Tag Archive | "Balochistan"

SAWAL YEH HAI With Dr. Danish on ARY: Dec 13

NFC award - a historic event and its impacts and implications and Balochistan. Guests: Senator Saleem Saifullah Khan (Former Federal Minister), Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah (Federal Minister for Labor Manpower), Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani (PML-Q), Nawabzada Mansoor Ahmed Khan (President Pakistan Democratic Party)

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“Quetta Shura” Exists but Damaged - Ahmed Mukhtar

Islamabad has admitted the existence of “Quetta Shura” but has said the security forces had taken on them and damaged it to such an extent that it no longer posed any threat.

However, until this admission by Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, the government has been denying the existence of any Taliban leadership or the Quetta Shura in Balochistan capital Quetta, DawnNews reported.

The top US Commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, had informed last Friday, the US fears the top Taliban leadership was in Quetta — Balochistan province’s capital — master-minding attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.

Confirming McChrystal’s allegations, the US consul-general in Peshawar said the same day that they do not know where Osama bin Laden is, but said, "We do know that some of the al-Qaeda leadership is sitting in Quetta and that they travel back and forth from Afghanistan to Pakistan."

"We know that they are there. And I think your government also knows this. Whether they want to say this in public or not but I think they know they are there," Candace Putnam added.

In an exclusive interview to DawnNews TV, Ahmed Mukhtar also said that the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan was being used by American forces for logistical purposes but the government was not satisfied with the payments for the use of the facility.

Mukhtar said the US was also using the Jacobabad Airbase and Pasni for its operations in Afghanistan.  (MAMOSA)

Posted in News, USAComments (0)

SAWAL YEH HAI With Dr. Danish on ARY: Dec 11

Balochistan crisis, Balochistan package, today’s announcement of NFC award for Balochistan & other provinces. Guests: Dr. Ayatollah Durrani (PPP), Asadullah Bhutto (Jamaat Islami), Dr. Abdul Malik (Pres Natl Party)

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KAL TAK With Javed Choudhry on Express: Dec 10

Pakistan’s “Billy Bobs”, America’s incognito war inside Pakistan; 1100 Missing Persons and Intl Human Rights Day. Guests: Imran Khan (Chairman PTI), Tasneem Qureshi (PPP), Amina Masood Janjua (Missing Persons Activist)

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LATE EDITION With Asma Shirazi on ARY: Dec 10

Balochistan package aka Aghaz-i-Huqooq Balochistan and its discussion in parliament: Guests: Nawabzada Zulfikar Magsi (Gov Balochistan), Qazi Hussain Ahmed (Ex Ameer JI), Ch. Shujaat Hussain (PML-Q), Dr. Abdul Malik (Pres Natl Party), Raza Rabbani (PPP)

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Pakistan’s Window of Hope

By Syed Talat Hussain

The American road-ahead policy presents Pakistan with a unique all-round policy opportunity to shape the strategic environment in Afghanistan, close festering sources of terrorism in tribal areas, and most crucially, regain broad-based clout with Washington. In other words, the ambitious multiple agenda the US has set for itself in Afghanistan, and partly also in the borders areas of Pakistan, provides exceptional room for Pakistan to make strong purposeful manoeuvres to earn solid diplomatic gains.

Take Afghanistan’s internal challenges first. Even though the US has lowered the bar for its nation-building stride, still it is committed to a tall order. In just under two years, endemic corruption has to be rooted out, drug lords’ formidable empire has to be torn down, and the economy has to be built-up and made self-sufficient. This is not all. In this tight time-frame, administrative efficiency has to reach a level where all of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts must have, in the words of General James Jones, the national security advisor, “economic development, good governance, and security”. Also included in the dreamland of benchmarks are “good and competent governors” for all the 34 provinces of the country.

