Sunday, January 19, 2020

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U.S: The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an ‘Aberration’ - From mass incarceration to mass deportation, our nation remains in deep denial.

 By Michelle Alexander

Ten years have passed since my book, “The New Jim Crow,” was published. I wrote it to challenge our nation to reckon with the recurring cycles of racial reform, retrenchment and rebirth of caste-like systems that have defined our racial history since slavery. It has been an astonishing decade. Everything and nothing has changed.
When I was researching and writing the book, Barack Obama had not yet been elected president of the United States. I was in disbelief that our country would actually elect a black man to be the leader of the so-called free world. As the election approached, I felt an odd sense of hope and dread. I hoped against all reason that we would actually do it. But I also knew that, if we did, there would be a price to pay.
Everything I knew through experience and study told me that we as a nation did not fully understand the nature of the moment we were in. We had recently birthed another caste system — a system of mass incarceration — that locked millions of poor people and people of color in literal and virtual cages.
Our nation’s prison and jail population had quintupled in 30 years, leaving us with the highest incarceration rate in the world. A third of black men had felony records — due in large part to a racially biased, brutal drug war — and were relegated to a permanent second-class status. Tens of millions of people in the United States had been stripped of basic civil and human rights, including the right to vote, the right to serve on juries and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, education and basic public benefits.
Nevertheless, our nation remained in deep denial that a new caste system even existed, and most of us — even those who cared deeply about racial justice — did not seem to understand that powerful racial dynamics and political forces were at play that made much of our racial progress illusory. We had not faced our racial history and could not tell the truth about our racial present, yet growing numbers of Americans wanted to elect a black president and leap into a “colorblind” future.I was right to worry about the aftermath of Obama’s election. After he was inaugurated, our nation was awash in “post-racialism.” Black History Month events revolved around “how far we’ve come.” Many in the black community and beyond felt that, if Obama could win the presidency, anything was possible. Few people wanted to hear the message I felt desperate to convey: Despite appearances, our nation remains trapped in a cycle of racial reform, backlash and re-formation of systems of racial and social control.
Things have changed since then. Donald Trump is president of the United States. For many, this feels like whiplash. After eight years of Barack Obama — a man who embraced the rhetoric (though not the politics) of the civil rights movement — we now have a president who embraces the rhetoric and the politics of white nationalism. This is a president who openly stokes racial animosity and even racial violence, who praises dictators (and likely aspires to be one), who behaves like a petulant toddler on Twitter, and who has a passionate, devoted following of millions of people who proudly say they want to “make America great again” by taking us back to a time that we’ve left behind.
We are now living in an era not of post-racialism but of unabashed racialism, a time when many white Americans feel free to speak openly of their nostalgia for an age when their cultural, political and economic dominance could be taken for granted — no apologies required. Racial bigotry, fearmongering and scapegoating are no longer subterranean in our political discourse; the dog whistles have been replaced by bullhorns. White nationalist movements are operating openly online and in many of our communities; they’re celebrating mass killings and recruiting thousands into their ranks.White nationalism has been emboldened by our president, who routinely unleashes hostile tirades against black and brown people — calling Mexican migrants criminals, “rapists” and “bad people,” referring to developing African nations as “shithole countries” and smearing a district of the majority-black city of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Millions of Americans are cheering, or at least tolerating, these racial hostilities.Contrary to what many people would have us believe, what our nation is experiencing is not an “aberration.” The politics of “Trumpism” and “fake news” are not new; they are as old as the nation itself. The very same playbook has been used over and over in this country by those who seek to preserve racial hierarchy, or to exploit racial resentments and anxieties for political gain, each time with similar results.
Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Democratic and Republican politicians leaned heavily on the racial stereotypes of “crack heads,” “crack babies,” “superpredators” and “welfare queens” to mobilize public support for the War on Drugs, a get-tough movement and a prison-building boom — a political strategy that was traceable in large part to the desire to appeal to poor and working-class white voters who had defected from the Democratic Party in the wake of the civil rights movement.
