Wednesday, January 11, 2012

US aided Pakistan group which supported extremists

The US gave money to a Pakistani Muslim group that organised anti-Taliban rallies, but which later demonstrated in support of an extremist who killed a leading liberal politician, the US Embassy in Pakistan said Wednesday. US government website shows that the group, the Sunni Ittehad Council, received $36,607 from Washington in 2009. A US diplomat said that the embassy had given money to the group to organise the rallies, but that it had since changed direction and leadership. He said it was a one-off grant, and wouldn’t be repeated. He didn’t give his name because he wasn’t authorised to speak about the issue on the record. The grant was first reported by the Council of Foreign Relations on its website. The Ittehad council was formed in 2009 to counter extremism. It groups politicians and clerics from Pakistan’s traditionalist Barelvi Muslim movement, often referred to as theological moderates in the Pakistani context. The American money was used to organise nationwide rallies against militants and suicide bombings, the embassy official said. The demonstrations received widespread media coverage, and were some of the first against extremism in the country. The rhetoric at the rallies was mostly focused on opposing militant attacks on shrines, which Barelvis frequent but are opposed by Deobandi Muslims, Pakistan’s other main Muslim sect. In 2011 and also this month, however, the council led demonstrations in support of the killer of Salman Taseer, a governor who was killed a year ago for his criticism of anti-blasphemy laws. The displays have appalled Pakistani liberals and stoked international fears that the country is buckling under the weight of extremism. Taseer’s assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, is a Barelvi. He claimed he acted to defend the honour of Prophet Mohammed. At its rallies, the group maintains its criticism of the Taliban even as it supports Qadri — a seemingly contradictory stance that suggests its leaders may be more interested in harnessing the political support and street power of Barelvis than in genuinely countering militancy. Two leading members of the council who have been with the group from the beginning of its existence denied receiving any American funds. The apparent discrepancy could be explained by lack of transparency within the organisation. However, given the current anti-American climate, owning up to receiving funds from the United States would invite criticism. ”This propaganda is being unleashed against us because we are strongly opposed to Western democracy and American policies in the region and in the world,” said Sahibzada Fazal Karim, the head of the council, before reiterating the group’s support for Qadri. ”We are against extremism, but we support Qadri because he did a right thing,” he said.

Nawaz will soon repent his antics

Vice President PPP and former Law Minister Senator
Dr Babar Awan on Wednesday said the founder of military courts, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has a long history of showing repentance over his antics.“Very soon, he would be disassociating himself from a string of applications, he had been moving before the judicial fora,” he said talking to media in the Supreme Court building.Awan said the PML-N leader had signed an agreement with a dictator for getting a safe passage to flee the country and avoid criminal cases. “But now Nawaz claims that he has nothing to do with the agreement,” he added. Dr Babar said that the present parliament for the first time functioned in the most efficient way and accorded due status to everyone. “Where were those champions of democracy when a democratically elected President Rafique Tarar was working under the Chief Executive,” he said. “People criticizing president Zardari, should tell the nation from whom they had taken oaths for the offices of federal ministers.” The former law minister said PPP is a party working for stable federation and that made it to succeed in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and KPK and the coalition governments in three provinces had been functioning successfully. “Only the Takht e Lahore has complaints about the system. The people advising PPP to respect judiciary, had attacked the judiciary themselves,” he added. He said the whole nation wanted to know facts about a meeting between Sartaj Aziz and Mansoor Ejaz.

