Archive | October 17th, 2009

South Waziristan Op finally begins…

PKonweb Report

More than two army divisions (30,000 soldiers) launched a much-awaited ground offensive early Saturday morning in South Waziristan tribal area - suspected of being an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold along the Afghan border. It is expected that more than 90 thousand people will migrate to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan as a result of the ongoing military operation. Some ffficials said over 5000 terrorists are present in the area, most of them hiding in the Mehsud region of Waziristan belt.

The US is racing to send in night-vision goggles and other equipment to aid the latest operation, AP reported today.

The offensive in South Waziristan follows months of air strikes intended to soften up militant defenses that also forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee. Up to 150,000 civilians have already left in recent months after the army made clear it was planning an assault.

Pakistani security forces have fought three unsuccessful campaigns since 2001 in the region, which is the nerve-center for Pakistani insurgents fighting the government. It is also a major base for foreign militants planning attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan and on targets in the West as per claims by the US.

The region is remote and mountainous. It has a leaky border with Afghanistan and fiercely independent tribes who have long resisted government interference. With winter snows just weeks away, the army has limited time to pursue a major ground attack there, and even if it does manage to wipe out its intended targets, it’s unclear whether troops will occupy the area or for how long.

In a previous interview with AP, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the assault would be limited to slain Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s holdings – a swath of territory that stretches roughly 3,310 square kilometres.

The plan is to capture and hold the area where Abbas estimates 10,000 insurgents are headquartered and reinforced with about 1,500 foreign fighters, most of them of Central Asian origin. ‘There are Arabs, but the Arabs are basically in the leadership, providing resources and expertise and in the role of trainers,’ he said.

Communications in and around the region appeared jammed, making it difficult to reach local residents or other witnesses, NY Times report said.

The army expects the militants to use guerrilla tactics including ambushes, suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Despite sometimes rocky relations with the Pakistani military, the US is trying to rush in equipment that would help with mobility, night fighting and precision bombing, a US Embassy official told The Associated Press in a recent interview, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue is politically sensitive.

In addition to night-vision devices, the Pakistan military has said it is seeking additional Cobra helicopter gunships, heliborne lift capability, laser-guided munitions and intelligence equipment to monitor cell and satellite telephones.

The army has considered the weather in the timing the offensive. Snows in the region could block major roads. At the same time, a harsh winter could work to the army’s advantage by driving fighters out of their unheated mountain hideouts.

Reports have said the US and Nato have been pushing Pakistan to launch the offensive prior to the onset of winter.

US President Obama has repeatedly said the security of the United States and Pakistan are tied.

On March 27, 2009, President Obama noted, ‘Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safehaven in Pakistan..’

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Butt caught between rock and hard place

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‘Red book’ on terrorists compiled

The Crimes Investigation Department (CID) of the Federal Police has prepared a ‘red book’ which contains data of terrorists wanted for different acts of subversion, including suicide attacks, according to a copy of the document obtained by DawnNews channel.

The book contains profiles of almost 70 wanted terrorists suspected of sowing death and destruction in Islamabad, including the Marriot Hotel bombing of Sept 20 last year. No suspect mentioned in the book carries any bounty on his head.

Copies of the ‘red book’ have been sent to all law enforcement agencies, including the interior ministry.

According to the book, 28-year-old Syed Ibraruddin, a resident of Sector D-3, Phase-1 Hayatabad, Peshawar, is the most wanted suspect for the Marriot Hotel suicide attack.

Two accomplices of Ibrar, Rana Ishfaq (32), resident of Chak No 179, Tehsil Samundri, District Faisalabad, and Mohammad Imran (36), resident of Sector D-1, Hayatabad, Peshawar, complete the list of ‘big three’.

According to intelligence agencies, the three masterminded the Marriott bloodbath. Ibraruddin and Mohammad Imran are members of the Harkatul Mujahideen (HUM) while Rana Ishfaq belongs to Harkatul Jihad Islami.

The HUM was active in occupied Kashmir during the late 90s. Washington placed it on a list of outlawed groups in 1997.

The organisation later splintered into offshoots like Harkatul Ansar. Waqas Ahmed (23) is the sixth most wanted man on the list. The clean-shaven Waqas is a member of Harkatul Jihad Islami.

