Monday, September 26, 2011

Should Pakistan Accuse Pentagon And CIA Of Murdering Rabbani?

Should Pakistan Accuse Pentagon And CIA Of Murdering Rabbani?
Ironically, the assassination removed a friend of Pakistan and served the interests of Pentagon, CIA and their Afghan allies. While avoiding confrontation, Pakistan needs to speak up and not let disinformation dominate the air waves. Here are key points that weaken American propaganda.
AHMED QURAISHI | Monday | 26 September 2011
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There is a reason why the United States has ignored the cold-blooded murder of ex-Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and focused all its energies instead on the attacks on US embassy and NATO offices in Kabul.
The assassination neatly fits in with the interests of three parties: US military, CIA and their Afghan warlord allies. It might well be the first planned murder of a senior Afghan government official opposed to US meddling in Afghan reconciliation.
This is the work of the same American lobbies opposed to President Barrack Obama’s Afghan pullout plan and his defense budget cuts.
There is no credible confirmation yet on who exactly eliminated the man who served as President Karzai’s key manager of reconciliation with Afghan Taliban and someone who recently converted into a friend of Pakistan.
After the assassination, the United States military and intelligence tried to create a wedge between Kabul and Islamabad by invoking an alleged Pakistani hand. But this was effectively countered by Pakistani officials, who have become accustomed to American games. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s quick dash to Kabul to offer condolences and support and later army chief’s cool and calm response to Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen’s anti-Pakistan outbursts helped counter the attempt to poison Karzai’s newfound understandings with Islamabad.
Rabbani’s murder removed an advocate of bringing Afghan Taliban into government, and blaming Pakistan for his murder built pressure on Karzai to sever ties with Islamabad. Such a move would have destroyed Pakistan’s strategy of working closely with Karzai – and Rabbani – to reach a deal with Afghan Taliban and re-empower the Pashtuns despite American opposition.
In short, it is Pakistan that should be raising questions about the mystery of who killed Mr. Rabbani and not vice versa.
The only party that was well prepared to make the most out of Rabbani’s murder was Pentagon and CIA. Both of them moved quickly on two fronts: domestic politics and Pakistan. Domestically, the Panetta-Mullen duo organized a joint anti-Pakistan briefing on 22 September and later Mullen appeared before US Senate armed services committee.
The domestic objectives of Pentagon and CIA from this anti-Pakistan campaign are:
1.    Save the skin of US military and intelligence officials responsible for security lapses in Afghanistan
2.    Dodge accountability
3.    Send a message that major cuts in defense budget won’t be acceptable, and
4.    Underline that Afghanistan continues to require foreign military and intelligence presence
Afghanistan today is CIA’s largest base of operations anywhere in the world. The agency is loath to abandon an outpost that gives it direct access to the backyards of several strategic nations at once: Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia. No sane strategist would let go of such an opportunity. Mr. Rabbani’s peace mission may not have shown initial signs of success but it had already upset the policy direction favored by US military, intelligence and their Afghan warlord allies. India was also skeptical about the Rabbani-Karzai plans. Ending the isolation and punishment of the Pakhtun and incorporating them into Afghan power structure has never appealed to these parties. Another common denominator among these parties is their expressed anti-Pakistanism.
In fact, whoever assassinated Mr. Rabbani was also aiming at ensuring that Afghanistan remains an anti-Pakistan outpost. Islamabad has advocated ending the policy of isolating the Pashtun and worked hard to convince Mr. Karzai that friendship and respect for the legitimate interests of both Afghanistan and Pakistan is in both nations’ interests and would benefit stability in the region. Mr. Rabbani had made several overtures to Pakistan in recent months. In January he used the platform of Geo television to address Pakistanis. He spoke in Urdu as a special gesture.
Pakistan is pursuing the right policy with regards to American provocations. What is lacking in this policy is the media edge. For example, several Pakistani officials have sent strong direct and indirect messages to Washington recently. The list includes the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Chief of Army Staff and ISI director. But Pakistan faces a sweeping campaign of demonizing the country. This American policy continues since 2004. Both political and military establishments have failed to counter the American narrative. The danger in the massive American campaign is that it paves the way for stronger future actions and limits global support for Pakistani positions. An example is the intense propagandist reporting on Iraq’s WMD in 2002 which helped Washington invade that country on fake evidence.
We need to become more overt in questioning US positions with regards to several key issues. This includes:
1.    CIA support and safe havens for terrorists meddling in Balochistan
2.    TTP’s easy access to US weapons
3.    The freedom of movement granted to anti-Pakistan terrorists inside US-controlled Afghan territory
4.    The intense demonization of Pakistan primarily and largely in mainstream US media as part of an unstated American policy
5.    Transforming US-controlled Afghanistan into a hub for anti-Pakistan forces in the region
6.    Meddling in Pakistani politics
7.    Buying out Pakistani media and planting mouthpieces in print and TV.
We should also review the argument that we can’t abandon America’s war on terror to ensure US aid flow and to fight domestic extremism. Washington will keep Pakistan afloat but will continue to drag its feet on key strategic issues such as energy generation and access for Pakistani textiles to US market. The US won’t sign any written agreements on CIA’s illegal activities inside Pakistani territory and airspace. As for domestic extremism, apart from TTP terror group that is linked to the Afghan mess, all other forms of domestic extremism are an internal Pakistani issue and should be delinked from America’s Afghan war.
All of this strengthens the argument that we need to declare an end to our direct participation in America’s Afghan war, known as the war on terror. Bilateral Pak-US cooperation to find an end solution in Afghanistan can continue. The move will give us a chance to redesign our relations with Washington and get rid of the verbal commitments made earlier.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Advice Of A Sikh Leader To Pakistanis On Their Independence Day

