Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

Religious fanatics in India and Pakistan

January 18, 2017
Nasir Khan, January 18, 2017

(I wrote the following piece in reply to a comment by a Facebook friend.)

Both Hindu and Islamic architecture have influenced each other in many ways. By its appearance, Jejuri Temple seems to be a clear example of this interaction in architecture.

Regarding your views on the division of Hindus and Muslims, my reply is: If these people, Hindus and Muslims, regard one another as human beings first where people’s religious beliefs are left as their personal matters and nothing more, then a common human and humane bond will emerge that will allow cultural diversity but wherein all people will stand for common humanity and common political, social and economic rights and obligations.

But in India and Pakistan things are working in the reverse order. In these countries, the first consideration is towards religious identity while what is obviously common, our common humanity and our oneness as human beings, is pushed out of sight! The result is fanatics and fundamentalists in Hindus and Muslims have made living for ordinary people difficult.

The Hindutva fanatics in India have poisoned the minds of vast numbers of Hindus and have made them anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan by their continuous propaganda. Many feel that is the only way to make India a purely Hindu state by preaching the mantra of Akhand Bharat. There is so much hatred against Muslims and Islam in Indian right-wing Hindus, which I find hard to believe.

In Pakistan, the right-wing religious and political parties have equally viciously poisoned the minds of millions of people for establishing a theocratic state instead of a modern democratic state.

Consequently, their continuous indoctrination and misleading information against the non-Muslims has relegated religious minorities in Pakistan to a secondary status. The victimisation of some innocent people for having violated the so-called blasphemy laws of Pakistan under concocted charges is a living proof of the cancerous fanaticism and primitive mindset that once flourished in the early middle ages.

Ideology behind the extremist violence in Pakistan

March 31, 2016
 –
Nasir Khan, March 31, 2016

 –

A suicide bomber belonging to extremist group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, associated with the Pakistani Taliban, attacked a large park in Lahore where people were celebrating Easter Sunday. His powerful bomb caused the deaths of at least 70 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 350 people. The bomber seemed to have targeted the Christians but the people taking part in the celebration were of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims. Most of the victims were Muslims. This bomber blowing himself up in a crowed public place was following the commands of his extremist mentors. In fact, such brainwashed suicide bombers are also victims of their own right-wing organisations that send them to commit such acts.

Yet, the events of Easter Sunday in Lahore did not come as a surprise to the people who know about the politicisation of Islam in Pakistan that produced Islamist militants, willing to attack religious minorities as part of their religious mission.

It is important to keep in mind that such religious fanatics did not emerge in a political vacuum. They are a natural growth of the exploitation of Islam that Pakistan’s political elites had assiduously cultivated right after the death of Mr. Jinnah in 1948. A milestone in the regressive political scenario was reached in 1956 when the new country was baptised as the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. Thus Islam and Pakistani State had become one; this union was the beginning of the theocratic state where religious establishment and Islamist parties were free to propagate their versions of Islamic State and its political direction.

From now on, religious parties and clerics became even more vocal champions of an Islamist state in which only the Islamic law, the Sharia, was to prevail, thus excluding any man-made laws based upon modern western legal principles and codes. The full introduction of the Sharia was to be the firm foundation upon which a paradise on earth was to be built, where peace and justice would prevail.

As many ignorant clerics and their supporters had scant knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, they visualised the model of the Islamic state strictly according to the Sharia as they wished. Apparently, many people have heard that under the Sharia laws, a thief’s hands are chopped off and a woman accused of adultery is stoned to death.  As a result, millions of indoctrinated people are jubilant about the bright prospects of a truly Islamic order and its quick dispensation of justice.  The women charged with adultery or some other sexual transgression would be readily sent to the next world; thieves with chopped off hands would prove a warning to any prospective offenders of the consequences of stealing. Such things would kindle the light of righteousness on the heavenly structure set up in Pakistan. No more worries. Worries would become a thing of the unholy past.

What the Pakistani Islamists and extremists have set their sights on are not confined to the borders of their country.  Theirs is a universal call for all the ‘true believers’, everywhere. They have a sacred task ahead of them. They should move forward and do what their Islamist leaders tell them to do.  In fact, most Pakistani Muslims, who are otherwise quite gentle and kind people in their dealings in their daily lives, support the idea of a such a truly Islamic state that is on the model of the caliphate of the seventh-century Arabia. The call for sharia laws has become the rallying cry and the heartbeat of these people.

