Posts

Showing posts from June, 2009

Nuclear Security Cooperation Between the United States and Pakistan

Nuclear Security Cooperation Between the United States and Pakistan
A Survey from 2000-2009
By Andrew J. Grotto, Michelle Hammer, Center for American Progress, June 24, 2009

Pakistan and the United States share an interest in denying Islamist extremists access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and preventing rogue Pakistani officials from peddling nuclear technologies. The countries have been working together behind the scenes on this issue since before 9/11. A survey of their efforts, based on publicly available information, suggests substantial progress. The United States must continue to make nuclear security an essential element of its bilateral relationship with Pakistan.

President Barack Obama stated in May that the United States and Pakistan retain “strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation,” but full collaboration is limited in the nuclear arena. The main obstacle is a belief among some Pakistani leaders and the general public that American offers of assistance mask mo…

Pakistan Treads Warily as New Fight Looms

Pakistan Treads Warily as New Fight Looms
Preliminary Efforts Against Fighters in Tribal Waziristan Yield Mixed Results
By Pamela Constable - Washington Post, June 29, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 28 -- More than 70 years ago, the British army went to war against tribal forces loyal to a charismatic religious figure in what is now the Pakistani region of Waziristan. The ensuing guerrilla conflict lasted more than a decade. The British troops, though far more numerous and better armed, never captured the renegade leader and finally withdrew from the region.

Today, the Pakistani army is preparing to launch a major operation against another warrior in Waziristan, the ruthless Islamist commander Baitullah Mehsud. Taking a lesson from history and its own recent failures, the army is attempting to isolate and weaken Mehsud before sending its troops into battle.

Every day for the past two weeks, Pakistani bombers have crisscrossed Mehsud's territory, pounding his suspected hideouts and k…

Difficulties of Self-correction

analysis: Difficulties of self-correction — Khaled Ahmed
Daily Times, June 30, 2009

Self-correction looks like defeat, especially in small and weak states prizing honour and self-respect above other fundamental interests of the state such as the national economy

On June 19, 2009, a Dunya TV discussion had ex-foreign secretary Mr Riaz Khokhar protesting that President Asif Ali Zardari had not conformed to norms of ‘protocol behaviour’ while talking to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The newspapers had earlier moaned about Mr Singh having insulted Pakistan by telling Mr Zardari to mend his ways before asking for a dialogue. Mr Singh had insulted Pakistan and Mr Zardari had simply cowered instead of insulting him back.

Anchor Dr Moeed Pirzada rang up the Indian Express’ editor Shekhar Gupta to find out if the Indians thought their PM had given them the satisfaction of insulting Pakistan. Mr Gupta thought that Mr Singh was normal instead of insulting while accepting a foreign secretaries’ …

Policing Pakistan by Christine Fair in Wall Street Journal

Policing Pakistan
The army isn't well equipped to fight the insurgency.
By C. CHRISTINE FAIR From today's Wall Street Journal Asia, June 30, 2009.

The United States has spent some $12 billion trying to help Pakistan save itself. Unfortunately, Washington has lavished most of the aid on the Pakistan army. It is time to reconsider that decision and focus instead on improving the country's police force.

There are many reasons why the army can't fix what ails the nation. First, sustained use of the army against its own citizens goes against the grain. A number of Pakistani officers have told me that they did not join the army to kill Pakistanis; they joined to kill Indians. Officers themselves debate whether the army can successfully oust the militants, and even if it can, whether it could hold the area for long. The army's past and recent track record in clearing and holding territory is not encouraging.

Second, the army has resisted developing a counter-insurgency doctrin…

The Long Wait in FATA's Kurram Agency: DT

Editorial: The long wait in Kurram
Daily Times, June 29, 2009

As Kurram Agency on the border with Afghanistan waits for the return of the writ of the Pakistani state for the past three years, the Taliban depredations in the guise of sectarianism continue around the headquarters of the Parachinar agency. At least 33 people were killed and 65 others injured in “sectarian clashes” in various parts of Kurram Agency on Friday night and Saturday. In the last 12 days, the casualty list includes 89 people dead and 175 injured.

