Sunday, March 23, 2014
India needs to boost growth, but that depends on cheap coal supplies, which are proving harder to come by at home. How will it cope with rising energy demand?
Putin instructed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the State Courier Service Valery Tikhonov, Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Gennady Kornienko, Director of the Federal Bailiff Service Artur Parfenchikov, Director of the Federal Service for Control over Drugs Circulation Viktor Ivanov, Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov, Director of the Federal Guard Service Yevgeny Murov, Head of the Chief Directorate of Special Presidential Programmes Vladislav Menshchikov, Head of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service Yuri Chikhanchin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “to approve according to specific procedure plans of organisational events to form territorial federal executive authorities and other bodies and departments in the Republic of Crimea and the Russian city of Sevastopol until March 29, 2014 envisaging some changes in numerical strength of specific bodies and departments and to form territorial bodies of federal executive authorities and other bodies and departments according to these plans,” the Kremlin press service reported. “A report should be delivered in two weeks, then monthly,” the Kremlin press service stated.
One of the ugly consequences of Vladimir Putin’s Crimean land grab and the subsequent reaction in the United States and Western Europe is that the chilled relations across the divide could have a dramatic impact on conflicts and controversies in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and elsewhere. In the United States, it may seem that Russia’s actions will make Putin and Co. pariahs in the rest of the world, but among the strongmen and tough guys of the Middle East, that might not be the case. A Middle East diplomat told The Nation recently that during a visit last summer to Russia by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi spy chief, told Putin that Saudi Arabia would consider financing arms purchases by Egypt from Russia.
It was during and immediately after last year’s Gezi protests that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) realized the importance of social media, and decided to establish a powerful social media team in order to suppress government opponents. There were reports that the party recruited thousands of people for a massive attack against government critics through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube messages, which often contained threats and intimidation.
Turkish authorities have blocked the Google DNS service used by the local Twitter community to get around the ban on the social network. The number of tweets, however, jumped 138 percent.
The measure has come as Erdogan starts a final electoral push to stifle rivals who he has described as an “alliance of evil.”
The authorities said that Twitter had been banned for a reason, though, saying there are "hundreds of court rulings in Turkey" over Twitter content. “Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Erdogan’s office of public diplomacy said on Saturday.
Also, the social network was “biased,” they stressed. Twitter was blocked ahead of the March-30 local elections for the campaigning period.
However, President Abdullah Gul has said that the presidency is in talks with Twitter to reach a speedy resolution to the block on the website in Turkey, Hurriyet Daily News reported. "It is not legally possible to shut down the internet and platforms [like Twitter]" he told reporters in Ankara. "This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union. Therefore, it will be overcome soon.” The president said that he had instructed his staff to contact Twitter to put an end “to this bitter situation.”
Earlier, Twitter officials expressed hope that full access to the website will be restored shortly, after a lawyer representing the platform met with Turkish authorities in the capital Ankara on March 21, local media reported.
http://www.nydailynews.com/During his four-country trip, the President will be gauging how hard the European Union is willing to push back against Russia, one of its largest trading partners. Obama will have to contend with European leaders who are still fuming over the NSA's surveillance of key allies. President Obama will face a high-stakes diplomatic test this week in Europe, where he will urge allies to remain united against Russia. The long-planned four-country trip begins Monday in the Netherlands, and is sure to be dominated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Obama will be gauging how far the economically shaky European Union is willing to go in punishing Russia, one of its largest trading partners. The 28-country bloc’s commitment to sanctions is key for Obama’s pledge to pressure Putin. Administration officials acknowledge American sanctions simply do not have the same bite as ones from Europe, given its deep economic ties to Russia. But Obama will have to contend with many European leaders who are still fuming over the National Security Agency’s surveillance of key allies. “There’s an anger there, there’s a frustration there,” said Heather Conley, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
By Philip Rucker Former president Bill Clinton made no mention of his wife, but in his rallying cry to some 1,200 college students here Saturday one could hear a succinct rationale for her to run for president. The country faces long-term debt problems that threaten its global competitiveness, Clinton said, and the solutions are not mind-numbingly difficult. But, he told the crowd, addressing them will require political will. “Who will stand up and say: ‘Send me. I’ll fight for that’?” Clinton said. “There’s no place for any of us in the peanut gallery. We have to be on the field and playing.”
