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Showing posts from May, 2010

Pakistani journalist Talat Hussain onboard the Gaza Aid Ship - now in Israeli custody

PM assures govt’s complete support to wife of Talat
Dawn, June 1, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday talked to the wife of Syed Talat Hussain, Director Current Affairs and anchorperson of AAJ TV on telephone and assured her that the government was doing everything possible for the safety of her husband.

Earlier the Prime Minister specially directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik to personally visit the family of Syed Talat Hussain and assure them that the government would extend all possible cooperation to them to inquire about the whereabouts and welfare of Talat Hussain.

It needs to be mentioned that the Interpol has informed the Government of Pakistan that Talat Hussain is in safe hands.

For complete article, click here
Related:
UK leader David Cameron 'deplores' Gaza aid ship deaths - BBC
Australian shot in Israel ship attack: foreign minister - AFP
Israeli Raid Complicates U.S. Ties and Push for Peace - NYT

Frayed ends of sanity

Frayed ends of sanity
Nadeem F. Paracha, Dawn, May 29, 2010

Over and over again I have been using Dawn and Dawn.com to hit home the point about the vicious, soul destroying mindset the bulk of Pakistan’s urban middle-classes (especially in the Punjab) have fallen in to.

I have tried to give numerous examples to highlight this devastating observation and here again is another one: On May 28 when terrorists associated with what is called the ‘Punjabi Taliban’ attacked various places of worship of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore, the TV channels were out in force covering the gruesome event. However, that did not stop them from running happy-go-lucky commercials of their corporate sponsors during breaks, giving the whole event a rather surreal feel.

But this can be expected from this unfortunate republic’s many TV channels. There is now not an iota of doubt left about the level of sheer cynicism, sensationalism and demagoguery that they operate on. Most of them have become a reckless …

Israel's split with Turkey deepens

Israel's split with Turkey deepens
UPI, May 27, 2010

GAZA, May 27 (UPI) -- Israel has warned that its naval forces will prevent a Turkish-led flotilla of eight blockade-running ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid for the besieged Gaza Strip, a confrontation that could deliver the death blow to the crumbling alliance between Israel and Turkey.

The breakup of that strategic alliance was triggered by Israel's 22-day invasion of Gaza in December 2008.

Turkey's Islamist government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan bitterly and volubly opposed that incursion in which some 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.

The alliance with Muslim Turkey, a member of NATO and a key military power in the region, was of immense importance to Israel. But the collapse of the 1996 pact has left it deeply isolated at a critical time as it comes under unprecedented international scrutiny and quarrels with its longtime benefactor, the United States, over a peace settlement with th…

'First' Kashmir survey produces 'startling' results: BBC

'First' Kashmir survey produces 'startling' results
BBC, By Alastair Lawson, May 27, 2010

A survey which a British academic says is the first systematic attempt to establish the opinions of Kashmiris has produced "striking results".

Robert Bradnock interviewed more than 3,700 people in Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir to assess their views on various issues. One of the key questions put to respondents was how they saw the future of the territory. Nearly half of those interviewed said they wanted independence. Another question asked for their views over the continuing insurgency.

Dr Bradnock - an associate fellow at the Chatham House think-tank in London - says that the survey has produced startling conclusions, especially in relation to the future of the territory.

No 'simple fixes'

It revealed that on average 44% of people in Pakistani-administered Kashmir favoured independence, compared with 43% in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"How…

Proposal for Chief of Defence Staff office a non-starter: A Message from GHQ?

Proposal for Chief of Defence Staff office a non-starter: experts
The News, May 27, 2010
By Shakil Shaikh

ISLAMABAD: The civilian administration as well as the military establishment is as yet clueless about the proposal of creating the office of chief of the defence staff (CODS) by the government.

“We are ignorant about this idea, which seems to be a figment of imagination of some people who are not fully aware of the existing armed forces’ set-up,” a senior official told The News on Wednesday.

