's Political Future and U.S. Interests

Pakistan's Political Future and U.S. Interests
by Lisa Curtis; June 25, 2007 | Heritage Foundation

Following three months of protests against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf over the government's dismissal of the Supreme Court Chief Justice, U.S. officials have begun to worry about the stability of the Musharraf regime. The most visible example of this growing concern was seen in mid-June when a trio of top U.S. officials visited Pakistan to pulse the situation.

As the Administration evaluates options and determines next steps in its policy toward Islamabad, it should be guided by the strategic necessity of a return to democracy in the country.

When the crisis in Pakistan first began, conventional wisdom in Washington held that Musharraf was likely to weather it and therefore Washington could maintain a narrow policy of strong support for him. However, US officials began to revisit these calculations as the volume of the protests increased and especially when Musharraf attemp…

"A False Choice in Pakistan": Foreign Affairs

A False Choice in Pakistan
By Daniel Markey: From Foreign Affairs , July/August 2007

A DANGEROUS BACKLASH

Even before the dust had settled on 9/11, U.S. policymakers were well aware that Pakistan was at the center of the world's worst Islamist terrorist networks. The Bush administration quickly moved to persuade once-sanctioned Islamabad to become an essential partner in the "global war on terror." But today, nearly six years after Secretary of State Colin Powell first announced that Washington and Islamabad stood "at the beginning of a strengthened relationship," the Taliban are still entrenched in the Afghan-Pakistani border region, al Qaeda's top leaders have found a secure hideout in Pakistan, and terrorist attacks within and beyond Pakistan's borders persist with deadly regularity.

Given these failures, it is no surprise that Americans are increasingly frustrated with the slow and uncertain progress in Pakistan. Many, including some members of the …

Musharraf Loses Ability to Maneuver: Bloomberg

Musharraf Loses Ability to Maneuver After Pakistani Protests
By Khalid Qayum and Anthony Spaeth
Bloomberg; June 26, 2007

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Four months of street protests have eroded Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's popular support, threatening his plans to get re-elected while keeping control of the military, the key to his power.

A constitutional amendment allowing the army chief of staff to also hold the presidency expires at the end of this year. The Pakistani leader, whose presidential term through an indirect election ends Nov. 15, is facing U.S. calls for a loosening of one-man rule, as well as the protesters' demands for a full restoration of democracy.

``Musharraf's stars are fading,'' Hassan Abbas, a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, said in an e- mail. ``There is a cry for free, fair and transparent elections.''

The pressure, which comes from Pakistan's middle class, opposition politicians and hard-line I…

"Judge milks anti-Musharraf support in central Pakistan": Boston Globe

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Judge milks anti-Musharraf support in central Pakistan
By Kamran Haider | June 24, 2007: Boston Globe

CHICHAWATNI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan's suspended chief justice carried his fight for reinstatement and the independence of the judiciary deep into the south of Punjab province on Sunday, milking support from towns along the way.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has become a symbol of resistance to President Pervez Musharraf, since he refused to quit in the face of pressure from the country's military leader and intelligence chiefs in March.

"Chaudhry's refusal, not bow to five generals who threatened him of dire consequences is the real lifeline of this movement," Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the legal team fighting misconduct charges against the judge, told some 1,500 lawyers in Sahiwal in the city's courthouse.

Opposition party workers and ordinary people watched speeches by the judge and senior lawyers on a big screen set up outside.

A lawyers movement has…