Posts tagged ‘United States’

July 12, 2012

Shamshad Junejo (1927-2012) – The Story of My Grandfather

by ravezjunejo

At London Bridge; July 1998.

Adapted from:

My maternal grandfather (referred to as ‘Nana’ in South Asian languages) Shamshad Ahmed Junejo, Advocate, Sindh High Court, passed away on March 26 this year. Nana was survived by his three sons and two daughters, the youngest of whom is my mother. Both his wives died when he was still alive.

Since a very young age, I had learned that my Nana had lived a very interesting life. A member of a Sindhi freedom fighter’s organisation in his school days, he went on to become a successful lawyer and a local leader of the PPP at the invitation of its founding Chairperson himself, and many more interesting people in between! I shall now put down here all that I can remember about my Nana and his life that I learnt from him.

These rememberances have been reproduced chronologically.


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February 9, 2012

Analysis: US house committee hearing on Balochistan, Oversight and Investigations

by Mureed Bizenjo

Let’s think about creating a Balochistan in southern part of Pakistan, said Congress republican Louie Gohmert, who completely backed the idea of independant Balochistan. Many people in Pakistan at present are not aware of the fact that Balochistan was invaded and forcibly annexed on March 27, 1948 (Seven and a half months after the creation of Pakistan), against the wishes of Baloch people and the two houses of Baloch parliaments who voted unanimously against the accession with Pakistan. That very day is mourned and marked as “Black day” in the land of miseries (Balochistan)

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December 27, 2010

LUBP Interview with Olaf Kellerhoff, Resident Representative Pakistan at Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

by admin

Related Interviews:

Brief Introduction:

LUBP is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Mr. Olaf Kellerhoff Resident Representative Pakistan at Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Olaf Kellerhoff has also worked as a Intercultural Mission Advisor at UNIFIL, Chief Target Audience Analysis at ISAF, Political Advisor at ISAF Chief Cultural & Religious Advisory Group at ISAF and Political Advisor at KFOR.

His profile on Linked in describes his expertise as follows:

– Conflict management & political consulting
– Communication for Islamic world
– Strong cross-cultural & language skills (viz. Farsi, Arabic, Turkish)
– Extensive mission experienced in post-conflict countries
– Creativity and communication
– Work style shaped by passion and reliability

LUBP: Olaf Kellerhoff, thanks for taking out the time to interview with us tell us something about your background and your experience as a representative of Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung?

Olaf Kellerhoff: First of all, dear Junaid, many thanks for your interest in our work here in Pakistan. That’s also why I joined the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) in 2008. I had studied Islamic History and International Relations and served as an Officer of the German Federal Armed Forces in many missions. Due to my interest and studies I had been working and living in several Muslim countries but until 2008 I didn’t know Pakistan. This country is one of the most fascinating places in the world for me. Consequently, I was very lucky when I received this job offer.

Since January 2009 I am the Resident Representative of our foundation in Pakistan. For me personally a fabulous experience. I enjoy my work and life over here and would even love to enjoy it more if the work doesn’t take its toll: just too many things to do and nothing should be delayed as it’s too important for the betterment of the country.

LUBP: Tell us something about your organization, its main objectives and work in Pakistan, especially in the promotion of liberal democratic politics and human rights?

Olaf Kellerhoff: A peaceful and progressive Pakistan – that’s what the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) is committed to since 1986. Our team in Islamabad is part of a family with more than 60 branches around the world. The first President of Germany, Theodor Heuß, established the Foundation in 1958 and named it after his mentor, the German philosopher and politician Friedrich Naumann (1860–1919). Ever since we do not loose focus in our work for human and civic rights, democracy, rule of law and free market economy on the basis of the political philosophy of liberalism. Today, FNF belongs to the 200 leading think tanks of the world.
Our vision is an open society with equal rights for individuals in freedom with responsibility. Our mission is to strengthen civil society in a sustainable and professional manner. Therefore, we do not only fund, but first of all train, consult and interlink our partners. In Pakistan we work in joint partnerships with for example the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Shehri – Ciitzens for a better Environement, Society for Protection of the Rights of the Child (SAPRC) or Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and few more. Thus, our partners and friends do their share as responsible and vigilant citizens for the bright future of Pakistan.

LUBP: The socialists and Islamists suggest that liberalism in Pakistan is an alien idea for the majority of the people, they portray that it is a grand western scheme to dominate third world’s market and eastern values? How do you view such claim/narrative?

Olaf Kellerhoff: Al-hamdu li’llah previous generations of the Pakistani people have been open minded: Imagine Islam being rejected as foreign import from the Arab Peninsula – or even worse as Arab scheme to dominate the Eastern markets or getting hold of the ressources in the Subcontinent! Islam is universal and so is liberalism. The one is a religion, the other a political philosophy – both complementing each other in a very suitable manner. This xenophobe attitude of some people demonstrates their ignorance in general but interestingly also in their claim as subject matter expert. So far, please excuse there might be, but I haven’t met any socialist or islamist who has real expertise on socialism or islamism.

Most likely, it is just the natural human fear of changes . Especially, in a world which is becoming more and more interlinked (it always has been global) and countries more competing with each other, the idea that you have to compete is not a very convenient one. There are a few countries which try to protect themselves by customs. Fine that works for one industry sector. The problem is that you as consumer and tax payer pay the price for it and you as an employee even might pay the price with unemployment. On the long run this sector gets less and less competitive. In other term the consumer/tax payer pays for a very few getting richer or at least defending their funds.

Similarily, it is natural and human that a religious functionary wants to keep his job and influence. Any change means a threat to his or her position. Accordingly, he or she will always argue against it. This is not unique in Pakistan or in Islam. This happened and happens all over the world. For example, the Syrian Intellectual Sadiq al-Azm has done acomparison once between Islamist and ultra-conservative catholicism: Almost everything was exactly the same: the same demands, the same arguments, the same opponents – just you had exchange the word Islam with Christianity.

Have a look for example at the negotiations of the Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Muhammadi (TNSM) for Swat in 2009. The claim of a Sharia court was not about the following sirat al-mustaqim of Islam, but giving jobs to quite untrained clientel. The legitmate wish of the Swati people for justice (as the State failed to deliver) was just too easy to exploit. Why should all the Army checkpoints be removed? Because each checkpoint diminishes the profit of contraband like mainly wood, cars, gems etc. Why should all NGOs leave immediately? Why was the Middle Strata of the Society threatened and made leave? Because every thinking person undermines the nonsense told by religious extremists. Unfortunately, to a good part they could succeed. Thinking persons are leaving – often not only Swat but Pakistan on the long run. Also this is an overall trend: Where do you find the best Islamic scholars? Mainly in Western countries where there are free to think, to talk, to publish. This not because these scholars have alien ideas but threaten by undermining the position of certain extremist groups. That’s very unfortunate as more thinking persons are needed – for the sake of Islam and the people. Or in the words of first Nobel Laureate Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907): Always can be found in the most intelligent humans the most liberal and in the most uneducated the most radical.

LUBP: In the current global economic crisis, we have seen European union stepping in to bail out countries in their fraternity. Possibly the good money was being spent to bail out bad investments. The bailouts have been in billions. Dont you think that developing markets like Pakistan would have been a destination for flows of funds? The europeans would have earned a better name and at the same time increased their influence in Pakistan which has been the forte of USA and middle eastern sheikhdoms?

Olaf Kellerhoff: Please excuse that I can’t see the point: Germany has donated 12,5 million Euro as emergency relief. Furthermore, additional 22,5 million Euro were allocated for food. Not to forget that the German share of European emergency relief is about 20 percent which comes on top of it. This equals around eight million Euro. And the German people have donated privately 160 million Euro (17,2 billion PKR). This is more than any other nation has given from the public. All this money comes directly to the people of Pakistan. Equally, we saved our currency. Not doing it would have had a major impact on world economy – with disadvantages to Pakistan, too.

LUBP: Pakistan is currently facing extremism, militancy and an anti-democratic establishment. What are the reasons for Pakistan not being a developed democracy? Are we the sole responsible for the present democratic crisis or the foreign players and their agenda is the biggest reason? Kindly also share your understanding about the nature of radical approach here, and suggest us ways to cope up with this overall menace?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Truly, I believe in self-responsibility. There will always be hampering factors or challenges for everyone. This could be ressources, could be interference from others and so on. But still you are repsonsible for yourself and blaming others does not help except for feeling better because of not feeling responsible (which is always more convenient). So, if the people of Pakistan want to have a functioning democracy – noboday says they have to have this wish – every citizen can work for it. Democracy has not come in history and will not come in the future as a ready-made gift to a people. Also once introduced but democracy remains a constant task.

