Author Topic: Hillary/Barack/Brzezinski/Rockefeller want to start war with Pakistan asap  (Read 204281 times)

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EvadingGrid

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I wonder if this the next part of the plan.

"ordo ab chao"

Offline bigron

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US Drone Strike Kills at Least Eight in South Waziristan
At Least Four Others Wounded

Jason Ditz

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53812&hd=&size=1&l=e

April 29, 23009

US drones flying over Pakistan’s South Waziristan Agency fired a pair of missiles at a house described as a "known safe-haven," killing at least eight people and wounding four others. The house and a vehicle of unknown configuration were also destroyed.

The attack was the first in over a week - an attack on April 19 in South Waziristan killed eight civilians, many of them women and children, and successfully destroyed a ceasefire negotiated between the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani government just one day prior.

The number and severity of the attacks have risen dramatically since President Barack Obama took office. The Pakistani government continues to publicly object to the drone strikes, saying they are undermining its support in the region, but it has been repeatedly shown that they are privately providing both target ideas and direct support for the US attacks.






Offline bigron

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The myth of Talibanistan

By Pepe Escobar
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KE01Df01.html

Apocalypse Now. Run for cover. The turbans are coming. This is the state of Pakistan today, according to the current hysteria disseminated by the Barack Obama administration and United States corporate media - from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to The New York Times. Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said on the record that Pakistani Talibanistan is a threat to the security of Britain.

But unlike St Petersburg in 1917 or Tehran in late 1978, Islamabad won't fall tomorrow to a turban revolution.

Pakistan is not an ungovernable Somalia. The numbers tell the story. At least 55% of Pakistan's 170 million-strong population are Punjabis. There's no evidence they are about to embrace

 

Talibanistan; they are essentially Shi'ites, Sufis or a mix of both. Around 50 million are Sindhis - faithful followers of the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, now President Asif Ali Zardari's centrist and overwhelmingly secular Pakistan People's Party. Talibanistan fanatics in these two provinces - amounting to 85% of Pakistan's population, with a heavy concentration of the urban middle class - are an infinitesimal minority.

The Pakistan-based Taliban - subdivided in roughly three major groups, amounting to less than 10,000 fighters with no air force, no Predator drones, no tanks and no heavily weaponized vehicles - are concentrated in the Pashtun tribal areas, in some districts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and some very localized, small parts of Punjab.

To believe this rag-tag band could rout the well-equipped, very professional 550,000-strong Pakistani army, the sixth-largest military in the world, which has already met the Indian colossus in battle, is a ludicrous proposition.

Moreover, there's no evidence the Taliban, in Afghanistan or in Pakistan, have any capability to hit a target outside of "Af-Pak"(Afghanistan and Pakistan). That's mythical al-Qaeda's privileged territory. As for the nuclear hysteria of the Taliban being able to crack the Pakistani army codes for the country's nuclear arsenal (most of the Taliban, by the way, are semi-literate), even Obama, at his 100-day news conference, stressed the nuclear arsenal was safe.

Of course, there's a smatter of junior Pashtun army officers who sympathize with the Taliban - as well as significant sections of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. But the military institution itself is backed by none other than the American army - with which it has been closely intertwined since the 1970s. Zardari would be a fool to unleash a mass killing of Pakistani Pashtuns; on the contrary, Pashtuns can be very useful for Islamabad's own designs.

Zardari's government this week had to send in troops and the air force to deal with the Buner problem, in the Malakand district of NWFP, which shares a border with Kunar province in Afghanistan and thus is relatively close to US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops. They are fighting less than 500 members of the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan (TTP). But for the Pakistani army, the possibility of the area joining Talibanistan is a great asset - because this skyrockets Pakistani control of Pashtun southern Afghanistan, ever in accordance to the eternal "strategic depth" doctrine prevailing in Islamabad.

Bring me the head of Baitullah Mehsud
So if Islamabad is not burning tomorrow, why the hysteria? There are several reasons. To start with, what Washington - now under Obama's "Af-Pak" strategy - simply cannot stomach is real democracy and a true civilian government in Islamabad; these would be much more than a threat to "US interests" than the Taliban, whom the Bill Clinton administration was happily wining and dining in the late 1990s.

What Washington may certainly relish is yet another military coup - and sources tell Asia Times Online that former dictator General Pervez Musharraf (Busharraf as he was derisively referred to) is active behind the hysteria scene.

It's crucial to remember that every military coup in Pakistan has been conducted by the army chief of staff. So the man of the hour - and the next few hours, days and months - is discreet General Ashfaq Kiani, Benazir's former army secretary. He is very cozy with US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, and definitely not a Taliban-hugger.

Moreover, there are canyons of the Pakistani military/security bureaucracy who would love nothing better than to extract even more US dollars from Washington to fight the Pashtun neo-Taliban that they are simultaneously arming to fight the Americans and NATO. It works. Washington is now under a counter-insurgency craze, with the Pentagon eager to teach such tactics to every Pakistani officer in sight.

What is never mentioned by US corporate media is the tremendous social problems Pakistan has to deal with because of the mess in the tribal areas. Islamabad believes that between the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and NWFP, at least 1 million people are now displaced (not to mention badly in need of food aid). FATA's population is around 3.5 million - overwhelmingly poor Pashtun peasants. And obviously war in FATA translates into insecurity and paranoia in the fabled capital of NWFP, Peshawar.

The myth of Talibanistan anyway is just a diversion, a cog in the slow-moving regional big wheel - which in itself is part of the new great game in Eurasia.

During a first stage - let's call it the branding of evil - Washington think-tanks and corporate media hammered non-stop on the "threat of al-Qaeda" to Pakistan and the US. FATA was branded as terrorist central - the most dangerous place in the world where "the terrorists" and an army of suicide bombers were trained and unleashed into Afghanistan to kill the "liberators" of US/NATO.

In the second stage, the new Obama administration accelerated the Predator "hell from above" drone war over Pashtun peasants. Now comes the stage where the soon over 100,000-strong US/NATO troops are depicted as the true liberators of the poor in Af-Pak (and not the "evil" Taliban) - an essential ploy in the new narrative to legitimize Obama's Af-Pak surge.

For all pieces to fall into place, a new uber-bogeyman is needed. And he is TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who, curiously, had never been hit by even a fake US drone until, in early March, he made official his allegiance to historic Taliban leader Mullah Omar, "The Shadow" himself, who is said to live undisturbed somewhere around Quetta, in Pakistani Balochistan.

Now there's a US$5 million price on Baitullah's head. The Predators have duly hit the Mehsud family's South Waziristan bases. But - curioser and curioser - not once but twice, the ISI forwarded a detailed dossier of Baitullah's location directly to its cousin, the Central Intelligence Agency. But there was no drone hit.

And maybe there won't be - especially now that a bewildered Zardari government is starting to consider that the previous uber-bogeyman, a certain Osama bin Laden, is no more than a ghost. Drones can incinerate any single Pashtun wedding in sight. But international bogeymen of mystery - Osama, Baitullah, Mullah Omar - star players in the new OCO (overseas contingency operations), formerly GWOT ("global war on terror"), of course deserve star treatment.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at [email protected].

Offline bigron

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Ideas before bullets

By Asim Salahuddin
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/KE01Df02.html


The current crisis of militancy gripping Pakistan is the most serious threat to the integrity of the state since the loss of East Pakistan in the war of 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Pakistan today is surrounded by hostile neighbors, is crippled economically and is slowly being crushed under the weight of world public opinion that it is a terrorist state, which is being generated by its supposed ally America. With Balochistan province already rumbling with a separatist insurgency which has

 

not yet thankfully gained popular traction, the armed conflict which is being fought with Taliban forces in Swat, Buner and Dir is threatening to roll back the writ of the Pakistani state to just the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.

A solution must urgently be found to prevent further bloodshed on both sides of this conflict. The problem, however, requires a detailed analysis and also a solution that provides a lasting fix and not just another short-term truce or treaty that will be broken.

The roots of the current conflict between the Pakistani armed forces and Taliban fighters can be traced to the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. This conflict is a direct spillover from the fighting in Afghanistan against the Americans and a reaction against the support of the Pakistani state for America's war and its actions of bombing and killing its own Pakistani citizens at America's behest.

The opponents of the Pakistani armed forces, the Taliban, are not a coherent or unified group. Made up of various factions known collectively as the Taliban you have Central Intelligence Agency Taliban, Afghan Taliban, Russian Taliban, Punjabi Taliban, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Taliban, Tehrek-e-Taliban and others.

These numerous factions have varying agendas, with some being armed resistance to US occupation, some being armed resistance to Pakistani attacks, others still being those who are funded and equipped by foreign intelligence agencies to create unrest and strife in Pakistan.

Varyingly, apart from those foreign-sponsored groups using the following reasons as cover, these groups are demanding an end to the bombing of Pakistani territory by American and Pakistani armed forces and an end of Pakistani support for the American occupation in Afghanistan. Some groups, failing this, want an end to interference from a Pakistani state which has proven itself incapable of looking after both the needs and security of its people.

In origin, the demands of the Taliban do not constitute a military threat to Pakistan. These groups are not foreign invaders seeking to control land or territory as part of some imperial adventure, as America is in the Muslim world. The principle grievances of these groups are political. The challenge to the Pakistani state therefore is from Pakistanis, civilians who have taken up arms against the nature and policies of the state.

This problem is further being driven by America in collusion with the Asif Ali Zardari government of using force to wipe out any resistance to the American occupation of Afghanistan, as it lost the battle for hearts and minds a long time ago.

It is interesting to note that this is actually a complete continuation of the policies of the General Pervez Musharraf era, and that the popular change which people were expecting with the departure of the military dictator nearly two years ago has not materialized.

America and the Zardari government are actually instrumental in creating and perpetuating this crisis in order to turn Pakistani public opinion in favor of America's imperial campaign in Afghanistan and the wider Muslim world by repackaging this conflict from being America's war to Pakistan's war, as the people have rejected the colonial ambitions of the US and its "war on terror".

This was one of the key sound bites issued by Zardari as he came to power, which was a pledge for Pakistan to adopt America's "war on terror" as Pakistan's own war.

The fact is that this is America's war, not Pakistan's. Pakistan is being pushed into a conflict with its own people and neighbors. Pakistan is being directed towards civil unrest and ultimately breaking point, and this is in accordance with the American plan for Pakistan.

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Ralph Peters, in his article "Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look" for the US Armed Forces Journal, proposed a new map of the Middle East which showed the breakup of country, with only Sindh and Punjab remaining as Pakistan. It is now well established that both America and Britain are trying to fragment or Balkanize Pakistan for four principle objectives.

To take control of Balochistan for its immense resources.

To use the port of Gwadar in Balochistan to establish an economically viable energy corridor from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan and away from the influence of Russia.

To remove a strong Pakistan as an obstacle for India so it may act as a true counterweight to China.

To break up Pakistan to remove the potential of an Islamic ideological threat from Pakistan which it brands as the "Islamist threat".

With this being the true reality of the problem which is manifesting itself as the conflict with the Taliban, tribal areas and Balochi insurgency, how is the Pakistani state equipped to respond to such crises?

It is clear for all to see that the current government is insincere and incapable. The country is now almost openly being run by America. When you have a situation where the military head of a foreign power, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, is paying regular visits to Pakistan and the fact that the Pakistani armed forces are deployed to Dir when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizes the Pakistani government for "basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists" in the wake of the Swat deal of February, it is a no-brainer that Pakistan is no longer a sovereign state.

This is aside from the regular bombings and killings in Pakistani territory of civilians by US Predator drones. Such a situation is leading to instability in the country as Pakistan participates in America's colonial war. As Pakistan follows a foreign agenda, people are beginning to challenge the legitimacy of the state, questioning its purpose and the use it provides to the people. If the Pakistani state is going to kill its own citizens on the orders of a foreign power, it is clearly not serving its people, by any stretch of the imagination. What then is the nature of this Pakistani state? If it will not look after its people, what is the source of its strength, and from where does it derive its authority?

The Pakistani state is the manifestation of the contradictions embodied by the political classes and a product of external agendas as defined by foreign powers. The Pakistani state has no organic authority from the people; hence it is constantly challenged by the people. These challenges in the past have manifested themselves in various forms, with military coups and the breakup in 1971 being some examples.

The current problem of militancy is the latest incarnation of this challenge to the authority and legitimacy of the Pakistani state. Currently there is one strata of society ruling Pakistan and implementing a system which the people do not respect. Politically, the system has no value as many of the politicians are known to be corrupt, inept or both.

Ideologically, the system has little support from the people as it is simply an imported British product and a relic of the colonial era based on secularism. As democracy loses its facade of providing a mechanism for electing and accounting rulers and reveals itself simply to be a tool for the rich and powerful to change laws as they see fit, the people are shunning the system and apathy is rampant in society.

The ideal of Pakistani nationalism, which the system is supposed to represent and protect, has shown itself to be incredibly weak at binding the various peoples in Pakistan together. Pakistani nationalism is founded on a contradiction, namely that the state of Pakistan was created in response to a popular movement to live according to Islam by the Muslims of India, yet what was yielded was secularism.

As this Islamic ideal was left by the wayside, the only situation in which the people within the borders of Pakistan would come together and bond as Pakistanis would be when faced with an external threat like India. As such, the state, lacking internal domestic support, is propped up by foreign powers that manipulate it for their own ends. The ruling class therefore willingly follows the diktats of those it relies on to stay in power, namely the colonial nations such as America and Britain.

If we look at the response of the Pakistani state to the current Taliban militancy crisis, we can see that it has been one of almost colonial ruler to a conquered people rather than a state dealing with its citizens. Army chief General Ashfaq Kiani declared, "The army will not allow the militants to dictate terms to the government or impose their way of life on the civil society of Pakistan."

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said before the latest operation that "enough is enough", adding that "a handful of militants cannot challenge the writ of the government". For the sake of argument, if Kiani is given the benefit of the doubt for thinking as a military man responding to the threat of violence, no such excuse can be made for Malik. As the civilian authority and representative of the state, Malik's response epitomizes the response of a state that is out of ideas as to how to deal with a population dissatisfied with its performance. By using physical means to put down an uprising which is political in origin, is to stoke the flames of internal unrest and civil war.

If the stick of the government is leading to violence, then the carrot being deployed is leading to the voluntary amputation of the state itself. Nizam-e-Adl, the government bill being implemented in Swat as part of a peace deal with the Taliban where sharia law will allegedly be implemented, is a non-starter as a method of conflict resolution.

The fact that the implementation of a few social rules makes a mockery out of sharia law and a farce of Islamic ruling is only part of the issue at hand. If one goes along with the ridiculous assertion that sharia law is indeed being implemented in Swat, then what you have is a recipe for disaster, as effectively within the borders of one state two legal codes are in operation. This will serve only to entrench separation and division between a group of people and the state as you begin to have two sets of laws running in parallel, which is impractical and inconceivable for any successful and progressive state.

All this is despite the fact that if sharia law was to be sincerely applied, it would not be in the form of a neutered "bill" but as the source of all laws in a state which then defines economic policies, the judicial system, foreign policy, the social system etc. Clearly

 

then, this is at best a foolish attempt to remedy a deeper ideological problem or at worst an insincere attempt to show the application of sharia law.

Both of these responses show a state which is at a loss for ideas as to how to deal with a population which neither respects its authority nor recognizes its legitimacy. These actions of the Pakistani state are leading to a tremendous loss of life and civil unrest, whilst revealing the nature of the state and its relationship with the people. It is being driven by foreign instructions and threats by America and is attacking the local population, the very people it should be defending. What is then the way out of this quagmire that Pakistan finds itself sinking in?

The solution is not to deploy an increasing amount of armed forces to the region, let alone allow a foreign colonial power to help with an armed operation. The solution is to strengthen the authority and legitimacy of the state in the eyes of the people. The state must regain the initiative by establishing a sovereign authority which derives its support from the people and not from external forces; otherwise the state will always be weak, externally dependent, subject to manipulation by foreign forces and fire-fighting insurgencies constantly.

The core problem that Pakistan faces is that the people are disenfranchised and disillusioned with the state and do not identify with it. The interests of the state now clearly diverge from the interests of the people. Such a situation is not tenable and will sooner rather than later lead to either massive bloodshed or the breakup of the Pakistani state, or both, as was the case in the war of 1971.

This is clearly in the interests of foreign powers like America and part of their plans which are out in the open. The interests of the state must urgently be defined so that the people can be united around these. Nationalism has failed to define the interests and could never succeed in origin. Pakistani nationalism neither has the depth of history to which all the disparate ethnic and tribal groups in Pakistan can lay claim to as being common heritage nor does it have the necessary political depth which can be used to define specific interests. At best, it will result in Pakistani colonialism, as it offers nothing to the people except shallow loyalty to a centralized administration, which is what the people in provinces outside of Punjab are feeling.