The book contains only sketchy information about militant organisations operating in the country.

The name of Aqeel Ahmed alias Dr Usman, now known far and wide for leading the siege of the General Headquarters (GHQ), is conspicuous for finding no mention at all in the roll-call of terror masterminds.

After the GHQ attack, it was given out that Aqeel Ahmed was wanted for the Marriott Hotel strike, too.

NO BOUNTY: The CID’s red book differs from similar documents published hitherto in that it is silent on money matters, there is no word on bounty for leads about the outlaws.

Sources said the interior ministry had received letters from the Islamabad police requesting announcement of bounties. The ministry has started consultations on the matter, the sources added.

{Source: Dawn}

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PNCA lays out red carpet for local artists

The Pakistan National Council of the Arts hosted a red carpet reception on Friday night in honour of local actors, musicians, painters, playwrights, writers and poets.

Scores of girls and boys dressed in a variety of regional costumes showered flower petals while Faqir Wahid, the son of legendary Alghoza player Allan Faqir, played welcome tunes as men of culture entered the portal of National Art Gallery.

PNCA Director-General Tauqir Nasir said he wanted creative people to feel as important as state guests.

‘The intention of laying out the red carpet is to remove the distance between the creative people and the PNCA, because in a sense they are the real owners of this house of culture.’

He said they could restore the prestige of Pakistan, which unfortunately was subject to vibes and criticism, by acting, singing, painting and writing.

A standing ovation was given to the famed actor Mohammad Qavi when he came on the stage pleading with the DG: ‘The artists should be treated as VIPs. They should be given 50 per cent concession in air fares, free treatment in government hospitals and accommodation in state lodges to lighten their economic burden.’ He hoped that the PNCA chief would press their case with the government.

Actress Laila Zuberi asked him for raising enough money for the treatment of famed musicians like Mehdi Hasan.

Poet and social activist Kishwar Naheed reminded the audience that the plot of land for NAG was allotted by Benazir Bhutto.

Painter Mansur Rahi appreciated the gesture that a function was also arranged at Lahore during the seventh paintings biennale.

A musical evening was also arranged on the occasion. Eminent vocalist Ghulam Abbas interpreted two famous ghazals — Kaisay voh sharmaye and Voh to ajaye magar. Allan Faqir’s son Wahed sang Allah Allah and Abdur Rauf sang O Raja Jee. The concert began with a patriotic song from Mohammad Afzal Machiswala.

The orchestra consisted of Ijaz Husaion on tabla, Sanni on dholak, Suleman Adil on bansri (flute), Umeed Ali on harmonium, Amir Husain on sitar and Zahid Ali on keyboard.

{Source: Dawn}

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Pak successfully tests Tsunami warning system

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), under a UN-backed initiative, successfully tested the effectiveness of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS) at the southern coastal line of Thatta in Sindh.

The testing was followed by a rescue drill for evacuating coastal area residents from the most vulnerable to safer places, establishment of relief camps and damage assessment practices.

The exercise to test the warning systems and overall preparedness of nations in the region, was supposed to simulate the magnitude 9.15 quake that struck off Aceh on Dec. 26, 2004, setting off a devastating tsunami.

Hundreds of people living in coastal areas including main city of Ketibandar participated in the rescue drill while it was followed by a capacity building and awareness activity for local disaster management authorities, volunteers and media persons.

Briefing the media here on Friday, NDMA Director Preparedness and Mitigation Amir Muhiuddin said the exercise, conducted in collaboration with UNESCO, helped increase preparedness and improve coordination throughout the coastal region. He added that it provided an opportunity for the Indian Ocean countries to test their operational lines of communications, review their tsunami warning and emergency response standard operating procedures, and promote emergency preparedness.

He said the simulated tsunami will be extended in real time across the entire Indian Ocean, taking approximately 12 hours to travel from Indonesia to the coast of South Africa.

He said the exercise also provided an opportunity to test national standard operating procedures and the operational lines of communication between the NTWCs and JMA and PTWC.

Several member states have indicated that they intend to conduct the exercise through community level, including limited evacuation of selected coastal communities.