How has religious orthodoxy and extremism affected the people of Pakistan can be illustrated from the case of Mumtaz Qadri. By all accounts, he was an ordinary man, certainly an indoctrinated poor soul, who was in the squad of the personal bodyguards of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab. He killed Mr Taseer in the most gruesome manner by shooting him with 28 bullets at close range.  He committed this ghastly crime because Mr Taseer had opposed the notorious blasphemy laws and tried to speak on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, who was languishing in prison after her trial and conviction under the blasphemy laws on concocted charges.

On Qadri’s arrest and subsequent trial, large crowds held public demonstrations in the country in his favour. He was the hero of Islam. The role of thousands of lawyers in this sad story was equally alarming. They were over-zealous and were in the forefront of such demonstrations. These ‘educated’ people like uneducated or poorly educated people also saw and see the blasphemy laws vital to protect the name and honour of Almighty God, the Holy Prophet and the Qur’an. Therefore, when we discuss widespread indoctrination, a person with common sense or ordinary intelligence will soon realise the havoc caused by uncritical thinking and morbid indoctrination.

When Qadri was eventually executed for his premeditated murder, hundreds of thousands Pakistanis in many cities in Pakistan demonstrated in his favour, naming him the ‘hero of Islam’ and a ‘martyr’.  Moreover, he received the same passionate support from the Pakistani communities living in Europe and elsewhere. Many ordinary people of European origin were simply amazed at what these people were saying and doing in free democratic countries.

In addition, the objective of Islamic parties and their indoctrinating clerics was to fight against what they regarded as western values, such as democratic forms of government, gender equality, freedom of expression and belief. Under this system, religious minorities have only a secondary status in Islamic Pakistan. A change of religion from Islam to any other faith is out of question. Those abandoning Islam run great risks; they become apostates and their punishment is death. However, there is a lot of goodwill towards any non-Muslim who converts to Islam.  By such an act, a convert to Islam becomes the member of Islamic community and can have unlimited divine favours here and hereafter.

To sum up, the phenomenon of Islamist terror, whose recent example was in Lahore, is not some incidental aberration but rather a result of a politically and religiously motivated world-view that has an ideological background. It is safe to say that most Pakistanis favour an Islamic order and the introduction of the sharia laws in their country because that will lead to a prosperous present and a virtuous future. However, they do not necessarily support the terrorist methods and bomb blasts of the extremists. They would love to see a peaceful transformation to the Islamic order without the terror of the Taliban and other militant groups they have seen for many years.  The support for such an outlook is not limited to ordinary, uneducated and indoctrinated people either. Many well-educated people also stand with the upholders of Islamist ideology and the champions of the sharia laws. The call to turn to ‘real Islam’ echoes the feelings of a country of 200 million people. Where things are heading in Pakistan gives no room for complacency.

 

 

 

Some Comments on Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 19, 2011

by Nasir Khan, January 19, 2011

Editor’s Note: Gorki wrote a comprehensive comment on my article ‘Resolving the Kashmir Conflict (Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011 ) in which he offered his perspective and also raised some important questions. In reply, I have written the following remarks. For the sake of convenience, I have split his comment into a few parts followed by my reply:

Gorki:

Dr. Khan I find your article useful because it allows one to hear the views of the Kashmiris themselves regarding the Kashmir imbroglio.

On the face of it your statement “The best course left for India is to make a break with its previous policy, and accede to the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. This will not weaken India; instead, it will show the strength of Indian democracy as well of the humane aspects of Indian cultural tradition…” sounds reasonable and taken in isolation such views even find many sympathetic listeners in India itself. However the Indians must keep other consideration in mind that cannot be considered imperialistic by any stretch of imagination.

Nasir:

Gorki , thank you for your balanced opinion on a number of points and the important questions you have raised in your comment. I will try to reply to some points.