Study Ranks Countries on Nuclear Security

The 32 nations with materials that can fuel atom bombs are typically mum on security, which looks to the public like a closed world of barbed wire and armed guards. Behind the scenes, atomic insiders have long told horror stories of risky practices and security flaws that might let the crucial ingredients for nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. Now, for the first time publicly, experts have surveyed the precautions each country has in place and ranked the nations from best to worst. The study is full of surprises and potential embarrassments: for instance, Australia takes first place in nuclear security and Japan comes in at No. 23, behind nations like Kazakhstan and South Africa. The United States? It tied for 13th place with Belgium. Last place goes to North Korea, a police state that the report finds to be seriously deficient on issues of atomic security. The edgy ranking is a joint endeavor of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private group in Washington, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, a company in London that does risk analyses. Their goals are to incite debate on how to promote security and to encourage governments to strengthen safeguards against atomic terrorism. “We’ll never get this job done if we continue to operate behind close doors,” Deepti Choubey, senior director for nuclear security at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said Tuesday in an interview. The team offered to brief the 32 countries on the security findings, and says that 28 took them up on it. A slim majority — 17 nations — went further to discuss the analyses and offer feedback. No country, the evaluators say, was told of its security ranking. The analysis was unveiled Wednesday morning at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Sam Nunn, the former Democratic senator from Georgia and a founder of the threat initiative, said the study “is not about congratulating some and chastising others.” Rather, Mr. Nunn said, its analyses and recommendations are meant to offer “a resource for improvement.” The stark political and financial challenges facing many governments mean that nuclear security often gets a low priority and little analysis. “We hope,” Mr. Nunn said, that the new study “can serve as a solid foundation to help inform that urgent and ongoing work.” All countries, he added in a foreword to the report, “can and must do more to strengthen security around the world’s most dangerous materials.” Funders of the threat initiative and the study include the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The global assessment is an outgrowth of President Obama’s effort to get nations to take more responsibility in locking up bomb materials that are vulnerable to theft and covert sale. In 2010, he held a security summit in Washington that drew attention to the danger. Experts warned that terrorists could buy or steal the makings for nuclear arms from the world’s secretive maze of atomic storage and production sites, which are said to number in the thousands. A second summit is scheduled for March. It is to be held in Seoul, South Korea, and the new report is seen as helping set the agenda for that gathering of world leaders. A focus is expected to be North Korea. The new analysis centers on security precautions for the two main fuels of nuclear arms — plutonium and highly enriched uranium. It did not try to assess protections for highly radioactive materials that a terrorist might try to scatter with conventional explosives in a so-called dirty bomb. In interviews, the nuclear analysts said they worked from public information that was often poorly known — for instance, general procedures for training guards and protecting sensitive sites. “There was no spying,” said Leo Abruzzese, director of global forecasting at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “It was pieced together.” For each country, the study looked at a total of 18 factors involved in nuclear security. They included known quantities of materials, physical protections, accounting methods and transportation security as well as such larger societal factors as political stability and corruption. The 122-page report is titled the “Nuclear Materials Security Index” and its accompanying Web site is Australia came out on top, the report says, because it has reduced its holdings of weapon-useable materials to “a small amount” and did well on the overall indicators. It received 94 out of 100 possible points. Among the nine countries known to possess nuclear arms, Britain came out on top with a score of 79. The report credits its high status to concrete security measures as well as “its commitment to and follow-through on international obligations.” The United States scored 78 — a fairly good ranking, the evaluators said, considering its possession of a sprawling nuclear complex that dates to the earliest days of the atomic era. Japan received a score of 68 because of its vast stores of plutonium, its relatively poor measures with security personnel and its lack of an independent regulatory agency. A surprise nation on the list is Iran. It claims no ambitions for making bomb fuel even while global leaders worry that its growing atomic program seeks just that capability. The study team said that Iran was included in the analysis because of its possession of highly enriched uranium for a research reactor in Tehran. Iran received an overall score of 46, its standing undercut by what the report judged to be corruption, political instability, and poor procedures for nuclear control and accounting. Of 32 nations, it ranked 30th. Pakistan, with a security score of 41 and a nuclear complex that is undergoing rapid growth, ranked 31st. North Korea came in last with a score of 37. The report cited a total of 10 indicators that came in below the global average, including site and transportation security as well as political stability. The report said that nearly a quarter of the nations with materials that can fuel atom bombs scored poorly on social factors because of “very high levels of corruption.” And it warned that several of those “also scored poorly on the prospect of political instability over the next two years.” That bleak combination, the study concluded, “significantly increases the risk that nuclear materials might be stolen, with help from corrupt insiders or in the midst of government distraction or political chaos.”