The local population has virtually given up on Pakistan during the two years that have seen all roads going to Pakistan cut off and the federal government ditching them after promising to come to their help “within a fortnight”. The local administration, if it can be called that, “cooperates” with the Taliban in the interim and exposes the besieged Shia majority population of Parachinar. According to a local tribesman quoted in the press: “We have had over 700 young people…

Pakistan Army's challenge: holding onto gains against militants

Pakistan Army's challenge: holding onto gains against militants
As the government prepares for a major operation in South Waziristan, it's eyeing lessons learned from previous campaigns that were cut short in the face of weak public support.
By Issam Ahmed | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor; June 27, 2009

Islamabad, Pakistan - As the Pakistani military zeros in on Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, it is trying to break a pattern in which initially successful operations have lost ground, allowing militants to regain their strength.

Previous operations to flush out militancy have faltered for a number of factors. This time, say analysts, the military is better prepared in counterinsurgency tactics, as seen in its recent battle in the Swat Valley. Most crucially, the government's efforts have popular support, something that's often been lacking in previous operations.

"A lot has changed both globally and domestically," says Badar A…

Kabul's K Street Project

Kabul's K Street Project
Afghanistan's US ambassador knows that influence comes with a steep price tag in DC. Read his confidential memo pleading for more lobbyists
Mother Jones, June 9, 2009

Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street! That's the message Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States is sending home, according to an internal government memo (PDF) obtained by Mother Jones. His complaint signals that Kabul's man in Washington has learned a fundamental lesson about influence in the nation's capital: With few paid lobbyists to push Afghanistan's agenda, the void is being filled by other regional players, like Pakistan and India, both of which spend millions of dollars each year to ensure that they're heard in Washington's corridors of power.

In his memo to Afghanistan's finance minister, Omar Zakhiwal, which is dated April 21 and marked "confidential," Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad surveys the competition. Pakistan, he writes, emp…

France: dressed or oppressed?

The Pakistan report card
France: dressed or oppressed?
The News, June 27, 2009
Fasi Zaka

Driving in Peshawar is reputed to be a lot like driving in Rome, or possibly worse. As a teenager when I was learning how to drive, my teacher insisted I move into every nook and cranny with total disregard for the right of commuters. But he said two solid rules had to be followed without exception, we had to make way for cows (because they don't move out of the way and can seriously damage the car) and give room for women in burqas (because their peripheral vision in it is poor).

I was quite uncomfortable in treating women in burqas at par with animals. As I grew up I realised a lot many people equate them as one and the same, captives to man without any individual rights. In much the same way, Nicholas Sarkozy has done the same in his address to Parliament in France.

On a personal level I have been uncomfortable with the idea of the burqa, and this was especially after I was walking through Lahore…

An earthquake deferred?

An earthquake deferred
Institute for Middle East Understanding; Bitterlemons.org, Jun 25, 2009

An interview with Mahdi Abdul Hadi
-Mahdi Abdul Hadi is head of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, PASSIA

bitterlemons: What relevance does the turmoil in Iran have for the Palestinian street?

Abdul Hadi: It has both direct and indirect relevance to the Palestinian cause. I believe there are three major regional players who are directly and indirectly affecting the Palestinian street. These effects have been observed very closely in recent elections in Turkey, Israel and Iran and all have different impacts on the Palestinian-Israeli.

In Turkey, the rise of the Islamists and the corresponding position of the army was a signal as to how political Islam can be accommodated in a secular framework. Alongside this, the public relations battle during the Gaza war, when Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan confronted Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, brought Turkey …

Thousands demand justice over Kashmir rape, deaths

Thousands demand justice over Kashmir rape, deaths
Reuters, June 24, 2009

SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Thousands of people shouting "we want justice" marched in south Kashmir on Wednesday to protest against the rape and murder of two Muslim women, officials said.
The latest protest comes two days after authorities suspended four police officers and a forensic science official for allegedly destroying evidence while investigating the crimes against the women in May.

