Saturday, February 8, 2020

Video Report - Bernie Sanders on Jewish heritage: It impacts me profoundly

Democrats, America is ready for a gay president

By LZ Granderson
May 21, 2019
I was at a political fundraiser in 2007, in the company of several deep-pocketed longtime donors. President George W. Bush was near the end of his second term and much of the conversation wasn't about the anemic economy, the wars we were engaged in or the policies of the people vying to take his place.
Instead, it was about electability and whether the country was ready to vote for a black or female president.
Needless to say, we got our answer.
I was at a political fundraiser earlier this year, again nestled in among several longtime donors with deep pockets. President Trump was not viewed favorably by this crowd and much of the conversation wasn't about the Mueller report, the trade war we are engaged in or policies touted by the people vying to take Trump's place. Instead, it was about electability and whether the country was ready for an openly gay president.
It makes sense that the millionaires in these spaces would hedge their bets based on the most pragmatic of questions: Can this person win? After all, a person doesn't get to be a one-percenter by making a habit of investing in companies they don't believe will turn a profit. But I couldn't ignore the irony of hearing so many blue-state-living/rainbow-flag-adjacent /"love-is-love" liberals in one room dismiss Pete Buttigieg's bid for the White House largely because he's gay, even from those within the LGBTQ community.
They like him. Hell, many even love him. But they don't believe the country's ready. Two of three Americans support same-sex marriage, including more than 80% of Democrats, and yet ...In a Quinnipiac poll early this month, only 40% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic thought the United States was ready to elect a gay president (though 86% of that same group said they were open to electing a gay president)."We need to win," is what I've heard repeatedly over the past couple of weeks, even as Buttigieg has ascended from "Mayor Who?" to a candidate who has gained the collective recognition that he is one of the most impressive in the field. More than 1 million viewers tuned in his Fox News town hall on Sunday, and even hard-to-impress Chris Wallace found him compelling -- much to the consternation of the President. Would this war vet who offered condolences to the people of France in French after the devastating Notre Dame fire be the front-runner if he weren't married to a man? Given his relative youth and position as the mayor of a small city, would he have graced the cover of Time magazine if he were not?
For all of the chatter about downplaying identity politics in the hope of rebuilding the blue wall in the Midwest, it has been my experience that despite the fact Buttigieg is a fairly successful elected official from the Midwest, it is precisely his identity as a gay man that gives many Democrats the greatest pause.
As someone who has worked in South Bend and written for the South Bend Tribune, I have a sense of the financial devastation that swept the area, especially for minorities. Buttigieg's policies may have helped revitalize the downtown area, improved infrastructure and brought tech jobs to an area that was heavily reliant on the auto industry, but it would not be unfair to characterize his time as mayor as not being overly beneficial to minorities.But then again, front-runner Joe Biden helped write the 1994 crime bill that helped to lead to mass incarceration of minorities -- and co-front runner Bernie Sanders voted for it, so there's that. In fact, if an audit of policies and comments were performed on all the men and women running for president, you would be hard pressed to find one without a significant blemish. A key difference here is that only Mayor Pete is being dismissed for who he loves by some of the very people who claim no one should be dismissed for who they love.
The Democrats can call it pragmatism, they can call it being politically savvy, they can call it playing the odds... just as long as they are also being honest about the nature of the friendly fire directed at Buttigieg's candidacy. Again, if his executive inexperience or lack of substantive policy talking points were the main question marks, I would not have felt compelled to write this. But that's not what I'm hearing. Yes, there is a legitimate question about whether or to the country is ready to elect a gay president. But there is also a legitimate question about whether Democrats -- for all their talk -- believe it's worth fighting for one.

