Pakhtunkhwa Times

Target: Saleem By Pepe Escobar

Posted in Uncategorized by ppfcanada on June 1, 2011
congratulations to the ISI – the ”state within the state”. Mission accomplished.
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/MF02Df03.html?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4de6458df0cf30e2%2C0

Target: Saleem
By Pepe Escobar

See Pakistan: Silencing the truth-seekers, Justice, not words, Why is he not alive? and Tributes to Saleem.

Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) deserves a medal of honor. Quite an intel op; whether it did it directly, subcontracted by military intelligence or through ”rogue” elements, it has set the bar very high.

After all, when a Pakistani journalist – not a foreigner – writes that al-Qaeda is infiltrated deep inside the Pakistani military establishment, one’s got to act with utmost courage.

So you abduct the journalist. You torture him. And you snuff him. Target assassination – the low-tech version. After all, if the Pentagon can drone their way to tribal heaven – and get away with it – why not join the fun?

Saleem was a brother. In the aftermath of 9/11 we worked in tandem; he was in Karachi, I was in Islamabad/Peshawar. After the US ”victory” in Afghanistan I went to visit him at home. He plunged me into Karachi’s wild side – in this and other visits. During a night walk on the beach he confessed his dream; he wanted to be Pakistan bureau chief for Asia Times, which he regarded as the K2 of journalism. He got it.

And then, years before ”AfPak” was invented, he found his perfect beat – the intersection between the ISI, the myriad Taliban factions on both sides of AfPak, and all sorts of jihadi eruptions. That was his sterling beat; and no one could bring more hardcore news from the heart of hardcore than Saleem.

I had met some of his sources in Islamabad and Karachi – but over the years he kept excavating deeper and deeper into the shadows. Sometimes we seriously debated over e-mails – I feared some dodgy/devious ISI strands were playing him while he always vouched for his sources.

Cornered by the law of the jungle, no wonder most of my Pakistani friends, during the 2000s, became exiles in the United States or Canada. Saleem stayed – threats and all, the only concession relocating from Karachi to Islamabad.

Now they finally got him. Not an al-Qaeda or jihadi connection. Not a tribal or Taliban connection, be it Mullah Omar or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. It had to be the ISI – as he knew, and told us, all along.

So congratulations to the ISI – the ”state within the state”. Mission accomplished.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His latest is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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Politics as a redundant superstructure

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 22, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009 The News
Shafqat Mahmood

A wave of fear is sweeping across the urban landscape of the country. Parents are worried about their school-going children, women fear random threats on the street, and men are trading sheepish jokes about how long a beard they will have to keep when the Taliban take over.

The threat to the schools is real. Reports are that some well-known among them have closed in Islamabad. In Lahore, threatening phone calls have been received by girls’ schools where men also teach or those that have co-education. As a result, they have begun to curtail their study periods so that the children remain on the premises for a minimum period. Security procedures, or what passes for security in the shape of untrained guards, are also being beefed up.

Women, unfortunately, always become the first target of religious zealots. In Karachi, there are persistent reports that they are being harassed. It also happening in other cities and these are not women dressed in any revealing fashion. Their crime is not wearing the veil, or going about their business without mail relatives in attendance. At least some have stopped driving. Others are all worried.

While girls’ schools and women are a particular target of extremists, families who have a normal, relatively open way of living are also beginning to develop fear. The general feeling is that an entire way of life is under threat. This is not just the worry of what the Taliban call liberal fascists. These are ordinary people who do not stop their women from going out either to work or for other business, people who socialise along with their wives and others who want to give equal opportunities to their male and female children.

This pervasive fear of creeping Talibinasation is not surprisingly, the main topic of conversation at social gatherings these days. I have never in recent memory heard so many people talk of finding safe havens abroad. Those that have already acquired citizenship in some western country, and there are many among the elite who have, are looked at with envy. Those who were not so astute are now trolling the internet to search for ways to get out.

An important reason for this panic is that absolutely no one believes the state can protect them or their way of life. The abject surrender of the National Assembly before the Taliban threat has further heightened this feeling. With the honourable exception of fellow-columnist and MNA, Ayaz Amir, and the abstention of the MQM, no one in a house that contains many so-called liberals had the courage to stand up and express their true feelings.

