Archive for December 1st, 2010

December 1, 2010

WikiLeaks unmasks who are our real puppet-masters?

by admin

Related articles:

US embassy cables: Pakistani army chief hints at unseating Zardari

Wikileaks on General Kayani and his ‘democratic’ puppets

General Kayani allowed US special forces to secretly operate in Pakistan

U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks make perfectly clear and straighten out Pakistan’s [strange] civil military relations, exposes various political conspiracies, the power of its army, it’s role in politics and alleged human rights abuses. It illustrates the supremacy of our unrepresentative institutions and control over representative institutions.It also confirms the [un]democratic intentions of various political stakeholders. And unmasks especially those [behind the scene]characters who are calling the shots? So, WikiLeaks documents confirm what we, as a nation, already know.

According to the Independent report: “But on the larger themes and broader issues, the cables offer only confirmation rather than surprise. “
“The diplomatic cables only serve to confirm what people have been worried about, especially in regard to the US fears about our nuclear assets.”

Here are some features and high points from the messages which appeared on Britain’s Guardian newspaper website, as well as some frame of reference on key issues covered in them.

Zardari feared coup, named sister as successor if assassinated:

* According to a cable from U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson dated Feb. 9, 2009, Zardari had raised the issue of his personal security in a meeting in Karachi.

“Zardari revealed that, if he was assassinated, he had instructed his son Bilawal to name his sister, Faryal Talpur, as President,” said the cable.
President Asif Ali Zardari had spoken to former US ambassador Anne Patterson in 2009, saying that he had instructed his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to name his sister Faryal Talpur as President if he is assassinated.

In another cable quoted by the newspaper, US Vice President Joe Biden recounted to Britain’s then Prime Minister Gordon Brown a conversation with Zardari last year. Zardari told him that Kayani and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency “will take me out,” according to the cable.


Separately, President Zardari had told the then British foreign secretary David Miliband that his men (army officers and ISI) were keeping him unaware about critical information.

Pakistan army’s plan to oust Zardari:

The general at the top of Pakistan’s army proposed to topple President Asif Ali Zadari during internal wrangling last year, WikiLeaks has revealed.
General Ashfaq Kayani, floated the idea during meetings with the US Ambassador in March 2009 as thousands of supporters of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif took to the streets.

Cable sent by Ambassador Anne Patterson on March 12, 2009.

The ambassador had met Army chief Ashfaq Kayani on March 10 before a long march by lawyers on March 12 in a political crisis that threatened Zardari’s government.

Another memo cited in The New York Times quotes General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the military, telling the US ambassador during a March 2009 meeting that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Zardari to resign.
Kayani was quoted as saying that he might support Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National League Party, as the new president — not Zardari’s arch-nemesis Nawaz Sharif.

Zardari felt lonely and threatened, said Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai once told a US Senate delegation that the Pakistani president felt “lonely, threatened and under siege” and urged the senators to secure strong US support for Asif Ali Zardari, says a cable released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham in Dec 2008, Mr Karzai stressed the importance of US support for the Pakistan president,


calling Mr Zardari “a good man who wants to free his country from extremists”.

The Afghan president noted that he had an excellent relationship with Mr Zardari and felt the two had a special rapport, adding that “never in 60 years of Pakistan`s history have we had such good bilateral relations”.

Mr Karzai described how, when he arrived in Istanbul for trilateral talks in Dec 2008, Mr Zardari called him directly and asked to meet him privately before their official meeting the following day.

Mr Zardari came to Mr Karzai`s room where they chatted over dinner for hours, “covering all topics imaginable”.

Mr Zardari believed he received too little support from the international community, the Afghan president said. Mr Karzai explained that India was still wary because of historic enmity with Pakistan; Russia withheld its support because Pakistan had helped the Afghans defeat the Soviets; China disapproved of Mr Zardari`s close relationship with the US; and the Arab countries wouldn`t support him because he wasn`t “one of them”.

ISI chief conspired against Zardari:

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik had told then U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson that it was not chief of army staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani but ISI chief Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who was hatching conspiracies against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The U.S. embassy cables revealed that Mr. Malik sought an urgent appointment with Ms. Patterson in November 2009 and said that Gen. Pasha was hatching plots against Mr. Zardari, adding that the president needed political security, The News International reported.

However, Ms. Patterson was certain that the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) could not do it alone.

In yet another cable, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden told then British prime minister Gordon Brown about a conversation he had with Mr. Zardari in 2009.

Mr. Zardari told Mr. Biden that Gen. Kayani and the ISI “will take me out”, according to the cable, which added that Mr. Zardari had made extensive preparations in case he was killed.

Gen Kayani foiled US plan for civilian control over Army:

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani used the Pakistani civilian government for military purposes from behind the scenes and very effectively foiled the US plan to ensure civilian control over the military under the Kerry-Lugar Bill, according to a confidential diplomatic dispatch of the US embassy in Paris to the State Department on January 22, released by Wikileaks.

State Department cables: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH KAYANI AND PASHA ABOUT
Wednesday, 07 October 2009, 13:31
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 002427
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 10/06/2019
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, PK
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH KAYANI AND PASHA ABOUT
KERRY-LUGAR
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) Summary: Ambassador heard a number of complaints about the Kerry-Lugar bill from COAS General Kayani and DGISI Pasha in a two-hour meeting October 6. These focused on the history of Pressler sanctions, particularly a fear that the waiver in Kerry-Lugar would not be used and aid would be suspended. There were several clauses in the bill, such as an American assessment of civilian control over military promotions and the chain of command, that rankled COAS Kayani. DGISI Pasha said Kayani was receiving criticism on the bill from the Corps Commanders. Ambassador emphasized the bill’s long-term commitment to Pakistan and made three points: provisions of the bill could be waived; the bill only requires certifications and “assessments;” and the bill does not apply to the large amounts in the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Fund or Coalition Support Fund but only, so far, to non-appropriated Foreign Military Financing. Pasha and Kayani repeated that the Army had taken huge steps this year in its bilateral cooperation with the US and in its campaign in Swat and Bajaur and was getting little public (or private) credit from the US for these historic steps. Kayani said he was considering a statement on the bill, but he was struggling with what to say. He realized that Senator Kerry and Vice President Biden, the original sponsor of the bill, were among Pakistan,s best friends. He predicted the parliamentary debate would be tough, but in the final analysis the government controlled the agenda. Kayani said the language in the bill could undermine political support for the Army’s anti-terrorist effort.

Civilian, military planners have different views on India:

Leaked secret cables from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, just after the November 26, 2008 attacks in Mumbai, reveal a more complex narrative than that chronicled so far.

The Pakistan government was willing to work with India; New Delhi was not painting Islamabad and the military nerve centre in Rawalpindi with the same brush, and the Europeans were initially keen on dousing any tensions that might have erupted.

The four WikiLeaks cables, though forming a narrow window, are a story of a missed opportunity for Pakistan to step up the friendship with India, being constructed through the comprehensive dialogue process.

“President [Asif Ali] Zardari, PM [Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza] Gilani and FM [Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood] Qureshi have made all the right public statements…Government of Pakistan is sending ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] chief M.G. Pasha to India to participate in the investigation…[Mr.] Zardari is meeting with appropriate Cabinet members to discuss further possible govt reaction and NSA [National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali] Durrani forwarded a message on the need to jointly fight militants that threaten both Pakistan and India.”

Pak Army overruled proposal to send Pasha to India post 26/11

Pakistan’s powerful Army had vetoed President Asif Ali Zardari’s proposal to send ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha to New Delhi that came on British insistence to calm down tensions with India following the Mumbai terror attack, a secret U.S. cable made public by WikiLeaks shows.

The confidential document shows that the then British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had called Mr. Zardari, asking him to send the ISI chief to India, to which the President readily agreed. He, however, was overruled by the Pakistani Army led by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

Mr. Miliband described Major General Pasha as a welcome “new broom” and expressed U.K. support for ISI reform.

Mr. Zardari said the new ISI leaders were “straightforward” and their roles were proscribed by the constitution, but it would take time for real conversions.

Robert Brinkley, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, and Mr. Miliband pressed for Pasha to go to India, said a U.S. cable issued by its Embassy in Islamabad on December 1, 2008.

“Zardari gave Brinkley a long answer about various levels of directors in ISI but finally confirmed that the Army had vetoed the decision to send Pasha. Zardari told Miliband that it might be possible to send NSA Durrani, as he outranked Pasha,” it said.

The President said it would not be possible to send Pasha immediately as he needed to work public opinion first, the cable said.

According to the cable, the British diplomat passed the same intelligence information about LeT to Zardari that they previously had passed to the ISI.

“Zardari’s response was positive; he said ISI had to follow up and this was an opportunity. He criticised the Indians for statements that pushed Islamabad to make a defensive response and ‘made my job harder’

“Zardari said he thought it was not possible that terrorists could have launched attack boats from Karachi and the operation could not have been implemented without insider help from Indians,” the cable says.

In the conversation with Mr. Miliband, Mr. Zardari said he saw the attacks as an “opportunity to strike at my enemies”.

The attack, he said, was aimed as much at Pakistan as at India, but India had reacted in an unfortunate way.