There must be one basis on which the interests and all laws of the state are based on. This basis must be the casus belli of the state and the idea for which the state exists to protect, implement and propagate. This basis must serve as the source of all values and ideals in he society which binds people together. This basis must not be confused with opinion, as even if a basis is agreed there could be multiple opinions as to how best to implement this basis. This is not an issue, rather this is healthy.

For example, in Britain you have the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Green parties, while in America you have the Republicans and the Democrats. The key is for a state to adopt one coherent and consistent basis. In the UK and America, this is capitalism and secularism applied in tandem within the democratic ruling system. So while all of these parties may differ in their opinions on policy and indeed engage in heated or bitter debates on specific issues at times, no one contends the basis of the state. The discussion only centers on how best to adhere to this basis and which rules will result in the best application of this basis. The result of this is that regardless of what party comes to power, the nature of the state never changes and the people will obey the laws of the new government, even if they do not agree with all the new laws or policies of the new government.

The problem in Pakistan is that there is no coherent basis on which the state is built. People may form parties and groups and come to power on ideas as varied as secularism, socialism or Islam. In effect, Pakistan has no basis for existence. Laws, regulations and even the constitutions change according to the whims and wishes of every new ruler. The identity of the Pakistani citizen is undefined. Indeed, Pakistan and what it stands for is not defined. As of now, the state of Pakistan stands for nothing.

It is clear then that the basis for the state must urgently be established and it should be something which the people identify with and trust. There is only one idea that has the ability to bring together the various ethnicities and tribes in Pakistan as one and at the same time has the political depth to define very clearly both the interests of the individual and the state in perfect unity. This is Islam.

Islam is the ideology which has a natural resonance with the people and has a track record of success when applied correctly in its entirety and in its true state form. Once Islam is adopted as the coherent and consistent basis, an ideologically strong state will emerge as this state will naturally derive its authority from the people.

This state will have a clear direction as defined by the sharia and the legitimacy to tackle both external threats and internal rebels who seek to implement their own views on the people. The state will then be seen to represent the people and not foreign interests. The current state apparatus is not equipped to support the implementation of Islam. It does not posses the appropriate departmental bodies, courts, ruling structure or economy. The state will thus need to be revamped and re-established in the form of a Khilafah (caliphate). Only the Khilafah state will posses the structure needed to implement Islam as a state ideology.

This is not an administrative issue where one can swap or rename a few departments in the current Pakistani state and implement a few sharia rulings on theft or adultery and be declared Islamic. The new Khilafah structure is needed to reflect the transference of sovereignty away from parliament to the sharia and the investment of authority in an elected Khilafah, not a president, prime minister or military dictator. If one attempts to implement Islam and sharia in the current state structure, then you will produce a circus show of the like that is currently going on with Nizam-e-Adl.

Once this new state structure is set up on a clearly defined and coherent basis with support from the people, the issue then will be to assess the claims of any restless groups such as the Taliban via a due process of law through the appropriate organs of the state (councils, courts etc) and then issue a verdict which will have universal legitimacy. The state will also be able to lead the people the Taliban currently rule to progression.

For instance, education for girls will be enforced; Taliban-like groups can have no objection to such rulings as the curriculum would teach values which are consistent with Islam and the verdict would be handed down by a legitimate Islamic authority. Issues will not be disputed as the Khilafah will adopt public laws which everyone must follow.

Anything not adopted will be the right of individuals to decide on, no compulsion. As with any other ideological state, differences of opinions will be allowed and if people want to lobby the Khilafah for a change in opinion then appropriate channels will exist. Indeed, it will be the responsibility of the Islamic civil society, such as political parties, to account the Khilafah to ensure that the sharia is being followed at all times.

The current system does not provide this. It is the lack of such a legal framework which causes frustration among the various Islamic groups as there is no official mechanism to address their concerns or consider their opinions. This legal process would be the correct method for not only dealing with the Taliban but also any other movement which seeks to be separate from the state or establish an alternative order.

By establishing the Khilafah state, the impracticalities of the Pakistani state will be swept away and the people will be united on a shared intellectual basis rather than a shallow idea of nationalism, which is a colonial construct in origin anyway which serves to divide rather than unite people.

The Khilafah state will not only solve the problem of unity and address any issues of militancy within society, but it will give direction to the whole of society. As the national interests are defined according to Islam, many of the current problems will be solved. The foreign policy of the state will be in line with the wishes of the people as the state will refuse to take part in any colonial adventure with nations such as America.

The security and property of its citizens will protected, as the state will exist to serve the people, not the other way around, as it is currently. Separatist movements will lose legitimacy as the basis for the state will not be divisive nationalism but an inclusive ideology. The economy will be revived as inflation is brought under control with investment in industry and production, a gold standard backed currency, capital flows freed up as interest is removed and the taxation system simplified. Industrialization will occur, leading to a rise in education standards and employment as the state seeks to provide for the people and project the ideological strength and power of Islam globally.

A variety of topics have been addressed briefly in the closing paragraphs, with each topic warranting a lengthy explanation in its own right. However, for the current issue at hand the challenge presented to Pakistan by the internal dissenters and foreign powers is one of challenging the ideological soul of the state, and this has been addressed. This challenge must be met with a barrage of ideas, not bullets or missiles. Islam is capable of meeting this challenge and providing a resounding answer. It is then up to the people of influence in civil society, politics and the military to adopt this call and save the people of Pakistan before it is too late.

Asim Salahuddin is a Pakistani analyst and freelance columnist



Offline Biggs

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Heavy Fighting Enters Third Day in Pakistan

By CARLOTTA GALL and SALMAN MASOOD
Published: April 30, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/world/asia/01pstan.html

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan
— Heavy fighting raged for a third day in Pakistan’s northwest province as civilians flooded from the area and the Pakistani military reported some gains in pushing back Taliban insurgents.

The Pakistani military secured mountain passes to the west and south of the district, Buner, 60 miles from the capital, according to its spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, who spoke at a news briefing at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Helicopter gunships also rocketed Taliban positions in the north of Buner, where the militants had apparently fortified positions in areas adjoining their stronghold in the Swat Valley.

While government forces consolidated control of Buner’s main town, Daggar, General Abbas said it could still take another week for the operation to clear the whole district of militants, as the military was proceeding slowly to defuse booby traps and avoid civilian casualties.

The militants continued to unleash attacks, hitting a checkpost belonging to government paramilitary forces from the Frontier Corps in northern Buner, and seizing several police stations across the region, including two in the upper reaches of Swat.

Suicide car bombers also tried to hit government troops in the south of Buner but were destroyed before they could reach their targets, General Abbas said. Some 50 members of the police and paramilitary forces were still being held hostage by the Taliban in Buner.

Still, the government and the military repeated their support for the peace agreement forged in February with militants, under which the government agreed to install Shariah Islamic courts throughout seven districts in the Malakand region, including Swat and Buner.

“The army has faced extreme criticism in the last two to three months, but we think that the peace agreement is a good agreement,” General Abbas said. “If peace can be brought in the region without further destruction, then it will be a victory for all. But the other side is violating from Day 1. We have kept informing the government of the violations.”

Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who helped negotiate the accord for the militants, said the government had violated the peace agreement and warned that continuing the military operations would further inflame the militants and increase the spread of the Taliban.

“The government has violated the peace deal by starting military operations and sending troops to the area,” he told a meeting of elders in the district of Dir, where the Taliban have also been active. He called on the government to re-establish peace and said that if that failed, he would make the same demands for Shariah law from a future government.

Compounding Pakistan’s problems, ethnic gang warfare raged in the southern port city of Karachi, leaving more than 30 people dead in two days of street violence. Meanwhile, officials warned of a tense situation in the southwest, in Baluchistan Province, where the government has failed to calm public anger over the killing of three nationalist leaders.

In Karachi, paramilitary rangers were deployed to stem the street violence. Some 34 people have been killed and 42 people injured in the violence, which began when a group of gunmen opened fire on an outlying settlement in the north of the city, local news agencies reported. About 20 vehicles were torched, local reporters said.

Karachi, a sprawling city of some 14 million, and a melting pot of Pakistan’s ethnic groups, has for decades been racked by ethnic, gang and drug-related violence. Concerns have grown recently that radical Islamists and Taliban sympathizers have established an increasingly aggressive presence in outlying Pashtun neighborhoods and frequently clashed with supporters of the MQM, a secular, immigrant-based party that dominates many of the central urban neighborhoods.
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Ethnic violence erupts in Karachi

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/04/2009429193253995533.html


Shooting in a Mohajir locality of Karachi is said to have sparked Wednesday's deadly rioting [EPA]

At least 34 people have been killed and 50 others injured in clashes in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, local hospital officials have said.

Calm returned to the city on Thursday, a day after the fighting erupted, with some areas left deserted.

"The situation is under control now and we are trying to maintain peace," Rafiq Engineer, provincial minister for special development, said.

Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, said the clashes on Wednesday were the result of a dispute between the city's ethnic groups Mohajirs and Pashtuns.

Violence erupted in different parts of the port city after an unidentified man opened fire in a Mohajir neighbourhood in the centre of the city.

Officials at Karachi's largest hospital said it had received 25 bodies while a senior police official said nine bodies were delivered to another hospital.

'Indiscriminate firing'

Dozens of cars and several shops were burnt in the riots.

Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from Islamabad, said two supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a party generally representing the Mohajirs,  had been found shot in the northern suburbs.

"There has been indiscriminate firing in the northern suburbs of the city with six police officers wounded," he said.

"It is very unsure how the police will be able to respond to the violence."

Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital, has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence but has been relatively peaceful in recent years.

The city is dominated by Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who migrated from India after Pakistan was created in 1947, but there is also a sizeable population of ethnic Pashtuns.
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WWIII is gonna start between Pakistan and India, but the real war is between the US and Russia. 

http://vedicinsight.blogspot.com/2009/01/wwiii-predictions.html

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Taliban abduct 10 paramilitaries in Pakistan north


Fri May 1, 2009 7:12am EDT
By Javed Khan
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE53R1K820090501?feedType=nl&feedName=usmorningdigest

BUNER VALLEY, Pakistan (Reuters) - Taliban militants kidnapped 10 Pakistani paramilitaries in an attack on their headquarters on Friday as Islamic militants fought back against an army offensive in the troubled northwest.

More than 50 militants stormed the paramilitary headquarters in Upper Dir district of Malakand region, where the Pakistan military is battling to evict the Taliban from Buner, a strategic valley about 100 km (60 miles) from Islamabad, a senior government official said.

Both Upper Dir and Buner are part of Malakand, though they do not share a border.

"We are using all means to safely recover (the paramilitaries). We have engaged tribal elders for this purpose," Atif-ur-Rehman, chief administrator of Upper Dir, told Reuters.

Pakistani forces have been battling militants through mountain passes around Buner for the past four days.

The Taliban's entry into Buner this month from their nearby stronghold of Swat valley unnerved many Pakistanis and raised fears in Washington that the nuclear-armed nation vital to its efforts to defeat al Qaeda and stabilize Afghanistan was itself becoming unstable.

TERRROIST ATTACKS SOAR

The State Department said on Thursday the number of people killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan last year rose by more than 70 percent, despite an overall drop in such violence worldwide.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised the Pakistani army's new resolve to fight militants and said it had begun to realize that homegrown militants posed a bigger current threat to the Muslim nation's stability than old rival India.

A U.S. official said on Thursday the United States and Pakistan will likely discuss stepping up U.S. training for Pakistani security forces when President Asif Ali Zardari visits Washington next week.

Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet separately with Obama and then have three-way talks during visits to the White House on May 6 and May 7.

U.S. lawmakers are likely to consider this month giving more than $400 million to train and equip the Pakistani military in counter-insurgency tactics, which U.S. officials say are vital to Islamabad's ability to defeat militants.

A top al Qaeda commander in a message that appeared on Islamist websites on Thursday urged Pakistanis to rise up against their government,

"Muslims in Pakistan, and especially their clerics, should prepare themselves and rise up to perform the duty ... of fighting the Pakistani army and the rest of the apparatus that are the pillars of their tyrannical state," Aby Yahya al-Libi, who is thought to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in an article dated mid-March.

EXODUS FROM VALLEY

Pakistani government troops have secured the main town of Buner but militants were still controlling parts of the valley.

Military officials say troops were securing the valley at a slower pace to avoid civilian losses.

Pakistani troops used helicopter gunships and artillery to target militant hideouts in Buner. Hundreds of families were seen streaming out of the valley, their vehicles laden with belongings, including cattle.

Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas on Thursday warned Taliban in Swat for failing to keep their side of the bargain after the government accepted demands to establish Islamic sharia courts across the Malakand, which includes Swat, Buner and several other districts.

U.S. officials have urged Pakistan to follow through on this week's offensives in Dir and Buner rather than let the enemy regroup. Speculation was mounting that once the army has secured Buner it will turn its attention to Swat.


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Friday, May 01, 2009
04:20 Mecca time, 01:20 GMT   
News Americas 
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/04/200943023108581420.html
 
US congress pressed on Pakistan aid
 
 
Pakistan is under pressure from the US to crack down on fighters [EPA]

 
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, has urged congress to quickly approve increased military aid for Pakistan and funding for wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The request came as the US state department released a report saying al-Qaeda remained the main "terror" threat to the US and that the group was increasingly using Pakistan as its battleground.

Barack Obama, the US president, has requested $83.4bn for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year, including $76bn for Iraq and Afghanistan and about $400m to aid Pakistan in its battle against the Taliban.

"I urge you to take up this bill and pass it as quickly as possible," Gates told the senate appropriations committee on Thursday.

Unless the request is approved, the US government would begin running out of money in mid-May to reimburse Pakistan for military assistance and by July the US army and marines would also be short of funds, Gates said.

Attacks rise

In a report on what it described as "global terror", the US state department said that attacks in Pakistan more than doubled between 2007 and 2008 and have quadrupled since 2006.

"Pakistan's ... tribal areas provided AQ [al-Qaeda] many of the benefits it once derived from its base across the border in Afghanistan," the report said on Thursday.

It also warned that Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates had increased the "co-ordination, sophistication and frequency'' of suicide and other bombings in Pakistan and were challenging the government's authority.

And it said that efforts to combat the Taliban in Afghanistan in particular needed a global approach.

'Gravely concerned'

The White House has made Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan a central plank of its foreign policy, with Obama ordering 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan and asking congress for aid to assist the Pakistani army.


Taliban fighters have been carrying out an increasing number of attacks in Pakistan [EPA]

Obama has also put pressure on Pakistan to produce results in its efforts to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, saying in a news conference on Wednesday that he was "gravely concerned" about the security situation in the country.

The US has become increasingly worried about the stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan, an ally seen as vital to stabilising Afghanistan, as the Taliban have advanced from their Swat valley stronghold to within 100km of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

Obama's comments came after Pakistani troops were reported to have regained control of the main town in Buner district from the Taliban in the country's North West Frontier Province.

In total, attacks in South Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, accounted for 35 per cent of the 11,770 attacks that took place worldwide in 2008, the state department report said.

However, the total number of attacks fell from 14,506 in 2007 and the number of deaths also dropped to 15,765 from 22,508.

The report said the threat from al-Qaeda in Iraq had diminished following defections and a loss of funding and control in key areas and "improved capabilities" of Iraqi forces and Sunni tribes' so-called Awakening Councils.

Iran was also strongly criticised as the "most significant state sponsor of terrorism", with the report saying Iran continued to employ "terrorism to advance its key national security and foreign policy interests".
 
 Source: Agencies 
 
 

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Ethnic violence erupts in Karachi

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53848&hd=&size=1&l=e

April 30, 2009

At least 34 people have been killed and 50 others injured in clashes in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city, local hospital officials have said.

Calm returned to the city on Thursday, a day after the fighting erupted, with some areas left deserted.

"The situation is under control now and we are trying to maintain peace," Rafiq Engineer, provincial minister for special development, said.

Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, said the clashes on Wednesday were the result of a dispute between the city's ethnic groups Mohajirs and Pashtuns.

Violence erupted in different parts of the port city after an unidentified man opened fire in a Mohajir neighbourhood in the centre of the city.

Officials at Karachi's largest hospital said it had received 25 bodies while a senior police official said nine bodies were delivered to another hospital.

'Indiscriminate firing'

Dozens of cars and several shops were burnt in the riots.

Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from Islamabad, said two supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a party generally representing the Mohajirs, had been found shot in the northern suburbs.

"There has been indiscriminate firing in the northern suburbs of the city with six police officers wounded," he said.

"It is very unsure how the police will be able to respond to the violence."

Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital, has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence but has been relatively peaceful in recent years.

The city is dominated by Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who migrated from India after Pakistan was created in 1947, but there is also a sizeable population of ethnic Pashtuns.



 

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May 1, 2009

Heavy Battles Raging With Taliban in Pakistan


By CARLOTTA GALL and SALMAN MASOOD

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/world/asia/01pstan.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all



Women and children at a repatriation center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Thousands have fled their homes in the region's northwest province to escape fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani miltary.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Heavy fighting raged for a third day in Pakistan’s northwest on Thursday as civilians flooded from the area and the Pakistani military reported some gains in pushing back Taliban insurgents.

The Pakistani military secured mountain passes to the west and south of Buner, a district 60 miles from the capital, according to its spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, who spoke at a news briefing at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Helicopter gunships also rocketed Taliban positions in the north of Buner, where the militants had apparently fortified positions in areas adjoining their stronghold in the Swat Valley.

While government forces consolidated control of Buner’s main town, Daggar, General Abbas said it could take still another week for the operation to clear the whole district of militants, as the military was proceeding slowly to defuse booby traps and avoid civilian casualties.

The militants continued to unleash attacks, hitting a checkpoint belonging to government paramilitary forces from the Frontier Corps in northern Buner, and seizing several police stations across the region, including two in the upper reaches of Swat.

Suicide car bombers also tried to hit government troops in the south of Buner but were destroyed before they could reach their targets, General Abbas said. About 50 members of the police and paramilitary forces were still being held hostage by the Taliban in Buner.

Still, the government and the military repeated their support for the peace agreement forged in February with militants, under which the government agreed to install Shariah courts, based on Islamic law, throughout seven districts in the Malakand region, including Swat and Buner.

“The army has faced extreme criticism in the last two to three months, but we think that the peace agreement is a good agreement,” General Abbas said. “If peace can be brought in the region without further destruction, then it will be a victory for all. But the other side is violating from Day 1. We have kept informing the government of the violations.”

Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who helped negotiate the accord for the militants, said the government had violated the peace agreement and warned that continuing the military operations would further inflame the militants and increase the spread of the Taliban.

“The government has violated the peace deal by starting military operations and sending troops to the area,” he told a meeting of elders in the district of Dir, where the Taliban have also been active. He called on the government to re-establish peace and said that if that failed, he would make the same demands for Shariah law from a future government.

Compounding Pakistan’s problems, ethnic gang warfare raged in the southern port city of Karachi, leaving more than 30 people dead in two days of street violence. Meanwhile, officials warned of a tense situation in the southwest, in Baluchistan Province, where the government has failed to calm public anger over the killing of three nationalist leaders.

In Karachi, paramilitary rangers were deployed to stem the street violence. About 34 people have been killed and 42 wounded in the violence, which began when a group of gunmen opened fire on an outlying settlement in the north of the city, local news agencies reported. About 20 vehicles were set afire, local reporters said.

Karachi, a sprawling city of some 14 million, and a melting pot of Pakistan’s ethnic groups, has for decades been racked by ethnic, gang and drug-related violence. Concerns have grown recently that radical Islamists and Taliban sympathizers have established an increasingly aggressive presence in outlying Pashtun neighborhoods and frequently clashed with supporters of the MQM, a secular, immigrant-based party that dominates many of the central urban neighborhoods.

Carlotta Gall reported from Islamabad, and Salman Masood from Rawalpindi, Pakistan.



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Friday, May 01, 2009
16:43 Mecca time, 13:43 GMT   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA 
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/200951124054363139.html
 
Fighting rages in Pakistan's Buner 



 Pakistani Taliban fighters are reportedly putting up stiff resistance in Buner [EPA]
 
At least 60 Taliban fighters have been killed in battles with Pakistani troops in the strategic northwestern district of Buner, a military spokesman has said.

The latest casualties bring the number of fighters killed in four days of fighting to about 100.

On Friday, Major-General Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, said: "Fifty-five to 60 militants have been killed in the fighting over the past 24 hours. The operation is continuing successfully."

Abbas also confirmed the death of two Pakistani security officials and said eight had been wounded.

There was no independent confirmation of the claims.

Pakistani troops are continuing to shell Taliban positions since launching the latest offensive under US pressure after the fighters moved into Buner, within 100km of the  capital Islamabad.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, appealed to congress to disburse money for military aid to Pakistan as fighting raged.

'Resistance'

Islamabad is central to Washington's strategy for stopping the Taliban's resistance in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from just outisde Buner, said the Taliban has been offering "some resistance" in Buner.

"The military have used assault helicopters on those positions where the Taliban fighters are said to be based, and they are said to be facing stiff resistance," Hyder reported.

"I can't sleep in my bedroom because my house keeps rattling all night due to heavy shelling"
said Habibulah Khan, resident of Buner
 
"This has also led to fears within the area that the Taliban had also planned for the military as they move in. The military spokesman admitted that there were IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] placed along the road and were slowing the military movement."

But the military spokesman said the troops were careful not to go on a heavy assault because of the fear that there would be civilian casualties, Hyder reported.

Civilians in Buner said on Friday that the fighting was heavy.

"I can't sleep in my bedroom because my house keeps rattling all night due to heavy shelling," Habibulah Khan, a local resident, said.

Hazrat Khan, 26, a teacher in Sultanwas, said he, his wife and four children had been holed up at home for four days, with food running low.

'Taliban everywhere'

"I can see through chinks in the door that Taliban are everywhere out there. I can't move because of the curfew and  shelling. I appeal to the authorities to evacuate us," he said.

The Pakistan government ceded control of the nearby Swat valley in February, signing a deal to allow religious hardliners to enforce  Islamic law in the region in order to end a bloody two-year rebellion led by a radical cleric.
   
But the Taliban pushed further south towards Islamabad instead of disarming, taking control over swathes of Lower Dir and Buner and triggering the latest offensive.

Earlier on Friday, more than 50 armed Taliban stormed a local paramilitary headquarters in Upper Dir - a district so far shielded  from the military offensive - and snatched 10 security forces personnel, officials said.

The 10 were freed unharmed later in the day.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 

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US general says Pakistan could be just two weeks from collapse



There may be just two weeks left to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing Pakistan’s government, Gen David Petraeus, the commander of American forces in the region, has told officials.
 
By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
Last Updated: 8:53PM BST 01 May 2009
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/5257571/US-general-says-Pakistan-could-be-two-weeks-from-collapse.html


 David Petraeus: Gen Petraeus has now grown weary of the government's excuses, apparently telling colleagues "we've heard it all before". Photo: BLOOMBERG


American officials have watched with growing anxiety as Taliban fighters have strengthened their grip on north-western Pakistan.

Militants advanced to within 60 miles of Islamabad, the capital, last month and were pushed back only when the US put pressure on Pakistan to launch a counter-offensive.

 
Related Articles
Petraeus: we have two weeks to save Pakistan
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/5256489/General-David-Petraeus-we-have-two-weeks-to-save-Pakistan-from-Taliban.html



 Gen Petraeus, the head of Central Command, which covers all US forces in the Middle East and south Asia, is reported to have said that “the Pakistanis have run out of excuses” and now accept that tough action has to be taken to guarantee the government’s survival.

Gen Petraeus, who oversaw the American troop surge credited with quelling the insurgency in Iraq, is reported to have wearied of Pakistan’s excuses for failing to take on the Taliban.

According to Fox News, he told colleagues “we have heard it all before”.

He is reported to have urged concrete action to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States’ next course of action.

Gen Petraeus made the assessment in private talks with congressmen and members of the senate, according to Fox.

Senior officials in President Barack Obama’s administration are said to have more confidence in Pakistan’s army, led by Gen Ashfaq Kayani, than President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government.

Hillary Clinton last week publicly accused Islamabad of “abdicating to the Taliban”.

The issue is likely to come to a head when Mr Zardari visits Washington next week with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan for a tripartite summit with Mr Obama.

Gen Petraeus’s comments came amid an escalating battle between security forces and Taliban militants yesterday.

Fighting in Buner district, just 60 miles from Islamabad, left up to 60 dead even as Pakistan’s government pressed on yesterday with a much-criticised peace plan in the region, officials said.

Maj Gen Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistani army, said at least 55 militants had been killed in the previous 24 hours, bringing to more than 100 the total dead since the offensive began on Tuesday. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed and eight others injured when weapons they were destroying exploded.

Gen Abbas said ground troops backed by helicopter gunships destroyed nine suicide vehicles and six vehicles of “fleeing militants”.

Three “suicide motorcyclists” were also shot dead by ground troops advancing on narrow mountain tracks while a suicide bomber blew up a booby-trapped house, killing two paramilitary soldiers and wounding eight others. it took Pakistan’s overall losses to 13 during the offensive.

Gen Abbas said the militants included foreign fighters who were well organised and armed with mortars and anti-aircraft machine guns.

The militants were still in control of parts of Buner valley, although Pakistani troops had secured the main town of Daggar after helicopters dropped forces behind enemy lines. In another district, Upper Dir, more than 50 militants stormed the headquarters of a paramilitary force and kidnapped 10 people.

Buner, Upper and Lower Dir are part of the North West Frontier Province’s Malakand Division, where the government agreed to allow Islamic law in February if militants gave up violence in their stronghold of Swat valley.

In recent days, the Pakistani army has sought to reverse that tide, retaking control of strategic points in the district of Buner even as the Taliban struck back by kidnapping scores of police and paramilitary troops.

It remains unclear whether the Taliban truly seeks to overthrow Mr Zardari’s government or merely to carve out a territory within Pakistan in which it can establish safe haven, impose Sharia law, and plot attacks on external targets.
 

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Clinton seeks $495 million for Pakistan

By Anwar Iqbal


Friday, 01 May, 2009 | 01:45 AM PST | 

 



WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Congress on Wednesday to approve $497 million of emergency funds for Pakistan.

In her opening remarks before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary Clinton also said that a bill to triple US assistance to Pakistan —$1.5 billion for a period of five years —will be presented in the US Senate in the next few days.

She said the $497 million will be used to support Pakistan’s efforts to stabilise the economy, strengthen law enforcement, alleviate poverty, and help displaced citizens find safe shelter.

‘It will also enable us to begin to keep the pledge we made to Pakistan at the Tokyo Donors Conference earlier this month,’ she added.

At the Tokyo conference, the United States pledged $1 billion of emergency aid to help rebuild the troubled Pakistani economy and encouraged others to pledge a total of $5.2 billion.

‘As President Obama has consistently maintained, success in Afghanistan depends on success in Pakistan,’ said Mrs Clinton while defending the administration’s request for supplemental funds. ‘And we have seen how difficult it is for the government there to make progress as the Taliban and their allies continue to make inroads.’

The secretary said that providing counterinsurgency training was critical. ‘But of equal importance are diplomacy and development, to work with the Pakistani government, Pakistani civil society, to try to provide more economic stability and diminish the conditions that feed extremism.’

She said that a bill moved recently in the US Senate to triple American aid to Pakistan was motivated by the same objective: helping Pakistan overcome extremism.

‘That is the intent of the comprehensive strategy laid out by Senator John Kerry and Senator Richard Lugar, which President Obama and I have endorsed and which the Senate will be considering in the next days,’ she said.

Secretary Clinton requested $980 million for Afghanistan, saying that the US mission in that country was ‘to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy al Qaeda.’

‘But bringing stability to that region is not only a military mission; it requires more than a military response.’ She said the $980 million she requested for Afghanistan will be used for rebuilding the agricultural sector; having more political progress and helping the local and provincial leadership deliver services for their people.

She also requested $900 million for humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.

Secretary Clinton had pledged this amount to the Palestinian people during a visit to Sharm el-Sheikh last month.

In the same hearing, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates urged Congress to quickly approve $83.4 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for aid to Pakistan.

Mr Gates told lawmakers that money used to support Pakistan could run out by mid-May and some funds for other operations could start running out in July.

‘I urge you to take up this bill and pass it as quickly as possible, but not later than Memorial Day (May 25),’ Mr Gates told the Senate panel considering the Obama administration's supplemental budget request.

For Pakistan, the Obama administration is seeking more than $400 million for counterinsurgency assistance and $1.4 billion in economic aid for Islamabad.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye did not say how quickly the panel would act on the funding request, but said: ‘it is my belief that the Senate is likely to be supportive of this request.’

On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters he believed the request would be considered by the House of Representatives during the week of May 11.

Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican who recently visited Pakistan, also said that the request for emergency aid for Pakistan could be approved ‘in days.’

But another senator, Democrat Richard Durbin said Congress was unlikely to pass an emergency aid package for Pakistan separate from a broader measure to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘I don't think it's likely,’ said the senator when asked whether the Senate would take up a Pakistan aid measure before the $83.4 billion supplemental spending legislation for the two conflicts.

Other lawmakers have, however, warned that a delay could jeopardise a key ally in the war against extremists.

The supplemental budget legislation also requests $7.1 billion for spending on civilian programmes administered through the State Department.
 

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/12-clinton-seeks-495-million-for-pakistan-bi-01


Copyright © 2009 - Dawn Media Group

 

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I'd ask for a reciept

It has been suggested that they have the odd corrupt offical (racist slur of course)

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John Bolton: We may have to acquiesce in a ‘Pakistani military takeover’


 By Muriel Kane

Published: May 1, 2009
 http://rawstory.com/08/blog/2009/05/01/john-bolton-we-may-have-to-acquiesce-in-a-pakistani-military-takeover/




Perennial Neoconservative gadfly John Bolton, who has often been accused of making exaggerated claims about Middle Eastern threats, is now suggesting that a military coup in Pakistan may be the only viable response to the growing power of the Taliban.

In an op-ed for Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Bolton writes, “To prevent catastrophe will require considerable American effort and unquestionably provoke resistance from many Pakistanis, often for widely differing reasons. We must strengthen pro-American elements in Pakistan’s military so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks; roll back Taliban advances; and, together with our increased efforts in Afghanistan, decisively defeat the militants on either side of the border. This may mean stifling some of our democratic squeamishness and acquiescing in a Pakistani military takeover, if the civilian government melts before radical pressures. So be it.”

Bolton’s stance on Pakistan appear to go hand-in-hand with his recent attempts to describe the Obama administration’s international outreach efforts as amounting to a “tangible projection of weakness” and “revealing a Jimmy Carter-style unwillingness to do what’s necessary in a hard world to protect America’s interest.”

Both Bolton’s temper and his attempts to force intelligence analysis to match his own preconceptions are legendary. When he was nominated by former President Bush to be United Nations ambassador in 2005, the former head of the State Department’s intelligence bureau, Carl Ford, testified that Bolton was “a serial abuser” who had tried to have an analyst fired because he disagreed with Bolton’s belief that Cuba has a biological weapons program.

In his current op-ed, Bolton somewhat surprisingly blames the Bush administration for creating the current crisis by “pushing former President Pervez Musharraf into unwise elections and effectively removing him from power,” a policy which Bolton compares to the 1963 CIA-sponsored overthrow and assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Bolton also paradoxically argues that the current danger of Pakistan’s atomic weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban is actually the result of earlier US efforts to discourage Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation.

“We are reaping the consequences of failed nonproliferation policies that in the past penalized Pakistan for its nuclear program by cutting off military assistance and scaling back the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program that brought hundreds of Pakistani officers to the U.S.” Bolton insists. “Perhaps inevitably, the Pakistani officers who haven’t participated in IMET are increasingly subject to radical influences.”


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Obama administration seeks extraordinary military powers in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53894&hd=&size=1&l=e

http://www.uruknet.info/pic.php?f=president_2000_obama_warmonger.jpg


2 May 2009

The Obama administration is increasingly treating its growing intervention in Pakistan as a separate counter-insurgency war for which it is demanding the same kind of extraordinary military powers obtained by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This was the main message delivered by Pentagon officials on Capitol Hill over the last few days, together with increasingly dire warnings that without immediate and unconditional US military funding for Pakistan, the government could collapse.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Congress Thursday that unless it quickly approved some $400 million requested by the Pentagon for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund the Pakistani military would run out of funding within weeks for its operations against insurgents in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and other areas of western Pakistan.

In his testimony, Gates also revealed that, even after the planned closure of the Guantanamo detention center, the US government may still imprison up to 100 of the inmates without charges or trials. The administration asked Congress for $50 million to build prison facilities in the US for detainees it claims are dangerous but cannot be tried, principally because the supposed evidence against them was extracted through torture.

