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Showing posts from March, 2008

A New Deal in Pakistan

A New Deal in Pakistan By William Dalrymple
The New York Review of Books; Volume 55, Number 5 · April 3, 2008

The province of Sindh in southern Pakistan is a rural region of dusty mudbrick villages, of white-domed blue-tiled Sufi shrines, and of salty desert scrublands broken, quite suddenly, by floodplains of wonderful fecundity. These thin, fertile belts of green—cotton fields, rice paddies, cane breaks, and miles of checkerboard mango orchards—snake along the banks of the Indus River as it meanders its sluggish, silted, café-au-lait way through the plains of Pakistan down to the shores of the Arabian Sea.

In many ways the landscape here with its harsh juxtaposition of dry horizons of sand and narrow strips of intensely fertile cultivation more closely resembles upper Egypt than the well-irrigated Punjab to its north. But it is poorer than either—in fact, it is one of the most backward areas in all of Asia. Whatever index of development you choose to dwell on—literacy, health care prov…

Pakistan conference stresses need for long-term Pak-US ties

‘Pakistan conference stresses need for long-term Pak-US ties’* Analysts urge relationship that will serve mutual interests
* Say current ‘confidence deficit’ characterising Pak-US relationship must be overcome
* Hasan Askari Rizvi says time of one-party rule in Pakistan has come to an end
* Akbar Zaidi says economy will be new govt’s main problem

By Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, March 31, 2008

WASHINGTON: A day-long conference on Pakistan at the John Hopkins University on Sunday emphasised the need for Pakistan and the United States to forge a close and long-term strategic relationship that will serve both their mutual interests and that of the region.

The conference, which brought area specialists and well-known figures from Pakistan and the US academic community together, was sponsored by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and the School of Advanced International Studies of the John Hopkins University. It was addressed by, among others, Professor Hasan Askari Rizvi, Professor Akba…

Revamping the Pakistan Police by I M Mohsin

Revamping the police by I M Mohsin
The News, March 31, 2008

The Feb 18 elections ushered in a rare chance for the return of democracy. As the hangers-on of the status quo got wiped out, the country and the biggest party suffered the terrible loss by way of the assassination of its leader. Security lapses of all kinds appear an important cause for this gruesome tragedy. One hopes that justice shall prevail finally against those guilty of such a massive blow to our national interest.

As Nawaz Sharif was hustled out of power by his COAS, the new regime got off to a comfortable start at home. 9/11 proved a stitch-in-time for the new adventurer and suddenly the US started patronising him. Power supplemented by pelf made him plan for a long haul which was facilitated by the rise of too many carpetbaggers. Finding the dice heavily loaded in his favour, he unfurled his civilian-facade agenda in 2002. Once he had put up a civil-military Trojan horse projecting a sham-democracy, he started ruling…

Pakistan Border Poses Danger: CIA

Hayden: Pakistan Border Poses DangerBy HOPE YEN, The Washington Post, March 30, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The situation in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan where al-Qaida has established a safe haven presents a "clear and present danger" to the West, the CIA director said Sunday.

Michael Hayden cited the belief by intelligence agencies that Osama bin Laden is hiding there in arguing that the U.S. has an interest in targeting the border region. If there were another terrorist attack against Americans, Hayden said, it would most certainly originate from that region.

"It's very clear to us that al-Qaida has been able for the past 18 months or so to establish a safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border area that they have not enjoyed before, and that they're bringing in operatives into the region for training," he said.

Hayden added that that those operatives "wouldn't attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at D…

Secular Jihad in Turkey

Secular Jihad By MUSTAFA AKYOL
Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2008

ISTANBUL:Who would you expect to be zealous enemies of "moderate Islam"? Islamic fundamentalists? You bet. From Osama bin Laden & Co. to less violent but equally fanatic groups, Islamist militants abhor their co-religionists who reject tyranny and violence in the name of God. But they are not alone. In this part of the world, there is another group that holds a totally opposite worldview but shares a similar hatred of moderate Islam: Turkey's secular fundamentalists.

This secular hatred comes, most recently, in the form of a stunning attempt by judicial means to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ban its top 71 members, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from politics for five years. Even President Abdullah Gül, a former AKP minister, is on the to-ban list of the country's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, who submitted his indictment to the Constituti…

The Menace of Suicide Bombings in Pakistan

Capital suggestion: Muslims killing Muslims by Dr Farrukh Saleem
The News, March 30, 2008

In 2005, Pakistanis witnessed a total of four suicide attacks. In 2006, there were seven and in 2007 there were 56; more than one a week. In the first 11 weeks of 2008, there have been 17 suicide attacks; an annualized rate of 80. In 2005, Muslim casualties of terrorist violence in Pakistan numbered 648. In 2006 and 2007, casualties jumped to 1,471 and 3,599, respectively. In the first 10 weeks of 2008 casualties already stand at 1,064 with a daily average of 14 and an annualized rate of over 5,000.

