Archive for December 11th, 2010

December 11, 2010

Keeping secrets WikiSafe -by Scott Shane

by admin

WASHINGTON — Can the government still keep a secret? In an age of WikiLeaks, flash drives and instant Web postings, leaks have begun to seem unstoppable.

That may be just a first impression. Sobered government officials are scrambling to stop the hemorrhage of documents, even as antisecrecy radicals are discovering that some secrets may be worth protecting after all.

Still, there’s been a change. Traditional watchdog journalism, which has long accepted leaked information in dribs and drabs, has been joined by a new counterculture of information vigilantism that now promises disclosures by the terabyte. A bureaucrat can hide a library’s worth of documents on a key fob, and scatter them over the Internet to a dozen countries during a cigarette break.

That accounts for how, in the three big WikiLeaks document dumps since July, the usual trickle of leaks became a torrent. All of it, disguised as a Lady Gaga CD, was smuggled out of a military intelligence office, according to government prosecutors, by Pfc. Bradley Manning, a soldier now imprisoned and charged with the leak.

Even two decades ago, in the days of kilobytes and floppy discs, such an ocean of data would have been far more difficult to capture and carry away. Four decades ago, using a photocopier, a leaker might have needed a great many reams of paper and a tractor-trailer.

“I do think it’s true that the large contours of national and international policy are much harder to keep secret today,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It would not be possible to conduct a secret war in Cambodia, as took place in the Nixon administration.”

Indeed, within hours of American missile strikes in Yemen against suspected Al Qaeda camps last December, amateur video of the destruction was on YouTube. The videos labeled the strikes “American.” The strikes have never been publicly acknowledged by the Defense Department.

Or consider the speed at which news travels. During the Iran-contra affair, American arms sales to Iran were first reported by a Beirut weekly, Al Shiraa, in November 1986; it was a few days before the American press picked up the story. “Now it would take a few minutes,” said Mr. Aftergood.

Long before WikiLeaks, of course, reporters often met bureaucrats with troubled consciences or agendas, and produced sensational disclosures. The Pentagon Papers is the iconic case. More recently, the classic muckraking model unveiled closely guarded programs that the Bush administration put into place after Sept. 11, 2001: the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prisons; waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods; the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping without court warrants on American soil.

All those disclosures led to public debate and to action: the prisons were closed; coercive interrogations were banned; the N.S.A. program was brought under court supervision. But the disclosures also fed a bipartisan sense in Congress and across the intelligence agencies that secrets were too casually whispered to reporters. One unexpected result in the first two years of the Obama administration has been four prosecutions of government employees on charges of disclosing classified information, more such prosecutions than under any previous president.

That is a reason to suspect that the openness of this new era will have limits. Would-be leakers can, presumably, be dissuaded; they can be outmaneuvered in the technological cat-and-mouse game; they can learn self-restraint. And there are signs that all of that may be happening in the WikiLeaks case.

WikiLeaks set out with “a ‘Field of Dreams’ philosophy for inviting leaks — ‘If we build it, they will come,’ ” said Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which obtains and publishes declassified government documents. “They tried to create a safe place for disclosures. But with Bradley Manning behind bars, who’s going to rush to follow his example?”

Now, with the third WikiLeaks collection linked to Private Manning in the news, members of Congress have called with new ferocity for punishing the group and its provocateur-in-chief, Julian Assange. Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, has asked the State Department to consider designating WikiLeaks a terrorist group; Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, has called for espionage charges against Mr. Assange, an idea that legal experts say is problematic. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut has called for an investigation of The New York Times because it has published some of the material obtained by WikiLeaks.

Whether or not the Obama administration tries to prosecute those who disseminated the information, it is determined to use technology to preserve its secrets. The Defense Department is scaling back information sharing, which its leaders believe went too far after information hoarding was blamed for the failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot.

The department has also stripped CD and DVD recorders from its computers; it is redesigning security systems to require two people, not one, to move large amounts of information from a classified computer to an unclassified one; and it is installing software to detect downloads of unusual size.

Yet even as the government seeks to rein in WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks is reining in itself. The confidential diplomatic cables it disclosed have unquestionably turned the discreet world of diplomacy upside down. But the disclosures have been far more modest than WikiLeaks’ self-proclaimed dedication to total transparency might suggest.

Had it chosen to do so, WikiLeaks could have posted on the Web all 251,287 confidential diplomatic cables about six months ago, when the group obtained them. Instead, it shared the cables with traditional news organizations and has coordinated the cables’ release with them. As of Friday, fewer than 1 percent of the cables had been released on the Web by the antisecrecy group, The Times and four European publications combined.

“They’ve actually embraced” the mainstream media, “which they used to treat as a cuss word,” Mr. Blanton said. “I’m watching WikiLeaks grow up. What they’re doing with these diplomatic documents so far is very responsible.”

When the newspapers have redacted cables to protect diplomats’ sources, WikiLeaks has generally been careful to follow suit. Its volunteers now accept that not all government secrets are illegitimate; for example, revealing the identities of Chinese dissidents, Russian journalists or Iranian activists who had talked to American diplomats might subject them to prison or worse.

In an op-ed essay for The Australian last week, Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian citizen who is currently being held in Britain on sex charges from Sweden, declared his devotion to some core Western press values. “Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media,” he wrote. “The media helps keep government honest.”

But WikiLeaks has not quite joined the ranks of traditional publishing, and it may yet cast all restraint aside. Reaching back to his hacker roots, Mr. Assange has created what he calls an “insurance” plan for his own future and that of WikiLeaks. The group has put on the Web, for download, encrypted files containing a huge trove of documents that have not yet been released. Thousands of people have downloaded the files.

If the United States moves to prosecute, Mr. Assange has said, the group will release the encryption key, in effect making public tens of thousands of unredacted cables — and who knows what other dangerous secrets.

It is a 21st-century threat, and one the Obama administration is taking very seriously.

Source:

December 11, 2010

Story of a spy agency's news agency – by Aamer Ahmed Khan

by admin


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Mohsin Baig’s Online-International News Network: A news ‘agency’ you can trust!

A glaring example of how ISI dictates Pakistani newspapers: The case of a missing WikiLeak cable

Can’t they just be spies?
The fake WikiLeaks story that shamed so many good newspapers in Pakistan last week brought to mind a conversation I once had many, many years ago with a friend of mine who had just risen to an important place in one of the country’s premier spy agencies. He was furious with his colleagues and vowed to use every ounce of his newfound eminence within the agency to keep it away from the media. Here is what had apparently happened.

When anti-India protests first broke out at a mass scale in Kashmir some 20 years ago, the only news outlet which religiously reported every incident of violence, resulting from that uprising, was Pakistan Television (PTV). There was much excitement in the shady corridors of Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus as hundreds of jihadis, flush with their perceived success in Afghanistan and inspired by PTV’s coverage, made a beeline for the Line of Control.

Given its limited reach and influence outside Pakistan, though, PTV’s coverage couldn’t quite pull the same kind of foreign jihadis towards Kashmir as the global media had earlier managed to attract towards Afghanistan. And as was the norm in those days, the spy agency in question, immediately took upon itself to address the issue.

It was decided to raise a brand new news agency dedicated to Kashmir. The agency would use the sprawling network of its informants in Kashmir to gather information on the uprising and would feed it to the global media so that the situation in Kashmir was brought to the world’s attention. There was apparently a consensus that given the agency’s human resource network on the ground, it was perhaps the best placed outfit in the world to help the media report on the situation in the valley.

And so it started with millions invested in raising the said news agency and introducing it to media outlets around the world.

However, just as the world was beginning to think that it may be worth its while to deal with this brilliant news agency that seemed to be very well entrenched in the valley, the spooks running the operation went haywire and lost all perspective on what they had set out to achieve.
As more and more newspapers started accepting its copy, the agency started reporting a dramatic increase in the number of Indian casualties at the hands of our fearless jihadis. The daily death toll rose at such a furious pace that even PTV broadcasters started looking a wee bit embarrassed reading out the agency’s copy. Within a matter of months, no newspaper outside Pakistan was willing to touch its copy with a barge pole.

Several years later, one western analyst, writing on Kashmir, said if that agency was to be believed, jihadis must have killed all the Indian Army posted in the valley twice over by now. And that was how a multi-million-rupee venture came to nothing. No wonder my friend was furious at his colleagues for their sheer incompetence.

Going through the contents of the fake WikiLeaks story, it seems obvious that nothing much has changed in these last 20 years as far as the spy network’s understanding of how media works. They apparently still believe that good propaganda merely means getting someone to print your lies. It doesn’t matter how transparent the lies are and how easily they can be caught out.

