Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan government’

US, Pakistani Govts Overtly Lying About Blackwater Presence

October 17, 2009

Blackwater Mercenaries Not Exactly Quiet About Their Operations

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  October 16, 2009

Yesterday, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik angrily insisted, as his government so often has in recent months, that there are absolutely no Blackwater forces operating inside the country, nor have there ever been.

The claims have long been scoffed at by Pakistani journalists, noting that retired CIA officials have been very open with the fact that they were using Blackwater security at an air base they have been using inside Pakistan to launch drone attacks.

What’s more, locals in the Pakistani city of Peshawar have been complaining for months about rude mercenaries in Blackwater uniforms roaming the streets of University Town with assault rifles. The organization, which has since changed its name to Xe, has been providing security to an American company there, completely openly.

The Pakistani government isn’t alone in these claims, as the US embassy in Pakistan has likewise denied that there is a single Blackwater agent in all of Pakistan. They’ve even gone so far as to get a Pakistani newspaper to censor an article to the contrary, claiming it was an incitement against America.

So how do the US and Pakistani governments explain the discrepancy between their claims of no Blackwater employees being there and all the Blackwater employees operating in plain sight? In short they don’t. Pakistani media are condemned as “conspiracy theorists” when they report on Blackwater’s presence, accused of “endangering Americans” or supporting extremism. When it makes the Western press, it is simply ignored.

Latest US Drone Strike in South Waziristan Brings Weeklong Toll Over 100

July 11, 2009

Two Missiles Kill Eight Suspected Militants

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, July 10, 2009

A US drone fired two missiles at a suspected militant compound in South Waziristan today, killing at least eight and wounding an unknown number of others. The attack was the latest in a string of US strikes on the restive Pakistani agency which have killed over 100 in the past seven days.

US attacks into Pakistani territory had temporarily stalled after an attack on a funeral procession in late June killed 80, including dozens of innocent civilians. The attack was roundly condemned by the Pakistani government, which feared the massive toll would undercut support for the Pakistani military’s offensive in the tribal area.

The two-week calm ended last Friday when a drone killed 17. On Tuesday another attack killed 16 more, and then on Wednesday multiple attacks killed at least 60 others. The eight killed today bring the confirmed toll up to 101.

The Pakistani government is reported to have significant influence over the targets selected by the US in the strikes, though Pakistan’s civilian government has fervently denied that it has anything to do with the unpopular attacks. The Obama Administration has dramatically increased the rate and severity of attacks since taking office.

Pakistan government prepares for long-term war

May 15, 2009
By Peter Symonds | WSWS,  May 14, 2009

Refugees continue to flood out of embattled areas of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as the military extends its offensive in the Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts against Taliban militants. The UNHCR puts the total number of people registered as internally displaced at more than 670,000 since May 2, but the figure is certainly higher.

Speaking in London after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari pledged to continue the so-called fight against terrorism, saying that it would be “a long term affair”. Under intense pressure from the US and its allies, the Pakistani government last month abrogated a peace deal with Taliban leaders in the Swat district and gave the green light for major military operations against the Islamist guerrillas.

The military has continued to pound Taliban strongholds from the air and using artillery and mortars, causing widespread destruction and a mounting toll of civilian casualties. Mingora, the district capital of the Swat Valley, which is still under Taliban control, has been a main target of the army’s operations. Troops have seized key positions around the town, all exit roads have been sealed and electricity, water and gas supplies have been cut off.

A student, Farhan, told the BBC: “We left Mingora three days ago. The situation had become very dangerous. We were caught up in the brutalities between the Pakistani army and the Taliban. We were trapped inside our homes for a week, while there was constant shelling. A mortar demolished a house just a few yards from our home. There was no water, no power, everything was destroyed.”

On Tuesday, army commandos were inserted by helicopters on high ground near the town of Piochar in northern Swat to carry out “search-and-destroy missions.” Piochar is reportedly the base of Maulana Fazlullah, one of the main Taliban warlords, and the site of training camps and arms depots. “Jetfighters and helicopter gunships shelled the region before dropping special services group (SSG) personnel,” a military’s media centre stated.

News from the war zone is scanty as reporters and other independent observers have been excluded. Locals told Dawn yesterday that troops had also been dropped by helicopter in the Niag Darra, Karo Darra and Turmang Darra areas of the Dir district. Other sources confirmed that 1,200 troops backed by tanks and artillery had reached Turmang Darra in Upper Dir on Tuesday.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told the press yesterday that military operations were unfolding successfully. He stated that 751 militants had been killed by the army over the past week, with the loss of just 29 troops. The claim is highly doubtful and has not been independently verified. Estimates put the total number of Taliban fighters in the area at just 5,000.

Refugees from Mingora have criticised the military for indiscriminately pounding the town. “We have never seen major casualties on the militants’ side so far and only innocent people are targetted,” Fazi Karim told Dawn. A rickshaw driver, Syed Bacha, simply laughed when asked about the army’s claim, saying: “If they kill 100 militants, I am 100 percent sure that the Taliban will not stay for a single day.”

