Tag Archives: militancy

Living in Denialistan

Raza Rumi

The recent attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is another reminder of the plain truth that the Pakistani state needs to focus on its domestic crises rather than remain obsessive about external threats. The unholy conglomerate comprising al Qaeda, sectarian outfits and elements within the state has targeted Karachi’s best-known public and cultural space. This is a continuation of Islamist battles against Pakistan.

Yet, apologists remain adamant. Butchering of civilians and annihilation of a plural Sufi culture is a reaction, we are told. First, it was the US occupation of Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq and now drone attacks in Pakistan. True, Muslims and Pakistanis are enraged at US policies and its sheer arrogance in dealing with the region. But using anti-Americanism as an excuse to overlook the growing cancer of bigotry at home is disingenuous and dangerous for our future. Continue reading

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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

Stop Lahore’s Talibanisation

Raza Rumi

The worst has happened. Data Darbar, which defined the contours of peaceful Islam for a millennium, has been desecrated in Lahore. Its markets have been attacked and its minorities live in fear after the Ahmadi massacre. Last year, the petrified traders of Lahore’s Hall Road burnt objectionable CDs after receiving threats from extremists. A year later, low-intensity blasts took place in the crowded Hall Road — a market for electronics and kosher and non-kosher DVDs. This week, two internet cafes were targeted in densely populated areas of Lahore and some time back Peeru’s was also bombed. Reports have suggested that the cafes had received threats from unidentifiable numbers asking them to stop their businesses as they were turning into hubs of ‘immoral activities’. Just because no one died there, media attention has been patchy. A younger female colleague told me how tailors are hesitant to take orders for sleeveless shirts and other designs that may offend the purist dress code. The militants are employing tactics of social control used in Swat. It cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore.

Prior to 1947, Lahore was a cosmopolitan city with a discrete culture of inter-faith harmony, with a reputation for the best education and socio-cultural movements. After its provincialisation, the resilient city re-emerged as a vibrant centre of progressive politics, avant-garde art and extraordinary literature. Since the 1980s, Lahore is a city with formidable infrastructure and boasts of great public spaces, especially parks.  The innate openness and tolerance of this metropolis could not be subjugated by growing extremism. Continue reading

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Filed under Lahore, Pakistan, public policy, Punjab, Taliban, violence

Music vs. Militancy

Cross Post from Dawn Blogs

By Salman Siddiqui on January 21, 2010

Even though Pakistan is bleeding from terrorism and suicide bombings, no mainstream , pop music artist has come close to condemning or questioning the spread of militancy through music and lyrics. A recent video from The New York Times highlighted this issue, showing how pop acts such as Ali Azmat and Noori were keeping quiet on the subjects of terror, religious extremism, and the Taliban, while railing against America through their songs. In this context, 25-year-old Daniyal Noorani‘s debut effort ‘Finding Heaven,’ which was released on YouTube a few days ago, is encouraging. The daring single takes the Taliban and religious extremists head on, creating quite a buzz online. Dawn.com speaks with Noorani to find out what prompted him to fill the ideological vacuum in our music scene.

  Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Blogging, culture, Left, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Media, Music, Pakistan, video

The Peshawar Blast: Is There No End?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

How many more Pakistanis have to die before this godforsaken war comes to an end?  The blast in Pipal Mandi has already claimed a death toll of 87 people and this is before they’ve started to clear the rubble. Frankly I am not going to guess who did it.   I am sick of people smelling a foreign hand and declaring “No Muslim could have done this”.  The hand that placed the bomb and the hand that drove the car to Pipal Mandi and the hand that detonated the bomb were all local hands!   And they were most likely Muslims. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Peshawar, Terrorism, War On Terror

Finally Waziristan…

Bilal Qureshi

Finally, the operation in Wazristan is under way, thank God. Pakistan is doing a good job of clearing every place that was a safe heaven for the nuts in and around Pakistan. Now, policy makers in Pakistan should not focus on achieving short term military objective. This war is not going to be easy and a lot of people believe that this is a generational issue as for as defeating the Taliban threat.
Obviously the military is going to easily defeat those who are going to take up arms against the army in Wazirstan, or at the very least, it is hoped that the army is going to defeat them. However, after the military moves out, how will the civilian population going to react to the future Talibans interested in making Wazirstan their home again? This is a very important question and I Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism, War On Terror

