Sunday, December 12, 2010

Processions, Religious And Political, To Be Shifted To City Outskirts

Ban gatherings and processions within cities and designate special areas for them outside major population areas.

I wrote this comment in reply to a discussion started on Internet group PressPakistan.

This is a healthy and overdue debate. And it is not limited to Muharram processions but includes other religious events, including Eid Milad al Nabi and other events.

Remember: this is not a religious issue but an issue of public order. Some of our fellow citizens and brothers and sisters will try to give this a religious color. This must not be permitted. Apart from Pakistan, no other Arab or Muslim country allows the kind of public order disturbances in the name of political and religious processions and rallies the way we do in Pakistan.

Laws need to be amended to prohibit any political or religious activity in public places where it could create inconvenience to the larger population.

Special areas should be designated on the outskirts of major cities and towns where political parties and religious groups can hold their events round the year without causing a public order problem for the government and the rest of the citizens.

These special-designated areas can be secured, organized and equipped to handle large crowds in an orderly way. Special facilities can be provided to help local and international media cover events right from the location.

Exceptions to the rule should be limited to events inside cities that are conducted inside halls and buildings with proper and ample parking arrangements. And with guarantees the gathering will not spill to the streets.

Most of our political and religious groups won't accept this. But a strong federal government can and should enforce this measure for larger public good.

This measure can help eliminate some of the factors that destabilize the domestic environment in the country.

A group of eminent, non-partisan Pakistanis have authored a detailed report in this regard which will be presented to the incumbent government sometime in early 2011. It is part of a larger effort to propose changes to our laws to strengthen the State and make it more effective.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ignore Guardian's Claim Of 'Fake' India WikiLeaks

The Guardian newspaper is claiming this report is 'fake'. Here is why you should disregard Guardian's claim for being biased:

WikiLeaks is not saying this. UK's Guardian newspaper is. It's one of 4 or 5 newspapers that have been selectively releasing the Wiki cables. About 1,200 have been released so far out of 251,000 or so. Guardian and others have manipulated the leaks to release material that supports US policy on Pakistan, specifically on Pakistani nukes and Pakistani policy on Afghanistan, India and Kashmir.

This selective approach was not limited to Pakistan. It extended to countries such as Russia and China, in addition to Pakistan, countries with whom US foreign policy is at odds.

WikiLeaks handed over the entire stash of cables to these 4 or 5 newspapers. What these papers did is to hold off everything and target these few countries in a surprising overlap with US objectives.

So the good work of WikiLeaks has been hijacked by these newspapers, including the Guardian.

Now there is this story in the Pakistani media and The Guardian is horrified that there is someone else practicing manipulation besides them.

Substantial parts of the story in Pakistani media is correct. It's only that The Guardian and the other newspapers are misleading the world public opinion by a selective focus on the things they want from WikiLeaks cables.

WikiLeaks did a good job of exposing US bully diplomacy, and here comes NYT, Guardian and 2 or 3 other 'partner' newspapers of WikiLeaks to selectively release the material to suit US policy objectives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sindh Is Not A Card, Mr. Zardari

A large Sindhi cap is permanently displayed at Ayub Park, Rawalpindi.

There is a clear stench of deceit in Sindh Culture Day, being celebrated across Pakistan's Sindh province tomorrow. It has nothing to do with Sindh or with culture. In all likelihood, it's President Asif Ali Zardari's latest trick to blackmail his political opponents.

After all, what's the point in political groups taking out rallies waving the Sindhi cap and dress?

Sindh's culture and language are thriving like never before. They are not under threat of any kind. Sindhi language, one of Pakistan's oldest, is growing with Internet websites, newspapers, books, and television stations. All Pakistanis identify with the culture and language of Sindh. It's our culture and language. And we all own it and swoon to the great Sufi tunes of legendaries such as Abida Parveen and Allan Faqir, and the great words of Abdulatif Bhitai and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the great poet and Sufi saint of Sindh.

Pakistan's modern art, music, television and theater are greatly indebted to and enriched by the contributions of Pakistani Sindhis.

A young girl in a camp for flood victims near Hyderabad
 Instead of galvanizing the people on language, Mr. Zardari could have issued a call to the people in Sindh and across Pakistan to rise again for the victims of floods who are still homeless, and a large number of them are in Sindh. In fact, it is Mr. Zardari's government that turned these poor flood victims, especially in Sindh, into beggars, queuing by the thousands at government-run camps and offices for help and often getting beaten up by police for protesting government's corruption and ineptitude.

Mr. Zardari, who owns lavish real estate in the United States, France, UAE and the UK, is not concerned about them. He is worried about his seat of power and is looking for ways to survive.

What Mr. Zardari is trying to do is to create conditions to use the Sindh Card. Which means: if my government is toppled in any way, I will whip up Pakistan's Sindhis into demanding separation from Pakistan.

This threat is not new. A Zardari aide and interior minister in Sindh's provincial government, Zulfiqar Mirza, bluntly admitted he and his boss were contemplating this after the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Interestingly, late Mrs. Bhutto never thought of this even after the execution of late Prime Minister Z. A. Bhutto. Also, I am not sure who gave Mr. Zardari or the PPPP the right to represent Pakistani citizens who are Sindhis [or who gave the same rights to MQM, ANP, etc. to represent other languages?].

Mr. Zardari has spent three years in power and has done nothing for his hometown, Nawabshah, or his wife's hometown, Larkana, or for Sindh. When he's out of power, he and his supporters will conveniently blame Islamabad, the federation, the so-called Establishment, or the alleged Punjabi-dominated bureaucracy of neglecting his home province.

People of Sindh are patriotic Pakistanis. They are also not fools.

Not only did Mr. Zardari not do anything for his home province, he didn't even do anything for Taslim Solangi. A pregnant 17-year-old Taslim was thrown to hungry dogs by corrupt landlords in rural Sindh in 2008. Before she was ripped apart by dogs, she was forced to prematurely deliver her 8-month-old baby who was immediately thrown into a river. Her family begged for justice and never received it.

Taslim Solangi, thrown to hungry dogs
President Zardari won't help the victims of  floods, won't give justice to Taslim Solangi, but is ready to use Sindh to save his presidency.

Sindh is not a card, Mr. President. Sindh is Pakistan. Please don't poison the culture of Sindh by linking it to your politics.

Unfortunately, none of the many intellectuals in Sindh stepped forward and protested President Zardari's desperate attempts to politicize our Sindhi culture. That's because they know they will be harassed by Mr. Zardari's party that currently rules the country.

It is time that we stopped anyone in the future using language for politics and to divide Pakistanis in the name of democracy.

