Tag Archive | "war on terror"

India doesn’t want terrorism to paralyze Pakistan: Manmohan Singh

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India will not like to see terrorists reducing the civilian government in Pakistan to a nominal one.

In an interview to Newsweek, published on the eve of his state visit to Washington, Mr Singh also claimed that in Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan did not have the same objectives.

The Indian prime minister arrives in Washington on Sunday on a four-day trip meant to solidify a relationship transformed under the Bush administration by a nuclear deal, a two-fold increase in trade and investment and unprecedented security collaboration.

Expressing grave concern over the rise of terrorism in Pakistan, Mr Singh noted that the terrorists, once confined to the tribal areas, had now moved to other parts of the country.

‘I think it has very serious consequences for our own security. We would not like terrorism to lead to a situation where the (Pakistani) civilian government is only a nominal government,’ he warned.

‘Don’t you think that’s the situation now?’ he was asked.

‘I’m not saying that’s the situation now. We would like democracy to succeed in Pakistan. But obviously now Al Qaeda and the terrorists have a grip over several parts of Pakistan,’ Mr Singh replied.Talking about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, Mr Singh said: ‘As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I’m not sure whether the US and Pakistan have the same objectives. Pakistan would like Afghanistan to be under its control. And they would like the United States to get out soon.’

For India, he said, the most important issue is to see the terror groups in Pakistan brought under control. India had been the victim of ‘Pakistan-aided, -abetted, and -inspired terrorism’ for nearly 25 years.

He said that New Delhi would like Washington to use all its influence to persuade Pakistan to desist from that path. ‘Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. I have said on many public occasions that the destinies of our two countries are interlinked. We should both be waging war against poverty, ignorance, and disease, which afflicts millions of people in our poor countries.’

Mr Singh warned that if the United States left Afghanistan, Al Qaeda could get another foothold in that country and the withdrawal might also lead to a civil war.

‘I sincerely hope the United States and the global community will stay involved in Afghanistan,’ he said. ‘A victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would have catastrophic consequences for the world, particularly for South Asia, for Central Asia, for the Middle East.’

Mr Singh noted that in the 1980s, ‘religious fundamentalism’ was used to defeat the Soviet Union. ‘If this same group of people that defeated the Soviet Union now defeat the other major power (America), this would embolden them in a manner which could have catastrophic consequences for the world at large,’ he warned.

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ANALYSIS-Pakistan worries over new U.S. Afghan strategy

ISLAMABAD, Nov 20  - As the United States ponders its Afghan strategy, Pakistan is waiting nervously, worried that a U.S. troops surge would widen the war but also keen to see a robust U.S. commitment that would convince the Taliban to talk.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Wednesday to end the Afghan war before he leaves office.

He said he would announce the results of his long-awaited review soon and it would include an exit strategy to avoid “a multi-year occupation that won’t serve the interests of the United States”.

There are nearly 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, including 68,000 Americans, more than half of whom have arrived since Obama took office. He is now deciding whether to fulfil his commander’s request for tens of thousands more.

That has raised worry in Pakistan of a spike of Afghan violence spilling over the ill-defined border into Pakistan where its army is battling its own version of the Taliban.

Those fears were raised recently in talks in Islamabad with visiting U.S. national security adviser General James Jones, a senior Pakistani government official said.

“We have concerns that Taliban may try to cross into Pakistan if violence increased after the new deployment,” said the official who is involved in Afghan policy.

“Such a situation will definitely complicate issues for us particularly at a time when we’re involved in the offensive in Waziristan,” he said, referring to a month-long offensive in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

The army has seized most main Pakistani Taliban bases in the region of barren mountains and patchy scrub. The militants have retaliated with a barrage of bombs in towns and cities.

Responding to Pakistani concerns of a spill-over, U.S. officials said reinforcements would not open new fronts but would focus on securing populated areas, the official said.

While worried about the arrival of more U.S soldiers, Pakistan is probably more vexed about the possibility of their hasty departure.

Memories of the United States walking away from Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and leaving the country in chaos are still raw in Pakistan.

“They have always felt that the United States would run away and they would be left with the mess — just like they were in the 1990s,” said former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel.

