Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Malala honored by Dutch foundation for girls’ education activism

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, an outspoken proponent of girls’ education who survived a Taliban assassination attempt last year, has been awarded a top Dutch children’s honor for her activism.
Organizers announced Tuesday that 16-year-old Malala will be presented with the International Children’s Peace Prize next month in The Hague, Netherlands.The foundation that awards the prize hailed Malala as “a brave and talented child who has demonstrated special dedication to children’s rights.” Malala was 15 years old when she and two of her friends were attacked on their way home from school in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley. She survived and now attends school in England after being flown there for treatment. Malala will be handed the prize Sept. 6 by Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman.

Karachi: Taliban, police run joint crime rackets in Karachi: report

Secret Agencies in a report have informed the Inspector General of Sindh that Taliban and some police officers were jointly running crime centers in some areas of Karachi. According to the report, the biggest crime center in Nazimabad is operating under the patronage of local SHO. Some high officials of police, CID and SIU are also bribed to overlook the whole activity. The activities of TTP have an enormous impact on life for the citizens of Karachi; criminal undertakings are their favored means for raising funds for the battle in the tribal areas. Taliban also indulge in target killing to settle scores with the rivals or ‘business partners’. Large swathes of Pakhtun neighborhoods in districts west and east, as well as pockets in districts Malir, central and south are reported to be under the influence of the TTP. While all 30 or so of its factions have a presence in the city, the most influence is wielded by the Hakimullah Mehsud and Mullah Fazlullah factions. According to local police and residents of the affected areas, elements belonging to the TTP have entrenched themselves in these areas after having terrorised the local Pakhtun population into submission, and driven out the ANP from most of its traditional strongholds.

U.S: Potential military strike in Syria sparks concern in Congress

Some members of Congress are calling on President Obama to get congressional approval -- or at least consult more closely with the legislative branch -- before launching military strikes against the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons.On Monday -- giving a clear indication that the administration is readying for action -- Secretary of State John Kerry said the evidence "is screaming at us" that chemical weapons were used in Syria. On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the world's most powerful military was "in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take" in Syria. Mr. Obama and his administration have communicated with some lawmakers on the situation in Syria this week, but some congressmen insist the president should follow the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and receive authorization from Congress before using any military force in Syria. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, began collecting signatures in Congress Tuesday for a letter urging Mr. Obama to get congressional approval before launching any strikes. "Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution," the letter says. "If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict." Libertarian-leaning Republicans in Congress, including Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. and Justin Amash, R-Mich., said via Twitter on Tuesday that any action without congressional approval would clearly be unconstitutional. On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, communicated with the White House on the situation in Syria but he urged the administration to increase its engagement with Congress. "The Speaker made clear that before any action is taken there must be meaningful consultation with members of Congress, as well as clearly defined objectives and a broader strategy to achieve stability," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. A handful of senior lawmakers have confirmed to CBS News that they've also consulted with the executive branch on Syria. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has been briefed by senior Defense Department officials about the developing situation, a congressional spokesman said. On Monday, an aide to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that members of the administration including Kerry have reached out to Menendez. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke to administration officials a couple of times over the weekend and on Monday about the evolving situation in Syria. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has spoken to both Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice in recent days. Other senators on Monday called for more consultation with Congress. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the use of chemical weapons "despicable" but said that "absent an imminent threat to United States national security, the U.S. should not be engaged in military action without Congressional approval." Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement, "Secretary Kerry was clear that it is now a question of how, not whether, the United States will respond, but Congress still needs to hear from the president directly. More importantly, the president needs to explain his plan to the American people, who are understandably reluctant to support further military engagement in the Middle East." Udall said he has "real concerns" that a surgical strike in Syria could lead the U.S. into deeper involvement in a complicated civil war, but that remaining on the sidelines could also have grave consequences. Other lawmakers, meanwhile, came out more forcefully for action against Syria. Rep. Elliot Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Monday, "I hope that the Administration will now move quickly to act against the Assad regime and show the world that the use of such weapons will not be tolerated." Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a member of the Homeland Security Committee, told CNN on Monday that "we have to act." Furthermore, he said that Mr. Obama doesn't necessarily have to get congressional approval. "I believe, as commander in chief, he has the right to take this action," he said. "It's in his interest to consult with the leadership in the House and Senate, but I don't believe he has to." King added that he's still not an advocate of the Syrian opposition, explaining, "I believe that in the last year or so they've become significantly controlled by al Qaeda."