It would be a miracle if even a fraction of this wish list comes true, especially by a weak and politically emaciated president whose second term election President Obama believes was marred by fraud. But Pakistan should resist the temptation of being the Jeremiah, the prophet of doom. Nor prepare to dance with vicarious joy in the event that the situation in Afghanistan defies Washington’s hopefulness. Instead it should, and seriously, partner in these efforts regardless of whether these are doomed to failure or destined for success. It is obvious that to make the first review of the progress in Afghanistan — in the middle of next year perhaps — a worthwhile exercise, the Obama administration will pull every stop to bring about visible change in all these indicators. Therefore, Washington is likely to be far more receptive to productive suggestions on pursuing its development agenda from other countries than it has been so far. Pakistan can step in with plans that enhance Afghans’ capacity to move in the right direction — infrastructure, education, agriculture, irrigation, basic science, technology, water management or many of the dozens of areas where it has expertise to proffer.

Much of Pakistan’s soft clout in Afghanistan in the coming months would be shaped by its ability to tag along with the world’s nation-building efforts. If Islamabad baulks at becoming a strong and willing partner in these, others would fill the gap.

Helping rebuild the Afghan National Security Force, the army and the Afghan National Police, is another area Pakistan ought to eye for gaining goodwill and diplomatic ground in Afghanistan. Many of Islamabad’s objections to the conduct of the Afghan National Army (ANA) deployed on the border with Pakistan are sound. The ANA has lived up to its reputation of being a force viscerally hostile to Pakistan. Elements from the erstwhile Northern Alliance dominate the ANA. Its members are mostly Darri and Persian speaking. They have been trained over the past many years to mistreat Pashtuns, which is part of the problem in Afghanistan.
While this history makes them structurally inimical to Pakistan, the fact remains that for the Obama administration to build a truly national army, the institution’s ethnic imbalance shall have to be rectified.

Pashtuns, former Taliban, even the personal armies of warlords, have to be integrated into the national army to become viable and take over responsibility of stabilising Afghanistan and paving the way for the start of the pull out of US troops. It is not known yet how much Washington would be willing to allow the Pakistan army to team up in efforts to train the ANA. However, for an Afghan force to be functional and effective in the south and the east of Afghanistan, its ethnic composition has to be such that Pakistan’s contribution to its training must be welcomed in any serious effort in building it up along strong durable lines. At any rate, Pakistan must make a solid gesture on this project: ditto should be done on Afghan police reforms. Remember, Pakistan cannot afford to be left out of the efforts to create institutions that would play a critical role in defining Afghanistan’s trajectory in the coming months. Also, international confidence that an Afghan national security force has come of age will help endorse Pakistan’s long-standing argument that the prospects of durable peace are inversely related to foreign troop level in Afghanistan. They will have to leave for peace to be fully restored and the Afghan resistance to be neutralised politically. Then there is the issue of safe havens inside North Waziristan and the presence of the Quetta Shura in Balochistan. On the face of it, the room for agreement between Washington and Islamabad is the least on this benchmark. US officials believe removing these sanctuaries is the first and foremost task to bring about a strategic shift in violence in Afghanistan. Members of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment see the ‘safe havens’ refrain a stratagem Washington and its allies use to hide their long and spectacular military failure inside Afghanistan to stem the rising tide of the resistance. Beneath this mutual recrimination, however, lies the hard fact that Pakistan and the US have consistently cooperated with each other in combating cross-border movement of the Taliban. Their military operations, not always conceived in perfect harmony, have seen both parties alternately play the hammer and the anvil to smash and squeeze the militants moving across. In the last surge-related operation in Helmand, Pakistan ended up sealing a long stretch of the border with Afghanistan to disallow any spillover effect. A much deeper and wider cooperation will be required to manage far bigger and bloodier operations in the coming weeks.

It is in Pakistan’s core national interest to ensure that safe havens do not become Washington’s excuse for pinning the blame for poor performance in the battles with the Taliban on us. It also serves Pakistan’s paramount security concerns that the wild militant groups in the tribal belt are brought under the heel. The new and vicious wave of urban terrorism has rendered useless the distinction between North and South Waziristan militancy. Government officials themselves admit that much of this terrorism is now flowing out of Mir Ali. This is where Wali ur Rehman, Hakeemullah Mehsud and the other big fish are. Cleaning up this area is critical to making operation Rah-e-Nijat relevant to securing the people from the game of death the terrorists are playing. A hard hit at these safe havens will also take the US pressure off Pakistan and give Islamabad and Washington time to plan about the Quetta Shura.

