Sunday, November 3, 2013
by Fareed ZakariaAmerica’s Middle East policies are failing, we are told, and the best evidence is that Saudi Arabia is furious. Dick Cheney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have all sounded the alarm about Riyadh’s recent rejection of a seat on the U.N. Security Council. But whatever one thinks of the Obama Administration’s handling of the region, surely the last measure of American foreign policy should be how it is received by the House of Saud. If there were a prize for Most Irresponsible Foreign Policy it would surely be awarded to Saudi Arabia. It is the nation most responsible for the rise of Islamic Salafi-Wahhabi radicalism and militancy around the world. (In Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, Saudi Salafi-Wahhabis operate through Deobandi militants). Over the past four decades, the kingdom’s immense oil wealth has been used to underwrite the export of an extreme, intolerant and violent version of Islam preached by its Wahhabi clerics. Go anywhere in the world–from Germany to Indonesia–and you’ll find Islamic Salafi-Wahhabi centers flush with Saudi money, spouting intolerance and hate. In 2007, Stuart Levey, then a top Treasury official, told ABC News, “If I could snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia.” When confronted with the evidence, Saudi officials often claim these funds flow from private individuals and foundations and the government has no control over them. But many of the foundations were set up by the government or key members of the royal family, and none could operate in defiance of national policy; the country is an absolute monarchy. In a December 2009 cable, leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that Saudi Arabia remained a “critical financial base” for terrorism and that Riyadh “has taken only limited action” to stop the flow of funds to the Taliban and other such groups. Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries in the world to recognize and support the Taliban-led Deobandi government in Afghanistan until the 9/11 attacks. It is also a major player in Pakistan, now home to most of the world’s deadliest terrorists. The country’s former Law Minister Iqbal Haider told Deutsche Welle, the German news agency, in August 2012, “Whether they are the Taliban or Lashkar-e-Taiba, their ideology is Saudi Salafi Wahhabi (Takfiri Deobandi in Pakistan) without an iota of doubt.” He added that there was no doubt Saudi Arabia was supporting Wahhabi (Takfiri Deobandi) groups throughout his country. Ever since al-Qaeda attacked Riyadh directly in 2003, the Saudis have stamped down on terrorism at home. But they have not ended support for Wahhabi clerics, centers, madrasahs and militants abroad. During the Iraq War, much of the support for Sunni militants came from Saudi sources. That pattern continues in Syria today. Saudi Arabia’s objections to the Obama Administration’s policies toward Syria and Iran are not framed by humanitarian concerns for the people of those countries. They are rooted in a pervasive anti-Shi’ite ideology. Riyadh has long treated all other versions and sects of Islam as heresy and condoned the oppression of those groups. A 2009 report from Human Rights Watch details the ways in which the Saudi government, clerics, religious police and schools systematically discriminate against the local Shi’ite population, including arrests, beatings and, on occasion, the use of live ammunition. (And not just the Shi’ites. In March 2012, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti issued a fatwa declaring that it was “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.”) The regime fears that any kind of empowerment of the Shi’ites anywhere could embolden the 15% of Saudi Arabia’s population that is Shi’ite–and happens to live in the part of the country where most of its oil reserves can be found. That’s why the Saudis sent troops into neighboring Bahrain during the Arab Spring of 2011, to crush the Shi’ite majority’s uprising. Saudi royals have been rattled by the events in their region and beyond. They sense that the discontent that launched the Arab Spring is not absent in their own populace. They fear the rehabilitation of Iran. They also know that the U.S. might very soon find itself entirely independent of Middle Eastern oil. Given these trends, it is possible that Saudi Arabia worries that a seat on the U.N. Security Council might constrain it from having freedom of action. Or that the position could shine a light on some of its more unorthodox activities. Or that it could force Riyadh to vote on issues it would rather ignore. It is also possible that the Saudis acted in a sudden fit of pique. After all, they had spent years lobbying for the seat. Whatever the reason, let’s concede that, yes, Saudi Arabia is angry with the U.S. But are we sure that’s a sign Washington is doing something wrong? - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/288595#sthash.rWRdS84c.dpuf
Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani has said that government is circled by confusion over drone attacks and relations with America.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has offered heartfelt condolence on the sad demise of Pakistani folk singer Reshma and expressed sympathy with her bereaved family. In a press release, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari paid tributes to late Reshma for making Pakistani folk songs popular across the music world. He said folk music is a vital and inseparable part of our centuries-old culture and traditions and needs to be promoted. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also stressed for more efforts on the part of government and the society to utilize our rich folk culture and music for creating peace and harmony in the country. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to her family members.