Piare Barkhurdar Ahmed Quraishi ji,

Aslaam O Alaikum!

The 14th August, 1947, is Independence Day of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The vision of Sovereignty and Independence of Janab MA Jinnah, Dr (Sir) Iqbal, staunch supporters, believers, and followers and their sincereity of the Awam brought the vision of Pakistan into reality.

The 14th August, 1947 is the day for all Pakistanis to re-determine that:

(i) the Sovereignty of Pakistan will be the prime importance for every citizen of Pakistan, despite all eventuality,
(ii) do not keep any weak leadership of a person like 10-25% and his 'joe boys and joe girls', (iii)
have 100% faith in those who are responsible to protect the political 'integrity' of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and
(iv) always trust the 'brain power' of Pakistan, which is 1000% better than the 'Brahmins-Hindus'.

Best wishes and extended to every citizen of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. May the Khudawand Bakhshinda shower His blessings on you all.

Pakistan Paindabad!

As always,

Awatar Singh Sekhon (Machaki)

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Meeting With Kuwait's Emir

In 2000, Kuwait's incumbent Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah was third in line when I met him for the first time. Even then he was so humble and informal that, at one point, I excused him to leave and stood up and walked four steps away when he suddenly gestured with his hand that he forgot to say something.

There was a senior royal family member seated between me and the Emir. The guest began talking to someone and I couldn’t cross him to the emir, so I sat on the sofa with the guest between me and the Emir. In his classic style, Sheikh Sabah had no problem reaching out to me from behind the back of the guest, me doing the same, and then saying a couple of words in my ears related to the subject we were discussing earlier.

I know this would’ve offended other junior sheikhs. But not this man.  Reporters and cameramen present were surprised to see Sheikh Sabah do this. Many assumed I enjoyed a personal relationship with him. Of course I didn’t and it just so happened that he was familiar with my work and seized the occasion to share information.

Kuwait’s present Emir is one of key persons who had a say in the royal family's decision to share the immense oil wealth with their people and pampering them from cradle to grave. I respect this because I know that these sheikhs could have done what Akbar Bugti and others have done and continue to do in our country: pocket all the riches from natural resources and leave their people suffer. Example: the people of Dera Bugti and many other strategic districts and towns in Pakistan.