Video Report - US view differs on voting confusion home & away

Video Report - Here's why Biden appeals to African-American voters

Video Report - #Warren: Buttigieg didn't answer this question


Mike Pompeo condemns attack on minorities, pinpoints to Hindus in Pakistan

The US on Wednesday condemned Pakistan for not protecting the religious freedom of its minorities, who in its case includes Hindus, as it launched an alliance of “like-minded partners who treasure, and fight for, international religious freedom for every human being”.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo made the comments during the launch of the 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance.
“We condemn terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in northeast Nigeria, or Muslims in Burma,” Pompeo said.
The top US diplomat’s statement comes after India amended a citizenship law to grant citizenship to migrants from six minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered the country after December 31, 2014.
Reports of Hindu religious sites being vandalised and frequent cases of forced conversion of Hindu girls for marriage frequently emerge from Pakistan.“We condemn blasphemy and apostasy laws that criminalise matters of the soul. We condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s hostility to all faiths. We know several of you courageously pushed back against Chinese pressure by agreeing to be part of this Alliance, and we thank you for that,” Pompeo said.Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Greece are among the prominent countries to join the alliance.“Defending the right of all people to live their lives according to their conscience is one of this administration’s top priorities,” Pompeo said in his address.
“Indeed, we must affirm, and fight for, that truth now more than ever. More than eight in 10 people in the world today live where they cannot practice their faith freely,” he said.
According to a senior State Department official, participating countries are to discuss the kind of areas that they are going to work and focus on.
“The areas will include things like technology and religious oppression, blasphemy and apostasy laws, for instance. The toolbox will include things like, whether it’s putting out statements, actions that can take place in international bodies that the group can come together and hopefully come behind, the possibilities of sanctions being used,” said the official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it is a consensual body. Every nation is not bound to join in each of the items that come forth.
“But as countries look at this and say that’s something we’re interested in, then they can join. And if they decide, look, that’s not one we’re interested in, then they won’t, and there is no penalty or foul for any of participation or non-participation,” the official said.

Students from Balochistan Fear Infection with Coronavirus If not Evacuated from Wuhan

Adnan Aamir
 Students from Balochistan fear that they can be infected with Coronavirus if they are not evacuated out of Wuhan, China. Students made this emotional appeal through social media, on Friday.
According to details shared by students, over 30 students from Balochistan and over 2,000 students from Pakistan are stranded in Coronavirus hit city of Wuhan for the last 20 days. Some of these students are living with their families in Wuhan.
Wuhan was locked down on 22nd January after the outbreak of Coronavirus, which has infected more than 31,000 people so far and 630 people have died due to this virus.
توجہ طلب

چین وہان میں بلوچستان سےتعلق رکھنے والے20سے زائد طالب علم کرونا وائرس کی وجہ سےمحصور ہیں۔

وہاں تربت سےتعلق طالب علم ریحان رشید حکومت بلوچستان سےمطالبہ کررہےہیں کہ انہیں ملک لانےکے لئیےفوری اقدامات اٹھائےجائیں۔@jam_kamal @ZahoorBuledi @Senator_Baloch @HamidMirPAK

68 people are talking about this
Condition of students in Wuhan
Rehan Rashid, a student of MBBS from Kech said, in a video shared on social media, that students are locked inside their rooms for the last 20 days and they are facing mental depression. “Our government is doing nothing to help us,” He lamented.
He further said that none of the students from Balochistan in Wuhan have contracted Coronavirus because they are locked down in their rooms for 20 days and no symptoms of virus have been discovered in any student.
The students also criticized the inaction of Pakistan’s embassy in Beijing.
Many countries including India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Egypt among others evacuated their students from Wuhan. The Pakistani government has so far refused to evacuate its residents from Wuhan.
Rashid negated the claim that the Pakistani embassy has deposited $840 in the bank account of every student.
Muslim Qadir, a student of the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences, said that even countries like Iraq and Syria have evacuated their students but Pakistan has left its students in Wuhan.
Hina Intizar, a student at Polytechnique University, said that they are not facing a problem of shortage of food. “Chinese government is taking good care of us but we do not want to be stuck in our rooms forever,” She said. “Coronavirus is spreading very rapidly and the longer we stay [in Wuhan] more we will be at risk of contracting Coronavirus,” She claimed.
No Point in Staying in Wuhan
Students claim that their Universities have postponed the new semester and there have not been any classes for the last one and half months.
“We do not expect the universities to resume classes at least for the next 4-5 months and during that time there is no point for us to stay in our hostel rooms,” claimed Rashid.
Hina Intizar claimed that their university has issued an official letter saying that they can leave for home if the Pakistani embassy gives them permission.
She rubbished the logic of the Pakistani government that students are not being evacuated to protect people in Pakistan from contracting coronavirus. “India has a population of over a billion and they also evacuated their citizens whereas Pakistan’s government is making the excuse of public safety,” she lamented.
Quarantine the Returning Students
Rehan Rashid said that students from Balochistan do not want to go back to their homes directly after returning back to Pakistan. “In Pakistan, we are ready to be put in Quarantine for 15 days to make sure that we have no coronavirus and then allow us to mix with population,” He said.
Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini also said on social media that he had suggested that students in Wuhan should be evacuated and quarantined in an isolation ward in Pakistan. “No one is listening to this demand and there seems to be no working government in Pakistan,” He lamented.
“We do not need a chartered flight for our evacuation. We will book our own plane tickets to Pakistan. We only need the permission of the government of Pakistan to leave Wuhan,” claimed Hina Intizar.

The stranded students of Balochistan have appealed to human rights organizations in Pakistan to convince the federal government to grant permission for their evacuation from Wuhan.