Pakistani policy makers have a substantial window of opportunity to make wise choices — something they did not do when George W Bush and his neo-con cabal were sending forces into Afghanistan. Pervez Musharraf’s thoughtlessness landed the country in a heap of unintended problems. This nation cannot afford a repeat of a similar mistake now that Washington is seriously thinking about going home.

(The article first appeared in the Daily Times)

Posted in Afghanistan, Editor's Choice, Syed Talat HussainComments (0)

Strategy and War in Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Ahsan Butt

On the heels of today’s devastating attack in Lahore, which killed 45 people and injured about one hundred, we were treated to a front page article in the NYT that would be of interest to many Pakistanis. The article describes the Obama administration’s efforts to cajole the Pakistan government and military to "do more". In essence, the message that has been delivered is: do the job, or get out of the way. The administration has explicitly threatened drone strikes in Quetta and boots on the ground in FATA if Pakistan doesn’t act against those actors that threaten Afghanistan and allied forces, but not Pakistan directly. On cue, the NYT editorial page joins in the fun, and urges Pakistani military and civilian leaders to realize that this war is for the nation’s survival, and that more must be done in confronting the so-called Afghan Taliban. Well, I love a good lecture from the NYT any time I can get one, so I’m grateful for that. But let’s deal with some of the questions that this set of events has engendered.

1. What exactly will it take for opinion-makers and decision-makers in the West to draw a connection between their strategies and the enormous physical toll on Pakistan? To be clear, I am not arguing for or against particular strategies. What am I arguing for is a comprehensive evaluation of the implications of various theories of war and conflict. The NYT and Obama administration both have a theory of this war, and that’s fine; everybody does, and who’s to say, prima facie, who’s right and who’s wrong? But surely — surely — there should be some allusion to what Pakistanis are going through right now? Some signal that the some two and half thousand deaths in the last two years, the nearly five hundred dead in the last two months, somehow, some way, factor into the calculus?

The NYT editorial comes close, when discussing why the military doesn’t strike against the Taliban in Balochistan when it says "In part, they are hesitating because of legitimate fears of retaliation." But why, pray tell, are these fears legitimate? Doesn’t the NYT bear some responsibility for educating its readers to explain what real retaliation looks like? Real numbers, perhaps? This is not a minor quibble, though it may look like it is to outsiders because I am picking apart at a sentence or two in an entire editorial. The central point remains that people simply have no clue about the lives lost in this war in Pakistan. So let me help you with that:

There are no candlelight vigils, no Facebook groups, and no Fareed Zakaria specials for Pakistani victims of militant violence. To some extent, this is the result of image problems. Pakistan is a "bad actor" in the international system, and as such, deserves little sympathy. After all, wasn’t it Pakistan itself that gave rise to these groups in the first place? Indeed it was. But it is a strange moral and strategic compass that blames women and children shopping at Moon Market for the sins of GHQ and the ISI.

2. Do people understand that Balochistan is an entire problem unto itself? Newsflash, brainiacs at the NYT editorial board: there has been a low level civil war simmering in Balochistan since 2004. This follows the medium level civil war in Balochistan in the mid 1970s. Both times, the military went in, and both times, as the Pakistani military is wont to do, there wasn’t a great deal of demonstrated concern for collateral damage.

The people of Balochistan have been denied basic political and economic rights, both by the central government and their nationalist so-called leaders for fifty years now. The last month has seen significant developments in this conflict, with the center — in the hands of the PPP — presenting a reform package aimed at placating Balochi nationalism, without much success (at least at this early juncture). If you opened a Pakistani newspaper in the last thirty days, you would know this. It has dominated the news, even more so than the Taliban war.

Why do I bring this up? Because launching drone strikes in Balochistan, and the inevitable civilian casualties that will result, will exacerbate this problem in very serious and predictable ways. I feel stupid even writing this. But apparently it is needed.

Here’s how it will play out: Balochi grievances will congeal into both an anti-Pakistan narrative and an anti-anti-Taliban one. The storyline will be that the state has sold out Balochi land to foreign forces, when it wasn’t even theirs to sell. Balochistan has long chafed under the hard-nosed attitude of Pakistani central governments, both military and civilian, toward provincial autonomy and federalism. Can you imagine how it will react if and when Pakistan gives the go-ahead for American drones to strike in Quetta? Or even less ambitiously, can you imagine the military making a foray into Balochistan again? At this time?

