Saturday, June 14, 2014
Iran will consider joining forces with the United States to combat Sunni militants in Iraq, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, said on Saturday in the clearest sign yet that the Islamic Republic is ready to set aside its decades-old enmity with Washington. The Iranian leader's cautiously worded remarks came at a news conference in Tehran amid rising speculation that the recent gains of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could force the two adversaries to forge an alliance of convenience. "All countries need to embark on joint effort regarding terrorism," Mr Rouhani said after being asked if Iran was prepared to cooperate with America in Iraq. "At the moment, it's the government of Iraq and the people of Iraq that are fighting terrorism. "We have not seen the US do anything for now. Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that."
He said Iran was ready to assist Iraq "in the framework of international law" but that, so far, Baghdad had not asked for Tehran's help. His comments followed reports that a senior Iranian official had said the Islamic Republic was willing to cooperate with America – despite deep-rooted ideological differences – to bolster Iraq's Shia-led government. "We can work with Americans to end the insurgency in the Middle East," the unnamed official told Reuters, adding that the idea was being discussed internally within the Iranian leadership. Such cooperation would not be unprecedented. Iran is known to have quietly assisted America in overthrowing the hard-line Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001, although relations between the two countries quickly reverted to their previous enmity. While leaving the possibility open, Mr Rouhani made it plain that suspicions remain by blaming America and its allies for supporting Islamist rebels in the civil war in neighbouring Syria, Iran's close ally. "Where did these terrorist groups emerge from? They came from Syria," he said. "The problem is, why should Western countries, why should America, support terrorist groups? We warned them a year ago that these terrorist groups were a danger for the whole region. [But] they sent them arms – or their colleagues in the region sent them arms." Separately, Mr Rouhani said Iran was ready to conclude a definitive deal over its nuclear programme. The six world powers comprising the US, Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany had concluded that Iran would have the right to uranium enrichment, he said. He also said negotiations could continue beyond the July 20 deadline if no agreement was reached by then.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned insurgents that his forces ''will not stop fighting them'' even as he called on deserting Iraqi soldiers to rejoin their units.
FORMER US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has described the unrest which hit Bahrain in February-March 2011 as being a "special case" in the so-called Arab Spring that unfolded from North Africa to the Middle East. "Bahrain was a very complicated case as events took the path of sectarianism," she says in her memoir, Hard Choices. According to London-based Al Arab newspaper, Clinton described the "difficult time" she had in dealing with the situation unfolding in Bahrain. She said that Bahrain saw no reason to inform the US before calling on the GCC military forces to intervene. "Bahrain chose to act without informing the US beforehand," she says in her book. She says she had a "very delicate" phone call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal on hearing about the GCC military intervention in Bahrain. She quoted the Saudi minister as telling her: "Let protesters go home for the situation to regain its normal course in Bahrain." She pointed out that the Saudi foreign minister accused Iran overtly of harbouring extremists in Bahrain. The new book is a methodical march through the challenges Clinton encountered as the US secretary of state from 2009-2013. In her description, virtually every foreign policy problem presented hard choices: the intractable Middle East, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Libya, the Arab Spring and more. But she also writes about her years as the nation's top diplomat as a "personal journey", both literal (112 countries and nearly one million miles) and figurative, taking her "from the painful end of the 2008 campaign to an unexpected partnership and friendship with my former rival Barack Obama". A team of Washington Post reporters read through the book and picked out chapter-by-chapter highlights. Clinton describes US reaction to the unfolding protests that became the Arab Spring, starting with the first stirrings of protest in Tunisia and tracking through reactions to demonstrations in various other countries, including Yemen, Bahrain and, notably, Egypt. She defends traditional US alliances with autocratic regimes as being a part of balancing various US interests against one another, defining a pragmatic approach that would have the US push regimes toward democratic reform while also forming alliances with those willing to advance US security interests. She describes herself as being consistently more cautious about siding with protesters, who promise an uncertain future over longtime, if autocratic, US allies - particularly in Egypt. She suggests her position aligned her with Joe Biden and Defence Secretary Robert Gates in opposition to others in the White House, who she suggests were swept away by idealism and wanted to move more quickly to help usher Hosni Mubarak from power. However, she never names the White House officials who held a different view from her own.
When Saudi Arabia announced last week it had found 113 more cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it didn't just force a rethink of the threat the virus poses, it exposed institutional failings. Saudi health sources and international virologists said poor communication and a lack of accountability in government departments, inadequate state oversight and a failure to learn from past mistakes have all hindered Saudi Arabia's battle against the SARS-like virus.
They say it is too soon to tell if reforms introduced by a new acting health minister can overcome what they see as underlying problems.