http://www.pajhwok.com/enSome political analysts believe President Hamid Karzai’s overnight remarks on Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation are aimed to assert his administration’s independence in framing its foreign policy. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty making Crimea part of Russia. On Friday, all 155 senators present in Moscow's upper house of parliament voted in favour of the accession treaty. Late on Saturday, President Hamid Karzai said he respected the outcome of the recent referendum on Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation. He called the referendum the voice of Crimea’s people. The president staked out his position at a meeting with a bipartisan US Congress and Senate delegation, led by Ms. Kelly Ayotte. The bilateral security agreement (BSA), release of prisoners from Bagram jail, regional issues including recent events in Ukraine and Crimea were discussed. While denouncing the referendum, the United States and the European Union are preparing sanctions against Russia, whose forces effectively took control of Crimea in late February after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of violent protests. Although Afghanistan has long been a US ally, President Karzai’s stance is in conflict with the positions of Washington and other major Western capitals. His statement comes as Kabul and Washington continue to differ on the BSA and release of prisoners from the Bagram jail. Political commentators agree Afghanistan being a sovereign nation reserves the right to pursue good ties with all foreign countries in line with its foreign policy. One analyst Ghulam Jilani Zwak opined Kabul was not bound to support the US and NATO states in maintaining its international relations. Iran was an arch enemy of the United States, but Afghanistan has close ties with the neighbour. Zwak said if the United States forces Afghanistan to toe its line on international relations, it would amount to the country’s occupation. Another political commentator, Dr. Faiz Muhammad Zaland, claimed Karzai’s stance on Crimea and the situation in Ukraine was not in the national interest. The US and NATO provide civil and military assistance to the country. The presidential position would plunge the country into a deep crisis, he feared. Karzai has lately his foreign policy focus to China, Russia and India in an attempt to create problems for the US, he continued. Mohammad Hasan Haqyar, a former journalist and political analyst, said Karzai was in the habit of issuing anti-US statements. Washington was using different options to pressurise him to sign the BSA. His stance on Crimea is in response to the pressures. He explained Afghan leaders historically looked east when their relations with the West worsened. Noman Dost, another analyst, said that Karzai was increasingly trying to prove himself an independent leader to the rising generations. The president asserted his independence on visits to Iran, China and Russia. Important agreements had been signed with the countries in defiance of US concerns, according to Dost, who if USA and NATO scaled down their assistance, Afghanistan would be hurt.
Eugene MuleroThe top watchdog in Afghanistan said Thursday that the U.S. is potentially paying the salaries of nonexistent Afghan police officers, due in part to poor anti-corruption policies in that country. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), said the U.S.' failure to implement a tracking system of its reconstruction projects has contributed to cases of corruption throughout the Afghan government. "We don't even know what we spend and where we spend it 12 years into this," Sopko said in an address at the Atlantic Council. "That's the frustrating thing." During his most recent stint in Afghanistan, Sopko said he learned of new schools that were in "danger of collapsing," hospitals low on supplies, roads that were "disintegrating faster than we can build them." He also has been investigating allegations of possible inaccuracies in the Afghan police payroll where "ghost workers" might have been receiving compensation. Since 2002, the international community has contributed $3.17 billion to the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, the source of funding for the salaries of Afghan national police personnel, according to Sopko. The U.S. has provided about $1.21 billion of that total. A 2011 investigation by SIGAR found there was limited assurance police personnel were the only ones to be compensated from the funds. In a February letter released on Wednesday, Sopko said that paying for “ghost workers” in the Afghan national police would be a loss of a "very significant amount of U.S. taxpayer money." "In response to a number of surveys, Afghan citizens have described the Afghan justice system and police force as particularly corrupt," Sopko said. While concerns over reconstruction and the police's payroll are likely to persist after U.S. troops leave Afghanistan at the end of this year, Sopko stressed on Thursday his team will continue to investigate the allegations of corruption. Sopok also said next month's Afghan presidential elections could open the door for new leadership to tackle urgent concerns in the government. "All the major candidates say they want to combat corruption," he said. Responding to Sopok's concerns, Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, Afghanistan's head of transition command, said he has not found anyone "knowingly paid for non-existent workers." "Our review of the payroll process is not complete," Wendel wrote in a memo this month responding to SIGAR's concerns. "and we are continuing to work diligently with both ministries to establish personnel and resource accountability as automated systems are fully deployed."
