Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where Is The Mourning, Mr. Zardari?

To Our Elite And Not Just The President: Was a reception for a foreign guest more important than sharing the grief of your people?

More than one hundred innocent Pakistanis killed in one day, more than two hundred in less than a month.  Attacks linked to our own and America's failed Afghan policy.  Attacks supported by anti-Pakistan forces in the region and not just unknown 'extremists'.  Children left without parents, a nation terrorized. And the response of our political elite?  Dinner, toasts and merrymaking in Islamabad. Was a reception for a foreign guest more important than sharing the grief of your people? A shameless foreign-backed ruling elite. 

Thursday, 29 October 2009.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—One hundred and ten killed in one day.  More than two hundred dead in less than a month. If this were any other country, emergency would have been declared, nation would have been mobilized, and intellectuals would have moved to question the policies of rulers who draw their strength from Washington and London and not from the people and the interests of Pakistan.

Above all, there would have been a national mourning.

But not in Pakistan.  Not in a country where one ruler sold his nation in exchange for a deal offered to him by the Am-Brits and where 'elected' rulers consider receiving someone from Washington and London the high point of their careers.

The list of grievances is long:

1.       WHERE ARE THE RAPID EMERGENCY TEAMS: Many of the dead in Peshawar probably died beneath collapsed buildings.  Where are the millions of rupees that were spent after the 2005 earthquake on rapid response rescue teams?

2.      MOUNRING: How many innocent Pakistanis should be killed before our ruling elite decide to declare national mourning?  How many Pakistanis should die before our President and Prime Minister cut short their toasts for Mrs. Hillary Clinton and rush to Peshawar to be with their own people?

3.      FIND CULPRITS: We know our own citizens are involved in this terrorism, but the small terror army in South Waziristan is not getting its money and weapons from inside Pakistan.  Rehman Malik's Interior Ministry and the military's spy agencies have credible, strong and detailed information about how a US-controlled Afghanistan is being used for anti-Pakistan activities.  BLA and TTP terrorists have a safe haven there. Terrorist Abdullah Mehsud was killed in 2007 slipping back from Afghanistan through Balochistan [and not the tribal belt] after meeting his backers there.  We know why the Chinese were targeted here.  We have enough evidence of the condemnable role played by India and its puppets in Kabul, and of the suspicious role of at least the US intelligence if not the US military and the Obama administration. And yet our government and the ruling elite of Pakistan are shy of mentioning this publicly.  How many Pakistanis should die before they move? How many of our children must be orphaned before you speak up?  You are being forced to ditch Kashmir and submit without questions to whatever Washington wants to do in Afghanistan.  Why can't you take a stand?  What are you afraid of?  That your assets in American and British banks will be seized?

4.      SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES: US diplomats camouflaged as Afghan Taliban carrying weapons and pictures of sensitive buildings have been arrested, not once but many times.  US ambassador Anne Patterson has been using her personal rapport with President Zardari and the Interior Minister to allow US security firms into Pakistan, mostly to repeat the same mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Pakistanis don't want any of this.  Pakistanis don't agree with the American view that Pakistan is a war theater following Iraq and Afghanistan, and we will resist this.  'Extremism' is not the only explanation for the terrorist army in South Waziristan.  America's role in Afghanistan is also a big reason for the regional mess.

I make these grievances, and so do most Pakistanis, knowing that we are seeing a shift in this country.  Patriotism and PakNationalism is on the ascent here.  Take the example of one Pakistani politician who received a call from the US embassy last week.  Senator Tariq Azim was asked to visit the US Embassy building in the secured diplomatic enclave because a former State Department analyst-turned-academic, Mr. Daniel Markey, wanted to see him.

Senator Azim accepted the request for the meeting but politely declined to come to the embassy.  He said if Mr. Markey wants to see him he should come to the senator's office.  Sen. Azim's action was not about being antagonistic to Washington.  He is a proponent of strong ties with America but he wanted to make a statement on US meddling in Pakistani politics, where Washington's diplomacy with Pakistan shifted over the past two years from the Pakistan Foreign Office to direct contacts and private dealings with political parties.