Pakistan fires defense minister, escalating crisis

Pakistan's government fired the defense secretary Wednesday and the army warned of "grievous consequences" for the country, escalating a political and legal crisis that some believe could end in the dismissal of government. Retired Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi, an army loyalist seen as a bridge between the generals and the civilian government, was dismissed for "gross misconduct and illegal action" and replaced with a bureaucrat close to Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani, the government said in a statement. The developments were sign of near-open conflict between the army and the in a nation that has seen repeated military coups in its six-decade history. Relations between President Asif Ali Zardari and the generals have never been good, but have soured dramatically in recent months over a memo sent to Washington asking for its help in reining in the power of the military. Political instability has dogged the government since it took office in 2008 after a 10-year army dictatorship, and there have been frequent, wrong predictions of its demise since then. While unpopular, the government has a solid majority in parliament and its unclear whether the army or the Supreme Court have the stomach to unseat it midterm. The current standoff has hampered the nuclear-armed country's ability to battle al-Qaida and Taliban militants and coincided with the near collapse of ties between Pakistan and the United States, a relationship seen as key to negotiating an end to the war in Afghanistan. The memo, allegedly masterminded by Pakistan's then envoy to Washington, outraged the army, which portrayed it as a threat to national security. Acting under its pressure, the Supreme Court ordered a probe to establish whether it had been sanctioned by Zardari, something that could lead to impeachment hearings. As part of the investigation, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and the head of the main spy agency, Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, submitted statements to the court in which they suggested the memo was part of a conspiracy against the army. Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani said in an interview to a Chinese newspaper that Kayani and Pasha had violated the constitution by doing this. The interview was also published by Pakistan's state-run news agency. An army statement denied the mens' actions were illegal, and said Gilani's allegations had "very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country." It did not elaborate. An aide to Gilani said Lodhi was fired because of his role in submitting Kayani and Pasha's statements to the court. The Supreme Court is at the center of another affair that could also see the dismissal of the government. It has ordered the attorney general to open corruption proceedings against Zardari over a once shelved case, something the government is refusing to do. On Tuesday, judges warned they could dismiss Gilani unless he followed their order to pursue the case. It ordered the government to attend proceedings next week to explain its inaction. "I think the lines have been drawn, now it depends on who fires the next shot," said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences. "It is a three dimensional war: the judiciary, the political executive and the armed forces." Observers say political pressure is growing to topple the government before Senate elections scheduled for March, which are expected to give Zardari's party a majority in the upper house that would give him significant political power for the next six years. The country also is to hold general elections next year, although some are pushing for the vote to be held sooner. Most independent analysts say the army has little appetite for a direct coup but is happy to allow the Supreme Court, believed to be hostile to Zardari, to end the current setup via "constitutional" means. "We can't rule out those impulses. They are rooted in history, but right now the army have decided not to. Rather they will stay by the sidelines and watch the court," said Rais.

Pakistan's Army Generals Threatens, ''Democarcy''

DEMOCRACY TAKES REVENGE, ''Benazir Bhutto'' Remember Generals....