“It is very hard to dispel that image,” said Riedel, who was in charge of Obama’s review of policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan last March. He is now with the Brookings Institution.


Obama’s talk of an exit before he leaves office is likely to compound fears of a U.S. rush to the door. The U.S. president comes to the end of his first term in just over three years. A second and final term would end in seven years.

“An exit strategy should be staggered over six to seven years .. They shouldn’t repeat the mistake made after the Soviet withdrawal,” said the Pakistani official, who declined to be identified.

Pakistan wants to see an orderly U.S. withdrawal after a negotiated settlement including elements of the Taliban.

The Taliban will seize on any sign of U.S. vacillating as weakness and will only be dragged into talks if they are convinced of U.S. commitment backed by troops, an analyst said.

“It’s very important that they should increase their numerical strength and give an impression to the Taliban that they aren’t going away. Tilt the balance in their favour to a point at least that some decent negotiations can go on,” said retired Pakistani general and analyst Talat Masood.

But any show of force to convince the Taliban of U.S. commitment must be accompanied by political reform to win over ethnic Pashtuns, another Pakistani official said.

The Taliban draw most of their support and recruits from Afghanistan’s biggest ethnic group, many of whom feel alienated by a Kabul government seen as dominated by ethnic Tajiks even though President Hamid Karzai is Pashtun.

“Military strategy alone can’t correct policy-level errors,” said a senior Pakistani security official. “They have to help create a system of governance that has broader acceptability and legitimacy by getting the larger Pashtun population on board.”

The United States also wanted Pakistan to be a conduit for talks with the Taliban, the official said. Pakistan officially cut contacts with their former allies after the Sept. 11 attacks.

(News sourced from: Reuters)

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Experts question Pak military’s success in South Waziristan

The Pakistan Army has claimed massive success in the offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan, establishing control over Sararogha, the town which the militants referred to as their capital, but both US and Pakistani experts have  questioned the army’s efforts and fear the extremists would bounce back.

Many are surprised by the unexpectedly light resistance that the troops have faced in the region, which is considered as the Taliban’s stronghold.

US officials believe that the insurgents have shifted to the rough terrains along the Afghan border, while the military penetrates deeper into the region.

“That’s what bothers me. Where are they?” questioned an American intelligence officer.

“They are fleeing in all directions. The Uzbeks are fleeing to Afghanistan and the north, and the Mehsuds are fleeing to any possible place they can think of,” The New York Times quoted a Pakistani security official, on conditions of anonymity, as saying.

Success in this region could have a direct bearing on how many more American troops are ultimately sent to Afghanistan, and how long they must stay, the newspaper said.

For the Pakistan Army, the bigger question is for how long it would be able to hold on to the region.

Experts see the militants coming back once again as the security forces lack have failed to win people’s confidence in the region.

“Are they really winning the people - this is the big question. They have weakened the Taliban tactically, but have they really won the area if the people are not with them?” said Talat Masood, a military analyst.

Citing American abandonment after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan in 1989, a Pakistani intelligence official pointed that the terrorist would definitely return to wreack havoc once the military retreats.

“If they leave in haste, like they left in the past, we will be back to the bad old days.Our jihadis would head back to Afghanistan, reopen training camps, and it will be business as usual,” he said. 

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Pakistan seizes main Taliban bases, hunts rebels

SARAROGHA, Pakistan, Nov 17  - Pakistani forces have captured most main Taliban bases in their offensive in South Waziristan and will soon fan out into the rugged countryside to hunt for militants there, commanders said on Tuesday.

Soldiers have advanced faster than expected in their month-long offensive, seizing main roads and Taliban bases but militant leaders have apparently melted away while their bombers have unleashed carnage in towns.

The United States, weighing options for how to turn an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan, has welcomed the offensive but is keen to see Pakistan tackle Afghan Taliban factions based in lawless enclaves along the border.

Chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters on a trip to South Waziristan with the army that some militants might have slipped out the region but many were hiding.

“We still believe many are still here. They have gone to the countryside, the forested areas, to villages and into the caves,” Abbas said.

“After taking complete control of the roads and the tracks, we are going to chase them in the forested areas, wherever they are hiding in the countryside,” he said.

More than 500 militants had been killed in the offensive since Oct. 17 while 70 soldiers had been killed, he said.