If Pakistanis want democracy they should develop it by themselves – and also only if wanted seek help from outside. This would have the advantage not to make (bitter) experiences yourself but come out of the findings and bitter experiences of other people to better solutions directly.

Of course, the idea of democracy is a thorn in the eye of extremist and autocratic rulers (feudal lords included) who want to exploit for selfish reasons. Thus, they will always discourage it. If you don’t want to be exploited then the consequence is to take your responsibility as citizen and work for a functioning democracy.

LUBP: How do you view the recent liberalization of media here? And especially after the fake Wikleaks appeared on Pakistani main stream newspapers do you think Pakistani media is doing its job responsibly?

Olaf Kellerhoff:The Pakistani people can be very happy that it has a vast media landscape. Since its liberalisation it has extended so widely which is wonderful. What is natural in this quick development is that there was not time enough to train all the newcomers. So, many claim to be a journalist without being trained. Consequently, some journalists do not work properly, if not to say irresponsible. Therefore, we have developped with our partners FIRM – Free, Independent and Responsible Media. This is a programme designed especially for journalists in technical skills as well as in understanding and internalizing underlying values of responsible reporting.

The fake Wikileaks made it crystal clear that we are still far away from achieving our goal here. Just simple cross-checking – the basic rule of every journalistic research – would have made the fake obvious.

LUBP: Do you think Wikileaks is helping to to democratize the global world? or such sort of revelations are counterproductive?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Wikileaks is an interesting phenomena: So far, we don’t know how it will change the world on the long run. It is clear that it changes patterns and structures of journalism and to a certain extent also inter-state relationships. If Wikileaks democratises has to be seen. The Right to Infomration and the Freedom of Information, which is after the 18th amendment (Article 19-A) given to the people of Pakistan, is different in nature. This is really the “oxygen of democracy” as it brings light into bureaucracy and government what loyal citizens have paid taxes for. There every person has the right to know for example how his money has been spent. This is public information anyhow and has to be public. Some diplomatic, military and secret service information are not included in it. This is different from Wikileaks which focuses especially on this information which is confidential by nature. There is also a reason why it is confidential. So, not everything should be disclosed.

LUBP: Do you think global liberal world also requires the fundamnetal re-definition of terms like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘self-reliance’?

Olaf Kellerhoff:A liberal world is our vision. It will still take many years if not generations. It will not require a re-definition but souvereignity and self-reliance will be consequence of it not a precondition.

LUBP: kindly share with us ‘Germany’s experience of democracy and also tell us how we can transform Pakistan as a democratic nation?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Germany was a “belated” nation in terms of nation-building. Also the emergence was different from other countries and determines state and mentality of Germans until today. That means, due to the diversity it has a strong federal setup.

Furthermore, from the experience of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) we know that a “Democracy without Democrats” does not work out. In Berlin of 1920s we had street clashes and targeted killings perhaps like nowadays Karachi. As a consequence political foundations like ours have been set up in order to train German citizens in democracy – a task we still fulfill until today. It is a model which has been exported since the 1960 very successfully. That is also the learning experience: democracy education. You don’t need not only trained politician but trained citizens who can perform their duties as citizens: citizens who know how to vote, who know how to be vigilant, who know how to protest in a peaceful way. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to indtroduce civic education in school curricula and to make it obligatory for each and every citizen – starting from the earliest years of life.

LUBP: What are your views and observations about the internal heterogeneity of Islam. Currently, Pakistani Muslims are faced with a wave of terrorism which is inspired by religious and sectarian ideology. How could this situation be improved?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Terrorism is a communication strategy of weak groups. Often there are legitimate demands behind but these groups have not learned how to express these demands in a peaceful way or if so are ignored. It is clear that you can not “bomb” a communication, in other terms a “war on terrorism” is not only by its words pure nonsense. The need of people has to be addressed on one hand and rule of law maintained on the other. A state has to deliver to its citizens. A government has to be in communications with its voters. A nation has to create opportunities and lead the way ahead for its people.

The ideology is secondary. Of course, persons in search of personal power will always prefer to exploit the obvious as this is much easier, i.e. in this case Islam. But Pakistan’s terror challenge is not about religion: extremist groups contradict and act antithetically against Islam. Most of its adherents are just simple dacoits in search for money and opportunities without any knowledge of nor interest in Islam. It is a personal challenge, a bigger jihad, to restrain from temptations of this world, instead of getting paid 12.000-15.000 PKR as an ordinary talib, driving around in brand new pick-up, and take things you always wanted to have – and even worse: suddenly being respeceted (or let’s say feared after intimidating people but gives you a sense of respect you might have been looking for). In other words: “That’s cool, man!” – especially compared to be just a simple law obedient Muslim and worthful member of your community.

Generally, heterogenity is richness. It can be a very fruitful learning experience when different groups are in communication with each other but it is a threat of those who want to command and control. It belongs to the inner logic that extremists create an “illusion of alternatives”. The Nazis did this, too: Either National Socialism or Bolshevik Chaos! Either believer or unbeliever. Either Muslim or kafir. But the world is not black and white, not only good guy or bad guy, not Muslim and kafir. There many different Muslims and almost forgotten is the category of ahl al-kitab. The “people of the book” are not kuffar, unbelievers. Extremists do not only – willingly or unwillingly (because in general they don’t know anything about Islam) – ignore this category but also have to declare Muslims who are not in line with them, who do not want to be controlled by extremists, kuffar. The takfir is part of the propagandist game extremists have to play.

So, what you could and should do as a citizen:

  • Get not trapped in the “illusion of alternatives”. Do not allow others to impose this question on you as this is not legitimate. It’s none of other people’s business what you believe in but between you and God.
  • Query whenever somebody comes up with simplistic explanations.
  • Don’t get into the blame game but look ahead how to solve problems.
  • Demand the state to deliver to all citizens – regardless region, religion or ethnicity.

Contribute to an open-minded, multi-cultural society. This is the richness of Pakistan and not it’s problem.

LUBP: Are the notions of human rights and democracy compatible with Islam?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Definitely, there is no contradiction but even more the obligation as a Muslim to follow human rights and democracy. There exist only very few differences between Islamic notion of human rights and Western concepts. Of course, I am well aware that different regimes in history and presence tried – with some success – to portray this in another way. For good reasons: each autocratic leader will loose his power in favour of power to the people. Obedience to human rights is very annoying to rulers. Accordingly, selfish leaders who want to impose their will on the people will continue to mock human rights and democracy.

LUBP: Your message for young Pakistani Liberals?

Olaf Kellerhoff:Live liberalism in practice! Be an example for others!
Unfortunately, the word liberalism is often misunderstood to that extent that someone who drinks alcohol and is hanging around with other women (or men in case of women) claims to be liberal. This is nonsense! Living liberalism means

  • to see other persons as equal, to pay them respect
  • to be responsible for yourself (often very unconvenient if you can not blame others)
  • to be responsible for your family, community and state
  • to act as a vigilant citizen
  • to obey rule of law and demand its implementation.
December 23, 2010

An open letter to the leadership and workers of the PPP – by Shuja

by admin

With the drop out of the JUI from the ruling coalition, the PPP government suddenly looks vulnerable. And the fact is that it has become vulnerable. The possibility of the revival of defunct MMA has already been raised.

The historical parallels are very chilling. Those who witnessed the clerical movement in the late seventies against Z.A. Bhutto’s elected government have reasons to be fearful of the developing scenario. What is therefore imperative is to derive the correct lessons from history so that we do not let it repeat, for the very thought of it sends shivers down the spine.

The first thing that PPP needs to do is to shun its obstinacy and habit of placing the responsibility of Bhutto’s fall and subsequent long persecutions of the Party workers on the unconstitutional actions of certain individuals or on adverse circumstances. A clear assessment should be made of the achievements as well failures of the founder of PPP keeping in mind that the latter by no means diminish the former. All great leaders do make mistakes but the tendency to overlook them by their followers often leads to the eclipse of what they had achieved.

To put it briefly, the chief mistake that Bhutto made was the appeasement of the clerics. Why he had to do this? This is a complex question but in the context of the times, it was chiefly his foreign policy vision that determined the change of his course on which he had won the mandate to rule. His coming to power was a revolution, for he mobilized masses and got himself elected on socialist, progressive agenda that demanded radical socio-political changes in the society. It included striking at the power of all the forces of Reaction, of which the feudal lords, clerics and the army were the three interlinked wings. However, while in power, he gradually got disillusioned with and became alienated from the progressive agenda and the forces representing it.

