Tag Archive | "USA"

US Forces Had ‘Boots on the Ground’ in Pakistan: Report

A report in the Guardian UK suggests that US special forces repeatedly put “boots on the ground” inside Pakistan as part of the war against insurgents. US forces also regularly use unmanned drones to attack terrorist targets in the northeast tribal areas where militants have safe haven. But it is an activity highly unpopular among the Pakistanis.

Citing a “former NATO officer” with “detailed knowledge of the operations,” the Guardian reported late Monday evening that the US launched “multiple clandestine raids” into Pakistan between 2003 and 2008, and that the Pakistani government was not informed of the raids.

The unnamed NATO source details four separate incidents in which US troops landed on Pakistani soil, including the only previously reported raid: A September, 2008, operation which targeted three houses inside Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, which reportedly killed 15 people.

Of the other three operations, two were attacks on suspected militants (one of which failed), and the third was a rescue operation to retrieve a Predator drone. The fact the US military would send in a clandestine force to extract the drone, rather than ask the Pakistani military for help, shows how uneasy the alliance between the US and Pakistan is, the Guardian reports.

Citing a “former NATO officer” with “detailed knowledge of the operations,” the Guardian reported late Monday evening that the US launched “multiple clandestine raids” into Pakistan between 2003 and 2008, and that the Pakistani government was not informed of the raids.

The unnamed NATO source details four separate incidents in which US troops landed on Pakistani soil, including the only previously reported raid: A September, 2008, operation which targeted three houses inside Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, which reportedly killed 15 people.

Of the other three operations, two were attacks on suspected militants (one of which failed), and the third was a rescue operation to retrieve a Predator drone. The fact the US military would send in a clandestine force to extract the drone, rather than ask the Pakistani military for help, shows how uneasy the alliance between the US and Pakistan is, the Guardian reports.

Such operations are a matter of sensitivity in Pakistan. While public opinion has grudgingly tolerated CIA-led drone strikes in the tribal areas, any hint of American “boots on the ground” is greeted with virulent condemnation.

In recent months, news has been coming out about the extent of the US’s military involvement in Pakistan. Last month, The Nation reported that the Obama administration is using the controversial security contractor Blackwater to kidnap or kill “high-value targets” in Pakistan.

Erik Prince, the CEO and founder of the security firm, appeared to confirm his own deep involvement in the CIA’s role in the war on terrorism, telling Vanity Fair that he had been recruited as a CIA “asset.”

Read the complete Guardian report here:

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Obama’s Irrefutable Afghan Predicament — Dr Muqtedar Khan

By Dr Muqtedar Khan

The US is reviewing its Afghan policy after the US commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal lobbied for 40,000 additional troops, arguing that US was facing failure without them in Afghanistan. This is the second review of Afghan policy by this administration and if the General’s request is honoured it will be the second surge in Afghanistan under Obama’s command.

General McChrystal, who is widely rumoured, to have captured Saddam Hussein and killed Al Qaeda leader Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq is a former back-ops commander. Now in Afghanistan he has reported that the 100,000 plus foreign troops cannot deal with the rising power of the Taleban and risk being defeated.

The situation in Afghanistan is indeed very serious. There is no doubt about it. The Taleban have, in the last one year, nearly quadrupled their numbers, going from 7000 to over 25000, according to US intelligence. The Taleban fighters have also become more aggressive and effective in their ability to engage 
Western forces.

While their numbers have increased four times, their military activities have increased hundred times. British sources reveal that now British forces have to fight the Taleban seven times a day! Additionally the project of national building lies in tatters. The rigged elections have undermined the credibility of US sponsored democracy and the developmental projects have been very slow in implementation. The deaths of civilians by US attacks have increased and so has anti-Americanism, giving a boost to the Taleban.

The enemy, to make matters worse is proving to be very resolute, cunning, resourceful and brazen. In the past few weeks, they have attacked the Pakistani army’s national head quarters, they have staged an attack outside the Indian mission in Kabul, attacked an Italian Patrol, attacked NATO headquarters in Kabul, and attacked a US military base in Kamdesh causing heavy casualties and eventual closure of the base. They have killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the borders. The year 2009 has become the deadliest for US and its allies.

To compound the problem, the US now faces dwindling support for the war at home (only 40 per cent of Americans support it) and the appetite for war is declining in NATO allies, especially in Britain and Italy. Italian leader Berlusconi has promised that Italian and Western troops will soon be out of Afghanistan. All of this means that Obama will have to fight an increasingly unpopular war — that he has repeatedly labeled as necessary — with less public and ally support and against a progressively stronger enemy.

The decision that Obama faces is very difficult. His options are few and none of them is promising. If he expands the war by sending another 40,000 US troops into Afghanistan, the chances of alienating Afghans and exacerbating anti-Americanism across the region — something that he has struggled against since becoming President — will increase. Nothing acts more effectively as a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and the Taleban than the sight of US soldiers. It is also not clear that this will be the final surge. If he decides to shrink the war; withdraw from Afghanistan and only focus on Al Qaeda in Pakistan as suggested by Vice President Biden, Afghanistan will be surely lost to the Taleban. Once again it will become a safe haven for extremism, anti-Americanism and Al Qaeda. We will be back in October 2001.