My roots are in the Indian culture and I am deeply proud of our historical heritage. I am well aware of the Indian Civilisations stretching back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, some five thousand years old. Merely because of the hostile Indo-Pak relations since the partition of India in 1947, the Kashmir Issue has been the main cause of tension between the two states, I have regarded both India and Pakistan as parts of the same body, the body being the subcontinent of India that holds diverse races, cultures and mores showing much diversity while geographically belonging to the same entity. We can compare the subcontinent’s position with the broad geographical areas identified with Europe. In Europe there have been many languages, diverse cultures, political and religious conflicts for well over two thousand years. Despite all that various nations and people of this continent identity themselves with Europe and its civilisations, old and new. In a similar way, as an individual I identity myself with the subcontinent. My regional identity with Kashmir and the historical connection I have with with Kashmir is only natural; it is the affinity of part with the whole. As such they are mutually interdependent, not exclusive of each other.

Gorki:

The reality is that the entire former British India is organically connected and anything that happens in one part has an echo elsewhere in the sub continent. For example when a sacred relic went missing for 17 days from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1963; there was rioting all over India. Thus any action in or regarding Kashmir cannot be taken in isolation.

While self determination and independence by themselves are honourable goals, anyone arguing for self determination only for the Kashmiris of the valley would either have to argue on the basis of some kind of Kashmiri exceptionalism or else should be willing to accept similar demands for self determination from others such as the Sikhs in the Indian Punjab and the Baluch in Pakistan. Conceding any such demands then would risks major man made disasters like the ethnic cleansing and huge population displacements that occurred in the wake of the partition in 1947.

Nasir:

Here your formulation about the organic connection has the Spencerian undertones! We have histories of India and Indian states before the British came. When the British gradually took over different parts of India by force of arms or by their political skills (and tricks), our people and many of our rulers evinced little concern to what happened to small or big states who were being devoured by the East India Company. Some of them had treacherously sided with the Farangis against those Indian rulers who resisted the British. This is also our history.

The instance of the disappearance of a holy relic in Kashmir you cite has more to do with religious feelings and identities than with the organic connection throughout the subcontinent. Such relics can also be seen as having extra-territorial dimension and impact.

In fact, we have seen major political conflicts and killing of innocent people by the Indian state (and also by Pakistani army in the Northwest Pakistan at the bidding of the United Sates as a continuing policy of crushing and eliminating those who resist and oppose the American wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The vast majority of these countries has not shown much resolve to oppose the policies of their governments. But, a religious relic or what believers may call a ‘religious place’ is something different! That moves our masses, and they do what they think is serving their deities!! We know how the religious passions of ordinary people inflamed by rightist forces in India in which the Indian rulers were implicated, led to the destruction of the Babri mosque by the Hindu mobs and the killing of thousands of innocent Indian Muslims in Gujarat.

But what sort of policies a state formulates and implements has a direct bearing on the political developments of a country. The same is true in the case of India; a wise political lead by responsible politicians influences and shapes the political landscape.

Now the question of ‘Kashmiri exceptionalism’ if India and Pakistan hold plebiscite to meet the demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir: I myself, do not regard the case of Jammu and Kashmir an exceptional one; but no doubt there is a historical context to it. The circumstances under which India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir is much different from other princely states. At the end of the British rule in India and the partition of India by the imperial rulers, there were 562 princely states, big and small, over which the British held suzerainty or ‘paramountcy’ as in the case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We know how these princely states were incorporated into the two new states. How India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is relevant to the whole question of the Kashmir Issue. After the military conflict and the ceasefire mediated by the United Nations, both India and Pakistan agreed to hold plebiscite that would enable the people of J&K to determine their future. That promise still remains unfilled and the consequences of that denial have been catastrophic for India, Pakistan and especially the people of J&K.

The Kashmir Conflict continues to be the unfinished task of the 1947 partition. This conflict has not disappeared; neither will it go away because the bullet has so far overridden the ballot and common sense.

Gorki:

Letting Kashmir valley join Pakistan OTOH would in essence be conceding the two nation theory; again not without risks. As you rightly pointed out, India remains a home to some 130 million Muslims. Letting the Muslims of the valley to go join Pakistan would in no way enhance the security of the non-Kashmiri Muslims elsewhere in India and if anything would make them even more insecure and strengthen the very forces of Hindutva that you pointed out threaten India’s fragile communal amity. (Ironically this is exactly what happened to the Indian Muslims of UP and Bihar who had allowed themselves to be emotionally led into voting for the AIML’s election plank of a Pakistan in 1946 which then left them high and dry).