Today, the rhetoric has changed, but the game remains the same. Public enemy No. 1 in the 2016 election was a brown-skinned immigrant, an “illegal,” a “terrorist” or an influx of people who want to take your job or rape your daughter. As Trump put it: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems. … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”He promised to solve this imaginary crisis through mass deportation and building a wall between the United States and Mexico. He also insisted that his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, wanted “millions of illegal immigrants to come in and take everybody’s jobs.” And he blamed domestic terroristic attacks in New Jersey and New York on “our extremely open immigration system,” which, he argued, allows Muslim terrorists into our country.The fact that Trump’s claims were demonstrably false did not impede his rise, just as facts were largely irrelevant at the outset of the War on Drugs. It didn’t matter back then that studies consistently found that whites were equally likely, if not more likely, than people of color to use and sell illegal drugs. Black people were still labeled the enemy. Nor did it matter, when the drug war was taking off, that nearly all of the sensationalized claims that crack cocaine was some kind of “demon drug,” drastically more harmful than powder cocaine, were false or misleading. Black people charged with possession of crack in inner cities were still punished far more harshly than white people in possession of powder cocaine in the suburbs. And it didn’t matter that African-Americans weren’t actually taking white people’s jobs or college educations in significant numbers through affirmative action programs.
Getting tough on “them” — the racially defined “others” who could easily be used as scapegoats and cast as the enemy — was all that mattered. Facts were treated as largely irrelevant then. As they are now.
Fortunately, a growing number of scholars and activists have begun to connect the dots between mass incarceration and mass deportation in our nation’s history and current politics. The historian Kelly Lytle Hernández, in her essay “Amnesty or Abolition: Felons, Illegals, and the Case for a New Abolition Movement,” chronicles how these systems have emerged as interlocking forms of social control that relegate “aliens” and “felons” to a racialized caste of outsiders. In recent decades, the system of mass incarceration has stripped away from millions of U.S. citizens basic civil and human rights until their status mirrors (or dips below) that of noncitizen immigrants within the United States. This development has coincided with the criminalization of immigration in the United States, resulting in a new class of “illegal immigrants” and “aliens” who are viewed and treated like “felons” or “criminals.” Immigration violations that were once treated as minor civil infractions are now crimes. And minor legal infractions, ranging from shoplifting to marijuana possession to traffic violations, now routinely prompt one of the nation’s most devastating sanctions — deportation.
The story of how our “nation of immigrants” came to deport and incarcerate so many for so little, Hernández explains, is a story of race and unfreedom reaching back to the era of emancipation. If we fail to understand the historical relationship between these systems, especially the racial politics that enabled them, we will be unable to build a truly united front that will prevent the continual re-formation of systems of racial and social control.
In my experience, those who argue that the systems of mass incarceration and mass deportation simply reflect sincere (but misguided) efforts to address the real harms caused by crime, or the real challenges created by surges in immigration, tend to underestimate the corrupting influence of white supremacy whenever black and brown people are perceived to be the problem. “Between me and the other world, there is ever an unasked question,” W.E.B. Du Bois famously said back in 1897: “How does it feel to be a problem?” White people are generally allowed to have problems, and they’ve historically been granted the power to define and respond to them. But people of color — in this “land of the free” forged through slavery and genocide — are regularly viewed and treated as the problem. This distinction has made all the difference. Once human beings are defined as the problem in the public consciousness, their elimination through deportation, incarceration or even genocide becomes nearly inevitable.
White nationalism, at its core, reflects a belief that our nation’s problems would be solved if only people of color could somehow be gotten rid of, or at least better controlled. In short, mass incarceration and mass deportation have less to do with crime and immigration than the ways we’ve chosen to respond to those issues when black and brown people are framed as the problem.
As Khalil Gibran Muhammad points out in “The Condemnation of Blackness,” throughout our nation’s history, when crime and immigration have been perceived as white, our nation’s response has been radically different from when those phenomena have been defined as black or brown. The systems of mass incarceration and mass deportation may seem entirely unrelated at first glance, but they are both deeply rooted in our racial history, and they both have expanded in part because of the enormous profits to be made in controlling, exploiting and eliminating vulnerable human beings.