Get a clue, NYT.

3. Are the Obama administration’s ultimatums empty threats? I have to say, upon reading the news article for the first time, that’s what I thought. Why? Because surely they know that they cannot do either of the things they are threatening to do if Pakistan does not comply. They can’t use drones without the explicit permission of the Pakistani government; that much is clear from the carefully calibrated ways in which the policy first got underway under the Bush-Musharraf partnership, and expanded considerably under the Obama-Zardari partnership. And they can’t use Special Ops without risking considerable blowback from the Pakistani military especially; the last time it happened, the military leadership let them know in no uncertain terms that it was not on.

So if they can’t do it, why would they threaten to do it? That was my logic the first time I read the piece. And then I sat back, and reflected. And it dawned on me that looking at the credibility of the threat is probably the wrong prism with which to analyze it.

No, what matters more here is the content of the threat: two very big sticks. The Obama administration has seriously broken with the Bush team on this in a significant way. The threats are louder and more ominous, but the sweet talk is gentler and more wide-ranging. While the Bushies generally cared only about the military status quo in the country, we hear time and again from this administration the potential of a broader strategic partnership. The NYT editorial even referenced Obama’s promises of "what one aide described as a partnership of "unlimited potential" in which Washington would consider any proposal Islamabad puts on the table." Such promises lack the credibility of the threats above, perhaps even more so, but they do an adequate job of conveying a sense of urgency that was, I daresay, absent from the Americans before. Bigger sticks, yes, but also bigger carrots. The logic, I think, is that by raising the stakes of a bad strategic choice by the Pakistani military, you increase the likelihood of a good strategic choice.

Of course, all this assumes that this is a choice, which brings me to…

4. Is the Pakistan military not going after the Afghan Taliban because of a lack of willingness or a lack of ability? I’ve talked about this at length before, but it’s not immediately clear to me why the military is not going after the Afghan Taliban at this point in time. The Americans seem to think it’s because they don’t want to and that they don’t consider them a threat; to the contrary, the Americans believe that the Pakistani military thinks of the Afghan Taliban as a strategic ally in its rivalry with India. And certainly, there is little evidence disproving this hypothesis.

On the other hand, it is an hypothesis that is not falsifiable, at least right now. That is because assuming the military even wanted to, it couldn’t do so. They are mired in a whack-a-mole war right now, jumping from Swat to the wider Malakand division to the northern areas of FATA (Bajaur, Khyber) to South Waziristan. All these operations have been undertaken against sworn enemies of the Pakistani state and groups involved in the killing of Pakistani civilians. In other words, they have their hands full with anti-Pakistan groups, rendering action against anti-US/NATO groups basically impossible. So as things stand, we simply cannot know if this is a matter of intentions or a matter of capabilities.

One piece of idle speculation: why are we so sure that the Pakistani military cannot turn against the Afghan Taliban for now, and then cultivate them later? To be clear, I am not arguing for this position by any stretch. But I do think we need to consider the military’s incentives here.

Consider that the American theory of the military’s goals is that they (the military) want an ally in post NATO Afghanistan, and thus are not acting against the Afghan Taliban right now. But why does that ally have to be this particular incarnation of the Afghan Taliban? Is it not at least plausible that if the Pakistani military leadership really did want to exert influence in Afghanistan through a local proxy, that they could cultivate that proxy at a later time? It’s not as if they don’t have the practice or know-how; hell, they’ve been doing it for nearly twenty years. Why not go after the Afghan Taliban now, satisfy the Americans, and then make a new Afghan Taliban in 2012 to make everyone’s lives miserable?

Make no mistake, such a strategy would make everyone’s lives miserable — both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. But that’s my view, one of a poor pathetic liberal who doesn’t understand the world and the way it works. The Pakistani military could, and probably would, see things differently. So why does everybody assume a logic on behalf of the military that may not hold?

(Ahsan Butt is a PhD student in political science at the University of Chicago and contributes to the blog Five Rupees, where this was originally published. )

Posted in Articles, Balochistan, Blogs, Editor's ChoiceComments (0)


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..