But one can presume that some naive elements did try to float the proposal of chief of the defence staff (CODS) similar to Britain, Australia, France and others. Five things are very important in this context: First, the government does not seem interested in creating a new office of the CODS in place of chairman joint chiefs of staff committee.
Had it been so, it would have put it in the 18th Amendment, as this subject is dealt with in Part XII (Miscellaneous) Chapter-2 Armed Forces and un…

Strife in Baluchistan

Six years of strife
Jan Assakzai, The News, May 26, 2010

Since the launch of the 2004 military operation in Balochistan, the landscape and environment in the insurgency-hit province have seen significant shifts. These include rifts within the Baloch insurgents and other Baloch nationalist parties and a further decline in the insurgent groups' power. It is because of the weakened insurgents that the targeting of federal interests in Balochistan has decreased.

This does not mean, however, that more violence does not lie ahead. On the one hand, there is an increase in the number of attacks against ethnic Punjabis and on the other clashes are taking place in educational institutions between militant Baloch and Pakhtun students.

The security landscape in Balochistan remains as much a cause of alarm as it was in August 2004, when President Pervez Musharraf launched his military operation against insurgent nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and other insurgents.

There is no end in sig…

Many Faiths, One Truth...

Many Faiths, One Truth
By TENZIN GYATSO, New York Times, May 24, 2010

WHEN I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding acro…

"Terrorism's real nature" - A View from Pakistan

Terrorism's real nature
The News, May 25, 2010
Saleem Safi
The basic faults in the strategy against terrorism will make success in the war against terror irrelevant at best. While devising a strategy both the US and Pakistan have missed the point: it is a multi-dimensional problem. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are fighting this war professionally and cover all fronts of the war, while the US and Pakistan are fixated on a single point of armed response to the threat. They ignore the ideological, social, political, economic and strategic aspects of the problem.

Terrorism in the region sprouts from ideological and religious sentiments. Al-Qaeda and affiliates believe in a certain interpretation of the Islamic concepts of jihad, state, crusades, non-Muslims and killings of Muslims who support non-Muslims in this conflict. The Afghan war ended but the ideology survived for more than 30 years and a whole generation was brought up on this theology. Al-Qaeda has now shouldered the burden of …

With love from across the border

With love from across the border
More on the little luxuries that you just can't help fall in love with when in Pakistan.
HINDOL SENGUPTA, The Hindu, May 16, 2010

As promised, since the last time I wrote this column, I have made one more trip to Pakistan. This time I smoked honey cigars in Lahore, shopped at the Islamabad's spectacular Saeed Book Bank, heard Abida Parveen sing and went down tunnels dug by the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in the Hindukush hills of Bajaur in the north-west frontier province of Pakistan.
As promised, I spoke to Noor Rahman who still promises to swing by Delhi.
As promised, here is the second of my two-part series on all the things I like (should I say love and face more hate mails?) about Pakistan.

A song, what else?

Someone in Pakistan told me that this is the ultimate song of the lonesome soul. This voice is that sublime thing, music that cleanses that tedium of the mundane. Zeb and Haniya's Paimana from their album “Chup” strings melodies …

Denis MacShane: India is key to solving Afghanistan

Denis MacShane: India is key to solving Afghanistan
It beggars belief that a fellow Commonwealth country - both a democracy and a nuclear-armed power - can be talking about an invasion of Pakistan
Telegraph, 20 May 2010

When will the Commons start telling the truth about Afghanistan? Other than immigration, no other subject was raised so often on the doorstep in the election. But no other issue was less discussed by the party leaders. There is an ever widening gap between the military-political establishment and the people of Britain who fail to understand why so many of their own people are dying or returning home hideously maimed. This is not the Falklands or even a conflict to stop the UK being blown apart by unionist bigotry and IRA terror bombs.

Conservatives talk grandly about creating a "war" cabinet to wage war in Afghanistan. Mr Cameron should find a word other than "war" to use. We are winning battle after battle: when British troops take on the Taliban fa…

India-Pakistan Peace Process: When in Doubt, Turn to Poets Faiz, Ghalib

When in Doubt, Turn to Poets Faiz, Ghalib
By Tripti Lahiri, Wall Street Journal blog, May 19, 2010

At a gathering of Indian and Pakistani businessmen in New Delhi that came to a close Wednesday, industry leaders from both countries mostly spoke to each other in English as they suggested ways to increase economic ties between the two countries.
But every now and then, when searching for the mot juste, they turned to Urdu and Hindi, and particularly to the couplets of famous Urdu poets like the 20th century’s Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the 19th century’s Mirza Ghalib, whose work is part of the courtly tradition of mushaira, a form of competitive but friendly spoken word shared by Pakistan and northern India.

