Archive for December 16th, 2010

December 16, 2010

The ISI media's two pronged strategy: From Ahmed Quraishi to Azhar Abbas

by admin


The front end: the ISI strikes back

Recently, the LUBP wrote an article titled “Pakistan Army owns up the ISI man on a suicide attack mission in India”. ‘Renowned’ nationalist, patriot, and ‘asset’, Ahmed Quraishi, took exception to our views and thus scolded the LUBP in the following words:

Ahmed Quraishi’s attack on the LUBP:

‘Et tu, PPPP?’

The stunning part is how a Pakistani website that is part of ruling PPPP’s network of online propaganda promptly in endorsed the Indian intelligence reports and supported the reports published by the Indian media. The site runs propaganda material for President Asif Zardari and other PPPP stalwarts. Senior journalist Hamid Mir accused this site of being run from Washington by Mr. Zardari’s close aide and envoy in Washington Husain Haqqani.

The PPPP site, called LUBP, in a post titled, Pakistan army owns up the ISI man on a suicide attack mission in India, said:

“Online factories of suicide bombers: An ISI production: LUBP has been boldly stating for the last many years that Pakistan Army’s continued policy of jihadi and sectarian suicide attacks […] Now it has been once again proven without doubt that jihadi and sectarian suicide attacks are an integral element of the Pakistan Army’s military strategy”

The link shows this PPPP site relying heavily on India propaganda. It did not verify if the Indian news is correct and posted two links, both of Indian TV channels, to prove the Indian allegations.

The Indian army chief is nincompoop who is willing to buy a junior intelligence analyst’s ridiculous story based on a minor data entry error. But what is PPPP’s excuse for endorsing Indian propaganda? And does President Zardari’s media adviser Mrs. Farahnaz Isphahani know what the party’s media cell’s kids are doing online?

Source: Ahmed Quraishi

LUBP’s position:

“Unlike Ahmed Quraishi, whose own network of lies is run directly from GHQ, LUBP does not take dictation from Farahnaz Isapahani or Hussain Haqqani. We publish whatever we think is the truth. Not something that anyone should expect Ahmed Quraishi to understand though.” (Source)

The back-end: more refined line of ISI’s defence

The more refined line of the ISI’s defence in Pakistani media can be seen in the shape of a recent, unusual article by Geo TV’s MD Azhar Abbas. The article titled “A tactical move or the main strategy?” was published on 16 Dec 2010 in The News.

At the onset, one must recall what the Jang Group (including its three prominent components, i.e., Geo TV, Jang and The News) has stood for in the last three years:

  1. A consistent, maligning campaign against an elected government thus confirming the Jang Group’s complicit role (Teen Jeem) with the military establishment;
  2. An incessant character assassination of President Asif Ali Zardari;
  3. Wide and unwarranted coverage to the ideology and sermons of jihadi and sectarian terrorists including but not limited to the Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hasan, extremist Deobandi mullahs Mufti Naeem and Mufti Hanif Jallandhri, Sipah-e-Sahaba’s chief Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, cultivators of Al Qaeda including Dr Zakir Naik and Farhat Hashmi etc.
  4. Promotion of notorious, blackmailing journalists including Dr Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi and Shaheen Sehabi with known contacts with the ISI and the MI;
  5. Failure to take adequate professional and legal action against Hamid Mir for his involvement in Khalid Khwaja’s murder.

Now let us see what Azhar Abbas had to say in the Jang Group’s defence:

Azhar Abbas wonders if the case of fake WikiLeak cable is “a case of an honest mistake, over-zealousness on the part of the writer, or a calculated plant by a section of our establishment? The publication of the fake WikiLeaks story has not only raised questions about the editorial controls within media organisations, but also about the “powers that be” and their apparent shortsighted objectives.”

In order to assess if it was a one-off case of an honest mistake, we suggest Mr Abbas may more retrospectively ask himself:

  • Has not the Jang Group (including Jang, The News and Geo TV) consistently acted as a willing partner and servant of the military establishment in the last three years?
  • Has not it played an integral and vital role in continuous character assassination of an elected president of this unfortunate country?
  • Has it not played a key role in propagating and reinforcing the military establishment’s “politicians-are-corrupt” mantra, while completely ignoring numerous incidents of financial, political and moral corruption of the military establishment?
  • Did it not play a damning role in partnership with the military establishment in its criticism of the Kerry Lugar Bill?
  • Is it not a fact that the ISI regularly offers formal and informal directions to media owners and editors about which news items are to be eliminated and which ones need to be twisted and highlighted? Most recently, the Army Chief himself dictated such talking points to the media.
  • Thus, are we dealing here with the case of a one off mistake, or has the Jang Group decided to come better prepared and better camouflaged next time?

On more than one occasions in this article, Mr Abbas has shown his selective or partial honesty. For example he writes: “Mohsin Baig, head of the Online news agency, has sacked the agency’s editor, charging him of “fabricating the story”.”