{Source: APP}

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50 MINUTE with Abdul Rauf on Geo: OCT 16

85,000 accidents in Pakistan from Sept 2006 to March 2009; Traffic violations and rule of law in Pakistan; Guests: Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Zulfiqar Ali Chaudhary, Arif Mahmood, Intizar Jafri and Ufaq Gillani

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KAALAM KAAR on Express Tv: OCT 16

Is India behind the most recent terror attacks in Lahore, Peshawar, Kohat or are these people inside our society? Should govt discuss with the Taliban? Abbas Ather discusses these issues with Colmnists Abdul Qadir Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami and Dr. A R Khalid

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Waziristan Ops and army’s security briefings to politicians prior to it. Guests: Ameer Muqam (PML-Q), Raza Rabbani (Senator PPP), Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais (Prof LUMS) and Bashir Ahmed Bilour (ANP)

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JAWAB DEYH with Iftikhar Ahmed: OCT 16

Discussion on civil-military relationship in Pakistan in the backdrop of emerging democracy in the country and the passage of Kerry-Lugar Bill which contains several army-specific conditionalities. Guests: Ex-Army Chief Gen (R) Ali Kuli Khan, Shafqat Mehmood (Analyst)

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Callers’ Day: Duo Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas take calls from viewers including update on status of condition of head constable police who was seriously in Taliban operation.

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Haqqani spares US publication; sues The Nation!

Mr. Husain Haqqani, Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, has served a legal notice of Rs. 1 billion against the Editor-in-Chief of The Nation for publishing a report titled, “If Fired, Haqqani Threatens To Unveil ‘Reams’ of Pakistan’s Secrets”, written by Ahmed Quraishi and published on Oct. 14, 2009. The legal notice was received at the offices of TheNation in Lahore. He also used the platform of the official news agency, APP, to distribute the full text of the notice. Mr. Haqqani is demanding an apology and retraction and is threatening to press charges if his demands are not met.

This is TheNation’s response to his legal notice:

Ambassador Husain Haqqani has chosen the safer course of suing a Pakistani newspaper [TheNation] and spared an American news publication [Foreign Policy magazine] that originally published the information in the report in question. This alone demonstrates that Ambassador Haqqani’s purpose in serving this legal notice is damage-control inside Pakistan more than anything else, and he wants to do this at the cost of TheNation. By sparing the American publication and targeting us, Ambassador Haqqani is making a political statement for the consumption of the domestic audience in Pakistan. Ironically, Mr. Haqqani, who has worked for several US media organizations at different times during his stay in the United States, chose to give a pass to his American colleagues and instead targeted TheNation, a newspaper that gave unprecedented space to his views and positions many years ago when he was not as well known as he is today.

Ambassador Haqqani’s legal notice begins with the claim that, “The services of Mr. Haqqani for Pakistan military are undeniable as because of his sheer hard work, dedication and excellent diplomatic skills Pakistan secured F-16 from USA.”

The truth is that public and official record of the Government of Pakistan will confirm that the contract for the supply of 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft was signed between Pakistan and US governments on September 30, 2006 after a long series of negotiations and with predetermined delivery schedule. All Mr. Haqqani did is to pursue an existing project, which is a responsibility that came to him as part of his official duties as Ambassador. So this attempt by the Ambassador to use the legal notice against us for self-serving propaganda does not stand.

As for what Ambassador Haqqani describes in his legal notice as his ‘services for the Pakistani military’, it is enough to quote the wording of a question that an American television anchor posed to Ambassador Haqqani in a recent interview he gave to the TV show ‘Frontline’ on PBS [] where the American anchor asks as follows [transcription available at the website]:

“You [Ambassador Haqqani] have said over the years that one of the reasons that the Pakistanis haven’t been able to get at the Taliban is because the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] has protected them, that Musharraf’s ISI has protected the Taliban.”

This is just one sample of the ‘reams’ of his writings and interviews where he has accused Pakistan’s military and intelligence services of various allegations.

It would also have been part of acceptable journalistic discourse to raise such questions about various existing reports, some recent and some not so recent, that allegedly accuse Mr. Ambassador of misconduct especially in the case of a classified letter to ISI chief written by Ambassador Haqqani in July that ended up being revealed by an Indian news organization in New Delhi, and whose content was exclusively damaging for the ISI and Pakistan’s military.