Even within the state of Jammu and Kashmir itself, there would be major upheavals in case the current structure is tampered with. What would happen to the minority Muslims in Jammu and Ladakh?
Also if one argues that Kashmir is a homeland for the Kashmiris then what happens to other non Kashmiri populations of the valley such as the Gujjars etc.? Where would their homeland be?

Nasir:

Here you raise some important questions and also some legitimate concerns. First, the ‘two nation theory’. In fact, the partition of India was on the basis of  the two nation theory. For the sake of argument, I will say that if the people of J&K join A or B country, or decide for some other option they should have the democratic right to do so. The organic linkage you seem to emphasise in case the Valley joins Pakistan is worthy of consideration, but what Kashmiri Muslims want is their right to determine their future and to gain freedom. What that freedom entails is the freedom from Indian rule. This is their wish and to crush their aspirations the Indian state has used more than half-a-million soldiers. They have killed more than one-hundred-thousand people. It is military occupation of a country where India has committed horrific war crimes.

Who contributed to such a perspective that shaped the political history of India and led to the division of India by the British? Well, an easy way for amateurs is to have a bogeyman to explain away the historical facts and blame the Muslim leadership for all that! Even before Mr Gandhi came to India from South Africa, one of the most prominent Indian politician at that time was Mr Jinnah, who was commonly known as the ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. He had the vision of a democratic, united India at the end of the British raj. But alas that was not to happen because this liberal, secularist lawyer was able to see the machinations of the Hindu leadership of the Indian National Congress and other Hindu militant organisations standing for the Ram raj and the Hindu domination of the whole sub-continent.

In my political work, at no time have I ever said what the people of J&K should stand for or how they should decide about their future. Neither have I ever advocated that the people of the Kashmir Valley should join Pakistan. That is something for the affected people to decide.

The Kashmiris’ demand and their struggle for Azaadi (freedom) is not directed against any other people, ethnic or religious minorities, who make up the population of their country. The people of J&K, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., have traditions of tolerance and inter-religious accommodation. In 1947, I was a six-year-old; I had seen how Hindus and Muslims had a shared and fraternal existence in our area. If the people of J&K are given a chance to live as free human beings and not under the terror of military power of India, then our age-old traditions of mutual respect and acceptance will reassert. That will be a good example for the Hindutva rightist forces that pose a great threat to the Indian democracy and religious minorities, Muslims being their major target.

I am also conscious of the dangers you rightly point to if the ‘current structure’ is changed. But I don’t suppose you offer your solution as the continued rejection of the demands of the Kashmiris because that safeguards some ‘ideal’ unity of India, knowing that India has carried out a militarist solution to crush the demands of the Kashmiri freedom movement. Simply put, it has been state terrorism by an occupying power. This short-sighted policy will fail in the long run as it has failed in the past.

Gorki:

You rightly mention that Kashmir is currently a big source of contention between India and Pakistan. However how certain can anybody be that this will not be the case if this issue is sorted out? Former Pakistani president, General Musharraf once said that India will remain Pakistan’s considered foe even if Kashmir issue is resolved. There are people with strong following in Pakistan who argue for waging a war on ‘Hindu India’ to conquer the Red Fort and restore the Mughal Empire. What of those?

Nasir:

If the main source of conflict between India and Pakistan is resolved according to the wishes of the people of J&K, then we expect the two neighbours will live amicably side by side and their bilateral relations and socio-cultural contacts will increase which will benefit all the people of the region. What Musharraf said is his view and it should not be taken too seriously. Apparently, the climate of hostility and mutual recriminations between India and Pakistan since the partition, people on the both sides have been fed on cheap propaganda. The nonsensical slogans to restore the Mughal Empire is the daydreaming of some Rip Van Winkles who are living in past, not in the twenty-first century.

Gorki:

I agree with you however that the current stifling atmosphere in Kashmir has to come to an end; human rights violations need to be investigated in a transparent manner and the culprits have to be vigorously prosecuted. Kashmiris need to feel that they control their political and economic destiny in their own hands. For this to happen however both the Indian state and the Kashmiri separatists have to demonstrate courage and pragmatic far sightedness.