The US-based Human Rights Watch stated on Monday that it had received reports of “civilian deaths and the destruction of property in the Pakistani military’s aerial bombardment.”

Clearly concerned about growing public anger, Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani issued a public statement instructing the armed forces “to ensure minimum collateral damage”. Such assurances count for nothing, however, as the military continues to use heavy weapons and air strikes against urban areas such as Mingora. A parliamentarian from Swat told Dawn that 700,000 people remain trapped in the Swat Valley.

Similar tactics were employed by the Pakistani military last year in a protracted offensive in Bajaur, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan. The operations, which were coordinated with the US military in Afghanistan, laid waste to entire towns and villages, forcing half a million people to flee. Combined with the current exodus, 1.3 million people have been displaced in Pakistan since last August.

A key aspect of the summit in Washington between the US, Pakistani and Afghan presidents a fortnight ago was the closer involvement of the US military with its Pakistani counterparts, including a significant expansion of counterinsurgency training. About 70 US special operations trainers have already been in Pakistan to help drill commando forces such as those currently being used in the NWFP. The Obama administration is also requesting $400 million for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund to provide night-vision goggles, more helicopters and better small arms to the Pakistani military.

The US military and CIA are also stepping up their missile attacks on alleged “terrorist” targets inside Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones. The latest strike killed 15 people in the village of Sra Khawra in the FATA district of South Waziristan. The Los Angeles Times yesterday reported that the Pentagon has established a facility in the Afghan city of Jalalabad for US and Pakistani personnel to jointly operate US military drones. In addition, the CIA, which has its own Predator program, has carried out at least 55 strikes inside Pakistan since August, generating widespread anger among Pashtun tribes in the FATA region.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, rejected the suggestion that Washington was responsible for exacerbating civilian suffering in Pakistan, blaming the Taliban for the fighting. However, having pressed the Pakistani government into taking military action, the Obama administration is directly responsibility for the human tragedy now unfolding.

UNHRC spokeswoman Ariane Rummery announced yesterday in Islamabad that the total influx of registered refugees had jumped in the past 11 days to 670,906, of whom 79,842 were being housed in camps. Some of those not in camps were staying with relatives and friends, but many were forced to live in makeshift shelters without access to food and medicine. The UNHCR total was up from 501,496 late on Tuesday. Pakistani officials have put the number of internally displaced persons at over 800,000.

Speaking to the BBC about the situation in Peshawar, Majid, a student who fled Mingora, explained: “Many [people] joined refugee camps, but those must be full, because I see lots of people lying on the roads, people for whom there’s no accommodation or help. The nearby park is full of people from Swat. There are Swat people all over the city, everyone with their own story.”

Far from being concerned about the plight of these refugees, the Pakistani establishment is preoccupied with intensifying its “war on terrorism”. In a meeting of the National Assembly on Tuesday, virtually all parties—government and opposition—came together to back the military offensive. Ominously calls were made for an extension of police state measures throughout the country to “eliminate sleeper cells” and other “terrorist” bastions.

What is being set in motion by the Pakistani government, pushed on by Washington, is a full-scale civil war.

Pakistan faces biggest human flood since 1947

May 10, 2009

Half a million people are being displaced by Pakistan’s military operations against the Taliban

By Andrew Buncombe |  The Independent, UK, May 10, 2009

Refugees queue for food at a camp in northern Pakistan

ap

Refugees queue for food at a camp in northern Pakistan

Her name was Sahin and in a matter of hours her world had been broken. As fighting raged in their hometown of Mingora – fighter jets screaming overhead and mortar fire pounding – she and her husband tried to escape with their 10 children. Amid the chaos, her husband was killed by an artillery shell. There was hardly time to bury him in the courtyard of a neighbour’s house before Sahin was forced to think of the children and of somehow leading them to safety by herself. They walked for “hours and hours” before, in a neighbouring town, they found a bus. That bus brought them to a camp for the displaced, a place for the beleaguered, for those with nowhere else to go.

Now huddled with her six girls and four sons – three of whom are disabled – Sahin, in her early 50s, can barely think of the future. “Even if the conflict stops we cannot go back as the house has been destroyed,” she said. Her family has barely more than the clothes they were wearing when they fled.

Across a 50-mile swathe of north-west Pakistan, countless stories similar to Sahin’s could be told. Pakistan’s military has mounted what appears to be a major operation against Taliban fighters who have seized control of several districts little more than 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad. “This is not a normal war. This is a guerilla war,” Pakistan’s prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani said yesterday. “This is our own war. This is war for the survival of the country.” The army said 55 militants were killed in clashes around Swat yesterday.

Aid groups have warned of a human tide of up to 500,000 people fleeing their homes. The UN said an estimated 200,000 have fled the Swat valley and its main town, Mingora, in the past few days alone, while another 300,000 are poised to flee if they get the chance. This would create a total of one million people forced from their homes by fighting in the past 12 months. It represents the biggest internal displacement of people in Pakistan since independence more than 60 years ago.