Raising all of these questions, responsibly and with proper attribution to evidence both hard and circumstantial, is part of journalism and part of the art of political analysis.

TheNation in its report, however, did not raise any of the above. All it did was to quote an interview that Ambassador Haqqani himself gave to a prestigious American publication, Foreign Policy magazine, published on its online edition and available there, and which Mr. Haqqani has not denied to date.

The remainder of the legal notice is as misleading as this deliberately false introductory remark about the Ambassador’s role in securing F-16 jets. The other points are as follows:

1. Mr. Haqqani lists ten different quotes from TheNation’s report to conclude they are ‘devastatingly defamatory.’ Ironically, he accuses TheNation of defamation when the publication was in fact reproducing, with due acknowledgement, an article published in the prestigious American magazine, Foreign Policy, which ran a story on Oct. 12, 2009, titled, ‘ Exclusive: Pakistan ambassador says he hasn’t been fired (yet?) . [Link:].

2. The American writer authored his piece with the stated understanding that the article is based on a telephone interview that Ambassador Haqqani gave to the American writer. Ambassador Haqqani has not sent a denial or a legal notice to the American writer who has written the following line in his article and which The Nation reproduced in the report verbatim: “These sources also say that Haqqani has reams of documents that could embarrass the forces aligned against him and sacking him could open up a Pandora’s box of controversy that the government would not appreciate, which he might do if forced to defend himself after being fired”.

3. TheNation, while professionally and faithfully adhering to journalistic norms, not only printed the paragraph as it is, but it also ensured that the word ‘Reams’ used in the title of TheNation’s report is kept in parentheses in order to signify that we are quoting, and not conjecturing.

4. Why does Ambassador Haqqani not sue his friends in the US media for a paragraph they have published and which he finds objectionable when a Pakistani newspaper picks it? Was the purpose of the said paragraph [which amounts to blackmail in the analysis of most people who read it] to send a message to the Pakistani government and other players including the military, and the paragraph was not supposed to be published or reproduced in the Pakistani media?

5. The clauses (i) through (vii) in the legal notice [the quotes from TheNation report] are legitimate, carefully-worded and well-reasoned journalistic reporting based on what an American news publication has published, which in turn was based on an interview with Ambassador Haqqani and which he has not denied until now.

6. The clauses (viii) and (ix) are direct quotes from a source in Washington that spoke to TheNation’s reporter by telephone. In utmost professionalism and in the interest of full transparency, TheNation’s report made sure to disclose to its readers the nature of the source being quoted in order to demonstrate why the quotes were relevant. TheNation’s report introduced the authoritative source in Washington as follows: “A retired US military officer, well informed about Pakistan-related diplomacy in Washington. This officer does not want to be named here because his work entails direct contacts with the governments of Pakistan, the United States and the embassy of Pakistan in Washington.”

7. The portions of the report that are not direct quotes were written by TheNation’s reporter. These are carefully-worded and well-reasoned findings and conclusions that seamlessly sync with the information being quoted in the report from different publicly available news sources and are based on a calibrated analysis of the news. These portions of the report passed through a process of fact-checking by seasoned and experienced journalists at TheNation, which is one of the largest media houses in the country.

8. Mr. Haqqani asserts that TheNation’s report gives the impression - and we quote from the legal notice - that “the Honourable Ambassador is involved in and is guilty of wrongdoing, that the Ambassador is conspirator, corrupt, dishonest, unethical, immoral and lacks integrity.” This interpretation by Mr. Haqqani of TheNation’s report is malicious, seeks to raise a false alarm, and is a deliberate distortion of the professional effort that has gone into writing the published report. Nowhere in TheNation’s report has the reporter used or alluded to any of the adjectives claimed by Mr. Haqqani in his legal notice.

9. In discharging his duty of presenting credible and well sourced information and analysis, written in a manner that would help contribute to an ongoing national debate on a matter of immense importance to Pakistanis and to Pakistan’s national security, the reporter has not, as explained above, indulged in any reckless conjecturing or the use of known and recognizable defamatory language. The question that TheNation would publish and apology does not arise.