There has been no independent verification of casualties as reporters and other independent observers are not allowed into the conflict zone except on an occasional trip with the military.

Highlighting fears that the militants have melted away to fight another day, the leader of the Taliban in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, telephoned the BBC to say he had escaped to Afghanistan and would soon launch raids against the army.

The army, which has largely cleared Swat of militants, said in July the valley’s Taliban leader, self-styled cleric Fazlullah, was believed to have been wounded. The government said in September he had been surrounded.

The army on Tuesday took reporters to the captured Taliban bastion of Sararogha in South Waziristan where former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a missile-firing U.S. drone aircraft on Aug. 5.

Surrounded by barren, rocky ridges and cut through by dried-up streams, the settlement of mud-walled compounds was deserted of civilians. A security force fort that the militants captured was almost completely destroyed in the fighting.


Soldiers displayed militant pamphlets including one on making bombs, captured ammunition and weapons, and pouched vests that suicide bombers pack with explosives and strap on.

Brigadier Mohammad Shafiq said his men had battled hard to capture the base: “Their defences were well-constructed and we faced extremely tough resistance.”

In the captured militant stronghold of Ladha, Brigadier Farrukh Jamal said his men had surrounded 35 militants hiding in forest-covered mountains nearby.

“They are hiding in caves and we will capture them soon or kill them,” Jamal said.

Several rifle shots rang out and smoke rose over the slopes where the militants were hiding.

Jamal said his men had cut militant supply lines and would soon be advancing into deep forest to the west.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, visiting people displaced by the fighting, said he hoped the South Waziristan offensive would be over earlier than expected and civilians could go home.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hoping the Pakistani army will soon direct its attention to the Afghan Taliban factions and has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to go after them, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Abbas said the expected defeat of the Taliban in South Waziristan would create new conditions and opportunities.

“It creates voids all around and will open more options for the state and military,” Abbas said.

“Maybe you don’t have to conduct more operations. By those effects you can achieve those objectives,” he said.

(News sourced from: Reuters)

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Afghanistan: Barack Obama gets ready to make toughest call of presidency

President Barack Obama is expected to make a long-awaited announcement on his Afghan war strategy in the next few days in an attempt to bring an end to a prolonged period of uncertainty surrounding US intentions, officials said today.

Gordon Brown today attempted to shore up British public support for the war prior to Obama’s declaration, arguing that Nato’s resolve in Afghanistan would “never succumb to appeasement”, while offering to host a conference in January to agree a phased handover of the military effort to Kabul.

Nato allies are awaiting Obama’s declaration on strategy and reinforcements before deciding on their own contributions. However, impatient British defence chiefs have warned that the deployment of 500 extra British troops pledged by the prime minister was urgently required and should not be dependent on Washington’s decision, or on the political conditions laid down by the prime minister. “It’s nothing to do with politics. We need them now,” a defence official said.

Obama’s announcement is provisionally planned before the American Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday next week. If it is left until after that it could coincide jarringly with the ceremony bestowing the Nobel peace prize on the US president in Oslo on 10 December.

However, before finally deciding on how many more troops to send into the battle with the Taliban, the US is seeking specific commitments from the Afghan and Pakistani governments on what they are prepared to contribute to the fight.

The US and its allies are demanding fundamental reforms from President Hamid Karzai aimed at curbing the corruption rampant in his government and increasing the flow of recruits to a new Afghan national army.

Western officials are demanding that Karzai signal a decisive break with the past in his inauguration speech on Thursday and in his subsequent government appointments. There has been speculation in Washington that Obama, currently on a tour of Asia, might fly to Kabul to deliver that message himself.

Meanwhile, Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, has been dispatched to Islamabad to ask the government there to extend its current offensive against Pakistani insurgents to fight Afghan Taliban groups sheltering on Pakistani territory. According to the New York Times, Jones told the Islamabad government that the US strategy would only work if Pakistan broadened its military offensive in the tribal areas along its borders with Afghanistan. The appeal was contained in a letter from Obama delivered by Jones to Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president.

Pakistan has raised concerns that a US military surge in Afghanistan would push more Taliban across the border and undermine Pakistani stability, at a time when its forces have been making gains against the insurgents responsible for a recent string of bomb attacks across the country.