I so, so wish my friend hadn’t retired and was still a spy. We really need someone to pull up the idiot whose brainchild it was. He may be clueless how much his crazy dishonesty has added to the trust deficit that Pakistan faces internationally. But even if he cannot be held accountable for his madness, someone should at least try and keep him away from the media.

The writer is head of BBC Urdu Service aamer.khan@tribune.com.pk

Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2010.

December 11, 2010

Shia physician charged with blasphemy in Hyderabad Sindh

by admin

Extremist Deobandis (supported by extremist Barelvis) have charged a famous physician Dr Noushad Ali Valliani (M.B.B.S, R.M.P, P.M.D.C) of blasphemy for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad. He has been arrested for throwing a Medical Representative’s visiting card into dustbin. Medical Rep Mr Muhammad Faizan called his colleagues, beat him up and then dragged him to the police station where has been formally charged with blasphemy. According to Pakistani law, any one convicted of blasphemy may be sentenced to death.

The controversial blasphemy law is supported by the PML-N (Nawaz Sharif), Jamaat-e-Islami (Munawar Hasan), Sunni Tehreek, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban.

Naushad Valiyani. PHOTO: Express Tribune

توہین رسالت کا مقدمہ درج

پاکستان میں توہین رسالت قانون کے خلاف مظاہرے بھی ہوئے ہیں

پاکستان کے شہر حیدرآباد میں ایک شخص کی درخواست پر پولیس نے شہر کے معروف معالج ڈاکٹر نوشاد ولیانی کے خلاف توہین رسالت کے الزام میں مقدمہ درج کر لیا ہے۔

پولیس نے ڈاکٹر نوشاد کو حراست میں بھی لے لیا ہے۔

حیدرآباد کے ریجنل پولیس افسر حیدرآباد سید مشتاق شاہ نے بی بی سی اردو سروس کے نامہ نگار احمد رضا سے بات کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ یہ مقدمہ درج نہیں ہونا چاہیے تھا لیکن بعض مذہبی تنظیموں کے کارکنوں نے سڑک بلاک کرکے احتجاج شروع کردیا تھا جس کی وجہ سے عشرہ محرم میں نقص امن سے بچنے کے لیے پولیس کو مقدمہ درج کرنا پڑا

حیدرآباد کے ریجنل پولیس افسر سید مشتاق شاہ کیا کہتے ہیں؟
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2010/12/101211_rpo_hyd_interview_ha.shtml

محمد فیضان کا کہنا ہے کہ ڈاکٹر نوشاد ولیانی نے جمعرات کے روز ان کا وزیٹنگ کارڈ ردی کی ٹو کری میں پھینک دیا تھا اور حضور کی شان میں گستاخانہ الفاظ ادا کیے۔

حیدرآباد میں بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار علی حسن کے مطابق سنیچر کو کئی میڈیکل کمپنیوں نے نمائندوں نے ڈاکٹر کی کلینک پر دھاوا بول دیا اور پہلے ڈاکٹر کو زد و کوب کیا پھر انہیں کینٹ پتھانے لے گئے۔

ڈاکٹر نوشاد نے پولیس کو پیش آ نے والے واقعات سے آگاہ کیا اور کہا کہ وہ کسی طور پر بھی توہین رسالت کے مرتکب نہیں ہوئے ہیں۔ ڈاکٹر نوشاد اسماعیلی فرقے سے تعلق رکھتے ہیں۔

فیضان اور ان کے ساتھی ڈاکٹر نوشاد کی وضاحت پر مطمئن ہوگئے تھے لیکن اس سے قبل کہ معاملہ رفع دفع ہوتا، بعض کالعدم مذہبی تنظیموں سے وابستہ سرگرم کارکن تھانے پہنچ گئے۔

ان لوگوں نے موقف اختیار کیا کہ معاملے کو رفع دفع نہیں کیا جاسکتا اور پولیس کو باقاعدہ مقدمہ درج کرنا ہوگا۔ اس دوران تھانے کے باہر ہجوم سا لگ گیا جس نے نعرے بازی شروع کردی۔

مذہبی تنظیموں کے کارکنان کے مقدمہ درج کرنے کے مطالبے پر فیضان اور ان کے ساتھیوں نے بھی وہ ہی موقف اختیار کرلیا جس پر پولیس نے مقدمہ درج کرلیا

Source: BBC Urdu

December 11, 2010

Terrorists win if Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are silenced, supporters plan protests worldwide

by admin

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Assange: charges are part of campaign to close down WikiLeaks, he vows to fight extradition

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks VS Mir Shakil ur Rahman’s Mickeyleaks

People hold images of Julian Assange in front of their faces at a demonstration in Brisbane, Australia. Photograph: Steve Gray/EPA

According to The Guardian’s report, protests will be held around the world today against the detention ofJulian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

Demonstrations are planned in the capitals of Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Peru to demand Assange’s release, the re-establishment of WikiLeaks domain name and the restoration of Visa and Mastercard credit services to allow supporters to donate money to the whistleblowing site.

A statement on the Spanish-language website Free WikiLeaks said: “We seek the liberation of Julian Assange in United Kingdom territory.” The website called on protesters to gather at 6pm (17.00 GMT) in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville and three other Spanish cities.

It also calls for “the re-establishment of the WikiLeaks (wikileaks.org) internet domain,” and the restoration of Visa and MasterCard credit card services to enable the “freedom to move money” because no one has “proved Assange’s guilt”, nor charged WikiLeaks with any crime.

Assange is in Wandsworth prison in south London after being refused bail on Tuesday. Sweden is seeking his extradition over allegations of sexual assault.

His lawyers said yesterday they are preparing for a possible indictment by the US authorities.

Jennifer Robinson said her team had heard from “several different US lawyers rumours that an indictment was on its way or had happened already, but we don’t know”.

According to some reports, Washington is seeking to prosecute Assange under the 1917 act, which was used unsuccessfully to try to gag the New York Times when it published the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. However, despite escalating rhetoric over the past fortnight, no charges have yet been lodged, and government sources say they are unaware any such move is being prepared.

Robinson said Assange’s team did not believe the US had grounds to prosecute him but understood that Washington was “looking closely at other charges, such as computer charges, so we have one eye on it”.

Earlier this week, the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said the US had been put at risk by the flood of confidential diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks and he authorised a criminal investigation.

In another op-ed, published in the Vancouver Sun says, terrorists win if Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are silenced.

When animals perceive an external threat they close ranks. Torture becomes acceptable. Senior advisers to prime ministers publicly call for assassinations. We’re scared. We’re running scared, all of us. We’re wondering when Canada will get its first major terrorist attack. We’re wondering if Julian Assange’s big mouth will facilitate that terrorist attack.

Columnist Dan Gardner is right — ever since Sept. 11, 2001 — when many of us felt that external threat for the first time and no one knew what was happening and the only people running the world were a few CNN anchors -our Canadian mind-sets changed and we were willing to become less liberal for the first time if it meant ensuring our own survival. Animals closing ranks. Taking sides. No longer were we a fly on the wall … we were what the fly was watching.

We are now at war. We are no longer safely, comfortably, arrogantly and sanitarily observing from the wings. We don’t have that luxury any more. We are direct participants in a major world conflict. But shutting up Assange isn’t the answer. Stifling the free flow of information is like giving in to the terrorists. If we let anyone make us close ranks such that the democratic values Canada stands for are thrown out the window we become animals.

Assange is right -surely in the year 2010 human beings have evolved enough such that we don’t need secrets any more and closing ranks should be a cliquish anachronism.

December 11, 2010

Lady Zainab bint Ali: Victory of truth over oppression

by admin

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Imam Hussain, Karbala and Khilafat – by Maulana Muhammad Ishaq

Female leaders in Islam have been overlooked by the mainstream Muslim world for hundreds of years. The truth to be told is that if it were not for women like Lady Khadijah, Lady Fatima Zahra, and Lady Zainab (peace be upon all of them), Islam would not have survived.

Lady Zainab (also spelled as Zaynab or Zeynep) was born in the year 6 AH (627 CE) in Medina, present-day Saudi Arabia. She was the daughter of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima, sister of Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain and granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). Born into a family known for its knowledge, Lady Zainab grew up to become one of the most knowledgeable women in Muslim history.

The Prophet named her “Zainab” explaining that this name was the combination of two words “Zain” and “ab” which meant father’s adornment, in other words she was like an image of Imam Ali’s character.

In her character, she reflected the best attributes of those who raised her. In sobriety and severity, she was likened to Ummul-Muminin Hazrat Khadija, her grandmother. In chastity and modesty to her mother Fatima Zahra; in eloquence to her father Imam Ali; in forbearance and patience to her brother Imam Hassan and in bravery and tranquillity of the heart to Imam Hussain. Her face reflected her father’s awe and her grandfather’s reverence.