Ambassador Haqqani’s legal notice is an attempt at diverting attention from the inflammatory report published by an American publication based on an interview that Mr. Haqqani gave to it. Mr. Ambassador is seeking to punish TheNation for highlighting the said information in the best interest of a raging debate on a matter of national importance to all Pakistanis. The Ambassador should press charges against the prestigious American Foreign Policy magazine, if he can, for publishing the remarks that he seeks to dispute.

{Source: The Nation}

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Hakimullah Mehsud behind current attacks

The increase in the number of terrorist attacks in the NWFP, the Punjab and Islamabad could be due to the rise of Hakimullah Mehsud, the new leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

In fact, his appointment as the TTP head following Baitullah Mehsud’s death in a US drone attack on August 5 had alarmed those who knew him, had met him or followed his career as a militant. They were concerned that Hakimullah was a far more dangerous and unpredictable man than Baitullah. He was also different than Maulana Waliur Rahman, the second most important TTP commander who is considered a mature person.

In fact, some TTP supporters wished that Waliur Rahman, who in the past was associated with Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s JUI-F, would become the new chief of the organisation and steer it towards a constructive course instead of pursuing its destructive path. Waliur Rahman eventually became the head of the TTP in its South Waziristan stronghold and appears to be actively involved in the planning of the attacks by the Taliban militants across the country.

However, the force behind the suicide bombings and the more spectacular attacks by groups of militants on military and police installations could be Qari Hussain, a cousin of Hakimullah. He seems to have been given a free hand to plan and execute attacks now that Hakimullah is the TTP boss. Qari Hussain is often called Ustad-e-Fidayeen, or teacher of the suicide bombers who are admiringly referred to as Fidayeen by the militants for sacrificing their lives for a cause.

On at least three occasions in the past, Qari Hussain was pronounced dead by civil and military officials and the claim was duly published in sections of the press. But he is alive and reporters who recently interviewed Hakimullah and Waliur Rahman in Srarogha area in South Waziristan also met him. However, he as usual refused to grant an interview or be photographed.

Hakimullah, who is in his late 20s, is different than Qari Hussain, as he has been granting interviews and allowing photographers and camera crews to take his pictures. A militant who attended the ceremony where he got engaged to a girl in Orakzai Agency recalled that Hakimullah asked his men jokingly to listen to the BBC Urdu service that evening as it may broadcast news of his engagement. He thought Hakimullah felt that anything he did or said was important enough to be carried by the media. The engagement ceremony itself showed Hakimullah’s boisterous nature as his fighters used heavy weapons to fire in the air and hosted a feast to celebrate the occasion.

Hakimullah had threatened to avenge Baitullah’s death. The attacks on the military, including the one against the GHQ in Rawalpindi, could be described as part of its campaign of revenge as the TTP has been arguing that the US drones carry out the attacks in Waziristan with the cooperation of Pakistan’s security forces. But the attacks on police and other law-enforcement agencies are apparently aimed at creating demoralisation in their ranks and showing the power of the TTP and its Jihadi allies from Punjab. Then there are the terrorist strikes in public places where common people are killed and private properties are destroyed. These are designed to create fear and make the government appear helpless. Or it is possible that the suicide bombers carry out such attacks in bazaars after being stranded and unable to reach their intended targets.

{Source: The News}

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FRONTLINE with Kamran Shahid: OCT 16

US Ambassador Anne Patterson’s interview on Kerry-Lugar Bill; How civil-military relationship will pan out after passage of KLB with rider explanatory statement from Kerry. Guests: Asma Arbab Alamgir (PPPP) and Hanif Abbasi (PML-N), Aysha Siddiqa (Defense Analyst), Gen (R) Hameed Gul (Ex-DG ISI)

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India caucus behind tough terms in KL bill

The 152-member Indian Congressional caucus, which includes a number of influential Democratic and Republican lawmakers, played a key role in inserting strict conditions and an offending language in the aid to Pakistan bill, says the influential Wall Street Journal newspaper.

Although unusually tough on pro-Indian US lawmakers, the WSJ editorial is not the only media piece that seeks to blame someone for turning a goodwill gesture — a $7.5 aid package aimed at deepening friendship with Pakistan — into a public relations disaster.

The prestigious ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine blames all: the bill’s sponsors, the Obama administration and the Pakistani government.