It is tempting to imagine that electing a Democratic president or more Democratic politicians will fix the crises in our justice systems and our democracy. To be clear, removing Trump from office is necessary and urgent; but simply electing more Democrats to office is no guarantee that our nation will break its habit of birthing enormous systems of racial and social control. Indeed, one of the lessons of recent decades is these systems can grow and thrive even when our elected leaders claim to be progressive and espouse the rhetoric of equality, inclusion and civil rights.President Bill Clinton, who publicly aligned himself with the black community and black leaders, escalated a racially discriminatory drug war in part to avoid being cast by conservatives as “soft on crime.” Similarly, President Obama publicly preached values of inclusion and compassion toward immigrants, yet he escalated the mass detention and deportation of noncitizens.Obama claimed that his administration was focused on deporting: “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.” However, reports by The New York Times and the Marshall Project revealed that, despite Obama’s rhetoric, a clear majority of immigrants detained and deported during his administration had no criminal records, except minor infractions, including traffic violations, and posed no threat.
Equally important is the reality that “felons” have families. And “criminals” are often children or teenagers. The notion that, if you’ve ever committed a crime, you’re permanently disposable is the very idea that has rationalized mass incarceration in the United States.
None of this is to minimize the real progress that has occurred on many issues of race and criminal justice during the past decade. Today, there is bipartisan support for some prison downsizing, and hundreds of millions of philanthropic dollars have begun to flow toward criminal justice reform. A vibrant movement led by formerly incarcerated and convicted people is on the rise — a movement that has challenged or repealed disenfranchisement laws in several states, mobilized support of sentencing reform and successfully organized to “ban the box” on employment applications that discriminate against those with criminal records by asking the dreaded question: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
Activism challenging police violence has swept the nation — inspired by the courageous uprisings in Ferguson, Mo., the viral videos of police killings of unarmed black people, and #BlackLivesMatter. Promising movements for restorative and transformative justice have taken hold in numerous cities. Campaigns against cash bail have gained steam. Marijuana legalization has sped across the nation, with more than 25 states having partly or fully decriminalized cannabis since 2012.
And “The New Jim Crow,” which some predicted would never get an audience, wound up spending nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and has been used widely by faith groups, activists, educators and people directly affected by mass incarceration inside and outside prisons. Over the past 10 years, I’ve received thousands of letters — and tens of thousands of emails — from people in all walks of life who have written to share how the book changed their lives or how they have used it to support consciousness-raising or activism in countless ways.
Everything has changed. And yet nothing has.
The politics of white supremacy, which defined our original constitution, have continued unabated — repeatedly and predictably engendering new systems of racial and social control. Just a few decades ago, politicians vowed to build more prison walls. Today, they promise border walls.
The political strategy of divide, demonize and conquer has worked for centuries in the United States — since the days of slavery — to keep poor and working people angry at (and fearful of) one another rather than uniting to challenge unjust political and economic systems. At times, the tactics of white supremacy have led to open warfare. Other times, the divisions and conflicts are less visible, lurking beneath the surface.
The stakes now are as high as they’ve ever been. Nearly everyone seems aware that our democracy is in crisis, yet few seem prepared to reckon with the reality that removing Trump from office will not rid our nation of the social and political dynamics that made his election possible. No issue has proved more vexing to this nation than the issue of race, and yet no question is more pressing than how to overcome the politics of white supremacy — a form of politics that not only led to an actual civil war but that threatens our ability ever to create a truly fair, just and inclusive democracy.
We find ourselves in this dangerous place not because something radically different has occurred in our nation’s politics, but because so much has remained the same.
The inconvenient truth is that racial progress in this country is always more complex and frequently more illusory than it appears at first glance. The past 10 years has been a case in point. Our nation has swung sharply from what Marc Mauer memorably termed “a race to incarcerate” — propelled by bipartisan wars on “drugs” and “crime” — to a bipartisan commitment to criminal justice reform, particularly in the area of drug policy. And yet, it must be acknowledged that much of the progress occurred not because of newfound concern for people of color who have been the primary targets of the drug war, but because drug addiction, due to the opioid crisis, became perceived as a white problem, and wealthy white investors became interested in profiting from the emerging legal cannabis industry.
Some of the reversals in political opinion have been striking. For example, John Boehner, a former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, stated in 2011 that he was “unalterably opposed to decriminalizing marijuana,” but by the spring of 2018 he had joined the board of a cannabis company.
