Sunday, August 3, 2014
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that satellite imagery of the Malaysian Boeing crash site that Kiev used to demonstrate the absence of its air defense systems in the area of the disaster "are absolutely implausible." In the detailed analysis of Russian and Ukrainian satellite imagery, the ministry showed that Kiev’s images were made later than Moscow’s. “Based on the data provided by Russian space surveillance one can deduce that Ukraine does not own the revealing information,” the ministry said, adding that the “quality [of the images], as well as the SBU’s arguments allegedly proving Russia’s involvement are absolutely implausible.” According to the Russian space surveillance system, Ukraine’s Sich-1 and Sich-2 satellites were in another location at the time when the images were allegedly made. “At the time specified in the images the American electro-optical reconnaissance satellite of the Key Hole series was flying over the crash site area, so the source of the images of the Ukrainian Security Service is obvious,” the statement reads. “Apparently, the reason the true owners of these images have not put their names to these publications is to make sure the myth of their mighty space intelligence not disrupted,” the ministry said. On July 30, head of the Ukrainian Security Service Vitaly Naida claimed that Russia had falsified images of the MH17 crash site. According to Naida, the images provided by Russia were made by Russian spy satellites long before the accident took place. As evidence, the Ukrainian official compared the images supposedly taken by the country’s security service and the images allegedly forged by Russia. The Malaysia Airlines aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 people on board died in the accident. According to Ukrainian authorities, the plane was shot down by independence supporters, while the latter deny the allegations, saying they do not have the means to hit a target flying so high. Both Kiev and the West insist that the missile system used to shoot down the plane was delivered to independence supporters from Russia. Russia has repeatedly denied the weapon transfers to Ukraine’s eastern regions.
By Shahed GhoreishiLast week, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hosted an event titled “Iraq at a Crossroads: Options for U.S. Policy,” where it heard varying perspectives on how to deal with the situation in Iraq in the light of the recent advancement of the violent militant group, ISIS, in its territory. In one striking moment, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Brett McGurk, said Saudi Arabia “very generously” gave a $500 million donation towards UN relief agencies responding to the worsening humanitarian situation in Iraq. This would appear like a very ordinary statement, as Iraq is in dire need of such assistance and it dwarfs the United States’ relatively meager $18 million donation. However, what makes such a statement striking is that it perfectly exemplifies Saudi Arabia ‘s dual strategy of maintaining good relations with a multitude of contrasting actors –whether it be Sunni extremists in Syria or the United States.
What is at the core of this Strategy?Since the post-World War II era, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have held a relationship based on qui pro quo. Saudi Arabia would provide the U.S., and the world for that matter, a secure and consistent flow of oil while the U.S. would assist on the security front. Internal stability was critical for the royal family’s ability to hold power and their lavish lifestyle. Any group that threatened their rule would have to be dealt with. The first were the Arab nationalists led by Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser, who promoted a united Arab front under the banner of socialism. Any such union, like the one Syria and Egypt held for a short period, and socialism are not quite conducive with an authoritarian monarchy. This led Saudi Arabia to embrace the idea that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” when it harbored Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, an internal thorn for Nasser and his secular nationalism. However, Saudi Arabia’s support for an Islamist counter to Arab nationalism took a turn post-1967 when an Egypt-led invasion of Israel failed in the Six-Day War. In shock, much of the Arab world turned away from nationalism and embraced religion with a new vigor –perhaps God turned away from them during the invasion because they had been prioritizing nationalism over Islam (the same way the Suez crisis of 1956 boosted Arab nationalism, the Six Day War killed it). This played into the hands of religious groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who had been largely in the political shadows. This became a problem for Saudi Arabia, as the failed invasion empowered Islamic fundamentalists, namely the Wahhabists, at home. As a domestic group, they were arguably a stronger threat to the Saudi royal family than the nationalists ever were. They had strong social ties among the Saudi population and historic influence over the Saudi royal family. There was no use in fighting them. Instead, they decided to support the movement abroad to avoid problems at home. Or as Vali Nasr described it in his book, The Rise of Islamic Capitalism. Saudi Arabia “began lavishly bankrolling the proselytization of Wahhabism around the world…By diverting their Wahhabi subjects’ energies and attention toward the export of their piety, the kingdom’s rulers bought themselves a new lease on stability within the kingdom…In time, money would also support wars, not only in Bosnia, but in Afghanistan, the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya, and the disputed province of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.” Today’s Impact Saudi Arabia’s strategy today remains largely the same, albeit with a stronger focus on countering Iran’s regional prowess as well. Riyadh has heavily supported rebels fighting Syria’s disgraced President Bashar al-Assad, in disregard of the extremist element present in most of them. By doing so, it can avoid the ire of Islamic fundamentalists at home. The result? The strengthening of groups like ISIS that are uncontrollable and create instability throughout the Middle East –to Saudi Arabia’s own detriment. If the Persian Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, hadn’t supported the rebels so indiscriminately it is unclear ISIS would have had the success that it has had. Yet, you only hear of Saudi Arabia acting “very generously.” This is what makes Saudi Arabia’s dual strategy so interesting. It appears to be hypocritical at the core, but it (so far) has done well to support the royal family’s status quo. As it supports extremist groups throughout the Middle East, it can turn to the United States and say “hey, we just gave $500 million to the refugee crisis in Iraq” as it provides the world with energy stability. This allows others to turn a blind eye to the impact of the Kingdom’s problematic strategy in maintaining internal stability. As Saudi Arabia continues with its dual-strategy, it will be important for the U.S. to take note as it attempts to reassess its own strategy in the Middle East.