The proposed $400 million in military aid for Pakistan is part of an $83.5 billion supplemental funding bill requested by Obama, the vast majority of which goes to pay for continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said that the Pentagon was requesting that full control of the military aid be vested with Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of the US military’s Central Command. He claimed that the Pentagon needed "this unique authority for the unique and urgent circumstances we face in Pakistan—for dealing with a challenge that simultaneously requires wartime and peacetime capabilities."

Some members of Congress have balked at the demand, which echoes the heavy-handed tactics of the Bush administration in demanding immediate passage of military funding for Iraq and Afghanistan with no strings attached.

As the Washington Post pointed out Friday: "Lawmakers in the House and Senate have voiced concerns about creating the new Pakistan military funding stream through the Pentagon. Traditionally such military aid flows through the State Department and is subject to Foreign Assistance Act restrictions."

The $400 million is part of a $3 billion, five-year aid package that would see another $700 million in military assistance go to Pakistan in fiscal year 2010.

The military aid program envisions a major expansion of US training of Pakistani security forces, beyond the 70 US special operations troops whom Islamabad has quietly allowed to train elements of the Frontier Corps and Pakistani special forces units. Pakistani officers and troops would be trained outside the country. In addition, Washington would supply extensive new military hardware, including helicopters, night-vision goggles and small arms.

Under US law, the State Department is supposed to oversee military aid programs and ensure that they are carried out in accordance with US foreign policy and legal restrictions on such aid. An exception is made when the US is at war, the grounds claimed by the Bush administration in bypassing civilian authorities in implementing similar programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Post quoted Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell as saying that the use of similar arguments in Pakistan involved "walking a pretty fine line." He continued: "This is not a war zone for the US military. But given the urgency of the situation, we need similar authorities in order to help Pakistan train and equip its troops for counterinsurgency operations ASAP."

General Petraeus made the same point somewhat more forcefully in a letter to the House Armed Services Committee in which he warned of a potential government collapse in Pakistan.

He claimed that US "progress" in Iraq and Afghanistan had been achieved because "these funds are immediately available and commanders have been able to rapidly adjust to changing conditions on the ground." He said that the same free hand for the military was needed in Pakistan, "where a growing insurgency threatens the country’s very existence and has a direct and deadly impact on US and coalition forces operating in Afghanistan."

Privately, Petraeus has reportedly been telling members of congress and the administration that if the Pakistani military does not succeed in suppressing the insurgency in two weeks, the government may fall.

Citing anonymous sources who it says are "familiar with the discussions," Fox News reports that Petraeus indicated that the US military was evaluating the Pakistani campaign against the militants in the northwest of the country "before determining the United States’ next course of action."

The report added that Petraeus expressed the view that the Pakistani army could survive the fall of the government of President Ali Zardari and that the army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is "superior" to the civilian government.

This statement echoed the position indicated by President Barack Obama at the Wednesday evening press conference marking his first 100 days in office. Obama said he was confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would remain secure, "Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands." He added, "We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation."

In contrast, the American president described Zardari’s government as "very fragile" and lacking "the capacity to deliver basic services" or "gain the support and the loyalty of their people."

Obama concluded by saying of Pakistan, "We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state."

When a reporter tried to ask whether that meant the US military could intervene to secure nuclear weapons, Obama refused to "engage in hypotheticals."

The remarks by Obama and Petraeus suggest strongly that Washington is relying first and foremost on the Pentagon’s relationship with the Pakistani military, and that it could, in the event of the deepening of the present crisis, support the return of a military dictatorship. It has been less than nine months since the last military strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, relinquished power to a civilian government after a decade of military rule.

This may also explain, at least in part, the determination of the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to ensure that military aid flows through the military and not by way of normal State Department channels, which are subject to the Foreign Assistance Act. Among the act’s restrictions is a prohibition on granting military aid to "a country whose duly elected head of government was deposed by decree or military coup."

Implicit in Obama’s statement about wanting "to respect their sovereignty, but..." is the threat of direct US military intervention.

It is becoming apparent that Obama, who owes his election in no small part to the opposition of broad layers of the US population to the militarist policies of the Bush administration, is not only continuing both of the wars initiated under Bush, but is preparing a third.

In an article entitled "Now, US Sees Pakistan as a Cause Distinct from Afghanistan," the New York Times Friday noted that the original strategy advanced by the Obama administration was to carry out military attacks in the Pakistani border area to deny safe havens for insurgents and further a "surge" in Afghanistan that is to see a doubling of US troops over the next several months.

That strategy, the Times notes, has been "utterly scrambled by the Taliban offensive in western Pakistan." Now Washington’s primary objective is "preventing further gains in Pakistan by an Islamic militant insurgency that has claimed territory just 60 miles from Islamabad."

In an article published April 16, Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah of the New York Times provided an account of the intense class tensions that have fueled the insurgency. The forces described as the Taliban, they wrote, had succeeded in gaining control of the Swat Valley as the result of a "class revolt" stemming from "profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants."

According to this report, the Islamist militants organized and armed the landless peasants in a campaign to drive out the region’s wealthy landlords, who also were the government officials and leaders of the established political parties. In addition to imposing Islamic law over Swat, a region of 1.3 million people, the Islamists carried out a measure of "economic redistribution."

The Times quoted an unnamed senior Pakistani official as saying, "This was a bloody revolution in Swat. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan."

The Obama administration is now intervening to prop up that "established order" of feudal land relations, vast social inequality and military domination over the government. This will involve the suppression of not merely a handful of "terrorists," but an insurgency with broad-based popular support, which is fueled in large measure by US military attacks on civilians on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Having intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003 with the aim of asserting American hegemony over the strategically vital and oil-rich regions of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, American imperialism has succeeded only in spreading instability and creating the conditions for new and even more bloody wars.




 

Offline bigron

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May 2, 2009   New York Times

In Pakistan, U.S. Courts Leader of Opposition


Nawaz Sharif, the chief political rival of Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, outside his home in Raiwind recently.


By HELENE COOPER and MARK MAZZETTI
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/world/asia/02policy.html?_r=1&hp

WASHINGTON — As American confidence in the Pakistani government wanes, the Obama administration is reaching out more directly than before to Nawaz Sharif, the chief rival of Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, administration officials said Friday.

American officials have long held Mr. Sharif at arm’s length because of his close ties to Islamists in Pakistan, but some Obama administration officials now say those ties could be useful in helping Mr. Zardari’s government to confront the stiffening challenge by Taliban insurgents.

The move reflects the heightened concern in the Obama administration about the survivability of the Zardari government. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of the United States Central Command, has said in private meetings in Washington that Pakistan’s government is increasingly vulnerable, according to administration officials.

General Petraeus is among those expected to attend an all-day meeting on Saturday with senior administration officials to discuss the next steps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in advance of high-level sessions next week in Washington, when Mr. Zardari and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan will meet with President Obama at the White House.

Washington has a bad history of trying to engineer domestic Pakistani politics, and no one in the administration is trying to broker an actual power-sharing agreement between Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif, administration officials say. But they say that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, have both urged Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif to look for ways to work together, seeking to capitalize on Mr. Sharif’s appeal among the country’s Islamist groups.

That could be a tall order, given the intense animosity between the men, not to mention the ambivalence that many American officials still have toward Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister who was overthrown in a military coup in 1999.

Some Pakistani officials said that members of Mr. Zardari’s government already were reaching out to Mr. Sharif and that officials in Washington were exaggerating their influence over Pakistani politics. According to one Pakistani official, the government in Islamabad recently asked Mr. Sharif to rejoin the governing coalition. The two tried power-sharing last year, and that dissolved in acrimony only a week after Mr. Sharif and Mr. Zardari had banded together to force the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf.

Obama administration officials have been up front in expressing dissatisfaction with the response shown by Mr. Zardari’s government to increasing attacks by Taliban fighters and insurgents with Al Qaeda in the country’s tribal areas, and along its western border with Afghanistan. During a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said he was “gravely concerned” about the stability of the Pakistani government; on Friday, a Defense Department official described Mr. Zardari as “very, very weak.”

The official said the administration wanted to broker an agreement not so much to buoy Mr. Zardari personally, but to accomplish what the administration believes Pakistan must do. “The idea here is to tie Sharif’s popularity to things we think need to be done, like dealing with the militancy,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity to speak more candidly about American differences with Pakistan’s government.

Mr. Sharif, 59, represents the Pakistan Muslim League-N, a coalition that includes a number of Islamist groups. He was prime minister twice during the 1990s, and received hero status in Pakistan for ordering nuclear weapons tests in 1998.

Both Mr. Holbrooke and Mrs. Clinton have spoken with Mr. Sharif by telephone in the past month, and have urged Mr. Zardari’s increasingly unpopular government to work closely with Mr. Sharif, administration officials said. “We told them they’re facing a national challenge, and for that, you need bipartisanship,” a senior administration official said. “The president’s popularity is in the low double digits. Nawaz Sharif is at 83 percent. They need to band together against the militants.”

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, director of political affairs at the British Foreign Office, was in Washington on Monday for talks with Mr. Holbrooke and Mrs. Clinton on Pakistan, according to American and European officials. The three discussed Mr. Sharif, but no conclusions were reached, a European official said. “There’s certainly no agreement that Nawaz should become Zardari’s prime minister,” the official said, speaking on grounds of anonymity. He said the enmity between the two would make such a situation impossible. But he added: “We need people who have influence over the militancy in Pakistan to calm it down. Who’s got influence? The army, yes. And Nawaz, yes.”

The Obama administration’s contemplation of a closer alliance with Mr. Sharif was first reported in The Wall Street Journal last week. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said that Mr. Zardari was open to talking to Mr. Sharif. “The president and prime minister of Pakistan have been striving for national consensus and continue to be in close contact with the leadership of all political parties,” Mr. Haqqani said.

The Bush administration struggled in 2007 to find a way to keep Mr. Musharraf in power amid a political crisis. The administration prodded him to share authority with his longtime rival, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but those efforts ended after Mrs. Bhutto — the wife of Mr. Zardari — was shot and killed. The situation in Pakistan has become so dire, with the fragile government battling Taliban insurgents who have gotten close to Islamabad, that both American and Pakistani officials are looking hard to bring stability to the nuclear-armed nation.

“For the United States, there’s no ambiguity about where the danger lies; it’s in the people who are attacking the state,” said Teresita C. Schaffer, a Pakistan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. She said Mr. Sharif could broaden the appeal of the Zardari government, and his ties to Islamist militants give him added heft right now. “So the U.S. would dearly love to see both of those parties on the same page.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.


Offline bigron

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U.S. Coup Plans In Pakistan

Moon of Alabama

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53910&hd=&size=1&l=e

May 2, 2009



There could be three motives behind all the Obama administration's talk about a new government in Pakistan.

To put pressure on President Zardari to make him do what the U.S. wants
To push the Pakistani army towards a coup against Zardari.
An attempt to steal Pakistan's nukes
Number two is now the most likely scenario. Writes Swoop:

A flurry of visits to Washington by senior Pakistani military officers is underway, to be followed on May 6th-7th by visits by Pakistan President Zardari and Afghan President Karzai. Neither man is held in high regard in Washington. Indeed, a prime reason for the military visits is that Administration officials believe some form of military rule is likely to emerge in Islamabad in the foreseeable future. "The Swat is a mess, Buner is still unsettled and tensions in Karachi between Pashtuns and Urdu camps are too high," said a US senior intelligence official, "the alternative now is either Sharif with quiet arrangements of support by the army or, just the army."

WaPo's Ignatius sees a Moment of Truth in Pakistan:

The challenge in Pakistan is eerily similar to what the Carter administration faced with Iran: how to encourage the military to take decisive action against a Muslim insurgency without destroying the country's nascent democracy.

(They had a "nascent democracy" under the Shah?)


"My biggest concern is whether [the Pakistani government] will sustain it," Mullen said. He has told his Pakistani counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, that "we are prepared to assist whenever they want."

Assist whenever Kiyani wants ...

Unlike the Obama administration I do not believe Kiyani will want to overthrow Zardari at all. He now can practically do whatever he wants anyway. And currently he can point to Zardari's when criticism from Washington comes up. If he would take over, the pressure from Washington, the responsibility for the economic mess and the general chaos following a coup would be his problems. Why would he want those?

Nawaz Sharif first shunned and now courted by the administration, would probably like to be president. But how does the U.S. expect to put him in charge? Zardari won elections just a few month ago - with help from Washington. He is unlike to step down and even then there would be no guarantee that Sharif would be elected. His party does not have a majority and with judge Iftikhar Chaudry reinstalled at the supreme court, there will be a watchful eye over any sleazy procedure.

Of course if some Taliban would somehow kill Zardari ...

Then those plans could succeed. But still, anyone taking over from him is unlikely to do what Washington wants. Why is the adminsitration incapable to see that?

The Pakistani elite as well as the people do see India (and the U.S.) as their big potential enemy, not some tribal mullahs in their backwoods. They fought three wars against India and they see no sign that the danger from there has receded. The Pakistani army can not just leave the eastern border and fight for U.S. interests against its own people along the Durand line. It depends on public opinion just as any politician.

If Washington wants Pakistan to pull back its silent support from the Neo-Taliban in Afghanistan, it will have to solve the India problem. A good first step would be a serious downgrade of India's presence in Afghanistan: no more consulates, no Indian roadbuilding and no Indian paramilitary police on Afghan ground. Then the problems in Kashmir will have to be solved. That may take a while but a Pakistan that will not have to fear a dual front war is much more likely to deliver support for the U.S. in Afghanistan.

A coup will not achieve that.



 

Offline bigron

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Barack Obama Is Lying About Pakistan

Daily.pk
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53926&hd=&size=1&l=e
May 3, 2009



Mr. Obama used a domestic event to 'accidentally’ declare war on Pakistan. Now his team is trying to encourage the Pakistani military to seize power. The Americans destroyed Pakistan’s stability through the Benazir-Musharraf deal in 2007. They are doing it again. Here is the easiest way of telling the Americans to: Lay off, stop lecturing us on India, stop supporting separatism, and mend your ways in Afghanistan.


There is not a single towering personality in the Pakistani landscape today, with enough credibility, strong personality and effective communication skills, to stand up and tell U.S. President Barack Obama: You are a liar.

It is not difficult to respond to the entire American psy-ops on Pakistan, which are built on half-truths, disinformation and in some cases outright lies. This campaign is successful mainly because of the broad influence of the U.S. media in setting the world news agenda.

Before listing the exact points where Mr. Obama is lying, let me briefly sum up the existing situation.

AMERICA’S PLAYGROUND

In less than two years, the United States has successfully managed to drop from news headlines its failure to pacify Afghanistan. The focus of the Anglo-American media – American and British – has been locked on Pakistan.  In order to justify this shift, multiple insurgencies and endless supply of money and weapons has trickled from U.S.-occupied Afghanistan into Pakistan to sustain a number of warlords inside Pakistan whom the American media calls 'Taliban’ but they are actually nothing but hired mercenaries with sophisticated weapons who mostly did not even exist as recently as the year 2005.

No other nation in the world would have tolerated half the arrogance that the Americans are showing Pakistan. But thanks to a mistake by former President Musharraf – sometime in late 2006 when he consented to allow the U.S. to manipulate domestic politics through direct engagement with Benazir Bhutto and other players – Washington was given a free hand to deal directly with individual players inside Pakistan and recruit supporters and proxies.

Today, there are many parties inside Pakistan that are pushing the U.S. agenda and very few of those who would come out and condemn how the U.S. media and officials are single-handedly tarnishing Pakistan’s image worldwide to justify a military intervention.

This is precisely why senior Pakistani military officers are gradually coming out of their self-imposed ban on public activity to counter this nasty American psy-ops.  Pakistanis need to watch this carefully.

On 24 April, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, in the words of an official press release, "condemned pronouncements by outside powers raising doubts on the future of the Country," a veiled reference to a spate of official U.S. statements and planted media reports predicting the collapse of the Pakistani state.

On 25 April, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman issued a statement saying that PAF "will continue to maintain its optimum operational readiness to undertake all types of missions against all internal and external threats … Pakistan Air Force is capable of providing instant support to Pak Army as and when directed by Government of Pakistan. To keep PAF at the highest state of Operational Readiness is my number one priority," the Air Chief said in a public statement.

And on 1 May, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Tariq Majeed called a meeting of the military leadership and an official statement made sure to underscore that "the meeting took place against the backdrop of widespread propaganda unleashed by the western media about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons."

The military statement was being nice. The propaganda was not unleashed by the 'Western media’ but exclusively by the American media.

