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.