The federal Pakistani government should seize our languages from these political parties and own them by itself. It should not let two-bit politicians use language for politics and divide Pakistanis along linguistic lines. Parties such as PPPP, ANP, MQM, PMLN and others have no right to self-appoint themselves as representatives and owners of entire groups of Pakistanis. The federal government should pass legislation to stop political parties from becoming linguistic parties. Democracy and political parties should not become tools for linguistic divisions. And this was certainly not the intent of the writers of our constitution.

We should have Sindh culture day and other culture days every year. But they should be organized by the federal government and celebrated nationally. Why should Sindh culture day be celebrated in Sindh only?

We need a federal government that can correct these abnormalities in Pakistani democracy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Before You Download From Wikileaks Site

From a reader, Mr. Usman Yousaf:

I would like to suggest to people who belong to Pakistani govt & security departments. that please do not download any data from wikileaks website on computers where privacy and security is critical. I have doubts they must have done something with those docs. My suggestion is to print them and then scan them. All the best for Pakistan.
Pakistan Zindabad.
Usman Yousaf.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kayani's Briefing: Dawn's Shoddy Journalism

A Dawn newspaper columnist Cyril Almeida has just given a new twist to the term fifth-columnist.

Today he has published a lousy piece of journalism that should be manadatory reading in schools across the country for pitfalls to avoid in a media career.

Far from journalistic curiosity, the only purpose of the piece appears to be to embarrass Pakistan Army Chief of Staff in his relations with key officials in US government. Columnist Almeida extensively quoted from a background briefing and turned inaccuracies into policy statements. Thankfully, he didn't forget to add, "All comments were made strictly on the condition of anonymity being maintained."  Oh really?

Mr. Almeida apparently was one of four-dozen editors, talk-show hosts and columnists invited by Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaque Kayani to his office on Sunday for an informal and off-the-record chat on the country's strategic situation. From the accounts of most of those who attended the dinner, Gen. Kayani spent a lot of time explaining the defense and army budgets and then delved into regional military issues when some of his guests went that way during Q&A.

All discussion was strictly a 'backgrounder', meant to help journalists get a better context for regional developments. Organizers of the event stressed several times to all participants not to report on the event and not to quote.

One can debate how much a journalist should or shouldn't stick to such official restrictions on information. What is beyond debate is the fact that Pakistan faces a very difficult and deteriorating strategic situation thanks to the blunders of our own and of some of our allies. If a senior official is candidly sharing information and context with Mr. Cyril Ameida and others, then Mr. Almeida, both as a journalist and as a citizen of the country, has the responsibility to reciprocate trust by controlling his urge to leak, especially when the information he just received deals with diplomacy and war and is not as urgent as exposing corruption and underhand deals.

Surprisingly for a professional journalist like Almeida, he tried to hide Gen. Kayani's indentity by identifying him only as a 'senior military official. Then he wrote, "The comments were part of a wide-ranging briefing given to editors, anchors and columnists on Sunday." 

So much for being discreet.

There was advance knowledge the army chief was arranging such a meeting. Several national dailies whose editors were invited ran brief stories on the meeting before it occured. So Mr. Almeida's 'source' was easily exposed.

Like the rest of us, a reporter at the Indian television news channel NDTV had little trouble figuring out the indentity of Almeida's 'senior military official'. The Indian channel reported, "[Dawn] did not name the military official but other media reports said army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had briefed a select group of journalists."

The most damaging aspect of this kind of a leak is accuracy, or the lack of.  Mr. Almeida inaccurately reported on several points. For example, he said Mr. Kayani "claimed the country has transited from the ‘most sanctioned ally’ to the ‘most bullied ally’” of the US. While absolutely true, many of the participants are not sure they heard the Pakistani military commander make such a direct statement. Disappointingly for many, Gen. Kayani was very mellow and diplomatic, to quote one participant, presenting facts and policy statements and leaving interpretation to the listeners. Several journalists tried to drag him into spilling the beans, provoking him by questioning the timing of the meeting and try to link it to he Wikileaks story, or the start of Gen. Kayani's second three-year tenure, or the intricacies of Pakistani domestic politics. The general wound't have any of it.

Regular backgrounders by the country's leadership for the dynamic Pakistani media is a welcome step. The media has shown maturity and restraint in dealing with the issues covered in the latest briefing. State media managers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi need to improve the methods of delivery of background information, possibly streamline it in accordance with the latest best practices in public diplomacy methods. Often Pakistani media trails behind its peers in other nations like China, Iran, US, Russia and others in terms of the quality of current background information available to media professionals. Pakistan is a late entrant into this field and it would take stakeholders time to get a handle on it.

This is why Mr. Almeida's hiccup is an indiscretion that encourages forward momentum with improvements in the delivery of information to the Pakistani media in the future.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Asia Bibi Is Our Sister

... and we Pakistanis need to stand by her. I endorse capital punishment for those who bash Islam and its sacred symbols. And no one bashes Islam in Pakistan. Certainly not our Pakistani Christian brothers and sisters whose forefathers played a great role in Pakistan Independence Movement.

We own and defend our great religion and our great Prophet. But harassing a poor Pakistani Christian woman in the name of blasphemy is not justice. The great, fair-minded leaders of Islam, like Omar and Ali, would never endorse this. Shame on these half-educated mullahs who can't offer a word of support to a weak and poor woman being wrongly accused of blasphemy.

Would anyone dare utter a word against our great religion in our country, let alone a poor and weak woman who earns a living as a domestic helper?

We need Omar R.A.'s and Ali R.A.'s justice in this case. And we Pakistani Muslims must force half-educated clergy in groups such as Sunni Tehreek [I have more respect for Jamaat Islami and Tanzeem Islami] to stop making uneducated comments in this case. We are no good if we can't protect the weak and the wrongly accused among us. Unfortunately, because of the inflammatory statements by the uneducated, a minority of westernized and secular-minded NGOs, funded by foreign money, are seizing this opportunity to bash Pakistan and Islam. PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman wants to abolish the blasphemy law. That's fine. But she never uttered a word against the injustice done to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? No comparison between her case and that of Asia's. The point is that the few westernized and secularist Pakistanis will try to seize this case to bash Pakistan and our great religion.  Asia needs our help against a stupid law and a fake case. But the champions of her case must be Muslim scholars first and foremost, and if not then all the rest of Pakistanis who know how great and tolerant and open-minded Islam is even if these half-educated mullahs know nothing about it.

Blasphemy law was originally enacted against a sect, Qadiyanis, who claimed Mohammad, peace be upon him, is not the last Prophet. Ordinary good-hearted Pakistanis are misled by the mullahs into believing this law is somehow a hedge against Islam-bashers in the West, such as the people behind the infamous Danish cartoons. That's not true. Our laws can't be implemented on those outside Pakistan. And no one inside Pakistan can dare insult Islam. Case closed.