In Medina, it was Zainab’s practice to hold regular meetings for women in which she shared her knowledge and taught them the precepts of the religion (Deen) of Islam as laid out in the Holy Qur’an. Her gatherings were well and regularly attended. She was able to impart the teachings with such clarity and eloquence that she became known as Fasihah (Skillfully fluent) and intensely eloquent (Balighah).

The depth and certainty of her knowledge earned her epithel given to her by her nephew, Imam Zaynul-Abidin of ‘Alimah ghayr Mu’allamah’ – she who has knowledge without being taught by anyone.

Lady Zainab married Abdullah, son of Ja’far Tayyar. Although Lady Zainab’s husband was well-off, the couple lived a modest life, as much of their wealth was donated to charity.

Her Role in the Negation of Oppression

Lady Zainab is famous for her patience during the tragedy of Ashura (Karbala). She watched her two sons, Aun and Muhammad, get butchered before her eyes on the day of Ashura. She also witnessed the brutal mutilation and slaughter of her brother Imam Hussain.

Before his martyrdom, Imam Hussain is said to have asked Lady Zainab to be patient in spite of all the calamities. Lady Zainab was afflicted with unspeakable tragedies, but as she was always steadfast, she came to known as Sabira (the Patient One).

In the aftermath of the massacre of Karbala, Lady Zainab led the women and children who were taken as prisoners by the tyrant Yazeed’s army.

While Imam Hussain’s mission ended on the plains of Karbala, Lady Zainab continued his struggle to be the voice of Imam Hussain.

Zainab assumed the task of delivering the message of the martyrs of Karbala to the people of her time and to the generation to come. She spared no time disclosing the plots hatched by the ruling system to distort the real importance of the Karbala Movement. Her provocative speeches delivered in the Courts of Yazid in Kufa and Damascus, when taken as a captive, still echo throughout the Muslim World.

Delivering a fiery speech in Kufa, at the seat of Ibn Ziyad, she condemned and unveiled his inhumane attitude. In a long speech in Damascus at Yazid’s court, she castigated vicious Yazid and cursed him because of his mischievous acts.

In one of Lady Zainab’s famous speeches in the palace of the tyrant Yazeed, she condemned oppression and scorned Yazeed in his own court. With a heart filled with the fire of truth, she spoke her eternal words: “So scheme whatever you may scheme, and strive for whatever you may strive, and put forth your best efforts – but, by Allah, you will never erase our mention (the family of the Prophet). ‘And are your days not numbered? And is your gang not dispersed – on that day when the caller shall call: Is not the damnation of God upon the oppressors?!'”

Even after her return to Medina, Lady Zainab did not sit still. Instead, despite having endured such hardships, she traveled all over the Islamic world and continued to preach the message of Imam Hussain, causing a reawakening in the Muslim nation that continues to this day in the form of Ashura commemorations. He struggle against oppressors and usurpers is an inspiration even today, and millions visit her shrine every year.

It is a fact that neither Karbala nor true Islam would have come to be known in reality without Hazrat Zainab’s sacrifices, and the pain and torture she endured in that period of time, and her perseverance in challenging the Omayyad government of tyrants and usurpers.

Zainab’s Sermon in Darbar-e-Yazid

At the plush seat of government, Yazid, proud of himself, surrounded by men of influence, was seated in wait. It was somewhat startling when he saw the 44 (see Note 2) bound captives arrive. It was more startling when the head of Al-Husain was brought to him on a golden tray. He, playfully touched the Imam’s teeth with the end of his stick and said: “O Husain! You have paid the price of your revolt.”

Taken aback at this audacity, Zainab and her companions were inflamed. Present were many sympathizers who felt sorely aggravated. But Yazid carried on gloating over his victory. He said to his subjects: “An avenge for my ancestors killed at Badr. Now Benu Hashim had staged a ploy to gain power.” Zainab, however, was incensed. She drew herself up and said aloud:

“Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds and blessings on my grandfather, the Master of divine Prophets.”
“O Yazid, Allah says, and His word is true, that:
ثُمَّ كَانَ عَاقِبَةَ الَّذِينَ أَسَاؤُوا السُّوأَى أَن كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَكَانُوا بِهَا يَسْتَهْزِئُون

In the long run evil in the extreme will be the End of those who do evil; for that they rejected the Signs of Allah, and held them up to ridicule. [Quran 30:10].”

“O Yazid, do you believe that you have succeeded in closing the sky and the earth for us and that we have become your captives just because we have been brought before you in a row and that you have secured control over us? Do you believe that we have been afflicted with insult and dishonor by Allah but that you have been given honor and respect by Him? You have become boastful of this apparent victory and you feel jubilant and proud over this honor. You think that you have achieved worldly good, that your affairs have become stable and that our rule has fallen into your hands. Wait for a while. Do not be so joyful. Have you forgotten Allah’s saying:

وَلاَ يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِّأَنفُسِهِمْ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُواْ إِثْمًا وَلَهْمُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment. [Quran 3:178]”

“O son of freed slaves, is this your justice that you keep your own daughters and slave-maids veiled while the daughters of the Prophet of Allah are being paraded from place to place exposed.”

“You have dishonored us by unveiling our faces. Your men took us from town to town where all sorts of people, whether they be residents of the hills or of riversides have been looking at us.”
“The near as well as the remote ones, the poor as well as the rich, the low as well as the high – all casting their glances at us while our position is such that there is no male relative of ours to render us help or support”.

“O Yazid, whatever you have done proves your revolt against Allah and your denial of His Prophet (pbuh) and of the Book and Sunnah that the Prophet brought from Allah. Your deeds should not cause amazement because one whose ancestors chewed the livers of the martyrs, whose flesh grew up on virtuous people, who fought against the Master of the divine Prophets, who mobilized parties for fighting against him and drew swords against him, should conspicuously excel all Arabs in unbelief, sinfulness, excesses, and enmity against Allah and His Prophet.”
“Remember that the evil deeds and sinful actions that you have committed are the result of unbelief and old rancor you bear because of your ancestors who were killed in Badr.”

“One who cast his glance of enmity, malice and rancor upon us does not lag behind in practicing enmity against us. He proves his unbelief, declares it with his tongue and jubilantly proclaims: ‘I have killed the sons of the Prophet of Allah and made his progeny captive,’ and wishes that his ancestors had lived to see his achievement and to have exclaimed, ‘O Yazid, may your hands not lose their strength, you have wreaked good vengeance on our behalf.’

“O Yazid, you are striking the lips of Imam Al-Husain with your stick in front of this crowd while these very lips used to be kissed by the Prophet of Allah, and yet your face reflects pleasure and glee.”

“By my life, by killing the Master of youths of Paradise, the son of the Master of Arabs (Imam Ali) and the shining sun of the progeny of Abdul Mut’talib, you have deepened our wound and uprooted us completely.”

“By killing Al-Husain ibn Ali you have gained nearness to the state of your unbelieving ancestors. You proclaim your deed with pride and if they were to see you they would approve of your action and pray that Allah may not paralyze your arms.”

“O Yazid! If you had heart enough to take account of your horrendous deeds, you yourself would surely wish your arms to be paralyzed and severed from your elbow and you would wish that your parents had not given birth to you because you would know that Allah has become displeased with you. Allah, Grant us our rights. Avenge those who have oppressed us.”

“O Yazid! you did what you wished, but remember that you have cut your own skin and your own flesh to pieces. Soon you will be brought before the Holy Prophet (pbuh). You will be overwhelmed with the weight of the sins committed by shedding the blood of his progeny and by dishonoring his family. The place to which you will be taken will be before all the members of his family. The oppressed will be avenged and the enemies will be punished.”

“O Yazid ! It is not seeming for you to swell with joy after slaying the Prophet’s progeny. ‘Reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive and are provided sustenance from their Lord; rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace’ [3:169-170].”

“Allah is sufficient to deal with you. The Messenger of Allah is your antagonist and Jubra’eel is our support and help against you”.

“Those who have made you the head of state and burdened the Muslims with your leadership will soon find out what awaits them. The end of all tyrants is agony.”

“O Yazid. I speak not to you thus to warn you of the severe chastisement in store for you so that you should be regretful for you are one of those whose hearts are hardened, souls are rebellious and whose bodies are busy in Allah’s disobedience while they are under the curse of the Prophet of Allah. You are from among those in whose heart Shaitan has made his abode and has been breeding young ones”.