If he opts for a middle way, no withdrawal and no major surge, but some escalation, then this strategy can only be defined as half measures. It will send a signal to the US military that the President does not value the advice of their commanders and it will convince the Taleban that the US is rapidly losing the stomach for a prolonged battle. 
This will only inspire them to escalate their efforts.

What the President needs to do is to think outside the box. He needs to understand that the Taleban is a regional force that seeks regional goals and may never become a global force. America is not and has never been the Taleban’s target. Al Qaeda on the other hand is a global organisation that targets the US and exists solely to undermine what it sees as US imperial designs in the 
Muslim World.

My suggestion is that for now US make truce with the Taleban and focus on Al Qaeda. If Obama can defeat them in Pakistan, reform health care at home, reduce unemployment, bring peace to the Middle East, save the environment, survive Rush Limbaugh and retain the White House in 2012, then perhaps he can try to achieve what Alexander the great, the British Empire, The Soviet Empire and the American Empire under Bush failed to achieve — subdue 
the Afghans.

- Dr Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

{Source: Khaleej Times}

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Islamabad Seeks Lawyers to Defend Aafia

NEW YORK - The government of Pakistan is seeking new lawyers to represent a U.S.-trained Pakistani neuroscientist who faces a possible life prison sentence for the attempted murder of U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan.

Aafia Siddiqui, 37, who the U.S. government has accused of links with al Qaeda, was recently ruled fit to stand trial after a hearing in which her defense lawyers argued she was delusional, while prosecution witnesses suggested she was exaggerating a mental disorder.

Following that ruling, the Pakistani government elected “to retain counsel on Dr. Siddiqui’s behalf,” according to court paper’s recently filed by lawyers seeking to act on behalf of Siddiqui. Her current lawyer does not object.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman this week ordered a hearing to take place within the next few weeks to determine who will represent Siddiqui.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington was not immediately available for comment.

Siddiqui, who lived in the United States between 1991 and 2002, also filed a rambling two-page letter to the judge in which she did not address the issue of who should represent her.

“I really am innocent of the charges stated against me and I was in prison before that too and tortured badly to make me state what they wanted me to — and my children,” she said towards the end of the letter.

Prosecutors say Siddiqui grabbed a U.S. warrant officer’s rifle in mid-2008 while she was detained for questioning in Afghanistan and fired it at a team of FBI agents and military personnel, but no one was hit. The warrant officer then shot and wounded her with his pistol, the U.S. says.

Items found in her handbag when she was detained in Afghanistan included handwritten notes for a “mass casualty attack” at locations in New York, according to her indictment.

Her whereabouts for five years before her arrest is unknown after she disappeared from her parents’ home in Karachi, Pakistan in March 2003.

Accounts of where she has been and of her arrest and the shootout in which she was wounded have differed between U.S. prosecutors, Afghan police and her lawyers.

Her trial date is currently set for Oct. 19.

-Source: Khaleej Times-

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Pakistan, US Look Across the Border


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s ongoing cooperation in the “war on terror” in the past few months has played a part in it being granted an additional loan of US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund, raising the total loan to $11.3 billion, or 6.3% of the country’s gross domestic product. [1]

At the same time, the United States special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, is due to visit Pakistan from August 15-18 to press for Islamabad’s further cooperation in tackling the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the main Taliban militant umbrella group in Pakistan primarily in conflict with the central government. Its leader Baitullah Mehsud is reported to have been killed in a US Predator drone attack last week, and many other militants have died in subsequent such raids.

The US wants Pakistan to help bring the conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan to an end through mediation by soliciting the Taliban for talks with the aim of incorporating them into the Afghan political mainstream.

“The real plan is not the elimination of any individual, rather it is to root out al-Qaeda’s headquarters, situated at the crossroads of the South Waziristan and North Waziristan [tribal areas in Pakistan], which is causing massive instability in the whole region of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iraq,” an Islamabad-based senior Pakistani security official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity.

The officer showed ATol highly secret documents which reveal how al-Qaeda-linked groups have been involved in several high-profile robberies, assassinations and other activities in a network that has been broadened from North Waziristan all the way to Mumbai in India, where a massive attack was launched on that city last year by 10 Pakistani-linked militants. More than 150 people were killed.

Pakistan is not believed to have given the US specific information on Baitullah, who has a $5 million bounty on his head, but they have shared detailed maps of the region where the drone attack took place in South Waziristan last week.

An active network based in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, comprising several senior Pakistan police officials, intelligence officials with a military background and members of the American intelligence community, now meet daily to discuss targets and to asses the results of strikes.

On Tuesday, drones acting on information supplied by Pakistan targeted Maaskar, a militant training facility in the Kaniguram area of South Waziristan, run by Arab militants. Several people were killed.

That morning, militants carried out an intense rocket attack on Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Almost a dozen rockets were fired, killing two civilians. The attack appeared random and without a specific target, indicating a touch of desperation on the part of the militants in the face of the bombardment they are taking from drones.

Also on Tuesday, militants destroyed 10 schools and a health center in Buner, in Malakand Division. This came as the government claimed that everything had returned to normal in Dir and Swat in NWFP and also in Buner.

Despite Tuesday’s militant attacks, the security forces do appear to have stabilized the situation that a few months ago saw the Taliban seemingly on the march to Islamabad.

