Saturday, November 23, 2013

Obama: Iran nuclear deal limits ability to create nuclear weapons
A historic deal was struck early Sunday between Iran and six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program that freezes the country’s nuclear development program in exchange for lifting some sanction while a more formal agreement is worked out. The agreement — described as an “initial, six-month” deal — includes “substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a nationally televised address. The deal, which capped days of marathon talks, addresses Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, what to do about its existing enriched uranium stockpiles, the number and potential of its centrifuges and Tehran’s “ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor,” according to a statement released by the White House. Iran also agreed to provide “increased transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program,” it said. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, formally announced the agreement in Geneva where the foreign ministers representing Iran, the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany were meeting. The Iran nuclear deal is a first step requiring actions by both sides, which have “a strong commitment to negotiate a final comprehensive solution,” Ashton said.
According to a statement released by the White House, the deal halts Tehran’s nuclear program, including halting the development at the Arak reactor and requiring all of the uranium enriched to 20% — close to weapons-grade — to be diluted so it cannot be converted for military purposes.
But there were conflicting reports about whether Iran’s right to enrich uranium had been recognized. The senior administration official said the deal does not recognize the right, while Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi — on a Twitter feed commonly attributed to him by Iranian media — said that “our enrichment program was recognized.” “Congratulation(s) to my nation which stood tall and resisted for the last 10 years,” Araghchi said in the post. For years, Iran and Western powers have left negotiating tables in disagreement, frustration and at times open animosity. But the diplomatic tone changed with the transfer of power after Iran’s election this year, which saw President Hassan Rouhani replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Caustic jabs at the United States and bellicose threats toward Israel were a hallmark of Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy rhetoric. He lambasted the West over the economic sanctions crippling Iran’s economy and at the same time, pushed the advancement of nuclear technology in Iran.
Rouhani has struck up a more conciliatory tone and made the lifting sanctions against his country a priority. Despite the sanctions, Iran today has 19,000 centrifuges and is building more advanced ones, according to Mark Hibbs, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Most world powers believe that Iran could not realistically build a usable bomb in less than a year, Hibbs said. And Iran recently signed a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency that agrees to give the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency access to long-unseen nuclear sites, including a heavy-water reactor in Arak. Tehran is also a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which requires it not to create nuclear weapons or enable other countries to obtain them.

Saudi woman seeking refuge imprisoned in Yemen

It is nothing short of bizarre to see another tale of a Saudi girl who loved a Yemeni man and, fleeing Saudi Arabia, set her sights on Yemen. So often, Saudi men — exploiting the poverty, destitution and desperation of Yemeni women — have robbed them of their innocence through so-called “tourist marriages,” leaving them to raise the resultant children alone.
Today’s story runs in the opposite direction. Indeed, it is almost a mark of shame upon the kingdom’s inhabitants to see one of their young women fall in love with a Yemeni, rebel against her family and flee to Yemen — a country where even I, a local citizen, cannot find my rights as a woman. How much harder then, for a [foreign] woman, unable to return to her home because she forfeited her people’s [protection] by falling in love with a simple Yemeni. For, as is well known, there is no lower degree of citizenship among the other Gulf states than one who holds Yemeni nationality.
The strange thing is that the Yemeni security forces let loose all manner of terrorist criminals and don’t bring about security or justice. Yet when it comes to the weak — those without connections or a tribe to protect them — the law suddenly comes into full force upon a woman who has been torn from her people, and tossed into a Yemeni prison.
This is not to speak ill against the law, to engage in incitement against it or anything of that nature. Rather, it is only befitting that we strive to embody just values and lofty morals, and not to simply hurl this girl into prison, to avenge ourselves upon her just because she’s a Saudi Arabian. First and foremost, she is a woman and a member of God’s umma, or community. Huda ought to be considered courageous, for she stood up in court, holding fast to her love and her decision. From here, imagine strong, empowered Saudi women standing up to and challenging the traditions, conventions and legal procedures of Saudi Arabia — all of which Huda has done to marry a Yemeni, something that is completely repudiated within the kingdom.
The systematic deportation of thousands of [Yemeni] expatriates from Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean that we should put this girl’s head on the chopping block, and send her back so that she can be readied for the slaughter, when her only “crime” is to have fallen in love with a Yemeni man. However, this position may be difficult to support — this illegitimate and unnatural idea propounded by men of religion. But reproof will come from people, whether in Yemen or Saudi Arabia, due to the violence and authoritarianism practiced against their women [driving them] to rebel. This is a large and complex issue, but I sincerely hope that we will show the fullest extent of our Yemeni morals by protecting this woman, allowing her to feel as safe as though she were in her own country (even though I reject this idea, because Yemeni women cannot live in safety in their own country).
I hope that we will go back to a time when women were free to make their own decisions and bear the burden of their mistakes without the law and the courts stepping in to declare her a criminal. I hope that women will live in normal social circumstances — integrated with men in education and professionally. I hope that it will be balanced, as opposed to women bearing the burdens of male mistakes because she was created as a woman, and thus surrounded by shame for being a female. It seems that such tales are repeated inside the country and abroad for the simple reason that the people and their social circumstances are closed off, and women’s rights are violated. Huda chose her path and will continue in that path whether she wants to or not. She will learn from the past, the present how to be present or absent, for she stood up to her country — a country that did not allow her the freedom to choose her own destiny.
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Thousands protest in Bahrain capital, demand 'torturers be brought to justice'