It is not so much the nizam-e-adl itself that is bothersome to people. Everyone recognises the deep flaws in our judicial system. Many also feel that this bluff of the Swat Taliban needed to be called because their real purpose is not the enforcement of an Islamic judicial system. They want to carve out an independent domain to rule. The real disappointment is that the Pakistani state, its institutions and its political forces have caved in so quickly.

The Taliban know the fear they are causing and are adding to it by targeting law enforcing agencies. The attack on the police check post at Charsadda is part of a careful strategy to demoralise the police. What stands between them and a total takeover of the country is a tottering state structure and the discipline of the armed forces.

The state has very little left, although no praise is enough for those brave policemen who for a meagre pay risk their lives and sometimes pay the ultimate price. The armed forces are disciplined and well-led but face a complex situation and a form of warfare they are not trained for. This is all we have to face, the rising tide of extremism.

The political battles among the elite, in fact politics in general, now seem to be a redundant superstructure unable to impact the reality on the ground. It was thought that political forces would be able to counter the menace of a minority Taliban through the support of the people. The debacle of the ANP government in the NWFP has put paid to this thinking. Either its support among the people is thin or it is effectively terrorised because it has just given up. It is neither able to mobilise the people to stand up to the Taliban, nor effectively use the force of the state to confront them.

Political response is critical because the problem of extremism is in essence a battle of ideas. Its overt manifestation in the shape of terrorism can be fought with force, if indeed such a force is available. But this alone is not a solution. It is the ideology that has to be exposed and rejected by a vast majority of the people. If this is done successfully, extremists can never win by terror alone.

It is here that the role of politics and political parties becomes critical. If they have a genuine mass base, they can mobilise it and present a solid wall of resistance to extremism. If they do not, they are just an elite superstructure that periodically goes to the people to get their vote. The size of their vote bank may suggest a mass base, but this would be misleading. People may vote for them because they like a particular personality or they are the least evil of the choices available. This does not constitute a mass base.

The MQM for its flaws consistently shows a mass base of support. People say that these gatherings, in which people sit like zombies to listen to the telephonic fulminations of Mr Altaf Hussain, are arranged through coercion. Or that the entire organisation survives on fear. Whatever the truth, the MQM has shown that not only is it able to sweep elections in Karachi, it can mobilise its support whenever it wants. Thus, it may be confined to just Karachi and parts of Hyderabad, but in these places it is a political force to reckon with. It will be able to mount an effective challenge to extremism in its political domain.

The other major political forces, the PPP and the PML-N have periodically shown a popular support base. The PML-N, in particular on March 15, demonstrated a huge following. But, so far, they have not been able to mobilise this base to fight the extremists menace. I have no doubt that both parties, and, yes, that includes PML-N although some people may not think so, are fundamentally opposed to extremism. But this opposition has to go beyond saying the right things. It has to be translated into grassroots opposition to the Taliban ideology.

Time is short for the major political forces to become relevant in this truly existential battle that Pakistan faces today. The Taliban are expanding and enlarging their area of influence. Their sympathisers have begun to terrorise major urban centres. Political forces have to stand together with the institutions of the state to fight them, or they risk becoming redundant. If they do, they will forfeit their right to rule.

Taliban influence in bureaucracy

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 22, 2009

By A. Ameer

DAWN Saturday, 18 Apr, 2009 | 01:21 AM PST

THE growing threat of violent extremism in different parts of Pakistan including Fata and Malakand Division is a matter of serious concern.

The harrowing factor is that the writ of the Taliban is solidifying both in the north and the south not only in the Pashtun belt but also in the heartland of Pakistan.

That a high-level provincial official posted in Swat should write a letter to the NWFP home department implying the complicity of the commissioner of Malakand Division in the ever-expanding influence of the Taliban in the region is an illustration of what is happening and how.

An alliance of extremist forces in Kashmir, Punjab, Fata and the NWFP and their strategy for Pakistan’s disintegration in the near future have virtually paralysed the administrations in the different settled districts of the NWFP — not to mention the threats made by extremists to invade Islamabad very soon. After the February peace deal between the NWFP government and the banned Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM), the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) chapter of Swat started a three-pronged assault on the state.

Firstly, the Swat chapter of the TTP started recruitment and the construction of bunkers on a large scale in different parts of Swat while the military and security establishment and the government maintained control in different ways. The security establishment and the Pakistani government seem to be oblivious of the fact that the Taliban movement is far more agile than the security establishment’s response to their onslaught from different directions.