Former Federal Minister, Convener World Minorities Alliance J Salik has announced “Jail Bharo Movement”
— دپاکستان بيلابيلو سياسي گوندونو د جمعې په ورځ د خيبرپښتونخوا اسمبلۍ څخه د هزارې په نوم د نوې صوبې جوړؤلو اؤ د خيبرپښتونخوا صوبې د نوم بدلؤلو په اړه منظور شوي قراردادونه غندلي اؤ دايې د پاکستان تحريک انصاف لخوا په هزاره کې د خپلو ووټونو پيداکولو يو ناکامه کوشش گرځولى دى . دخيبرپښتونخوا اسمبلۍ دجمعې په ورځ دهزاره صوبې جوړولو لپاره درايې په اکثريت سره دوه فرادادونه منظور کړي ؤ چې په دغو قراردادونو کې د خيبرپښتونخوا سيمې د هزارې سيمې څخه ديوې بئيلې صوبې جوړولو اؤ د خيبر پښتونخوا صوبې دنوم پڅايې په صوبه د هزار پښتونخو د نوم ايښودلو غوښتنه شوې وه. دغه دواړه قراردادونه په صوبه کې د واکمن سياسي گوند پاکستان تحريک انصاف د غړو لخوا اسمبلۍ ته وړاندې کړل شوي وؤ چې نۀ يواځې په صوبه کې د واکمن ائتلاف دپارلمان غړو ورسره اختلاف کړى ؤ بلکې مخالفو سياسي گوندونو ورسره هم د اختلاف څرگندونه کړې وه خو بياهم دغه قراردادونه د اسمبلۍ څخه منظور کړل شوي وؤ د خالي په ورځ پيښور پريس کلب کې څيړنيزې ادارې وطن ويلفئير سوسائټي په غږ د "په پښتونخوا وطن کې د امن،تعليم،ترقۍ اؤ په وسائيلو د اختيار دپاره د وسيع اتحاد".په نوم راجوړ شوي سيمينار ته پخپله وينا کې په خيبرپښتونخوا اسمبلۍ کې د مسلم ليگ (ن) غړې ميرمن صوبيه خان وويل " په صوبه کې حکمران جماعت پاکستان تحريک انصاف د خپلو ووټونو سيوا کولو دپاره زمونږ صوبه ويشل غواړ خو اوس وخت راغلى چې بايد مونږ ټول د صوبې د گټو دپاره د سياسي ډلې پرې سوچ پريږدو اؤ خپلو کې يو موټى شو " صوبيه خان زياته کړه صوبايي اسمبلۍ څخه دغه قراردادونه په داسې حال کې منظورکړل شوي چې داسمبلۍ کورم هم پوره نۀ ؤ اؤ په دومره چټکتيا کې په يوه اهمه موضوع د اسمبلۍ څخه قراردادونه منظورؤل څرگندوي چې دلته يو لويې سياسي سازش روان دى. دنيشنل پارټۍ صوبايي صدر مختار باچا دغه سيمينار ته پخپله وينا کې وويل "بايد مونږ دې قراردادونو ته هيڅ اهميت ورنۀ کړو ځکه چې ددې يواځينى مقصد دسياسي ملاتړ د يو گوند لخوا په پخپلو ووټونو کې د زياتوالي راوستو اؤ سياسي ملاتړ ترلاسه کولو دى" هغه وويل "دا کوم دوه قراردادونه چې دوئ پاس کړي دي دا پخپله ديوبل مخالف دي ، ځکه چې يو خوا د هزارې صوبې غوښتنه کوي اؤ بلخوا په خيبر پښتونخوا د هزاره پښتونخوا نوم ايښودو تجويز مخې ته راوړي چې ددې نه واضحه کيږي ، دوئ هسې ټوقي کوي" مختار باچا وويل کله چې د پښتونخوا قرارداد اسمبلۍ ته راوړل کيدو نو دهغې دپاره ډيره اوږده سياسي مبارزه شوې وه اؤ بيا چې څوڅو ځله اسمبلۍ دغه قراردادمنظور هم کړو نو عمل پرې ترهغې نۀ کيدو ترڅو چې په ائين کې ترميم نۀ ؤ شوى نو بيا ولې مونږ ځانله زړۀ وخورو چې گنې تحريک انصاف به په يو قرارداد د پښتنو صوبه وويشي؟ په دغه سيمينار کې شريک د خيبرپښتونخوا په حکومت د شامل سياسي گوند عوامي جمهوري اتحاد صوبايي نائب صدر ى بلند خان ترکۍ هم د اسمبلۍ څخه ددغو قراردادونو منظوريدل د پښتنو د صوبې په ضد يو سازش وگرځولو اؤ وئ وئيل"په داسې حال کې چې د پښتنو په خاوره د ترهگرۍ اور بل دى اؤ د امن پځايې کولو دپاره مذاکرات روان دي يوه غير ضروري موضوع اسمبلۍ ته راوړل د پښتنو په ضد د سازش پرته بله هيڅ معني نۀ لري" د نوموړي په وينا عوامي جمهوري اتحاد کۀ هرڅو د حکومت سره په ائتلاف کې شامل دى خو دصوبې اؤ اولس په گټه چې هره خبره وي د هغې دپاره به غږ پورته کوي. د وطن ويلٍيفئر سوسائټي مشر ډاکټر سيد عالم محسود پخپله وينا کې وويل "هرڅو کۀ پښتانۀ دپاکستان دابادۍ 17فيصده جوړيږو خو جي ټي پي ته يې زمونږ صوبه 23 فيصده ورکوي " نوموړي وويل نن دې څوک شمير شميره راواخلي اؤ معلومه دې کړي چې زمونږ صوبه څومره غني ده اؤ ټول هيواد ته څومره حاصلات ورکوي. دهغه په وينا د خيبرپښتونخوا څخه ټول هيواد ته د ځنگلونو اؤ ماربلو به برخه کې 70 فيصده ،د تماکو په مد کې 85فيصده،اؤ داوبو له لارې 75 فيصده گټه رسيږي اؤ ضروريات يې پوره کولى شي خو بيا هم نن زمونږ د صوبې اولس تر ټولو زيات غريب، خوار اؤ پسمانده ساتل شوى دى. ډاکټر محسود وويل " مونږ چې خوار ساتل شوي يو نو امريکه، چين، روس يا بل کوم بهرني هيواد نۀ يو خوار کړي بلکې د لاهور اؤ اسلام اباد واکمنې طبقې مو په حقونو گيډه اچولې ده اؤ پخپلو وسيلو اختيار نه راکوي" په دغه سيمينارکې د خيبر پښتونخوا د واکمن گوند په نمائندگۍ يونس ظهير،د عوامي نيشنل پارټۍ ولي په نمائندگۍ ارشاد تندر،د مزدور کسان پارټۍ په استازيتوب ارشاد تندر اؤ د گڼو نورو سياسي گوندونو استازو، ليکوالو، صحافيانو اؤ شاعرانو هم برخه لرله. دپاکستان دخيبرپښتونخوا صوبې په هزاره سيمه کې که چرته د هندکو ژبې وئيونکو په سيمو کې ددغه منظور شوؤ قراردادونو په منظوريدو د خوشحالۍ څرگندونه کيږي نو هلته د پښتونخوا د پښتنو په سيمو کې ددغو قراردادونو په ضد د صوبې د حکمران گوند په ضد سخته غصه خوره شوې ده اؤ د جمعې اؤ خالي په ورځ په سوشل نيټ ورک فيس بک هم گڼو خلکو داسې تصويران خپاره کړي چې پرې ليک دي"هزاره صوبه نۀ منو"
