Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Former president Asif Ail Zardari on Tuesday paid glowing tribute to Nusrat Bhutto on her second death anniversary, which will be commemorated today (Wednesday). Zardari said that she was a courageous woman who stood tall despite unspeakable personal tragedies in the course of her democratic struggle. “Begum Sahiba was a national asset who personally led from the front a heroic struggle for the restoration of democracy in the country,” the former president said in his message on the occasion of the second anniversary of Nusrat Bhutto which is being marked today. “Seldom before a woman was so victimised and brutalised in the course of democratic struggle as was the Maadr-I-Jamhooriat,” he said, adding that the “scars of brutalisation that she wore on her mind and body will continue to shine as glittering medallions inspiring generations to come to struggle for lofty democratic ideals”.
چند یادیں!بیگم نصرت بھٹو …بشیر ریاض............................................... !!!!!! Long Live Bhuttoism
آج 23اکتوبر کو بیگم نصرت بھٹو کی دوسری برسی ہے۔ 23مارچ بیگم نصرت بھٹو کا یوم ولادت ہے۔ 23مارچ 2011ء کو جناب آصف علی زرداری صدر پاکستان نے بیگم نصرت بھٹو کو پاکستان کا اعلیٰ ترین ایوارڈ نشان پاکستان جمہوریت کیلئے ان کی خدمات کے اعتراف میں دیا تھا اور انہیں مادر جمہوریت کا خطاب بھی دیا گیا تھا۔ مادر جمہوریت بیگم نصرت بھٹو کی جمہوری جدوجہد اور عظیم قربانیوں کی داستان عوام کے دلوں پر نقش ہے۔ دوسری برسی کے موقع پر انہیں خراج عقیدت پیش کرنے کے لئے چند یادیں پیش خدمت ہیں۔ 4اپریل1984ء کو ذوالفقار علی بھٹو شہید کی پانچویں برسی میں بیگم نصرت بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو پہلی مرتبہ ایک ساتھ شریک ہوئیں۔ لندن کی ویمبلے مسجد میں قرآن خوانی کا اہتمام کیا گیا تھا۔ انگلینڈ کے مختلف شہروں سے پارٹی عہدیدار بھی شریک ہوئے اور عظیم لیڈر کے لئے دعائے مغفرت کی گئی۔ برسی کی تقریب کو مقامی انگریزی پریس میں نمایاں طور پر شائع کیا گیا۔ قائد عوام کی پانچویں برسی کے سلسلے میں لندن کے علاقے الرز کورٹ کے بڑے ہال میں جلسہ عام منعقد ہوا۔ تقریب کی یہ خصوصیت تھی کہ اس میں پارٹی کے مرکزی رہنمائوں اور عہدیداروں کے علاوہ انگلینڈ اور یورپ کے ممالک میں پی پی پی کے نمائندوں اور کارکنوں نے بڑی تعداد میں شرکت کی۔ بعض عرب ممالک کے سفارتی نمائندے بھی موجود تھے اور انہوں نے بی بی کی تقریر سنی جس میں بی بی نے اعلان کیا تھا کہ وہ پاکستان میں جمہوریت کی بحالی اور انسانی حقوق کے لئے قائدعوام ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے مشن پر کاربند رہیں گی۔ اس جلسہ عام کے بعد بیگم صاحبہ پیرس چلی گئیں۔ اپنی علالت کے باوجود بیگم صاحبہ پارٹی کارکنوں سے ملاقات کرتی تھیں اور انہیں اپنی بیٹی شریک چیئرپرسن کا مکمل ساتھ دینے کی تلقین کرتی تھیں تاکہ جنرل ضیاء کی آمریت کا خاتمہ کیاجا سکے۔بیگم نصرت بھٹو کو دانشوروں اور اہل قلم سے خاص لگائو تھا۔ وہ اردو روانی سے بولتی تھیں۔ انگریزی اور اردو اخبارات کامطالعہ کرتی تھیں۔ بیگم صاحبہ مساوات کو سیاسی قوت کے اظہار کا اہم ذریعہ سمجھتی تھیں۔ بی بی نے لندن سے ماہنامہ عمل جاری کیا۔ اسے بہتر بنانے اور مضامین کے سلسلے میں بیگم صاحبہ رہنمائی کرتی تھیں۔ میر مرتضیٰ بھٹو نے 1978ء میں بیگم صاحبہ کی ہدایت پر لندن سے مساوات ویکلی کا اجراء کیا تو بیگم صاحبہ نے اس کی تحسین کی تھی۔ بیگم نصرت بھٹو دردمند ،عظیم انسان تھیں۔ ان کی شخصیت بے داغ تھی۔ پارٹی کی سربراہ کے طور پر کارکنوں کا بہت خیال کرتی تھیں۔ وہ لیڈروں کے بجائے کارکنوں کو زیادہ اہمیت دیتی تھیں، ان کے ذاتی مسائل میں دلچسپی لیتی تھیں اور حتی المقدور مدد کرتی تھیں۔ وہ پارٹی کارکنوں کو اثاثہ سمجھتی تھیں۔ بیگم صاحبہ کا پارٹی کارکنوں کے ساتھ احترام کا پائیدار رشتہ آخر دم تک قائم رہا۔ بیگم صاحبہ کو وہ لوگ پسند نہیں تھے جو پارٹی مفادات کو نقصان پہنچانے کے ذمہ دار تھے۔ بیگم صاحبہ کو یہ شکایت تھی کہ بی بی کے گردوپیش بعض لوگوں نے ان پر جادو کیا ہوا ہے اور وہ غلط مشورے دیتے ہیں۔ جناب ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے 1969ء میں بیگم نصرت بھٹو سے میرا پہلا تعارف کرایا تھا۔ میں نے بریڈ فورڈ اور برمنگھم میں بھٹو صاحب کے عوامی جلسوں کا انتظام کیا۔ بیگم نصرت بھٹو نے بھٹو صاحب کے ساتھ ان جلسوں میں شرکت کی اور عوام نے ان کا فقید المثال استقبال کیا تھا۔ بیگم بھٹو اس سے بہت متاثر ہوئی تھیں۔ خاتون اول بیگم نصرت بھٹو 1972ء میں لندن آئیں ان کا قیام پاکستانی سفیر میاں ممتاز دولتانہ کے ہاں تھا۔ میری بیگم صاحبہ سے ملاقات ہوئی تو میں نے انہیں بتایا کہ لندن میں ڈان کے نمائندے نسیم احمد نے وزیراعظم کے چیف سیکورٹی افسر سے ملاقات کرائی ہے اور انہوں نے مجھے اس کے ساتھ رابطہ کے لئے کہا ہے۔ بیگم صاحبہ نے مجھے ہدایت کی کہ یہ پولیس والا ہے اور اس پر اعتبار نہیں کیا جا سکتا ۔ آپ وزیراعظم ہائوس میں صرف مجھ سے رابطہ رکھیں اور ہر ضروری اطلاع مجھے دیا کریں اور میں وزیراعظم کو اس سے آگاہ کروں گی۔