‘Richard Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, should have seen this one coming,’ wrote a Washington Post columnist.

‘Pakistanis might be forgiven for wondering whether, with friends like these in Washington, who needs enemies?’ wrote Simon Tisdall, former US editor for Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

He noted that Congressman Howard Berman’s comments that they were reluctant to send US dollars ‘down a rat hole’ were ‘condemned as insulting and colonialist in Pakistan’.

Mr Berman chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is one of the co-authors of the final bill.

‘By linking the cash to tighter civilian control of Pakistan’s military, Washington was trying, clumsily, to strengthen Asif Ali Zardari’s government. But it achieved the exact opposite,’ Mr Tisdall noted.

‘Pakistan is already so destabilised by US actions since 9/11 that it cannot be left to fend for itself. In such tortuous logic is found the death of empires,’ he warned.

The WSJ explained that the original Senate draft did not have the conditions that stirred protests across Pakistan. They were inserted in the House bill and Congressman Berman demanded that they stay in the final bill too.

‘The California Democrat was backed by Gary Ackerman, Jane Harman and the 152-strong India caucus in the House, who wanted to send Pakistan their own message. None of the contentious language was in the Senate version, and the administration and these columns warned Congress to keep it out,’ WSJ wrote.

The newspaper noted that tripling US aid to $7.5 billion over five years ‘would have been an easy diplomatic win’, if House Democrats hadn’t insisted on sticking ‘a gratuitous thumb in the eye of Pakistani national pride’ by tying the aid to specific benchmarks.

‘Now Pakistan is angry just when we need influence there. So much for smart power!’

Commenting on the adverse reaction to the bill in Pakistan, WSJ noted: ‘For good reason, as subsequent events show. Pakistan’s military, media and opposition parties have seized on the House language to attack America’s supposed designs on the country. The government of President Asif Zardari, which backed the aid and wants closer ties with the US, finds itself on the back foot. Recent gains toward strengthening civilian rule and fighting the Taliban are in jeopardy.’

{Source: Dawn}

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Musharraf gifts of state-land resound in Parliament

The Parliament resounded on Thursday with voices challenging the allotment of thousands of acres of state land by Musharraf to bureaucrats, politicians and his own staff members.

Unfortunately the civilian and military authorities are keeping mum over the allotment of over 15,000 kanals in violation of the policy and rules. While the government has no land to offer to civilian victims and martyrs of non-military security agencies personnel who lost their lives in the post-9/11 terrorist attacks, there is no attempt to cancel those allotments made out of the state land meant for war veterans and families of martyrs in the Punjab and the Frontier.

On the contrary, the government has been found involved in doling out state land to its favourites in regular CDA sectors whereas Sindh has sold hundreds of acres of government land particularly in Karachi at throwaway prices to well connected ones and the blue-eyed.

Interestingly, it was the Punjab that had moved to get cancelled the military state-land that was allotted to civilian employees of the province by Musharraf. It too later got cold feet and did not move despite even writing to the civilian recipients of these plots to surrender the land to the military.

Musharraf doled out hundreds of acres of agriculture state land to over 70 employees of the Aiwan-e-Sadr and revenue officials of the respective districts where the land was allotted during his stay in the office of the head of the state.

He also distributed like sweets hundreds of acres of land to dozens of civilian Revenue Department and other officials in Punjab and Frontier besides giving 1,200 kanals of land to two key leaders of a political party in the name of their close associates — all civilians (not even government officials).

The agriculture land allotted by Musharraf to his staff members varied from plot size 12.5 acres to 30 acres per person. Most of this land allotted belongs to Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Dera Ismail Khan. The lucky allottees include several revenue officials of these districts.It is said that they were given the plots for the reason that the land allotted to Presidency officials should be taken care of.

Besides some of the genuine allotments made to some military officials attached with Musharraf as his personal staff a number of brigadiers, colonels, majors and even captains were allotted military land meant for martyrs, etc. Fifteen to 20 gunmen of Musharraf’s security were also amongst the beneficiaries.