Some top Saudi health officials say they accept that delays in reporting MERS cases were caused by poor communication between hospitals, laboratories and government departments, but they stress things have improved significantly since the appointment of the new minister in late April. The health ministry "has put in place measures to ensure best practices of data gathering, reporting (and) transparency are strictly observed", it says, and "to ensure that from now on, case information will be accurate, reliable and timely". Saudi Arabia has been host to the vast majority of cases of MERS - a viral infection which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia - since it was first found in humans two years ago. International concerns over Saudi Arabia's handling of the outbreak grew last week when it said it had under-reported cases by a fifth and revised the case numbers to 688 from 575. People in the kingdom are still becoming infected with and dying of MERS every day, and sporadic cases have been found outside Saudi Arabia as infected people travel. The worldwide death toll from MERS now stands at more than 313 people. International scientists have complained of a lukewarm response from Saudi authorities to offers to help with the scientific research needed to get a handle on the outbreak, and have questioned the quality of data collection and distribution that could help reveal how the disease works. UNREPORTED CASES Tariq Madani, head of the scientific advisory board at the health ministry, said 58 of the 113 cases added last week had been confirmed as positive in government hospitals and laboratories, but the results had simply not been passed by those institutions to the ministry. Another 22 cases tested positive at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, but duplicate samples were not sent to government laboratories and the institution did not communicate the results to the health ministry, he said. A spokesman for King Faisal Specialist Hospital declined to comment further and referred all queries back to the health ministry. The remaining 33 cases had tested positive in private laboratories but showed as negative in government ones, Madani said. Madani said he did not believe the under-reporting had been deliberate and he thought a 20 percent shortfall in reported cases was not unusual in a disease outbreak. "This can happen anywhere in the world, that 20 percent of patients may not be reported. This is within the limit. It's actually less than 20 percent," he said. However, Ian MacKay, an associate professor of clinical virology at Australia's University of Queensland who has been tracking the MERS outbreak since the virus was first identified in 2012, is skeptical about the notion that it is normal for 20 percent of cases to go unreported. "I know of no global scientific norms that define a threshold below which it is normal to under-report cases of any viral cluster, outbreak or epidemic," he said. Madani said in some cases patients intermittently shed the virus, so it is not caught in a test. The ministry's policy, he said, had been to say that if there was a discrepancy between test results, only government laboratory results should stand. The new acting health minister Adel Fakieh has changed that policy, Madani said, and from now on positive tests from any laboratory accredited by the health ministry will count as confirmed cases. The appointment of Fakieh has also led to other changes, he said. Authorities have brought in tighter infection procedures in hospitals and are trying to be more transparent about how they are tackling MERS. "After the change of minister they involved people more in preventative methods. There were text messages on hand washing, the public has been more involved," said a Saudi public health expert who was critical of the ministry earlier this year. He, like some others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. But some international scientists still complain that data published online by Saudi authorities, which includes daily updates on confirmed new infections and deaths in different cities, is not comprehensive enough to allow them to research the disease.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), for example, said it was not clear whether the new cases listed by Saudi authorities met the World Health Organisation's definition of confirmed cases. The ECDC also noted the absence of detail such as age, gender, residence, probable place of infection and other information. Madani said the ministry only published information it considered immediately relevant to the public. He said more detailed data, collected on all patients since the first confirmed case in June 2012, could be made available to scientists who wanted it and had already been given to the World Health Organization. A spokesman for the WHO confirmed the organization had received detailed information which it was now verifying with Saudi authorities to ensure there was no double counting of cases in the WHO's global tally. "We collect extensive data on demographics, location of the patient, their nationality. Then we collect...data in terms of clinical manifestations, complications that happened to the patients while they are in hospital, and the outcome," Madani said. Officials also follow up contacts of known MERS cases daily for 14 days, he added, asking them to stay home in isolation and admitting them to hospital if they show symptoms. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said Saudi authorities should be congratulated on their pledge to be more open. "From talking to people inside the Kingdom right now, I'd say there is a very new sense of transparency in the last few weeks," he said. DOCTORS NOT INFORMED However, challenges remain. The problems are evident in the case of one kidney patient who fell ill in Jeddah in April, a main location of the outbreak. The man was transferred from another hospital to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital (KFSH), but doctors there were not officially informed by medical staff who had previously cared for him that they suspected he might have contracted MERS, said a city health source. As a result, King Faisal Specialist Hospital staff took no extra precautions and within a week the head of the intensive care unit and other staff, including a pregnant nurse, fell ill. Both the nurse and ICU head have now recovered. The problem was that suspicions of MERS were only communicated verbally, rather than being put on paper in a patient's file, said Sabah Abuzinadah, a former head of nursing for a government commission on healthcare workers. The King Faisal spokesman declined to comment. Such problems were familiar to people inside Saudi Arabia who had been involved in cases of MERS over the previous two years. "At first the government would only accept that those patients already in intensive care had MERS. Even when cases were coming to the emergency room with severe respiratory symptoms they were told to go home and not investigated," said the head of a private hospital where some MERS cases occurred last year. He denied that there was any deliberate attempt to hide MERS cases, but said officials - and sometimes emergency room doctors - found it hard to accept that a new disease had raised its head in their hospital. The hospital declined to comment. He said the extent of the outbreak in Jeddah in April and May showed that complacency had set in after the rate of infection slowed throughout last summer, autumn and winter, and when there were no confirmed cases during last year's pilgrimage season. "We did not learn from the outbreak last year. The Health Ministry did not get the severity of the issue. But it was not just them who underestimated it. Even in the best private hospitals there were cases," he said. COMPLEX SYSTEMS Abuzinadah said nursing groups in the kingdom had warned the health ministry about systemic problems in hospitals and poor government oversight. She said they had called for better enforcement of infection control procedures - something Madani says is now being implemented - and independent regulators for hospitals and healthcare professionals. The only official body now overseeing healthcare workers is the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities, whose board is chaired by the minister. According to its website, it is responsible only for training and setting standards, not for regulating or evaluating performance. Hospital regulation is run by the health ministry, which also manages many of the country's hospitals. Other hospitals are run by private healthcare companies and by other state bodies, adding to the complexity of the system. "It's a complicated country. Even people like Memish (the deputy minister sacked last week) don't really have access to everything (in terms of patient data and information)," said Christian Drosten, a University of Bonn virologist who has worked on MERS with Saudi scientists. Many of the people who spoke to Reuters for this story said the creation of a new control and command center should help coordinate the response to MERS. The new center, announced by Fakieh on June 1, aims to bring together public health, research, infection control, clinical operations and data analysis into a new unit. "Before, our issue was with communication - other ministries only knew what was going on by reading the newspapers," said the private hospital head who had dealt with MERS last year. "Now, everyone is involved."