How conveniently he ignored the fact that Mohsin Baig is already known as the most volcal advocates of the GHQ and the ISI in media circles in Pakistan. Also, was it not Mr Baig himself who in an interview with BBC Urdu asserted that the cable was genuine:

اس بارے میں بی بی سی کے نامہ نگار حفیظ چاچڑ سے بات کرتے ہوئے خبر رساں ایجنسی آن لائن کے سربراہ محسن بیگ نےدعوٰی کیا یہ دستاویز اصل ہے۔ انہوں نے ان اخبارات پر تنقید کی جنہوں نے اس خبر پر معذرت شائع کی ہے۔

ان کے مطابق ’اگر ہماری خبر کی وکی لیکس تردید کر دے تو ان اخبارات کی معذرت جائز ہے اور وکی لیکس کی اس خبر کے انٹرنیٹ پر بے شمار لنکس موجود ہیں‘۔

محسن بیگ نے کہا کہ وکی لیکس کے دستاویزات شائع کرنے کا برطانوی اخبار گارڈین کے پاس کوئی اختیار نہیں ہے اور یہ دستاویزات انٹرنیٹ پر موجود ہیں اور انہیں کوئی بھی چھاپ سکتا ہے۔ انہوں نے ان خبروں کی بھی تردید کی جن میں کہا گیا ہے کہ خبر رساں ایجنسی کو یہ خبر مخصوص مقاصد پورے کرنے کے لیے دی گئی تھی۔

Is it just a coincidence that this wave of honesty has also entrapped Hamid Mir along with Azhar Abbas. Recently, in his interview with an Indian TV channel (Times Now), Mir admitted the role of the (military) establishment in planting the fake cable story:

Leading Pakistani newspapers acknowledged that they were hoaxed into publishing reports based on fake WikiLeaks cables that contained stories of factionalism in Indian army and accused New Delhi of sponsoring militant groups. The reports splashed prominently in several papers including The News and The Express Tribune, a partner of the International Herald Tribune, quoting alleged US diplomatic cables to confirm bias Pakistani views and conspiracy theories about India particularly about Jammu and Kashmir. The two papers today carried prominent apologies on their front pages regarding the report they had published yesterday on alleged disclosures in purported diplomaticcables from the US embassy in Delhi about Indian Army generals and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. TIMES NOW’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami debates the issue with Maroof Raza, TIMES NOW Strategic Affairs Expert; Farrukh Dhondy, Author and Former Commissioning Editor, Channel 4 and Hamid Mir, Executive Editor, Geo TV.

To understand the establishment’s next strategy, one must carefully listen to what their own man, the notorious Mushahid Hussain, is saying to Azhar Abbas: ““It is quite clear that some people did try to manipulate the information to save their skin. But it was done in a very crude manner and they were caught with their pants down.”

In other words, Mushahid Hussain is suggesting that information may be manipulated to save the military establishment’s skin but this must be done in a refined manner. In principle, Mushahid Hussain agrees with Ahmed Quraishi’s suggestion that if Guardian uses WikliLeaks for propaganda, why can’t Pakistani media do the same?

Further, Azhar Abbas writes: “Political and security observers believe a concerted effort is once again being made to encourage and promote a typical extremist mindset. Some analysts-cum-anchors have re-emerged from quasi-oblivion. Many journalists and analysts are briefed and encouraged to take an aggressively anti-West, especially anti-US, stance. Experts, who ‘preach’ extremism in disguise, are encouraged to participate in talk shows.”

Wait a minute. Is Mr Abbas now admitting that Hamid Mirs, Shahid Masoods, Ansar Abbasis, Kamran Khans etc of the Jang Group have been towing the military establishment’s line in the last three years and even before? Does he mean to assure the people of Pakistan that Jang Group’s anchors, reporters and analysts will take no further dictations from the military establishment? Not even from Mr Abbas’s own brother, the chief spokesman of the Pakistan Army?

Mr Abbas writes: “It is no secret that there were those in the media and clergy who openly opposed the Army’s campaign against the militants in Swat and tried their best to put the armed forces’ objectives and intention in doubt.”

How conveniently he ignored to mention the heroic role played by the ANP and the PPP, Asfandyar Wali Khan and Asif Ali Zardari in particular, in convincing the army to start an operation clean up in Swat. Indeed, no Swat Operation would have started or been successful in the absence of sacrifices of dozens of the ANP workers and leaders who refused to remain dominated by extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis in their province.

Along with Nadeem Paracha, I too am worried that “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.”

In my view, supporters of free media including journalists, anchors, reporters and bloggers need to understand the ISI media’s two pronged strategy.

The goal is common for Ahmed Quraishi (and his likes) and Azhar Abbas (and his likes). The only difference is in the level of refinement.

One operates at the front end, the other at the back end. One is widely known for his contacts with the military establishment because of his upfront and crude manners, other is rather subtle and refined (save the fake cable saga) in its promotion of the military establishment’s agenda.

In my assessment, it is the subtle and refined worms in Pakistan’s “free” media who are most dangerous not only for freedom of information and its unadulterated access to the common public but also for the very foundations of this unfortunate country that these worms are eating from inside.

December 16, 2010

Blasphemy law, extremists' reaction and life threatening comments

by admin
    Related Articles:

Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Thursday made his first public appearance in Islamabad and supports blasphemy laws. He shared the stage with Ch Shujaat Hussain, Ijaz-ul-Haq and PML-N's representative Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

It potentials to be a dangerous and threatening Christmas for the Christian community in Pakistan. A radical alliance – which includes Pakistan Muslim Leagues, religious political parties allied with banned militant groups – has called a large mass national demonstration entitled Namos-e-risalat, that is, defending the honour of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) on 24 December, after Friday prayers, to say “no” to the release of Asia Bibi and any changes to the blasphemy law. Even JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed attended the meeting. Addressing the gathering, Saeed stressed the need for a well-organised media campaign in favour of the blasphemy law.

The alliance has called on the “ummah” (Islamic community) in all the world, demanding universal support in the defence of the blasphemy law. Moreover, the radical leaders say: “Asia Bibi is a blasphemous woman and should be repudiated by Christians. Anyone who defends her, an ordinary citizen, politician or Minister, is guilty of blasphemy along with her.”

A pretty naked threat from extremist lobby will also put pressure on the PPP led civilian government as well as on Parliament, which in those days could examine the parliamentary motion presented by PPP’s lawmaker Ms Sherry Rehman, who is proposing substantial changes to the blasphemy law.