We will never be secular. We are modern, and we are Muslim and Islam has always been a big-hearted religion. This is our opportunity to prove otherwise to others in the world who heard the ignorant statements of a few mullahs in this case. These mullahs need to be told to shut up. We defend our religion. And we do this by not tolerating a word against our religion and by defending the innocent and the wrongly accused.

P.S. I tell the few mullahs who exploit this case: Honor Pakistani Christians. Remember that they sided with Pakistan when even some Muslim leaders were sitting in the laps of the Brits and Indians. Also remember that one of the wives of our Prophet, the Umm al-Momineen, Maria, was Christian. She became Muslim after marrying our Prophet. Her name was Christian but out of respect for her, our Prophet didn't let her change her name and insisted she keep her original Christian name.  Also remember when the Great Omar R.A. conquered Jerusalem, Al-Quds, he refused to pray in a church because he was afraid Muslims might seize it later and convert it into a church. Thanks to him, that church stands today side by side with a mosque that was built on a ground near the church where Omar prayed in the open. Asia is our sister. If Omar R.A. was here today, he would have given her justice no matter what some half-educated mullahs of 'sunni tehreek' or whatever this group is named might have said.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Indians Welcome In Pakistan, Pakistanis Beaten And Killed In India

Not a single Indian visitor to Pakistan, whether a private citizen, government officer or an Indian artist, was ever harassed by Pakistanis in any way in the entire history of Pak-Indian relations. The legendary Pakistani hospitality always embraced and touched visiting Indians as is the case with other foreigners visiting Pakistan.

In comparison, Pakistanis are regularly harassed and intimidated and in some cases even physically attacked while visiting India.

The biggest example is how 60 Pakistanis were burned alive aboard the so-called Samjhota (Friendship) Express train when they believed calls for peace and headed to India in February 2007. Today, the Indian government has admitted Hindu terrorists, including two serving Indian military officers, were behind the gruesome murder. The Indian government, backed by American and British media, insisted immediately after the attacks that they were the work of Pakistan's ISI and Kashmiri freedom groups.

There are more recent examples. Here are two of them to prove this point:

- Bigg Boss planning to send back Pakistani Artists : Pakistani participants in an Indian TV show face life threats by Hindu terrorists. The Indian government and people are unable to protect them.

- Pakistani artist beaten up in Mumbai: A well known Pakistani comedian Shakeel Siddiqui has been tortured by some extremists in Mumbai and ordered to urgently depart from India.

There is a mindset in India, in powerful circles in government, the military and the Hindu terror groups, that can't live with a smaller western neighbor that poses no existential threat to India.

This record of anti-Pakistanism in India contradicts the ridiculous statements of US officials and think-tank types who lecture Pakistan that India is not a threat.

Relax Gen. Singh, You're No Mike Mullen

India Army Chief has confirmed that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe, lucky for all Pakistanis. We were worried he'd make a negative assessment but thank God -- or Krishna, in this case -- that India rushed to stand by Pakistan and debunk the motivated American claims on the subject.

Last week Gen. V. P. Singh said Pakistan posed a threat to India. After all, it was Pakistan that invaded India without provocation in 1971 and conspired to break away half of its territory. And it is Pakistan that is the larger country, casting a shadow over India and threatening it of another unprovoked invasion any day. And it is Pakistan that is spending $30 billion in just two years to buy latest weapons, most of them aimed at Pakistan. India is totally justified in being worried about Pakistani threat. Indeed.

After this statement, the GHQ, the General Headquarters of Pakistan's armed forces, and the Pakistani strategic community, were deeply worried about Gen. Singh's next statement. We all knew it would make or break Pakistan's international reputation. And then comes this friendly statement to put all Pakistanis at ease.

Gen. Singh and his immediate predecessor, Gen. Kapoor, started something new in India. Indian army chiefs never made public statements about foreign policy issues. The US military chief, Adm. Mike Mullen, makes such statements too. But he does so because his military has bases and soldiers all over the world. India doesn't.  And yet Gen. Singh and the previous noise-maker Gen. Kapoor began this trend in India. Why? Because they were told to do so. It is part of Indian government's plans of projecting India as the next superpower, like they did with the other pooper, the Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010. New Delhi wants to put everyone on notice that Indian military chiefs make statements about any country, openly, just like the US CENTCOM chief does. Get it?

Except that, I would just humbly submit to the exalted office of the Indian Army Chief that: Let it rest, Gen. Singh. You're no Mike Mullen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sorry, India, You Can't Be A Superpower With A Brain Of A Mouse

India is a big country with the brain of a mouse. Take this headline from India’s largest newspaper, Times of India: Obama Mission: Billions To Pakistan, Billions To India.

I love the headline. It’s not wrong but a little exaggerated. US President Obama is offering $2 billion’s worth of military hardware purchases to Pakistan, subsidized by US government.

For Pakistan, it’s a cautious welcome. Nothing will come to us immediately. The purchases are divided over the next five years. It will be a slow process, involving government red tape, politics and the usual arm-twisting that Washington is so good at. It’s also a lollypop that the US government has dangled before the Pakistani military to calm some of the anger over a US helicopter killing three Pakistani soldiers three weeks ago.

The Indian government knows all this. It also knows that recent US sale of F-16s to Pakistan came with a harsh condition: the planes will be accompanied by US ‘minders’ as part of support staff who will live on the base and ensure Pakistan does not ‘misuse’ the planes, as in against India.

Still, two weeks before Obama lands in India on an official visit, Indian media managers leaked this fabulously-titled but well-researched report, grumbling that billions of Indian dollars will be going to US pockets while Pakistan will be getting billions’ worth of weapons for free. Of course, even if Pakistan buys up all the $2 billion’s worth of US weapons immediately and not over five years, it will still not match India’s massive weapons shopping spree worth $30 billion, to be spent by 2012, meaning within the next two years.

This tells you one thing: the Indian government is really not worried about the puny $2 billion offer to Pakistan tipping the scales. We can’t match India’s $30 billion.

If that is clear, then what is it that India is worried about? Why whine about two billions to Pakistan over five years when India is spending fifteen times that figure in less than two years?

It’s just India’s small-minded pursuit of anything that would undermine Pakistan. There is no way Pakistan would ever invade or destroy India, nor are most Pakistanis interested in this proposition. It’s always the bigger countries that destroy smaller ones. Yet India doesn’t really miss a second seizing any opportunity to hurt Pakistan. Remember 1971 when peaceful Pakistanis were busy in post-elections noise? India launched an unprovoked invasion of Pakistan and, as the invasion unfolded, we discovered the Indians had actually planned it for two years and created and recruited a proxy army inside our country to help them once the invasion started.