Show some pride and compassion and share the grief of your people before it's too late.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Pakistan Arrogance

After attacking Pakistan's military and intelligence capabilities, US officials now turn to the nationalist Pakistani media.  US ambassador Anne W. Patterson already has set a precedence by applying pressure on a Pakistani newspaper to silence a longtime critics of US policies. Now it's Madam Clinton's turn. 


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—In terms of U.S. antics, things in Pakistan are becoming ever more ridiculous.  As if new restrictions imposed by Congress on military aid to Pakistan aren't bad enough, we're now seeing Secretary of State Clinton target Pakistan's press. In true imperial fashion, she declared that Washington hadn't responded properly to criticism in Pakistan's media of the Kerry-Lugar Aid bill - criticism based on lies of course - but that now it would offer a fitting response. [The official bill is the Enhanced Partnership Act with Pakistan Bill of 2009]. According to Clinton, Pakistan's media is full of exaggeration and doesn't present the facts. That's laughable considering how every line of aforementioned bill has been discussed ad infinitum to the point that there was no room at all left for exaggeration, which Kerry himself reiterated when he last visited Islamabad.

Unfortunately, it is the media in the U.S. that has targeted Pakistan and its nuclear assets, offering fanciful claims and insinuations far removed from reality at every opportunity. But Clinton's attack on Pakistan's media shouldn't be ignored because it involves a veiled threat as well as an overt insult.  Considering how hard this nation's press has fought and sacrificed for its independence, including in terms of lives lost, this is something we shouldn't tolerate.

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.

In a connected issue, the Ministry is also trying to put a stop to cases against Inter-Risk and DynCorp, and it refuses to admit the presence in Pakistan of Xe Worldwide (formerly Blackwater) despite glaring evidence that they are here. By all accounts, the interior Ministry seems extremely sensitive about safeguarding U.S. interests - even at the expense of Pakistan's. Why?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Imran Khan with Ahmed Quraishi

Aired on 18 October 2009.

Who Will Rally The Pakistanis?


A LETTER FROM A PAKNATIONALIST: Backchannel diplomacy and silently providing the proof to Indians and Americans will not resolve anything.  Pakistani media is pretending to behave responsibly by not pointing the fingers to India and some elements in America.  Pakistan is in dire need of someone to step forward and rally the Pakistanis.  None of the Pakistani politicians is up to the task.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Like every Pakistani, I am extremely depressed over the death of innocent Pakistanis and recently the students of International Islamic University.

Unfortunately there is not a single politician who has the courage to come out and rally the nation against the naked foreign intervention.  It is not possible for local militants to plan, coordinate and execute so many acts of terrorism in such a short period in our highly guarded capital.  What was the objective of targeting girls section of Shariah faculty of the International Islamic University when another seat of higher learning, FAST, was just a few meters away from the main road where one takes the lane for the International Islamic University?  Why did the two terrorists go to blow themselves up almost two kilometers away from the first likely target?

Foreign hand is evident and it will not stop until we start blaming India they way they did against us after Mumbai attacks.  Backchannel contacts and silently providing the proof to Indians and Americans will not solve the problem at all.  Media pretends to be behaving responsibly by not pointing fingers on India etc without evidence. But the least the Pakistani media can do is to highlight the sponsors and supporters of these terrorists.

Few observations:

Where has gone the whole debate over Kerry Lugar bill? The nation expected some real tough talk from our Parliament.  Where is it all? Media also gave up this very important issue of our national interest because of the successive terrorist attacks and the military action in the west.

In the main TV show of Sept. 6 on the state-run PTV, I noticed how smartly our enemies have turned our focus from India (which was always the focus as a "dushman" in all the Sept. 6 celebrations since my childhood) to local militants.

Nawaz Sharif has either no interest in Pakistan and its people or is ready for an early exit from the political scene. [Or he has been promised support by the Americans for his turn in power in exchange for making it easy for the Zardari setup.]

There is a very dangerous leadership vacuum and no one is there to fill it.  

Time is passing quickly and we are conceding a lot to the US and Indians with every passing moment.  They want to keep us engaged so that we keep on giving in to their demands one by one as we have done in the past.

I would like to modify a verse of Faiz to wake these dumb leaders.