Secondly, the Swat chapter of the TTP, in line with the Taliban alliances in Fata and the rest of Pakistan, were readjusting and relocating therein and have started expanding their assaults from the north to the south of the NWFP. The present onslaught by the Taliban on Buner and Dir is part of this strategy.

Thirdly, the Taliban have started consolidating their positions vis-à-vis the security establishment by controlling strategic passes and side valleys of Swat, Buner, Shangla and Dir. In this scenario, reports that a part of the civil bureaucracy in the NWFP, Fata and elsewhere in Pakistan facilitates the process of Talibanisation is likely to be a worrisome factor for elements within and outside the country.

The present commissioner of Malakand Division is said to have been posted in lower Dir in the early 1990s when the TNSM was in the process of becoming a formidable extremist organisation with a jihadi ideology. The commissioner was said to have been a frequent visitor of Maulana Sufi Mohammad’s madressah and allegedly worked behind the scenes with the initial support of the local khans for the TNSM in 1994 when it brought the whole administration of Malakand Division to a standstill.

Many who saw the 1994 uprising of Malakand Division bear testimony to the fact that the present commissioner of the latter provided all-out help to the insurgents coming from Dir to Swat.

In the early era of Fazlullah’s rise in Swat, again the present commissioner of Malakand Division was posted as the district coordination officer. He was the one, according to local residents, who facilitated the establishment of Fazlullah’s FM radio. He was the one who convinced the local jirga of Mamdherai and Mingora to allow the FM radio to function. It was reported in 2006-07 in the local press that when the Taliban in Swat started destroying CD shops and barber shops and the owners would go to the DCO office for complaints, the DCO would tell them to close the shops because, according to him, running the business was un-Islamic. The present commissioner was also seen by the locals visiting Mamdherai markaz (centre) for Friday prayers frequently.

On April 5, 2009 a battalion of the Taliban militia with heavy weaponry crossed over the hills from Swat to Buner to avowedly supervise the implementation of the Nizam-i-Adl. The local residents of Buner had been resisting the inflow of the Taliban for a long time. The local elders intervened and tried to convince the Taliban to return but the latter opened fire at them, leaving several injured. Later the Taliban captured three policemen and two civilians, and killed them.

The local residents, the people of lower Buner and Sultanwas, gathered to move upward to face the Taliban while the people of upper Buner provided reinforcements. Fighting began and in the ensuing gun-battle some 17 members of the Taliban are said to have been killed. The questions on the minds of the local people were: why would the Taliban come with heavy weapons if they did not want to control Buner? And why were the Taliban allowed by the commissioner to move from Swat to Buner with heavy weapons?

On April 6, a delegation of the TNSM along with the commissioner Malakand Division went to Buner to negotiate with the local elders. They tried to convince the local elders to allow the Taliban to enter the valley. While the delegation engaged the local administration and the elders of Buner, the Taliban started getting reinforcements. In the context of the Taliban expansion to Buner, it is interesting to note the ideological role played by the relatively less known Jamaati Ashaatutoheed WaSunna, the creation of Maulana Tahir Panjpiri, the father of the infamous Major Amir, a well-known IB and ISI operative in the past and allegedly behind the notorious Operation Midnight Jackal. Major Amir, Syed Mohammad Javed (the present commissioner Malakand Division) and Maulana Sufi Mohammad are said to have been quite close since a long time.

According to eyewitnesses, during the recent stand-off between the Taliban and the people of Buner, the commissioner of Malakand Division made efforts to convince the people to allow the Taliban to enter Buner. The commissioner is said to have become annoyed with the superintendent of police in Buner for informing the people about the impending onslaught by the Taliban on the former.

The present commissioner of Malakand Division belongs to a religious family in Shergarh, Malakand Agency. The provincial government of the NWFP deemed it a better solution to the problem to ask for his services during the peace deal with the militants of Swat recently. This seems to be a matter of concern for all those who want to resist the Taliban and preserve a modern civilisation as opposed to adopting a mediaeval way of life.

The fact is that parts of the civilian administration in Fata, the NWFP and the rest of Pakistan is infested with the jihadi ideology and connected to the sympathisers of the Taliban in one way or the other.

The writer works with a research organisation.

The retreat of Jinnah’s Pakistan Wednesday,By: Dr Maleeha Lodhi Share

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 22, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Dr Maleeha Lodhi

The writer is a former envoy to the US and the UK, and a former editor of The News.