RT’s article, “90% of aircraft destroyed at Tripoli airport, Libya may seek international assistance,” reported that: Libya is considering a deployment of international force to re-establish security amid a flare-up of violence in Tripoli which saw dozens of rockets destroy most of the civilian aircraft fleet at its international airport. “The government is looking into the possibility of making an appeal for international forces on the ground to re-establish security and help the government impose its authority,” a government spokesman, Ahmed Lamine said in a statement.
The “democratic tomorrow” promised by NATO in 2011 has been realized – that is – in the form of predictably fraudulent elections accepted by no one, leaving a power vacuum apparently to be settled through increasingly violent armed conflict. Perhaps most ironic of all is that these conflicts are being waged between NATO’s various armed proxies it used to carry out the ground war while it bombarded Libya from the air over the majority of 2011.
NATO’s Proxies Cannibalize Each Other
In May 2014, fighting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has left scores dead, many more injured, and residents fleeing for their lives as what the Western media called a “renegade general,” waged war on “Islamist militants” within the city. Reuters in its article, “Families evacuate Benghazi as renegade general vows more attacks,” claimed:
The self-declared Libyan National Army led by a renegade general told civilians on Saturday to leave parts of Benghazi before it launched a fresh attack on Islamist militants, a day after dozens were killed in the worst clashes in the city for months.The renegade general is Khalifa Haftar (sometimes spelled Hifter), who lived in the United States – outside of Langley Virginia – for years allegedly being groomed by the CIA until his eventual return to Libya in 2011 to lead ground forces in NATO’s proxy invasion. The Business Insider would report in its 2011 article, “Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?,” that:
Since coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Hifter lived in suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Badr said he was unsure exactly what Hifter did to support himself, and that Hifter primarily focused on helping his large family.
So a former Qaddafi general who switches sides is admitted to the United States, puts down roots in Virginia outside Washington, D.C. and then somehow supports his family in a manner that mystifies a fellow who has known Hifter his whole life. Hmm.
The irony is that many of the sectarian militants Hafter was fighting in Benghazi were the same militants Muammar Qaddafi was fighting for decades as leader of Libya, and the same militants that NATO armed and abetted alongside Hafter in the overthrow of Qaddafi in 2011.The likelihood that Hifter was brought in to be some kind of asset is pretty high. Just as figures like Ahmed Chalabi were cultivated for a post-Saddam Iraq, Hifter may have played a similar role as American intelligence prepared for a chance in Libya.
Regarding his campaign in Benghazi, Hafter claimed that it would continue until “Benghazi is purged of terrorists,” and that, “we’ve started this battle and will continue it until we have reached our goals. The street and the Libyan people are with us.” Hafter’s sentiments echo those of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, only then, the Western media denied the existence of terrorists that had been based in Benghazi for decades and portrayed Tripoli’s operations there as a “massacre” of “peaceful pro-democracy protesters.”The very atrocities cited by NATO to begin their “humanitarian intervention” in Libya in the first place, immediately began unfolding in reality at the hands of NATO and its proxy forces themselves. Entire cities were encircled, starved out, and bombarded by air until they capitulated. In other towns, entire populations were either exterminated, evicted and eventually driven beyond Libya’s borders. The city of Tawarga, home to some 10,000 Libyans, was so utterly uprooted, it was referred to by the London Telegraph as a “ghost town.” Since the fall of Tripoli, Sirte, and other Libyan cities that resisted NATO’s proxy invasion, little in the way of basic stability, let alone the “democratic revolution” promised by NATO and its collaborators, has returned to Libya. The government in Tripoli remains in chaos, its security forces divided amongst themselves, and now a “rogue” CIA asset is conducting a full-scale military operation against Benghazi, including the use military aircraft, apparently without Tripoli’s approval. Years after the “revolution’s” conclusion, Libya remains a hobbled nation sliding backwards. The many achievements of Muammar Qaddafi’s government have long since been undone, and it is unlikely they will be restored let alone surpassed in the foreseeable future. NATO has effectively upturned and destroyed an entire nation, leaving it to not only burn while Western corporations pillage its resources, but to use as a template for future extraterritorial adventures in Syria, Egypt, Ukraine, and now Iraq.
The Libyan Model: Egypt, Syria, Ukraine BewareJust as in Libya, “revolutions” have tried to take root in Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine. The same narratives, verbatim, crafted by Western policy think tanks and media spin doctors for Libya are now being reused in Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine. The very same non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being used to fund, equip, and otherwise support opposition groups in each respective country. Terms such as “democracy,” “progress,” “freedom,” and fighting against “dictatorship” are familiar themes. The protests were and are each accompanied by heavily armed militants also fully backed by the West. In Syria, the pretense of protests has been dropped as has the notion of “freedom fighters.” The Western media now spends much of its time spinning and justifying why NATO and its regional partners are funding and arming sectarian militants, including Al Qaeda, in the overthrow of the Syrian government. In Egypt, there is still some ambiguity, as there was in 2011 regarding Syria, as to who the protesters really are, what they really want, and on which side of the increasingly violent conflict playing out there the West falls. Careful analysis reveals that just as the Muslim Brotherhood was used in Syria to set the stage for the now devastating war raging there, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is doing likewise against Cairo. Finally, in Ukraine, the “pro-democracy” “pro-European Union” “Euromaidan” protesters have been revealed as Neo-Nazis, ultra-right, and nationalists who regularly resort to violence and political intimidation. Just as in Syria in 2011, and in Egypt now, low intensity armed clashes are increasing in frequency and intensity toward what may end up as a proxy war between NATO and Russia in Eastern Europe. But for these three nations, and the participants on all sides, Libya’s current state must be examined. These “revolutions” have but one logical and predictable conclusion – the plundering, division, and destruction of each respective nation, before it is folded into Wall Street and London’s growing supranational order to be exploited indefinitely as much of the US, UK, and EU already are today. For those wondering what will become of Egypt, Syria, or Ukraine, should NATO succeed, one needs only to look at Libya. And for those that supported the “revolution” in Libya, they must ask themselves if they are they satisfied with its final outcome. Do they wish this outcome upon Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine as well? Do they imagine that NATO’s plans for each of these countries will end any differently? Why?