“How amazing it is that the virtuous people, sons of the divine prophets and vicegerents are killed at the hands of liberated slaves, evil-doers and sinners. Our blood is shed by their hands and our flesh serves as food for them. We feel grieved for those whose bodies are lying uncovered and unburied in the battlefield, wounded with arrows.”

“O Yazid, if you consider our defeat is your achievement then you will have to pay its price”.

“Allah commits not injustice to His servants. Our reliance is on Allah. He alone is our Relief and abode of Protection, and in Him alone do we repose our hope.”

“You may contrive and try however much you can. By Him who honored us with revelation, the Book and Prophethood, you cannot achieve our status, nor reach our position, nor can you effect our mention, nor remove from yourself that shame and dishonor that is now your lot because of perpetrating excess and oppression on us. Your word now is weak and your days are counted. Beware of the day when the announcer would announce the curse of Allah on the tyrants and the unjust.”

“Praise be to Allah who gave good end to His friends and granted them success in their aims, and thereafter called them back to His Mercy, Pleasure and Bliss, while you hurled yourself into evil and mischief by committing injustice against them. We pray to Allah to favor us with full recompense through them and grant us the good of Khilaafah and Imamah. Surely Allah is Kind and the Most Merciful over His creatures.”

Thus was how Zainab relayed the message of the martyrs of Karbala to the people, enlightening their minds towards the realities. Through her awe-inspiring speeches, she sought to disclose the tyranny of Umayyad’s rulers. Like sparks of fire, her fiery speeches would penetrate deep into the hearts of all tyrant rulers and oppressors, making them tremble on their feet.

Sources:

Lady Zainab – Savior of Islam http://www.islamicinsights.com/religion/religion/lady-zainab-savior-of-islam.html

The Victory of Truth: The Life of Zaynab bint ‘Ali http://www.al-islam.org/victory/

ZAINAB, daughter of Ali (a.s.) http://www.islamicbooks.info/H-21-Math’habs/Zainab-13.htm

Hazrat Zainab (SA), Messenger Of the Karbala Revolution http://www.almujtaba.com

Nadeem Sarwar’s Noha: A tribute to Hazrat Zainab

Na rakh ab chadar…

December 11, 2010

The liars collective: Pakistani media in service of the ISI – by Nadeem F. Paracha

by admin

In spite of the fact that by the evening the said leaks were deemed fake, it still did not stop some TV channels belonging to the same media groups that carried the ‘story’, and a few others, from running talk shows in which the usual brigade of ultra-patriotic and knee-jerk set of journalists, analysts and anchors gleefully heaped scorn at India’s alleged involvement in Pakistan’s affairs. – File Photo (AP)

Related article:

A glaring example of how ISI dictates Pakistani newspapers: The case of a missing WikiLeak cable

The liars collective

If you think people like Zaid Hamid, Aamir Liaquat and Atiqa Odho are kind of silly with their usual convoluted rants studded with the most worn-out clichés regarding India, Israel, Islam and more – think again.

A bulk of those appearing on popular Urdu news channels or writing columns and editorials in some newspapers can get equally silly, if not worse. Take the example of how some dailies and channels ran stories about the supposed Wikileaks documents that portrayed some Indian generals as being bigots who are anti-Pakistan and how India was involved in all the terrible happenings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Well within hours after some dailies – three of them right-wing and one kind of liberal – broke this stunning disclosure in their headlines, a media blog, Café Pyala, made bare that the dramatic leaks in this respect were actually false. Soon, The Guardian’s Declan Walsh too, was out proving the same in a story for the respected British newspaper and by the evening, numerous left/liberal Pakistani websites had also picked up on the debacle.

It was thus logically expected that the involved newspapers would at once publish a retraction on their websites.

But that would be asking for a bit much from the media which has created a large bubble around itself – a kind of pro-reactive drawing-room Utopia-turned-dystopia that its advocates are always hell-bent on defending, no matter how silly, infuriating and sometimes, downright ugly they may come out sounding.

The message in this regard also had something to do with taking those liberals to task who always mocked these super patriots of being conspiratorial cranks: ‘Now that we have the proof, we’ll show them how right we were!’

Unfortunately, the so-called proof that these gentlemen could have waved as an evidence of their (somewhat questionable) sanity, came to a naught. It was all a lie. A desperate (and somewhat childish) scheme hatched in certain ‘think tanks’ where jumpy little chauvinists and patriots contemplate (nay, convolute and disfigure) everything from history to news items, in an attempt to keep certain overbearing institutions of the establishment from harm’s way.

Each time any of these institutions is rocked by a scandal or an exposé, certain newspapers and TV channels suddenly start teeming with loud deniers who would go to absurd lengths to divert the public’s attention towards something more ‘substantial’, such as of course, the ‘record-breaking corruption’ of this government, the fantastic job the free judiciary is doing, or how India remains the greatest threat to Pakistan. Or some feel-good lectures by a crank or two, usually crammed with airy myths presented as historical facts, are unleashed.

This has happened so many times that one wonders whether what many journalists and politicians on the other side of the ideological fence say, is true. Whether most of the media personnel we see on our TV screens or read about in the newspaper, who are always so passionately waving the flag of Pakistan and spouting contempt against corruption (especially when a narrative by the establishment comes under stress), may very well be the proverbial ‘agency men?’

Is veteran journalist, author and media commentator, late Zamir Niazi’s fear and warnings about the Pakistani media becoming a chaotic hub of agency men who are amorally willing to lie and cheat to protect even the most atrocious ways of their patrons in the figurative establishment be true? Perhaps. But the deluge that was created by the Wikileaks around certain sacred cows who identify themselves to be the saviours of Pakistan’s internal and external religious and ideological identity – mainly the military, the political clergy and Saudi Arabia – was such that no attempt to deflect criticism from these gallant souls seemed to be working.

So, off went many dailies and TV channels to try something else. First, certain specific leaks were selected to make the President seem like a Satan incarnate. Not much came out of this, and the gear was shifted and all of sudden one saw certain journalists claiming something about how the leaks were a conspiracy against Muslims. Obviously, this too made them seem even sillier, until the fake leaks – certainly a desperate last ditch effort.

Although some dailies were gracious enough to publish an apology the next morning, the two major Urdu papers and the TV channels did not. By refusing to acknowledge just how this calculated blunder has once and for all undermined all the self-glorified hoopla these media houses are known to air about their dedication of working towards a corruption-free Pakistan, they have at best become an international laughing stock, and at worst, are now perceived as nothing but a rabid set of liars.

Source: DAWN

December 11, 2010

PM's wife's dupatta and Haji Javed Chauhdry – by Ali Raja

by admin

Pakistan PM YR Gilani, his wife Fauzia, Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his wife Hayrunnisa Gul at a ceremony in Ankara, Dec. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Jonathan Swift was a political philosopher, a critic, a poet and a revolutionist. One of the wisest men of his times. A man who holds the honour of overthrowing the Tory Government of Great Britain. A man who holds the honour of standing before the crown and the church. A man who gave birth to the Ideology of Ireland.

However, he had a little problem. This problem was remembering jokes at events as serious as cancer. He was always able to find the humorous side of every picture and what was even worse was that he did not keep that side to himself. This humour reflected itself in his novels, his essays and his prose. Unfortunately this legendary critic got famous as a Humorist. Even his harsh criticism on the English Culture “Gulliver’s Travels” was laughed upon. They say he could never forget the discrediting of his master piece and so died a man with a sound brain and a deep heart.

With nothing good of me even close to Jonathan Swift, I happen to suffer from the very same little problem that the legend once faced. With every event that takes place in my life I find a joke associated. I try my level best to keep it to my self but just cannot help it. With so many different jokes I still have one as my favourite.

Ever since this Democratic Government has come to power I remember that joke nearly everyday. “It is about an old villager who goes to the station masters office and asks about the timings of Shalimar Express, Bolan Express, Khyber Mail and many many more. The annoyed station master asks about the destination the gentlemen intends to travel to. This is when he reveals that he only wants to cross the railway line.”

Ever since democracy led by the Pakistan Peoples Party has stepped in Pakistan, I see a mob of poor old villagers running from one station master to another, inquiring about Mails, Expresses and Tezgams. Making their calculations, having their dreams and waiting for a time when they get to the other side. I thought endlessly but could not get to the point. What is it that lies on the other side? what is that has made these villagers so anxious? and what is which makes them work so hard​? Why is that this Mujahideen 11 is so much after PPP.

I considered each and every option piece but Alas! It did not seem to fit in the puzzle:-

Is it the corruption of PPP?