An event in the life of a nation sometimes has deeper significance than what appears on the surface. The accord by which the government all but ceded administrative and judicial control to militants and their Taliban affiliates in Swat is such a development. This has profound implications for the country that have been obscured by the facile discussions on many TV talk shows. It may well mark a turning point in the country’s struggle with rising militancy.

The Swat deal signifies several things all at once. First and foremost it represents a retreat for Jinnah’s Pakistan. Whatever the apologists of the deal may claim, it is the very antithesis of the vision and ideals inspired by the country’s founder, the core of which was a modern, unified Muslim state, not one fragmented along obscurantist and sectarian lines. Several times during and after the struggle for freedom, the Quaid-e-Azam emphatically ruled out anything resembling a throwback to obscurantism or any variant of theocracy. His leadership rested on principle and according to one of his biographers, he preferred “political wilderness to playing to the gallery”.

Today the country’s erstwhile leaders do not lead but are led by their dubious interpretation of what the “people want” in Swat, an act of monumental self-deception as any climate of ‘opinion’ created at gunpoint represents coercion, not consent. Rattled by more aggressive actions by militants, the political and security establishments caved in to the challenge rather than confront it. The Swat deal signalled weakness and bankruptcy on the part of the ruling elite that chose appeasement as the pathway to address the country’s mounting internal security challenges. While the government showed no leadership or capacity to govern, the country’s security institutions failed to protect its citizens, and legislators (save for the MQM) preferred expediency to principle. Can any of these actors claim to have upheld Jinnah’s ideals or legacy?

The agreement forged between the ANP government and Sufi Mohammed, head of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), on February 16 was effected through a presidential edict on April 13, and endorsed by a hastily contrived parliamentary resolution. This followed months of policy chaos, on again, off again peace accords and stop-go military operations, accompanied by rising violence and the virtual collapse of any civil administration in Swat. Indeed this backdrop of rudderless, directionless rule at the centre reinforced the state of national disarray and created the conditions for the eventual Swat surrender.

Amidst this policy confusion, political leaders seemed bereft of any vision or the courage needed to steer the country in a clear direction, and preferred instead to strike a Faustian bargain with little regard for the consequences. Just as government figures were portraying the latest financial bailout from the international community as a triumph of its hat-in-hand diplomacy, Islamabad was conceding ground to militants in Swat.

A combination of factors, including political short-sightedness and expediency, pursuit of narrow agendas and fear of reprisals by militants, has resulted in choosing a course in Swat that will have serious ramifications for the country. This indicates, above all, a loss of nerve and will by the political and military leadership that seems to have convinced itself that it can contain militancy by conceding to it. But it has set the dangerous precedent of state power surrendering to a local militant force on the dubious premise of ‘peace at any price’.

Advocates of the deal in and outside the government marshal a number of arguments to justify it. A major rationale adduced for the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation is that it is no different from the agreements reached in 1994 and 1999 by the Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif governments and is sanctioned by the special status enjoyed by the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas in the constitution. The verdicts of Qazi courts provided in the Adl Regulation will in any case be subject to appeal in the High and Supreme Courts and so will ultimately be consistent with the laws in the rest of the country.

Moreover, it is argued, that the regulation is in consonance with the wishes of the people of Swat who want the restoration of peace above all else. Trading a form of Sharia justice in return for peace is not being lily-livered but pragmatic. As the NWFP governor and assorted ANP leaders have declared, this regulation was “the only way to bring peace.” The deal in fact aims to separate the moderates from the militant Taliban.

These claims ignore the political context in which the deal has been forged, with whom and on what terms. Invoking the parallels of 1994 and 1999 is spurious logic as 2009 represents a vastly transformed environment in which the militants entrenched in Swat are affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which, officials themselves say, poses a threat to the country’s security. How this agreement de-couples Sufi Mohammed’s TNSM from these allies no one has cared to explain. It is the TTP militants who hold sway behind the figure of Sufi Mohammed, who was the mediator between the government and the Swat Taliban.

Nor does the argument hold up that the system instituted in Swat will be consistent with Pakistan’s constitution. The fig leaf of the state’s writ overseeing the Nizam-e-Adl implementation has already been ripped apart by Sufi Mohammed who announced last Sunday that the decisions of the Qazi courts will be final and not subject to appeal in the High and Supreme Courts which he denounced along with the constitution and democracy as un-Islamic. He also declared that judges to the Qazi courts will be appointed with the consent of his organisation. This has thrown into sharp relief the reality of a parallel law being established.

