Tag Archives: Al Qaeda

The ardent messiah seekers

Raza Rumi

A natural disaster, largely unavoidable, has provided a glorious opportunity to all those who have been hankering to reverse Pakistan’s fragile transition from an authoritarian to quasi-democratic rule. There is hardly a new script for the much-touted change and its proponents are using the same old tricks out of their worn out hats to prepare for a rollback of the democratic process. Therefore, the intense rumour-mongering, which has gripped Pakistani psyche over the last fortnight, is a tried and tested success formula: create the perception of change and then turn it into reality.

Even though Pakistan’s military remains unwilling to intervene, regime-change seems to be the flavour of the month. Ironically, this time large sections of the electronic media are hyperactive participants in the process, which is most likely going to push the country towards another man-made disaster. It is appalling to note that TV talk shows are focusing on extra-constitutional remedies. For instance, a Mr-Know-It-All anchor, whose acrobatics are well-known, posed a question to his (utterly uninspiring) guests to discuss the merits and demerits of the Bangladesh model and the so-called ‘General Kakar formula’. While the responses of the guests were entirely predictable, the most shocking response came from none other than former minister and Senator Iqbal Haider who has been a dyed-in-wool democrat. He confidently and at times vociferously advocated the “General Kakar formula” which essentially relates to the intervention by the army chief in a situation where a political deadlock emerges. One had always sympathised with this reputed lawyer’s position on the problems with the way his former political party – the PPP – was led and managed but to hear pleas for an extra-constitutional intervention was shocking to say the least. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Politics, Power, public policy

Future of a crisis

Raza Rumi

Pakistan’s devastating floods have opened up a Pandora’s Box of governance dysfunctions and historical distortions that have plagued the polity since independence. It remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the greatest calamity in our recent history. Various estimates show that the floods have affected 18-20 million people. The death toll has crossed the figure of 2000 while 2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed. Floodwaters are receding in many areas, and though there are concerns about standing water that remains in Punjab and other areas, the worst of the current flooding is taking place in Sindh.

The disaster is still not over but the fissures within Pakistan have started to erupt and once again proving how vulnerable the state is and how fractured the Pakistani society has become. Five key crises have emerged, some old and some new. However, they point to the fact that our continuous refusal to address structural problems remains a key challenge.

Martial state syndrome: Pakistan’s history is an uninterrupted tale of direct and indirect military rule and centralisation. Each time there is a crisis there is a need to resort to the de facto, real governance paradigm: the military rule. Therefore, Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are not saying anything new. The perennial search for a Messiah, rooted in the religious ideology that the state and education system have cultivated, is back in full force. This time the media and other discordant voices are calling for another phase of direct military rule. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, disaster

Pakistan needs immediate assistance

PTH is starting a series of posts devoted to the Pakistan’s current crisis effects of which will be long term in nature. While millions of Pakistanis are in dire need of emergency help, our country’s political and economic instability will have ramifications for the region and the world. This is why it is extremely important to understand how several parts of Pakistan have lost decades of development and a state with weak capacities needs billions of dollars in the short term to start a major programme of rehabilitation. If Pakistani state is unable to intervene, the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda militants (and their allies in South Punjab) will find a golden opportunity to annihilate the Pakistani state, discredit constitutional governance and capture political space. Pakistanis cannot be silent victims and therefore we will speak. Pakistan has to be rescued and the international community cannot absolve itself of the responsibility towards its frontline state. Raza Rumi

AA Khalid, a regular at PTH, has written the first article for this series.

Pakistan Floods – Issues and Lessons

The weakness of the State in Pakistani politics has always been a concern but with the advent of the tragic floods it has been exemplified and magnified. In a recent Guardian article it has been observed that:

‘’Ever since Pakistan was created, the army has been the only institution capable of responding to natural disasters. One of the reasons that the military has been so politically dominant is that successive civilian governments have relied on the generals to help them deal with national crises.’’

This is not a problem contingent on which political party is in office, but rather is a comment on the inability of the State to take control and have a discernable sphere of influence and power.

Elsewhere it has been noted that the problem of the international response has been marred by perceptions of Pakistan that have been focused and limited to violence. In another Guardian article:

‘’ Compare and contrast: within days of the 2004 tsunami, £100m had poured into Oxfam, the Red Cross and other charities, and by February 2005 when the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) closed its appeal, the total stood at £300m. The Haiti earthquake appeal closed with donations of £101m. The DEC total for the Pakistan floods appeal has just reached £10m. .’’ Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Economy, Environment, Pakistan, south asia, Taliban, Terrorism

Wikileaks and our fantasies

Raza Rumi

The Wikileaks’ damning half-truths pertain to the anti-war movement within the US. This has caused embarrassment to the US war architects and stirred the military industrial complex and its cousin, the corporate and embedded media. Similarly, what has been said about the role of Pakistan and its globally famed Inter Services Agency (ISI) is not something that is really a revelation and is more or less an open secret. Three important questions need to be considered before Wikileaks can be taken seriously.