TO cross the Atlantic to America, as I did recently from London, is to move from one moral universe to its opposite in relation to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Fury over Palestinian civilian casualties has risen to a fever pitch in Europe, moving beyond anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism (often a flimsy distinction). Attacks on Jews and synagogues are the work of a rabid fringe, but anger toward an Israel portrayed as indiscriminate in its brutality is widespread. For a growing number of Europeans, not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience. The deaths of hundreds of children in any war, as one editorial in The Guardian put it, is “a special kind of obscenity.”
In the United States, by contrast, support for Israel remains strong (although less so among the young, who are most exposed to the warring hashtags of social media). That support is overwhelming in political circles. Palestinian suffering remains near taboo in Congress. It is not only among American Jews, better organized and more outspoken than their whispering European counterparts, that the story of a nation of immigrants escaping persecution and rising from nowhere in the Holy Land resonates. The Israeli saga — of courage and will — echoes in American mythology, far beyond religious identification, be it Jewish or evangelical Christian.
America tends toward a preference for unambiguous right and wrong — no European leader would pronounce the phrase “axis of evil” — and this third Gaza eruption in six years fits neatly enough into a Manichaean framework: A democratic Jewish state, hit by rockets, responds to Islamic terrorists. The obscenity, for most Americans, has a name. That name is Hamas.
James Lasdun, a Jewish author and poet who moved to the United States from England, has written that, “There is something uncannily adaptive about anti-Semitism: the way it can hide, unsuspected, in the most progressive minds.” Certainly, European anti-Semitism has adapted. It used to be mainly of the nationalist right. It now finds expression among large Muslim communities. But the war has also suggested how the virulent anti-Israel sentiment now evident among the bien-pensant European left can create a climate that makes violent hatred of Jews permissible once again.
In Germany, of all places, there have been a series of demonstrations since the Gaza conflict broke out with refrains like “Israel: Nazi murderer” and “Jew, Jew, you cowardly pig, come out and fight alone” (it rhymes in German). Three men hurled a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue in Wuppertal. Hitler’s name has been chanted, gassing of Jews invoked. Violent demonstrations have erupted in France. The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Germany were moved to issue a statement saying “anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews” have “no place in our societies.” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, went further. What Germany had witnessed, he wrote, makes the “blood freeze in anybody’s veins.”
Yes, it does. Germany, Israel’s closest ally apart from the United States, had been constrained since 1945. The moral shackles have loosened. Europe’s malevolent ghosts have not been entirely dispelled. The continent on which Jews went meekly to the slaughter reproaches the descendants of those who survived for absorbing the lesson that military might is inextricable from survival and that no attack must go unanswered, especially one from an organization bent on the annihilation of Israel.A strange transference sometimes seems to be at work, as if casting Israelis as murderers, shorn of any historical context, somehow expiates the crime. In any case it is certain that for a quasi-pacifist Europe, the Palestinian victim plays well; the regional superpower, Israel, a militarized society through necessity, much less so.
Anger at Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is also “a unifying element among disparate Islamic communities in Europe,” said Jonathan Eyal, a foreign policy analyst in London. Moroccans in the Netherlands, Pakistanis in Britain and Algerians in France find common cause in denouncing Israel. “Their anger is also a low-cost expression of frustration and alienation,” Eyal said.Views of the war in the United States can feel similarly skewed, resistant to the whole picture, slanted through cultural inclination and political diktat. It is still hard to say that the killing of hundreds of Palestinian children represents a Jewish failure, whatever else it may be. It is not easy to convey the point that the open-air prison of Gaza in which Hamas has thrived exists in part because Israel has shown a strong preference for the status quo, failing to reach out to Palestinian moderates and extending settlements in the West Bank, fatally tempted by the idea of keeping all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Oppressed people will respond. Millions of Palestinians are oppressed. They are routinely humiliated and live under Israeli dominion. When Jon Stewart is lionized (and slammed in some circles) for “revealing” Palestinian suffering to Americans, it suggests how hidden that suffering is. The way members of Congress have been falling over one another to demonstrate more vociferous support for Israel is a measure of a political climate not conducive to nuance. This hardly serves America’s interests, which lie in a now infinitely distant peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and will require balanced American mediation. Something may be shifting. Powerful images of Palestinian suffering on Facebook and Twitter have hit younger Americans. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that among Americans age 65 or older, 53 percent blame Hamas for the violence and 15 percent Israel. For those ages 18 to 29, Israel is blamed by 29 percent of those questioned, Hamas by just 21 percent. My son-in-law, a doctor in Atlanta, said that for his social group, mainly professionals in their 30s with young children, it was “impossible to see infants being killed by what sometimes seems like an extension of the U.S. Army without being affected.” I find myself dreaming of some island in the middle of the Atlantic where the blinding excesses on either side of the water are overcome and a fundamental truth is absorbed: that neither side is going away, that both have made grievous mistakes, and that the fate of Jewish and Palestinian children — united in their innocence — depends on placing the future above the past. That island will no doubt remain as illusory as peace. Meanwhile, on balance, I am pleased to have become a naturalized American.