Bush and Blair said Iraq was a war on Islamic fascism. They lost.
So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.
From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles. Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks? The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army. While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit. The Croesus-like wealth of Qatar may soon be redirected away from the Muslim rebels of Syria and Iraq to the Assad regime, out of fear and deep hatred for its Sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia (which may invade Qatar if it becomes very angry). We all know of the “deep concern” of Washington and London at the territorial victories of the Islamists – and the utter destruction of all that America and Britain bled and died for in Iraq. No one, however, will feel as much of this “deep concern” as Shia Iran and Assad of Syria and Maliki of Iraq, who must regard the news from Mosul and Tikrit as a political and military disaster. Just when Syrian military forces were winning the war for Assad, tens of thousands of Iraqi-based militants may now turn on the Damascus government, before or after they choose to advance on Baghdad.
Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman former President Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned murder of minority member Provincial Assembly Balochistan Hendry Masih by his guard. According to reports MPA Hendry Masih and his nephew were attacked by his guard outside his house. Hendry Masih was killed and his nephew was injured in this attack. He was affiliated with national Party. Former President expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the incident and asked Balochistan Government to investigate the murder so that the real cause of this murder be exposed. He hoped the killer will be arrested soon and brought to book. He also prayed early recovery of his nephew who was injured in this attack.
Officials on Saturday said four more polio cases have emerged in Pakistan, putting the total number of reported cases in the country this year to 82. Emergency coordinator of the WHO’s polio eradication programme in Pakistan Elias Durry told Dawn.com on Saturday that of the four new cases, two are from Khyber Agency while the other two from North Waziristan tribal agency. “These (new cases) are children who have never been immunised before, and all belong to Pashtun areas,” he said. Last month, the WHO imposed strict travel restrictions on Pakistan to prevent the possible spread of the polio virus to other countries.
Pakistan currently stands at the top in the last three polio endemic countries in the world, which include Nigeria and Afghanistan. The WHO says the virus strain of polio found in Pakistan has affected as many as five countries over the past two years, becoming a serious threat to other countries. Of the total 82 polio cases this year, at least 61 have now been reported from the volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), which hold the highest burden of the polio incidence. “For the first time since 2009, a campaign is being carried out in Bara tehsil, the first round of which was conducted last week. We hope to complete the remaining three rounds before the start of Ramazan,” said Durry. North Waziristan however still remains a ‘difficult area’, he added.
One of the biggest criticisms of Afghanistan’s otherwise much-lauded first-round election was a chronic shortage of ballot papers. Tens of thousands of people, some waiting in line for hours, were turned away. It appears tragedy has struck twice, because during the June 14 runoff between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, ballot shortages were reported in as many as half of the country's 34 provinces. After the first round on April 5, observers accused election authorities of being unprepared for the unprecedented turnout of around 7 million people. Election officials themselves said the shortage of ballots was actually a calculated move -- an effort to prevent the widespread fraud and ballot-box stuffing that critics alleged took place during the presidential election of 2009. One reason cited at the time was that unexpectedly low turnout left a high number of leftover ballots available to be filled in. To prevent such a situation from developing again, each polling station was limited to only 600 ballots this time around.
Despite years of efforts by Western officials to cut off the Taliban’s financial lifelines, the militants are as rich as ever, bringing in so much cash from opium trafficking, illegal mining, extortion rackets and other ventures that the money itself appears to be a reason for many insurgents to keep fighting, Afghan and Western officials say.
The Taliban are believed to have earned record revenues last year, with a bumper opium harvest in Afghanistan helping pad insurgent coffers. This year’s harvest is forecast to be even better, and there is growing concern among Afghan and Western officials that the Taliban’s financial health could extend the insurgency and complicate efforts to reach a peace deal as American-led combat forces withdraw.
The Taliban’s booming financial ventures stand in contrast to the insurgents’ battlefield difficulties over the past year. Throughout much of the country, the Taliban have found themselves in a stalemate with Afghan forces, able to launch attacks and occasionally overrun police outposts but unable to hold territory. And after months of threats to disrupt Afghanistan’s presidential election, Afghans turned out in record numbers to vote in April. The country is holding a runoff on Saturday, the end of a nearly six-month campaign during which there were few large-scale Taliban attacks.
Yet the Taliban remain deadly players in many parts of Afghanistan, and a report released on Friday by a United Nations committee charged with tracking sanctions against the militants said the insurgency’s income was growing despite its lackluster efforts to fight Afghan and foreign forces and growing divisions within its ranks.
