Sunday, November 30, 2008
According to the highly controversial and popular Pakistani Defense Analyst, Zaid Zaman Hamid, the Bombay attacker in the CCTV image above is named Amar Singh, a Sikh BJP activist and the one taken alive being claimed to be Yemani. His colleague Hira Lal, a Hindu, was killed and his face mutilated. The comparative pictures of the Saffron Band on him and on the file photo of a BJP activist are produced in evidence by him.
It appears Indians have already decided the attackers were Pakistanis. Were they?
The answer doesn't seem clear at all, but jingoism and chest-beating against Pakistan in India is already reaching fever-pitch.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Observation by a Pakistani Blog: "Notice the orange thread / band on their right hands. Tying a red thread or cord around the wrist is a Hindu practice and it is unlikely a Muslim, especially one politicized enough to carry out an attack such as this, would observe it. I think this provides more evidence that this was a false flag operation or at least an attack by a non-Muslim group."
I'm not convinced of the false flag theory. It would have been plausible only if remote bombs were involved instead of an outright physical assault and holding ground on target locations. This was a suicide mission to the last man and Hindu subversion groups are not known for such missions.
At the same time, they are certainly not the LeT type Jihadis either. Muslims, maybe, but not the average Pakistani mainstream Jihadis of the Talib persuasion. This type of operation is the first anywhere in the world, let alone Pakistan.
So, the question remains. Who are they? Perhaps a mixed group with some locals/some foreigners. The ones who spoke with reporters were definitely Indian. The pictures above could be foreigners. The minute knowledge of routes, diversions, and digital building layouts could be tied in with the Bombay underground involvement. A lethal mixed bag.
Whoever they were, this doesn't bode well for India. The fact that it was just 10 of these (figure confirmed by Bombay Police Chief vs 20 reported before) who held off elite commandos of the Indian military might for two days & three nights, would inspire other militant groups.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
I have no hesitation in reproducing not only one remark but two if that seems to be something of novelty to some, while it's shared by many in this country:
Top Pakistan ex-commando killed
I have little sympathy for people like this if all they're capable of doing is capturing the Qila of Lal Masjid and killing their own people in Wana for the Americans, and then twirl their moustache. Never seen real action against the enemy who has as much firepower as he had.
What did Musharraf know about Conduct Unbecoming anyway? Instead, he should have promoted him to Lt. General for whatever reason. Both the same breed.
Good riddance, in my view.
But I agree with you there will be plenty more to come who'll meet the same fate.
November 20, 2008 8:35 AM
my dear brother , the man had nothing to do with lal masjid....the very mysterious part of the story is that musharraf was apparently very close to him and the SSG commandos played a crucial role in 12 october coup ....commandos were brought in helicopters to islamabad for the operation.......later musharraf retired him abruptly and did not promote hom to the rank of lieutenant general........
November 20, 2008 8:48 AM
I know he was retired a year before the Lal Masjid op but it was his kith & kin you see in the pic below, raising victory signs after having blown to bits a bunch of schoolgirls with dandas and their handful of helpers with 14 kalashnikovs. You would think they were ghazis returning from raising the flag over Red Fort of Delhi.
I suspect many of those in this truck would have been blown to bits as well in the Tarbela revenge bombing.
Sorry but you know I feel very strongly about this. This was the single act of beyghairati coupled with brutality and cowardice which pushed Pakistan over the brink and prompted formation of PTT.
November 21, 2008 12:09 AM
Someone being a batchmate, a friend, a relative, or father is one thing. That unfortunately does not automatically make that person a hero for everyone else. He certainly wasn't mine, and I feel no compulsions to feel any different due to others' nostalgic personal associations with anyone.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
But what's the Pakistani flag doing on a Palestinian fishing boat?
AMY GOODMAN: Israel’s tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. Tel Aviv rebuffed calls Thursday from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reopen the crossings into Gaza for humanitarian aid. Israeli government officials cited continuing Palestinian rocket fire as the reason for closing the crossings.
Residents of Gaza are running out of essentials, like food, medicines and fuel, as a result of the almost continuous blockade imposed November 4th.
Meanwhile, the fifteen Palestinian fishermen seized by the Israeli navy off the coast of Gaza were released on Wednesday. The three international volunteers accompanying the fishermen, however, remain in a prison near Tel Aviv.
American Darlene Wallach, Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, and Scottish Andrew Muncie had arrived by boat into Gaza in late August as part of the first Free Gaza delegation. They remained in Gaza working with the International Solidarity Movement alongside Palestinian fishermen, documenting any harassment by the Israeli navy.
The three internationals are reportedly beginning a hunger strike today to protest their detention. They are also demanding the Israeli navy release the Palestinian fishing boats they confiscated this week.
US citizen in detention, Darlene Wallach, joins me now from a phone inside the prison near Tel Aviv. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Darlene.
DARLENE WALLACH: Thank you very much. Thanks for calling me.
AMY GOODMAN: Where exactly are you being held?
DARLENE WALLACH: I’m in a—it’s in a men’s prison, but inside the men’s prison there’s a compound for women. And the compound is for people who are illegally in Israel because their visa, work visas ran out. So my question is, why am I here? I was kidnapped at gunpoint by the fourth largest military in the world, and I was on a Palestinian fishing boat in Palestinian fishing waters. So it doesn’t make any sense why I’m here, why I’m being held.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what you were doing and the scene when you were arrested.