Parents of APS martyrs move PHC over Taliban leader’s escape

A petition was filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Saturday seeking contempt of court proceedings against several government and military officials, including the army chief, in the wake of the escape of former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan from the custody of security agencies.
The plea was filed by Fazal Khan Advocate –president of Shuhada APS Forum—on the behalf of parents and family members of the children who were martyred in the terrorist attack targeting Peshawar’s Army Public School in Dec 2014.
It also names Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, federal and provincial secretaries, as respondents for flouting the PHC’s orders that restricted authorities from releasing Ehsan.
“Despite clear cut directions of this honourable court […], now it has come to light that [a] luxurious home [was provided to Ehsan] from which the terrorist has made his escape: a fact not denied by the respondents,” reads the petition.
“The petitioner has been informed through reliable sources that clemency was in order for Ehsanullah Ehsan for his ‘full and frank disclosure’ which is not only highly deplorable but also outrightly illegal and unconstitutional,” the writ petition said, adding that the respondents had earlier assured the court that Ehsan would be tried by a military court and would not be granted clemency.
The PHC had in April 2018 barred the release of Ehsan, asking the government to wait until the relevant court tries him to decide his fate. The restriction on his release came as the court heard a petition, also by the APS Shuhuda Forum, challenging an alleged government plan to grant clemency to Ehsan.
In the petition filed on Saturday, the APS martyrs’ parents claimed that the respondents had not taken any steps to bring Ehsan to justice even though he had confessed to the school massacre along with several other heinous crimes.
“[…] Unfortunately, the demeanour of the respondents in bringing the culprits to justice is well highlighted by the fact that […] not a single step has been taken by the respondents to bring the culprits to justice…”
The respondents, “through their inaction and omission have categorically flouted the orders of this court”, reads the petition.
“The conduct of the respondents is tantamount to contempt of court as even though ample time has passed, not only have they failed to do the needful but also the respondents have not even tried to abide by the directions of this honourable court and […] the respondents have not taken any steps to adhere to the judgment of this honourable court,” the petition says.
The petition added that Ehsan’s escape had raised fear in the hearts of parents as he was responsible for the Peshawar APS massacre and the families of those who lost their lives in the attack still awaited justice.
On Friday, security officials had confirmed that Ehsanullah Ehsan had escaped from their custody during a “sensitive operation”.
Ehsan had earlier made the announcement regarding his escape in a video clip shared on the social media on Thursday.
Sources privy to the development said that Ehsan had voluntarily surrendered himself before the intelligence agencies on Feb 5, 2017. However, he started sharing sensitive information even before his arrest, they added.
After initial interrogation, Ehsan recorded his confessional statement on April 26, 2017. He revealed details pertaining to his handlers and facilitators during his captivity.
He shared extremely sensitive and important information during the interrogation, which led security forces to break Jamaatul Ahrar’s national and international terror networks, they said.
Several terrorists belonging to the proscribed outfit were also arrested as a result of intel provided by him, they added.
Ehsanullah was to be taken to book, but extracting information to take all ongoing anti-terrorism operations to their logical conclusion was necessary. “Some operations are still underway based on information shared by Ehsanullah,” said the sources, adding that during such an operation, he escaped from his captivity.
All terrorists and extremists, including Ehsanullah, would be taken to the task, said the sources.
In the video, the TTP spokesperson said that he “surrendered” before the security forces and made a signed agreement that guaranteed certain rights to him.
However, the security forces allegedly didn’t keep the promises and subsequently detained his family as well.
“My name is Ehsan and I am former member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar. On Feb 5, 2017, I handed myself into the hands of Pakistan’s security officials under an agreement and I kept that agreement on my part but I along with my family was detained by the security officials. We faced jail at least three years with patience but we made a plan to escape and finally, we successfully escaped on Jan 11, 2020,” the former spokesperson of the terrorist organisation claimed.
He also threatened the Pakistan Army that he would “disclose the details of the [alleged] agreement, its architect, and whatever transpired during his time in the jail”.
Ehsan went on to claim that he had escaped from custody on January 11, 2020, adding that he will “make clear” his future strategy after deciding it “soon”.
Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar took to Twitter to voice his concern. “Reports that TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan fled from custody highly disturbing. One of the two explanations possible; Complicity or sheer incompetence. What about massacred APS children? Jailing HR defenders and freeing self confessed terrorists. Demand explanation,” he tweeted.
Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar echoed Babar’s thoughts.
“Worrying news coming in that TTP’s Ehsanullah Ehsan has escaped. In no way can this be a result of incompetence. @OfficialDGISPR should confirm or deny this news. We demand a thorough investigation into this incident. No one is listening to our warnings about regrouping Taliban,” he tweeted.
In 2012, Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the gun attack on then 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai. She later went on to become the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was shot for defying Taliban diktats and pursuing her education and highlighting atrocities of the militant outfit.
Ehsanullah is also a prime accused in the 2014 Army Public School (APS) Peshawar attack in which 134 school children and 15 staff members were killed.
He was also involved in the suicide bombing of Shiites in Rawalpindi and Karachi, killing nine foreign tourists and their guide in Gilgit-Baltistan area.