A total of 47 revenue officials and other members of the civilian bureaucracy in Punjab alone were allotted 6,700 kanals of land. The Punjab took notice of these allotments. Besides directing the concerned military authorities to ensure that the military land allotted to the civilian officers is not further sold, the recipients (Punjab civil officials) were asked to surrender the land allotted to them in order to avoid a possible disciplinary action.

The most controversial part of the former dictator’s largesse on state land, which was earmarked for military martyrs and war veterans, was the allotment of 1,200 kanals land made in violation of the law and policy to six persons closely associated with a senior leader of a political party and one of the top officials of the then NWFP government.

{Source: The News}

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Pandemonium greets NRO in Senate, NA

In a major move, the government Friday tabled the much controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) before both the houses amid slogans of ‘shame, shame’ from the Opposition benches.

The ordinance was tabled before both the houses of the Parliament in the light of July 31 verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan wherein the court had directed the government to table some 37 ordinances promulgated by former president Gen. (Retd) Pervez Musharraf during his tenure following November 3 emergency, besides declaring them illegal and unconstitutional.

Both the sessions of the National Assembly and Senate were prorogued for an indefinite period without holding debate on the controversial NRO, which was agitated by the MPs sitting on the Opposition benches.

The National Reconciliation Ordinance was tabled before the House and subsequently referred to the concerned standing committee. The Ordinance was promulgated by former president Gen.(Retd) Pervez Musharraf to give benefit to the politicians involved in criminal and civil nature cases during 1997 to 2007. Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan tabled the Ordinance in National Assembly.

Soon after tabling of the NRO, Pakistan Muslim League (Q) central leader Ch. Pervaiz Elahi demanded of the government to table names of all those before the house who had benefited from this ordinance.

Amid uproar and pandemonium, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi prorogued the NA session for an indefinite period after reading out the Presidential Order. The Opposition benches started thumping desks and raised slogans against NRO.

Later talking to media persons at the Parliament House, Ch Pervaiz Elahi said that his party would cast vote against NRO in the Parliament and all other available fora.

He said that they had derived no benefit from NRO and everybody knew the stance of their party on it. NRO was against country’s interest and it was promulgated in specific scenario, he added.

{Source: The Nation}

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‘75pc Pakistanis against US policies’

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Syed Munawar Hassan on Friday claimed that more than 75 percent people living in Pakistan are against the United States policies, saying that a massive participation is expected in the JI referendum against Kerry Lugar bill scheduled for October 23.

Talking to TheNation, the JI chief said that the “Go America Go” campaign was getting popular in the country, adding that his efforts to unite all anti-American forces in the country to a single platform had not been yielded fruits so far.

“PPP led ruling coalition including the JUI-F, ANP and MQM are the part of pro-American policies of the government, while the PML-N is paying lip service to the US as its leadership has preferred to stay in Model town to coming out to the street against the US policies,” he claimed.

He strongly criticized Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s recent visit to the US, saying that he had utterly failed to convey reservations of the Pakistani nation on Kerry Lugar Bill to the to US government.

The JI chief said that the JI had stepped up its efforts for a referendum on the Kerry Lugar Bill scheduled for October 23, saying that in the referendum, public opinion would be sought on the controversial bill, the drone attacks, the killings of innocent tribal people, the Black Water network presence in Pakistan, the expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad and the pro-US policies of the government in exchange for personal interests.

He said that a total of 40 million ballot papers had been prepared to elicit public response, out of which about 10 million ballot papers had been issued for Sindh, adding that 5,000 referendum centres would be established across the country while more than 1,000 polling station would be set up in Sindh out of which 500 polling stations would be set up in Karachi alone.

He said that JI Central Secretary General Liaquat Baloch had been appointed as Chief Referendum Commissioner whereas all provincial chiefs would perform as provincial Commissioners. The central and provincial JI offices will monitor the referendum.

Syed Munawar Hassan said that directives had been issued to all wings of the party to organise public and educate them about the objectives and significance of the referendum to make it a success.

“Public opinion will be sought through ballot papers to be provided to them at public places including bazaars, transport, offices, factories, trains and airports,” he added.

He said that Kerry-Lugar Bill would put country’s sovereignty, integrity and freedom at stake and would insult each and every citizen of the country. He alleged that the bill is tantamount to give Army, security agencies and other departments into American control.