Born in Bikaner in India's Rajasthan state to a Banjara family around 1947, her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after partition. Legendary Pakistani folk singer Reshma, who mesmerised music lovers in the Indian subcontinent with soulful rendition of songs like 'Dama Dam Mast Kalandar' and 'Lambi Judai' in her trademark rustic voice, passed away in Lahore today after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. Born around 1947 in Bikaner, Rajasthan, in a Banjara family, Reshma was under treatment after being diagnosed with the disease years ago. She is survived by son Umair and daughter Khadija. "She had been in coma for the last month and was diagnosed with throat cancer some years ago," said doctor Rahim of the hospital where she was undergoing treatment. Reshma's tribe had migrated to Karachi shortly after partition and the singer, who remained unaffected by the fame, had once said that "the borders do not matter to me...because, an artiste belongs to all". Remembering her origins to the sandy lands in India, she said: "People in India showered me with a lot of admiration. In Pakistan, people have given me respect. But in India also, they listen to me with lot of love. It does not matter to them that I am a Pakistani singer." Having received no formal education in music, she was only 12 when she was spotted singing at Shahbaz Qalander's shrine by a television and radio producer, who arranged for her to record the iconic song 'Laal Meri' on state-run Pakistan Radio. The song was an instant hit, and Reshma went on to become one of the most popular folk singers of Pakistan, appearing on television in the 1960s, as well as recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry. "Singers of that level and magnitude are an institution in themselves and her passing away means a complete era has passed away. It is a huge loss," Shahram Azhar, lead singer of Pakistani band Laal, told PTI. Some of her famous numbers include 'Hai O Rabba nahion lagda dil mera' and 'Ankhiyan no rehen de ankhyan de kol kol'. Reshma, who has a massive and loyal fan following, was awarded several national awards including prestigious awards 'Sitara-i-Imtiaz' and 'Legends Of Pakistan' given by the President of Pakistan. She was able to perform live in India much later, during the 1980s when India and Pakistan allowed exchange of artistes. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai used her voice in the film 'Hero', which featured one of her most famous songs 'Lambi Judai'. During her career, she was invited to meet Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a music lover, had come to her aid and gave her Rs 1 million to help pay off a bank loan. He also put her on a secured assistance of Rs 10,000 rupees per month. When she was hospitalised in Doctors Hospital at Lahore on April 6, 2013, the caretaker government led by Najam Sethi decided to pay all her medical expenses. "I have been to many countries -- US, Canada...then I went to India where people gave me a lot of respect. They Indian and Pakistani music industry today mourned the demise of legendary singer Reshma, describing her as a "voice of passion" and "an inspiration to many". Pakistani band Junoon's former guitarist Salman Ahmad tweeted, "A voice of passion not of this earth (RIP) 'Hayo Rabba'". "Tragic. RIP Reshma," Bollywood music composer Vishal Dadlani wrote on Twitter.