This unusual series of public statements by the Pakistani military leadership was an indirect repudiation of the sheepish attitude of the Pakistani politicians who failed to reflect the will of the Pakistani people. Amazingly, while U.S. media organizations and U.S. officials continued their propaganda about the imminent fall of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, in the hands of unknown terrorists, not a single official from the elected government came out to clarify the position from a Pakistani perspective. The world continued to feed on U.S. propaganda and psy-ops for several days until the public statements from the Pakistani military set the record straight. That is when a couple of government officials, like President’s Advisor Dr. Babar Awan, released statements contradicting the U.S. propaganda.

Interestingly, even Mr. Nawaz Sharif, supposedly the opposition leader, refrained from criticizing the U.S. aggressive posturing toward Pakistan. Mr. Sharif, more vengeful than statesmanlike, is hoping these days that Washington will support his bid to become the next all-powerful President after the Americans ditch a weakened President Zardari.

OBAMA’S LIES

Mr. Obama basically chose a domestic event – a press briefing on completing 100 days in office – to unveil what essentially amounts to a declaration of war against another country. The declaration was stage-managed to look accidental and not deliberate. Considering the serious nature of his pronouncements, there is no question these were well prepared in advance. This 'accidental’ declaration of war should henceforth be taught in public relations classes as a classic lesson in how to deceive your public and voters and declare war without raising any alarm.

Mr. Obama first made an astonishing remark, that he is concerned about the fate of the elected Pakistani government because it cannot provide services to the people. Ironically, this was a swipe at the fake democracy that Washington itself helped erect a year ago with its direct intervention to bring Benazir Bhutto and later her husband Asif Zardari to power.

Now the U.S. President, no less, has taken it upon himself to criticize the ability of what he called the "civilian government", as opposed to a military government, to provide for the people.

It seems Washington is trying to nudge the Pakistani military again to seize power. The Americans are doing it in subtle ways. One is Obama’s swipe. A second way is what Adm. Mike Mullen, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has done. He was allowed to join the panel of the U.S. Time magazine in choosing Gen. Kayani, the Pakistani army chief, to be among the top 2o most influential people in the world. To work up Gen. Kayani’s ego, Adm. Mullen wrote the following words:

"I don't remember all the details of my first meeting with General Ashfaq Kayani, the Pakistan army's Chief of Staff. But I do remember thinking, Here is a man with a plan, a leader who knows where he wants to go. He seemed to understand the nature of the extremist threat inside Pakistan , recognized that his army wasn't ready to meet that threat and had already started working up solutions."

The Americans are obviously hoping they can have Gen. Kayani in their pockets and use him to achieve their goals in the region.  That is why President Obama in his 'accidental’ speech on Pakistan shed these crocodile tears: "I'm more concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile."

And in another nudge for the Pakistani military, what President Obama’s top general for Pakistan and Afghanistan told an American television channel was even more damning. Fox News reported on Thursday that Commander U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus has told U.S. officials the next two weeks were 'critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive.’

But in what is sure to be one of the most hypocritical statements to ever come out from the mouth of the leader of the Free World, Mr. Obama said this: "We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests -- huge national security interests -- in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state."

If Mr. Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador in Washington who basically is the overseer of the Bhutto-Musharraf deal that brought the present 'democracy’ to Pakistan, has any feelings for his country, he should call an important press conference and tell the American people the following truths that their media and politicians are hiding from them:

1. American Anti-Pakistanism: The most spectacular, anti-Pakistan media campaign ever against our country has been launched by the U.S. media and continues unabated, with the purpose of softening the international opinion for a possible military action against Pakistan. And there is no question that this campaign has some backing from official U.S. quarters as was the case in the propaganda that preceded the invasion of Iraq.

2. Stop Grooming & Training Separatists Inside Pakistan: With prodding from CIA, academic programs are being launched in the U.S. that advocate the breakup of Pakistan and the creation of smaller entities. This has to stop.

3. Terrorism Inside Pakistan Is Not The Main Story. The real story is America’s failure to bring peace to Afghanistan despite the passage of seven years on its direct occupation of the country. Terrorism in Pakistan is a result of the American failure in Afghanistan. We trusted the Americans. And what did they do? They let Osama bin Laden escape from Tora Bora, and then the Americans refused to listen to our advice and filled the puppet government in Kabul with the same people who helped Osama escape.

4. Don’t Lecture Us On India: The United States and its sidekick, Britain, have decided that India will be their slave-soldier in Asia in the 21st century. They want India to fight China and stabilize Afghanistan. They now want Pakistan to accept Indian military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan, forget about Kashmir and the water disputes, and turn the Pakistani military into a little more than a local police force tasked with killing anyone who doesn’t like America’s occupation of Afghanistan.

5. India IS Pakistan’s enemy until proven otherwise through actions and not words:  Someone has to teach Mrs. Clinton, President Obama and their other team members some lessons in strategy. India continues to prove by actions that it is an enemy of Pakistan. This does not apply to the people of India but it certainly applies to their government and their intelligence services, their media, and their 'non-state actors’.  The world should know that India in 1972 launched a unilateral invasion of Pakistan exploiting a domestic political crisis and helped break up Pakistan. We have never done anything similar to India before that year. This naked aggression by India was never condemned by the so-called leaders of the free world and continues to be overlooked. India is portrayed as a responsible country despite having committed aggression against a smaller neighbor without provocation. Can the Americans guarantee India will not do this again?

6. The Afghan Taliban Are Not A Threat To America: The Afghan Taliban have never operated outside their country and are attacking American and other occupation forces inside Afghanistan as a result of the occupation. Washington should stop deliberately confusing the world about the difference between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda. The al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that should be eliminated, and has considerably been eliminated.

 

7. Eliminating Afghan Taliban Is Not Pakistan’s Responsibility: It is America’s responsibility to bring the Pashtun in Afghanistan into the power structure and defuse tensions.

8. So-called Pakistani Taliban Are No Threat To America: Although money and weapons for these militants are coming from U.S-controlled Afghanistan, many of the recruits and fighters are Pakistanis and we will deal with them any way we deem fit. It is not for Washington to decide how we do this. Ahmed Quraishi

 


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Obama Administration Seeks Extraordinary Military Powers in Pakistan

By Bill Van Auken

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/may2009/paki-m02.shtml
 
May 03, 2009 "WSWS" -- The Obama administration is increasingly treating its growing intervention in Pakistan as a separate counter-insurgency war for which it is demanding the same kind of extraordinary military powers obtained by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This was the main message delivered by Pentagon officials on Capitol Hill over the last few days, together with increasingly dire warnings that without immediate and unconditional US military funding for Pakistan, the government could collapse.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Congress Thursday that unless it quickly approved some $400 million requested by the Pentagon for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund the Pakistani military would run out of funding within weeks for its operations against insurgents in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and other areas of western Pakistan.

In his testimony, Gates also revealed that, even after the planned closure of the Guantanamo detention center, the US government may still imprison up to 100 of the inmates without charges or trials. The administration asked Congress for $50 million to build prison facilities in the US for detainees it claims are dangerous but cannot be tried, principally because the supposed evidence against them was extracted through torture.

The proposed $400 million in military aid for Pakistan is part of an $83.5 billion supplemental funding bill requested by Obama, the vast majority of which goes to pay for continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said that the Pentagon was requesting that full control of the military aid be vested with Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of the US military’s Central Command. He claimed that the Pentagon needed “this unique authority for the unique and urgent circumstances we face in Pakistan—for dealing with a challenge that simultaneously requires wartime and peacetime capabilities.”

Some members of Congress have balked at the demand, which echoes the heavy-handed tactics of the Bush administration in demanding immediate passage of military funding for Iraq and Afghanistan with no strings attached.

As the Washington Post pointed out Friday: “Lawmakers in the House and Senate have voiced concerns about creating the new Pakistan military funding stream through the Pentagon. Traditionally such military aid flows through the State Department and is subject to Foreign Assistance Act restrictions.”

The $400 million is part of a $3 billion, five-year aid package that would see another $700 million in military assistance go to Pakistan in fiscal year 2010.

The military aid program envisions a major expansion of US training of Pakistani security forces, beyond the 70 US special operations troops whom Islamabad has quietly allowed to train elements of the Frontier Corps and Pakistani special forces units. Pakistani officers and troops would be trained outside the country. In addition, Washington would supply extensive new military hardware, including helicopters, night-vision goggles and small arms.

Under US law, the State Department is supposed to oversee military aid programs and ensure that they are carried out in accordance with US foreign policy and legal restrictions on such aid. An exception is made when the US is at war, the grounds claimed by the Bush administration in bypassing civilian authorities in implementing similar programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Post quoted Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell as saying that the use of similar arguments in Pakistan involved “walking a pretty fine line.” He continued: “This is not a war zone for the US military. But given the urgency of the situation, we need similar authorities in order to help Pakistan train and equip its troops for counterinsurgency operations ASAP.”

General Petraeus made the same point somewhat more forcefully in a letter to the House Armed Services Committee in which he warned of a potential government collapse in Pakistan.

He claimed that US “progress” in Iraq and Afghanistan had been achieved because “these funds are immediately available and commanders have been able to rapidly adjust to changing conditions on the ground.” He said that the same free hand for the military was needed in Pakistan, “where a growing insurgency threatens the country’s very existence and has a direct and deadly impact on US and coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.”

Privately, Petraeus has reportedly been telling members of congress and the administration that if the Pakistani military does not succeed in suppressing the insurgency in two weeks, the government may fall.

Citing anonymous sources who it says are “familiar with the discussions,” Fox News reports that Petraeus indicated that the US military was evaluating the Pakistani campaign against the militants in the northwest of the country “before determining the United States’ next course of action.”

The report added that Petraeus expressed the view that the Pakistani army could survive the fall of the government of President Ali Zardari and that the army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is “superior” to the civilian government.

This statement echoed the position indicated by President Barack Obama at the Wednesday evening press conference marking his first 100 days in office. Obama said he was confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would remain secure, “Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.” He added, “We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation.”

In contrast, the American president described Zardari’s government as “very fragile” and lacking “the capacity to deliver basic services” or “gain the support and the loyalty of their people.”

Obama concluded by saying of Pakistan, “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.”

When a reporter tried to ask whether that meant the US military could intervene to secure nuclear weapons, Obama refused to “engage in hypotheticals.”

The remarks by Obama and Petraeus suggest strongly that Washington is relying first and foremost on the Pentagon’s relationship with the Pakistani military, and that it could, in the event of the deepening of the present crisis, support the return of a military dictatorship. It has been less than nine months since the last military strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, relinquished power to a civilian government after a decade of military rule.

This may also explain, at least in part, the determination of the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department to ensure that military aid flows through the military and not by way of normal State Department channels, which are subject to the Foreign Assistance Act. Among the act’s restrictions is a prohibition on granting military aid to “a country whose duly elected head of government was deposed by decree or military coup.”

Implicit in Obama’s statement about wanting “to respect their sovereignty, but...” is the threat of direct US military intervention.

It is becoming apparent that Obama, who owes his election in no small part to the opposition of broad layers of the US population to the militarist policies of the Bush administration, is not only continuing both of the wars initiated under Bush, but is preparing a third.

In an article entitled “Now, US Sees Pakistan as a Cause Distinct from Afghanistan,” the New York Times Friday noted that the original strategy advanced by the Obama administration was to carry out military attacks in the Pakistani border area to deny safe havens for insurgents and further a “surge” in Afghanistan that is to see a doubling of US troops over the next several months.

That strategy, the Times notes, has been “utterly scrambled by the Taliban offensive in western Pakistan.” Now Washington’s primary objective is “preventing further gains in Pakistan by an Islamic militant insurgency that has claimed territory just 60 miles from Islamabad.”

In an article published April 16, Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah of the New York Times provided an account of the intense class tensions that have fueled the insurgency. The forces described as the Taliban, they wrote, had succeeded in gaining control of the Swat Valley as the result of a “class revolt” stemming from “profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants.”

According to this report, the Islamist militants organized and armed the landless peasants in a campaign to drive out the region’s wealthy landlords, who also were the government officials and leaders of the established political parties. In addition to imposing Islamic law over Swat, a region of 1.3 million people, the Islamists carried out a measure of “economic redistribution.”

The Times quoted an unnamed senior Pakistani official as saying, “This was a bloody revolution in Swat. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan.”

The Obama administration is now intervening to prop up that “established order” of feudal land relations, vast social inequality and military domination over the government. This will involve the suppression of not merely a handful of “terrorists,” but an insurgency with broad-based popular support, which is fueled in large measure by US military attacks on civilians on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Having intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003 with the aim of asserting American hegemony over the strategically vital and oil-rich regions of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, American imperialism has succeeded only in spreading instability and creating the conditions for new and even more bloody wars.

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Pakistan: Swat Taliban patrols strain peace deal

Official says Taliban resuming armed patrols in main Swat town, straining Pakistan peace pact

ZARAR KHAN
AP News
http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/05/03/pakistan-swat-taliban-patrols-strain-peace-deal-3/
May 03, 2009 11:02 EST


Taliban fighters resumed armed patrols in the Swat Valley's main town Sunday, an official said, a sign of severe strain on a much-criticized peace deal with the government that imposes Islamic law in part of Pakistan's northwest.

The militants' patrols in Mingora followed the Pakistani army's allegations that the insurgents were in "gross violation" of the peace pact and an accusation that they slaughtered two security personnel. But the patrols also came as the regional government tried to boost the peace effort by announcing the creation of an Islamic appeals court.

Yet even that move hit an immediate snag. A hardline cleric mediating the peace deal rejected the court, saying he was not consulted on its make-up.

Swat is likely to be a major topic of discussion when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visits with President Barack Obama in Washington later this week. Zardari is expected to plead for more money to aid his country's battered economy and security forces to help stem the Taliban tide. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also set to be part of the talks.

Pakistan insists on using both negotiations and force in tackling violent extremism in its borders. It is an approach that worries U.S. officials, who warn that peace deals simply create militant safe havens and allow the insurgents time to strengthen.

Taliban and al-Qaida fighters already have strongholds along Pakistan's border regions from which to plan attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and American leaders do not want to see Swat turn into another major sanctuary for them.

As tensions mounted Sunday, the government ordered a curfew for Swat from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., said Khushal Khan, a top administrator who confirmed the patrols. He said officials were discussing what to do if the militants violate the order.

Under the peace deal struck in February, the government agreed to impose Islamic law in Swat and the surrounding areas that make up the Malakand Division. Instead of laying down their arms as some had hoped, the Taliban in Swat soon entered the adjacent Buner district, also covered by the deal, and began imposing their harsh brand of Islam there.

Buner lies just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Islamabad, a fact that raised alarms domestically and abroad. The Pakistani military went on the offensive over the past week to drive the Taliban out of Buner.

An army statement Sunday said 80 militants had been killed so far along with three soldiers. An important local commander was believed to be among the dead militants in Buner, the statement said.

But the army's statement focused much more on Swat itself.

It accused militants there of looting a bank, attacking a power grid and partially blowing up a bridge. It said security forces discovered at least three explosives-laden vehicles apparently intended for suicide attacks and that clashes between security forces and militants left at least one soldier dead.

The various incidents put the militants "in gross violation of the peace accord militants" and threatened "the lives of the (civilian) population, civil administration as well as security forces personnel," the statement said.

On top of that list, two security personnel were discovered with their throats slit and their bodies and faces mutilated Sunday in Swat, a security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media on the record.

Still, the army's harsh stance does not guarantee a return to fighting in Swat itself. Some two years of clashes between the two sides killed hundreds and displaced up to one-third of Swat's 1.5 million residents before the peace deal was crafted.

The army, which has struggled in the field of counterinsurgency, could not keep the militants from taking control of most of the valley. It is unclear that it has the capacity to defeat the Swat Taliban now or the stomach to try.

The dangerous nature of Swat made it difficult to independently verify the army's accusations Sunday.

The Swat Taliban's spokesman could not immediately be reached for reaction.

Despite the strains on the peace pact, Pakistani officials insist that it retains, at the very least, symbolic value.

By carrying out their part of the agreement, they can gain more support from the public to take action against the Taliban if the militants violate the pact, officials have said.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the northwest province's information minister, said Saturday that the formation of the Islamic appellate court — the Darul Qaza — meant the government was close to fulfilling its side of the bargain.

He said two judges have been appointed to the panel, with more to be named later.

Already a handful of judges trained in Islamic law, called qazis, have been hearing relatively routine disputes in Swat. Hussain said more such judges would be named throughout the rest of Malakand Division.

