Tag Archive | "Baloch"


List of 992 missing persons in Balochistan issued by its Int Ministry; Suicide attacks in Multan, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi during last 5 days in which more than 100 persons have been killed..

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LIVE WITH TALAT on AAJ TV - AUG 21 ‘09: Politicians: Mir Ahmadan Khan Bugti, Senator Jehangir Badar (PPP), Engr. Khurram Dastagir (PML-N), Sheikh Waqas Ahmed (PML-Q). Youth: Hassan Talal, Muhammad Ahmed, Marvi Mustafa Somroo and Ahmed Bilal discuss Balochistan crisis, provincial autonomy, equitable resource allocation among the federating units.

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Judiciary, High Treason and Musharraf

July 21, Bolta Pakistan- Discussion on nationwide protests against load shedding. Burning of trains in Jhang, Faisalabad. Guests: Sen Wasim Sajjad, Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Fouzia Wahab (PPPP), Khawaja M. Asif (PML-N).

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Plight of Governance, Judiciary’s Role

July 20: Hasan Nisar (Columnist), Ansar Abbasi (Analyst), Dr. Safdar Abbasi (PPP) and Saleh Zafar (Sr. Journalist), Dr Safdar Abbasi(PPP) in fresh episode of Meray Mutabiq and discuss with Shahid Masood post-rain plight in Karachi, lack of governance.

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How Friendly Is the Opposition and Why?

July 19, Meray Mutabiq: Makhdoom Javed Hashmi (PML-N), Irfan Siddiqui (Analyst) and Brig (R) Imtiaz Ahmed (Ex-DG IB), discuss friendly and docile opposition, PPP’s governance, etc..

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Hillary Clinton Stays at Taj Hotel

Shamshad Ahmed Khan (Ex-Foreign Secy), Gen (R) Roedad Khan (Analyst), Akram Sheikh (Lawyer) participate in July 18 episode of Meray Mutabiq and talk with Dr Shahid Masood Hillary Cinton’s visit to India.

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Ban on Naseebo Lal’s Songs

July 17 espisode of Bolta Pakistan on AAJ TV: Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas take calls from viewers and discuss their issues live. Other guests: Naseebo Lal (Singer) whose songs have been banned, and Amjad Malik, Bashir Ahmed Bilour.

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Newsweek: Has Pakistan’s Swat Offensive Failed?

By Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai | Newsweek Web Exclusive

When Shamshir and his family of nine left the Shah Mansoor camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) early one morning this week, traveling aboard a government-hired bus along with 10 other families, they thought they’d be in their native village of Gorkand in Buner district by nightfall. But by late afternoon, they sat looking lost and forlorn at a dusty intersection called Daggar Chowk, where they and their modest possessions had been unceremoniously dumped, some 20 kilometers short of their destination. The bus driver and their government escorts had deemed too dangerous the final leg of the journey to their village. Abdul Rashid, a 22-year-old local farmer lounging on a rope bed in front of a shuttered shop informed Shamshir that the Pakistani Army had not finished operations near his village. The Army is supposedly winding down a three-month offensive in the Swat Valley to root out the Taliban and other insurgents. But the more than 2 million civilians who had fled or been asked to leave during the battle are wary of returning home from the IDP camps. They know how hardy the guerrillas are, and they doubt the fight is over. Only a few weeks after their resounding declarations that the insurgents’ “backs had been broken,” the Army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps are still hotly engaged in actions that seem to be much more serious than mere “mopping up” operations. In a mid-June briefing to journalists in Buner, Pakistani Army Col. Nasir Janjua said that the militants’ resistance had collapsed with the deaths of some 490 insurgents, and that “the area is fully secured.” The military has made similar claims about Swat, the center of the Islamist insurgency demanding the imposition of Sharia; the movement there was led by Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric who spread his extremist message via illegal FM radio broadcasts and brutal terrorist tactics ranging from assassinations and beheadings to the demolition of girls’ schools. But the battle obviously isn’t yet won. Even now, barely a day goes by without Army spokesmen announcing the deaths of dozens of militants in the continued fighting in Swat and Buner. For a defeated force, the insurgents seem to have incredible staying power. And their leadership seems to be largely intact, despite claims that insurgent commanders have been killed and Fazlullah has been wounded. Having failed to produce evidence backing up these statements, many IDPs remain leery about security in their hometowns. They have good reason for doubt. This was the third military offensive against Fazlullah’s rebellion since November 2007. In the previous two, the militants were driven out of the Swat Valley and into the mountains, where they holed up until a ceasefire was called. Then they came storming back. This time, the Army vows to fight until, in the words of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, it has achieved “the complete elimination of militants.” Few Pakistanis believe that will ever happen. Civilians displaced from Buner and Swat by the government offensive told NEWSWEEK they quietly dread what they will find when they get home. Still, Islamabad kicked off its repatriation effort this week, with some 31,000 IDPs headed home from three months of living in camps, the houses of friends and relatives, and even the homes of welcoming strangers. The government says it plans to resettle them within 40 days, but it’s historically bad at managing massive projects that require expert planning, coordination, and execution among various agencies and the military. Jahanzeb, who has been in the Yar Hussain IDP camp near Swabi for more than two months, has agreed to return in the next few days to Matta village in Swat, even though he is frightened. Matta was Fazlullah’s main base, and Jahanzeb is concerned that “the Radio Mullah,” as he calls him, will return. “I badly want to go home,” says the 35-year-old driver who wears a thin, well-trimmed beard. “But I also know that Fazlullah and his Taliban are still in the hills. As long as he is still there I’m afraid our problems will never cease.” He also complains that he still hasn’t received the $300 the government promised to all IDP families for their ride home.