Food Insecurity: An Imminent Threat to Pakistan

By Farahnaz Farooq Ahmed
In “The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid,” Julian Cribb put out a categorical picture of impending planetary crisis–a global food shortage that threatens to hit by the mid-century and would dwarf any in our previous experience. This threat is maybe trivial for developed countries. However, the underdeveloped countries are going to face the worst-ever food shortage crisis. Among the underdeveloped or the developing countries, Pakistan is going to be the central point.
 In the previous decade, Pakistan faced a very striking pressure only due to the food shortage and food security. A research paper published in the Pakistan Development Review, entitled, “The state of food security in Pakistan: Future challenges and coping strategies,” pointed out, “Despite significant improvement in the aggregate food supply, malnutrition is a widespread phenomenon in Pakistan. Rather, it has been argued that per capita food intake in the country has been higher than the recommended average at the national level. Nevertheless, one-third of all pregnant women were malnourished and over 25 per cent of babies had low birth weight in 2001-2. Malnutrition was a major problem responsible for more than 30 per cent of all infant and child deaths in the country in 2001-02.”
This shortage of food and food security has become worsened over time. It may have been better in the previous decades but in this decade, Pakistan is facing a low standard internationally. The third-quarter report of State Bank of Pakistan in 2019 warns Pakistan about food shortage due to climate change and increase in population. As climate changes have affected Pakistan incredibly for the last few years, they have also left a massive influence on agricultural productivity. The rapidly growing population requires food and other essential resources to survive while agriculture has changed its structure negativity and country is enduring through food shortage.
Once, Bangladesh also suffered through the same issue. But later it became attentive towards the issue and has now brought multiple changes in its food aspects. Even though Bangladesh was greatly vulnerable to climate change than Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan was one of the major exporters of wheat and basmati rice. But haplessly, due to climate change and unchecked population, it has now reached a position of food shortage.
Paradoxically, climate change has led to the consequences of food shortage. According to a UN report, Pakistan has occupied the fifth position, which has the risk of hard climate change. And it is, for sure, that the climate change will leave no opportunity in impacting agriculture, and it is doing so. Besides, as the population is increasing, people are moving towards cities in the search of jobs, better education and improved lifestyle. It is blinking to the fact that the enormous growth in population is impacting cultivable lands. Thus, the lands for agriculture are being converted to houses as everyone requires a roof over their heads. And they also require food to eat.

Climate changes have left a massive influence on Pakistan’s agricultural productivity over the years
It is known by all that inflation in Pakistan is touching the sky. Now that the wheat crisis has engulfed Pakistan from all sides, the food insecurity has burgeoned. The centre and province are at loggerheads. In between, the common man, as always, is suffering very acutely. Therefore, Pakistan is turning into a “capitalist hole.” Here, only the rich can afford to buy expensive food while the poor remain hopeless.

It is painful to narrate that the less vulnerable lands of KPK and Punjab are still achieving a net gain in agriculture. However, other parts of the country, including Balochistan, Sindh and some parts of southern Punjab have been hit worst by climate change and food shortage, which promotes child mortality and malnutrition. Balochistan, Sindh and other drought-hit areas are creating malnutrition and maladjustments. As usual, the sense of deprivation is increasing rapidly.
There are a bundle of factors leading to such an imminent threat to Pakistan. Among those factors, governance remains on the top. Secondly, the country is hopelessly corrupt. This corruption is creating hurdles in smooth and functioning management. Also, at the heart of the problem are the non-serious agricultural policies. Collectively, this nonchalant behaviour of the government in the centre and the lack of interest of the provinces are leading the country into miseries. This is not the ‘Tabdeeli’ (change) that the entire country had dreamt of.
The government and public need to work together to fight against harsh climate change. There is a dire need to halt the overpopulation and unplanned urbanisation to protect agriculture and save the citizens from food shortage. Or else, the shortage of food, increasing population and provincial disharmony would lead the country into chaos. Indeed, Pakistan, at this moment, is not in the position to face any other crisis because the already fragile economy has given it a tough time. It is rather better to do what is quoted by great musician Bono, “If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.”

How will military generals solve economic issues? Why Pakistan is stuck in a broken carousel

Since 1947, the official worldview of Pakistan’s military has shifted only within the narrow space between an Islamic nationalism and complete Islamisation.

