Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Clinton is scheduled to visit Islamabad soon. The press should at least use the occasion to make its views on her derogatory remarks clear. Meanwhile, Clinton's outburst should be regarded as the start of a new phase of direct intrusion into our affairs. This is a result of the Kerry-Lugar bill and other agreements this government and its predecessor have conceded to.
A far more serious threat that has become more visible is the physical access the U.S. has gained near Pakistan's most sensitive installations, including its nuclear facilities. The case of Sihala is one such instance - and we are at a loss to understand why the government, now that the issue has been revealed, continues to allow this unwarranted U.S. access.
At the same time, it was disturbing to find that the Interior Ministry awarded import licenses to the U.S. for the importation of weapons into the country without following proper procedure. Now that same Ministry is lowering the boom on the Pakistani commandant of the Sihala Academy for telling the truth and voicing his concerns as a Pakistani nationalist, rather than addressing U.S. antics in America's Sihala enclave and removing its presence from this sensitive area.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
King Fahd University of Petroleum
Dear Mr. Bharati,
The fact remains that Pakistan and the Pakistani government are more magnanimous in allowing Indian channels and content here than the Indian government and Indian channels are in reciprocating.
More Indian channels are shown in Pakistan. Very little of Pakistani channels is allowed in India, and this is a matter of policy that the Indian government imposes. At least we in Pakistan permit non-political Indian content. In India your government considers anything Pakistani as suspicious.
Mainstream Indian news organizations that have websites routinely block Pakistanis who register to post comments, including the majority that posts polite and academic comments. The issue is that your media outlets won’t allow Pakistanis to say anything on bilateral relations that is different from the official Indian position. The other opinion is not allowed. Compare this to Pakistan where Indian writers get away with much more on the pages of Pakistani newspapers [unfortunately, an Indian writer was allowed recently to call Quaid-e-Azam a ‘separatist’, with everything that the word implies, on the pages of a national Pakistani daily]. I dare any ‘liberal’ Indian newspaper to publish an article by a Pakistani offering an opinion that goes against the official Indian policy.
Javeria Jalal wasn’t interested in the legal aspect of the story. She wanted to highlight how small-hearted and insecure Big India is. And her point stands. You are free to spin and defend Indian image but facts speak for themselves.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Mr. Husain Haqqani is an insecure man these days. Members of his own government as well as the opposition are gunning for his head as the prime suspect in the Kerry-Lugar bill fiasco were anti-Pakistan clauses were inserted in an aid bill. There are reports his own government has reached a secret deal with the military to quietly ease the man out of his power seat.
Ever the consummate media manipulater [ex-journalist, professor and an admirable social climber], Mr. Haqqani tried to send a message to the Pakistani establishment through a prestigious American platform: If I am fired, I will reveal ugly and embarrassing secrets.
When The Nation picked up the story, he slapped the respected daily newspaper with a defamation lawsuit worth Rs. One billion.
So what is it that has really unsettled the man who has President Zardari's ear, and rubs shoulders with the powerful in Washington? Read on ...
CLICK HERE OR HERE FOR THE FULL REPORT
Saturday, October 17, 2009
You must be hearing a lot these days from the apologists of expanded US influence in Pakistan that every government in the past has accepted humiliating US conditions.
In fact, on Wednesday, government's PR wizards working under the direction of the PPP media team published a preposterous propaganda piece on the front page of one of the national dailies alleging that, "Jinnah also appealed for US aid."
The government media team is keen to convince Pakistanis that humiliating foreign conditions on aid are kosher because that is what previous Pakistani governments have been doing. Shamelessly, even the Quaid-e-Azam has been dragged into this government propaganda.
While the record of previous governments is debatable, what's beyond doubt is that this is the first government in Pakistan that came through a 'deal' brokered by US and UK diplomats, whitewashing the illegal wealth of individuals who enjoy a dubious record. This has never happened before in the history of any Pakistani government.
I bet even the Americans have never seen before this kind of an 'easy' pro-US government in their decades-old record of meddling in other countries.
This alone should put to shame anyone who defends these shady characters in this government.