The deaths triggered massive anti-India demonstrations across Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.

Residents say the two women, aged 17 and 22, were abducted, raped and killed by security forces.

"We want freedom", the angry protesters shouted in Shopian in south Kashmir, where bodies of the two women were found on May 29. Anti-India protests have raged in the region since.

Two protesters have died and hundreds been injured in clashes with the police.

Related:
Saving a Kashmiri Village After Remaking His Life - NYT
Kashmir: R…

Pakistan's Extremist Threat

Viewpoints: Pakistan's extremist threat
BBC, June 24, 2009
Four experts offer a range of views on the nature of the threat posed by violent extremists based in Pakistan, and assess whether or not the country's nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Dr. Daniel Markey; Dr. Gareth Price; Ahmed Rashid; Kanwal Sibal

For details, click here

Related:
57 PAF officials arrested over links with terrorists - The News
Pakistan Says Taliban Supplied With Guns, Cash From Afghanistan - Bloomberg
Pakistan Slaying Reveals a Flawed Strategy - TIME
Deadliest US missile strikes in Pakistan - AFP

Current Situation in FATA

Missile attacks kill 50 in South Waziristan
Dawn Report, 24 June, 2009

TANK/WANA: At least 50 people, including an important militant commander, were killed in a series of suspected US missile strikes in South Waziristan on Tuesday. (According to Reuters, 45 militants were killed in two air strikes.)

Security officials said the drones fired missiles when Sangeen, an Afghan commander of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, was holding a meeting soon after the funeral of an associate of Baitullah Mehsud in Lataka area.

They said that apparently the drones remained in the air after the first strike as it also targeted some vehicles in which the militants were fleeing.

The commander, along with other militants, had attended the funeral of Khog Wali, who was earlier killed in another drone attack, along with five others, in Bekh Mary Langara area.

For complete article, click here

Related:
Waziristan uncertainty - Dawn Editorial
The dead do tell tales - The News

Iran's Broken elections by Mosharraf Zaidi

Iran's broken election
The News, June 23, 2009
Mosharraf Zaidi

What is happening in Iran is not a CIA conspiracy to destabilise the Middle East. It is simply more evidence of the incapability of Muslim societies to competently conduct their affairs within the confines of an agreed set of rules. The Great Satan is not in Washington DC, or at the CIA headquarters. The Great Satan is the unfettered and dysfunctional state. In Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and almost everywhere else where Muslims make up a majority of the population, this Great Satan is feeding monsters that are always a few speeches away from being out of control. It is not unnatural that the United States should applaud some of these monsters (like those in Iran) and not others (like the millions of Pakistanis that, for two years, protested for the restoration of the judiciary). Iran's democrats are more convenient for US foreign policy than Pakistani democrats. The United States is a rational animal, and th…

Afghanistan’s Failing Forces: NYT Editorial

Editorial
Afghanistan’s Failing Forces
New York Times, June 22, 2009

The news from Afghanistan is grim. In the first week of June, there were more than 400 attacks, a level not seen since late 2001. President Obama was right to send more American troops to fight. That violence will surely increase as strengthened ground forces step up the pressure on Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries. But it is also true that there can be no lasting security — and no exit for American forces — until Afghanistan has a functioning army and national police that can hold back the insurgents and earn the trust of Afghan citizens. Neither comes close today.

Washington has already spent 7 ½ years and more than $15 billion on failed training programs. President George W. Bush’s Pentagon never sent enough trainers (most of those available were assigned to Iraq) to systematically embed American advisers in Afghan Army units, an approach now paying dividends in Iraq.

It failed to pay Afghan soldiers a living wage, …

Af-Pak Policy - An Assessment

Debating the Middle East muddle
Global Politics
By STEVEN STYCOS, The Phoenix, June 17, 2009

US military aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan is being wasted and should be redirected to the police and moderate non-violent groups working for education and the rule of law, according to two Middle East experts who spoke Sunday at the Community Church of Providence.