“Miliband said that public messaging would be particularly important to link the Mumbai atrocity with Zardari’s own campaign against militants,” it said.

Mr. Zardari told Mr. Miliband that “my people” had not brought specific information to him about the individuals named in the information passed to ISI (on the day before).

Mr. Miliband said that LeT needed to “feel the full force of the law”.

“Zardari responded by saying he was setting up special courts, was contacting all political parties, and would take action immediately,” the cable said.

According to the cable, Mr. Zardari commented that he had a gut reaction that the attacks were the beginning rather than the end and went on to talk about Muslim-Hindu differences and attempts to split India.

“He urged the UK to push back on New Delhi and calm the situation. Mr. Miliband said they would do so, but India needs to see real action from Pakistan.

“India was asking for short-term actions, and this could buy some time for the Government of Pakistan,” it said.

Mr. Miliband later called Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and said he wanted to make sure that he saw the intelligence passed to ISI.

“He pressed that India needs actions not words from Pakistan. Mr. Qureshi said he would follow up on the intelligence but reiterated the GOP request for the U.K. to counsel restrain on the part of the Indians,” it says.

The U.S. Embassy cable signed off by the then U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson said that overall, the Pakistani public remains in denial about any culpability for the Mumbai attacks and believes India is unfairly and prematurely accusing Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif says, we are Pro-American and his pary ‘tipped off’ Mumbai terror group:

1. (C) Summary. During a meeting with Ambassador January 31, Nawaz Sharif confirmed…. As proof of his pro-Americanism, Nawaz reminded Ambassador that he had overruled his Chief of Staff to deploy Pakistani forces with the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War.

2. (C) Ambassador and Polcouns met former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif January 31 for an hour during Nawaz’s recent visit to Islamabad. PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also attended the meeting.

8. (C) The best thing America has done recently, said Nawaz, was arrange to have General Kayani named as Chief of Army Staff. This appointment is helping Army morale and raising the level of public respect for the Army. Noting that Musharraf met the UK equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Khan said the U.S. and the UK need to stop treating Musharraf as if he still ran the military. CENTCOM Commander Admiral Fallon would have met with Musharaf if the President had not been travelling, asserted Khan. Ambassador replied that we had excellent relations with the Pakistani military and meet them all the time at various levels.

WikiLeaks cables relay allegations that Nawaz Sharif’s government in Punjab province helped the group responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks evade UN sanctions.

Pakistan’s president alleged that the brother of Pakistan’s opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, “tipped off” the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) about impending UN sanctions following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, allowing the outfit to empty its bank accounts before they could be raided.

Saudi Arabia wants military rule in Pakistan:

King Abdullah and ruling princes distrust Asif Ali Zardari, the country’s Shia president, and would prefer ‘another Musharraf’.

Oil power Saudi Arabia gained vast influence in the region when it, along with Pakistan and the United States, began backing the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Saudi Arabia, a vital U.S. ally, still has clout in the region. Apparently it consider’s itself one of our master.

* On Nov 20, 2007, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, boldly asserted during a meal with a U.S. diplomat:

“We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.”

Pakistan continues to support Mumbai terror attack group:

Pakistan continues to support the militant group which carried out the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai despite its claims to have launched a crackdown on the organisation, the United States Ambassador to Islamabad wrote in a cable.

The cables also laid bare US frustrations at what officials see as Pakistan’s refusal to cut off ties with extremists such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for carrying out the bloody 2008 siege of Mumbai.
“There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support for these groups, which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India,” Ambassador Anne Patterson said in a cable quoted by the Times.
The cables also touch on allegations of extrajudicial killings by Pakistani forces, according to the Times.
A cable last year suggested there was credible evidence that the or paramilitary forces killed some detainees after an offensive against Taliban insurgents in the northwestern regions.
The embassy said that news of killings should not be leaked to the press, for fear of offending the Pakistani army. However, this year the United States said it would cut off support for some Pakistani units following the release of a video that appeared to show extrajudicial killings.

US worried over Pakistani nuke material:

US diplomatic memos also reveal Western concerns that terrorists might get access to Pakistan’s nuclear material and American scepticism that Islamabad will sever ties to Taliban factions fighting in Afghanistan.

Washington’s frustration with Islamabad and the struggle in Pakistan between the country’s military and political leadership, analysts say the public disclosure of the cables will not damage relations between the two countries.

Despite massive US aid, anti-Americanism rampant in Pakistan:

America is viewed with some suspicion by the majority of Pakistan’s people and its institutions. While the Army remains fixated on India as Pakistan’s mortal enemy, the common man (and most importantly the youth) is just as likely to point to America as the nation which has twisted Pakistan’s collective arm, leaving it weak.

Pakistan quietly approved drone attacks, U.S. special units:

On the record, Pakistan has persistently criticized the United States’ use of unmanned drones to attack militant hideouts in its mountainous border region.
But diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal that in private the Pakistani government was not unhappy about the strikes and secretly allowed small groups of U.S. Special Operations units to operate on its soil.

The Pakistani military is not simply an arm of government. It is by far the most supreme and soverign institution in the country. Defence accounts for 5 per cent of the Government’s budget. The military also receives billions of pounds in US aid. It controls Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal. It oversees the intelligence infrastructure. It also determines foreign policy especially with countries such as America and China. It holds veto rights on any peace initiatives with India.

For that reason the Chief of the Army Staff is arguably the most powerful person in the country.

December 1, 2010

Our dereliction in Kurram

by admin

Kurram has had to run the gauntlet of the first TTP chief, Baitullah Mehsud, who sent his Waziristan lashkar there under the blood-thirsty Qari Hussain in 2007.

According to a report published in a newspaper on November 30, the government has allowed a very dubious meeting between the elders of the Kurram Agency, members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and “foreign” agents of the Haqqani Group from North Waziristan. The meeting was held “in a guesthouse” in Islamabad and the objective was “restoration of peace in Parachinar (Kurram headquarters) which has remained cut off from the rest of country for three years.”

Who were the interlocutors? MNA Sajid Hussain Turi representing the Shia of Kurram and some elders, while the opposite side was represented by Qari Taj, the commander of the Haqqani Group in Kurram Agency, and Karim Mushtaq, TTP commander for Kurram and Orakzai agencies. Another MNA, Munir Khan Orakzai, also attended the meeting. The talks were fruitless because the Shia Turi side was not willing to give the right of way to the TTP and Haqqani group militants through their territory. In retaliation, the other side refused to lift the roadblock on Thall-Parachinar Road that cuts Kurram off from the rest of the country.

The Turis are in a bind. They can’t leave or enter their agency and have to use Afghanistan territory where they are at risk of being killed by pro-al Qaeda terrorists. Al Qaeda is not particularly fond of the Turis because they are Shia and because they did not allow al Qaeda leadership to stay on their soil after its escape from Tora Bora in 2001. Well-off Turis spend Rs8,000 on a plane ride from Peshawar to get home. The Agency is no longer under any semblance of federal government control for the last three years. And the Haqqani Group from Afghanistan, which is being allowed to hold talks with the Turis in Islamabad, has no business being in Pakistan.

Pakistan is projecting its power into Afghanistan on the basis of warriors who don’t belong to Pakistan and is giving them a status inside Pakistan that violates the sovereignty of the state. The TTP is dominant under the banner of anti-Shia feeling spread in the region by the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned terrorist organisation of Punjab which inspires the tribes that live around Kurram. Kurram lies next to the three Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Nangarhar. It has half a million inhabitants out of which around two-fifths are Shia — besides, the capital Parachinar has a majority Shia population. The agency lies next to Waziristan, Orakzai and Khyber agencies where warlords harbour severely sectarian feelings. Down the road from Kurram to Peshawar, cities like Kohat and Hangu have Shia communities cowering before the power of the Taliban for the last decade.

Kurram has had to run the gauntlet of the first TTP chief, Baitullah Mehsud, who sent his Waziristan lashkar there under the blood-thirsty Qari Hussain in 2007. Around 400 Mehsud and Wazir militants fought against the Shia in Kurram, burning down villages and killing dozens of them. Two months later, another warlord, Hakimullah Mehsud, sent hundreds of fighters to outnumber the Shia offering resistance to him. After becoming head of the TTP, Hakimullah appointed Mullah Noor Jamal from Orakzai, known as Mullah Toofan, to lead the Taliban. Mullah Toofan, a brutal commander, indulged in carnage and blocked the above-mentioned road, cutting Kurram from the rest of Pakistan. Infamous warlord Mangal Bagh of Khyber Agency, successfully challenging the Pakistan army, has also dipped his hands in the blood of the people of Kurram.

Pakistan’s military strategy focuses on a quest to control territories not part of its map, at the expense of territory it does have. The bulk of the Pakistan Army faces India on the eastern border. Because of Pakistan’s ambivalence towards the TTP and the Haqqani Group, it has had to suffer a gradual diminution of its writ in small cities like Kohat, Hangu and Bannu, while virtually losing control over the provincial capital, Peshawar. On the eve of America’s exit from Afghanistan, the focus is on how to prevent India from retaining its foothold there. It is difficult to imagine how territories lost inside Pakistan in the pursuit of this strategy will be regained.