The mindset behind the Times of India story is the same mindset that invaded us in 1971, the same mindset that refuses to resolve Kashmir and pave the way for peace, the same mindset that exploits Afghan mess to set up training camps to export terrorists to Pakistan, the same mindset that plants terrorism in Balochistan, and the same mindset that bans Pakistani TV channels across India.

And to confirm the height of this Indian small-mindedness, it is the same mindset that bans Pakistani visitors from posting comments on Indian news websites, no matter how respectful that comment is, if the comment questions official Indian positions on any question. [Let me also add that Pakistani guest columnists are banned in mainstream Indian newspapers for the same reason. Compare that to Pakistani generosity as our newspapers permit guest Indian columnists to write freely even if they criticize official Pakistani policies, and no Pakistani news website bans Indians surfers from posting comments.]

Our American friends can’t see this Indian small-mindedness, of course. That’s why we hear US officials insisting India is not a threat to Pakistan, the latest such gratuitous advice came just this week during the Pak-US strategic dialogue currently underway in Washington.

For Pakistan and India to live in peace, even resolving Kashmir won’t help if India doesn’t get itself a new mindset, big and confident, in contrast to the existing insecure, small-minded way of looking at its smaller neighbors.

NOTE: Not a single Indian visitor to Pakistan, whether a private citizen, government officer or an Indian artist, was ever harassed by Pakistanis in any way in the entire history of Pak-Indian relations. The legendary Pakistani hospitality always embraced and touched visiting Indians as is the case with other foreigners visiting Pakistan.

In comparison, Pakistanis are regularly harassed and intimidated and in some cases even physically attacked while visiting India.

The biggest example is how 60 Pakistanis were burned alive aboard the so-called Samjhota (Friendship) Express train when they believed calls for peace and headed to India in February 2007. Today, the Indian government has admitted Hindu terrorists, including two serving Indian military officers, were behind the gruesome murder. The Indian government, backed by American and British media, insisted immediately after the attacks that they were the work of Pakistan's ISI and Kashmiri freedom groups.

There are more recent examples. Here are two of them to prove this point:

- Bigg Boss planning to send back Pakistani Artists : Pakistani participants in an Indian TV show face life threats by Hindu terrorists. The Indian government and people are unable to protect them.

- Pakistani artist beaten up in Mumbai: A well known Pakistani comedian Shakeel Siddiqui has been tortured by some extremists in Mumbai and ordered to urgently depart from India.

There is a mindset in India, in powerful circles in government, the military and the Hindu terror groups, that can't live with a smaller western neighbor that poses no existential threat to India.

This record of anti-Pakistanism in India contradicts the ridiculous statements of US officials and think-tank types who lecture Pakistan that India is not a threat.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pro-US Cabal In Pakistan Is Angry At China Praise

The outgoing US ambassador to Pakistan needs to be congratulated for one thing: she did an excellent job of meddling in Pakistani media and politics. She is credited with organizing a pro-US cabal inside Pakistan that springs into action whenever the US is criticized in Pakistani media. Ironically, this cabal, which consists of Pakistanis, never shows equal passion when the US officials and media demonize Pakistan worldwide.

Ms. Patterson has not been working alone. She received full support from the ruling PPPP's media managers. That is why I am mentioning Pakistan's own wunderkid: Ambassador Husain Haqqani who is said by sources in his won party to be responsible for organizing PPPP's media plans while sitting in Washington DC.

Today the pro-US Zardari-Haqqani cabal in Pakistan [read: PPPP Media Cell] are seething with anger that I criticized Nobel's cheap shot against China. A version of my op-ed, titled, A 'Nobel' Mob Ambush, Chicago Style, was published by the blog section of the Pakistani affiliate of International Herald Tribune. The comments section makes for an interesting read.

They are livid that I linked Nobel's China swipe to the unusual wave of anti-China political ads during the current mid-term election campaign in the US. I explained how the Indian lobby in the US is contributing to the 'Blame China' campaign to divert attention from US public's anger at outsourcing jobs to India.

So guess what? The pro-US Zardari-Haqqani cabal teams up with Indian net surfers to bash China on this excellent Pakistani website.

But no one should worry: Their comments and arguments don't even begin to scratch the surface. The best answer to their ramblings cames from Mr. Ghias Ahmed whose half-line was both pithy and shrewd:

"‎2012 Nobel Prize will be paid in Chinese Yuan...".

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kashmir's Road To Freedom

There is a lesson for New Delhi in the lines from George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple, set in colonial America during the Revolutionary era:

"And now, General, times passes; and America is in a hurry. Have you realized that though you may occupy towns and win battles, you cannot conquer a nation?"

This encapsulates the spirit of the Kashmirir people and their demand for Azaadi [freedom].

[An excerpt from a paper writte by S. Iftikhar Murshed, an Ambassador of Pakistan and Islamabad's former pointman for Afghanistan in the 1990s. Read his insightful paper here.].

Sunday, October 3, 2010

APML: Chances And Intrigues

The pro-US government of President Asif Ali Zardari suspects its enemies are pushing the disparate factions of Pakistan Muslim League, or PML, to unite in order to create a force that could challenge Mr. Zardari's PPPP, or Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians.

Two recent moves have caught the media attention: The effort to create All Pakistan Muslim League [APML] by veteran politician Pir Pagara. And the effort to create APML by former president Pervez Musharraf in London.

The unification effort led by Pir Pagara is a 50-50 gamble at this stage. The personality clashes and conflicts of interest between the heads of various factions of PML are so deep and suspicions run so high that it can't work except in one condition: if the military approaches each one of them to unite them the way PMLQ was created under Mr. Musharraf eight years ago. Although there are signs the military is interested in seeing this government go, as most Pakistanis do, there is no chance that Gen. Kayani will participate in any effort to destabilize the government. So the PML uniters are pretty much on their own for the time being.

As for Mr. Musharraf's bid, he is benefiting from a sense of desperation and confusion that engulfs Pakistan because of the failures of politicians. His policy prescriptions are also outdated, and even have damaged vital Pakistani interests. He wants to take 'the war on terror to the end' when even the Zardari government and the Pakistani military are trying to tell the Americans to end military operations and come instead to the reconciliation table with the Afghan Taliban.

Mr. Musharraf's lines that he will crush any anti-Pakistan voices and keep Pakistan first are great, but there is ample evidence from his foreign policy that he kept his personal interests before the Pakistani interest on crucial occasions. The biggest exampe is the deal he entered with the United States to maneuver PPPP into power to serve US interests in exchange for helping him remain at the helm until 2013.