The change of course was determined by his thinking that Pakistan would gain more by unifying the Islamic world around his leadership, tapping the resources of the Islamic world and creating a third block besides the ones led by USA and USSR. Such thinking marked a reversal at the home front that led to a series of legislation such as banning of alcohol and declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims. This was a dangerous path that he chose for himself. What he failed to see was that in the Cold War era the clerical forces were deeply allied with the USA. Therefore his strategy of standing up to the US while appeasing the clerics at home was bound to lead nowhere but his own downfall.

Now political parties, by their intention and structure, are driven to political power. Parties are indeed formed, as PPP did, on idealism, but once a party becomes part of the establishment, there is no room for idealism in its discourse or strategy. Thus long before Tony Blair in the mid 1990s went on to modernize the Labour Party and ditched clause four, the chief remnant of Labour Party’s socialist legacy, to make it acceptable to the British establishment and the US, Benazir made peace with the executioners of his father at home and abroad and made his party electable once again.

Since then the leadership of the party has come to believe that with its roots in all the provinces of the country it has secured its right to rule the country in a democratic set up. But that is not the case. The religious right considers democracy that invests power to legislate to the people and their elected parliament as contrary to the Sharia and therefore un-Islamic. According to their vision of Islam the ultimate authority in the Islamic society rests with the ideologues and guardians of the Sharia, namely, the clerics.

It is a brilliant fact of the history of this country that its people decisively rejected this view of Islam in 1970 in both parts of the country
. Leading the Islamic world from the front they demonstrated their understanding that the clerical view of Islam was only an ideology of the obscurantist forces, forming a nexus of clerics, feudal lords and the army, that seek to maintain the outdated and unjust social and economic structure of the society. Now although this view continues to hold the Islamic world in thrall to this day, Pakistani people have never in any free elections since 1970 voted for the religious parties. This is the core fact that we must remember in our review of the strategy being proposed.

The second core fact in this regard is the radical change in the geopolitical situation of the world. For now, after the fall of USSR, a war has broken out between the former allies that brought the USSR down. The USA, the remaining superpower, though increasingly on the wane, is at loggerheads with the global network of Islamic clerics. For the present PPP leadership, therefore, it is a folly to follow Benazir’s policy of appeasing both the US and the clerics. Even from purely pragmatic or realist perspective, that guided Benazir to revise the direction, it is no more conducive to keep the party in power.

It is well pointing out that the West, led by the USA, has all along betrayed its own ideals of Enlightenment by supporting the forces of reaction in the non-Western world (Third World). It has been content in creating Westernized elites in these countries that could exercise control over their people by whatever means. The policy no doubt helped them in beating their internal foe but the price was unimaginable by their wildest dreams. For it is now widely feared that Afghanistan might also become the graveyard of the remaining superpower. For this reason the US seems prepared, however unwillingly, to support Pakistani government to take on the clerics and cut them to their size. (I said unwillingly because by their colonial heritage the West remains fearful of any independent country outside its hemisphere.)

This remarkable development and change in global situation provides the PPP leadership and workers with a historic opportunity to take the revolution further which their leader unleashed in 1970 and which was left unfinished largely due to the then geoplotical situation. Now, with all quiet on the Western front, it is the very realism, and from the objective to remain in power, which demands that the PPP abandon its fear of the clerics and leading the people from the front confront them and curb their power, hugely disproportional to their vote bank, that they continue to enjoy in our society.

In the current debate over the blatantly unjust Blasphemy Law and the persecution of a helpless Christian woman, the cat has once again come out of the bag. The clerics, who are hugely supported by the other two partners in the nexus, have made it clear that they do not accept the sovereignty of the parliament and its right to legislate however it deems fit, or even the right of the constitutionally elected President to exercise his right to grant pardon to any one condemned by any court of the country. Thus once again it is this simple question at the centre of the debate that whether these are the people who govern this country through their elected representatives or the clerics by virtue of their self-professed divine right.

The PPP leadership and workers, therefore, need to wake up and read the situation correctly which is really hugely in their favour this time. It is perhaps the opportunity of the same magnitude that came on the way of their leader in 1970 and which he lost as much due to his own failures as for the determinations of history. They must not lose it this time, for on its fulfillment hangs the fate of our future generations.

Especially for President Zardari it would be a folly to believe that he can survive by giving in to the clerics, for he should remember that their appetite for power is insatiable. They know that they cannot win in a general election so they are bent upon using Islam to create a situation whereby their partners in the nexus could intervene in the name of national security and install a government that keeps them happy.

I understand that for President Zardari it would be difficult to make a u-turn and renounce the legacy of not only the later-day Bhutto but also of his own spouse who was instrumental in the making and rise of the Taliban. But Zardari has a huge advantage at his disposal, for the US-cleric coalition that framed the unfortunate legacy is now broken. Our country has become a laughing stock in the world for getting all the money from outside world to fight with the militant vanguard of the clerics while inside keeping their lifelines intact. It is indeed mind boggling that a government which openly claims to be an ally of the USA in the so-called war on terror should leave the lifeline of its vocal internal enemies intact. Choosing the path of confronting them openly will surely enhance the stature of this country in the international community and will surely wash the stigma that this is a nation of hypocrites run by a hypocritical government.

Zaradari has really nothing to lose, for he has nothing substantial to his credit for which Pakistani people could hold him in special reverence. But he has the opportunity to make his name in history and even grow larger than her late spouse and become second Bhutto by leading the people in their struggle to free themselves from the yoke of the reactionary forces that have held them hostage since the inception of this country.

He must not consider, like Bhutto, that the seat he sits on makes him secure. He must come out of the Presidency, for if he thinks it is a castle, he must know that it has the foundations of sand. He must go to the people and seek a fresh mandate on the simple question as to who possesses the right to govern this country, the people or the clerics and their allied network.

In a personal meeting the other day I heard from a PPP MNA, a close associate of Zardari, that when the party members come to him with long faces, frightened by the rising dangers to their power, he raises their spirits in no time and they leave happily, saying: He is all right, he says all is well and there is nothing to fear as long as we stand united. So he enjoys the reputation of being a brave man among his party cadre. But Bhutto was no less a brave man, though at the end it could only help him saying to his executioner: Make it quick.

The truth is that it is only the people of Pakistan who can save Zardari if he opts to come out to them. He must rally all the enlightened intelligentsia of the country around him and prepare his party to find the battle on two fronts. First, that it is the people of Pakistan and their elected representatives who have the sole right to govern their country and not the clerics and, second, the view of Islam and the Sharia as propagated by the clerics is a tendentious, obscurantist view that conflicts with the teachings of the Quran and message of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

On my part I, who am a member of the academia in this country, can offer support on the second front. And I will conclude this brief letter with two questions. First, the clerics claim their authority higher than the people’s legislature in the name of the divine right of the ulema to guard Islam and the lives of its adherents. Is this right sanctioned in the Quran? The simple answer is no, it contradicts the teaching, even the words of the Quran, and further, it had no sanction all along in the history of premodern Islamic civilization. It is simply the other side of the conventional belief in the divine of the kings and the Quran supports neither the one nor the other, for both stand and fall together.

Now there is an important concept of asbab an-nazul (the reasons or causes behind the revelation of the verses of the Quran) employed in the exegesis of the Quran which helps us in understanding the answer just given. Extending this concept we must ask as to what were the reasons of the descent of the Quran itself and the institution of a separate religion than Judaism and Christianity whose texts it affirmed again and again? One of the chief reasons was the institution of priesthood in both Judaism and Christianity that claimed a position between the believers and God and thereby claimed the right to control the whole mental and practical life of the believers. In the new dialectic between the individual and community that the Quran developed, each and every individual stood face to face with God while the right to legislate was invested in the community. It is clear then that the divine sanction of the clerical authority derives from Jewish and Christian influences and is therefore un-Islamic, for it is completely rejected by the Quran.

As for the second question, the clerics hold that the Quran is pre-eminently a book of the Law, or Sharia, and since they hold all the knowledge of it, they also hold the ultimate authority on how the people of this country should live their lives. Now there are 6236 verses of the Quran of which only 290 deal with the Law. What are the rest of the verses about? The truth is that they virtually do not exist for the clerics.

