Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pakistan: Gen Kayani: Imran misquoting me

Bilawal Bhutto’s courage

Pakistan speaks with many, disparate voices on the issue of terrorism. But one voice amongst the political class’ confused and contradictory babble stands out for its clarity of vision and principle. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the young and emerging patron-in-chief of the PPP has shaken up the somnolent polity by launching and satisfactorily seeing through the Sindh Festival to raise awareness and love for Sindh and Pakistan’s ancient culture and Sufi bent, quibbling about the Festival’s credibility vis-à-vis that culture notwithstanding.
It needs to be understood that culture and the country’s Sufi traditions are the direct antithesis of what the Taliban stand for. Through the two weeks the Festival lasted, people cutting across class, ethnicity, even political affiliation crowded its venues, thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and sent an unequivocal message to the Taliban that their dream of turning the country into a theological nightmare would not be allowed to succeed.
Bilawal Bhutto Speech at Sindh Festival by abbtakktv That message was further driven home by Bilawal’s speech at the closing ceremony of the Festival in Thatta. The speech threw down the gauntlet to the Taliban, the threat to Bilawal and his family notwithstanding. No one can deny, whatever their other differences with the PPP, that the party, and in particular the Bhutto family, have played a big role in the resistance to the reactionary forces in our society. In that endeavour, the party’s cadres, and first and foremost the Bhutto family, have rendered tremendous sacrifices of life and security for the sacred cause of preventing the forces of darkness sweeping all that is good and healthy in our society into a cesspool of extremism, narrowness, theological dictatorship of the Taliban, and, as Bilawal put it, drag the country back into the Stone Age by misusing the name of Islam. Bilawal made a passionate appeal to the country to rise against the Taliban plan to impose their narrow ideology by force. Bilawal ‘advised’ the Taliban not to cross the limits, try to teach Islam to the sons and daughters of Babul (gateway of) Islam and understand that they would have to follow the constitution. Dialogue, he said, was always an option, but from a position of strength, not weakness. Since the Taliban are fighting us, we will have to beat them on the battlefield, he argued. Their attacks, he pointed out, were not confined to North Waziristan, they were attacking us as far afield as Karachi. Bilawal pledged that he would like to eliminate the Taliban from Pakistan. Everybody in the country should just admit that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is an enemy driven by the lust for blood and they have no interest in peace, despite the show of participating indirectly in the peace talks. Despite this obvious truth, Bilawal expressed surprise at some parties’ continuing insistence on holding talks with such deadly enemies. “Every drop of blood being sacrificed by the public and the nation’s brave armed forces is creating unity and consensus that beasts can never be lured through roses and they need to be responded to in the same language,” he added. Showing sympathy for and solidarity with the bereaved families of terrorism’s victims, he said he shared their pain since he too had lost his mother in the nation’s war for survival. Rounding off his address, Bilawal once again reiterated that the solution lay not in a dialogue with the terrorists but military operations to root them out.
Since the start of 2014, 130 people have been killed. This has brought pressure to bear on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government for the lack of a strong response to rising acts of terrorism. The government, despite paying lip service to the ‘other’ option, so far has put all its eggs in the basket of negotiations. In its own interest, it must tread carefully that this so far one-sided approach does not end up leaving all that egg on its face if the talks do not succeed in restoring peace and the government is found wanting for not having a strategy to fall back on. En route home from Turkey, the prime minister said the government was sincere, but violence must stop to allow the peace talks a chance. He also dispelled the speculation that the military was not one with the government on its talks strategy. While Bilawal clearly spelt out his view and that of the enlightened amongst us in Thatta, the maulvis (clerics) were at their obfuscatory best once again in the ulema convention in Islamabad. The path ahead has been lit by Bilawal. It is for us to take up that banner and march forward.`