THE Mir Hazar Khan police aren’t inhospitable, at least not in normal circumstances. But Wednesday wasn’t a routine day at the police station in Muzaffargarh’s Jatoi tehsil. Punjab’s top spy was trying to determine the circumstances that had forced Amina Mai to burn herself to death just outside the police station a week earlier. He was also focusing on the police’s role in the release, without a proper probe, of the man Amina accused of raping her on Jan 5. Another team headed by the top provincial investigator was due to arrive the next morning to probe the rape case on the apex court’s orders. That wasn’t all. Three of the policemen’s colleagues facing arrest — a DSP, an inspector and a sub-inspector — are fugitives from the law. Another DSP is on temporary bail and ASI Rana Zulfiqar Ali, who was investigating the 18-year-old’s complaint but had evidently freed the suspect without a proper probe, is in jail. Against this backdrop, it was but natural for the police to view a journalist in their midst as an unwanted intrusion. “Not now,” said an uncommunicative sentry, pushing us out of the building and bolting the gate behind us. Outside the police station — 40km from Muzaffargarh — the spot where the Class XI student had set herself on fire after the release of the key suspect doesn’t bear any sign of her tragic death. Eyewitnesses are hard to find. “I saw the girl sprinkling petrol on her scarf from a can handed by her mother and lighting herself,” Tanveer Ahmed, whose father owns a dhaba a few metres away, told Dawn. He was the only person in the area who claimed to have witnessed the incident. “A couple of TV cameramen were recording the event and continuously encouraging her to burn her scarf if she wanted justice. She was in flames within a fraction of a minute.” Tanveer wasn’t sure if the cameramen, who apparently rode away on their motorbike(s) once things got uglier, had come there on their own or had accompanied the girl. Amina had alleged that the rape took place in the jungle when she was walking home from the doctor’s with her younger brother. The place isn’t far from the narrow broken and dusty road that takes you to her village, Lundi Pitafi, in 30-35 minutes through fields, villages and small bazaars on both sides. Murders are easy in Pakistan to wash away. Rapes are even easier to cover up. Every year, thousands of cases of gang rape and rape are registered and the culprits ‘traced’, but only a few perpetrators are convicted because of the investigators’ prejudice against women, corruption, lack or destruction of evidence, police failure to have the victims medically tested or undergo DNA tests, untrained prosecutors and numerous investigation and legal shortcomings. In Amina’s case, one or a combination of these factors could have played out in favour of her alleged tormentors. “It’s yet to be determined if the investigation officer mismanaged the case intentionally or was too incompetent to handle it,” a police official said privately. At her home, her elder brother Ghulam Shabbir said his sister was an honourable woman. “[The main suspect’s] release was too much for her. In the court, my sister was jeered at by him and his brothers. They thrust sweets into her mouth. She couldn’t cope with her humiliation,” he said, pointing in the direction of her alleged tormentor’s house nearby. The house has been locked ever since he was rearrested and his brothers went into hiding. Inside the house, Amina’s mother repeatedly demanded justice for her dead daughter. “If they don’t give us justice I’ll burn myself like her.” She denies she knew her daughter wanted to set herself ablaze. “She went to the police station to collect her clothes. I went along. When the SHO refused to see her, she asked me to bring back her clothes. I was only halfway inside when I heard her screams and looked back to see the flames burning her,” she recalled. She said she was not aware of the presence of cameramen at the spot. On our way back, we chanced upon local politician Mohammad Sharif Kamboh. “There’s little doubt in my mind that something had happened between the suspect and the girl [on the day she said she was raped]. It is for the police to investigate the girl’s complaint and determine the nature and extent of the crime.” But the police failed her just as they have failed countless other women.
Bilawal Bhutto: Ideology of Pakistan is under attack from the forces of darkness who want to defame our religion and the country