Though the insurgents have complete control of four of Afghanistan’s nearly 370 districts, down from 10 just a few years ago, the report said, their financial success has allowed them to remain a significant threat in roughly half the country, with “less potential incentive to negotiate.” Some Afghan and Western officials said many factions of the Taliban in recent years had come to resemble something closer to organized crime syndicates than an Islamist militant group. In many ways, the entire insurgent movement has grown to resemble the Haqqani network, a powerful Taliban ally long viewed as primarily a criminal enterprise, an American official said Friday. “The more we look at the insurgency, at its component parts that are smuggling lumber and gems and opium, the more we see individuals whose incentive is greed, not any ideological dream of a pure Islamic state,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “That’s always been part of it. But it’s getting more pronounced.” Though many Afghan and Western officials agree that the Taliban appear to be in some sort of flux, torn by internal feuds and unable or unwilling to take the offensive in many parts of Afghanistan, some caution against placing too much emphasis on economic factors
An official with the international military coalition in Afghanistan said there appeared to be morale problems among fighters who were coming to realize that a military victory was unlikely. A few Taliban factions, meanwhile, are having cash problems, and there is an “increased competition for resources because we’re not spending as much anymore,” he said, referring to coalition contracts.
The United Nations report also noted the same rifts. And it said some Taliban leaders killed in the past year were slain as a result of internal feuds sparked by the changing economics of the insurgency. Until recently, the Taliban earned significant revenue extorting money from and, in some cases, bankrolling businesses that supplied troops from the American-led coalition. But with the coalition pulling back, the number of contracts is shrinking, and the killings may “reflect a growing rivalry over diminishing resources,” it said. In other areas, though, 2013 was a “bumper year for Taliban revenues” from other sources, the report said. Rather than scraping by, some factions of the Taliban were in danger of experiencing a “resource curse,” in which they earn so much from fighting that they have no reason to stop. A militant group driven by greed, not ideology, is “very, very dangerous,” said a Western official familiar with the report who was also not authorized to speak publicly. “It makes it so the only sustainable victory is to bankrupt your enemy.” It may also make finding a peaceful settlement far more difficult. While some factions of the Taliban support the idea of peace talks, “too many others have been enriched beyond measure,” and would be far less likely to respect any deal struck by their leaders, the Western official said. Estimates of the cost of running the insurgency each year range from $200 million to $400 million. But coming up with an estimate of annual income is impossible because there is no reliable way to track their revenue from investments in legitimate businesses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries in the Persian Gulf, like the United Arab Emirates, the Western official said. Inside Afghanistan, the insurgents have a number of lucrative and steady sources of cash across a range of illicit businesses, including opium trafficking in southern Afghanistan and lumber smuggling and the mining of gems in the country’s northeast, the United Nations report said. The Taliban’s most important revenue-generating province is Helmand, in the south, it said. All three of the Taliban’s major businesses are flourishing there — narcotics, extortion and illegal mining, which in Helmand is centered on marble. The Taliban run 25 to 30 illegal marble quarries in the province, and most are in a district they control along the border with Pakistan, making it easy to smuggle the quarried stone. The opium crop harvested in Helmand in May this year alone is estimated to be worth $50 million, and the insurgents levied taxes on a significant portion of it, the report said. But perhaps more worrying, it appears that the Taliban do not need to be in control of an area to earn money there, and Helmand provided Exhibit A for the phenomenon. American and British troops struggled to overcome the Taliban before Afghan forces took charge in Helmand. Yet the Taliban were earning significant sums from opium in areas under government control, like the Marjah District, the site of a much-publicized offensive by American-led forces in 2010.
At least two more Shia Muslims were shot martyred in Karachi after the terrorists of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) known as Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) attacked on them in Karachi. Two Shia shop owners of ‘Qalandar Pakwan Center’, Haider Abbas Rizvi aka Shoaib Raza and Qaisar Abbas were targeted near Darul Sehat Hospital of Gulistan-e-Johar area of Karachi. The terrorists of SSP-ASWJ attacked on them with 9mm pistol and managed to escape after killing them on spot. The area is also under hundred per cent control of Mutahida Quomi Movement (MQM). Since many days, Shia genocide has been witnessed in MQM dominated areas. Pro-Taliban terrorists have killed thousands of innocent Shiite Muslims across the country, but government, judiciary and law enforcement agencies have failed to protect the citizens and have taken no step to stop ongoing genocide of Shiite Muslims in Pakistan. The terrorist groups have launched a violent campaign against Shia Muslims and appear to have widened their terror campaign in major Pakistani cities. According to local sources, militants affiliated to Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist groups have killed thousands of Shia Muslims in the country. The killing of Shias in Pakistan has caused international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing deadly violence against the Shia community, which reportedly makes up about a third of Pakistan’s population of over 180 million. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the targeted murder of Shia notable. They demanded public hanging of the terrorists and military operation to eliminate the terrorists.