بیگم صاحبہ کی اس کے بارے میں رائے درست ثابت ہوئی ،قصوری کے جھوٹے مقدمہ قتل میں اسی چیف سیکورٹی افسر نے اپنے اسی وزیراعظم کے خلاف سلطانی گواہ بن کر لاہور ہائیکورٹ میں شہادت دی تھی جن کے نام پر اس نے ہر کس و ناکس پر دھونس جما رکھی تھی۔ فوجی آمر جنرل ضیاء نے وزیراعظم ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے عدالتی قتل کے بعد ان کے خاندان کے خلاف انتقامی کارروائیوں کاسلسلہ جاری رکھا۔ بیگم نصرت بھٹو اور بے نظیر بھٹو کو مختلف جیلوں میں قید اور گھروں میں نظربند کرنے کی اذیت ہی نہیں دی بلکہ انہیں ہراساں کرنے کیلئے ان کی جائیداد ضبط کرنے کے گھنائونے اقدام سے بھی گریز نہیں کیا۔ انتقام کی وحشیانہ کارروائیاں بھی بیگم نصرت بھٹو کے عزم و استقلال کو کمزور نہ کر سکیں بلکہ انہوں نے فولادی قوت سے ان کا مقابلہ کرکے جنرل ضیا کے مذموم عزائم کو ناکام بنایا۔ وہ ان کے حوصلہ کو پست نہ کر سکا۔ جنرل ضیا ہر کوشش کے باوجود شہید قائدعوام اور ان کے خاندان کے خلاف کرپشن کا کوئی ثبوت پیش نہ کر سکا، اس میں ناکامی کے بعد ضیاء نے انکم ٹیکس کی عدم ادائیگی کا افسانہ تراشا اور کثیر رقم کا جھوٹا کیس بنا کر نوٹس دیا کہ اگر ٹیکس ادا نہ کیا گیا تو ان کی رہائشی جائیداد ضبط کر لی جائے گی۔لندن کے مقتدر اخبار گارڈین نے یہ خبر شائع کی کہ جنرل ضیاء کی فوجی حکومت نے بیگم نصرت بھٹو کو تین لاکھ ستاسی ہزار پونڈ انکم ٹیکس ادا کرنے کا حکم دیاہے اور عدم ادائیگی کی صورت میں کراچی میں ان کی رہائش گاہ 70کلفٹن ضبط کر لی جائے گی۔ایک دوست عرب ملک کے سفیر نے گارڈین کی خبر پڑھ کر مجھ سے رابطہ کیا اور یہ پیش کش کی کہ ان کی حکومت یہ رقم ادا کرے گی تاکہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کی بیوہ اور ان کی بیٹی کو گھر سے بے دخل نہ کیا جائے۔ اتفاق سے بیگم صاحبہ آزاد تھیں۔ میں نے انہیں کراچی فون کرکے اس پیش کش سے آگاہ کیا۔ بیگم صاحبہ نے کہاکہ جنرل ضیاء بے شک ہمیں گھر سے نکال دے ہم باہر سڑک پر بیٹھ جائیں گے لیکن اس جھوٹے کیس میں ایک روپیہ بھی نہیں دیں گے۔ آپ ان کا شکریہ ادا کر دیں ۔ میں نے بیگم صاحبہ کے جواب سے انہیں مطلع کر دیا کہ بیگم صاحبہ آپ کی تشویش کے لیے شکرگزار ہیں لیکن پیش کش قبول کرنے سے معذرت کر لی ہے۔ 20ستمبر1996ء کو مرتضیٰ بھٹو کا کراچی میں قتل ہوا۔ اس وقت بیگم صاحبہ لندن میں تھیں اور اس المناک واقعے سے بے خبر تھیں۔ مرتضیٰ کی سالگرہ 18ستمبر کو ہے۔ انہوں نے بیٹے کے لئے تحائف خریدے لیکن قدرت کو کچھ اور ہی منظور تھا۔جس طرح وہ بیٹے کو سفرِ آخرت میں نہ دیکھ سکی تھیں۔ اسی طرح جب بی بی27دسمبر2007ء کو لیاقت باغ راولپنڈی میں شہید کر دی گئیں تب بھی انہیں یہ معلوم نہ تھا کہ ان کی پیاری بیٹی خالق حقیقی سے جا ملی ہیں اور اسی بے خبری کے عالم میں وہ دنیا کو الوداع کہہ کر اپنے پیاروں کے پاس چلی گئیں
http://www.pajhwok.com/Believing they have still work to do, NATO allies and ISAF partners on Wednesday said they would continue to stand by Afghanistan after the mission ends in December 2014. NATO defence ministers, who met for a second day in the Belgium capital of Brussels, discussed with their Afghan counterpart progress in Afghanistan and planning for the post-2014 mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. “We have moved closer to putting that mission in place. Our military commanders have reviewed planning and identified in broad terms the key elements we require to set up the mission,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in his remarks. Afghan forces took the lead for providing security nation-wide in June and they had shown they were up to the job, Rasmussen remarked. He said Afghan forces were currently leading more than 1,000 patrols a day and planning and conducting complex operations in all parts of the country. The NATO chief said Afghan forces were developing their skills in areas such as helicopter air support in order to achieve the best possible position from which they would assume full responsibility for security at the end of 4014. As the defence Ministers moved ahead in their planning for the NATO-led post 2014 Resolute Support mission, Rasmussen said “We still have to do work”. ISAF defence ministers also discussed next year’s elections in Afghanistan, which will be fully led and managed by the Afghans. “We expect those elections to be transparent, inclusive and credible,” Rasmussen said. They also reviewed the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. That review has been published. It sets out the areas where NATO is doing well and areas where more work is needed. Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi attended the meeting, as well as representatives from the European Union and the United Nations.