The argument trotted out about Swat’s ‘special status’ overlooks the fact that modern statehood requires that laws are unified whereas the regulation fragments the system of law and justice. And as the people who will administer the new regulation are no experts in Muslim jurisprudence or even theology, this cannot even be considered a move toward Islamisation. It is little more than surrender to a medieval form of obscurantism practised by the Taliban.

As for the rather rich claim that the regulation has been promulgated in deference to the popular will in Swat, this confuses coercion with consent. If the men of violence are able to create a climate of fear and intimidation and the army too fails to come to the people’s rescue, local inhabitants will obviously want a cessation of violence. But this is fundamentally different from people becoming instant converts to the worldview espoused by the TNSM and the Taliban.

Few will take issue with a peace agreement if it is forged with those prepared to renounce violence and predicated on an explicit acceptance of the writ of the state. The Swat deal doesn’t meet this criterion. Negotiated in haste and under duress, the agreement has not been accompanied by any explanation as to the obligations agreed to by the TNSM, much less about how these will be enforced. Even an undertaking of decommissioning weapons is shrouded in mystery, contrary to official claims that the TNSM will ask its Taliban allies to surrender their arms.

The Swat deal marks a dangerous precedent for several reasons. One, it sets up a parallel justice system that has been ‘won’ in the shadow of the gun. One-third of NWFP, which the Malakand division represents, has been placed under this parallel law. Two, it cedes space to the militants who wreaked violence, killed at will, burnt girls’ schools and spread mayhem that led to the exodus of tens of thousands of people from the valley. Virtually handing over Swat in this backdrop is tantamount to the state acceding to a form of Taliban warlordism. Far from halting creeping Talibanisation, Islamabad’s concession has unintentionally conferred legitimacy to their agenda.

Three, it serves to embolden militant forces to advance further and beyond Swat. Already Sufi Mohammed has vowed to spread the system he calls the ‘sharia’ to the surrounding region and the rest of the country. The demonstration effect is also evident in the call given by the recently released cleric of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz, for the Swat success to be replicated in all of Pakistan. What is to stop a small band of militants from seizing territory, coercing the inhabitants and holding them to ransom until their cries for peace are responded to by Islamabad with another dose of ‘pragmatism’ and deference to public wishes? And four, the Swat experiment risks stoking sectarian tensions which will have further deleterious effects on the social fabric and the body politic.

Finally it is worth recounting what an Afghan friend once told me as she recalled her country’s experience: “They don’t have to seize the capital to take over the country”. The sense of distance and complacency that is bred by the atmosphere of power and privilege in Islamabad should not blind the government to the looming threat of militancy which its own missteps have heightened.

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=173613

US admiral cultivates Pakistani army chief

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

WASHINGTON: For the United States, much may be riding on an unlikely relationship between America’s highest ranking military officer and Pakistan’s powerful army chief.
Over cups of tea and the occasional cigar, the avuncular American admiral and the reserved general talk about terrorist threats and sensitive military operations in a region President Barack Obama deems the ‘central front’ in the fight against al Qaeda.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has gone out of his way to build a rapport with his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Kayani, speaking to him regularly and holding 10 face-to-face meetings since November 2007.

‘I’m a big believer that the worst time to try to get to know someone is during a crisis, so this constant dialogue I have with General Kayani is vital,’ said Mullen, responding to questions from AFP by email.

Although the two come from different worlds – the US admiral is the son of a successful Hollywood publicist and Kayani comes from a working-class family headed by a father who was a non-commissioned officer – a bond of trust has begun to form, Mullen’s spokesman Captain John Kirby said.

The meetings are conducted with few aides and far from public view.

‘Typically we meet alone with no note takers,’ Mullen said.

As arguably the most powerful man in nuclear-armed Pakistan, Kayani is a pivotal figure for the Obama administration as it seeks to contain insurgents linked to al Qaeda who are challenging the Kabul government and Islamabad’s authority.

Kayani and the country’s political leadership face growing demands from Washington to take decisive action against the militants who are alleged to enjoy support from the country’s intelligence service.

Mullen praised Kayani for taking ‘bold steps’ against the insurgents, saying he has moved troops to the Afghan border, cracked down against militants in Bajaur and equipped the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the northwest.

‘I believe the relationship I have with General Kayani has been very productive,’ he said.

‘I’ve been encouraged by what he has done and, quite frankly, by what he has not done.’