However, the JI Sindh has finalised its strategy to involve the masses in the referendum and hundreds of thousands handbills have been printed to raise awareness among people about the referendum. In this regard, the party has planned corner meetings, protests and screening movies against the US brutality to motivate people into participation in the JI campaign against the Kerry Lugar bill.

{Source: The Nation}

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38 Armed Men Held in Karachi

Karachi police on Friday claimed to have averted a possible bloodshed by terrorists by arresting 38 armed men from an abandoned factory located on the outskirts of Karachi.

Landhi Police chief Sultan Haider told newsmen the men entered Karachi on trucks and might be planning terror attacks in the country’s economic hub and all of them hailed from the troubled NWFP province and tribal area.

“The men were wearing uniforms of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and have neither National Identity Card (NIC) nor any other identification papers with them. During interrogation they claimed that all of them belonged to a security agency,” Sultan said.

A heavily armed police party after a tip-off from residents of the area about the presence of a large number of suspicious men, surrounded the place and arrested the men who surrendered without any resistance.

Haider said the police also recovered a huge quantity of arms including Klashinkovs and latest communication equipment as well as jihadi literature from the possession of the men who had no licences for their weapons.

Security had been tightened in Karachi following spate of terror attacks in NWFP and Punjab and warnings from Islamabad of possible terror attacks within next few days to create law and order situation in the city as hundreds of militants may enter the city fleeing from tribal areas.

The warning was taken seriously by the Sindh government and extra police and Rangers were deployed at sensitive facilities on Wednesday especially at entry and exit points of the city.

Some of the high-value target areas of the city have virtually become ‘no-go areas’ for general public as the authorities have blocked roads leading to important buildings with containers, water tankers and articulated lorries.

The provincial government has also banned pillion-riding in Karachi and Hyderabad for the next 30 days.

{Source: Khaleej Times}

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Talk Shows

    October 22, 2009 | 2:06 am

    NRO and level of corruption among political leaders specially PPP and PML-N leaders. Guests: Syed Talat Hussain (Anchorman), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (PML-N) and Fouzia Wahab (PPP)

    October 22, 2009 | 1:26 am

    A MUST WATCH: Attack on Islamic University in Islamabad; Was Indo-Israeli axis behind it?; Guests: Qazi Hussain Ahmed (Ex-Ameer JI), Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali (PPP), Sen Zahid Khan (ANP)

    October 21, 2009 | 9:28 am

    A MUST WATCH: How intrusive are the conditions and clauses of Kerry-Lugar Bill. Who will implement the reforms mandated in it? Guests: Imran Khan (Chairman PTI), Qamaruzzama Kaira (PPP), Maria Sultan (Defense Analyst), Ishaq Dar (PML-N)

  • OFF THE RECORD with Kashif Abbasi on ARY: OCT 20
    October 21, 2009 | 8:55 am

    NRO and Transparency Intl’s latest report on Corruption in Pakistan which has increased by 600 pct. Guests: Syed Khurshid Shah (PPP), Javed Hashmi (PML-N) and Ahmad Bilal Mehboob (PILDAT)

    October 21, 2009 | 8:32 am

    Runoff polls in Afghanistan; Af-PAk affairs; South Waziristan Operation; War on Terror and its toll on PAkistan. Guests: Rustam Shah (Ex-Amb to Afghanistan), Syed Saleem Shahzad (Asia Times Online Analyst) and Sadiq Al Farooq (PML-N)

    October 21, 2009 | 2:51 am

    Twin suicide blasts at Islamic Univeristy in Islamabad. Guests: AVM (R) Shahzad Chaudhry (Analyst), Rauf Klasra (The News Journalist) and Abdul Hafeez Pirzada (Renowned Attorney and ex-PPP leader)

    October 21, 2009 | 2:32 am

    Twin suicide bombings in Islamic University in Islamabad and its repurcussions vis-a-vis South Waziristan operation. Guests: Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi (PPPP), Makhdoom Javed Hashmi (PML-N) and Sen Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (Jamaat Islami)

    October 21, 2009 | 1:15 am

    Rehman Malik’s unusual media-hogging appetite and Talat Hussain’s demand that Rehman Malik be sacked. Media performance on twin suicide blasts at Islamic University in Islamabad.

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