The Pakistani security official added, “This is the ideal situation [for the government] as the so-called Taliban emirates in Bajaur [Agency] and Mohmand [Agency] and Swat have been abandoned and they [Taliban] are on the run in North Waziristan and South Waziristan. The situation would be even better if things were back to normal in Afghanistan as this [militancy in Pakistan] is a spillover of the Afghan war.”

Top US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McCrystal on Tuesday vowed that coalition forces would prevail in the war, but re-affirmed he was open to reconciling with rank-and-file insurgents.

“I would absolutely be comfortable with fighters and lower-level commanders making the decision to re-integrate into the Afghan political process under the Afghan constitution,” McCrystal said. As for reconciling with higher-level insurgent leaders, McCrystal said, “That’s clearly up to [Afghan President Hamid Karzai].”

Karzai made his intentions public Tuesday by saying he would double the size of Afghanistan’s security forces and push for peace talks with the Taliban if he is elected for a second term in polls due this month.

Meanwhile, Taliban leader Mullah Omar has urged the Afghan Taliban shura (council), believed to operate from around Quetta in southwestern Pakistan, to intervene to protect vital South Waziristan militant assets. This it could do by installing a new chief of the Taliban in the Mehsud area in South Waziristan. This is regardless of whether Baitullah is alive or dead, the aim being to prevent any internecine conflict between various factions.

The shura includes Mullah Bradar, the Taliban’s supreme commander in Afghanistan; Mullah Hasan Rahmani, a close aide of Mullah Omar and a governor of Kandahar province in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime in the late 1990s; and other prominent figures of the Afghan Taliban from the Kandahari clans.

Should it be decided to install a low-profile Taliban chief - as opposed to the aggressive and uncompromising Baitullah - the road towards an end game in the region would be made considerably smoother.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at [email protected]

-Source: Asia Times-

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Overseas Pakistanis Sent Home Record $747M in July


Pakistani workers sent home a record amount of $747.22 million in July this year, a jump of $120.01 million or 19.13% from $627.21 million that was received in the same month of last fiscal year. The previous record was set in March 2009, when $739.43 million was received in the country.

Remittances from UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), UK and EU countries amounted to $159.32 million, $151.17 million, $150.13 million, $107.63 million, $71.23 million and $26.04 million, respectively, compared with $100.10 million, $133.26 million, $168.39 million, $105.31 million, $42.04 million and $17.07 million, received in July last year.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during July 2009 stood at $81.56 million compared with $60.99 million during July 2008. The country received $7.811 billion as workers’ remittances in 2008-09, which beat the previous record of $6.451 billion set in 2007-08. The amount of $747.22 million includes $0.14 million received through encashment and profit earned on Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates (FEBCs) and Foreign Currency Bearer Certificates (FCBCs).

-Source: Daily Times-

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Destroying Ourselves With a Little Help From the US

By Shireen M Mazari

The chaos that is spreading within the country is frightening and a result of bad or lack of governance on the one hand and US intrusions and questionable activities in Pakistan on the other. In the first instance, there is no civilian governance infrastructure to take over and govern the “cleared” areas in Malakand – but then there is no governance even in more central parts of the country. That is why we have had the despicable attack on the poor and marginalised Christians in Gojra – once again under the shameful and protective guise of the Blasphemy Law. Never has a Law been so abused to wreak violence on our minorities’ whom the Founder of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam, declared as equal citizens in the state of Pakistan. Clearly, there is so much hatred, intolerance and violence endemic within us that we do not need any Taliban to kill and harm our less fortunate fellow citizens. And where were the government and the law and order institutions when all this barbarism was being carried out?

As Pakistanis we must hang our heads once again in shame; but the main concern for us should not be simply our image internationally but what we are becoming within our own society. That is what should be of primary concern for the leadership. That is why in many previous columns I have been pointing to the dangers of bringing our marginalised population within the mainstream and delivering justice to the people so that they all have a stake in the system and the state – be they the marginalised Madrassah students or the marginalised minorities’. Otherwise extremism and violence will fester – Taliban or no Taliban – and as a desperate measure sending in the military will only aggravate not resolve the problem. And one has yet to talk of Balochistan where targeted killings continue while politicians continue to talk rather than act despite a seeming political consensus on what needs to be done. Why a beginning towards reconciliation cannot be made by declaring a general amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles only our bizarre ruling elites’ mindsets can understand but we are on a precipice here.

However, the other cause for chaos can be resolved more readily – that of the growing intrusiveness and questionable role of the US within Pakistan. For some time now one has been raising questions about the strange US presence in areas around Tarbela and in Peshawar. Then there was the news of the assassination squads controlled by the US Department of Defence rather than the CIA, of which the new US commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal was a central actor. This information helped to link up differing pieces of a growing puzzle about the increasing US personnel in Pakistan. A cause for concern, given these developments, is the US plan to spend $1 billion to expand its presence in Islamabad – especially, since central to this plan is the importation of almost 400 Marines with hundreds of APCs. There is absolutely no logic to this, but who will tell our rulers who seem hell-bent on kowtowing before Washington? Incidentally already the US contingent in Pakistan is way over the sanctioned strength of 350 but does anyone in the corridors of power in Pakistan care?

Nor is the US Marines presence restricted to Islamabad. As some of us had been writing much earlier, they had been spotted in and around Tarbela also – where our military’s Special Operation Task Force is located. It now transpires that there are already 300 plus US military personnel in this area – the so-called “trainers”. Of course, given the poor counter insurgency record of the US, heaven knows what training they will impart to our much better trained army! Also, if they were only “trainers” why would the US buy a large plot of land around Tarbela and send twenty large containers there according to an investigative Asia Times Online report (3August 2009).