It sounds quite good but how can this be the case. To oust the PPP they are even ready to welcome Nawaz Sharif, a guy who tendered an unconditional apology before a dictator to run away from 85 of his references 38 of which were corruption oriented. They are ready to welcome the Army, an organization which lies on the top of every corruption centered list. They are ready to welcome the Chief Justice, a man who is known for dumping 145 litters of petrol in his fuel tank at one time. So it can’t be the corruption mantra.

Is it the incompetence of PPP?

With foreign reserves of Pakistan touching record $17.1 Billion,with Pakistan Steel Mills trembling back to feet and with PIA cutting short its loss from Rs 140 billion to Rs 74 billion, how can one call the PPP incompetent​? The rehabilitation of Sawat IDP’s is alone an example enough to illustrate PPP’s competence.

Is PPP dangerous for Pakistan?

The federation has united hands over the NFC after 19 long years. The long dreamed provincial autonomy has touched the lands. Swat and Waziristan are back in national grid. These to me are not the signs of a dying federation. PPP in fact seems to strengthen the Federation of Pakistan.

I applied this hit and check methodology on every possible reason but had no success. I just could not find the reason for which our dear ones and near ones are against the PPP government. I could not see through their eyes. I could not figure out what lies on the other side of of the track. I could not get to know what is wrong with PPP.

Thanks to good old Haji Javed Chauhdary that he pointed out what I was looking for since 2008. He pointed out what he is against, he pointed out what stabs his heart, he pointed out what lies on the other side of the track. He actually pointed out what is wrong with PPP. Haji Javed Chauhdary in the tune of a villager lady who goes to inspect a daughter in law for her self said “Haey Allah!!! Eda Dupatta Wekhia Eee???” (Oh My God! Did You See Her Dupatta?)

In his 09 Dec 2010 column Haji Javed Chauhdary after softly criticizing the secular standing of Turkey mentioned the photograph of PM Yousuf Raza Gillani and President Abdullah Gull. Haji Javed Chauhdary criticized the first lady of Pakistan for not covering her head up to the mark. He remarked “In comparison to the first lady of Secular Turkey who had Islamically covered her head with a scarf, the first lady of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not even having a dupatta over her head.” In the eyes of Haji Javed Chauhdary this was the reason for the demise of Pakistan. In his beautiful column Haji Sahib, failed to mention some facts.

Facts which would have been very interesting for his readers. Facts which would have cast a clear view of the picture.

  • Haji Sahib failed to mention that before secularism came to Turkey, Turkey was known as the “Ill man of Europe.”
  • Haji sahib failed to mention that Turkey was a bankrupt nation in the Ottoman Khilafat.
  • Haji sahib failed to mention the the present day Turkey evolved after the seeds of secularism were sown.
  • Haji sahib failed to mention that Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhmmad Iqbal overruled any possibility of defending the Ottoman Khilafat.
  • Haji Sahib failed to mention the people of Turkey are in a deep love with secularism and the Republic Protests of 2007 were an evident expression of this love.
  • Haji Sahib failed to mention that the very same President Abdullah Gull in his first speech to the Parliament said “Turkey is a secular democracy, these are basic values of our republic, and I will defend and strengthen these values.”
  • Haji Sahib failed to mention that Madam Eda Gull the First Lady of Turkey on the day of Presidential Elections said that “Wearing head scarf is as honourable as not wearing a head scarf. We want to pursue the true spirit of democracy in Pakistan.”
  • Haji Sahib failed to mention that Justice and Development party the mother party of Gull is the party which passed a unanimous resolution in favour of secularism.

With so much to see and follow in Turkey, Abdullah Gull and Madam Eda Gull the only thing which caught Haji Javed Chuhdary’s eyes was a bright red scarf. He was ashamed to dirt when he saw our first lady without a scarf. Who cares if eminent Islamic scholars like Dr. Muhmmad Saleh and Dr. Muhammad Ismail say that scarf is not a compulsion upon the women (http://www.islamfortoday.com/hijabcanada4.htm).

All that matters is that the Ameer ul Momineen of Haji Javed Chauhdary, General Zia ul Haq used to consider scarf a compulsion. So how can it be that first lady does not wear a scarf in the royal kingdom of Zia ul Haq. Along with condemning the scarf less head of Fauzia Gillani, Haji Javed Chauhdary also scolded the Pakistani nation for electing a non Islamic Party. He praised the Turks for giving the mandate to rightly deserving Islamic Party. At the end of his column, Haji Javed Chauhdary dreamed of a Pakistan which qualifies to be an Islamic Republic. A Pakistan with a head scarf. A Pakistan under the Islamists.

I think the PPP is going through a modesty phase now a days. Bowing their head before every accuser and abuser the PPP is off to set a new trend in Pakistan’s politics so I hope the Prime Minister will be over polite with Haji Javed Chauhdary and generously make his dreams come true. Prime Minister will be happy to transform to an Islamist but just to set the record straight I must state that what sort of an Islamist Haji Javed Chauhdary is looking forward to. Ones who qualify to his list are:-

Hajaj Bin Yousuf
Mehmood Ghaznavi
Meer Hassan
Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Musa Bin Naseer
Uqba Ibn e Nafi
Abdul Malik Marwan II
Muhammad Bin Ali

These are the true leaders of the United States of Islam. People who spoke by the tip of sword, people who sat on pyramids of skulls, people who were the ancestors of the Al-Qaeda theory and people who had head scarfs enforced. I must warn Yousuf Raza Gillani and his wife to refrain from “Mulhids” Islamists.

People who are included in the red book of Haji Javed Chauhdry are as follows:

Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Fatima Jinnah
Chauhdary Muhammad Ali
Nawabzada Liaqut Ali Khan
Begum Rana Liaqut Ali
Ismat Anunu
Mahateer Muhammad

These are the demons of Islam, people who built up nations, people who carved states for their people, people who preached harmony, people who were a beacon of light but people who did not care about the scarf. People who lie in the evil axis of Haji Javed Chauhdry.

In case Mr. Prime Minister plans to execute what the “National Demand” is, I must also put on board another form of Islamists. The one I would recommend: The “Haji Javed Chauhdary” class of Islamists is the the most “notorious and luxurious” class ever seen by the Islamic world. Of course Hajid Javed Chaudhry type hypocrites find it convenient to spend extra-marital honeymoons in Switzerland (pictures abound on the internet) but do not tire of lecturing others on Islamic values.

The PM will not have to work very hard to satisfy Javed Chaudhry types. All he has to do is give lengthy emotional lectures on Islamic ethics, criticize the rest for their poor moral fibre, keep his wife locked at home and enjoy the company of beautiful women in Europe.

December 11, 2010

Laws that insult reason and justice -by Peter Jacob

by admin

The point that our religious parties seem to ignore is that the fault lies within the content and intent of the blasphemy laws themselves. The assumptions and the very scheme of these laws are manifested to be at cross-purposes with justice and the rights of the citizens.


After a considerable wait for some initiative on the part of the parliamentary sub-committee reviewing blasphemy laws and the concerned ministries, Sherry Rehman moved a bill in parliament on November 24, 2010. Unlike the bill she moved against the Hudood Ordinances during her previous tenure as a member of the National Assembly (MNA), the current bill does not seek to repeal the five sections of the Pakistan Penal Code known as the blasphemy laws. It rather outlines some safeguards to stop the abuse of law and religion. Therefore, the bill proposed 12 amendments in both the Pakistan Penal Code as well as Criminal Procedure Code.

It is not known so far when parliament will discuss the bill, which will largely depend on the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership having enough courage to do so. Tabling of the bill is nevertheless a breakthrough that the government can rely upon. Especially, the credentials of the mover of the bill as a principled, independent and conscientious voice can help the treasury if they decide to make any meaningful progress on this highly important issue.

The leadership of the ruling parties in Punjab and the Centre neither took a position in favour nor against the bill but some ministers and parliamentarians from different parties expressed their support for and against any amendment to the blasphemy laws. Importantly, civil society organisations and media have begun to take the issue to the common people, while certain religious organisations have taken a tough position against any amendment, as expected.

Well-meaning and courageous people who dare to ask for the blasphemy laws to be repealed or changed are met with accusations of themselves being guilty of committing blasphemy, something the government should have taken notice of because then there will be no discussion. Branding the demand for repeal ‘sacrilegious’, religious outfits forced some campaigners to limit their argument even around the misuse of the law, let alone taking a position on an inherently bad piece of legislation.

The point that our religious parties seem to ignore is that the fault lies within the content and intent of the blasphemy laws themselves. The assumptions and the very scheme of these laws are manifested to be at cross-purposes with justice and the rights of the citizens. The manner in which sections 295B and 295C, 298A, 298B and 298C were inducted in the Pakistan Penal Code also shows that the result could not have been different. Talking about the text first, the formulation and the content of the above-mentioned sections violate four major safeguards in criminal justice, i.e. not guilty until proven, clarity in law, the verifiable element of intent in a crime and parity of citizens before the law. On the contrary, the law is framed with the corresponding faulty assumptions.