Editorial

http://tribune.com.pk/story/84089/our-dereliction-in-kurram/

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2010.

December 1, 2010

WikiLeaks: Whither Muslim brotherood? – by Omar R Quraishi

by admin

Saudi King Abdullah welcomes Iranian President Ahmadinejad on his arrival at Riyadh airport on 17 Nov 2007

Related articles:

King Abdullah, the great-grandson of Abu Jahl – by Omar Khattab

A Lesson in media manipulation – by Eqbal Alavi

Saudi Arabia without King Abdullah – by Hassan Hanizadeh

The role of Saudi Arabia in the religious extremism – by Arshad Mahmood

It was never really a secret that Saudi Arabia did not like Iran.

It was never really a secret that Saudi Arabia did not like Iran. Perhaps there may be a sectarian history to this or maybe it is simple old realpolitik with two large states vying for regional power. But Saudi Arabia isn’t the only Muslim country that seems to loathe Iran. There is the UAE and Kuwait as well as, albeit to a lesser extent, Qatar.

According to a cable of Feb 9, 2010, from US ambassador to UAE to Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the US armed forces, prior to the latter’s meeting with the UAE crown prince and defence minister, the UAE is one of America’s most trusted partners in the region and “most useful friends worldwide”.

The ports of Dubai and Fujairah are the “logistics backbone for the US Fifth [Fleet]“. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is responsible for operations in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and down south as far as eastern Africa. Minhad airbase, some 20 kilometres south of Dubai is “a critical hub for coalition/ISAF partners in Afghanistan, including the Australians, Dutch, Canadians, Brits and Kiwis”.

This cable says that the UAE leadership sees Iran as its “primary external threat”. The defence minister and crown prince of the UAE is said to not believe that the west will be able to put adequate pressure on Iran and also is of the view, according to this cable, that Tehran cannot be persuaded to give up its nuclear weapons programme. As a result, his efforts to build up the UAE’s armed forces is seen as “near-obsessive”. The UAE has “quietly” deployed forces in Afghanistan, being the first Arab country to do so. The Americans are told by the UAE defence minister, much to their disbelief, that Iran is active in destabilising Yemen, by supporting the Houthi (who are said to Shia) rebels.

The UAE’s obsession with Iran seems to run deeper than that of even the Americans. According to cable dated Feb 22, 2010, from the American ambassador to the UAE, the country’s foreign minister Sheikh Adullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, told a visiting delegation of US Congress members in a meeting on Feb 17 that the nuclear issue “is only one aspect of the Iran problem, and that Iran’s regional meddling was a serious concern”. He said further that the UAE was concerned that “Gulf allies were being shut out of Iran sanctions planning”.

A cable by the US embassy in Kuwait dated Feb 17, 2010, detailed a meeting between Kuwait’s interior minister Jaber Al-Khaled Al Sabah and the US ambassador. The minister said that he was “deeply concerned about Iranian actions, particularly in Yemen with the Houthis” and that Iran was the “beating heart” of Islamic extremism, adding that “even Palestinians now aspire to be Shia because they have bought Iranian ‘stories’ about Shia being more prepared to “fight to the end” and stand up to Israel”.

A cable by the US embassy in Muscat, Oman, dated Feb 2, 2010, suggested that Oman was very unhappy about an article in the New York Times that had perhaps suggested that it, along with other Gulf states, was going to receive Patriot missile batteries from America. In a ‘comment’ on the reaction of the government of Oman, the US embassy noted that a statement by a senior Omani official denying any such proposal would also serve to “protect the US/Omani relationship, as any belief that the US would attempt to utilize Omani territory in this way could potentially cause a public backlash that would jeopardize other aspects of the relationship”. Furthermore, while “Iran is Oman’s number one strategic threat; however, the Government of Oman fundamentally believes the threat can be mitigated through careful management of the relationship. Therefore, it works very deliberately to create a public perception of balance in its relationships with the US and Iran”.

According to a cable of Jan 26, 2010, from the US embassy in Ankara prior to a visit by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s stance on Israel came up, especially his “outburst at Davos”. The cable said that both the Americans and “his staff” (meaning that of the Turkish prime minister) were seeking to “contain” such behaviour.

A cable describing a meeting on Feb 8, 2010, between and the US defence secretary and the French foreign minister in Paris quoted the two discussing the situation in Pakistan. It quoted him as saying that it was “astonishing” that President Zardari had remained in power and that the Pakistanis had conducted such effective COIN operations. The defence secretary “commented that one can never be an optimist about Pakistan, but that the changes had been striking”.

A cable from Jan 28, 2009, detailed a meeting between the Dutch and Russian ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, accompanied by a senior US embassy official with the undersecretary for multilateral affairs at the ministry of foreign affairs in Riyadh. During the course of the meeting, discussion came on Iran with the Saudi official saying that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons “other countries in the Gulf region would be compelled to do the same, or to permit the stationing of nuclear weapons in the Gulf to serve as a deterrent to the Iranians”.

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/3254/wikileaks-whither-muslim-brotherood/

December 1, 2010

Leaks show US government always knew that Pakistan was misusing US taxpayers' money -by Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

by admin

The deal President Bush struck with Pakistan’s General Musharraf seemed straightforward enough: Pakistan would fight terrorists, and the US would pay for it. Islamabad promised to train, equip, and deploy its army and intelligence service in counter-terrorism operations. Washington promised to reimburse it with billions of dollars in weapons, supplies, and cash. And so, over the last eight years, up to $22 billion of US taxpayers’ money flowed to Pakistan.

Last year I published a paper arguing that the results were nothing short of a scandal (download). There have been hardly any real counter-terrorism successes. The money has enriched individuals at the expense of the proper functioning of the country’s institutions. And it has incentivized a co-dependency between the two countries to which, the WikiLeaks cables now reveal, US diplomats admit.

Pakistan’s army is conditioned to regard its raison d’etre as defending Pakistan against India. Never mind that its foreign ministers meet each year, the last skirmish between the two was over a decade ago, and the last war much earlier. The idea that it should now spend money on fighting terrorists – many of whom of course are Pakistani – did not sit easily with them.

So they ignored it. Much of the US taxpayers’ money was spent on conventional weapons which are useless against terrorists. As I revealed in the paper, it spent $200 million on an air defense radar system even though the terrorists in the frontier region have no air capability. It spent $1.5 million to repair damage to Navy vehicles even though they have no navy, either. $15 million was spent on bunkers that were never dug, $30 million paid for roads that were never built; $55 million to maintain helicopters that were not, in fact, maintained, and $80 million per month for soldiers to fight during periods when there was a cease-fire.

For most of this period, the US Department of Defense was given certain — albeit insultingly limited — information about this expenditure, and signed it off.

At the same time — the Pakistani army seemed to remain badly equipped. One reporter found the Pakistani Frontier Corps “standing … in the snow in sandals,” another found soldiers wearing World War I-era pith helmets and carrying barely functional Kalashnikov rifles carrying “just 10 rounds of ammunition each.”

The deal, it was clear, had not worked. The US was paying, but Pakistan was not fighting in any serious way.

My report was sent to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the National Security Council and State Department. I assumed such revelations would be controversial. After all, up to $22 billion of taxpayers’ money had been at best misspent, at worst stolen. It is not a headline that any government or population is normally particularly happy about hearing.

So imagine my surprise when last month, the Obama administration announced another generous package of aid to Pakistan with no strings attached — pouring more money into the black hole.

Well, this week it became clear why my previous report did not evoke a stronger reaction. And the truth is, in a way, even more alarming than the details of Pakistan’s misuse of US taxpayers’ money. The reason lawmakers did not seem surprised by the revelation was that they already knew exactly how badly your money was being spent. They just didn’t want to tell you.

The WikiLeaks files reveal that Pakistan’s General Ashfaq Kayani allegedly admitted to US diplomatic personnel that most of the funds the US had given to Pakistan for military purposes — amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars — had been ‘diverted’ to the federal government. This ‘diversion’ sounds like a polite way to refer to something which most people would call theft. Back in 2007, US diplomats already knew about multiple instances where this had happened, or where the claims that Pakistan made for reimbursement had been seriously inflated: $26 million was claimed for barbed wire. After spending $335 million on medical care and a fleet of 26 helicopters, the troops at the frontier still had no medical rescue service.

The leaks also show us who knew what, and when. It seemed that in January 2009, when the flows of funds from the US to Pakistan slowed down, General Kayani gave an explanation to General Petreaus as to why Pakistan kept needing more. The reason he gave? The federal government had taken it.

In an ideal world, the result of these revelations would be that taxpayers’ money would stop being misused like this. But I think that in the current political climate, that is actually far too ambitious. Any politician who suggested such a thing would be accused of being soft on terrorists. And so I think that in the short term, the best we can hope for is that the American public begins to understand what the government is doing with their money in Pakistan, and that we have a debate about whether it is the right way to spend it. I would be intrigued to hear anyone argue that it is value for money.
Source:

December 1, 2010

Pakistan doubles export soft loan Sri Lanka

by admin

By Santhush Fernando in Colombo

Colombo, 30 November, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka and Pakistan delegates have who concluded the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Forum in Colombo today (29.11.2010) agreed on drastic measures that would increase economic ties between the two nations significantly.