President Asif Ali Zardari has also desired that the blasphemy law be reviewed and necessary action taken, said a minority member of the Sindh Assembly at a meeting on Saturday. Jamaat e Islami (JI), right wing religious party which last week announced countrywide protests against any attempt to amend the blasphemy law, mounted a sit-in demonstration near parliament in Islamabad Sunday to make its point, along with broader calls for the government to abandon its alliance with the United States. 

JI chief Munawar Hasan earlier told Pakistani reporters the government had to decide whether it stood with Muslims or with “the blasphemers.” Other Islamist groups have also threatened violent consequences should Bibi be pardoned. The recent decision was announced by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a news conference on the conclusion of the daylong Tahaffuz-i-Nabuwat Conference which was attended by top leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-Q and Jamaatud Dawa and representatives of Wafaqul Madaris and many other smaller religious organisations and groups. Maulana Fazl said that all religious parties were united on the issue. He vowed to resist any move by the government to make changes in the existing blasphemy law.

The JUI-F chief, who presided over the conference, said all the mosques in the country would organise protest demonstrations on Dec 24 after Friday prayers. He said a big public meeting and protest demonstration would be held in Karachi on Jan 9, which would be attended by all central leaders of religious parties. He said an action plan would also be unveiled at the meeting. He announced that former MNA Dr Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair had been made chairman of Tehrik-i-Namoos-i-Risalat committee with an aim to organise the movement at grassroots level. Maulana Fazlur Rehman made an appeal to traders’ organisations and associations of small and big markets to extend their support to the movement and make the shutter-down strike a success. He said that their protest would be so forceful that no one would dare to think about changing the blasphemy law.

Earlier, during the conference, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain declared that his party would oppose every move to change the blasphemy law in the Parliament.

JI chief Munawar Hassan said it was wrong to say that the blasphemy law had affected only minorities in the country. Qazi Hussain Ahmed suggested that the present movement should at the later stage be converted into a movement for the enforcement of Islamic system in the country.

PML-N’s MNA from Islamabad Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also attended the conference.

The conference was also attended by Hafiz Saeed of Jamaatud Dawa, Maulana Abdul Majeed Ludhianvi of Majlis Tahaffuz-i-Khatam Nabuwat, Qari Hanif Jalandhary and Dr Abdul Razzaq Sikandar of Wafaqul Madaris, Hafiz Aakif Saeed of Tanzim Islami, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Allama Sajid Naqvi.

Still, the life of Asia Bibi, a mother of five is in danger. A extremist religious cleric has offered 500,000 rupees — roughly $5,800 — to anyone who kills the jailed Aasia Bibi, who is being held in the district jail in the city of Sheikhupura.

The Taliban also have threatened retribution should she be spared, yet another sign the case has become a rallying point. He also warned the government not to tamper with blasphemy laws which he said protect Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)’s “sanctity.”

Within 24 hours of the Taliban warning, Asia Bibi’s frightened family fled their home in the Christian colony of Gloria in Sheikhupura, a 90-minute drive from Lahore.

Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband said “Even if my wife does come out [of jail], she could be killed,” he said, adding that her case is not the first of its kind.

“And it’s not just Christians who are targeted. Muslims have also been charged with blasphemy. Christians are easy to implicate, though. If they talk about religion, they are accused of blasphemy. If a Christian touches the Holy Quran, he is accused of a crime. And here, petty issues get twisted into accusations of blasphemy,” Masih said.

Governor of the Punjab Salmaan Taseer has earned the acrimony & indignation of religious extremists for defending Asia Bibi as a poor Christian woman who should never have been charged and should be pardoned. He’s calling for amendments to the country’s strict blasphemy laws. He infect also served propel and stimulate what has become Pakistan’s first public flurrying and sensitive debate over the blasphemy law when he visited Asia Bibi in jail last month and later told President Asif Ali Zardari she deserved clemency.

“Before this, nobody was prepared to discuss this law. It will set the mullahs at your throat. And I said that she should be pardoned, and this is a travesty and shame that a poor woman like this who hasn’t the means to defend herself [against] trumped-up charges,” said Taseer, who is Muslim. “And in a country where your prime minister is Muslim, your president is Muslim, you’re 95 percent Muslim — what is the need for laws like this?”

At a seminar titled ‘Protection of the blasphemy law and its importance’, Justice (r) Mian Nazeer Akhtar said Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was also a blasphemer for he was protecting those who indulged in blasphemy.

The Rev Samson Dilawar, a parish priest who was wounded by gunmen in 1997 and saw his Catholic church burned to the ground in 2005, has been threatened by anonymous callers for assisting Asia Bibi.

Surly, such recommendations and amendments risk serious counter blow and retribution. But human right campaigners and intellectuals are suggesting that oscillating and vacillating in the face of a ultraconservative and zealot retro-action would tarnish and vitiate Pakistan’s image even more.

LUBP is the only blog that has been continously writing against the blasphemy laws and highlighting events of religious persecution. Due to our bold stance against terrorism and extremism we have been continuously receiving threats and abuses from the extremist forces some of them threatening our very lives. Here are some extremely hateful, violent and life threatening comments extremists have made toward Aasia Bibi at LUBP’s Articles:

My heart is full of anger due to this issue if it would possible for me to kill this bitch aasiya i am ready to do that I have no fear of my own assassination.