Pakistan's army warned Wednesday that critical comments made by the prime minister would have "serious ramifications" and could wreak "potentially grievous consequences for the country". Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani earlier in the week told China's People's Daily online that the army chief and head of intelligence services had acted unlawfully by making unilateral submissions to an ongoing Supreme Court inquiry. The ISPR statement said: "APP issued a statement on 9th of January 2012 giving details of the interview given by the Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan to The People's Daily Online of China when the COAS was also on an official visit to China. The Honourable Prime Minister inter alia termed the responses given by COAS and DG ISI in the alleged Memo Case to the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan as unconstitutional and illegal". This part of the statement has been quoted and widely debated in the media. There can be no allegation more serious than what the Honourable Prime Minister has leveled against COAS and DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the Constitution of the Country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the Country. The statement does not take into account following important facts:- - COAS and DG ISI were cited as Respondents in the Petitions as such and after hearing the parties the Honourable Supreme Court served notices directly to the Respondents. This was not objected to by the learned Attorney General of Pakistan. - The responses by the respondents were sent to the Ministry of Defence for onward submission to the Honourable Supreme Court, through Attorney General (Law Ministry). - A letter was also dispatched to the Attorney General of Pakistan and the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan informing that the replies have been submitted to the Ministry of Defence. - It is emphasized that copies of the statements of the two Respondents were not forwarded directly to the Supreme Court. - Responsibility for moving summaries and obtaining approvals of Competent Authority thereafter lay with the relevant ministries and not with the Respondents. It is also highlighted that after a meeting between the Honourable Prime Minister and the COAS, the Honourable Prime Minister had publicly stated through a press release of 16th December 2011 that the replies submitted were " in response to the notice of the Court through proper channel and in accordance with the rules of business." No objections were raised before and thereafter, on the legality and constitutional status of the replies, at any time, during the last more than three weeks of hearing of the case by the Honourable Supreme Court. It is also categorically stated that COAS and DG ISI in their response to the Honourable Supreme Court were obliged to state facts as known to them, on the Memo Issue. The issue of jurisdiction and maintainability of the Petitions was between the Honourable Supreme Court and the Federation. Any expectation that COAS will not state the facts is neither constitutional nor legal. Allegiance to State and the Constitution is and will always remain prime consideration for the Respondent, who in this case has followed the book.

Pakistan's 47pc women drug addicts educated

DAWN.COM A survey by Ministry of Narcotics Control has revealed an alarming increase in use of drugs by women graduating from college and university. The ministry selected Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and other major cities for survey according to which 47 per cent of the drug addicts had graduated from college or university and 21 per cent have had primary or matriculation education. The major drug which is under use is charas and its rate of addiction is 47 per cent. These findings were presented by Director-General Planning and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Narcotics Control, Mohammad Shahid at an awareness workshop on substance abuse amongst women in Pakistan on Tuesday.He said the basic purpose of this training programme was to empower women to fight drug addiction without violating religious values. He said 43 per cent addicts get drugs from friends and 15.6 per cent from neighbours. Majority of women use drugs for pleasure which is followed by stress-related emotional physical pain and domestic violence. Interestingly, some were forced into this habit by husbands. Joint Secretary Narcotics Control, Zulgarnain Amir said the prevalence of drug abuse in Pakistan was due to its proximity with world`s largest producer of opium. He said although Pakistan succeeded in seizing drugs every year and international community appreciated its achievements in this regard, a significant amount of drugs was being used in the country.He said the Ministry of Narcotics Control was holding workshop to sensitise masses to the danger of drugs abuse. He emphasised upon the participants not to treat women addicts as culprits. `They need sympathetic attitude and great care,` he added. He said that when a man started using drug, it only affected him but when a woman started it affected all her family members because child spent most of the time with his or her mother. Spokesman of Ministry of Narcotics Control, Muhammad Ismail told Dawn that during survey officials of ministry interviewed 500 women of major cities. He said now the ministry planned to do another survey to know how many women are using drugs. At the moment the ministry is running hospitals for the man drug users and plans to soon introduce a similar facility for woman.

Nawaz’s military courts plan

The Express Tribune Speaking to media in Multan on Tuesday, the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart said that the Supreme Court had “saved” Pakistan from party chief Nawaz Sharif’s plan to establish military courts in the country. He was speaking at a ceremony to welcome some lawyers who had joined the PTI. “We could all have been killed because of these courts,” Hashmi said, referring to Nawaz’s plans to set up military courts in Karachi in 1998, which was shot down by the Supreme Court. “Nawaz had discussed [his plan] with all cabinet members. At that time, I was the only who had objected to it, saying that this constitutional order could become a noose for all of us,” he said. Hashmi, who has repeatedly expressed his resentment for being neglected by the PML-N, said that the party had not valued him but he continued to be a part of it as he wanted to [properly] govern Pakistan. “I was compelled to follow those whom I had taught politics,” he said, openly referring to the Sharif brothers.