Syria denies chemical weapons claim

Walid Moualem, the Syrian foreign minister, has 'categorically' denied that his country was using chemical weapons on its own people. At a press conference held in Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday, he challenged the world to provide evidence that the Syrian government was behind last week's alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital Damascus. The Syrian foreign minister accused John Kerry, his American counterpart, of lying and disregarding the work of UN inspectors when he stated there was “undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack. "We are all hearing the drums of war being beaten around us. If these countries are willing to launch an aggression or military act against Syria, I believe, the pretext of chemical weapons is false, baseless and groundless. And as I said, I challenge, I dare them to produce any single piece of evidence", Moulem said. He also claimed that the second trip of the UN inspectors to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack had been postponed to Wednesday due to disputes among the rebels. The Syrian foreign minister said the rebels in eastern Ghouta could not reach agreement about guaranteeing the team's safety. "A comprehensive assessment determined that the visit should be postponed by one day in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team", the UN announced in a statement released just after Moualem's press conference. The UN inspectors were due to begin a second day of investigation into last week's alleged chemical-weapons attack in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Syrian opposition says more than 1,300 people died when toxic gases were unleashed on Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiya - two neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Damascus - last Wednesday. The UN team came under sniper fire on Monday as they tried to visit an area in western Damascus. The convoy of six vehicles was shot in the buffer zone between rebel and government areas near Damascus as it travelled to Moadamiya and Ghouta.

US military ready to act on Syria immediately, West to strike soon

Syria's opposition expects a Western military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad's regime within days and has been consulted over targets, one of its officials said Tuesday. "There is no precise timing ... but one can speak of an imminent international intervention against the regime. It's a question of days and not weeks," said Ahmad Ramadan, a Syrian National Coalition political committee member. "There have been meetings between the Coalition, the (rebel) Free Syrian Army and allied countries during which possible targets have been discussed," the official said. Ramadan said they included airports, military bases and arms depots. The targets cover "airports used by planes equipped with missiles and explosive barrels, command centres used by regime officers, (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards and by (Lebanese Shiite militant group) Hezbollah," he said. Ramadan also said bases used to fire missiles and Scuds, especially the army's Brigade 155 near Damascus, were targets for Western punitive strikes following alleged chemical weapons attacks last week. Meanwhile National Coalition's envoy in Paris also said they have been informed of a possible military strike on Syria. "We have been informed of a strike by the world powers to punish the Syrian regime but we do not have the details," Monzer Makhous, the National Coalition's envoy in Paris, said. "This is being left for the world powers to decide." He adds: "We will support any move to punish such a regime, which has been killing its own people to remain in power at any expense." Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_27/US-military-ready-to-act-on-Syria-immediately-if-asked-Hagel-7295/

Russia ‘regrets’ US decision to shelve Syria talks

Moscow has voiced “regret” over a US decision to put off bilateral talks over Syria. Russia has sought to placate calls for military action over the alleged use of chemical weapons, saying there is no evidence of the Assad regime’s complicity. The US government announced it was postponing bilateral talks with Russia late Monday, citing “ongoing consultations” over the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Russian and American officials had been scheduled to meet in The Hague on Wednesday for bilateral talks on the Syrian conflict. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted a response to the move Tuesday morning, expressing concern over Washington’s decision. “It is a pity that our western partners have decided to cancel the bilateral US-Russian meeting to discuss calls for an international conference on Syria,” Gatilov wrote on Twitter. He added in a later post that discussing terms for a political solution were needed now more than ever in the face of possible military intervention in Syria. Russia on Tuesday warned a military intervention in Syria could have "catastrophic consequences" for the whole region and called on the international community to show "prudence."
"Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. "We are calling on our American partners and all members of the world community to demonstrate prudence (and) strict observance of international law, especially the fundamental principles of the UN Charter," he added.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov also posted on his Twitter, alleging the US had already made the decision to strike Syria and they had gone too far. Russia has no plans to strengthen its fleet in the region at the Mediterranean sea facility, the naval base at Tartus, a source from Russia’s Defense Ministry told Itar-Tass news agency, adding that withdrawal plans have also not been considered. However , the source did not exclude the possibility that one more military vessel might be transferred to the region from Russia’s Black Sea fleet and one nuclear submarine added from the North Sea fleet. A number of western countries including France, the US and the UK have condemned President Bashar Assad’s government for last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb and called for a response, hinting at possible military action. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minster David Cameron in a phone conversation that there was still no evidence the Assad government was behind the attack. However, Cameron insisted that Assad’s forces were behind the “chemical weapons” attack, saying that the Syrian opposition did not have the facilities to orchestrate such an attack. Cameron also cited the Syrian government’s delay in allowing a team of UN experts to examine the site as an indication that it had something to hide. Washington has also seen an increase in rhetoric, urging action against the Assad government. Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, decried the Assad government for the attack on her Twitter account, and demanded accountability. Meanwhile, the UN weapons inspectors are due to start their second day of investigations in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where the toxic attack happened last Wednesday. The team’s convoy of vehicles came under fire from unknown assailants Monday as they visited the area. In spite of the sniper attack, the team managed to collect samples for analysis and gather witness testimonies at a local hospital. Contradicting claims from the US and UK that the probe was too late to yield accurate results, the UN stressed the mission was still valid, although almost a week has passed since the supposed attack. The alleged attack took place last Wednesday in an eastern suburb of Syria’s capital. Media published conflicting reports on the death toll, ranging from “dozens” to over 1,300 dead. French charity Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) put the death toll at about 355.

