Sunday, January 18, 2015
The lead article in the first edition of Charlie Hebdo after the massacre at its Paris offices by Islamists claiming to avenge cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad — the edition distributed as an astonishing five million copies — raised a thorny, sensitive question. After thanking all those who had shown solidarity with the magazine, its editor in chief, Gérard Biard, asked a question that, he said, “torments us”:
“Are we finally going to rid our political and intellectual vocabulary of the dirty term ‘laïcard intégriste’?”
Loosely translated, those words mean “die-hard secularist.” What Mr. Biard was challenging was the argument that committed secularists like himself and the staff of Charlie Hebdo had essentially brought this tragedy upon themselves, and that there is, by implication, a sort of moral equivalence between deeply held secularist views and the “religious totalitarianism” — his words — that he and his staff loved to skewer.
Over the years, he went on, Charlie Hebdo and other champions of la laïcité — the secularism enshrined in French politics — had been assailed as “Islamophobes, Christianophobes, provocateurs, irresponsible, throwers of oil on the fire, racists” and the like.
Even as people lamented the massacre, he wrote, some of them offered a maddening qualifier: “Yes, we condemn terrorism, but.......” “Yes, burning down a newspaper is bad, but..... We have heard it all, and our friends as well....”
Obviously there can be no “but” in condemning the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, or the ideology that encourages murder in the name of religion.
Irreverent magazines like Charlie Hebdo have been a fixture in Western societies for many years, and France has a strong tradition of such journalism.
The Internet, moreover, has opened the door to almost every level and form of expression.
Yet there are legitimate questions raised about freedom of expression in this tragedy.
In the wake of the terror attack, French authorities began aggressive enforcements of a law against supporting or justifying terrorism, including arrests of people who spoke admiringly about the shootings at Charlie Hebdo. Not surprisingly, their actions have raised questions of a double standard — one for cartoonists who deliberately insult religion, when their cartoons are certain to antagonize Muslims at a time when anti-Muslim feelings are already at high levels in France and across much of Europe, and another for those who react by applauding terrorists.
The difference, according to French authorities, is between the right to attack an idea and the right to attack people or incite hatred.
The distinction is recognized in the various laws against hate speech or inciting violence that exist in most Western states.
As a consequence of World War II, France and several other European countries have laws against denying the Holocaust, and with a rise in anti-Semitism in France, authorities have actively sought to curb hate speech, like the anti-Semitic routines of a comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala.
Freedom of expression is broader in the United States, but there, too, there are legal limitations on speech that involves incitement, libel, obscenity or child pornography.
But drawing the line between speech that is disgusting and speech that is dangerous is inherently difficult and risky.
In Israel, mocking Muhammad can bring a prison term, as it did for Tatiana Susskind, a Russian immigrant who posted drawings of the Prophet as a pig in Hebron in 1997.
She was accused, among other things, of committing a racist act and harming religious sensitivities, and sentenced to two years in prison. Laws like those in France against “words or acts of hatred” are based on what is often a subjective judgment. And any constraints on freedom of expression invite government abuse.
Tastes, standards and situations change, and in the end it is best for editors and societies at large to judge what is fit — or safe — to print.
That the tragedy in Paris has served to raise these questions is in no way an insult to the members of the Charlie Hebdo staff who perished.
Shocking people into confronting reality was, after all, what their journal — which they proudly called a “journal irresponsable” — was all about.
By BILL ROGGIO
Anonymous Pakistani officials have told news agencies that the government will ban the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network "within weeks." But a listing of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist entity is unlikely to change decades of support that the jihadist group has received from the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.
Pakistani officials first told The Express Tribune that the Haqqani Network Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the political front of the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and 10 other jihadist groups would be banned in "coming days."
"It's our first step towards execution of the National Action Plan," against terrorism, a senior intelligence official told the news agency. "The nation will see more positive steps towards dismantling militant groups. Both civilian and military leadership decided to ban the Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa."
Pakistani government officials told Reuters that the ban on the Haqqani Network would be announced "within weeks." A member of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's cabinet said the decision to proscribe the Haqqani Network was made after the Movement of the Taliban assaulted a school in Peshawar and brutally executed 134 children.
The unnamed cabinet minister also told Reuters that "the military and the government are on the same page on how to tackle militancy. There is no more 'good' or 'bad' Taliban."