“People are in shock. In some cases their homes have been destroyed by mortar shells. They are wondering when they’ll be able to go back. Others say they will not be able to go back,” said Antonia Paradela, an official with Unicef who interviewed Sahin and other refugees in the Sheikh Shehzad refugee camp near Mardan, a city in the south of the Swat valley. “This is the place where the families are coming. They are tired, sweaty, dusty. There are whole families crying because they have lost someone. But there is also a sense of relief to be out of the danger.”

Under mounting international pressure, the government of Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan’s military launched this week’s operation to drive the Taliban from the former tourist destination of Swat after a controversial, three-month ceasefire with the militants fell apart. After a previous military effort failed to dislodge the militants who had extended their violent influence throughout the valley over a two year period, the government in February signed a peace deal which included an agreement to establish Sharia courts in Swat and some neighboring areas.

The Taliban, however, failed to meet its end of the agreement and lay down its arms. Indeed, emboldened by the government’s acquiescence, the militants then spread from Swat into the neighbouring and strategically important Buner valley. The army is also battling to drive the Taliban from Buner and nearby Lower Dir.

While journalists are, in effect, prevented from reaching the war zone, the military’s operation – which involves more than 5,000 troops pitched against an estimated 5,000 Taliban fighters – appears unexpectedly firm, and officials said that 140 militants had already been killed in the past two days. Some observers had wondered whether the army, trained and prepared to fight a conventional war against India, had the will or the capability to take on a well-trained guerrilla enemy.

There was also speculation whether, in the week that Barack Obama outlined his new “Af-Pak” strategy to Mr Zardari and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, in Washington, there may have been a reluctance to fight what could have been seen as another battle in America’s war. The Obama administration’s policy of using missiles fired from unmanned drones at suspected militant targets and the subsequent civilian “collateral damage” this causes is hugely unpopular in Pakistan.

Yet this time, several things appear different. From the start, the battle for Swat has been pitched as a battle for the future of the Pakistan – and one that has been directed by the Pakistani authorities rather than Americans. In a televised address on Thursday as the military operation was formally announced, the Prime Minister, Yousaf Gilani, said: “In order to restore honour and dignity of the country, the armed forces have been called in to eliminate militants and terrorists. We will eliminate those who have tried to destroy the peace of the country.”

The seemingly widespread support for this operation, as opposed to Washington’s drone strikes, appears based in large part on growing public dismay with the Taliban. With the Taliban having embarked on a policy of burning girls’ schools and beheading their opponents, only to be “rewarded” with a deal that saw Sharia law enacted, the Pakistani public is growing more anxious as the militants’ threat has increased rather than reduced.

Those involved in brokering the ceasefire say the Taliban have now exposed their true colours and must be dealt with by force. “What the people know is that we tried everything possible. The Taliban had their own agenda and that has become clear to people,” said Bushra Gohar, the vice-president of the Awami National Party, which heads the regional government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). “We hope this will be a clearly targeted operation that will go after the training camps and the leadership.”

Analysts say the operation to drive the militants from Swat and then hold the ground to allow the return of a civilian administration could take months. With the militants having established themselves across Swat’s mountainous terrain over the past two years, even if the military succeeds in forcing them from Mingora and other towns, the Taliban could retreat to smaller adjacent valleys and strike back with bomb attacks on convoys, checkpoints and military camps. It is also likely that the militants could increase suicide strikes on targets outside Swat to act as a diversion.

Some commentators have speculated that in such circumstances, an inconclusive but bloody campaign with a large number of civilian casualties would undermine public support for the operation. The army says it is determined to succeed. “The army is now engaged in a full-scale operation to eliminate the militants, miscreants and anti-state elements from Swat,” said the army’s spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas. “They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of civilians from the area.”

As a result, hundreds of thousands more people like Sahin are likely to be rushing desperately out of Swat and towards the refugee camps at the southern end of the valley in the coming days. At the moment, only a tiny fraction of the displaced are being housed in the camps – the majority being able to stay with relatives or in rented rooms – but in the coming weeks that could change.

Sahin, her children and some other members of her family have nowhere else to go. Five months ago, when an earlier spike in violence drove them from Swat, they were able to stay with relatives in Peshawar. This time, that option was not available to them, she said. For now the family must sit amid the tents of the camp at Sheikh Shehzad, waiting and wondering.

Pakistan cracks down on eve of “long march”

March 11, 2009

Reuters, Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:58am EDT

By Kamran Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Authorities in two Pakistani provinces banned protests and police began rounding up activists on Wednesday, officials said, a day before a rally by lawyers that could challenge the year-old government.

Anti-government lawyers and opposition parties plan to launch a cross-country protest motor convoy, known as a long march, on Thursday.

“It has been done to maintain law and order, so from now there’s a ban on all sorts of processions, protests and congregations for one month,” Farhan Aziz Khawaja, a senior interior department official in Punjab province, told Reuters.

Sindh province banned protests for 15 days, a top official there said.

Despite the bans, protesters vowed to press ahead with their plans peacefully. They are pushing for the reappointment of a former Supreme Court chief justice who then army chief and president Pervez Musharraf dismissed in 2007.