Video: 8/27/13: White House Press Briefing

Video: President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor

Aryana Sayeed - Tu Baray Moqadasi 2013

Pakistan: Aitzaz praises first ever peaceful power transition in Pakistan

Leader of the Opposition in Senate, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan on Tuesday congratulated President Asif Ali Zardari and both houses of the parliament on a peaceful and democratic transition of power, the first in Pakistan’s history. Taking part in the debate on the last presidential address to the joint sitting of parliament, he said for the first time in the country's history, the president was constitutionally completing his five-year tenure in a respectable and democratic manner. Asif Ali Zardari is the first elected president of the country who is completing his five-year term on September 9. He also has the distinction of addressing joint sittings of parliament six times. Senator Ahsan said despite reservations, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership accepted results of the recently held general elections for the noble cause of continuation of democracy and peaceful transition of from one democratically elected government to the other. The PPP government was the first in Pakistan's history to complete a full five-year term and transfer power at the ballot box. But after a rudderless campaign, the party lost badly on polling day in May. President Zardari was credited with wheeling and dealing to keep the PPP in power for its full term – helped by the army chief of staff keeping to the sidelines and the opposition's unwillingness to force early elections. Aitzaz Ahsan, in the upper house of parliament today, also urged the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to implement its electoral manifesto and promises made with the people, including raise in the basic salary for labourers to Rs15,000, end of power loadshedding, stoppage to drone attacks, elimination of terrorism among others. The PPP leader said the raise in the estimated cost of Nandipour power project was not justified. Referring to the registration of a case against a private news channel, he said the government should have shown tolerance.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemns killings of PPP workers in Karachi

Patron-In-Chief of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has condemned the killings of PPP workers in Karachi’s Quaidabad area and called upon the government to go for the killers immediately and bring them before a court of law. It may be recalled that PPP City Area 128 Information Secretary Alam Khan Swati and his brother Aafreen Swati were attacked and injured with bullet wounds. Alam Khan Swati succumbed to wounds while his brother is in critical conditions. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP workers have immensely suffered during the dictatorial regimes for democratic struggle adding that they need to be protected from the elements directly or indirectly propped up by the undemocratic regimes. He sympathized with the bereaved family and assured that the Party will not leave them alone.

Bangladesh: Reemergence of extremists

WE compliment the law enforcing agencies for the arrest of two groups of potential terrorists from two different parts of the country. However, it should not surprise anyone with a very basic idea of terrorism to see them reemerge. We had in these very columns warned of any smugness in this regard. And we are happy to note that the agencies have so far in the last five years been able to successfully anticipate these groups. But it is their complete obliteration that we have not been able to ensure. If we want to see the end of religious extremism and terrorism then we have to counter effectively the ideology professed by these people, who are driven by distorted motivation and convoluted and warped understanding of the scripture, to recruit new bodies in their ranks. This is very fundamental to any counter-terror strategy, because without a dedicated rank and file no amount of money or other resources will allow the extremists to survive. Furthermore, combating religious extremism successfully depends on having a dynamic counter-terror strategy. Do we have one, and if at all, are we implementing it properly? If anyone in our crop of policy planners and law enforcement agencies thinks that the hanging of a few of the extremist leaders belonging to HUJI (B) or JMB was the death knell of the extremists will commit an elemental but cardinal judgmental error. These groups will cease to exist as an entity only when the rationale for their existence is defeated.

Glamorous Afghan singer Aryan Sayeed wants to make a difference for women

The 28-year-old glamorous female singer Afghanistan, Aryana Sayeed has been widely criticized for her performance, specifically after she appeared as one of the judges on TV talent show, The voice. Despite receving angry ctitics and even death threats, Aryana Sayeed remains committed to cotninue with her efforts in bring changes to women’s lives in a strictly conservative Islamic society. Aryana Sayeed who defies ctitics to remain a symbol of female independent in the country said, want women to have rights, to talk freely, to walk freely, to be able to go shopping when they wish. The glamorous singer quoted by AFP said, “I’m not saying that they have to take their clothes off, or even remove their head scarfs. Freedom is being able to live as a human being.” She said, “I have to be so careful as they’re constantly checking what you are doing, what you are saying, even how you laugh,” she said. “I said ‘I love you’ to one contestant because he was so good. He was 15-years-old. Even that caused trouble. People asked ‘What did she say? This is not something normal in Afghanistan’,”she said. Aryana was born in Afghanistan before moving to Pakitan as a child. She grew up travelling in many different countries and currently lives in London, England. She was the first Afghan Female Artist to break it into the International market with her smash hit song “mashallah”. In one of her songs, Aryana sings “Because I am a woman, I am a slave” against a background of images of women in burqas. “Women have no rights whatsoever here, so I want to be an example as somebody who is constantly fighting,” she told AFP, admitting that her beliefs mean that security concerns dominate her life. “I have a lot of trouble online, receiving messages from people telling me that they will kill me or that they’ll put acid in my face. They tell me to stop singing. “Kidnapping is something to keep in mind all the time. You’d rather die than be kidnapped. I don’t get out a lot.”