His backchannel diplomacy on Kashmir with India between 2004 and 2007 appeared to be driven more by his desire to emerge as an international man of peace and to appease Washington and New Delhi. During this period, he made unnecessary concessions to India without getting anything in return.

Getting some fans in Pakistan is not a big deal. Even Zardari has diehard fans. Mr. Msuharraf's latest political act has a nuisance value but is not expected to create any ripples in Pakistani politics.

One way Mr. Musharraf can have an impact is if the military supports his new bid for power. Interestingly, his policies on Kashmir, Afghanistan and US are highly unpopular within the military rank and file, despite the fact that his first three years 1999-2002 are remembered as ideal in terms of governance.

Mr. Musharraf does retain a nuisance value for the short term. But for the long term, there is no evidence he is the harbinger of major change.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mr. Musharraf's Disappointing Debut

I was very disappointed to hear Mr. Pervez Musharraf's remarks at the launching of his new political party in London, the UK.

Mr. Musharraf wants the war on terror to continue 'until the end', even when Obama himself has changed its name and wants to end it one way or the other. No words to condemn the deliberate US/NATO murder of 3 Pakistani soldiers. His 7-point agenda in 1999 was more coherent than the 'party program' he announced today. When he was done, I said to myself, 'The paid-TV show is over. Now let's go back to the mess he created and ran away from.'

He probably tried to signal to his past allies in Washington and London that he's still good for the 'war on terror'. He repeated the line, 'Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan' without qualification or explaining who exactly is in Pakistan from that group. His implicit message was that he will stop the 'Taliban' from taking over our country.

The truth is that no one is 'taking over' Pakistan. Mr. Musharraf is still repeating the lines that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld used to repeat in front of him.

Afghan Taliban are fighting in Afghanistan. The terrorists in our border area, who receive support from the Americans and Indians and their Afghan proxies, will be finished off the day CIA stops its dirty games in Afghanistan.

Yes, there is the issue of religious extremism among a segment of Pakistanis. But the solution to that is not to allow CIA to bomb them from the air. They are our people. It's our internal issue. We can solve it if foreign meddling in our region is ended for good.

A supporter of Mr. Musharraf's new party tried to counsel me to keep my opinions to myself and simply 'report' the event and let the people decide. His argument was that, while I was criticizing Mr. Musharraf, journalists were packing the hall in London where Mr. Musharraf held his event.

What a lot of people don't know is that Mr. Musharraf' party aides made generous offers to prominent journalists across Pakistan, offering 'all expenses paid' trips to come from Pakistan and cover the event in London. Which is exactly what Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto used to do. Nothing has changed.

Pakistan is in a deep mess today, and especially for the past five years, thanks to monumental blunders by Mr. Musharraf. One of his biggest mistakes sits right now in Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad.

To say, 'Well, I made some mistakes, everybody does' is not a very persuasive line for someone who's trying to get a second shot at a job he failed in the first place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend Story That Scuttled Pak-Indian Photo-Op

This drama quietly unfolded over the weekend.

Early Sunday, a Pakistani newspaper editor receives a text message from a source in New York warning that Zardari govt. is pushing Pak foreign minister to stand for a photo-op with his Indian counterpart in NYC on the sidelines of a UN meeting. Indians were desperate for the photo to demoralize Kashmiris & show them that Pakistan is on board.

The editor called a Pakistani TV news channel and offered to break the story. By midday the story was on the air. By Monday, the Indians , the Americans and their Pakistani stooges waited with baited breath for a meeting that never happened. By evening, Pak foreign minister gave a shocking statement: He won't meet Indians for a photo-op unless they discuss their occupation of Kashmir.

A warm thank you to the timely alert from the New York source.

Click here to read the full story.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dr. Aafia's Revenge: A Blow To US And Its Pakistani Friends

Those who wanted Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to rot in jail and never come out to tell her story got what they wanted.
Interestingly, there are Pakistanis who assisted the Americans in achieving this, [British journalist Yvonne Ridley allegedly points the finger toward one of them in her recent article].

And it doesn't matter if she's guilty or not. Most Pakistanis know she was involved al Qaeda wannabe, although there is no evidence she was part of the terror group. She appeared more as a fan than a real member.

None of this, however, justifies the wrong done to her and her three underage kids. And this wrong was done to her by both the United States and its client government(s) in Pakistan. Government officials and a few unscrupulous elements within our military, unfrotunately, played roles in this tragedy.

For us Pakistanis, her case will forever remain a blot on the face of our ruling elites, civilian and military, despite the fact that most of our civilian or military people today are simply carrying the sin of the few who did this and knew about it.

For Pakistanis, her case is now is about how Pakistani rulers have sold Pakistan, its interests, and its citizens, cheap, time and again, for a few dollars and temporary gratification.

Some 1,200 innocent Pakistanis rot in Indian jails. An equal number has been rotting in Afghan jails for almost a decade now. FBI and MI5 have been harassing and implicating innocent Pakistanis in fake cases in US and Britain since 9/11. The famous case of 11 Pakistani college students in Britain is case in point, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown created a false alarm in 2009 over a 'terror ring' that turned out to be a ruse, most probably meant to scare the British public into approving more troops for Afghanistan.

Or the case of Adnan Mirza in Houston, Texas, where FBI agents posing as American Muslims prodded the young Pakistani college student into talking about Iraq and Afghanistan during a hiking trip and the conversation was presented in court as evidence he was planning to support Taliban and Al Qaeda. A bunch of FBI agents got promotions and citations while this young kid rots in jail without conviction, and without support from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, which, instead of raising the issue of lack of evidence, is supporting FBI's contention the kid accept the charges against him and consent to deportation.

Dr. Aafia is a sign of the injustice done to Pakistanis. And this is why those who convicted and jailed her will never win.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

32 Dead Pakistani Schoolchildren Tell You This System Has Failed

This is a story of a cruel, ruthless and heartless Pakistani system that has failed. And no elections any number of times can save it without change.

A mother in northern Pakistan jumped into a river where her five underage kids drowned when the management of a privately-run school sent them off in a crammed bus driven by the school’s gatekeeper, or chowkidar, who drove it off a cliff.

Every once in a while comes a news story that makes your heart stop. And this is one of them.

Pakistan's politicians can spend $11 million on a statue for a dead politician but have no money to spare for public universities paralyzed by lack of funds.

Forget democracy. Our politicians, who run our federal and provincial governments, can't enforce discipline on schools, mostly run like supermarkets by the female relatives of politicians, retired military officers and businessmen.