For years, Pakistan has consistently renewed its international image as a country of grave concern, with not only its inability to halt the progress of terrorist and militant groups within the country but also its inability to provide basic needs of its own population. Far from offering any assurance that it can control the growing militancy of terror groups like the Pakistani Taliban, the government of Pakistan is not even able to exhibit any competency for protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms of its people. A glance at news reports in recent weeks illustrates the extent of injustice and outright cruelty perpetrated by vicious individuals and the appalling complacency of the general population. On May 27, a 25-year-old woman was bludgeoned to death with stones and bricks outside the Lahore High Court by a mob including her own father and bothers because she chose to marry a man against her family's wishes. Although several have been taken into custody for this heinous crime, a senior officer nearly justified the crime by claiming the woman's marriage "was both illegal and immoral" and seemingly defended the criminals, stating "These people come from a village, you can't expect them to act as if they were on Oxford Street." Even more appalling are reports that this murder occurred in front of a crowd of onlookers who literally did nothing. The very next week, an 18-year-old woman was shot in the face by her family, stuffed into a sack and thrown into a canal in Hafizabad because she, too, chose to marry a man against her family's wishes. What is happening in that country that makes people so hard-hearted, vicious, and sadistic? And what is happening in that country that makes onlookers complacent in the face of such injustice? There is a deep culture of intimidation bred and nurtured in Pakistan, and much of the responsibility for this callous disregard for justice and fairness lies on the shoulders of their religious leadership, who have endorsed and encouraged injustice for decades. For a country claiming to adopt religion as their national identity by calling itself the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is not then the perilous condition of morality in the country the fault of its religious leaders? Should not the people already know that Islam condemns such acts of so-called "honor" killings? How do they remain ignorant of the example of the Prophet Muhammad? The brazen disregard for law and order -- coupled with the dreadful silence of the country's majority -- is in fact promoted by religious leaders and institutions in Pakistan. Take for example the targeted intimidation, discrimination and even murder of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. For years, posters and billboards have been hung around Pakistan calling for the boycott and murder of Ahmadi Muslims. Recently, one such poster was printed by the Khatme-Nabuwat Students Federation of Pakistan, calling the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community "a deadly poison" and invokes emotional sentiments towards Islam and the Prophet Muhammad to flagrantly call for murder. The poster says about Ahmadi Muslims: "Their punishment is Death. Killing these people in an open market is Jihad and virtue." Is it any surprise that more than 130 Ahmadi Muslims have been targeted and killed in Pakistan the past four years? Is it any surprise that an American Ahmadi Muslim, Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar, visiting Pakistan on a medical mission was shot 11 times in the chest in front of his wife and two-year-old child on May 26? What is perhaps most shocking about posters like this is that the name and contact information of the organization is clearly listed, but no legal action is taken against them. In this case, they print the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and two local Pakistan phone numbers for people to call, seemingly to join the campaign to murder innocent citizens of Pakistan. And what does law enforcement do? They claim to "protect" the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community by banning the publication of their materials, forbidding them from calling themselves Muslims, forbidding them from referring to their houses of worship as Mosques, forbidding them from preaching and forbidding them from reading the Quran so as not to upset the radical clergy. This intolerance has continued to grow. On June 8, at least 23 people were killed near Pakistan's border with Iran during a targeted attack against Shia pilgrims. The situation in Pakistan has spiraled into an out of control crisis that now spills outside its borders as well. Pakistan will never resolve its problem of barbarism and lawlessness if it does not restrain the callous and dangerous practices of its religious leadership. It's time to remove the power that religious clergy have in state affairs and enforce the adherence to justice, peace and equity. Pakistan's inability to provide justice and safety for its own population is now resulting in insecurity for other nations at the hands of the same extremists who they have emboldened. Bring swift and stern justice to those who heartlessly murder their own daughters with some sense of misplaced pride. Bring swift and stern justice to those who openly call for the murder of innocent people, with blatant disregard for any consequences. If Pakistan will not come to the aid of its own people soon, it will be too late for anyone to save the country from being completely overrun by extremists.
Several persons were injured when twin blasts occurred near Khanpur area in Mansehra when the convoy of security forces was passing through Shahrah-e-Karakoram today. According to the police, the first blast occurred when an improvised explosive device (IED) fixed along the Shahrah-e-Karakoram went off while the security forces’ convoy was passing through Khanpur area. As a result of the explosion, several persons including a security man was injured while a vehicle was also damaged. Police said the convoy was on its way to Gilgit from Rawalpindi when the blast occurred. Sources said that the second blast took place at the same place while the rescue operation was in progress and the injured were being shifted to the hospital for treatment. After the twin blasts, security forces cordoned off the area and launched further investigations into the incident. Police and bomb disposal squad reached the site and started a search operation.
The Express Tribune
A high-level meeting of police and intelligence officials on Friday confirmed that a Chinese tourist had been kidnapped by a local Taliban commander, Sher Ali, in the Kot Sultan area of Tehsil Kulachi. Hong Xu Dong was kidnapped near Kulachi Mur in the Daraban area on the road from DI Khan to Zhob in Balochistan on May 19. He was reportedly travelling on bicycle towards Zhob. While it is not clear which Taliban group Sher Ali is affiliated with, a kidnappers group led by Amin Khan Malang is said to have assisted in the kidnapping. Earlier TTP Senior Commander Abdullah Bahar confirmed to the media that they held the tourist. “He is now in our hands and this is an act of our fighters,” Bahar had said, adding, “We demand the release of our prisoners in government custody.” According to an intelligence report, police in DI Khan have finalised preparations for a large scale operation to recover the tourist.
Former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has regretted the policy of victimization of the PML-N government with anguish adding that it has reverted to the politics of 90s that destroyed the political system of the country replacing it with dictatorship. He said in a statement issued from here on Saturday. He said that the witch hunting of the PML-N government through the Anti-Corruption Court Central, Karachi, which was under the federal government and clearly established the malafides of the present government. He recalled that he had suffered due to the political victimization of the present rulers previously and had to undergo five years jail which was in fact 10 years under the jail manual. It should be kept in mind, he added that he was exonerated in the case honorably but who would be held responsible for his spending 10 years of his precious life in Jail. He said that he was arrested by General Musharraf government on the fabricated case prepared by the PML-N government during 90s on charges of audit objections which were resolved either by the department or reconciled by Public Accounts Committee. He added his case was instead referred to NAB whereas similar case of Chairman Senate was sent to PAC. He was victim of the discriminatory application of the law, he contended. There were two laws in the country, he added. Ex-prime minister Mir Bulkh Sher Mazari telephoned Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani and said that he would come to him to express his solidarity with him.