Why are Muslims killing Muslims? Is there a connection between suicide attacks and lack of education? Is there a correlation between suicide attacks and poverty? Is there a connection between suicide attacks and the followers of Islam?

Between 1980 and 2003, there have been 315 suicide terror attacks worldwide. Of the 315, at least 75 per cent of the "attacks involved Islamist groups or terrorist act…

A new approach to counter-terrorism

ANALYSIS: A new approach to counter-terrorism — Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi
Daily Times, March 30, 2008

The government will have to articulate a new perspective on counter-terrorism as an alternative to the Islamist discourse. It needs to highlight Pakistan’s responsibility to cope with extremism and terrorism as a nation-state and a member of the international community

The visit of two senior American officials to Islamabad before the new government is fully installed in Pakistan shows the US government’s nervousness and concern about the future of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy. They do not expect Pakistan to drop out of the on-going global counter-terrorism efforts but are concerned about possible changes in the formulation and implementation of specific strategies to address the problem.

Of late, the US intelligence community got convinced that Al Qaeda and related elements are entrenched in Pakistan’s tribal areas and they want either Pakistan to adopt effective measures to extricat…

Sectarian Riots in Kohat (NWFP)

SECOND EDITORIAL: Sectarian war in Kohat
Daily Times, March 30, 2008
The news from the Kohat district of the NWFP is not good at all. At least 22 people have died in the ongoing Sunni-Shia riots, although unofficial sources are putting the figure at over 50. The story of misfortune that begins in Kurram Agency in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan extends to Kohat and envelopes the city of Hangu on the way. Kurram Agency is still on fire after an ambulance was attacked killing all its inmates including women and children. In Hangu, on the occasion of Eid Miladun Nabi and the cultural festival of Nauruz, a number of people were killed as in the past when one side resented the celebration of Nauruz.

Kohat is a mixed Sunni-Shia population with traditional dominance of aggressive Sunni clergy. The city boasts an Al Qaeda monument in its centre celebrating the martyrdom of a bus-load of foreign jihadis who had clashed with Pakistani troops in 2001. They had entered Pakistan through Kurram Agency af…

Changing Realities of Pakistan

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Picture and Cartoon from: Daily Times, March 29, 2008

US -- Pakistan Relations

US to respect parliament’s decision: Boucher
Meets Zardari, Asfandyar, Shujaat, Sattar, Fazl
By our correspondent, The News, March 29, 2008

ISLAMABAD: All political leaders who met US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Richard Boucher here on Friday clearly said that Pakistan is not going to blindly follow the US-led "war on terror" as new parliament will decide about the cooperation Islamabad can extend to Washington.

However, Richard Boucher acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution against militancy and said the US would respect Pakistan parliament's stance over war against terrorism if the issue is discussed in the National Assembly.

Richard Boucher met PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari who was accompanied by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sherry Rehman and newly appointed ambassador-at-large Hussain Haqqani at the Zardari House. The meeting lasted for more than one hour.

After the meeting Zardari and Boucher held a joint press conference at which the US official said that Wash…

A Chill Ushers in a New Diplomatic Order in Pakistan

News Analysis
A Chill Ushers in a New Diplomatic Order in Pakistan
By JANE PERLEZ, New York Times, March 28, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — If it was not yet clear to Washington that a new political order prevailed here, the three-day visit this week by America’s chief diplomat dealing with Pakistan should put any doubt to rest.

The visit by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte turned out to be series of indignities and chilly, almost hostile, receptions as he bore the brunt of the full range of complaints that Pakistanis now feel freer to air with the end of military rule by Washington’s favored ally, President Pervez Musharraf.

Faced with a new democratic lineup that is demanding talks, not force, in the fight against terrorism, Mr. Negroponte publicly swallowed a bitter pill at his final news conference on Thursday, acknowledging that there would now be some real differences in strategy between the United States and Pakistan.

He was upbraided at an American Embassy residence duri…

Can Afghanistan be Rescued?

Afghanistan: is it too late?
Chris Sands, Newstatesman, 27 March 2008

The Taliban are very far from being defeated. Worse, western governments are in denial about the dangers of failing

A normal week in Kabul recently went like this: one day unknown attackers dressed in military gear kidnapped a local businessman; 48 hours later a rocket landed in a deserted area; not long after, a businessman's driver was abducted and a ransom demanded; then, in a district near the city, a mine was found planted in a dirt road.

Within a fortnight violence had moved up a level. A suicide bomber targeted a US convoy as it travelled along the main route leading to the airport. Eight Afghan civilians were killed and 35 wounded. Much of this is just routine horror, details that will be swept aside by even the most pessimistic Nato members when they meet in Bucharest for their summit on 2-4 April. But what the west is starting to acknowledge, people here have known for some time: Afghanistan is not a succe…

World Bank says Pakistan must take urgent action to avert economic crisis

World Bank says Pakistan must take urgent action to avert economic crisis
The Associated Press, March 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan's new government must take urgent action to prevent the country's strong economic expansion from tipping into crisis, the World Bank warned on Thursday.