Obama’s military advisers, on the other hand, are worried that the collapse of the Karzai government, leading either to anarchy or a Taliban government, would represent a far more powerful threat to Pakistan’s long-term stability. They argue that the future of Pakistan, a volatile state with nuclear weapons, is ultimately of more strategic importance to the US than Afghanistan.

barack-obama-hamid-karzai-asif-ali-zadariThey also believe the fall of Kabul would provide al-Qaida once more with an expanse of territory from which to plot new attacks on the west on the scale of September 11.

Brown echoed those arguments in his Mansion House speech tonight. “We are in Afghanistan because we judge that if the Taliban regained power, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups would once more have an environment in which they could operate,” he said, according to an early text of his remarks. “We are there because action in Afghanistan is not an alternative to action in Pakistan, but an inseparable support to it.”

The White House’s decision-making over Afghanistan policy has been complicated by widespread fraud involved in Karzai’s re-election, and by leaks from assessments by the US commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, suggesting he needed 40,000 more soldiers. The Obama administration was furious at what it saw as the general’s attempt to pre-empt the president’s decision.

“I’m sceptical of having such a large increase in foreign forces at this time,” said Malcolm Chalmers, a former British government adviser now at the Royal United Services Institute. “Part of the problem with the current debate is that it’s a sort of double or quits mentality: either you’ve got to get out or you’ve got to have some massive increase, which is predicated on the assumption that with one last push you’ll succeed. It’s an illusion to think that the Taliban are going to be defeated. There’s not going to be an outright military victory, that’s not the nature of the conflict … what the military can do is contribute to creating a sustainable form of government in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, British army chiefs warned that the Afghan war was not an “aberration” but rather the shape of conflicts to come in which Britain would be involved. They published two documents which built on the lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq: one on the role of the military in providing security, notably in failing states, and the other on counter-insurgency doctrine, the first such document in eight years.

“Counter-insurgency requires some sort of political accommodation,” the counter-insurgency chapter of the new army field manual states. It adds, echoing the approach British commanders want to see in Afghanistan: “Reconciliation is a two-way process, best undertaken from a position of strength.”

British commanders have been pressing for greater contact with reconcilable Taliban elements as well as with provincial and district officials and tribal elders.

(News sourced from: guardian.co.uk)

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Kayani asks US to stop drone attacks

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on Friday again demanded from US to stop drone attacks and provide drone technology to Pakistan.

Sources said that the Chief of the Army Staff expressed these views during his meeting with the US advisor on National Security, James Jones on Friday at the GHQ.

A host of issues came under discussion like Pak-US Defense ties, the war against terrorism, situation in Afghanistan, internal and regional security and others.

During the meeting, the COAS briefed James Jones about the ongoing operation in South Waziristan. He expressed his concern on eliminating check posts at the Afghan side on the Pakistani border.

Pakistan, he said, has paid a heavy price in the war against terrorism, adding that the drone attacks must be halted immediately.

The issues relating to the new Afghan government and others were discussed with James Jones.

James Jones said that US will keep on cooperating with Pakistan thick and thin, urging that the ongoing SWA Operation is of utmost importance, adding that the National Security is most vital.

(News Sourced from: Regional Times)

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Is Pakistan’s Internal War Spinning Out Of Control?

Thousands of civilians dead, billions of dollars lost and no sense of security. Is Pakistan staring into the abyss? A report from ground zero

By Saeed Minhas

IS THIS country at war?” asked my 10- year-old, bluntly. “I saw a Pathan with a suspicious bag go into my school yesterday. I won’t go to school!” piped up my seven-year-old. These questions and remarks, which were no less sharp for the innocence of the questioners, stung all the more because the previous day, Islamabad’s very own Islamic University had been the target of a suicide bomber.