مٹ    جائیگا  یہ ملک   تو  تم  بات  کروگے
مخلص ہو تو اب حشراٹھا کیوں نہیں دیتے


مٹ جائیگا  یہ ملک تو  تم  بات  کروگے
مخلص ہو تو آواز اٹھا کیوں نہیں دیتے

[You will open your mouth when the country is gone … if you are sincere why not raise your voice NOW!]

I am one of your fans and like your analysis.  You are a true patriot fighting Pakistan's case in every possible way in print and electronic media.

Jameel Qazi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Management and Marketing
of Industrial Management
King Fahd University of Petroleum
and Minerals

How Qureshi's Son Was Appointed In Kerry's Office

Let's just hope that he lost Pakistan's case on the Kerry-Lugar bill because of personal lack of conviction than a soft corner for Mr. Kerry who gave his son a job in a powerful place.

Normally, it would be great to have a Pakistani citizen join the staff of a powerful US legislator like John Kerry, the former presidential candidate, chairman of the US senate foreign relations committee and the man who was being considered for Obama's secretary of state before Hillary got the job.

It is another thing, however, if this Pakistani turns out to be the son of a serving Foreign Pakistani Minister working in the office of Mr. Kerry, the sponsor of the Kerry-Lugar bill with which most Pakistanis have a problem. 

There is a strong hint here of impropriety and conflict of interest.

The problem can be summed up in this question: Mr. Qureshi is supposed to be protecting Pakistani interest at a time when the US-Pakistani ties are going through a rough patch.  Does having his son work for Mr. Kerry create a conflict of interest for Foreign Minister Qureshi?

If you are a father, you develop a soft corner for the powerful man who has given your son an entry job in a powerful place. 

Did this natural gratitude affect Foreign Minister's judgment as he tried to manage the controversy over Kerry-Lugar bill?

Most observers agree that Foreign Minister Qureshi's performance in the Kerry-Lugar bill fiasco was weak, to put it mildly.  He refused to acknowledge Pakistani concerns and showered grandiose praise on the bill.  When he returned to Pakistan and was told of the reservations, he chose to go back to the United States supposedly to press for Pakistan's rights.  Only that he was sidelined in no time and forced to accept an 'explanatory' note instead.  And again he showered exaggerated praise on the note, calling it 'historic'. 

Some in Pakistan rightly suspect he did not even press Mr. Kerry on Pakistan's reservations mainly because his government in Islamabad couldn't care less.  It was the Pakistani military, opposition parties and the public opinion's demand and Mr. Qureshi's government was alone in accepting the anti-military US conditions.

Did Mr. Qureshi not fight Pakistan's case as strongly as he could because he was not convinced or because Mr. Kerry gave his son a big break?

Others have also noticed this.

Longtime journalist Anjum Niaz, in her column The Boston Brahmin published in today's The News, wrote the following:

After a number of phone calls to Senator Kerry's office, I finally found out from one of Kerry's male staffers that ZHQ did indeed work for Kerry but had now left. Why has ZHQ gone into hiding? Did he do something wrong? Yes. And the Foreign Office finds itself between a rock and a hard place. How can it condone its boss's act of getting his son a job with Kerry when the KLB talks were at a critical stage? Even if fate smiles upon ZHQ because he's the favoured son of our foreign minister and the doors of the high and mighty in Washington open up for him, we have the right to know whenever the son's job compromises his dad's position. More importantly if it is in direct conflict with Pakistan's interests.  Would you not call this a conflict of interest? Should the foreign minister resign? And if Zardari cannot afford to let him go, then the FM must seek a public apology […] Would he have given ZHQ the time of the day had the young man not been the son of Pakistan's foreign minister?"

The impression that something is not right in Mr. Qureshi being Pakistan's foreign minister while his son works for Sen. Kerry is also underlined by how Mr. Qureshi's brother has reacted to the story.  An Urdu-language daily newspaper, the Express, quoted the brother as saying that members of his feudal land-owning family 'does not seek employment' anywhere.  He said this while denying his nephew was 'employed' by Sen. Kerry.

There is also an interesting background to how Qureshi Jr. got the job on Capitol Hill.