Aquotation often misattributed to Albert Einstein defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results”. The Pakistani establishment’s assumption that control over all levers of power and a single national narrative can rid Pakistan of its myriad problems definitely matches that definition.
Pakistan’s generals see themselves as the solution to Pakistan’s problems instead of realising their own contribution to the country’s long-standing issues.
Pakistan’s praetorian establishment has run the country since its inception in 1947 on the basis of a narrow state ideology. There have been modifications, but the official worldview has shifted only within the narrow space between an Islamic nationalism and complete Islamisation. At the heart of Pakistan’s state ideology is a constant sense of insecurity, the fear that external and internal forces are out to undo Pakistan.
The country has been caught in a vicious circle. The large army inherited from the British Raj must keep this sense of insecurity alive to justify the allocation of a significant portion of the country’s resources for the military. That leaves little money for social or human development, which in turn constrains economic growth.
Economic difficulties make Pakistan dependent on assistance from outside powers, which have their own expectations and demands. These demands become fodder for conspiracy theories, which further feed the national sense of insecurity. The insecurity strengthens the military’s hand and limits debate about what really ails Pakistan.

Pakistan in deep trouble

The military’s control over Pakistan’s affairs is, once again, complete and comprehensive, as is the virtual surrender of mainstream political forces. But it is unlikely that its efforts will bring different results this time around. Pakistan’s economy remains precarious, and its international reputation is in tatters. The country’s name is in the international media for all the wrong reasons.
The US Department of Justice charged five Pakistani businessmen on 15 January for “operating an international network of front companies to export U.S.-origin products to Pakistan for use in that country’s nuclear program”.
Only last week, the Henley Passport Index ranked Pakistan’s passport as one of the worst on account of the few countries its holders can travel to without a visa. Pakistan ranked at 104 out of 107 for the third consecutive year, tied this time with Somalia. The index, which measures global access on the basis of nationality, listed only three war-torn countries — Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — below Pakistan.
Stories about human rights violations, enforced disappearances, extreme blasphemy laws and recurrent cases under them, legally inconsistent judicial rulings, and constant political strife define Pakistan for outsiders. The impact of these events within the country, too, cannot be hidden by domestic media control. After all, those who endure the atrocities, and those close to them, know what is going on in Pakistan.
Pakistan is struggling to comply with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding terror financing and money laundering to get off its grey list. But the fact that it has been grey listed more than once and that its compliance with global norms is far from consistent discourages capital inflows into the country.
Fitch, an international rating agency, recently gave Pakistan a B- rating for credit worthiness, saying that “Pakistan’s rating is constrained by structural weaknesses, reflected in weak development and governance indicators.” According to Fitch, Pakistan’s per capita GDP of $1,382 is well below the $3,470 median of countries with a ‘B’ rating. It described Pakistan’s governance quality as low, citing a poor World Bank governance indicator.
Pakistan’s external finances remain fragile even after an IMF loan and monetary assistance from friendly countries. Pakistan is expected to require external financing of more than $20 billion to make debt repayments and other needs. Although the current account deficit has reduced, it is because of a drastic reduction in imports, not because of a significant rise in exports. The reduction in imports is likely to hurt overall productivity because Pakistan’s manufacturing sector often needs imported machinery and components.
The World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report suggests that economic growth in Pakistan in fiscal year 2019-2020 will bottom out at 2.4 per cent and reach 3.9 per cent by 2021-2022 if “macroeconomic conditions improve and structural reforms support investment.”
While economists might hope for improvement in conditions in a few years due to macroeconomic reforms, the Pakistani populace is feeling the burden of galloping inflation and rising unemployment.

The issue with Pakistan’s generals

Security-driven restrictions, such as on trade with Afghanistan and India, and security-oriented policies, such as tolerance and support for Jihadi extremists, are definitely factors in Pakistan’s economic crisis. But Pakistan’s generals rarely see beyond it.
I had earlier compared Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s effort to consolidate power with similar autocracy under Pakistan’s first military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. I listed Bajwa’s expectations and his team’s hopeful assertions, assuming that my record of criticism of the Pakistani establishment would suffice for readers to realise that I did not expect these hopes to be fulfiled.
It seemed obvious to me that the latest version of a tried-and-tested formula would not succeed when its ingredients have proved insufficient for success in the past. But some Pakistani readers misunderstood my comments as ‘going soft’ or even endorsing General Bajwa. That is, of course, not the case.
As former BBC journalist Shahzeb Jilani observed, it was “a clever piece, nudging [General Bajwa] to take the long view, revisit pointless feuds, and embark on a journey of course correction”. Still, it did not stop some from wondering if I was ‘repositioning’ myself. So, I now need to lay it out, again, without any possibility of confusion.