Ao ahl-e jehan hum chraghan karain (A. Nayyar and Mehnaz) Ehd karien and Aman ka panchi (Benjamin sisters) Nai zamin ho niya asman (A. Nayyar) Rabba putran de phutt (Saira Khanam) Mann Mariyam banai khuda ney (Surrya Khanam) Her song Roshni roshni sara alam huwa is included in the Sialkot Convention song book. Moreover, Professor Victoria used to read a radio column for the women’s programme Hamari Duniya and co-ordinated Christmas and Easter programmes for T.V, radio and various institutions and organizations. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/professor-victoria-pattrick-a-pakistani-christian-legend/#sthash.hg9AHvRh.dpuf
Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) Chief, Dr. Tahirul Qadri Sunday said that Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif was involved in the Model town carnage, which was evident from the available recording of phone calls to be made public when time comes, Geo News reported. Addressing a press conference at Minhajul Quran Secretariat, Dr. Tahirul Qadri said that no one was accepting the responsibility of the Model Town tragedy, how could they accept the responsibility of the murders of democracy and the constitution. Dr. Tahirul Qadri said that the rulers have let the accused police officers run away from the country. He said we followed the path of constitution and the law and submitted a petition for the registration of FIR against the nominated accused persons. Dr. Qadri said that for peace and upholding the principle of no-violence his party refrained from any step that could have smashed the Jati Umra palace in Raiwind and would not have buried the coffins of martyrs until the end of the Punjab government. PAT Chief said that there was nothing like constitution and law in Pakistan in reality. He enquired from the western countries had not the government resigned, if Lahore-like tragic incident occurred in any of their countries.
Fourteen months after the PML-N government came to power, promising to ease power shortages, has actually increased loadshedding hours. Grumblings not only in opposition camps but also within the PML-N constituents about the failure to reduce loadshedding hours have escalated to violent street protests. Lahore and Multan, considered PML-N's strongholds, recently witnessed much public anger against what is being widely perceived as the party's inability to deliver on pre-election promises - promises that varied from one PML-N leader to another with Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif even committing to resolving the crisis within six months and his party leader Nawaz Sharif claiming that power projects take time to be constructed but nonetheless promised an easing of the power outages in the short run if elected to power through improved governance. Circular debt has once again reached alarming proportion with Water and Power Ministry continuing to rely on periodic handouts from the Ministry of Finance to enable Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to import fuel. While Finance Minister Ishaq Dar recently warned the Water and Power Ministry not to expect any more handouts yet it is unlikely that Dar would be able to resist a directive from the Prime Minister to release the amount required if street protests gather further momentum - protests that may be effectively harnessed to challenge the government's governance capacity by rival political parties particularly the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that has already announced its million march on 14th August. In this milieu the Pakistan People's Party, so far the most supportive party for the PML-N, launched a protest campaign in various parts of Sindh calling for ending unannounced loadshedding and water shortages and warned of countrywide protests until the situation improves within a fortnight - a strategy reminiscent of Shahbaz Sharif's constant harangues during the PPP-led coalition government for failing to provide Punjab with electricity. The proverbial foot, as the axiom rightly maintains, is on the other foot. The PML-N maintains that it has begun investing in power projects that would be completed within four to five years and hence the public must be patient. What has irked power sector experts is that the claims made by the government are simply inaccurate on three major counts. First and foremost, the newly-elected PML-N government decided to eliminate the bulk of the circular debt on 29th June, 2013 arguing that this would release 1700MW into the system. Independent research shows that the actual increase was 700 to 800 MW and that the bulk of this was diverted to three Punjab cities namely Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala. The rise in generation did not take account of the annual increase in demand, which is around 800 MW and that accounts for the rising number of hours of loadshedding. Additionally the government has not succeeded in reducing receivables, which has implied that the circular debt has simply resurfaced and today it is almost as high as it was on 29th June, 2013. Second, the rise in generation from Nandipur and Guddu did not materialise in spite of much fanfare with the Prime Minister inaugurating these two power plants as the former continues to await the arrival of a furnace oil treatment plant, which would then be followed by extensive test runs and certification process by the manufacturers and regulators and only then can a commercial operational dispatch be issued, while Guddu power plant is also not operational as one of its turbines is non-functional. Third, the short-term measures that could have improved power supply related to power sector reforms focused on reducing transmission and distribution losses. While transmission and distribution losses have decreased marginally it may be recalled that recently Secretary of Water and Power revealed that the system could only withstand supply of 15000 MW - any more would simply lead to tripping leading many to question the advisability of focusing on enhancing generation without improving the network. To maintain that the government is doing all it can is therefore challenged by power sector experts as the government, like its predecessor, is raising tariffs to cover its own failures to reduce transmission and distribution losses as well as manipulating demand (it is not able to manipulate supply) thereby showing a shrinking gap, which is simply not backed by reduced hours of actual (as opposed to scheduled) loadshedding.
BY Muhammad Mutahir Ali
As the nation takes on terrorists, religious extremism is still on the rise
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero’A hundred years after Khalil Gibran wrote these words, we fit the profile of the doomed nation that he mourned. As if showering rose petals on killers was not enough, in a recent episode of depravity, a handful of ‘devout’ Muslims displayed their piousness like never before. They set on fire an Ahmedi family’s house in Gujranwala; killing three people including two minors on the allegations of blasphemy. Other than taking life of an eight month old, the incident also resulted in a miscarriage of a seven month old unborn child. To further boast their bravery, the crowd later gathered to celebrate their act with their hands up in the air accompanied by jubilant roars. We have become a nation that glorifies assassins and celebrates murders. Pity on us, indeed. Today, Pakistan is marred by religious extremism, intolerance, bigotry and hate. To compound the irony, all these menaces, which are far from the true values any religion, are perpetuated in the name of Islam in our society. But how did we get here? Ofcourse, it did not happen overnight; our trajectory of moral decadence was steadily shaped both by the political elite and religious leadership. But one name specifically rings a bell. The name is Zia.
Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship, in addition to derailing the natural democratic political process of the country, also proved to be an opening of the floodgates for a lot of problems that we are dealing with today. With the people having a strong emotional attachment with religion, Zia ul Haq blatantly used Islam to legitimise his rule.Zia ul Haq’s dictatorship, in addition to derailing the natural democratic political process of the country, also proved to be an opening of the floodgates for a lot of problems that we are dealing with today. With the people having a strong emotional attachment with religion, Zia ul Haq blatantly used Islam to legitimise his rule. Extremist policies were adopted under the banner of Islam. School curriculum was revised, media was ‘reformed’, dancing and music was prohibited and shari’a courts were set up. While a bigoted class of superior religious leaders was created to concur with the government’s Islamist agenda, the state apparatus also actively undertook the task of Islamising the society, rewarding those who were ‘good Muslims’ and punishing the bad ones. Then began the rat race of becoming better believers, in which many assumed the role of judging others’ faith, finally turning it into a ‘national ostracisation project’ under which group after group was declared to be out of the circle of Islam. “Mid ‘80s was, in many ways, the beginning of the sectarian conflict in Pakistan,” said Hassan Askari Rizvi, a seasoned political analyst. Zia tended to implement a strict Sunni version of shari’a on Pakistan, which largely alienated the minority Shi’a population. As the resentment of the minority population grew, the sectarian conflict escalated. Meanwhile, Zia decided to bring home the Afghan jihad, turning the sectarian conflict into a virtual proxy war. While Iran readily supported the Shi’a organisations after the 1979 revolution, CIA dollars and Saudi riyals were poured in to fund the Sunni militant groups. Hence, the decade of 80’s saw extremely radical and violent sectarian clashes where many members, including prominent leaders, of both sects were targeted. However, Ahmedis have always borne a very significant brunt of religious intolerance as well and the latest incidents are only the continuation of their systematic targeting by extremists who do not only consider them non-Muslim, but also conspirators against Islam.
As the military operation in North Waziristan is underway to get rid of Taliban, the extremists within us who continue to kill in the name of Islam will still remain active. In a society where religious extremism and intolerance has been so systematically ingrained, a military operation might not be enough to uproot the problem.As the military operation in North Waziristan is underway to get rid of Taliban, the extremists within us who continue to kill in the name of Islam will still remain active. In a society where religious extremism and intolerance has been so systematically ingrained, a military operation might not be enough to uproot the problem. “It is evident from history that whenever religion is used for political purposes, it only breeds violence,” said Mehdi Hassan, veteran journalist and analyst. He said Pakistan’s political parties have regularly used Islam for political mileage, which has resulted in increasing intolerance. “Military operation will not be able to curb this extremism, for that the government will have to throw out the shackles and adopt brave policies”. For any kind of an effective approach to instill the values of tolerance and harmony, the government will have to extensively involve the state apparatus. An apt place to take the initiative can be our schools as our education system is far below accepted modern day standards. The widespread and unregulated madressa system, for one, provides easiest opportunities for extremist factions to further their ideologies. In addition to that, the decades-old, obsolete curriculum of government schools in incapable of instilling the values of respect and harmony.
A military operation can eliminate an enemy but cannot change mindsets. While our troops might be able to secure victory in North Waziristan, it will remain futile if we fail to curb the increasingly extremist mindset, which is perpetuated and appreciated by a major part of our society.
“We should at least start telling our children that non-Muslims are also a part of this country; they are not even aware of that,” added Hassan Askari Rizvi.
A military operation can eliminate an enemy but cannot change mindsets. While our troops might be able to secure victory in North Waziristan, it will remain futile if we fail to curb the increasingly extremist mindset, which is perpetuated and appreciated by a major part of our society. The Gujranwala episode where the self-righteous Muslims cheered the murder of those they considered infidels were no less inhumane than the acts of Taliban. A military operation cannot prevent such acts, only a thorough change of hearts and minds can. The Taliban without will die the day we kill the Taliban within.