The state has to take the above listed steps in the short run. In the long run it has not only to deliver on the economic measures promised previously but also to scrupulously avoid the mistakes of the past such as blatant rigging of elections as it did on the 80s in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.
For their part the Kashmiri separatists have to realize that the peaceful and constitutional methods of protest are in the best interest of all Kashmiris and the constitution is their best ally. India is not an empire; it is a Republic and a civic nation.
The constitution does not hold the rest of India in any special position over Kashmir; if anything it is the Kashmiris who hold a special place within the constitution.
Today if the separatists were to come to power via electoral politics, there is absolutely nothing that such a government could not do within the existing framework to better the life (or freedom) of an ordinary Kashmiri that it could do if they had complete ‘Azaadi”.

Nasir:

Some suggestions you make and the prognosis you offer are reasonable. If Kashmiris hold a special place in the Indian Constitution, then obviously Indian control over Kashmir was unlike any other princely state. That also shows that the Indian government had political considerations to accord special status to Kashmir within the Union. But what stops the Delhi government from acceding to the demands of the people of J&K to plebiscite? Why should a great power like India be so afraid to listen to the voice of the people instead of using state terror to crush them?

It is also possible that the vast majority may opt for India. Thus by a generous and courageous political move, India has the power to defuse the conflict for ever. If that happens, then those who stand for separation from India will lose and the consequences will pacify all sides. This can usher in a new era of improved inter-communal and regional relations. Religious fundamentalists and rightist forces on the both sides will not be able to exploit the religious sentiments of the people any longer. That will be a victory of the common sense over emotionalism and communal frenzy.

Gorki:

There is already a precedent of such a dramatic change in political struggle within India. In the 1980s many Sikh leaders were charged with sedition and jailed for demanding a Khalistan and burning copies of the Indian constitution as protest. Today, one of those former separatist is an all powerful Chief Minister in Punjab and there is no opposition because the remaining separatists cannot list a single point in which way the life of an average Sikh would be different in an independent Khalistan.

I do hope to hear form you.
Regards.

Nasir:

In India there are still many regional and ethnic conflicts. I don’t think the Khalistan movement ever had any justifiable political stance and I am happy it reached its cul de sac. But we should be aware of the pitfall of equating Khalistan with the Kashmir Conflict.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to respond to your wise and erudite comment.

Cordially yours

Nasir Khan

Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 14, 2011

by Dr. Nasir Khan, Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011

Almost the whole world had condemned the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Such terrorism had also, once again, reminded us how important it is to combat the forces of communalist terror and political violence in the Indian subcontinent. But what is often ignored or suppressed is the fact that there are deep underlying causes of the malaise that erupts in the shape of such violent actions; the unresolved Kashmir issue happens to be the one prime cause that inflames the passions and anger of millions of people.

Kashmir Conflict

However, to repeat the mantra of “war on terror” as the Bush Administration had done for the last eight years while planning and starting major wars of aggression does not bring us one inch closer to solving the problem of violence and terror in our region. On the contrary, such short-sighted propaganda gimmicks were and are meant to camouflage the wars of aggression and lay the ground for further violence and bloodshed. The basic motive is to advance imperial interests and domination. The so-called “war on terror” is no war against terror; on the contrary, it has been the continuation of the American imperial policy for its definite goals in the Middle East and beyond. Obviously any serious effort to combat terror will necessarily take into account the causes of terror, and not merely be content with the visible symptoms.

Continues >>

Benazir Bhutto And Her Commitment To Democracy?

January 6, 2011
By Shahid R. Siddiqi. Axis of Logic, Jan 5, 2011

Editor’s Comment: December 27, 2011 was the 3rd anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and Shahid R. Siddiqi updates the essay he wrote for publication on Axis of Logic on the second anniversary of her death.

Associated Press of Pakistan reported Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s words on this third, sad anniversary. Gilani told the Pakistani people that the life of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is “a classic study of courage, commitment towards people’s welfare, and steel like determination to accomplish the goals she set before herself.” The PM continued, calling Bhutto “an incarnation of steadfastness, perseverance and determination.” He said that her name would be “chronicled in golden words in the annals of history.”