Army in Karachi: Khursheed Shah opposes MQM demand

The Express Tribune
Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has opposed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s demand for military administration in Karachi, Express News reported on Tuesday. He criticised the MQM by saying that the party officials usually make big demands and abruptly deny to their own statements. Shah further commented that a military administration in Karachi can consequently be a big mistake and MQM chief’s demand could be a part of a conspiracy. He further stated that army supervision in the city can undermine democracy. Earlier in the morning, MQM deputy convener Farooq Sattar also demanded military control in Karachi. He proposed his demand while addressing the National Assembly. Sattar stated that military administration apparently seems unimportant but only armed forces can control the violence in the city. MQM chief Altaf Hussain has demanded military supervision in Karachi as a result of continuing violence and target killing in the city. He has expressed his concerns on Sindh government failed protection to the residents of Karachi, especially the business community. He stated that police and rangers have failed to do their job and only armed forces can rescue the city from criminal elements.

KARACHI VIOLENCE: Four dead, 25 inujred as violence revisits Lyari

At least four people were killed and 25 others injured in gun and rocket attacks as violence revisited Lyari, Geo News reported Tuesday. Intense firing and rocket attacks that started Monday continued through the night in different parts of the restive neighborhood. Rescue sources said three people were killed and 25 others injured in the fresh violence. Hospital sources said that 10 women were also among the injured. Two bodies were found in Usmanabad and Kalakot areas in the wee hours of Tuesday. According to reports, 14 people were injured in rocket attacks in Kalri and Eidoo Lane areas while five other sustained injuries elsewhere. The injured were taken to Lyarni General Hospital for treatment. Bihar Colony, Agra Taj, Rahimpura, Hangurabad, Alfalah Aath Chown and other areas were affected due to exchange of firing between two groups. Areas adjacent to Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) were also affected due to intense firing. Identities of the injured were yet to be ascertained. A large number of people came out of their houses and gathered at the Aath Chowk, staging a protest demonstration against the unrest. Sania Naz, a Sindh Assembly member, claimed that three men belonging to Lyari were kidnapped near the (CHK). Provincial authorities and law enforcement agencies were nowhere to be seen despite Lyari reverberated with gunfire and rocket explosions like a battle field thorough the night.

Karzai extends stay in Pakistan for another day

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has extended his stay in Pakistan for another day,so the leaders of both could continue to confer on matters of common interest in the bilateral and regional context.
A high-level delegation is accompanying the Afghan President including Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Adviser Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Finance Minister Dr. Hazrat Omer Zakhilwall, Commerce and Industries Minister Dr. Anwarul Haq Ahady, and Chairman of the High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani. The Prime Minister will host a lunch for President Karzai today (Tuesday). This is President Karzai’s first visit since the democratic transition in Pakistan and the formation of the new government in June 2013. The visit reflects the readiness on both sides to work together for the furtherance of shared objectives of peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