Balochistan still at risk of poliovirus circulation: WHO

WHO Representative to Pakistan Dr, Ni’ma Saeed Abid and Country Representative of UNICEF Dan Rohrmann visited Quetta to meet high government functionaries and discuss the risk of poliovirus circulation in the province. The UN officials met Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch and Minister of Health Rahmat Baloch. They appreciated the immense efforts put by the Government to improve oversight and accountability of the polio campaigns, and shared their observations regarding the current situation.
“Balochistan has shown remarkable progress in Polio Eradication in last two years” said Dr. Jawahir Habib Communication Specialist from UNICEF Quetta.
“However, the province is still at a risk of polio virus circulation due to sub optimal quality of campaigns and extensive population movement between the provinces and across the borders “, she added.
Balochistan had no polio cases last year; however confirmation of virus in environmental sample and recent polio case in Helmand district of southern Afghanistan has placed 2.24 million children of Balochistan at a risk of polio outbreak. The Minister of Health in a press conference shared that Polio Eradication is a top priority for the Government of Balochistan and efforts will be intensified to sustain the progress made in the program.
“I am personally monitoring the polio campaigns to ensure accountability” said Baloch. “Routine Immunization rates in Balochistan are lowest in the country, and current government is focusing on strengthening Expanded Program on Immunization” he added Meanwhile, it is reported from Lahore that the Extended Programme for Immunization (EPI) of the Health Department of Punjab has declared 292 union councils of seven districts at high risk of polio cases.Talking to APP here on Sunday, Additional Director of EPI Dr Nazir Hussain said that on February 10 an anti-polio drive had been launched in the high-risk UCs of seven districts including 67 UCs of Lahore, 37 of Multan, 20 of Mianwali, 37 of Faisalabad, 51 of Toba Tek Singh, 28 of Rawalpindi and 52 of Attock district.

Educating Balochistan

The Express Tribune
If there is one certain way to impede development, it is to deny education to a population. It was Alexander Pope who, in his 1709 work An essay on Criticism, who wrote: ”A little learning is a dangerous thing.” This was later paraphrased into ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.
The implication was that knowledge — education — promoted an independence of mind and spirit and that it should be imparted sparingly to those who might use it to challenge, among other things, the status quo. It may be argued that the parlous state of education in Balochistan is an example of this misplaced judgment. A meeting of the interprovincial education ministers (IPEC) on February 11 was dominated by discussion of the ongoing disaster that is the education effort in our largest province. This appears to now go beyond casual neglect or oversight and has edged into a wilful effort to keep a significant number of children uneducated.
It was revealed that there are 5,000 schools that do not even have a building and operate in the open air mostly with just a single teacher. There is not a single properly qualified person available to review textbooks and curriculum content. This means that the education department is forced to teach Punjab textbooks in the province’s schools. There are thousands of schools without electricity or toilets. Literacy figures in rural Balochistan leave a lot to be desired. A familiar litany of reasons for the deficit was aired: lack of capacity on the part of teachers, the ‘trust deficit’ between donors and the government and the failure to receive a share of the National Finance Commission Award. The IPEC meeting decided to take evasive action by agreeing to meet on a quarterly basis and set up yet another committee to review the 2009 National Education Policy. Neither action is likely to bring any relief to the uneducated of Balochistan. What might help is for there to be an education emergency declared in the province and solid political heft alongside physical and fiscal resources deployed to address the problem.

Bilawal Bhutto appreciates Alif Ailaan for promoting literacy
At a briefing on the state of education in Sindh, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron in Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party said that he will put his own shoulder to the wheel for bringing about a revolution in the education sector to achieve national goals. None of the targets are easy to achieve, he said, but added that this is one issue the province and party leadership have committed to reform as a key priority.
He stated this while meeting a delegation of Alif Ailaan led by Mosharraf Zaidi at Bilawal House. Sindh Education Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Secretary Education Fazalullah Pechuho and former Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman were also present on the occasion.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed concern over the education situation in the province and reiterated his Party’s resolve to improve the system and provide free education to every child.
PPP Patron in Chief hoped that the recently approved Sindh Education Sector Plan (SESP) 2014-2018 will play a major part in the reform push needed for mitigating the education emergency. He appreciated the Alif Ailaan team’s support for the promotion of literacy and enrollment, adding that the Sindh government and its functionaries have to work very hard in this sector so that every school is functional and every teacher performs his or her duty with probity and dedication.
He stressed that various initiatives being undertaken by the Sindh government shall be coordinated and that both the political and administrative leadership shall work closely together. These are not empty statements, he said, as he himself will supervise the coordinated push to reform education in Sindh.