DARLENE WALLACH: I was on a Palestinian fishing boat that I’ve been on numerous times. And we accompany the Palestinian fishing boats in their waters, where they have the international right to fish, so that the Israeli navy won’t shoot and kill or arrest the Palestinian fishermen.
So what made it different this time is, it seemed to me they were specifically targeting the internationals, because they released the Palestinian fishermen to their homes. And they also confiscated the fishing boats. And the way that they arrested us was very different than how they normally arrest the fishermen. So, normally, they force the fishermen to strip to their underwear, jump in the water and swim to the Israeli navy boats. And this time they brought Zodiac boats, and the frogmen boarded each Palestinian fishing boat. And the first person taken was Andrew. I saw him being taken. And then they took the fishermen off of that boat. Then they came to the boat I was on and took me off the boat.
And so, I don’t know—I didn’t know what happened to the fishermen. I was very concerned about their safety and what Israel might do to them. And I’m very, very concerned about the fishing boats, because in the past what Israel does is they sink the boats or they damage the boats, like taking the engines off, or steal all the equipment. So I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen to the fishing boats. That’s their livelihood. I mean, they said fifteen fishermen. Well, there’s more than just those fifteen that work on each boat. So the livelihood of all those people now has been destroyed. That’s how many families now? And the families tend to be large. How many families now have no income, and there’s no employment, because they have no fishing boats to go out on? It’s really just disgusting, despicable, deplorable. And I want the world to speak out and tell Israel to stop.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, those fifteen fishermen have been released. Why haven’t you been released?
DARLENE WALLACH: I guess the plans are to deport us. And my understanding is, when they deport you, they deport you to where you came from. Since I came from Gaza, I want to be released to Gaza. It sounds like they have no plans on doing that. I don’t know why they’re holding me. It seems like they violated international law in many different ways. And so, I don’t know. I can’t answer that. But then, if you try to talk to Israel, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the truth from them.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you get into Gaza, Darlene Wallach?
DARLENE WALLACH: How did I get to Gaza?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
DARLENE WALLACH: I was on the Liberty, one of the two boats that—one of the first two boats that went to Gaza from Cyprus. And I actually was with the Liberty on the way to Cyprus. And so, it was a wonderful trip. It was a wonderful boat. It was an amazing, amazing experience.
The welcome that we got in Gaza, it was just overwhelming. My emotions come up, because it was thousands of people just so happy to see, at least token-wise, symbolically, the siege broken. It was the first time in forty-one years that, from Cyprus, a stamp on a piece of paper said a boat was leaving Cyprus for Gaza. And it was like an amazing trip. And it’s been amazing to be in Gaza to work in solidarity with the Palestinians. They’re amazing, kind, warm, loving people. And I—for me, just being out on the fishing boats and the stress, I don’t understand how they can go out there day after day with the stress, knowing at any time they could be killed, that any time their boats could be taken, at any time they could be arrested or shot.
AMY GOODMAN: Darlene Wallach, I wanted to remind our listeners and viewers about these boats, that the one—one of them you describe, the Liberty, that’s challenging the blockade. We were able to reach people on the boat in the first trip that was coming over. We spoke to the former prime minister of Britain’s sister-in-law, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law. We spoke to Jeff Halper, the Jewish Israeli who is challenging housing demolition. Mairead Maguire was on one of the trips; she is the Nobel Peace Prize-winner from Ireland. These are the boats that you’re describing that—not to be confused with the fishing boats, but are challenging the blockade.
DARLENE WALLACH: That’s correct. That’s correct.
So, I want to make sure that people understand, when they talk about the ceasefire, Israel has violated the ceasefire from day one; before it even was created, they were violating it. The ceasefire supposedly was going to lift the blockade and allow goods and services and food and fuel and that kind of thing, and Israel has never lifted that blockade.
Israel has violated the ceasefire every day by, when the fishermen go out to fish, Israel navy comes and shoots at the boats. They use high-pressure water power; they have a water cannon that they shoot at the boats that damages the boats, injures people. They’ve cut the cables. The fishermen have lost their fishing nets.
On a daily basis, the farmers who try to go out and farm their fields get attacked. So, Israel created this buffer zone, 300- to 500-meters wide, along the whole length of the Gaza Strip. And that was done around May 1st. And that was a desert area, that whole area, where they demolished all kinds of crops, homes, wells. And in the crops, it was like citrus, dates, olives. Any kind of crop they had, it was all demolished. And farmers now are trying to go back out and start, you know, planting their fields and being able to harvest their fields. And we’ve been accompanying them.
And even just standing out there in the fields, where it’s just farmers, obviously knowing with any kind of military—no militants, just farmers, just people trying to tend their fields—the Israeli military comes by in their jeeps and gets out and starts shooting. So we’re a presence to be witness to that. We’re a presence to make sure that people aren’t killed. And when they start shooting, we’re standing out in the fields with our florescent vests on, some of us. And we stand there until the Israeli military leaves. We don’t back off. When they start shooting, we stand in the fields and having the bullets, you know, come around us, over our heads or by our feet.
