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Showing posts from August, 2009

Autonomy for Gilgit-Baltistan - A Positive Step

analysis: A step in the right direction — Rasul Bakhsh Rais
Daily Times, September 1, 2009

Since Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, its fate became linked to which way the disputed state would go. This was implicitly the reason for the six-decades-long delay in restructuring the governance of the region

Granting a sort of autonomy, or self-rule, to the Gilgit-Baltistan region is the first critical step in the right direction. This is something that the people of the region have been demanding for a very long time.

But is the proposed structure of self-governance that is going to be implemented through a presidential ordinance enough, or do we need more in terms of autonomy from the outset of reforms than wait for further political demands? Have we, in this sense, neglected Gilgit-Baltistan?

The people of this rugged and difficult region have their own individuality and a sense of ethnic identity that has been shaped by history and geography over a long period of time…

Saudi Arabia funded Nawaz led IJI alliance in 1990: General Beg

BB was no security risk: Beg
* She told PAF to target Indian N-sites if Pakistan attacked
* Saudis funded IJI
* Blames Abida for Sharif-Asif Nawaz rift

Daily Times Monitor, August 31, 2009

LAHORE: Former premier Benazir Bhutto was no threat to national security, former chief of army staff Mirza Aslam Beg told Daily Times Editor-in-chief Najam Sethi on Dunya TV on Sunday.

Beg said that Benazir remained “rock solid” in 1990 amid reports of conspiracy against Pakistan.

Attacks: He said when reports surfaced in 1990 that the US, the Israelis and Indians were planning to attack Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, then PM Benazir had asked Pakistan Air Force to be ready to attack India’s nuclear facilities in case Pakistan was attacked.

Money: The former army chief said Saudis had given bags full of money to Mahmood Haroon to woo politicians to join the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), which was constituted to ensure that Benazir did not return to power, and fund IJI’s election campaign.

He said Haroon h…

Why Afghan Elections Matter

ANALYSIS: Why the Afghan elections matter — Bruce Riedel
Daily Times, August 30m 2009

More democracy — not less — is a good thing in this war. A new government in Kabul, even if it still has Karzai as President but with a credible popular mandate earned in a credible election fight, can be the basis for changing the momentum in this conflict

Afghanistan’s Presidential election is still a work in progress but its implications will be enormous. President Barack Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan needs a legitimate and credible outcome from this election in order to build support for what is now America’s longest war both at home and abroad. The NATO mission in Afghanistan needs an Afghan partner who has the support of the Afghan people and can provide the decent governance that is essential to fighting an insurgency. War weariness is gaining ground in America and Europe, a flawed election would only add to discontent. So the stakes are unusually high in only the third elect…

Trust Deficit in the U.S. - Pakistan Relations

U.S. Accuses Pakistan of Altering Missiles
By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times, August 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India, according to senior administration and Congressional officials.

The charge, which set off a new outbreak of tensions between the United States and Pakistan, was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials.

The accusation comes at a particularly delicate time, when the administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, and when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attentions on fighting the Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.

While American officials say that the weapon in the latest dispute is a con…

Post Presidential Election Scenario in Afghanistan

Karzai Using Rift With U.S. to Gain Favor With Afghans
By HELENE COOPER, New York Times, August 29, 2009

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. — A little over 24 hours after the polls closed, President Obama stepped out on the White House South Lawn last week to pronounce the Afghanistan presidential elections something of a success.

“This was an important step forward in the Afghan people’s effort to take control of their future, even as violent extremists are trying to stand in their way,” Mr. Obama said. “I want to congratulate the Afghanistan people on carrying out this historic election.”

But now, as reports mount of widespread fraud in the balloting, including allegations that supporters of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, illegally stuffed ballot boxes in the south and ripped up ballots cast for his opponents, Mr. Obama’s early praise may soon come back to haunt him.

Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission said Friday that it had received more than 2,000 complaints of fraud or abuse in last w…

Pakistan's Campaign against the Taliban in FATA

Pakistan's Noncampaign Against the Taliban
By Bobby Ghosh / Washington, TIME, Aug. 28, 2009

Despite strenuous entreaties by top U.S. officials, Pakistan has abandoned plans to mount a military offensive against the terrorist group responsible for a two-year campaign of suicide bombings across the country. Although the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been in disarray since an Aug. 5 missile strike from a CIA-operated drone killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani military has concluded that a ground attack on its strongholds in South Waziristan would be too difficult.

The Pakistani military has choked off main roads leading out of South Waziristan, and the country's fighter jets have been pounding targets from the air (an operation Islamabad insists it will continue). But that falls short of the military campaign the U.S. desires. Instead, Pakistani authorities are hoping to exploit divisions within the TTP to prize away some factions, while counting on the CIA's…

ISI, MQM and the 1992 Crisis

Ex-ISI officials come out with new versions on MQM operation
Daily Times Monitor, August 26, 2009

LAHORE: Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer Major (r) Nadeem Dar claimed on Wednesday he had recovered maps of Jinnahpur from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters, a private TV channel reported. Meanwhile, former ISI director general Lt Gen Asad Durrani told another private channel then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan had ordered an end to the military operation against the MQM to deny political mileage to the Pakistan People’s Party.

Dar told the channel he had personally recovered the Jinnahpur maps from Nine-Zero during the 1992 military operation in Karachi. This contradicts claims by Brigadier (r) Imtiaz, who had claimed that he had informed then premier Nawaz Sharif there were no maps of Jinnahpur. Separately, Durrani told a channel the government was informed about every step of the military operation against the MQM. He claimed the MQM-Haqiqi had also supported th…

'Jinnahpur' Hoax Revealed

Second Editorial: Jinnahpur: hoax revealed
Daily Times, August 26, 2009

Two army officers have lifted the veil from what has been called Jinnahpur Conspiracy allegedly hatched by the MQM to snatch Karachi from Pakistan. It was alleged in 1992 that maps had been found in the headquarters of the MQM indicating such a plot. Although never formally owned by any government, the “discovery” sowed hatred among the various ethnic groups in general but particularly between Punjab and the MQM.

The Jinnahpur Conspiracy was in fact not a plot by the MQM but a plot to defame the MQM. This has been disclosed by two military officers then in a position to know the truth. General (Retd) Nasir Akhtar, who was corps commander Karachi at the time of the operation in 1992, has stated that he had no knowledge of the “Jinnahpur map”; and that was the reason why the ISPR withdrew it two days after its publication.
More forthcoming has been the ex-ISI operative and ex-IB chief Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz Ahmad Bill…

Who is TTP's New Leader?

Hakeemullah annnounced new leader – doubts linger
Dawn, Sunday, 23 Aug, 2009

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban announced a successor to slain commander Baitullah Mehsud, but intelligence officials said on Sunday it was probably a smokescreen meant to hold together a movement left leaderless for almost three weeks.

Taliban officials rang journalists in northwest Pakistan on Saturday to say Hakeemullah Mehsud, a young militant who commands fighters in the Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram tribal regions, had been chosen as the new chief by a leadership council, or shura.

Western governments with troops in Afghanistan are watching to see if any new Pakistani Taliban leader would shift focus from fighting the Pakistani government and put the movement's weight behind the Afghan insurgency led by Mullah Mohammad Omar.

A BBC report quoted Faqir Mohammad, head of the Taliban in the Bajaur tribal region, as saying Hakeemullah was selected.

Tribal elders told Reuters that Hakeemullah was named after Fa…

U.S. Officials Get a Taste of Pakistanis’ Anger at America

U.S. Officials Get a Taste of Pakistanis’ Anger at America
By HELENE COOPER, New York Times, August 19, 2009

KARACHI, Pakistan — Judith A. McHale was expecting a contentious session with Ansar Abbasi, a Pakistani journalist known for his harsh criticism of American foreign policy, when she sat down for a one-on-one meeting with him in a hotel conference room in Islamabad on Monday. She got that, and a little bit more.