Bankrupt Pakistani Banks on Drugs Trade for Funds
While New Delhi has been improving the infrastructure for expanding trade with Pakistan across the Wagah-Attari land border, a new source of concern has emerged in trade across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. There are presently two check posts across which cross-LoC trade occurs. These are at the Poonch-Rawalkot checkpoint in Jammu region and the Uri-Muzaffarabad checkpoint in Kashmir Valley. A truck carrying 100 kg of heroin (brown sugar) from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) was intercepted by Indian authorities in the third week of January at the Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre in the Uri sector. The estimated value of the brown sugar seized is Rs 100 crore. When New Delhi impounded the heroin and filed charges against the driver, Islamabad reacted astonishingly. It prevented 26 trucks from the Indian side from returning across the LoC and also refused to permit the return of 47 trucks from the Indian side. Islamabad asserted that India had no right to prevent return of the impounded truck or to arrest its driver. This is a novel feature of Pakistan diplomacy, virtually demanding diplomatic immunity for drivers involved in drug smuggling. While cross-LoC travel was restored soon, Pakistan remained adamant that trade could be resumed only if its outrageous demands were met. Another strange feature was that while the Indian delegation for talks to resolve the issue was led from the Indian side by the deputy commissioner Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja, the Pakistan side was led by Brigadier (Retired) Ismail Khan of the Pakistan Army, weirdly designated as ‘Director General of Trade and Investment’. What has emerged from these developments is that unlike elsewhere in the world, cross-LoC trade and investment in PoK is controlled not by civilian officials, but by a retired Pakistan Army officer, who reports not to the Foreign Office or Ministry of Commerce but to the GHQ in Rawalpindi. Hence, on this issue, it is the army and not the civil authority that calls the shots, leaving the country’s diplomats with the unenviable task of claiming virtual diplomatic immunity for a driver caught red-handed and charged with drug smuggling. This development should surprise no one who understands the link between the Pakistan military and the illicit drug trade. On September 23, 1994, the Washington Post had a detailed report written by Thomas Manton and Pakistani journalist and television anchor Kamran Khan. The report carried an interview that Nawaz Sharif gave them in May 1994, about the Pak Army’s involvement in drug smuggling. In this interview, Sharif who had just been ousted in his first term as PM by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, revealed that just after his election in 1990, his then army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and ISI Chief Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, told him that the army needed money for its covert programmes. It wanted to raise the money through large-scale drug deals. General Durrani added: “We have a blueprint (for drug smuggling) ready for your approval.” Dumbfounded by this proposal, Sharif remarked: “I was totally flabbergasted.” Earlier in 1992, a report by a consultant of the CIA stated: “Drug corruption had permeated all segments of Pakistan society,” adding that “drug kingpins were closely connected to the country’s institutions of power, including the President (Ghulam Ishaq Khan) and military intelligence.” Like in the early 1990s, Pakistan is today facing near bankruptcy. ISI needs money for covert operations in Afghanistan and India. Drug smuggling to and through India would in all likelihood be stepped up, especially given growing instances of drug addiction in Punjab. Assistance of Pakistan-linked groups like the Indian Mujahideen and organisations linked to Dawood Ibrahim could well be sought by the ISI. Monitoring at trade checkpoints along the LoC and international border will require substantial strengthening.

Taliban claim killing 23 abducted Pakistani soldiers

Taliban militants late Sunday night claimed to have killed 23 security personnel kidnapped in 2010 in the country's northwestern tribal region of Mohmand Agency, a leading Pakistani daily reported. The announcement was made by the Mohmand Agency Taliban chief Umar Khalid Khurrasani, who issued a letter on social media, saying the personnel of paramilitary Frontier Constabulary (FC) were killed to avenge the custodial killing of Taliban fighters in various parts of the country, The Dawn reported. The letter, written in Urdu and attributed to Umar Khalid Khurrasani, says the Taliban had warned against the killings of their fighters. The claim of the Mohmand agency Taliban however could not be confirmed from any independent sources. There is also no confirmation of the incident from the political administration or the FC authorities. The Taliban letter and a video further claim that the release of Taliban prisoners is one of the main demands of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for agreeing to hold talks with the government. Analysts believe that Mohmand Taliban are a group which is not in favour of talks with the government and has always shown a rigid stance.