(faizeraza.com abulakber@gmail.com 203.81.218.27)

Mr.ali aap ki baat say hum sub bilkul mutaffiq hain her musalman k jazbaat aisay hi honay chahyey jo zuban meray aaqa sallallaho alaihe wasallam ki shaan main koi nazeba jumlay kahay us zaban ko hamesha k liay bund kar dia jai batla do hur dushman e din ko ghairat e muslim zinda hai oon pay mar mitnay ka jazba kal bhi tha aur aaj bhi hai

………..
savehumanity.com

shahzada1974@yahoo.com

203.81.218.27 IP address [?]: 203.81.218.27 [Whois] [Reverse IP] IP country code: PK IP address country: Pakistan IP address state: Sindh IP address city: Karachi IP address latitude: 24.8667 IP address longitude: 67.0500 ISP of this IP [?]: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Organization: WorldCALL Multimedia Ltd Host of this IP: [?]:

host27-218.worldcall.net.pk [Whois] [Trace] Local time in Pakistan: 2010-12-15 13:02

Yeh saza ki haqdaar hai aur iske sath sath yeh zardari jo uski appeal per court ka faisla rad krne chla aur uske pithoo ppp k tmam rehnuma jnhon ne is jurm ka irtkab krne wale ka sath dia in sab ko saza milni chahea aur inhe saray bazar sir dhar se alag kr dna chahea. jo yeh baat krte hain k hm ne is mulk ko constitution dia aj wohi is constitution mai tabdeeli kr rhe hain aur woh bhe aik pop k kehne per kia hukumat itna bhe nahe kr skti aik christian k lea sb jo yeh insaniyat ka maamla dkhta hai aur us aafia siddique k lea in begherton ko insaniyat yaad nahe aty jb k woh bekasoor hai zardari aur ppp k rehnumaon aur pakistan ki dusri parties k rehnumao Allah tmhe nist naboot kre aur jahanum raseed kre tm nabi meharbaan (s.a.w) k mujrim ho tmhe allah akhrat mai to saza dyga aur inshallah tmhe dunia mai bhe gharat krega

(kanwardaniyal@ymail.com)

کاشف نصیر says:
December 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

اگر ہائی کورٹ نے مبینہ ملعونہ کی سزا براقرار رکھی اور زرداری نے اس کو آئنی پاکستان کی ایک غیر امتیازی شق کے تحط معاف کردیا اور رہا کرنے کا حکم جاری کیا تو میں کاشف نصیر اعلان کرتا ہوں کہ اس ملعونہ میں دھونڈ کے قتل کردوں گا۔ اب جو کرنا ہے کرلو! اور ہاں میں کوئی ملا نہیں اور نہ ہی میں نے ڈاڑھی بڑھائی ہوئی ہے! میں یہ کام کرکے علامہ اقبال کی نصیحت پر عمل کروں گا، یہ نصیحت علامہ اقبال نے غازی علم دین شہید اور غازی عبدل قیوم شہید کے حوالے سے کی ضرب کلیم کی نظم کراچی اور لاہور میں کی تھی

Salman Taseer is son of a xxxx,
she has to be killed….
If i’ll get a chance i’ll kill her its a pleasure for me…
and how ever killed her will get heaven in reward…

…………..

Editor’s Warning: The commentator appears to be an operative of the Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba. His details are being provided below:

IP address: 61.5.131.230
IP country code: PK
IP address country: Pakistan
IP address city: Karachi
IP address latitude: 24.8667
IP address longitude: 67.0500
ISP of this IP [?]: CYBER INTERNET SERVICES (PVT.) LTD.
Organization: CYBER INTERNET SERVICES (PVT.) LTD.
Local time in Pakistan: 2010-11-26 11:53

December 16, 2010

Transparency International's head in Pakistan abetting corruption – by Rauf Klasra

by admin


Related articles:

Transparency International Pakistan Chairman’s son resigns after charges of corruption

LUBP Archive on Adil Gilani

The following report by Rauf Klasra confirms the blackmailing role of the Transparency International (Pakistan Chapter).

NICL scam: Behind-the-scenes deal uncovered

A multi-billion-rupee National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) scam continues to unfurl surprise after surprise as FIA investigators uncover a behind-the-scenes deal.

The detained chairman, Ayaz Khan Niazi, has revealed that the top guns of Transparency International (TI), Pakistan, had offered to help him clear his name in corruption cases presently with the Supreme Court, if he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to award all lucrative contracts on their recommendation in the future.

An absconding NICL board member, Qasim Amin Dada, wanted by the FIA in this same Rs4 billion land scam, tried to convince his colleagues to strike a deal with TI representatives, according to Niazi.

Dada’s son is married to the daughter of Aqeel Dhedhi, an influential stock broker. And the investigators believe that Dhedhi is using his political and financial clout to stop the investigation and also block attempts to smoke out Dada from his hiding place.

TI volunteered to present a fact-finding report to the SC establishing the innocence of NICL officials. In return NICL would award contracts solely to private parties cleared by TI and advertise tenders in newspapers after referring to the agency for advice.

Ayaz Khan Niazi is presently being questioned by Director FIA, Zafar Ahmed Qureshi in Lahore, after the high-profile accused in two cases of land fraud, was escorted from Karachi on the orders of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, to probe his role in the land and property scam involving the Warraich family.

NICL is also facing charges of misappropriating millions of rupees paid to a private party for office renovation. Payment to the contractor has been made in full but the job is still continuing.

The allegation against TI is considered to be very serious, as Niazi has given details of TI officials’ involvement in the alleged blackmail in his 30-page written statement to the FIA official, Zafar Qureshi.

Niazi said he and his colleagues refused TI’s unconventional offer. He named three other board members who were present when Dada negotiated on TI’s behalf.

The Express Tribune made several attempts to contact Chairman TI, Adil Gilani, for his side of the story, but without success.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.

December 16, 2010

Holding the economy hostage – By Khurram Husain

by admin

Don’t believe the hype. This is not about protecting the poor from inflation, or stopping corruption. This is about one thing only: blood. Let me explain.

The opposition to the government’s attempts to introduce a value added tax (VAT) in the country has grown in proportion to the IMF’s public insistence that this tax is essential to secure the next tranche. Of course, the IMF had insisted on advancing tax reform from the beginning. But the first four reviews under the facility signed in November 2008 had been approved without making tax reform a sticking point.