Pakistanis should rest assured of one thing. The challenge of governing Pakistan and subduing this nation in the service of a foreign agenda is a difficult task. It's above and beyond the intellectual capacity of the rulers in Islamabad today.
As the challenge mounts, these shady characters will run away abroad in a few months' time with their fat bank accounts and will never look back. They will leave and never look back sooner or later.
While criticizing this ruling class, we need to send a note of thank you to Mr. Musharraf for 'dealing' us this hand as a parting gift to the nation.
Pakistanis should recognize this distinction about the current Pakistani government in the debate over the record of past Pakistani rulers in dealing with Washington.
The current government, in this debate, is in a class of its own.
Something stunning happened today in the fake US-imposed Pakistani democracy.
The Foreign Minister flies to Washington. US tells him the world is red, and he flies back, enters his country's parliament, and gives an hour-long boring lecture where he tries to tell them that the world is indeed red and proudly quotes American statements supporting this. And then his government shuts down the proceedings and stops the reperesentatives of the Pakistani nation from voting on whether they believe the Foreign Minister's assertion that the world is red.
This is ironic because this is, in essence, a US-imposed democracy, a democracy with American liking. If you want a democracy that is not American, then look at Turkey, Iran, and Hamas. Those elections weren't American-imposed.
In Pakistan we have a government tailored in Washington DC, where US officials struck a 'deal' with former ally Musharraf to ease the current Pakistani rulers into power so that they could continue Musharraf's misguided pro-US policies.
Is this what our American friends call democracy?
Consider the following:
A majority in the parliament, media and the public opinion is disturbed at the offensive language in some clauses of a US aid bill, the Kerry-Lugar bill, which ordinary Pakistanis call the ' Kill Bill' in their cell phone text messages.
The Parliament runs a heated three-day debate over the issue.
Today, Friday, a resolution was supposed to be passed concluding the debate and giving the parliament's take on the American aid bill. The US-imposed 'democractic' government stopped this because it didn't suit the Americans.
The foreign minister should be ashamed of himself. If he really believed the Kerry-Lugar bill is the best thing to happen to Pakistan after Independence, then he should have stuck to what he said in the press conference with Hillary Clinton. He should have declined when President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani asked him to go back to Washington with reservations on the bill. But since he did go back, he should have done justice to those reservations and not accept an 'explanatory' lollypop given to him by Kerry and Berman.
Does Foreign Minister Qureshi have a mind of his own or is he used to people slapping him around and walking all over him? What was the need for an hourlong emotional speech in Parliament in defense of senators Kerry and Berman?
This Pakistani ruling class has put down the heads of all Pakistanis in shame. Without drastic steps, this leadership will give Pakistanis a lot of pain in the days to come.
Friday, October 16, 2009
President Obama has signed the 'Kill Bill' [Kerry-Lugar bill] despite the reservations of most Pakistanis on offensive language in some clauses.
Pakistanis do not doubt the intentions of President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Senator Kerry. We know they are friends of Pakistan. We just do not trust the Washington establishment. Exhibit A: political conditions embedded in a bill that is packaged as a token of sincere friendship.
Washington rejected Pakistani concerns saying that's what Congress wants. But no word about the heated and passionate debate in the Pakistani parliament where the pro-US government is dangerously isolated. Pakistani parliament wanted to pass a resolution making the will of Pakistanis clear before President Obama signed the bill. In ignoring the Pakistani parliament and rushing to sign the bill, Washington sent a clear message. America will do what it wants. If it thinks that Quetta and Muridke are centers of terror, then that is it. Pakistan needs to accept it and move on. And don't dare ask Washington for evidence.
American politicians are smart people. But so are Pakistanis.
The Pakistani parliament can still pass a strong resolution rejecting the anti-Pakistan conditions in the bill and affirming that Pakistan will not be bound by them.