Among the significant milestones of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Sri Lanka was the agreement to double the export financing facility extended to Sri Lanka from US $ 100mn (Rs. 11.1bn) to US $ 200mn (Rs. 22.2bn).
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Forum was attended by President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, Minister of State/Chairman of the Board of Investment of Pakistan, Saleem H Mandviwala, High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, (Ms.) Seema Illahi Baloch, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody and other distinguished guests.

Referring to the financing facility, President Zardari said that dollar trade should not become a burden to the two countries. Furthermore he opined that any capital invested in Sri Lanka should be re-invested in order to allow the formerly war-torn economy to grow, as it should.

“We are not here for ‘fly-by-night’ (business) operations. Sri Lanka needs lot of investment in infrastructure. Capital invested here must be re-invested while only the profits should be taken out,” opined President Zardari.

He added that Germany was still in the process of getting out of such a phase.

“If that is the case of Germany, Sri Lanka needs more (assistance)” he said.

During his address, Minister of State/Chairman of the Board of Investment of Pakistan, Saleem Mandviwalla, said that the two countries were able agree on the US 200mn soft loan for exports payments to Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Pakistan media critisised Investment Minister Saleem Mandviwalla making a commitment to Colombo to provide $100 million export financing facility without taking the Finance Ministry and the cabinet into confidence. However the loan amount seemed to have been doubled with the apparent baking of President Zardari.

Adding fervor to the occasion, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing the Business Forum said that Sri Lanka and Pakistan anticipated doubling trade between the two countries from Rs. 28bn to Rs. 55.5bn by 2015.

SriLankan Airlines and Pakistan Air Lines (PAL) would co-operate to have direct flights between the two countries Minister Mandviwalla added. At present, those who wish to travel from one of the two countries to the other would have to travel to Dubai to catch the connecting flight.

Furthermore, National Bank of Pakistan would also open in Colombo in the near future, he added.

- Asian Tribune -

Source : Asian Tribune

December 1, 2010

Let's join the human race – by Imran Qadir Butt

by admin

If there is anything positive that has come out of current public debate on death penalty of Aasia Bibi on blasphemy charges, it ruptured the ostensibly thick and immutable veneer of rightist argument that there was unanimity among all sections of religious elements on death penalty of blasphemy.

Now a very sizable section of religious elements has come forward with challenging views on present state of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Interestingly, all those who are opposed to any change or repealing of this inhuman and obnoxious act from the statue book belong to politico-religious parties. And those in favour of changes or repealing of this act have no vested interests or have little or no political stakes.

Apart from that Pakistani media especially electronic media with exceptions of few have been dominated by rightist views. People with orthodox, out-dated and oft-repeated views have been given more air time and have never been taken to task by asking strong probing questions.

It seems it is an exercise to strengthen the status quo and stifle any voice which prompts someone to think out of the box. If you want to win an argument it has been the most effective and common practice to quote some Hadith or Koranic verse in favour of your argument and nobody would dare to oppose you. It would normally not because he/she does not want to oppose you but only because of fear of his/her life. It is because rationality and religion are mutually exclusive. Or should I say sanity and religion do not mix very well.

I have always been of the view that if you bring something in public you must accept the public scrutiny. If you want to protect or preserve something then keep it safely away from public domain. Therefore if you bring your religion in to political or public sphere then you must have strong defence. Religion should be subject to same parameters that we normally use to dissect any other social phenomenon. Anywhere in the world when societies tried to stop the clock of evolution on religion after making it political it morphed into a source of great destruction.

Religion is a human experience and let it be this way. It was a great event in common history of human beings but clock did not stop there. It has moved on, we are evolutionary beings our economics, our science, our industry, our culture, our language in fact every facet of our life is evolutionary. There is nothing constant in this world and religion is no exception. Therefore let us embrace big wide world and become the part of human race that is our true identity. Let us preserve human race by preserving human life.

December 1, 2010

General Kayani allowed US special forces to secretly operate in Pakistan

by admin

Related articles:

Wikileaks on General Kayani and his ‘democratic’ puppets

Wikileaks reconfirm the Taliban ISI Alliance (LUBP update 29 Nov 2010)

‘President’ Kayani is the most powerful man of Pakistan

Who is Gilani trying to please? by Omar Khattab

US embassy cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks reveal that teams of US special forces have been secretly working with Pakistan military in the tribal areas, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

Small US special forces teams helped hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and co-ordinate drone strikes, American cables revealed.

They pointed out that the number of soldiers involved were limited to just 16 in October 2009 – but the deployment is of immense political significance.

The first special forces team of four soldiers was deployed at an old British colonial fort in the northern half of the tribal belt in September 2009, so as to help Frontier Corps paramilitaries to carry out artillery strikes on a militant base, one of the leaked US cables revealed.

A month later, two more teams of six soldiers each were deployed at Pakistani army bases in North and South Waziristan, a lawless warren of mountains considered to be the global headquarters of al-Qaeda, it said.

Their job was to provide “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” support, “general operational advice” and to help set up a live satellite feed from American drones flying overhead.

American officials, who had long been pushing for such a deployment in the face of “adamant” Pakistani opposition, were jubilant, viewing it as a sign of growing trust in an often troubled relationship, the cable said.

“The developments of the past two months thus appear to represent a sea change in [the military's] thinking,” read one of the cables.
American special forces had been deployed in Pakistan since 2008 but were limited to a training role, it noted.

Permission for the active combat deployment “almost certainly” came with the personal consent of Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, another cable read.

“Patient relationship-building with the military is the key factor that has brought us to this point. The Pakistanis are increasingly confident that we do not have ulterior motives in assisting their operations,” according to the cable.

Participation of American soldiers in combat operations in the tribal campaign has never been publicly acknowledged due to its extreme political sensitivity in a country seething with anti-US sentiment, it further noted.

In the cables, Pakistan bureaucrats have been shown as supporting the drone attacks, viewing them as a solution to a problem. (Source)

’امریکی فوجی پاکستانی سرزمین پر‘

وکی لیکس کی جانب سے افشا کی جانے والی امریکی سفارتی دستاویزات کے مطابق پاکستان نے سنہ دو ہزار نو میں امریکی فوج کے خصوصی دستوں کو قبائلی علاقوں میں پاک فوج کی کارروائی میں شرکت کی اجازت دی تھی۔

وکی لیکس پر بدھ کو شائع ہونے والے ایک مراسلے میں جو نو اکتوبر سنہ دو ہزار نو کو امریکی وزارت خارجہ کو بھیجا گیا تھا، اس وقت پاکستان میں تعینات امریکی سفیر ڈبلیو این پیٹرسن نے کہا تھا کہ پاکستان فوج نے اجازت دے دی ہے کہ قبائلی علاقوں میں جاری فوجی کارروائی میں امریکی سپیشل فورس پاک فوج کا ساتھ دے۔

اس مراسلے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ یہ دوسری بار ہے کہ پاکستان فوج نے امریکی فورسز کو اپنے ساتھ کارروائی میں مدد کرنے کی اجازت دی ہے اور اس سے قبل سنہ دو ہزار نو ستمبر میں امریکی سپیشل سروسز کے چار اہلکاروں کو پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں میں فرنٹیئر کور کے ساتھ منسلک کیا گیا تھا اور یہ تعاون نہایت کامیاب رہا تھا۔

مراسلے کے مطابق جی ایچ کیو نے امریکی فورسز کو گیارہویں کور کے ساتھ کام کرنے اور پاک فوج کو انٹیلیجنس، نگرانی اور دیگر امور پر مشورے دینے کی اجازت دی۔ یہ فورسز پاک فوج کے ساتھ جنوبی اور شمالی وزیرستان میں تعینات کی گئیں۔

مراسلے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ امریکی سپیشل فورسز پاکستان میں چار سال سے موجود ہیں لیکن سنہ دو ہزار نو سے قبل ان کا کردار تربیتی شعبے میں تھا۔

امریکی سفیر کے مطابق جی ایچ کیو کی جانب سے امریکی سپیشل فورسز کو اجازت ملنے سے یہ ثابت ہوتا ہے کہ پاکستانی فوج میں امریکی فوج کے حوالے سے سوچ میں تبدیلی آئی ہے۔

امریکی سفیر نے اس مراسلے کے آخر میں لکھا ہے کہ امریکی فوج کی پاکستان فوج کے ساتھ ہونا سیاسی طور پر نہایت حساس ہے اور اگر یہ خبر پاکستانی میڈیا تک پہنچ گئی تو پاکستان فوج یہ اجازت نامہ منسوخ کر دے گی۔

Source

December 1, 2010

Don't you ever doubt my loyalty to the USA! – Nawaz Sharif

by admin

1. (C) Summary. During a meeting with Ambassador January 31, Nawaz Sharif confirmed…. As proof of his pro-Americanism, Nawaz reminded Ambassador that he had overruled his Chief of Staff to deploy Pakistani forces with the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War.

2. (C) Ambassador and Polcouns met former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif January 31 for an hour during Nawaz’s recent visit to Islamabad. PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also attended the meeting.