A few days later, the market in Peshawar was ablaze after a powerful blast left 100 dead. The targets were helpless women and children. More women and children sat glued to the television, watching raging fires consume the bazaar. Death and destruction are routine topics of discussion in every household. In my home, I was asked, “Why can’t we leave the country?” Like many other Pakistanis, I kept silent. Where can we possibly go? As bearers of green passports, we are viewed across the West as carriers of terrorist flu. For most of us, there is little escape, particularly when the Prime Minister and the President seem to be prisoners themselves, jailed by the security swathing them. After Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s warning that educational institutions could be targets, for the first time perhaps, a shutdown of the entire educational system was ordered. Those few institutions that dared to stay open after the Islamic University attacks soon closed their doors after the Peshawar carnage.

The latest series of blasts from October 10 to October 28 were no different from many others except for the fact that they were targeted at students and civilians. As televisions switched to live coverage from the scenes of these crimes, a palpable sense of insecurity spread across the land. I could see the shock and fear written large over my wife’s face. When I left the apartment for a five-minute drive to the supermarket, the roads were deserted. However, the drive took a good 45 minutes. Islamabad, the capital, is now a high-security zone. Each road is choked with security pickets and hemmed with razor concertina wire. The supermarket is stripped bare of its usual crowds and the shopkeepers wear a uniform of despair. They too, hurry to down shutters.

As the military is striving to wipe out insurgents from South Waziristan, the Mecca of world terrorism, political chaos, economic turmoil and a deliberate shift in the terrorists’ targets from security forces to civilians has virtually brought the country to a standstill. A massive trust deficit between the masses and the ruling elite, between the political and military establishments and between the judiciary and the government is compounded by dwindling economic activity and the flight of financial and human capital.

The recent blasts in Peshawar (October 28) and Rawalpindi (November 02), which killed over 35 outside a bank, show a strategic shift on the part of terrorist outfits. Earlier in the month of October, the attacks on the General Head Quarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army, police training centres in Lahore and 75 other bombings during 2009 were enough to terrorise the civilians. But since the start of the South Waziristan operation, blasts at public places targeting innocent civilians have wrought such fear in the minds of Pakistanis that normal life seems a distant dream. The tools of security forces — concrete barricades, scanners and metal detectors — are everywhere, but the feeling of security is lacking. Though the ISI and the Army are officially trying to distance themselves from the jihadis, what remains obvious is that though the top brass of the Army has managed to distance itself from its erstwhile pro-Taliban image, the powerful ISI remains highly infatuated with these elements — the reason why the operation against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgents is being supervised by Military Intelligence and not the ISI.

According to official figures, in the last five years, the Pakistan economy has suffered a loss of over Rs 2,080 billion, while inflation has grown by over 35 per cent and unemployment by over 17 per cent. Despite getting US $ 11 billion during the Musharraf regime and an annual logistical support fund of almost US $ 1.5 billion, the Pakistani economy has gone from bad to worse. Since 2001, according to official figures, almost 100 drone attacks and 260 suicide bombings have claimed the lives of over 28,000 civilians, while 300 terrorists including 15 most-wanted targets have been killed. But the war is reaching out in less direct, but no less deadly ways. Even in semi-urban and urban centres, food insecurity has become alarmingly high. Every household wants to know: whose war this is? Why are we fighting this war against terrorism? Who is going to control this jihadi Frankenstein’s monster? On top of — or perhaps because of — these unanswered questions haunting the nation, various interest groups like businessmen-politicians, landlord-politicians, militant supporters and media have banded together into cartels, to protect their interests. This has further alienated the common person.

The national media is multiplying the confusion by spreading all sorts of conspiracy theories and rumours, thus proving their influence to the other cartels. Some media tycoons boast that there are only two forces in the country: the Chief of Army Staff and the other, the Chief of Media Staff. They claim they can decide the fate of any issue or government.


On November 2, the Pakistan Army announced that they had taken control of some main centres of the TTP in South Waziristan and assured the nation that the militants’ main stronghold of Sararogha would fall in the next few days. For weeks, more than two divisions of the army have been deployed in one of the most treacherous battlegrounds against an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 militants, including Uzbeks, Tajiks and Arabs. Supported by more than two dozen F-16s, choppers, heavy artillery and American drones launched from Pakistani soil, the several militant hideouts are reported destroyed.

As the militants vacate areas targeted by bombs, drones and artillery, they focus, instead, on the vulnerable urban clusters of Pakistan. One should expect more destruction from them in the coming weeks and months. With the harsh Waziristan winter drawing near, those familiar with the area believe that as mountainous areas become impassable, the army might have to halt its advance by mid-November. Independent sources confided to this journalist that due to the total lack of surprise, most Taliban or terrorists have melted away to safer havens to “live to fight another day”.