Thousands of Shiite protesters in Bahrain have staged a rally in the capital Manama, protesting against what they called repression against the opposition amid an ongoing crackdown on the largely peaceful demonstrations. Protesters waved the country’s national flag and chanted slogans on Friday, demanding that the detained opposition activists be freed. In a statement, the opposition denounced “the continuing arrests, political trial and discrimination” against Shiites. Also, the number of the arrested Shiites has grown in recent months, the opposition said. The march took place in the Shiite area of the capital, Bilad al-Qadim.
In the latest case, on Monday 17 Shiite activists had their appeals against sentences of up to 15 years rejected, after being convicted of attacking the security forces. In October, the authorities closed an exhibition dedicated to the anti-government uprising and shut down the display, which was organized by the main opposition group Al-Wefaq. The group also staged the latest rally.
In August, the country’s leader, King Hamad, attempted to ban demonstrations in Manama. During Friday’s march the opposition, led by the Shiite Al-Wefaq movement, claimed the government had not implemented the recommendations of a commission that looked into violence in the spring of 2011.
The investigation was carried out in the autumn of 2011, and concluded that it was mainly Shiite protesters that were targeted during the crackdown. The report concludes that “force and firearms were used in an excessive manner that was, on many occasions, unnecessary, disproportionate, and indiscriminate.” The latest protest in the capital comes at the same time as the press conference dedicated to the anniversary of the investigation.
Over 80 people have been killed in the crackdown since the protests began almost three years ago, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

Turkish police clash with teachers in Ankara

Turkish police forces have clashed with teachers staging a protest in the capital Ankara against the government's education policies.
On Saturday, riot police fired tear gas and used water cannon against hundreds of teachers who joined the march in the streets of the capital.
According to reports by Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, seven protesters were injured and a female teacher sustained cerebral trauma due to the impact of a gas canister fired by the police. The teacher, identified as Asli Akdemir, was transferred to hospital and her injuries, though severe, are not life-threatening, doctors said.
The protest, which had been organized by the Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitim-Sen), brought many teachers from across the country to the iconic Tandogan square, where the demonstrators gathered. The report added that two demonstrators were arrested after being chased inside streets surrounding the nearby Kizilay square, past which the protesters were not allowed to continue their march due to the use of tear gas and water cannon by police. Turkey has been rocked by nationwide protests and strikes against the policies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The unrest began in Istanbul on May 31 after police broke up a sit-in held at Taksim Square to protest against the demolition of nearby Gezi park.

Iran, six world powers clinch breakthrough nuclear deal

Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement early on Sunday to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a first step towards resolving a dangerous decade-old standoff. The deal between the Islamic state and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations. "We have reached an agreement," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on his Twitter feed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also confirmed the deal. Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of the accord, a Western diplomat said. No other details of the agreement were immediately available. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of the five other world powers joined the negotiations with Iran early on Saturday as the two sides appeared to be edging closer to a long-sought preliminary agreement. The talks were aimed at finding a package of confidence-building steps to ease decades of tensions and banish the specter of a Middle East war over Tehran's nuclear aspirations. The Western powers' goal had been to cap Iran's nuclear energy program, which has a history of evading U.N. inspections and investigations, to remove any risk of Tehran covertly refining uranium to a level suitable for bombs. Tehran denies it would ever "weaponise" enrichment. The draft deal that had been under discussion in Geneva would see Iran suspend its higher-grade uranium enrichment in exchange for the release of billions of dollars in Iranian funds frozen in foreign bank accounts, and renewed trade in precious metals, petrochemicals and aircraft parts. Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants - Iran's stated goal - but also provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb if refined much further. Diplomacy was stepped up after the landslide election of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, as Iranian president in June, replacing bellicose nationalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani aims to mend fences with big powers and get sanctions lifted. He obtained crucial public backing from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, keeping powerful hardline critics at bay. On a Twitter account widely recognized as representing Rouhani, a message said after the agreement was announced, "Iranian people's vote for moderation & constructive engagement + tireless efforts by negotiating teams are to open new horizons." The OPEC producer rejects suspicions it is trying covertly to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons, saying it is stockpiling nuclear material for future atomic power plants. Israel says the deal being offered would give Iran more time to master nuclear technology and amass potential bomb fuel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local media in Moscow that Iran was essentially given an "unbelievable Christmas present - the capacity to maintain this (nuclear) breakout capability for practically no concessions at all".