8. (C) The best thing America has done recently, said Nawaz, was arrange to have General Kayani named as Chief of Army Staff. This appointment is helping Army morale and raising the level of public respect for the Army. Noting that Musharraf met the UK equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Khan said the U.S. and the UK need to stop treating Musharraf as if he still ran the military. CENTCOM Commander Admiral Fallon would have met with Musharaf if the President had not been travelling, asserted Khan. Ambassador replied that we had excellent relations with the Pakistani military and meet them all the time at various levels.

We are Pro-American
——————-

9. (C) Nawaz and Khan both repeatedly said that the PML-N was pro-American. Nawaz recounted his decision to override his Chief of Army Staff and deploy Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War. Meanwhile, Khan noted, the PPP and its leaders were organizing street demonstrations against Pakistan joining with the U.S. coalition. Now, Nawaz said, he was hurt that the U.S. did not remember. Nawaz said he understood that 9/11 had changed things, but urged that the U.S. apply some balance to the relationship. In the past, the U.S. was known as the power that rejected dictatorships, that fought for independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Why, he asked, did we continue to support a man who fired the Supreme Court, abrogated the constitution, and arrested civil society activists?

10. (C) Comment: The fact that a former Prime Minister believes the U.S. could control the appointment of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here. Based on our understanding of the current situation, we believe Nawaz can and should take the threats to his life seriously. It comes as no surprise that Nawaz exaggerated his party’s election prospects; his willingness to deal with the PPP is, however, a good sign he is ready to cooperate on government formation.

PATTERSON

Friday, 01 February 2008, 13:41
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000483
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 02/01/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PK
SUBJECT: “THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN IN PAKISTAN”
REF: LAHORE 25 07 ISLAMABAD 5138
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/139676

December 1, 2010

WikiLeaks cables: Pakistan opposition 'tipped off' Mumbai terror group

by admin

WikiLeaks cables relay allegations that Nawaz Sharif’s government in Punjab province helped the group responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks evade UN sanctions.

Pakistan’s president alleged that the brother of Pakistan’s opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, “tipped off” the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) about impending UN sanctions following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, allowing the outfit to empty its bank accounts before they could be raided.

Six weeks after LeT gunmen killed more than 170 people in Mumbai, President Asif Ali Zardari told the US of his “frustration” that Sharif’s government in Punjab province helped the group evade new UN sanctions.

A month earlier, Shahbaz Sharif, who is chief minister of Punjab, “tipped off” the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), LeT’s charity wing, “resulting in almost empty bank accounts”, Zardari claimed in a conversation with the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson.

US diplomats were unable to confirm the allegation and noted that they came at a time of rising political tension between Zardari and Sharif. But they conceded that JuD did appear to have received a warning from somewhere. “Information from the ministry of the interior does indicate that bank accounts contained surprisingly small amounts,” said the cable in January 2009. A Punjab government spokesman vigorously denied the charge. “There’s nothing true in it,” said senator Pervaiz Rashid, an adviser to Sharif. “Zardari is our political opponent and he wants to topple our government.” Sharif couldn’t have known about the UN sanctions, he said, because the UN co-ordinated its action with the federal government and not the provincial one.

The accusation, which has never been publicly aired, is one of several dramas that unfolded behind the scenes after the November 2008 attacks, now revealed by the embassy cables.

US diplomats and CIA spies found themselves playing the role of harried intermediaries to prevent Pakistan and India from going to war. One week after the bloodbath an Indian official said his government was distinguishing between Pakistan’s civilian government, “which India believed was not involved in the attacks”, and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). We are not yet ready to give ISI a clean chit,” he said.

Four weeks later the US embassy grew alarmed by Indian plans to release a “sanitised” intelligence dossier that, they feared, could scupper intelligence sharing or thwart efforts to prevent a second attack.

“There are still Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) sleeper and other cells in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as many law enforcement leads which need to be pursued,” the note said.

Pakistan’s generals, usually antagonistic towards India, appeared unusually conciliatory. Six weeks after the attack Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said he was “determined to exercise restraint in his actions with India”. “If there is any clue about another attack,” he told General David Petraeus at his Rawalpindi headquarters, “please share it with us.”

His intelligence chief, General Shuja Pasha, went even further, acting as a regional fixer for some of his most bitter enemies. In late 2009 Pasha travelled to Oman and Iran to “follow up on reports he received in Washington about a terrorist attack on India”.

He sent warnings to Israel – a country that Pakistan does not officially recognise – “about information about attacks against Israeli targets in India”. Earlier in the year, he reminded Patterson, information about a second attack on India had “come his way”, which he conveyed to Delhi via the CIA.

The cables suggest Pakistan’s ardour for bringing the alleged Mumbai masterminds to justice appears to have wilted as time went on. The secretive trial of Lashkar leader Zakhi ur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects “is proceeding, though at a slow pace”, US diplomats noted in February.

The secretive trial of Lashkar leader Zakhi ur Rehman Lakhvi, and six other suspects “is proceeding, though at a slow pace” [id:249966] lastin February 2010.

ThePakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) refused access to Abdur Rehman Syed, a retired army major and alleged LeT accomplice. Instead the FBI was told it could “submit questions for Syed through the ISI”.

American officials say there is “no smoking gun tying the Mumbai LeT operation to ISI” but are less sure if the spy agency has, as promised, cut all its ties.

“Despite arrests of key LeT/JuD leaders and closure of some of their camps, it is unclear if the ISI has finally abandoned its policy of using these proxy forces as a foreign policy tool,” notes a briefing to the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke in February 2009. Dealing with LeT has long been a vexed issue for American diplomats in Pakistan. In March 2006 the US ambassador Ryan Crocker id:55604requested the US government to delay by two weeks the designation of JuD.

American helicopters were still delivering aid to earthquake victims in Kashmir, he explained, and they risked attack if still in the area when the designation was approved.

That same month, embassy officials met with Pakistan foreign office director Tasneem Aslam, who told her that Pakistan had “no evidence” linking JuD to terrorism – a conclusion US officials judged “dubious”.

Later, in November 2007, the US ambassador presented the foreign secretary, Riaz Khan, with evidence that senior government ministers were publicly helping militant groups, including a declaration from the ministry of defence parliamentary secretary “that he was proud to be a member of LeT and that he seeks to extend support to jihadi organisations when they seek his ‘co-operation.’”

“Each of these reports is disturbing in itself, the ambassador said, as they seriously damage Pakistan’s image in the international community.”

JuD denies that it is a front for LeT.
Source:

December 1, 2010

Salman Taseer says Islam religion of peace, mercy and justice

by admin

* Punjab governor says he knew he would be opposed

* Taseer censures those opposing him on Aasia

Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer on Monday said that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, and denounced those who opposed his support to Aasia Bibi, a blasphemy convict.

While addressing the launch ceremony of a book by Indian writer and mystic, Muzaffar Ali, titled “The Sufis of Punjab”, at the Governor’s House, Taseer said peace, mercy and justice were the message of Islam. He questioned the philosophy being promoted by terrorists in the name of Islam. He added that the universities and institutions established under the Abbasids and other Muslim kingdoms were centres for promotion of tolerance.

The governor said it was the Sufis who spread Islam across the globe, not terrorists and suicide bombers, and Muslims remained the most peace loving and tolerant people throughout the history. He said Sufis were the true followers of Islam. Talking about his support to Aasia Bibi, Taseer said he had been warned that hate mongers would oppose him over this but he drew strength from the support of tens of thousands of Pakistanis who, he said, backed him.

Related Articles:
Sherry Rehman submits bill in National Assembly for amendment to blasphemy laws
Blasphemy law is not God-given, but man-made: Salmaan Taseer
Asia Bibi likely to be pardoned by President Asif Ali Zardari

The governor denounced those clerics who had issued fatwas against him after he visited Aasia Bibi in jail. On the occasion, Taseer recited the poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, which, he said, promoted the message of equality and stood against injustice.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Ali said that mysticism was in the blood of the people of subcontinent and Sufism was the force which could lead the nation forward. He said it was vital that India and Pakistan invested in ideas rather than arms. People of the two countries had tender feelings for each other, he added. Ali said following the principles of mysticism would help build bridges between the two countries and it will change society. He added that it was time to project Islam in its true sense. Ali said we have lost the message of Rumi, Iqbal, Ghalib and Faiz, who were mystics and promoted humanity. He said that it was our obligation to take the message of mysticism to the young generation.

A large number of people from different walks of life attended the book launch ceremony. Prominent among the attendees were US Consul General Carmella Conroy, Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran, Aitchison College Principal Fakir Aijazud Din, Nayer Ali Dada, Yousaf Salahuddin, former PCB chairman Shaheryar Khan, Aamna Taseer, popular singer Abrarul Haq, actors and directors Mustafa Qureshi, Sangeeta, Resham.
Source: Daily Times

Governor Salman Taseer talks boldly about need for a change in
blasphemy laws in Pakistan
and performance of Punjab
Government.