Are Pakistani Generals fighting for survival?

The memo scandal has entirely confused Pakistani people when they do not understand who is fighting with whom? Is Pakistan army fighting for its survival? Is Judiciary undermining constitution? Is civil government not bringing facts on ground to safe democratic system and institutions? Why Nawaz Sharif hurried to approach Supreme Court of Pakistan? Is memo a Trap for Generals? Why Nawaz Brothers were frequently visiting Turkey where powerful army is capped in limits? Before discussing these questions, it is important to discuss events of May 2, 2011, when Osma Bin Laden was killed by US Marine attack in a safe haven in Abbotabad. Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabia national, leading a terrorist outfit Al-Quaida was declared most wanted terrorist by Security Council of UN after incident of 9/11 in 2001, when more than 3,000 US and other nationals were killed in terror attack on WTC in New York. Osama Bin Laden was in Afghanistan as a guest of Talaban regime and blamed of executing 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pentagon and Pennsylvania state. The Talaban refused to extradite Osama Bin Laden to face justice in USA which triggered a war against terrorism against Afghanistan. The last person who met Osama Bin Laden in Kandhar was Director General Inter-Services Intelligence DG ISI of Pakistan Armed Forces to persuade Osama Bin Laden and Talaban leaders to face justice in US to avoid war. What was discussed between Osama Bin Laden and ISI Director General in that last meeting, no one knows contents of it? Was this last meeting to discuss provision of safe haven to Osama Bin Laden? After that meeting between ISI General and Osama Bin Laden, world never knew whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden till May 2, 2011. The Pakistan joined war against terrorism and started receiving billions of dollars of military and civil aid from USA. The ISI was arresting low level Al-Quaida operatives to build confidence in US administration and extraditing them to USA and receiving more military aid as reward. The ISI and Pakistan Army always denied presence of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistani territory on national and international forums but voices of doubt were heard around world about substandard policies of Armed Forces of Pakistan. There were also information’s in press that ISI is using US aid to arm Talaban for attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Was Osama Bin laden a Terrorist or Hero? It is very important issue to discuss before recent memo scandal and role of Pakistani Generals. The anti-American sentiments in Islamic world made Osama Bin Laden a Hero who waged Jihad against USA and Western World while on killing peaceful citizen Osama Bin Laden was a Terrorist. The Pakistani press media and government never condemned terrorist attacks of Osama Bin Laden nor accepted presence of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Who is most powerful institution in Pakistan? Everyone in Pakistan openly accept that Pakistan Army is most powerful institution in Pakistan. The 80% of Pakistani budget is swallowed by Pakistan Army which cannot be discussed in parliament even which has turned Pakistani army in a monster without any bounds. There is never enough budget for health and education for common people in Pakistan but Generals not paid any attention for vested interests. What armed forces in Pakistan plan for country no one knows except few Generals? The General impose foreign policy on civilian government and whenever any democratic ruler steps to take helm of state then Generals pack him up and enforce martial law in country. In presence of such a powerful army in Pakistan, the presence of Osama Bin Laden to go un-noticed is unimaginable. It meant that section of Generals were fully aware of presence of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad, enjoying due protection, very close to army cantonment facility. It was need of time that Chief of Army Staff General Kiyani and DG ISI might have resigned after killing of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad but civil government of Yousaf Raza Gillani protected armed forces to avoid becoming target of Osama Bin Laden sympathizers in Pakistan. Let’s know about Judicial System of Pakistan also, where Supreme Court of Pakistan is issuing judgments in which none of Justice ever writes note of difference. What a superb Supreme Court of Pakistan which is symbolic in its judgments? Are these judges of Supreme Court of Pakistan or Team of Judges? In Pakistan, a wife can have difference of opinion on many issues with her husband but what a family of Judges of Supreme court of Pakistan having so much mutual understanding? Is there any force in Pakistan which makes these Judges to write decision in chambers? When Pakistani public see such judgments of Supreme Court of Pakistan, it simply makes them to smile and to walk away silently on fear of ISI which can make them disappear for years and no higher court will hear cases of their disappearances in Pakistan. We must watch very carefully, frequent visits of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif to Turkey. It was general view of citizens of Pakistan that such visits are to know how the Generals were capped up in limits by civil government in Turkey. While such tactics were being learnt by Nawaz Sharif who was victim of one Pakistani General who ousted him from power and forced him in exile in Saudi Arabia after allegations of corruption charges. As, memo scandal emerged in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif rushed to Supreme Court of Pakistan instead of parliament because it was time to drag Generals in courts that their powers may be hammered. Now, the stage is set in Pakistan and watch who falls, Generals, Nawaz Sharif or Supreme Courts of Pakistan? The memo case can be a judicial coup of civil government to prevail power of Generals or fall of Generals if question is raised in court proceedings that who harbored Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. If civil government survives of memo conspiracey, then Generals powers will be capped and free judicial system will take place in Pakistan where Judges will be allowed to write difference of opinion in judgments.