Sherzada, 50, a day laborer from Khoza Khel village in Swat, not only doubts the government’s promises, he also blames the Army for the death of his mother, who, he says, was killed in a helicopter attack that destroyed their house in May. (A number of IDPs claimed that the military offensive caused more death and destruction than the Taliban ever did.) He is bursting with questions that no one has answered. “How will I rebuild my house? How will I eat? Where will I find a job? What if the Taliban come back?” he asks two NEWSWEEK reporters at the Yar Hussain camp, which houses some 31,000 IDPs.

A few IDPs even complain that they are being “forced” to go back prematurely by deteriorating camp conditions. Rashid Khan claims he and his family in the Yar Hussain camp have not received fresh water this week, and that he is constantly beaten by the police and camp officials during the daily scrum as refugees fight for food rations. “We are being forced back by this camp’s bad conditions,” says Khan, who came from Mingora, Swat’s capital. “If officials can’t run this camp property, what kind of help can we expect when we return home?” he asks.

To be sure, none of this means that Pakistan’s attack on the militants in Buner and Swat has failed outright. This was the biggest and most successful offensive ever: it drove militants deep into the hills and killed scores, perhaps hundreds, of them. But that hardly means Pakistan has crippled their highly motivated leadership or frightened them into permanent hiding. Even if the Army keeps its pledge to stick around for a while, it runs the risk of appearing as an occupying force in this region unused to centralized control. It is also unclear if the government could deliver better governance, and access to justice, relief, rehabilitation, and economic opportunity—the main agents in turning popular support away from the militants.

Ali Yousaf, for his part, is nervous but happy. The 27-year-old returned to Daggar, Buner’s capital, last week and reopened his textile shop along the one-street commercial section where fruit and vegetable markets and other shops were already open. “We are hopeful, but still quite frightened,” he said as busloads of IDPs roared passed his shop, where he used to sell music cassettes and CDs until the Taliban blew it up one night in 2007.

A few kilometers up the road, Bakhtiyar Khan wondered if it was a good idea to come home as he stood with his family on a country road just north of Daggar Chowk. A relative had just brought both good and bad news: the family’s house is still intact, but at night armed groups of up to 30 men still roam in his forest village, and several houses have been looted. “If there’s peace, I can rebuild my life,” said Khan. “But hearing this, I’m not so sure.” Then a car screeched to a top. Four men got out and told refugees not to travel any farther north. “There are still Taliban sympathizers in the villages nearby,” one said. He then warned that three political workers for the secular Awami National Party were abducted and beheaded three days earlier by militants near Pir Baba, less than 10 kilometers farther on.

Back at Daggar Chowk, Shamshir and his family of nine conferred with Rashid, still lying on the rope bed, as a dozen pickup trucks carrying Pakistani troops with their automatic weapons at the ready raced by. Suddenly, a loud explosion rang out, followed by the whistling of an artillery shell fired from a cannon nearby and bound for the area near Shamshir’s house. “The government told us we could return to our village in safety,” said the 50-year-old, white-bearded farmer. Glancing at his wife and children sitting on their bundles at the dusty roadside, he wondered, “Now we are without a home once again … Where can we spend the night? When can we return to our village?”

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Riddle of Karachi’S Target-Killings

Daily Times Editorial
Jul 16, 2009

The interior minister, Mr Rehman Malik, has decided to stay on in Karachi till the city’s target-killings come to an end. This may be an unrealistic undertaking because the killings may not stop as quickly as he thinks they should, and he may be required to be in Islamabad to face up to other crises of national security. But he is doubtless trying hard to overcome the problems of a country that has consistently been allowed to go in the wrong direction as far as state security is concerned. To put it briefly, its rulers, civil and military, have sought security from external threats at the cost of internal order.