I was checking YouTube videos and stumbled on this song, by Saudi singer Rashid al Majid, dedicated to Sheikh Sabah in January 2011 on the fifth anniversary of assuming the throne. I can understand the lyrics but the rest of you will enjoy the tunes. 

India's Racism In A Foreign Mask

An Indian-origin Baroness, Shreela Falther [Mrs. Gary Denis Flather] accuses Pakistani & Bangladeshi families in UK of producing more children to get state benefits. She defends large Indian families by saying they don't count because they're educating their kids. No, really, that's what she said.

What she is doing is to show a red cloth to the British right wing bull. In other words, it is okay for British Indian families - the largest Asian migrant community - to continue milking the government for child benefits because these families are educating their children. The Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are not, according to the Indian-born baroness.

I highlight this story because it represents a trend. More and more Indian-origin migrants are being quietly recruited by Indian government to serve Indian objectives where possible. New Delhi has shown special interest in recruiting Indian migrants sitting in positions of influence in their adopted homelands. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the United States, where Indian-origin journalists, Congressional aides, and TV anchors are already part of a loose network linked to Indian government lobbyists in DC. The Indians have picked this bright idea from none other than AIPAC, the formidable pro-Israel lobby group.

This is why you see more and more influential Indian-origin migrants in influential countries raising issues that serve the Indian government. For example, these prominent Indians would attack Pakistan, highlight dangers from 'Islamic terrorism', underplay Kashmir genocide, downplay high rates of girl infanticide in India, etc.

In this example, the Baroness is playing to the British rightwing by suggesting economic threats from Pakistani- and Bangladeshi-origin migrants. What she doesn't say is that her community of Indian-origin Brits stand to benefit if the other two migrant communities are downsized. This is a serious conflict of interest. But at least she's working for the interests of a friendly foreign government. Is there a law in England against that?

I am glad that I am not the only one who has noticed Indian-born Mrs. Flather's racism. In fact, that's the exact word that came to the mind of a British blogger, Suzanne Cameron-Blackie, when she heard the baroness's tirade.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Punjabi Taliban?

Many US think-tanks act as 'idea incubators' for US government, military and intelligence. 

These think-tanks are often funded by different departments of the US government. They also are home to what is known in intelligence parlance as 'assets'; people that the US government, military or intelligence consider useful for strategic reasons. The think-tanks act as grooming schools for these assets.

Recently, two young American-Pakistanis were funded by a little known think-tank in Washington DC to travel to southern Punjab in Pakistan and write an alarming report about the famed Punjabi Taliban. [NOTE: One more thing: Assignments by most of the DC-based think tanks are designed to serve larger US policy interests. Which is a good idea, but this little known fact should be known more widely because it affects transparency and motives behind recommendations and conclusions.]

I read the report and then read the comments below it, posted at a website for an American news publication.

I reproduce below a comment left by a reader, possibly a Pakistani citizen. The reason I am sharing this here is because it exposes the myth that is Punjabi Taliban, a group that has no address or presence in Pakistan but the US media and 'Pakistan experts' there continue to insist that it exists [apparently they know our country better than we do:)].

Here's the comment:

"An excellent report. I have one question to the budding young authors: Can you pinpoint to me where exactly the famed Punjabi Taliban exist in southern Punjab? 
The fact is the term 'Punjabi Taliban' was invented in the mainstream US media, especially in those publications that are renowned for publishing conspiracy theories that quote no names and are often the work of focused minds in US intelligence. 
It is academic dishonesty on the part of the authors of this piece to talk about 'Punjabi Taliban' without mentioning to the readers that you won't find a single person in entire Pakistan who says, 'Yes, I am Punjabi Taliban.' There is no such thing. CIA analysts and a few American think-tank types have come up with this term to basically malign pro-Kashmir activists and groups that are based in Punjab. The pro-Kashmir groups are there for natural reasons. Pakistan's Punjab province is geographically contiguous to Indian-occupied parts of Kashmir and a large number of Kashmiris have settled in these areas after they escaped Indian atrocities on the other side over six decades. 
The US has taken upon itself recently to drag pro-Kashmir groups into its Afghan 'war on terror' as a favor to India. US diplomats and media have been feverishly trying to incite the peaceful Sufi denominations of Islam in southern Punjab to go to war with other denominations that are involved in volunteering to fight foreign occupiers in Kashmir [and Afghanistan]. "
Around five years ago, US diplomats and CIA agents posted as diplomats in Pakistan tried hard to spy on the pro-Kashmir groups in the region. These diplomats and fake diplomats would meet local and federal Pakistani officials and demand action against 'Punjabi Taliban'. But they would never call their targets by their real names: pro-Kashmir groups.

American policy is smart. To convince Pakistan and its military to start seeing Afghan Taliban as enemies, some CIA agents in Kabul came up with the brilliant idea of creating and funding Pakistani Taliban, which was born after the Americans landed in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban, the real Taliban, say they don't trust this new Pakistani version, whose sole claim to fame is to kill ordinary Pakistanis and soldiers in the largest numbers possible.  There is also information that CIA in Afghanistan has used these terrorists as a tool of revenge against a Pakistani military that refuses to act as a proxy to American and Indian interests in the region.

Kashmir Won't Go Away

In July, CIA attempted to harm Pakistan's most important national security priority: Kashmir, a territory that is under Indian occupation since 1948. Out of nowhere, the US spy agency arrested Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a soft-spoken American who migrated from the Indian-occupied territory and set up a Kashmir center in Washington to raise the voice of his people.

The US government claimed the American-Kashmiri activist was a Pakistani spy out to influence US politicians on Kashmir.

Now, two months later, legal experts say he was arrested on little or no evidence. Evidence is mounting that US authorities arrested him for the media effect. In their desperation to harm Kashmiri and Pakistani interests, US authorities went as far as casting doubt on Kashmiri activists and groups active in Europe.

The arrest itself is not the issue here. It's the well-crafted media campaign that accompanied Mr. Fai's arrest.

The CIA circulated several stories in major US news outlets. These stories had one objective: to permanently damage Pakistan's international case on Kashmir. The campaign had little effect on Pakistanis except to further worsen US-Pakistan ties. The CIA made it clear where it stood on that count. [Pakistani officials, dismissing CIA's July move, say Pakistan's Kashmir case remains strong, based on UN resolutions that India had accepted. More importantly, the case is bolstered by courage of Kashmiris in confronting and embarrassing India's military machine.]

Americans are keen to brush Kashmir under the carpet. That is the only way they can tell Pakistanis, 'See, you don't have a problem with India, so start cooperating on granting India military and strategic access to Afghanistan.'

This access is not possible with using Pakistani land routes and airspace, and Pakistan will not go along unless the international dispute of Kashmir is resolved.

Washington's plans to induct India in Afghanistan as a cheaper replacement for the expensive American and NATO deployment there have been hampered by Pakistani objections. Those plans lie in tatters now.

Dr. Fai's arrest was CIA's response to Pakistani decision to restrict the agency's illegal activities inside Pakistan.

It was also a cheap attempt at appeasing the Indians as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India, where she made sure to ignore the massive human rights violations and the rapes of Kashmiri women by Indian soldiers, as documented by various international human rights organizations.

But despite the best efforts of the Indians and the Americans, Kashmir won't go away.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera has recently published an excellent dossier on happenings inside Kashmir, where a half a million plus Indian soldiers cram a tiny region.

And its latest report by a Kashmiri eyewitness is a strong indictment of India on the discovery of mass graves in the territory, mostly men and boys summarily executed by Indian soldiers, and some local women kidnapped and buried.