The lawyers, in league with opposition parties which can mobilize their supporters, pose a significant challenge to President Asif Ali Zardari, who has refused to reappoint the former chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The protesters’ convoy of cars and buses is due to set off on Thursday in the southern provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and reach Punjab on Friday. They aim to begin a sit-in outside parliament in the capital, Islamabad, on Monday.

The protest is one more problem for a civilian government led by Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that took power a year ago and is struggling with economic and security crises.

It comes as the nuclear-armed U.S. ally’s two main parties are at loggerheads over a Supreme Court ruling last month that effectively barred former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, from contesting elections.

Nawaz Sharif says Zardari was behind the ruling and he has thrown his support behind the protest.

Political worry has weighed on financial markets in recent days, although stocks were flat on Wednesday.

DEFIANT

Tariq Mehmud, a senior lawyer and protest organizer, said the ban on protests would not affect their plans.

“It seems the government is determined to stop the long march … Our plan is in tact. Let’s see what happens,” he said.

Mehmud said police had turned up at his home in Islamabad before dawn aiming to detain him but he managed to slip away. Another protest organizer, Aitzaz Ahsan, said police had come to his home but he was in hiding.

Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, chairman of Sharif’s party, said police had been put under house arrest at his Islamabad home.

“I’m told I have been detained under the maintenance of public order law,” he told Reuters by telephone.

Siddiq-ul-Farooq, a spokesman for Sharif’s party, said scores of their workers had been detained across Punjab.

“We will remain peaceful and will peacefully defy the ban on the long march,” Farooq said.

Sharif was in North West Frontier Province, where he was due to address a rally, while Shahbaz Sharif was due to address a rally in Punjab, party officials said.

Authorities routinely detain opposition leaders and activists in an effort to disrupt protests. Detainees are freed after tension eases.

The government has threatened to prosecute him for sedition if violence erupts during the protest. It has also said the rally will not be allowed into central Islamabad but organizers can use open ground on the city’s outskirts.

Police were seen preparing shipping containers, which are used to block roads, in the city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad, witnesses said.

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider; Writing by Robert Birsel)

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”Cambria Math”; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1107304683 0 0 159 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin-top:0cm; margin-right:0cm; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} .MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:10.0pt; line-height:115%;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:70.85pt 70.85pt 70.85pt 70.85pt; mso-header-margin:35.4pt; mso-footer-margin:35.4pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>


/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

See also:  Can the Ides of March eliminate Zardocracy: What’s in store for the PPP in Pakistan?

Now or Never!! Pakistan must change its position on the “war on terror”.

February 7, 2009
By Talha Mujaddidi in Pakistan. Exclusive to Axis of Logic
Feb 7, 2009, 13:57
Email this article Printer friendly page

A change in Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. war on terror is required immediately.

Pakistan is amidst the worst political turmoil of its history. Things were not this bad at the turn of the millennium but after 9/11, its political future took a sharp, bleak downturn. When the U.S. started its “war on terror” in Afghanistan, it might have enjoyed support of many countries and their leaders but it did not enjoy support of the majority of the people of Pakistan. In addition, Pakistan’s Pukhtoon population and vast majority of Afghan population considered and still considers Afghanistan an occupied country. They had the same view when Soviet Russia was occupying Afghanistan, a land considered to be a graveyard for super powers.

The Valley of Swat and the TTP

A map of Pakistan and the surrounding region highlighting Swat District

Pakistan’s current “catch 22” is in Swat, a valley in Northern part of Pakistan’s NWFP (North West Frontier Province). Swat was once Pakistan’ stop tourist destination, before its current and continuing chaos. The founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, called it “the Switzerland of Pakistan”. Winston Churchill was also fond of the valley in his early days in British India. In 2003 a new militant group emerged in Pakistan. This was Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP). It was headed by Abdullah Mehsud, a former prisoner of the Guantanamo Bay Prison. Surprisingly he was cleared by U.S. authorities and sent back to Pakistan. He organized and started TTP which should not be confused with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is a big common misconception in Pakistan and the rest of the world. It’s a pity that Pakistani and western journalists are confusing the Taliban with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) in their reporting and news articles.

The Taliban in Afghanistan have nothing against Pakistan and have never killed or threatened Pakistani people or Pakistani state. On the other hand, the TTP has done both. The TTP is a group based on Takfiri ideology (a Muslim who believes that all other Muslims even orthodox are not true Muslims and they are just collaborators of infidels and deserve to be attacked and killed). All Muslim scholars are unanimous in declaring Takfiris ‘heretics of Islam’.

The Hashshashin Sect

History provides us an example that sheds light on the Takfiris. When the Crusaders began to attack the Muslim world in the 11th century, a group of heretic Muslims emerged that started creating havoc amongst the Muslims by declaring war on their fellow Muslims. The group was the Hashshashin sect (the word assassin came from Hashshashin). Hashshashins were Muslims who had become heretics believing that other Muslims are Kafir (infidels) and had to be killed by any means necessary. Their doctrine was known as Fedayeen (a person ready to sacrifice his life for a mission). They should not be confused with today’s Mujaideen (Muslims committed to an armed struggle). While the Muslim armies were fighting the Crusaders, these Hashshashins also declared war on Muslims! Such internecine fighting is not unusual in other ethnic groups and religions. Similar fundamentalist sects who fought against their own can also be found in the histories of Christianity and Judiasm. Because of the Hashashin sect, Muslims had to fight with two brutal armies simultaneously during the time of the Crusades.