Let Us Build Pakistan Now that Deobandi Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud is dead and buried, it is time to think what his death symbolizes. Certainly the government is shell-shocked because his death by droning has “murdered” the prospects of peace between the state of Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “Murder of peace” is the expression which Chaudhry Nisar Khan has used in his reaction to Mehsud’s death: http://tribune.com.pk/story/626216/peace-talks-nisar-terms-firdays-drone-strike-murder-of-peace/ Nisar Khan has also threatened to not only review Pakistan-United Sates relations, he has also threated that his government will take this matter up with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: http://www.dawn.com/news/1053627/pakistan-to-review-us-ties-after-attack-on-peace-says-nisar Predictably, Imran Khan has also been fuming and has threatened that his government in KP will block the NATO supply route at all costs: http://www.dawn.com/news/1053624/imran-vows-to-block-nato-supplies-in-kp Not to be left behind is the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) whose leader in the National Assembly has condemned the Americans for killing Mehsud. He, Khurshid Shah, will soon be sitting with Imran Khan’s PTI to discuss the post-Mehsud killing scenario: http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?newsid=242925 ANP’s leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour too has condemned Mehsud’s death as a brutality by the US drones. The media men too have gone overboard in shedding tears over Mehsud’s death. There are a few honourable example, though: http://tribune.com.pk/story/626222/wrongful-mourning/ http://dunya.com.pk/index.php/author/nazeer-naji/2013-11-03/4874/73920136#.UnXStvkwrrM http://www.dawn.com/news/1053623/the-hydra-lives One should not be faulted if one said that Mehsud’s death has left Pakistan an orphan polity. As if it is not a criminal, murderer, and absconder who had been killed, but the father of the nation, or at least a national hero who could have won a Nobel. But this is Pakistan, then, where an issue must be kept alive to suck in the people’s attention, so no one can speak, even think, about the real issues like poverty, public education, population explosion, lawlessness, and the rise and reach of Takfiri Deobandism. If Pakistan’s ruling elites have raised Cain over Mehsud’s death for some selfish ends, the role of the ‘liberals’ and the ‘civil’ society is no better. On social media, there has not been any sensible discussion of what the killing of Mehsud means—or does not mean. Some sections of the civil society have laughed it off by saying that Mehsud will now be cavorting with seventy-two virgins. And the rest of the fake liberals of Pakistan are outraged that the sovereignty of their motherland has been violated by the Americans—once again. It is these very fake liberals who are claiming with one voice with Pakistan’s ruling elites that just when Pakistan was about to strike a peace deal with the Taliban, the Americans have struck to undermine peace. As if the Utopia was just in reach, but for the Americans. . . . Anyone who thinks that the Taliban had, or have, anything to offer by way of ‘peace’ talks is seriously in need of some statistical-interpretive help: http://www.viewpointonline.net/the-taliban-will-never-talk.html We at LUBP do neither celebrate nor condemn the killing of Mehsud. We have never called for elimination of individuals. We strongly disagree with well-wishing but misguided view of some Pakistani opinion-makers that Mehsud’s departure will weaken the Taliban. Our stance over the Mehsud killing is that it will not make any difference to the reign of terror the Taliban have unleashed on the people of Pakistan. Just as we have done in the past, we would like to ask once again: Who are the Taliban? And it is in answering this question that the LUBP editors have a bone to pick with the various views about the identity of the Taliban. The identification of the Taliban popularised by the media, politicians, and pro-army intelligentsia is that they are ones based in Waziristan. Not at all. We believe that this is a cunning and deceptive characterization of the terrorists who have been wreaking havoc in Pakistan. This identification—characterization—hides more than it reveals. By locating the Taliban in Waziristan, the likes of the ISI, PTI, and PML-N want people not to think about the various incarnations of the Taliban which are far more lethal than the Waziristan terrorists. We are talking about the likes of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). If you look at the social scene of Pakistan, you will find out that it is the leaders and hit men of the ASWJ-LeJ who have been carrying out acts of extreme violence against the Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians. These terrorists have been given a free hand by the ISL, PTI, and PML-N. They openly present themselves with PTI-PML-N leaders. Some of the ASWJ-LeJ terrorists were even given tickets by the PML-N to run for election in May. Then, in what way has the killing of Mehsud changed the situation? Our argument is that the killing of Mehsud will not change anything for the Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians of Pakistan. One terrorist has been eliminated. A new and possibly worse terrorist will take over. The Taliban have already said that they will take revenge. On who? They certainly cannot go to the United States. They will not touch the likes of the PTI and PML-N who have been crying in