AMY GOODMAN: Darlene Wallach, are you beginning a hunger strike today at the jail?
DARLENE WALLACH: I actually started a hunger strike last night. I didn’t eat dinner. And for me, they had someone talk with me yesterday, and saying that they are not going to allow me to die. So I don’t know what that means. For me, I’m still in the prison, and I still have my cell phone. Andrew Muncie was taken into isolation today, and his phone was taken from him.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Darlene Wallach, for joining us, speaking to us—the name of the prison you’re in near Tel Aviv?
DARLENE WALLACH: I always forget the name of it. It starts with an “M.” And it’s a new prison. It’s a men’s prison, but within the men’s compound, they have a compound for women.
And I just want to make sure people know that this blockade on Gaza, this siege, is really, really horrendous, what it’s doing. I mean, the flour mills are having to shut—the last flour mill shut down, because there’s no fuel. I mean, if people can’t buy bread, what are they going to eat? This is very, very, very serious. There’s 500 students with scholarship that can’t get out to go continue their university education. And there’s 3,000 students that are accepted to universities, that they’re losing their administrative entrance into the universities, because Israel will not allow them out. And 258 people have died, because Israel refuses to let them out to get medical care. And this is [inaudible].
AMY GOODMAN: Darlene Wallach, I want to thank you for being with us. We’re going to turn next to the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who speaks about the blockade of Gaza. Darlene Wallach is speaking to us from the Masiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv. Again, executives from the Associated Press, Reuters, New York Times, BBC, CNN and other news organizations have signed a letter criticizing the Israeli government’s decision to ban journalists from entering Gaza.
The full video can be seen here at the Democracy Now site.
No idea however where did the Pakistani flag on the boat come from. Maybe they have a few helpers from Pakistan, Bosnia style.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Lots of leaks these days. Dirty tricks brigades out in full force. First Salman Taseer's family revelations, and now this.
No denying though that this is exactly how the PPP has delivered on its promise of Roti, Kapra aur Makan in the previous two terms after ZAB as well. Nothing new.
Personally I don't find any of these photos objectionable. In fact, publishing the daughter's school sports activities and innocent clowning around is definitely below the belt even though she's in shorts and swimsuits and skirts. After all she studies in Lahore American School and brought up in a very westernized household. The dancing appears to be from a mehndi occasion - totally cultural.
The son's case does appear to be a bit different. He apparently is a playboy just as his father was and still is. Again, nothing wrong with that except using the Punjab Governor house for gathering bevies of star-eyed bunnies just as Kennedy used the White House? Don't think many people will take kindly to that.
However, how unfair these personal attacks may be, they do highlight the fact that entry into public office does mean loss of personal privacy. Salman Taseer would have been well-advised to keep his and his son's philandering and his open bottles of Black Label Scotch to his gigantic farmhouse outside Lahore, and not to bring these along to the Governor House chambers and lawns. That place holds a great deal of historical symbolism for the identity of the Punjab province.
Then, at a time when the country is mired in all sorts of crises, open displays of private merry-making by the rulers just reinforces the feeling that the governing elite doesn't care what goes on outside their well-guarded walls, as long as they continue to maintain their share in absolute terms from the ever shrinking pie, while the share of others' shrinks even further along with the size of the pie.
Last but not least, this is an Islamic country where attempts at 'enlightened moderation' have always backfired violently. These fires are better left unstoked.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Focus With Faiza 19th November 2008
Faiza was a real tigress in this one. Never seen her so angry. Really grilled Major General Athar Abbas, spokesman of the Pakistan Army!
She actually cornered him into admitting that helicopter incursions into Pakistani airspace were a different matter and not acceptable to the Military (which confirms the blog entry below), while unmanned drones strikes quite another which the Government may decide whether to allow or not.
I think that's a fair position on the part of the Army - though the public is hopping mad!
I don't know how far the Military will allow loss of its reputation and goodwill in the Pakistani people's eyes.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thank you for your email. Dawn has already published the following clarification:
Link: Dawn 13 November 2008
Still, it’s true that the newspaper has not published a correction or taken responsibility for incorrectly reporting the story.
Media & Public Relations Coordinator
FOREIGN POLICY magazine
It appears Dawn published it in their online beta version on the new .net domain still under testing (to appease you) which no one reads, but not in their regular .com site, which is the same as the print edition. Quite smart on their part I guess.
Here're the links for the regular 13th November online version as well as the scanned print edition. One needs to register for the print edition and go to archives. The clarification doesn't appear on either.
Sorry to nitpick about this, but it's become a huge controversy. FP may forget about it if it's too much trouble.
No further comment is necessary I guess. Dawn would not want trouble showing up at its doors.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The United States and Pakistan reached tacit agreement in September on a don't-ask-don't-tell policy that allows unmanned Predator aircraft to attack suspected terrorist targets in rugged western Pakistan, according to senior officials in both countries.
The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman categorically denied the report in a special news conference held for the purpose yesterday, which leaves no doubt whatsoever that the report is entirely accurate.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
(CBS) Pakistan accused the U.S. this week of violating international law by launching missile strikes into its northwest tribal region. There have been about two dozen attacks since August - all carried out by unmanned drones targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is a sore subject between two close allies in the war on terror. And it was the first thing CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan brought up when she spoke exclusively with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari.
