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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Israel-Palestine Issue and the US Relations with the Muslim World

Palestine can bridge cultures, experts say
Islamic world and the West seen drifting apart in absence of a viable solution
By Samir Salama, Gulf News, May 19, 2011

Dubai: As the Arab spring re-energises the Palestinian issue, experts at a regional conference promoting inter-cultural dialogue in Abu Dhabi underscored the fact that unless and until the issue is resolved in a just manner, relations between Muslims and the West will remain tense.
"Resolving the question of Palestine is central to reducing tensions between Islam and the West," Dr Nader Hashemi, assistant professor of Middle East and Islamic Affairs, University of Denver, told the conference being held on the theme ‘Islam and the West: A civilised dialogue'. The conclave is being co-organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research and the School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine.

Dr Hashemi said the tendency to view the Israel-Palestine conflict by those on either …

Who attacked Karachi Naval Base?

'New kind of militant' behind Pakistan Karachi attack
By Syed Shoaib HasanBBC News, Karachi, May 23, 2011

The deadly 15-hour siege on Pakistan's Mehran naval airbase in Karachi on Monday was carried out by attackers with military-level training, raising suspicions they had inside help.
Questions are being asked about the security of Pakistan's vital military installations after a well-organised group of gunmen held off Pakistan's equivalent of the US Navy Seals - the Special Services Group-Navy (SSG-N) - for 15 hours.

The SSG-N is said to be the most formidable fighting force in Pakistan, but - for a few hours at least - they appeared to be at the mercy of a brazen group of fighters.

"They weren't any ordinary militants - certainly not the Taliban," said one security official, who wished to remain unnamed.

"The aim of all Taliban attacks is maximum death and destruction - these men were very focused on what they were after."

Spee…

Analysing Terrorist attack on Pakistan's Naval Headquarters

No more glory, izzat da tukkar please!
By Raza Rumi | Dawn.com
Pakistan’s only viable and efficient institution has been attacked. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accepted the responsibility for intruding into well guarded naval and air force bases; and managed to destroy state of the art equipment – two PC3 Orion aircraft costing millions of dollars – in a long drawn out operation.

The nightmare is over now. At least 10 security officials have been martyred in line of their duty and according to the Interior Minister Rehman Malik, four terrorists have been killed. The facts are unclear and true to the non-transparent culture we are used to. However, Pakistan has been shaken once again at this huge security lapse. Thus far the naval leadership is not willing to accept that this is a security failure.

However, the public at large after the May 2 strike is not willing to accept the usual tale of intelligence failures and lapses. Given that no answers are being given on the nature, mo…

Testing Times for U.S.-Pakistan Ties

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Low in Cycle of U.S.-Pakistan Ties

Interviewee: Hassan Abbas, Fellow, Asia Society; Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, May 23, 2011, Council on Foreign Relations

Osama bin Laden's death May 1 during a U.S. raid on his compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, not far from Pakistan's premier military academy, has pushed U.S.-Pakistan relations to a "new low," says Hassan Abbas, author of a new study, Pakistan: 2020. Abbas says this is typical of the recent rocky relationship the two countries, which need each other but also undercut each other at crucial times. Abbas says a key reason for Pakistan's continued support for Taliban elements is concern about India gaining power in Afghanistan, which Pakistan sees as part of its "backyard." Abbas says relations could improve if Pakistan, whose military has a "phobia" about India that is not shared by most Pakistanis, could work out with India a settlement of the Kashmir dispute, which troubled…

Muslims in America by Jessica Stern - National Interest

Muslims in America
By Jessica Stern, From the May-June 2011 issue of National Interest

ON MARCH 10, Representative Peter King (R-NY), who has alleged that the vast majority of U.S. mosques are run by extremists, held a hearing on radicalization of Muslims in America. The event generated an astonishing reaction—from just about everyone. Demonstrators, both in favor of his position and against, gathered outside Mr. King’s offices on Long Island. The congressman requested additional security, and Capitol police were deployed to protect the hearing room as well as his workplace in Washington. Some pundits praised Mr. King for speaking the unspeakable on a topic usually beleaguered by political correctness. The Tea Party Patriots’ Facebook page urged supporters to call and stand behind Congressman King for his courage. But there were others who lambasted him for his lack of political sensitivity, pointing out that non-Muslim domestic terrorists are greater in number than Muslim ones. And R…

New and Explosive Wikileak Disclosures on Pakistan via Dawn.com

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Dawn Presents WikiLeaks' Pakistan Papers Dawn.com, May 2011

KARACHI: Trawling through the Pakistan Papers re-confirms much of what has been established since the first cache of US diplomatic cables was published last November.