The first assumption is that the offence is committed already and it merely needs to be punished, hence no safeguards were considered necessary by General Ziaul Haq’s draftsmen while making these extraordinary amendments in the law, whereas criminal law around the world has inbuilt verification methods and procedures for such exceptional legislation. These laws create and nurture a mindset of religious insecurity, ignorance and self-righteousness that facilitates a primitive practice of crime in the name of religion. Thus the procedural amendment, about investigation by a high ranking police official in 2004, failed to yield any results in the area of application of the law.

The second assumption is that the offence is well defined, therefore there is no need to define what constitutes the offence of insult. These sections speak only about the mode and manner the supposed insult could be offered and do not define what constitutes the offence of insult. The very draft of the blasphemy laws ignores that the concept of insult and respect varies from person to person, culture to culture, and from one social group to the other. This lacuna could not have brought a result any different from what we see. True that the civil law defines defamation and insult, but that is civil law, which does not carry heavy penalties like a number of years of imprisonment and capital punishment. Moreover, civil law does not deal with a matter as sensitive as offences relating to religion.

The third assumption is that the faith of an overwhelming majority in the country needs protection of the law against any possible insult while the religious minorities can do without it. Not that other faith groups need similar laws but the blasphemy laws failed to see that the country had other faith groups who do not subscribe to the religion under question, hence the other faiths needed to be treated as an exception. Some Islamic scholars categorically pointed out the irrationality of application of the blasphemy laws on non-Muslims.

It is very clear that you cannot have an ambiguous and illogical text of a law and not have problems with justice and application of the law. The blasphemy laws became a tool for hate crimes and incitement. With these laws in place, the people of Pakistan cannot see an end to their worries regarding religious intolerance because injustices under and by the law perpetuate and form a legacy that is harder to remove.

Blasphemy, gustakhi and shutm, all three are borrowed terms. The Penal Code of Pakistan calls this chapter ‘Offences relating to religion’. Not all sections of the chapter but only sections 295B and 295C, 298A, 298B and 298C, qualify to be termed ‘blasphemy laws’ because they are religion-specific and the penalties surpass far beyond the damage of the supposed crime, i.e. ‘hurting the feelings’ of citizens.

It is important to note that four out of five additions to the penal code came through presidential ordinances of a martial law administrator — later validated through the 8th Amendment to the constitution that legitimised General Ziaul Haq’s illegal rule and actions; hence this whole process was thoroughly undemocratic. However, the sequence of their introduction to the law itself is revealing.

The first induction was section 298A in 1980 that sought to punish any derogatory remarks against any wife (ummul momineen), members of family (ahle-e-bait), first four caliphs (khulfa-e-rashideen) or companions (sahaba) of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) with three years of imprisonment and fine or both. This section, prima facie, aims to deal with inter-sectarian issues and hate speech. However, 1980 was the year when Zia planted militant sectarian organisations of Sunni background after a reaction from the Shia community against the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance. The apparent intent of this law was contrary to his action. The Iranian Revolution was just one year old and the anxiety of the neighbouring dictatorship under Zia could be the reason for legislation on sectarian lines. The other noticeable aspect is that the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) respect was not yet considered for legislation till this time, in fact his third year in power.

The second induction was 295B in 1982 that dealt with the offence of defiling of the Holy Quran, which was punishable with a life sentence. There is no evidence that any situation demanded this law to be promulgated.

Sections 298B and 298C came in 1984, which banned misuse of Islamic epithets, etc., reserved for Muslims and calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith by any person belonging to the Ahmedi faith. These two amendments came in the 10th year after parliament lead by Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared Ahmedis non-Muslims. Zia wanted not only to appease certain clerics but also wanted to show that he could compete or rather go further than Bhutto in persecution of the Ahmedis. Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat claimed these laws coming into existence as their victory later on, which means they must have made some contribution to this portion of the blasphemy laws.

The most abused section, 295C, dealing with the use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was the latest addition in 1986. While Mohammad Ismail Qureshi, a lawyer of Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat claimed responsibility for the draft, a Jamat-e-Islami member of the National Assembly moved the bill in parliament. It carried the death sentence or life imprisonment as punishment. The Federal Shariat Court in 1991 cancelled the option of life imprisonment after a petition asking for the same.

The people are made to believe that it is only section 295C that the clerics are trying to protect, whereas these laws incrementally inducted in the penal code show an irrational pattern and order as far as respect of the personage the laws sought to protect is concerned. If the Sharia was clear on the subject, why was it not known on the very first instance of legislation? Section 295C should have come first, not last.

Dozens of innocent lives lost, properties looted, housed set alight, people displaced, uncalled for rigours of prolonged litigation and years of detention took place and thousands of people have suffered due to these laws. These incidents are blots on our justice system and conscience as a nation, something that the independent and free judiciary should look into, but not to the disadvantage of the already suffering masses.

It is time that Pakistanis should move to ‘understand’ not only the laws and policies that govern them but also their consequences. The consequences that we have seen, over and over again, are in the form of religiously motivated lawlessness. True that the laws have had extremely adverse effects on religious minorities, but Muslims too have suffered under these laws in huge numbers. Can any democratically elected government allow citizens to be kept hostage to the whims of a handful of organisations trying to keep people blind to the facts in the name of faith? If so, can they even justify their claim about working to eliminate extremism from the country?

The bill moved by Sherry Rehman has brought an opportunity to rationalise the blasphemy laws. The government and opposition parties can even try and improve the bill by their input in parliament. There is no doubt that the future of this bill holds the key not only to the environment of religious freedom for all citizens but also to the future of democratic development.

Source: Daily Times

December 11, 2010

Now that is what you call a "top-spin"! Jang and The News at it again – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

by admin

 According to a top headline in 11th December’s Jang and The News, public’s trust in government has plummeted as Rs. 60 billion withdrawn from Defense Saving Schemes. Now, we all know about the credentials of Jang and The News in “Investigative Journalism” but combine that with “Economic Investigation”, we have a doomsday scenario in our midst! Jang’s reporter, Syed Minhaj ur Rab has painted a picture that because of corruption and misgovernance, public is losing trust in National Savings Organization and that their have been huge withdrawals from the Defense Saving Certificates (DSC) of the National Savings Organization.

Syed Minhaj ur Rab is correct that there have been net withdrawals from the DSC’s to the tune of Rs 32.45 billion in 2009-10 and Rs. 27.44 billion in 2008-09. That is how the magical Rs. 60 billion figure has been arrived at. However, it is incorrect to say that people have lost trust as in entirety, various schemes of NSO have attracted Rs. 224.76 billion in 2009-10 and Rs. 267.22 billion in 2008-09 bringing the two years sum at Rs. 491.98 billion. Off course, I am not coming up with figures on my own, these are taken from State Bank of Pakistan’s website and can be accessed here: http://www.sbp.org.pk/ecodata/savings.pdf

A screen shot is provided below:

 

It is also worth noting that in the first three months of the current fiscal, DSC have attracted Rs. 1.13 billion while the overall NSS have attracted Rs. 42.45 billion. God knows how the staff at Jang thinks, investigates and reaches their conclusions. They are for sure “out of the box thinking”.

Now you look at the figures above and tell me has the government been losing the public’s trust? It’s oxymoronic to see that more money is being deposited with the state even though there is a lot trumpeting of ‘trust deficit’ with the government especially by the likes of Jang, The News and Geo TV.

Our journalists must realize that by giving a spin to a fact, you are not doing good to anyone but playing in the hands of those who want us to stumble and even fail!!! Everyone thinks in our journalists community that they know everything and especially in economics, without realizing that their writings and spinning of facts is detrimental to public confidence in the State.

It is indeed sad that in a time we need more and more investments to flow into agriculture, industries and infrastructure, nearly Rs. 550 billion has been parked with the government in the form of savings. I for one am against too much investment with the government as this money can be better utilized for projects and private sector credit.