Lara Logan: There's been a dramatic escalation in the number of U.S. predator strikes on Pakistani soil. Are these strikes achieving anything?
President Asif Ali Zardari: Well, obviously the people who are using the strikes are confident that they're doing something. Otherwise they wouldn't be at it. At the same time ... it's undermining my sovereignty and it's not helping win the war on the hearts and minds of people.
Logan: If you're losing the people and the strikes are undermining your credibility - why allow them?
Zardari: They do not happen with our knowledge. If there was now the technology that would tell me that their drone is coming in …
Logan: But that technology would be the U.S. informing you because it's your country.
Zardari: The U.S. yeah, of course, that would be a welcome step to inform us also.
Many believe the Pakistani government does know, but can't say so publicly because the strikes are so unpopular. Zardari told CBS News his official policy is that they'd rather have the capability to do it themselves.
Zardari: So that is ever the challenge for this new administration, will be to allow us to have the capability of doing more. We want to do more. It's our war.
But not all Pakistanis see it that way, and if Predator strikes are unpopular, ground raids by U.S. forces are even more unwelcome.
Zardari: Anybody who needs to come to Pakistan needs to have a passport and a visa. So whether it's ground forces or air forces they need a visa and if they don't have a visa they're not allowed.
The problem for President Zardari, who has only been in power for two months, is that he presides over a country which is believed to house more known terrorists than anywhere else in the world, operating mostly from the lawless tribal areas.
Logan: It's widely agreed today that if there's another 9/11 attack ... a big terrorist attack like that, its most likely going to be planned in the tribal areas or planned already. What can you do to assure American people about what you're doing?
Zardari: Well I can assure the American people that nothing like that is going to happen in my watch.
Logan: Do you believe that's a danger?
Zardari: I believe there's always a danger of them. I didn't know that they'd be successful in getting my wife. We thought we'd protect her but we couldn't. But to say we'd allow it to happen. No.
Zardari seems to be completely losing it. Such gaffes are rare even by his standards. "... a welcome step to inform us also."?. "So whether it's ground forces or air forces they need a visa"?
So, it would be Ok if US informed Zardari before sending drones and obtained a visa to attack Pakistanis. This won't go down too well with the Pakistani public.
Lara Logan was smart and caught him with his pants down when he made the technology excuse and asked "But that technology would be the U.S. informing you because it's your country.". All he had to say was it would be a welcome step.
The truth is what David Ignatious said in conclusion in the Washington Times Op-Ed of 4th November A Quiet Deal With Pakistan:
"And it's an inherently unstable arrangement: Pakistan's leaders publicly decry U.S. attacks, and the United States, with a wink and a nudge to its ally, keeps on attacking. "
But what do the drones achieve? They get 2 or 3 militants and kill a dozen innocents at the same time. Most of the time not even those 2 or 3 but completely mis-intelligence directed at the totally innocent. All that achieves is more militant recruits.
Taliban and Al-Qaida (whatever that is) is not damaged in the least by these raids, rather benefited by increased sympathy. They don't mind losing 2 or three operatives every couple of days or so. Taliban has lost more than 25,000 fighters since the war began and still gained strength. CIA Director Michael Hayden says re Bin Ladin today "In fact, he appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he nominally heads," and this 'Al Qaeda' is still blowing up stuff in Pakistan (the last one being the Danish embassy bombing responsibility claimed by Al-Zawahiri personally).
Zardari is merely running around trying to charm the Americans with that sickening always present grin, as he is used to charming bimbos, but Americans are smarter than that. They know he's losing support fast in Pakistan, and will not back him much longer. Another failed experiment.
“To the officials and members of Pakistan Peoples Party, I say that I was honoured to lead you. No leader could be so proud of their party, their dedication, devotion and discipline to the mission of Quaid-i-Awam Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for a federal democratic and egalitarian Pakistan as I have been proud of you.
“I salute your courage and your sense of honour. I salute you for standing by your sister through two military dictatorships.
“I fear for the future of Pakistan. Please continue the fight against extremism, dictatorship, poverty and ignorance. I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead in this interim period until you and he decided what is best. I say this because he is a man of courage and honour. He spent eleven and a half years in prison without bending despite torture. He has the political stature to keep our party united.
“I wish all of you success in fulfilling the manifesto of our party and in serving the downtrodden, discriminated and oppressed people of Pakistan. Dedicate yourself to freeing them from poverty and backwardness as you have done in the past.”
Signed, Benazir Bhutto.
"was; I have been":I haven't seen any person referring to oneself in the past tense while still alive writing a will.
"this interim period": What interim period? It could only be in case of a sudden death. It would not cover the possibility if she was incapacitated otherwise or died a natural death from terminal illness.
Did she write other wills to cover those possibilities? Or did she know there was only one possibility?
Now the fruit loop will argue "... she knew she was going to be assassinated ... she wrote it in a bout of depression and a sense of impending doom ... etc".