After Ms. McHale, the Obama administration’s new under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, gave her initial polite presentation about building bridges between America and the Muslim world, Mr. Abbasi thanked her politely for meeting with him. Then he told her that he hated her.

“ ‘You should know that we hate all Americans,’ ” Ms. McHale said Mr. Abbasi told her. “ ‘From the bottom of our souls, we hate you.’ ”

Beyond the continuation of the battle against militants along the Pakistani-Afghan border, a big part of President Obama’s strategy for the re…

Jinnah was more effective politician than Gandhi: Jaswant Singh

Jinnah was more effective politician than Gandhi: Singh
The News, August 24, 2009

NEW DELHI: Jaswant Singh, who was recently expelled from the Bhartia Janata Party (BJP) on declaring Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a great man, on Sunday said Quaid-i-Azam was more effective than Gandhi in Indian politics.

In an interview in Karan Thapar’s programme of CNN-IBN, Jaswant Singh said Jinnah’s entire politics was parliamentary and in the early years he was more effective in putting pressure on the British than Gandhi.

“Jinnah had successfully kept the Indian political forces together, simultaneously exerting pressure on the government,” he said.“Jinnah believed in the strength of logic; he was a Parliamentarian; he believed in the efficacy of parliamentary politics. Gandhi, after testing the water, took to the trails of India and he took politics into the dusty villages of India,” Singh said.

When asked about his observation “Gandhi’s leadership was an entirely religious, provincial character” and Jinna…

Jaswant thrown out of BJP for writing Jinnah biography

"Thirty years of my political life with the BJP and (being expelled) on this note...... saddened me and on the ground for writing a book, that saddened me even more, immensely more...... The day India starts questioning thought, it starts questioning reading, writing, publishing, we are entering a very very dark alley," he said.
by Jaswant Singh - Indian Express

Related:
Jaswant Singh slams Modi over ban on his book in Gujarat - Hindustan Times
BJP expels Jaswant - DT
Going Jinnah’s way - Dawn

Obama reaches out to religious parties in Pakistan

Obama reaches out to religious parties in Pakistan
* Baloch welcomes change in tone towards Muslims
* Holbrooke rejects JI’s complaints about western assault on Islam
Daily Times, August 20, 2009

ISLAMABAD: US President Barack Obama has started reaching out to some of the country’s most fervent religious and anti-American parties, including one alleged to have given rise to the Taliban.

Obama’s special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, is initiating dialogue between the US and religious parties previous administrations had largely shunned, both sides said. “The purpose is to broaden the base of US relations in Pakistan beyond the relatively narrow circle of leaders Washington has previously dealt with,” explained Vali Nasr, senior adviser to Holbrooke. John Bolton, US ambassador to the UN during the Bush presidency, questioned Holbrooke’s timing for trying to engage Taliban sympathisers on the eve of elections in neighbouring Afghanistan, where US forces are battling the hard-line extremist group…

Elections in Afghanistan: Possibilities and Prospects

Threats by Taliban May Sway Vote in Afghanistan
New York Times, August 17, 2009
Threats by Taliban May Sway Vote in Afghanistan
By DEXTER FILKINS

TARAKAI, Afghanistan — A group of Taliban fighters made their announcement in the bazaar of a nearby village a few days ago, and the word spread fast: anyone caught voting in the presidential election will have his finger — the one inked for the ballot — cut off.

So in this hamlet in southern Afghanistan, a village of adobe homes surrounded by fields of corn, the local people will stay home when much of the rest of the country goes to the polls on Thursday to choose a president.

“We can’t vote. Everybody knows it,” said Hakmatullah, a farmer who, like many Afghans, has only one name. “We are farmers, and we cannot do a thing against the Taliban.”

Across the Pashtun heartland in eastern and southern Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents hold sway in many villages, people are being warned against going to the polls.