Hassan Abbas, a Pakistani native and a research fellow at Harvard University, and Joseph Gerson, program director for the American Friends Service Committee, told an audience of 65 that violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot be understood without knowing the history of US involvement. The event was sponsored by the Rhode Island Mobilization Committee, a coalition of peace groups.

"As soon as you go into history," Abbas stated, "you have to face your own mistakes." He and Gerson blame President Jimmy Carter's Cold War policies for the current violence. The US, they explain, with financing from Saudi Arabia a…

Beat extremists you can, says Obama: Exclusive Interview to Dawn

Image
Beat extremists you can, says Obama By Anwar Iqbal
Dawn, 21 Jun, 2009

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama, in an exclusive interview to Dawn, has said that he believes the Pakistani state is strong enough to win the military offensive against the extremists.

In this first-ever one-on-one interview by any US president to the Pakistani media, Mr Obama assured the Pakistani nation that he has no desire to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons or send US troops inside the country.

The US president also emphasised the need for resuming the dialogue process between India and Pakistan, which was stalled after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November last year.

The interview covered a wide-range of subjects — from the controversy involving the Iranian presidential election to Mr Obama’s speech in Cairo earlier this month in which he called for a new beginning between the Muslim and the Western worlds.

The venue, the White House diplomatic room with murals of early settlers, brought out the imp…

Pakistan has no alternative but to finish militancy: Zardari

Pakistan has no alternative but to finish militancy: Zardari
Dawn, Sunday, 21 Jun, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must conduct the ongoing operation against militancy to its logical conclusion as it has no alternative but to finish militants, says President Asif Ali Zardari.

‘We must succeed against the militants for the sake of our country and our people,’ he said in an article sent to newspapers to mark the 56th birth anniversary of assassinated PPP leader Benazir Bhutto being celebrated on Sunday.

‘On her birthday I wish to assert that there simply is no other alternative. The absence of alternatives has made our mind clear,’ he wrote.

PPP workers will celebrate the occasion by donating blood for the needy in memory of what the president called ‘her mission to end militancy from the country which has caused so much innocent blood to flow and tarnished the image of Islam and Pakistan in the world.’

He said her life was spent in a brave struggle against oppression and dictatorship and ultimate…

"The Pakistani Soldier" - By Richard J Douglas

The Pakistani soldier
The News, June 20, 2009
Richard J Douglas

It is gratifying to see the new White House team giving more attention to relations with Pakistan. During my recent tenure as deputy assistant secretary of defence for counter-narcotics, and earlier as a US Senate staffer, I had the privilege of making numerous journeys to Pakistan and sponsoring several counter-narcotics initiatives with Pakistan's security forces.

Based upon this experience and my personal observations in Pakistan's rugged border areas, I would like to offer a few comments about a field where loser Pakistan-US cooperation would have an important and immediate impact.

In Pakistan's effort to combat extremism, there is one critically important protagonist too often overlooked when western political leaders press Pakistan to "do more." I refer to the Pakistani soldier. In talking with young Pakistani personnel, whether Army aviators or Frontier Corps leaders, I was struck by the familiar…

Realigning Pakistan's Security Forces: CFR

Backgrounder
Realigning Pakistan's Security Forces
Author: Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer
Council on Foreign Relations, June 18, 2009

Introduction
Growing militancy inside Pakistan has spotlighted the inability of the country's security forces to fight domestic insurgency. Militants have been expanding their reach: Large swaths of territory in northwestern Pakistan are out of government control; extremist groups across the country are working together; and suicide bombings frequently rock major cities like Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. In May, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani described the fight against terrorism (AP) as a "war of the country's survival." The United States sees Pakistani cooperation to defeating its militants as crucial to winning the war in neighboring Afghanistan. The Obama administration, through its Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, is now focused on strengthening Pakistan's counterinsurgency capabilities, and it is pushing for inc…

My Name is Iran

Image
My Name Is Iran
By ROGER COHEN; New York Times, June 17, 2009

TEHRAN — At the immense opposition demonstration earlier this week, I asked a young woman her name. She said, “My name is Iran.”
A nation has stirred. Provoked, it has risen. “Silence equals protest,” says one banner. The vast crowds move in a hush of indignation, anger distilled to a wordless essence.