Growing sympathy for illegal drug users among whites and conservatives, and concern regarding the expense of mass imprisonment, helped to make possible a bipartisan consensus in support of the Trump administration’s First Step Act — leading to the early release of more than 3,000 people from federal prisons for drug offenses. This development, which benefits people of color subject to harsh and biased drug sentencing laws, is difficult to characterize as major progress toward ending mass incarceration, given that Trump continued to unleash racially hostile tirades against communities of color and his administration vowed to reinstate the federal death penalty. He also rescinded a number of significant reforms adopted by Obama and expanded the use of private prisons.
Obama also has a complicated legacy with respect to criminal justice reform. Obama was the first sitting president to visit a federal correctional facility, the first to oversee a drop in the federal prison population in more than 30 years, and he granted clemency to nearly 2,000 people behind bars — the highest total for any president since Harry Truman. His administration enacted significant policy changes, including legislation reducing sentencing disparities involving crack and powder cocaine, a phasing out of federal contracts with private prisons, and limitations on the transfer of military equipment to local police departments.
And yet it sometimes appeared that Obama was reluctant to acknowledge the depth and breadth of the structural changes required to address police violence and the prevailing systems of racial and social control.
For example, when black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested in his own home for no reason, Obama responded to the national furor and media frenzy by inviting Gates and the arresting officer to a “beer summit” at the White House to work things out over drinks and peanuts, as though racial profiling is little more than an interpersonal dispute that can be resolved through friendly dialogue.Most troubling, the modest criminal justice reforms that were achieved during the Obama administration coincided with the expansion of the system of mass deportation. Although the administration agreed to phase out federal contracts for private prisons, it made enormous investments in private detention centers for immigrants, including the granting of a $1 billion contract to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a detention facility for women and children asylum seekers from Central America.Immigrant detention centers were exempted from the phaseout plan for private prisons, which meant that only about a quarter of the population held in private facilities in the United States was affected by the plan. The caging of immigrants for profit was allowed to continue without restraint.
The reality is that, during both the Obama and Clinton years, highly racialized and punitive systems thrived under liberal presidents who were given the benefit of the doubt by those who might otherwise have been critics. Obama and Clinton’s public displays of affection for communities of color, the egalitarian values they preached and their liberal or progressive stances on other issues helped to shield these vast systems of control from close scrutiny.
Many of us saw these presidents as “good people” with our best interests at heart, doing what they could to navigate a political environment in which only limited justice is possible. All of these factors played a role, but one was key: These systems grew with relatively little political resistance because people of all colors were willing to tolerate the disposal of millions of individuals once they had been labeled criminals in the media and political discourse. This painful reality suggests that ending our nation’s habit of creating enormous systems of racial and social control requires us to expand our sphere of moral concern so widely that none of us, not even those branded criminals, can be viewed or treated as disposable.
If there is any silver lining to be found in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, it is that millions of people have been inspired to demonstrate solidarity on a large scale across the lines of gender, race, religion and class in defense of those who have been demonized and targeted for elimination. Trump’s blatant racial demagogy has awakened many from their “colorblind” slumber and spurred collective action to oppose the Muslim ban and the border wall, and to create sanctuaries for immigrants in their places of worship and local communities.
Many who are engaged in this work are also deeply involved in, or supportive of, movements to end police violence and mass incarceration. Growing numbers of people are beginning to see how the politics of white supremacy have resurfaced again and again, leading to the creation and maintenance of new systems of racial and social control. A politics of deep solidarity is beginning to emerge — the only form of politics that holds any hope for our collective liberation.
The centuries-long struggle to birth a truly inclusive, egalitarian democracy — a nation in which every voice and every life truly matters — did not begin with us, and it will not end with us. The struggle is as old as the nation itself and the birth process has been painful, to say the least. My greatest hope and prayer is that we will serve as faithful midwives in our lifetimes and do what we can to make America, finally, what it must become.
Michelle Alexander is a civil rights lawyer and advocate, legal scholar and author of the 10th anniversary edition of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” from which this essay is adapted.