http://www.rferl.org/ Just weeks ago, his release was hailed by the Afghan government as the key to successful peace talks with the Taliban. But Pakistan's decision to free Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's co-founder and former second-in-command, has failed to live up to Kabul's expectations. No formal negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban have been scheduled. No location has been set. And it is unclear whether Baradar is actually free at all. Added together, it appears that Kabul's efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan have suffered yet another blow. Even before his reported release in September, questions were raised about Baradar and the possible role he could play in the peace process. There were doubts about his clout with the current Taliban high command and whether he could convince the militant group to end its bloody insurgency. But to the Afghan government, securing Baradar's release became a top priority as soon as he was arrested in a joint operation conducted by Pakistani security forces and the CIA in Karachi in 2010. The widely held belief at the time was that he was targeted because Islamabad was concerned that he would circumvent the Pakistani authorities and enter into direct negotiations with Kabul. No Framework Kate Clark, a senior analyst at Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent research organization in Kabul, says she is not surprised that Baradar's release has not immediately resulted in peace talks. "What you needed was not only his release but some mechanism or political framework for him to fit into or some place for him to work from," Clark said. "We also don't know if he wants to make peace. After many years in a Pakistani jail he might actually want to fight." Clark says Kabul had unrealistic expectations that Pakistan would release Baradar without keeping close tabs on him. And now there are new complications -- both the Taliban and the Afghan government have said he is still being held by Pakistan's security establishment. Despite Pakistan's recent pledge that Baradar is "free to meet and contact anyone to advance the cause of reconciliation," there are indications that he has simply been placed under house arrest. Clark says that for any Taliban leader to be effective in a peace process he would have to be independent of both Islamabad and Kabul. House Arrest? The Afghan High Peace Council (AHPC), the presidentially appointed Afghan body tasked with pursuing a peace settlement with the militant group, has said Baradar is being held in Peshawar, in Pakistan's restive northwest. Maulavi Shahzada Shahid, a spokesman for the AHPC, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that they know Baradar's address but have not been able to make contact with him because his communications and movement are being restricted. "Unfortunately, it's clear that Mullah Baradar is not completely free," Shahid said. "He has been transferred to Peshawar. We don't know the reason but he is being held under house arrest. For the sake of his contribution to peace, we want him freed." Pakistan announced in September that the former Taliban leader had been released, but has been silent about where he may have gone afterward. The Taliban says it has not reached out to Baradar because he is under house arrest. In a statement on October 9, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Baradar could not meet anybody or move anywhere without permission from Islamabad. "Unfortunately, he still spends his days and nights in prison and his health condition is worrying," read the statement. "It is getting worse day-by-day." Taliban sources have told international news agencies that Baradar is being held by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's notorious spy agency. Those sources have suggested that the ISI could be attempting to persuade Baradar to protect Pakistan's interests during Afghan-led peace talks. In July, the Taliban closed its new political office in Qatar after protests by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who objected angrily to the presence of the Taliban's flag and insignia on the grounds of the building, which was intended to host peace negotiations. Baradar's release came amid reports that he would lead negotiation efforts at a new Taliban political office. Saudi Arabia and Turkey were identified as possible locations for the office, but no such opening has been announced.