Pashto Song 2013

Karzai, Kerry at odds over timeframe for deal signing
All American soldiers will be withdrawn from Afghanistan next year if the bilateral security agreement (BSA) is not signed by the end of 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned President Hamid Karzai on Friday. Kerry delivered the message through a telephone call to Karzai on Friday, a day after the president told Loya Jirga participants in Kabul that the deal would be signed after the 2014 presidential elections. The unexpected call from President Hamid Karzai to delay the security pact was unacceptable, the secretary said, asking Afghanistan to approve the deal or risk the withdrawal of all US forces at the end of 2014. Jennifer Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters in Washington Kerry has told Karzai that any delay would “make it impossible for the US and allies to plan for a post-2014 presence”. In Kabul, a statement from Karzai’s office said the two leaders had a detailed discussion on the subject. As the secretary insisted on doing the deal within a month, the president clung to his stance. Karzai stressed raids on civilian houses must stop and the US should hold out guarantees of sincere cooperation with his administration in conducting the April 2014 polls before the accord was signed. He said two civilians were killed in the latest raid by US forces on houses in the Batikot district of eastern Nangarhar province. “We want this agreement to ensure peace and stability in the country.” Also on Friday, Karzai's spokesman rebuffed American demand to conclude the pact within the next six weeks. Aimal Faizi told foreign media representatives: "We don't recognise any deadline from the US side. They have set other deadlines also, so this is nothing new to us."

Afghanistan: Signing Timeline Still Unresolved, Karzai Firm on Preconditions
After President Hamid Karzai caught U.S. officials off-guard on Thursday when he said the Kabul-Washington security pact would not be signed until after the April elections, there remains no resolution to the timeline debate. While U.S. officials have said the agreement needs to be finalized before the end of the year, Karzai has refuted those assertions and reemphasized his preconditions for the pact to be sealed. According to officials in Karzai's office, in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Karzai maintained that there was no timeline for signing the agreement. He was reported to have repeated once again that if the Loya Jirga approves the BSA, it would not be signed until after the April elections. "There are no timelines from the government of Afghanistan's side," Deputy Spokesperson for President Karzai Adela Raz said. According to procedure, whatever whatever decision the Loya Jirga makes, which it is expected to share on Sunday, both house of the Afghan National Assembly would have to approve the accord before it could be signed by Karzai. U.S. officials were caught off-guard when Karzai said the agreement wouldn't be signed until after the elections earlier this week. They have urged Afghan officials to reconsider that stance as they argue plans for residual troop forces and other logistics must be worked out before the spring, as the NATO combat mission draws to an end in December of 2014. The U.S. would be expected to keep some 10,000-15,000 troops in Afghanistan post-2014 for training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces as well as maintaining a counterterrorism initiative against groups like al-Qaeda, if the BSA is signed According to Raz, Karzai also spoke to Secretary Kerry about his continued preconditions for the agreement to be finalized between the two nations. "There are preconditions that the United States should consider; support of the peace process, end to operations in the houses of Afghans, transparent elections and peace and stability in Afghanistan," she said. The issue of unilateral U.S. operations post-2014 proved a hangnail earlier this week in the lead up to the Jirga, when negotiations on the final text of the BSA between Karzai and U.S. negotiators reached an impasse on the issue. It wasn't until President Barack Obama wrote a letter to Karzai acknowledging past mistakes and assuring civilian life would be protected, which Karzai read allowed on the Jirga's opening day, that the debate appeared to be put to rest. It is unclear how the Karzai office expects the U.S. to guarantee transparent elections without the existence of a security pact, though it is likely that precondition implies assistance under the rubric of the NATO combat mission, which does not end until December. A number of Presidential candidates, who are participating in the Jirga, have spoke out in favor of the BSA, and an expedited signing of it. "The current situation that the people of Afghanistan are in - investments are leaving, people are emigrating - these issues have made the future more concerning," Presidential hopeful and former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said. "For resolving these concerns and the continuation of foreign aid to Afghanistan, it requires the agreement to be signed soon." U.S. officials have indicated 4.1 billion USD in aid to the Afghan military could be cut if the BSA is not signed, and other NATO allies have indicated similar stances. The potential loss of foreign financing, which the Afghan security forces almost entirely depend on, is one of the reasons many proponents of the accord think it is so critical for Afghanistan. "Considering the political problems and challenges, it would be better to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement prior to the elections," First Vice Presidential candidate of Zalmai Rassoul and the only female Governor in Afghanistan Habeeba Surabi said. Afghanistan has been consumed by debate over the BSA in recent weeks, as the Loya Jirga convenes some 2,500 leaders from around the country to deliberate over it. The Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and Jabhe Wahdat Milli have all come out against the security pact. But on Saturday it seemed Kabul residents were generally in favor of the BSA. "If this agreement is signed soon, the interfering of neighboring countries will end, Afghanistan's economy will improve and youth will get employed," a Kabul resident named Shahwali told TOLOnews. "Afghanistan is a weak country, it needs the support of a strong country like the United States," another Kabul resident named Mirwais said.