By Anam KhanThe recent collision between Israel and Gaza has struck a nerve in various parts of the world, causing people far and wide to religiously follow the crisis. They are eager to know every tragic detail of a war that has turned into a vicious cycle of repeated mistakes and mounting grievances. Nowadays, Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds are being inundated with horrifying images of weeping Palestinian families embracing a deceased child, parent or friend. We are aware that the world is becoming a hurtful place. The rising death toll in Gaza is devastating. The unresolvable differences between Israel and Gaza are infuriating. However, it is easy to lose sight of predicaments at home while intensely focusing on controversial disputes abroad. Pakistan, for instance, is grappling with sectarian violence, limited electricity, belligerent political gangs and inadequate governance. Militants are besieging the country’s foundation and infrastructure. Many Pakistanis are grieving over the loss of innocent lives in Gaza, and rightfully so. Yet, it is important to remember the murderous rampages and human rights violations being perpetrated within our own borders. It is essential to mourn for our own men, women, children and soldiers who are dying in multitudes. On July 28, 2014, two minors and one woman were killed after their house was set on fire by an angry mob. The mob was initially pursuing a man who was accused of sharing a blasphemous picture, but managed to douse another house in flames during their fit of rage. On June 8, 2014, 10 militants infiltrated Jinnah International Airport with the intent to create havoc. Several people were killed on site, including security personnel who gave their lives to defend the bustling terminal. Another unpleasant recollection from that restless night was the government owned channel, PTV, airing footage of PM Nawaz Sharif’s Metro train project while news was breaking about the attack on Jinnah International Airport on other channels. PTV’s blatant disregard for the turmoil at the Karachi airport plays a role in signifying the government’s indifferent approach to tackling the widespread militant activity in Pakistan. In addition to mismanaging the armed extremist groups, the current government, which is also the supposed exemplar of a budding democracy, has succeeded in conducting poorly orchestrated negotiations with a group of people who are least interested in our country’s welfare. On April 3, 2014, the government announced the release of 16 TTP prisoners in an attempt to encourage peace talks with the militant group. Another 100 prisoners on the Taliban’s list were being prepared for release in the following days. This is an appalling example of a productive negotiation process. Even though the government is trying to boost reconciliation efforts, it should have also asked for the return of kidnapped civilians in exchange for the discharged Taliban prisoners. Negotiations should not be focused on constantly giving without receiving any concessions in return, which is how the government seems to be proceeding with its diplomatic efforts. These are just a few examples of the local concerns that need to be addressed on an immediate basis. Our PM recently announced his solidarity with the Palestinians, gallantly proclaiming that he is “saddened and disappointed to note the silence of the international community.” He also added that, “The world must stop Israel from this naked and brutal aggression.” It would make more sense if he voiced a similar degree of fury against the radical militants who are threatening and killing individuals in a country he was elected to lead. It is easy to use external struggles as a scapegoat to distract us from the rampant mayhem at home. The fact of the matter is that our government has been unable to protect us, the Taliban are still a threat, minority communities are still abused and electricity prices are still doubling. Enraged social media updates centered on Gaza and Israel are expected to trend. However, we are Pakistanis at the end of the day. Our country needs an equal amount of attention and devotion, if not more.
The sense of anticipation (and dread) regarding the coming August 14 Independence Day sets a new bar in Pakistan’s history of avoidable crises. The dramatis personae on the stage seem increasingly to be converging into two camps. In the left corner, a seemingly panicky and beleaguered government attracts fewer and fewer supporters amongst the political parties, while in the right corner, the challengers from the opposition, led by a recalcitrant Imran Khan and his PTI, seem to be acting as a magnet in greater or lesser measure for all parties that have some grouse against the government or see opportunity in the ‘siege’ it is under. Although Imran Khan’s logically inexplicable aggressive posture must top the list of factors responsible for creating this polarisation, the government’s inept handling comes a close second in the responsibility stakes. As August 14 nears, the PTI has dug its heels in, refusing overtures for dialogue with the government and reiterating firmly its intention to hold the march to Islamabad come what may. In the PTI’s wake, marginalised parties such as the PML-Q and Sheikh Rasheed’s one-man party hope to cash in on the eddies created by the long march. MQM has flirted with the PTI’s ‘ally’ the PAT of Tahirul Qadri, but seems undecided after a meeting with the Maulana in Lahore on Friday. JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman has his own axe to grind against PTI in the context of the politics of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hence his critique of Imran’s ‘absurd’ logic of agitation against the whole democratic edifice on the basis of four allegedly rigged seats. The PPP intriguingly has latched onto the use of Article 245 to deploy the army in Islamabad as the main counterpoint in its taking the government to task for mishandling the Imran challenge. The political context of what the country is facing needs to be kept in mind. According to the government’s version, it is embarked on a ‘long march’ to development and prosperity, and no other (political) ‘long march’ is either justified or can halt this momentum. As a diversion, the government has announced a month-long independence celebration in an age-old tactic: if you cannot give the people bread, regale them with circuses. These repeated claims from the PML-N leadership however, increasingly unconvincing as they sound, can be subjected to a critical look, given that the prioritisation of the government’s focus is, to put it mildly, questionable. The two greatest challenges facing the country when the PML-N government came to power last year were terrorism and the energy crisis. On the first, the government wasted a year in pursuit of the will-o’ the-wisp of talks with the terrorists, finally surrendering reluctantly to the logic of the situation that required firm military action in North Waziristan. Reservations about the strategy, conduct and end results of the operation aside, the fact that action has been taken, albeit belatedly and after unnecessarily alerting the militants, cannot but be welcomed as a recognition of reality and necessity. On the energy crisis, the government has been hoist by its own petard of tall claims during the election campaign and after coming to power to solve the crisis in a matter of days, no weeks, no months, no years, (and finally) no solution (the preceding list reflecting the government’s ‘sliding’ statements regarding the timeframe for a solution, ending with supplications to the Almighty). Instead of focusing all its attention first and foremost on the energy crisis, on which a revival of the economy and the welfare of citizens so critically depend, the government has chosen to indulge its penchant for ‘showpiece’ projects such as metro buses and other transport infrastructure. While such expensive projects may win a few brownie points in the short term, they are likely to drag finances and the government’s credibility into the dust in the future. Belated appeals to and contacts with Imran Khan and his ‘friends’ to either call off the August 14 march or arrive at a modus vivendi to avoid a clash have fallen seemingly on the deaf ears of the Khan’s known stubbornness beyond reason. Contradictory statements and reports indicate the government torn between preparations to pre-empt the march by the traditional tactics of arrests of PTI leaders and workers to pressurising transporters not to lend the march logistical capability, and advice to let the march go ahead peacefully to wither on the vine in D-Chowk of its own accord. One step the government would be strictly advised against is dragging the armed forces into the middle of the fray and causing an even more serious political crisis that could derail not only the government but hard won democracy too.