It is curious to consider how difficult it is for human beings to speak in plain language and write honestly about the dead. Notions of “honoring the dead” seem to compel most to ignore or paint over the wrongs committed by them when they were alive. It’s a sin of kindness that can be easily forgiven in personal and family atmospheres where loved ones suffer loss and are in need of comfort. But when the person who dies is a public figure such as a head of state with great responsibility for many people, it is important to look honestly at the life lived, service rendered, values exemplified and decisions made. It’s important to measure the gains and failures wrought by that life for the historical record and for lessons to be learned by others. Shahid Siddiqi has done just this on the second and third anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s death.

– Les Blough, Editor

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated
three years ago, December 27, 2007

South Asians are sentimental people. Over the centuries, their romanticism about revered religious deities and historical social icons has shaped their psyche of nurturing personality cults. To this when you add pervasive illiteracy and ignorance about political realities of the present times, it is not difficult to understand why some political leaders have managed to achieve their meteoric rise to power merely on the strength of their charisma.

For lack of substance, such political heroes did not last very long. They owed their fall to incompetence in management of the affairs of the state and misuse of power and often met violent fate. Their warts were posthumously removed by their hangers-on who, for their own self aggrandizement, transformed them into martyrs, clearing the way for their dynasties to rule after them. Those who survived, ensured that their parties became more like their personal “jageers” where they were surrounded by sycophants and succeeded by immediate family members.

Continues >>

Pakistan flood victims face harsh winter

December 23, 2010
by: Brian McAfee, People’s World, December 20,  2010

PakistanFloodIDPs520x318
Photo: A woman and her two children stand in their makeshift shelter in the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Their home was destroyed in the floods that have affected an estimated 2.5 million of the province’s 3.5 million residents.
( UN Photo/UNICEF/ZAK/CC)

Reports indicate that the hardships from Pakistan’s earlier monsoon floods have been exacerbated by the onslaught of winter.

The floods affected 20 million people — more than 10 percent — of Pakistan’s population of just over 180 million people.

Yet, as the temperature dips, hundreds of thousands of displaced children and adults are susceptible to pneumonia and other cold-related diseases. According to Director of the National Institute of Child Health (Pakistan) Professor Jamal Raza, the flood victims becoming ill from cold related causes, particularly children, could almost double from the current number. Many are living in non-winterized tents, and there are shortages of dry firewood/fuel and other materials, such as adequate clothing, needed to create warmth.

Further, many of the flood ravaged areas from this year’s monsoon remain covered in water and millions are still displaced. Concurrently, many displaced are farmers whose fields are still flooded, and they have no source of livelihood. Food distribution is difficult to carry out under the circumstances.

Concerning the children, Raza says that it will be an uphill battle to save many of the them as they are malnourished, and have experienced a great deal of weight loss due to poor diet. Moreover, he says, their  capability for immunity is very low and, accordingly, they are susceptible to a wide range of respiratory diseases. Consequently, there is an urgent need for blankets, quilts and better shelter to fight the cold, as well as provisions for the obvious nutritional and medical needs.

Reports out of Pakistan indicate a further danger caused by the floods: the release of stored toxic chemicals into the flood waters. An article in New Scientist reports the floods released an estimated 3,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals into the environment. The chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include several insect repellents, such as DDT. At the same time, many of them do not biodegrade in nature, and are purportedly linked to hormonal, developmental and reproductive disorders. Pakistan’s floods have awakened some nations and scientists to this ongoing threat as changes in weather patterns become more evident.

Reputable organizations currently active in the relief effort in Pakistan include OXFAM, AmeriCares and United Nations Refugee Agency. If you consider helping the people of Pakistan through a  contribution to any one of them, be sure to specify that the donation is for Pakistan flood relief.

Hillary Clinton confirms, US trained Osama Bin Laden

November 13, 2010
by The Editors, Rupee News, Nov 13, 2010

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During a Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE) mis...
Hillary Clinton admits US trained Osama Bin Laden Image via Wikipedia

 

Mrs. Hillary Clinton has officially admitted that the US trained Osama Bin Laden. In the ABC show she was saying that Pakistan supported the Taliban, and had changed its mind since 2001.

“That is changing… Now, I cannot sit here and tell you that it has changed, but that is changing,” she told ABC News in an interview, the transcripts of which was released by the State Department.

Ms. Clinton accepted that the U.S. had created certain radical outfits and supported terrorists like Osama bin Laden to fight against the erstwhile Soviet Union, but that backing has boomeranged. “Part of what we are fighting against right now, the United States created. We created the Mujahidin force against the Soviet Union (in Afghanistan). We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them, including somebody named Osama bin Laden. And it didn’t work out so well for us,” she said.