This way, US will give aid to our government at its own discretion. This way no one in the future will be able to say, 'Hey, you accepted in the Kill Bill that Quetta and Muridke are centers of terror,' or 'Hand over so and so nuclear scientist because you agreed to in the Kill Bill'. Pakistan will be able to point to the parliament resolution and say, 'You know what, we made our position and intention clear and still you gave us the money. That was your choice. We never accepted your claims and we told you so and yet you paid us.'
Let the Americans pay aid with a clear message from Pakistani parliament that we're not bound by your conditions.
This way, clauses in the Kerry-Lugar bill [Pakistanis are exchanging text messages calling it 'Kill Bill'] that seek to contain Pakistani military and strategic capabilites in exchange for aid will be rendered ineffective. Washington will also be put to the test: Will it still give aid to Pakistan?
After all, if this bill is really a 'true reflection' of American friendship with the people of Pakistan, then what's a few cumbersome conditions between friends, right Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lugar?
One of the brightest stars of the next generation of Pakistani leaders, Pakistan Muslim League politician Marvi Memon, a member of Parliament, has rejected the manner in which Washington has embedded humiliating conditions in a bill that US officials and politicians claim is a 'true reflection' of American friendship to Pakistan.
"The explanatory statement has no legal validity before the bill which will become law," Ms. Memon said in press release last night, amid reports that President Obama has signed the bill despite serious Pakistani reservations that have not been addressed. "And even if it did have a legal validity, it does not reduce the impact of the lethal aspects of the bill," she added.
Ms. Memon is the second Pakistani politician to reject the US aid bill after a half-hearted attempt by US legislators and officials to allay Pakistani concerns. The other politician who rejected the bill is former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. But observers said that Mr. Sharif, who is eyeing US support for a future run for Pakistan's top job, was not very forceful in rejecting conditions in the bill and that his statement was more a response to criticism at his silence than any real attempt at adopting a clear position on the bill.
Click here to read the full text of MNA Marvi Memon's press release.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Genuine Pakistani concerns about the Kerry-Lugar bill have been summarily dismissed thanks to arrogant US congressmen, a politicized Pakistani ambassador in Washington, and an inept pro-US elected government in Islamabad that has lost the trust of a majority of Pakistanis. US Vice President Joe Biden should seriously look into who turned his brilliant idea into a huge blunder.
By Ahmed Quraishi
Thursday, 15 October 2009.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—When the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stood in Washington last night to say, 'This is a historic document' and tried to act excited, a distinct look of confusion was visible on the faces of the two Americans standing to his right and left: Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
For a second it seemed as if both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Berman were looking at Mr. Qureshi and saying to themselves, 'Is this guy for real?'
There is a reason why the two seemed distrustful of the minister.
Only a few hours earlier the Pakistani Foreign Minister addressed a press conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where Mr. Qureshi appeared far more excited about the Kerry-Lugar aid bill than his host. [Ms. Clinton had to point out a couple of times she couldn't be more 'eloquent' than the Pakistani minister in describing the aid bill.] At one point, Mr. Qureshi rebuffed a Pakistani journalist who said Pakistanis back home were concerned about offensive language in some clauses.
"I'm very glad that they [Americans] have no intentions of micromanaging Pakistan, nor will Pakistan permit micromanagement," Qureshi said. "Never will we allow any compromise on Pakistan's sovereignty."
"I'm very glad that they [Americans] have no intentions of micromanaging Pakistan, nor will Pakistan permit micromanagement," Qureshi said. "Never will we allow any compromise on Pakistan's sovereignty."
But no sooner he returned to Islamabad than he was back on the plane to Washington. He had no choice, especially after an uproar in the country where a clear majority in the parliament, media, the public opinion and in the armed forces accused his government of accepting humiliating language that stops short of accusing Pakistan of running terrorist training camps and continuing to proliferate nuclear knowhow, both of which are accusations not backed by any evidence except unsourced US media reports and noise on the US think-tank circuit. The language in at least one clause is carefully drafted to push the civilian government to pick up fights with the military on issues ranging from officer promotions to excluding military input from nuclear-related policy.
So when Mr. Qureshi was back in Washington acting excited all over again, both Kerry and Berman were understandably unsure whether they should believe the minister or wait for him to go to Islamabad, get an earful again and come back with more reservations.
