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Outrage at the Bari Imam shrine

Daily Times, May 28, 2005
Saturday, May 28, 2005 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version
EDITORIAL: Outrage at the Bari Imam shrine

A day after the urs (religious festival) of Bari Imam ended in Islamabad on May 26, a bomb blast at the concluding majlis (religious gathering) at the shrine killed at least 18 devotees; scores of others were wounded in the attack. The shrine is dedicated to a 17th century Sufi, Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, popularly known as Bari Imam. Bari Imam is considered the patron saint of Islamabad.

The Islamabad police chief says that initial findings point to a sectarian suicide attack. This is the strongest possibility given the pattern of past sectarian killings and suicide attacks since 2001. The shrine itself is claimed by both Shia and Barelvi Sunnis but is under the control of the latter since Raja Akram, its caretaker who was killed in February this year, took control during General Zia ul Haq’s time. Now the Barelvis celebrate the urs for a few d…

The Army, Religion and America

Dawn, May 22, 2005
Book and Authors
The Army, Religion and America
By Tariq Ali


D Barsamian: In an article in New Left Review entitled “The colour khaki,” you talk about your native land, which you have called “janissary Pakistan”, and the politics of a country that was created out of British India during the partition of 1947. What are some of the salient points of your piece?

Tariq Ali: “Janissary” is a word only known by aficionados of the Ottoman Empire. This was the army the Ottomans created. Not strictly a mercenary army, it was used by the Ottomans to capture territory — to take large parts of the world. The salient feature of the janissary army was that it predominantly comprised non-Turkish people. So when I talk about janissary Pakistan, I’m saying that Pakistan and its army are the janissaries of the world’s only empire today — that this is an army used by the American empire. Sometimes I say in jest to Pakistani friends — many of the people I went to school with later became se…

Amnesty International's Report on Pakistan

Amnesty International’s annual human rights report: Pakistan used ‘war on terror’ to arrest political protesters

LONDON: Deaths and disappearances increased in South Asia in 2004 and were fuelled by separatist conflicts and corruption, said London-based Amnesty International in its annual human rights report released on Wednesday.

Amnesty International said that Pakistan’s military-led government used emergency powers aimed at combating terrorism to arrest journalists and political protestors. It also noted continued violence against women including a spate of “honour killings” approved by quasi-judicial tribal councils.

In India, the rights group said authorities had not investigated successfully over 8,000 disappearances since a separatist conflict started in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. However, the report said peace talks in 2004 between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have led to a series of confidence-building measures aimed at reducing violence.

However, several other separatist conf…

People to People Initiatives in South Asia

Daily Times, May 25, 2005
‘Accessing people-to-people initiatives’: ‘Long-term targets needed for peace process’

Staff Report

LAHORE: Talk of peace between India and Pakistan will remain just that, talk, unless people are involved in the process at the grassroots and targets are set for the next five to ten years.

This was said on the first day of a conference titled ‘Accessing people to people initiatives’ arranged by civil society groups.

Dr Mubashir Hasan, the founder of the Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), said the ‘elite’ played an important role in the peace process. “The elite is divided into two sections. It split in 1980. The elite on both sides of the border realised that peace was in their interest. Judges, journalists and other big fish were part of the elite.”

He said the common man had always wanted peace and now the ‘elite’ wanted it too, but in their own interest. “We are exploited. Peace will come, but not for people. There is no democracy,” he…

Edict against suicide attacks

Dawn, May 18, 2005
Edict against suicide attacks
By Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE, May 17: A group of 58 religious scholars belonging to all schools of thought issued here on Tuesday an edict (fatwa) against suicide attacks. However, they said that the fatwa was applicable only in Pakistan. The edict was issued by Ruet Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rahman at a press conference where only some TV channels had been invited.

Mufti Mohammad Khan Qadri, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal MNA, Maulana Abdul Malik and other prominent clerics were present on the occasion. The edict says that Islam forbids suicide attacks on Muslims and those committing such acts at places of worship and public congregations cease to be Muslims.

The fatwa, Mufti Muneeb said, would apply only in Pakistan, while people waging freedom movements against alien occupation like in Palestine and Kashmir, were exempted of its scope. The decree said that killing innocent people was haram (forbidden) in Islam and carried the death…

Pakistan's economy after 9/11

The News, May 15, 2005
Pakistan's economy after 9/11
External interest
A lot of similarities exist between what is happening now and what took place during the 1960s and 1980s in terms of economic activity. Will the end be different this time around?