December 1, 2010

Our lovely image -by Kamran Shafi

by admin


JUST back from a trip to lovely old England — oh how I love England! — and the usual experiences: the immigration officer at Heathrow falling off her chair at the mere sight of my green passport, then getting up and after brushing off her clothes settling down for a detailed scrutiny, referring to her computer, sussing me out for the nth time, and so on.

All with the greatest courtesy and respect I must add.But do we even know, indeed do we even accept, the trepidation with which we are seen in other countries, that the name we have given ourselves, by our own actions most of all, is not a very good one? Do we ever pause and think why it is that in the time it takes an immigration officer to process one of us, his or her colleagues process up to seven or eight passports of other countries, yes, including India?

These are important questions which we Pakistanis must ask ourselves, about which later. Let us first of all go to the latest outrage, nay monstrosity, which we have chucked at the world — the sentence of death pronounced upon Aasia Bibi a poor Christian woman of Sheikhupura district for a crime she simply could not have committed.

I mean, for heaven`s sake, don`t we know our own country, our own Sheikhupura, our own people? Is it at all possible that a Christian woman, belonging to a tiny minority which is already severely tormented by the very vast majority, its Muslim neighbours, would commit blasphemy in the manner alleged?

Every single time that a Christian has been accused of blasphemy I have said that the person should first of all be taken to a psychiatrist to determine whether he or she is mentally sound. For it makes no sense at all for members of the weak and dispossessed Christian community to commit this crime in this hard and pitiless country.

As to the specific charges in Aasia`s case that she committed blasphemy after some Muslim women working in the fields with her refused to drink water from her glass, she would not on her own offer her glass in the first place. For, as yet another example of our intolerance, indeed plain hypocrisy, it is not done that a Muslim would use a Christian`s utensils to drink or eat from. (And we have the gall to blame Hinduism for the caste system!) Ae hookah peenh alay

Two anecdotes come to mind. Once, in those far-off days when I was farming in Sheikhupura district, I was supervising some work in a field next to a track which led from our village to the next one. A man passing by saw a hookah belonging to one of my workers and asked if it was (literally) `smokeable`, in Punjabi “”.

I did not understand the question so asked what the man had said. “He is asking if this is hookah belongs to a Christian,” one of them said. I then said to the man that ours was a Christian village; that if he wanted to smoke the hookah he was welcome, otherwise he should be on his way. The fellow quietly sat down on his haunches and after a satisfying smoke walked on to his village. wangaar wangaar degh

The second was when I had asked for a , a great system prevalent in all farming societies in which neighbouring farmers gather to help one of their number get urgent work out of the way quickly. In Punjab, the farmer who asks for cooks a or two to provide sustenance to his helpers. munshi

It was at lunchtime that I noticed everybody else tucking away into their food and young Mehnga, Baba Qadir`s son, sitting a little way away, not eating. When I asked why, my took me aside and said in low tones that Mehnga was waiting for his little brother to bring him his own plate so that he could eat.

Since all of them were eating out of my crockery, I immediately served Mehnga myself, and then announced that the plates being used were those that had been eaten from by Christians many times, indeed, my American and German and Swiss and Brit friends who would often come for weekends to my farm, sometimes for extended lunches, and which everyone present knew about.

What was it about Mehnga, I asked, the colour of his skin that he was not eating with them? There was not a squeak out of any one of them, I can tell you, and never again any such nonsense in Kot Hyat Khan.

So then, it is simply not possible that Aasia Bibi herself insisted that her Muslim co-workers drink from her glass, and when they did not, commit blasphemy. It is time that this horrendous law was amended to make it less harsh and one-sided. For we know that it has very often been used to victimise opponents and people who do not conform to the dictates of someone, not only Christian but many Muslim unfortunates too.

Let us all of us then, support the courageous Sherry Rehman in her efforts to amend the blasphemy laws by tabling a private members` bill in the National Assembly. Let us petition our political leaders to support this amendment so that the Damocles sword hanging above our poor and powerless minorities is removed once and for all. We must ensure that what happened to so many Pakistanis such as little Rehmat Masih`s uncle, Manzoor Masih, who was shot dead in broad daylight while waiting for a bus after his nephew`s court hearing); or to Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti who was shot dead after acquitting Rehmat Masih. n

Let us transform Pakistan from an ugly and cruel and merciless country to one that is beautiful and kind and compassionate.
Source: DAWN

December 1, 2010

On PML-N's opportunistic politics on Aasia bibi

by admin


Related articles:

Nawaz Sharif’s sectarian poodle in Lahore High Court stays Aasia bibi’s release

Extremist Barelvis vomit hate and violence

Politics of Sahibzada Fazle Karim

Blasphemy, Asia Bibi and cheap religious emotionalism – by Wajahat Masood

Kafir Kafir, Salman Tasir Kafir

Element of opportunism in Pakistani politics -by Arshad Mahmood

PML-N decides to play safe with Fazl Karim – by Muhammad Akram

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N is not contemplating any action against its member of parliament from Faisalabad, Sahibzada Fazl Karim, despite the fact that he violated the party stance on the alleged blasphemy committed by Aasia Bibi, the sources in the party informed Daily Times.

The sources said the top PML-N leadership has shown no or least interest to violation of the party stance on the alleged incident, as it believes that the court has handed down the verdict on Aasia Bibi on the basis of a weak complaint and dubious evidence. Sahibzada Fazl Karim was elected on a PML-N ticket from Faisalabad in 2002 and 2008 general elections. The sources said the PML-N leadership was of the considered view that the party stance notwithstanding the public outcry by religious right demands expediency on the part of the party leadership as any action against Fazl Karim could affect the party vote bank across the country. The sources said though Fazl Karim-led Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC)’s announcement to contest next general election from SIC platform amounts to violation of the party discipline yet the party thought it was prudent to let the matter pass unnoticed. The SIC long march, which was initially planned to condemn terrorist attacks on shrines, was allowed to convert into condemnation of the blasphemy incident of Sheikhupura, ignoring the divide existing in society over the flaws in the law.

The PML-N sources said: “Sahibzada Fazl Karim was riding on the shoulders of his own constituents and if he was reprimand as the party discipline demands before or after the long march it could have negative effects on the party support in the urban centres of Punjab.” The sources said the top PML-N leadership has, however, advised the Punjab government to provide maximum security to Aasia Bibi in jail to avoid the repetition of incidents in which accused of blasphemy were murdered in jail. The PML-N government is aware of the need to protect the life of Aasia Bibi and has instructed the officials concerned to provide her maximum security, said an official of the provincial home department on the condition of anonymity. (Source)

December 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Pakistan Peoples Party – by Amjad Rashid

by admin

Once there was a time in Pakistan when a prime minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan used to visit the streets of general Pakistani public. One day when he was visiting a poor town of southern Punjab and watching the miserable conditions of the poor, at once he emerged in an vast land full of sand every where, which was the starting land of Cholistan desert. He saw an old aged woman there who was cooking something on the body of tin that was put on the fire (no stove and no “Tawa”).

He went rapidly towards that woman who was busy in cooking something. When he reached on the head of the woman, he greeted the woman. Old woman didn’t know about him and she was totally unaware of the fact that she was facing the acting prime minister of country at that time. She also greeted that man and said him to sit. Prime Minister sat on the hot sand near her like the woman was sitting on the sand, then other ministers and secretaries reached there also and one of them introduced prime minister with the old woman by saying: “O lady! The person sitting with you is the prime minster of Pakistan”. Then the lady was astonished to know the fact but prime minister at once said: “Mother! Would you give me one of the bread (Rotti) you are cooking as I am very hungry”?

The woman was so much pleased and she at once said: “Why not! My son! Why not!” Then she presented him 2 breads with a little amount of soup (shorba in Urdu) and added a little amount of butter on the breads. Prime minister ate that food and he noticed that there was grains of sand in the soup but he started eating like his favourite food. While eating, the tears fell out from his eyes to see the extent of poverty in Pakistan and he said to his ministers: “My dear ministers! Please come and join me in the food. See! This is the food which my public is compelled to eat. Now come here and do eat this. Unless you eat this, you can’t feel the pains and feelings of the public. Please all ministers come out from your facilitated in public places and see the miserable conditions of our people so you can solve their real problems”.

This is not a 6th class story which carries 10 marks in annual exams. This is not just a tale which people can state and enjoy in their gatherings for some moments. This is a real incident of our history and a lesson for all of us. The prime minister was non other than Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto was Quaid-e-Awam and this incident proves that he was the real leader of the public. He was man who ever lives in the hearts of poor public of Pakistan. He was the head of not only a political party but a theory also, Pakistan People’s Party.

Pakistan People Party was founded today that’s why Yom-e-Tasees of PPP is celebrated all over Pakistan today. Its foundations are based on the welfare of public, on equality of all humans in Pakistan, on brotherhood between common people of Pakistan, on tolerance, on equal distribution of wealth between public, on Jinnah’s wishes and on all disputes ranging Kashmir to 22 strong financial families in Pakistan which were controlling the whole state at that time.