Pakistan, Taliban and the Afghan Quagmire

By: Bruce Riedel
With American and NATO combat troops scheduled to depart Afghanistan next year, the relationship between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan has become more important than ever. It is a complex and complicated nexus. Without doubt, Pakistan and its intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate of the army (ISI), have more influence over the Taliban than any other country or intelligence service. It provides critical safe haven and sanctuary to the groups’ leadership, advice on military and diplomatic issues, and assistance with fund raising. But its influence is not complete, and whether it could persuade the Taliban to settle for a political settlement in Afghanistan, is unclear at best.
Pakistan’s Support for Survival and Revival of the Taliban
Pakistan has been intimately associated with the Taliban since its birth in the mid-1990s. The ISI provided support to Mullah Omar when he founded the organisation in Kandahar. It had trained Omar even earlier in the 1980s at one of its training camps for the mujahedin that fought the Soviet occupation of the country. Pakistan was one of only three countries that recognised the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the legitimate government of Afghanistan in the late 1990s (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the other two). By 2001, Pakistan was providing the Taliban regime in Kabul with hundreds of advisers and experts to run its tanks, aircraft and artillery, thousands of Pakistani Pashtuns to man its infantry and small units of its Special Services Group commandoes to help in combat with the Northern Alliance. Pakistan provided the oil needed to run the Taliban’s war machine. All of this despite a half dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling on all countries to cease aid to the Taliban because it was hosting al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. According to the 9/11 Commission, the ISI had mid-wifed the alliance between Mullah Omar and bin Laden, so it was no surprise that Pakistan ignored the UN. After 9/11, American and allied forces intervened in Afghanistan with a UN mandate and toppled the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The defeated Taliban fighters were ordered by Mullah Omar to scatter and avoid further direct confrontation with the enemy while they regrouped. Many just went home. The leadership and the hard core fled south from Kandahar into Pakistan. Most relocated in Baluchistan around the city of Quetta, where Omar himself settled. He began rebuilding his Taliban in exile. By 2004, it resumed the war inside Afghanistan. Pakistan gave it critical help and assistance. Without it, the Taliban would never have recovered. A NATO study published in 2012 based on the interrogations of 4000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda and other fighters in Afghanistan in over 27,000 interrogations concluded that ISI support was critical to the survival and revival of the Taliban after 2001 just as it was critical to its conquest of Afghanistan in the 1990s. It provides sanctuary, training camps, expertise and help with fund raising. Pakistani officers have been killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan operating under cover with Taliban forces. The NATO report concluded “the ISI is thoroughly aware of Taliban activities and the whereabouts of all senior Taliban personnel.” Mullah Omar, who calls himself the Commander of the Faithful, is believed by most experts to be in Quetta and Karachi under the protection of the ISI. He has not appeared in public in years, however, and issues only occasional statements. He continues to be portrayed by the group as fully in command and the ultimate decision maker for the organisation. He has never broken publicly with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and after the American commando mission killed bin Laden in 2011, Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership openly mourned the loss of the mastermind of 9/11. For its part, al-Qaeda continues to recognise Mullah Omar as the commander of the faithful and pledge allegiance to him.
Karzai’s Ultimatum
This summer, after years of indirect talks between the Taliban, Washington, Kabul and several other third parties, the Qatari government allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha with the Taliban flag flying and signs proclaiming the office represented the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. For President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government, the symbolism was unacceptable. Instead of treating the Taliban as an insurgency or a political partner or a gang of terrorists, they got the symbols of statehood. For Karzai and his government, the announcement, the flag and signs conceded the legitimacy of the Taliban’s claim to be the authentic government of Afghanistan and implied that the NATO forces are nothing more than a foreign occupation illegally backing up a rogue regime. Karzai suspended talks with Washington on a post 2014 long term security agreement until the Afghan Taliban agree to hold negotiations directly with his government. Kabul was also disturbed that the US also backed down on its longstanding demand that the Taliban break publicly with al-Qaeda. Instead the Taliban made vague statements about never letting ‘their country’ be used for terrorism against another. That echoes the Taliban’s statements before and after 9/11 that al-Qaeda was not engaged in attacks on American targets despite all the obvious evidence. al-Qaeda fighters are still on the battlefield in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban. The Taliban’s Pakistani patrons, the army and the ISI were very pleased with the outcome. They control the lives of the leadership in Pakistan and the lives of the Taliban team in Doha. As the former head of Afghan intelligence, Amrullah Saleh, likes to point out that the Taliban negotiators fly home to Karachi from Doha whenever they want to see their boss or their families. They are not independent players.
Limits to Pak Control
But there are some limits to Pakistani control of the Afghan Taliban. Even when Mullah Omar was in power in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, he refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Afghan-Pakistani border demarcated by the British in the 1890s, the so called Durand line. The Afghan Taliban provides some assistance to the Pakistani Taliban, which is engaged in an insurgency against the army and ISI and is responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks inside Pakistani cities. The Pakistani Taliban recognises Mullah Omar as their emir just like al-Qaeda does. Mullah Omar has never publicly criticised the Pakistani Taliban or its attacks like the attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai. It is an open question whether Pakistan could pressure the Afghan Taliban to make a deal with Kabul on a political settlement of the war. It could certainly make life very difficult for Mullah Omar and his lieutenants if they did not agree to a Pakistani supported deal. If it chooses to shut down sanctuaries and training camps, the Taliban would be under enormous pressure to accept a Pakistani diktat. But all of that seems highly unlikely. Pakistan’s generals believe America and NATO are going to cut and run after 2014. Newspaper reports that say that the White House is actively considering the so called zero option for no American troop presence after 2014 undoubtedly have reinforced the ISI’s belief. Time is on its side and its ally the Taliban will prevail sooner rather than later in the war.

Pakistan and the Killings across the LoC: Tactical Offensive or a Strategic Defensive?