IN the aftermath of the Karachi airport assault, instead of looking inwards and trying to identify the loopholes that made the debacle possible, the federal and Sindh governments are indulging in mudslinging. This, unfortunately, is in line with officialdom’s conventional response after every disaster: rather than bravely accept blame and promise to learn from their mistakes, our politicians try their best to shift blame elsewhere and refuse to learn. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has blamed the Sindh government for failing “to put in place appropriate measures to avert the attack”, after Islamabad had issued several warnings in this regard. As reported in this paper, the interior minister had apparently written to the Sindh government in March warning it about security loopholes at the old airport, yet the Sindh authorities “paid no heed” to the warning signs. In reaction, the Sindh information minister defended his administration’s record, saying only Sindh was confronting the Taliban. Before this war of words further obfuscates matters, let us clarify a few things. Firstly, the responsibility of securing airports is the job of the Airport Security Force, a federal body coming under the aviation division. Before the interior minister lashes out at the Sindh administration, he and his colleagues in the federal government must first ascertain whether the ASF personnel had the training and equipment to thwart an assault of such devastating proportions. Consider, for example, the claim that security personnel at Karachi airport were using ‘fake’ bomb detectors. Training and equipping the ASF is the federal government’s responsibility, no matter what excuses are made. Regarding the claim that the Sindh government did nothing to plug the holes around the airport’s periphery, again, this is the prime responsibility of the ASF and the Civil Aviation Administration, also a federal body, which is explicitly tasked with airport management and upkeep of infrastructure. Coming to the Sindh government’s role, the provincial authorities were indeed lax in their ability to keep track of militant activities in Karachi. Counterterrorism is a complex undertaking, requiring harmony amongst the military and civilian intelligence agencies and the police in order to deliver. Was this seamless convergence in place between the Sindh police, home department and intelligence agencies? It is these tricky questions the federal and Sindh governments need to address rather than criticising each other. Instead of politicking, maturity is required from all stakeholders to jointly tackle the monster of militancy.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has strongly condemned the killing of Handery Masih, MPA of Balochistan National Party (BNP) in Quetta. Handery Masih was gunned down by his own guard in Quetta today. PPP Chairman expressed sympathy with the bereaved family and urged Balochistan government to thoroughly investigate the case to unearth real motive behind the ugly killing and punish the culprits involved, directly and indirectly.
By Daniel Markey, Special to CNN Editor’s note: Daniel Markey is a senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad. The views expressed are the writer’s own. On Wednesday and Thursday, U.S. drones fired missiles in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan for the first known strikes since late December. In the wake of this week’s two terrorist attacks on Karachi’s airport, the drone strikes mean one of two things. Either Pakistan’s leaders have finally decided to launch a long-awaited military offensive in North Waziristan, the home base of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), or U.S. officials have grown so frustrated with Pakistan’s dithering that they decided to take the fight into their own hands. Let’s hope that Pakistan has finally decided for war. The next six months offer what is likely the best – and quite possibly the last – chance for Washington and Islamabad to work together against a terrorist group that threatens the peace in Pakistan, has extended its operations into Afghanistan, and would undoubtedly attack the United States if ever given the chance. Any further delay would be costly. As President Barack Obama announced last month, all but 9,800 U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by year’s end. That drawdown in military power will also mean reduced CIA operations along the Pakistani border, including the sort of surveillance and drone strikes that would give any Pakistan military operation a greater lethal punch. Had they been wiser, Pakistani leaders would have launched a North Waziristan campaign several years ago, when U.S. forces were present in greater numbers. Indeed, Islamabad and Washington used to speak of a “hammer and anvil” approach to striking terrorists all along the rugged and porous border, but despite frequent American entreaties, Pakistan’s leaders were never willing to strike. Over the past year, Pakistan’s civilian government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has preferred fruitless, on-again-off-again peace talks with the TTP to war. Better late than never, though, because the TTP has shown itself to be a resilient adversary with every intention of bringing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of nearly 200 million people, to its knees. Karachi is but the latest of the TTP’s many atrocities, and not the first time the group has hit a high-profile and presumably well-defended target. In addition to several attacks on major Pakistani military bases, Taliban operatives also allegedly murdered former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, shot the young student activist Malala Yousafzai and were linked to the blowing up of Islamabad’s Marriott hotel. Although the TTP is not yet as sophisticated an enemy as al Qaeda, its leaders are opportunistic and believed to be eager to take their fight to distant shores – Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who in May 2010 attempted to blow up his SUV in Times Square, collaborated with the TTP. To their belated credit, Pakistan’s generals now recognize the TTP as their greatest immediate security threat (although India always looms just over the horizon). The trouble lies in the way the army has handled its disagreements with Pakistan’s civilian government about when and how to confront that threat. Rather than accepting Sharif’s authority and influencing his policy decisions through a normal advisory process, the military has resorted to nasty tricks, like shutting down the nation’s biggest television network, Geo. Geo’s ties to the prime minister run deep, and the military’s muscle flexing sends the unmistakable message that Sharif could be the next to go. In short, Pakistan’s generals are stoking the flames of a civil-military dispute at precisely the time when the nation’s leaders need to pull together against the TTP. Although few Pakistanis anticipate a Thai or Egyptian-style coup in the offing – if only because Pakistan’s army has learned through experience the downsides of trying to run the country itself – rumors abound that the top brass is looking to install a more pliable civilian replacement for Sharif. Unfortunately, none of Pakistan’s realistic alternatives to Sharif hold great promise as statesmen or administrators, and by riding into office on the back of the military, the next government would be born tarnished by democratic illegitimacy. That combination of ineffective and unpopular rule is a classic recipe for state failure. The Pakistani Taliban could hardly hope for more.For its part, the United States should not speak only the language of drone strikes, which will be of only tactical utility if not followed by a serious ground campaign. Limited as Washington’s diplomatic leverage with Pakistan may be, billions in U.S. economic and military assistance still buy sufficient access to deliver tough messages to Pakistan’s generals and politicians. Pakistan’s army needs a quick, stiff warning to stop hounding the media and government. The civilian government, in turn, would benefit from outside encouragement to mobilize public support for a ground campaign against the Taliban in North Waziristan, likely to be long and costly under even the best of circumstances. Such messages would be strengthened if delivered in coordination with Pakistan’s other close friends in China and Saudi Arabia, both of whom would also prefer to see a unified Pakistani state seize its best chance to bring the Taliban insurgency to heel.
