Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pakistan at war

Doubts remain about the belated offensive of Pakistan’s army in North Waziristan
FOR almost a decade American officials have moaned about the presence on Pakistani soil of an important safe haven for global terrorists, and the government’s stubborn refusal to do anything about it. A succession of American generals and diplomats have complained that the colonial-era anachronism known as North Waziristan is not just a command-and-control centre for fanatics attacking Pakistan. By providing a sanctuary for them, it has also made an outright victory against the Taliban next door in Afghanistan impossible.
Pakistan has resisted all American demands to get to grips with a place that is the most likely home of what remains of al-Qaeda’s core leadership, the base for especially lethal Afghan insurgent groups and the site where jihadists hatched the most serious plot against the American homeland since 2001—the botched car-bombing in 2010 of Times Square in New York.
None of these reasons was enough, it seemed, to coax Pakistan to take its troops inside North Waziristan out of the bases where they were locked down. Frustrated, America resorted to drone strikes to tamp down the menace, making itself even more unpopular in Pakistan.
Now, at the very fag-end of the West’s 13-year combat mission in the region, America is at last getting its wish, with the launch on June 15th of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, named after a sword of Koranic legend. Although this followed an especially provocative attack by the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on the country’s busiest civilian airport, in Karachi on June 9th, the operation had been in the offing for months. It was delayed only at the insistence of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, on exhausting an always improbable bid to strike a peace deal with the TTP. Mr Sharif, like many other politicians, feared terrorist reprisals in Pakistan’s ill-prepared cities, and perhaps especially in his home province of Punjab.
Hostilities had in fact begun some time ago. The army prepared the way for a ground operation with air strikes against militant hideouts, which it rather improbably claims have caused no civilian casualties. Despite this, however, little had been done to prepare for the inevitable outflow of displaced civilians. Some 450,000 have fled, including many children who will be carrying the polio virus that has been rampant in North Waziristan ever since militants banned vaccinations in 2012.
American forces grumble they were given just 72 hours warning—not long enough to put in place preparations to block the retreat of militants into Afghanistan’s volatile eastern borderlands. With NATO in the final throes of winding down operations, only air power is really available anyway. Had the operation happened years ago, Western officials sigh, foreign forces could have provided an “anvil”. The Pakistani hammer could have crushed the al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups from its own country and around the world that have come to call North Waziristan home.
Sceptics doubt how far North Waziristan will really be cleaned up even now. For all the international opprobrium it has brought Pakistan, it has also provided a base for Afghan groups regarded as useful allies in Pakistan’s decades-long effort to dominate its neighbour. It is feared many of these so-called “good Taliban” have been allowed to slip away or will not be attacked. So far, though the army has bragged of killing hundreds of terrorists, particularly Uzbeks and other foreigners, it has not boasted of strikes against groups that have never attacked Pakistan: the Afghan Taliban; the Haqqani Network; and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.
The army claims it is determined to eliminate all terrorists of all stripes. But the motivation for Pakistan’s change of heart is not the misery North Waziristan has brought to the world but its role in the terrible rise of domestic terrorism in recent years. Yet militant groups have infiltrated themselves across Pakistan’s heartland. So, even if it is effective, the cleansing of North Waziristan will not end terrorist atrocities elsewhere in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka shuts terror door on Pakistan
Sri Lanka has banned visas on arrival for Pakistanis after investigations showed that jihadist groups targeting India were using Sri Lanka as a transit point. Lanka is also one of the few countries that extended such a facility to Pakistani nationals.
A bomb blast in a Chennai train in May revealed new plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadist groups using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. A multinational investigation including Malaysia zeroed in on a Lankan national, Shakir Hussain, who confessed that he had visited India over 20 times on reconnaissance trips.
He told investigators, as was reported by TOI, that he was facilitating militants from Maldives who were tasked with attacking American and Israeli consulates in Bangalore and Chennai, critical infrastructure like airports and power plants in Chennai among other targets.
The investigation, sources said, also pointed to involvement by Pakistani officials at their mission in Colombo. Indian officials confirmed that Sri Lanka and Maldives have been red-flagged by Indian security establishment for some time. The new Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, too, has been sensitized to the growth of fundamentalism among youngsters who may be traveling to Pakistan for religious studies.
Modi, in his first conversations with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had raised this issue which he said was of particular sensitivity to India. On his return, Rajapaksa is believed to have launched an investigation. The results of the probe have contributed to the decision. In a related development, Sri lankan authorities have been rounding up Pakistani asylum seekers — almost 1,500 of them will be deported back to Pakistan. This has invited sharp criticism from human rights activists and the UN, because many of them are Ahmadiyas (a banned sect in Pakistan) and Shia Muslims.
While Indians have traditionally focused on north India as points of infiltration by Pakistan-supported elements, south India poses a particular danger.
Modi got Rajapakse on board
May 1 Chennai train blast revealed plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadists using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. Modi conveyed the sensitivity of issue to Lankan President Rajapakse during his May 26 swearing in as PM and sensitized the new Maldivian president also. On return to Sri Lanka, Rajapakse ordered probe which led to decision.