Mr Malik says Karachi’s intelligence network has been increased seven-fold and that he has had a good meeting with the exiled MQM chief Mr Altaf Hussain to ensure that the latter’s party cooperates in plans to pacify the mega-city. He has carte blanche from the president and the prime minister as well, who are both worried about the decline of Karachi into a bedlam of nameless killings. Seven hundred people have died this year on account of target-killings - this doesn’t include ethnic killings and bombings by the Taliban - and not a single culprit has been caught by the police. The police has been targeted too and that could account for its lack of success against the killers.

The situation in Karachi is full of ironies. Pillion riding is banned in the city, imposing untold suffering on the middle and lower-middle class who use the motorbike as their family transport. Yet almost all the target-killings are executed by killers who come riding double on motorcycles and are never stopped on the way to the scene of crime. The killers have never suffered a mishap that could deliver them up to the police and the police says it has no clue who is killing the people. Of course, the identity of the killed is always revealed and if you rely on that, it is the MQM and MQM (Haqiqi) that are annihilating each other.

The scene is complicated by the fact that the three allies running the government in Sindh have differences they cannot openly reveal, leave alone resolve. Some killings can be seen as taking place because of the cleavage developing between the ANP and the MQM, in which the majority PPP seems to be leaning in favour of the former. And that takes us to the frictions that run subsurface between the MQM and the PPP. The fourth factor are the outfits that represent the Taliban; and no sane person can deny that the Taliban high command in South Waziristan has repeatedly threatened to attack Karachi. But the ANP wants us to distinguish between the Pashtuns of Karachi and the killers from the tribal areas.

The press and the TV channels in Karachi cannot speak openly because of the fear of being targeted. All the three partners in the government are bristling with defensive arguments in their own favour and will not listen to any second opinion. The police has to function under the tutelage of all three and cannot afford to act in a way that may be professionally correct but politically incorrect. But Mr Malik seems to be willing to grasp the nettle and catch the killers no matter which faction they belong too. If he can do that, he may succeed, but before he succeeds he will have to ensure the career safety of the police officers who will work for him. Karachi is a cruel city that way.

The ethnic vote in Karachi is always going to be patterned the same way. Ethnic vote is not subject to the normal process of “performance” of the party in power, which is the reason why the ethnic vote is considered against the spirit of democracy. Yet, if the tripartite alliance in Karachi knows that they cannot defeat each other at the polls they should learn to survive together. The mystery of Karachi’s target-killing is in fact the tentative chemistry of the ruling alliance there and the wounds of a violent past. All three parties are secular and liberal in their approach and have common grounds if they care to pay attention to them. There are other parties that are opposed to their worldview against whom they can unite under democracy.

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Musharraf Preparations to Enter Politics

Duo discusses Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf’s activities in England and his supporters’ moves to alunch him in politics. Participant: Hamraz Ahsan (London based journalist), Haroon Rasheed (Columnist).

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Repair and Heal the Nation

by Masood Sharif Khan Khattak

In 62 years of independence Pakistan’s rulers have, on one pretext or another, not allowed national institutions to grow, mature and become fearlessly functional in order to achieve national objectives. The military rulers, all of whom treated the Constitution of Pakistan with the worst form of contempt, made no sincere effort to utilise this unbridled illegal power for the betterment of Pakistan. These military rulers never made the positive difference that they always promised on usurping political power. After saying the right things for the first few days their actions did not match their words. Each military ruler would soon be captivated by the stinking opportunistic politicians, bureaucrats and other sycophants who would crawl into their dens on their knees and elbows eulogising their most deplorable actions and making them feel as if they were indispensable for Pakistan.

Whatever little ability, courage (both moral and physical) and will to make the difference that may have existed in them was killed by these ever green parasitic sycophants who are always in abundant supply. The politicians too have not made the difference that they should have strived to make in order to bring about a Pakistan that is at peace with itself and has enough to show itself as a developed country with a happy population.