The United States on Tuesday defended drone strikes targeting Al Qaeda operatives and others it deems enemies, rejecting reports by two human-rights groups questioning the legality of strikes they asserted have killed or wounded scores of civilians in Yemen and Pakistan. Human Rights Watch alleged that 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians, were killed by the aircraft and other aerial strikes in Yemen between September 2012 and June 2013 and called such strikes unlawful or indiscriminate. Amnesty International called on the United States to investigate reports in Pakistan of civilian casualties, among them a 68-year-old woman hit while farming with her grandchildren. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said such strikes are unlawful or indiscriminate. Amnesty, based in London, said it is concerned that the attacks outlined in the report and others may have resulted in unlawful killings that constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes. President Obama’s chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said the United States ‘‘would strongly disagree’’ with any claims that the United States had acted improperly, arguing that American actions follow all applicable law. Repeating Obama’s defense of the drone policy earlier in the year, Carney said there must be ‘‘near-certainty’’ of no civilian casualties before the US proceeds with a drone strike. He said they are not used when targets can instead be captured. ‘‘US counterterrorism operations are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective,’’ Carney said. Other methods of going after targets would result in even more civilian casualties ‘‘and ultimately empower those who thrive on violent conflict,’’ Carney said. He added that there’s a wide gap between US assessment of drone-related civilian casualties and what some nongovernmental groups have determined. Amnesty said the United States is so secretive about the drone program that there is no way to tell what steps it takes to prevent civilian casualties. They say it has ‘‘failed to commit to conduct investigations’’ into alleged deaths that have already occurred, and it called on the United States to comply with its obligations under international law by investigating the killings documented in the report and providing victims with ‘‘full reparation.’’ In its report about strikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch asserted that each of six cases examined through interviews with Yemeni officials, witnesses, and survivors, drone or other aerial strikes were carried out despite the presence of civilians, in contravention of the laws of war. The strikes are part of a joint US-Yemeni campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, called the most dangerous Al Qaeda branch. It’s blamed for a number of unsuccessful bomb plots aimed at Americans, including a failed plan to down a US-bound airliner with explosive hidden in the bomber’s underwear and a second plot to send mail bombs on planes to the United States hidden in the toner cartridges of computer printers. The Yemeni Embassy in Washington said Yemen has adopted strict measures to avoid targeting militants in civilian areas, and only uses drones ‘‘in remote areas to target militants that are out of the reach of security personnel’’ who present an immediate danger because they ‘‘are planning to carry out terror attacks inside the capitals of governorates.’’ Among the six strikes detailed by Human Rights Watch is an attack in Sarar, in central Yemen on Sept. 2, 2012, in which two warplanes or drones attacked a minibus, killing a pregnant woman, three children, and eight other people. The report said the apparent target, tribal leader Abd al-Raouf al-Dahab, was not in the vehicle. The Yemeni families were only compensated for the deaths after Human Rights Watch brought the case to the Yemeni government’s attention, the report said. The researchers also examined the US cruise missile strike in al-Majalah in southern Abyan province on Dec. 17, 2009. The report said the Yemeni government described the attack as a Yemeni airstrike that killed 34 at a training camp, but a later government inquiry found the strike actually killed 14 suspected AQAP fighters, but also at least 41 civilians living in a Bedouin camp, including 21 children. The Yemeni president acknowledged the 2009 strike in an interview last year. The Yemeni Embassy said Tuesday said the surviving families had been compensated. The statement said the use of drones was under review as part of the country’s ongoing national dialogue between the president and Yemeni tribal factions. In Pakistan, the United States considers its drone program to be a key weapon against insurgent groups that it says stages cross-border forays into neighboring Afghanistan. But the belief, widespread in Pakistan, that the strikes kill large numbers of civilians sparks resentment and complicates the two countries’ ability to coordinate efforts against militants based in the country, including Al Qaeda. The US drone policy sets a dangerous precedent ‘‘that other states may seek to exploit to avoid responsibility for their own unlawful killings,’’ Amnesty said. Amnesty’s report said that the grandchildren of the woman killed said that missile fire struck on Oct. 24, 2012, as she was collecting vegetables in a family field in the North Waziristan tribal area, a major militant sanctuary near the Afghan border. Three of the grandchildren were wounded, as were several others who were nearby, the victims said. Another incident noted by the Amnesty report occurred in North Waziristan on July 6, 2012. Witnesses said a volley of missiles hit a tent where a group of men had gathered for an evening meal after work, and then a second struck those who came to help the wounded, the rights group said.
Nawaz Sharif, who is on a visit to Washington, was, according to sources, reportedly questioned today by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on terror-related issues, including Hafiz Saeed, the Lashkar e Taiba and their role in the Mumbai attacks of 2008 in which 166 people, including six Americans were killed. Hafiz Saeed, believed to be the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks carried out by Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar, is on the US' list of most wanted terrorists, but roams a free man in Mr Sharif's country. Later today, Mr Sharif will meet President Barack Obama for the first time as the two countries try to build on a slow improvement in ties that hit rock bottom two years ago, in part over the US raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Tempers have calmed since then, but there remain sore points, particularly US drone strikes and alleged Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban. Under pressure from back home, Mr Sharif on Tuesday publicly called on the United States to end its drone attacks in Pakistan, saying, "the use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country." "This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship (with the United States) as well. I would therefore stress the need for an end to drone attacks," the Pakistan PM said. His petition came as two human rights groups have in reports accused the United States of breaking international law and perhaps committing war crimes by killing civilians in missile and drone strikes that were intended to hit militants in Pakistan and Yemen. (US broke international law by killing civilians with drones, claims human rights groups) But the US has emphatically denied that its drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan and elsewhere infringe international law. White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "To the extent these reports claim that the US has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree." (US rejects charges of breaking international law with drone strikes) "US counter-terrorism operations," he said, "are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective, and the United States does not take lethal strikes when we or our partners have the ability to capture individual terrorist.... terrorists. Our preference is always to detain, interrogate and prosecute." The White House meeting is Mr Sharif's first since he swept to power in May elections this year. In a nod to the fading of tensions since the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama's administration has moved to release more than $1.6 billion in blocked security assistance to Pakistan.