December 15, 2010

Obama and the Pakistan Dilemma -by Matthew Kaminski

by admin

America can’t win in Afghanistan as long as assorted Taliban insurgents find safe haven in Pakistan. That’s the no-brainer dressed up as revelation in leaks this week about the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate regarding both countries.

The proposed solution is tidy, too: Lean on Pakistan to cut links to extremists in the tribal regions along Afghanistan’s eastern border and in southern Baluchistan, even as the CIA ramps up the number of covert drone strikes on those groups.

The assumption is that Pakistan can bring the extremists to heel at its pleasure. After all, the Pakistani military began nurturing Afghan and other jihadists in the 1980s and has kept them on as “strategic assets” throughout the American long war brought about by 9/11. So, we think, if Islamabad cuts its support and makes life difficult for the jihadists, this unfortunate genie can be put back in the bottle. President Obama might even meet his self-imposed deadlines for drawing down the 98,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

This is all a useful fiction, maybe even a necessary one. American bribes, threats and pleas have prompted Pakistan into its own troop surge in the tribal regions. Over the past 18 months the Pakistanis have more than quadrupled their presence there, to 140,000, and have taken heavy casualties. Last year the Pakistani army cleared Swat Valley and South Waziristan, which had been overrun by militants.

Today’s White House review of the war, which comes a year into the Obama surge, will likely highlight such progress. The president can consider his administration’s spirited engagement with Pakistan a foreign policy success. Credit is also due to “bulldozer” diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who developed close relations with the Pakistani civilian leadership before his untimely death Monday evening.

But Pakistan hasn’t turned. The insurgents who kill American troops in Afghanistan—principally the Taliban, whose leadership is in Baluchistan, and the militants loyal to the legendary fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani in the tribal regions—operate all too freely from Pakistan. President Obama should note that, too, today.

The year ends sourly for U.S.-Pakistani military relations. American frustration with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has grown over broken Pakistani promises and a perceived lack of urgency. Summer floods diverted Pakistani troops away from the tribal areas, but the military doesn’t have that excuse now. The Pakistanis have also denied American requests to expand drone coverage to the area around Quetta, the city in Baluchistan that is the heaquarters-in-exile of the Taliban.

Pakistani officials say that Gen. Kayani will move his forces into North Waziristan, the tribal region that hosts the Haqqani network, in his own time. Some 50,000 troops are said to be ready to go in. No one wants them to lose, but they could against Haqqani’s respected force. A U.S. official says, “We don’t want them to do it if they’re not ready, but we don’t want them to think it’s not important.”

The Pakistanis may have found a way out. Analysts here say that the military is giving Haqqani time to relocate to a neighboring tribal region, Kurram, before soldiers go in to “clear” North Waziristan. A U.S. defense official here says that he’s seen no evidence to back the claim. But in the past most insurgents have simply melted away in the face of Pakistani advances.

Haqqani also figures as a trusted ally in Islamabad’s plans for a postwar Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some American officials are open to talks with the Taliban, if they bring peace in exchange for power sharing. Also, who knows, America may get fed up and pull out before it wins. With all that in mind, Pakistani leaders may protect Haqqani, their favorite “asset,” thinking he and his Taliban allies may get power in Kabul one way or another.

Instead of sending drones over Quetta, the CIA this summer was allowed to set up shop on the ground. Across Pakistan, several such “fusion cells” pair CIA operatives with officials from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. A Pakistani official says that this takes courage, as “ISI officers are murdered for helping Americans.”

Many circles here welcome U.S. pressure on the military and state to act. Islamic extremists are putting down deep roots in society, to the consternation of educated and moderate Pakistanis. This goes well beyond the mountainous regions that are the traditional home to religious warrior tribes. The state is losing its grip on Baluchistan. The country’s largest city, Karachi, is a militant hotbed. Parts of all Pakistani provinces have been radicalized, including the most populous, Punjab. Terrorism now touches all Pakistanis.

Pakistan is becoming more like Afghanistan—only with a more advanced economy and nuclear weapons. The people who cross the porous border between them, an arbitrary line drawn up by the British in the 1890s—already consider them the same country. Pakistan’s military has yet to show that it wants to—or that it can—control the Islamist wave. Many groups have slipped their leash and look at their old patron, the ISI, with distrust.

Gen. David Petraeus, the American commander in Afghanistan, certainly has contingency plans for Pakistan that go beyond extra doses of drones or diplomacy. Putting American boots in Waziristan is an obvious idea. But, like so many options, it is unappealing. The fallout in Pakistan would be hard to predict.

So for the moment, America gets to pretend that Pakistan can do this on its own. A successful terrorist attack on the U.S. with a Pakistani return address might quickly change that.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

December 14, 2010

WikiLeaks, journalists and that elusive public interest -by Jonathan Holmes

by admin

Related articles:

Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths – by Julian Assange

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

It’s an unusual event: an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by the editor or editor-in-chief of almost every significant mainstream news medium in the nation – radio, television and newspapers – with the sole exception, interestingly, of The Australian‘s Chris Mitchell.

Its essential point is that WikiLeaks ‘is part of the media and deserves our support’; that prosecuting it or its editor, Julian Assange, because WikiLeaks has published confidential government documents would be unprecedented in the United States, and in Australia, ‘would seriously curtail Australian media organisations reporting on subjects the Government decides are against its interests’.

In other words, the Walkley Foundation’s letter is an elaboration of the attack made in his acceptance speech last Thursday night by Gold Walkley winner Laurie Oakes on the Government’s reaction to WikiLeaks.

All very admirable. And I want to make it clear, for what it’s worth, that I agree with the letter’s arguments as, he tells me, does Chris Mitchell.

But there are a few other points that bear repeating, lest the media get too carried away with the notion that by publishing the WikiLeaks cables it is exclusively serving ‘the public interest’.

First, nobody seems to be defending the alleged leaker of this unprecedented trove of secret documents, Private First Class Bradley Manning of the US Army. It seems generally agreed that Private Manning is facing up to 50 years in prison for his indiscretion. Yet despite all the talk about whistleblowers, shield laws and the media’s duty to let daylight into the processes of government, no-one is claiming, seriously, that Manning’s actions could be justified under the law of the United States or almost anywhere else.

If the allegations against him are proven, Private Manning will be revealed as a leaker, not a whistleblower. With some notable exceptions (Hillary Clinton’s requirement that her diplomats spy on the UN, for example) the vast mass of these documents do not reveal wrongdoing, corruption or malfeasance, but the normal activities of diplomats, reporting frankly under the understandable assumption that their reports would remain confidential.

Yes, of course their publication causes intense embarrassment, to the US State Department and to many of the subjects of the cables. Whether that embarrassment, and the effect it will have on the ability of diplomats everywhere (and anyone else who relies on the confidentiality of electronic communication) to report frankly to their superiors or colleagues, is ‘in the public interest’, is very much an open question.

Second, Private Manning went to WikiLeaks, presumably, because he felt that his identity would be better protected by that organisation than by any other. That may be the case. It does not seem to be through any action or negligence on WikiLeaks’s part, but through his own indiscretions, that Bradley Manning came to the attention of the US authorities. However, one reason why neither Julian Assange, nor WikiLeaks, nor any of the great newspapers which are its collaborators in the document release, have been under any pressure to reveal their source, is that the US government has convinced itself (rightly or wrongly) that the source is already known and in custody.

That being the case, the entire justification for WikiLeaks’s existence – its ability to protect its sources through its unique information-laundering and encryption techniques – is irrelevant in this instance.

Third, Julian Assange has made another claim for WikiLeaks, which he says sets it apart from other media organisations. According to this op-ed in The Australian last week:

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Well, WikiLeaks clearly doesn’t insist on ‘scientific journalism’ being practised by all the media outlets with which it’s working. The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald are still publishing story after story by Philip Dorling – stories that have deeply embarrassed or compromised Kevin Rudd, Mark Arbib, Joel Fitzgibbon, and Stephen Gumley, to name just a few, not to mention the US Embassy in Canberra. But we can’t judge for ourselves if Dorling has reported accurately or fairly, because Fairfax hasn’t posted a single cable online.

On Monday I sent an email to SMH editor-in-chief Peter Fray, asking him why not. His response (read it in full here) makes it clear that the primary reason is to protect not the public, but Fairfax’s commercial, interest:

…the volume of material in the Australian referenced cables means we are still mining the source documents. There are, for instance, several potential stories in each cable; to put the material online would be to give access to our competitors in the local market.