In many of those places, conditio…

Pakistan Taliban spokesman 'seized'

Pakistan Taliban spokesman 'seized'
Aljazeera, August 18, 2009

Omar was an associate of Baitullah Omar, the Taliban leader reportedly killed in a US raid [File: Reuters]

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has reportedly been captured by security forces in the northwest of the country.

Mauvi Omar was seized as as he was travelling through the Mohmand tribal region in a car with two associates, government, military and intelligence officials were reported as saying.

The Pakistani military has not confirmed the capture of Omar, but Major Fazal Ur Rehman, the head of the military's media department, said: "A very, very important militant has been arrested."

Omar's capture would be another blow to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan after the reported death of Baitullah Mehsud, the group's leader, in a US missile attack on August 5.

Intelligence officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press news agency that local tribal elders had …

Jinnah's new biography by Jaswant Singh

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VIEW: BJP’s Jaswant revises Jinnah —Karan Thapar
Daily Times, August 16, 2009

Jaswant Singh’s view of Jinnah is markedly different to the accepted Indian image. He sees him as a nationalist. In fact, the author accepts that Jinnah was a great Indian. I’ll even add he admires Jinnah and I’m confident he won’t disagree

There’s a book published tomorrow that deserves to be widely read and I want to be the first to draw your attention to it. It’s Jaswant Singh’s biography of Jinnah. Read on and you’ll discover why.

Jaswant Singh’s view of Jinnah is markedly different to the accepted Indian image. He sees him as a nationalist. In fact, the author accepts that Jinnah was a great Indian. I’ll even add he admires Jinnah and I’m confident he won’t disagree.

The critical question this biography raises is how did the man they called the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in 1916 end up as the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan in 1947?

The answer: he was pushed by Congress’ repeated inability to accept that Musl…

Pakistani Public Opinion: Pew Survey

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Pakistani Public Opinion
Growing Concerns about Extremism, Continuing Discontent with U.S.
Pew global Attitudes Project, Released: 08.13.09

Overview

Pakistanis see their country in crisis. They give their national government lower ratings than at any time in this decade, and almost no one is satisfied with national conditions. Crime and terrorism are seen as major problems by virtually everyone. And huge percentages of Pakistanis also see their country struggling mightily with corruption and a deteriorating economy.

A long-standing concern about Islamic extremism has grown even greater over the past year. No fewer than 69% of the Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the country. At the same time, indifference and mixed opinions about both al Qaeda and the Taliban have given way to a strong condemnation of both groups. In 2008, just 33% held a negative view of the Taliban; today, 70% rate it unfavorably. Similarly, the percentage of Pakistanis with an unfavorab…

Understanding what is Sharia

Understanding what is Sharia By Dr Riffat Hassan
Dawn, 14 Aug, 2009

What is Sharia is the subject of an intense debate going on not only in Pakistan but globally, both amongst Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims. This, while the majority of those who are engaged in the debate do not often know the original or the classical meaning of Sharia.

Given the importance of Sharia in the lives of millions of Muslims, it is critical that the term be correctly understood. Explaining this term, Dr Gamal Solaiman, a notable Egyptian scholar educated at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, observes that ‘the word ‘sharia’ literally means a way leading to a watering place where people have access to indispensable life ingredients’.

He refers to Surah 21:31 which states: ‘We made out of water every living thing.’ As water is the essence of all living things, so Sharia represents what is essential for a human being’s spiritual and social development.

Dr Solaiman has pointed out that the word is used in t…

Pakistan: What Needs to be Done?

Can’t stop the rot
The News, August 15, 2009
Mosharraf Zaidi

As someone who has recently had a chance to observe how the Punjab government goes about its business, it is easy to confirm the rumours. A more committed and sincere effort to deliver a well-governed administration in Pakistan may be difficult to imagine. The level of commitment that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has become renowned for, however, is not completely unheard of in other parts of the country. Though he may be seen as a standard bearer for it, several key political figures represent the same spirit of getting things done.