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#Pakistan - How long can the nation ignore Balochistan’s terrorism problem? - Taliban vs Islamic State

Shahzada Zulfiqar

The suicide blast on January 10, claimed 15 lives in Quetta. It left 21 others – mostly Afghan nationals – injured and was the third incident of its kind taking place on the outskirts of the provincial capital, in eight months. They were, all carried out on Friday and targetted leaders and supporters of Tehrik-i-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA).
The first of these incidents had happened on May 24, 2019, at Rahmania mosque on the premises of a madrassa in Pashtoonabad area when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted at the minbar (pulpit) went off a few minutes ahead of Juma prayers. Three people were killed and 19 others injured, including the prayer leader and his two sons. Later the pesh-imam, Mullah Hassan, said to be an active supporter of the TTA, succumbed to his injuries in a Karachi hospital.
The second IED attack, followed in similar manner, on August 16, 2019, killing Hafiz Ahmadullah, the brother of TTA leader Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada. The incident took place at a mosque called Khair-ul-Madaris located in Kuchlak, another area dominated by Afghan population in the outskirts of Quetta, on the main Quetta-Chaman highway.
The seminary and the mosque were being managed by Haibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban leader till his nomination as successor to Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Mullah Akhtar killed in a US drone attack in May 2016 in Noshki district. Akhunzada had then appointed his brother Ahmadullah as the new administrator of the seminary. A report says that TTA leader Akhunzada and his colleagues were the main target as the attackers had information about a gathering of Taliban Shura members. While he survived, his two sons were injured and his brother died.
The third attack in the series came on January10, 2020. It targeted on a Taliban leader, Maulna Abdul Hakeem, the administrator and prayer leader of Darr-ul-Uloom Shariah, who killed alongside his brother. His son was amongst the 21 injured. The investigators say that there were reports about the gathering of some TTA leaders in the seminary and a suicide-bomber was sent to target them. The police say that after the suicide-blast during evening prayers, the people from the seminary surrounded the site and didn’t allow anyone to enter the mosque. They took away two bodies before police and security agencies’ personnel arrived. Police were later allowed to inspect the bodies identified as Shiekh Hakeemullah, the prayer leader, and his brother. Taliban sources said that the Shiekh had served as the chief justice during the Taliban regime. Police said, DSP Amanullah who had lived in the neighbourhood, was not the target but happened to be among the worshipers. Although Taliban spokesman Zabih-ullah-Mujahid denied that any Taliban leader had been killed or injured in the blast, other Taliban sources said that Shiekh Hakeemullah and his brother, both TTA supporters were among the dead.
Although police and security organisations deny the presence of IS in Balochistan, the wall-chalking in favour of Daesh and its leader Baghdadi, close to Governor House, CM Secretariat, and Iranian consulate some six years ago cannot be ignored.
Islamic State (IS) while claiming responsibility on its website, said that martyrdom seeker (suicide bomber) Abu Jarrah Al-Balochi had detonated his explosive belt in the gathering of the apostate Taliban Movement killing 20 and injuring 40 others. After the two previous attacks, no one had claimed responsibility.
Although police and security organisations have denied the presence of IS in Balochistan, wall-chalking in favour of Daesh and its leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi to Governor’s House and Chief Minister’s Secretariat as well as Iranian consulate some six years ago cannot be ignored. The government would get these walls white-washed but the slogans kept reappearing.
A letter from the Interior Ministry in 2013, warned the Balochistan government about the possibility of IS activists organising in the province and advised strict-alert particularly in the interior parts of the province. Despite the formal denial, a number of operations have been conducted by police and security agencies, who claim that more than 40 Islamic State militants, including a Baloch commander, have been killed. A Chinese couple preaching Christianity was abducted from Quetta for ransom by IS activists in May 2017. Both were slaughtered after a major operation was launched against the gang. 12 IS activists including two local commanders were killed three weeks after the couple’s abduction in a cave in Koh-e-Maran in Mastung district. Later in another operation in May 2019, in Qabo area of same district, 9 IS activists were killed while in September, 2019, 6 IS activists including a woman and a local commander were killed in government-owned Labour Colony in Quetta. Besides these some two dozen IS operatives were killed in various actions over the past 8 years. Apart from attacks on police and security agency’s personnel, IS also claimed a major suicide attack on a gathering of lawyers in August, 2017 in which 58 lawyers and 12 others were and more than 100 people were injfured.
The police say that extremist organizations like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) Lashkar-i-Jhangvi-Alami (LJ-A) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and even IS ­­– which has been involved in attacks against Pakistani security forces and police – assist one another in their actions. However, they say, it is yet to be determined whether the IS group which has claimed responsibility for the January 10 attack, has any link with these terror groups or not.
The security forces’ officials are more certain about the involvement of Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Indian RAW in the attacks against the supporters and activists of TTA in Quetta. They say that the NDS and the RAW handlers have assigned a breakaway group of TTA which identifies itself as Daesh with targeting TTA leaders in Balochistan to compel the Taliban to halt their deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
Abdur Razzak Cheema, the Quetta DIG, says out of 618 mosques around 100 are provided full security by the police in the provincial capital. The rest are gauarded by volunteers. Whereas, 40 such mosques — including the one targeted in the January 10 incident — are protected through patrolling by 1,500 personnel in the area on Fridays.