Former Pakistani finance minister Shahid Javed Burki drew many laughs with an Urdu colloquialism about fools that he used when speaking about the difficulties that Indian and Pakistani leaders face in taking steps towards each other that might play badly in the news at home.

Wajid Jawad, m…

Why Pakistanis do not trust America: Dawn

Why Pakistanis do not trust America
By Shahid R. Siddiqi, Dawn, 16 May, 2010

THOSE were the good old days — the 1950s. Pakistanis enjoyed hip hop American culture that made inroads into their households without worrying about its mean political attitude. Majority of Pakistanis looked upon America as an icon of capitalism, progress and democracy.
It fascinated young minds with its ideas of freedom of thought and speech. Pakistan’s founding fathers aligned their country with America because its leadership evoked confidence. Sentimental Pakistanis took America to be a friend in literal sense.

But if one was to ask people in the streets of Pakistan today, 7 out of 10 will blame America for all of Pakistan’s ills. They will cite a pattern of deceit, exploitation and misuse of trust by America over five decades.
They perceive America to be an arrogant, war mongering superpower which, propelled solely by its global agenda and imperial hubris, foments trouble, attacks and destroys people …

‘Powerless’ Pakistan

‘Powerless’ Pakistan
By Dr Charles K. Ebinger & Kashif Hasnie, Dawn, 17 May, 2010

THE promised four Es — employment, education, energy, environment — of the current PPP government in Pakistan are disintegrating.

Promises to tackle the recent energy crisis by building 8,000MW of new coal, solar, hydroelectric and wind electric generation plants have fallen through the cracks of the proverbial dilatory Pakistani political and bureaucratic elites.

With power demand at about 14,680MW and current supply at 10,200MW, the power supply shortage stands at 4,480MW, providing fertile ground for social and economic chaos. After researching the supply/demand gap and total installed electricity capacity (19,000MW), we concluded the following reasons for the shortage:

1. While hydropower contributes 6,500MW of electric installed capacity, recent excessively dry seasons, mismanagement and trans-boundary water disputes have restricted this capacity to only 1,500MW resulting in a shortage of 4,00…

Manhattan madness and Muslims: Connecticut Muslims' Responsible Reaction

Manhattan madness and Muslims
NAZIR KHAJA, Arab News, May 15, 2010

The recent New York City terrorist episode is yet another grim wake up call for the Muslims. It should not be ignored or dismissed by the Muslims as a random act of a confused individual who happens to be a Muslim or a Pakistani and that majority of the Muslims have nothing to do with such acts of terrorism. While the statement itself is accurate, yet more and more due to such acts by individuals who happen to be Muslims the perception of Islam by others is becoming for them a seeming reality. What seems more alarming is that in the more recent acts of terror, Muslims with higher levels of education and social interaction are implicated. This group includes those who are born in the West of émigré parents and also converts to Islam. The British last year arrested a group of young physicians who were planning terrorist action and the arrest of some of the converts who became radicalized and involved in the planning and …

'SUPPORT 'Aman Ki Asha'

AFPAX ? : American Private Spy Ring in Pakistan and Afghanistan: Extensive NYT reporting

U.S. Is Still Using Private Spy Ring, Despite Doubts
By MARK MAZZETTI, New York Times, May 15, 2010

WASHINGTON — Top military officials have continued to rely on a secret network of private spies who have produced hundreds of reports from deep inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to American officials and businessmen, despite concerns among some in the military about the legality of the operation.

Earlier this year, government officials admitted that the military had sent a group of former Central Intelligence Agency officers and retired Special Operations troops into the region to collect information — some of which was used to track and kill people suspected of being militants. Many portrayed it as a rogue operation that had been hastily shut down once an investigation began.

But interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials and businessmen, and an examination of government documents, tell a different a story. Not only are the networks still opera…

Faisal Shahzad used Hawala System?