In the sad story of the mother, from Garhi Dupatta in northern Pakistan, the school management saw it fit to cram 35 to 38 kids in a speeding mini-bus on mountain slopes. The chowkidar was on his cell phone when he plunged into a ravine Tuesday. He and four children survived while 32 precious little lives couldn't make it.

Today there are some 40 families or more in one small area called Garhi Dupatta, probably many of them neighbors, mourning dead children because of a criminally negligent school. Would the owners of that school put their own children on that overcrowded mini-bus?

More importantly, would our civil administrators punish the owners of that school? In China, two owners of a company that made tainted milk powder that killed several Chinese babies were executed without mercy last year after a trial. Will we see the owners of that private Pakistani school even questioned for the life-threatening choices they made for the school kids? Not likely.

Eight months ago, eight school children were run over by a train because the driver of their van decided to take a short cut over a railway line. Did anyone ask school owners whether they supervised the transporters? Did anyone question the area's education officials if they enforced safety guidelines for school buses? Did anyone ask the railway officials if they have safe crossings for school buses?

In fact, the federal railway minister, from ANP, felt nothing wrong in introducing a little bit of humor into the tragedy when he publicly said the train didn't come after the van driver on the street. This was his cute way of absolving his ministry of any responsibility.

Like everything else, school owners have become another money-driven cartel in the country. When time comes for change, all of these cartels that hide behind the facade of democracy will have to be demolished.

Our elite politicians, who consider government to be their class right, have their kids studying in US and UK while the children of ordinary Pakistanis die miserable deaths under different pretexts.

This is why a grand-scale, civil-society-led, and military-backed intervention to scrap a failed Pakistani political system will become necessary, eventually, when the time comes.

And when that time arrives, we will want our military to take a strategic decision to snatch power from the feudal democrats and usher in change with the help of talented and educated Pakistanis from the lower and middle classes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

An Abduction Blamed On Pakistani Spooks

Some government-linked politicians have been whispering to the media that ISI and MI did it because they were enraged at Mr. Cheema's coverage of the 'missing persons' issue. That might be, but what about the government avenging Mr. Cheema's groundbreaking story on how President Zardari and his aides hired Turkish female 'escorts' and failed to pay them their dues resulting in a court case in Turkey?

Click here to continue reading

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To Pakistan's Martyrs

Why has the US-backed Jundullah been attacking Shia mosques in Iran? To start a sectarian war.

The same thing is happening in Pakistan.

The rise in sectarian tensions from Lebanon to Pakistan after the Iraq invasion of 2003 is not all coincidental. It has taken a new more dangerous shape since America's Iraq war. It serves a purpose. It divides potential opponents of the US and provides strategic openings. Iraq has NEVER seen sectarian killings, never in its centuries-old cohabitation between Shias and Sunnis. Tensions didn't even rise after 1979 Shia Islamic revolution in Iran. The sectarian killing fields in Iraq were launched after the Americans landed there in 2003. This is an important fact: Shias and Sunnis never killed one another in Iraq before the US occupation.

At one point, even the puppet Iraqi regime caught British special ops agents dressed as sectarian killers. They agents were never able to explain what mission they were on. They were released after an extra-constitutional intervention from the top. Iraqis, Sunnis and Shias, will tell you many similar stories and recount similar incidents.

The war that the Saudis and Iranians have been fighting in Pakistan through proxy groups in the 1980s and '90s died and ended by the year 2000.

Don't confuse the recent attacks with the Saudi-Iranian proxy sectarian battles that Pakistanis witnessed in the '80s and '90s. The new attacks may have the same foot soldiers but there are new paymasters and masterminds.

What you are seeing now is new players entering the stage: Players located on the Afghan border, drawing support from inside Afghanistan, and attacking exclusively Pakistani Shias and other Pakistanis like the Ahmedis, and almost everyone else. Today, America's 'war on terror' has only one casualty: Pakistanis, by the dozens. Old cadres of sectarian groups, like SSP, and of other groups are low-level foot soldiers but the masterminds are no longer SSP and indigenous Pakistani groups. It's the new players on the Afghan border. And these new players will continue to receive money and arms and training from shadowy sources until the war racket in Afghanistan [and Pakistan] is ended for good.

All Pakistanis must be told this a hundred times: There is no sectarian clash in Pakistan but there are attempts being made to create one. The martyrs in Quetta, Karachi and Lahore over the past three days are OUR martyrs. It is important to avenge the blood of our brothers who died there by understanding the game and keeping Pakistanis united.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quetta Attack: The Responsibility Of Jundullah, Afghanistan And The Organizers - Was Quetta Rally Necessary?

A suicide attacker targeted the Al-Quds rally today in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province. Fifty Pakistanis are dead and the figure could rise in the next few hours because the injured are in excess of 100.

It is highly irresponsible on the part of the organizers of the rally -- and the government officials that gave it the green signal -- to endanger the lives of Pakistani citizens only two days after twin attacks that targeted public events. In pure security terms, this is a serious lack of judgment on the part of the organizers. The Pakistani government must proceed with criminal charges against the organizers who, in their callousness, put politics before the lives of our citizens at a time when we face foreign-backed terror. The relevant government officials who licensed the procession should be questioned about the sources of their assessment that it was safe to hold huge rallies in these times.

This Al-Quds Day rally was organized by Pakistani Shia organizations that support Iran's call for Al-Quds Day to be held on the last Friday of Ramadan. But by no means is this a Shia religious event. A majority of Pakistanis support al-Quds Day, regardless of religious affiliations. I personally fully support Tehran's courageous stance on Al-Quds, the holy city under Israeli occupation. It's also important to remember that the Al-Quds Day is a political event launched by the government of Iran. It is not a religious event.

Inside Pakistan, the organizers of the rally should have put the safety and security of Pakistani citizens ahead of everything else. A smaller, symbolic public event could have been arranged instead of a large one. The crime of the organizers is especially compounded by the knowledge of what happened in Karachi and Lahore two days earlier.

Unfortunately, Saudi- and Iranian-backed proxy sectarian groups have endangered the lives of Pakistanis for years and put foreign interests before Pakistani national interests. These groups must and should be banned.

It is also important to avoid playing into the hands of the terrorists who did this. Everyone knows we have sectarian groups in the country. But is every attack on one group the work of the opposite group?

Not necessarily.

In other words, Pakistan’s indigenous sectarian groups have been weakened over the years and their foreign support, from Saudi Arabia, Iran or elsewhere, has been considerably curtailed. What is happening is that their remnants are being reorganized by someone else on the Afghan border, arming them and financing them and providing them a new safe haven.