The issue was meant to be advanced at the same time last year. The board of directors of the IMF was quite upset that Pakistan had not finished drafting the bill in December last year.

But the tranche was disbursed and a new timeline was agreed upon for the tax reforms to be implemented, in prolonged discussions that stretched until April 2010. The IMF announced the release of the funds and accepted the new timeline offered by the new finance minister.

In fall last year, as debate took place between the finance ministry and the World Bank over the modalities of seeing the bill come into force, the World Bank was said to favour the Presidential Ordinance route, saying this would be a lot quicker and would bypass the messy politics of parliament. The finance ministry, on the other hand, had favoured taking the bill to parliament, confident that it could be passed.

When word of this debate leaked to the media, the PML- N said that the World Bank should not offer its advice on how legislation should be conducted in Pakistan and demanded that the bill be routed through parliament. They got their way. Notice, they did not say at the time that they oppose tax reform, did not say that the government should tackle “corruption” first and then embark on tax reform, did not say that a value added tax will fuel inflation. No, all they said was bring it to parliament please, we’re a democracy now.

Meanwhile, the VAT bill was brought before the NA and Senate standing committees on finance in April of 2010, and debate began. There was no accompanying political noise. Throughout the process, while it was being drafted and being discussed with the IMF, the bill was a publicly known endeavour.

What happened between then and now that the tone of the debate changed so decisively?

What happened was that the opposition smelled blood. As the IMF insisted publicly that passage of the bill was essential to ensure the release of the next tranche, opposition parties found what they had been looking for all along: an easy, politically palatable way to deliver a potentially fatal blow to the PPP government without getting their hands dirty.

Thus began the slow vilification of a reform effort that every national government in Pakistan has tried to enact for the past 20 years. If Pakistan’s relationship with the IMF breaks, our reserves could plummet very fast. We have 18 weeks or so of import cover, but that will diminish exponentially, in a handful of weeks at best, if a break with the IMF becomes unambiguous.

And then we’ll have all the makings of an economic crisis on our hands: rocketing inflation, yawning budget deficit, dwindling reserves. And that is exactly the outcome the opposition parties now want, because those are exactly the circumstances in which they believe they can drop the curtain on this set-up and demand fresh elections. Tax reform was born out of existential necessity but it will die at the hands of a political exigency of the worst kind.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2010.

December 16, 2010

Please stop pestering Dr Ayesha Siddiqa!

by admin

The LUBP team is quite worried to read the following status on Ayesha Siddiqa’s facebook account. We express our full support for Dr Siddiqa in this hour of trial, and urge the Government to take a stand.

After Aasia Bibi and Dr. Viliani, one of our top academics and researchers is now being intimidated by the State!

Also, our civil society and journalist community should now stand with Dr. Siddiqa instead of feeding off the scraps of the military establishment!

“Is it the Jihadi friends or the Khaki friends behind my mass vilification campaign? Since the afternoon of December 12th most journalists and everyone on my phone list have received an sms from this single number in Lahore 0332 4551330 declaring me an agent of several agencies. Typical agency style, when you try to call back no one picks up. Besides other cities, the message is spread in my hometown in Bahawalpur as well. Do I have less of a right to live there than Jaishe Mohammad and other militants? What right has the state to partner with criminals that abuse religion for exploitation of people?”

December 16, 2010

Foreign journalists in Pakistan: Embedded in the narratives of military establishment and urban elite

by admin


Through LUBP, we have been successfully confronting and exposing the pro-military establishment and pro-urban middle class narratives of the Pakistani print and electronic media (including Pakistani blogs). (see some examples here, here and here)

However, the role of foreign media in Pakistan, as embedded in and reinforcing the military establishment’s and urban elitist narratives, has remained relatively ignored.

Recently, Sheen Alif wrote an excellent article deconstructing Guardian’s Declan Walsh’s simplistic reporting on ‘deadly divide’ in Karachi, which clearly reflected the wisdom Mr Walsh borrowed from his urban (MQM) contacts in Karachi.

Another example is how foreign journalists report “Sunni-Shia sectarianism” with a broad brush, deliberately ignoring the fact that, historically, Sunni-Shia sectarianism is almost non-existent in Pakistan. They neglect the important distinction between Sunni, Deobandi and Wahhabi. They remain entrapped in the common fallacies which are often shared by the Taliban apologists and ‘liberal’ analysts. They conveniently ignore the conflict between the extremist Deobandis (of the Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba, who constitute only a tiny section of Pakistan’s population) and the rest of Pakistan including Sunnis, Shias, Muslims, non-Muslims. To portray extremist Deobandis as representing the Sunni majority is tantamount to the rape of facts and is consistent with the military establishment’s narratives and jihadi/sectarian agenda.

Other examples of foreign media’s bias include the decontextualised recycling of the military establishment’s ‘politicians-are-corrupt’ mantra. This includes the insulting and one-sided manner in which certain journalists sometimes portray Pakistani politicians and elected leaders such as President Asif Zardari or late PM Benazir Bhutto etc. For example the story in Daily Mail which advised that “Cameron should count his fingers after shaking hands with Pakistan’s Mr Ten Per Cent”.

Similarly, foreign media’s reporting on Afghanistan, Iran and other countries in the region remains skewed, and with a very few exceptions (such as Robert Fisk’s reports on the Middle East) foreign journalists remain subservient to the official narratives of their governments and military establishments.

For example, in his reporting of Jundullah’s attack on Imam Hussain Mosque in Iran, Guardian’s Ian Black terms Jundullah as an “Iranian Sunni group” ignoring its ideological and cross-border links with the Baloch nationalists and extremist Deobandis of Pakistan.