Pakistan: Wattoo terms invoking of article 245 as unwarranted, unpopular:Demands its withdrawal forthwith
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief, Altaf Hussain Saturday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down in case there is a fear of things leading to damage the country. In a statement issued here, Altaf Hussain urged for adoption of a path which could prove to be a win-win for all the stakeholders. “Adopt a constitutional course that leaves everyone’s honour intact,” he called upon the political leaders, adding, if there is a fear of protests causing damage to the country then Nawaz Sharif should announce to step aside. “For Allah’s sake, save the country,” he called upon the Prime Minister. Altaf Hussain asked the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to have an in depth analysis of the situation and called for holding result oriented talks to reconcile differences.
A REARGUARD action has begun, with the PML-N deploying Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, known for his good relations with PTI chief Imran Khan over the years, to try and appease the PTI. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reached out to non-politician friends for advice on matters political.With a National Assembly session scheduled to begin tomorrow, the PTI pressing ahead with rally preparations, the army distancing itself from perceived attempts by the PML-N to drag it onto the PML’N side in the political arena and the country returning to work after Eid, the days ahead will be packed. We will witness a familiar political frenzy and churning of waters that will require all hands on deck for the PML-N and a need to keep sight of the bigger picture and the larger goals. Yet, it is far from clear that the PML-N leadership, as well as the brain trust it relies on or looks to for navigating political crises, has grasped the present situation properly. In reaching out to Imran Khan and the PTI, the government has made it clear that its foremost concern is to somehow prevent the Aug 14 rally to Islamabad that the PTI is preparing for. That necessarily suggests electoral reforms — the issue that Mr Khan and his party are agitating for — are only an issue to the extent the PTI cares about it, rather than a genuine and serious matter from a systemic and democratic perspective. Why not, for example, use the start of the next National Assembly session on Monday to have the prime minister himself give a speech that takes ownership of electoral reforms and gives a clear vision of how the PML-N will nudge the electoral system towards greater transparency and fairness? Does the Aug 14 PTI rally matter more or do democracy-enhancing reforms? If it is the former for the PML-N, then surely the party’s leadership is on the wrong track — with either immediate or later consequences to be faced. Similarly, a report in this newspaper yesterday on a summit of close friends that Prime Minister Sharif convened at his Raiwind residence recently indicates that Mr Sharif is working from an old mould of politics and is perhaps even in self-denial. If Mr Sharif is waiting for March 2015 when the PML-N’s Senate seat count will more than double, but still fall far short of a majority, it sounds suspiciously like the excuses that executive action was hamstrung under former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and more governance and leadership would be visible after his retirement. That clearly has not happened. And what of the suggestion that somehow external interference, implicitly by the US, is constraining Mr Sharif’s government? It sounds suspiciously like the government is looking for scapegoats rather than undertaking some serious self-scrutiny.
By Amina Jilani
Thus read a sentence from Rabia Mehmood’s report on the Gujranwala mob madness posted on the Dawn website on Shawwal 1, quoting an eyewitness. The Gujranwala rampage, killing and arson took place on the auspicious date of Ramazan 28 during the month when the Faithful, in their state of holiness, observe a fast coupled with abstention (though in actual fact, it is more of a feast and indulgence). But in this Islamic republic, there can be no abstention from violence when it comes to the possibility of having a good go at members of the Ahmadi community. It’s all built in, ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) mobs, incited by their religious mentors into a state of hatred, can resist no temptation — and yes, there is blood lust.So, when an Ahmadi boy was accused of committing alleged blasphemy by posting a photograph on Facebook, there was no holding back. As usual, no one has mentioned what the photograph was — in all cases of alleged blasphemy by word, we are never given details because the actual motive probably has nothing to do with blasphemy. There were deaths — a woman and children — there was destruction and then displacement. The police stood by, inactive, of similar mindset. The news was picked up by the international media a day before Eid and by our media on Eid day itself. Full marks to the English language press publications and their editorials: “Ahmadis burnt to death”, “Attack on Ahmadis”, “Riot in Gujranwala” and “Eid this time”, which opened up — “There is precious little for Pakistanis to celebrate Eid this year.” The Gujranwala savagery “as we know all too well is not an isolated incident. Many of us feel so insecure in their faith and our exploitation of religion is so blatant that they can justify killing children without any provocation in the name of religion. From Hazara Shias to Ahmadis and everyone else in between, minorities live in fear of their lives like never before.” Absolutely spot on! But sadly, only a pathetic minority of the some 200 million would have reacted with shame and repugnance. What exactly is the fear among those who are part of the mob, citizens of a state bristling with nuclear weapons, with a massive army marching under the banner of faith? What danger do a few million minority citizens pose? Are the Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis in any position to shake the foundations of the great citadel? The same goes for the Shias — why the obsession with their elimination? Why the need for the laws that can easily be manipulated to target the minorities, and which no great leader can dare touch — certainly not the present one who is more concerned with his own afterlife than with the happenings in his country here on earth? Well, it’s a sorry story. Apart from the present scenario in the Muslim world, at war with itself under varied sectarian banners, which is certainly not conducive to any spread of tolerance or lessening of bigotry-inspired violence, we have to go back to the beginning. We need to look at the mullah fraternity, those who opposed the creation of this country. A minority themselves, they forced the Objectives Resolution to be declared by the paralysed politicians of 1949 and the rot set in, to grow and grow, spread and spread, until it was enshrined in the nation’s Constitution and the white stripe on the flag became irrelevant, just a nasty joke.