That’s not a line of reasoning that has prevented The Guardian, the New York TimesDer SpiegelLe Monde or any other of WikiLeaks’s collaborators from posting cables online to support their stories; and it would seem to be in direct contravention of the principles espoused by Julian Assange. Perhaps he’s been too preoccupied by other matters recently to have noticed.

Philip Dorling has undoubtedly scored a major scoop for Fairfax. Most of the stories he’s writing – and there are goodness knows how many to come – are fascinating, especially to politics and foreign policy junkies. But we’re having to take them on trust, and we shouldn’t have to. And very few are telling us stuff we didn’t already know (Kevin Rudd’s a control freak; Defence Procurement is a mess; China doesn’t like the Defence White Paper): what they are telling us is that the US Embassy knew it too, often before we did. Surprise, surprise.

Government ministers hold power because their party secured a majority of votes (or it did before August 2010). Nobody elected a single one of the signatories of the Walkley Foundation’s letter.

So while we’re all enjoying the humiliation of ministers and ex-ministers – a great Australian sport, which right now we seem to be better at than cricket – we should also remember to exercise towards the media’s more grandiose claims that other talent for which Australians are supposedly famous: bullshit detection.

Jonathan Holmes is the presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch.


December 14, 2010

Wikileaks cables: US worry over UK homegrown extremism

by admin

According to the BBC, US concerns that the UK was struggling to cope with homegrown extremism have been revealed in new Wikileaks cables.

One cable said the British government made “little progress” in engaging with the UK’s Muslim community after the 7 July 2005 terror attacks in London.

The communication was delivered to Washington from the American embassy in London in August 2006.

The cable said tensions continued, with some British Muslims blaming UK foreign policy for inciting extremism.

‘Time and resources’
The document, details of which appear in the Guardian newspaper, was sent shortly after an open letter highly critical of British government policy signed by prominent Muslims, including Labour MP Sadiq Khan, who is now shadow justice secretary, was published.

The cable referred to anger among some British Muslims about issues such the arrest of suspects over the failed transatlantic airliner bomb plot and then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s failure to call for a ceasefire after Israel’s assault on Lebanon.

It said: “Since 7/7, HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] has invested considerable time and resources in engaging the British Muslim community. The current tensions demonstrate just how little progress has been made.

“At the same time, the Muslim community’s reaction to the arrests of 24 of its own sons – a knee-jerk reaction blaming HMG – shows that its leaders too have far to go.

That said, the Muslim community is not the only element in Britain blaming HMG’s foreign policy for inciting radical elements; the left in particular but even the mainstream press has expressed the belief, reportedly widespread, that homegrown terrorism is an ‘inevitable’ response to the UK’s involvement in Iraq and reluctance to call for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the Middle East.”

Ballot worry

In another of the leaked documents, a US diplomat in Kenya expressed the concern that a change of government in the 2010 UK general election would result in ministers with a “simplistic point of view” over terrorism.

The message was sent after a counter-terrorism meeting between British and American officials in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in October 2009.

The revelations come on the day that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is due in court in London to fight extradition to Sweden where he denies sexually assaulting two women.

In a separate leak of cables also published on Tuesday, a US diplomat in Portugal said UK police helped “develop” evidence against Madeleine McCann’s parents.

Wikileaks has released a series of US diplomatic cables that have appeared in the Guardian and several other newspapers around the world.

Islamist Texts in London Libraries: reports that radical Islamic texts, including ones authored by extremists banned from entering the United Kingdom, can be found at libraries throughout London. The journalists found “hundreds” of extremist books, videos and audiotapes as part of the investigation.

“The MLA guidance on controversial material supports libraries as they make case by case decisions about what to stock. However, there are powers to ban terrorist publications within the Terrorism Act 2006 and it is up to police to decide when and how they are used,” the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council told Channel 4.

Among the extremist authors whose texts are available at the libraries is Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the top Muslim Brotherhood theologian who publicly supports suicide bombings and violent jihad. He was condemned by European Muslim groups last year after saying that the Holocaust was a judgment from Allah upon the Jews and that he hoped Muslims would carry out the next judgment.

The journalists also found texts by Abdullah al-Fisal, Bilal Philips and Muhammad bin Jamil Zino, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi and Maulana Masood Azhar, all of which have public records of preaching in support of violent jihad and acts of terrorism.

“There should absolutely be a ban on hate books being bought with taxpayers’ money. Existing books that have be flagged as inciting hatred should be identified and removed from our libraries and schools,” Emma Boon of the Taxpayers’ Alliance told Channel 4.

December 12, 2010

WikiLeaks cyber war: pro-Assange Anonymous v US nationalists

by admin

Hundreds of Australians rally in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Sydney on Friday. Photo: AFP

The controversy surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has started a heated cyber war between Mr Assange’s supporters and a group of patriotic Americans.

And a Sydney member of the pro-WikiLeaks cyber attackers has revealed he is disillusioned with the group, saying they “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a pub”.

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Last week, a group of loose-knit cyber attackers dubbed Anonymous took down the websites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal in retaliation for the companies’ refusal to process WikiLeaks-related transactions following pressure from US politicians.

The attacks were named “Operation Payback” but now a group of American nationalists is counter-attacking Anonymous under the banner “Operation Fightback”.

“For the continued defense of our nations (sic) people & businesses,” the tagline of the new group’s Twitter page, @AnonymousDown, reads, above a link to a YouTube clip of “God Bless the USA”.

“Malicious tactics being employed by the Anonymous movement will not be tolerated … freedom of speech is one thing, personal and corporate infrastructure is another,” the operator of the Twitter page wrote.

Using the same methods as Anonymous – distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which flood servers with millions of requests – the Operation Fightback group has been able to seriously disrupt Anonymous’s operations and prevent it from launching new attacks.

Anonymous members used a software application called Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to launch their attacks, which received its instructions on which targets to attack from an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel.

A Sydney-based member of Anonymous, who spoke to this website last week, said today that the IRC server used by the group had been knocked offline by the Operation Fightback counter-attackers. This had prevented them from launching new attacks.

“It seems to be going to hell in a bucket,” he said in a phone interview.

The man said that, in addition to attacking the Anonymous IRC servers, the Operation Fightback group had also been putting up fake targets to confuse Anonymous members and get them to attack the wrong IP addresses.

“There are still people hanging around on the Operation Payback channel and trying to co-ordinate attacks and the last known target was, but that seems to be falling apart because of both the DDoS on the IRC channel as well as people getting IP banned when they launch attacks against,” he said.

“ administrators appear to be actively monitoring incoming packets and they’re doing IP blocks on wherever an attack is coming from.”

Anonymous members are just ‘script kiddies’

The Sydney Anonymous member has grown increasingly disillusioned with his colleagues over the weekend, saying today that they were “really just ordinary dumb shit kids” who do not know much about network technology.

He said attacks on PayPal failed for the most part because PayPal had a sophisticated server farm that could not be knocked out by a DDoS attack, and the Anonymous members were hitting the wrong target.

“If they would’ve gone after PayPal’s domain name server [DNS] they would have been able to shut down PayPal entirely but they didn’t know enough about network technology to work that out,” he said.

The Sydney Anonymous member said the group had also failed in similar attempts to attack Amazon, which last week refused to host WikiLeaks files. Some of Amazon’s European websites suffered a half-hour outage over the weekend but it was not clear whether this was caused by cyber attacks.

He said that, rather than being full-blown hackers, the Anonymous members were “script kiddies” who only knew how to download the LOIC program and run it.

“They’re very unprofessional, illogical and irrational and very much their actions are based upon emotions,” he said.

“They don’t organise well, they don’t co-ordinate well and it’s a lot like CB radio back in the 1970s – people farting into the microphone. These people couldn’t organise a piss-up in a pub.”

Contrary to the group’s name, Anonymous members who used the LOIC program to attack targets could easily be traced and identified, The University of Twente in Holland said in new research. Dutch police have already arrested two teenagers over the attacks.

James Lewis, a specialist in cyber security at Washington think tank the Centre for International and Strategic Studies, played down the attacks, saying it was more like a “noisy political demonstration” than a cyber war as only websites were knocked out, not back-end systems.

“For me, this is political theater, kabuki – entertaining and perhaps influential, but much less than war,” he said.

Change of strategy

While there is no central command structure to Anonymous and several splinter groups have formed, a statement put out over the weekend said Anonymous was changing tactics, abandoning its strategy of online attacks on organisations seen as hostile to WikiLeaks.