A tribal malik (leader) from Waziristan who lives in Islamabad said on condition of anonymity that most militants have fled from South to North Waziristan because, under the terms of a 2007 agreement between the army and the North Waziristan tribes, no army operation will be conducted there. “If pushed, the militants will move to Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand, Orakzai and Bajaur agencies or will cross over to Afghanistan. In fact, many have already gone to Southern Punjab, Karachi and Balochistan, where they find lots of sympathisers amongst banned outfits such as the Sipah-e- Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Lashkar-e- Jhangvi,” said the malik.

“A large number of foreigners have settled down in tribal society. Most are married to locals now and have a family network of their own. How can they be expelled after 30-odd years?” asked another malik.


Another tribal elder questioned the commitment of the political government: “Smaller groups like Mangal Bagh’s, which operates in the semi-urban areas of Khyber Agency and controls a lot of the lucrative trade routes to Afghanistan are still active in the area despite the operation. Moreover, Mangal Bagh is running his own FM radio station, from which he airs anti-government statements daily and threatens locals with slaughter and suicide bombers if they cooperate with the state. If the government cannot even shut down his radio station, how can people in the area turn against him?” Another elder spoke up hesitantly, “Everyone in the area knows where Mangal Bagh can be found. Yet, he is still there and still operational.”

“It’s going to be a long battle. Without a working local political and administrative structure, I wonder how the army will operate effectively against them or even diminish the fear of the militants among the populace,” mused a senior malik. This sentiment is borne out by the facts. Almost all the cabinet members of the ANP-led government of NWFP province, the MNAs and Senators elected from FATA seats and political bigwigs such as Salim Saif Ullah (PML-Q), Aftab Sherpao (Former Interior minister of in the Musharraf regime), Asfand Yar Wali (ANP) have fled their homes and have moved to Islamabad. When elected representatives from the region were asked to comment on the situation, none would speak on record. All of them felt that since they had not been taken into confidence either before the doomed peace deal with the TTP or the operation that followed it, there was no reason to “stick their necks out” in this situation.


The closure of schools, the blockade of roads and the creation of red alert highsecurity zones has led people to question if the government has any strategy for the broader conflict or if it is preoccupied with its own security. Political chaos and emotive non-issues are being highlighted in the media instead of real issues, so as to destabilise the government. With the PMLQ, the MQM and the PPP government tussling over the adoption the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a law that would give amnesty against massive corruption charges to certain politicians, there is a pervasive sense that there is no single decision-making body in control of the country. There appear to be six power centres operating simultaneously — and discordantly — in the country. The military, which has been in power throughout most of Pakistan’s history, is certainly the most feared force, with its myriad intelligence wings. On the political front, President Zardari is directly interacting with the cabinet members, irking Prime Minister Gilani. As Gilani knows Zardari happens to be his party chief, he prefers to work with the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif of the PML-N. The PML-N and an erstwhile ally of the PPP, Altaf Hussain’s MQM are vociferous opponents of the NRO, which Zardari has been supporting. And ever since the triumphant Long March of March 2009, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has become another player in the power game. Though he has failed to take up all-important cases such as those of missing persons, he seems to have started running the government from the Supreme Court, by directing the parliament to review more than 27 ordinances issued during the Musharraf regime including the infamous NRO and has even gone so far as to fix the prices of sugar and flour.


The three-day visit of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is the most meaningful diplomatic offensive undertaken by the US since the start of war on terror. In the wake of the controversy over the Kerry- Lugar Bill, Clinton managed to reach out and convey a clear message not only to the masses but to all the power centres in Pakistan that US is here to stay. Her 3D message — diplomacy, development and deterrence — was aimed at tripling the development and diplomatic staff in the country, providing for the deployment of over 4,000 Blackwater personnel in and around Islamabad, ensuring that new US installations in Tank (NWFP) and Jeewani (Balochistan) remain intact and, above all, ensuring that the army should continue its offensive against the militants, thus taking the heat off the US army and help them form an exit or safe-stay strategy in this region. She also hinted at helping improve ties between archrivals India and Pakistan by pressing for a trade-first option to normalise relations between the two nuclear neighbours. With so many power players and so many conflicting interests, when will the militancy be defeated? Will it ever be defeated? The answer remains elusive and it is this elusiveness that is driving the suicide bombers.