The brutal recent attack by the Taliban on Pakistan’s largest airport raises major questions about security. It also exposes Pakistan’s impotence in the task of routing the Taliban — and its failure to even develop a strategy for doing so. Worse is the possibility that Islamabad might be unable to protect its nuclear assets in the future. Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have long been incapable of deciding if they should launch full-fledged operations against the Taliban. It is unclear if even the recent attacks will lead to the emergence of a needed coherent policy and civilian-military consensus in the country. Earlier last week, two American drones killed Afghan Taliban commanders in tribal areas of Pakistan. That was an indication that foreign militants are also backing the Pakistani Taliban. An Uzbek militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on Karachi Airport, which took more than three dozen lives and led to a halt in peace talks. Reports indicate weapons used in the attack were imported from India, fueling more distrust within Pakistan for its eastern neighbor. But Pakistan has to get serious about defeating the militants, especially as the American war effort winds down next door in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the risks increase that the Taliban may regroup on the Afghan border, further destabilizing the region. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article547570/Pakistan-must-defeat-the-Taliban.html#storylink=cpy
When militants of the infamous Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched a brazen offensive on Pakistan's largest airport on April 8, I was frantically switching the TV channels in Karachi. I had heard there were missing employees and much later found out that their dead bodies were burned beyond recognition and recovered from a gutted cold storage area, where they had hid in a desperate attempt to save their own lives. The tragedy not only made me feel exposed to the threats being posed by the nation's lurking dangers, but it also made me realize that a large majority of the population shares the same apprehensions. A full scale military operation to rid Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism in the country's tribal belt has sparked a national debate, and defense analysts and experts on Afghan affairs and militancy have begun shedding light on the Karachi airport attack. Given that Pakistan has already reportedly suffered 49,000 casualties -- including the loss of more than 15,000 security personnel in its fight against homegrown insurgency -- and given the prospects of full throttle action against the militants in coming days, the government needs to focus on formulating an effective strategy to avoid civilian casualties in future situations. Keeping in mind our past experiences, we can say that any military offensive against battle-hardened local and foreign militants in the tribal belt near the Afghan border will most probably trigger a backlash across Pakistan through similar assaults targeting various high-profile sites. The government not only needs to strengthen its intelligence network to preempt such attacks, but it is also incumbent on the authorities to avoid collateral damage in its anti-militancy drive. Additionally, the government should make it a priority to save civilian lives in terror attacks in urban areas (Pakistan's top politicians like Imran Khan and other right wing politicians have repeatedly said that collateral damage due to the air strikes and the army's ground offensive in tribal areas has prompted militants to recruit the locals to take "revenge" from the state). Such moves on the government's part could not only win it the support of politicians opposed to the use of force against the insurgents, but the other sections of society will also feel safe and encouraged to stand up against terrorism. Instead of asking the government or other ministers to step down, we as a society should embrace the fact that the issue at hand has a far greater impact than a mere political blame game. It's afflicting the already limping economy, trade, international reputation, tourism, sports and all other facets that are vital for Pakistan's progress. Let's not forget the fact that it was only a month ago when we were slapped with travel restrictions by the World Health Organization due to the nation's failure to eradicate the crippling disease of polio -- mainly because of terrorism. Now, it's unclear whether the foreign investors and tourists will still be willing to travel to Pakistan in the current circumstances. Hence, it is high time to quell the insurgency through employing all the resources available. The incumbent Pakistani administration has dual responsibility in the context of the present security situation of the country. First, it should devise an effective strategy to minimize collateral damage in launching a counter-insurgency offensive in its northwestern tribal border and the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Secondly, it must prepare itself to respond to the challenging task of safeguarding the precious civilian lives in the event of a militant attack. This will not only have a positive impact on the Pakistani nation at large, but it will also make it more difficult for the TTP to bring more militants into its folds.