A speedier justice system has long been a demand of local residents in Swat, where regular courts are corrupt and inefficient. It's a grievance Swat Taliban militants have exploited in their brutal campaign there.

The new appellate court takes away justification for militants to keep fighting, Hussain said.

"Now anyone carrying arms would be treated as a rebel and would be prosecuted in the qazi courts," he said.

But the announcement did not satisfy a hard-line cleric who has mediated the deal, his spokesman said. Amir Izzat Khan said the cleric, Sufi Muhammad, was supposed to be consulted on the makeup of the appeals court but was not.

"We reject this Darul Qaza and further consultation is on to discuss the future line of action," Khan said.

Much remained unclear about the appellate court, including when it would start functioning and whether its decisions could be reviewed by Pakistan's Supreme Court — an institution that Muhammad rejects.

___

Associated Press Writer Asif Shahzad contributed to this report.

Source: AP News


Offline bigron

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009
18:42 Mecca time, 15:42 GMT   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/20095513543142518.html
 
 
Pakistan fears exodus from Swat 



Camps have been set up for those residents displaced byt the fighting [AFP]
 

 
Up to half a million Pakistanis living in the Swat valley could be forced flee amid fierce fighting between Taliban fighters and the military, the Pakistan goverment has said.

Thousands of people fled the main town of Mingora in the valley, part of the North West Frontier Province, on Tuesday after being told to leave by government officials.

Men, women and children piled onto pick-up trucks in their haste to flee the town.

"People are leaving with literally clothes on their backs and what few possessions they can carry and heading to ... a makeshift camp," Sohail Rahman, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Islamabad.

"The social development minister ... has appealed to aid agencies to try and help those people who were leaving the Swat area and Buner with accommodation."

Fears of offensive

A camp had been set up for the displaced in the nearby town of Dargai, officials said.

 
"In view of the situation in Swat, at least 500,000 people can migrate from that area. Camps are being established for them," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, North West Frontier Province's information minister, said.

The military had earlier ordered neighbourhoods on the edge of Mingora to evacuate and announced the end of a curfew for the displaced to flee, a move that sparked fears of an imminent new offensive.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's Islamabad correspondent, said: "This is a major catastrophe unfolding in the North West Frontier Province."
 
"The Pakistani Taliban are showing no signs that they are going to put their weapons down and that means that a military operation will happen."

Khushal Khan, the top administrator in Swat, said Taliban militants were roaming the area and laying mines.

There were reports of gunfire and a witness in Mingora said black-turbaned fighters were deployed on most streets and on high buildings.

Fighters were also reported to have surrounded a paramilitary base at a power station in the town.

Sharia deal

An official military statement said that security forces had beaten back an attack on the camp, but the Reuters news agency quoted an official as saying an operation might be launched to rescue 46 soldiers besieged there.

"We're acting with restraint because they're using civilians as a shield, but we'll go after them if the situation gets worse," the official was quoted as saying.

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban in Swat, said that the fighters were in control of "90 per cent" of the valley.

A deal in February between the government and the Taliban, which allowed the Taliban to enforce their interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, across Malakand district in return for peace, had offered some hope to residents.

But ongoing battles between troops and Taliban fighters in Buner, an town in neighbouring Swat, has virtually derailed the deal.

The Taliban has said the actions of its fighters were a response to army violations of the peace deal, such as mounting attacks and boosting troop numbers in the region.

Nuclear concerns

The pact had alarmed US officials concerned that Swat would turn into a haven for fighters near Afghanistan, where US and Nato troops are also battling the Taliban.

Washington has also expressed concern over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, although it said it thought the nation's nuclear weapons were secure.

Asif Ali Zadari, Pakistan's president, is set to meet Barack Obama, his US counterpart, in Washington on Wednesday, where he is expected to for more support in the fight against the Taliban.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled fighting between the military and the Taliban in different parts of Pakistan's northwest since last August.

The exodus has put another burden on Pakistan's economy, already being propped up by a $7.6bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 

Offline Biggs

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Pakistani army flattening villages as it battles Taliban

By Saeed Shah | McClatchy Newspapers

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/67501.html

CHINGLAI, Pakistan
— The Pakistani army's assault against Islamic militants in Buner, in northwest Pakistan, is flattening villages, killing civilians and sending thousands of farmers and villagers fleeing from their homes, residents escaping the fighting said Monday.

"We didn't see any Taliban; they are up in the mountains, yet the army flattens our villages," Zaroon Mohammad, 45, told McClatchy as he walked with about a dozen scrawny cattle and the male members of his family in the relative safety of Chinglai village in southern Buner. "Our house has been badly damaged. These cows are now our total possessions."

Mohammad's and other residents' accounts of the fighting contradict those from the Pakistani military and suggest that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is rapidly losing the support of those it had set out to protect.

The heavy-handed tactics are ringing alarm bells in Washington, where the Obama administration is struggling to devise a strategy to halt the militants' advances. Officials Monday talked about the need to train the Pakistani military, which has long been fixated on fighting armored battles with India, in counterinsurgency warfare, but it may be too late for that.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday that the Pakistani army in recent years has undertaken "bursts of fighting and engagement" fighting insurgents, but that its operations were "not sustained" by follow-up measures.

The army is now using force, but it also must hold and rebuild the area it conquers, he said. "There's a military piece" to the operation, he said, "but there also needs to be a hold and build aspect of it."

Another U.S. official, who closely tracks Pakistan developments, said the Pakistan army is "just destroying stuff. They have zero ability to deliver (aid) services."

"They hold villages completely accountable for the actions of a few, and that kind of operation produces a lot of (internally displaced persons) and a lot of angst," said a senior defense official. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In Buner, the Pakistani military appears to be losing public support in a stridently anti-Taliban district whose residents had raised their own militia to defend themselves against the militants, who last month seized control of the district about 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital.

Mohammad, who'd walked for two days with his cattle to escape the offensive against the Taliban, and other farmers accused the military of using poorly directed artillery and air power to pound civilian areas.

"They shouldn't use the army in this (indiscriminate) way. They should be targeted at the Taliban," said Saed Afsar Khan, who was leaving Buner with 18 members of his family and two cows. He estimated that the army had destroyed 80 of the 400 houses in his village of Kawga, near the key battlefield of Ambela.

"I don't think they've killed even one Taliban," he said. "Only ordinary people."

As the fighting raged in Buner, a bigger battle appears likely to erupt in neighboring Swat. Late Monday, fierce gun battles broke out between the army and Taliban in the streets of Mingora, the district's main town, and a controversial three-month-old peace deal between the government and the Taliban in Swat is disintegrating.

The Taliban were reported to have surrounded 46 police officers at the local electrical grid station. Earlier in the day, they ambushed a military convoy in Swat, killing one soldier and wounding two others.

The Pakistani army waited some 25 days after the Taliban stormed into Buner from Swat before launching their response, which television pictures show involves tanks and helicopter gunships.

"Why did they not nip the evil in the bud? This is criminal negligence," said Sahibzada, a college teacher, who goes by one name, in Palodand village, just south of Buner, where he helps organize relief to those fleeing from the fighting.

"They have caused huge financial losses for those who've been forced to flee and caused hatred among those people for their government."

Locals said that a key grievance was an order given by the government commissioner for the Malakand area, which includes Buner, to disband the anti-Taliban militia soon after the insurgents entered Buner.

The delay in moving the armed forces against the extremists in Buner may have allowed them to entrench themselves and mass sufficient weapons and men to put up stiff resistance. The Taliban have managed to take hostage some 2,000 villagers in the Pir Baba area in the north of Buner, the army confirmed Monday.

The Pakistan army wouldn't confirm civilian casualties or damage to civilian villages.

"There are no reports I have of any civilian casualties," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the army's chief spokesman. "Or any collateral damage. We have made maximum efforts to avoid it."

One reason why civilian casualties are likely is that government officials gave no instructions to ordinary people about how to leave the district, and many were confused about the timing of the curfew, those fleeing said. A cause of further frustration was that little or no preparation was made to accommodate those who'd inevitably be displaced by the fighting.

In southern Buner, in the Khudokhel area, on the road out to the nearest town of Swabi, there was no sign of any government-sponsored relief effort. Residents of villages along the road turned out instead, offering food and drink to weary travelers, and help with transportation onward. Those with spare rooms or buildings offered them to the displaced. Villagers in Chinglai, about an hour's drive into Buner from Swabi, are housing 20 families.

There are no reliable figures so far for how many people have fled Buner. Evacuees describe the district, which had a population of some 500,000, as having practically been emptied.

According to the al Khidmat Foundation, an Islamic charity, more than 150,000 people have taken the road south to Swabi alone. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the refugee arm of the United Nations, has registered around 18,000 people, but counting is tricky because almost none of the displaced have gone into the camps that are being set up for them outside Buner.

(Shah is a McClatchy special correspondent. Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef contributed to this article.)
STOP THE KILLING NOW
END THE CRIMINAL SIEGE OF GAZA - FREE PALESTINE!!!!!!!

Offline bigron

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
14:19 Mecca time, 11:19 GMT   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/2009567324513142.html
 
 
Pakistan Taliban: Swat deal is dead 


Civilians flee Swat as government and Taliban clashes intensify [AFP]

 
A spokesman for the Taliban in Pakistan has told Al Jazeera that the peace deal with the government in the Swat Valley is over.

Muslim Khan blamed the breakdown of the agreement on the Pakistani military, saying government troops had killed civilians in the area.

"The military have already killed 100 women and children, about 150 injured, now in Mingora city," he said on Wednesday.

"How can we follow the agreement with them?"

The government had agreed a peace with the pro-Taliban groups three months ago in exchange for the enforcement of the Sharia (Islamic law) in the region.

Talks over the implementation of the deal started to falter and last month Sufi Muhammad, a regional religious leader who brokered the deal, walked away from negotiations saying the government had been dragging its feet.

Khan said the Pakistani Taliban would continue to implement the Sharia "as soon as possible".

On Tuesday thousands of people were told by authorities to flee the region, while Wednesday saw residents defying a curfew to escape fighting in parts of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's Islamabad correspondent, said: "Malakan division is under curfew, many people are stuck and cannot get out to safety.

"We have been getting reports that some of the thousands defying the curfew have been fired upon, there have been a high number of causalities of people leaving.

"We saw a military convoy going towards Mingora carrying reinforcements in what appears to be the prelude in the third phase of the operation against Swat.

"People coming out of Swat are saying that their leaders have sold them to foreign powers. Very strong, emotional language from people who are running for their lives."

US-Pakistan relations

Khan also suggested that aid money from the US to the government of Asif Ali Zardari, the president, was influencing the leadership.


 
"Zardari just needs money. They [the US and Pakistani government] want to kill the nation. They are never thinking about the nation, the country and the Muslims," Khan said.

The statement comes as Zardari prepares to meet his counterparts from Afghanistan and the US on Wednesday to discuss how to handle the conflicts in the region.

The government has warned that up to half a million civilians could be displaced by the fighting.

Deadly clashes took place on Wednesday in Mingora, the main city in Swat, where local officials said Taliban fighters had defied curfews to occupy government buildings.

Major catastrophe

A camp has been set up for the displaced in the nearby town of Dargai.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, North West Frontier Province's information minister, said: "In view of the situation in Swat, at least 500,000 people can migrate from that area. Camps are being established for them."


People have had to leave with just what they can carry [AFP] 

Kamal added: "This is a major catastrophe unfolding in the North West Frontier Province."

Khushal Khan, a senior administrator in Swat, also accused Taliban fighters of laying mines, making the civilian escape highly risky.

Gunfire was heard in Mingora on Wednesday, although access by the media was limited. Witness said the Taliban, identified by their black turbans, were on most streets and taking up positions on high buildings.

Fighters were also reported to have surrounded a paramilitary base at a power station in the town.

Khan said that the fighters were in control of "90 per cent" of the Swat valley.

Nuclear concerns

The peace pact had alarmed US officials concerned that Swat would turn into a haven for fighters near Afghanistan, where US and Nato troops are also battling the Taliban.

Washington has also expressed concern over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, although it said it thought the nation's nuclear weapons were secure.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled fighting between the military and the Taliban in different parts of Pakistan's northwest since last August.

The exodus has put another burden on Pakistan's economy, already being propped up by a $7.6bn loan from the International Monetary Fund.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 

Offline bigron

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Published on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 by CommonDreams.org


Stopping Pakistan Drone Strikes Suddenly Plausible

by Robert Naiman

Until this week, it seemed like the conventional wisdom in Washington was that stopping U.S drone strikes in Pakistan was outside the bounds of respectable discussion.

That just changed. Or it should have.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times [1], Doyle McManus notes that counterinsurgency guru David Kilcullen has told Congress that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are backfiring and should be stopped. Until now Congress has been reluctant to challenge the drone strikes, as they are reluctant in general to challenge "military strategy," even when it appears to be causing terrible harm. But as McManus notes, Kilcullen has unimpeachable Pentagon credentials. He served as a top advisor in Iraq to General Petraeus on counterinsurgency, and is credited as having helped design the Iraq "surge." Now, anyone in Washington who wants to challenge the drone strikes has all the political cover they could reasonably expect.

And what Kilcullen said leaves very little room for creative misinterpretation:

"Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. ... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population."
Presumably, causing the Pakistani government to lose "control of its own population" is not an objective of United States foreign policy.

McManus says there's no sign that the Obama Administration is taking Kilcullen's advice and Obama administration is unlikely to abandon "one of the few strategies that has produced results." But a Washington Post report suggests otherwise [2]:

Although the missile attacks are privately approved by the Pakistani government, despite its public denunciations, they are highly unpopular among the public. As Zardari's domestic problems have grown, the Obama administration last month cut the frequency of the attacks. Some senior U.S. officials think they have reached the point of diminishing returns and the administration is debating the rate at which they should continue.
Since it is manifestly apparent that 1) the drone strikes are causing civilian casualties 2) they are turning Pakistani public opinion against their government and against the U.S. 3) they are recruiting more support for insurgents and 4) even military experts think the strikes are doing more harm than good, even from the point of view of U.S. officials, why shouldn't they stop? Why not at least a time-out?

Why shouldn't Members of Congress ask for some justification for the continuation of these strikes? The Pentagon is asking for more money. It's time for Congress to ask some questions.

Robert Naiman is Senior Policy Analyst at Just Foreign Policy [3].

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/05

Offline bigron

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What is the Unites States preparing in Pakistan?


Keith Jones

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53978&hd=&size=1&l=e


5 May 2009

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will undoubtedly come under renewed pressure to allow US military forces to wage war within Pakistan when he visits Washington this week for a trilateral summit meeting with President Obama and Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai.

For weeks, the US political and military establishment and the American media have been mounting an increasingly shrill campaign to bully Islamabad into fully complying with US diktats in what Washington has redefined as the AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) war theater.

At the US’s behest, the Pakistani military has for the past 10 days been mounting a bloody offensive—including strafing by warplanes and heavy artillery—against Pakistani Taliban militia in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The offensive has caused large numbers of civilian casualties and forced tens of thousands of poor villagers to flee.

Between 600,000 and a million Pakistanis have been turned into refugees by the Pakistani state’s drive to pacify the NWFP and the country’s traditionally autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), so as to bolster the US occupation of Afghanistan.

The US ruling elite has welcomed the latest round of bloodletting, but it is far from satisfied. The flurry of threats, implicit and explicit, against Pakistan, its people and government has continued unabated in the run-up to Zardari’s Washington visit.

At an April 29th press conference, Obama described Pakistan’s civilian government as "very fragile" and not having "the capacity to deliver basic services" to its people, or to gain their "support and loyalty." But he praised the Pakistani military and the "strong" US-Pakistani "military consultation and cooperation."

Given Washington’s pivotal role in sustaining a succession of military dictatorships in Islamabad, Obama’s statement was widely interpreted both in Pakistan and within the US political establishment as signaling that Washington is considering sponsoring a military coup.

This was underscored by reports citing the chief of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, as saying that if the Zardari government did not demonstrate over the next two weeks that it can crush the Taliban insurgency in the country’s northwest, the US will have to determine its "next course of action." Petraeus went on to declare Pakistan’s military "superior" to the country’s civilian government.

Such was the outcry in Pakistan that State Department spokesman Robert Wood was forced to deny Friday that Islamabad faces a two-week "time frame." Nonetheless, he bluntly asserted that Washington expects Pakistan to make a "110 percent effort" in the fight against the Taliban, and not for "two days, two weeks, two months," but for the foreseeable future.

Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, denounced the apprehensions voiced in the Pakistani press that less than nine months after the last US-backed dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, was forced to relinquish the Pakistani presidency, Washington is considering supporting a military-led government. "This is journalistic garbage ... journalistic gobbledygook," declared Holbrooke.