For Karachiites, it is obvious just from a trip from the airport down through the Shahrah-e-Faisal into the heart of the city, that Mayor Mustafa Kamal is a public policy hurricane. Not always exactly precise, but pulsating with unbridled energy and a compassion for the constituencies he serves. Jetting from one hotspot of underperforming state machinery to the next, Kamal has garnered internation…

Reclaiming the founding moment on Independence Day of Pakistan

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COMMENT: Reclaiming the founding moment — Suroosh Irfani
Daily Times, August 14, 2009

Reclamation of Pakistan’s South Asian Muslim identity, so poignantly reflected in Jinnah’s speech, is as crucial for the survival of a democratic Pakistan as the battle for defeating the Taliban

Rooted in a democratic struggle that ended British rule in the subcontinent, there was something remarkable about Pakistan’s emergence on August 14, 1947 as a sovereign Muslim state. This was as much reflected in the founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s address to Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly as in its national anthem and flag celebrating Pakistan’s founding moment.

Jinnah’s speech on August 11, 1947 set the direction for Pakistan as a modern democratic state, where religion was a personal matter that had “nothing to do with the business of the state”, and people could creatively rework a divisive past for a promising future. At the same time, the inclusive spirit of a South Asian Muslim identity was r…

Adil Najam, Ayesha Jalal, Hasan Askari Rizvi, Bano Qudsia, Javed Ghamdi, Asma Jahangir and Talib Jauhri Honored - Excellent Selection of Intellectuals

Civil awards conferred on prominent personalities
Friday, August 14, 2009

ISLAMABAD: On the Independence Day, President Asif Ali Zardari has conferred civil awards on prominent personalities for their meritorious services in various fields. Hilal-i-Imtiaz was awarded to fiction writer Bano Quddsia and human rights activist Asma Jahangir.

Sitara-i-Imtiaz was conferred on writer Professor Ayesha Jalal; Professor Hasan Askari, an independent political and defence analyst; late film actor Syed Musa Raza (Santosh Kumar); veteran broadcaster late Syed Salim Gilani; intellectual Hanif Ramay (late); artist Jamil Naqsh; Resident Editor of The News, Peshawar, Rahimullah Khan Yusufzai; Asad Umar from Sindh; AK Khan for his pioneering works in the horticultural sector; Dr Javed Ahmed Ghamidi for his contributions to Islamic philosophy; scholar Allama Talib Johri and scholar Professor Rasul Bakhsh Rais.

Also, Award for Pride of Performance was given to writer Fehmida Riaz; writer Masud Mufti; Group Ed…

Frontier Crimes Regulation Amended - A Positive Step

Zardari allows political activities in Fata
The News, August 14, 2009
Political Parties Order extended to tribal areas; administration stripped of unbridled powers
By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari announced the lifting of ban on political activities in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) on the Independence Day on Thursday.

“Today I am announcing the permission of political activities in the Fata to bring them into the main political stream,” he said while addressing the nation on the Independence Day at the presidency during a special programme.

The programme was also attended by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chairman Senate Farooq H Naik, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and federal ministers.

The president said Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, his cabinet and political parties of the country backed this decision. “We all are united and will take along the PML, the MQM, the ANP, the JUI-F…

The New Metrics of Afghanistan: CSIS

The New Metrics of Afghanistan
The Data Needed to Support Shape, Clear, Hold, and Build
By Anthony H. Cordesman
CSIS, Aug 7, 2009

No one who works with the unclassified data on Afghanistan can fail to be aware of how poor and contradictory much of that data now are. In general, no NATO/ISDAF government – including the United States – has yet provided an honest or meaningful picture of the war. Far too often, official reporting has been tailored to report success when the Taliban, Hekmatyer, and Haqqani were actually scoring major gains. In other cases, key problems in the Afghan government, the NATO/ISAF effort, and the economic aid effort were ignored or disguised as successes.