timesofindia.indiatimes.comAny hopes that Pakistan may embark on a new course in its ties with the United States — and India — have been laid to rest even before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets President Obama at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. In a speech at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) some 24 hours before he is to meet Obama, MNS delivered the stock Pakistani wish list, despite the Obama administration having shot down each of them in the hours and days before the meeting viz., US should mediate between India and Pakistan particularly on the Kashmir issue (Washington has said no several times); US should offer Pakistan a civilian-nuclear deal like the one it did to India (fat chance, the US has said); and US should stop drone strikes inside Pakistan (We will when we’ve taken out the last terrorist, the Obama administration has indicated). On the last point, Sharif was evidently emboldened by a Amnesty International/Human Rights report that pilloried the US for civilian deaths associated with drone strikes, but some of the key accounts in the report are already being questioned in the online media. Besides, the White House has already pushing back against the report. But on the other two issues relating to India — it’s the same old, same old. Besides, allowing wicked Indian diplomats to chuckle about “who’s being the dehati aurat now?” it also suggests that far from allowing Miansahib to get on with a new foreign policy paradigm, the Pakistani military is still calling the shots. You can almost hear the Obama folks, who’ve been trying to walk Pakistan away from its India-fixation, banging their heads against the wall, although my sense is they knew/know what was coming (same old, same old). Which is why the protocol for MNS is anything but dazzling, as Ejaz Haider has snarkily pointed out here. Not only was Obama out playing golf with his White House staff on Sunday, leaving MNS to call on secretary of state Kerry (although as Ejaz points out charitably, MNS is also Pakistan’s foreign minister), MNS had to wait two days in Washington for a White House meeting while Obama had been in town all along doing other things. If the WH had sensed (doubtless from good, clear NSA intercepts) that Pakistan was ready to change its stars or stripes, they would have laid out the band-baaja with lunch or dinner thrown in. Instead, Obama isn’t even feeding him lunch on Wednesday. The White House schedule shows Obama having lunch with Vice President Joe Biden before he meets Sharif, AFTER LUNCH. Really, how bad is it really if Obama prefers to have lunch with his bloviator vice president??? Hell, even MMS got a “working lunch” despite the fact that he may be serving out his last few months! The good news Pakistanis can carry home though is first lady Michelle Obama (joined by Dr Jill Biden) will not only host tea for Kulsoom Nawaz, but thereafter entertain her with a poetry recital, ostensibly because she holds a Master’s degree in Urdu literature, although whether she will appreciate former US poet laureate Billy Collins (who I met and heard at TED last year and absolutely loved) is another matter. Still, bully for Pak. They’ll probably think this is so much more than what Mrs Gursharan Kaur got (only tea), although the truth is Mrs K hoofed off to be present at the investiture ceremony of DC Appeals Court judge Sri Srinivasan not waiting for any White House song and dance. But such is the burning Pakistani desire for one-upmanship vis-à-vis India that they must have gone looking for a judge whose swearing in they could have Mrs MNS attend. You can see and hear this desperate yearning for being tagged with India in every one of MNS’ speeches, but the sad fact is Pakistan is in a different league altogether. For all the positive noises and optics aimed at creating a congenial atmosphere around the visit, Pakistan is now known as a terrorist state, or to put it more politely, a state that nourishes, entertains, and uses terrorists. You don’t have to hear this from American or Indian commentators. There are many Pakistanis who are saying this openly, and one of them, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, has been embarrassing the travelling circus with brilliant testimonials about the garrison state’s ties to terrorism. Of course, in the eyes of ultranationalist Pakistanis, he’s a traitor, in the same vein as Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped US nail Osama bin Laden. In fact, I’m surprised that US lawmakers who MNS met today did not make a STRONGER case for springing him, since the scales have fallen from their eyes (in most cases) about the true nature of the Pakistani state. Here is an example of Congressional reaction to meeting MNS, an event that involved close questioning on the Lashkar-e-Taiba. It has also not escaped the American media that Washington is doling out US tax payer dollars to a Pakistan that is extracting American blood in Afghanistan at a time when the US itself is in debt. “US resuming aid to Pakistan as national debt passes $17 trillion” read the headline on Fox News, always ready to take a swipe at the Obama administration, although it was the Bush administration which accelerated the “let’s buy Pakistan’s loyalty” program, a strategy that is questioned even by Husain Haqqani (who didn’t mind the lolly coming in as long as he was ambassador). But Denialistan, living in some cuckoo land (a new Pakistani poll shows 59 per cent of Pakistanis believe US was responsible for 9/11) just doesn’t get all this. After the masterpiece in his UN speech about Pakistan being a “responsible nuclear power,” poor MNS had to ply another military-vetted speech at the USIP in which he said, with a straight face that, “Pakistan is neither source of nor epicentre of terrorism.” Towards the end of the speech, he was comparing the founding fathers of Pakistan of his moth-eaten state with those of the US and even brought the Sermon on the Mount into play. You can hear all of it here, including the 182 times he clears his throat, which suggests that he has a throat infection and which begs the question – what happens when world leaders have a bug (the real one); do they avoid shaking hands? The military of course has remained in the shadows during Sharif’s visit. He is being projected as a civilian prime minister, an elected leader of a Pakistan that has effected a smooth transition of power for the first time in history yada yada yada. But long-time Pakistan watchers know the khakis are never too far in the shadows and everything that Sharif has said so far on his U.S visit suggests they still in control on the foreign policy front. He’s just fronting for a military that has been starved of $$$ and new toys for a few years now. The $ 1.6 billion American largess, including an immediate transfer of $ 322 million under the CSF — is the biggest takeaway from this visit. More to follow, as we say in journalese.