So there is a bigger chance of the recent attacks being the work of the terror-export enterprise that hides in Afghanistan and has been targeting Pakistan since 2005. The first evidence of this is the fact that the attacks have been claimed by a terror group based on the Afghan border.

With an attack on a minority worship place of the Ahmedis earlier in the day in Mardan preceding the Quetta attack by a few hours, it is clear this is not a sectarian issue but an organized campaign by Pakistan's regional enemies. And surely they will find supporters inside Pakistan. Apart from the existing sectarian groups, it is easy to recruit and brainwash poor young Pakistani teenagers, convince them to wear explosive belts and blow themselves up anywhere.

And it's not just Pakistan. Iran has seen attacks on Shia mosques by elements claiming to be Sunnis. But there are no Sunni sectarian groups in Iran. The terrorists who have been attacking Iranian targets are based in US-controlled Afghanistan claiming to represent Sunnis. The attacks in Quetta today and in Karachi and Lahore on Wednesday share the same origin as the attacks in Iran: they are masterminded by terrorists who hide on the border with Afghanistan and have links to foreign intelligence agencies based there. We know that Indians have shown a lot of interest in these groups and established contacts with elements linked to them.

Let us also remember there are external powers in our neighborhood that have an interest in perpetuating chaos in the region. We’ve seen how uneasy United States officials and commentators became when the whole focus in Pakistan turned to the floods and the humanitarian disaster and no one was talking about Washington’s terror war. That’s when at least one US media outlet spun into action and contacted terror ‘spokespersons’ on the Afghan border and solicited statements that can best be described as spreading panic during a national emergency.

It is important that non-religious and non-essential public events in Pakistan -- political and religious -- be curtailed under these circumstances, regardless of sect and politics. If the government and the army can call off parades on days of national significance, including our Independence Day, then unnecessary public congregations can be curtailed as well.

Patriotic Pakistanis, Shias and Sunnis, must step forward and show courage in telling our emotional religious figures that saving the lives of Pakistanis is more important for the time being, especially when none of these public events and processions have any religious sanction.

Pakistani religious figures that refuse to do this and hide behind weak religious pretexts must be charged with endangering the lives of Pakistani citizens.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saudi Flood Aid To Pakistan: First, Largest, Not Politicized

If you are pressed for time, this slide will tell you most of the story. But it's worth reading the full story here. The role of Iran and Kuwait is also highlighted and the details have mostly escaped the mainstream media.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

India Expected To Raise Tension With Pakistan During Commonwealth Games

Security analysts who reviewed India’s record fear New Delhi might use terrorism at Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010 to divert international media’s attention away from deeply embarrassing preparations for the event

In this picture: Indian women work at a construction project in front of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, India. Picture: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

By ANANT SHETH in New Delhi, GULPARI MEHSUD in Islamabad
Sunday, 15 August 2010.

NEW DELHI, India—Many Pakistani analysts are worried that New Delhi might resort to false flag operations or a mock terror threat to sidetrack media attention from the mess surrounding the games. In all probability, India could use one of the many Hindu terror groups to mount attacks that would be blamed on Pakistan. India has seen a mushrooming of Hindu terror groups over the past decade.

There are at least two recent precedents where India falsely accused Pakistan for terror acts that Indian investigators discovered later were committed by Hindu terrorists.

In both cases, serving Indian military intelligence officers were found directly involved in carrying out the bombings. The purpose was simple: To implicate Pakistan and its intelligence agencies and build international pressure to force Islamabad into conceding the disputed territory of Kashmir.

For example, an Irish newspaper published this report, India uncovers Hindu terror group that carried out bombings blamed on Islamists . A Hindu extremist and a serving Indian Army officer were arrested and charged with planting bombs in public places that were blamed on Pakistan. That was November 2008.

In Spring 2007, a peace train called Samjota Express carrying Pakistani visitors to India as part of peace dialogue was blown up causing a fire that burned 59 Pakistanis alive. The Indian government accused Pakistan’s ISI of involvement. It said Pakistan’s military wanted to derail Pakistan-India peace talks. A year later three serving Indian military intelligence officers were arrested for planning and executing the attack. The Indian investigator who uncovered the nexus between Indian intelligence and Hindu terror groups was the first casualty of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was eliminated by a professional sniper far away from the Taj hotel but was his death was blamed on the terrorists who stormed that building.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pakistan-China YOUYI-III (Friendship) Joint Military Exercise 2010

Change Of System In Pakistan

It really has come to this. Newspaper columnists are crying for political change. Television commentators are demanding change. And Pakistan's younger generation, more than half of the nation's population, is emerging as the real guardian of Pakistani interest and represents a new political thought. It is demanding a complete change in Pakistan's failed political system. In fact, as this video by a Pakistani rock band Entity Paradigm show, young Pakistnis want a revolution. They are sick of an inept political elite that has been imposed on Pakistan through American and British machinations. Take a glimpse into tomorrow's Pakistan here.

A Pakistani Story, 63 Years On

A Pakistani Story, 63 Years On

Pakistan is the modern incarnation of a people, a culture and a civilization that stretched across ten centuries and beyond from Central Asia to Sindh River basin, to India, uniting languages and cultures, from the Persians, Turks, and Arabs to Aryans, and Indians.

In its modern form, for 63 years since Independence in 1947, Pakistanis have shown themselves to be a resilient nation, marching against all odds. Our enemies have tried to punish us with terrorism directed against ordinary Pakistanis on many occasions, in the 1970s and 1980s, and during the past eight years. These days many of us face daunting challenges. Our people in Kashmir continue to face terror and repression. But Pakistanis are coming together to help their own.

Sixty-three years ago, skeptics claimed this nation won't survive. We had our share of setbacks but we also wrote a new chapter in the history of politics and nation-states.
Today, Pakistan's young, close to one hundred million, are now the guardians of the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan is a proud, modern, Islamic nation. This is a story of brave women and men, products of a great history, now contributing to the global march of civilization with pride, a unique history, and a glorious future.
A salue to the nation on Pakistan Independence Day 2010.
[A message from PakNationalists.]
Click here to see Pakistan in 66 wallpapers.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pakistani Media Supporting The Wrong Democrats

Why just Geo and ARY? Why Mr. Zardari’s supporters did not attack the offices of British newspapers, even when one of them called his son a ‘playboy’?

Thursday, 12 August 2010.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—For Pakistan watchers, there are major ironies in the raging war between the Pakistani government and two powerful media houses.

This episode is important because it shows once again the basic structural flaws in the Pakistani political system and the Pakistani democracy which lead this system to repeatedly crash and throw the country back to square one, wasting precious time that we don’t have.