As if all these US military and undercover officials crawling all over the sensitive parts of the country were not enough, it appears that the US is also using private covert setups to further a dubious and threatening agenda within Pakistan. The centre of these suspicious covert operations is Peshawar, and the central organisation is Creative Associates International Inc. (CAII – as opposed to CIA), which refers to itself as an NGO on its website but on further investigation it transpires that the organisation is registered as a private incorporated company in Washington D.C – not an NGO! A 27 July 2009 report by Sarwar and Yousafzai for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reveals that CAII has been terrifying the residents of University Town Peshawar because of its US security guards – ostensibly from that notorious US security contractor Blackwater (now renamed Xe Worldwide) whose employees already face charges of murder, arms smuggling and child prostitution in Iraq.

What is very suspicious is that CAII’s website shows no identification of its owners although its staff is identified. Also, although it is supposed to be a private corporation, all its work around the world is totally funded by USAid and the US government and the projects are all in sensitive areas only – Sri Lanka, Gaza, Angola, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. CAII is working supposedly on a strange-sounding project in FATA – FATA Development Programme Government to Community. In reality, its staff goes around escorted by the killer Blackwater guards, meeting militants and other suspect people being sought by the Pakistani authorities in FATA and the Peshawar environs. Of the 30 job openings listed on its website presently, at least half are for Pakistan.

During the latter half of July, a US citizen, Craig Davis, was arrested from the CAII house in Peshawar, his visa cancelled and deported. Interestingly, when a journalist sought to verify this information from the US embassy, its spokesperson first declared that Davis had nothing to do with the US embassy but then stated that the embassy knew nothing about this man. So if they knew nothing of the man’s existence, how was it known that he did not work for the US embassy?

The point is, clearly there is a threatening US agenda including seeking out our nuclear sites and assassinating people thereby adding to our chaos and violence. But the question is: who has allowed us to be confronted with such a dubious and large US covert and overt presence in Pakistan? Some believe that during the previous regime, certain segments of certain institutions had orders from the top to allow this dangerous US infiltration into Pakistan but no one else was informed. However, now who is responsible for the continuing presence of these people in sensitive areas where they are also terrorising the local populations?

When we as a society are facing our own problems of violence and terrorism, we can hardly afford to have such a volatile US presence here which will only aggravate our problems of violence and law and order. It is also sad to learn that Blackwater has been able to recruit dozens of retired commandos from the Pakistan army and elite police force through its local subcontractors according to the DPA report. Are Pakistanis so willing to knowingly act against their nation for dollars?

With increasing information about the dangerous US presence in Pakistan, it is not difficult to connect the dots also – with our nuclear assets, the institution of the military and the remaining strands of stability being the targets. Unless someone can stop the rot, it is only a matter of time before the US forces cross over physically on the ground from across Afghanistan. They may not get the triggers they plan on seizing but they can trigger a push towards total anarchy. Our rulers are certainly in self-destruct mode aided and abetted by the US.

The writer is a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]

-Source: The News-

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Our Weakest Link


By Babar Sattar

While we continue to vie for representative democratic governance, the institution meant to be the repository and emblem of democracy is turning out to be our weakest link. In most functional democracies a new parliament discharges the maximum onus of planned legislation in its initial years when the legislators are still energized and their priorities are not excessively warped due to factionalism and considerations of re-election. But well into the second year of its existence our parliament has nothing to show for itself. Even more pitiable is the fact that in their individual capacities our parliamentarians readily lament the dismal performance of the parliament and champion the need to make it sovereign and functional; but all without the slightest inkling that it is their personal acts and omission that are the object of censure.

Our constitution prescribes trichotomy of powers, with the executive, the judiciary and the legislature as equal pillars of the state. But for all of our history – be it during prolonged spells of praetorian rule or intermittent phases of civilian autocracy – we have unfortunately only had a bloated executive encroaching over the province of the legislature and the judicature. We lay most of the blame for our deformed institutional development on the shoulders of our ‘khaki saviors’. But is such usurpation of power by khaki or non-khaki executive possible without simultaneous abdication of authority by other institutions. Our judiciary has habitually acted as an appendage of the executive and willingly exhausted its moral and legal authority in failed attempts to legitimize repeated military rule. The events of 2007 fortunately shook the judiciary out of its deep slumber, burdened the conscience of independent-minded judges and we now have a reconstituted court that seems eager to assume responsibility and discharge its constitutional obligations.

But has our parliament not learnt any lessons? Is there no realization within the legislative chambers that status quo is no longer an option and if no sensible distinction can be drawn between today’s parliament and Ziaul Haq’s Majlis-e-Shoora even well-meaning people might wonder about the need and viability of our model of democracy? Why do members of parliament seem completely oblivious to their job description as lawmakers? If our MNAs and senators continue to view their hallowed institution merely as recruitment centre for the executive or for seeking ready access to means of state patronage to be used in carrying our municipal functions within their constituencies, who will legislate for the country? How farcical that in the absence of any sense of purpose and having smugly outsourced their legislative function to the executive, our parliamentarians continue making sloppy speeches in their lacklustre debating club highlighting the virtues of parliamentary sovereignty.