The Express Tribune
MATTERS have come to such a pass in Balochistan that there’s barely time to cope with one tragedy when another one strikes. Following last month’s massive earthquake in the province, and subsequent attacks by Baloch separatists on government and military aid teams, the Quetta-bound Jaffar Express was hit by a blast in Nasirabad district on Monday. At least six people were killed and many others injured. It was sheer good fortune that the death toll was not higher, given that the explosion was of such magnitude that several bogies were derailed and the track was damaged. Coming from Rawalpindi, the train carried many who were returning after celebrating Eid with their families in Punjab. Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by the proscribed Baloch Republican Army that cites military operations, discrimination against the province by the centre and denial of rights to the native population as reasons for its bloody tactics. True, Baloch grievances are many and legitimate, and it is not surprising that militancy is increasing in intensity. But the targeting of civilians must be condemned in the strongest terms. As elsewhere in the country, innocents have often been targeted in Balochistan, and migrants from other provinces are particularly vulnerable. But much of the blame also rests with the security establishment and political governments in the past and now. They have either actively contributed to Balochistan’s descent into chaos or have simply stood by, not taking remedial action, and thus causing the province to be split along several fault lines. From the issue of underdevelopment to that of missing persons reportedly in the illegal custody of the security apparatus, too many matters have been left to fester. What will it take for the state to wake up to its responsibilities?
Being a member of an ethnic or religious minority in Pakistan brings with it inherent risks - something dramatically illustrated in Peshawar last month when a bomb attack on a church killed at least 85 people. The US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 notes that the 5 percent who constitute the non-Muslim population in a country of just over 190 million face persecution in many forms, including “attacks on houses of worship, religious gatherings, and religious leaders perpetrated by sectarian, violent extremist, and terrorist groups.” These result in hundreds of deaths during the year. The plight of non-Muslim citizens has been taken up repeatedly by monitoring organizations. In a statement following the Peshawar church attack, Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Lahore-based Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said: “HRCP calls upon the government to explain its plan to confront this menace and take meaningful steps to reassure the non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan that the government has the will and the ability to protect their lives and religious freedoms.” Like Christians, Hindus, who make up just under 2 percent of the population, face growing persecution, particularly in the form of their “forced” conversion to Islam, notably of young girls who are wed to Muslims and made to adopt Islam. “We hear of dozens of such cases,” said Amarnath Motumal, a Karachi-based lawyer and Hindu community leader. “We have no issue when an adult Hindu woman, aged over 18 years, opts to marry a Muslim, but in the case of 14- or 15-year-olds, coercion and even abduction is not uncommon. Besides, the marriage of girls under 16 years is against the law.” Parliament has taken up the issue of the conversion and abduction of Hindus. A report based on an inquiry begun last year is expected soon. The Ahmadi community Members of the minority Ahmadi community, which faced the worst attack in its history in 2010 in Lahore when around a 100 were killed, say they live in constant fear. The group considers itself Muslim, but was in 1974 declared non-Muslim under Pakistani law, on the basis of beliefs seen by orthodox groups as being controversial. There are an estimated 3-5 million Ahmadis in Pakistan. “Naturally there is fear. Pamphlets are distributed, saying Ahmadis should be killed as infidels,” said Qamar Suleman, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community in the town of Rabwah in the Punjab. “Attacks on members of our community are reported from across the country, threats are made to them and recently, in educational institutions, there has been an increase in harassment, even of very young children. A plan was made by the peers of an Ahmadi college girl at a Lahore private institution to have her run over by a car.” He said he saw no signs of improvement in the situation - indeed many talk of a deterioration. Ethnic Hazaras The ethnic Hazara minority, comprising some 6,000-7,000 people according to its leaders, have also faced attacks. It is targeted both because it is an ethnic minority concentrated in certain parts of Quetta and speaking Farsi, and because nearly all Hazaras are Shia. “The Hazaras are targeted due to both these factors, and we have no protection,” Abdul Qayuum Changezi, chairman of the Hazara Jarga representing the community, told IRIN. For months, the community has lived under siege with roads to predominantly Hazara areas blockaded, but this has not prevented bomb attacks such as the one in January this year that killed 96. Other attacks have taken place since then. The Kihal community The Kihal are another community under pressure. Samu Kihal, a member of the indigenous Kihal community with whom IRIN last spoke in 2010 said: “Things have been getting worse and worse for us since then. People say we are `dirty’ and now they sometimes don’t even pay us as