Bomb kills policeman as polio vaccination targeted in Peshawar

The Express Tribune News
A bomb killed at least one policeman and wounded another during a vaccination campaign for polio and other diseases among children in Budhni area on the outskirts of Peshawar on Sunday, officials said. “The police team was being deployed in Budhni area before the start of the campaign when a remote controlled bomb exploded near their van, killing one police official and wounding another one,” local senior administration official Zaheerul Islam told AFP. A senior local police official, Faisal Mukhtar, confirmed the incident and casualties. Militant groups see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and there are also long-running rumours about polio drops causing infertility. More than 40 people including health workers and police officials providing security to the teams administering polio drops to children have been killed in Pakistan in different incidents of violence since December 2012. The latest campaign, which started early this month, will continue until April. It sees vaccinators go door-to-door every Sunday across Peshawar to administer drops to children for various diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and hepatitis. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria. According to the World Health Organisation, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. The World Health Organisation has warned that Peshawar was the world’s “largest reservoir” of polio. The country’s failure to defeat polio stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and great rival India, which recently celebrated the eradication of polio three years after its last case.

Pakistan: Christian of Nazareth Colony Faisalabad under threat of Muslim mob attack
The thousands of Christian residents of Nazareth Colony fled from their homes when Muslims threaten to burn their homes and to kill them if Muslim girl who married a Christian boy shall not to hand over to them.
A Muslim girl of Nazareth Colony neighborhood fell in love with a Christian boy and married him on which Muslim radicals of the area gathered and threatened to Christians to give back Muslim girl to her family to avoid attack on their homes after Friday prayers.
The police moved in Nazareth Colony and registered case against Christian boy under sections of kidnapping and forced marriage. According to sources close to PCP, the police picked up two boys and father of the boy whom they tortured to confess involvement in kidnapping of the Muslim girl.
The news also surfaced through sources of WVIP, one leading Human Right organization of Pakistan that Saleem Masih, father of Christian boy who married Muslim girl, was so severely tortured by police that he suffered heart attack and died.
Mr. Bhatti who is District Reporter of "Daily Pakistan News" and Bureau Chief of Daily “Jinnah" visited Police station to ask about whole situation and about his two cousins who were arrested on being friend of Christian boy with whom Muslim girl married.
The SHO told Mr. Bhatti that they kept these two boys for safety of Christian community to show extremists that they have kept these two boys to show extremist leaders that they have caught Christian people in prison. There are more than dozen cases in Pakistan every month when Christian girls are kidnapped and enforcedly converted to Islam and married to influential Muslim but police denies to register any case against Muslim kidnapers.