Often the Hashshashins fought alongside the Christian Crusaders against the Muslim armies. They assassinated Muslim scholars, political leaders, and civilians ruthlessly. This is the ideology that TTP is following in Pakistan. In 2004, under pressure from U.S.., former President Musharraf started a military operation in Pakistan’s tribal areas to remove TTP from those areas. At that time things were more stable in Swat. But they were about to get worse.

Need for a strong, central government in Pakistan

Swat, like the rest of Pakistan has always suffered from lack of a strong central government and a rule of law. According to Amnesty International Pakistan’s civil, district and Supreme courts suffer from massive corruption. According to Asian Journal of Political Science August 2007, report,

“Pakistan is generally included in most discussions of ‘failing states’ that pose the maximum danger to global security, with the rise of Islamic militancy being the most commonly cited reason for the ‘failure’. However, Islamic militancy is a result of impending state failure, not a cause of it.

“The state’s inability, caused by decades of systemic corruption, to provide any appreciable level of public goods or services, broadly defined, is responsible for the de-legitimization of the state and its inability to maintain law and order in the cities or suppress Islamist insurgents in the rest of the country.”

There has been a succession of corrupt Pakistani governments in the past. With nothing to offer to the Pakistani population these corrupt governments looked up to U.S., Britain, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in order to consolidate their position in power. They plundered the national wealth and placed Pakistan in debt by taking new loans from World Bank, IMF and other imperial financial institutions. Corrupt governments and weak parliaments were responsible for breakdown of institutions in Pakistan resulting in corruption, nepotism and rising lawlessness.

Emergence of Sufi Mohammad

The failure of civil law and order and the failure of enforcement have been the direct cause of the rise of local militants who controlled and operated their parallel Islamic courts in Swat. Sufi Mohammad was one such militant who started a movement to impose Islamic laws in Swat and other areas. His movement is not new. It first became known in 1989. In 1995 he started mass protests against the government. The government of Benazir Bhutto at that time negotiated with him and the matter was swept under the carpet.

Sufi Mohammad emerged again when U.S. attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. He and his followers went to Afghanistan to fight U.S. invasion, most of his followers were killed there. Sufi Mohammad was captured and then sent back to Pakistan where he was imprisoned. He remained in Pakistani prison until April 2008, when he agreed to denounce “terrorist acts”, militancy, give up arms and come into agreement with Pakistan government.

Maulvi Fazalullah (also known as Radio Maulvi) is the current leader in charge of militants in Swat. He is son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad. Maulvi Fazalullah, unlike Sufi Mohammad, has not at all renounced violence or the armed struggle. Also note that followers of Fazalullah and TTP (Takfiri) are two separate groups. With the failure of law and order in Swat, many who lived outside the laws of Central Government, took refuge in Swat since civil law and enforcement has been virtually absent from the area.

When the Pakistan army started military operations against TTP in Tribal areas of Pakistan, Fazalullah and his militants began to attack police stations and to challenge the central government. Many civilians were killed. Members of the local population are often threatened, schools (especially girls’ schools) are closed down, teachers are killed, local politicians are attacked along with NGO workers and other acts of violence are taking place.

The judicial system in Swat

Swat was a princely state during British Rule in India. After the creation of Pakistan people of Swat used to follow the Islamic Shariah Laws to manage their day to day affairs. This means that all cases from criminal to civil to child custody were all managed by laws under Islamic Shariah Laws. After 1970 the Government of Pakistan took Swat under the District administration system just like the other parts of Pakistan. This meant that from that point on all Shariah courts would be replaced by civil courts, district courts. Pakistan is still following British laws that were incorporated under British India Act of 1935. The Pakistan government is still following a lot of obsolete rules and regulations of Act of 1935. The people of Swat agreed to accept the change but the problem with civil courts is that they take a longtime to come to any conclusion. They are susceptible to bribery and corruption because of the presence of unnecessary red tape and the handling of cases takes longtime. Plus the fact that there is a shortage of lawyers who are unwilling to work for lowly paid government jobs instead of more lucrative work in private practice.

Swat rejects Fazalullah

This system continued until Sufi Mohammad started his movement of re-introduction of Shariah courts. The local public wanted Shariah courts. As long as Sufi Mohammad was leading the movement it was non-violent. The people of Swat supported Sufi Mohammad. However, Fazalullah is now acting like a local war-lord. The people of Swat do not support violence at all and they are not supporting Fazalullah. The problem is that he has around 4000 men who are well trained and well armed and they have terrorized the local population. The local police, already understaffed and under budgeted, have been faced with massive desertions. The police does not have sophisticated weapons and gear comparable to that of Maulvi Fazalullah’s militants. The local police are no match for Fazalullah’s professional combatants.