What will it take to wake up our parliamentarians to the fact that our fundamental law is currently bedevilled by contradictions our legislative branch must fix? There has been complete consensus in Pakistan that General Musharraf’s actions of Nov 3, 2007, were unconstitutional. The only disagreement between minority opinion held by Musharraf-loyalists and the rest of the country was over the legal mechanism to be pursued in undoing such actions. Malik Qayyum & Co. preferred a constitutional amendment to rid the Constitution of the edicts of a dictator and the majority legal opinion favoured simple executive action rooted in the assumption that the acts of Nov 3, 2007, were void ab initio and needed no affirmative act to be undone. The latter approach triumphed with the restoration of the judiciary through an executive order. The paradox however is that the PPP-led government continues to run the country on the assumption that the laws protected under the Article 270-AAA of the Constitution are valid pieces of legislation and the parliament seem to have acquiesced in such view.

On being elected to office, our parliamentarians swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. One would have imagined that their first order of business would have been to address the illegality of Nov 3, affirm the content of the Constitution, validate any laws that were useful and needed to be legitimately enacted, and then move on to amend the Constitution to rid it of such parts of the 17th amendment that are undesirable. We did get mired in PPP’s flip-flops on the restoration issue. But now that we have moved on it is inexplicable why our parliament is still loath to address Nov 3? Why is it abdicating its responsibility and hoping that the Supreme Court will devise an all-encompassing miracle solution? After all there are serious limitations to what the judicature can do: it can invalidate law contrary to the Constitution, it can interpret law, but it cannot promulgate law.

Islamabad High Court, for example, was created under post-Nov 3 Constitutional amendments. Though illegitimately conceived, this is an extremely useful judicial forum that needs to be retained. Its composition should to be rethought to make it representative of all federating units. But staffed by able judges, it offers the promise of evolving expert jurisprudence in administrative law and regulatory matters, which is desirable. But it is not within the power of the Supreme Court to declare the Islamabad High Court kosher. Further, while the Supreme Court can strike down the laws protected under Article 270-AAA, while granting partial or complete amnesty to rights that might already have accrued under such laws, or allow the parliament time to validly promulgate laws it deems desirable, the court cannot pick and choose laws and executive actions on the basis of their desirability.

The apex court has no constitutional mandate to make such choices of policy, for it can only determine the legality of laws and actions based on the provisions of the Constitution and principles enshrined in our laws. It is parliament that has the mandate to amend the Constitution to legitimize the Islamabad High Court. Similarly it is an abdication of responsibility by parliament to force the Supreme Court to preserve desirable laws bunched under Article 270-AAA through contrived legal fiction rather than subjecting each piece of legislation to an up or down vote. The Supreme Court has also rightly pointed out that it falls within the competence of the parliament to provide for punishment of persons guilty of high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court can require the executive to ensure that legal mechanisms for prosecution of individuals for violation of Article 6 of the Constitution are not disabled. But it cannot make the decision of whether or not an individual is to be prosecuted for alleged violations that is reached in exercise of discretion that is vested in the executive under the law and Constitution.

The refusal to take responsibility and exercise authority cannot be attributed to nonchalance alone and is the manifestation of a larger malice: our continuing proclivity to find virtue in the logic of expediency. It is wise to let bygones be bygones we are told and move on without ruffling any feathers. But what of the feathers that need pruning? “When you belong to the community that you are trying to lead, you are part if the problem. This is particularly true when you have been a member of the group for sometime,” write Harvard professors Heifetz and Linsky in Leadership on the Line. This is the problem with the generation currently at the helm in Pakistan that grew up in an independent country without having any role in its creation, has only run the country down over the last two and a half decades, has had its consciousness nurtured by the doctrine of convenience and has an abiding faith in the ability of our nation to continue to bear the burden of a depraved amoral political and social ethic.

It is this mindset that needs to change. Equivocation and sitting on the fence is what has contributed to our sorry state. We need to be wise in crafting policies but must shun expediency when it comes to upholding principles. There is overwhelming consensus in Pakistan that we need to change the way we do business in this country and no progressive change can be built over compromised principles. Let our parliamentarians and political parties take public positions on issues such as Nov 3, prosecution of Musharraf and the NRO, instead of using the judicial process to undo the nefarious effects of vile political compromises made in chambers of power.

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

Email: [email protected]

-Source: The News-

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US Plans for Bigger Presence Raise Eyebrows

ISLAMABAD: The US plans to have a bigger presence in Pakistan in the pursuit of its strategic interests in the region have raised several eyebrows in Islamabad.

The two most obvious indications of US intentions are the upcoming large-scale staff surge at the Islamabad embassy, which includes hundreds of marines, and the massive expansion work at the embassy premises.

The Americans intend to spend about $1 billion for the upgradation of their Islamabad presence, including an expenditure of $405 million for the reconstruction and refurbishment of the main embassy building; $111 million for a new complex for accommodating 330 personnel; and $197 million for constructing about 250 housing units.

For this purpose the American embassy has acquired about 18 acres of land for a meagre Rs1 billion, courtesy of the Capital Development Authority. The CDA had recently, in another transaction, sold just six acres of land for Rs6 billion. A Turkish firm has already built a 153-room compound for the embassy.