Afghanistan: Harder than it should have been

AFTER nearly a year of intense negotiations, it still came down to the wire. As The Economist went to press, a consultative loya jirga called by Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, was poised to give its approval for a bilateral security agreement (BSA) with America. The agreement will provide the legal basis for foreign (mainly American) forces to stay in the country after the 2014 deadline for ending combat operations. Without a deal, not only would America have exercised the “zero option” of pulling all troops out of Afghanistan, but the $4.1 billion a year it and allies have pledged to fund Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) would also have been in jeopardy, as well as much civil aid. All the contentious issues had appeared settled 48 hours earlier, but at almost the last moment Mr Karzai (in character) found a way of keeping up the suspense. He reportedly demanded a letter from President Barack Obama expressing contrition for military mistakes in the past and a commitment to avoid them in the future. Otherwise, the deal would be off.
American frustration and irritation was palpable. Talk of a presidential apology was wide of the mark, according to Susan Rice, Mr Obama’s national security adviser; an expression of gratitude for the blood spilled and money spent on behalf of Afghans might have been more appropriate.
Amid denials on both sides over the insistence on an apology, a form of words has been cobbled together expressing American regret (not for the first time) for civilian casualties in the 12-year war with the Taliban. There was also assurance that forced entry by American troops into Afghan homes, a huge bone of contention, would be only a last resort when lives were at risk. This will be read out to the loya jirga, an assembly of more than 2,500 members of parliament, tribal elders and local officials, largely picked by the president. With Mr Karzai’s backing, a vote against the BSA is almost inconceivable. The agreement sets out the terms under which American forces will operate for the next ten years. It will be followed by another covering NATO troops from other countries, who will join the Americans in a mission described officially as confined to training, advising and assisting the ANSF. Among its duties will be providing security for the many thousands of civilian officials and contractors who are expected to stay on after 2014. The force is likely to be 8,000-12,000 strong (compared with 87,000 today), with America providing a little over two-thirds of the manpower and rather more of the so-called “enablers” needed by the ANSF in areas such as logistics, intelligence and some air support. America will also keep special forces in the country to maintain a strong front against counter-terrorism, since a resurgence of al-Qaeda is, many think, a distinct possibility.
Apart from the night raids on Afghan homes, the most vexed issue for the Afghans has been foreign troops’ “immunity” from prosecution in Afghan courts. The Americans and their European allies insisted that any transgressions of the law by their forces must be dealt with by courts at home. The Afghan government knew that this was a deal-breaker. They had only to look at the example of Iraq, where the absence of such an agreement led to the premature withdrawal of all American forces, with baleful consequences for the country’s security.
Another difficulty has been the extent to which America would be obliged to defend Afghanistan against aggression from outside. Reluctant to accept a blanket obligation, American negotiators wanted to limit the definition of aggression to (unlikely) conventional attacks by land, sea or air. The Afghans, however, demanded that it should include countries (eg, Pakistan) that give safe haven to Afghan insurgents trying to bring down the government. A compromise seems to have been reached. Among other aspects of the BSA, America will retain independent control of the giant Bagram air base some 25 miles (40km) from Kabul, as well as freedom of movement for its military personnel at several more bases around the country.
Quite why it has proved so difficult to reach a deal is puzzling. It is clearly in the interests of America and its NATO allies to try to lock in some of the real gains that their involvement has made possible in Afghanistan, for a fraction of the financial and military effort that has been expended in the past. In many ways, the policy of handing over security to the ANSF is working. Afghan soldiers lead 99% of all combat operations and despite taking 200 or so fatalities a month are not flinching. With support, the Afghan government, despite its many deficiencies, looks resilient enough to repel the Taliban from the main cities and economic centres. The threat of a “zero option” was intended as a warning to Mr Karzai, but would have been bad for America, too.
As for Mr Karzai, the loya jirga may well be his last opportunity to play to an influential gallery before he steps down after a presidential election next April, one which he is constitutionally barred from contesting. He wishes to be seen as a great Afghan rather than as a stooge of the Americans. But for a man who cares so much about his legacy, overplaying his hand over an agreement of such overwhelming benefit to his country was foolhardy of Mr Karzai. A security agreement entered into by both sides with some enthusiasm and a sense of shared destiny would have been stronger and potentially more enduring than one demeaned by haggling.