The Secretary of the State also said Pakistan is paying a “big price” for supporting U.S. war against terror groups in their own national interest. “But I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they’re paying a big price for it,” Ms. Clinton said.

Continues >>

US Helicopters Attack Pakistan, Killing More Than 50

September 27, 2010

NATO Confirms Apache Helicopters Launched Attacks Against Pakistani Territory

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  September 26, 2010

NATO spokesmen are confirming tonight that a pair of US Apache helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan, launching an attack against tribesmen in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) which killed over 50.

NATO says that the tribesmen they attacked were believed to be the same ones responsible for an attack against a NATO base in the Khost Province of Afghanistan. The Khost Province borders FATA’s North Waziristan Agency, a regular target for US drone strikes.

Though it is not the first time US forces have crossed the border and launched attacks into Pakistan, such attacks have been exceedingly rare (and followed by angry reactions from Pakistan’s military and civilian government). NATO has also repeatedly tried to distance itself from previous attacks, insisting there is no basis for crossing the border.

NATO depends on Pakistani territory as a supply route for its troops in land-locked Afghanistan, and following a pair of 2008 raids by US troops into Pakistan the nation’s government briefly blocked the supplies. With many, many more NATO troops in Afghanistan now than in 2008 the supply route is all the more vital, though simultaneously all the more fragile.

Exploiting hotel workers in Pakistan

June 25, 2010
M.T. , a Karachi-based writer who blogs at The Mob and the Multitude, reports on the struggle of hotel workers near Islamabad facing an anti-union attack.

Socialist Worker, June 23, 2010

Workers protest outside the Pearl Continental Hotel near  Islamabad

Workers protest outside the Pearl Continental Hotel near Islamabad

HOTEL WORKERS from a five-star hotel in Rawalpindi near Islamabad are on a hunger strike entering its third week after the hotel management summarily fired 350 employees and rejected negotiations with the workers’ union. The Hashoo group, which owns the Pearl Continental Hotel (PC), refuses to recognize the union even though it is legally recognized by Pakistan’s courts.

Continues >>

America’s Stranded Armies

June 22, 2010

Michael Brenner, The Huffington Post, June 21, 2010

Military force is properly used when it serves a well-defined political purpose. Employment of violence otherwise carries a serious risk of dangerous, unwelcome consequences. Today, the United States has troops in seventy-five countries. They are engaged in combat of one sort or another in about twenty places. That includes regular forces, special forces, paramilitary units and private security mercenaries. They fight with or without the knowledge/approval of local authority — where it exists.

Their numbers range from over 100,000 (mercenaries included) in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a couple thousand in Pakistan, to hundreds in the peripheral zone where various radical Islamist groups are the prey. This last category covers Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and probably a few other places as yet unidentified. Smaller, more specialized units have been authorized by President Obama to hunt down and kill persons suspected of being a threat to the United States, or Americans, worldwide — U.S. citizens not exempted.* All these actions are subsumed within the “War on Terror.” The “War on Drugs” is a companion sphere involving tens of thousands of armed personnel.

Let’s concentrate on the former. For the stakes and implications there are far greater. In the AfPak theater it is impossible to say what is Washington’s strategic design or even objective. It could be liquidating all Al-Qaeda, all potential terrorists groups, all who may threaten the United States — plus all who provide support or encouragement. A grand project. Still, perhaps a logical one if the goal is zero threat, and if one is ready both to provide the huge forces necessary, to exhibit a modicum of political skill and to accept the political repercussions. The White House to date has not made that goal explicit, provided the requisite resources for it, or offered a consistent, credible strategy for achieving either it or a lesser objective. The ‘Surge’ announced in December was a melange of disparate elements. It promised troops in numbers dictated by domestic politics disconnected from aims. It set a deadline for withdrawal without any idea of whether or to what extent our efforts might work.

Recent developments have left the “plan” in complete disarray. The military surge has been relabeled a “civilian” surge. Marjah in Helmand province, the cutting edge of the ambitious strategy, has been shrunk from the city of 80,000 declared by Central Command to a cluster of villages. Security has not been achieved despite the presence of 40,000 soldiers creating an unprecedented 1 to 2 troop/population ratio, as Gareth Porter has pointed out. The “government in box” we promised to deliver that would have the locals salivating for more America and more Kabul has never taken root. Not surprising given that its main dish, an expatriate Governor, had just been released from a German prison where he served time for aggravated assault against a relative.