The "bad" Taliban are identified as jihadist groups such as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state. The "good" Taliban are groups such as the Haqqani Network, who wage jihad in Afghanistan but do not overtly seek to wage war against the Pakistani state. However the so-called good Taliban do support groups such as Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and al Qaeda.
Ban unlikely to change institutional support of the Haqqani Network
While the banning of the Haqqani Network is a welcome move, if it is not backed by significant action, such as the arrest of the jihadist group's top leadership, the dismantling of its network, the destruction of its infrastructure, and the end of support by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, the move is likely to amount to little more than symbolism.
If history is any indication, Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment is unlikely to truly end its support of the Haqqani Network. The Haqqanis have been one of the premier instruments of influence inside Afghanistan; the group has served as part of Pakistan's policy of "strategic depth" against a potential war with India and US influence in Afghanistan. While Pakistani officials have claimed the country has discarded its policy of "strategic depth," there is little evidence to support this. In fact, the Pakistani establishment still allows the Afghan Taliban (of which the Haqqani Network is a part) to operate freely within Afghanistan. And there is no indication at all that the Pakistani government will ban the Afghan Taliban, let alone dismantle the group's extensive network inside of Pakistan.
Recent statements by Sartaj Aziz, the adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also indicate that the Pakistani government is not serious about tackling the Haqqani Network. In mid-November, Aziz said Pakistan should not "make enemies" out of groups such as the Haqqani Network, and that the Afghan Taliban was Afghanistan's problem, not Pakistan's.
"Why should America's enemies unnecessarily become our enemies," Aziz told BBC Urdu.
"Some of them were dangerous for us and some are not. Why must we make enemies out of them all?," he continued, referencing the Haqqani Network. [See Threat Matrix report, Good Taliban are not our problem, adviser to Pakistan's prime minister says.]
Three days ago, in a joint press conference held with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Aziz was asked if Pakistan planned on cracking down on the Haqqani Network, the Afghan Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Aziz dodged the issues related to the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and then claimed that the Haqqani Network's "infrastructure [was] totally destroyed" during the ongoing Pakistani military operation in North Waziristan.
"But as far as Haqqani Network is concerned, since after the North Waziristan operation, their infrastructure is totally destroyed, and our commitment to Afghanistan not to allow our territory to be used against any other country would not have been possible unless we had taken this operation in North Waziristan," Aziz claimed. "So to that extent, their ability to operate from here across to Afghanistan has virtually disappeared."
Pakistani claims not withstanding, there is no evidence that the Haqqani Network's "infrastructure is totally destroyed." In fact, not a single Haqqani Network leader, commander, or operative is reported to have been killed or captured during the North Waziristan offensive. The Pakistani military has targeted only the "bad" Taliban -- the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan -- during the operation. [See LWJ report, Pakistani military claims 910 'terrorists,' 82 soldiers killed in North Waziristan operation.]
Finally, the banning of jihadist groups in Pakistan has little effect without the will to enforce the ban. Pakistan has outlawed dozens of jihadist groups, many of which still operate in the open with the support of the government. Lashkar-e-Taiba was banned in 2002 but the group responded by merely rebranding itself and operating under the name Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which was subsequently banned in 2005.
This has not stopped the group from receiving the support of the Pakistani military and the ISID, nor has it stopped it from running its operations in Afghanistan, and conducting terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and India. And Lashkar-e-Taiba's top leaders, including its emir, Hafiz Saeed, continue to operate openly in Pakistan. Saeed, who states "we do jihad" and calls for jihad in Indian-held Kashmir, evendines with senior Pakistani generals. Instead of detaining Saeed, who is wanted by the US and has a $10 million reward on his head for his capture and prosecution, the Pakistani government has involved him in a "de-radicalization and rehabilitation" program.
Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/01/analysis_reported_ba.php#ixzz3PCq28AKF
By Gabriel Domínguez
Secretary of State John Kerry has said the US will boost its security and defense cooperation with Pakistan in its fight against militants. DW speaks to analyst Omar Hamid on the nature of the US-Pakistani military bond.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Pakistan's national security adviser Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad, Kerry praised the Pakistani military's ongoing operation against Islamist militants in the country's northwest. He also called on the South Asian nation to fight all militant groups that threaten Afghan, Indian and US interests.
"We've been very clear with the highest levels of the Government of Pakistan that Pakistan has to target all militant groups, the Haqqani Network and others, which target US coalition and Afghan forces and people in Pakistan and elsewhere," Kerry said on Tuesday, January 13.