Do field reports from individual sources, especially disgruntled, anti-Pakistan Afghan nationals constitute ‘evidence’? No. Is there sufficient evidence to substantiate the startling sensational pieces of information? Perhaps not. Is the Pakistan-ISI role central in the Taliban insurgency within Afghanistan? No clear answers can be determined due to the complexity of the Taliban resistance and the involvement of multiple players.<!–more–>

The ‘leaks’ identify that Pakistan, India and Iran are fully involved in the Afghan drama and singling out the ISI is not the whole truth regardless of whatever the western media says. Afghanistan is an occupied and fragmented country, far more layered than the simplified views from Washington, Islamabad or New Delhi. Continue reading

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Lahore Carnage Investigation and a Story of Valour

Below, we are posting two relevant stories about the massacre at Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. This massacre will be a especially ugly chapter in the sordid history that Pakistan has created when it comes to its treatment and protection of minorities from the religious zealots that are found aplenty in the majority sect that inhabits Pakistan.

 But more importantly, many Islamist guests on the PTH, as well as countless on outside media and blogs have conveniently accused RAW, MOSSAD, CIA (pick your favourite intelligence organization) behind the massacre.

 Self delusion seems to run rampant in Pakistani right wing. They are most welcome to indulge in their mass manufacture of hidden hands and twisted conspiracy theories. As one of the Ahmadi leader recently pointed out while answering who may be responsible for the immense loss of life in Lahore: “When the state allies call for killing Ahmadis a required religious duty, when Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Conferences call for Ahmadis to die or leave Pakistan, and when TTP threatens the community consistently, then it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that massacre on this magnitude was always on the cards”.

 We have pointed out repeatedly that the biggest casualty of this self delusional behaviour is Pakistan itself. The enemy is our home-grown badly out of control Frankenstein, as well as the religious-nationalist mindset primarily responsible for its creation and nurture. A religious frenzied state policy that was meant to create proxy militias to fight both east and west, turned out to be one of the most idiotic policies ever implemented by any state in recent memory, with no regard to the flawed marriage of religion with state policies, as well as disastrous consequences that this marriage would entail. If these events are not a wakeup call, then I don’t know what would be. The religious genie unleashed by Pakistan cannot be contained if Pakistan is not honest with itself. Religion has no place in the affairs of the state. The religious bigotry against others is consuming Pakistan first and foremost.

  Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, India, minorities, Punjab, Religion, state, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, War On Terror

Pakistan hunts mosque attackers

courtesy Al-Jazeera

The attack sparked a gun battle between security forces and the attackers in Garhi Shahu [AFP]

Pakistan is hunting members of an armed gang who killed at least 80 people in a double attack on two mosques belonging to the minority Ahmadiyya sect in the eastern city of Lahore.

Security forces battled the assailants for several hours in the aftermath of the co-ordinated suicide and grenade attacks on Friday, but some escaped.

The attacks targeted the Ahmadiyya sect, whose interpretation of Islam is rejected by many in Pakistan and who have been singled out by attackers before. Continue reading

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Pakistan is in pieces

[There is plenty here to stimulate a robust debate; Not that surprising, considering who the author is. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this article.]

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 6 April 2010             By Robert Fisk

I tried, in Pakistan, to define the sorrow which so constantly afflicts this country. The massive loss of life, the poverty, the corruption, the internal and external threats to its survival, the existentialism of Islam and the power of the army; perhaps Pakistan’s story can only be told in a novel. It requires, I suspect, a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky.

Pakistan ambushes you. The midday heat is also beginning to ambush all who live in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. Canyons of fumes grey out the vast ramparts of the Bala Hisar fort.

“Headquarters Frontier Force” is written on the ancient gateway. I notice the old British cannon on the heights – and the spanking new anti-aircraft gun beside it, barrels deflected to point at us, at all who enter this vast metropolis of pain. There are troops at every intersection, bullets draped in belts over their shoulders, machine guns on tripods erected behind piles of sandbags, the sights of AK-47s brushing impersonally across rickshaws, and rubbish trucks and buses with men clinging to the sides. There are beards that reach to the waist. The soldiers have beards, too, sometimes just as long.

I am sitting in a modest downstairs apartment in the old British cantonment. A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.” Continue reading

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Filed under Army, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Judiciary, Pakistan, Partition