Swat is different from Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Tribal areas are purely Pukhtoon and their daily lives are managed under tribal codes and laws. Mainstream schooling is very limited, whereas in Swat mainstream schooling was widespread. Swat, the most popular tourist destination in Pakistan once thrived with economic activity, local shops, small hotels and vintage shops. This resulted in better economic level compared to Tribal areas. Another thing to remember is that Tribal Areas have their traditional customs where all men consider carrying weapons a part of traditional manhood. In Swat this was not the case.

In the past, Swat progressed just like any other city in Pakistan and weapons were not to be found in every household. If Maulvi Fazalullah had appeared in Tribal Areas he would not have been able to terrorize the local population because there, the people are armed. Even though there is a great deal of anger throughout Pakistan over U.S. drone attacks, that anger will not cause the people of Swat to support Fazalullah. They see him as someone who is taking advantage of the U.S.. invasion and as one who is responsible for ruthless killings and the destruction of their local economy.

The government tried to bring Fazallullah under control through dialogue but to no avail. Fazalullah started his FM radio transmission that earned him the name of Radio Mullah. Notice the similarities between actions of Fazalullah and Hashshashins. There is no doubt that the restoration of law and order in Swat is a must through military intervention by the central government of Pakistan. There is no point with having a dialogue with Fazalullah, who has repeatedly backtracked from “peace talks” initiated by the central government. But this is an internal matter and is not the responsibility of foreign governments like the United States.

Who is providing arms to Fazalullah?

The situation in Swat has worsened in the last two years. With rising tensions between Pakistan and India, Pakistan moved some of its troops from Swat and tribal areas to eastern border with India; this provided a window of opportunity for Fazalullah to foment more anarchy in Swat. One important question is, “Who is the source of the weapons and supplies that are used by Fazalluah and TTP? In my view, the weapons are coming from Afghanistan where India operates 19 consulates. These are nothing more or less than operation centers of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). RAW is India’s equivalent of CIA.

NDS is Afghanistan’s intelligence agency created by U.S. military after they setup Karzai government. The head of NDS is Amrullah Saleh, the thirty-six-year-old director of Karzai’s spy agency. Saleh became the world’s youngest intelligence chief in 2004, at age 32. Since 2005, NDS has emerged as a major source of strategic instability in the region. Saleh, explaining his action in Pakistan, says that “Insurgency is like grass, you cut the upper part but after sometime it will grow back, you poison the soil [Pakistan] where that grass is and it will die forever.”

Another problem for Pakistan is that the current government of Afghanistan is composed of Northern Alliance Warlords (NAW) who are supported by the U.S.. government. The NAW are extremely hostile towards Pakistan and very close to India. Historically, they have been mostly based in minority ethnic groups of Afghanistan like Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara (Shia by faith), and other groups. Pakistan has always supported majority ethnic group Pukhtoon, since Pakistan has huge Pukhtoon population. Taliban of Afghanistan was also Pukhtoon. During Taliban’s rule, India, Iran or Russia had no access into Afghanistan.

The India Factor

India’s intelligence bureau (IB) has always been responsible for internal intelligence gathering. The IB formed the “Research and Analysis Wing” known as RAW in 1968 for conducting external intelligence, comparable to the CIA. Recently, under RAW, India, in cooperation with the CIA, has begun to move some ground troops into Afghanistan.

According to Asian Tribune report of September 2008, India has 14 consulates in Afghanistan from which RAW is operating. In Wakhan, Badakshan province, RAW is operating a madarssah, where clerics from India are brainwashing local Afghans, Uzbeks and Tajiks. Their students are then infiltrated into Pakistan where they readily carry out suicide missions and other operations. The report further states:

“Mullah Omar (leader of the real Taliban) had never shown interest in establishing any links with Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and had warned Nek Muhammad (a militant who agreed to make peace deal with Pakistan government before he was killed in a U.S. drone attack) not to operate under the brand name of Taliban. It is being questioned as to why Baitullah, Fazlullah and their spokesmen desperately wanted by Pakistan security forces have escaped the hawkeye of U.S., particularly after they have been seen giving detailed interviews to media and using their cell phones? ISI [Pakistan’s intelligence service] had once given six figure coordinates of Baitullah and yet no Hellfire missile was fired on his hideout by CIA.”

It is very surprising that the CIA has not been able to kill Baitullah Mehsud, head of TTP or Fazalullah, when they have no problem hitting civilians with its drone-fired hellfire missiles.

Cambodia-Vietnam Analogy

When U.S. was fighting against the Vietcong in Vietnam, the U.S. military falsely claimed that support for the Vietcong was coming from Cambodia and President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, started air strikes in Cambodia. At the time, the military government of Cambodia was just a U.S. puppet regime. That U.S. bombing killed one million people Cambodian people. What was the result? Cambodia was torn into civil war and brutal suffering took place under Pol Pot. The same thing could happen in Pakistan. They are triangulating the U.S.. war in Afghanistan with India and Pakistan. One of their convoluted methods is to use India’s RAW in Afghanistan which leads to the indirect attacks in Pakistan by RAW’s madarssah students in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government’s stance on the “War on terror” is as never before at a tangent with the public opinion.