But a far more serious issue is how Washington's establishment appears to have dismissed genuine Pakistani concerns with a mere 'explanatory' note. You just have to admire the sense of humor behind naming this piece of paper a 'joint explanatory statement' that will be attached to the Kerry-Lugar bill.
Since the Pakistani parliament is still debating the bill and is yet to pass its final resolution on it, it is too early to say how will Mr. Qureshi be received back home [he is en route as these lines are written.]
But here is an initial assessment.
With the so-called 'Joint Explanatory Statement', Washington has rebuffed President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and ISI chief Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who huddled for a couple of hours before designating Foreign Minister Qureshi to fly to Washington and seek changes in the controversial clauses or simply the removal of the three or four controversial clauses so that the remainder of the bill focused on aid and cooperation could move forward.
If the bill is accepted in its present form, Pakistan will
1. Effectively be accepting that two major cities Quetta and Muridke are centers of terror as the bill alleges without any real evidence
2. Pakistan will also be accepting that it will entertain possible US requests for access to suspected nuclear proliferators as demanded by US and without stipulating that evidence be produced for such a demand
3. Pakistan will also be allowing Washington to demand reports from Pakistani civilian leaders confirming their control over internal military promotions and appointments. Interestingly, this clause opens the door for more US meddling in Pakistani politics since politicians will be using this clause and Washington's muscle to reign in the Pakistani military. The clause is a recipe for endless civil-military tensions.
4. Pakistan will also not be in a position to dispute unfounded US and British accusations that seek to shift the blame to Pakistan for failures in Afghanistan.
Mr. Qureshi has essentially sold off Pakistani interest on the basis of an 'explanatory statement'. He failed to defend the Pakistani position or prevail on the American officials on the core issue of the insult that most Pakistanis feel today because of the humiliating language in the bill.
Another problem is how the Pakistani embassy in Washington, under Ambassador Husain Haqqani, continues to feed a wrong picture of the debate back home in Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani is under tremendous attack in the Pakistani parliament for his role in failing to stop the controversial clauses. Members of his own government feel that the buck should stop at his desk for the fiasco. To save his position, it seems Mr. Haqqani is feeding his friends in the US media and the Washington establishment that the angst is Pakistan over the bill is 'manufactured' by 'anti-America forces' and is 'manipulated' by the Pakistani military. Some of his friends in the US media are peddling the theory that Mr. Haqqani is under attack because of his anti-military writings when he was out of government.
What Mr. Haqqani is not telling the Americans is that politicians in Pakistan have accused him, and not the US Congress or the US government, of deliberately inserting anti-military clauses in the Kerry-Lugar bill with the help of lobbyists paid for by the Pakistani exchequer and in pursuance of a domestic Pakistani political agenda [in other words, settling domestic scores.] It is also possible that some quarters in Washington that are not very Pakistan-friendly helped push the bill with unnecessary military-related clauses in a document that is focused on US-Pakistani partnership.
The bottom line is this: While his government spokespeople in Islamabad refuse to recognize there is anything wrong with the US bill [even US Ambassador has conceded the language was a mistake'], Mr. Qureshi could not have been expected to put any real effort into convincing US officials to chance the offending language, especially when it is already beginning to look like a battle between his government on the one side and the media-public opinion-political opponents-military on the other side.
It is unfortunate that an effort that most probably was undertaken in good faith by Vice President Joe Biden has degenerated into a major blot on the face of US-Pakistani ties because of overbearing US congressmen, a politicized Pakistani ambassador in Washington, and an inept government in Islamabad headed by insecure leaders.
Pakistan is left saddled with a bill whose language represents a major Pakistani policy concession on military, nuclear and terrorism issues. A government that passionately defended the bill's language inside Pakistan made little effort to force a change in language in Washington.
The worst part is that future US legislation and government policy can now always look back and use the clauses that are part of the bill to perpetuate popular US accusations against Pakistan.
Does Mr. Qureshi really believe he will receive a hero's welcome in Islamabad tomorrow morning?
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