Pakistani Taliban leader Ehsanullah Ehsan ‘flees’ from safe house

Abhinandan Mishra
Ehsanullah Ehsan, a top leader of the Tehreek-E-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had “surrendered” before the Pakistan army and the ISI on 17 April 2017, has “fled” from the safe house where he was being kept for the last two-and-a-half years.
The incident of “fleeing” took place on 11 January, Pakistan-based sources told The Sunday Guardian.
Sources said that soon after this incident, on 12 January, the Pakistan army swooped down on Ehsan’s native place in Sagibala village, Safi sub-division, Mohmand district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and detained his father Sher Muhammad, brother Shafiq and his uncle Sher Badshah in order to get some information on the location of Ehsanullah Ehsan. Ehsan’s wife and two daughters have gone underground and are untraceable. In his “confessional” statement released by the Pakistan army on 26 April 2017, just days after he had “surrendered”, Ehsan had claimed that he was working for India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

 Just days after this, in 2017, Ehsanullah Ehsan was allowed to give a 30-minute interview to Pakistan’s Geo to push an anti-India propaganda and present a “water-tight” case against Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav. In December 2018, the Pakistan High Court, while hearing a case, had barred the government from giving clemency to Ehsan. Sources in the Taliban who had spoken to this newspaper in 2017, had said that though the Pakistan army had presented him before the media on 17 April 2017, Ehsan was picked up on 7 March 2017 by ISI-backed individuals from Paktika province of Afghanistan along with three others.

 Ehsan had gone incommunicado from the last week of January 2017 after he had spoken to this newspaper. At the time, he was stationed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. TTP, through Ehsanullah Ehsan, had taken responsibility for the attack on Malala Yousafzai, who later got the Nobel Peace Prize and the 2014 Peshawar school massacre in which 150, mostly students, were killed.

The Soviet's War In Afghanistan Had Russian Pilots Fighting Pakistani F-16s - That were sold to Pakistan by America.