A journalist's story: The pain of being disabled in Pakistan

Al Jazeera
After losing both arms in a suicide attack, journalist Anser Abbas continues to work and push for peace.
Anser Abbas is a full-time journalist in Islamabad, having left his hometown of Dera Ismail Khan in northern Pakistan to earn a better livelihood - and escape the suicide attacks. As the Pakistani government mulls over peace talks with the Taliban, the cry, and need, for peace continues to get louder and more emphatic. No one values peace more than Abbas - he lost both arms, and 21 of his relatives, in a suicide attack six-years ago. Abbas is just one of 18 million handicapped or disabled people in Pakistan, according to the UN, but unlike the majority of those, he doesn't want charity or sympathy.
"I've never let a single negative thought enter my head, even when I was lying on the ground, my left arm a few metres away from me, and I could see my family and friends dying in front of me," Abbas told Al Jazeera. "I feel normal. What's happened has happened and nothing can be done about that. I knew that if I had given up lying in a pool of blood, I wouldn't have been able to survive. I follow that same principle now - optimism and trust in God is what is taking me forward."
Family targeted
Abbas had arrived at the hospital - where the suicide attack took place - to cover a story on targeted killings while working as a journalist. It was only later that he discovered the target this time was his relatives. After one family member was attacked and taken to the hospital, his relatives gathered there to check on the victim. That's when the Taliban struck again at the medical facility - a common tactic in the war for the enforcement of a strict interpretation of Islamic law throughout Pakistan.
The majority of the 35 casualties were known to Abbas - cousins, uncles, childhood friends - and as they were buried side by side, the family was left shattered.
Living in a country that looks down on disabled individuals, Abbas decided not to let his handicap meddle with his aims and dreams. He spent a few months on the hospital bed and became tired of doing the same at home, so even without his arms and hands he decided to use the computer and continue where he left off.
"I've never let a single negative thought enter my head, even when I was lying on the ground, my left arm a few metres away from me, and I could see my family and friends dying in front of me," Abbas told Al Jazeera. "I feel normal. What's happened has happened and nothing can be done about that. I knew that if I had given up lying in a pool of blood, I wouldn't have been able to survive. I follow that same principle now - optimism and trust in God is what is taking me forward." Family targeted Abbas had arrived at the hospital - where the suicide attack took place - to cover a story on targeted killings while working as a journalist. It was only later that he discovered the target this time was his relatives. After one family member was attacked and taken to the hospital, his relatives gathered there to check on the victim. That's when the Taliban struck again at the medical facility - a common tactic in the war for the enforcement of a strict interpretation of Islamic law throughout Pakistan. The majority of the 35 casualties were known to Abbas - cousins, uncles, childhood friends - and as they were buried side by side, the family was left shattered. Living in a country that looks down on disabled individuals, Abbas decided not to let his handicap meddle with his aims and dreams. He spent a few months on the hospital bed and became tired of doing the same at home, so even without his arms and hands he decided to use the computer and continue where he left off.
Change of attitude
Sheikh blamed a lack of effective planning at the school level for the behaviour, arguing that unless educational institutes were disability friendly, there is no hope. And the awareness should not stop at creating wheelchair ramps and toilets designed for the disabled. "You need to change people's attitude as well," Sheikh said. "You need to train teachers in those schools on how to handle children with disability. You then need to teach the other kids how to behave. If a disabled kid is being made fun of, why would he bother with anything? It is only after that you move on to interpreters, sign-language instructors, Braille and transport with disable access." The acceptance is very gradual, added Sheikh, but the training given by STEP - with CV writing, computer courses and leadership skills - is the need of the day. The media, he added, needs to take the first step. "You see dozens of political talk shows on TV every day, but has anyone thought of inviting an expert in a wheelchair, or getting a partially sighted person on the panel? When people with disability realise that society is accepting them, they may come out of their houses and live their lives normally." Abbas, too, is keen on helping and volunteers for an NGO to help people with disabilities, while also working on several projects pushing for peace in Pakistan. Other than the tens-of-thousands wounded, more than 1,560 civilians have been killed in attacks, most claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan , or its allies, since it was formed in 2007. "You can't impose peace, you just need to promote it," Abbas said.

Baluch Separatists Claim Deadly Pakistan Train Blast
The Associated Press quotes a spokesman for the separatist Baluch Republican Army as claiming responsibility for the blast in the Kashmore district. The spokesman said the attack was in response to what he alleged as killings by paramilitaries in Balochistan’s Dera Bugti region. The area where the explosion occurred is in Sindh Province, but adjoins Balochistan. Baluch separatist militants last week blew up three gas pipelines, cutting supplies to millions of Pakistani households. Balochistan sees chronic violence, with sectarian extremist, Islamist militant, separatist, and criminal groups all operating in the impoverished province.

