In an interview in late 2007, a month before her death Benazir Bhutto stated that Osama Bin Laden was dead, and that he had been killed by an unofficial ISI operative Omer Shaikh in late 2001. He was killed it is alleged so that he could no longer continue giving his alternative opinion of what happen in NY 9/11, which was that he as "al-Qaeda" did not do it, but rather it was the work of state entities within America with Israel. In his last interview to a Pakistani newspaper this is what he asserted.
Osama Bin Laden then disappeared for two years, and appeared again in late 2003 in videos, where he makes various ideological statements mainly against America and the West, in studio presentations. Some argue that these video presentations are fake, manufactured by elements of the West who wish to justify the continued Afghan war, and the GWOT in general, by implying that there is a global terror organization called "al-Qaeda", and that its leader is still directing his organization against America, Israel, the West and anybody else they don't happen to like at any particular time.
The CIA disbanded its unit looking for Osama Bin Laden in 2005.
Some argue that there is no such organization as "al-Qaeda", but that it is merely an intelligence front of Israel mainly and its false flag ops in the Greater Middle East, Europe and America...which are deemed necessary to further Israel's geo-strategic interests.
From my meager analysis, the Pakistani ISI/Military have played a major role in creating the "al-Qaeda" myth. Their deep involvement in "Operation Cyclone" where they trained 85,000 Afghan Mujaheddin, and 12,000 foreign Jehadis from the 1980's with the Americans, MOSSAD and the British, means that the Pakistani ISI/military first and foremost had to have developed a close relationship with "al-Qaeda" with its strength of 5,000 fighters as alleged by America or its real size of just a few dozen Arab friends of Osama Bin laden, who were his business and ideological partners, and who for his Western intelligence masters coordinated the foreign Arab fighters in Afghanistan through the ISI (AT best a liaison officer who also chipped in with funds).
The Pakistani military must have maintained liaison officers with Osama Bin Laden right into 2001, until his death, and they must know where he is.
In a wider sense in relation to the article below, it is good that Zardari has stated that Osama has passed away, and it would be good if ALL in Pakistan, political parties of all shades say the same too, including the Pakistan military.
There is absolutely no sense in creating a legend around Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan now. Especially where illiterate misguided people in the Frontier province lionize him, and place unwarranted faith in the man and his false messages of hope and salvation.......let us all in Pakistan from civilian politicians to the military in unison say that the man has passed away and this is the shared consensus of all in Pakistan.
As to his organization "al-Qaeda" again it should be stated by ALL in the top echelon that at a practical level that so called organization has no presence in Pakistan, save a few hundred foreign jehadi fighters rum left over from the 1980's hailing from various Arab countries, Chechnya, Uzbekistan and Chinese Sinkiang province.
How foolish it would be for the sake of milking a few more $ in the few $ billions, and few more $ worth of military aid, that the Pakistani military should continue to support the myth of "al-Qaeda' and in the process invite a devastating attack against Pakistan in the future from the neo-colonial forces of the USA, UK and Israel ALL of whom have stated that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world, and 'al-Qaeda' is based there, and its leader Osama Bin Laden is based there near the Hindu Kush. An attack against Pakistan that could result in damages worth 100's of billions of $.....and the loss of millions of lives.
Where is the rationality here in pursuit of solid national security? Does Pakistan require the permission of anybody to say such things? Zardari does not.
Zardari says Osama is dead: Pak media
According to the reports emerging out of Pakistan are pointing towards the fact that one of the world's most wanted terrorists Osama bin Laden is dead.
Pakistani news channels are quoting President Asif Ali Zardari as saying that Osama is dead.
Zardari has said that Pakistani intelligence believes Osama is dead as there's no evidence to say that he is alive.
He has also ruled out the possibility of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or other radical Islamic groups, saying that the arsenal had been put under "extra security".
"Pakistan's nuclear installations are in safe hands and under extra security," Zardari said in an interview to foreign media.
The concerns over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal came about after Taliban's recent advance towards the federal capital, which sparked off fears in the US and other countries.
"I want to assure the world that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is under safe hands," he said.
Allaying fears about a possible threat to the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, Zardari said the country had a strong command and control system for its arsenal that was fully in place.
US Secretary State Hillary Clinton has said one of the prime American concerns, which have been raised with Islamabad and Pakistan's military, is the probabilities of Taliban advancing and wresting "keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan".
According to military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, its perfectly OK if about a few hundred armed fanatical fundamentalists hover less than a 100 miles in the vicinity of Islamabad. Absolutely nothing to worry about folkes because its normal you see in Pakistan, even as they threaten other areas in significant numbers, such as Mardan, Peshawar, Wah and Taxila (The last two places where all Pakistan's ordnance and armaments factories are located.)
According to Maj General Abbas its perfectly OK if the Swat Taliban kill a few people, loot property and cause people to flee in the course of defying the Islamabad government and Nisar-i-non-agreement, sticking a fore finger at all who oppose them.........because this is Pakistan, and accept it as the norm in Democratic Pakistan. Talk about selling Pakistan to the West!!!! This has the performance level of Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Muhammad al-Duri, in terms of reassuring the public, and protecting Iraq's image in 1991 for Saddam.
"Don't worry, be happy" its all under control, and there I might tend to agree with him, for to have such a laid back sanguine approach in such "interesting and intriguing" circumstances is reassuring enough and the indication that the Swat Taliban are indeed controlled proxies of the Pakistan military.............with what the Americans have been threatening recently, and the immidiate reaction of the Pakistani military with the Swat Taliban speaks volumes, and reinforces that Pakistani general perception/suspicion.
Using irregular fighters to carry out Pakistan military strategies is an old game that they have used since indepedence, both inside Pakistan and more overtly outside, against India and Afghanistan. It is the Pakistan military's old habit instituted through the British established ISI, "Mudra Doosh". They will require serious rehabilitation to ween them off it, because as stated so many times before, such actions always has negative blow back consequences in the long term for Pakistan's overall image.
After all do you want paranoic Israel, with America, and the UK in unison calling you the most dangerous nation on earth, and the epicenter of global terrorism? Following it up with false flag ops in the UK for example, and blaming them on innocent Pakistanis..............Major General Abbas over to you, "Its OK with me, as long as we can get back into power in Pakistan because thats all that matters to me. We can face down the might of the USA/UK/Israel, no problem just as we did India many times in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1999, and the Soviet Union, after all we are the best military in the world nobody can defeat us. ........................And besides I have a second home just outside Washington, stocks and shares in NYSE, so no problem yaar"
So with the Americans heckling, with some patriotic Pakistanis expressing outrage this has forced the Swat Taliban into withdrawing partially from some parts, but the threat still exists bidding their time, covertly guided by the Pakistan military. But now another arm of the Pakistan Taliban under Baitullah Mehsud, using the numbers game has stated that no less than 300 (movie) of his followers will threaten Pakistani cities with suicide bombers.
Clearly the Pakistan military are desperate to get back into power as national saviors yet again, before Nawaz Sharif develops an alternative forceful, populist narrative to the present Zardari failed regime------------Zardari has acquired a whopping $23 billion in foreign aid commitments thus far through his pleading, on his knees begging mixed with threats of dire consequences for the world if they don't deliver soon....and as Mr. 20% he will make maybe $4 billion from that.
Everybody in Pakistan understands, including his own party that he is no leader of anything. He is not a party leader, he is not a political leader, and he most certainly isn't a national leader, uniting the country around him.....he was always the "Mr. Fix it" in the background, wheeling and dealing....with no political base in his party, no ideological commitment, and the ensuing result is there for all to see in Pakistan:
A government which doesn't govern. Has Zardari enunciated any significant policies in relation to the most pressing issues facing Pakistan, and published those documents for all to see, scrutinise and criticise? Very basic function of government. If Zardari is too busy he can subcontract the numerous experts in his country, both within the public sector and private sector to do so for him.
A President who enjoys foreign trips even when serious events are taking place in his country.
A government with no serious plan of action, which clear strategies to solve the fundamental problems which Pakistan faces. Rather we have a President and government which reacts to yet another bad event, with glib sound bites.
The President in the circumstances seems to be the happiest man in Pakistan.
The $23 billion foreign aid will be wasted, and the situation in Pakistan will only get worse. Nawaz Sharif, and all the other civilian leaders across the board for their own sake must sideline Zardari's failed regime, and reinstate a new civilian one. In doing so it is logical that the ANP should withdraw from the present failed "non-government" coalition, since under the present governments watch the Pakistan Taliban with the help of the military are gaining control of ANP territory rather too easily, whilst ANP candidates are fleeing their seats of power, without a fight. This would be the logical thing to do for the ANP, for their self preservation. The ANP is being too polite with the Pakistan military backed Swat Taliban.
The Pakistan military don't like the ANP, because the Pakistan military have very basic simple perceptions of politics-----friend/foe; this has always been the case with the simple rather stupid Pakistan military, they have never learnt from their great failure in East Pakistan. Maybe the ANP should drop the Awami name tag, to help the Pakistan military understand them better!!! This mindset is never going to change in reality, so in the present circumstances rather than the ANP cling desperately onto a coalition government which is failing them, ceding more and more territory to the Pakistan military backed Taliban, the ANP should rigourously protest, and leave the present coalition. The ANP's passive polite surrender to the Pakistan military backed Swat Taliban will have dire conseqiuences for their party long term.
In doing so they earn respect and recognition as a party which stood up for their rights, and stood up for the rank and file of its followers and party members.
Pak Taliban: From A Bunch Of Suicide Bombers To A Conventional Army
By B. Raman at SAAG.
1.Like the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has evolved in less than a year from a bunch of suicide bombers to a conventional army capable of set-piece, stand and fight battles with the Pakistani Army and para-military forces. This conversion has been facilitated by the recruitment of a large number of retired Pashtun ex-servicemen living in the Pashtun tribal belt in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in the Malakand Division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Swat Valley and the Buner District, less than a hundred kms from Islamabad, which was occupied by the TTP earlier this week without any resistance from the local security forces, form part of the Malakand Division.
(Much of the Taliban in Afghanistan Pakistan is controlled by the Pakistan army, as proxies. If the TTP can fight set piece battles its because of the logistical and personnel support of the Pakistan military using it as a "Controlled Opposition" proxy for the Pakistan military's agenda.......to destabilize the Civilian government in Islamabad, and get back into power as national saviors of the day )
2. The agreement signed earlier this year by the coalition Government in the NWFP headed by the Awami National Party (ANP) with Sufi Mohammad of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-a-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), which is a constituent unit of the TTP, for the introduction of Sharia courts covers the entire Division, consisting of seven districts and not just Swat. Now that the agreement, despite strong criticism from abroad, has been got approved by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani by the National Assembly and signed by President Asif Ali Zardari, the TNSM has lost no time in expanding its control to areas of the Malakand Division outside Swat. The occupation of the Buner district is the beginning. The occupation of the other districts will follow.
(Very foolish of the civilian government to negotiate and sign agreements with these types of people. It makes them look ineffective afterwards)
3. What should be of great concern to both India and the US is that the TTP, which was seen till recently as merely a collection of young suicide bombers with limited capability for territorial control and dominance through conventional forces, has started demonstrating that it has evolved into a conventional army, which can fight, occupy and administer territory. Thus, the TTP has evolved into a mirror image of the Neo Taliban. It shares with the Neo Taliban its objective of fighting for the defeat of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, it has its own independent agenda of expanding its territorial and ideological dominance to other areas of the Pashtun belt in the NWFP initially and then to non-Pashtun areas. The Neo Taliban does not approve of this independent agenda, but does not oppose it actively.
(I would hesitate to call a bunch of irregular insurgents numbering 3,000 with AK-47 an "army", that is on the thresh hold of taking over Pakistan, hardly!!!.........the Swat Taliban are "Controlled Opposition" proxies of the Pakistan military, and unless the Pakistan military have a serious need to reinvent themselves as bearded fundies who only fight as irregular soldiers against their own country and people, all of it from Lahore to Karachi, and abandon the entire basis of their present organization and professional ethos, then its very unlikely that the Swat Taliban will morph into occuppying the whole of Pakistan....which is hardly the case....what we are seeing with the Swat Taliban is a tactical move by the Pakistan military to destabilize the civilian government.........Thus the Swat Taliban can be activated or dismantled as and when the Pakistani military wish it to be the case.....From a rational civilian perspective this type of behavior is dangerous brinkmanship, but from the Pakistan's military perspectives it is business as usual........the Swat TTP is doing what it is doing because of orders from the Pakistan military)
4. The Pakistan Army headed by Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, its Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has shown neither the will nor the inclination to counter the advance of the TTP and then roll it back. It is not Kayani’s worries about what could happen on the Indian border, which have come in the way of a vigorous response to the TTP’s military advance. It is his worries over the continuing loyalty of the Pashtun soldiers, who constitute about 20 per cent of the Army, and of the Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary, which are responsible for his anxiety and keenness to make peace with the TTP. The Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary consist predominantly of Pashtun soldiers recruited in the FATA and the NWFP, officered by deputationists from the Army. These units have been showing less and less inclination to fight the TTP. They have been either avoiding a confrontation with the TNSM and the TTP or in some cases just deserting and surrendering to the TTP units.
(So 80% of the Pakistani military is not Pashtun.........enough available personnel from the outside of the Frontier Province to quell the Swat Taliban, but why should they any way, if these groups are created controlled proxies by the Pakistan military and manned and often guided by Pakistani military personnel? It is true Pakistan has lost some men fighting the Taliban in FATA at the behest of American urgings and military assistance, but we do not know what are the true losses of the Pakistani military there? It is also very true that many of the Pashtun personnel of the Pakistan military are obviously not happy fighting their own kith and kin, whilst at the same time observing the Americans attack the same with drone attacks...........they can't be too happy with that, as wouldn't any self respecting people.
It is not fear which led to Kiyani seeking peace with the Swat Taliban, but because the Swat Taliban as Pakistani military proxies had achieved for the Pakistan army exactly what Kiyani wanted. The Pakistani military has never shown any disinclination to side with America and fight the Pashtuns with their ethnic sensibilities-------The Pakistan military is not as sophisticated, sensitive and nuanced as that....1971 East Pakistan, Baluchistan 1973--1977, and now NWFP FATA since 2004. The Pakistan military has never been shy of fighting its own people......this "great tradition" has not changed, even under Kiyani....It has killed more of its own people than any other military in the world.)
5. According to reliable sources in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it is pressure from an alarmed Kayani to reach an accommodation with the TNSM and the TTP, which set in motion the negotiations with Sufi Mohammad and the developments that have followed. The Army and the para-military forces have already conceded territorial control to the TTP in the FATA and in the Malakand Division of the NWFP. By re-locating his forces and by reducing the Army’s presence in these areas already under the domination of the TNSM and the TTP, Kayani is reportedly hoping to prevent an ingress of the Pakistani Taliban into other parts of the NWFP and beyond.
(So here is the indication that the Swat Taliban is "Controlled Opposition" proxies of the Pakistan military......it never made sense why the 800,000 Pakistan military, "The best in the world" backed by 300,000 paramilitary would surrender to 3,000 poorly armed irregular insurgents, unless.....)
6. The objectives of the TTP are presently limited to ideological unity of all Muslims in Pakistan based on the Sharia and the ethnic unity of all the Pashtuns in the Af-Pak region to wage a relentless jihad against the US-led NATO forces till they vacate Afghanistan. It has the motivation and intention to extend its ideological influence to non-Pashtun areas too, but is not yet in a position to establish territorial dominance in those areas. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain apprehends that the TTP wants to set up a strong presence in Karachi, which has the largest Pashtun community in Pakistan after Peshawar.
(To quell Pashtun nationalism, and reinforce the state from the Pakistan military perspectives)
7. Confronted with the worsening ground situation in the NWFP and with the danger of a possible collapse of the strategy of President Barack Obama even before it was taken up for implementation, the US is acting like a cat on a hot tin roof. There have been understandable cries of alarm not only from Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, but also from White House spokesmen. Cries of alarm and the preparation of yet another national intelligence estimate on Pakistan alone will not help. What is urgently required is a national intelligence estimate on US policy-making towards Pakistan, which has been leading it from one critical situation to another.
8. A study of the course of US policy-making would show how those Pakistani leaders who are toasted one day as frontline allies against extremism and terrorism turn out to be either accomplices of terrorism or capitulators to terrorists and extremists the next day. Pervez Musharraf belonged to the first category. Zardari belongs to the second. Despite nearly 60 years of close US interactions with the political and military leaderships in Pakistan, the US has not been able to acquire any enduring influence over policy-making circles in Islamabad.(!!!!!!!!!!!.......this is just basic shoddy analysis for a former senior intelligence officer, it misses the fundamental power play in Pakistan, but at least he is retired and no longer advising the Indian government..........The two most important players in Pakistani political life are the 2 A's... the Army and America. The USA is not some kind of innocent Pollyanna figure who is completely clueless about Pakistan,hardly) The US has very little to show in terms of changed policies in Islamabad in return for its unending pampering of successive regimes in Islamabad with the injection of more and more money and military equipment. The time has come to stop pampering, but there is a reluctance in the Obama Administration---as there was in the preceding Bush Administration--- to do so due to fears that a stoppage of US assistance and pampering may result in a failed state with the control of its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the jihadis.
(American interference in Pakistan as with its interference in many other Third World countries has been negative, since the 1950's:
The Americans weren't pampering Pakistan when they destabilized the Ayub Khan regime 1965-69. The Americans weren't pampering Pakistan when they toppled the Bhutto regime in 1977 using the military. The Americans weren't pampering Pakistan when they wiped out the entire top brass of the Pakistan military for pursuing the nuclear program against America's and Israel's wishes. The American's weren't pampering Pakistan when in 1990 they basically abandoned Pakistan with the Pressler Amendment.......and so on, the sheer amount of political interference, where prospective political figures have to have private one to one meetings with the American ambassador in Islamabad.)
9. Unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan has reached a stage where the outcome---ultimate jihadi control of the State and its nuclear arsenal--- may be the same whatever the US does----whether it continues pampering or stops doing so. It is a thankless dilemma. It is easy to criticize the US strategy or the lack of it, but difficult to suggest a viable alternative. The starting point of an alternative strategy has to be a cordon sanitaire around the areas already under the control of the TTP and a crash programme for the economic development of the Pashtun areas not yet controlled by the Taliban. Obama’s plans to spend billions of dollars in the areas of the FATA already under the control of Al Qaeda and the Taliban would produce no enduring results except to waste the US taxpayers’ money. This money should be better spent on immunizing those areas where the influence of the Taliban has not yet spread.
(Better still instead of giving money to the Pakistan central government, why not give a greater % of the money to state governments in all of Pakistan for development and to fight terrorism...that might be more effective)
10. An equally important point of the strategy should be to step up the US Predator strikes in the FATA and to extend them to Swat in order to keep the Al Qaeda and Taliban elements running for cover all the time and make it difficult for them to plan new strikes and get them executed.
( That would do great wonders for the fragile civilian government in Islamabad......The Obama administration did talk about attacking Baluchistan with drones but the idea was shelved, because of the implications on the weak civilian government.
If the Swat Taliban are proxies of the military, staffed by ex-Pakistan military and regulars, and directed by the Pakistan military against Pakistan, to regain power, operating inside Pakistan against Pakistan as a pose to American soldiers in Afghanistan, than an attack on such an entity would be severely received by the regular Pakistan military, America's main buddy in Pakistan. Drone attacks in FATA are carried out with the aid of the Pakistani army in FATA, and the facilitation of Pakistani military bases in Baluchistan for such a purpose)
11. The third point of the strategy should be to restore to the Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan its original role of primacy as the internal intelligence and internal security agency of Pakistan. Over the years, the IB has been reduced to the position of a powerless appendage of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its top ranks militarized through the induction of serving and retired military officers. This has to be reversed.
(This sounds like a good idea. Have a domestic intelligence agency that is run by the Ministry of the Interior which is wholly civilian, non-military, and in addition have the ISI attached to the FM, and again shorn of its military component. The Core problem for Pakistan is the ISI, and its numerous misadventures to secure Pakistan's interests........usually ends up the other way. The ISI was created by the British in 1948, and operates as an annex of British and American intelligence, it certainly is not some free wheeling Third World agency with its own set of "great ideas". By doing such things, Pakistan's civilian governments can be strengthened against the schemes of the ISI and their foreign masters)
12. These are medium and long-term measures, which would take time to produce results. The questions requiring an immediate response is how to protect Pakistan from itself. How to stop the advance of the Taliban? How to confront it ideologically? For this purpose, the US needs objective allies in Pakistan. It has none so far. It has been working through opportunistic allies in the army and the political parties. They will accept all the money from the US, but will not produce results.
(To deal with the Taliban problem involves first and foremost dealing with the Pakistan military and its fundamental culture of political interference inside Pakistan since the creation of Pakistan, and its various misadventures abroad which have negative blow back effects there after without fail)
13. The objective allies have to be found in the Pashtun community. All the talk in Washington DC about their being good Taliban and bad Taliban is ridiculous. But there are good Pashtuns and bad Pashtuns. The US should urgently identify the good Pashtuns and encourage and help them to take up the fight against the Taliban ideologically. After the elections in Pakistan in March last year, I had pointed out that the ANP, which came to power in Peshawar, was a party of good Pashtuns and that the US should work through it, forgetting its past links with the Communists in Afghanistan and the erstwhile USSR. I was given to understand that a couple of ANP leaders did visit Washingtin DC, but beyond that nothing further was done. Now the ANP-led Government in Peshawar has conceded ideological victory to the TNSM in Swat. Despite this, the US should persist with cultivating it and other good Pashtun elements in parties such as the Pakhtoonkwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) of Mehmood Khan Achakzai. They constitute the progressive component of the Pashtun community and they need to be strengthened and encouraged to counter the Taliban. The present US policy of depending on repeatedly failed elements in the Army and in the mainstream political parties is not working. The regional Pashtun forces have to be encouraged to take up the fight against the Taliban.
(I would certainly welcome greater USA emphasis on local state civilian politicians who are effective, rather than corrupt Pakistani politicians in the Central government, with the generals. However I would question whether American officials inherently prefer dealing with clean effective leaders in Pakistan, or the greasy corrupt ones with the military.........This is the main issue here between Pakistan and America, and fundamental American foreign policy in the region.
Since the Munro doctrine, and into the 1980's in the Reagan era America has always preferred their South American client state leaders as some what "Colorful"...........this is related to issues of racism, and domination......the "greasy diego" is corrupt and of a lower order, and as such deserves leaders of that caliber. In addition it was deemed that some how corrupt leaders are therefore due to their character more easily "managed' for American interests. All that changed in the 1990's, when increased South American emigration to the USA illegally, and South American narcotics flooding into the country necessitated a policy change. Since that time the USA has backed, or recognised ''cleaner" and more effective South American leaders who deliver for the common people, without feeling insecure or developing neurosis about them (Hugo Chavez not withstanding). The USA finally understood, after 170 years of the Munro Doctrine that what was good for South America could also be good for America. Since that time in the 1990's there has been a marked decline in negative American intervention in America's back yard.
However this change of policy by America should not be defined purely by American terms.............aggressive clean local nationalists leaders who were not corrupt, within South America, conscious of negative American involvement have also contributed to this change in relationship between the USA and the rest of Central and South America.
This is where we need a real change with Pakistan/America relations. Zardari backed into power by the USA/UK is proving to be an embarassment purely because of Zardari himself a small time crook who married big, and a few other lucky breaks, never the less a small time gangster when all is said and done................First and foremost America needs to ditch him immediately, and than coopt, better local Pakistani leaders from Pakistan.....its a nation of 180 million, with 20% from the population being Middle class, if they can bypass the traditional colonial era elite that most certainly will be helpful for Pakistan as a nation. Its a win win situation if America has the will to grasp it.)
14. The survival of Al Qaeda in the FATA and the rise and spread of the TTP are due to support from large sections of the Pashtun community. The resistance to them has to come from the Pashtun community. It cannot come from the likes of Zardari, Gilani and Kayani.
(Wrong again B Raman!!!!!!!! "al-Qaeda" does not exist, and the Taliban exist ONLY because of the good grace of the Pakistani military who think they can use it for certain objectives of theirs in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Some what romantic and naive to think that Third World insurgency movements are created purely through class oppression and peoples will to struggle. Somewhere along that romantic narrative state intervention and support, covert or overt turns such movements into a reality......the backing of the Pakistan military, in the case of the Taliban, without their backing they simply could not exist)
Pak acts on US carrot and stick policy.
By Chidanand Rajghatta Times of India.
Word from the White House that Washington’s multi-billion dollar largesse to Islamabad is ''directly related to military security and the ability to confront extremists'' had an immediate salutary effect on Friday with Pakistan announcing its willingness to take on Taliban and the extremists mysteriously withdrawing from Buner district north of Islamabad. ( Watch )
(According to other sources, HERE the Swat Taliban haven't really left Buner, and what we have here is a sly game by the Pakistani military to hold out until the pressure from Washington recedes....."we are going to do this, that, and the other against the Swat Taliban"..................the Swat Taliban are "Control Opposition" proxies of the Pakistani military, so they are treating the American administration as naive suckers)
The anger and agitation in Washington over Pakistan’s abject and inexplicable ''capitulation'' to Talibanist forces rippled through cables, phone calls, memos, briefings, and hearings on Wednesday and Thursday. But the most authoritative word on the subject came from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who said the matter was deemed so serious that President Obama was personally involved in taking stock of the situation.
(The Swat Taliban are "Controlled Opposition" proxies of the Pakistani military, just like so many other armed Islamic groups based in Pakistan operating against Afghanistan, India, and against the nation of Pakistan itself, TTP.
Many of the rank and file of these groups are often filled with ex-military, AND the reason why a lot of the Swat Taliban hide their faces with masks.....
........All this started since 1947 when ex-military Pakistani nationals from the Punjab and Mehsudi Frontier tribals were used to attack Kashmir and make it part of Pakistan at the point of a gun under "Operation Gulmarg", and in the 1965 war under "Operation Gibralter" where again armed infiltrators were used support the Pakistani military's operations in that war. Then you had "Operation Searchlight" where the Pakistani military in East Pakistan used Razakers and al-Badr Islamic proxies as annex's of Pakistani military operations in the 1971 war. But in terms of sheer volume and time span with significant lingering after effects well past the time the operation was wound down in the late 1980's, "Operation Cyclone" 1979 onwards is the biggest of them all in terms of money spent, lives lost, and the political consequences of it afterwards........and finally "Operation Stop Nawaz Sharif Kargil"
The Pakistani military, more than any other military in the world, save the USA, have been obsessed and indoctrinated with the use of proxy irregular armed forces as an extension of Pakistani military operations. Such policy is strategically feasible possibly, and justified ONLY if in addition you have a first class conventional military to back up such irregular operations.....................The Pakistani military I am afraid is not first class, it is a post colonial shoddy Third class.
The current Swat Taliban operation by the Pakistan military is called "Operation reclaim power")
''The news over the past several days is very disturbing. You know that this President has called attention to the deterioration in this region for quite some time. We're extremely concerned about the situation and it's something that takes a lot of the President's time,'' Gibbs said at a White House briefing, endorsing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ''candid'' remarks on the subject.
''That's why you've seen this administration propose increases in investments directly related to military security and the ability to confront extremists,'' he added pointedly, linking aid to action. Hours later, Pakistan got cracking.
(Giving more money to the Pakistan military is a waste of time, if we go by the experience of the last 55 years and how consistently the Pakistani military subsequently use that aid....against India; no good merely hoping otherwise)
The remarks were preceded by frantic action in Washington where there was palpable alarm over the prospect of Pakistan going under the extremist onslaught. President Obama convened a White House meeting on the subject with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, the administration's Af-Pak special representative in attendance. The president also brought the subject up in a separate session with congressional leaders.
Holbrooke meanwhile spoke by telephone to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to convey Washington's message, while cabinet principals Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates made strong public remarks urging Pakistan to recognize the danger and take appropriate action.
The message — that Pakistan risked losing credibility and U.S aid if it did not stand up to the Taliban — reached home immediately. In Islamabad, the government announced that a military operation against militants in Swat would begin within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Army chief Pervez Ashraf Kiyani said the army ‘pause’ was aimed at giving reconciliation a chance and the militants must not take it as a concession. The army, he said, ''will not allow the militants to dictate terms to the government or impose their way of life on the civil society of Pakistan'' — a statement clearly aimed at contesting Hillary CLinton's charge that the Pakistani establishment was abdicating responsibility.
Soon after, a Taliban spokesman said militants had begun withdrawing from neighboring Buner district, whose occupation only 60 miles from Islamabad had caused panic stations in Washington. The scuttlebutt in the analysts’ community is that the Talibanists’ were withdrawing on the advice of the Pakistani military, whose proxies they are widely reported to be. Among regional experts, no discussion on the Pakistan army and its intelligence agency ISI is complete without mention of their historical ties with extremists.(See above)
There is been considerable speculation as to why the Pakistani military had ceded so much space to them and allowed them to come so dangerously close to the capital. One frequent explanation is that it is a deliberate ploy to alarm Washington into quickly loosening its purse-strings, and turn the heat on India to resume dialogue and make concessions.
(Or simply to reclaim power in Islamabad...."The Zardari government is ineffective, we the Pakistan military need to save the country again")
The tactic may have worked to some extent. Amid the flurry of crisis meetings, Special Representative Holbrooke and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and resources Jack Lew also met lawmakers to push forward with legislation that will allow the administration to funnel billions in civilian and military assistance to Pakistan, ostensibly to combat the extremists.
(The $7.6 billion IMF loan, the $7.5 billion USA economic aid, the $ 3 billion military aid, and the $5.28 billion international aid package will not save Pakistan from the corrupt Zardari administration or the worthless anti-state Pakistan military.......Vietnam 1963-75)
The India part may have to wait a little longer. At a Congressional hearing on Friday, Clinton told lawmakers that confidence building measures between New Delhi and Islamabad and Pakistan will not happen ''until the Indian elections are over'' and a new government is in place. There have already been a number of high-level discussions, she said, including between the U.S president and the Indian prime minister, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, in London, ''raising the issue of how India can do more to tamp down any reaction, on any front, like Mumbai could have provoked.''
''We worked very hard, as did the prior administration, to prevent India from reacting. But we know that the insurgents and al Qaeda and their syndicate partners are pretty smart. They are not going to cease their attacks, inside India, because they are looking for exactly the kind of reaction that we all hope to prevent,'' Clinton said.
''So we do have a lot of work to do, with the Indian government, to make sure that they continue to exercise the kind of restraint they showed after Mumbai, which was remarkable, especially given the fact that it was the political season,'' she added.
So much for Mr. Clean tirelessly working for the country. Its bad enough initiating fake wars with no planning, or any intention of winning against the "arch enemy", sacrificing the lives of 4,000 jawans in a humiliating defeat, but now we find that he is also a possible core puti wannabe Deobandi . "Praise be to Allah, and pass the dollar or in this case Krona".
Ex-air chief accuses Mush of 'kickbacks' in jet deal
By Times of India.
Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been accused by a former air force chief of “ruining” a $1.2 billion deal for acquiring surveillance aircraft from Sweden’s Saab firm for “possible kickbacks”.
Former Air Chief Marshal Saadat Kaleem has claimed that despite the Pakistan Air Force’s opposition, Musharraf put pressure on the force to modify a contract to reduce the number of surveillance aircraft to be purchased from Saab from six to four and to include two Chinese systems. The contract originally envisaged the purchase of six Saab airborne warning and surveillance systems and a Saab 2000 aircraft for VIP flights. Kaleem said Musharraf “personally exerted pressure on him” to modify the contract. Kaleem said he was opposed to this because of objections raised by PAF experts on technical grounds.
By Hilary Clinton clarifying the issue in terms of its true nature than a better understanding can be made of the Pakistani problem. Pouring more money no matter how well intentioned is not going to solve the problems of Pakistan, and one thinks of South Vietnam during 1963-1975.
Some of Pakistan's national problems:
2. Religious Intolerance/religious fatalism, "Allah Hukum's"
3. Water Shortage
6. Provincial Disharmony---relationship between center and state etc.
7. Devalued Currency
9. Low Education levels/low government investments in education/madrases funded by Saudi Arabia.
10.Weak inconsistent Foreign Policy/ the foreign policy preferred by the military and that preferred by the civilian government.
11. Rogue corrupt military./huge military 800,000 unofficially, 300,000 paramilitary---their involvement in politics covertly, and economic activity.
13. Failed state characteristics.
14. Foreign interference...USA/UK.
15. Rapid population growth......400 million by 2050.
16. Poor governance, especially by the center.
17. Poorly performing agricultural sector.
18. Post colonial elite...which has no fealty to Pakistan.
19. Poor infrastructure.
20. Small industrial base...low investment in this sector.
21. Weak financial system.
22. Capital flight.
23. Feudal society----backward, culturally and psychologically.
24. Aid dependent...foreign assistance.
25. Weak Civil society.
26. Weak compromised judiciary/justice system.
27. Corrupt and incompetent, lowly paid post-colonial police force.
28. Widespread malnutrition....stunted growth among children/poor health care.
What Pakistan really requires is competent effective administration which is not corrupt, with the full overt public backing of the USA. Zardari the felon who clearly is not competent needs to be replaced with a better team which should run Pakistan, for everybody's interests.
Sharif my do marginally better, but he also has his faults. Like Zardari, he too is a billionaire without doing a lot of business............however one does feel he will be better than Zardari, and he will make better use of the USA's investments in Pakistan.
- Sharif never served two complete terms in office, so the two term rule clearly does not apply to him.
- There are accusations that he tried to amass too much power whilst in office especially between 1996-1999, like almost those that of a dictator. I am going to give him a pass over this one because in light of the situation in Pakistan, where the military dominate I wouldn't blame him in trying to centralize and increase his power.
- There are persistent accusations that he is in reality a "soft fundamentalist" who was in favor of introducing sharia law into Pakistan...............well the reality is that in his two terms in office he actually didn't introduce Sharia law in the whole of Pakistan, though clearly he intended to do so. He is however close to Wahabi Saudi Arabia, and is a protege of Zia ul Haq, the military general who introduced from the 1970's the Islamization of Pakistan. Perhaps the passage of time has convinced him that the introduction of Sharia laws will not begin to solve Pakistan's fundamental problems stated above but will merely intensify them. Further the introduction of sharia law will only embolden the extremist religious elements who will see the introduction of such laws as a tacit government approval of their agenda's, groups such as the Taliban who of course have no intention what so ever of sharing power with other parties (Afghanistan 1994-2001, Iran 1979--2009). Sharia law introduction was certainly the talk of the town in the 1980's and 1990's, and who can blame Sharif in trying to introduce it in light of his background and right wing credentials. However he must realize that in Pakistan's special case the introduction of Sharia law will have dangerous consequences for the country if he were to introduce it now.
- There are persistent rumors and allegations, and court action over the years which state that Nawaz Sharif is corrupt, just like most civilian Pakistani politicians, and that as such he is no exception. He is among the richest men in Pakistan, and is part of the 30 "Commercial" families, where through political wheeling and dealing he amassed his wealth, and not through good honest business acumen, so the allegation goes. Well what can one say except if anybody ever finds the solution to the age old problem of politicians and corruption, they will most certainly be awarded the Nobel Prize for political economics.
Pakistan was a failed state before the USA invested in fundamentalists..........so the fundamental problems of Pakistan goes beyond the problem of the Pakistani backed fundamentalists groups operating in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. The fundamental structural problems of Pakistan will not go away with the Taliban's disappearance, but their mere presence highlights the clear weaknesses and failures of the state as a failed state number 9.
The racism of American and British officials and how they relate to the country plays a significant part, but ultimately it is the Pakistanis who must see the problems of their country, and confront it together arm in arm.
Here is a unique change of policy that fights terror more effectively in Pakistan. We know clearly the link between the Pakistan military ISI and the Taliban, so why give the Pakistan military more military aid......................so that they can further pretend to be fighting the Taliban.........."We have killed 40 extremists today in X, Y, Z part of the North West Frontier, blah, blah, blah"...........can the Pakistan military be believed, after the Swat surrender? Why not divert that security aid to the Pakistani police? Lets bolster their wages.....from $150 a month to $300 a month, through American security assistance. Better training, better wages, better equipment to fight terror inside Pakistan if Pakistan is indeed the most dangerous country in the world. Absolutely no sense in giving this security aid to the Pakistan military who will of course use it against India, as before under Bush's military aid to Pakistan.
In fact lets take this a little further. Instead of giving the assistance to the central government of Pakistan, the $7.6 billion IMF loan; the $7.5 billion USA ; the $3 billion military assistance and finally the $5.28 billion very recently....why not make these $ aid really count and give the money to the state governments in Pakistan who will use the money more effectively, in fighting terror and expenditure on social welfare programs. The huge amounts of money given to Zardari will be wasted, and his central government will not utilize it properly either because they are incompetent or because of corruption, or both.
As to the USA role in Pakistan that has clearly been negative.........
By Times of India
Even as she came out strongly against the Pakistani establishment for lagging willingness to take head on the terrorists, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said that the US was also partly responsible for the present mess as it virtually abandoned Pakistan after the Soviets left Afghanistan.
"There is a very strong argument, which is: It wasn't a bad investment to end the Soviet Union, but let's be careful what we sow, because we will harvest. So we then left Pakistan. We said, okay, fine, you deal with the Stingers that we've left all over your country. You deal with the mines that are along the border. And by the way, we don't want to have anything to do with you," Clinton said testifying before a Congressional committee.
After the downfall of the Soviet Union, Clinton said the US stopped dealing with the Pakistani military and with the ISI. "We can point fingers at the Pakistanis, which is -- you know, I did some yesterday, frankly. And it's merited, because we're wondering why they don't just get out there and deal with these people. But the problems we face now, to some extent, we have to take responsibility for having contributed to," she said.
Clinton said the US has a history of moving in and out of Pakistan. "I mean, let's remember here, the people we are fighting today we funded 20 years ago. We did it because we were locked in this struggle with the Soviet Union. They invaded Afghanistan, and we did not want to see them control Central Asia, and we went to work," she said. "It was President (Ronald) Reagan, in partnership with the Congress, led by Democrats, who said, you know what? Sounds like a pretty good idea. Let's deal with the ISI and the Pakistani military, and let's go recruit these mujahidin. And great, let's get some to come from Saudi Arabia and other places, importing their Wahhabi brand of Islam, so that we can go beat the Soviet Union. And guess what? They retreated. They lost billions of dollars, and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union," Clinton said. And what is happening in Pakistan today is a result of that policy, she acknowledged, so the US should also take a part of the responsibility.
The Pashtun's have their Taliban backed by the Pak military and ISI, the Baluchis have their Jundullah backed by the Pak military and ISI, Sindhis have their own armed group as do the MQM for the Mohajirs.
In an era where the constitution is being wholly ignored in many significant parts of Pakistan, and might seems to be right these days, then perhaps the PML-N should SERIOUSLY think about setting up its own private militia, of about 300,000 filled and organized by the party with retired military officers within its ranks, who are clearly vetted.
Who can blame the PML-N for doing such a thing, if the army and police can't protect the nation from the rampant Taliban coming out of Swat and threatening key Punjabi cities like Wah, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. In light of the real situation in Pakistan, this might not be a bad idea in the circumstances. If the PML-N does not understand this fundamental current reality, but instead rely on mere peoples power and the Lawyers movement...............the PML-N will surely be the loser in the coming months and years. Unfortunately this is the present nature of Pakistani politics, and it is for the PML-N who must be totally realistic and face this fact about current Pakistani politics.
We should remember that the Bolsheviks in Imperial Russia in 1918 were not widely popular, and most Russians opposed them, since the majority of Russians were conservative and believed in 1. GOD 2. Mother Russia (strong nationalism) and 3. the Czar at the top of all that, unifying the whole nation. Atheist Jewish Communism, with its internationalist overtones was irrelevant to ordinary Russians naturally, after all why should ordinary Russians care about the welfare of workers around the world.
BUT through their strong party organization the Bolsheviks fanned out from their small traditional strong holds in the big cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow to slowly defeat their enemies, over a period of 3 years by 1921, through ruthless armed struggle mixed with simple populism with the manipulation of the abject poor.............promising and giving them land and property (this is what is happening with the Swat Taliban......but under obscurantist fundamentalist Islam...whilst the Pakistan military looks on).
This is also what happened in Iran in 1978-1982, where a coalition of different political groups from constitutional democrats, to left wing parties and of course Islamic parties overthrew the Shah with covert Western backing. The Iranian military though used initially against the protesters later became hapless bystanders as the Islamic revolution progressed; they were ordered by the Shah, and American officials not to intervene in the evolving revolution. Eventually what happened was that a lot of the key senior officers were subsequently executed, or exiled, with the mullahs creating the Revolutionary Guard and Basij to check the power of the conventional Iranian military. Then a few years later one by one with Western guidance the mullahs eliminated the non-Islamic groups in the coalition, so that they could run the country by themselves.
He is happy in the USA after he helped them establish the Islamic Revolution.
Logically speaking, the Taliban should not win in controlling most of Pakistan as most Pakistanis expressed in free and fair elections their desire against Islamic parties in the February 2008 elections.........this is fact. But we see from history how through clever manipulation small extremist minorities can sometimes usurp power over the majority, and it is from this threat that the PML-N in the absence of any strong guarantees by the traditional custodians and guardians of the state, who must prepare themselves for the coming struggle with the Taliban.
The Taliban offer nothing but utter abject misery and loss for the majority of the Pakistani people, as they propagate an ideology which is wholly unsuitable in relation to the serious challenges Pakistan as a nation state of 180 million now faces and will face in the coming years and decades.
In undertaking such a serious course the PML-N should formulate a MOU with the PML-Q, ANP, MQM and PPP, beyond Zardari. The Taliban poses a threat to all these parties, as they are religious purists who don't believe in sharing power, just like the Iranian mullahs and the Jewish Bolsheviks in Russia.
Does the Pakistan Supreme Court have their eye on the ball? Are they really doing their job? A major plank of their work, as is the case with most Supreme Courts around the world is to act as the Guardians and Custodians of the Pakistani constitution.
The Swat Taliban deal with the Pakistani central government is unconstitutional:
- Under the 1973 Constitution, Fundamental Rights include security of person, safeguards as to arrest and detention, prohibition of slavery and forced labour, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom to profess religion and safeguards to religious institutions, non-discrimination in respect of access to public places and in service, preservation of languages, script and culture.
- The judiciary enjoys full supermacy over the other organs of the state.
- Preamble: "Therein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality".
- Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, shall be safeguarded;So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the World and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity.
- Dedicated to the preservation of democracy achieved by the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny;
- Inspired by the resolve to protect our national and political unity and solidarity by creating an egalitarian society through a new order;
- Do hereby, through our representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to ourselves, this Constitution."
- The Nizam-i-Adle agreement surely goes against the fundamental concepts of the Pakistani constitution.......or do I not know what I am talking about constitutionally, legally or morally.
The situation around the deal, after the deal is agreed is rapidly becoming unconstitutional:
- The armed invasion of neighboring areas, is unconstitutional.
- The expulsion of other political groups from their area of control is unconstitutional.
- The confiscation of private property from lawful owners, and its redistribution without following proper sale of property procedures, is unconstitutional.
- The mobilisation of additional private militia fighters of all backgrounds without the approval of the state security apparatus, is unconstitutional.
- The imposition of a specific type of religious ideology, to the detriment of other sects of the Muslim faith, is unconstitutional........and even against the basic tenets of the Koran.
- The open arms offered to OBL, and Mullah Omer with their armed cohorts to come into the area of Swat Taliban control is unconstitutional.
- The complete obstruction and standing of the existing security forces, and especially the local Police, is unconstitutional.
- The vandalism and destruction of private property without offering any type of compensation, is unconstitutional.
- Creating fear and anarchy so that large number of people flee from the area under their control, is unconstitutional.
- Exhorting others in the rest of Pakistan to follow their example, through an unlicensed medium, is unconstitutional.
- Making the Pakistani military seem totally irrelevant and impotent.
- Denying women and girls their full rights, as guaranteed under the 1973 constitution.
- Protection of minorities, both religious and sectarian.
What does the Supreme Court have to say about this whole unconstitutional mess? Will they wait until the Taliban arrive at the gates of the Supreme Court and kick them out of their irrelevant positions? Will they release more fundie hardliners in time for the Taliban's coronation in Islamabad?
But surely the Pakistan parliament, the noble representatives of the people voted unanimously in favor of the deal, so how can the Supreme Court go against such a decision? Well Parliaments in the majority have been known to make mistakes, for example the House of Senate and representatives in the USA, and their support for Bush II and the wholly illegal Iraq war and ditto Westminster with Blair.
In such serious situations whether through the application of its writ and law, or through the formulation of opinion it is the duty of the Pakistani Supreme Court to point out the obvious unconstitutional implications of the recent Swat deal, and the even more obvious unconstitutional implications of what is unfolding in and around Swat. If they are not sure, they could hire first year law students from Peshawar University to guide them.
I suppose this could apply to Zardari, fiddling the state accounts, whilst Pakistan collapses around him..................the man is a lost cause beyond redemption...........the sheer audacity and lack of propriety of a representative of a once proud nation going begging for $100 billion to "save" Pakistan from itself, and the sheer stupidity of him in thinking that the world community would give that kind of money to his corrupt regime to save Pakistan.
No, lets instead focus on Sharif. In one sense after recovering ALL his recent losses he is resting on his laurels, perhaps confident that in the 2013 elections he is certain to win. Four years is a long way off in Pakistani politics.......especially NOW with all the things happening.
I can confidently say with what is happening with the covert Army backed Swat Taliban, there will be no democratic elections in 2013.
I can further confidently say that Zardari won't finish his full term in office into 2013, hence his frantic last ditch efforts to scrounge and beg as much money from whoever and where ever.
I can confidently say that the Pakistani military might take power well before 2013, to "save" Pakistan from the Taliban.
If this is the case, what should Nawaz Sharif do to avoid the repetition of military rule, or a Taliban takeover of Pakistan. The Taliban aren't the sort who share power, they are purists who do not believe in elections, democracy, secular law, modernization and progressive secular education.
Peoples power, civil society and the Lawyers Movement won't save Pakistan from the Pakistan army backed Swat Taliban, or so it seems.........................if elements of the military through the ISI are backing them. Nawaz Sharif will have to find a more aggressive, different mode of fighting them than the tools he successfully used against the Zardari government.
So what will his new strategy be?
Does Sharif have serving military and ex-military around him who are linked to his party, and don't support a Taliban takeover of Pakistan. People who don't want to end up as refugees in India, or live in exile in the UAE, London or Washington?
Now is the time to seriously network with the silent majority, since for sure civil society of any type won't work against the Swat TALIBAN.
By Masood Haider of Dawn Newspaper.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern about a controversial peace deal Zardari government signed with militants and decried they (militants) are trying to export their particularly harsh version of sharia.
In an interview published in USA today Sharif asked rhetorically ‘how do we deal with the situation in Swat?’ Sharif observed ‘they are now threatening to get out of Swat and take other areas into their custody. So we've got to avoid that situation.’
Nawaz Sharif asserted ‘any deal with militants should include commitments that ‘democracy will not be allowed to deteriorate and the writ of the government will be honored,’ adding that women's schools and universities must be allowed to stay open.
The newspaper said Sharif who had called for a ‘revolution’ to topple the government backed off from criticising Zardari saying he wants to work with ruling coalition.
In the interview conducted in Lahore, Sharif downplayed fears that the nuclear-armed country could be taken over by Taliban militants, who are gaining strength both in Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan, where they are battling US and Nato troops.
Sharif stressed the insurgency in Swat and border areas could be defused in just two years if sufficient economic development took place.
USA today said Sharif, who served two terms as prime minister in the 1990s before he was ousted in a military coup, is in a strong political position once again after staring down his rival, President Asif Ali Zardari, last month in a confrontation over the independence of Pakistan's courts.
After talking of a ‘prelude to revolution,’ Sharif escaped house arrest to lead thousands of protesters on a march toward the capital of Islamabad. The public pressure forced Zardari on March 15 to back down and reinstate judges purged by the previous, military regime.
The newspaper said that Sharif sounded triumphant. ‘My eyes still can't believe what they saw on the 15th of March,’ he said.
‘For the first time in the 60-year history of this country, a day had arrived when the people actually demonstrated their strength, their power. This nation stood up for its rights — and succeeded.’
Sharif avoided criticising Zardari directly during the interview and insisted that he wants to work with the ruling coalition, led by the president's Pakistan Peoples Party.
Sharif still wants Zardari to give up some of his presidential powers but says the dispute should be resolved in parliament, not on the streets.
‘This country cannot afford any confrontation,’ Sharif said. ‘We're not going to put our country in jeopardy (because of desire for) power. Grabbing power at any cost is not our motto.
‘Our motto is to get the country back on the rails of democracy, strengthen institutions like the judiciary and media and take necessary steps to prevent anybody from abrogating or suspending the constitution.’
Sharif has never been a Washington favorite. In the 1990s, his government tested a nuclear bomb, earning economic sanctions from the Clinton administration.
Sharif said he had a good relationship with President Clinton — and is a fan of President Obama. ‘I have never met Obama, but I have a good impression about him,’ he said.
‘I think he's a good guy.’ Since Obama took office, he said, US diplomats have been reaching out to him and to other political leaders.
Democratic politicians returned to power in parliamentary elections last year, and President Pervez Musharraf resigned.
Now, Sharif said, politicians must set aside their quarrels and work together to find solutions to the Taliban insurgency and Pakistan's other pressing needs.
‘This country is facing huge, huge problems — internal, external,’ he said. ‘It's very important that democracy deliver.’
The newspaper pointed out Sharif, head of the conservative Pakistan Muslim League, said that he opposes attacks by airborne US drones on militant hide-outs as ‘counterproductive’ and wants to see dialogue with more moderate Islamist groups.
By Mahir Ali
LAST week began with President Asif Zardari signing a bill that effectively legalises the hand-over of a portion of Pakistan to a branch of the Taliban.
It drew to a close with a bunch of countries pledging, at a meeting in Tokyo, to donate $5bn to the country. The president promised to devote the extra resources to combating the ‘tremendous challenge’ posed by Islamist extremism, and warned the nation’s benefactors: ‘If we lose, you lose, the world loses.’
The very same day, Maulana Abdul Aziz returned in triumph to his favourite haunt, Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, where he appeared to claim at least some of the credit for the outcome in Swat and promised that a similar fate lay in store for the country as a whole and for the rest of the world.
The instrument of surrender in Swat was more or less unanimously endorsed following a perfunctory parliamentary debate — and even that gesture appeared to spook the Awami National Party and its leader, Asfandyar Wali Khan, who threatened to pull the ANP out of its alliance with Zardari’s PPP in the event of the bill being presented for discussion to the National Assembly.
There appears to be a relatively simple explanation for the ANP’s nervousness: it is very, very scared of the Taliban and their allies. Which says a lot about the state of affairs in the NWFP. If the once progressive party’s leading role in negotiating a highly reactionary deal in Swat is based on the assumption that a concession in Swat will allow the provincial government more breathing space elsewhere, then it clearly does not understand the Islamist mentality.
The vast majority of MNAs who spoke on the bill defended it on the basis that similar laws had been enacted in 1994 and 1999, although former information minister Sherry Rehman pointed out that ‘in those times the elected representative of the province had executive control over the area. There was no danger of people being subjected to privatised justice, to Taliban vigilantism and public brutality’.
The only party that refused to acquiesce in endorsing the bill was the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whose parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar challenged the idea of allowing an armed ultra-radical group to establish its writ by force, and was subsequently quoted as saying that the move will ‘have far-reaching consequences for the idea of a moderate and liberal Pakistan’. I don’t often find myself in agreement with the MQM, particularly in the context of its stranglehold over Karachi, but in this case its stance seems unexceptionable.
One possible factor behind the refusal of other parties to acknowledge that the Swat deal sets an ominous precedent was elucidated by an intriguing analysis by Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, published last week in The New York Times, according to which the Taliban have advanced their cause by taking the side of landless peasants against landlords — sometimes by intimidating the latter into running away from their estates, and then sharing the spoils with the peasants, who in return are willing to serve as the shock troops of the extremists.
There are unlikely to be many countries in the world where feudalism is as deeply ingrained as in Pakistan, and landed interests dominate most of the larger parties (the MQM, for what it’s worth, is an exception). They are obviously keen to restrict the Swat phenomenon — described by an unnamed senior Pakistani official as ‘a bloody revolution’ that could sweep away the established order — to that region, so that their own latifundia are not similarly threatened. This, again, is a vain hope: there’s a considerably better chance that the Taliban will only be emboldened by their success in the Malakand area.
Although most of the peasants may not realise it, this is essentially a case of one form of exploitation being superseded by another variant that is equally toxic, albeit in a different way. Regardless of the circumstances, the discomfiture of the feudal elements does not render them any worthier of sympathy. The pity is that it was left to the Taliban to capitalise on the natural resentment of the rural proletariat: the political parties that could have done so chose instead to align themselves with, and to accommodate, the propertied opportunists.
In a recent interview with The Independent, Zardari suggested that he understood the nexus between poverty and militancy, saying: ‘We will never really succeed in containing and destroying the militants and fanatics if we do not address the social needs of our people.’ That is perfectly true — although it ought to be pointed out that unacceptable levels of poverty were taken for granted for decades before fundamentalism became a deadly force. What’s more, addressing the social needs of our people’ has never been a priority for any Pakistani government, and it does not follow from the presidential acknowledgment of this problem that the present administration will behave any differently.
Arguably, the best possible use for the bulk of the forthcoming $5bn would be to spend it on education, whose inadequacy is in all probability the largest single reason why the sowers of ignorance find such fertile soil — and the dominant feudal mentality again helps to explain why the idea of enlightening the masses has never quite caught on. Chances are the money will be put to more mundane uses, such as upgrading weaponry or servicing the international debt. A certain proportion may also end up in someone or the other’s pocket (20%---Zardari). Richard Holbrooke says the handout should have been multiplied by 10; Zardari, who at one point was keen on soliciting $100bn, would wholeheartedly agree.
Meanwhile, the inadequately explained bail for Maulana Abdul Aziz and his return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, is more or less guaranteed to enhance the sense of beleaguerment that has become second nature to the majority of Islamabad’s residents, accustomed as they are to sporadic blasts and massive security barriers.
‘The government,’ according to a report in The Guardian at the weekend, ‘is urging foreign embassies to move into a diplomatic enclave that may soon resemble Baghdad’s green zone.’ Almost everyone acknowledges, however, that adequate precautions against suicide bombers are hardly feasible. The vulnerabilities of Lahore and Karachi — to say nothing of Quetta and Peshawar — have already been demonstrated, while the likes of Baitullah Mehsud are free to hold press conferences, evidently with little fear of interception.
If the centre cannot hold, things will inevitably fall apart. Every now and then the odd flicker of hope can be glimpsed, but chances of redemption are fading fast. Once India concludes its drawn-out electoral process, it might be well-advised to make contingency arrangements for a wave of refugees driven by Islamist anarchy.
Of course Busharaf the Deobandi Mohajir from India won't be going to India as a refugee again, but will most probably settle in the USA, like many Iraqi generals who took the $ in 2003.