Pakistan: Sindh govt has started registration of IDPs
Senior Sindh Education Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhru has said that each citizen of the homeland has the constitutional right to live and stay in any part of the country and the Sindh government has started registration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan.
After restoration of peace and tranquility, Sindh provincial government will also help the IDPs to return back to their native areas, the minister said this while talking to media persons on late Friday night after presiding over the 9th Convocation of the Institute of Modern Sciences and Arts (IMSA) Hyderabad here at a local hotel. Sindh government is sincere to provide all possible facilities to the IDPs, however insincere attitude of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government towards provision of basic facilities is enhancing the complication for those who left their hometowns, the minister alleged.
He said that it was the responsibility of the KPK Government to establish relief camps for IDPs and ensure the provision of foodstuffs, medicines and other necessity goods, but the KPK Government is creating such situation which increased the problems for IDPs, aimed to force them to agitate.
The minister reminded the establishment of relief camps during Swat Operation and Afghanistan War and the return of IDPs after normalcy in their areas adding that the KPK Government should respect the constitutional rights of the citizens of Pakistan.
Responding to a question, Nisar Ahmed Khuhru said that Pakistan Peoples Party fully believed in change through the votes of the masses.
The countrymen got the right of franchise from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the history proved that this right of the voters brought changes in the country whenever they received this right and even they exercised the right of franchise in difficult conditions.
PPP will welcome the change in the country when it come through the votes of the people, he said and maintained that the party will not support any extra constitutional move by anyone.
Earlier, speaking as chief guest at the convocation, the minister said that Sindh government has opened the job opportunities for tens of thousands jobless youth and the government will continue its effort also in the future. He called upon the passed out graduates to work with dedication and devotion and explore the opportunities also in private sector. The minister said that Sindh government has set examples in different fields particularly for women development. As a result of the government efforts, numbers of women are playing their key role for the progress and prosperity, he said and informed that a woman is heading the Women Bank while two women are discharging their responsibilities as the Vice Chancellors of Jamshoro and Khairpur Universities.
About the development of education sector, the minister informed that the government has appointed 20700 teachers on merit through NTS and the women were encouraged to become teacher by granting them 20 percent additional marks as the government believed that female teachers can impart knowledge to future generation in better direction. He appreciated the role of IMSA in promotion of education adding that besides public sector educational institutions, the private sector institutes are also playing vital role for provision of quality education.
Among others, the Vice Chancellor University of Sindh Jamshoro Prof. Dr. Abida Taherani, Vice Chancellor Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur Prof. Dr. Parveen Shah and Chairman IMSA Shafique Haider Mousvi also addressed the participants of the convocation.
Later, the minister gave degrees to passing out graduates of MBA and ITT and also honoured medals to outstanding graduates of the institute.

PPP, ANP decline offer to attend Qadri APC tomorrow
Two old allied,Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) both have refused to attend the All Parties Conference (APC), which was summoned by Tahirul Qadri on the issue of Lahore incident. ANP leader Zahid Khan said Tahirul Qadri did not believe in the constitution or democracy. He said that the PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had invited the ANP but the we have decided not to attend the APC of a party,which is bent upon derailing the democratic system. He said that the ANP strongly condemned the Model Town incident and express solidarity with the victims of the police brutality. He urged the government to pay compensation to the victim families and avoid such incidents in future. PPP leader Farhatullah Babar also announced the decision of his party not to attend the APC. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri has convened an APC on July 29 with aim to discuss implications and fallout of the Model Town tragedy and reaching a joint strategy for punishing those responsible for the bloodshed and providing justice to the oppressed.