In greater numbers than ever before, Iranians had bought in to the sliver of democracy offered by an autocratic system whose ultimate loyalty is to the will of God rather than the will of the people. Almost 40 million voted. Now, their votes flouted, many have crossed over from reluctant acquiescence to the Islamic Republic into opposition. That’s a fundamental shift.

For Complete article, click here

Related:
Expert: Iran Protests Full Of Symbolism - NPR
Leaders worried by the rise of people power in Iran - Guardian
'The world can see how strong the true Iran is to injustice' - Guardian
Ahmadinejad's Official Website
Iran&…

The Fight for Pakistan’s Soul

The Fight for Pakistan’s Soul
By Dr. Hassan Abbas, Kosovo Times, Burma Digest, June 17, 2009; The Daily Star (Lebanon), June 20, 2009; Jordan Times, June 24, 2009; Taipei Times, June 21, 2009; Khaleej Times, June 22, 2009; The Korea Herald, June 24, 2009

CAMBRIDGE – As its army confronts, ever more bloodily, the Taliban in the Swat Valley, Pakistan is fighting for its very soul. The army appears to be winning this time around, in marked contrast to its recent half-hearted confrontations with Taliban forces in neighboring tribal areas.

For now, the Taliban are on the run, some with shaved beards and some in burqas, to avoid being recognized and thrashed. The reason is simple: increasingly, people across Pakistan support the army’s action. This support persists despite the terrible humanitarian cost: more than 1.5 million internal refugees.


This round of fighting was preceded by a negotiated calm, as the government sought to quell militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas by striking a d…

Iran's Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Takes a Stand

Image
In the name of God

People of Iran

These last days, we have witnessed the lively efforts of you brothers and sisters, old and young alike, from any social category, for the 10th presidential elections.

Our youth, hoping to see their rightful will fulfilled, came on the scene and waited patiently. This was the greatest occasion for the government’s officials to bond with their people.

But unfortunately, they used it in the worst way possible. Declaring results that no one in their right mind can believe, and despite all the evidence of crafted results, and to counter people protestations, in front of the eyes of the same nation who carried the weight of a revolution and 8 years of war, in front of the eyes of local and foreign reporters, attacked the children of the people with astonishing violence. And now they are attempting a purge, arresting intellectuals, political opponents and Scientifics.

Now, based on my religious duties, I will remind you :

1- A legitimate state must respect all po…

Holbrooke's Message for Pushtuns

Image
America on our airwaves By Huma Yusuf
Dawn, 13 Jun, 2009

Last week, four helicopters swept down on the Sheikh Shehzad camp for IDPs in Mardan. Their arrival was unexpected, and journalists were barred from the camp in an effort to keep the visitation under cover. One of the helicopters was transporting Richard Holbrooke, US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, who was visiting displaced people in order to gain a better understanding of the humanitarian crisis unfolding here. His trip to the camps was kept hush-hush, but one media outlet managed to snag an exclusive interview with the envoy while he was mingling with IDPs – it wasn’t the BBC or VOA, Dawn or The New York Times. It was Radio Buraq, a community radio station that few people living beyond the Frontier province will have heard of.

Holbrooke’s decision to grant an interview to Radio Buraq – which operates stations in Mardan, Peshawar, Abbottabad and Sialkot – indicates that he’s serious about winning the ‘info…

Pakistani Banker, wrongly portrayed as militant, defends PhD thesis

Banker, wrongly portrayed as militant, defends PhD thesis
The News, June 16, 2009
By Yousaf Ali

PESHAWAR: A banker, who had wrongly been projected as terrorist by the NWFP government in the advertisement that announced head money for the top 21 militants fighting security forces in restive Swat valley, Monday defended his PhD thesis and thus qualified for the highest academic degree from the University of Peshawar.