December 11, 2010

An interview of Benazir Bhutto in November 2001

by admin

Benazir Bhutto visiting Ajmer Sharif in India

This is a transcription of an interview given by Benazir Bhutto to Vir Sanghvi on a trip to India in 2001. We are publishing this interview because of the remarkably candid statements made by Benazir Bhutto regarding the military’s destabilizing role in Afghanistan and in Kargil. Of special note is her admission that Musharraf presented the Kargil plan as a “war plan” to her during her tenure; her admission that her father worked hard to rehabilitate the army’s image after 1971, her using the word “genocide” to describe the army action in East Pakistan; her admission that organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad undermined the indigenous movement in Kashmir and her very prescient statement that Musharraf’s overtures of peace with India would ultimately be “torn up” by the military establishment itself. She also critically assesses her own second term as being “a winter” in Indo-Pak relations. After reading the interview, it would also be instructive to read some of the reactions within Pakistan to her bold statements on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (as published in Jang). At the time, the response to her statements was overwhelmingly negative. (“Not only has she betrayed hundreds of thousands of martyrs of held Kashmir but she has also sold her soul to the devil to achieve her ambition.”, “As a Pakistani citizen, I felt no difference in the opinion of Mr. Vajpayee and Benazir Bhutto. She is not right in any way.”, etc). History has proven her correct on her bold stand on militancy – which ultimately cost her her life

Video 1:

Vir Sanghvi: The traditional way to introduce my guest would be to describe her as a former Prime Minister of Pakistan. But with Benazir Bhutto you never think of her as being a former anything you never think of the past. So what I will say is that she’s been Prime Minister of Pakistan twice already and she is just 47. Do you think you’ll be Prime Minister again?

Benazir Bhutto: I hope that I can be Prime Minister again if there are fresh elections again which are fair so Pakistan is at a turning point in its own history. But we’re very concerned that General Musharraf may manipulate the next elections.

VS: he was in Agra for this summit when he had a breakfast with all of us. Indian editors and media personalities which he thoughtfully video taped for a larger audience and in which he said that democracy in Pakistan has been a sham and “I am reassembling democracy” and “I am the most popular person in Pakistan, come and see for yourself”. When a man believes that, do you think he is really serious about allowing any of you to come back to Pakistan?

BB: Well he’s told my party people that he doesn’t want me to come back

VS: He’s said that in so many words?

BB: He has said it in so many words. He’s said it publicly that I will not permit her to return. He’s said it to my party in person that I will not permit her to return but the rest of you can all have power. Now for us democracy means that the people decide not the general. So we are insisting that the people should be given the chance to decide who should lead them and if General Musharraf thinks he is very popular then maybe he should take off his uniform and contest the elections. But Pakistan’s future lies in what its founder promised, not what General Musharraf promised. Muhammad Ali Jinnah said that Pakistan would be a democracy and I am loyal to Jinnah’s dream.

VS: People in India – who you must remember we are talking about people who only see Pakistan from outside – we are given the impression that the Pakistani public was very disillusioned with the political structure they felt politicians were very corrupt and that though we would find the idea of a military dictator appalling, people in Pakistan said never mind, whatever else he is he’s better than these corrupt politicians. Is there any truth to this?

BB: Certainly there is a perception amongst a certain group of people that politicians are corrupt and that generals are better than politicians. But that’s only amongst a small section of the people. In fact the generals consider the politicians corrupt and we the politicians consider the generals corrupt. Now every few years the generals investigate us, but we’ve never had the opportunity to investigate the generals. So what we’re saying is that …

VS: I must stop you there because what you’ve said is very important. How corrupt according to you are the generals?

BB: Well we’ve heard stories of how during the Afghan Jihad, suitcases of money would be flown in C130s and handed over and the children of the generals all became multimillionaires. From where did they get their money? I am being investigated for my ministers who awarded contracts after an open and transparent bid. But the general is giving lucrative contracts to people without the bid. So something is very wrong. So we generals and politicians are going to sit down and say “OK corruption is bad and everyone is going to be accountable” and we’re going to say goodbye to the days when generals used corruption as a pretext to persecute politicians because they wanted to rule the country themselves.

VS: While being above any kind of scrutiny themselves.

BB: While being above any scrutiny. And talking of scrutiny – I love my country and it pains me deeply when Pakistan suffers setback after setback. I will give you an example. In 1971, our country broke into two pieces. The Bengalis were Pakistanis. But no general has got up and said “I am sorry, we committed genocide” and we the Pakistani people have been denied even the right to the enquiry report which investigated the fall of Dhaka and this was done to protect the generals. Now in Kargil, so many of our young men lost their lives. There are stories that even their dead bodies were not taken back by us. I think there should be an investigation of the Kargil incident; how it happened; was it right; who was responsible for it? Just last month a party worker of mine was picked up by two colonels and he was tortured to death. No action has been taken.

VS: I want to take you back to two of the things you have said. One of them is East Pakistan – later Bangladesh – situation where you said the word genocide was used. It was certainly a humiliating defeat. How come after that the Pakistani army rather than being a pariah in the eyes of Pakistanis now claims that it’s actually the only force there. Isn’t there a shame in that?

BB: Well, certainly my own father did so much to rehabilitate the image of the Pakistani army.

VS: Well your father got the POWs back.

BB: 90,000 prisoners of war he got back and I remember Sheikh Mujib was threatening to try the army officers and sentence them and my father saved them from war trials. And you know how the generals paid us back? They arrested each one of my father’s family. From the father, to the mother, to the son, to the daughter and tried each one of us. So I am –

VS: and ultimately of course they murdered your father

BB: They murdered my father. And till this date there hasn’t been an investigation of how a conspiracy was concocted to murder Pakistan’s elected Prime Minister which is why my party is now saying that we need a truth and reconciliation commission so that all of us who are the victims, we can at least go before the commission and talk about the state-sponsored attempt to pervert the course of justice and subvert the will of the people of Pakistan. Our people deserve to know more.

VS: The other thing you mentioned was Kargil which was of interest to us as Indians. There is a story – and you can confirm this – that the plan was not new that the generals had hatched something along those lines even when you were Prime Minister and that you had said no. Is that accurate?

BB: Well, there were war games and as part of the war games, different scenarios would be built and there was a such a war game scenario.

VS: There was such a — it was presented to you

BB: Well I will put it in this way, there was – I want to be careful about what I say here -

VS: I understand

BB: There was a war game scenario and I put my foot down. I said no, this is wrong. If anything like this happens it will be a big setback for Pakistan and we will be forced to withdraw. I want my countrymen to hold their head up high. I don’t want them to feel the shame and humiliation. So I put my foot down. But later on when it materialized so many of our men died and we were humiliated. We were ordered to unilaterally withdraw from the world community.

VS: I want to ask you one more question about Kargil. This war game and all that you’re talking about, did this predate General Musharraf?

BB: No. General Musharraf was the person who presented the war plan to me.

VS: Really.

BB: Yes.

VS: So he was planning that even then.

BB: I don’t think he was planning it.

VS: I know you’re going to be careful but what are you going to say?

BB: I’m going to tell you that ever since we lost Siachen under General Zia’s rule – and every time we have a general we lose something or the other – ever since we lost parts of the Siachen area under General Zia’s era I think there was an attempt to do something that could retrieve for us what had been lost and it wasn’t the first time that I was given such a war game scenario, I was given it in my first term too and I said this was wrong, it’s not workable I want to see a Pakistan which is at peace with its neighbours, a Pakistan that does not involve itself with conflicts.

VS: And of course they didn’t like that.

BB: Well of course you must ask them (laughing). I don’t think they did.

VS: I’m going to ask you more about your relations with the army and with the ISI.

Video 2:

VS: We ended the last segment talking about the army and you. It is in fact no secret isn’t it that every time you’ve been in power, the army has been resentful. Is that a fair assessment?

BB: Yes I think it’s a fair assessment but I would say that I had very good relations with all my army generals. The ones that I had a very difficult relationship with are those who ran the intelligence.

VS: ISI and MI?

BB: Yes, both. I think that the ones who ran the intelligence, they were very much wedded to the Afghan Jihad – they had fought against the Soviet occuption – and they were very much wedded to orthodox thought. So on the whole I found my difficulties were more with the intelligence side than with the army chiefs. I got on rather well with my army chiefs. But now they’ve got a new intelligence chief and according to General Musharraf there’s going to be some reform. But I’m a little bit skeptical because I’ve come to India and I expected that I would get a pat on my back for having paved the way for General Musharraf’s mission to improve relations with your country. But instead I believe that there’s a lot of – sort of – foaming at the mouth.

VS: But why are they so upset? Everything you’ve done which has been sort of saying things like we should improve relations between our two countries which surely was General Musharraf’s theme song when he was here. Why is he objecting to you saying the same sort of thing?

BB: Well this is what we really need – well this is what I’d like to ask them. They say they are anti-Taliban so when I go and speak against the Taliban they should be happy. But instead I have a feeling that even though they eventually do what I say, they do tend to view me as the alternative power and because of that I find that it’s almost like an election campaign where they’re trying to undermine my position amongst the Pakistani people even though I am abroad and I don’t have access to state television and the state radio.