By Sebastien Roblin
Key point: A proxy war that we are still paying for. In 1977, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq overthrew Pakistan’s civilian president in a coup. He proceeded to institute hardline Islamist laws throughout Pakistan, and began rebuilding Pakistani military power after its humiliating defeat in a 1971 war with India.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Washington found that Zia’s policies dovetailed conveniently with getting Pakistani assistance in supporting Mujahideen insurgents fighting Communist forces. Thus, Pakistani and U.S. agents collaborated in organizing and arming militants proliferating in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.
In retaliation, Soviet and Democratic Republic of Afghanistan Air Force (DRAAF) jet bombers began crossing into Pakistani airspace to blast those refugee camps. The Pakistani military deployed J-6 fighters (Chinese-built MiG-19 clones) capable of Mach 1 speed and two radars to defend the border, but these proved too slow and the patrol and radar coverage too spotty, so none of the raids were intercepted.
Thus in 1981, Zia persuaded the Reagan administration to authorize sale of forty F-16As and two-seat F-16Bs, which would be received between 1983-1986. The then cutting-edge fourth-generation fighter was affordable, extremely maneuverable due to its aerodynamically unstable design (compensated for with fly-by-wire controls), and could still attain high speeds and carry heavy payloads.However, early production F-16s lacked the capability to fire radar-guided beyond-visual range missiles. This meant Pakistani Falcons needed to get up close to their opponents to use their AIM-9P and more advanced AIM-9L Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles—or their 20-millimeter Vulcan cannons.
In 1986, the F-16s of the PAF’s No. 9 Griffin and 14 Shaheen squadrons were finally ready to begin flying combat air patrols along the Afghan border. That year, Soviet and Afghan forces began a series of offensive targeting mujahideen bases in the Panshir valley, supported with intensified bombardments of refugee camps.
On May 17, 1986 two F-16As were vectored towards two DRAAF Su-22M3K penetrating Pakistani airspace near Parachinar. The Sukhois were rugged swing-wing supersonic fighter bombers that often suffered heavy losses in Cold War conflicts.The PAF F-16s closed within six miles and Squadron Leader Hameed Qadri launched a Sidewinder which failed to hit. The Su-22 promptly belted back for the Afghan border. Qadri fired off a second AIM-9L which first flew wide off the Sukhoi, then curled around and slammed into its target.
In an account published by the PAF, Qadri describes that he raced towards the second Su-22, which he engaged with a gun:
“The other aircraft was in a left turn. His radius of turn and my energy state gave me enough confidence that I could easily achieve kill parameters both with missile and guns. During the turn, I found myself hitting the fringes of AIM-9P missile. I pulled a high yo-yo as I was in a totally offensive position. My target was now in a nose-down and heading towards Afghan territory. After apexing, I quickly rolled back and fired a three-second burst on the exiting Su-22. I stopped firing when a trail of smoke and flash from his aircraft confirmed a lethal kill. Through a split 'S', I headed east of Parachinar.“
However, the Afghan Air Force confirmed losing only one jet, though the engagement led to a major decrease in attacks on refugee camps. Furthermore, the Soviet VVS deployed MiG-23MLD fighters to protect Afghan Su-22s.
Qadri encountered the MiGs a month later, but neither side opened fire. Nearly a year later on April 16 1987, F-16s chased down DRAAF Su-22s again near Thal, managing to overtake the supersonic jets despite having to attack from lower altitude. Squadron Leader Badar-us-Islam shot down the Sukhoi of Lt. Col. Abdul Jameel, who ejected and was captured on Pakistani soil.
By 1987, Soviets records indicate that Pakistani fighters had begun roaming into Afghan airspace—particularly harassing efforts to provide aerial resupply to besieged garrisons like Khost, only ten miles across the border.On March 30, 1987 two F-16s intercepted an An-26 twin-turboprop cargo plane near Khost, each striking it with one Sidewinder from just under a mile away. The ponderous cargo plane crashed into the snowy mountains below, killing all 39 aboard. Over the course of the conflict, Pakistani F-16 pilots also claimed the destruction of several Mi-8 transports helicopter, another An-26 on a reconnaissance mission in 1989, and a maneuver kill versus an An-24 transport which was actually attempting to defect.
However, the Pakistani fighter jock’s luck turned two weeks later when two No.9 Squadron F-16s ambushed four MiG-23s of the Soviet 120th Fighter Regiment as they plastered a mujahideen supply bases in Djaware, Pakistan with cluster bombs. As Soviet Lt. Col. Pochitalkin led his unit in evasive maneuvers he saw an airplane plummet towards the earth in flames below him.
This was not a MiG, but the F-16 of Lt. Shahi Sikander, who had inadvertently been acquired by an AIM-9L fired by his wingman. Sikander parachuted down to Afghan soil, where he and the wreckage of his plane were smuggled back to Pakistan by Mujahideen. Some Russian sources claim Sikander was actually shot down by a Soviet jet—though the MiGs were not carrying air-to-air missiles—or had somehow plowed into the rain of cluster bomblets.
In 1988, as Soviet ground forces withdrew from Afghanistan, DRAAF and Soviet aviation units began a ferocious new bombardment campaign in a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling Afghan Communist government.
On August 8, Col Alexander Rutskoy, commander of a regiment of slow but heavily armored Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets—was leading a night raid on the Maranshah refugee camp when his four-ship flight was bounced by two F-16As of the 14th fighter squadron. Rutskoy turned hard towards the F-16s, perhaps seeking to draw them away, and believing the heat-seeking missile would lose its track if his plane’s hot tail-pipe was facing away from it. But the AIM-9L was designed to engage targets from all aspects, and the detonations of its proximity warhead broke the “flying tank” in two.Rutskoy ejected over Pakistani soil and was captured. Exchanged back to Russia, he was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union and went onto become vice president of Russia under Boris Yeltsin, before leading an attempted coup in 1993.A month after Rutskoy’s shootdown, a formation of twelve Soviet MiG-23s—eight loaded with bombs, and four carrying R-24 air-to-air missiles, zipped into Pakistani airspace near the Kunar valley at 32,000 feet—probably seeking to lure PAF F-16s into an ambush.
Obligingly, two F-16s raced towards the swing-wing fighters at only 11,000 feet. However, the Soviet radars failed to detect the lower-flying F-16s amidst the ground clutter. A Sidewinder fired at a steep angle by Squadron Leader Khalid Mahmood managed to riddle one MiG-23 with shrapnel, which limped back home for a crash landing. Two MiGs peeled away to engage the F-16s in a dogfight. But while Pakistani pilots claimed two MiG-23 kills, Soviet records show no additional aircraft were lost.
On November 3, 1988 the PAF would bag its final jet kill when Lt. Khalid Mahmood shot down a DRAAF Su-2M4K. Pakistan formally credits its F-16 pilots with 10 kills during the conflict, while Soviet records confirm the loss of three Su-22s, an Su-25 and An-26. Some sources claim the PAF shot down at least a dozen more aircraft during the Soviet war in Afghanistan which ostensibly were not formally credited because they involved violations of Afghan airspace. Those interested in a more extensive accounting of the Pakistani-Afghan air battles are recommended to consult the following compilations of Pakistani air combat narratives.