http://indianexpress.com/BY:CARLOTTA GALL Shortly after the September 11 attacks, I went to live and report for The New York Times in Afghanistan. I would spend most of the next 12 years there. In December 2006, I flew to Quetta. After our first day, we noticed that an intelligence agent on a motorbike was following us, and everyone we interviewed was visited afterward by ISI agents. We visited a neighbourhood called Pashtunabad, home to several members of the Taliban, who live in houses behind high walls, often next to mosques and madrasas they run. One of the madrasas, the Jamiya Islamiya, is a brick-and-concrete building three storeys high, with classrooms that can accommodate 280 students. At least three of the suicide bombers we were tracing had been students here. Senior figures from Pakistani religious parties and provincial-government officials were frequent visitors, and Taliban members would often visit in the dark, in fleets of SUVs. A female journalist would not be permitted inside, so I passed some questions to the Pakistani reporter with me, and he and the photographer went in. After returning, they told me that words of praise were painted across the wall of the inner courtyard for the madrasa’s political patron, a Pakistani religious-party leader, and the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. “The madrasas are a cover, a camouflage,” a Pashtun legislator from the area told me. Behind the curtain, hidden in the shadows, lurked the ISI. On our fifth and last day in Quetta, four plainclothes agents broke through the door of my hotel room. They snatched my laptop from my hands, went through my clothes and seized my notebooks and a cellphone. When one of the men grabbed my handbag, I protested. He punched me twice, hard, in the face and temple. The officer told me that I was not permitted to visit Pashtunabad and that it was forbidden to interview members of the Taliban. As they were leaving, I said my photographer colleague, whom they had detained at his hotel earlier, had to stay with me. “He is Pakistani,” the officer said. “We can do with him whatever we want.” Benazir Bhutto had long warned that a conglomeration of opponents wanted her dead and were all linked in some way. They were the same forces behind the insurgency in Afghanistan: Taliban and Pakistani militant groups and al-Qaeda, as well as the Pak military establishment, which included top generals Pervez Musharraf and Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The chief state prosecutor in Bhutto’s murder trial, Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, told me there was “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that Musharraf did not provide her with adequate security because he wanted to ensure her death in an inevitable assassination attempt. Ali succeeded in having Musharraf arrested and was pushing to speed up the trial when he was shot to death on his way to work in May 2013. Ali had no doubts that the mastermind of the plot to kill Bhutto was al-Qaeda. “It was because she was pro-American, because she was a strong leader and a nationalist,” he told me. A Pakistani security official who interviewed some of the suspects in the Bhutto case and other militants told me the decision to assassinate Bhutto was made at a meeting of the top council of al-Qaeda. It took more than three years before the depth of Pakistan’s relationship with al-Qaeda was thrust into the open and the world learned where Osama bin Laden had been hiding, just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s top military academy. In May 2011, some 30 hours after Navy SEALs shot him dead, I was fascinated to see where and how he hid. People knew that the house was strange, and one local rumour had it that it was a place where wounded Taliban from Waziristan recuperated. I was told this by Musharraf’s former civilian intelligence chief, who had himself been accused of having a hand in hiding Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He denied any involvement, but he did not absolve local intelligence agents, who would have checked the house. Soon after the Navy SEAL raid, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The information came from a senior US official, and I guessed that the Americans had intercepted a phone call of Pasha’s or one about him in