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With Raids in Mass., Arrest in Pakistan, Times Square Bomber Case Expands in Reach
The Takeaway, May 14, 2010

The case of the failed Times Square bombing and it's accused perpetrator, Faisal Shahzad, is rapidly expanding in rea ch. Late Thursday the Pakistan government said it had arrested a man who claims to have acted as an accomplice to Shahzad. And here at home, federal agents raided homes in suburban Massachusetts and Long Island, New York. The details of the Massachusetts and New York raids are still developing.

Toni Waterman, an associate producer for Greater Boston on Takeaway partner station WGBH joins us with the latest news from Massachusetts.

Hassan Abbas, a professor at Columbia University and author of "Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, Then Army and America's War on Terror" offers insight into a practice known as hawala — a type of underground, informal banking, which some reports say helped provide Shahzad with money for his alleged bomb attemp…

Inside Kandahar Today

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Portraits of a city under siege
The National, May 13, 2010

Alex Strick van Linschoten reports from Kandahar, a city scarred by daily violence and nervously awaiting the attention of America’s next offensive.

If you want to find out how insecure Kandahar has become, visit the glass-fitter in the bazaar. If he’s wearing a new waistcoat you’ll know that business is booming and things are bad: every explosion in the centre of the city blows out most windows in a two kilometre radius. Most offices, shops and government departments are squeezed into a small section of town – Kandahar really does resemble a town more than a city – and all these people have just replaced all their windows for the ninth time in two years.

Almost nine years of mismanagement and neglect have allowed the Taliban to rebuild their movement as a heterogenous collection of insurgent franchises; Afghan government institutions have alienated large swathes of local society and pushed them directly into the hands of Talib…

Pakistan and Times Sq

Pakistan and Times Sq
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times, May 13, 2010

If we want Times Square to be safer from terrorists, we need to start by helping make Pakistan safer as well.

People with links to Pakistan have been behind a hugely disproportionate share of international terror incidents over the last two decades: the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks; Richard Reid’s failed shoe bombing in 2001; the so-called Bojinka plot in 1995 to blow up 12 planes simultaneously; the 2005 London train and bus bombings; the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament; and attacks on two luxury hotels and a Jewish center in Mumbai in 2008.

So it came as little surprise that the suspect in the attempted car bombing in Times Square, Faisal Shahzad, is a Pakistani-American.

Why does an ostensible “ally” seem to constitute more of a threat than, say, Iran? Or Lebanon or Syria or Iraq? Or Egypt, birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood brand of militant Islam? Or the West Bank and Gaza, where res…

U.S. Weighs Official “Terrorist Organization” Status for the Pakistani Taliban

U.S. Weighs Official “Terrorist Organization” Status for the Pakistani Taliban
Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, May 12, 2010

In light of evidence that the group known as the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attempted May 1 Times Square bombing, the Obama administration is “actively considering” designating it as a ”foreign terrorist organization” in the next few weeks —a move that would allow the U.S. government to freeze any assets belonging to the group and make it a federal crime to assist the group, officials said Tuesday. But the disclosure, first made by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, immediately raised questions among some counterterrorism experts as to why Washington didn’t act sooner. “I’m pretty surprised that it has taken the U.S. government such a long time to do this,” says Hassan Abbas, a Columbia University professor and former Pakistani police officer who is considered the leading academic expert on the Pakistani Taliban. “This is certainly one of the most lethal …

Obama, please phone the Muslim 'street vendor hero' too: CNN

Obama, please phone the Muslim 'street vendor hero' too
By Hamid Dabashi, Special to CNN May 11, 2010

Editor's note: Hamid Dabashi is the author of "Iran: A People Interrupted." He is the Hagop Kevorkian professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York.

New York (CNN) -- Dear Mr. President: How good of you, sir, to have personally telephoned two New York heroes whose timely diligence prevented a lunatic from causing a catastrophe in Times Square.

We New Yorkers are happy to hear you called Mr. Lance L. Orton Sr. and Mr. Duane Jackson to thank them for their vigilance. But there is a third vendor, Mr. President, whom you forgot to call. His name is Alioune B. Niass, and he is an immigrant from Somalia who said he was the first person to notice the smoking Nissan Pathfinder.

"I thought I should call 911," Niass later told a reporter, "but my English is not very good and I had no credit left on my phone, so I…

New Report: Prospects for Security and Political Reconciliation in Afghanistan

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Prospects for Security and Political Reconciliation in Afghanistan Examined in Harvard Kennedy School/Tufts Report -May 2010

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership are pleased to publish “Prospects for Security and Political Reconciliation in Afghanistan: Local, National, and Regional Dimensions.”