By S Akbar Zaidi

There is no denying the fact that Pakistan's core macroeconomic indicators over the last three years, since 2002-03, have shown remarkable improvement compared to the end of the 1990s and the first two years of this decade. Moreover, growth rates for the current financial year 2004-05 are projected to be close to, if not in excess of, 7 per cent, which will be the highest since 1991-92. Foreign exchange reserves have risen to their highest levels in recent years and continue to stay high; export levels set new records every year surpassing targets. Investment which had been a poor performer towards the end of the 1990s, has now also reached levels reminiscent of the 1980s and early 1990s. The stock market breaks a new …

Jinnah as a Lawyer

Jinnah and Colonel Blimp
Khalid Hasan
The Friday Times, May 16, 2005

Although everyone says what a superb lawyer Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
was, rarely does one get to read anything about the court appearances that
earned him that reputation.

I remember years ago in Lahore, Safdar Mir, the great Zeno of Pakistan Times ,
telling me about the Quaid's contribution to the "Indianisation" of the
British-led and officered army. Though I never made the effort to look up how
and where the Quaid had made his contribution, what Safdar Mir has said remained
engraved in my memory.

The other day, while reading the autobiography of the late Maj. Gen. Ajit Anil
"Jik" Rudra, who originally came from Lahore, served in three armies, fought in
both World Wars and died in India in 1997 at the age of 93, I came upon an
episode that showed that the Quaid's reputation as a brilliant lawyer was not a
Pakistani myth but a fact.

The Government of India appointed a committee of the legi…

A Q Khan Nuclear Trafficking Ring

Los Angeles Times
May 16, 2005

Pakistan's Role in Scientist's Nuclear Trafficking Debated
Islamabad's awareness of a black market led by the father of its atomic bomb is still uncertain.
By Douglas Frantz

In the fall of 2000, Pakistani intelligence agents followed the country's most influential nuclear scientist as he flew to the Persian Gulf port of Dubai.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, acclaimed as the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, was under surveillance as he met with men described by a former senior Pakistani military officer as "dubious characters."

Rumors had persisted for years that Khan was selling atomic secrets, but Pakistani intelligence was on his trail for another reason. His unauthorized trip violated new rules imposed by President Pervez Musharraf to assert government control over Pakistan's main nuclear weapons laboratory, which Khan ran as his fiefdom.

Upon Khan's return to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates city, Musharraf warned the scienti…

CIA Operations in Pakistan

Washington Post
Surveillance Operation in Pakistan Located and Killed Al Qaeda Official

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 15, 2005; A25

An al Qaeda figure killed last week by a missile from a CIA-operated unmanned aerial drone had been under surveillance for more than a week by U.S. intelligence and military personnel working along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a U.S. official and two counterterrorism experts said yesterday.

The U.S. team was hoping Haitham al-Yemeni would lead them to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, said two counterterrorism experts, both former senior U.S. intelligence officials with knowledge of events surrounding the attack.

But after Pakistani authorities early this month captured another al Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, CIA officials became concerned that al-Yemeni would go into hiding and decided to try to kill him instead, said the counterterrrorism experts. "We had been working hard to see what he would do," said one expert, r…

Political feudalism in Sindh

Dawn, May 15, 2005
Political feudalism in Sindh
By Ameer Bhutto

A FEW months ago, the Baloch tribal sardars stood accused of acting like warlords and toying with the destinies of the poor and suppressed people by depriving them of development and other opportunities. The traditional tribal system of Sindh, maliciously portrayed in the press and media by cliched caricatures of waderas, has long been under siege from vested interests in the establishment who seek to discredit Sindh’s stand against Kalabagh Dam, Thal Canal and the unfair distribution of national wealth under the present NFC Award, among other issues.

Not only this, but Sindhi waderas have become easy targets on a plethora of issues for NGOs and organizations related to human rights, women’s rights, social welfare, etc. But all the evils associated with so-called tribal feudalism, whether real or concocted, pale into insignificance before the looming sceptre of a new brand of state-sponsored political feudalism that is being …

Book Review From Dawn

Dawn, May 15, 2005
REVIEWS: Hands in glove
REVIEW of: History of Pakistan and the Role of the Army By Syed Sami Ahmad Royal Book Company BG-5, Rex Centre Basement, Zaibunnisa Street, Karachi-74400 Tel: 021-565 3418, 567 0628 Email: royalbook@hotmail.com ISBN 969-407-306-5 440pp. $25 Reviewed by A.R. Siddiqi

To the meagre knowledgeable literature on the role of the army and the judiciary by a Pakistani author, Syed Sami Ahmad’s book makes a valuable and refreshingly lucid addition, chronicling the major landmarks and landslides in Pakistan’s turbulent history. The book should have been entitled as an account of Pakistan’s judicial failure and the military muddle in war and peace.

Except for a rapid survey of the Ayub and the Yahya periods the book says nothing about the catastrophic Zia period, the Musharraf period marked for its sweeping constitutional engineering to secure a permanent power base for the military establishment within a (quasi) democratic set-up. An eminent lawyer and a f…