solidarity with them. Needless to say, it is the likes of the Shias who will be put on the slab, and the likes of Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif will justify violence against the Shias by saying, “It’s the result of the killing of Mehsud by an American drone!” The real danger is not a Taliban leader per se. The real danger is the Takfiri ideology which the ISI-Army has nurtured with the Saudi backing (and of course money). The fight of the Pakistani nation is one against the Takfiri mindset. But unfortunately, mesmerized and narcoticized by the media-manufactured Baudrillardean narrative of ‘peace’ with ‘good’ and ‘our’ Taliban, the fake liberals of the fake civil society will continue to yield ground to the Takfiris who will stop only after they have destroyed the very structure and texture of the Pakistan society. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/288541#sthash.RH4xrhcX.dpuf
Former president Asif Ali Zardari has greeted the Hindus of Pakistan on the occasion of Deewali being celebrated on Sunday and called for strengthening interfaith harmony and protecting minorities' rights. "I wish to extend on my behalf and on behalf of the Pakistan Peoples' Party's heartiest greetings to the Hindu and Scheduled Castes community on the occasion of Deewali," he said in his message. "Deewali is known as the festival of lights and is commemorated by members of some of the world's oldest religions to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. It is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection. Let us rededicate ourselves to continually striving in the path of good and noble. Let us also remember that there are always others less fortunate than us," he said. "We partake in Deewali celebrations also for promoting interfaith harmony as a means to fight religious apartheid and those who seek to impose their ideological agenda on the people," the former President said. "On this occasion, I wish to reiterate that the Hindus, indeed all minorities, of Pakistan are equal citizens of the state and entitled to equal rights. I also wish to reiterate our commitment to respect and uphold the UN Resolution calling for interfaith harmony and the pledges contained in the manifesto of the Party to safeguard the rights of all minorities in accordance with the teachings of the founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the founder of the Party Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto."
Daily TimesBY: Naeem Tahir Only those Taliban and the residents of Waziristan deserve some facilities that convince the nation of being law abiding Leaked out in an English daily are the terms offered to the Taliban for the so-called negotiations. The information does not seem to have been carried by any other newspaper. The dateline was October 12, 2013, from Washington, reported by the editor himself! Since then the information seems to have been hushed up. Here I share with the readers what appeared in that paper as “The Blueprint of a package deal with Taliban”. “Without disclosing the names and contents, I can write the points of the package, which look like a huge big cake with cream all over it, which may cost Islamabad some billions for a few years, but in return, the peace that may come will bring back many more billions elsewhere in the economy, investment, industry, trade and other areas that have fallen on the sidelines because of the law and order situation. These offers include: 1. A completely cost-free supply of electricity and gas in all of FATA. 2. Supply of petrol and food items at highly subsidised and reduced prices. 3. A total tax-free and duty-free status to FATA for setting up any industry for at least 10 years. This should include an incentive package for Pakistani entrepreneurs to build suitable industries in FATA. 4. Like many Arab countries, a local partner must be given free 15-20 percent shares in these industries, and in return, he should ensure a secure and workable environment for the industry to run. 5- Mandatory employment of locals with a minimum wage of Rs 20,000 on at least 50 percent jobs thus created. If locals are not available, outsiders may be given these jobs. 6. Free education for FATA children within FATA and in universities inside Pakistan, to be paid by the Government of Pakistan. 7. Free setting up of quality hospitals in these areas where local doctors should run the affairs. 8. All youth, over the age of 18, boys and girls, should be given an unemployment allowance of at least Rs 15, 000 a month until they find a job, within FATA or in Pakistan or abroad. 9. Generous no-interest loans be provided to locals for business, transport and economic activities in their areas including duty-free import of buses and vans registered in FATA. 10. All FATA residents, with valid ID cards, must get 30-50 percent discount in airlines, railways and other government transport systems. These subsidies should be picked up by the government. 11. At least 2,000 FATA residents should be sent on Hajj and Umra visits every year at no cost. 12. All FATA agencies should be restructured into smaller units where local leaders should be declared as nazims, mayors, ameers or whatever name they like, and local affairs should be allowed to be handled by them under shariah or local tribal laws, customs and traditions through jirgas and ulema councils. 