The road ahead for Pakistan

Notwithstanding the disappointing performance of Pakistan’s mainstream politicians, I still believe that Pakistan needs civilian supremacy and rule of law under constitutional democracy. That goal can be attained more easily if Pakistan’s political parties practice internal democracy and do not accept crumbs of power from the military’s table.
Pakistan should conduct fair elections free of military-intelligence manipulation, which will lead to the rise of a civilian government that addresses Pakistan’s myriad problems without being stopped from pursuing specific courses in foreign or domestic policy. The political class should not engage in recriminations with rivals, which only strengthen the military’s hand.
More significantly, Pakistan also needs to jettison its religion-based nationalism, allow ethnic diversity to flourish, implement true federalism, end tolerance and support for jihadi terrorism, allow free thinking and stop seeing Afghanistan and India as permanent enemies.
It should invest in human capital, aim for high economic growth and improve the living standards of its people instead of obsessing over real or even imaginary security threats.
I continue to advocate a comprehensive reimagining of Pakistan with fresh policies, not another round of military-backed engineering of politics. In fact, until such reimagining, Pakistan will only witness another rotation of the carousel it has been stuck on since the 1950s.
But saying ‘B says he wants to do X’ is not the same as saying ‘B will do X’, and defining what a fundamental reimagining of Pakistan may look like cannot be the same as declaring that it will actually take place.

Shuja Nawaz’s new book explores differences between Pakistan army and radical elements

Khaled Ahmed 

The book sums up prescriptively the brainwash affecting the civil-military relationship too: “More needs to be done to turn back the forces of religious obscurantism and ritualism that have crept into Pakistani society and even the military."

Shuja Nawaz, currently a distinguished fellow, South Asia Centre, at the well-known bipartisan think-tank, the Atlantic Council, Washington DC, has published a rather revealing book, The Battle for Pakistan: The Bitter US Friendship and a Tough Neighbourhood. His 2008 warts-and-all book, Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and Wars Within, was a bestseller, but had not ruffled feathers the way his latest book has.
Strangely, he has not been able to launch his book in Pakistan this time, but his authority on the subject remains tacitly acknowledged. Maybe it is the timing that is to blame: A judge of the Supreme Court is also facing ouster by the Supreme Judicial Council for being too “critical” in his remarks over a case involving the army and an extremist religious outfit called Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan. As in his earlier book, he is objectively critical of the Pakistani military that is “around 500,000 strong, and fairly immobile; rather than seeking radical transformation, it has added layers of modernity over crusted layers of outmoded structures and thinking”. One theme that he has touched on, is the spread of radical Islam in the army which brought the affected officers closer to the enemy Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Many officers were caught after recruitment into two London-based terrorist organisations, Al Muhajiroun and Hizbut Tahrir.
The kind of warriors who infiltrated into Kashmir could not be friendly towards the Shia there — after Pakistan’s experience with Gilgit-Baltistan, from where infiltration was made into Kargil. Nawaz writes: “Via the ISI, [Pak Army] also became a party to the struggle inside Kashmir, helping train and equip Islamist fighters and militants who infiltrated and injected themselves into the battle between Kashmiris and the huge Indian military and paramilitary force that was sent to quell the insurgency in Kashmir. This approach was predicated on the idea that India could be made to pay for its hostility towards Pakistan with a war of a thousand cuts, by forcing India to deploy large numbers of troops against a small but elusive enemy in Kashmir.”
Pakistan had its own radical “hindutva” in the army when “liberal” General Musharraf was nearly killed in attempts made on his life from inside the army: “Group-think took root and prevented the kind of massive transformation of military thought and operation that was needed to cope with the new warfare, inside Pakistani territory, against its own people, against fellow Muslims who said they were fighting in the name of Islam. Potentially adding to the difficulty was the infusion into the military of deeply conservative Islamic thinking and the formation of Pir Bhai networks of spiritual bands that included civilians and military men and threatened the discipline and rank order of the military. This began in the Zia-ul-Haq period, but appears to be extant to some extent even today, according to those who follow these networks.”
Then there was the phenomenon of the Tablighi Jamaat, “a proselytising group that had already penetrated the upper echelons of the military. Two DCs of the ISI and some corps commanders had been members of this group and, like their colleagues, they favoured others from their own group. Members of the group were duty-bound to take leave of absence to do missionary work each year at home or abroad. These issues bedeviled the military’s operations and processes.”
Pakistan has rolled back Jinnah and his vision of “unity-faith-discipline”. The rollback has happened in Urdu where the first word “unity” has been pushed back to give “faith” the first place. The word faith in Jinnah’s days meant “commitment” (yaqin-e-muhkam); today, it means “iman” or Islam. Of course, India has to roll back an entire Constitution to repeat the experience of Pakistan; but the Pakistan Army could hardly resist.
The book sums up prescriptively the brainwash affecting the civil-military relationship too: “More needs to be done to turn back the forces of religious obscurantism and ritualism that have crept into Pakistani society and even the military. A battle of tweets or statements from media spokesmen for either side does not reflect well on either. The enhanced ability of the army to shape public opinion directly through liberal use of funding for contractual services by media firms and indirectly by exercising censorship directly or by using the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to exert pressure on recalcitrant media has led to charges of self-censorship by media from the Musharraf period onwards.”
The final and “scary” warning: “Trend that needs to be monitored carefully is the movement of purged or superceded intelligence officers towards militant Islamist organisations, whom they previously had been tracking or managing. Placing these joint services bodies under civilian scrutiny via parliament and adding transparency in the handling of their affairs would make their work more credible. The military needs public support to be effective. It also needs public scrutiny to become more efficient, especially as it fights the Long War against militancy and terrorism at home and faces expanding threats on its international borders.”