The upcoming fortress-like embassy is meant for accommodating close to 1,000 additional personnel being sent to Islamabad as part of the US administration’s decision to increase its staff in Pakistan. The new staffers would augment the 750-strong American contingent already based in Pakistan against a sanctioned strength of 350.

What appears to be more alarming is that this staff surge would include 350 marines.

Additionally, the Americans are pressuring Islamabad to allow the import of hundreds of Dyncorp Armoured Personnel Carriers.

Jonathan Blyth, director of external affairs at the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations in Washington, in a media statement justified plans for the greater footprint in Pakistan, saying they were necessary for meeting future requirements in view of the ‘greater commitment shown by the Obama administration towards Pakistan’.

Deputy Chief of US Mission in Islamabad Gerald Feierstein told Dawn that upcoming large-scale programmes needed more staff, but quickly added that nothing was final as yet. Others in Washington are justifying the expansion of the embassy on security grounds.

Despite all these explanations, the situation remains puzzling and is definitely straining relations between the US State Department and the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

Are these arrangements being made just to cater for the enhanced security needs of the American embassy and their diplomats based here, or are they aimed at micromanaging Pakistan? This is just one question nagging Pakistani officials as they warily scan the developments and insist that there is something more than what meets the eye.

Some of these reservations were expressed by former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed Khan. He told Dawn recently that indications were very clear that America wanted to ‘remote-control’ the region from Islamabad.

‘The US is eying a long-term presence in the region to protect its interests and Islamabad is an ideal place for that purpose technologically, diplomatically and personnel-wise.’

Another former diplomat said he saw no justification for such a huge US presence in Islamabad. ‘Clearly these are people who would be coming under cover of diplomatic assignments for covert operations that would be detrimental for Pakistan’s security interests.’

-Source: DAWN-

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US Unsure of Swat Offensive Success

WASHINGTON: It is still unclear if Pakistan’s offensive in Swat has killed off the Taliban or simply scattered them, US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said on Wednesday.

“We don’t know exactly to what extent the Pakistani army dispersed or destroyed the enemy,” the Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. “The test of this operation is, of course, when the refugees return. Can they go home? Are they safe? And we’re just going to have to wait and see,” he told a State Department press conference.

He said that Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador in Kabul, and his military counterpart, General Stanley McChrystal, have consulted “fairly regularly” with Pakistani officials. They want to keep in touch with Pakistan’s government and army so “this time around, as the [NATO] offensive picks up steam, the Pakistanis are ready for it, so the Pakistanis know where the military operations are happening - and they can prepare for any spillover effects,” he added. Likewise, the US officials wanted to be fully apprised of Pakistani army offensives, he said.

Holbrooke said Afghanistan needed to expand the size and capabilities of its own security forces. Meanwhile, after a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Phuket, Thailand, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Pakistan’s efforts in the war against the Taliban.

-Source: Daily Times-

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US Installing Radiation Detectors at Pakistani Ports

The US is installing radiation detectors at Pakistani ports to check proliferation of nuclear material and weapons of mass destruction to and from the country, the Online news agency reported Friday.

‘We do work with Pakistan with the Department of Homeland Security, on Secure Freight Initiative, in putting radiation detectors in their ports. One port is done. Karachi is the second port. We’re negotiating that type of work,’ said Thomas D’Agostino, the under-secretary for nuclear security.

D’Agostino, who is also administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, however, refrained from giving much of the details at a Congressional hearing Wednesday about what the US is doing in Pakistan in this regard, saying that these are of sensitive nature and could be deliberated only in a close door session, the report said citing the official.

‘We have our export controls experts who are in the process of working with Pakistan, on training on what to look for with respect to what comes into the country and goes out of the country,’ he said.

‘Pakistan has legislation in place as a nation to establish this type of capability and maintain it. They have developed their own lists of materials and advanced their lists of materials on things that they are looking for,’ he added.

Responding to a question from Congressman Niki Tsongas, D’Agostino agreed with a recent report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, which concluded that Pakistan as a focal point of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

‘I would just add that collaboration of the Pakistani government with the US is a sensitive matter in Pakistan. So what we do with them is best discussed elsewhere,’ said Michael Nacht, assistant defence secretary for Global Strategic Affairs, who also testified before the Congressional committee.

-Source: Irish Sun-

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Dostum, Shebergan and Swat

By Ikram Sehgal

Those in positions of authority during Musharraf's reign are accessories to war crimes by their deliberate criminal negligence in not making Sufi Mohammad answer for his cowardice and turning a blind eye to Dostum.

President Obama on Monday ordered US security officials to look into allegations that the Bush administration resisted efforts to investigate a CIA-backed Afghan warlord over the killings of hundreds of pro-Taliban prisoners in 2001.

The prisoners were in the custody of Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum, a prominent warlord who served as chief of staff of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban army and remains a prominent member of the Karzai government.

The killings of hundreds of Pakistani citizens contributed to the emergence of Maulana Fazlullah as a militant leader in Swat. Obama told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “the indication that this had not been properly investigated was just recently brought to my attention.”

On Dec 8, 2001, I had written, “Rashid Dostum, who is a law unto himself in his Uzbek home base of Mazar-i-Sharif, sees others as interlopers. The foreign fighters in Konduz who were tricked into surrendering to Rashid Dostum were dead men walking, given his track record there was no way they would ever walk out of Qila-i-Janghi alive.