The evidence that the Obama administration is preparing some new crime in Pakistan so as to ratchet up its war in Central Asia is overwhelming.

With the transparent aim of intensifying the pressure on Zardari, the Obama administration, according to high-level administration officials cited last week in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, is now courting his arch-rival, former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Nawaz Sharif.

Obama, at his press conference last week, claimed that the US wants to respect Pakistani sovereignty. "But," he added, "we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure Pakistan is stable."

In other words, the US will violate Pakistan’s sovereignty at will. Since last August, the US has mounted dozens of missile strikes within Pakistan and one Special Forces ground attack.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Obama administration is asking the US Congress to give the Pentagon the same powers in relation to military aid to Pakistan that it has in respect to military assistance to the puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under this "unique" arrangement, military aid to Pakistan would no longer flow through the State Department or be subject to Foreign Assistance Act restrictions, but rather be entirely controlled by the Pentagon.

Then there is the extraordinary lead article in yesterday’s New York Times, headlined "Pakistan Strife Raises US Doubts on Nuclear Arms." Written by the newspaper’s White House correspondent, David Sanger, the article has all the markings of a CIA or Pentagon put-up job, concocted with the aim of manipulating public opinion and justifying a major escalation of the US political and military intervention in Pakistan.

The article is based entirely on the statements of unnamed "senior American officials." It claims, notwithstanding Obama’s statement of last week affirming confidence in the Pakistani military’s control of the country’s nuclear arsenal, that there is a real and growing threat that Taliban or Al Qaeda operatives could snatch a Pakistani nuclear weapon or infiltrate its nuclear facilities.

To explain how the Islamicists could circumvent the elaborate controls the Pakistani military, with US assistance, has placed over its nuclear arsenal, the article advances a thriller-type scenario. Islamicists would first trigger a confrontation between India and Pakistan, then seize a weapon when Pakistan seeks to move it closer to the border with its eastern neighbor.

The Times, it should be recalled, played a major role in seeking to mobilize US public opinion behind the invasion of Iraq. Front and center in this campaign was the lie that the Iraqi government was in league with Al Qaeda and might give them access to nuclear weapons Saddam Hussein was supposedly developing.

That the Times’s article was part of a coordinated campaign was underscored by an interview given to the BBC by Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, on Monday, the same day that the Times article appeared.

Jones singled out as the top US concern the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and made a thinly veiled threat against the Pakistani government, saying, "If Pakistan doesn’t continue in the direction that it presently is, and we’re not successful there, then, obviously, the nuclear question comes into view."

He went on to say that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban would be "the very, very worst case scenario" and added, choosing his words carefully but pointedly, "We’re going to do anything we can within the construct of our bilateral relations and multilateral relations to make sure that doesn’t happen."

The Obama administration and the Pentagon are clearly weighing their options in respect to Pakistan and its role in the US thrust for geo-political advantage in oil-rich Central Asia. One thing is certain: What they are preparing will lead to greater violence and suffering for the people of the region and will further subvert the democratic will and aspirations of the Pakistani people.




 

Offline bigron

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Fever Pitch: Obama-Clinton Dream Team Breeds Nightmare in Pakistan

Chris Floyd
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m53974&hd=&size=1&l=e



A Pakistani policeman searches the belongings of displaced people from the Buner district at a make shift camp in Mardan. Hundreds of thousands of panicked civilians are fleeing Pakistan's Swat district as clashes with Taliban fighters heighten fears that a peace deal is about to collapse.
(AFP/Hasham Ahmed)


May 5, 2009

The headline from McClatchy says it all: "Pakistani Army Flattening Villages as it Battles Taliban."

This is exactly what the hot-blooded humanitarian interventionists in the Obama Administration have been demanding: that Pakistan "take the fight" to the Taliban forces that, according to such world-historical savants as Hillary Clinton and the President himself, are posing an existential threat not only to Pakistan but even to the sacred Homeland itself.

Last month, when a faction of the Pakistani Taliban (which is not be equated with the Afghan Taliban, but is anyway, repeatedly and deliberately, by the media and political classes) took temporary control of Buner, a city 60 miles from the Pakistan capital of Islamabad, the American power structure went into its customary all-out panic mode, urging the fragile Pakistani government to quit signing peace deals and ceasefires with the sectarian and tribal groups on its frontiers and instead "take action" against them pronto -- before they launch cruise missiles into the Mall of America from their floating space platforms....or something.

(To digress: One likes to think that these continual hissy fits of arm-waving alarm are merely cynical ploys to help advance militarist policies and war-profiteering schemes, but who knows? Maybe our fearless leaders really are a bunch of witless, ignorant cowards. Either way, the results are the same: more war -- and more war powers -- more death, more suffering, and more ever-profitable destabilization.)

So now the Pakistani army -- which has been trained to deal with full-scale conventional war with India -- is "taking action" against the militants in and around Buner, moving in with heavy, deadly, blunderbuss force, with entirely predictable results: mass slaughter of civilians, vast ruin, thousands driven from their homes into desperate terms -- and a further discrediting of the government in the eyes of the local populace, which only strengthens the hand of the sectarian militants. It is also -- not at all incidentally -- turning the Pakistanis' peace deals with local Taliban into a dead letter: the very thing that the Obama Administration has been calling for. Isn't that a remarkable coincidence!

So let's take a look at how those Obama-Clinton wishes are coming true:


The Pakistani army's assault against Islamic militants in Buner, in northwest Pakistan, is flattening villages, killing civilians and sending thousands of farmers and villagers fleeing from their homes, residents escaping the fighting said Monday.

"We didn't see any Taliban; they are up in the mountains, yet the army flattens our villages," Zaroon Mohammad, 45, told McClatchy as he walked with about a dozen scrawny cattle and the male members of his family in the relative safety of Chinglai village in southern Buner. "Our house has been badly damaged. These cows are now our total possessions."

Mohammad's and other residents' accounts of the fighting contradict those from the Pakistani military and suggest that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is rapidly losing the support of those it had set out to protect.


Now here comes the beauty part. Pakistan, having faced scathing criticism in Washington -- not only from the progressive humanitarian peace-loving liberals in the Administration but even more so from the liberalistic progress-loving humanitarians in Congress -- for being too scared to "take on" the militants, is now being criticized by Washington for, well, taking on the militants, as McClatchy reports:


The heavy-handed tactics are ringing alarm bells in Washington, where the Obama administration is struggling to devise a strategy to halt the militants' advances. Officials Monday talked about the need to train the Pakistani military, which has long been fixated on fighting armored battles with India, in counterinsurgency warfare, but it may be too late for that.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday that the Pakistani army in recent years has undertaken "bursts of fighting and engagement" fighting insurgents, but that its operations were "not sustained" by follow-up measures... Another U.S. official, who closely tracks Pakistan developments, said the Pakistan army is "just destroying stuff. They have zero ability to deliver (aid) services."

"They hold villages completely accountable for the actions of a few, and that kind of operation produces a lot of (internally displaced persons) and a lot of angst," said a senior defense official.


On this narrow point at least we must acquit our gallant leaders of the change of cynicism. The sheer, gold-plated gall and arrogance of their response can only be sincere. Pentagon officials who have been instigating, maintaining and overseeing mass murder, social breakdown, repression, regression, extremism, torture, corruption -- not to mention the "displacement" of more than four million people from their homes -- in nearby Iraq are shocked and appalled at the "heavy-handed" tactics of the Pakistani forces... forces which would not be undertaking tactics in Bruner on such a scale if not for the constant browbeating of Pakistan's indispensable paymaster in Washington. The lack of self-awareness in Washington's reproofs of Pakistan's operation in Bruner is so jaw-dropping as to reach the level of the sublime.

As we said, the results of the brutal crackdown sought by Washington are predictable:


In Buner, the Pakistani military appears to be losing public support in a stridently anti-Taliban district whose residents had raised their own militia to defend themselves against the militants...

Mohammad, who'd walked for two days with his cattle to escape the offensive against the Taliban, and other farmers accused the military of using poorly directed artillery and air power to pound civilian areas.

"They shouldn't use the army in this (indiscriminate) way. They should be targeted at the Taliban," said Saed Afsar Khan, who was leaving Buner with 18 members of his family and two cows. He estimated that the army had destroyed 80 of the 400 houses in his village of Kawga, near the key battlefield of Ambela. "I don't think they've killed even one Taliban," he said. "Only ordinary people."


II.
"I don't think they've killed even one Taliban Only ordinary people."

Of course, we have heard these exact words over and over and over and over again from Afghan survivors of attacks by America's highly sophisticated, ultramodern "counterinsurgency" operations, so unlike the primitive spear-jabbings of those barbarian darkies in Pakistan. Indeed, we've even heard them from Pakistani survivors as well, digging out after yet another bold attack from a drone missile fired by a courageous warrior sitting in a padded chair at a computer console in Tucson, Arizona. Last month, the Pakistani government released the first accounting of the effectiveness of these high-tech counterinsurgency tactics. As we noted here last month:


...Every week brings new reports of deadly attacks in Pakistan's frontier regions, almost all of them involving the deaths of civilians. Americans generally hear little or nothing about these attacks beyond official snippets about "successful" attacks against the apparently endless, ever-replenishing supply of "top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders." [Or to put it in reality's terms, the United States government and its progressive, humanitarian leaders regularly order, admit and applaud the "extrajudicial killing" -- i.e., murder -- of uncharged, untried individuals living within the borders of an allied country. As it saith in the Scriptures: These be your gods, O progressives!] But while Americans turn a deaf ear, in Pakistan the blood cries out, and is measured, as far as possible, by a government that is further shaken by each American attack and the violent extremism it engenders.

This week, Pakistani officials released stunning figures of the civilian death count in the American drone war: almost 700 innocent men, women and children killed so far -- as opposed to 14 actual, wanted extremist leaders. As the Pakistani paper The News reports:


Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent....

According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, a total of 537 people have been killed in 50 incidents of cross-border US predator strikes since January 1, 2008 to April 8, 2009...


There's your bipartisan continuity in action!

Oddly enough, the flood of "internally displaced persons" decried by the deeply concerned and conveniently anonymous "senior defense officials" is not, as it turns out, some new phenomenon related to the current operations in Buner. As we noted here in yet another story on the Progressive War in Pakistan, more than one million people have already fled their homes, driven out by the terror weapon of predator drones -- and by earlier attacks from the Pakistani military at Washington's behest:


So the effects of Obama's drone war are not limited to the few houses destroyed here and there. The attacks have spawned, or greatly added to, a humanitarian catastrophe that remains largely hidden from the world -- and certainly from the well-wadded Western "liberals" who cheer Obama's savvy toughness in the "good war" on the Af-Pak front. As The Times reports, almost a million people have been driven from their homes in Pakistan's Tribal Areas to escape the American drones, and the bombs of Washington's Pakistani proxies:


American drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people.

The dead and injured included foreign militants, but women and children were also killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Data Khel, near the Afghan border, according to local officials.

As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army....

So far 546,000 have registered as internally displaced people (IDPs) according to figures provided by Rabia Ali, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Maqbool Shah Roghani, administrator for IDPs at the Commission for Afghan Refugees. The commissioner’s office says there are thousands more unregistered people who have taken refuge with relatives and friends or who are in rented accommodation.

Jamil Amjad, the commissioner in charge of the refugees, says the government is running short of resources to feed and shelter such large numbers. A fortnight ago two refugees were killed and six injured in clashes with police during protests over shortages of water, food and tents.


As we noted then:


In the political schizophrenia induced in a state forced to serve a foreign master's interests as well as its own, the Pakistani government has alternated between savage attacks in Washington's service and sudden truces and peace deals with militant groups. But even when the local bombs stop falling, the American drones keep sailing across the border in ever-increasing numbers, keeping the people of the region locked in fear and on the run.


Well, at least the dream team of Obama-Clinton has put the kibosh on the "peace deal" angle of this deadly dynamic for the time being. For now, it's going to be all war, all the time in Buner.

III.
But it's been all war, all the time in Pakistan for years, as the military, sometimes on their own bent but often at America's insistence, has been carrying out attacks on militants (and the surrounding villages) since 2002 in a number of regions in the frontier provinces. And here we must say, unequivocally, that America's leaders are acting with very deliberate, calculated cynicism. For the current hissy fit over Buner has been predicated on the knowing lie from both Obama and Clinton that Pakistan has been dodging a fight with sectarian militants. As Brian Cloughey writes:


There has of late been much international criticism of the [Pakistani] army for allegedly failing to take action against militants, and according to London’s Financial Times on April 26, Hillary Clinton "expressed bewilderment that one of the world's largest armies appeared unable to confront dozens of militants."

First of all there are not "dozens" of militants : there are many thousands, most if not all encouraged into insurrection as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001-2002. Senior officers in Pakistan are extremely angry concerning the accusation that the army is "not doing enough" and it is a fact that since 2002 the army and the para-military Frontier Corps have suffered over 1800 killed and three times that number wounded in battles with insurgents, which is hardly an indication that there has not been action against them.

There is an understandable lack of sympathy for the US throughout Pakistan, stemming in part from the belief that the US does not care about Pakistan army or civilian casualties....

Clinton told the US Congress on April 23 that "I think the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists," which is the sort of pronouncement to which the world became accustomed during the horrible Bush years – the arrogant insistence that everything bad that happened was the fault of everyone but Washington’s finest. The resentment caused in Pakistan has been immense....


But Clinton and Obama are not worried about the effect their words will have in Pakistan. As under the Bush Administration, all this fervid fear-mongering is being produced for domestic consumption. The point is to drive home, constantly, how unstable and dangerous and incapable Pakistan is, and how our very national existence -- and the very lives of our loved ones -- are in imminent, deadly peril from the frontier tribesmen grouped under the undifferentiated rubric of "Taliban" (with its by-now automatic equation with "al Qaeda" in the public mind). And thus the "justification" for the slow, creeping spread of the Terror War into Pakistan is continually reinforced, goosed along by periodic panic attacks such as the one over Buner, and by the never-ending denigration, mockery and condescension pouring forth from the imperial court toward its troublesome client states.

And it's working well. A new poll shows that "the Obama administration's hyperbole about the Pakistani security situation has caused a 15 percent increase in the percentage of Americans who are "very concerned" about Pakistan's nukes," as Juan Cole puts it. The Rasmussen poll shows that 87 percent of Americans are now concerned about "the security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan," and that Pakistan has now moved up to third place on the list of most threatening nations to the Homeland, behind Iran and North Korea. Think of that: a democratic country allied to the United States is now regarded as one of the "biggest threats to U.S. national security" in the world. That is some sure-enough good fearmongering at work there.

What's more, a third of American voters already think that the United States should send troops into Pakistan -- i.e., launch a war of aggression against an allied nation. Another third are "undecided" on that point -- but a few more hissy fits about Taliban-Qaeda devils in charge of Pakistani nukes will surely bring most of them around, as well as a good chunk of the 33 percent currently opposed to invading Pakistan.

For a myriad of reasons -- some of them born from ignorant, arrogant, ill-informed blundering, and a fatal lack of vision and imagination, others springing from base and bestial impulses, an evil urge toward domination for its own sake, at whatever cost to others -- the bipartisan political establishment in Washington seems determined to expand their "Overseas Contingency Operations" more and more directly into Pakistan.

Every step they take -- or urge on others -- gives clear evidence of this intent. The Americans oppose -- and openly undermine -- all moves by the Pakistani government to come to some accord, even temporarily, with the militants, to bring at least a moment of respite and peace to the multitudes ruined and displaced by this civil war. The Americans continue to escalate their drone attacks on Pakistani villages, despite the astronomically disproportionate number of civilian deaths they cause. And as we noted here last week, Obama has already made a major tactical shift that will pour thousands of new troops into some of the most volatile and contested areas on the Pakistan border, virtually guaranteeing ground action across the frontier, along with the already existing air assaults. The inevitable, inescapable, atrocious consequences of these policies are as sure and predictable as the bollixed results of the current action in Buner.

Yet still we march on, toward yet another pit of blood and filth, with scarcely a ripple of opposition to this lunatic course. Perhaps we have seen so much monstrous folly and murderous intent on display from our leaders in recent years that we have grown inured to it. Or it might be more accurate to say that we have been steeped in it from the moment we were born, imbibed it with our mothers' milk, accepted it, without question or awareness, as the natural, universal order: war, violence, destruction and slaughter, inflicted on grubby half-human creatures in distant lands, in our names, for our (purported) benefit, to keep us in our rightful, God-ordained position of all-devouring superiority.