The report, written by workshop co-conveners Matan Chorev and Jake Sherman, and based on two days of intense discussions hosted by the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, summarizes the predom­inant views of a select group of Afghan politicians and former military officials, Pakistani journal­ists and scholars, current and former United Nations officials, diplomats, humanitarian workers, and representatives from the U.S. military on the opportunities for, and obstacles to, security and political reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The report concludes that “the near-term prospects for…

"The consensus about drones" - A Must Read

News analysis: The consensus about drones
By Mosharraf Zaidi, Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Children in Waziristan call them “Ghangai” (emitter of constant humming). Like Scottish folk hero William Wallace — who purportedly shot bolts of thunder from his nether-regions —the legend of the drones grows. Faisal Shahzad’s failed attack on Times Square is the latest stimulant for the drone debates.
What this latest Pakistani terrorist has stimulated is a monster. The truth about the Ghangai has been contested —not only by the supposedly “rabid Pakistani press”, and the “fanatics” that make up this country of 180 million people. It has been contested by American think tanks. It has been contested by US military advisers. It has been contested even by researchers in their own studies, less than six months apart. As always, the truth is the first casualty of war. The contested and amputated truth about the Ghangai is a victim of partisanship and ideology. This is not the first time. In Pakistan, a c…

Two faces of fear — Dr Mohammad Taqi

COMMENT: Two faces of fear —Dr Mohammad Taqi
Daily Times, May 11, 2010

We would not apologise for Faisal Shahzad’s actions — for we have stood against his ilk throughout our adult life, while Lieberman’s kind has financed, armed and trained the antecedents of such bigots

Senator Joseph Lieberman’s call to violate section 349 (a) (7), of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, smacks of a desire to go back to the days of the Executive Order number 9066.

The said order was used by Franklin Roosevelt during the Second World War for internment of the Americans of “Foreign Enemy Ancestry” (AFEAs), predominantly the ethnic Japanese, as many as 122,000 of whom were then held in various government-run camps. Following in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, FDR had also suspended the habeas corpus writ.

Title 8, Chapter 12, Sub-chapter III, Part III, Section 1481 of the US Code deals with the potential loss of US nationality by a native-born or naturalised citizen, the volun…

Is Afghanistan Winnable?

The Ghosts of Gandamak
By WILLIAM DALRYMPLE, New York Times, May 8, 2010

THE name Gandamak means little in the West today. Yet this small Afghan village was once famous for the catastrophe that took place there during the First Anglo-Afghan War in January 1842, arguably the greatest humiliation ever suffered by a Western army in the East.

The course of that distant Victorian war followed a trajectory that is beginning to seem distinctly familiar. In 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan on the basis of dubious intelligence about a nonexistent threat: information about a single Russian envoy to Kabul, the Afghan capital, was manipulated by a group of ambitious hawks to create a scare about a phantom Russian invasion, thus bringing about an unnecessary, expensive and wholly avoidable conflict.

Initially, the British conquest proved remarkably easy and bloodless; Kabul was captured within a few months and a pliable monarch, Shah Shuja, placed on the throne. Then an insurgency began whic…

How to Rescue Pakistan?

Paying for Pakistan By Mohsin Hamid
Dawn, 07 May, 2010

Here’s the great secret about Pakistan: we aren’t as poor as we like to think. Over the years I’ve travelled a fair bit around our country. I’ve ridden on the back of a motorbike in Gwadar, walked down streets in Karachi, explored bazaars in Peshawar.

I’ve hiked in Skardu, fished (unsuccessfully) in Naran, sat down to a meal in a village outside Multan. I’m no expert, but I believe what my eyes tell me. And there’s no doubt about it: times are incredibly tough.

For most Pakistanis, meat is a luxury. Drinking water is contaminated with urine, faeces or industrial chemicals. School is a building that exists only on paper or otherwise employs a teacher who is barely literate. Electricity is so intermittent as to be almost a force of nature, like rain or a breeze.