In other cases, governments have simply reported metrics designed for bureaucratic purposes in other contexts, and which simply are not relevant to war fighting. Far too much economic reporting, for example, has ignored the real world poverty and needs of the Afghan people and reported classic econometric data. The…

The Quaid won’t have it By I.A. Rehman

The Quaid won’t have it By I.A. Rehman
Dawn, 13 Aug, 2009

‘Here I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lesson of Islam. … There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilisation? Is this the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualise that millions have been exploited and cannot get one meal a day? If that is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it.’ — Quaid-i-Azam, Delhi, 1943
No apology is necessary for flinging a somewhat longish quote from the state’s founding father in the face of his successors who have stopped respecting his legacy.
Instead of using national days to broadcast meaningless resolutions about fulfilling the Quaid’s mission, it would be appropriate tomorrow (Independen…

Muslim women uncover myths about the hijab: CNN

Muslim women uncover myths about the hijab
By John Blake, CNN, August 12, 2009

(CNN) -- Rowaida Abdelaziz doesn't want your pity.

Rowaida Abdelaziz says wearing the hijab sometimes interferes with usual U.S. teenager activities, but that it's worth it to her faith.

She doesn't want your frosty public stares; the whispers behind her back; the lament that she's been degraded by her father.

What the Muslim high school senior wants you to understand is that she doesn't wear the hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women, because she is submissive.

"It represents beauty to me," says Abdelaziz, the 17-year-old daughter of two Egyptian parents living in Old Bridge, New Jersey.

"My mom says a girl is like a jewel," Abdelaziz says. "When you have something precious, you usually hide it. You want to make sure you keep it safe until that treasure is ready to be found."

The nation has heard plenty of debate over racial profiling. But there's a form o…

Restructuring of Pakistan's ISI

Govt decides to restructure ISI
The News, August 12, 2009
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to restructure the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to make it more efficient and vibrant.

The effort that is already underway would bring energetic and more dedicated personnel into the fold of the agency who could live up to the challenges of the modern age. As part of the endeavour 32 officers of brigadier and colonel ranks have been retired from the ISI and it is expected that other officers who have not proved their utility would be shown the door further down the line in the months to come. The outfit is also being trimmed in the manner the Army was restructured three years ago without compromising its skill to defend the motherland.

Well placed sources in the Ministry of Defence told The News that the ISI was expanded in recent years out of proportion, especially the officers who on the verge of superannuation joined the agency and subsequently secured agreemen…

Karzai in His Labyrinth: NYT

Karzai in His Labyrinth
By ELIZABETH RUBIN
New York times, August 9, 2009

On a sunny June morning in Kabul, I sat among hundreds of turbaned men from Afghanistan’s Helmand and Kandahar provinces in a chandeliered wedding hall where they had gathered for a campaign rally to re-elect President Hamid Karzai. War was raging in Helmand and Kandahar. And yet there was an atmosphere of burlesque about the place. Waiters hammed up their service, skidding across the floor balancing mounds of rice, bananas and chicken, whirling shopping carts of Coke and Fanta. The organizer of the event and master of ceremonies was none other than Sher Muhammad Akhundzada, the five-foot-tall ex-governor of Helmand and probably the country’s most infamous drug trafficker. From a velvet couch he barked out to the speakers: “Not so many poems! Keep your speeches short!” — but no one was listening.

At my table, an elderly Helmandi engineer described how awful things were in his region — families killed in coalition a…

TTP Succession Fight - Emerging Scenario

TTP leader dead in succession fight? By Pazir Gul
Dawn, 09 Aug, 2009

MIRAMSHAH: A key Taliban commander was killed in a struggle over succession to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud at a shura meeting in South Waziristan, government and security officials said on Saturday.
Baitullah was killed, along with his wife, in a US Predator strike on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed reports of a shootout at the shura meeting and said that one of the commanders had been killed.