The campaign directed at Kandahar (city and province), handpicked as the cornerstone for a Taliban free zone in the Pashton heartland, now has been put on hold. The residents have pronounced themselves opposed to being the experimental laboratory for yet another try at something-building. That sentiment seems to express distrust of Americans, intimidation by the still unintimidated Taliban, and President Karzai’s personal, on the spot vow that the citizens would not be subject to the planned indignities. Karzai’s remarks to a second Kandahar shura seemed to encourage local cooperation with whatever initiatives Washington has in mind. One suspects that it was devised to cover himself with the U.S. and to cover a series of accommodations that will render the “offensive” nugatory. Meanwhile, the Loya Jirga sponsored by Karzai calls for engaging the Taliban in talks on Afghan terms; the session is rocketed by Taliban infiltrating the capital, and fresh revelations appear that the United States has been lavishly building up a strong man in Orugzan province who runs the place with a heavy hand in the interests of the Americans, the drug networks, the Taliban and his own power/riches — not necessarily in that order. This last story surfaces the same day as the Pentagon issues an extensive report detailing (other) individuals whose corrupt activities are having a deleterious effect on our mission of peace and uplift.

To put it bluntly, we have no plan or strategy worthy of the name. Certainly not one consonant with the circumstances that exist in Afghanistan. American forces, bereft of reasonable purpose, are adrift. These marooned soldiers have been ill used by their ambitious, politicized military commanders and a weak minded Commander-in-Chief who instinctively defers to them.

Our position in AfPak strikes me as being far more dire than Iraq in 2006. There, a couple of jokers in the pack (Sawah movement, and the Iranian pressure on the Sadrists) not only created the impression of “success,” but spared the US acute embarrassment. Embarrassment as well as failure awaits us in Afghanistan. Short of a massive force expansion, the ignominious end seems likely to come fairly soon — for political rather than military reasons. We no longer have even a weak reed to lean on (unless we include the likes of the felonious Governor of Marjah and our illiterate man for all seasons in Oruzgan). A cascade phenomenon may have started in both Afghanistan and Pakistan whereby our sympathizers peel away (for diverse reasons) with increasing rapidity — or, are simply cut adrift as did Karzai with the two Northern Alliance heads of Interior and Intelligence. Every faction for itself may be the outcome. More broadly, we could see an ethnic conflict between Pashtuns vs Tajiks with Uzbeks (Dostum et al) leaning toward whomever looks as the possible survivor winners. As for the Hazeris, their faith in a Compassionate Allah may be tested, once again.

It is hard to imagine how Obama would handle such a situation. One can surmise that: 1) the 2011 withdrawal date is a dead letter; 2) he hasn’t the courage to confront the country with the truth about our feckless mission; 3) easing out of the place with a measure of dignity may be impossible; therefore, 4) he’ll wind up sending more troops while firing up terrorism fears at home so as to blunt the inevitable Republican attacks. Unfortunately for us all, the last simply means greater tragedy — “going forward” as they say.

Elsewhere, we observe a similar combination of relentless campaigns animated by vague ideas and little intelligent design. In Iraq, our outsized troop contingents bustle around trying to make themselves useful but in truth have become little more than spectators to the multitude of tangled conflicts one of whose protagonists is a still robust Al-Qaedi in Mesopotamia. Iran’s presence and influence has surpassed that of the United States by a growing margin. As for the full court press against assorted Islamic fundamentalists around the globe, we know too little to assay how much damage it has done — in form or extent. Its benefits are equally unknowable; but given Washington’s impulsive trumpeting of every plot foiled and inflating of every tangible incident, logic suggests that they have not been of any great magnitude.

* In accordance with a legal doctrine publicly stated by the White House on more than one occasion (e.g. testimony of Admiral Blair before the Senate Intelligence Committee), some unspecified person could determine by applying unspecified criteria that I pose a time urgent threat to the Republic, and an order for my immediate elimination given by another unnamed person within minutes of my clicking the ‘Send’ box — perhaps, if designated an ultra high value target, before clicking.