The US is neither omnipotent nor omniscient — it often reacts to events in Pakistan rather than dictating outcomes. But the US is a very influential player in Pakistan.

If there is a theme as such in the 4,000-plus cables read by Dawn, it is the unparalleled access Americans enjoy in Pakistan.

Hardly surprising, though it is something else to see it in black and white, over and over again, in cable after cable.

The political class is seen perennially knocking on the doors of American officials to share information and vie for support.. And American officials appear to have open-door access at the highest echelons of political and military power in the country.
For complete article, click here

Related - Additional Dawn stories:
Saudi Arabia, UAE financing extremi…

How to Reform Pakistan?

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Read Asia Society's Study group report 'Pakistan 2020: A Vision for Building a Better Future' by clicking here

Media commentaries on the report:

Policy package to arrest Pakistan decline proposed - By Masood Haider, Dawn, May 19, 2011

US and Pakistani experts lay out road map to establish stability and civilian rule in Pakistan - AFP, Washington Post, May 18, 2011

Experts offer road map for Pakistan stability - By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, May 18, 2011

Pakistan must focus on internal woes: scholars - The News, May 18, 2011

Military Budget in Pakistan should be made transparent - By Ayesha Tanzeem, Voice of America (Urdu), May 18, 2011

New report on Pakistan calls for expanding civilian control over state institutions - Associated Press of Pakistan

Pakistan 2020: Don’t Give Up On Pakistan - Pakistaniat.com, May 18
For more details including complete report, see: http://asiasociety/pakistan2020

Click here to watch the Asia Society launch event video - May 18, 2011 in NYC;

After Bin Laden, Don't give up on Pakistan: CNN Opinion article

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Don't give up on Pakistan By Hassan Abbas, Special to CNN, May 17, 2011 Editor's note:Hassan Abbas is a fellow at the Asia Society, director of the society's Pakistan 2020 Study Group, and a professor at Columbia University's South Asia Institute in New York. He is also a former senior adviser to the Pakistan government.
(CNN) -- In recent years Pakistan has stumbled from one crisis to another. Reeling from a deadly insurgency on the country's western border, its democratic government has struggled to establish even a modicum of stability. The people of Pakistan have shown amazing resilience even as they face rising terrorist activity, severe economic distress and perennial regional tensions.

That Osama bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in a compound less than a mile from Pakistan's national military academy is troubling, to say the least. If Pakistan's intelligence missed him completely, then it was a case of criminal negligence. If there was collusion of…

Launch of the Asia Society Pakistan 2020 Study Group Report - May 18 in New York

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Pakistan 2020: A Vision for Building a Better Future - Asia Society, May 18, 2011

In recent years, Pakistan has stumbled from one crisis to another. Insurgencies along its northwestern borders, regular terrorist attacks across the country, continued tensions with India, and the ongoing war in neighboring Afghanistan have all contributed to deepened instability in the country. Pakistan's transition from a near-decade long rule under a military dictatorship is slow and complicated as corruption and incompetence of the bureaucracy present major obstacles to progress and good governance.

In parallel, Pakistan's return to democracy, increasingly active civil society, relatively open media, and the rise of an independent higher judiciary provide glimmers of hope, though poor economic and development indicators coupled with worrying demographic trends continue to pose serious challenges to the well-being of millions of Pakistanis. Energy shortages have worsened in recent yea…

Inside Pakistan's Parliament: ISI Briefing and discussion on US-Pak relations

Denying Links to Militants, Pakistan’s Spy Chief Denounces U.S. Before Parliament
By Jane Perlez, New York Times, May 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In an unusual, and apparently heated, closed-door session of Parliament, Pakistan’s spy chief issued a rousing denunciation of the United States on Friday for its raid that killed Osama bin Laden and denied that Pakistan maintained any links with militant groups, according to lawmakers.

Rather, the spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, blamed an intelligence failure for the presence of Bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad, where a top military academy is located and where the leader of Al Qaeda was killed in an American raid on May 2.