the days after the raid. “He knew of Osama’s whereabouts, yes,” the Pakistani official told me. The official was surprised to learn this and said the Americans were even more so. Pasha had been an energetic opponent of the Taliban and an open and cooperative counterpart for the Americans at the ISI. “Pasha was always their blue-eyed boy,” the official said. The haul of handwritten notes, letters, computer files and other information collected from Bin Laden’s house during the raid revealed regular correspondence between Bin Laden and a string of militant leaders who must have known he was living in Pakistan, including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Mullah Omar of the Taliban. Saeed and Omar are two of the ISI’s most important and loyal militant leaders. Both are protected by the agency. Both cooperate closely with it, restraining their followers from attacking the Pakistani state and coordinating with Pakistan’s greater strategic plans. Any correspondence the two men had with Bin Laden would probably have been known to their ISI handlers. In trying to prove that the ISI knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts and protected him, I struggled for more than two years to piece together something other than circumstantial evidence and suppositions from sources with no direct knowledge. Only one man, a former ISI chief and retired general, Ziauddin Butt, told me that he thought Musharraf had arranged to hide Bin Laden in Abbottabad. But he had no proof and, under pressure, claimed in the Pakistani press that he’d been misunderstood. Finally, on a winter evening in 2012, I got the confirmation I was looking for. According to one inside source, the ISI actually ran a special desk assigned to handle Bin Laden. It was operated independently, led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior. He handled only one person: Bin Laden. I was sitting at an outdoor cafe when I learned this, and I remember gasping, though quietly so as not to draw attention. (Two former senior American officials later told me that the information was consistent with their own conclusions.) This was what Afghans knew, and Taliban fighters had told me, but finally someone on the inside was admitting it. The desk was wholly deniable by virtually everyone at the ISI — such is how supersecret intelligence units operate — but the top military bosses knew about it, I was told. America’s failure to fully understand and actively confront Pakistan on its support and export of terrorism is one of the primary reasons President Hamid Karzai has become so disillusioned with the United States. As American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Pakistani military and its Taliban proxy forces lie in wait, as much a threat as any that existed in 2001. In January 2013, a spokesperson for the notorious Haqqania madrasa in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak told me, “It is a political fact that one day the Taliban will take power. The white flag of the Taliban will fly again over Kabul, inshallah.” Pakistani security officials, political analysts, journalists and legislators warned of the same thing. The Pakistani military was still set on dominating Afghanistan and was still determined to use the Taliban to exert influence now that the United States was pulling out. Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.” The US was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the US and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.
Today's edition of The International New York Times was stripped of its cover story in Pakistan. Instead of seeing a lengthy report on "What Pakistan knew about bin Laden," readers were greeted with an enormous section of white space that dominates the paper's front page. Elsewhere in the world, the International New York Times published a story by Carlotta Gall that closely examines links between Pakistan and Osama bin Laden. Gall's report traces the common accusation that the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence unit, may have knowingly provided shelter for the al Qaeda leader before he was killed during a United States raid in 2011. Apparently Pakistan's government doesn't want its citizens reading that content, and instead we're left with one of the most visually arresting examples of censorship in years.