In an overnight blog post, Anonymous said it now aimed to publish parts of the confidential US diplomatic cables as widely as possible and in ways that made them as hard as possible to trace.

“We have, at best, given them a black eye. The game has changed. When the game changes, so too must our strategies,” said the blog post announcing “Operation: Leakspin”.

The activists are now encouraging supporters to search through leaked cables on the WikiLeaks site and publish summaries of ones that have been least exposed, labelling them so they are hard to find by any authority seeking to quash them.

“Use misleading tags, everything from ‘Tea Party’ to ‘Bieber’. Post snippets of the leaks everywhere,” the blog said, referring to the US grassroots conservative movement and the 16-year-old Canadian pop phenomenon Justin Bieber.

US charges imminent

Mr Assange is in isolation at London’s Wandsworth prison awaiting hearings related to Sweden’s request to extradite him to face sexual misconduct allegations.

Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, who is defending the Australian-born activist in the Swedish rape investigation, told Britain’s Daily Mail that he has seen secret police documents that prove he is innocent of rape claims made against him by two women in Stockholm.

One of his other lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, has said an indictment brought by the US under the Espionage Act, over separate allegations that Mr Assange unlawfully leaked hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables, was imminent.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, seemed to be at odds with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, when he said that, despite suggestions by Mr McClelland that Mr Assange’s passport may be cancelled, the final decision rested exclusively with him.

Ms Gillard and Mr McClellend have accused Mr Assange of undertaking illegal acts but have since been unable to specify exactly which laws he had broken. Mr Rudd has blamed the diplomatic cable leaks on the US, saying it did not secure its systems.

Over the weekend Mr McClelland said it could be a year before the Australian Federal Police was able to determine whether WikiLeaks committed a criminal act.

Efforts to stem the embarrassing leaks could be futile as, even if WikiLeaks is shut down, competing sites will spring up immediately to take its place. One site, Openleaks, staffed by WikiLeaks defectors, is due to launch this week.


December 12, 2010

Pakistan "not willing " to obliterate terrorist havens on its soil: US intelligence report

by admin

Related article:

Online factories of suicide bombers: An ISI production

Amrullah Saleh, who led Afghanistan’s spy agency from 2004 until earlier this year, told a Washington conference Thursday that the key to defeating the Taliban is cutting off its support from Pakistan.

“Demobilize them, disarm them, take their headquarters out of the Pakistani intelligence’s basements,” Saleh said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday, in no uncertain terms, castigated Pakistan for using terror as a tool to fulfill its political objectives.

Addressing a joint press conference with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Merkel said Germany would extend its fullest cooperation to India in battling militancy.

She added: “Our intention is also to talk to Pakistan to make clear that terror is not a means to an end when it comes to helping solve political problems. It is unacceptable and that Germany will cooperate with India very closely in this particular area.”

The German Chancellor said that during her one-to-one talks with the Indian Prime Minister and the delegation-level talks that followed, the situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region was discussed in great detail, as also the future of enhancing security in South Asia.

Pak not willing to destroy terrorists’ havens:

Meanwhile New U.S. intelligence reports paint a bleak picture of the security conditions in Afghanistan and say the war cannot be won unless Pakistan roots out militants on its side of the border, according to several U.S. officials who have been briefed on the findings.

The reports, one on Afghanistan, the other on Pakistan, could complicate the Obama administration’s plans to claim this week that the war is turning a corner. But U.S. military commanders have challenged the conclusions, saying they are based on outdated information that does not take into account progress made in the fall, says a senior U.S. official who is part of the review process.

The analyses were detailed in briefings to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, and some of the findings were shared with members of the House Intelligence Committee, officials said.

All the officials interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified documents.

The reports, known as National Intelligence Estimates, are prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and used by policymakers as high up as the president to understand trends in a region. The new reports are the first ones done in two years on Afghanistan and six years on Pakistan, officials said. Neither the director’s office nor the CIA would comment on either report.

The new report on Afghanistan cites progress in “inkspots” where there are enough U.S. or NATO troops to maintain security, such as Kabul and parts of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Much of the rest of the country remains Taliban-controlled, or at least vulnerable to Taliban infiltration, according to an official who read the executive summary.

The report contains public opinion polling that finds Afghans are ambivalent – as willing to cut a deal with the Taliban as they are to work with the Americans, the official said.

It also shows U.S. efforts are lagging to build infrastructure and get trained security forces to areas where they are needed, the official said. And it says the war cannot be won unless Pakistan is willing to obliterate terrorist safe havens in its lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The new report on Pakistan concludes that the Pakistani government and military “are not willing to do that,” says one U.S. official briefed on the analysis.

The document says Pakistan’s government pays lip service to cooperating with U.S. efforts against the militants, and still secretly backs the Taliban as a way of hedging its bets in order to influence Afghanistan after a U.S. departure from the region.

In describing the Afghanistan report, military officials said there is a disconnect between the findings, completed in the fall, and separate battlefield assessments done by the war commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and others that contain more up-to-date and sometimes more promising accounts.

A military official familiar with the reports said the gloomier prognosis in the Afghanistan report became a source of friction as a preliminary version was passed among government agencies.

Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the contrast between the Afghan estimate and Petraeus’ reports.

“It’s a very disciplined, structured process, so it’s got a cutoff date that’s substantially earlier in the game than, say, the military review,” Cartwright said in a recent interview.

While the intelligence assessments show the Obama administration may still be struggling to change Pakistani behavior, former Obama war adviser Bruce Riedel disputes the hypothesis that the war cannot be won if Pakistan doesn’t close terrorist sanctuaries.

“If the U.S. continues to strengthen the Afghan state and army, that may force Pakistan to reconsider its support for the Taliban,” said Riedel, a former CIA officer and author of the forthcoming book, Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad.

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.


December 8, 2010

Times of universal deceit — by Dr Mohammad Taqi

by admin

The US government has now ordered all its employees to stay away from the WikiLeaks website even on their home computers and not read what the government still considers classified information. Big Brother keeps digging itself deeper into a hole

“Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death” —Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984.

Last week’s WikiLeaks had a distinct Orwellian aura to it. One could almost hear the 1984 theme music playing with O’Brien asking, “What are your feelings about Big Brother?” “I hate him,” replied Winston Smith. And then, of course, the all too familiar retort from O’Brien, “You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him.”

But, apparently, thoughtcrime has been committed. Some, who did not love Big Brother, decided to disobey him too. The 250,000 secret diplomatic cables started becoming public, one bagful at a time. Big Brother, of course, is writhing in agony because the commoners did not heed its warnings invoking sacrosanct national security or the presumed disruption of the world order. However, the agony is not just of defeat but is also compounded by the fact that “one man with a laptop” and a private, first-class sergeant carry far more credibility with the public around the globe than the super or quasi-superpowers and their clients. Prometheus has stolen the fire from Zeus and has handed it over to the mortals.

The humpty dumpty of the official truths that these diplomats and the governments that they worked for and with had so painstakingly created has taken a great fall. The common citizens feel vindicated, as they had known all along that the gospel of official truth is nothing more than a mirage they were supposed to believe blindly. All the king’s men and women have now set out to put their humpty dumpty back together again — through whatever means it might take.

What is still lost on the government functionaries around the world, and especially US officials, is that this trust deficit between them and the public did not develop overnight. Whether it was lying about the Hiroshima bombing, overthrowing Iran’s Dr Mossadegh, the slaughter of thousands of Chileans including Dr Allende, creating the Afghan mujahideen monster, the Iran-Contra scandal, lies about WMDs and stage-managing the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue, the list of the skulduggeries perpetrated on the world is endless. Decades of disinformation, half-truths and lies have contributed to a credibility gap between the words and actions of governments, especially the US government, which is now wider than the Grand Canyon.

What also remains lost on the US government and those abetting its campaign against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is that going after him on grounds as flimsy as broken condoms (the charge against Assange being that he allegedly proceeded with sex, despite protests from his previously consensual partners, after protection broke down), is eroding whatever little credibility they might have left.

From the outset it became clear to most observers that the US literally has no case against Mr Assange and would very likely resort to pressing Sweden to pursue the alleged sexual harassment charges against him. Last week, the Voice of America’s Pashto service Deewa Radio conducted a special on WikiLeaks and whether they constituted espionage or journalism. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke recorded this ‘exclusive’ observation for the telecast: “The WikiLeaks is very unfortunate. This is an appalling breach of security by whoever did it — we think we know who it is — but whoever did it violated his oath of office to the US and committed an act for which he will be charged to the full extent of the law.”