Pakistan's military has vowed to avenge the December 16 Peshawar school massacre, in which some 150 people - mostly children - were killed. Since the Taliban assault, the army has intensified its ground and air strikes on Islamist militants in the restive Waziristan area. It is believed that some of the region's most feared militants use Waziristan as a launching pad for attacks within Pakistan as well as against NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in South and North Waziristan since the start of the operation.
Omar Hamid, Head of Asia Pacific Country Risk at IHS, says in a DW interview the Pakistani army's actions against the Haqqani network as well as its operations in Waziristan seem to have restored US confidence in Pakistan and led to an increasing level of cooperation between the two countries.
DW: Pakistan's problems with the Taliban insurgency are not new. Why did the US Secretary of State pick this time to pledge support for Pakistan in its offensive against extremist militants?
Omar Hamid: The past six months or so has seen increased efforts by Pakistan against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups. The Pakistani army has gone to great pains to show that their operations were even-handed against all Taliban-affiliated outfits, including groups such as the Haqqani network, which has been responsible for major attacks in Afghanistan, especially in Kabul. The country's military had been accused by the US and Afghan governments of protecting the Haqqani network in the past.
These latest actions seem to have restored confidence and led to an increasing level of cooperation between Washington and Islamabad. Therefore, while Secretary of State Kerry's visit may be occurring only now in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack on December 16, in fact there has been growing intelligence cooperation between the two countries before this, as evidenced by US drone strikes targeting TTP leaders in eastern Afghanistan, which have been occurring since November 2014.
What kind of assistance is the US willing to offer Pakistan?
Pakistan is primarily interested in greater US military aid. The government also needs support for the resettlement of internally displaced persons from the current operation in North Waziristan. However, the Kerry Lugar Bill made the US government focus more on civilian institutions than just giving more aid money to the military.
The real issue here is that military and economic cooperation between Pakistan and the US has continued throughout this period, even despite some periods where the rhetoric on both sides had become more inflammatory.
Given this inflammatory rhetoric, why does the US believe it is important to assist Pakistan?
Pakistan remains a key US ally for two reasons: First, the army is the only force currently capable of flushing Islamist militant groups out of their sanctuaries in the tribal areas. Second, the US recognizes that they would need Pakistan to lean on the Afghan Taliban to initiate any kind of meaningful peace negotiations.
You mentioned the offensive in North Waziristan. The US has carried out a series of drone strikes in the tribal regions since Islamabad resumed its own offensive there. Pakistani officials, however, denounce the drone attacks as a violation of sovereignty. Are the two militaries working together in the offensive?
Despite their public denunciations, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that supports the fact that these drone strikes are done in conjunction with, and at the behest of, the Pakistani military.
Almost certainly there has been an increase over the past few months in coordination between the two militaries, with US drone strikes targeting the TTP leadership on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border at the same time that Pakistani forces pushed into the North Waziristan.
US drones are also actively targeting Mullah Fazllullah, the head of the TTP, who is thought to be in Kunar, Afghanistan, and was recently added to Washington's official terrorism list. At least two drone strikes have attempted to kill him since November 2014.
Nevertheless, some analysts believe Pakistan's security services see the Haqqanis as an "asset" and maintain close links with them. What is your view on this?
Whatever the past relationship may have been, during the current operation the Pakistani army has made it a point to target the Haqqani network, with the result that the Haqqanis' offensive capabilities seem to have been greatly reduced in recent times.
In his visit to Washington in November 2014, Pakistan's army chief Raheel Sharif received public praise from both the Pentagon leadership and other members of the US establishment for having not spared the Haqqani network during the present operations.
Hamid: 'Washington's own priorities would take precedence over what New Delhi would consider urgent'
How could Kerry's pledge of support for Pakistan help ease tensions with neighboring India?
Pakistan has always desired direct US intervention to resolve the Kashmir dispute with India. While such direct support is unlikely, nonetheless, with Pakistani-US relations enjoying a high point, the Pakistani establishment will be content that in light of supportive comments from the US, India will be restrained from taking any kind of unilateral action that would raise war risks between the two countries.
What leverage does Washington have on Islamabad to help decrease the violence along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan?
The US has the considerable leverage in terms of its economic support for Pakistan, which it could potentially use to decrease LoC violence, but it also understands that any threats about the reduction of aid and/or economic support would also undermine Pakistani support for anti-terror operations, which is the US' primary interest in engaging with the country. Therefore, its own priorities would take precedence over what India would consider urgent.