(The article first appeared in The Tehelka Magazine)

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Clinton in Pak encounters widespread distrust of U.S

Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan - Every time Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to win over Pakistanis during her three-day charm offensive last week, they fired back a polite but firm message:

We don’t really trust your country.

No matter how hard Clinton tried to reassure audiences in Lahore and Islamabad with talk of providing economic aid where it’s needed most, Pakistanis seized on her visit as the perfect moment to lash out at a U.S. government they perceive as arrogant, domineering and insensitive to their plight.

At a televised town hall meeting in Islamabad, the capital, on Friday, a woman in a mostly female audience characterized U.S. drone missile strikes on suspected terrorist targets in northwestern Pakistan as de facto acts of terrorism. A day earlier in Lahore, a college student asked Clinton why every student who visits the U.S. is viewed as a terrorist.

The opinions Clinton heard weren’t the strident voices of radical clerics or politicians with anti-U.S. agendas. Some of the most biting criticisms came from well-mannered university students and respected, seasoned journalists, a reflection of the breadth of dissatisfaction Pakistanis have with U.S. policy toward their country.

In those voices what rang clear was a sense that Pakistan was paying a heavy price for America’s “war on terror.”

“You had one 9/11, and we are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan,” Asma Shirazi, a journalist with Geo TV, told Clinton during the Islamabad town hall meeting.

Clinton’s visit came at a time when Pakistanis’ suspicions about U.S. intentions in their country are at an all-time high.

A five-year, $7.5-billion aid package to Pakistan recently signed into law by President Obama has stoked much of the animosity. Measures in the legislation aimed at ensuring the money isn’t misspent have been perceived by Pakistanis as levers that Washington can use to exert control over their country.

Pakistanis also continue to be incensed by U.S. reliance on drone missile strikes to take out top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The CIA-operated drone strikes have killed at least 13 senior Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas in the last 18 months. But Pakistani government and military leaders say the strikes have also killed hundreds of civilians and amount to violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

At the Islamabad town hall meeting, a student from a university in Peshawar, a city shaken by a car bomb blast Wednesday that killed 118 people, summed up the anger over the drone attacks.

“What is actually terrorism in U.S. eyes?” the woman asked. “Is it the killing of innocent people in, let’s say, drone attacks? Or is it the killing of innocent people in different parts of Pakistan, like the bomb blast in Peshawar two days ago? Which one is terrorism, do you think?”

Pressed by the forum’s moderator whether she thought U.S. drone missile strikes were tantamount to terrorism, Clinton answered, “No, I do not.”

On the one occasion when Clinton struck her own assertive tone, the message appeared to get through. Her suggestion to Pakistani journalists in Lahore that elements within the Pakistani government were probably aware of the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leaders but were not acting on the information struck a chord on the opinion pages of major Pakistani newspapers.

“If we are honest, we cannot deny that much of what she said was true,” remarked the English-language daily the News in an editorial that appeared Saturday.

Clinton repeatedly acknowledged the mutual lack of trust that has held back the relationship, and she emphasized the Obama administration’s commitment to addressing crucial issues for Pakistanis that reach beyond terrorism, such as shoring up Pakistan’s beleaguered electricity grid and improving schools and healthcare.

Pakistanis, however, clearly remained unconvinced that Washington was as interested in improving the quality of life in Pakistan as it was in tracking down terrorists. And on several occasions during her trip, Clinton was confronted by Pakistanis who blamed the previous U.S. administration’s policies in Afghanistan for the militancy now wreaking havoc across Pakistan.

“Look, Madam Secretary, we are fighting a war that is imposed on us,” journalist Shirazi told Clinton. “It’s not our war. That was your war, and we are fighting that war.”

Assessments of Clinton’s trip in Saturday’s Pakistani newspapers were gloomy.