The admiral said Kayani and the Pakistani government did not allow recent tensions with India over attacks in Mumbai to distract them from ‘the real struggle they face right now deep inside their borders.’

Kayani is not the first military chief in Pakistan with a reputation for competence to raise hopes in Washington.

Musharraf’s promised crackdown against extremists failed to materialise.

Musharraf ‘is a deceitful man who led us up the garden path,’ said Simon Henderson, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The American experience with Musharraf serves as a cautionary tale as US officials try to court Kayani.

Once a military assistant to the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto as well as a trusted protégé of her rival Musharraf, Kayani has proven himself a ‘chameleon’ in surviving Pakistan’s treacherous political waters, Henderson said.

Although Mullen credits him for his role in defusing last month’s political crisis between President Asif Ali Zardari and his rival Nawaz Sharif, it remains to be seen if Kayani is able or willing to carry out the kind of crackdown that Washington wants.

As recently as 2007, Kayani served as director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the spy service at the heart of Western anxiety over Pakistan.

Mullen said he was realistic about his talks with Kayani.

‘I’m not saying we take everything at face value – we remain concerned over the degree to which there are still linkages between ISI and the Taliban, for instance – but we have to better appreciate what they are up against in terms of their own troubled past,’ he said.

Kayani insists the ISI has washed its hands of the militants and that its influence has been wildly overstated.

‘He claims the ISI has been purged of hardliners and the leadership is consciously looking out for people within the organisation who might be undermining the entire anti-terror effort,’ said Imtiaz Gul, chair of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad.

When talking about Kayani, Mullen refers to the best-selling book ‘Three Cups of Tea,’ by Greg Mortenson, the American rock climber who has dedicated his life to building schools in remote villages along Pakistan’s border.

‘It is said in that part of the world, after one cup of tea, you are strangers. After two cups you are friends. And after three cups of tea, you become family,’ Mullen said.

‘I’d like to believe I am working on at least my second cup of tea with him.’

–AFP

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NWFP govt to establish centre for Pashto poets, artists

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

PESHAWAR: NWFP Minister for Sports, Culture, Tourism and Youth Affairs Syed Aqil Shah has said a centre for Pashto poets, artists, writers and scholars will be established so that they could contribute their valuable work for promotion of Pashto language.

He was talking to a delegation, headed by World Pashto Congress Chairman Prof Jehanzeb Niazi and made up of its Provincial Coordination Syad Ullah Jan Burk, Senior Vice President Shahabuddin Advocate, Secretary Information Hamidur Rehman Nadan, General Secretary Faridoon, Organizing Secretary Abdul Wahid Afridi, Dr Muhammad Alam Yousafzai, Riaz Khan and Mir Ahmad Lala and others.

The minister said history of Pashtoons was 5780-years-old and Pashto grammar was complete in all ways.

-APP

Pakhtun Culture and Talibanization: Soiling the Esteemed Tradition, Psychoanalysis and the Crossroad

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

By Farhat Taj

Taliban are a group of mix groups of different ethnicities- Pakhtun, Punjabi, Uzbek, Tajik, Chechens, Arab etc. Together they have unleashed death and destruction on Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially on the Pakhtun areas of both counties, in collaboration with Al-Qaida. They are all involved in acts of utmost savagery and barbaric torture, like beheading, throwing the dead bodies of the perceived enemies in ditches or in the wild to be eaten up by wild animals, using children in suicide bombing, kidnapping of children for jihadi purposes, assaults in public on women, kidnapping of women, threats to women, bomb attacks on jirgas and funeral ceremonies etc. Pakhtun Taliban are very much part and parcel of such savage acts of cruelty.
By involving themselves in beastly acts of torture, assault on women and humiliation of dead corps of the perceived enemies, the Pakhtun Taliban are insulting an important tradition in the history of armed conflicts conducted by the Pakhtun, i.e. the Pakhtun code of honor. The code of honor dictates this: no attack on women, children, the old and the weak, no attacks on innocent people, no attack on the enemy when in prayers, no attack on the enemy in jirga, no attack on the enemy when there are cultural celebrations like marriage, funeral, Eid, no attack on places of worship like mosque and places where a jirga is taking place, no disrespect to dead bodies and graves of the enemy etc.

I do not rule out the possibility of individual Pakhtun violating the code for personal reasons. There could have been such people in the past and there could be more in the future. But as far as I know of the history, the Pakhtun by and large have followed the code in their intra and inter tribal feuds and in their armed conflicts with the foreigners, like the Moghal, the British etc.

Once I asked Frank Leeson, the former British Khassadar Officer who worked in Waziristan in 1940’s, whether he could remember any events in Waziristan of that time where the tribesmen had used children in their hostilities. Frank Leeson answered: ‘children in Waziristan were children- just playing around, having care free time. I do not know of any event in which the Waziristan tribesmen had used children in the armed conflicts among themselves or in their hostilities towards the British’. The Taliban,on the other hand, kidnapp children for jihad and brainwash or force them to be suicide bombers. I also asked Frank Leeson whether he heard or saw any attacks on, kidnapping of or threats to women in Waziristan. He said as far as he can remember he never saw or heard women being attacked, kidnapped or threatened in the tribal feuds or in conflicts with the British in Waziristan.

Frank Leeson describes in his book, the Frontier Legion, that Miss Ellis, the daughter of a British staff officer in Kohat was kidnapped by five Afridi tribesmen and taken towards Tirah valley of the Khyber agency. The kidnapers knew that the ‘whole countryside would be against them for Pathan chivalry towards women is a by word and they traveled only by night’, writes Leeson. The girl was recovered with help of other Pakhun, including a mullah, and the kidnappers fled to Afghanistan ‘with an avenging party of their own indignant tribesmen hard on their heels’, narrates Leeson. This worldview of the Pakhtun looks very different from the worldview of the Taliban Pukhtun, who have publicly assaulted, murdered and kidnapped women.
The Taliban have attacked at least three tribal jirgas, one each on Darra Adam Khel, Orakzai agency and Bajur agency, a funeral ceremony in Swat and Eid celebrations, including the celebration in the guesthouse of the ANP leader, Asfandyar Wali Khan. The Taliban have been extremely brutal with the perceived enemies they captured, i.e. soldiers, both Pakhtun and non Pakhtun, of Pakistan army, police officers, civilians (alleged US spies) mostly all Pakhtun. The Taliban have been utmost disrespectful with the dead bodies of their perceived enemies. They put their mutilated bodies on public display to spread fear among the besieged Pakhtun population.

The present generation of the Pakhtun, in my view, is unfortunate in the sense that it is in their life time that their centuries old and respected tradition got insulted at the hands of ‘their own Pakhtun brothers‘and they cannot do much to stop the insult. The balance of the lethal power is so drastically in favor of the Taliban and their non Pakhtun ‘Mujahid brothers’ that the non Taliban Pakhtun cannot help the situation, much as they would like to do. In this context, the Salarzai tribe of Bajaur agency is showing great courage. The tribe has stood up against the brutalities of the Taliban. Similarly, some other Pakhtun in some other areas of NWFP and FATA have done the same, despite their negligible resources in terms of weapons and money vis-à-vis the Taliban. Their courage is commendable and they are the heroes. But the savage determination of the Taliban knows no bounds and their resources (weapons, finances etc) seem to be unlimited. Therefore, despite the utmost courage of the Salarzais and other Pakhtun the Taliban continue to brutally insult the Pakhtun code of honor.

What does that insult to the code of honor mean in terms of posterity? Does it have any implications for the future generations? In my view it does. Future generation of the Pakhtun will hang their heads in shame for the Taliban’s atrocities. In a sense the situation will be like the present generation of the Germans. I have seen Germans becoming uneasy at the mention of the Nazis. They are embarrassed by the fact that their elders- the Nazi Germans- committed so much brutality against the Jews, gypsies and other Europeans.

Psychoanalysis

The Pakhtun are under attack- their lives, livelihoods, culture, tradition and history. There are dead bodies, injured people, crippled human beings, widows and childhoods lost. The situation across the border in Afghanistan is even worst. Still there are people who do not appreciate the full scale of this devastation for the sake of their interpretation of Islam. Once I had a heated argument with a non Pakhtun Norwegian-Pakistani couple. The argument was: should Usma Bin Laden be handed over by the Afghans to the Americans or not. I said he should be. They said never. I said look at the death and devastation in Afghanistan. Is Usama worth it? They said yes. Such people prefer to live in the comforts of the West and are always all too ready to sacrify the Pakhtun for their understanding of the religion. There are plenty of people of this kind in Pakistan as well, politicians, journalists, media commentators and folk among the masses at large. For them foreign jihadis are ‘guests’, there should be negotiations with Taliban-Al Qaida without the writ of the state being restored, root cause of the problem is the US, 9/11 was fabricated by the Jews, Usama is innocent and so on. Such people would not even like to experience the atrocities befallen on the Pakhtun in their nightmares. They seem to condone the atrocities in the name of their interpretation of Islam as long they (the atrocities) do not touch them.

In my view such people need a deep psychoanalysis undertaken by a good team of psychoanalysts. No sane human being can be so insensitive to such a scale of devastation in the name of any religion. They must be sick. What is in their mind? The Psychoanalysts should find out.

The Crossroad

The present generations of the Pakhtun have to do a lot. They have to get rid of the foreign jihadi mercenaries; they have to deal with the home grown Taliban; they have to take care of the families destroyed in the jihad of the Taliban-Al Qaida; they have to rebuild their economy, their educational and health institutions sabotaged by the jihadis; they have to reach out to the world to ensure the world of their aversion of religious extremism and so on. They stand at a crossroad. If they succumbed to Talibanization, they will be pushed centuries backward. If they overcome Talibanization, they will emerge as stronger people, more in tune with modernity and more active in give-and-take with the wider world. This will also earn them the respect of their future generations, who will view them as courageous people who subdued the evil of Talibanization. Thus the present generation of the Pakhtun must succeed. Because failure is no option and there is no middle way.

Farhat Taj is a femal Pashtun researcher based in Norway. She wrote a series of articles for Khybernews on different aspects of Pashtuns and Talibanization. This piece is the last of a series of four articles.

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Top US Officials In Islamabad

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

ISLAMABAD: The visiting US Assistance Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard Boucher and the new chief of US Central Command, General Petraeus called on President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Ashraf Kayani.

Both sides discussed different issues pertaining to the war against terrorism, Pak-US relations, situation along the Pak-Afghan border and other matters of mutual concern.

Issues regarding the US drone attacks also came under discussion.

Later, the Defense Minister, Ahmad Mukhatr said that they discussed the problems which Pakistan is presently confronting. He said that the US side was very receptive.

The minister said that the American officials believed in our government because previously there was more rhetoric than action but now there is more action than rhetoric.

The minister said that the US officials appreciated that we take it as war against Pakistan, adding that its is our war, which we are fighting for our survival.

Commander US CENTCOM, General David Petraeus also visited General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and called on the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

The two generals exchanged views on bilateral relations, Pak-US Defence ties and present regional situation.

Richard Boucher and General Petraeus arrived in the federal capital on Sunday night.

Later, General Petraeus also called on the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid and discussed matters of mutual interest with him.

NWFP To Covene Jirga To Restore Peace

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

By Lehaz Ali

PESHAWAR; The NWFP government has decided to call a major political Jirga to explore ways to resolve the issue of terrorism.

This was announced by the provincial information minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain while addressing a news conference in Peshawar today.

Khyber news correspondent, Lehaz Ali reports that according to the minister, leaders and representatives of all political parties of the country would be invited to the jirga.

Iftikhar said the government believe in negotiations and the ongoing Swat operation is only a reaction to the activities of the militants. He said that this operation can be stopped immediately if the militants agree to lay down their arms.

The minister asked the federal government to take the provincial government into confidence before taking any step in the tribal areas.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain also took a serious exception to the allegations of Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam that Awami National Party was struggling for a greater Pukhtoonistan with the support of the United States.

He said this was a baseless propaganda, claiming that the ANP was a patriotic party. He criticized what he called the double standards of Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam, saying that the party was a member of the ruling coalition and was also playing the role of opposition. He asked the JUI leaders to refrain from unleashing baseless propaganda at the present critical juncture.

‘Let Us Talk To Resolve The Crisis’, Moulvi Omar

Posted in 1 by ppfcanada on April 7, 2009

Khyber News Report

ISLAMABAD: Tekrik-e Taliban Pakistan has expressed its readiness to hold negotiations with the government.

This was stated by TTP spokesman, Maulvi Omar while talking to Khyber News today. He said that Taliban are not rebels and they have never refused to hold talks for solution of problems. He said that they would never abandon the path of negotiations because problems can only be resolved through talks.

Maulvi Omar said that even the United States has come the conclusion that problems can never be resolved through the use of force.
He said that issues between Tehrik-e Taliban and the Pakistani government could be resolved through negotiations but in the past such talks have not proved successful due to interference of foreign powers.

He categorically called upon the United States to end its interference in Pakistan and Afghanistan.