Book review: ‘Magnificent Delusions ’ by Husain Haqqani, on U.S.-Pakistan relations

By Richard Leiby
Richard Leiby, a Washington Post staff writer, was the paper’s Pakistan bureau chief from 2012 to 2013. Read his book and you might think Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington from 2008 to 2011, is no friend of his homeland. Its leaders are liars, double-dealers and shakedown artists, he says. They have been this way for decades, and, as Haqqani ably documents, the United States often has served as Pakistan’s willing dupe. But for all its criticism of Pakistan, “Magnificent Delusions” is a necessary prescriptive: If there’s any hope of salvaging what seems like a doomed relationship, it helps to know how everything went so wrong. Haqqani is here to tell us. These days Haqqani lives in virtual exile in Boston. A liberal academic and player in Pakistani politics since 1989, he has long been a critic of the country’s all-powerful military and intelligence apparatus. In 2011, in a curious episode dubbed “Memogate,” he was accused of seeking U.S. help to subdue the Pakistani military. He denied the allegations but lost his post. Later, a commission established by Pakistan’s Supreme Court tarred him as a traitor, making it dangerous for him to return to the country once he left. “My detractors in Pakistan’s security services and among pro-Jihadi groups have long accused me of being pro-American,” he writes; “they failed to see that advocating a different vision for my troubled nation was actually pro-Pakistan.” Owing to an earlier book, which bored into the links between the military and Islamic extremism, Haqqani is no stranger to political retribution. This may color his views, and sometimes he goes into tedious historical detail, but even so, “Magnificent Delusions,” which traces 67 years of the ill-matched partnership between the United States and Pakistan, stands as a solid synthesis of history, political analysis and social critique. But why read it? Most Americans have made up their minds about Pakistan, and vice versa. We don’t trust them; they don’t like us. You might, however, want some answers: Where’s the payoff for that $40 billion in aid (Haqqani’s figure) we’ve showered on the country since it was formed in 1947? Why does it remain an economic basket case and a snakes’ nest of Islamic terrorism? Having reported there, I see the problem with Pakistan — with its leaders, anyway — in simple terms. It’s like a shiftless, sort-of friend who comes around periodically for a handout, swearing that self-reliance is just around the corner. But he just might mug you if it serves his interest. So do you hand over more cash? Sure, if you don’t mind being fleeced again. Haqqani holds essentially the same view. Yet Uncle Sam has almost always caved to Pakistani demands, the book makes clear, to pursue America’s expedient, realpolitik ends. “Since 1947,” Haqqani writes, “dependence, deception and defiance have characterized U.S.-Pakistan relations. We sought U.S. aid in return for promises we did not keep. Although even strong allies do not have 100 percent congruent interests, in the case of Pakistan and the United States, the divergence far exceeded the similarities.” Pakistani leaders have had to balance their appetite for greenbacks against the nation’s standing as an independent actor. Sometimes Pakistani officials must create a fiction of not cooperating with the Americans when in fact they are. For example, as recently reported by The Washington Post, as ambassador, Haqqani was briefed by U.S. intelligence officials about drone strikes while his bosses in Islamabad were denouncing them as intolerable violations of Pakistani sovereignty. It’s fascinating to learn how little the fraught relationship has changed over the decades. “America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America,” the father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, declared in 1947. Pakistani leaders were saying the same thing in 2012 after shutting down NATO supply routes through the country, forcing the U.S.-led Western powers to find expensive alternatives. Jinnah cast Pakistan as “the pivot of the world,” in terms of geostrategy, and a bulwark against Soviet communism. But it has frequently overreached in its demands for aid because of an inflated sense of its own importance. “In 1947-48 Pakistan had yet to do anything for America, yet it still expected huge inflows of U.S. cash, commodities, and arms,” Haqqani notes. It requested a $2 billion loan; the United States responded with 0.5 percent of that — $10 million. During the Cold War, though, Pakistan’s playing of the Soviet card proved quite lucrative. It became a favored U.S. ally, assisting in spy operations against the Russians. Gary Powers’s U-2 plane flew from a base in Pakistan’s northwest, and Pakistan permitted the installation of a National Security Agency listening post. Richard Nixon was a true believer when it came to Pakistan’s strategic value against the communists. “Pakistan is a country I would like to do everything for,” he said after visiting the subcontinent as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president. “The people have fewer complexes than the Indians.” As president, Nixon used