Over sixty years of whimsical governance in an institutional void has taken exploitation of all sorts to unimaginable heights. The provinces are crying hoarse for being exploited by the federation and the weak and poor Pakistanis are up to their neck because of their exploitation by the rich and the powerful. Millions of Pakistanis live a life of deprivations because of their multifaceted exploitation which must come to an end. Exploitation of the weak and the downtrodden Pakistanis by those who are powerful is actually what is stopping Pakistan from progressing. The state has to step forward to end this exploitation by providing the poor and the weak succour and support through national institutions so that the differential between the power of the exploiter and the weaknesses of the exploited is balanced and this, in turn, neutralises exploitation. Pakistan has to do this if it hopes to move forward. No nation, at any time in history, has moved forward under exploitative conditions. We have already reached a point where the weak and the poor are ready to fight for their rights and betterment. They have nothing more to lose. The wind, therefore, has to be taken out from the sails of this readiness to fight and take to the streets in order to avoid a bloody revolution that might, in its wake, bring about the fragmentation of Pakistan.

The way to take the wind out of the brewing storm on the horizon is not through the extensive use of state power but to bring about a state that is magnanimous and fair to the poor and the weak on whose name it exists. The people will now have to take the front seat and only then will the storm on the horizon subside. Too much has already happened to Pakistan that should never have happened. A majority of our people lives a subhuman life and has been very docile to date. All this is clearly changing and docility is giving way to aggression.

If one has an objective analysis to make one should just look deep into the deprived eyes of millions of half-starved Pakistanis and the storm will be clearly visible. Words are not being minced here because that is exactly what must not be done at this critical juncture in order to decipher the trajectory that we are flying on and how that trajectory can be changed for the better. Living with “eyes wide shut” is not going to be of any good to Pakistan.

There is no question that we in Pakistan can ride over the storms that we today face and those that are soon to occur but, rest assured, hope is never going to be enough now. As a parting word let me say that the Army operation in Swat seems to have come to a successful end and the IDPs have started moving homewards. I know what it must have been like for the soldiers and men who fought their way through in these last few weeks. They deserve the nation’s applause. At the same time it is also time to take those to task who allowed the situation to reach the threatening levels that we witnessed. What happened to the Pakhtuns in the last few weeks must never ever be repeated again in any part of the country.

Pakistani nationhood has suffered serious blows in the recent past which has caused it many fractures. The only way these fractures can be repaired and our nationhood restored to a level that it can never be harmed again is to bring about a Pakistan free of exploitation of its people and letting the country move towards reforms that will bring in their wake good governance, peace, prosperity and all round equal development for the rural and the urban areas. You cannot have a few bustling metropolitan cities with the teeming millions still living in near stone age conditions in the remote areas. This accursed exploitation must end.

(The writer is a former director-general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and former Vice-president of the PPP Parliamentarians. He resigned from PPP on restoration of CJ issue. Email: [email protected])

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Hard Decisions Need to Be Made

by Zafar Hilaly

Had our hugely outnumbered forces in East Pakistan not tried to do the impossible, which was to safeguard every inch of territory but instead withdrawn to defend Dacca, where a number of rivers form a natural moat, they would have been able to hold out for much longer. And though the outcome may not have been any different, because maths is always decisive, a humiliating surrender could have been avoided.

Thus the year it has taken us to acknowledge the value of drones has proved costly. Instead of bleating ad nauseam about the “loss of sovereignty” (as if we ever exercised real sovereignty over Waziristan) that the “unauthorised” use of drones suggested, we should have used the drones to take out the Fazlullah gang and saved the army the bother.

“But we needed to have the public behind the Government and to do this the Taliban had to be made to reveal their true colours by rejecting the Constitution and going on a murder spree of innocent Swatis,” say some. That’s a bit like saying that we should have let India nuke us and thereby gain the sympathy of the world before contemplating the need for a deterrence of our own.

Many brave soldiers and others were sacrificed, literally, for such notions and the sake of earning the support of a fickle public. It is worth recalling that the public was euphoric when Ayub Khan foolishly embarked on an ill prepared war against India in 1965; but when Ayub Khan took the sensible decision to end it, because we were getting nowhere, he was reviled.

We cannot afford to continue to live in a world of our own make-believe. As the war against the Taliban intensifies hard decisions will have to be taken which the government cannot shirk merely to pander to public opinion. What is required to win, rather than what is politically acceptable, must determine our strategy and tactics. For example, it may become necessary for our forces to cross the Durand Line and for US-Afghan forces to do the same. It is after all one battlefield. A “no safe havens” policy cannot succeed if only drones are allowed across borders. It is inconceivable that the Taliban who do not recognise borders should be allowed to benefit from the self-imposed constraints of allies. The Durand Line is not the Rio Grande, nor the Pakistan army a sheriff’s posse chasing cattle rustlers up to but not beyond the Mexican-US border. The Taliban pose an existential threat to Pakistan and not merely to the peace of mind of some cattle ranchers, like in Texas. For what it is worth Benazir Bhutto would have had no qualms in ordering an attack across the Durand Line.

Yet another hard decision that will have to be taken soon is the ranking of India and the Taliban on our roster of enemies. Which of the two poses a greater challenge; which poses the greater danger; and from which direction, the east or the west, is the threat more imminent?

We have to decide; and it is alarming that we have not as yet. We are fudging and pretending that we can handle both. It is just as well that one front is quiet or else we would be severely tested, perhaps falling between two stools and found wanting on one front or another, or perhaps both. Fudging is not a substitute for a clear-cut policy. And fudging does not provide a confused nation the clear direction that it craves.

The fact is that the Taliban pose a potent civilisational threat to Pakistan that is greater ideologically than is the threat posed by India militarily. The Taliban threat is also more insidious because it is indigenous and internal as much as external. Furthermore, while diplomacy and dialogue can help ward off, and perhaps even neutralise India’s animus, the Taliban will have to be worsted on the battlefield before negotiations can even begin, let alone succeed.

Similarly, while India and Pakistan can and have coexisted peacefully for long stretches of time. Pakistan and a Taliban on the rampage obviously cannot. While a hundred nuclear warheads mounted on missiles aimed at Indian cities may deter India they do not deter bigots and fanatics who believe that God is on their side and who live next door. Extremists whether in the guise of the Taliban or the Assassins of Syria cannot be contained; they must be defeated, nay eliminated.

Sadly this lesson has not yet been learnt. There are reports that after the mostly successful effort in Swat the much awaited Waziristan operation will be a mere “holding” operation. A fact borne out by reports that the same number of forces (20,000) that were deployed to beat back 5,000 Taliban in Swat are to be used to contain 12,000 of Mehsud’s fighters. Apparently the army feels that air power and artillery will suffice. It will not. Had that been possible the Americans would not need to send out a single soldier to Afghanistan so overwhelming is their air superiority. Besides, US cruise missiles are more accurate than the shells we lob and they have not delivered victory to the Americans.

The army’s outlook is shaped by the belief that India poses the greater threat than the Taliban/Al Qaeda combine and hence that the overwhelming number of our forces should remain on the eastern front. Old shibboleths, rather than fresh perceptions, dinned into soldiers over a period of 60 years are dominating. The illusory and trite notion that the Taliban can be brought around because, after all, Muslims are brothers and brothers cannot really remain enemies skews rational thought. Muslims should act like brothers but they do not. Karbala was an early example and recent history, as recent as the Iran-Iraq war, is another powerful reminder of just how fallacious and fanciful such notions are.

The Taliban, in the course of the five terror filled years in Kabul (1996-2001) demonstrated just how “brotherly” were the feelings they maintained for their Tajik Muslim compatriots and those from Hazara. And, if more proof was required, the Taliban during their brief rule in Swat also demonstrated vividly how much they treasured the lives, property, security and well being of their “brother” compatriots and co religionists. A trail of eviscerated corpses, beheaded and slaughtered innocents, rapine and pillage has been the Taliban’s legacy in Swat and elsewhere. Moreover, Taliban promises are observed only in the breech and their bent is so crooked that if they swallowed a nail it would emerge as a screw. Another trail of broken agreements and double speak bear witness to these self evident truths.

The PPP government may have its heart in the right place but the capacity of the leadership to formulate a policy to deal with the challenges faced is limited, or perhaps missing altogether; so too, a semblance of strength and character. As for the army, however much the brass may try to think or act as uniformed politicians and statesmen that they are not is clear. Besides, the army is recruited to fight wars not wrestle intellectually with vexed, complicated and profound national and international challenges or proffer plans and solutions on such matters. Nor is good governance their forte; of that too Pakistan’s brief history leaves no doubt.

The hard decisions that we face should not be solely the concern of the Troika; or the hundred (and counting) that comprise the cabinet; or even Parliament which showed its true worth when after a mere few minutes of cogitation, some months ago, consented to the ill conceived deal with Fazlullah. Mr Zardari, who is living proof of the fact that anyone can become the president of Pakistan, has the formal responsibility to fashion Pakistan’s response. He would be well advised to cast his net wider than fellow politicians and the army brass and also meet with members of civil society who are known and respected for their competence and achievements. While doing so he should listen more and talk less. If he does he may discover that the old mould in which our policies were cast does not serve the nation’s purpose any longer, in which case he should have the guts to break the mould. “Fortune”, it is said, “favours the brave”. Mr Zardari has his fortune; and now he must be brave.

(The author is a former ambassador. Email: [email protected])

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