Posted in Balochistan, Bolta Pakistan, Talk ShowsComments (2)

US Allegations and “Do More” Demand Uncalled For

DAWN editorial: “Tiresome and wholly unnecessary is how we would describe the American complaints about Pakistan’s alleged reluctance to act against Al Qaeda militants taking refuge on Pakistani soil. On a day that Pakistan Army officers and their family members were brutally attacked in Rawalpindi, the US consul general in Peshawar thought it fit to allege that the leadership, or some elements thereof, of Al Qaeda, in addition to the Afghan Taliban, has taken refuge in Balochistan and that the authorities here know of their presence in the province. Let us be clear: few could rationally argue that there are no Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan, including Balochistan… What advantage, however perverse, does Pakistan gain from protecting and enabling Al Qaeda?…The Americans need to realize something quite obvious to Pakistanis: publicly aired allegations and threats undermine the position of the US in the country…”

Read all of it at:


Posted in Dawn, EditorialsComments (0)

White House Approves Drone Strikes in Balochistan

As the Obama adminstration gears up to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, the White House has approved an expansion of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan, Fox News has confirmed.

Officials told Fox News on Friday that they see the program as one of the primary tools in targeting Al Qaeda — specifically the terrorist network’s leaders hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan.

The Obama administration reportedly is talking with Islamabad about expanding the ‘drones strikes’ program from Waziristan to Balochistan, a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas, commented right-wing’s influential TV news channel FOX NEWS.

Balochistan is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding, the report said, echoing similar statements made by US and UK officials including PM Gordon Brown’s most recent broadside on this matter targeted at Pakistan administration.

Afghanistan’s southeastern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul abut Balochistan. These provinces remain strongholds of Taliban.

Many in US Congress have grown skeptical that Islamabad is doing all it can to drive out Al Qaeda forces reportedly hiding along its mountainous Afghan border.

Obama has not said whether or how the troop buildup would accelerate attacks on the terrorist network supposedly hiding in Pakistan.

"It is not clear how an expanded military effort in Afghanistan addresses the problem of Taliban and Al Qaeda safe havens across the border in Pakistan," said Sen. Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Posted in Balochistan, News, Politics, USAComments (0)

SAWAL YEH HAI With Dr. Danish: Nov 27

Discussion on Balochistan Package and whether it will help alleviate the ongoing Balochistan crisis. Guests: Sen Raza Rabbani (PPP), Sen Hasil Baloch (Natl Party), Dr Farooq Sattar (MQM)

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LIVE WITH TALAT on Aaj Tv: Nov 26

Reactions on Balochistan package by Baloch Nationalist leaders. Guests: Nawabzada Gazain Marri (son of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri), Habib Jalib (Secy Gen Natl Party), Shahzain Bugti (JWP), Dr Abdul Hye Baloch (Ex-Pres Natl Party)

Posted in Balochistan, Live With Talat, Talk ShowsComments (0)

Talk Shows


    NRO beneficiaries put on Exit Control List. Ch Ahmed Mukhtar (Defense Minister) on phone; Guests: Ch Ahmed Mukhtar (Defense Minister); Ejaz Mehr, Rahmat Ali Razi, Athar Minallah (Sr Atty), Anwar Sajjadi..


    Post-SC verdict against NRO: President Asif Zardari and Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto’s Swiss account details and revived money-laundering cases against them..

  • POINT BLANK With Mubasher Lucman on Express: Dec 17

    Extent of Sharif businesses, their bank loans and loan defaults. Guests: Haroon Pasha (CPA & CEO Sharif Brothers’ Businesses), Rana Sanaulla (PML_N)

  • KAL TAK With Javed Choudhry on Express Dec 17

    Post-NRO verdict against NRO by the Supreme Court: Moral and legal position of President Zardari after opening of cases against him. Guests: Makhdoom Javed Ahmed Hashmi (PML-N), Qazi Hussain Ahmed (JI), Qamar Zaman Kaira (PPP)

  • OFF the RECORD With Kashif Abbasi on ARY: Dec 17

    Should President Zardari step down on high moral grounds and defend charges against him on Swiss and other cases. Guests: Fauzia Wahab (PPP), Ch Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N)

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