The government of Pakistan must act now to avert catastrophe

The Pakistan government must take the following steps immediately if complete destabilization and catastrophe is to be averted. If the Pakistan government does not take these steps, it must be removed and an interim government must be set up to carry out these steps.

  • Pakistan must pass a bill in the parliament that authorizes the Pakistan Air Force to retaliate against deadly U.S. drone attacks. Pakistan has asked the U.S. government and military leadership repeatedly to stop drone attacks into Pakistan but to no avail.

  • Pakistan must ask the U.S. to pack up its military bases and get them out off Pakistani soil, since there was no open agreement for these air bases between Pakistan government and U.S.. in the first place.

  • After 9/11 military ruler Pervez Musharraf became dictator of Pakistan. All agreements were made between him and the U.S.. government. These agreements with the U.S. must be made public and cancelled. New agreements must be made with the U.S.. which ensures Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.

  • Pakistan must ask NATO and the U.S. military to make sure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used by India to create proxy war against Pakistan. Pakistan must declare neutrality in War in Afghanistan, Pakistan can’t continue to be supporting Afghan Government that is working against the interests of Pakistan.

  • Pakistan must stop giving NATO and the U.S.. access to move arms and supplies through Pakistan. If the U.S. continues to send drones to kill civilians in Pakistan under the Obama regime, it will only fuel more militancy in Pakistan. Pakistan must stop the NATO/U.S. supply route.

Of course all this is easier said than done. The U.S.. knows it need not worry about any of this or similar course of action being taken by the current Pakistani government. The U.S.. is completely involved with Pakistani leadership, especially with the President and the Army Chief. What is not reported in the U.S.. media is that U.S.. Ambassador to Pakistan, Ann Patterson, meets with Pakistani leaders and even opposition leaders as often as she can. In one week in January 2009 she met with Pakistani President thrice. But will she say a word to stop the pointless, deadly U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan by the U.S.. military?

Obama’s “War on Terror”

On December 26, 2008, immediately after he was inaugurated, President Obama ordered his first drone missile attack in sovereign Pakistan, killing 16 civilians. Obama should realize that the escalating “War on Terror” inside Pakistan is totally counterproductive. U.S. must realize that there is no option but to bring the Taliban into the political process in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, NATO commanders, and British government have all expressed similar views. Pakistan, on the other hand, must distance itself from the U.S. “war on terror” as it is creating havoc inside Pakistan and has no basis in fact, worldwide. It is also important to note that the Pakistan army is also not in best of moods since they are not particularly in tune with the government and have no desire to fight their own countrymen.

If the government does not address the situation, mounting public pressure can result in wide spread social unrest, protests, strikes, and even violent agitation? The situation in Pakistan’s tribal areas and Swat is moving from bad to worse. Even if the situation in Swat or Tribal Areas were to improve, trouble is likely to start in some other part of NWFP or Baluchistan province of Pakistan. The point is that Pakistan is facing tough challenges from TTP, Maulvi Fazalullah and other militants, and current U.S. policy of carrots and sticks for Pakistan is only making it worse. The U.S. must deal with people of Pakistan in a civil manner and respect their territorial integrity and national sovereignty rather than making back-room deals with the corrupt President and Prime Minister. Their refusal to do so raises questions about whether they really want to see Pakistan united in peace or a destabilized Pakistan that serves their imperial agenda. The spokesman for the Pakistan Army spokesman has said that crushing militancy will take a longtime as it’s very difficult to distinguish militants from local residents. Moreover, the continuing illegal U.S.. attacks are fostering support by local populations for disparate militant groups who already live their lives within those populations.

Democracy does not work the same way in Pakistan as it is reported to be working in the U.S. or Europe. With 35% literacy rate, it cannot be the same kind of democracy as in EU or North America. The U.S. belligerent support to corrupt democratic leaders of Pakistan will only undermine what is already a weak democracy in Pakistan. Weak democratic institutions give rise to militancy, extremism, and parallel institutions. Continuous U.S. and British support to corrupt Pakistani rulers will only result in more hatred for Pakistani state, Pakistani rulers, and in turn, the United States.

Conclusion

Finally, the news coverage of the Swat region is very limited, and no one exactly knows how many people have been killed. According to a rough estimate by Center for Research and Security Studies, since 9/11 Pakistan has lost at least 12,000 people as a result of the U.S. war on terror. Some were blown up in suicide bombings, some were killed by U.S. drone attacks, some of the dead were Pakistani army soldiers, some police officers, and a lot of them were women and children. This is nothing compared to the death count of Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq but it is enough to push Pakistan on the brink of disaster. A policy shift by the Pakistan government toward foreign intervention is the need of the hour.

The current carnage in Swat has resulted in killing of many civilians, security personal and militants. The exact number of people killed is not known. The local economy has collapsed and people are making mass exodus from the valley. How long the military operation will continue is unknown. Pakistan must make drastic changes in its foreign policy in Afghanistan and its policy on the U.S. “war on terror”. Otherwise, we the people of Pakistan will suffer more.