John Pilger’s ‘The War That We Don’t See’ has enough food for thought for us. In Pilger’s words, leading news channels in the UK and the US “broadcast received establishment wisdom dressed as news. This helps us understand why propaganda in free societies like Britain and the United States is far more effective than in dictatorships. While ‘professional’ journalists, especially broadcasters, present themselves falsely as a neutral species, truth doesn’t stand a chance.”

I would suggest that LUBP team members and other writers may pay attention to this topic, and write research based accounts exposing the military-establishment-and-urban-elite-embeddedness of foreign journalists in Pakistan.

December 16, 2010

Pakistan Peoples Party: Listen to the dissenting voices – By Aamir Hussaini

by admin

کارکنوں اور قیادت میں بڑھتے فاصلے

کیا پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی تقسیم کی طرف جا رہی ہے؟


پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی بلوچستان کے صدر سردار لشکر رئیسانی نے دوسری مرتبہ اپنا استعفیٰ پارٹی کے شریک چیئرمین آصف علی زرداری کو ارسال کر دیا ہے۔ اس استعفیٰ کی وجوہ پر روشنی ڈالتے ہوئے سردار لشکر رئیسانی نے صحافیوں کو بتایا کہ بلوچستان میں پارٹی کی تنظیم نو نہیں ہو سکی، پارٹی کے وزرا کارکنوں اور عہدے داران کا احترام نہیں کرتے۔ جبکہ رئیسانی نے آغاز حقوق بلوچستان پیکیج پر سست رفتاری سے عمل درآمد پر بھی شدید احتجاج کیا۔ پیپلزپارٹی کی تنظیم نو کے حوالے سے کام شروع نہ ہونے اور پارٹی و حکومت کے درمیان بڑھتے ہوئے فاصلوں کے حوالے سے سیاسی حلقوں میں بحث و مباحثہ بہت تیزی سے آگے بڑھ رہا ہے۔

پاکستان پیپلزپارٹی کے سنٹرل ایگزیکٹو کمیٹی کے ایک رکن نے نام نہ ظاہر کرنے کی شرط پر ”ہم شہری“ کو بتایا کہ آصف علی زرداری نے جب سے صدارت کا عہدہ سنبھالا ہے تب سے پی پی پی کی تنظیم نو کے حوالے سے فیصلہ کن اقدامات نہیں اٹھائے جاسکے۔ اس کارکن کا کہنا تھا کہ شریک چیئرمین آصف علی زرداری کے قریبی رفقا کے مشوروں کی وجہ سے سنٹرل ایگزیکٹو کمیٹی، فیڈرل کونسل، صوبائی کونسلیں عضو معطل ہو کر رہ گئی ہیں اور تمام بڑے اور اہم فیصلے ”کور کمیٹی“ کر رہی ہے جس کی پی پی پی کے آئین میں کوئی گنجائش نہیں ہے۔ فیڈرل کونسل کے بعض اراکین نے ”ہم شہری“ کو بتایا کہ کونسل کا تین برس میں صرف ایک مرتبہ اجلاس بلایا گیا ہے، اس کے بعد سے آج تک کونسل سے مشاورت کی زحمت نہیں کی گئی۔

پنجاب پی پی پی کی صوبائی کونسل کے اکثر اراکین نے شکایت کی کہ پارٹی قیادت ان سے رابطے میں نہیں ہے اور پنجاب میں تنظیمیں عدم فعالیت کا شکار ہیں۔ پی پی پی کی سنٹرل ایگزیکٹو کمیٹی کے اندر بے اطمینانی اور بے چینی کی فضا صاف دیکھنے کو مل رہی ہے۔ ”ہم شہری“ سے بات کرتے ہوئے اسرار شاہ، جن کی دو ٹانگیں وکلا تحریک کے دوران خودکش بم دھماکے کی نذر ہو گئی تھیں، نے کہا کہ ان کو شوکاز نوٹس جاری کیے بغیر معطل کر دیا گیا۔ جبکہ سردار سندھو کو بھی یہی شکایت ہے۔ سینیٹر ڈاکٹر صفدر عباسی نے کہا کہ غیر جمہوری طرز عمل پارٹی کے اندر ترقی پا رہا ہے۔ پارٹی تنظیموں کو بائی پاس کر کے فیصلے دیے جا رہے ہیں۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ انہیں شوکاز نوٹس دیے بغیر معطل کر دیا گیا۔ جبکہ حالیہ دنوں میں ابن رضوی اور سابق ایم این اے سردار خالد سلیم کی بنیادی رکنیت ہی ختم کردی گئی۔ یہ دونوں پی پی پی کے انتہائی پرانے کارکن اور محترمہ بے نظیر بھٹو کے بااعتماد ساتھی خیال کیے جاتے تھے۔

دو سال گزرنے کے باوجود پیپلز پارٹی صوبہ سندھ، صوبہ پنجاب اور صوبہ خیبر پختونخوا کے صدور کا اعلان نہیں کرپائی ہے۔ جبکہ تین سال گزرنے کے باوجود پی پی پی میں رکنیت سازی، تنظیم نو، انتخابات کا اعلان نہیں ہوسکا ہے۔” ہم شہری“ نے اس حوالے سے پی پی پی کے مرکزی جنرل سیکرٹری جہانگیر بدر سے رابطہ کیا تو ان کا کہنا تھا کہ تمام کام اپنے وقت پر ہوں گے لیکن انہوں نے معطل یا خارج کیے جانے جیسے اقدامات کا بھرپور دفاع کیا۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ پارٹی پالیسی کے خلاف عمل یا بیان بازی قطعاً برداشت نہیں کی جائے گی۔ اس پر جب بے نظیر بھٹو کی سابق پولیٹیکل سیکرٹری ناہید خان سے جواب مانگا گیا تو ان کا کہنا تھا کہ پارٹی پالیسی وہ ہوتی ہے جو پارٹی کے پالیسی ساز اداروں میں بیٹھ کر طے کی جائے۔ جہانگیر بدر بتائیں کہ محترمہ بے نظیر بھٹو شہید کے قاتلوں کی گرفتاری کے مطالبے پر مبنی جلوس یا مظاہرے کیا پارٹی پالیسی کی خلاف ورزی ہیں؟ پیپلزپارٹی کے کارکنوں کا وزرا کی بدعنوانی اور کارکنوں کے احترام نہ کرنے پر احتجاج کون سی پارٹی کی خلاف ورزی ہیں۔ یہ اختلاف رائے کا گلہ گھونٹنا ہے اور پارٹی کے اندر جمہوریت ختم کرنے کے مترادف ہیں۔