Taliban Chief May Be Dead

When American technology combines with Pakistani intelligence then we can be sure that this is the beginning of the end. Again, the point in Afghanistan is to defeat al-Qaeda and to negotiate with the ‘reconcilable’ Taliban and in Pakistan to make this a model of a country for egalitarian and secular democracy, which is economically vibrant. Together we would have won the first big challenge of the 21st century. Shaheryar Azhar, moderator, The Forum
Excerpt: ““This demonstrates the amount of cooperation that you’re seeing between our government and the government of Pakistan in stamping out the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,” Gibbs said.
Taliban Chief May Be Dead in Boost for U.S., Pakistan (Update1)
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By James Rupert and Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) — Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, who ordered suicide bombings in Pakistan, may be dead in a U.S. attack that would mark improved cooperation between American and Pakistani security agencies.
Pakistan has received reports “from within Mehsud’s group” of his death, said Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, “but I cannot confirm it till we get solid evidence.” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said yesterday that intelligence sources had confirmed Mehsud’s death.
In Washington, President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the White House had seen reports “even by members of the Taliban that Baitullah Mehsud is dead,” though Gibbs said he couldn’t “with 100 percent certainty verify that.”
Mehsud’s death would signal an important victory in efforts that have faltered over the years to hunt down al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar. It might also pave the way for the expanded use of armed drones in Pakistan and elsewhere, U.S. officials and analysts said.
“This demonstrates the amount of cooperation that you’re seeing between our government and the government of Pakistan in stamping out the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,” Gibbs said.
Bhutto Assassination
Mehsud, reportedly in his 30s, has been the top overall commander of Pakistan’s Taliban since several guerrilla groups united 19 months ago under his leadership. He was blamed by authorities for the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, the wife of current President Asif Ali Zardari.
Pakistani stocks rose on news of his possible death. Pakistan and the U.S had offered a $5 million reward for Mehsud’s capture.
“This is the first time I feel that there’s a realistic chance that Osama bin Laden himself might be found at some point,” said Ken Katzman, a senior Afghanistan analyst with the Congressional Research Service in Washington. U.S. intelligence officials have long said bin Laden likely is hiding in the tribal belt along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Before dawn on Aug. 5, at least one missile slammed into the home of one of Mehsud’s fathers-in-law at Zangara, a village 43 kilometers (27 miles) northeast of Wana, South Waziristan’s main town, the Pakistani press reported, quoting local residents.
New Leader
A rival to Mehsud within the Mehsud tribe, Misbahullah, said by telephone from South Waziristan that the Taliban chief was killed in the strike. “They are now trying to choose a new leader for the Taliban.”
Misbahullah underscored the opportunity for the government to use Mehsud’s death to divide the Taliban. “We are fighting against Baitullah’s people with some support from the government,” he said. “We will win and eliminate them.”
The possible success by authorities in pinpointing Mehsud’s location “shows the Pakistanis are getting much, much better and precise in furnishing real-time actionable intelligence on where these guys are,” Katzman said. “It’s been a number of years that caves and compounds and hiding places are getting mapped out, and it seems the targeting is getting much better.”
Katzman and other analysts said the hit also was a vindication of the strategy of using unmanned armed aircraft more extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in other combat situations.
Efforts Slacken
Brian Katulis, a counterterrorism expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington, said that while it’s good news if any dangerous figure is eliminated, authorities can slacken their efforts after a terrorist leader is killed.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, called reports of Mehsud’s death “a sign that our joint efforts with Pakistan’s military” are working.
John Nagl, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who was a co-author of the U.S. Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Field Manual, said the strike will have a “disruptive effect” on other terrorist leaders who now know the U.S. and Pakistani authorities have good intelligence — perhaps even from moles within terror networks.
“The most helpful thing of all may be that Pakistani public opinion will be very pleased, and that gives the Pakistani government a benefit to show for cooperating with the United States,” said Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security in Washington.
Predator Strikes
The U.S. has conducted 24 Predator strikes in western Pakistan in the first half of this year, compared with 36 in 2008, according to Bahukutumbi Raman, an intelligence analyst at India’s Institute for Topical Studies.
Pakistan often has criticized the U.S. for civilian casualties from the missile strikes and asked the U.S. to provide its military with drones instead.
The U.S. stepped up efforts to find and kill Mehsud this year as evidence grew of his close relations with al-Qaeda.
Over the past year, Pakistan pressed the U.S. to make Mehsud a top target. The government of President Asif Ali Zardari blamed Mehsud for several bombings and, in phone calls to journalists, Mehsud claimed responsibility for several of them.
Residents’ Account
Residents and Taliban in Mehsud’s home district, South Waziristan, confirmed his death, said Sailab Mehsud, an analyst from Waziristan who is a member of the Taliban leader’s tribe.
Mehsud’s death “will be helpful to the Pakistan army in weakening the Taliban,” said Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a political analyst in Lahore. “The Taliban will face internal problems over a new leadership,” and the army may be able to exploit those fissures, Rizvi said by phone.
Taliban leaders are discussing three possible successors as commander, said Sailab Mehsud, citing fellow tribesmen in the movement. Hakimullah Mehsud, a first cousin to the chief of the Taliban’s suicide bombing squads, Qari Hussain, is a likely successor, he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: James Rupert in New Delhi at jrupert3@bloomberg.net; Indira Lakshmanan in Washington at ilakshmanan@bloomberg.net

When American technology combines with Pakistani intelligence then we can be sure that this is the beginning of the end. Again, the point in Afghanistan is to defeat al-Qaeda and to negotiate with the ‘reconcilable’ Taliban and in Pakistan to make this a model of a country for egalitarian and secular democracy, which is economically vibrant. Together we would have won the first big challenge of the 21st century. Shaheryar Azhar, moderator, The Forum

Taliban Chief May Be Dead in Boost for U.S., Pakistan (Update1) Continue reading

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