By Pepe Escobar
It’s a classic case of calm before the storm. The AfPak chapter of Obama’s brand new OCO (“Overseas Contingency Operations”), formerly GWOT (“global war on terror”) does not imply only a surge in the Pashtun Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A surge in Balochistan as well may be virtually inevitable.
Balochistan is totally under the radar of Western corporate media. But not the Pentagon’s. An immense desert comprising almost 48% of Pakistan’s area, rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, and producing more than one-third of Pakistan’s natural gas, it accounts for less than 4% of Pakistan’s 173 million citizens. Balochs are the majority, followed by Pashtuns. Quetta, the provincial capital, is considered Taliban Central by the Pentagon, which for all its high-tech wizardry mysteriously has not been able to locate Quetta resident “The Shadow”, historic Taliban emir Mullah Omar himself. Continue reading
As an oddly smiling President Zardari of Pakistan stood behind a visibly concerned President Obama in the White House this week, one had to wonder what Mr. Zardari was smiling about. Seven thousand miles away, in the country over which he presides, the economy has tanked, the province of Baluchistan is in the grips of a secessionist movement, Karachi is embroiled in ethnic violence between Pashtuns and Urdu speakers, and that’s not even the most pressing problem this nation of 170 million people is facing. As I write this, tens of thousands of refugees are pouring out of the Swat valley in anticipation of a major military offensive by the Pakistani Army against the Taliban.
For weeks, headlines around the world have raised alarm about the proximity of the Taliban to the capital Islamabad, and analysts have puzzled over the curious detachment with which the civilian government and the Pakistani Army seemed to be observing the situation deteriorate. Now that the Pakistani army is finally engaging the Taliban, there is one question on everyone’s mind: Is Pakistan serious about this fight this time, or will it cut a deal with the militants, as it has done in the past with disastrous consequences? Continue reading
By Mark Magnier
The town on the Islamabad-Peshawar highway is at a crossroads of a different kind: Many residents worry Mardan will be next to fall to the militants, even as others deny it could happen there. Continue reading
While There is Light
Tariq Mehmood’s novel , While There is Light, impresses Mike Phillips
Courtesy: The Guardian-UK
While There is Light
by Tariq Mehmood
220pp, Comma, £7.95
The novel opens with a sentence from a letter written by Saleem, a young Muslim on remand in Leeds. “Mother, I am now in jail, in this bitch of a country called England. I may never see you again.” Continue reading
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Zia Ahmad has sent this exclusive post for Pak Tea House. We also welcome him as an author at this blogzine. (Raza Rumi)
Some time back I was watching a local TV show with a friend in which some utterly forgettable pop band was invited to play a patriotic song. Like the band itself, the ensuing song was utterly forgettable with the frequent done to death chants of “…choollaingay aasman” (something to do with touching the skies and breaking the sound barrier). The friend wondered aloud if there was any other country that produces patriotic songs so prolifically. We shared a chuckle and switched to some other channel.
It is a fair possibility that there might be some other nation on this planet who expresses musical nationalistic fervour in such prodigious amount. I can only recall the amount of airtime that was devoted for milli naghme while I was growing up watching the only TV station in Pakistan. Other than 14th August and 23rd March holidays, patriotic songs were generously sprinkled throughout the year on TV and music albums. And it wasn’t such a bad thing for the songs actually used to be good. Continue reading