This version of the story is not verified but comes from a knowledgeable source at the Pakistani Foreign Office:

"Shah Mahmood Qureshi's relations with Haqqani had become very tense in the early part of this year. During Zardari's for AFPAK consultations, Qureshi and Haqqani had a shouting match because the ambassador had sent something to the president without going through the foreign minister. Haqqani had direct line to Zardari, and he had some of Qureshi's decisions reversed. After the Long March when Zardari became a little weaker and Yousaf Raza Gilani a bit stronger, Haqqani decided to patch up with Qureshi. What did Haqqani do: He used his contacts with Kerry and had Qureshi's son appointed as his intern. With that favour, Qureshi has no more complaints against Haqqani.  So powerful is Haqqani that he has never allowed Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to set foot in Washington. 

Whatever the truth, two points are clear:

One, Foreign Minister Qureshi should have had the courage to refuse to fly back to Washington to renegotiate the controversial anti-Pakistan clauses if he was not personally convinced.  That he did so merely to placate the powerful Pakistani military reflects poorly on his record.

Second, his son's internship in Sen. Kerry's office raises a legitimate question of a conflict of interest. Mr. Qureshi should have seen this one coming since he is known to be an upright politician by the standards of politicians in this country. 

Let's just hope that he lost Pakistan's case on the Kerry-Lugar bill because of personal lack of conviction than a soft corner for Mr. Kerry.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. & PakNationalists
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium
without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

In Serving US Interest, This Pakistani Govt. Is In A Class Of Its Own

American Lecture In Pakistan Parliament

If Fired, Haqqani Threatens To Reveal 'Reams' of Pakistani Secrets

Kerry's ‘Explanatory Statement’ Does Not Solve Our Problem: Marvi Memon

Anti-Pakistan TTP Terrorists Equipped With U.S., Indian, German, Weapons

Weapons Used By -Foreign-Funded TTP Terrorists Against Pakistan    

[Left to right] U.S. made M249 automatic machine guns, U.S.-made Glock pistols, and FN Browning GP35 9mmx19mm

Glock 17 

 [Left to right] Indian machine guns Heckler & Koch MP5A3 9mmx19mm, Indian made Sterling L2A1 sub machine guns
 [Left to right] a model of Israeli licenced Indian made UZI 9mmx19mm sub machine guns and German Walther-P1 pistols

In one case, Germany sent 10,000 small weapons to Afghanistan. Half of them have disappeared. This is a classic way of supporting insurgencies without being caught. German investigators can never accuse German intelligence of crossing the NATO mandate and helping CIA in extracurricular activities. The Americans are good at dismissing their double actions in Afghanistan as conspiracy theories. Here is a brief, detailed and sourced account of what types of foreign-origin sophisticated weapons are in use against the Pakistani military. A ragtag army of criminals, throat-slitters and mercenaries could never have faced one of the world's largest organized armies if not for outside sophisticated support.

Big India's Small Heart

[in response to a respectable Indian journalist in a private mailing list]

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

Haqqani's Blackmail

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 ...


Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Serving US Interest, This Pakistani Govt. Is In A Class Of Its Own

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.

American Lecture In Pakistan Parliament

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

Obama Signs 'Kill Bill'. What Can Pakistan Do?

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?

Kerry's ‘Explanatory Statement’ Does Not Solve Our Problem: Marvi Memon

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

An 'Explanatory' Note From Washington To Pakistan

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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Saturday, October 10, 2009

India Fuming At Pakistani Newspaper For Leaking Story On Sex Providers

India is fuming because a Pakistani newspaper broke the news that the Indian military has finalized plans to deploy a unit of women sex providers in occupied Kashmir, where figures of suicides and mental problems among Indian soldiers deployed in a hostile territory have shot through the rooftop.

This time, Pakistani diplomats in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi may receive an unusual Indian protest.  So far the Indians have been ISI-phobic, seeing the hands of Pakistan's feared premier counterespionage service in everything that went wrong in India.  Now the diplomats will be receiving a letter of protest against an independent Pakistani newspaper.