The founding members of Pakistan People’s Party are progressive, liberal, educated, belong to middle class of Pakistan and are high intellectuals. They are followers of 2 nation’s theory of Jinnah and they want to see democratic system in Pakistan. They want to see justice and equality in Pakistan. They are in try to defeat the dictatorship. That’s why they choose 3 colours in PPP’s flag. Green for our beloved doctrine Islam. Red for social equality and “Inqalab”. Black for the sorrows and grieves of our public which start from the day of 10th Moharram, the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in Karbala and continue still in the different forms like depression, poverty, class systems and disappointment.

The poor public of Pakistan lower middle class and lower class of Pakistan said “Labbaik” on the voice of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and PPP. They made him an immortal hero of not only Pakistan but the immortal hero of the world. The feudal, industrialists, investors, upper middle class and upper class of Pakistan denied the message of Bhutto and started enmity with PPP. They hanged Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, they martyred Shahnawaz Bhutto, they martyred Murtaza Bhutto and they also martyred Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of the East, but they could not finish PPP.

PPP is successfully heading towards its goals but still enemies of PPP are not forgiving PPP. They are putting hurdles in the way of public according to their old custom. But it is the duty of PPP and public of Pakistan to fight, fight and fight these obstacles as the blood of thousands of martyrs should not go in vain. Happy Birthday PPP.
Long Live Bhuttoism.

December 1, 2010

The PPP — hope for a new Pakistan – by Farahnaz Ispahani

by admin

As we celebrate the 44th founding day of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) today, it is important to remember and retrace the history and the principles of the PPP — its consistent purpose of progressive, responsible and compassionate government. The PPP, which was launched at its founding convention on November 30, 1967, is the only party with demonstrated strength in all of the four provinces of Pakistan. It is and always has been democratic and egalitarian, committed to equal opportunity for people regardless of class, region, religion or gender. From its founding statement to the party manifesto under which it contested and won the 2008 elections, the PPP is committed to the values of faith, freedom, fundamental human rights, and a society based on the rule of law and human dignity. From its founder, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to the great martyr of democracy Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, to the current co-chairmen of the party, President Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the party has had an unshakable commitment to parliamentary democracy, accountable government, and democratic civilian oversight of all ministries under the constitution. Some people have talked about change. The PPP has delivered it. Some people have talked about democracy. The leaders of the PPP have lived and died for it.

The PPP encompasses four founding principles: Islam is our Faith; Democracy is our Politics; Social Democracy is our Economy; and All Power to the People. The first principle of the PPP, Islam is our Faith, explains that Islam teaches brotherhood, love and peace. Pakistani’s faith places a responsibility on each citizen to reach out in a spirit of accommodation and tolerance to all religions and sects and to treat people of all faiths with respect, enabling them to enjoy religious freedom and equality before the law. The message of Islam is the message of Peace and are symbolized in the words and verses of great Sufi saints Data Sahib, Shah Abdul Latif of Bhittai, Baba Farid Ganj Shakar and Lal Shahbaz Qalander. The PPP commits itself to religious tolerance. Religious beliefs of individual citizens have little to do with the business of the state, as the Founder of the Nation declared in his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto spent her last years traveling the world, educating people of all religions and on all continents, that Islam was not the caricature it was painted in the west, but a progressive, tolerant, innovative religion that abhors terrorism and violence, and guarantees social equality. She knew that in the end, she was the Jihadists worst nightmare — an enlightened, liberal woman dedicated to equal opportunity for all Pakistanis. She knew what she was confronting, but she bravely moved forward, teaching her country and the world what courage and dignity and true commitment is all about.

The second principle of the PPP, Democracy is our Politics, emphasizes the PPP’s commitment to freedom and fundamental rights, including freedom from hunger and want, is written in the blood of its martyrs and in the red marks of lashes on the back of its workers. It is written in the suffering and sacrifice of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who faced the gallows refusing to bow before tyranny, defending the human rights of our citizens to the last breath. In every age, including today, the PPP leaders and office bearers have been behind bars, in exile, facing political persecution, defending their Party and its principles at great personal cost to their families and themselves. It is written in the suffering and sacrifice of its leaders the greatest of whom was Quaid e Awam Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who gave their lives so Pakistan could be truly free.

The third PPP principle, Social Democracy is our Economy, aims at creating a just
and equitable society with equal opportunity for all its citizens. The growing gap between the rich and the poor must be bridged by supporting the underprivileged, the downtrodden and the
discriminated. The PPP is proud of being the voice of the poor, the working classes and the
middle classes. These policies, while dedicated to the underprivileged, created conditions that
enabled the business and trading classes to compete in the open market and satisfied basic human needs including full employment, national health, universal education, water supply and sanitation. Under Benazir Bhutto’s government 89,000 primary and secondary schools were created; 100,000 women health workers spread out across the country bringing health care to villages that had never seen it before; thousands of villages were electrified for the first time; all political prisoners were freed; labor and student unions were legalized; women were appointed to the Courts for the first time in our nation’s history and allowed to compete in international sports; polio was functionally eradicated. It was a record so distinguished that Pakistan under Benazir was awarded the Gold Medal by the World Health Organization, and declared one of the great emerging economies of the world by the IMF.

The fourth PPP principle, All Power to the People, has taken up the task of safeguarding the liberal, tolerant and enlightened values of the country and has been at the forefront in arresting the trends of extremism with its power of people. It has rendered several sacrifices, the greatest being in the early hours of 19th October 2007 when 170 workers of PPP were martyred and more than 500 injured in a bomb blast during a welcome procession of the party’s chairperson Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, on her return to the country after eight and a half year. These workers, mostly young boys, did not just die trying to protect Benazir Bhutto. They died trying to protect democracy in Pakistan. Three and one-half months later, their sacrifice and the sacrifice of our leader Benazir brought free and fair elections to Pakistan, with a democratic government replacing a decade of military dictatorship.

On this day of our founding, we recall both the triumph and the tragedy of our party’s great history — what we have accomplished and what we have sacrificed. Perhaps our greatest substantive and symbolic achievement occurred during this year, when our party led the National Assembly and the Senate to adopt the 18th amendment, purifying our beloved 1973 constitution from the usurpations of dictators. That fight was led by our President Asif Ali Zardari, through an unprecedented, selfless and principled fight to dilute his own power and in the process restore true democracy to Pakistan.

On this sacred day of remembrance and renewal, we reiterate our commitment to follow in the footsteps of our leaders Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to build a modern, progressive and democratic Pakistan in which the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalized sections of society including minorities and women live with honor and dignity.

And finally on this day our thoughts are with the assassinated leaders of the Party Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as well as to the hundreds of martyrs of democracy who gave their lives for the future of our children. As Benazir so poignantly noted:

“It is because of their sweat, blood and tears that the dream of democracy has survived. It is because of them that dictatorship has not been able to talk root in Pakistan”.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s foundation of the PPP was a setback for the reactionary forces in a country long dominated by the Right. The fight goes on…

December 1, 2010

No minority rights in Pakistan —by Shahid Saeed

by admin


We live in such an ideologically insecure country hell-bent on maintaining our brand as an Islamic Republic that we undercount and under-report the percentage of minorities in our census. There is a barrier the size of the Great Wall of China that prevents minorities from becoming successful citizens in Pakistan

Amidst the outrage over the sentencing to death of Aasia Bibi, a 45-year old mother of five, over charges of blasphemy that seem difficult to prove and have triggered a debate on the blasphemy law itself, what has been conveniently ignored is the fact that the said incident occurred after people refused to drink water brought by Aasia Bibi, considering it to be napaak (impure). Ironically, it is socially acceptable that people belonging to the poor Christian community are treated despicably, considered unhygienic, called names such as choora (sewer cleaner), regardless of their actual profession. The accusers who refused to drink water brought by Aasia Bibi were somehow acting within religious guidelines. I would like to ask them whether they would act in the same manner if Aasia Bibi and her likes were to be replaced by white Caucasian Christian women. I am pretty positive that there would be no qualms in accepting that glass of water or food touched by Christians who are not chooras. Clearly, then, it is not a matter of religion but socio-economic status that makes people discriminate in such an outrageous and horrific manner in the name of religion.

A few years ago, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had put up a banner on the Islamabad Expressway inviting the Christian biradari (community) to apply for janitorial jobs vacant at the CDA. Historically, Christians from poor backgrounds have served as janitors and cleaners, and many continue to do so whilst fighting social injustice, but for a government department to declare janitorial jobs solely reserved for Christians is disgusting. Our society tolerates, accepts and practises shameful, abominable and repulsive behaviour every day, all in the name of religion. My head hangs in shame.

We live in a country where, for a long time, elections were carried out under religious apartheid as minorities were denied their right to universal franchise by forcing separate electorates on them. The freedom to profess religion guaranteed by Article 20 of the constitution has been meaningless in the light of the legal and social discrimination against minorities. Article 20 grants people of all faiths freedom to “profess, practice and propagate” their religion, but the Second Amendment and Ordinance XX prohibit the Ahmedis from practising their religion openly and denies them the right to call themselves Muslims by categorising their faith for them. We guarantee them freedom of religion, only as long as the majority can feel secure by calling itself the constitutional Muslims and prohibiting the Ahmedis from nearly everything that they believe in, including the right to name their small town of Rabwah, as it has been rechristened Chenab Nagar. The insecurity of the majority sects has been written down in the Second Amendment and Ordinance XX and continues with constant court cases against the Ahmedis.