Pakistan to launch secret U.S. overtures to China. The reward was unquestioned financial support. Pakistan similarly prospered during the Reagan years, enlisted in the battle against the Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan, as well as under George W. Bush, who launched what turned out to be a troubled counterterrorism partnership after Sept. 11, 2001. Over the years, in generously arming Pakistan, Haqqani shows, U.S. leaders enabled it to turn those guns against India, its existential enemy, and blunder into unwise military adventures. Pakistan’s paranoid obsession with India courses through “Magnificent Delusions.” The goal of seizing Indian-held territory in Kashmir has allowed Pakistan’s generals to keep the country on permanent war footing, the better to hog revenue, even while the majority of the populace suffers in penury. A narrative of persecution also runs through the pysche of Pakistan as a whole. The public, whipped up by the military and mullahs, is led to believe that the nation’s problems are the work of “hidden hands.” I noticed how often leaders blamed conspiracies by India, Israel and America — that is to say, Hindus, Jews and Christians — for undermining the country, rather than owning up to social and economic ills of Pakistan’s own creation. James M. Langley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, is one of the prescient figures we meet in Haqqani’s book. Langley called it “wishful thinking” to consider the Pakistanis pro-American and warned of the danger of building up Pakistan’s military to fight the communist bloc: “In Pakistan we have an unruly horse by the tail and are confronted by the dilemma of trying to tame it before we can let go safely,” he said. And, he noted, this horse that “we assumed to be so friendly has actually grown wilder of late.” He wrote that in 1957. It is still true. For many Americans, the fact that Osama bin Laden lived for nine years in Pakistan before he was killed by U.S. commandos was proof enough that Pakistan belongs in the “enemy” column, not “ally.” The shame is that Pakistanis are a pious, warm and hospitable people — at least the many I met during my year and a half there. Haqqani’s book would have greatly benefited from showing us some of them: Giving common people voice helps us know who they are, how they live and what they think. They are not the enemy. Just like average Americans, they simply pay the price of their leaders’ magnificent mistakes.

Pakistan militants kidnap 11 teachers in polio vaccination campaign

Militants kidnapped 11 Pakistani teachers involved in a polio vaccination campaign for school children on Saturday, officials said, the latest in a string of attacks on health workers trying to eradicate the deadly disease. The teachers were taken from the private Hira Public School in the Bara area of the Khyber tribal agency, one of the semi autonomous tribal areas along border with the Afghanistan. The gunmen arrived just after teams administering the polio vaccines had left, officials said. Local official Khyali Gul said the gunmen took the teachers to an area controlled by militant leader Mangal Bagh and his Taliban-affiliated Lashkar-e-Islam group. "Mangal Bagh and his men are opposing polio vaccination for children and don't allow teams to immunize children in their areas," Gul said. Another Khyber official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the teachers had been taken to an area where security forces cannot enter due to presence of militants. It was expected they would be released following negotiations with local elders, the official said. Gunmen frequently attack polio vaccination workers in Pakistan. Militants accuse them of being Western spies or part of a plot to sterilize Muslims. One militant leader said he would only allow vaccinations in his area if U.S. drone strikes stopped. A global eradication campaign has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent in the last three decades, but it remains endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There were just 223 cases last year, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but as long as the disease remains in pockets it can reinfect countries previously cleared. The disease is highly infectious and can cause irreversible paralysis. In southern Pakistan, six people were killed and 52 wounded when the Taliban bombed a predominantly Shi'ite neighborhood in the southern city of Karachi, said deputy inspector general of police Javed Odho. Taliban spokesman Shahid Shahidullah said the attack was in retaliation for sectarian violence in the city of Rawalpindi a week ago. Eight Sunni seminary students were killed in clashes with Shi'ites. "We are planning massive attacks against Shi'ite community, because they are the enemies of Islam," Shahidullah said. "We are sure the relatives of the dead students from Rawalpindi Madrassa will get revenge from the blood of the Shi'ites." Shi'ites make up about 20 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people. In recent years, violence against them has increased as Sunni extremists seek to drive them out of the country. Shi'ite neighborhoods have been attacked with truck bombs and children have been shot on their way to school.