It decision to end its embargo on weapons sales to Pakistan could have multiple benefits for Moscow.Russia’s decision to go ahead with the sale of Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan, even in the face of official Indian concerns, is being seen by some quarters as evidence of a “major” regional re-alignment in the wake of the American drawdown in Afghanistan. In fact, the Russia-Pakistan dialogue for regional integration has been underway for some time now and beyond security cooperation, it is more fundamentally driven by Moscow’s push towards ‘southern” markets and Pakistan’s need for a capable yet politically “manageable” strategic sector trade and investment partner. The Mi-35 sale (if it does materialize) reflects the fact that the geo-economic stakes for both sides are now high enough for them to make a concerted push towards a long term compartmentalized working relationship in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which their more traditional partners – India for Russia and America for Pakistan – deal with each other. Indeed, in a world characterized by both competition and cooperation the heady rhetoric of “strategic partnership” means little and it is the transactional content that weighs on any relationship. Far more than cooperation in counter-terrorism, Russia and Pakistan will have to move forward quickly on Putin’s commitment to invest in the latter’s energy and metallurgy sectors for their relationship to be meaningful. It could be argued that it was actually America’s entry into the region a decade ago that ultimately accentuated the circumstances that impel Russia and Pakistan closer to each other. Pakistan’s counter-terrorism cooperation with America salved with military aid has been toxic for domestic stability, as the situation in FATA and Waziristan reveal. As the tempo of internal stability operations has increased, Pakistan is keen to diversify away from America for certain classes of weaponry to a source that can supply cheaper and more rugged alternatives with a much smaller political price on the domestic front. The Mi-35 fits that bill and is likely to prove useful for Pakistani operations against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in mountainous areas, given its pedigree from the Afghan theater. At the moment Pakistan is using AH-1 Cobra Gunships that were originally obtained from America for use against Indian armoured formations in the plains and are proving expensive to use in operations against the TTP. Pakistan may not wish to be saddled with too much expensive American equipment that it can”t afford without generous aid. Russia until recently was “reluctant” to transfer equipment that could be labelled as offensive in nature such as the Mi-35, and was holding back probably with an eye on a number of Indian military procurement tenders such as the multi-billion dollar medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition. In 2010, Russia’s UAC, which was participating in the tender, even made noises about blocking the re-export of 150 KlimovRD-93 turbofans from China for Pakistan Air force’s future mainstay, the JF-17, on the grounds that it would compete with the Russian Mig-29 in international markets. By 2013, however, with Russia having lost out on the MMRCA tender and other Indian competitions, the Russians reiterated their commitment to continue supplies of the RD-93 and the JF-17 Block II commenced production in late 2013. So while much is being made of the Mi-35 sale, the fact is the Pakistanis seem set to rely on Russian engines for a majority of their fleet in the coming decades. When seen along with the fact that Russia supplied IL-78 MP refuelling tankers to Pakistan between 2009 and 2012, it is clear that comfort levels on both sides have been growing for quite a while now. However, Russia is now willing to supply tactical equipment to Pakistan, especially in categories such as attack helicopters, where India either has domestic projects or may buy American. In many of these categories, though Pakistani spending ability given relatively cheaper Russian equipment is not insignificant, the pull for the Russians also comes from securing greater Pakistani willingness to help the Russians maintain security over energy infrastructure transiting areas like Eastern Afghanistan. Once again, the American push to set up energy transit corridors from Central Asia to India such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline has created a situation of Russia-Pakistan commonality. Russia has for some time expressed an interest in joining the TAPI project and is now pushing decisively for it even while proposing new oil pipelines next to it. Russia is also eager to partner in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project, opposed by the Americans, but with clear potential if Pakistan agrees to guarantee delivery of gas to the India border. Of course, besides military supplies, Russia can also offer Pakistan a lot of useful intelligence in the latter’s fight against the TTP given that group’s link with various Central Asian terrorist organizations. For Pakistan, the opening of Russia as a source for weapons greatly increases Pakistan’s leg room vis-à-vis American pressure at the strategic level. Moreover while Pakistan is certainly eager to get involved in trilateral military projects with Russia and China like the JF-17 (which may now even be exported to Myanmar), direct Russian weapon sales are also coveted since the Pakistani military does not want to field only Chinese weapons either. In fact, as terrorist activities in Xingjiang increase and Pakistan’s internal security situation worsens, the Chinese have been rather selective in their Pakistani investments. For instance, Pakistan’s decrepit railways have actually had to turn to India for help and are looking to lease up to 50 diesel engines as rolling stock. While Indian industry has been making overtures to Nawaz Sharif’s government to open up to cross border investment, the Pakistani military is still looking to a politically less sensitive prospect to shore up the flagging core sectors of the Pakistani economy clearly in need of reliable foreign capital. Of course, if former Pakistani Army Chief General Kayani’s views are anything to go by, the military understands that there can be no Pakistan without a viable economy. While in uniform, it was Kayani who made a couple of visits to Russia and today the Russians are being wooed as a source for investment in Pakistan’s flagship Thar Coal Project as well as a strategic partner for upgrading the South Asian country’s moribund steel industry. Chechnya it seems is more distant than Kashmir or even Xingjiang and Russia could yet prove a politically acceptable partner for meeting an energy crisis ridden Pakistan’s requirements in quite a few sectors. For Russia the benefits of succeeding in Pakistan are worth the risk, since it could leverage influence over Af-Pak to reach Indian shores. Indeed, even Pakistan’s Gwadar port, much touted as a Chinese “pearl” could actually host a LNG liquefaction facility that could send cheaper gas supplies than Qatar to import terminals in South India. However, both Russia and Pakistan will have to work quicker to remove long-standing trade disputes for a more conducive environment. India will of course watch closely to see whether the Russians are indeed able to use the dependencies they are creating in Pakistan for closer regional energy integration. That the Russians are increasing strategic options for their neighbor when even the Saudis are handing over Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists will obviously be of concern to New Delhi. That is especially so since the Pakistanis themselves are masters at selective counterterrorism at a time when many jihadists in Syria and Afghanistan may soon be looking for a re-direct.