The host then asked me and other participants to comment on Holbrooke’s remark. My take was, and remains, that the US does not stand a chance in hell to prosecute Assange under the present US and international laws and that Richard ‘the bulldozer’ Holbrooke was alluding to pulverising sergeant Bradley Manning — the little guy who allegedly disobeyed Big Brother.

How much more Orwellian can it get? Apparently it can. The US government has now ordered all its employees to stay away from the WikiLeaks website even on their home computers and not read what the government still considers classified information. Big Brother keeps digging itself deeper into a hole.

At the time of this writing, Julian Assange is being remanded in British police custody, after being denied bail in the Swedish case referred to above. Republican Mike Huckabee wants Assange assassinated, a few others want the use of military force against him, and Sarah Palin wants him “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”. What these right-wing hacks keep forgetting is that, despite being subjected to decades of controlled media and manufactured truths, the world at large retains a voracious appetite for the unvarnished truth. Call it left-wing, name it anarchism or brand it treasonous, upwards of four million new-user hits on the British daily The Guardian’s website on day one of the cables’ release show that the people do not swallow the official truth. Even if nonsense is shoved down their throats, they puke it up the first chance they get.

When The New York Times had confidently reported ‘No Radioactivity in Hiroshima’ and all journalists had been ushered to see the Japanese kneel before General McArthur, Wilfred Burchett was reporting — through cable — in his landmark story for London’s Daily Express ‘The Atomic Plague’ that more than just a bomb blast had caused the deaths at Hiroshima. The US censor came down hard on Burchett and vilified him and any paper that reproduced the report. We now know that it was the first report that documented the radiation fallout and the nuclear holocaust.

Henry Kissinger used to say that states could not be held to the same moral standards as ordinary citizens. Many officials around the world apparently continue to subscribe to his thought that not only are they above any moral standards, they also have a privilege to stomp on them secretly and deny such dealings publicly. But the common man clearly subscribes to Claud Cockburn’s proviso of “do not believe anything until it is officially denied”.

George Orwell had observed: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” While Assange may not be a revolutionary himself, he has revolutionised the way tech-media has forced the traditional media to take note of information that may otherwise have ended up being much like The New York Times reporting of the Hiroshima bombing. Thoughtcrime remains the perfect antidote to universal deceit.

Source: Daily Times

December 6, 2010

Blessed are the WikiLeaks revolutionaries —Babar Ayaz

by admin

Related Article: Progressive Pakistani bloggers in support of Julian Assange

It is ironic that the Saudis have labelled Zardari as a “rotten head”, while their whole body polity is rotten. This comment is like the pot calling the kettle black. Pakistan has much more respect for human rights and freedom to criticise the government, while Saudi Arabia is politically far behind.

Blessed are the people who live in post-Second World War times, when humankind has progressed more than it has ever done before. Blessed are the people who live in the times of information technology. Blessed are the people who live in the times of democratisation of information. Blessed are the people who are using this technological revolution to bring out in the open what our rulers do behind closed doors.

Throughout human history, information has been the key to progress. It was always jealously guarded by the privileged classes to further their personal and class interests. But now information is flying in cyberspace and is easy to access at very little cost. The WikiLeaks creator and his unknown soldiers are thus the revolutionaries of cyberspace, bringing current information to the people that in the past was found only in the researched history of politics.

I remember when I came across the first book based on diplomatic papers declassified by the US State Department in 1982. The book — The American Role in Pakistan, 1947-1958 — was written by Professor M Venkataramani. As the book was not available in Pakistan, it was with great difficulty that I managed to get a photocopied version (pardon me for copyright violation). The book is not just a collection of declassified papers, but Venkataramani has used the information to trace the history of the US’s role in Pakistan.

Those who are now crying wolf and loss of sovereignty to the US should read this book to get the right historical perspective. Unfortunately, ultra-nationalist friends forget that the Americans were invited to dinner by the founder of Pakistan: “On May 1, 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, received two American visitors at his Bombay residence. They were Raymond A Hare, Head of the Division of South Asian Affairs, Department of State, and Thomas E Weil, Second Secretary of the US Embassy in India…he sought to impress on his visitors that the emergence of an independent, sovereign Pakistan would be in consonance with the American interests.

Pakistan would be a Muslim country. Muslim countries would stand together against Russian aggression. In that they would look towards the United States for assistance.” The meeting was reported by the US Charge de Affairs in Delhi, George E Merril, on May 2, 1947.

This is not the only incident that shows how Pakistan offered to play a strategic role to defend the region from ‘Russian aggression’, i.e. communism, and the spread of ‘Indian imperialism’ in the region. Right from day one, Pakistan has been asking for US arms to protect itself from the ‘Indian threat’. Liaquat Ali Khan followed this policy and, in his trip to the US in early May 1950, stressed: “Pakistan therefore politically, ideologically and strategically, holds the position of great responsibility…In addition to this, Pakistan is resolved to throw all its weights to help the maintenance of stability in Asia.”

In 1999, Oxford University Press published a book, The American Papers — Secret and Confidential, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Documents, 1965-1973, compiled and selected by Roedad Khan, a former senior Pakistani bureaucrat. These papers give an insight into behind-the-doors American diplomacy during the liberation struggle of Bangladesh and the happenings before and after the Pakistan-India 1965 war. As it does not include all the papers and the selection was done by Roedad Khan, one wonders what the criterion for this selection was. But, unlike WikiLeaks, the compilation is from the archives that had been declassified officially.

Even in the case of WikiLeaks, one does not know whether some documents were held back by its editors as not much can be found on the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto. Although on the very next day of her killing, one finds that American Ambassador Anne Patterson wrote a rather long assessment of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who she thought could be the next prime minister. The assessment is quite favourable. In this memo, she has mentioned Benazir Bhutto as “late”. Interestingly, in the same memo she has dealt in detail with the personal enmity between Elahi and the Bhutto family because of Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi’s assassination by Al Zulfikar (a militant group of PPP headed by Murtaza Bhutto). One reason for the omission of the US embassy’s memos on Bhutto’s assassination could be that the top secret category communication channel is perhaps still beyond WikiLeaks’ hackers.

While the media is outraged about the US administration and Pakistani politicians’ axis, they have underplayed the interference in Pakistan by the Saudi government. The Saudis have accepted that they are not just mere observers in Pakistan’s politics but were “participants”. Their interference in Pakistan’s politics and unabated support to the Islamic extremist groups has damaged the country’s peace.

Whether it is an issue of our leaders, closeness with American and British diplomats or unabated drone attacks, outraged media and some politicians shout from the pulpit that our sovereignty is being violated by the big powers. But very seldom do these protagonists of sovereignty mull over the fact that our political and territorial boundaries are breached by other countries. When we speak against the interference of foreign powers in our politics — and rightly so — we should keep in mind the basic principle of international laws regarding sovereignty. These laws have evolved over the last many centuries.

According to Professor Dr Douglas Stuart, “State sovereignty still remains an ambiguous and convoluted theory. As one looks at the role of state sovereignty in today’s international system, it is important to set some basic guidelines.” He argues that “the empowerment of local movements by strong international non-state actors poses a serious challenge to the theory of state sovereignty”.

This is where Pakistan’s predicament begins with its paranoia about India. Dictated by the same sense of insecurity and myopic view, our establishment has also gotten itself stuck in the quagmire of Afghanistan. The desire to have a client state in Afghanistan has made us pushy to the extent that most governments in Kabul have remained unhappy with Islamabad. And in the process we have willingly become a client state of the US and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Daily Times

December 6, 2010

Wikileaks and living in 'Denialistan' -by Arshad Mahmood

by admin

December 5, 2010

WikiLeaks founder threatens to release entire cache of unfiltered files

by admin

At the centre of a tightening web of death threats, sex-crime accusations and high-level demands for a treason trial, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to unleash a “thermonuclear device” of completely unexpurgated government files if he is forced to appear before authorities.

Mr. Assange, the 39-year-old Australian Internet activist whose online document-leaking service has embarrassed the United States and other countries by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic and military documents, has referred to the huge, unfiltered document as his “insurance policy.”

The 1.3-gigabyte file, distributed through file-sharing services this summer and protected with an unbreakable 256-bit encryption key, contains full versions of all the U.S. documents received by WikiLeaks to date – including those that have been withheld from publication or have had names and details removed in order to protect the lives of spies, sources and soldiers.