13. The militants in these areas, with their arms, should be regularised as law enforcement forces of their respective areas. They should be given proper training and assistance by Pakistan where and when needed. There are some other concessions and points in the package as well. This package comes to several billion rupees every year but it is a long-term investment in the future of FATA and Pakistan. What the Taliban should give in return is an assurance that violence and fighting will stop everywhere; an environment of peace will be created for all this to be achieved; Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty will be accepted and FATA people will continue to use the Pakistani passport as their travel document.” I have reproduced this ‘offer’ for the benefit of the readers who can form their own opinions. If these offers are true then some very critical questions arise: Is this a reward: (a) For raising arms against the state? (b) For creating terrorism with the support of the enemies of Pakistan and killing peaceful citizens? And, (c) Are we sending a message to the people of all underdeveloped areas of Pakistan to follow suit and rebel against the state to achieve development targets? Balochistan is already prepared to follow suit. So may be the Punjabi Taliban! Offers 1, 2, 9, 10 are completely unacceptable and unfair to the nation, and number 13 is potentially very dangerous. Other offers need rationalisation. Agreed, Waziristan needs development, but that is needed evenly in all areas of Pakistan. If the offer is made to the Waziristan terrorists, then the hope that there will be ultimate peace to compensate the ‘investment cost’ is far from reality. The example will be followed by other ‘have-nots’, including the Punjabi Taliban, as a successful blackmail tool. Terror will continue. All that the rebels need are guns, which will be supplied by Pakistan’s enemies easily. If this continues then what else is a civil war? What will be the future of Pakistan? Don’t the peaceful citizens and those who subject themselves to the constitution of the country deserve these facilities before the Taliban do? Particularly, healthcare and quality education! The Taliban should in fact pay a price for the reign of terror they unleashed. Only those Taliban and the residents of Waziristan deserve some facilities that convince the nation of being law abiding. Why only the born again ex-terrorists are rewarded? If they do not prove their loyalty beyond doubt, then the state should apply full force and clear the country of its enemies. The COAS should ensure that the reward is only available to those who are peaceful, and who respect and adhere to the constitution of Pakistan. Otherwise, the COAS will risk being remembered as a major player in this ‘surrender’. The Pakistan armed forces cannot and should not let the country set an example for others to organise rebellions and blackmail for concessions.
Daily TimesChief Minister (CM) Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is in the UK attending the Pakistan-UK Energy Conference 2013. The opening session of the conference was marked with a stunning disclosure by him that Pakistan would have plunged into darkness had his government not paid off Rs 480 billion circular debt, notwithstanding the fact that already Rs 100 billion of circular debt has accumulated since. If the CM was thinking he could convince international investors at the conference through such claims, he needs to brush up his knowledge on how investors operate. Did he think the heads of different energy companies and the prospective investors in the energy sector attending the conference had come without doing their homework? Being a businessman he should have known how minutely a project is researched even before it is considered worth contemplating. A sound strategy would have been laying the cards on the table and then pushing the case for developing the energy sector through full commitment. The rationale for going around the world with different energy development proposals and finding potential investors lies in the fact that the sector has crumbled under various anomalies. To top it all, the CM was focusing on something that is potentially an erroneous strategy to deal with the energy crisis facing the country. The enigmatic circular debt, mounting once again, will refuse to disappear unless the symptoms that cause it are addressed. The latest World Bank (WB) report on Pakistan’s economy and energy presents a grim picture of the energy sector deeply mired in a crisis, arising from issues such as the high cost of energy due to an increasingly unaffordable energy mix and subsidies, transmission losses, theft, faulty bill collection and debilitated infrastructure. The energy mix issue dates back to 1994, when the country switched to independent private producers and instead of adopting the relatively low cost gas-fired combined cycle technology, went for fuel oil thermal generation. Typical of Pakistan’s policy gaps, those planning the energy sector then failed to anticipate the future trends in oil prices, and paid no attention to developing new indigenous energy production sources. Coupled with the inability of the government to arrest endemic corruption, ultimately the power sector ended up in a shambles. Salvation from these anomalies lies in altering the energy mix to make it more affordable, thereby easing out subsidies, clamping down on theft, pressing the biggest defaulters, the government’s own ministries and departments, to pay their bills promptly, and upgrading infrastructure incrementally, including grid stations and power lines to overcome staggering transmission losses of 27 percent. According to the WB report, energy shortages are causing a loss of 2 percent of GDP. Hardly a ‘luxury’ we can afford.