Mohammad Mushtaq, who serves as a research officer at the Sharia Department of the Bank of Khyber, did his PhD thesis on “Islami Bankari: Aik Fiqhi Jaiza” under the supervision of Dr Ziaullah Al-Azhari, a PhD degree holder on Islamic economy from Jamia Al-Azhar, Egypt.

Mushtaq, whose photograph had been published in place of Qari Mushtaq, a Taliban commander, got admission to the department of Islamic Studies, University of Peshawar for PhD in 2004-05. Son of Haji Rustam Shah, the young researcher had made a remarkable research on the topic that made his external examiners to r…

Robert Fisk: Iran erupts as voters back 'the Democrator'

Robert Fisk: Iran erupts as voters back 'the Democrator'
A smash in the face, a kick in the balls – that's how police deal with protesters after Iran's poll kept the hardliners in power
June 14, 2009, The Independent

First the cop screamed abuse at Mir Hossein Mousavi's supporter, a white-shirted youth with a straggling beard and unkempt hair. Then he smashed his baton into the young man's face. Then he kicked him viciously in the testicles. It was the same all the way down to Vali Asr Square. Riot police in black rubber body armour and black helmets and black riot sticks, most on foot but followed by a flying column of security men, all on brand new, bright red Honda motorcycles, tearing into the shrieking youths – hundreds of them, running for their lives. They did not accept the results of Iran's presidential elections. They did not believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won 62.6 per cent of the votes. And they paid the price.


"Death to the dictator,"…

Taliban tribesmen pledge to wipe out al-Qaeda ally in Pakistan: Telegraph

Taliban tribesmen pledge to wipe out al-Qaeda ally in Pakistan
The leader of Taliban tribesmen who has turned on al-Qaeda's most ruthless ally in Pakistan has vowed to help rescue his country from a reign of terror that has pushed it close to collapse
By Saeed Shah in Dera Ismail Khan
Telegraphy, June 14, 2009

In his first interview with a western newspaper, Qari Zainuddin said he had mobilised 3,000 armed followers to attempt to wipe out the feared warlord, Baitullah Mehsud, and drive his al-Qaeda supporters from Pakistan.

Baitallah, who has defeated the Pakistan army three times in the lawless South Waziristan tribal area, is considered a global terror threat by Western intelligence agencies. The US has placed a $5m bounty on his head, describing him as a “key al-Qaeda facilitator”.

His grip over the Mehsud tribe’s area of South Waziristan, which lies on the border with Afghanistan and where key al-Qaeda commanders have been given sanctuary and support, has been almost absolute for…

Post Election Crisis in Iran

Image
Iran’s Day of Anguish
By ROGER COHEN, New York Times, June 14, 2009

TEHRAN — She was in tears like many women on the streets of Iran’s battered capital. “Throw away your pen and paper and come to our aid,” she said, pointing to my notebook. “There is no freedom here.”

And she was gone, away through the milling crowds near the locked-down Interior Ministry spewing its pick-ups full of black-clad riot police. The “green wave” of Iran’s pre-election euphoria had turned black.

Down the street outside the ghostly campaign headquarters of the defeated reformist candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, the baton-wielding police came in whining phalanxes, two to a motorbike, scattering people, beating them.

“Disperse or we’ll do other things and then you’ll really know.” The voice, from a police megaphone, was steady in its menace. “You, over there, in a white hat, I’m talking to you.”

Anger hung in the air, a sullen pall enveloping the city, denser than its smog, bitter as smashed hope.

I say “defeated.”…

Targetting of an anti-suicide bombing Cleric in Lahore

Moderate Cleric Among 9 Killed in Pakistan Blasts
By WAQAR GILLANI and SABRINA TAVERNISE, New York Times, June 13, 2009

LAHORE, Pakistan — Militants bombed mosques in two cities in Pakistan on Friday, killing at least nine people, including a leading Sunni cleric who was an outspoken critic of the Taliban.