For the first time in the 60-year tumultuous relationship between Pakistan and India, New Delhi wants to lodge a complaint with Islamabad against a Pakistani newspaper, the Daily Mail.  The Mail is a small newspaper that publishes from Islamabad and Beijing.  But it's investigative stories make up for its small size.

On Sept. 11, The Daily Times ran a story filed by the paper's New Delhi correspondent Christina Palmer, titled 'Indian Army To Deploy Prostitutes As A Women Battalion In Held Kashmir'.

The PakNationalists, PakAlert, PKKH, PakistanFirst and tens of other Pakistani and international online news portals, picked it up.

Ms. Palmer's story was based on a statement issued by the Inspector General of Border Security Force Himmat Singh. The story basically said that the Indian military was concerned about the rising incidents of suicides among Indian soldiers deployed in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a territory where Kashmiris are fighting India for the right to determine whether they want to be independent or join Pakistan.

A high level Indian military delegation went to Moscow to study the Russian experience in dealing with such problems.  Like India, the former Soviet Union military was spread thin across a large territory, including distant and difficult regions.

Mr. Singh confirmed that a batch of 178 female soldiers was being sent to Northern Command where they would be deployed along with Indo-Pak border to check the border violations by women, working in the field.  Mr. Singh further stated that these women were not fully trained for operational military duties however in the next phase, after further training, they would be given the duties of operational Border security.  Mr. Singh refused to admit that these female soldiers were actually prostitutes and were being dispatched to the valley as undercover sex workers.  When contacted, Rohit Sharma, a senior defense analyst here in New Delhi, said that the move was a creative step by Indian army leadership as it would boost the medical and mental health of the soldiers.

Some departments of the Indian government were permitted to contact licensed brothels in several Indian cities to explore the possibility of recruiting candidates.

But the Indian reaction to this story was unexpected.

According to one Indian newspaper, an official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs retorted by saying what he or she thought is a hit below the belt for Pakistan: "We do not have a Talibanised society like Pakistan's.  In India, women have very successful military careers."

Never mind that Pakistan has a large women's police force deployed in all the major cities of the country, in addition to active duty women officers in the Army and the Pakistan Air Force.

The Indian news portal confirmed that "India has decided to lodge an official complaint against the 'wrongful news reports" and that "the order to lodge a complaint has come directly from the office of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram."

The Indian portal quoted an unnamed Indian diplomat as saying, "Such news can tarnish the image of our forces. So far, it was a conscious decision by the government not to deploy women troops on the border. But we want total success of this experiment and we need to tell the Pakistanis to behave."

Several foreign reporters based in the Indian capital reported receiving calls from Indian government and intelligence officers asking where to find Christina Palmer.

Ms. Palmer, who will be appearing on Geo Network's weekly show TSS with Ahmed Quraishi tomorrow, is a British journalist who lives with her Indian husband. According to Indian laws, you have to be a Pakistani citizen legally residing in India or an Indian journalist to work as a correspondent for a Pakistani newspaper.  Non-Indian journalists cannot represent Pakistani media in India.  For this reason, Ms. Palmer writes under an assumed name.

But to prove that she is real, Ms. Palmer is appearing through telephone from New Delhi on a Pakistani television talk show.

In her report, Ms. Palmer wrote on Oct. 6: "In a unique and unprecedented move, India’s Minister for Home Affairs Mr. P. Chidambaram has threatened the Islamabad-based Pakistani newspaper The Daily Mail over one the investigative reports by the Daily regarding first female troops of Indian Army that have been deployed in the Held Kashmir. According to the reports appearing here in local Indian media as well as international media, the Home Affairs Minister has ordered his officials to lodge an official complaint with Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi to sort out The Daily Mail."

The paper's editor-in-chief Makhdoom Babar Sultan defended his newspaper's credibility in a special editorial: "Mr. Chidambaram’s action has shocked the entire global media community as it is the first move of its kind in which a top minister of a country has threatened an independent newspaper of another country of lodging a complaint against it and seeking strong action, there this move of India’s MHA has exposed the true face of so-called secular India and the belief of Indian leadership in freedom of press and freedom of expression. In the 62 years of the history of Pak-India relations, The Daily Mail is the first ever victim of this kind of aggression from the Indian government."