Pakistan: Blast on railway track near Jacobabad kills 8 including 4 children

A remote-controlled bomb blast on a railway track near Jacobabad killed eight people including four children of the same family and injured at least 30 others, Express New reported on Sunday. Three bogeys of Khushal Khan Khattak Express were derailed as a result of the blast. The incident took place near Thul station and the train was going to Peshawar from Karachi. According to an eyewitness, around 200 people were injured. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals for medical assistance. Three of the injured were reported to be in critical condition. Thul Civil Hospital, where most of the injured were taken for treatment, is 15 km from the site of the attack. Emergency was declared at the hospital. Another bomb was found only 10 feet away from the blast site but Bomb Disposal Squad has not reached the site as yet. Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique ordered an investigation into the explosion. He also asked General Manager railways Anjum Pervez to speed up the recovery work. Rafique further asked the inspector general for a report on the blast. He also announced Rs0.5 million compensation money for the families of the deceased. Pervez informed Express News that information centers were set up in Jacobabad, Sukkur and Lahore. A relief train from Rohri was sent to the site of the explosion.

خيال محمد , بيا كدى باريگي Khyal Mohammad, Bia Kadi Barighi

Bilawal Bhutto condemns Kashmore blast
Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the bomb blast targeting a passenger train near Kashmore which resulted into loss of several innocent human lives including four children while injuring many others. In a statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that those who killed innocent human beings in merciless violence were barbarians who deserved no mercy. He said that these elements were trying to destabilize the country through ferocity. Their subversive activities were highly condemnable. PPP Patron sympathized with the families of the victims and expressed solidarity with them. He also directed local party leadership to help the victims and ensure best possible medical treatment to those injured.

Injured Taliban blast victims inspire Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron in Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party visited the injured victims of Taliban bomb attack at PNS Shifa Hospital in Karachi to inquire about their health and observe their treatment.
He was accompanied by Ms. Sanam Bhutto, Ms. Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and MPA Syed Owais Muzaffar. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was inspired by the high spirits of the injured Sindh police officers pledging to continue the fight against the terrorists despite being wounded. He said terrorism and the beast carrying out it are doomed to defeat as the soldiers and sepoys of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its administrative units are ready to give them strong beatings with the total support of the people of the country. The injured Police officers and commandoes said the presence of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on their hospital bed side while they are recovering has made the scars of wounds as shields of pride. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari requested the doctors and paramedical staff at the hospital to take extra care of the victims of Taliban bomb blast attacks as these are soldiers of Islam who are fighting against the terrorists who are out to tarnish the image of our peaceful religion through blood-shed and beastly acts.