But she certainly didn't behave as if in depression or even aware of the very real danger. Underestimated it immensely. She actually thought she was under some divine protection emanating from her voters and no one could touch her. Even after the October 18 attack on her cavalcade, she foolishly continued to attend open rallies in false bravado.
This 'Will' was beyond doubt written posthumously. It plugs all the holes necessary to be plugged for smooth succession by her husband.
The anniversary of the 'will' should be celebrated as perhaps the biggest and most efficient scam of the history of the country, as well as the one which the most number of people fell for and continue to do.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
TR: Altaf Hussain, out of emotions, kissing Mustafa Kamal on the cheek for being ranked 2nd best Mayor in the world.
Foreign Policy Magazine - The 2008 Global Cities Index: The Rankings
Karachi is at No. 57 behind Dacca.
It appears where the No. 2 idea came from, was from the Mayors of the Moment mentioned by the same Magazine consisting of three names and acknowledging their potential. The Nos. 17, 57 and 59. The second mentioned is Mustafa Kamal.
Does this mean he has been ranked #2 Mayor in the world?
No innocent mistake here of-course. It is party policy to mislead.
Now people will hear this claim the rest of their lives along with the erstwhile claim that Karachi produces 70% of Pakistan's revenue. Most will even believe it.
Particularly now since they appear to have acquired brand new Humvees. I wonder if these have air conditioning? Probably.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The Afghan National Army is pathetic. Watch episode 6 from 20:20 onwards which shows ANA soldiers getting high on opium during a break in the firefight - and the exit strategy of Nato depends on the same ANA holding the fort.
This is why the British Commander termed the war with Taliban 'unwinnable'.
They are just playing a cat & mouse game of attrition with Nato.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Ever wonder why American drones attacking Pakistan from Afghanistan are operated by CIA and not the U.S. military? Because the game has reached a dead end. CIA assets and agents inside Pakistani territory, like Baitullah Mehsud, have been beaten by the Pakistani military and are on the retreat, begging for a ceasefire. Seeing its assets vanish, CIA is flying drones to eliminate tribal leaders loyal to Pakistan. Our Foreign Office has admitted for the first time that Pak-American ties are at their worst. The U.S. war against Pakistan has already been launched, without declaration.
By ZAID HAMID, Sunday, 2 November 2008.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The CIA has now declared an aggressive but covert war against Pakistan in a desperate attempt to counter success of Pakistan army and Governor NWFP in countering CIA / RAW backed terrorist groups in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
For the first time, there is panic in Langley, CIA headquarters, over the success of Pakistani strategy in tribal areas. This may seem bizarre but this is the reality of the dirty game being played by the American spy agency. The CIA’s game is falling apart in tribal areas and they are getting more and more ruthless and sinister.
Before we get into the details, let us refresh what we wrote last week. It is all building up and now dots can be easily connected.
We had written:
On the western front, U.S. continues to create security issues for Pakistan. The U.S. strategy is strange to say the least if not downright sinister. Within Afghanistan, U.S. is involved in direct talks and dialogue with most hard core Taliban leaders. But in Pakistani tribal areas, where only the local Pakistan Taliban are based, U.S. wants Pakistan army to wage a full fledged war! The fact of the matter is that local Pakistani Taliban like Baitullah Mehsud or his likes are only fighting the State of Pakistan and NOT the Americans inside Afghanistan. In fact, there is clear evidence to suggest that U.S. and India are actually patronizing and protecting these terrorist assets operating against State of Pakistan. Also, these local Taliban or their allies are no threat to U.S. or its allies anywhere in the world. So, why is U.S. so keen to force Pakistan into a bloody war inside its own tribal areas? The reason is obvious – it is another chapter in CIA’s dirty war to create enough anarchy in Pakistan to justify its case against Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
It would be a tight balancing act for the army and ISI. They know the CIA game plan and have already been bitten seriously by their allies in this secret covert war against the State. Army was forced and then duped to fight a war which was not its own.
U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is NOT Pakistan’s war. The war by CIA’s backed militant assets against the State, army and ISI has been forced upon Pakistan due to U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The way to fight this war is NOT just to push it away from within but also to extinguish it from its source – the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It seems that while Pakistan fights local Taliban it will also have to confront U.S. on this fundamental issue.
For the past seven years, it is Pakistan which was taking the losses in the tribal areas while Indians and CIA, based in Afghanistan, created their own assets and ruthless militias to draw in and fight Pakistan into a protracted war within its own borders. While Pakistan took the losses, Indians and CIA were happy at supporting, funding and pushing more and more funds, explosives and equipment to their assets in the tribal areas. It was around 2005 when Pakistanis realized for the first time that it is being double-crossed by its allies in the name of war on terror and shifted gears to identify the “good Taliban” from the “bad Taliban”. It was quickly established that out of hundreds of small and large groups operating in the tribal areas, they can be safely classified into four categories.
1. Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbadin Hekmatyar. These are all Afghans and none of them have ever declared war against Pakistan despite some very harsh treatment meted out to them by Pakistan under Musharraf era.