Malik pledges security if Nawaz takes Ijaz to Raiwind

Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday said that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif knows better who Mansoor Ijaz is. “If Nawaz wanted to take him to Raiwind as a guest, all security will be provided to him,” Malik taunted while talking to media persons at NADRA Headquarters after attending a meeting of Standing Committee of National Assembly on Interior. The government would issue Pakistani visa to US businessman whenever he wanted, but after he furnishes his passport to the Pakistani visa officials, he said. “As per directions of inquiry commission on memogate scandal, the government would also provide security to Mansoor Ijaz if he arrives here,” Malik said. He informed that he has received a letter that all persons being summoned by commission should be provided security including Husain Haqqani. About the possible return of former President Pervez Musharraf, he said that law of the land would take its course if he arrived in Pakistan. “Officially I have no information about his arrival or in which city he (Musharraf) will land, but one can contact his party people to know about details,” he added. The minister ruled out any mediation on part of Saudi Arabia in connection with return of Musharraf. He said that Nadra had been tasked to computerise arm licenses issued by Interior Ministry with the objective to ensure transparency. The minister requested the license holders to get their arm licenses re-registered so the process could be completed within set time frame.

Pakistan's ex-US envoy challenges memo scandal probe

The lawyer for Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington Tuesday said a court investigation into a controversial memo seeking US help to rein in the powerful military was illegal. The highly controversial unsigned memo was allegedly an attempt by President Asif Ali Zardari, through his close aide and former envoy Hussain Haqqani, to enlist help from the US military to head off a feared coup in Pakistan last year. American businessman Mansoor Ijaz has claimed that Zardari reportedly feared that the military might seize power in a bid to limit the hugely damaging fallout after US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May. Pakistan's Supreme Court last week decided to set up a judicial commission to investigate the matter. Haqqani's lawyer Asma Jahangir in her petition said "that the constitution of the commission by this honourable court is not permissible by law." "Directions cannot be issued to judges of the High Court to constitute a commission," she said. The head of the ISI intelligence agency, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has said Ijaz had enough evidence to back up his allegations and called for a "forensic examination" of the memo. Haqqani has already resigned over the affair and the court has stopped him from leaving Pakistan. Tension between the powerful army and Zardari's weak civilian administration soared over the note, allegedly delivered to then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen in May and made public by Ijaz in October. The court's order requires contact to be made with Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM) in an attempt to obtain records of BlackBerry messages allegedly exchanged between Ijaz and Haqqani, who denies his involvement. Haqqani who appeared before the commission on Monday said: "The two BlackBerry handsets I had in the United States are the property of the government of Pakistan. These handsets I left in the room of my residence which was used as office," he said. Monday was the second meeting of the commission, being held in the capital Islamabad. It is expected to submit its findings within four weeks. The commission is to meet again on January 16. The court probe puts fresh pressure on the president, who visited Dubai in December over health fears, with most observers expecting early elections sometime in 2012.