By Lt. Gen. Arvinder S Lamba Former Vice-Chief of Army Staff
The recent killing of five soldiers in Poonch has reverberated the calculated and tested strategy of the Pakistan Army once again. Pakistan’s dubious track record of such events since the killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers in May 15 1999 to the killing five of our brave men on Aug O5, 2013, inside our LoC are indicative of a revival of such dehumanization. The emotions and concerns raised by the nation each time may well be justified, but undue intensity in responses and reactions may often go to consolidate success of the perpetrators. In a contextual perspective, recurring events of this nature fall in line with the processes of authorization, routinization, and dehumanization, used by Kelman and Hamilton in studying My Lai and related events, to explain the dimension of Pakistan’s Military psychology. Pakistan military can learn from its record of atrocities in Bangladesh with larger ramifications of isolation in international relations, a possibility that Nawaz Sharif Government cannot allow. At a tactical level, Pakistan’s military psychology may be seen focused on a sense of achievement vis a vis India within the vacuum created by enormous disparities of conventional combat power or as a moral ascendancy/supremacy in the prevailing imbalance. While the dare exhibited in this raid may certainly be a shot of Adrenaline for the Pakistani military, but this may not be without a risk of escalation. India therefore, cannot and need not be cowed down by the hyped responses and talks of nuclear retaliation built up by Pakistani military establishment, to any action taken by the Indian Military and reiterated by every single Pakistani participant during television debates or panel discussions . Perhaps Our responses need to be fearless, timely and appropriate at the tactical level, and beyond glare of the media. While objectives of such or similar actions identified by India’s Security and Defence Experts during recent debates and discussions are extremely relevant, the outcome intended this time may well be more subtle and strategic. It is pertinent to bring here the internal security dynamic and declining influence of the Pakistani Military in the post elections scenario. The divergence in the civil military relationship between the Army, the PML-N and PTI on several security issues has been increasing . India’s role in Afghanistan, and cooperation between India and Pakistan towards peace and tranquility may well be the most serious differences that may threaten peace. In its first steps towards its strategic objectives of return to constitutional hierarchy, the Government’s focus is on the place of the Military denying it its traditional space of decision making on national issues. The federal government’s recent decision to initiate a high treason case against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf for subverting the constitution of Pakistan twice, which led to exile of Nawaz Sharif, and landing the shame/ humiliation of Kargil upon Pakistan are significant . Commencement of investigations , fully supported by the PTI and PPP’ have added to concerns of the Military , as any such prosecution would threaten many to similar fate. Silence of the Army chief, General Kayani during the entire process of campaigning and elections, and of keeping the Taliban at bay while propagating opportunities of their conditional return to main stream, while a step in the good and orderly direction, was viewed with serious reservations from many quarters within the Army. The implicit intent of the civil government may well be the nemesis of the Pakistan Army from a place of pre eminence and control, to a place of irrelevance or relative insignificance. The only field left where the Military can draw or perhaps redraw its significance is the LoC and issues of terrorism that may turn focus from civilian engagement to military incidents that tend to rally nations and people against each other reversing the entire process of restoring peace. Katharine Houreld from Reuters on 20 May this year, quoted Lieutenant Talat Masood who viewed the past five years significant in this context , in that, while the military remained the most powerful force behind the scenes, it no longer wanted to take direct power, Musharraf, the last military dictator, was in detention, Generals had been hauled up before Pakistan's feisty courts and accused of vote-rigging, corruption and extrajudicial killings. The army does not have the monopoly of the power it once did. With a judiciary supportive of the Prime Minister s and a pro government media, an Army with a reformed, pro-democracy mindset, will complement the underpinnings for change in the overall environment in both Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Towards this, Nawaz Sharif will have to address the singular and greatest obsession of the Pakistan Military leadership and the rank and file, from its perceptions of India being the entire reason de etre of its existence to one of relevance in the national interests and internal contingencies. The fragile peace between India and Pakistan is once again under threat, but this time, the unease and tension may not be between India and Pakistan but between Pakistan and Pakistani Military establishment. For the latter, it may be a last strategic defensive for the Military’s relevance than a tactical victory vis a vis India.