Geo News and ARY News are off-air in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi and across the southern Sindh province for the past week. Today and yesterday, independent cable operators in Lahore and Karachi reported receiving direct threats and incurred damages to their offices as a warning for not dropping the two channels.

Bundles of the Urdu-language Jang newspaper and its English-language sister newspaper The News International have been confiscated from newspaper hawkers. Thousands of subscribers have not been receiving their copies for days.

Their associated websites, and were the target of a massive Denial of Service attack this week that left them inaccessible. Even now the sites are less than 25% operational.

Jang, The News, and Geo are part of Jang Group, possibly Pakistan's largest media group.

Earlier this week, activists from Mr. Zardari's PPPP surrounded the Jang Group headquarters in Karachi. For hours they threw stones, chalked vile graffiti and piled up shoes at the company's main entrance.

All of this was retaliation for Geo News - and ARY News - covering the story of an old man throwing shoes at President Zardari during a public event in Britain.

This incident occurred during a PPPP rally in Birmingham. But no PPPP activists [some 2,000 of them attended the UK rally] dare use the same tactics against the British media, which also covered the story. No PPPP activists circled the buildings of British newspapers and threw shoes at them. They didn't even protest when one British paper, the Daily Mail, blasted President Zardari's son for politicizing a human tragedy in Pakistan and called him a 'playboy' in the story titled, Pakistan fury at president's playboy son 'using killer floods to boost political career’ that, regardless of the merit of its content, crossed a line in humiliating a foreign head of State visiting UK.

Pakistani politicians like Mr. Zardari dare not attack Britain or British interests because London is where most of them escape to after raking in millions experimenting with democracy in Pakistan.

The harassment facing Jang Group is so serious that its newspaper The News gave this headline in its Wednesday's edition, PPP Activists Terrorize Jang Group, Geo Employees. Last week, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a Geo TV correspondent in the southern city of Hyderabad. It is not clear if the incident was linked to the current tensions.

All the senior officials of the democratic government insist they're not pursuing a vendetta against Jang.  The government's TV regulator, PEMRA, is also feigning ignorance. But cable operators insist they continue to receive threats if they carry Geo TV and ARY News. This prompted a columnist in The News to respond with a sarcastic piece titled, 'It's The Cable Who Did It'.

Some members of Mr. Zardari's party are peddling a conspiracy theory where they claim a 'third force' is trying to create misunderstandings between the media and the political parties. This 'third force' is a subtle way of accusing the Pakistani military and the military intelligence agencies.

Pakistani intellectuals are in the habit of avoiding the truth. So instead of questioning this violent and intolerant style of politics practiced by Pakistani parties claiming to carry the mantle of democracy, our intelligentsia is willing to buy this kooky theory of a 'third force', as some apparently are.

But let there be no mistake about who is behind this campaign of terror against Geo News and its parent company. There are no forces in the shadows trying to pitch the media and political parties. If there was a 'third party' manipulating this, it would've been very easy to uncover it. The technical aspects of this ban, which involve the regulator and the cable operators, would have been impossible to hide and would have leaked by now if a 'third force' was involved.  The Zardari government would have been more than happy to expose the involvement of the 'third force' considering how it has been trying for the past three years to clip the wings of the Pakistan military to please Washington and London.

It is no secret that Mr. Zardari's media managers, and the alleged party 'media cell' operating in the dark under the watchful eyes of a presidential aide and her PR wizkid of a husband based in Washington, have been promoting online propaganda against the Pakistani media, pounding the critics of Mr. Zardari and defending his main allies in Washington.  So no one should be surprised when emails start flying online out of the blue demonizing Mir Shakeel ur Rehman, chairman of the Jang Group, traceable to either PPPP-linked websites or unknown sources.


But despite the attacks on the media in a democratic Pakistan, most of the Pakistani media won't be questioning these democratic imposters about their credentials. No one will be asking them if harassing the media is democracy. Of course this is the least of their sins and the charge sheet is long. But this is the same Pakistani media that, three years ago, welcomed Pakistan's current crop of politicians as true democrats and refused to question them about their tainted past.

That’s understandable since the villain at the time was Mr. Musharraf. Most Pakistanis wanted to see him out of power for many right reasons [democracy being probably at the bottom of the list, if not there at all].

But in the heat of the excitement to kick out Musharraf, no one had time to question if Pakistan's tested, tried and failed political elite is the right replacement. Anyone trying to pose this question was quickly dismissed as a supporter of the dictator. The Pakistani media, out of good intention, promoted these 'democrats' because that was the politically correct thing to do then.

Today Pakistan suffers because of this indiscretion on the part of most Pakistanis and on the part of our media.

The point is that the Pakistani media needs to get tougher. We shouldn't accept a flawed democracy just because Washington approves it [for its own interests of course].

It is time Pakistanis asked questions about:

1. Why political parties maintain secret armed armies to intimidate and kill opponents?

2. Why political leaders maintain assets, homes and whole lives, in some cases, in foreign countries?

3. Why no politician has been seen on the ground helping flood-hit Pakistanis across the nation? Not a single one?

4. Why political parties have failed to produce any fresh political talent in the past 25 years?

5. Why longtime party leaderships can't change?

6. Why internal party elections are a sham?

7. Why fake holders of fake college degrees, murderers, thieves, rapists, etc. continue to hold positions in most parties?

8. Why most politicians are also hoarders of basic food items and possibly responsible for the worst inflation and food shortages in Pakistan just over the past decade?

9. Why some of the senior most Pakistani politicians and government officials hold foreign passports?

The list is long. But without asking the right questions, there is little chance that a flawed democracy will survive in Pakistan. The only reason this flawed system survives is because some Pakistanis won’t ask the hard questions. This gives foreign powers the chance to push for their candidates in Islamabad. We need to ask the tough questions. And media should lead the way.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

ISI Tops 10 Best Intelligence Agencies In The World calls it ‘least funded, yet the strongest’

Topping the Top Ten? “ISI for sure,’ says Gren, “No double agents, no agent ever caught on camera, the lowest budget but still affective. In war with 6 big intelligence agencies of the world. ISI has even countered MOSSAD in the 1980s and late ‘90s when there was a plan of a possible strike on Pakistan’s nukes.”

“It has to be the ISI” says John Smith on the Web site. “It broke down the Soviet Union (which also led to the reunification of Germany; the German Intelligence Chief gave a piece of the Berlin Wall to the Pakistani Intel Chief with a plaque under it saying, ‘To the one who struck the first blow’), has protected and developed the country’s nuclear assets against all odds, has defeated Al Qaeda/Taliban especially these days with the capture of Baradar, etc. by the ISI, has deep ingress into India. No other agency matches it in efficiency, precision, discipline and professionalism.”

See the detailed list here.