By Matthew Fricker, Avery Plaw and Brian Glyn Williams
Widely-cited reports of the inaccuracy and disproportionality of civilian to militant deaths in the CIA’s ongoing Predator drone campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan are grossly misleading. The most detailed database compiled to date, assembled by the authors of this article, indicates (among other important findings) that the strikes have not only been impressively accurate, but have achieved and maintained a greater proportionality than either ground operations in the area or targeting campaigns elsewhere. 
This finding is striking because highly critical reports over the last year, emanating in particular from the Pakistani press, have impugned both the accuracy of the CIA’s drone strikes in the tribal areas of that country and the proportionality of the civilian collateral damage they cause. In April 2009, for example, the Pakistani daily The News published an article by terrorism expert Amir Mir reporting Predator strikes had killed only 14 high value al-Qaeda targets but were responsible for 687 civilian fatalities – a 1:49 ratio of terrorist to civilians (The News [Islamabad], April 10, 2009; see also Terrorism Monitor, February 19). To put it another way, Mir’s report suggested that 98.14% of fatalities associated with the Predator strikes were civilians. On February 1 of this year, Mir added that Continue reading
The colossal humanitarian tragedy and the imminent economic meltdown, will now shape a new Pakistan or rather, exacerbate its predicament in the months and years to come. Pakistan’s chronic political instability, structural economic constraints and a warped national security policy are all going to be affected by the unfolding drama of the national disaster, perhaps the severest, in the country’s history. Whilst the challenges have snowballed within a short duration of ten days, the response of the Pakistani state and society underline extremely dangerous trends and make us wonder about future of the country, as we have known it for the last 63 years.
Pakistan had reverted to quasi-democratic rule after a decade of dictatorship in March 2008. Since the resumption of the electoral process in February 2008, the traditionally powerful unelected institutions, had acquired both legitimacy and unprecedented powers. The power troika of the 1990s had transformed into a quartet comprising the army, judiciary, the media and the civilian government which was represented by a ‘discredited’ president who has been a constant punching bag for the unelected institutions of the state.
We have posted Omar Ali`s previous post titled “The Dead Parrot” a few weeks back. Below we reproduce his comment on the Lahore massacre. Dr. Ali discusses compelling reasons why we are here and where we are heading towards from here. We did not get into this mess overnight and we will not get out of it soon enough. Too many innocent Pakistanis are losing their lives as Pakistan struggles to overcome its previous policy errors. PTH may not necessarily agree with all points raised in the following post (AZW)
Blowback In Lahore
By Omar Ali
Terrorists (Punjabi Taliban) simultaneously attacked two Ahmedi sect mosques in Lahore during Friday prayers and killed over 80 people. First thoughts on this evil attack: The choice of target is easy to understand. Ahmedis are a persecuted and vilified minority in Pakistan and “mainstream” news organizations feel no compunction about attacking them, so the ground is already prepared. e.g. GEO TV’s religion presenter (and phoney doctor) Amir Liaqat Hussain, a former minister, encouraged people to kill them if they “overstepped their bounds” and an Ahmedi doctor was promptly killed; there was some fuss in the liberal press but his programme aalim-Online is still on TV and writes a particularly vicious column in a major newspaper.
Filed under Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, History, Identity, India, Islam, Islamabad, Islamism, minorities, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, state, strategy, Taliban, USA, violence, war
The Times Square Bomber: Home-Grown Hatred?
By Ahmed Rashid
From The New York Review of Books
Published May 14, 2010
The Pakistani media is in a state of apoplexy about the would-be Times Square bomber, the Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad. Predictably a great many commentators in the press and on the non-stop talk shows that run on over 25 TV news channels have discussed whether it was a CIA plot to embarrass Pakistan or provide an excuse for American troops to invade us: Was Shahzad an Indian or Israeli agent? And in any case, why should Washington hold Pakistan responsible, since he was an American citizen?
Not surprisingly, the Zardari government, the army, and Pakistani politicians have also muddied the waters. Although the government has said it will fully cooperate with US investigators seeking to find out which extremist groups trained Shahzad and where, Islamabad continues to fudge the paramount issue—the need for Pakistan to launch a comprehensive campaign against all extremist groups rather than the hit-and-miss anti-terrorism measures it is presently pursuing. That selective campaign leaves untouched the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan—including Mullah Omar and other top leaders—who are not killing Pakistanis but are organizing attacks against US troops in Afghanistan; it also has ignored the Punjabi Taliban groups who have been attacking Indian nationals and government buildings in Kashmir, Kabul, and elsewhere, as well as killing numerous Pakistanis in suicide bombings in Lahore and other cities.
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, FATA, Identity, Islamism, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, War On Terror
One of our friends recently wrote: “Two highly recommended books for those who wish to understand Pakistan: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Castle by Frank Kafka”.
This is not a cynical view of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country that is a conundrum wrapped within a puzzle inside an enigma. As the previous proxy state militia broke into different factions and is now fighting the state, the lines between friends and foes are blurred. ISI that used to formant proxy militias to further its causes in Kashmir and Afghanistan is now itself being attacked by its very own Frankenstein.
The previous masters of the Taliban are now either their prisoners or being killed by them. A case of Khalid Khwaja and Colonel Imam is a sad reflection of the evil of the religious extremism that is consuming itself due to the utter chaos that it represents.
Mr. Khwaja’s life was remarkable in itself for all the intrigues that were associated with him. Not many people have accused General Zia-ul-Haq for not fully implementing the Islamic Sharia in Pakistan. He was one of the accusers, and after promptly being dismissed by the General, Mr. Khwaja went on to play significant roles in assembling alliances against the PPP government of Ms. Benazir Bhutto. Taking on the causes of Jihadis, he managed to appear in the news on and off, even volunteering to take on the case of five Americans who were apprehended in Pakistan while allegedly looking to train for Jihad.
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, North-West Frontier Province, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror
Reproduced from The New York Times
Published: May 15, 2010
This article was reported by Andrea Elliott, Sabrina Tavernise and Anne Barnard, and written by Ms. Elliott.
Just after midnight on Feb. 25, 2006, Faisal Shahzad sent a lengthy e-mail message to a group of friends. The trials of his fellow Muslims weighed on him — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the plight of Palestinians, the publication in Denmark of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.
Mr. Shahzad was wrestling with how to respond. He understood the notion that Islam forbids the killing of innocents, he wrote. But to those who insist only on “peaceful protest,” he posed a question: “Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?
“Everyone knows how the Muslim country bows down to pressure from west. Everyone knows the kind of humiliation we are faced with around the globe.”
Yet by some measures, Mr. Shahzad — a Pakistani immigrant who was then 26 years old — seemed to be thriving in the West. He worked as a financial analyst at Elizabeth Arden, the global cosmetics firm. He had just received his green card, making him a legal resident in the United States. He owned a gleaming new house in Shelton, Conn. His Pakistani-American wife would soon become pregnant with their first child, whom they named Alisheba, or “beautiful sunshine.”
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, FATA, Identity, Iraq, Islam, Islamabad, Islamism, Pakistan, Religion, Taliban, USA, violence, War On Terror
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.N., Abdullah Hussain Haroon, speaks to CBS News’ Pamela Falk about U.S.-Pakistan cooperation in the investigation of the case of Pakistani-American would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad and what needs to be done to eliminate jihadists in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
Watch video here.