بعض تجزیہ نگاروں کا خیال ہے کہ پی پی پی حکومت کے اندر تقسیم کے آثار نظرآرہے ہیں۔ وزیراعظم یوسف رضا گیلانی سے وزیر خارجہ شاہ محمود قریشی، وزیر تجارت مخدوم امین فہیم، وزیر دفاع چوہدری احمد مختار کے فاصلے بڑھ رہے ہیں اور یہ وزرا اپنی اپنی لابنگ میں مصروف ہیں۔ جبکہ دوسری طرف ورکرز کی ایوان وزیراعظم سے دوری میں بھی اضافہ ہورہا ہے۔ وزیراعظم یوسف رضا گیلانی پر پی پی پی کے کارکن ذوالفقار علی بھٹو پر تنقید کی وجہ سے سخت ناراض ہیں۔اس ناراضی کا ایک اظہار لاہور پریس کلب میں روسی بالشویک انقلاب کی سالگرہ پر منعقدہ پیپلزلیبر بیورو کی ایک تقریب میں دیکھنے کو ملا، جس میں پیپلز لیبر بیورو کے مرکزی انچارج چوہدری منظور، وزیر محنت اشرف سوہنا، صوبائی صدر سمیع اللہ خان سمیت پی پی پی کے عہدے داران اور ورکرز نے حکومتی پالیسیوں اور وزیراعظم یوسف رضا گیلانی پر سخت تنقید کی۔ بلکہ یہاں تک کہا گیا کہ پارٹی پر ضیا الحق کی باقیات کا قبضہ ہو گیا ہے۔

پیپلز لیبر بیورو کے سابق مرکزی انچارج عبدالقادر شاہین اور سابق سیکرٹری جنرل پنجاب، پی پی پی چوہدری غلام حسین نے کہا کہ انہیں یہ دن دیکھنا پڑے ہیں کہ ذاتی دوست اور ذاتی وکیل سینیٹ کے چیئرمین بنادیے گئے ہیں جبکہ پارٹی کے دیرینہ کارکن دھکے کھارہے ہیں۔ اصول پرست جمہوری سیاست کو ترک کر کے موقع پرستی کو اوّلیت حاصل ہو رہی ہے۔ چودھری غلام عباس کا کہنا تھا کہ اکثر وزرا تو انہیں نہیں پہچانتے، غریب کارکن کو کیسے پہچان پائیں گے؟

پیپلزپارٹی کے سب سے کم عمری میں مارشل لاءکے حکم نمبر19 کے تحت سزا کاٹنے والے اور روس جلاوطنی کاٹنے والے اعظم خان، جو اب 50 سال کے ہو چکے ہیں، کا کہنا یہ ہے کہ انہیں پارٹی نے بری طرح سے فراموش کیا ہے جبکہ پارٹی میں ایسے چہرے غالب آگئے ہیں جو کارکنوں کو نہ تو پہچانتے ہیں اور نہ ہی انہیں معلوم ہے کہ پارٹی کا کلچر کیا ہے۔

سیاسی تجزیہ نگاروں کا کہنا ہے کہ شریک چیئرمین آصف علی زرداری کو پارٹی کے اندر بڑھتی اختلافی آوازوں پر کان دھرنے کی ضرورت ہے اور تنظیموں کو فعال بنانے اور ان کے حکومتی عہدے داروں سے رابطے میں حائل روکاٹیں ختم کرنے کے لیے اپنا کردار ادا کرنا ہو گا وگرنہ حالات پی پی پی کے اندر شہید بے نظیر بھٹو دھڑا سامنے لائے جانے کی طرف نکل جائیں گے اور یہ صورت حال پی پی پی کے مخالفین کے لیے بڑی مثالی ہوگی۔

بشکریہ: ہفت روزہ ہم شہری

December 16, 2010

LUBP Interview with Dr Ayesha Siddiqa (Part I)

by admin

Previous LUBP Interviews

with Nadeem F Paracha

with Kamran Shafi

Introduction

LUBP is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Pakistan’s leading political commentator and military analyst, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa.

Dr. Siddiqa is a regular op-ed contributor to leading Pakistani newspapers. She did her doctorate from King’s College London in 1996 and has worked on issues varying from military technology, defence decision-making, nuclear deterrence, arms procurement, arms production to civil-military relations in South Asia. She has written two books on defence decision-making and political economy of military: Pakistan’s Arms Procurement and Military Build-up, 1979-99: In Search of a Policy (Palgrave Press, 2001), and, Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy (Pluto Press, 2007).

Dr. Siddiqa worked a civil servant for 11 years during which she served as the Director of Naval Research with Pakistan Navy making her the first civilian and a woman to work at that position in Pakistan’s defence establishment. She also worked as a Deputy Director Audit (Defence Services).

She is a Ford Fellow and was the ”Pakistan Scholar” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Washington, DC for 2004-05. She is a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (South Asia Studies Program).