However one cannot for a moment believe or accept that civilised nations like the USA and UK will countenance such a massacre of prisoners in cold blood, whatever the circumstances.” For eight years till Obama came along, the atrocity was ignored.

Maybe there is hope for justice in this world after all. Witnesses told The New York Times and Newsweek in 2002 that over a three-day period hundreds of Taliban prisoners were slain in the desperate uprising in Qila-i-Janghi fortress prison which was put down by Dostum’s troops in November 2001.

The survivors were stuffed into closed metal shipping containers and given no food or water. Many suffocated or were killed when guards shot into the containers. A recently declassified 2002 State Department intelligence report states that one source concluded that about 1, 500 Taliban prisoners died, including hundreds of Pakistanis. Most of them were those who had been led into Afghanistan from Pakistan by Sufi Mohammad.

Their bodies lie buried in a mass grave in Dasht-i-Leili, a stretch of desert just outside Shebergan. Fearful of the anger of the parents of the young innocents he abandoned to their deaths, Sufi Mohammad, the Pied Piper of Konduz, and darling of the Pakistani electronic media for some time this year, chose to stay safe in prison in Pakistan, ceding authority by default to his brutal son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah.

Desperately attempting to get attention of the powers-that-were, I had written almost five years ago to the day on July 12, 2003, “Our religiously idealistic young men went to fight the Soviets in great numbers, these were fresh recruits from the Madrasas motivated by their religious leaders (like Sufi Mohammad) to go to the help of Afghans, not out of love of money but out of love for their brethren in Islam. And what did they get in return? The Afghan element among the Taliban force defending Kabul melted away at the approach of Northern Alliance (mostly Tajik) troops, leaving a screen of Pakistanis within Kabul.

Almost to a man these Pakistanis were murdered cold in blood by the Tajiks. In many cases the poor Pakistanis were made to lie down in drains and than shot dead like dogs. Worse happened in Konduz, where a force of 8,000 Taliban led by Mullah Dadullah negotiated a surrender to “General” Rashid Dostum commanding the “Jumbish Milli,” and Mullah Atta Mohammad of the Northern Alliance. About a 1,000 or so hardened fighters refused to surrender and broke out, about 6,000 (a majority of them Pakistanis) were tricked into surrendering to Dostum by their leader Mullah Dadullah.

There is an Indian canard picked up by some in Pakistan that 6,000 Pakistanis were airlifted from Konduz overnight, even the US with all its aviation resources would not be able to evacuate 300 each night from the Konduz airstrip in those circumstances. Almost all the Afghans, including Mullah Dadullah, were given food and water (it was the month of Ramazan) by Dostum and allowed to go off into the night.

The Pakistanis paid the price for their (Afghan’s) freedom. Arabs, Chechen and (mostly) Pakistanis were packed into container trucks. On Nov 29, 2001, the first convoy of 13 trucks (each packed with about 150 prisoners) set out from Qala Zeini for Shebergan. The next day another convoy of trucks came to Shebergan. According to Newsweek’s eyewitness accounts, most were tied up like cattle, this fate was especially reserved for Pakistanis.

Many had already died due to dehydration and suffocation, more than a 100 dead in some containers, only 20 or 30 surviving. The International Red Cross representatives applied to see the “Qila Janghi” prison on Nov 29 but were not given permission till Dec 10, 2001.” Despite the abundance of evidence, nobody in Pakistan’s ever discussed this atrocity. Mention was barely made in the media, Shebergan never happened!

Given Obama’s directive, will Rashid Dostum, one of the most brutal warlords in a country that is known for its cruelty and bestiality even in normal circumstances, survive his criminal war excesses? More importantly, will those CIA operatives who not only participated in this crime but were accessories to the cold-blooded murders be indicted by the US government? By the way Rashid Dostum maintains one of his wives in Islamabad, or did till very recently, through whose benevolent courtesy is (or was) this local “logistics” arrangement possible? Osur rulers certainly lack self-respect in accommodating even outright war criminals.

Those in positions of authority during Musharraf’s reign are accessories to war crimes by their deliberate criminal negligence in not making Sufi Mohammad answer for his cowardice and turning a blind eye to Dostum. Will the final act of Konduz and Shebergan be enacted in Swat? Will the blood of our youth being spilt in Swat wake this nation to the bloody excesses perpetrated and those responsible be indicted? If Kargil is an example, they never will be!

The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email: [email protected]

-(Source: The News)-

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€˜No Policy Violated’

By Rauf Klasra

These expensive gifts were not the end of the long list of expensive gifts Mr Aziz took with him on his last flight from Islamabad to London, as he did not even spare a gift of only Rs25 to retain it what to talk of other expensive gifts.

ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday The News had reported that the former prime minister and billionaire, Shaukat Aziz, had walked away with bulging suitcases full of 393 state gifts bought at pawn shop rates.

We stand corrected. It has transpired that the gentleman had actually taken 736 gifts worth price) with him on his last bye-bye Pakistan flight to London.

The state booty included half a dozen more necklaces, 18 kt gold, gold coins, pearls, crowns, diamonds, Rolex watches, bracelets, carpets, Chinese pandas (presumably figurines because the list does not elaborate) etc after getting them massively undervalued by the obliging Cabinet Division evaluators.

This has been revealed in the revised and updated final figures pertaining to the foreign gifts retained by the former prime minister during his three years tenure-mostly free of cost and some by paying only token money.