The fact is there are no minority rights in Pakistan. Minority members of parliament have to begin their speeches by first praising Islam and the government of Pakistan for guaranteeing them whatever limited rights they have, and still they are looked down upon by the ulema (sitting mostly on the treasury desks). It is as if we are doing a favour to them by extending basic humanitarian rights. The Hindu community has faced constant harassment and the number of forced conversions in Sindh has been on a constant rise. The Christian community faces social barriers of enormous proportions and has been the target of innumerable terrorist attacks too. Starting from partition when the Sikh and Hindu populations were killed in massive numbers, minority faiths have suffered immensely. The anti-Ahmedi agitation of 1953 started the wave of mass harassment and persecution that continues to this day. Temples have been razed, churches have been burnt and poor people lynched and killed in the name of religion.

From Shantinagar to Gojra, the history of this land is full of the murder of minorities at the hands of the self-proclaimed righteous guardians of religious boundaries. In a country where sectarian terrorism consumed thousands of lives and minorities have been forced to live in fear, Article 20 is nothing but hollow words.

We live in such an ideologically insecure country hell-bent on maintaining our brand as an Islamic Republic that we undercount and under-report the percentage of minorities in our census. There is a barrier the size of the Great Wall of China that prevents minorities from becoming successful citizens in Pakistan. The wall has been raised by legal and social measures that persecute them and discriminate against them. The majority Muslim population, hijacked by a significant number of hardline religious leaders and their followers, has made life for the minorities a living hell. They use mosque loudspeakers for telling them that they will inevitably go to hell in their afterlife.

With the passage of the Objectives Resolution, the fate of minorities in this country was sealed forever and the dream of the state envisaged in Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech had died. The report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under the Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, commonly known as the Justice Munir report, had then answered some valid questions about the role of religion in the state. The ulema — disunited as they are on a million issues and unable to come to a single definition of a Muslim — were then nearly united, and still are, on how to treat minorities: they shall be zimmies and “will have no say in the making of law and no right to administer the law” and would not be allowed to propagate their religion. Summarising, the good Justices Munir and MR Kayani wrote: “It is this lack of bold and clear thinking, the inability to understand and take decisions which has brought about in Pakistan a confusion which will persist and repeatedly create situations of the kind we have been inquiring into until our leaders have a clear conception of the goal and of the means to reach it…The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.”

These words have proven to be prophetic and stand so apt for today, albeit with the caveat that we no longer have liberal judges who did not think secularism was a bogeyman. The 11-year rule of ‘Islamisation’ has changed our attitudes, ideologies and beliefs immensely, and now we teach our children lies that never were a part of our history. We are confused about the very ideology behind the creation of this country, what it was meant to be, what it has become and what it should be. The confusion persists, but with laws that demand a blind Safia Bibi to produce four witnesses to support her claim of rape, laws that allow honour killings to take place through forgiveness granted under diyat and laws that sentence people to death over fake blasphemy charges, we have arrived at a point where it is clear that theocracy has failed us. Only a secular, progressive and democratic Pakistan can guarantee social progress for the people of this country. Rest assured, the future looks bleak if things are to continue the way they are now.
Source: Daily Times

December 1, 2010

Russia leads Eurasia – by Shiraz Paracha

by admin

The United States faces embracement as leaders from 56 countries, including head of states and governments gather for a two-day international summit in Central Asia.

After a gap of 11 years, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is holding its summit in Astana, a shiny but frosty capital of Kazakhstan, which is the rotating Chair of the OSCE for 2010.

The United States considered Kazakhstan ‘unfit’ to lead the OSCE. In the U.S eyes, Kazakhstan held a poor record in areas of governance, democratic reforms and human rights, a commonly applied charge sheet against non-Western countries and the so-called third basket of the OSCE agenda.

Kazakhstan, however, was determined to achieve the goal. There was a substantial support for Kazakhstani chairmanship among the European Union (EU) members. The EU is very keen to have broader and deeper ties with the resource-rich Central Asian state. In 2007, Kazakhstan assured its European partners in Madrid, Spain, that it would meet all the OSCE standards.

Julie Finley, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE from 2005 to 2009, however, continued to oppose the Kazakhstani ambition but eventually the United States had to accept Kazakhstan as the 2010 Chair of the OSCE. Several factors may have led Washington to budge and give a green signal for the ‘crowning’ of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a vast country that borders China, Russia and Central Asian states. The U.S cannot afford to offend or ignore a state with a strategically important location and huge hydrocarbon reserves and precious mineral resources.

Secondly, in comparison to the West’s old rival Russia, it is easier for the United States and the West to deal with Kazakhstan.

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union had initiated an East-West dialogue that led to the creation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the predecessor of the OSCE. The Soviet proposed talks on economic cooperation in Europe were held at Dipoli in Helsinki in 1972. The outcome of the talks was “The Blue Book” and the 35-member CSCE in 1973 and later the Helsinki Final Act.

After the end of the Cold War, the CSCE was renamed into the OSCE; however, Russia became suspicious of the organization’s aims and viewed it as an anti-Russia body that was promoting Western interests.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been a staunch critic of the OSCE. He believed that the OSCE was ineffective and biased and an instrument to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries.

Nevertheless, recently the OSCE has been accommodating Russian concerns and Moscow, too, is less critical of the organization. Some Western commentators fear that the Russian influence in the OSCE has increased, particularly in the past two years. There are reasons for the change.

NATO and the United States are stuck in Afghanistan. Out of the 56 OSCE member states 43 are involved in Afghanistan. The Afghan factor, perhaps, has forced Washington and Brussels to adopt a soft approach towards Russia and Central Asia. NATO has been facing difficulties in Afghanistan due to insecure and unstable supply routes through Pakistan. Air supplies via Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan are not enough.

For the continuation of the NATO Afghan adventure, alternate land connectivity to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia is a vital goal. The United States and NATO have been courting Russia and Central Asian states for access to Afghanistan from the north. Kazakhstan is the leader of Central Asia and it can help NATO and the U.S in transit facility through Central Asia.

In this backdrop, a change of heart seems to have occurred in the United States. Now the ‘land of the free’ has a high opinion of Kazakhstan. Former U.S ambassador to the OSCE Julie Finley has recently praised Astana and said that the Kazakh Chairmanship of the OSCE has been successful. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is attending the OSCE Summit along with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and dozens of other world leaders.

As the OSCE Chair Kazakhstan has proved that the U.S was wrong in judging Astana. In fact, Kazakhstan as the first Muslim nation, the first Central Asian country and the first former Soviet republic has performed exceptionally well in providing leadership and guidance to the OSCE on several important issues and conflicts.

Afghanistan tops the agenda of the Astana Summit. Kazakhstan has a different perspective on Afghanistan, while attending the NATO summit in Lisbon, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan said: “Peace in Afghanistan is not possible only by military means.” Kazakhstan has been working closely with the Afghan government in non-military areas.

This year, the foreign minister of Kazakhstan Kanat Saudabayev visited Afghanistan three times. Kazakhstan is helping in infrastructure development in Afghanistan and Afghan medical and police officials are also receiving trainings in Kazakhstan.

Violent inter-ethnic clashes in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan earlier this year were another test of Kazakhstan’s leadership. Astana handled a sensitive and dangerous situation wisely and helped in controlling the violence.

President Nazarbayev and foreign minister Saudabayev turned the OSCE platform for the political dialogue on resolving the crisis in Kyrgyzstan. Special consultations were held with the other OSCE members such as Russia, Spain, Lithuania, Germany, France, Turkey as well as the United Nations.

Months later, mostly peaceful parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan demonstrated that Kazakhstan is an anchor of stability in Central Asia. Maintaining peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan will be discussed at the Summit, President Roza Otunbayeva of Kyrgyzstan is in Astana for the Summit.

Regional conflicts such as in Georgia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh are also expected to be on the table in Astana. Russia considers the former Soviet space as its ‘special sphere of influence’ and has been very sensitive about the West’s involvement in these conflicts. Azerbaijan is keen to find a settlement of its dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh and Turkey backs the Azeri position but a major breakthrough on this issue is unlikely at the Astana Summit.

Thirty five years ago at the peak of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had launched a sincere effort of a meaningful dialogue between the East and the West but it did not succeed because the other side’s aim was to wipe out the Soviet Union from the World map. The West achieved its aim in 1991 with the split of the Soviet Union and soon after that the OSCE, the brainchild of the Soviet leaders, was on the mission to export the Western brand of democracy into all former republics. The mission, however, has been a spectacular failure.

The OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan coincides with the anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Act. It provides Russia and Central Asia an opportunity to have a bigger say in the Eurasian affairs and establish a much needed balance between the Western greed of more power and control and non-Western needs. Russia will push for the OSCE reform at the Summit that will give Russia more leverage in Eurasian affairs.

The West has been bogged down in Afghanistan and needs Russian and Kazakhstani help for a safe passage. Capitalist system is losing credibility very fast and the resulting economic crisis is a matter of grave concern for the West. Blinded by their oil and energy needs, arrogant Western countries are, now, somewhat pragmatic and realistic about the significance of emerging powers of Eurasia.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. He can be reached at: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com

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