According to sources, commanders Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, the two leading contenders for the chief slot, exchanged hot words at the shura meeting in Sara Rogha over the choosing of a successor to Baitullah.

A shootout followed, leading to the death of Hakeemullah while causing life-threatening injuries to Waliur Rehman.

However, a government official in Peshawar said that both Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman had been killed in the clash.

The names of Hakeemullah, Waliur Rehman and…

Who is responsible for recent attack on the Christian community in Pakistan?

The lynching of Hameed Masih
The News, August 08, 2009
Faris Kasim

What happened in Gojra was not the work of a foreign-funded militant group but the result of our own propagation of religious chauvinism, intolerance and glorification of militancy in the past three decades as part of state policy and school curriculum.

The younger brother of one of our family’s caretakers lives in Gojra and he told us a chilling tale of the lynching of Hameed Masih and three members of his family by a mob. Most of us who have been following the tragedy know that the trouble began at a Christian wedding in the nearby village of Korian on the evening of July 29. It later turned out that some children had cut out pages of an Islamiat textbook and used them as confetti for the wedding. However, the community immediately told the Muslims of nearby homes that the Holy Quran was not desecrated and that the children were all illiterate and did not know what book they were tearing the pages from.

Javed said that …

Baitullah Mehsud is Dead: What is the Way Forward?

WATANDOST COMMENT: It will not be long before Mehsuds will pick another leader to spearhead the militant Pakistani Taliban, but undoubtedly Baitullah Mehsud's death has served as a serious blow to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) movement. Already stressed out due to reversals in the Swat region, militants from FATA are already sneaking out of the area in considerable numbers. Pakistan must avail this opportunity to regain control of South Waziristan - and a major military ground offensive is needed for this end.

For Analysis of the situations, See

Mehsud death could signal turning tide against Pakistan militants
The US appears to have decapitated Pakistan's most notorious Taliban outfit, but the war is by no means won
Declan Walsh, guardian.co.uk, Friday 7 August 2009

For a time, Baitullah Mehsud appeared to have cloaked himself in the historical garb of the Faqir of Ipi, a militant cleric whom British colonial troops spent much of the 1930s and 40s chasing through the mountai…

70 Murders, Yet Close to Going Free in Pakistan: NYT

70 Murders, Yet Close to Going Free in Pakistan
By SABRINA TAVERNISE and WAQAR GILLANI
The New York Times, August 6, 2009

MULTAN, Pakistan — It has been 12 years since Fida Hussein Ghalvi testified against the militant who was charged with killing 12 members of his family. But some days he feels as if he were the one who ended up in jail. He still gets threats, his servants all quit and an armed guard is posted at his gate.

Most maddening is the fact that the militant — Malik Ishaq, one of the founders of the country’s most vicious sectarian group, whose police record has a dizzying tally of at least 70 murders — has never had a conviction that stuck.

In Pakistan, the weakness of the state is matched only by the strength of its criminals. When Mr. Ishaq was arrested in 1997, he unleashed his broad network against his opponents, killing witnesses, threatening judges and intimidating the police, leading nearly all of the prosecutions against him to collapse eventually.

Now, with the cases aga…

community police in Swat - New Initiative worth supporting

Govt launches community police in Swat
* Police chief says recruitment essential as displaced return to area * Expert claims community police best means to restore peace in Swat
Daily Times, August 6, 2009

MINGORA: The country has armed and appointed the first community police force in Swat, hoping to prevent a Taliban resurgence and bolster the capacity of security forces depleted by beheadings and mass desertions.

A calm — however tense — has returned to the district, more than three months after Islamabad ordered the military to wage a blistering air and ground assault against Taliban fighters who effectively ruled the area.a.

But civilian and military officials say peace depends on a properly trained and equipped police force, which, under an effective civil administration, must fill the security vacuum and prevent the Taliban return.

Very Important: New Swat police chief Sajid Khan Mohmand says the answer lies in his drive to recruit community police, particularly as hundreds of thousa…