Pakistan: Sharif in Wonderland

IT may have not been difficult for Nawaz Sharif to reclaim the top position. But he certainly does not appear comfortable there. His morose demeanour portrays a man in deep agony, inspiring little confidence in the nation he is supposed to lead. It was a rare moment in recent months when he was seen smiling in public, curiously enough, during the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry last month. Mr Sharif’s first 80 days in his third term in office have not been promising enough to build public confidence in his government. His much-delayed first address to the nation lacked focus and direction. His tentative approach and indecision on almost all key policy issues has reinforced the state of inertia afflicting the republic. Now almost at the end of the honeymoon period, the government does not have much to show for its performance. The prime minister’s dithering is proverbial. Several key diplomatic and government positions are lying vacant because he cannot make up his mind. Mr Sharif has never been known for the delegation of powers, but the situation seems to have worsened this time with him keeping several key portfolios such as foreign, defence and commerce for himself. The rest are the same old faces, part of the previous PML-N administration some 13 years ago, thus bringing no new vision or ideas relevant to a radically changed domestic and external environment. His unwillingness to induct new blood illustrates Mr Sharif’s old cliquish style of governance. The consultations on important matters are restricted to close family members and a few trusted hangers-on. It is a government running in neutral gear. There has not been any substantive move yet to implement the party’s much-touted reform agenda. Take for example, the economy, said to be on top of Mr Sharif’s priority list. There seems to be no clear policy direction. Despite his comfortable majority in the National Assembly, Mr Sharif is not willing to take the tough decisions urgently needed to put the economy back on track. It is ad hocism at its worst. In last week’s address, the prime minister spoke at length about what had gone wrong, but nothing on what is to be done. Reforming the taxation system certainly does not seem to be Mr Sharif’s priority. That was quite apparent from what he said in an interview to London’s Telegraph last week: “I have not yet discussed this matter because … these are very initial days.” So how long will it take for Mr Sharif to think about this critical issue? Mr Sharif has also hinted at cutting income and corporate taxes. “We will have to lower the taxes in the country, the income tax, the corporate tax and all the taxes,” he told the Telegraph. With the tax collection now accounting for less than 9pc of GDP, one of the lowest in the world, cutting taxes for the rich, without widening the tax base, is a recipe for disaster. Mr Sharif’s government has already agreed to a $5.3billion IMF bailout package that will give breathing space to Pakistan’s ailing economy. The programme also requires Pakistan to bring down the whopping fiscal deficit. But can this be possible without radical tax reforms? Given this situation, the government will find it extremely difficult to comply with the terms of the IMF programme. Mr Sharif appears much more conflicted and confused on the issue of terrorism. A large part of his address last week was devoted to the human and financial cost of rising militancy. He was right when he said that political stability and economic development is not possible without eradicating the menace. But his resolve seemed to weaken when it came to the issue of taking action against those challenging the state’s authority. While holding out the possibility of a military option, Mr Sharif still seems to be hung up on the idea of a negotiated peace deal with the militants. What he does not realise is that such an approach has not worked in the past and there is no hope of it succeeding this time either. While the Taliban have made it very clear that they are prepared to talk only on their terms, the government seems to be hell-bent on placating them. The government’s desperation to appease the Taliban was evident from the comment made by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan during a TV interview that the previous administrations were not sincere in negotiations. He ruled out the use of force against the militants saying that dialogue was the only option. Such remarks not only legitimise the terrorists, they may also weaken the resolve of our security forces battling them. The minister does not even want to have preconditions for the so-called peace talks. Nothing could be more defeatist than this. There is an increasing perception that Mr Sharif is willing to reconcile with the militants as long as they spare Punjab from terrorist attacks. The reported divide between the Punjabi Taliban and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan over Mr Sharif”s offer for peace talks lends credence to the prevailing impression. Many believe that the prime minister has put on hold the hanging of two convicted members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi after the threat from the Punjabi Taliban. The group threatened to target top government leaders if the men were executed. So, it was not surprising that the group welcomed Mr Sharif’s peace talks offer after the suspension of the execution order. Buying peace for one province at the cost of the country’s stability is certainly not going to work. One expected that the third Sharif government may have learnt from past mistakes and would bring political stability to the strife-torn country. But the performance of the government so far does not instil much hope for the future. Mr Sharif needs to come out of his Wonderland before the situation becomes irreversible.

Farewell dinner: Zardari exiting Presidency as a ‘satisfied man’

Outgoing President Asif Ali Zardari says that after overseeing the first-ever democratic transition of power in Pakistan and relinquishing presidential powers to parliament, he is leaving the presidency as a satisfied man. “Democratic transition to power means strengthening of democracy and I’m confident that Pakistan will be the ultimate winner,” said President Zardari while speaking at a farewell dinner he hosted for journalists at the Presidency on Monday. “I’ve no regrets. I’m exiting the Presidency with honour and dignity.” President Asif Zardari will step down on September 8 after completing his five-year constitutional term. PML-N leader Mamnoon Hussain, who won the July 30 presidential election, will step into Zardari’s shoes. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will extend complete support to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in tackling the challenges like terrorism and economic recovery, Zardari told journalists. The PPP lost the May 11 elections to the PML-N and is now the main opposition party in parliament. “We [PPP] accepted the elections despite our reservations,” he said. “But at the same time it is also our democratic right to criticise wrong decisions of the government.” Speaking about the performance of the previous PPP government, the president admitted that it might have committed failures but democratic transition of power is its biggest achievement. He, however, added that the PPP, a populist political party, could not implement its welfare agenda due to scarce resources. “Today even Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto would acknowledge that democracy is the best revenge,” he said referring to the PPP’s slain chairperson. “People failed to understand when I used to say, ‘we have come to create history, not to make headlines’.” The president said that he believed in the freedom of expression as an inalienable democratic right of the people. “We tolerated scathing criticism for the sake of democracy,” he said. “Others should learn from the criticism I and my party faced. Politicians are people’s representatives and people have the right to criticise them.” The president reiterated that the PPP would support every positive move of the government. He added that he had arranged Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s meeting with Nawaz Sharif with the aim to ensure continuity of policies which is important for progress.