Silent for the better part of a week as WikiLeaks made daily headlines around the globe, Mr. Assange has been increasingly vocal in recent days, defending his actions, decrying his critics and defying world leaders.

Mr. Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens warned that if Mr. Assange were to be brought to trial on rape accusations he faces in Sweden, or for treason charges that have been suggested by U.S. politicians, he would release the encryption key. The tens of thousands of people who have downloaded the file would instantly have access to the names, addresses and details contained in the file.

WikiLeaks, Mr. Stephens said, has “been subject to cyberattacks and censorship around the world and they need to protect themselves … This is what they believe to be a thermonuclear device in the information age.”

He uttered that threat as his client was believed to be in hiding in Britain, with prominent U.S. and Saudi officials calling for Mr. Assange’s arrest or death, justice officials attempting to shut down his websites in many countries, and the Swedish justice system seeking him for questioning on the sexual-crime allegations.

Mr. Assange has denied the accusation, made by two women who hosted a party for him in Stockholm in August. He has acknowledged having had consensual sex with the complainants. Reports say the sex became non-consensual over disagreements about condom use.

This weekend he refused to respond to a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden, and an Interpol alert related to the accusation. His lawyers argued that the accusations amount to a smear campaign and suggested that U.S. officials might be behind them.

The Swedish prosecutor took the unusual step of going before the news media to say she has received no pressure or communication of any sort from international or political authorities and that the charges are unrelated to the leaks scandal.

“This investigation has proceeded perfectly normally without any political pressure of any kind,” prosecutor Marianne Ny told the Agence France-Presse wire service. “It is completely independent.”

A number of high-profile U.S. figures, including Republicans Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, have called for the prosecution of Mr. Assange.

“Julian Assange is engaged in warfare,” Mr. Gingrich said, echoing similar words spoken by Ms. Palin and others last week. “Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism. And Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant and WikiLeaks should be closed down permanently and decisively.”

However, U.S. charges against Mr. Assange are unlikely: He is not a U.S. citizen and, because he did not steal the documents himself, but only participated in their publication, he would likely be protected under the U.S. Constitution’s free-speech provisions.

The documents were reportedly stolen from a U.S. military installation by Bradley Manning, a former private in the U.S. Army who copied years of secret Pentagon and State Department communiqués and passed them to Mr. Assange, who in turn brokered deals with worldwide media outlets to publish details from them. Those details, despite some censorship by Mr. Assange and the publishers, have shaken relations between the United States and Gulf countries, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Manning is already being held in solitary confinement, and will likely face treason and espionage charges. This has not stopped a growing chorus of U.S. and foreign figures from pushing for punishment for Mr. Assange.

U.S. newspapers reported that a team of Justice Department and Pentagon investigators is looking into the possibility of charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act. Attorney-General Eric Holder said “this is not sabre-rattling” when asked by reporters about the possibility of charges. Justice officials in Australia, where Mr. Assange was born, are reportedly also looking into a prosecution.

That did not stop more figures from suggesting that Mr. Assange should be harmed or killed – a circle that includes Canadian Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told a TV interviewer last week that Mr. Assange should be assassinated (he later apologized for the remark).

In an online interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Assange said Mr. Flanagan “should be charged with incitement to commit murder.”

He also told reporters Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, should resign if they are shown to have authorized an operation to spy on United Nations top officials – one of the many secrets revealed in the leaked State Department cables.

“Obama must answer what he knew about this illegal order and when. If he refuses to answer or there is evidence he approved of these actions, he must resign,” the WikiLeaks founder told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

He suggested, not for the first time, that he believes his document service has had a profound effect on world history: “I believe geopolitics will be separated into pre- and post-Cablegate phases.”

The 1.3-gigabyte file, distributed through file-sharing services this summer and protected with an unbreakable 256-bit encryption key, contains full versions of all the U.S. documents received by WikiLeaks to date – including those that have been withheld from publication or have had names and details removed in order to protect the lives of spies, sources and soldiers.

Silent for the better part of a week as WikiLeaks made daily headlines around the globe, Mr. Assange has been increasingly vocal in recent days, defending his actions, decrying his critics and defying world leaders.

Mr. Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens warned that if Mr. Assange were to be brought to trial on rape accusations he faces in Sweden, or for treason charges that have been suggested by U.S. politicians, he would release the encryption key. The tens of thousands of people who have downloaded the file would instantly have access to the names, addresses and details contained in the file.

WikiLeaks, Mr. Stephens said, has “been subject to cyberattacks and censorship around the world and they need to protect themselves … This is what they believe to be a thermonuclear device in the information age.”

He uttered that threat as his client was believed to be in hiding in Britain, with prominent U.S. and Saudi officials calling for Mr. Assange’s arrest or death, justice officials attempting to shut down his websites in many countries, and the Swedish justice system seeking him for questioning on the sexual-crime allegations.

Mr. Assange has denied the accusation, made by two women who hosted a party for him in Stockholm in August. He has acknowledged having had consensual sex with the complainants. Reports say the sex became non-consensual over disagreements about condom use.

This weekend he refused to respond to a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden, and an Interpol alert related to the accusation. His lawyers argued that the accusations amount to a smear campaign and suggested that U.S. officials might be behind them.

The Swedish prosecutor took the unusual step of going before the news media to say she has received no pressure or communication of any sort from international or political authorities and that the charges are unrelated to the leaks scandal.

“This investigation has proceeded perfectly normally without any political pressure of any kind,” prosecutor Marianne Ny told the Agence France-Presse wire service. “It is completely independent.”

A number of high-profile U.S. figures, including Republicans Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, have called for the prosecution of Mr. Assange.

“Julian Assange is engaged in warfare,” Mr. Gingrich said, echoing similar words spoken by Ms. Palin and others last week. “Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism. And Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant and WikiLeaks should be closed down permanently and decisively.”

However, U.S. charges against Mr. Assange are unlikely: He is not a U.S. citizen and, because he did not steal the documents himself, but only participated in their publication, he would likely be protected under the U.S. Constitution’s free-speech provisions.

The documents were reportedly stolen from a U.S. military installation by Bradley Manning, a former private in the U.S. Army who copied years of secret Pentagon and State Department communiqués and passed them to Mr. Assange, who in turn brokered deals with worldwide media outlets to publish details from them. Those details, despite some censorship by Mr. Assange and the publishers, have shaken relations between the United States and Gulf countries, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Manning is already being held in solitary confinement, and will likely face treason and espionage charges. This has not stopped a growing chorus of U.S. and foreign figures from pushing for punishment for Mr. Assange.

U.S. newspapers reported that a team of Justice Department and Pentagon investigators is looking into the possibility of charges against Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act. Attorney-General Eric Holder said “this is not sabre-rattling” when asked by reporters about the possibility of charges. Justice officials in Australia, where Mr. Assange was born, are reportedly also looking into a prosecution.

That did not stop more figures from suggesting that Mr. Assange should be harmed or killed – a circle that includes Canadian Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who told a TV interviewer last week that Mr. Assange should be assassinated (he later apologized for the remark).

In an online interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr. Assange said Mr. Flanagan “should be charged with incitement to commit murder.”

He also told reporters Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, should resign if they are shown to have authorized an operation to spy on United Nations top officials – one of the many secrets revealed in the leaked State Department cables.

“Obama must answer what he knew about this illegal order and when. If he refuses to answer or there is evidence he approved of these actions, he must resign,” the WikiLeaks founder told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

He suggested, not for the first time, that he believes his document service has had a profound effect on world history: “I believe geopolitics will be separated into pre- and post-Cablegate phases.”


December 1, 2010

WikiLeaks unmasks who are our real puppet-masters?

by admin

Related articles:

US embassy cables: Pakistani army chief hints at unseating Zardari

Wikileaks on General Kayani and his ‘democratic’ puppets

General Kayani allowed US special forces to secretly operate in Pakistan

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

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

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

Zardari feared coup, named sister as successor if assassinated:

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

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

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

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

Pakistan army’s plan to oust Zardari:

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

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

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

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

Zardari felt lonely and threatened, said Karzai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISI chief conspired against Zardari:

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

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

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

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

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

Gen Kayani foiled US plan for civilian control over Army:

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

Wednesday, 07 October 2009, 13:31
EO 12958 DECL: 10/06/2019
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

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

Civilian, military planners have different views on India:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Arabia wants military rule in Pakistan:

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

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

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

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

Pakistan continues to support Mumbai terror attack group:

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

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

US worried over Pakistani nuke material:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2010

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

by admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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