U.S. Upset by Karzai’s Claim About Civilian Deaths

American officials reacted with anger and exasperation Saturday after President Hamid Karzai, in the midst of a grand council debating a long-term security agreement, publicly accused American special forces of killing civilians in a raid on an Afghan home. The question of whether to ban such home raids had been the major sticking point in the proposed agreement, which sets the conditions for American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, for up to 10 more years. The issue was resolved only after President Obama sent the Afghans a letter saying such tactics would only be used as a last resort to save American lives. President Karzai read that letter to the opening of a loya jirga, a council called to ratify the agreement, and recommended its acceptance, while at the same time criticizing America as untrustworthy. The loya jirga is deliberating through at least Sunday. On Friday night a statement was posted on the president’s website saying that Mr. Karzai “condemned in the strongest terms an operation of American soldiers that killed two innocent civilians.” Quoting the governor of eastern Nangarhar Province, Mr. Karzai said that “U.S. Special Forces raided a house of twin brothers in Bati Kot District on Tuesday, martyring both the brothers.” He described the two men as a mason and a plumber. “While condemning this operation, President Karzai said that he has been asking for a halt in such operations on Afghan houses since many years and one of the reasons to convene the loya jirga is so they could take care to decide about raids on Afghan homes and other arbitary operations of American forces, as well as decide on the presence of their forces in Afghanistan,” the statement said. A spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Forces, John D. Manley, denied there were any civilian casualties in the incident, which took place Tuesday, two days before the jirga began. “Afghan national security forces and a coalition adviser engaged and killed two armed insurgents after being fired upon in Bati Kot District,” he said. Coalition forces similarly denied Mr. Karzai’s assertion. “Unfortunately some people are using allegations of civilian casualties for political purposes,” an ISAF official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as a matter of official policy. “The statement goes directly to asserting this was a unilateral operation,” the official said, referring to Mr. Karzai’s statement. “It was not,” the official said. " It was Afghan-led with 100 Afghan National Security Force personnel and 17 coalition advisers.” The official noted that Mr. Karzai had linked the incident to the loya jirga. U.S. officials worried about the impact of Mr. Karzai’s remarks. “Misleading statements like this do not help in finalizing the Bilateral Security Agreement as soon as possible this year, which is essential to the future of Afghanistan and the confidence of the Afghan people,” a United States official here said, also speaking on condition of anonymity as a matter of policy. Afghan officials were not backing down. “On this incident, the local people’s and local officials’ accounts differ from the one the U.S. military gives,” Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said on Saturday. This is the second controversy to arise between the Americans and Mr. Karzai since the two sides announced Wednesday that they had reached a last-minute agreement on the wording of the security agreement, paving the way for it to be submitted to the loya jirga for ratification the next day. During his opening speech before the council, Mr. Karzai announced that even if the council approved the agreement, he would not sign it until after the Afghan presidential elections, which are now scheduled for next April. American and NATO officials have responded that the agreement must be signed this year or there will not be adequate time to plan for the American military role in Afghanistan in 2014. “We’re already way behind schedule,” the senior Western official said. “The Americans have made it clear there won’t be any agreement unless it is signed this year.” On this issue too, Afghan officials signaled that Mr. Karzai did not intend to back down. Mr. Faizi said that the Afghan president had spoken by telephone to the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday night about the timing of his signature on the security agreement. During what Mr. Faizi said was a long conversation, Mr. Kerry insisted on signing within one month, before the end of the year. “President Karzai insisted on the Afghan stance that no more U.S. military operations” be carried out on Afghan homes, Mr. Faizi said. He said the Afghan president would explain this position in his speech to the final day of the loya jirga, now scheduled for Sunday.