Praful Patel, a vice president at the bank, said the South Asian country needed to make painful adjustments to higher global prices for oil, commodities and foodstuffs or risk a slowdown.

"There is not yet a crisis, but the economic picture for Pakistan is not good," Patel said. "There is a good economic foundation, but the growth can only continue if Pakistan adjusts to the new global reality."

Patel issued a statement after a three-day visit to Pakistan, which included talks with leaders of the new government taking power after eight years of military rule under former President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, guided Pakistan from the brink …

Lest we forget...

March 25 — a watershed
By Akhtar Payami, Dawn, March 25, 2008

DHAKA: March 25, 1971. The incessant roar of gunfire dominated the midnight hour. Petrified men, women and children huddled together in their homes not knowing what the future held for them. Only the previous day they had witnessed the hoisting of a new national flag. Pakistan’s star and crescent ensign had not been unfurled as before.

That had led to a confrontation between the security forces and the ‘miscreants’ agitating for the independence of Bangladesh. What happened on that fateful night became part of our disjointed history. It was target killing of another kind. If you were a Bengali, or looked like one, you faced certain death.

We didn’t know about that until the next morning. I was then living in an apartment in a multi-ethnic, middle-class locality of Dhaka. For years we had lived in amity with our neighbours sharing each other’s joys and sorrows. But feelings were changing. Friendships were giving way to animosity…

US Uneasy with Pakistan's New Direction: NPR

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All Things Considered, NPR - March 26, 2008
Jackie Northam talks to Hassan Abbas, Karl Inderfurth, Michael Scheurer

To listen, click here

Also see:
U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan - Washington Post
Pakistan to Fight Terrorism With `Determination,' Gillani Says - Bloomberg.com

Tribal elders tell US only talks can end militancy

Tribal elders tell US only talks can end militancy
By Javed Afridi, The News, March 27, 2008

PESHAWAR: Elders of the Khyber Tribal Agency on Wednesday urged the US administration to stop seeking military solution to militancy in the tribal areas and suggested adopting traditional means of Jirga to end the resistance. A group of 11 tribal elders led by Malik Darya Khan met US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher in Landikotal Cantonment. They told the US officials that the centuries-old Jirga system was still effective in the tribal territory, which provided remedy for every trouble, including the scourge of terrorism.

The meeting was held in a highly guarded environment and mediapersons were denied access to the venue. Later, talking to The News by phone, Malik Darya Khan said the top US officials were apprised of tribesmen apprehensions about, what he termed as, mishandling of the affairs in the tribal region. "There is a diffe…

Nawaz advised to soften anti-Musharraf stand By the US

Nawaz advised to soften anti-Musharraf stand
By Mayed Ali, The News,March 25, 2008

LAHORE: US officials have asked PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif to soften his stand on President Pervez Musharraf as their government feels comfortable getting along with the man atop the hill, The News has learnt.

In a 55-minute-long meeting with former PM Nawaz Sharif at the Punjab House in Islamabad on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher explained how important President Musharraf was for the US in its war on terror. They explained Musharraf had been part of the USís war on terror since 2001.

Shahbaz Sharif, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Kh Asif, Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal were also present. However, Nawaz countered the US officials’ stance on the ground that the recent mandate of the people had established the president had lost the trust of the masses. Nawaz challenged the policies of President Musharraf, especially his approach to the war on terror.…

Expanded VVIP Protection in Pakistan Need of the Hour

23 law enforcement officers trained and ready to take over VVIP security
* Newly elected politicians demanding Interior Ministry prepare their
personal security plans with input from these trained officers
By Shahnawaz Khan, Daily Times, March 25, 2008

LAHORE: Twenty-three Pakistani law-enforcement personnel, who in mid-March completed a VIP Protection Course conducted under the United States’ Anti-Terrorist Assistance (ATA) programme, are ready to take charge of the security of VVIPs in the country, Interior Ministry sources told Daily Times on Monday.

The 23 security personnel participated in an intensive three-week course designed to impart the skills required to protect national leaders and key facilities from attack. Familiarisation with cutting-edge technology, methods of sweeping an area before the arrival of VVIPs, and investigating and preserving the crime scene were some of the main features of the training.

Caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz confirmed that the security p…

…Aur mein sidq-e-dil ke saath Pakistan ki wafadar rahoon-gi...

From dusk to dawn: a new beginning By Naheed Khan
The News, March 25, 2008

The writer is a former member of parliament who served as Benazir Bhutto’s personal assistant and political secretary

…Aur mein sidq-e-dil ke saath Pakistan ki wafadar rahoon-gi (That I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan…

A beautiful young woman, remarkably composed in green shalwar-kameez and with a white scarf neatly covering her head, takes the oath of office of prime minister on this ending note and signs the register. The pindrop silence is replaced with a massive round of applause. A few eyes glaze over with tears, a few faces are illuminated, while others smirk. This is Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, being sworn in as the first woman prime minister of an Islamic country, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Pakistan was triumphant: at last her sufferings were over; at last her struggle had found a destination. It was a sight her father, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, would have loved if he were still with u…