General Pasha said he had offered his resignation twice to the leader of the army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. As his presence before Parliament made clear, it was not accepted.

The two generals were called before the extraordinary 11-hour session to answer to the failures of the militar…

Nawaz terms Abbottabad operation as failure of intelligence

Nawaz terms Abbottabad operation as failure of intelligence
The News, May 11, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mian Nawaz Sharif has termed the Abbottabad operation, conducted by US SEALs and killed Osama bin Laden, as failure of intelligence, and demanded of the government to constitute a judicial commission to investigate into the saga, Geo News reported.

Addressing a press conference following party meeting here, Nawaz Sharif said judicial commission be given a 21-day timeframe to complete investigation and the facts be made public after the probe.

Former premier expressed concern over the Abbottabad operation, saying that it was a serious issue. He said no one would be allowed to use Pakistani soil for terrorism and extremism. He added that there is no place for terrorism in the country.

The world is raising fingers on Pakistan after the incident, PML-N leader said and added that armed forces have not given satisfactory answer. The Osama raid has affected the m…

The Haqqani Network in Kurram Agency in FATA

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The Haqqani Network in Kurram: The Regional Implications of a Growing Insurgency

Jeffrey Dressler and Reza Jan:
May 2011 - A Report by the Institute for the Study of War and AEI’s Critical Threats Project

Executive Summary

This paper details the expansion of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan’s tribal areas through peace accords signed between rival Sunni and Shia factions in Kurram Agency, Pakistan. The peace accords brought nearly four years of continuous fighting to an end. Despite the appearance of legitimacy, the peace accords were manipulated by the Afghanistan-focused Haqqani Network to serve its own ends. In exchange for brokering the peace between Sunnis and Shias, the Haqqanis allegedly received the authority to operate through Shia-controlled terrain in central and upper Kurram which will aid their ongoing insurgency against Afghan and coalition forces throughout eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqanis have also demonstrated their growing power and influence in the Pakistani tribal …

Unanswered Questions about Bin Laden Operation and its Consequences

Understanding the Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Future Prospects

Shiism and Sectarian Conflict in Pakistan: Identity Politics, Iranian Influence, and Tit-for-Tat Violence
By Hassan Abbas, May 02, 2011, Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point

Executive Summary: Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been accustomed to conflict, but in recent years the regime in Islamabad had to contend with new waves of militancy, including violence that directly challenges the country’s leadership from within. Among groups involved in internal conflicts in Pakistan, Shia militant groups have received relatively scant attention, even though sectarian violence can have direct ramifications on the security of the country, and South Asia at large. This Occasional Paper examines the sectarian landscape in Pakistan, the growing potential for Shia-Sunni violence, and the implications of simmering sectarian tension for domestic Pakistani and regional security.

The Pakistani Shia community—the second largest in the world after that of Iran—has played an influential role in…

Understanding the Post Bin Laden Scenario - Six Insightful Perspectives

The curious case of Osama bin Laden
By Pervez Hoodbhoy, Express Tribune, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden, the figurehead king of al Qaeda, is gone. His hosts are still rubbing their eyes and wondering how it all happened. Although scooped up from Pakistani soil, shot in the head and then buried at sea, the event was not announced by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani or by President Asif Ali Zardari. Instead, it was the president of the United States of America who told the world that bin Laden’s body was in the custody of US forces.

Suggestions that Pakistan played a significant role ring hollow. President Obama, in his televised speech on May 1, said “our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden”. But no sooner had he stopped speaking that his top national security aides declared that the United States had not told Pakistani leaders about the raid ahead of time. Significantly, Obama did not thank Pakistan. An American official pointedly declared that the informat…

The Future of Al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden - NBC

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For more clips of the documentary, click here

Who visited Osama's compound in Abottabad?

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Probing Link to Bin Laden, U.S. Tells Pakistan to Name Agents
By and ISMAIL KHAN, New York Times, May 7, 2011

WASHINGTON — Pakistani officials say the Obama administration has demanded the identities of some of their top intelligence operatives as the United States tries to determine whether any of them had contact with Osama bin Laden or his agents in the years before the raid that led to his death early Monday morning in Pakistan.       

The officials provided new details of a tense discussion between Pakistani officials and an American envoy who traveled to Pakistan on Monday, as well as the growing suspicion among United States intelligence and diplomatic officials that someone in Pakistan’s secret intelligence agency knew of Bin Laden’s location, and helped shield him.