2. The local “good Taliban” who were Pakistanis and had sympathies with Afghan Taliban but were not against the State of Pakistan and never wanted to fight the Pakistan army or the State. Peace deals were signed with Nek Muhemmed in south Waziristan, Mullah Nazir in south Waziristan and Haji Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan. CIA immediately eliminated Nek Muhammed to be replaced with one of their own assets Baitullah Mehsud!! That was the time when the CIA game was really exposed to ISI and Pakistani security establishment.
3. The “Bad Taliban”, CIA and RAW assets who were only fighting the State of Pakistan and not the U.S. inside Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud, Mullah Fadlullah and Lal Masjid brigade fell in this category. U.S. has never attacked Baitullah Mehsud even once and is protecting him with all its resources despite repeated requests by Pakistan to take out the most wanted terrorist.
4. Fourth category of militants were local brigands, gangsters, criminals and highway men who were exploiting the local environment and made their own gangs in the name of Taliban but were neither fighting the Americans nor wished to face Pakistan army. They just harassed local population and fought sectarian wars within. Mangal Bagh near Peshawar is one such case to be noted. It was this Mangal Bagh who was presented by our media as someone about to capture Peshawar. Which is funny and naïve.
In the last one year or so, Pakistan has signed multiple peace deals with “Good Taliban”, isolated the bad guys and finally has struck the “Bad Taliban” very hard. This has brought the entire axis of CIA-backed militants under severe pressure from two sides. Loyalist tribes and militants are now also attacking and isolating anti-Pakistan militants and for the first time, the TTP, the so-called ‘Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’, the terrorist setup run by Baitullah Mehsud, is taking most severe beating. Baitullah’s own brother has been killed and their allies in Khar are considering surrender. Local tribes are now up in arms against them and the tide is finally turning in Pakistan’s favor.
I had always subscribed to the good Taliban/Bad Taliban theory, but had disagreed with Zaid Hamid's categorization regarding Baitullah Mehsud as one of the bad Taliban. My reasoning was that Baitullah Mehsud was a direct successor of Nek Muhammad and later Abdullah Mehsud, both of whom were only fighting Nato in Afghanistan and not the Pakistani state (Peace Deals), and were assassinated by US inside Pakistan territory using drones. Why would the followers of his predecessors join him and accept Baitullah as their leader if he was any different?
However, several questions have arisen since then. As Zaid Hamid states, Baitullah Mehsud is indeed fighting the Pakistani state currently rather than in Afghanistan. His strongholds in Souh Waziristan have never been attacked by US drones, but rather his rival Mullah Nazir's are regularly attacked in North Waziristan who is fighting Nato and not the Pakistani state. The most recent attack on him was jut two days ago in which he is reported severely wounded. Conversely, Mullah Nazir is an ally of Pakistan Army, and no operations are carried out against him but against Baitullah Mehsud's positions around FATA.
It certainly appears Nato/CIA's foes within Taliban are friends of Pakistan. Nato/CIA are killing our Taliban friends with drones, and we're fighting their Taliban friends through military operations.
The theory of CIA running drone operations instead of Centcom makes sense too. It wasn't too long ago that the Head of Centcom visited Pakistan and pledged no further incursions into Pakistan territory (after the household massacre by US special forces in Angoor Adda - also Mullah Nazir territory), and there was a drone attack the very next day killing dozens in the same territory.
The theory of involvement of RAW and Mossad though doesn't make sense. RAW is not known to have the capacity to undertake operations of this magnitude in Pakistan - just a few Kashmir Singh style bombings, while Israel was being befriended by Musharraf who was on the verge of accepting Israel at one point. Israel would have no incentive in upsetting the applecart with such games in Pakistan's Tribal Areas. Their main concern is Iran, not Pakistan which is no threat to it.
As far as India is concerned, it's foreign policy is a scavenger policy i.e. they expect their neo-con and zionist friends to beat up Pakistan, and scavenge upon what remains. Only CIA has something to gain from destabilizing Pakistan i.e. to denuclearize and undermine its army.
Therefore, I regard this part of Zaid Hamid's analysis as exaggeration, and a progression of his thesis re Hindu Zionism and Jew Zionism.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Forget IMF, Pakistan Should Default
(Foreword by WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM: This is serious. If you know President Zardari, please take this article to him. Pakistan does not have to go to IMF and we do not have to service debt. This is an opportunity to spend our money rebuilding our economy and nation. Pakistan is trying to avoid defaulting so that the PPP government can stay in power, and so that while it stays in power, it can continue to borrow money. The real question here is: where is all the money going and why does Pakistan need to keep borrowing it? Let’s tighten our belts and spend the money we have to make a pro-Pakistan trade policy and creatively market Pakistan. Please don’t go to IMF. Please default. South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia have done it. They have survived. So can we.)
By MOSHARRAF ZAIDI, Tuesday, 28 October 2008.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan is not going to default, because nobody will let it. That's too bad. Don't let the "economists" scare you. Default sounds like a dark, scary, doomsday scenario. Sovereign default sounds worse, like God's curse itself.
It is not.
"Sovereign" is the fancy term for country, used by the same loan sharks that milk pensioners to fatten their year-end bonuses (and who brought you Wall Street Meltdown 2008). Sovereign default is simply a country not making its loan repayments on time. It has happened to plenty of countries. They are all still around.