beggars - saying they will give their money only to Muslims.” The Kihals have for centuries lived along the banks of the River Indus, making their living from fishing or using reeds to construct river craft. However, rapid development along the Indus, and in some cases, according to Samu Kihal, “the seizure of lands that were ours for generations” have threatened their livelihoods and homes. While the Kihals say they are Muslim, the majority population rejects this on the basis that they eat `impure’ food prohibited to Muslims, such as crocodile meat. As a nomadic population they are also not entitled to national ID cards, which require a fixed address, meaning that Kihals cannot vote. “We are not even considered people,” Samu Kihal said. The Kalash community The Kalash community, who inhabit three valleys in Chitral District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, are a pagan group. They follow an animist faith. “In my lifetime of over 70 years I have seen our culture torn apart; our people convert to Islam just to stay safe, even though in practice they follow our ancient beliefs,” said Shimshaala Bibi, in Chitral. Apart from the pressures on them to convert, incidents such as the 2009 kidnapping of a Greek charity worker have led to a worsening in their situation. Though NGO activist Athanassios Lerounis was released some seven months after his abduction, allegedly by Taliban-style militants, the incident brought more security force deployments in the Kalash valleys and, according to local people, a bigger threat from the Taliban who frequently target state forces. “Because there are more men in uniform, we fear more attacks,” said Razzak Shah, from the main Kalash Valley of Bumburit. The Kalash are thought to number 3,000-4,000 individuals, with a rapid fall in numbers seen mainly as a result of forced conversions to Islam. Estimates as to numbers vary, with some accounts stating there are around 6,000 Kalash. Bibi says people who try to help them have been driven away, and she fears a day could come when the Kalash exist “no more”. The Shia community While the Shia sect, making up some 25 percent of the Muslim population, considers itself a part of the Muslim majority, it has in recent times been subjected to more and more attacks by orthodox groups from the Sunni majority community who question some of their beliefs. In July this year, 57 Shias died in a bomb attack in a market place in the town of Parachinar in the Kurram Tribal Agency, and Shia groups continue to protest the killing of Shias, notably in Karachi.
قومی اسمبلی میں اپوزیشن لیڈرسیدخورشید شاہ نے کہا ہے کہ اگر وزیراعظم نوازشریف پنجابی طالبان کے ساتھ معاملات ٹھیک کرتے ہوئے صرف پنجاب کو بچانے کے چکروں میں ہیں تویہ اقدام فیڈریشن کیلیے انتہائی خطرناک ہوگا کہ ایک صوبہ توپرامن ہواوردیگر3آگ میں جلتے رہیں تاہم یہ یادرکھاجائے کہ وہ ایک صوبہ بھی اس آگ سے بچ نہیں پائے گا۔ حکومت کو فوری طور پر فیصلہ کرنا چاہیے جس کے لیے اسے پہلے ہی اختیار دیاجاچکاہے،شیخ رشید اپوزیشن لیڈر بن رہے ہیں یا نہیں اس بارے میں کچھ نہیں کہناچاہتا،پیپلزپارٹی جلد ہی ملک بھر میں پارٹی انتخابات کرائے گی جس کے لیے تیاریاں جاری ہیں۔منگل کوپشاور میں پارٹی رہنما سید ظاہر علی شاہ کی رہائش گاہ پر میڈیاسے بات چیت کرتے ہوئے انھوں نے کہاکہ پیپلزپارٹی ،پارٹی انتخابات کیلیے جلد ہی مرکز اور چاروں صوبوں میں آرگنائزرز مقرر کرے گی جن کے ساتھ تین ،تین رکنی کمیٹیاں بھی ہوں گی جو 72 دنوں میں پارٹی انتخابات کاعمل مکمل کرے گی، الیکشن کچھ غلطیوں اور کچھ زیادتیوں کی وجہ سے ہارے ،جہاں تک پارٹی کے اندراختلافات یا گروپنگ کا تعلق ہے توجتنی بڑی کشتی ہوگی اتنے ہی جھٹکے بھی لگیں گے تاہم سب کاقبلہ ذوالفقارعلی بھٹوہی کی طرف ہے۔ پرویز مشرف نے نواز شریف کو باہر چھوڑا تھا اوراب نواز شریف، پرویز مشرف کو چھوڑیں گے عمران خان بادشاہ آدمی ہیں وہ کبھی طالبان کو دفتر کھول کردینے کی بات کہتے ہیں ،بلاول بھٹوزرداری نے18 اکتوبر کو جو تقریر کی ہے وہ ایک اچھا آغاز تھاجہاں تک شکیل آفریدی کے حوالے سے معاملہ ہے کہ تو ہمارااپنا آئین اور قانون موجودہے اس لیے ہمیں غلام بن کرنہیں بلکہ ایٹمی قوت کے طور پر فیصلے کرنے چاہئیں۔قبل ازیں پی ایس ایف کے زیراہتمام پشاورکے مقامی ہوٹل میں بھٹو ازم اسٹڈی سرکل کے زیر اہتمام پروگرام سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے انہوں نے کہا کہ وفاقی حکومت جس 1.6 ارب ڈالر کی امداد پر خوشیاں منارہی ہے یہ کوئی نئی رقم نہیں بلکہ یہ وہی کیری لوگر بل کی قسط ہے جومختلف وجوہات کی بناء پر رکی ہوئی تھی ۔
Late Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced they had resolved most major issues that had been stalling a key security accord between Washington and Kabul. The bilateral security agreement, or BSA, will determine how many US troops remain in Afghanistan after 2014, and under what conditions. The deal could still founder in Afghanistan’s rebellious parliament. Even if it passes the legislature, Karzai said, it will have to be approved by an assembly of elders known as a Loya Jirga, to be convened sometime in the next month. Kerry arrived in Kabul Friday for a lightening round of diplomacy designed to push a recalcitrant Karzai into backing off what the United States sees as unreasonable demands. The top US diplomat delayed his departure twice as the talks bogged down, but finally the pair emerged to say that an agreement was in the works. Negotiations had stalled over Karzai’s demands that Washington agree to ensure Afghanistan’s security following the withdrawal, accompanied by Washington’s insistence on a free hand to conduct counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan even after its troops depart. Karzai wants guarantees that the US will defend his country as it would a NATO ally; what analysts say he really wants is protection from neighboring Pakistan. But Washington is not about to accept an obligation that could compel it to launch raids on Pakistan, a country of nearly 180 million people that’s armed