In Lahore, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the religious complex run by the cleric, Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, who had been vocal in his opposition to suicide attacks and other tactics used by the Taliban. The bomb seemed to be aimed at Mr. Naeemi, destroying his quarters near the entrance of the complex’s mosque.

He was killed, along with at least five other people. The whitewashed brick wall of the office where he usually sat after delivering his Friday sermon was spattered with blood.

For complete article, click here

Related:
Mufti Naeemi’s murder termed national tragedy - DT
Ghamdi says this is not jihad - DT
Moderate voice silenced - The News

Hearts on The Line in Pakistan

Hearts on The Line in Pakistan
By Ahmed Rashid
Washington Post, June 12, 2009

MARDAN, Pakistan -- Even before the explosion Tuesday at the Pearl Continental Hotel killed at least 16 people in Peshawar, Pakistan was at the center of global attention. Yet for all the concern about terrorism, the world has been stunningly indifferent to the plight of the more than 2.4 million people who have fled the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani army is for the first time seriously attacking the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

If the internally displaced Pakistanis are not properly cared for, public opinion, which has shifted dramatically in recent weeks to support the offensive against the Taliban, could once again turn in support of compromise. Last week, the Taliban launched a series of devastating suicide attacks to both divert security forces and cower public opinion. The truck bomb Tuesday night in Peshawar, northwestern Pakistan's provincial capital, reportedly injured 70.

The mass exodus from the bat…

An ideological bind

WASHINGTON DIARY: An ideological bind — Dr Manzur Ejaz
Daily times, June 10, 2009

It is interesting to note that religious extremism in the subcontinent usually leads to chaos and disarray which preys on the poor alone, further tipping over the already unstable socio-economic state of affairs of the region

The Taliban movement has earned itself unparalleled recognition due to its bloody nature and rigid ideological claims. But it has also left behind many equally terrifying social ills that may not be as melodramatic in nature. Why these issues are not as dramatised as the Taliban movement itself needs further exploration.

A few days back, I attended a conference where a presentation was made on the demographic distribution of health and junk food in the neighbourhoods of US cities. It turned out that richer localities have outlets that offer a variety of food while poorer areas have to contend with mostly junk food. I suggested that the presentation be titled “Distribution of health and…

Why the Taliban won't take over Pakistan?

Why the Taliban won't take over Pakistan
For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.
By Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2009

Islamabad, Pakistan - It has become the statistic heard round the world. The Taliban are within 60 miles of Islamabad. Just 60 miles. Every dispatch about the insurgents' recent advance into the Pakistani district of Buner carried the ominous number.

Washington quivered, too. A top counterinsurgency expert, David Kilcullen, reiterated that Pakistan could collapse within six months. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said flatly if the country were to fall, the Taliban would have the "keys to the nuclear arsenal." On a visit to Islamabad, Sen. John Kerry – the proctor of $7.5 billion in Pakistani aid as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – warned bluntly: "T…

Jaag Utha Pakistan

Jaag Utha Pakistan, cry villagers
The News, June 07, 2009
People get even with Taliban in Dir
By Delawar Jan

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of armed people of Hayagay Sharqi, Kilot, Doon and Man Doog attacked six villages of Doog Darra harbouring the Afghan militants affiliated with the Taliban, killing several of them besides torching their houses.

According to sketchy reports from Doog Darra, six persons, including a commander of the militants identified as Chamtu, were killed and as many houses were torched. Some sources put the number of casualties at two. Locals said that heavy and light weapons were being used during the attack.

“We saw two houses, owned by Taliban supporters, that were set on fire by the advancing armed people. They captured most of the bunkers from the militants while heavy firing is still continuing,” a resident of Doog Darra, wishing anonymity, told The News by phone late Saturday.

The people of Hayagay Sharqi held the Taliban responsible for the deadly suicide blast in a mos…