Ex-bankers and former IMF employees will never advise Pakistan to default because to do so would be counter-intuitive. It would be like expecting the PPP to undertake land reforms, or the Jamaat-e-Islami to be consistent about anything.
Advising Pakistan to default would represent an existential crisis worse than sovereign default. People would be forced to revisit the premise of their entire careers. We can't have that. So instead, we have experts from all around the world wringing their hands, loosening their ties and extolling the virtues of the "bitter pill" of yet another IMF program. The purpose? To avoid the "dreaded" default, at all costs.
Why is default such a "scary" thing, and why do countries go to extraordinary lengths to avoid default?
Countries try to avoid default for four reasons:
1. First, countries try to avoid default to save the country's reputation as a borrower in good standing—which means that they want to continue to borrow at rates that are favorable to them.
2. Second, countries try to avoid default to save their ability to participate in international trade freely—which means they fear having sanctions imposed on them for being poor managers of their affairs.
3. Third, countries try to avoid default to protect domestic banking and financial system—which means in essence that they want to protect the rich, because there aren't many poor folks with bank accounts.
4. And finally, the fourth reason countries try to avoid default is to save the government of the day from the disgrace of having defaulted.
Eduardo Borensztein and Ugo Panizza published an IMF working paper earlier this month that exposes one of the worst kept secrets in international development. They conclude that among all four of these reasons to avoid default, the most compelling, based on the evidence, is politics. They conclude that "The political consequences of a debt crisis seem to be particularly dire for incumbent governments and finance ministers".
In short, governments choose not to default because it is the politically expedient thing to do. The actual economic costs of defaulting, Borenzstein and Panizza conclude, are simply not that high. Moreover, another paper earlier this year (by yet another IMF economist, Ali Alichi), suggests that the only real reason that countries repay the sovereign debt that they owe is to continue to be able to borrow money.
In short, Pakistan is trying to avoid defaulting so that the PPP government can stay in power, and so that while it stays in power, it can continue to borrow money. The real question here is: where is all the money going and why does Pakistan need to keep borrowing it?
Most of the money is going to debt-servicing and to defense. The traditional response to unsustainable expenditure in Pakistan is to call for a cut in defense spending, while continuing to find a way to pay off Pakistan's loans. No one ever actually explains what they mean by cutting defense spending, which is why the conversation begins with a request to cut the defense budget, wanders into the patriotism of those demanding the cut, and ends with a straight-faced refusal.
No one expects Pakistan to compromise its national security, but it is not unreasonable to explore more efficient ways of securing the nation and the national interest. Far from a national conversation about spending priorities however, no one has gone so far as to even suggest a more traditional and hawkish view, for example, that the war on terror being waged by Pakistan's soldiers needs all the financing it can get, and that Pakistan's debtors will have to wait. An even more refreshing case to make would be to suggest that both debt servicing and national security are major drags on current and future generations, and that they represent much lower priorities than building infrastructure, fixing the police and delivering real education. What would a Pakistani government that was committed to those priorities look like?
For starters it would:
1. Stop hiring poorly qualified political workers to stack the deck for future election campaigns. Forget hiring another ten thousand jiyalas as teachers, to ruin another generation of children. Let's face it, Pakistan cannot grow teachers on trees, it doesn't have any teachers. It has to go out and hire the best Indonesian, Turkish, and Korean teachers. It has to bring them to Pakistan and put them to work. Pay them real salaries.
2. Hire the Emiratis that have designed Sheikh Mohammad's infrastructure revolution to do the same thing to Karachi.
3. Then go out and hire every willing CBM, FAST, GIKI, and IBA graduate out there, and make cops and municipal administrators out of them. Take ten of those supercops, give them Blackberrys, night-vision goggles, Humvees and some ammo and put them outside every school. Forget the entourages. Protect the schools.
4. Take the municipal administrators and tell them to get running water to those schools. If there's no well, and no groundwater, teach them how to negotiate deals, so they can buy truckloads of mineral water for the students, and their mothers. Get those kids and their families some clean water.
5. Make sure there are nurses and doctors at each school. Pay every Aga Khan University Medical School graduate twice what they would make as residents at Mount Sinai or Beth Israel.
6. Teach the kids their native languages, drop the grammatically dreadful and aesthetically murderous fake American accents and bring back the Pakistani accent to film, television, radio and to dinner parties.
That's the kind of expenditure that would explain indebting future generations of Pakistanis. It would explain deepening the pool of debt that Pakistan is drowning in. It would explain the helplessness currently being feigned by economic and political policy makers. In short, if Pakistan was borrowing money to pay for this kind of a social program, it would be hard to argue against it.
Instead, Pakistan is borrowing money to throw it into the same black hole that the money has been going into for at least a generation now. What has Pakistan got to show for almost forty years of sustained debt growth? Illiterate fanatics who can't pronounce the name of God are taking over Swat because the courts don't work. Drug lords and criminals posing as religious vigilantes are taking over NWFP because the cops don't work, can't work, and aren't allowed to work. The water in the taps all over the country is toxic. The teachers at the school can barely read. The ones that can spend more time in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi, at the civil secretariat looking for a transfer, than teaching their students whatever little they know. The students are at home watching Sanju Baba kill bad guys, and Jon Abraham seduce bad girls. The mullahs are making speeches they don't understand, to crowds that aren't listening, until they bring on the hate. Then everybody listens. The uncles and aunties think cheap Broadway rip-offs with racy costumes constitute a culture renaissance. Little girls in rural Pakistan meanwhile are being traded by remorseless jirgas, in the name of honor. The culture vultures hate Arabic, love Punjabi, and are addicted to broken English. The hawks want beef, the doves want bhindi. And bankers want to loan Pakistan more money to finance the whole rot all over again.