Missing persons: 26-day march from Balochistan ends outside press club

The Express Tribune
The 26-day march which started from Quetta’s press club on October 27 came to an end at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Friday. Families and friends of missing persons had travelled 750 kilometres on foot to come to Karachi. “We were even offered cheques to cancel our long march but I told the shameful people who offered us money that we would not sell the blood of our sons, brothers and fathers,” said Mama Qadeer Baloch, the chairperson of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, who also led the march. “We will fight for justice at any cost.” Qadeer announced that the march had concluded during the protest organised at the KPC. The protesters were joined by residents of Lyari and activists of Sindhi nationalist parties. Zainab Ghulam Mohammad, who brought garlands for the Baloch protesters, said, “The awam of Lyari have come to support their cause.” One of the protesters, Farzana Majeed, whose brother has gone missing, saluted the men confined in torture cells. She felt, however, that her family was also living a life of torture. “My mother cannot stop crying in absence of her son.” Inside the press club, journalists presented ajrak and flowers to the Baloch protesters. Mama Qadeer said that though their march was not given much coverage in the media, they did not have any complaints. “Around 27 to 28 journalists have been killed in Balochistan for writing the truth so we understand your apprehensions and limitations.” The elderly man, clad in a white kameez shalwar with mud stains, said that though people started disappearing in Musharraf’s time, the number of mutilated and dead bodies found rose in the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government. “Even the newly elected government of Nawaz Sharif has not been able to stop it.” The protesters expressed grievance over the statement of Balochistan chief minister Abdul Malik Baloch who said that the march was not a long march but a ‘seasonal’ one. “When he wanted votes, he said that he would find the missing men. Now he says that he is helpless.” According to him, more than 18,000 people have gone missing, 1,500 mutilated bodies have been found and at least 500 people have been killed in target killings. Even though hearings are going in courts of Islamabad and Lahore, nothing has been done, alleged Qadeer. He said that very soon he would announce their next plan of action – whether they would go to the capital or the UN. For the time being, they will stay and rest in Karachi. Sindh’s chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motumal, said that the Baloch people should be given justice and seeking recovery of their missing beloved ones was their right.

Hero Pakistani doc who helped get bin Laden hit with dubious murder charge

Shakil Afridi, the hero Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint Usama bin Laden's compound ahead of the Navy SEAL raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader, has been charged with murder -- for trying to save a little boy stricken with appendicitis six years ago, according to his attorney. The bizarre charge comes as international pressure mounts on Pakistan to free Afridi, who was sentenced last year to 33 years in prison for "conspiring against the state," a sanction western observers believe was a pretext to punish him for helping the U.S. Afridi executed a vaccination ruse that helped establish bin Laden's presence in an Abbottabad compound, a development seen as embarrassing for Pakistan, which claimed not to know the world's most wanted man was living openly a stone's throw away from a military complex. Attorney Samiullah Afridi said Friday that Shakil Afridi was charged with murder in the case of the unnamed boy, who after the doctor operated on him n 2007 in Pakistan's Khyber tribal area. The boy's mother filed a complaint against the doctor, saying he was not authorized to carry out the surgery because he was a physician, not a surgeon, according to The Associated Press. The lawyer said the case had no merit because too much time had passed. But supporters believe that the murder charge could keep Afridi imprisoned even if a retrial ordered in August of his conspiracy charge results in an acquittal. Afridi is fighting the conspiracy charge from prison, but has repeatedly been denied the right to see his lawyer or even attend court proceedings. His sentence was overturned in August and a retrial ordered. Afridi, who professed his love for America in an exclusive interview with last year, was nabbed in the days following the dramatic Navy SEAL raid in 2011. A government-commissioned report, supposedly independent from the Pakistani leadership and likened to the U.S.'s own 9/11 Commission Report, blamed the U.S. for Afridi's capture and imprisonment. The report, ordered to get to the bottom of how bin Laden had lived freely in the country for so long and how the U.S. could conduct a raid on its sovereign territory, blamed former Secretary of Defense and ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta for publicly acknowledging Afridi's role in the ruse. By going public with his participation, the report claimed, any chance that Pakistani authorities could help him get out of the country vanished.

Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns the Incholi Bomb Blasts
Patron-in-Chief Pakistan Peoples Party has strongly condemned the Incholi Bomb Blast through his message on social networking site