The budget says our government plans to raise in taxes about Rs1.5tr this year. There are some 170 million people in our country. So that comes to roughly Rs9,000 each pe…

Lessons from Times Square: The Radicalization of Faisal Shahzad - By Hassan Abbas

The radicalization of Faisal Shahzad
By Hassan Abbas, AfPakChannel, Foreign Policy May 7, 2010

The radicalization of Faisal Shazad raises important questions for three sets of actors: the people and government of Pakistan, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, and American Muslims. Before delving into these aspects further, allow me to present my basic theory about how he got radicalized. Based partly on my studies of Muslim youth in the West, I suspect that Shahzad was first influenced by various websites that encourage and propagate extremist religious views, mixing religious bigotry and dogma with conspiracy theories specifically targeting a younger generation of Muslims living in the West. Secondly, Faisal likely searched for militant training camps in and around Pakistan's troubled frontier after he decided he would try to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States. Economic distress might also have played a role in his radicalization, though the choice of target implie…

Faisal Shahzad: 'From Suburban Father to a Terrorism Suspect'

Pak-born New York ‘terrorist’ nailed
The News, May 05, 2010
Times Square bomb Faisal Shahzad charged on five counts including global terrorism
Monitoring Report

RAWALPINDI A Connecticut man pulled off a plane bound for Dubai and arrested in a failed bid to set off a car bomb in Times Square has made statements implicating himself, a law enforcement official said on Tuesday morning.

The man, Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, was taken into custody just before midnight Monday at Kennedy Airport aboard an Emirates flight that had just pulled away from the gate, officials said.
According to a Reuters report, US prosecutors on Tuesday charged the man with five counts, including trying to explode a weapon of mass destruction, and they said he admitted receiving bomb-making training in Pakistan.

Mr Shahzad had apparently driven to the airport in a white Isuzu Trooper that was found in a parking lot with a loaded handgun inside, the official said. Mr Shahz…

India - The Eighth Deadliest Country for Journalists

The Eighth Deadliest Country for Journalists By Krishna Pokharel
Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2010

The Eighth Deadliest Country for Journalists.“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil,” wrote Walter Lippmann, one of the finest to come from the adversarial American journalism tribe, in his 1920 book Liberty and the News.

India is the eighth most dangerous country in the world for journalists.But will the devil spare the journalists?

In a report published today to mark World Press Freedom day, Reporters Without Borders names 40 such devils around the world that it calls predators of press freedom.

The devils are the “politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists,” report says.

In India, the devil is mostly kept at bay because journalists here “take pride in their freedom and will defend it robustly in street protests or …

Khwaja’s murder points to home truths By Zaffar Abbas (Dawn)

Khwaja’s murder points to home truths By Zaffar Abbas
Dawn, 03 May, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Horrific as it was, the brutal killing of an ex-ISI man and pro-Islamist campaigner Khalid Khwaja by members of an Islamist group is also a stark reminder of how the sudden intensification of militancy over the last couple of years, especially by the so-called Punjabi Taliban, is to a large extent a direct reaction to the events of Lal Masjid.

It’s been almost three years since the Pakistan Army stormed the militant-infested Lal Masjid and its adjacent Madressah Hafsa, killing more than a hundred people, including many women and the firebrand cleric Abdur Rasheed Ghazi.
As it turned out, such use of military might was an overreaction by the then president Pervez Musharraf to the killing of some army commandos. Ignoring the advice of some of his commanders against the abandoning of negotiation process, he had ordered the use of brute force against a handful of militants and others holed up inside the…

No 'good' Taliban indeed...

No 'good' Taliban
The News, May 01, 2010
Zafar Hilaly

The regularity with which the military claims to be killing as many as 30-40 militants in a day may be gratifying, but the frequency with which the Taliban are bombing schools and police stations and killing friendly tribals, police, political workers and innocent civilians is alarming.

As the military is spreading out the Taliban are re-infiltrating. Those who surrendered are being released by the military along with "surrender letters" allowing them to return home unmolested, which they do gladly, and then rejoin the fray. Others are released for "want of evidence," or freed on bail. The kind of evidence required by the law suggests that unless the enemy is found with the head of his victim in his hands, he is let off. As for those on bail, the next time anyone them is on the battlefield, on the opposing side.

This war is going nowhere; much is amiss that had better be rectified quickly because affecti…