It's time for Pakistan to start spending its money on people servicing, instead of debt servicing. Bigger and more successful countries have done this before including Indonesia, Russia, and Argentina. Pakistan loves to ape other countries. Now is its chance. Time to default.
The original version of this article first appeared in The News International. The writer is an independent political economist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2007-2008. All rights reserved. The News International & AhmedQuraishi.com. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
For analysis, default on Foreign Debt must be subdivided into that on bonds issued by it, or foreign commercial bank debt, or that of bilateral &/or multilateral International Financial Institutions (IFIs), or any combination of the above.
The consequences of a sovereign default on foreign debt of any kind would depend upon the reason for doing it in the first place - the "Inability to repay", or the "Unwillingness to repay".
The author mentions defaults of South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia. All of these were foreign bank defaults (not bonds or IFIs) from 1998 to early 2000s due to an inability to repay after the far-eastern currency crisis, and lasted for 1-2 years at most.
Pakistan too has defaulted both on foreign bank debt as well as its foreign bonds between 1998-1999 after the nuclear tests - but soon began repayments. The freeze on foreign currency accounts was also a default of sorts, though of yet another type which was unilateral restructuring of on-demand domestic Govt FX liability into a long-term liability. Borensztein and Panizza quoted by the author were referring to this kind of default in their IMF paper - "Inability to repay".
Default due to "Unwillingness to repay" is however quite a different story. To illustrate this type of default, the examples of South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia are not relevant.
There have been few defaults of this nature, mostly during the South American debt crisis of the 1970s/80s which were eventually resolved through debt-equity conversions and write offs by foreign lenders. Peru was perhaps the most extreme case in South America which defaulted on IFIs alongwith commercial banks and its bonds.
None of these, though, defaulted on foreign trade obligations. Nigeria was the only one which did on that too alongwith all other types - with disastrous results and had to suffer the most severe consequences i.e. complete collapse - despite its considerable oil wealth.
I suspect the author in this article advocates the latter type of default i.e. due to "Unwillingness to repay", of a kind more like Peru while not going to the extent of Nigeria.
This kind of default, in addition to collapse of the domestic financial sector, renders the local currency worthless due to capital flight and hyperinflation, turns the entire economy into a cash economy with no formal credit of any sort, all imports of essentials need to be via hard currency in cash including oil since letters of credit are not accepted abroad, assets abroad including ships and aircraft at foreign ports are seized - basically total anarchy with an economy of carpetbaggers, smugglers, and bootleggers for needed foreign goods.
If the Government tries to counter this with printing currency for subsidies etc for an impoverished population, the hyperinflation is fueled further and turns into a vicious circle almost impossible to break. The Weimar Republic of 1923 is an example with housewives burning currency notes for firewood (above right), and money carted around in wheelbarrows (below).
In societies already fractious such as Pakistan, as was the case in former Yugoslavia, this often results in civil strife, war, disintegration, or rise of a Hitler as in case of Germany's Weimar Republic of 1923.
I'm sure the author would not like this to happen. We need to be very cautious when talking about Sovereign Default.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The landmark Geo interview of the ex-Corps Commander of Rawalpindi, dated 2nd June 2008, in which he made important revelations which started the landslide pressure on Musharraf's impeachment, ultimately forcing Musharraf to resign in August.
Host: Shahid Masood
Guest: Lt.Gen (r) Jamshed Gulzar Ahmed Kiyani
The major revelations were:
- Musharraf kept the Prime Minister of the time, Nawaz Sharif alongwith the entire Federal Cabinet out of the loop on Kargil, and the briefings were superficial not giving the whole story. The questions raised by important functionaries including the then Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz, were never answered in the briefings. Even the Naval Commander was left uninformed of details of the plan.
- The subsequent hijacking case resulting in removal of elected Government of Nawaz Sharif was no more than a 'story', and hinted the plane in question was a chartered one - not a commercial flight, and with no fare-paying passengers in it.
- That White-Phosphorous bombs were dropped on Jamia/Hafsa, containing chemical pellets which stick to the flesh and burn through to the bone.*
- That as Chairman of the Public Service Commission (after retirement), he was under pressure to hire nominees of Shaukat Aziz. When he insisted on merit, he was asked to resign but refused. For that he was dismissed and appealed to the Supreme Court, where his case is still pending.
*Later there was criticism he was wrong and didn't know the difference between harmless smoke bombs and chemical weapons.
The counter-criticism however was that if an infantry officer was promoted all the way to Lt. General without knowing that difference, and later made Corps Commander of strategically the most important Corps in the country, that would raise very serious doubts on the entire military establishment of the Pakistan Army. That immediately quietened the objections towards Gen Kiyani's statement.