Another Hindu girl allegedly kidnapped, forcibly converted in #Pakistan

Cases of forced conversions of young Hindu girls continue to surface from Pakistan's Sindh province, raising serious challenges for the Imran Khan government over its tall claims of security and safety of minorities in the country.

In a latest case of alleged forced conversion, Arok Kumari, resident of Jacobabad in Sindh province, went missing from her home on Wednesday. A video from her later revealed that she had converted to Islam and married a Muslim boy Ali Raza.

Arok Kumari's latest video showed her sitting with Ali Raza, in which she is seen saying that she married Ali Raza after converting to Islam with her free will.

"I have converted to Islam on my own free will and my Muslim name now is Aliza. I accepted Islam at Dargah Amrot Sharif and have married Raza there also," said Arok Kumari aka Aliza.

Kumari was seen in the video saying that her age is 18 and that she is seeking protection for herself and her husband.

She has also filed a case in the local court in Sukker district of the Sindh province, seeking protection from her Hindu parents and the community, who she says are a serious threat to her after her conversion.

"I am 18 years old. I want security from my parents and the Hindu community. Me and my husband Raza have filed a case seeking the same in the Sukker court also," Kumari said.

Before Kumari released the video, the Hindu community raised serious concerns over the ongoing cases of forced abduction and conversion, calling on the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Army Chief to take immediate notice and ensure safety of the community's families and their religious freedom.

The Hindu community also claimed that Nanki Kumari aka Mehak Kumari aka Arok Kumari aka Aliza is an underage girl as her age is 15 and that she is a class 9 student.

"Nanki Kumari who we are calling Mehak Kumari is 15 years old. Today has been the fourth day and the Hindu community in Jacobabad is worried. Every other day, we hear our girls being kidnapped and converted to Islam. They are trying to torture us with such actions," said a representative of the Hindu community.

"We are a minority community here and it has become almost impossible for us to live here anymore. I have seen a list which states that at least 50 young girls from our community have been subjected to kidnapping and forced conversion in the recent past," he said.

The minority representative also stated that Sindh province and its land, which is the true belonging of the Hindu community, has not been turned into a brutal place of intolerance against the community.

"Our Hindu community will stage protests against this abduction and forced conversion of Nanki Kumari and will do it across Pakistan," said the Hindu community representative.

"If such issues will keep happening, our Hindu community will be forced to leave our homes, our businesses and this country. I call on the chief justice, army chief and prime minister to take the matter of forced conversions of Hindu minor girls in the Parliament and assemblies and give us safety and security so that we can live our lives here with peace," he added.