“One cannot help feeling that [Clinton's trip] was an abortive exercise,” remarked an editorial in the Nation, another English-language newspaper, “and she went away fully conscious of that failure.” {Los Angeles Times}

Posted in News, USAComments (0)

Death toll rises to 27 in Bajaur drone attack

PKonweb Report

The death toll in US drone attack at a compound in Bajaur tribal agency has reached 27. Bajaur is one of the seven tribal agencies comprising FATA in northwest Pakistan.

Earlier, it was reported that nearly 18 persons were killed when a US drone fired two missiles on a compound in Damadola area of the agency.

The compound was located near the house of local Taliban leader Moulvi Faqir Muhammad who is also the deputy chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (PPP).

Unconfirmed reports from the area said that 11 foreign nationals were also among the dead, according to The Nation.

A Taliban shura meeting was underway at the time of the strike, DawnNews reported citing local sources.

The nephew and son-in-law of Faqir Muhammad were also killed. Faqir fled the compound 10 minutes before the attack, ARY new channel said.

Damadola and its adjoining areas near Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province are considered to be the strongholds of the Taliban.

This latest strike comes amid reports that US and Pakistani forces are cooperating in the current offensive against the Taliban, with predator drones providing aerial surveillance and intercepting Taliban communications. (MAMOSA)

Posted in NewsComments (0)

MERAY MUTABIQ with Dr Shahid Masood: OCT 17

Launching of Waziristan Operation after suspension of debate on Kerr-Lugar Bill in the Parliament and the tabling of NRO in parliament for discussion. Guests: Imran Khan (Chairman Pakistan Tehri-i-Insaf) and Shaheen Sehbai (Washington-based Group Editor of The News)

Posted in Meray Mutabiq, Talk ShowsComments (1)

DUNYA TODAY with Moeed Pirzada: OCT 17

Launching of Waziristan operation and its ramifications short and long-term. Guests: Syed Talat Hussain (AAJ Anchorman), Rustam Shah Mohammad (Specialist on Afghanistan), Brig. (R) Muhmeed Shah (Former Sec. Fata)

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KAL TAK with Javed Choudhry: SEP 30

Kerry-Lugar Bill; Corruption in Pakistan; Friendly Opposition; COD, etc. Guests: Khawaja M. Asif PML-N, Syed Sumam Ali Bukhari PPPP and Senator Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan JI

Posted in Talk ShowsComments (0)

Muslim Singles, Matrimonial, Shaadi and Marriage Introductions Online - SingleMuslim.com

Talk Shows

  • DO TOK with Mazhar Abbas on ARY: Nov 21
    November 22, 2009 | 2:55 am

    History of corruption and political revenge, NRO, etc. Guests: Faisal Raza Abidi (PPP), Siddiq-ul-Farooq (PML-N), Khalid Ranjha (PML-Q) and Justice (R) Tariq Mahmood.

  • MERAY MUTABIQ with Dr. Shahid Masood: Nov 21
    November 22, 2009 | 2:18 am

    A MUST WATCH: Govt publishes NRO beneficiary list as Nov 28 approaches when NRO will expire. Guests: Roedad Khan (Ex-Bureaucrat), Ansar Abbasi (Analyst), Md Saleh Zafir (Analyst)

  • SAWAL YEH HAI with Dr. Danish: Nov 21
    November 22, 2009 | 1:47 am

    Govt published list of NRO beneficiaries. Guests: Syed Naveed Qamar (PPP), Haidar Abbas Rizvi (MQM), Mushahid ullah Khan (PML-N) and Marvi Memon (PML-Q)

  • DUNYA TODAY with Dr. Moeed Pirzada: Nov 21
    November 22, 2009 | 1:30 am

    A MUST WATCH: Dr Maleeha Lodhi’s interview on Gen James Jones (Natl Security Advisor to Obama) delivery of Obama’s special letter to President Zardari asking Pakistan to take on the Afghan Taliban who attack US forces inside Afghanistan from Pakistan’s tribal areas.

  • TONIGHT with Najam Sethi: Nov 21
    November 22, 2009 | 1:19 am

    A MUST WATCH: Najam Sethi holds a no-holds-barred discussion with Gen. (R) Rashid Qureshi (Ex-DG ISPR) who later became spokesman of Gen (R) Musharraf until the end.

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