Interview

LUBP: Dr. Siddiqa, thanks for taking out the time to interview with us. Tell us something about your background and what made you go into the civil services and then subsequently quit the service?

AS: I was born and raised in Lahore. So, despite that my family is from Bahawalpur, a place with which I have active contact, my heart is Lahori (it is a frame of mind). I joined the civil service in 1988 purely for personal reasons.

I lost my father in 1979 and being an only child I was left with my mother to confront issues of inheritance. After I did my bachelors from Kinnaird College, Lahore my mother, who was a novelist – Jamila Hashmi, advised me to do CSS.

Seeing my resistance to the idea one day she told me that “look child you don’t have a father, brother or uncles to help you. You need to stand on your feet to survive, which in this country, means having contacts. You should either earn a name for yourself through writing (and she meant fiction) or join the civil service.

In hindsight, it was a good decision because I finished with my written exams for the CSS in October 1987 and my mother passed away in January 1988 leaving me behind to stand up ‘on my two feet’. I realized that being a member of the civil service made such a difference in the world.

The deputy commissioner Bahawalpur, who was a pakka DMG (District Management Group) officer with the ‘right’ kind of attitude for a brown sahib, began to behave differently. I was no more the awam (ordinary person) but part of the class of rulers. Trust me, this meant a lot in a feudal-bureaucratic environment.

I was in the Audit and accounts service and served in various capacities. It was during this period that I went to England to do my Ph.D. in War Studies, King’s College, London. I returned in 1996 and rejoined civil service where I remained until I resigned in 2000. Prior to my resignation I also served in Pakistan Navy for a year and a half as Director of Naval Research. The problems, which were the cause for my joining the civil service, were no more and I was more inclined to pursuing an academic career. I have no regrets on my decision. I think I was just not suited for a bureaucratic career.

LUBP: How did your experience as the Director of Naval Research assist you in your research methodology? Did this experience guide you in what many consider the definitive analysis of the economics of our security establishment, “Military Inc.”?

AS: My stint with the Navy was an interesting experience and an experiment. Actually, the CNS then Admiral Fasih Bokhari had a great idea to get a civilian to work for him and bring a change in the service. However, the status-quo forces didn’t allow him to do so. But it was interesting. One raced with time and battle with ideological bottle necks.

Majority of the naval officers were not willing to open up the system and bring about the necessary change. The one and a half years stint was also wonderful from the perspective of me understanding the fact that civilians and military personnel are two different species. The biggest sin in this country (in the eyes of the military) is to be an argumentative civilian.

As for my book, my stint at the NHQ just helped endorse my findings. I gleaned some bits of information but noting major.

LUBP: In our interview series, Kamran Shafi talks about the “Deep State” and his understanding of it and describes it as “alliance between the intelligence services; the army, and the civil bureaucracy, which is beholden to the former two.” What is your assessment of the term?

AS: There are different names for the deep state. Sometimes, people refer to it as the establishment as well. I believe that there are two sets of members of the deep state – the primary actors and the secondary actors. While the civil and military bureaucracy is the primary actor, there are other members as well such as judiciary, business and industrial elite, members of religious elite, media, some political parties or individual members of political parties. These are what I call secondary members as they become less or more significant due to their relationship with the primary members.

These people are connected due to their common interests of remaining the sole power in a socio-politically underdeveloped state. The establishment never lost power even at the best of times. This even includes the period of ZA Bhutto’s election. However, he was ousted when he lost touch with the establishment. The bottom-line is that the deep state in Pakistan is deeper than one can imagine.

LUBP: The misuse of the WikiLeaks to plant fabricated news has been a major source of embarrassment for our self-anointed “independent media”.’ To what extent is our media – not only the mainstream print and electronic media – but also the blogsphere – stringed to the Deep State?

AS: The media was always connected with the establishment. We must not forget that the first papers were established with the help of the state. Later, some papers acquired a leftist tone mainly due to the state acquiring a different shade.

But the fact remains that the media’s relationship with the establishment is very old. The link has now become stronger because of the common sense of a nationalist agenda. The new members of the media are less well trained and too arrogant not to see how they get used by the establishment. I would insist that being sympathetic to the establishment’s point of view is different from becoming its agent.

The fake WikiLeaks story is just a reflection of the unhealthy dependence of the media on the state. Given the fact that information is centrally controlled, there are many a budding journalists or even senior ones who happily get into a partnership to access information.

The fault also lies with the owners of media groups who are reluctant to invest in their human resources. So, journalists have little option but to wait for some agency wala (spy agencies) to pass on critical stories. It is a weird relationship because there are times when paid journalists (by the agencies) go astray and are then punished.

LUBP: When the Hamid Mir/Khalid Khawaja tape story broke, Café Pyala, yourself, the Daily Times and LUBP were some of the very few that paid attention. LUBP was the first to break this story. Does the burial of this story indicate a disturbing lacks of ethics within our media?

AS: Hamid Mir was exposed but there are many others who do the same. They are meant to twist information to the deep state’s advantage. Even reputed papers such as Dawn publish planted stories on the front page. Very recently, my name appeared in TTP’s hit-list. Interestingly, the publication of the story was followed by visits from agency moles in the media who tried to tell me strange stories with the intention scaring. Perhaps, they want to see me leave the country.

My argument is that today’s media may have greater tools but it lacks a free spirit. It has far less courage than the media of the 1980s which was under greater physical constraints but was much more free in thinking.

(to be continued)

December 16, 2010

Sunnis and Shias unite to harass religious minorities on the Christman Eve

by admin

United against humanity: Extremist Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Wahhabi mullahs


December 16, 2010

Does Indian culture endanger Islam? – by Shoaib Adil

by admin

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