The United States must end its contradictory Pakistan policy

“We can provide aid to help institutional building, so that a democracy can flourish,” US President George W. Bush told Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2006, while he funneled $9 billion in military aid from 2001-2009 to Musharraf’s authoritarian military government. Washington has a long history of tacitly supporting the Pakistan Army’s unrivaled political power while publicly espousing the ideals of democracy and political pluralism. Such doublespeak only enables corrupt and unaccountable segments of the political and security establishments in Pakistan. It also impedes the United States from achieving its regional goals of democracy promotion and counterterrorism. 
This contradictory policy is deeply rooted in the Washington-Islamabad relationship, going back to the earliest decades of Pakistani independence. US aid to Pakistan skyrocketed under Mohammad Ayub Khan, Muhammad Zia al-Haq, and Pervez Musharraf, its three military rulers who suspended the democratic process and placed Pakistan under martial law for extended periods. General Zia’s military rule of Pakistan (1977-1988) saw it enlisted by Washington as a conduit to arm religious extremists and directly support the Afghan heroin trade. Such policies were implemented to combat the Soviet military’s adventurism in Afghanistan, conducted under the guise of defending Afghanistan’s then communist government. Comparatively, Pakistan’s civilian-run democratic governments suffered significant reductions in US support, particularly in the 1990s when the Soviet Union’s collapse lessened the need for a Western proxy in South Asia. 
This is not to suggest that US aid has never attempted to invest in Pakistan’s civilian democratic government, but such support is hollow. When push comes to shove, Washington intentionally utilizes the Pakistan Army’s unrivaled power and deals with it directly, consciously strengthening its unparalleled and repressive influence over Pakistani affairs. This sharp contradiction between policy and rhetoric strongly perpetuated Pakistan’s development as a hybrid military-civilian state which, even when not officially under martial law, struggles to resist the influence of the Army and security establishment in the democratic process. The overturning of Pervez Musharraf’s death sentence and General Qamar Bajwa’s three year extension as Army Chief are clear examples (among many) of this continuing power dynamic. 
Enabled by contradictory signals from Washington, elements of the Pakistani government recognize Washington’s desperation for a major ally in South Asia and exploits it to their advantage. The Army and political establishment ensure that Pakistan has used this leverage to win a steady influx of development assistance to maintain Pakistan’s relatively open economy and highly corrupt government. This huge amount of Western development assistance was neither sustainably, transparently, nor consistently used to invest in and develop Pakistan. Aid instead was often squandered or manipulated by corrupt Army and political elites, complacent in the belief that they had the United States and its foreign assistance apparatus wrapped around their finger. US acquiescence to Pakistani military politics and corruption in exchange for strong security cooperation aligned with Washington’s anti-Soviet and, later, counterterrorism goals. It then solidified into a corrupt relationship that effectively serves the interests of neither country.
Changing this dynamic requires a complete revamp of the bilateral relationship, beginning with the United States designing a prudent approach to Pakistan and actually sticking to it. If Washington’s rhetoric espouses democracy, pluralism, and human rights, then its policies should reflect those ideals. Failing to do so has and will continue to embolden corruption, instability, and human rights abuses in Pakistan. These consequences further neither Washington’s counterterrorism operations and state building efforts in Afghanistan, nor the strongly intertwined struggle for democratic governance in Pakistan. Such policy also does not lend credibility to US democracy building and support in Iraq and Sri Lanka, nor does it bolster Washington’s “open and free” Indo-Pacific Strategy
Should the United States finally choose to take and enforce a true pro-democracy stance, it could use political and economic leverage to support inclusive civilian government and much-needed Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Pakistan. Such reforms would also likely increase the effectiveness of organizations including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that have been working to combat corruption and illicit financing in Pakistan for some time. Ending its easily manipulated acquiescence to authoritarianism would also garner major international legitimacy in addition to political and economic leverage. With a more credible threat to revoke economic or military aid if human rights and inclusive political processes are not respected, Official Development Assistance (ODA) and security assistance packages could finally have real teeth to pressure the Army, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and other security branches to submit to oversight and reform.
A rethink of US policy towards Pakistan would ideally be accompanied by a good faith Pakistani effort to implement structural reform. First, in conjunction with comparable US pressure on New Delhi, Islamabad should support high-level political engagement with Indian and Kashmiri leaders to open a real dialogue on longstanding geopolitical conflicts. Second, the political and security establishment in Islamabad must end its human rights abuses against political opposition, journalists, religious, ethnic, and gender minorities. Third, the Pakistan Army must be subject to oversight by the Pakistani people vis-a-vis an accountable democratic process. Fourth, development assistance packages should be invested sustainably and transparently into areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Finally, and perhaps with the help of international anti-corruption bodies, public sector theft that cripples state capacity must be addressed in a sustainable manner.
No one suggests that the changes suggested above would be easy. Indeed, analyses of seventy years of US-Pakistani bilateral relations are rife with like-minded calls for reform on both sides of the relationship, and a hard-learned cynicism about the prospects for either nation mustering the courage to enable real and lasting reforms. Yet, as the debate over Western acquiescence to authoritarianism in strategically important countries gains traction, Washington will soon have to reckon with what it actually stands for and is willing to enforce consistently. Only then can the United States effectively work with Pakistan. Otherwise, this bilateral relationship will continue to be bogged down with deception and false promises that serve the long-term interests of neither Islamabad nor Washington.