Talha Mujaddidi is a writer/analyst and Axis of Logic correspondent, living in Pakistan. He can be contacted at: talhamujaddidi@gmail.com

Mumbai attackers were ‘non-state actors’: Ambassador Haqqani

December 1, 2008

By Khalid Hasan | Daily Times, December 1, 2008

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador Husain Haqqani told ABC in an interview on Sunday that those who staged the Mumbai attacks were ‘non-state actors’ and this is no time for India and Pakistan to blame each other but to work together to fight terroism.

In answer to a question, Haqqani said if India moves its forces to the border with Pakistan, it will leave his country no option but to take steps to defend itself. Troops will have to be pulled back from the border with Afghanistan “and nobody wants that”. He said the democratic government in Pakistan led by President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani had “gone the extra mile” in reassuring the Indians that both countries being victims of terrorism, this was the time to forget past history and get together. In answer to another question about the initial Pakistani offer of dispatching the ISI chief to India, the ambassador said that the ‘rhetoric’ right now is such that it would not be the right time for a high-level meeting of that sort, but Pakistan has offered high-level intelligence cooperation to India. He added, “We will cooperate with the Indians in every detail if there is evidence that there is any link to anybody.” He said everyone in the world had come round to the view that the government and state of Pakistan and the military and intelligence services of Pakistan “are not directly involved” and that is the good news. If there are individuals, then there are individuals in the United States too, but that does not mean the United States is at fault. Haqqani said his government has gone the extra mile to reassure the Indian government that “we feel their pain”. He said there was ‘intelligence failure’ and “I think people have to look closer to home for that”.

Haqqani said the Mumbai attacks must not be viewed through the prism of past bitter Islamabad-New Delhi relations. “As two democracies we need to strengthen each other rather than fall into the trap of the terrorists who want us to fight with each other so that they can get greater strength,” he added.

Giving background, he said, “Pakistan and Afghanistan became the focus of jihad central many many years ago when they were all fighting the Soviets. So these people have roots in some remote parts of our country. They have spread those roots. Some of the efforts in the war on terror have not been successful. Our dictator, General Musharraf did not do the right thing to eliminating the terrorists but the new government is making its effort and our intelligence services are far better prepared. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. India is a victim of terrorism. The victims need to get together. Forget about our bitter history,” he said.
Asked whether a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s team would be welcome to broker a compromise on the disputed area of Kashmir, Haqqani said Sen Hillary Clinton, Obama’s likely pick for Secretary of State, or anyone else would be welcome. “I think it’s about time that people put those arguments behind us and if anyone can help us do that that would definitely be a good thing,” he added.

INDIA/PAKISTAN: Pleas For Sanity as Sabres Rattle Over Mumbai Mayhem

December 1, 2008


Analysis by Beena Sarwar | Inter Press Service


KARACHI, Dec 1 (IPS) – The pattern is all too familiar. Every time India and Pakistan head towards dialogue and detente, something explosive happens that pushes peace to the backburner and drags them back to the familiar old tense relationship, worsened by sabre-rattling war cries from both sides.

The relationship between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours has been marked by tentative ups and plunging downs, particularly over the past decade. This decade is also marked by increasingly vocal voices for peace on both sides of the border who openly criticise their countries’ political and security establishments.

The fallout from the Mumbai mayhem is no different, if all the more ominous for having taken place in the midst of the global ‘war on terror’ with its ‘us versus them’ rhetoric that has contributed to escalated violence around the world and pushed fence-sitters onto one or other side.

On Wednesday a ten-man squad of Islamist warriors armed with assault rifles and hand grenades landed in the port city Mumbai and, after going on shooting spree, seized control of two of its finest luxury hotels and a Jewish centre. By the time commandos neutralised the attackers and lifted the sieges Friday, 200 people lay dead –including 22 foreign hostages.

Pakistan and India are part of the Indian sub-continent. They share a landmass, mountain ranges, rivers and seas, ancient cultures, history, languages and religions. Yet they have fought three wars since gaining independence from the British in 1947, after the bloody partition of the sub-continent into two countries — largely Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan.

The fourth major conflict between the two countries was the Kargil conflict of 1999 that the political leadership on both sides referred to as a ‘war-like situation’. The nuclear threat that underlined this situation drew the world’s attention to India-Pakistan relations, and the festering issue of the disputed state of Kashmir, as never before.

A year earlier, India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests of May 1998 had plunged the region into an unprecedented state of tension. The governments celebrated their nuclear capability, feeding rivalry, jingoism and nationalism on both sides that the media played up. There was far less coverage of those who condemned the tests and the governments’ encouragement of reactionary forces that equated religion with nationhood.

Those who protested were swimming against the tide, labelled as traitors and anti-nationals, and ‘agents’ of the other country, like Islamabad-based physicist A.H. Nayyar who has been active in the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy since the organisation was launched in 1995.

As Nayyar and pro-peace activists addressed a press conference condemning the nuclearisation of the region, charged-up young men who supported Pakistan’s nuclear tests physically attacked them with chairs.

Now, expressing his shock at the “mindless, horrible event” in Mumbai, he told IPS: “There are people in both countries who don’t like efforts towards rapprochement. They take the first opportunity to start blowing the bugles of war and instigate hostility.”

Continued  >>


%d bloggers like this: