Thursday, October 30, 2008

FIA finds foreigners were the target at Marriott

Thursday, October 30, 2008 - By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The authorities have identified the mastermind of the Marriott terrorist attack and have arrested some of his key accomplices, who have confirmed that the target of the deadly assault was the foreigners staying at the hotel.

The attackers reportedly belonged to Al-Badar, Harkat-e-Jihad-e-Islami and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi while the mastermind is a resident of Peshawar. So far the authorities do not have evidence of the involvement of al-Qaeda or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the attack that killed more than 70, including four foreigners.

When approached, the DG Federal Investigations Agency Tariq Pervaiz, who is also the head of the joint investigation team probing the Marriott attack, confirmed to The News that the case had been solved.

He also admitted that it was also established that the target of the attack was foreigners staying at the Marriott. A senior Interior Ministry source also confided to this correspondent that the government had already been conveyed that the Marriott was chosen as the target for the worst ever suicide attack in the federal capital because of the presence of foreigners.

The investigations have rejected all the claims made by different government high-ups that the target of the attack was the political leadership of the country, the Parliament House or the Prime Minister House.

It was found in the probe that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, still at large, was a chemical engineer and resident of Peshawar. He belongs to Al-Badar group and executed his deadly plan with the participation of activists of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

The DG FIA when asked also confirmed these facts, adding that the arrest of the mastermind and one of his key facilitators from Faisalabad would possibly reveal more facts. Tariq Pervaiz was hesitant to disclose the names of the mastermind and his key facilitator for the reason that it might delay their arrest. He, however, hinted that in the near future the government might announce head money to apprehend them.

Amongst those already arrested include a medical doctor, Usman, from a leading private hospital of Islamabad who was privy to the whole terrorist plot. The probe revealed that the deadly truck carrying explosive and driven by the suicide bomber, used the Margalla Road to reach the Constitution Avenue from where it took a right turn to hit the Marriott Hotel. The mastermind, riding in a red Toyota Vitz, piloted the suicide truck till the fatal vehicle took the right turn.

It was also learnt that the mastermind and some of his key facilitators were regular visitors to the Marriott Hotel where they had occasionally observed the presence of foreigners. A source said that even on the day of the attack, one of the collaborators visited the Marriott and reconfirmed the presence of foreigners. The authorities have established that the cause of the attack was the presence of foreign nationals.


Confirmation of how it's not one war, but several at the same time, and policy makers must make a distinction between who to go after and with whom to reconcile, instead of clubbing them all together in their notion 'It's our war'.

It may be 'Our War', but against whom? That remains unclear.

Comment from an earlier blog dated September 12, 2008:

"...the sectarian militias operating in Pakistan i.e. the Kurram Agency Sunni Vs Shia lashkars, Mangal Bagh's Lashkar-e-Islam Vs the Barelvi Ansar-ul-Islam in Khyber Agency, the Punjabi Lashkar-e-Jhangvi / Sipah-e-Suhaba are Takfiri groups whom consider each other Kafirs - while the Afghan/Pakistan tribal militias plus the Arabs/Uzbeks operating in Afghanistan are Salafis Vs foreigners whom they consider 'Kafir' crusaders."

We must make a distinction between which ones are only interested in fighting Nato in Afghanistan, and which ones are only interested in anarchy in Pakistan, using the umbrella of the convenient label 'Taliban'.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Most Wanted for whatever. A War with no Rules

Our comrade and friend Zeemax has drawn a fine distinction about UBLs not being indicted for 9/11.While theoretically sound this fine distinction is unfortunately no longer relevant .Why someone may ask ?

Although the USA was no guardian of liberty or human rights from 1941 till 2003 it did stand for something or some power fighting for some idealistic and some right causes albeit partially.International law as it was created in the aftermath of WW Two had a system in the form of the UN ,however imperfect,with shamelessly opportunistic and intellectually dishonest characters like Kofi Annan.

When the USA attacked Iraq however ,it lost all the high moral ground , however controversial with all the imperial faux pas of the CIA , that it had held since 1945.The US attack on Iraq represented the beginning of a great divide in international law.Unilateral action in an arbitrary manner disregard all previously accepted international rules of the game,ironically framed by various nations with the USA as a key actor ! The open adoption of the modus operandi at the state level that whichever state is stronger,allows this state to attack at will any weaker state and occupy it ! With lackeys like Blair,an apology of whatever good Britain had produced , shamelessly following the Bush regime,the USA attacked and occupied Iraq.The fact that Bush acted in the best national interest of USA is relative but cannot be debated seriously ! It was the decision of a commander in chief taken according to his best judgement ! The fact that the CIA shamelessly fabricated lies about WMDs and the fact that so called political giants like Colin Powell did not exhibit any intellectual honesty in differing with his commander in chief ! That reduced this giant to a pygmy at least in terms of intellectual honesty ! No US general resigned as a matter of conscience over the pedantic and highly incompetent troop assessments of characters like Rumsfeld who knew th division of battle less than a spinster !

We are not debating the fact that the Iraq war was a " just war" or " an unjust war".We are merely stating the fact that USA's unilateral and arbitrary action in attacking Iraq demolished " all ethics from international law". Now the rule was and remains so that whoever is stronger can attack the weaker party.As a matter of fact the US attack on Iraq falls in a category worse than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan of 1979 .This is because the USSR had a valid treaty with the defacto government of Afghanistan ,while US action was based totally on the fact that might is right ! And the USA had moral poodles like Blair !

The rule of international relations since 2003 is that " Might is Right" .Thats the way th USA demonstrated to the world.Now any state actor or non state actor can follow this rule.Morality if any was removed from international relations in 2003.

Ironically the US attack on Iraq , damaged USA ,severely in long term strategic terms.A honogenuous Shia block was created from Hazarajat in Afghanistan to the coast of Mediterranean in Lebanon.The USA was caught in a strategic quagmire in Iraq which is being exploited by USA's enemies,both state and non state actors and the end is nowhere in site in Iraq.

The conclusion is that there were never no rules in war .And whatever rules existed in international relations were demolished by the USA when it attacked Iraq.Now when Russia attacks Georgia ,its the Bush doctrine,when China attacks Taiwan,it will be the Bush doctrine.When India attacks Pakistan it would be Bush doctrine.No one , no US president would be unable to undo this transformation.

The future wars will be a complex mix of state and non state actors.They will have absolutely no rules of any sort.No place will be sacred.Everyone will be a target.The combatants will have no uniforms.An age of barbarism was introduced in international relations in 2003 .The age of strategic anarchy as I termed it in 2003 will continue till the day of doom ! A good past time for all students of strategy and military history to blog about !

I am not a religious man , but all that the USA did in 2003 is sacrilege and a blasphemy against international law even when judged and viewed by a totally secular and agnostic man like this scribe !

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Usama Bin ladin most wanted for murder of US nationals outside the United States? But I thought WTC was in New York inside the United States:



Aliases: Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, The Prince, The Emir, Abu Abdallah, Mujahid Shaykh, Hajj, The Director


Date of Birth Used: 1957 Hair: Brown
Place of Birth: Saudi Arabia Eyes: Brown
Height: 6'4" to 6'6" Sex: Male
Weight: Approximately 160 pounds Complexion: Olive
Build: Thin Citizenship: Saudi Arabian
Language: Arabic (probably Pashtu)
Scars and Marks: None known
Remarks: Bin Laden is left-handed and walks with a cane.


Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.


The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Usama Bin Laden. An additional $2 million is being offered through a program developed and funded by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.




This is the page on Usama Bin Ladin on the FBI's most wanted site as of today. The link is Here.

When inquired by the 9/11 Truth Commission re why Usama Bin Ladin is not wanted for 9/11? FBI replied because he has not been indicted for 9/11 and there is not enough evidence to make him wanted for that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Daughter (in law?) of the West:

... some excerpts

Daughter of the West
Tariq Ali

Arranged marriages can be a messy business. Designed principally as a means of accumulating wealth, circumventing undesirable flirtations or transcending clandestine love affairs, they often don’t work. Where both parties are known to loathe each other, only a rash parent, desensitized by the thought of short-term gain, will continue with the process knowing full well that it will end in misery and possibly violence. That this is equally true in political life became clear in the recent attempt by Washington to tie Benazir Bhutto to Pervez Musharraf.

The single, strong parent in this case was a desperate State Department – with John Negroponte as the ghoulish go-between and Gordon Brown as the blushing bridesmaid – fearful that if it did not push this through both parties might soon be too old for recycling. The bride was certainly in a hurry, the groom less so. Brokers from both sides engaged in lengthy negotiations on the size of the dowry. Her broker was and remains Rehman Malik, a former boss of Pakistan’s FIA, who has been investigated for corruption by the National Accountability Bureau and who served nearly a year in prison after Benazir’s fall, then became one of her business partners and is currently under investigation (with her) by a Spanish court looking into a company called Petroline FZC, which made questionable payments to Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Documents, if genuine, show that she chaired the company. She may have been in a hurry but she did not wish to be seen taking the arm of a uniformed president. He was not prepared to forgive her past. The couple’s distaste for each other yielded to a mutual dependence on the United States. Neither party could say ‘no’, though Musharraf hoped the union could be effected inconspicuously. Fat chance.

Both parties made concessions. She agreed that he could take off his uniform after his ‘re-election’ by Parliament, but it had to be before the next general election. (He has now done this, leaving himself dependent on the goodwill of his successor as army chief of staff.) He pushed through a legal ruling – yet another sordid first in the country’s history – known as the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which withdrew all cases of corruption pending against politicians accused of looting the national treasury. The ruling was crucial for her since she hoped that the money-laundering and corruption cases pending in three European courts – in Valencia, Geneva and London – would now be dismissed. This doesn’t seem to have happened.

Many Pakistanis – not just the mutinous and mischievous types who have to be locked up at regular intervals – were repelled, and coverage of ‘the deal’ in the Pakistan media was universally hostile, except on state television. The ‘breakthrough’ was loudly trumpeted in the West, however, and a whitewashed Benazir Bhutto was presented on US networks and BBC TV news as the champion of Pakistani democracy – reporters loyally referred to her as ‘the former prime minister’ rather than the fugitive politician facing corruption charges in several countries.

She had returned the favour in advance by expressing sympathy for the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, lunching with the Israeli ambassador to the UN (a litmus test) and pledging to ‘wipe out terrorism’ in her own country. In 1979 a previous military dictator had bumped off her father with Washington’s approval, and perhaps she thought it would be safer to seek permanent shelter underneath the imperial umbrella. Harper Collins had paid her half a million dollars to write a new book. The working title she chose was ‘Reconciliation’.

As for the general, he had begun his period in office in 1999 by bowing to the spirit of the age and titling himself ‘chief executive’ rather than ‘chief martial law administrator’, which had been the norm. Like his predecessors, he promised he would stay in power only for a limited period, pledging in 2003 to resign as army chief of staff in 2004. Like his predecessors, he ignored his pledge. Martial law always begins with the promise of a new order that will sweep away the filth and corruption that marked the old one: in this case it toppled the civilian administrations of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. But ‘new orders’ are not forward movements, more military detours that further weaken the shaky foundations of a country and its institutions. Within a decade the uniformed ruler will be overtaken by a new upheaval.

Dreaming of her glory days in the last century, Benazir wanted a large reception on her return. The general was unhappy. The intelligence agencies (as well as her own security advisers) warned her of the dangers. She had declared war on the terrorists and they had threatened to kill her. But she was adamant. She wanted to demonstrate her popularity to the world and to her political rivals, including those inside her own fiefdom, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). For a whole month before she boarded the Dubai-Karachi flight, the PPP were busy recruiting volunteers from all over the country to welcome her. Up to 200,000 people lined the streets, but it was a far cry from the million who turned up in Lahore in 1986 when a very different Benazir returned to challenge General Zia ul-Haq. The plan had been to move slowly in the Bhuttomobile from Karachi airport to the tomb of the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, where she would make a speech. It was not to be. As darkness fell, the bombers struck. Who they were and who sent them remains a mystery. She was unhurt, but 130 people died, including some of the policemen guarding her. The wedding reception had led to mayhem.

The general, while promising to collaborate with Benazir, was coolly making arrangements to prolong his own stay at President’s House. Even before her arrival he had considered taking drastic action to dodge the obstacles that stood in his way, but his generals (and the US Embassy) seemed unconvinced. The bombing of Benazir’s cavalcade reopened the debate. Pakistan, if not exactly the erupting volcano portrayed in the Western media, was being shaken by all sorts of explosions. The legal profession, up in arms at Musharraf’s recent dismissal of the chief justice, had won a temporary victory, resulting in a fiercely independent Supreme Court. The independent TV networks continued to broadcast reports that challenged official propaganda. Investigative journalism is never popular with governments and the general often contrasted the deference with which he was treated by the US networks and BBC television with the ‘unruly’ questioning inflicted on him by local journalists: it ‘misled the people’. He had become obsessed with the media coverage of the lawyers’ revolt. A decline in his popularity increased the paranoia. His advisers were people he had promoted. Generals who had expressed divergent opinions in ‘frank and informal get-togethers’ had been retired. His political allies were worried that their opportunities to enrich themselves even further would be curtailed if they had to share power with Benazir.

What if the Supreme Court were now to declare his re-election by a dying and unrepresentative assembly illegal? To ward off disaster, the ISI had been preparing blackmail flicks: agents secretly filmed some of the Supreme Court judges in flagrante. But so unpopular had Musharraf become that even the sight of judicial venerables in bed might not have done the trick. It might even have increased their support. (In 1968, when a right-wing, pro-military rag in Lahore published an attack on me, it revealed that I ‘had attended sex orgies in a French country house organised by [my] friend, the Jew Cohn-Bendit. All the fifty women in the swimming-pool were Jewish.’ Alas, this was totally false, but my parents were amazed at the number of people who congratulated them on my virility.) Musharraf decided that blackmail wasn’t worth the risk. Only firm action could ‘restore order’ – i.e. save his skin. The usual treatment in these cases is a declaration of martial law. But what if the country is already being governed by the army chief of staff? The solution is simple. Treble the dose. Organise a coup within a coup. That is what Musharraf decided to do. Washington was informed a few weeks in advance, Downing Street somewhat later. Benazir’s patrons in the West told her what was about to happen and she, foolishly for a political leader who has just returned to her country, evacuated to Dubai.

On 3 November Musharraf, as chief of the army, suspended the 1973 constitution and imposed a state of emergency: all non-government TV channels were taken off the air, the mobile phone networks were jammed, paramilitary units surrounded the Supreme Court. The chief justice convened an emergency bench of judges, who – heroically – declared the new dispensation ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. They were unceremoniously removed and put under house arrest. Pakistan’s judges have usually been acquiescent. Those who in the past resisted military leaders were soon bullied out of it, so the decision of this chief justice took the country by surprise and won him great admiration. Global media coverage of Pakistan suggests a country of generals, corrupt politicians and bearded lunatics: the struggle to reinstate the chief justice had presented a different picture.

Aitzaz Ahsan, a prominent member of the PPP, minister of the interior in Benazir’s first government and currently president of the Bar Association, was arrested and placed in solitary confinement. Several thousand political and civil rights activists were picked up. Imran Khan, a fierce and incorruptible opponent of the regime, was arrested, charged with ‘state terrorism’ – for which the penalty is death or life imprisonment – and taken in handcuffs to a remote high-security prison. Musharraf, Khan argued, had begun yet another shabby chapter in Pakistan’s history.

Lawyers were arrested all over the country; many were physically attacked by policemen. Humiliate them was the order, and the police obliged. A lawyer, ‘Omar’, circulated an account of what happened:

While I was standing talking to my colleagues, we saw the police go wild on the orders of a superior officer. In riot gear . . . brandishing weapons and sticks, about a hundred policemen attacked us . . . and seemed intensely happy at doing so. We all ran.

Some of us who were not as nimble on their feet as others were caught by the police and beaten mercilessly. We were then locked in police vans used to transport convicted prisoners. Everyone was stunned at this show of brute force but it did not end. The police went on mayhem inside the court premises and court buildings . . . Those of us who were arrested were taken to various police stations and put in lockups. At midnight, we were told that we were being shifted to jail. We could not get bail as our fundamental rights were suspended. Sixty lawyers were put into a police van ten feet by four feet wide and five feet in height. We were squashed like sardines. When the van reached the jail, we were told that we could not get [out] until orders of our detention were received by the jail authorities. Our older colleagues started to suffocate, some fainted, others started to panic because of claustrophobia. The police ignored our screams and refused to open the van doors. Finally, after three hours . . . we were let out and taken to mosquito-infected barracks where the food given to us smelled like sewage water.

Geo, the largest TV network, had long since located its broadcasting facilities in Dubai. It was a strange sensation watching the network in London when the screens were blank in Pakistan. On the very first day of the emergency I saw Hamid Mir, a journalist loathed by the general, reporting from Islamabad and asserting that the US Embassy had given the green light to the coup because it regarded the chief justice as a nuisance and wrongly believed him to be ‘a Taliban sympathiser’. Certainly no US spokesperson or State Department adjunct in the Foreign Office criticised the dismissal of the eight Supreme Court judges or their arrest: that was the quid pro quo for Washington’s insistence that Musharraf take off his uniform. If he was going to turn civilian he wanted all the other rules twisted in his favour. A newly appointed stooge Supreme Court would soon help him with the rule-bending. As would the authorities in Dubai, who suspended Geo’s facilities.

In the evening of that first day, and after several delays, a flustered General Musharraf, his hair badly dyed, appeared on TV, trying to look like the sort of leader who wants it understood that the political crisis is to be discussed with gravity and sangfroid. Instead, he came across as a dumbed down dictator fearful for his own political future. His performance as he broadcast to the nation, first in Urdu and then in English, was incoherent. The gist was simple: he had to act because the Supreme Court had ‘so demoralised our state agencies that we can’t fight the “war on terror”’ and the TV networks had become ‘totally irresponsible’. ‘I have imposed emergency,’ he said halfway through his diatribe, adding, with a contemptuous gesture: ‘You must have seen it on TV.’ Was he being sarcastic, given that most channels had been shut down? Who knows? Mohammed Hanif, the sharp-witted head of the BBC’s Urdu Service, which monitored the broadcast, confessed himself flummoxed when he wrote up what he heard. He had no doubt that the Urdu version of the speech was the general’s own work. Hanif’s deconstruction – he quoted the general in Urdu and in English – deserved a broadcast all of its own:

Here are some random things he said. And trust me, these things were said quite randomly. Yes, he did say: ‘Extremism bahut extreme ho gaya hai [extremism has become too extreme] . . . Nobody is scared of us anymore . . . Islamabad is full of extremists . . . There is a government within government . . . Officials are being asked to the courts . . . Officials are being insulted by the judiciary.’

At one point he appeared wistful when reminiscing about his first three years in power: ‘I had total control.’ You were almost tempted to ask: ‘What happened then, uncle?’ But obviously, uncle didn’t need any prompting. He launched into his routine about three stages of democracy. He claimed he was about to launch the third and final phase of democracy (the way he said it, he managed to make it sound like the Final Solution). And just when you thought he was about to make his point, he took an abrupt turn and plunged into a deep pool of self-pity. This involved a long-winded anecdote about how the Supreme Court judges would rather attend a colleague’s daughter’s wedding than just get it over with and decide that he is a constitutional president . . . I have heard some dictators’ speeches in my life, but nobody has gone so far as to mention someone’s daughter’s wedding as a reason for imposing martial law on the country.

When for the last few minutes of his speech he addressed his audience in the West in English, I suddenly felt a deep sense of humiliation. This part of his speech was scripted. Sentences began and ended. I felt humiliated that my president not only thinks that we are not evolved enough for things like democracy and human rights, but that we can’t even handle proper syntax and grammar.

The English-language version put the emphasis on the ‘war on terror’: Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln, he said, would have done what he did to preserve the ‘integrity of their country’ – the mention of Lincoln was obviously intended for the US market. In Pakistan’s military academies the usual soldier-heroes are Napoleon, De Gaulle and Atatürk.

What did Benazir, now outmanoeuvred, make of the speech as she watched it on TV in her Dubai sanctuary? Her first response was to say she was shocked, which was slightly disingenuous. Even if she had not been told in advance that an emergency would be declared, it was hardly a secret – for one thing, Condoleezza Rice had made a token public appeal to Musharraf not to take this course. Yet for more than 24 hours she was unable to give a clear response. At one point she even criticised the chief justice for being too provocative.

Agitated phone calls from Pakistan persuaded her to return to Karachi. To put her in her place, the authorities kept her plane waiting on the tarmac. When she finally reached the VIP lounge, her PPP colleagues told her that unless she denounced the emergency there would be a split in the party. Outsmarted and abandoned by Musharraf, she couldn’t take the risk of losing key figures in her party. She denounced the emergency and its perpetrator, established contact with the beleaguered opposition, and, as if putting on a new lipstick, declared that she would lead the struggle to get rid of the dictator. She now tried to call on the chief justice to express her sympathy but wasn’t allowed near his residence.

She could have followed the example of her imprisoned colleague Aitzaz Ahsan, but she was envious of him: he had become far too popular in Pakistan. He’d even had the nerve to go to Washington, where he was politely received by society and inspected as a possible substitute should things go badly wrong. Not a single message had flowed from her Blackberry to congratulate him on his victories in the struggle to reinstate the chief justice. Ahsan had advised her against any deal with Musharraf. When generals are against the wall, he is reported to have told her, they resort to desperate and irrational measures. Others who offered similar advice in gentler language were also batted away. She was the PPP’s ‘chairperson-for-life’ and brooked no dissent. The fact that Ahsan was proved right irritated her even more. Any notion of political morality had long ago been dumped. The very idea of a party with a consistent set of beliefs was regarded as ridiculous and outdated. Ahsan was now safe in prison, far from the madding hordes of Western journalists whom she received in style during the few days she spent under house arrest and afterwards. She made a few polite noises about his imprisonment, but nothing more.

The go-between from Washington arrived at very short notice. Negroponte spent some time with Musharraf and spoke to Benazir, still insisting that they make up and go through with the deal. She immediately toned down her criticisms, but the general was scathing and said in public that there was no way she could win the elections scheduled for January. No doubt the ISI are going to rig them in style. Had she remained loyal to him she might have lost public support, but he would have made sure she had a substantial presence in the new parliament. Now everything is up for grabs again. The opinion polls show that her old rival, Nawaz Sharif, is well ahead of her. Musharraf’s hasty pilgrimage to Mecca was probably an attempt to secure Saudi mediation in case he has to cut a deal with the Sharif brothers – who have been living in exile in Saudi Arabia – and sideline her completely. Both sides deny that a deal was done, but Sharif returned to Pakistan with Saudi blessings and an armour-plated Cadillac as a special gift from the king. Little doubt that Riyadh would rather him than Benazir.

With the country still under a state of emergency and the largest media network refusing to sign the oath of allegiance that would allow them back on air, the polls scheduled for January can only be a general’s election. It’s hardly a secret that the ISI and the civilian bureaucracy will decide who wins and where, and some of the opposition parties are, wisely, considering a boycott. Nawaz Sharif told the press that in the course of a long telephone call he had failed to persuade Benazir to join it and thereby render the process null and void from the start. But now that he is back in the country it’s unclear whether he will still go ahead with the boycott or try and negotiate a certain number of seats with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, who had betrayed him by setting up a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, the PML-Q, to support Musharraf. Perhaps a shared bout of amnesia will bring them together again.

What will Benazir do now? Washington’s leverage in Islamabad is limited, which is why they wanted her to be involved in the first place. ‘It’s always better,’ the US ambassador half-joked at a reception, ‘to have two phone numbers in a capital.’ That may be so, but they cannot guarantee her the prime ministership or even a fair election. In his death-cell, her father mulled over similar problems and came to slightly different conclusions. If I Am Assassinated, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s last will and testament, was written in semi-Gramsci mode, but the meaning wasn’t lost on his colleagues:

I entirely agree that the people of Pakistan will not tolerate foreign hegemony. On the basis of the self-same logic, the people of Pakistan would never agree to an internal hegemony. The two hegemonies complement each other. If our people meekly submit to internal hegemony, a priori, they will have to submit to external hegemony. This is so because the strength and power of external hegemony is far greater than that of internal hegemony. If the people are too terrified to resist the weaker force, it is not possible for them to resist the stronger force. The acceptance of or acquiescence in internal hegemony means submission to external hegemony.

After he was hanged in April 1979, the text acquired a semi-sacred status among his supporters. But, when in power, Bhutto père had failed to develop any counter-hegemonic strategy or institutions, other than the 1973 constitution drafted by the veteran civil rights lawyer Mahmud Ali Kasuri (whose son Khurshid was until recently the foreign minister). A personality-driven, autocratic style of governance had neutered the spirit of the party, encouraged careerists and finally paved the way for his enemies. He was the victim of a grave injustice; his death removed all the warts and transformed him into a martyr. More than half the country, mainly the poor, mourned his passing.

The tragedy led to the PPP being treated as a family heirloom, which was unhealthy for both party and country. It provided the Bhuttos with a vote-bank and large reserves. But the experience of her father’s trial and death radicalised and politicised his daughter. She would have preferred, she told me at the time, to be a diplomat. Her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, were in London, having been forbidden to return home by their imprisoned father. The burden of trying to save her father’s life fell on Benazir and her mother, Nusrat, and the courage they exhibited won them the silent respect of a frightened majority. They refused to cave in to General Zia’s military dictatorship, which apart from anything else was invoking Islam to claw back rights won by women in previous decades. Benazir and Nusrat Bhutto were arrested and released several times. Their health began to suffer. Nusrat was allowed to leave the country to seek medical advice in 1982. Benazir was released a little more than a year later thanks, in part, to US pressure orchestrated by her old Harvard friend Peter Galbraith. She later described the period in her memoir, Daughter of the East (1988); it included photo-captions such as: ‘Shortly after President Reagan praised the regime for making “great strides towards democracy”, Zia’s henchmen gunned down peaceful demonstrators marking Pakistan Independence Day. The police were just as brutal to those protesting at the attack on my jeep in January 1987.’

Her tiny Barbican flat in London became the centre of opposition to the dictatorship, and it was here that we often discussed a campaign to take on the generals. Benazir had built up her position by steadfastly and peacefully resisting the military and replying to every slander with a cutting retort. Her brothers had been operating on a different level. They set up an armed group, al-Zulfiqar, whose declared aim was to harass and weaken the regime by targeting ‘traitors who had collaborated with Zia’. The principal volunteers were recruited inside Pakistan and in 1980 they were provided with a base in Afghanistan, where the pro-Moscow Communists had taken power three years before. It is a sad story with a fair share of factionalism, show-trials, petty rivalries, fantasies of every sort and death for the group’s less fortunate members.

In March 1981 Murtaza and Shahnawaz Bhutto were placed on the FIA’s most wanted list. They had hijacked a Pakistan International airliner soon after it left Karachi (a power cut had paralysed the X-ray machines, enabling the hijackers to take their weapons on board); it was diverted to Kabul. Here Murtaza took over and demanded the release of political prisoners. A young military officer on board the flight was murdered. The plane refuelled and went on to Damascus, where the Syrian spymaster General Kholi took charge and ensured there were no more deaths. The fact that there were American passengers on the plane was a major consideration for the generals and, for that reason alone, the prisoners in Pakistan were released and flown to Tripoli.

This was seen as a victory and welcomed as such by the PPP in Pakistan. For the first time the group began to be taken seriously. A key target inside the country was Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain, the chief justice of the High Court in Lahore, who, in 1978, had sentenced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to death, and whose behaviour in court had shocked even those who were hostile to the PPP. (Among other charges, he had accused Bhutto of ‘pretending to be a Muslim’ – his mother was a Hindu convert.) Mushtaq was in a friend’s car being driven to his home in Lahore’s Model Town area when al-Zulfiqar gunmen opened fire. The judge survived, but his friend and the driver died. The friend was one of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat: Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, a dodgy businessman who had ostentatiously asked General Zia to make him a present of the ‘sacred pen’ with which he had signed Bhutto’s death warrant. The pen became a family heirloom. Zahoor Elahi may not have been the target but al-Zulfiqar, embarrassed at missing the judge, claimed he was also on their list, which may have been true.

It is the next generation of Chaudhrys that currently provides Musharraf with civilian ballast: Zahoor Elahi’s son Shujaat organised the split with Nawaz Sharif and created the splinter PML-Q to ease the growing pains of the new regime. He still fixes deals and wanted an emergency imposed much earlier to circumvent the deal with Benazir. He will now mastermind the general’s election campaign. His cousin Pervez Elahi is chief minister of the Punjab; his son, in turn, is busy continuing the family tradition by evicting tenants and buying up all the available land on the edge of Lahore. It has not been divulged which member of the family guards the sacred pen.

The hijacking meanwhile had annoyed Moscow, and the regime in Afghanistan asked the Bhutto brothers to find another refuge. While in Kabul, they had married two Afghan sisters, Fauzia and Rehana Fasihudin, daughters of a senior official at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Together with their wives they now left the country and after a sojourn in Syria and possibly Libya ended up in Europe. The reunion with their sister took place on the French Riviera in 1985, a setting better suited to the lifestyles of all three siblings.

The young men feared General Zia’s agents. Each had a young daughter. Shahnawaz lived in an apartment in Cannes. He had been in charge of the ‘military apparatus’ and life in Kabul had exacted a heavier toll on him. He was edgy and nervous. Relations with his wife were stormy and he told his sister that he was preparing to divorce her. ‘There’s never been a divorce in the family. Your marriage wasn’t even an arranged one . . . You chose to marry Rehana. You must live with it,’ was Benazir’s revealing reply, according to her memoir. And then Shahnawaz was found dead in his apartment. His wife claimed he had taken poison, but according to Benazir nobody in the family believed her story; there had been violence in the room and his papers had been searched. Rehana looked immaculate, which disturbed the family. She was imprisoned for three months under the ‘Good Samaritan’ law for not having gone to the assistance of a dying person. After her release she settled in the United States. ‘Had the CIA killed him as a friendly gesture towards their favourite dictator?’ Benazir speculated. She raised other questions too: had the sisters become ISI agents? The truth remains hidden. Not long afterwards Murtaza divorced Fauzia, but kept custody of their three-year-old daughter, Fatima, and moved to Damascus. Here he had plenty of time for reflection and told friends that too many mistakes had been made. In 1986 he met Ghinwa Itaoui, a young teacher who had fled Lebanon after the Israeli invasion of 1982. She calmed him down and took charge of Fatima’s education. They were married in 1989 and a son, Zulfiqar, was born the following year.

Benazir returned to Pakistan in 1986 and was greeted by large crowds who came out to show their affection for her and to demonstrate their anger with the regime. She campaigned all over the country, but felt increasingly that for some of the more religious-minded a young unmarried woman was not acceptable as a leader. How could she visit Saudi Arabia without a husband? An offer of marriage from the Zardari family was accepted and she married Asif in 1987. She had worried that any husband would find it difficult to deal with the periods of separation her nomadic political life would entail, but Zardari was perfectly capable of occupying himself.

A year later General Zia’s plane blew up in midair. In the elections that followed the PPP won the largest number of seats. Benazir became prime minister, but was hemmed in by the army on one side and the president, the army’s favourite bureaucrat, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, on the other. She told me at the time that she felt powerless. They wouldn’t let her do anything. ‘Tell the people,’ was my advice. Tell them why you can’t deliver on your promises to provide free education, proper sanitation, clean water and health services to improve the high infant mortality rate. She didn’t tell them; in fact she did nothing at all apart from provide employment to some of her supporters. Being in power, it seemed, was satisfaction enough. She went on state visits: met and liked Mrs Thatcher and later, with her new husband in tow, was received politely by the Saudi king. In the meantime there were other plots afoot – the opposition was literally buying off some of her MPs – and in August 1990 her government was removed by presidential decree and Zia’s protégés, the Sharif brothers, were back in power.

By the time she was re-elected in 1993, she had abandoned all idea of reform, but that she was in a hurry to do something became clear when she appointed her husband minister for investment, making him responsible for all investment offers from home and abroad. It is widely alleged that the couple accumulated $1.5 billion. The high command of the Pakistan People’s Party now became a machine for making money, but without any trickle-down mechanism. This period marked the complete degeneration of the party. All that shame-faced party members could say, when I asked, was that ‘everybody does it all over the world,’ thus accepting that the cash nexus was now all that mattered. In foreign policy her legacy was mixed. She refused to sanction an anti-Indian military adventure in Kargil on the Himalayan slopes, but to make up for it, as I wrote in the LRB (15 April 1999), her government backed the Taliban takeover in Kabul – which makes it doubly ironic that Washington and London should be promoting her as a champion of democracy.

Murtaza Bhutto had contested the elections from abroad and won a seat in the Sind provincial legislature. He returned home and expressed his unhappiness with his sister’s agenda. Family gatherings became tense. Murtaza had his weaknesses, but he wasn’t corrupt and he argued in favour of the old party’s radical manifesto. He made no secret of the fact that he regarded Zardari as an interloper whose only interest was money. Nusrat Bhutto suggested that Murtaza be made the chief minister of Sind: Benazir’s response was to remove her mother as chairperson of the PPP. Any sympathy Murtaza may have felt for his sister turned to loathing. He no longer felt obliged to control his tongue and at every possible opportunity lambasted Zardari and the corrupt regime over which his sister presided. It was difficult to fault him on the facts. The incumbent chief minister of Sind was Abdullah Shah, one of Zardari’s creatures. He began to harass Murtaza’s supporters. Murtaza decided to confront the organ-grinder himself. He rang Zardari and invited him round for an informal chat sans bodyguards to try and settle the problems within the family. Zardari agreed. As the two men were pacing the garden, Murtaza’s retainers appeared and grabbed Zardari. Someone brought out a cut-throat razor and some warm water and Murtaza shaved off half of Zardari’s moustache to the delight of the retainers, then told him to get lost. A fuming Zardari, who had probably feared much worse, was compelled to shave off the other half at home. The media, bemused, were informed that the new clean-shaven consort had accepted intelligence advice that the moustache made him too recognisable a target. In which case why did he allow it to sprout again immediately afterwards?

Some months later, in September 1996, as Murtaza and his entourage were returning home from a political meeting, they were ambushed, just outside their house, by some seventy armed policemen accompanied by four senior officers. A number of snipers were positioned in surrounding trees. The street lights had been switched off. Murtaza clearly understood what was happening and got out of his car with his hands raised; his bodyguards were instructed not to open fire. The police opened fire instead and seven men were killed, Murtaza among them. The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police logbooks, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated, the provincial PPP governor (regarded as untrustworthy) dispatched to a non-event in Egypt, a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level.

While the ambush was being prepared, the police had sealed off Murtaza’s house (from which his father had been lifted by Zia’s commandos in 1978). The family inside felt something was wrong. At this point, a remarkably composed Fatima Bhutto, aged 14, decided to ring her aunt at Prime Minister’s House. The conversation that followed remains imprinted on her memory and a few years ago she gave me an account of it. It was Zardari who took her call:

Fatima: I wish to speak to my aunt, please.

Zardari: It’s not possible.

Fatima: Why? [At this point, Fatima says she heard loud wails and what sounded like fake crying.]

Zardari: She’s hysterical, can’t you hear?

Fatima: Why?

Zardari: Don’t you know? Your father’s been shot.

Fatima and Ghinwa found out where Murtaza had been taken and rushed out of the house. There was no sign on the street outside that anything had happened: the scene of the killing had been wiped clean of all evidence. There were no traces of blood and no signs of any disturbance. They drove straight to the hospital but it was too late; Murtaza was already dead. Later they learned that he had been left bleeding on the ground for almost an hour before being taken to a hospital where there were no emergency facilities of any kind.

When Benazir arrived to attend her brother’s funeral in Larkana, angry crowds stoned her limo. She had to retreat. In another unusual display of emotion, local people encouraged Murtaza’s widow to attend the actual burial ceremony in defiance of Islamic tradition. According to Fatima, one of Benazir’s hangers-on instigated legal proceedings against Ghinwa in a religious court for breaching Islamic law. Nothing was sacred.

Anyone who witnessed Murtaza’s murder was arrested; one witness died in prison. When Fatima rang Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested and not the killers she was told: ‘Look, you’re very young. You don’t understand things.’ Perhaps it was for this reason that the kind aunt decided to encourage Fatima’s blood-mother, Fauzia, whom she had previously denounced as a murderer in the pay of General Zia, to come to Pakistan and claim custody of Fatima. No mystery as to who paid her fare from California. Fatima and Ghinwa Bhutto resisted and the attempt failed. Benazir then tried a softer approach and insisted that Fatima accompany her to New York, where she was going to address the UN Assembly. Ghinwa Bhutto approached friends in Damascus and had her two children flown out of the country. Fatima later discovered that Fauzia had been seen hobnobbing with Benazir in New York.

In November 1996 Benazir was once again removed from power, this time by her own president, Farooq Leghari, a PPP stalwart. He cited corruption, but what had also angered him was the ISI’s crude attempt at blackmail – the intelligence agencies had photographed Leghari’s daughter meeting a boyfriend and threatened to go public. The week Benazir fell, the chief minister of Sind, Abdullah Shah, hopped on a motorboat and fled Karachi for the Gulf and thence the US.

A judicial tribunal had been appointed by Benazir’s government to inquire into the circumstances leading to Murtaza’s death. Headed by a Supreme Court judge, it took detailed evidence from all parties. Murtaza’s lawyers accused Zardari, Abdullah Shah and two senior police officials of conspiracy to murder. Benazir (now out of power) accepted that there had been a conspiracy, but suggested that ‘the hidden hand responsible for this was President Farooq Ahmad Leghari’: the intention, she said, was to ‘kill a Bhutto to get rid of a Bhutto’. Nobody took this seriously. Given all that had happened, it was an incredible suggestion.

The tribunal said there was no legally acceptable evidence to link Zardari to the incident, but accepted that ‘this was a case of extra-judicial killings by the police’ and concluded that such an incident could not have taken place without approval from the highest quarters. Nothing happened. Eleven years later, Fatima Bhutto publicly accused Zardari; she also claimed that many of those involved that day appear to have been rewarded for their actions. In an interview on an independent TV station just before the emergency was imposed, Benazir was asked to explain how it happened that her brother had bled to death outside his home while she was prime minister. She walked out of the studio. A sharp op-ed piece by Fatima in the LA Times on 14 November elicited the following response: ‘My niece is angry with me.’ Well, yes.

Musharraf may have withdrawn the corruption charges, but three other cases are proceeding in Switzerland, Spain and Britain. In July 2003, after an investigation lasting several years, Daniel Devaud, a Geneva magistrate, convicted Mr and Mrs Asif Ali Zardari, in absentia, of money laundering. They had accepted $15 million in bribes from two Swiss companies, SGS and Cotecna. The couple were sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to return $11.9 million to the government of Pakistan. ‘I certainly don’t have any doubts about the judgments I handed down,’ Devaud told the BBC. Benazir appealed, thus forcing a new investigation. On 19 September 2005 she appeared in a Geneva court and tried to detach herself from the rest of the family: she hadn’t been involved, she said: it was a matter for her husband and her mother (afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease). She knew nothing of the accounts. And what of the agreement her agent Jens Schlegelmilch had signed according to which, in case of her and Zardari’s death, the assets of Bomer Finance Company would be divvied out equally between the Zardari and Bhutto families? She knew nothing of that either. And the £120,000 diamond necklace in the bank vault paid for by Zardari? It was intended for her, but she had rejected the gift as ‘inappropriate’. The case continues. Last month Musharraf told Owen Bennett-Jones of the BBC World Service that his government would not interfere with the proceedings: ‘That’s up to the Swiss government. Depends on them. It’s a case in their courts.’

In Britain the legal shenanigans concern the $3.4 million Rockwood estate in Surrey, bought by offshore companies on behalf of Zardari in 1995 and refurbished to his exacting tastes. Zardari denied owning the estate. Then when the court was about to instruct the liquidators to sell it and return the proceeds to the Pakistan government, Zardari came forward and accepted ownership. Last year, Lord Justice Collins ruled that, while he was not making any ‘findings of fact’, there was a ‘reasonable prospect’ that the Pakistan government might be able to establish that Rockwood had been bought and furnished with ‘the fruits of corruption’. A close friend of Benazir told me that she was genuinely not involved in this one, since Zardari wasn’t thinking of spending much time there with her.

Daniel Markey, formerly of the State Department and currently senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, explained why Washington had pushed the marriage of convenience: ‘A progressive, reform-minded, more cosmopolitan party in government would help the US.’ As their finances reveal, the Zardaris are certainly cosmopolitan.

What then is at stake in Pakistan as far as Washington is concerned? ‘The concern I have,’ Robert Gates, the US secretary for defense, recently said, ‘is that the longer the internal problems continue, the more distracted the Pakistani army and security services will be in terms of the internal situation rather than focusing on the terrorist threat in the frontier area.’ But one reason for the internal crisis is Washington’s over-reliance on Musharraf and the Pakistani military. It is Washington’s support and funding that have given him the confidence to operate as he pleases. But the thoughtless Western military occupation of Afghanistan is obviously crucial, since the instability in Kabul seeps into Peshawar and the tribal areas between the two countries. The state of emergency targeted the judiciary, opposition politicians and the independent media. All three groups were, in different ways, challenging the official line on Afghanistan and the ‘war on terror’, the disappearance of political prisoners and the widespread use of torture in Pakistani prisons. The issues were being debated on television in a much more open fashion than happens anywhere in the West, where a blanket consensus on Afghanistan drowns all dissent. Musharraf argued that civil society was hampering the ‘war on terror’. Hence the emergency. It’s nonsense, of course. It’s the war in the frontier regions that is creating dissent inside the army. Many do not want to fight. Hence the surrender of dozens of soldiers to Taliban guerrillas. This is the reason many junior officers are taking early retirement.

Western pundits blather on about the jihadi finger on the nuclear trigger. This is pure fantasy, reminiscent of a similar campaign almost three decades ago, when the threat wasn’t the jihadis who were fighting alongside the West in Afghanistan, but nationalist military radicals. The cover story of Time magazine for 15 June 1979 dealt with Pakistan; a senior Western diplomat was quoted as saying that the big danger was ‘that there is another Gaddafi down there, some radical major or colonel in the Pakistani army. We could wake up and find him in Zia’s place one morning and, believe me, Pakistan wouldn’t be the only place that would be destabilised.’

The Pakistan army is half a million strong. Its tentacles are everywhere: land, industry, public utilities and so on. It would require a cataclysmic upheaval (a US invasion and occupation, for example) for this army to feel threatened by a jihadi uprising. Two considerations unite senior officers: the unity of the organisation and keeping politicians at bay. One reason is the fear that they might lose the comforts and privileges they have acquired after decades of rule; but they also have the deep aversion to democracy that is the hallmark of most armies. Unused to accountability within their own ranks, it’s difficult for them to accept it in society at large.

As southern Afghanistan collapses into chaos, and as corruption and massive inflation takes hold, the Taliban is gaining more and more recruits. The generals who convinced Benazir that control of Kabul via the Taliban would give them ‘strategic depth’ may have retired, but their successors know that the Afghans will not tolerate a long-term Western occupation. They hope for the return of a whitewashed Taliban. Instead of encouraging a regional solution that includes India, Iran and Russia, the US would prefer to see the Pakistan army as its permanent cop in Kabul. It won’t work. In Pakistan itself the long night continues as the cycle restarts: military leadership promising reforms degenerates into tyranny, politicians promising social support to the people degenerate into oligarchs. Given that a better functioning neighbour is unlikely to intervene, Pakistan will oscillate between these two forms of rule for the foreseeable future. The people who feel they have tried everything and failed will return to a state of semi-sleep, unless something unpredictable rouses them again. This is always possible.

30 November

Six hours before she was executed, in 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: ‘As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him.’ On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts), and two ciphers will run the party until Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass the post on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People’s Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader. Both Pakistan and the People’s Party deserve better than this medieval charade.

Benazir’s last decision was in the same autocratic mode as the ones that went before it; her approach – tragically – cost her her life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election, she might still be alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future.

31 December

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A heated debate at Pavocavalry's blog:

Re China

ENNYMAN : While it is true that China has historically been non-expansionist, this does cannot be taken for granted as a straight line philosophy for the future. Internal pressures are already driving China beyond its borders to obtain raw materials for its fast growing middle class and the infrastructure needed to feed it ... China is legitimizing and encouraging Africa’s most repressive regimes, thereby increasing the likelihood of weak and failed states. The United States must also be alert to the potential long-term disruption of American access to important raw materials and energy sources as these resources are “locked up” by Chi­nese firms for the PRC’s domestic market to main­tain China’s economic growth.

This is only true in case of iron-ore and oil - China has every other mineral/fossil reserve except these two. It is in competition with USA to have sustained and uninterrupted supplies of essential inputs over the long term and really has no choice but to look towards alternatives other than those controlled by USA.

China has a legitimate right to ensure its energy supplies to sustain its growth. USA too ensured the same thing long ago but through CIA, military coercion, manipulation - even outright occupation and so forth. I don't see any Chinese military imperialism emerging unless USA tries to deprive China of alternatives as well. In that case, China will fight.

Let's take Oil. China has been investing huge amounts in high risk exploration in Sudan, mostly in the Darfur region. Even the Indians have exploration contracts in Sudan (as well as one Pakistani - Hashwani) but Chinese are much bigger. In response, US tried but failed in getting a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. That force, was NOT to prevent any genocide of Darfur tribes out of humanitarian reasons - it was to counter Chinese influence in Sudan over its oilfields.

China is trying to cultivate South America as well (Venezuela). As for the main supply from Middle-East, USA is in full military control of not only the M.E oilfields but of the tanker waterways too. Even though China has access to Iranian oil, it can't ensure its transport without a naval presence confronting the US fleets in the region.

Therefore the Gwadar port & gas pipelines project in Pakistan's Baluchistan which is not even yet operational - and there's an insurgency going on there targeting the Chinese engineers building it!

Re Iron-ore, China has sustained supplies from Kandla, India so far but who knows what pledges have been made in this absurd nuclear energy deal (for peaceful purposes of-course) which violates the Non-Proliferation treaty? There's obviously a USA quid pro quo with India.

You said: "China as non-expansionist. Even if the nation does not become an aggressor militarily, its thirst for raw materials is driving up the price of all kinds of goods in the global marketplace, which is having an impact on lives, even if they are not losing freedoms."

It was the WTO regime which turned China into the world's factory place for cheap goods for their markets and keeping the high-value added items for themselves. WTO perhaps thought in its ignorance China will keep making t-shirts and not go for value-addition at the same time. That notion has turned itself on its head and China now has a monopoly over consumer goods over practically the entire world - except automobiles. That too is just a matter of time. Should we then blame China for striving for a value-added standard of living for its people?

To conclude the subject of China, allow me to quote an example:

I lived in Hong Kong throughout the decade after the negotiations for Hong Kong's fate after 1997 commenced in 1983. Britain's initial position was that Hong Kong had been ceded to Britain and not part of the 1897 lease agreement while Kowloon and New Territories peninsulas were - so those two could be handed back if the lease wasn't renewed while Hong Kong Island would remain British.

This was factual but the Chinese refused to even discuss it saying China's ceding of Hong Kong Island was by coercion. Britain's next position was okay renew the lease for another 100 years. China said no and insisted on full sovereignty. Britain said okay we'll keep Hong Kong because it's ours, you take Kowloon and New Territories back - China said fine we'll cut off the electricity and the water and the vegetables to Hong Kong in that case.

Then Britain said alright you take the sovereignty but let British run the administration because we're good at it and that's what the Hong Kong people want - and involve the Hong Kong people as a party in these negotiations since it is a 'Three-legged stool" i.e. Britain, China and the Hong Kong people after an election. China said 'No'. It is a two-legged stool - with just two parties i.e. Britain and China. Hong Kong people are not a party to territory. Britain asked what about the Hong Kong people's wishes? China said "Give them all British passports. If they're Chinese, they'll remain here, or you take them all!"

Britain agreed and many did take that choice because Britain thought Hong Kong will be brought down by brain/capital drain.

That's how I'm a British Citizen when I never lived in Britain more than a year at a stretch. I was a Hong Kong Citizen, and remain that (Triple with Pakistan/Britain). But I'm not Chinese, so I'll never be a Chinese citizen. Chinese are extremely racist - but that's another subject for another time.

Anyway the punchline is, China did not give up an inch. When Margaret Thatcher went for the final decision to China, Deng Xiao Ping told her over an 11 course dinner consisting of small bowls of sea-weed and strange reptile meat accompanied with endless refilling of mau tai (Chinese cognac), that China was not going to negotiate back and forth with Britain over this issue. The final offer was 50 years of one country - two systems, meaning Hong Kong could retain the present administrative/financial system for 50 years, and then a rethink, with full Chinese control and no intervention of the British.

If that was unacceptable, it was stated, China was going to send 50,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers overnight into Hong Kong as soon as the dinner was over and occupy it, and Britain could send as many galleons it wanted to prevent it.

This actually happened. This is why Margaret Thatcher fell off the plane stairs on disembarking at Hong airport in 1983 and all markets in Hong Kong crashed - the Hong Kong Dollar fell from KHD3/US$ or thereabouts to HKD 11/US$ in a single day and was pegged at HKD 7.8 where it remains. The real estate was worth nothing and everyone was looking for Canadian visas. That's the time the mainland Chinese started buying up Hong Kong.

Of-course the deal was accepted, and Prince Charles took down the Union Jack on the Hong Kong Kong Harbour on July 1, 1997 with the bemused Chinese looking on ...

The British thought Chinese couldn't run Hong Kong. The 1997 currency crisis occurred at the same time of the handover with the derivative driven attack on HKD as well alongwith Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, but it couldn't dent Hong Kong under Chinese control. (No connection insinuated here - purely coincidence).

Re Admiral Fasih's article and Brigadier Simon/Pavocavalry's comments:

Admiral Fasih was mostly right in the Geo-Political analysis, except when it comes to economy. USA will not run out of money till the US Dollar denominated global settlement system remains, and I don't see it threatened at all. Some 80% of world trade is denominated in US$, and everyone's surplus with anyone else including the US is deposited with USA. The Euro is nowhere near an alternative. Even if the Chinese or the Japanese tried to retrieve their near $2.5 trillion in US sovereign assets, where would they take it?

Then, US is the largest consumer economy. It's society is culturally consumer. Neither the Chinese nor Japanese nor the Indians come anywhere close. The WTO tried to promote consumerism in other parts of the world to divert exports to USA to reduce US trade deficits but failed miserably. It is culturally just not acceptable neither in the US nor rest of the world.

So, the world will produce and US will consume, and that's how it will remain. There's no alternate for economic growth.

US will remain an economic engine for the foreseeable future unless the entire global economic system collapses. But that's just my opinion.

However, I believe that's how it should be.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obsession- Radical Islam's War against the West - II

Further Comment on the entry below:

A valued contributor (Pavocavalry) has made some pertinent observations which I believe merit a separate entry:

"Is it possible that this is done by republicans to malign Obama?"

No I do not. This is some other shadowy pressure group in action.

What I did find surprising is that the 70 newspapers which distributed this DVD as inserts includes the NY Times, considered the Admin's mouthpiece, and wouldn't have done it for the revenue alone.

"Do you think that the Americans are stupid enough to believe this?"

Yes, some are indeed very naive, like the old lady who told McCain during the last debate that Obama was an Arab and she didn't trust him. And he replied "No Ma'am, he's a decent family man, citizen" implying that Arabs can't be decent family men and US citizens all at the same time. Watch below:

"Do you think that obama or mc cain are any different?"

As far as dealings with Muslim areas of conflict are concerned, they're both the same. Though with the difference that Obama is an inexperienced lout with a stick, while McCain is likely to do the same things but in a covert manner.

I didn't think the persistent use of sophomoric Islamophobia like this to further the neo-con cause in the USA since 9/11 needed any further comment, so, I didn't think it was necessary to flog an oft-flogged dead horse in the entry below.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obsession- Radical Islam's War against the West: Full Length DVD

"Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states": CNN:

DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- On a Sunday morning just weeks before the presidential election, Priscilla Linsley opened her local Denver newspaper and discovered a DVD inside.

Clarion Fund released "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," in 70 newspapers in key swing states.

"I was shocked at the content and horrified that this had been in my Sunday paper," said Linsley, a 74-year-old Democrat, who watched about half of the video before throwing it in the trash.

"I have Muslim friends and respect Islam as a religion and felt that this was really hateful," said Linsley.

The hourlong film on DVD, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," was made by Israeli filmmaker Raphael Shore and shows disturbing, sometimes violent images.

Rima Barakat Sinclair, who is Muslim and a Republican, was so angry she called her local lawmakers in Denver. Video Watch voters reaction to the DVD »

"It is riddled not only with misleading facts but outright fabrication," said Barakat Sinclair.

In September, some 28 million of the "Obsession" DVD's were distributed as advertising inserts in 70 newspapers, primarily in critical swing states such as Colorado, Florida and Ohio.

The video in question:


28 million copies distributed in newspaper inserts at election time?

Perhaps Obama is indeed an Arab!

Not that If Obama is or isn't makes any difference. But these people just wasted $28 million @$1 per DVD including distribution costs to make use of the middle name.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“How We Lost the War We Won: A Journey into Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan”

Interview with an embedded Journalist with Taliban:


Significant points are (1) Whatever happens in Afghanistan, but what about Pakistan? It too will need to be countered to get a solution of Afghanistan, and (2) There'll have to be an ethnic cleansing on the lines of Baghdad in Kabul, and the Pushtuns in rest of Afghanistan will need to be excluded from voting as the Sunnis in Iraq.

This is the solution apparently being seriously considered in the US line of thought.

Just killing brown people will not work as the gentleman says, International troops must withdraw. There's no other solution.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

George Soros and Market Fundamentalism:

Quotes from an October 12 interview:

"What we are witnessing is not the result of some exogenous shock that knocked things off balance, as the prevailing paradigm, which believes markets are self-correcting, would suggest. The reality is that financial markets are self-destabilizing; occasionally they tend toward disequilibrium, not equilibrium."

"In short, the boom-bust sequences, the bubbles, are endemic to the financial system."


Soros initiated the Far-Eastern Currency Crisis of 1997 which almost bankrupted Indonesia, Thailand and S. Korea. Indonesia and S. Korea had to approach IMF for rescue while Thailand had to float its currency resulting in massive devaluation and collapse of its financial sector. Malaysia had to scramble to place exchange controls to keep him out and Mohatir Muhammad called him the most evil person on earth - or something to that effect.

What Soros saw was that the Far-Eastern currencies were massively overvalued, accompanied with little or no regulation, in the race to integrate globally in free flow of capital, and could be brought down without much effort (he used just $10 billion leveraged to $100 billion) to great profit for members of the Quantum Fund.

Soon afterwards, Soros himself declared: "Free-flow of capital between nations means the destruction of societies"! This was exactly the tool he used, but admitted quite openly he was just using the system which was not of his making and was in fact opposed to it.

George Soros is an interesting person. He funds many left-oriented media projects such as Democracy Now and NPR. Incredibly smart. He made a billion in 1992 betting against the British Pound and brought it to 1:1 against the Dollar. He again made billions in 1997 defeating many central banks in the Asian Currency crisis using leveraged techniques, but then wrongly bet against the Dollar in 2004/5 and lost a billion when Dollar went up instead of down, and It's reported he recently lost a huge amount in the Russian Rouble - the ultimate speculator.

But he's a person who knows a lot more about the global financial system than any economist.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin at the 1984 Beauty Pageant - Rare video.

Sarah Louise Heath Palin, Sarah Heath at the time. Hats off to her. I hope she wins the elections as VP. Lots of confidence.


... the compere does mention 'leadership' as one of her qualities ... though 'other' qualities seem more apparent here!

Comments on Regional Shift

Iran and Pakistan and Afghanistan cannot cooperate because Iran traditionally has been their eenemy due to the sectarian factor.This is the situation since last four hundred years.Iran from Mughal times was attacking Mughal provinces of Kandahar.Afghanistn was saved from Iran once the English East India Company landed an Indian Bombay Army force from the sea in 1856 and forced Iran to lift siege of Herat and make peace with Afghanistan.Iran similarly could never make peace with Ottoman Turkey.In Afghanistan the Iranians entered to support the Northern Alliance just because they were enemies of the Talibans who Iran opposed because they were staunch Sunnis.A senior Northern Alliance leader confessed to me that without Iranian support they were finished in 2000.At that time naieve USA was totally missing.

Now in this region thanks to the grand stupidities of USA , a Shia block has been created from Lebanon to Iran including Syria and Iraq and Iran is now trying to secure its eastern borderlands.

It is surprising why the USA has failed to use the Baloch factor against Iran right from 1979.This has been a pathetic strategic failure.I am surprised at the strategic barrenness of US thinkers but then Doug Scherer had well summed it up that they are wet pussies at least at the State Department level.The future lies in divide and rule .In making the dragons kill the dragons rather than wasting energy on killing dragons at a very high cost.That sums up USA's faux pas and grand stratehic failures.May be the military industrial complex in USA made money at the cost of the US common man.

Regional shift :


Gates: U.S. would support Afghan peace talks with Taliban: CNN

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States would be prepared to reconcile with the Taliban if the Afghan government pursued talks to end the seven-year conflict in that country ...

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have asked for an additional 15,000 troops but the call has gone unanswered, with the United States short on troops and NATO countries not interested in contributing more personnel. "At the end of the day, that's how most wars end," Gates said ...

"There has to be ultimately -- and I'll underscore ultimately -- reconciliation as part of a political outcome to this," he said ...

The reconciliation would have to be on the Afghan government's terms, and the Taliban would have to subject itself to the sovereignty of the government, he added ...

"That's ultimately the exit strategy for all of us," Gates said.


Iran backs Pakistan pipeline deal sans India: Tehran Times

ISLAMABAD (AP/APP) -- Iran says it is willing to build a pipeline to export natural gas to Pakistan even if India delays joining the multibillion-dollar project opposed by the U.S.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the offer Friday during a visit to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Both countries said India would be welcome to join the $7.5 billion project at a later stage ...

Mottaki ... termed the stability and security of Pakistan as stability and security of Iran.

Mottaki also agreed with the Prime Minister on the need for expansion of relations in political, trade, investment, culture and other fields.

Referring to President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent meeting with President Ahmedinejad in New York, he recalled that President Zardari had extended an invitation to his Iranian counterpart to visit Pakistan and hoped the visit will soon materialize.

Iranian Foreign Minister extended invitation of Iranian President and Senior Vice President to the Prime Minister to visit Iran. The Prime Minister accepted the invitation and informed him that time frame of the visit will be decided through diplomatic channels.

Earlier, Pakistan requested Iran to help to meet its growing energy crisis by giving oil on deferred payment. The request was made by Foreign Minister Qureshi during his talks with the visiting Foreign Minister ... Talking to newsmen jointly after the meeting, Qureshi said Iran has already a system of three month deferred payment but Pakistan has requested to increase this time period ... Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has also interested to buy additional 1000 MW electricity from Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, “We condemn terrorist activities that took place in the last several weeks in Pakistan, targeting stability of our neighboring country Pakistan.” ... The Iranian Foreign Minister however said efforts should be made to consider root cause of such terrorist attacks and other happenings based on the war against terror.

Referring to the importance of 1000 km border between Pakistan and Iran, the Foreign Minister said, “We have to protect it, because of projects like IPI, road and railway links.” ... “We will not allow any person or group of any other name to violate this border to suffer the people of both sides of border.”

Foreign Minister Mottaki termed the stability and security of Pakistan as stability and security of Iran.


Iran stepping into the picture. Correct timing to shift balance in Afghanistan with both USA and Pakistan on the back foot. USA because of non-cooperation of European Nato allies coupled with economic meltdown, and Pakistan because of domestic warfare and loss of fiscal resources.

One thousand megawatts of electricity plus deferred payment oil (actually free because it will never be asked to be paid for as in the Saudi Oil Facility from 1998-2004) will allay some public pressure.

Pakistan has always has had a cow to milk.

First it was the cold war of Lyndon B. Johnson when he gave a Ford truck publicly to replace Bashir Sarban's camel cart, then the Soviet-Afghan war of Bush Sr. and Clinton, then WOT of G.W. Bush, and now Iran. (China in the background? Chinese never show their cards).

So Pakistan will be OK. It won't go bankrupt. It's just too important Geo-strategically for others - plus with nuclear weapons, and an unmatched asymmetrical undeclared war apparatus which no other country has, it will always have foreign cows to milk with these assets. Pakistan is used to doing nothing on its own. It doesn't need to.

It will only eventually do something on its own. What that is? Only time will tell.










Friday, October 10, 2008

The drumming prodigy


On a lighter note. In faith in the indomitable human spirit.

Ideas have consequences ...

Naomi Klein on the Chicago School and the global financial meltdown:


This speech is a lesson. Some knowledge of economy is required, but overall it is in quite simple words.

The connection made is "... people falling in love with a perfect Utopian system - seductive of the perfect Utopian market." Just as people did with Marxism - but both turned out to be distortions, merely a tool used by powerful people to justify excesses by creating crises.

Interestingly, the speaker calls the Neo-Liberals as well as the extreme Leftists as the "modern Trotsky-ites".

"Milton's misfortune is that his policies have actually been tried"
(John Kenneth Galbraith)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two teeens, a Mulsim from New Jersey and a Christian from near Boston

Muslims- A Walk in Your Shoes - 16 min - Sep 30, 2006
Noggin-Nickelodeon -

Two teeens, a Mulsim from New Jersey and a Christian from near Boston learn about each other in the post 9/11 world. Learn about Islam, Muslims and the month of Ramadan.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Live in Bajaur - Talat Hussain 29 September 2008:


For the tribes, country (mulk) means their own territory, not Islamabad. It's a fallacy to think otherwise. They hate outsiders, and that includes 'all' outsiders, including Pakistani armed forces - befriending them only till they can use their firepower.

A tribal elder says at the end of his quote (not translated in the show ) is that "Za da gutta karey di" - meaning - "They've fingered us".

There're many opinions in this documentary. One must sift and sort between these to get to what the tribes really want.

It seems to me two things are clear. They do not believe in any border between Afghanistan and Pakistan as they live on both sides, while at the same time do not want any foreigners on their soil. Of-course it can only mean non-Afghan foreigners i.e. Uzbeks, Tajiks, others ... the others in the fray.

No dearth of the others in the fray as it stands. But, there's no 'other territorial' Muslim in Taliban ideology.

So, it will be a long war.

Palin-Biden Debate: Who won?

Depends whom considers the winner between a Tenth-Grader and an Eighth-Grader:

On Afghanistan:

On Iran-Pakistan:

On Israel:


Courtesy Robert Fisk

On Afghanistan:

"But seriously. There was Biden on Thursday night, telling us that along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – he was referring, of course, to the old frontier drawn by Sir Mortimer Durand which most Pushtuns (and thus all Taliban) regard as fictional – “there have been 7,000 madrassas built … and that’s where bin Laden lives and we will go at him if we have actually (sic) intelligence”.

Seven thousand? Where on earth does this figure come from? Yes, there are thousands of religious schools in Pakistan – but they’re not all on the border. In another extraordinary bit of myth-making"

On Pakistan:

“Pakistan’s (nuclear) missiles can already hit Israel,” Biden thundered. But what was he talking about? Pakistan has not threatened Israel. It’s supposed to be on our side. Both vice-presidential candidates seemed to think that our ally in the “war on terror” was now turning into an ally of the axis of evil. Even Islam didn’t get a run for its money.

Indeed, one of the funniest reports of the week, yet another investigation of Obama’s education, came from the Associated Press news agency. The would-be president, the Associated Press announced, had attended a Muslim school but hadn’t “practised” Islam.

What on earth did this mean, I asked myself? Would AP have reported, for example, that McCain had attended a Christian school but hadn’t “practised” Christianity? Then I got it. Obama had smoked Islam but he hadn’t inhaled!

Biden actually demanded a “stable” government in Islamabad, which was a little bit hypocritical only a few days after US troops had crossed its sovereign border to shoot up a Pakistani house allegedly used by the Taliban. As General David Petraeus told The New York Times this week, “The trends in Afghanistan have been in the wrong direction … wresting control of certain areas from the Taliban will be very difficult.”

On Israel:

Palestinians ceased to exist in the United States on Thursday night. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin managed to avoid the use of that poisonous word. “Palestine” and “Palestinians” – that most cancerous, slippery, dangerous concept – simply did not exist in the vice-presidential debate. The phrase “Israeli occupation” was mercifully left unused. Neither the words “Jewish colony” nor “Jewish settlement” – not even that cowardly old get-out clause of American journalism, “Jewish neighbourhood” – got a look-in. Nope.

Those bold contenders of the US vice-presidency, so keen to prove their mettle when it comes to “defence”, hid like rabbits from the epicentre of the Middle East earthquake: the existence of a Palestinian people. Sure, there was talk of a “two-state” solution, but it would have mystified anyone who didn’t understand the region.

There was even a Biden jibe at George Bush for pressing on with “elections” – again, the adjective “Palestinian” went missing – that produced a Hamas victory. But Hamas appeared to exist in never-never land, a vast landscape that gradually encompassed all the vast and black deserts that stretch, in the imagination of US politicians, from the Mediterranean to Pakistan.

And, of course, Israel – a word that must be uttered, repeatedly, by all US candidates – became the compass point of the entire Middle East, this “peace-seeking nation … our strongest and best ally in the Middle East” (quoth Palin) of whom “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend…than Joe Biden” (quoth Biden).

Israel was “in jeopardy” if America talked to Iran, Palin revealed. “We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust.” Thus was the corpse of Hitler dug up yet again – just as McCain resurrected the shadow of the Second World War last week when he blathered on about Eisenhower’s sense of responsibility before D-Day. That Israel can quite adequately defend herself with 264 nuclear warheads went, of course, unmentioned, because acknowledging Israel’s real power undermines the image of a small and vulnerable country relying on America for its defence.

Israelis deserve security. But where were the promises of security for Palestinians? Or the sympathy which Americans would immediately grant any other occupied people? Absent, needless to say. For we must gird ourselves for the next struggle against world evil in Pakistan.