Why is Pakistan’s military repressing a huge, nonviolent Pashtun protest movement?

Madiha Afzal

On January 27, a man named Manzoor Pashteen was arrested in the middle of the night in Peshawar. He faced five charges, including sedition, criminal conspiracy, attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, and promoting ethnic hatred. Pashteen is the young leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement, or the PTM: a non-violent protest movement demanding rights for Pashtuns in Pakistan’s former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Days after Pashteen’s arrest, PTM activists — elderly women among them — protesting for his release in front of the press club in Islamabad were arrested and also charged with sedition. Those activists were released on bail after a few days, but Pashteen remains under arrest.
The coverage of his two-year-old movement is censored in Pakistan. Newspapers and TV outlets are not allowed to report on the huge rallies the movement holds — with attendees numbering in the tens of thousands — or to air the movement’s demands. In a state that has routinely negotiated with right-wing Islamists who take to the streets, why have the PTM’s members been repeatedly arrested, and why does this movement of dissenters present such a challenge to its military?
The movement alleges grave human rights violations by Pakistan’s military against Pashtuns in the country’s northwest. It says that Pashtuns have been the target of violence at the hands of both the Taliban and the Pakistani military for two decades. The movement claims that the military has killed innocent civilians in its operations against the Pakistani Taliban, and that it needs to answer for “missing persons.” It also contends that Pashtuns are regularly harassed at checkpoints and treated with suspicion, and that landmines continue to make their lives insecure.
These complaints festered for years before the movement was officially created in 2018. In 2015, while conducting interviews for my book, I met Pashtun students in Lahore who told me that the army’s ongoing, multi-year military operation — Zarb-e-Azb — was not what it seemed from outside the tribal areas.
The PTM demands a truth and reconciliation commission to address claims of extrajudicial killings and missing persons. The movement also claims that the military supported Pakistani Taliban (also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) militants, and its leaders have said — most explosively — that after the military claims to have decimated the Pakistani Taliban in Zarb-e-Azb, “the Taliban are being allowed to return” to the tribal areas in a “secret deal with the military.” One of its slogans translates to: “This terrorism— behind it is the uniform.”The military categorically rejects these claims, arguing that the movement is dangerous and that its rhetoric threatens Pakistan’s constitution. PTM leaders argue, in turn, that they are only asking for their constitutional rights. Two of the PTM’s leaders, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, were elected parliamentarians in the July 2018 election that also brought Prime Minister Imran Khan to power, giving the movement some parliamentary representation. Yet last May, after a protest turned violent (the PTM claims soldiers shot unarmed protesters; the state claims the protesters shot first), Dawar and Wazir were arrested and spent four months under detention.
While sources have corroborated some of the PTM’s claims regarding missing persons and civilian deaths at the hands of the military, the assertion that Taliban militants are being allowed to return to these areas — some carrying weapons — remains mostly uncorroborated. This is in large part due to the fact that army has a kept a chokehold on the tribal areas, shuttling in journalists and officials for sanitized tours of the region. The army does not allow anyone except locals free rein to see for themselves the full effects of its kinetic operations against the Pakistan Taliban.
While the number of TTP attacks has fallen dramatically — lending credence to the military’s story — and the military has lost thousands of soldiers in operations against the Pakistani Taliban, some reports do claim that members of the TTP have been given amnesty in return for sharing intelligence, and allowed to return to the area. But these are sporadic accounts, largely due to the lack of access that the military provides to these areas.