One sources said, the total value of these 736 gifts, whose total price keeping the importance of those gifts given by the heads of foreign countries in the open market view, would easily be over Rs100 million, but it was priced at Rs25 million so that one of the richest prime ministers of our history with Rs7 billion declared assets with Election Commission of Pakistan could retain them free of cost.

The new consolidated list reveals that Mr Aziz only deposited three gifts with the Toshakhana and took rest of 733 with him in his heavy suite boxes on his flight to London in the first week of January 2008, to decorate his multi-million dollars residences in London, Dubai and USA.

The second part of this official plunder and loot of the state assets by Mr Aziz is more shocking, as the official documents revealed that the self-proclaimed “Mr Clean” even got one scarf, gifted by Governor Nepal priced only at a laughable price of Rs25 and retained it free of cost. One cannot even buy a local made Pakistani scarf from the Lunda Market at this price.

As if the under valuing of this scarf was not enough, the fresh list of his total gifts shows that Mr Aziz got a jewelry box given by Prince of Wales Charles and Her Royal Highness Duchess of Cornwall gifted during their visit to Pakistan, priced at only Rs2,000 (14 pounds sterling). The royal couple would surely die of shame if they ever come to know the ëreal’ worth of their gift.

The fresh list showed that four ball points purchased from the elitist London shopping store Harrods were priced at Rs200 each (one and half pound). During his visit to China, a jewelry box (Najeonchilgi lacquerware inlaid with Mother of Pearl) gifted to Mr Aziz was priced at Rs6,500 only and he retained it free of cost.

Interestingly, during his reign, Mr Aziz used to claim that he did not take the salary from the Government of Pakistan so as not to put any burden on national kitty. But now it has surfaced that it was more preferable for this nation to pay him monthly salary of about Rs100,000 (Rs3.6 million in three years) instead of free gifts worth Rs25 million (official rate.

Mr Aziz soon after becoming the prime minister had visited Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah along with the brigade of his loyalist ministers, secretaries and officials - who are now understandably mum -with the tall claim that he had paid the expenditures from his pocket.

But, later the National Assembly was informed in the question hour that honourable PM Aziz had lied to the whole nation as over Rs10.87 million were paid to him from the government accounts. His claim to pay the Umrah expenditure only proved to be a deceptive publicity stunt.

Mr Aziz even got one gift of jewelry set given by state minister of sports Sudan priced at Rs35,00 only, pair of lady shoes for Rukhsana Aziz Rs2,000, secretary communication also gave one gift of Longines watch No l4 70943349102 valued at only Rs25,000. One crown given by ambassador of Korea was priced at Rs9,000 and given to Mr Aziz free of cost.

The sources said a special method was evolved to facilitate Mr Aziz as the prices of many foreign gifts were even priced equivalent to pirated editions available in Pakistan. For example, two CDs given by prime minister of Norway were priced at Rs200 each while in the Western markets, one original CD is available at minimum rate of 30 pounds. One cannot even buy a CD from the loot sale of big stores at the price at which Mr Aziz got it evaluated.

Likewise, the necklace pearl given by PM Bangladesh was priced at shocking price of Rs10,000. One tea set by Begum Khalida Zia was priced at Rs5,000. Dagger in gold was valued at Rs129,200, one sword by Duma Mossco was priced at Rs4,000, one necklace given by prime minister of Sri Lanka Rs5,000.

Two lockets of gold and diamonds given by prime minister of Sri Lanka was priced at Rs14,700. One sword by crown prince of Bahrain was Rs9,000 and once necklace (pearl) Rs15,000. The King of Saudi Arabia gave Aziz second costly gift of one gold jewelry set, diamond, ruby, one necklace, one bracelet, pair of ear rings and one ring valued at Rs3.2 million. Mr Aziz took it with him to London.

Council of Qattar International Islamic Bank tried to match the generosity of the Saudis as it gave Mr Aziz one wrist watch Rolex Rs13,00,000, wrist watch Epos Rs65,000, Ball point Harrods Rs800, two green/gold pens Rs600 each, four ball points Harrods Rs250 each, perfume deep Rs1,500, sword by prince Abdul Aziz Saud Chairman Watan Group Rs19,750.

Higher Education of UAE gave wrist watch Piaget Rs375,000, wrist watch chopard Rs120,000, Chairman Capital Investment Overseas Abu Dhabi, gave one wrist watch Rolex 1.2 million and Mr Aziz is wearing it these days. President of UAE also gave generously when be gave one gents wrist watch Rolex Rs0.5 million.

Azerbijan deputy prime minister gave one gold commemorative coin which was also kept by Aziz free of cost instead of giving it to the Government of Pakistan. President of UAE gave second gift of one wrist watch Rolex Rs928,000, one table clock Rs40,000, one wrist watch Rolex Rs885,000 and Mr Aziz took them all to London.

These expensive gifts were not the end of the long list of expensive gifts Mr Aziz took with him on his last flight from Islamabad to London, as he did not even spare a gift of only Rs25 to retain it what to talk of other expensive gifts.

But because of the paucity of space, the shocking details of those gifts cannot be reproduced in these columns otherwise, Mr Aziz turned out to be one and the only prime minister in the history of Pakistan, who was given 736 gifts and except only three, he took away all the remaining with him. Thank you prime minister for going when you did because otherwise this list may have run into thousands of cheap gifts.

(Souve: The News)

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