By Syed Fazl-e-Haider
The terrorist attack on Pakistan's largest airport on June 8 in Karachi was an attempt to disable the country's aviation system and cut communications from the rest of the world. Though the security forces thwarted the bid by 10 heavily armed terrorists, all reportedly Uzbeks, after a five-hour battle into Monday morning, the attack raises many questions and international concerns over the poor state of security and failure of intelligence agencies in the nuclear armed country.Just 48 hours after attack on the airport, terrorists attacked an Airport Security Force camp nearby on Tuesday, June 10. The attack was repulsed and the attackers managed to flee. Responsibility for both attacks was claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban.Pakistani Taliban is allied and well-connected with international militant networks. Uzbek fighters were involved in the airport attack, which killed 37, according to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Al-Qaeda affiliate. The attack was carried out, according to some reports, as revenge for the latest air strikes with fighter jets by the Pakistan Army. The IMU is believed to have been based in the country's northwestern tribal areas since the US-led attack on Afghanistan in 2001. No doubt, Pakistan is the victim of international terrorism. The airport attack underlines questions over Pakistan's ill-preparedness to fight the terrorist menace. Following the attack, a blame game developed between the federal government and Sindh's provincial government, with each trying to shift responsibility for securing the airport complex on each others' shoulders. This and several such attacks in the past indicate a serial failure by the country's security and intelligence agencies. The 2009 attack on Pakistan' military headquarter s in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the 2011 attack on the Mehran naval base in Karachi, and last year's attack on the Minhas airbase may be cited as the major security failures. However, there is also a long list of attacks on police training centers, police stations, security check posts and jail-breaks across the country over the past five years. The airport attack actually reflects the enormity of challenges the country faces on the security front. It also indicates the state's state of confusion, and reluctance to cope with the terrorism issue on a priority basis. It is amid this lack of seriousness that the TTP has now emerged as the strongest militant outfit in the country's tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. It is aggressively following an expansionist agenda, making its presence felt almost all over the country. Now it is in a position to carry out its terrorist operations anywhere in Pakistan. It has so far launched thousands of attacks that have killed over 50,000 Pakistani citizens. Many slum areas in Karachi are now under the control of the Pakistani Taliban, and they hit their targets in the country wherever they want. In comparison, the Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not look serious about undertaking a full-scale military operation against the extremists in their strongholds in the tribal region. The Sharif government still wants to engage in peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, who also welcome dialogue to get space. The government is still confused, while the TTP continue to target law enforcement personnel, armed forces, civilians and strategic installations. Even though the Pakistan Army this week decided to intensify air strikes on militant hideouts, it seems that the Sharif government is dealing with the terrorism issue from a position of weakness, while militants enjoy the position of strength. Pakistan is fighting a war which is also being fought by NATO countries and the US. The international community must help the country in fighting for a global cause. Pakistan and its spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has been blamed several times for having secret connections with Afghan Taliban groups, but the involvement of anti-Pakistan forces in fueling unrest in the nuclear-armed nation has not duly been reported and criticized. Destabilizing Pakistan means weakening a key ally in the US-led war on terror. Unfortunately, Pakistan and ISI bashing by some rival states has become a fashion, even though the Pakistan Army and the ISI have been on the war's frontline, and paid heavy costs as a consequence. Besides internal security lapses, some foreign rival forces are settling scores with Pakistan at a time when it is on the frontline position in the global war on terror. TTP's current chief Mullah Fazlullah has found a safe haven in Afghanistan from where he orchestrates attacks on targets inside Pakistan. He is believed to enjoy the support of officials of Afghan intelligence and India's intelligence unit, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). India-made arms and weapons were reportedly recovered from the airport attackers. The TTP actually reflects an India-Afghan intelligence nexus, which is fiercely anti-Pakistan. This nexus may have gained strength after the installation of the right-wing Hindu nationalist administration of Prime Minister Narendara Modi in New Delhi last month. India's increased diplomatic presence in Afghanistan may enhance the operational capacity of the TTP but also of militant separatist groups in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province. Pakistan's sacrifices in the war on terror are greater than any other state. Today, no place is safe in Pakistan, including mosques, temples, churches, saints' shrines, markets, schools, hospitals, courts and civilian transport. Even feeling safe has become an abnormal feeling in the terror-hit country. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US will have to join hands if they really want to defeat the terrorists, who cannot be classified as "good or bad", as they follow the same ideology of extremism. On the other hand, Pakistan will have to take a serious decision to root out the terrorist bases in its restive tribal region.
Death at the hands of Taliban attackers has become a daily occurrence in Pakistan—and yet it’s ordinary people, not the government, who are intent on fighting back. The Pakistani Taliban struck again this time with a deadly attack at the Karachi airport last Sunday. An hours-long battle with security forces left more than 28 people dead. This is just the latest and by far one of the most high profile attacks by the Taliban.
Pakistan needs to revisit, revise and improve its foreign relations to ask for support if needed. The U.S. needs to help Pakistan stabilize its military and strategic support in Karachi and help play a role in the dialogue process between Pakistan and the neighboring countries which are also US allies in the war on terror. Pakistan needs to keep other South Asian countries on the same page also. The U.S. needs to understand the magnitude of this situation in Pakistan if it wants to win the war on terror. Death at the hands of the Taliban has become a daily affair for Pakistan and account after account of their deadly attacks pepper the news every day. The Pakistani people, themselves, are fighting the Taliban and have done what they can by forming pressure groups and by defending their fellow citizens. Local Muslims in Peshawar, formed a human shield surrounding Christian worshippers at All Saint’s Church after the country’s deadliest attack on Pakistani Christians last fall. The same gesture was repeated by citizens against the Taliban at numerous churches throughout the country by the locals of the respective areas. Thank you, Taliban, for killing the coward in all of us. Pakistan is clearly in the midst of a civil war, except only one side seems to be fighting it. That side has a clearly defined objective and acts on its statements. It knows who its enemy is. It knows its targets. The government does not. Without a clearly defined objective and hard action, there is only one outcome…the Taliban wins.