with nuclear weapons, and which is, moreover, an ally and a recipient of a great deal of US aid.Kabul, for its part, is prickly about sovereignty, and wants an end to night raids, drone strikes, and other operations on Afghan soil. Karzai was reportedly furious about a recent US raid in Logar province that seized a leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Latif Mehsud, who was in the custody of Afghan intelligence officials at the time. During the news conference Karzai said US troops would not be permitted to carry out unilateral operations under the agreement. Kerry is insisting on US jurisdiction over crimes committed by its troops; Karzai said that could only be decided by the Loya Jirga. This is not the first time Kerry has tried to bully or cajole the Afghan leader. In the wake of a deeply flawed presidential election in 2009, Kerry had to persuade Karzai to accept a runoff, which he did, grudgingly. The ballot was canceled, however, when Karzai’s rival withdrew. Afghanistan is preparing for a new presidential election next April. Karzai cannot run again, and Washington would like to get a security agreement in place now, to prevent it from becoming a campaign issue. Postwar Afghanistan: “no gains” and still not secure The notoriously mercurial Afghan president has been particularly difficult lately. In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Karzai lashed out at NATO and the US, saying that the 12-year intervention has “caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure." Karzai is well known for biting the hand that feeds him. More than 90 percent of the Afghan government’s operating budget comes from NATO and US assistance. Some think Karzai’s testiness is mostly for domestic consumption: He has to show his countrymen that he is no puppet. As Boston University anthropology professor Thomas Barfield wrote in 2009, this is a natural conundrum for an Afghan ruler who “to be successful … will need to convince Afghans that he will not be beholden to foreigners even as he convinces these same foreigners to fund his state and its military.” But retired Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry thinks that the problem between Karzai and his foreign backers is more fundamental. Eikenberry, who served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and also as Washington’s ambassador to Kabul, is unflinching in his assessment of the long and painful war. In a piece in October’s Foreign Affairs, he paints a grim picture of American hubris and Afghan malfeasance that led inexorably to failure in Afghanistan. Washington and Kabul were essentially engaged in different wars, Eikenberry says. The US soldiers were battling the Afghan Taliban on Afghan soil, while Karzai was convinced that the problem was across the border. “US military commanders diagnosed Afghanistan’s problem as an indigenous insurgency, albeit one made worse by the insurgents’ access to sanctuaries in Pakistan,” Eikenberry writes. “By contrast, Karzai and many of his compatriots diagnosed the problem as militant extremism, exported from Pakistan but cleverly masquerading itself in local garb.” Time and again Karzai railed against the US for fighting a war against Afghans, when they are not the enemy. "The war against terrorism is not in Afghan villages, is not in the Afghan countryside," he told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in 2009. But Washington was convinced it knew best. Senior commanders had become “intellectually arrogant and cognitively rigid,” and, in a sense “[found] themselves fighting the wrong war,” Eikenberry writes. Karzai has been talking tough; he told the BBC that he was in no hurry to sign the security pact. "If the agreement doesn't suit us then of course [the US] can leave,” he said. But without US money and troops, Karzai’s government, and perhaps his entire country, is in great peril. As Barfield put it, “In the absence of [a strong leader] and the departure of foreign forces, Afghanistan will not survive as a unitary state. The most likely event in that case would be a sundering of the country along regional lines.” Given the extreme war weariness in Washington, a sustained American commitment will be a tough sell, according to Stephen Biddle, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Afghan aid will get even harder to defend the next time an Afghan corruption scandal hits the newspapers, or Afghan protests erupt over an accidental Koran burning, or an American adviser is killed by an Afghan recipient of US aid, or an Afghan president plays to local politics by insulting American sensibilities,” Biddle writes. Karzai is convinced that Washington will not leave Afghanistan in the lurch. But he may be overplaying his hand. The US has already floated the idea of withdrawing completely — the so-called “zero option.” Biddle says that a “defensible approach” would be “for the United States to cut its losses and get all the way out of Afghanistan now, leaving behind no advisory presence and reducing its aid substantially.” This, he acknowledges, would lead inevitably to “many Afghans losing their lives and freedoms,” but it would save the US from what he called “failure on the installment plan.” Eikeberry, too, sounds a note of caution. Washington might have good intentions, but in the end it will do what is best for the people at home. “While making Afghanistan a better place to live is certainly a noble goal, it is not necessarily a vital US national interest,” he writes. As Kerry left Kabul Saturday night, Afghans had a much more joyous occasion to celebrate: the arrival of their victorious cricket team, which has just qualified for the 2015 World Cup. If there is an Afghanistan by 2015, that is.