VS: I’m going to stop you on that because you yourself have said that you’ve been described as the mother to the Taliban. There has been this constant campaign to say that the Taliban took office – took over – while you were in office. Now this is clear, you’ve explained this, you said that initially there was trouble with the mujahideen that the Taliban seemed to be more idealistic, we needed to open up the trade routes. At some stage it went beyond this. At some stage, Pakistan got much more involved, the Taliban got much more barbaric and the ISI got much more involved with them. When did that happen?

BB: I think it happened after 4th November 1996 when my government was overthrown. Because just two days earlier, on 2nd of November, the Taliban had signed an agreement with the Northern Alliance many elements of which are now once again being discussed – about setting up a commission, and that the commission is supposed to set up a broad based government and so on. So I think it was after our overthrow that the Taliban were basically hijacked by the orthodox elements within Islamabad as well as the orthodox elements within Al Qaeda.

VS: What links do you think Islamabad had with Al Qaeda? Because you’re on record as saying that Ramzi Yousuf had tried to get you killed, that Al Qaeda and elements of the Osama network were against you. Were they therefore in league with some of your enemies in Islamabad?

BB: Yes I think they were in league with some of my political opponents. I believe these political opponents were the retired generals who had destabilized my first government who had formed the IJI to overthrow me. I remember hearing that in 1989 when the Soviets left Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden went back to Saudi Arabia to pick up the pieces of his life, but he was called back to Pakistan and asked to funnel money into a no-confidence move to overthrow my government. So these elements have been battling me, the orthodox elements, who want theocracy, theocracy in Afghanistan, theocracy in Pakistan.

VS: There have been reports about the fall of Kunduz that there were Pakistani soldiers, two brigadiers had to be flown out just as the Northern Alliance forces were advancing. How deeply involved was the Pakistan Army with what was going on in Afghanistan?

BB: Well it’s very dangerous because if it was actually Pakistani retired military – or even serving – serving even far worse because it raises issues about discipline. I remember in 1989 there was a plan where the Afghan interim government was going to ask for a confederation with Pakistan and then they were going to ask for the help of Pakistan and we were to send in our armed forces to aid and assist the Afghan interim government in overthrowing President Najib’s government and I vetoed that. I said that the Soviets had gone into Afghanistan and they had been very badly viewed and therefore there was no question of us trying to promote a confederation in which our own armed forces would get involved in Pakistan. I see the role of our armed forces as defending Pakistan’s borders. I have a role for them which is in conformity with other countries in the world.

VS: But that’s not their view of themselves is it?

BB: I’m not sure, because these reports are not to my view confirmed. I have seen the press reports. But it’s not been confirmed by say – nobody’s been produced in front of a television camera and shown as a Pakistani brigadier, so I don’t know, but what I’m saying is –

VS: Should there be an inquiry?

BB: Definitely.

Video 3:

VS: We’ve talked a lot about Pakistan, we’ve talked about Afghanistan, we haven’t talked that much about India. I hear you were in Ajmer and I hear there were crowds on the street and a roaring reception

BB: I’m a bit of a Sufi.

VS: Are you? I didn’t know that

BB: I come from Sindh which is the land of Sufis and of saints and so I like to go for protection and pray at important Mazars and Ajmer Sharif is a very important one.

VS: And god knows you probably need the protection these days given what’s going on.

BB: Yes I do. I think I’ve made Lashkar-e-Taiba very angry.

VS: I was going to ask you about that. You’ve said as far as I understand it that yes there was trouble in Kashmir when you were Prime Minister. But at that stage the trouble was – from our point of view trouble, not from your point of view perhaps – indigenous to Kashmir.

BB: And the level of violence was much lower because it was indigenous.

VS: That’s right. Since then you’ve suggested that the people like the Lashkar – who are of course not Kashmiris – you didn’t mention them – of course the Jaish e Muhammad would be the other example – have been introduced into the valley. This surely is undesirable so why has it upset people in Pakistan so much?

BB: It’s upset a certain class of people in Pakistan. But I don’t think it’s upset ordinary people because Lashkar-e-Taiba and some of these extreme groups are suspected to be behind these sectarian killings in which a large number of Pakistanis have lost their lives. But somehow or the other there is a group of people who fought the Afghan Jihad, who are committed to orthodoxy, who’ve created private militias and they’ve tried to dress these private militias up in the national flag and claimed that they are good for us. I don’t they’re good for us.

VS: And export them to Kashmir, as you say…

BB: I have certainly seem them get involved in Kashmir and hold press conferences and talk about Kashmir and it saddens me to see the All Parties Hurriyat Conference which was the Kashmiri group being sidelined while the non-Kashmiris like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Muhammad seeking centre stage.

VS: From the Indian point of view – and now I’m giving you an Indian perspective – we have a slight problem because when we go to talk to General Musharraf and when we ask him as one of us did at that breakfast, well if you’re so keen on democracy how about an election in Pakistan he sort of withdraws. So we have this problem as Indians – do you negotiate with an unelected dictator, how much does he represent the people of Pakistan, how far can he go and to what extent is he speaking for his people?

BB: I’m also very much troubled by how I should deal with the issue of General Musharraf. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good to have a dialogue. Because by having the dialogue it shows that he’s really overtly if not covertly following in the footsteps of the political leadership of the country. But I do have trouble in accepting that there could be a substantive Indo-Pak agreement with the unelected and unrepresentative military dictator and my fear is that if even there was an agreement it would be an agreement that would very soon be torn up and it would be elements of the military regime or the military administration itself which would say that well that agreement didn’t have any legitimacy. So I’m very concerned to see new ways to tackle the situation. In the past we’ve tried many times but we’ve been stuck with tension and my proposal is to now start talking about a South Asian trading bloc, about safe and open borders without prejudice to our dispute in Kashmir. We have different perspectives but let’s try and manage the dispute. Let’s work on those areas where there’s a convergence of interests. I think on the World Trade Organization there’s a convergence of interests. I think even in Kabul we both have a convergence on a broad-based government although we might –

VS: India and Pakistan although not India and the ISI — there’s a difference (laughs)

BB: Well, you know, I’ll tell you something. Originally it was the ISI that was the problem – and I’m going back to 1988 – but I think a lot of this activity has been taken out of the ISI

VS: Who does it now?

BB: I think it’s the retired generals. First in 1988 all these Madrasas, while Zia was alive were controlled by the ISI

VS: Really?

BB: Yes, because they were set up by the ISI. The ISI received funds during General Zia’s rule, from the world community to establish madrasas to raise and recruit fighters to fight the Soviets. But after I got elected they didn’t want to tell me about the madrasas so they kept it very secret. So subsequently the madrasas were taken out of the ISI and now are under the influence of the retired generals and there’s been an Islamic defence council that has been formed which brings together the different madrasas and also brings together some of the key players. They then use their friends within the military to try and make appointees in the ISI. So there’s a dichotomy because first there was, the ISI was the state within the state.

VS: But now there is a Supreme Council outside of the …

BB: Yes, outside both

VS: Let’s talk a little about yourself. We’re nearing the end of our time. You’ve had quite an up and down life haven’t you? What keeps you going?

BB: Well it’s the love of the people of Pakistan and my own faith that my leadership can make a difference and I continue to work hard to try and restore democracy although at times it’s very difficult. I have three small children and a husband who’s behind bars and a mother who is suffering from a form of Alzheimers. So I try to block out the painful thoughts and try and do the best I can.

VS: You’ve never thought of giving it all up? I mean the Bhuttos have always been rich, you have three children, you don’t really need to do all this. Why do you keep going?

BB: Well I do at times feel self-pitying but then I stop it. For myself personally I’ve been Prime Minister twice and I don’t have a burning desire to be Prime Minister a third time. But I do have a burning desire to see things change and if being Prime Minister is the way I can help things change then that’s what I must do.

VS: At whatever cost to your own happiness?

BB: Well, I went to Ajmer Sharif to pray that I could have my happiness and I could have my political beliefs.

VS: I have to ask that last cynical question. Everybody who’s seen this program in India would say, my god she’s so reasonable, she seems so wonderful but you know when she was Prime Minister she was so different. Maybe she’s just saying this because she’s in opposition. How do you respond to that kind of criticism?

BB: I say that I have two yesterdays. I have the yesterday of my first time which was a spring in Indo-Pak relations and then I have –

VS: That’s the time when you and Rajiv were both there –

BB: That’s right. And then I have another yesterday which was a winter. And I’m saying that I can understand that you have your reservations because of the disappointment that many felt in my second term and I know that even people in Pakistan who are liberals felt that disappointment. And I’m determined next time around that there shall be a spring.

VS: Benazir Bhutto I wish you luck and I hope you’ll give me an interview when you’re prime minister.

BB: God willing

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