Pakistan: Talking amongst themselves

Lal Khan
As this petty squabbling goes on in the palatial luxury of the state’s palaces, the merciless campaign of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks by the Taliban goes on unabated, killing and maiming innocent, ordinary people
It is rather surprising that the Taliban did not include Shahbaz Sharif or Rana Sanaullah, along with Imran Khan, in the list that would represent them in the ‘peace talks’ with the government. Although Imran Khan appreciated the gesture he could not go ahead to bat for the Taliban knowing well the futility of these peace talks that he has been peddling as a political rhetoric in a situation where the present state and system are so convolutedly involved in this game of changing loyalties and shared vested interests coming into conflict so intermittently. Imran’s inclusion in the Taliban committee was an embarrassment for his liberal petit bourgeois supporters, tarnishing his image of a moderniser. One outcome of this has been the unmasking of all grey smog, vagueness and confusion surrounding Imran and his ideological bearings, enabling more people to become aware of his real political/ideological grooming by Islamic bigots, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami.
The much-hyped talks have begun in the full glare of numerous television shows, as if a miracle is about to occur. The government committee came out with the notion that the ‘talks’ would be held within the four corners of the constitution while the representatives of the Taliban call it a precondition in the talks that were supposed to be unconditional. In reality, the constitution of the committees in itself is a façade as the members of both so-called committees are from the religious right and ideologically belong to a tendency that has never gotten more than five percent votes, even in state-doctored election results. It is as if a reactionary minority section of the ruling elite’s representatives are talking amongst themselves, all in agreement with the implementation of sharia. The only difference is the interpretation and the version of it. And there are so many. The Jamaat-e-Islami, JUI and other mainstream religious parties have proclaimed the constitution to be in accordance with sharia and are demanding its full implementation. The other more hardcore sections are echoing the Taliban’s much harsher version to be implemented with the enthronement of Mullah Omer as amir-ul-momineen and Mullah Fazlullah as khalifa of the new Islamic Emirate of Pakistan. As this petty squabbling goes on in the palatial luxury of the state’s palaces, the merciless campaign of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks by the Taliban goes on unabated, killing and maiming innocent, ordinary people. This in itself is proof of the spuriousness and deceptive nature of these peace talks. This farcical exercise is even acknowledged by the serious strategists of imperialism and capitalism. In its latest issue, The Economist wrote with cynical scorn, “Pakistan suffers such relentless violence that any peace effort may seem worth a try...Nominees on both sides lack authority. The Taliban put forward rigid religious types yet none of them was a TTP member...Just possibly negotiations could start, though it remains unclear over what...But Pakistan’s chronic failing is precisely the state’s weak writ. Ceding more space to extremists would invite more violence not less...If talks go ahead, a breakdown remains a more likely conclusion than a breakthrough.” Most participants in these talks, despite their duplicitous statements of the talks ‘progressing positively’, are fully aware of the futility of this gimmickry. Abusing free airtime, these right wing fundamentalists are putting forward their own obscurantist agendas and building their political and personal clout. Some of these ‘negotiators’ are accused of heinous crimes against women. The burqa escape fame mullah of Lal Masjid, a protégé of vicious dictator Ziaul Haq, instigated brutal violence and psychological terror in Islamabad with his women vigilante brigades enforcing their sharia through venomous pogroms against women. The huge cache of armoury recovered from Lal Mosque after the operation spoke volumes about the intent and the extreme reactionary mindset of this creed of despotic clergy. If all these reactionary committeemen are to decide the lifestyle of society and impose draconian laws on the personal and private life of individuals, it is tantamount to pushing back society to pre-medieval times of ignorance and barbarity.
The continuum of terrorist attacks during the talks has shattered the fabricated myth, so much in vogue with the media, the state agencies and political elite that the Taliban are a united, centralised and organised whole. These terrorist outfits, warlords and fundamentalist sects continually split, change loyalties and become friends or adversaries. All this is taking place in pursuit of criminal activities and the massive amounts of black money, which runs in billions of dollars and has attained a size twice that of Pakistan’s formal economy. These groups also have links with global and regional imperialist powers that finance, buy and use them for their own vested interests in this region. In a recent television interview, one of Pakistan’s most shrewd politicians Maulana Fazlur Rehman spilled the beans when he said, “The key to the fate of these talks lies in the GHQ” of the Pakistan army. He also asserted that he thought preparations were being made for a major operation by sections of the military’s top brass.
The US imperialists manufactured the dollar jihad in the late 1970s. It was the CIA’s biggest covert operation ever. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia recruited these religious fanatics and gave logistical support to this counterrevolutionary insurgency against Afghanistan’s Saur revolution of 1978. Heroin production and criminal networks were set up to finance this jihad. This created a parallel economy, which has grown at a rate of nine percent per year. Around this massive black economy these Islamic outfits have developed vested interests that come into conflict more than often. This rogue economy has created rogue warlords and fanatic vigilantes that are now being termed Taliban.
Such is the complexity of this internecine conflict that it has turned into a war of attrition that is out of control of the mentors of these fundamentalist groupings. It is next to impossible to tame or unite these Frankenstein monsters by the present rotting system. Neither is capitalism in any position to develop these areas, industrialise them and create jobs for the youth. So, if the Taliban access to easy earnings through terrorist activities ceases, how will they survive? The bosses of these terrorist groups use this muscle power to blackmail, extort and indulge in crime with huge turnovers. Without the elimination of the economic infrastructure of jihad or terrorism, it is only a deception and delusion of ending this conflagration through ‘peace talks’ or a military operation. Pakistan’s existence depends on this economic cycle set in motion by black money and corruption. How can a state and a system deeply tangled and indulging in this orgy of blood and money ever eradicate it?