Obama administration officials have stopped short of accusing the Pakistani government — either privately or publicly — of complicity in the hiding of Bin Laden in the years after the Sept. 11…

"Mother of all embarrassments" for Pakistan

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Property records suggest another alias for bin Laden aide
By Laura Rozen, Yahoo News, May 5, 2011
In the flurry of questions in the aftermath of the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, one line of inquiry has centered on the compound where bin Laden was found. Who in Pakistan knew he was living there? How did the al Qaeda mastermind spend seven years in safety, less than a mile away from the Pakistan army's elite officer academy? Who helped him hide in plain sight?

Now records of the land in Abbottabad on which the compound was built, obtained by the Associated Press, identify the man who bought the property. In a series of methodical transactions beginning in 2004, the buyer is listed as Mohammed Arshad. And the records, combined with neighbors' and U.S. officials' accounts of the men who lived with bin Laden in the compound, suggest that Arshad was probably another alias for the Kuwaiti-born Pakistani courier for bin Laden known to the CIA for years as Abu Ahmad al…

After Bin Laden: A Turning Point in U.S.- Muslim World Relations?

Bin Laden and the Arab Spring: A Turning Point in U.S.-Muslim World Relations?
Coauthored by John L. Esposito and Sheila B. Lalwani
Huffington Post, May 4, 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden like the Arab Spring signals a possible turning point in the Arab and Muslim world and an opportunity to strengthen U.S.-Muslim world relations.
The killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad is a major psychological blow to al Qaeda, who lost a charismatic leader, and global terrorists for whom he symbolized their militant jihad. It does not end the transnational threat. As President Barack Obama has stated, "There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must -- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad." At the same time, significant change has occurred.

In recent years, al Qaeda and other terrorists have been weakened by counterterrorism efforts not only by the U.S. and Europe but also by Muslim countries. Indeed, as the Gallup World Poll indicated…

End of Al Qaeda? : What all this means for the US-Pakistan Relations

Bin Laden's Death Will Prove 'Demoralizing' to Al Qaeda
Hassan Abbas, Asia Society, May 2, 2011

The world is indeed a better place without Osama bin Laden. His elimination is historic without an iota of doubt. There may be a brief upsurge in terrorist activity around the world as a reaction from members of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, but overall his death will prove demoralizing for the terrorist group. He had become a symbol of "global terror" and as such bringing him to justice was critical.

It is yet another question whether his ideas have been buried and drowned with his body. Although he apparently was no longer actively leading the terror outfit, he inspired and radicalized so many around the world — especially in many Muslim states. But it is important to acknowledge as President Obama so aptly said: "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims."

However, the battle against violence and extremism is by no means over, a…

Latest: How Osama was taken out?

Top US Officials Release Details About Raid
WJBF News, May 2, 2011

We are learning new information about the military operation that ultimately killed Osama Bin Laden.

During a conference call early Monday morning Michael Vickers, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, said the small U.S. team that carried out the strike spent less that 40 minuets inside the compound where Bin Laden was hiding.

Vickers said Bin Laden, and at least three other people died in the raid, one of those killed believed to be Bin Laden’s adult son.

During the mission one of the four United States military helicopter went down due to mechanical problems, according to Vickers, that chopper was destroyed by the crew.

The call also revealed new details about the compound where Osama Bin Laden was found. Officials said the facility was extremely unique, about eight times larger than the houses around it, and had no phone or internet connectivity.

Detective Work on Courier Led to Breakthrough on Bin Laden
By MARK MAZZ…

Osama Bin Laden - The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism in Dead

The Most Wanted Face of Terrorism
By KATE ZERNIKE and MICHAEL T. KAUFMAN
Nw York Times, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan on Sunday, was a son of the Saudi elite whose radical, violent campaign to recreate a seventh-century Muslim empire redefined the threat of terrorism for the 21st century.

With the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Bin Laden was elevated to the realm of evil in the American imagination once reserved for dictators like Hitler and Stalin. He was a new national enemy, his face on wanted posters, gloating on videotape, taunting the United States and western civilization.

“Do you want bin Laden dead?” a reporter asked President George W. Bush six days after the 9/11 attacks.

“I want him — I want justice,” the president answered. “And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’”

It took nearly a decade before that quest finally ended in Pakistan with the death of bin Laden …