سیاستدانوں کو تنقید برداشت کرنا سیکھنا چاہئے: صدر زرداری

(دنیا نیوز)
صدر آصف علی زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ 65 سال میں ایوان صدر سے عزت سے رخصت ہونے والا پہلا صدر ہوں ۔ جمہوریت اور معیشت کے
استحکام کے لئے نواز حکومت سے تعاون کریں گے تاہم جہاں ضرورت پڑی تنقید بھی کریں گے۔ ایوان صدر میں صحافیوں کے اعزاز میں عشائیے سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے صدر آصف علی زرداری نے کہا کہ گڑھی خدا بخش میں کہا تھا کہ ہم ہیڈ لائن نہیں تاریخ بنانے نکلے ہیں کچھ لوگوں نے اس کا غلط مطلب لیا ،پانچ سال میں جمہوریت کی جڑیں مضبوط کیں، ہو سکتا ہے ہم کئی جگہوں پر ناکام رہے ہوں۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ انتخابات پر تحفظات کے باوجود نتائج تسلیم کئے ، سیاستدانوں کو تنقید برداشت کرنا سیکھنا چاہیئے۔ صدر زرداری نے کہا کہ یہ جمہوریت کا تسلسل ہے کہ نواز شریف کو چینی وزیر اعظم سے ملک کے نئے وزیر اعظم کے طور پر متعارف کرایا، چین کے ساتھ معاشی تعاون کی پالیسی میں نے شروع کی۔ امید ہے نواز حکومت یہ پالیسی جاری رکھے گی۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ یہ جمہوریت کے ثمرات ہیں کہ آج کل زیادہ مصروف نہیں ہوں۔ ٹی وی دیکھنے اور اخبار پڑھنے کا وقت مل جاتا ہے۔

President Zardari extends full support to PML-N in fighting against extremism

President Asif Ali Zardari extended full support to the new government of the PML-N in addressing the economic issues and in its fight against extremism and terrorism. He was speaking at a dinner he hosted in honour of the journalists here at the President House that was part of a series of farewell dinners, as the President concludes his five-year term in the office. President Zardari said the Opposition, however has a right to criticise the policies of the government where necessary in the national interest.The President said his tenure has been marked with “accomplishments” in many areas as well as some “failures” and proved his word that he had uttered in Garhi Khuda Bux that “we have come to make history, not to make headlines.” He said scarcity of resources in a country, with a growing population, were a major impediment in implementation of his welfare agenda. “I have no regrets, while leaving the office of the President,” Zardari said and pointed that he transferred all his powers to the Parliament and strengthened the democracy. He said he was satisfied as he was leaving this House today, with honour, peace and total responsibility. He said rarely in the country’s history anyone has left the Presidency with grace, but he was leaving it with peace. The President said now “we can proudly say that Pakistan has won at the end, after a successful democratic transition.” “A whole lot of burden has been lifted off my shoulders, and now I can relax and read the newspapers,” the President said, who earlier shook hands with a long line of senior journalists, editors, columnists invited for the dinner. He said he has his full support to the journalists and said he will now be more available to meet them, with less of protocol. President Zardari said over the years the media has matured a lot and hoped they will continue to grow in the times ahead. He said the politicians too need to learn to face criticism, as they have a public life and the people also have a right to criticise their representatives. The President recalled his numerous visits to China and mentioned the agreements inked between the two countries in many areas and expressed the hope that the new government would honour these. He particularly mentioned the barter trade with China and stressed continuation of the policies for stronger bilateral ties. President Zardari referring to the results of the general election said despite having issues with it, and there was no reason to challenge these and added “we accepted the results for the sake of democracy.” The President concluded his short speech with the famous quote of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto that democracy is the best revenge. “Time has proved and these words have come true,” the President said.

President Zardari for Pak-India talks, end to LoC violence

Emphasising the need for resolution of all issues with India through dialogue, President Asif Zardari on Sunday asked India to stop violations at the Line of Control (LoC).
The president said this during a meeting with the AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed at the Bilawal House here.Kashmir issue, unprovoked Indian shelling at the LoC, political developments in AJK and other issues came under discussion during the meeting in which Faryal Talpur was also present. Zardari expressed his satisfaction at the briefing on the AJK situation by the AJK prime minister. He also thanked Nawaz Sharif for adhering to the spirit of the CoD and accepting the PPP mandate in the AJK. Majeed said Kashmiris were against the war and not against the Pakistan-India dialogue. He said Kashmiris were not against Pakistan-India CBMs and trade but this development should not be at the cost of their blood. He also appealed to the UN to take notice of unprovoked Indian shelling and firing at the LoC. He expressed solidarity with those killed in the firing and ordered Kotli administration to pay them compensations. He said India should know that the mountains of Kashmir will be the graveyard of its forces in case of war. He appealed to the international community to play its role to stop the casualties. He said violations of human rights and abuse of children and women posed a challenge to the UN. He appealed to the civilised world to ensure the Kashmiris’ right to plebiscite, adding that regional peace was linked to Kashmir issue in South Asia. He said the PPP founder ZA Bhutto had based his party on the Kashmir cause, for which the late leader had vowed to fight for a thousand years. He said Benazir Bhutto also raised voice for Kashmir and won its representation in the OIC, adding that the late leader had said they would sweat blood for the rights of Kashmiris. He also addressed the Kashmir community in which MNA Qadir Pateel, Senator Saeed Ghani, Najam Aalim and others participated.