 


Offline bigron

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The Future of Pakistan
 

By Usman Khalid, Secretary General Rifah Party of Pakistan


http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22557.htm

 May 05, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- I have just returned from Pakistan after two weeks in Lahore and Islamabad. I found every citizen concerned that the onslaught of the Taliban from the North and the MQM/Baloch Nationalists from the South – aided and abetted by India, Israel and America – would end in the break up Pakistan. Without naming India, Israel and America as the originators of such a scheme, the American and British media and think tanks also articulate the same dire scenario. What is worrying is that the public in Pakistan is also aware that the present government of Pakistan is neither willing nor able to do anything to prevent such a calamity. And yet there is no panic. The country functions and is comfortable with a government that does little but express hopes for a better tomorrow as ‘democracy has returned’. The American press has stopped accusing the military of ‘duplicity’ (supporting the Taliban while making half-hearted efforts to crush them) but the Indian media continues to toe that line which was first articulated by the American neo-cons. The intelligentsia of Pakistan does get a fair airing of its views on the many private TV channels that challenge the American as well as the Indian line but there no discernible Pakistani line.           

 

The absence of a statement of Pakistan’s national interests and policies both by the government and leading political parties of Pakistan is creating complications and raising anxieties among the many friends of Pakistan. Mahboob Mahmood (known to have the ear of President Obama) has written a long article under the title “A New Beginning for Pakistan: America’s strategy for success.” He begins by saying, “President Barack Obama has been a strong supporter of the twin propositions that (a) a stable, peaceful and progressive Pakistan is crucial for success in the global engagement that his predecessor had so trippingly mislabelled the ‘war on terror’ and (b) the problem of Pakistan must be addressed at a military, political, diplomatic and economic level. While these propositions appear to make sense, the battle for Pakistan is close to being lost. Only a strategy born at the ground zero of defeat will be able to engender a new beginning for Pakistan.”

 

Mahmood’s conclusion is a dire warning but it is not misplaced in its accuracy or the foundation on which it is premised. Pakistan does appear to be on the verge of a triumph by a Taliban led theocracy. But it is also true that 95% of the population of Pakistan dread it. How come those who command less than 5 % support can overpower one of the finest armed forces in the world and no civil society mechanism is able to resist their onslaught? The answer is: ‘war lords’. We are all familiar with the warlords of Afghanistan who engaged in a decade long internecine war after the exit of the Soviet Union until the Taliban emerged as the ‘warlords with the Quran’ to bring some semblance of order in that country. But the Taliban were warlords and still are; theirs is a fascist cult albeit an Islamic one. But Pakistan’s largest city – Karachi – has also been ruled by ward lords of the MQM after they ‘defeated’ the law enforcing agencies. The ordinary people are afraid of the police and the military; the MQM made the police and the military their target. The people as well as the politicians took notice. The MQM mafia has been partners in every ‘democratic coalition’ in post Zia era. The Pakistani Taliban regularly cite their example. They say: why is enemy (India) sponsored armed mafia that killed more than 600 policemen in Karachi acceptable in power and upholders of Islam as a polity are unacceptable?   

 

General Musharraf was a Mohajir himself and the MQM supported him eagerly in appeasing India or ignoring the aspirations of the people of the Punjab (over the Kalabagh Dam) and of Kashmir by making unilateral concessions to India. It did not take long for the Taliban to realise that they were the only force that could challenge the MQM and other ‘secular-ethnic parties’ in Pakistan. The base of support for an effective force to fight and resist ‘ethnic-nationalist’ and ‘India appeasers’ is much wider. Three parties in the ruling coalition – ANP, MQM and JUI – are well known for their Indian links but that the PPP is also led by ‘India appeasers’ was new to the public. The ‘opposition’ has yet to come to terms with that. The religious parties continue to support the Taliban as they always have but the factions of the Muslim League are uncertain how to view their new Taliban role as ‘enforcers of Sharia’. The population dread the Taliban style rule but they dread being split into four countries and to go under Indian suzerainty even more. The Taliban appear to be the lesser evil just as they were in Afghanistan.

 

Mahmood’s View of the Future of Pakistan
 

I am not as pessimistic about the future of Pakistan as Mr Mahmood, who says:

 

“ Over the next several years, there are three basic scenarios that could unfold in Pakistan. The first scenario, the realization of which I rate at a probability of 50-60% (or 95% in the

event intensive US support is withdrawn), is the transformation of Pakistan into the world’s first Sunni militant fascist state”. He calls this state ‘Jihadistan’ for the sake of ‘convenience’.

 

“The second scenario involves the perpetuation of the division of power among the military, the existing political parties and the militant forces.

 

“The third scenario, the realization of which I rate at a probability of 5%, is that a small, effective and positive new force emerges which has the potential to unify the progressive elements in the country and bring about a much-needed transformation in the fortunes of the people of Pakistan.”

 

He goes on say: “Jihadistan, which could within a few years embrace all or most of Pakistan and Afghanistan, will be the first substantial state ideologically dedicated to the creation of a worldwide order based on a narrow and inflexible interpretation of Sunni Islam imposed through a dynamic of permanent militancy towards individuals within the state and towards other states. Consistent with its ideology of permanent militancy, Jihadistan will come about in stages. In between stages, Pakistan may splinter, only to be reunited by the compelling forces of Jihadistan.

 

“In the first stage, Jihadistan will straddle the mountainous divide between Afghanistan and Pakistan and proximate valleys and plains. The state will be largely coterminous with the territories dominated by the Pathans, who comprise 40% of Afghanistan’s population of 32 million and 15% of Pakistan’s population of 165 million. During this stage, predominantly Pathan groups such as the Taliban will form the political and military front line of the state, with militant groups in Pakistan (such as Jamaat ul Dawa) and more globally inclined Islamic groups (such as Al-Qaeda) playing a critical strategic and supportive role.

 

“In the second stage, the mountain valleys of Northern Pakistan linking the Northwest Frontier Province to Indian Kashmir will be occupied so that an easily defensible contiguous mountainous state is formed which controls the water resources of the remaining 140 million people in Pakistan (and is poised to control the water resources of 500 million people in India). During this stage, the Taliban and the fundamentalist Kashmiri independence groups (such as the Harakat-al-Mujahideen) will initially join hands and, inevitably, clash with each other as the ethnic composition of Jihadistan is broadened. During this stage, the pan-Islamic militant groups will expand in influence to create a more global and less ethnically and geographically tied ideological basis for governance.

 

“In the third stage, Jihadistan will thrust outwards in all directions. In the West, the new state will seek to bring under control the segments of Afghanistan that are dominated by non-Pathan ethnic groups (such as the Tajiks and Hazaras). In the North, the support of Islamic militant groups in China and Kazakhstan will be intensified. In the East, the resolve of India to defend its segment of Kashmir and in dampening down the highly corrosive radicalisation of its own 160 million Muslims will be severely tested. But the most immediate, easiest and biggest prize will lie in the South – control over the remaining portions of Pakistan.”

 

American Anxieties & Responses
 

Mahmood’s analysis – the first scenario - is realistic but it also suffers from the same defects as all the other views that originate from the USA. It is loaded in favour of the solution that America has already decided upon.  Obama Administration appears to have decided that: 1) the US can win the war in Afghanistan if the ‘war of liberation from occupation’ is transformed into Pakistan’s fight against  ‘obscurantism’; 2) that China and India should also join this ‘holy war’ against Talibanization for which end they are being urged to see it as posing a threat to them in Xinjiang and Kashmir respectively. The Obama Administration is already telling President Zardari (who needs no convincing) to see the ‘Taliban’ (not India) as the threat that menaces both India and Pakistan. That is the line of the Government of India and the Obama administration has fallen for it. That is the making of a disaster – not of victory in Afghanistan. If Pakistan embraces the Indian line, it would give the best argument to the people of Pakistan to embrace the Taliban. If the military of Pakistan also accepts that line and uses military force against the Taliban and appeases the secular-ethnicists, their endeavours would fail in bringing peace or establishing the writ of the government. The stillborn second scenario would not even get the benefit of a burial.

 

The US Administration scents victory in Pakistan as the Taliban are routed from more and more districts of the NWFP. They can if they wish to attribute the success to the ‘surge’ and use it to prepare the ground for the USA to withdraw from Afghanistan while leaving a large enough footprint behind to safeguard its interests. But what are the US interests in Afghanistan? Since these are vague, I fear that the USA would make the same mistakes in Afghanistan as it did in Iraq and Palestine. It saw its interests in the Middle East through the Israeli lens thus making all the friendly rulers appear to be Israeli collaborators. The USA is looking at Afghanistan (and Central Asia) through the Indian lens. The military planners of the USA are eager to get Indian troops into Afghanistan and pressurise Pakistan into allowing India to use its territory for over land movement of troops and logistics. If President Zardari accepts that, which is quite likely, the first scenario would precipitate and all of Pakistan would become a battleground much sooner. It seems that the USA is already preparing for a war on the soil of Pakistan. The Obama administration is treating its growing intervention in Pakistan as a separate counter-insurgency war for which it is demanding the same extraordinary military powers obtained by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was the main message delivered by Pentagon officials on Capitol Hill together with increasingly dire warnings that without immediate and unconditional US military funding for Pakistan, the government could collapse.

 

Pakistanis’ Response
 

            The Taliban enjoyed the affection and support of the people of Pakistan as long as they were the main force resisting US occupation of Afghanistan. Then they came under the spell of Takfiris of Egypt. It is their idea to make Pakistan a ‘Sunni militant fascist state’ as a base for global jihad. They hold the view that the people of Pakistan are ready and eager for purging Pakistan of Shias and Shirk thus preparing it for a role as centre of ‘global jihad’. Their views send a chill down the spine of every Pakistani but no one dares express those fears. Their power lies in no one daring to stand up to them just as no one dares stand up to the MQM in Karachi. The political class of Pakistan is still afraid of the MQM and even more scared of the Taliban. But the people have now started to stand up to the MQM and they must now stand up to the Pakistani Taliban. The argument of the people is simple: “Why are the armed Taliban roaming the country; there is no foreign army to fight?” That they want to enforce the ‘Sharia’ is not acceptable; that is the role of the state, not of individuals. Now that they have started to kill Shias and Mushrikeen they are no longer Mujahideen, they are murderers. The people have to protect themselves against criminals as they always have – by locking doors; denying intruders entry into their villages and towns; and holding the ring when the security forces strike them. If the Frontier Corps (FC) and the Army became the first line of defence, the war could be lost.

 

Rifah’s Response
 

Rifah believes that the third scenario, which is given 5% probability in Mahmood’s analysis, must be made the most credible and the most popular. Pakistan has three of the four essentials fore a self-confidant dynamic society, and a secure country with global influence. Pakistan is a nuclear power with powerful armed forces that can protect the territorial and institutional integrity of the state. It has an independent judiciary that has just defied one civil and one military dictator and is enjoying unprecedented level of public trust. Pakistan also has a free press that has also defied the very same dictators and come out triumphant. All that is missing is political parties able to articulate the national interests, to develop strategies, and to mobilise public support. The political class does not have among its members, persons with such capabilities. But there is a large reservoir of talent – accomplished persons with high repute tested in fight against evil and oppression – that Rifah intends to invite to join its ranks provide leadership in this hour of crisis.   

 

Bangladesh is also gripped by a crisis; it is ruled by India appeasers who may also open the doors to the Indian Army in the wake of the RAW clandestine operation called the ‘BDR mutiny’. The concern in the Muslim World is that the leaders of Bangladesh and Pakistan do not even have the courage to name their enemy; how can they be expected to lead a fight against that enemy. The people in Bangladesh hoped that by voting for an Indian protégés into power, India would relent in tightening its imperial stranglehold. India has tightened the screw instead. Pakistan still blames itself rather than India for the invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 that resulted in its secession Pakistan. It has evidence of RAW support to the MQM and the Baloch secessionists but it dares not present that evidence to the public. The Pakistani Taliban have turned into a Takfiri cult who target the armed forces of Pakistan and slaughter their soldiers with relish in the name of Allah (SWT). But political parties are still unwilling to accept their mistakes of having collaborated with or submitted to criminal mafias. They have a credibility gap in facing up to the new warlords – the Pakistani Taliban.

 

Conclusion
 

America may mean well (which I doubt) but it is too much tied to the apron strings of India and Israel to develop policies that could bring peace and permit safe exit  Even the Obama Administration, apparently eager to exit from war in Iraq and Afghanistan, is still under the spell of the neo-cons and is still unable to charter a course for success. The countries of the region have an interest in the US making a clean break. The Iraqis and their Arab neighbours have got their act together and the end of war in Iraq is now in sight. But the Pakistani political class neither has any solutions nor has the ability to make use of abundance of talent outside its ranks. In its eagerness to please, which it believes is a safe course, it permits blunders that complicate rather than resolve matters. India’s imperialist objectives menace peace in all of South Asia. That has to be said to prevent more blunders. Peace in Afghanistan is the interest of all its neighbours but not of India, which sees an opportunity for further break up of Pakistan. It is unlikely that the dumb rulers of Pakistan can articulate and protect Pakistan’s interests but the people can and will. Rifah is willing and able to lead the way.   

Offline bigron

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Thursday, May 07, 2009
14:27 Mecca time, 11:27 GMT   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/20095735654573336.html
 
 
Pakistan army battles Swat Taliban 

 
The Red Cross said that they can no longer reach people in the most violent areas [REUTERS]
 
The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 80 fighters in heavy fighting against several thousand Taliban loyalists in the country's northwest.

As the fighting raged, tens of thousands of residents fled the Swat valley area of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The army launched its major offensive on Wednesday, with reports of aerial support being used overnight into Thursday.

Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from the capital, Islamabad, said: "The military offensive has continued overnight and into Thursday ... our producers on the ground say the curfew in the region has been lifted and will be reimposed at midnight [18:00 GMT].

"The roads are blocked and there is very little transport for those fleeing the fighting, so they have taken to the roads on foot to reach IDP camps."

"We are also hearing reports of jet fighters being used - that will be the first time in this battle and, if true, it is a very worrying development."

Helicopter raids

As citizens escaped to camps for internally displaced people (IDP), a February peace deal between the government and the Taliban looked to be all but extinguished.

 
Kifayatullah, the eldest son of Sufi Muhammad, a regional leader who brokered the accord, was killed in a bombardment on Thursday in Lower Dir which, like the Swat valley, is in the Malakand area of the NWFP.

The deal had brought peace in return for the enforcement of the Sharia (Islamic law), but with the collapse of the agreement the Pakistan army is fighting the Taliban in several areas - Swat valley, Buner and Lower Dir.

Describing the fighting on Thursday, a military official said helicopter raids preceded the ground incursion to re-take a forested region in Swat where a number of mines are sited.

"Security forces were being targeted from emerald mines. In retaliatory fire, 35 militants were killed," the military said in a statement on Wednesday.

Another 49 pro-Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in the neighbouring Buner district.

Rahman reported that three Frontier Corps paramilitaries were killed in a Taliban assault on a checkpoint in Lower Dir. Eleven others were captured.

The military spokesman said there were also reports of a number of civilian deaths.

Refugees

The government said it was preparing to shelter up to 500,000 refugees, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of a mounting humanitarian crisis in the region.


Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting in Swat to state-run camps [AFP]

The ICRC said that they were marshalling aid to provide for 120,000 people, but could no longer reach the areas most affected by violence.

Laiq Zada, 33, who escaped from the Swat valley to a government-run tent camp, said: "It is an all-out war there. Rockets are landing everywhere.

"We have with us the clothes on our bodies and a hope in the house of God. Nothing else."

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, in Peshawar the capital of NWFP, said: "We are getting reports that people desperate to get out of harm's way are now trying to run out of that area. Whatever transport they can get.

"While [the military's] objective is to neutralise the Taliban, the civilians are caught in the middle.

"The big question mark is how does the military expect to achieve its objective in a heavily populated area."

Khushhal Khan, the chief administration officer in Swat, said: "More than 40,000 have migrated from Mingora [Swat's main town] since Tuesday afternoon."

Deprivation

Many told stories of their deprivation at the hands of the Taliban and government attacks.

"This is a time when people in Pakistan realise this has now turned into a war on Pakistan and for Pakistan"
said Imtiaz Gul, Pakistan analyst
 
"They [the Taliban] killed my husband, they slit his throat after accusing him of spying," Zarina Begum, 40, said as she arrived by bus in Peshawar, Pakistan's main northwestern city.

"A mortar hit my house and, as a result, I lost one of my eyes. Please take me to hospital, I want medical treatment," she said.

The Taliban said on Wednesday that it was still in control of 90 per cent of Swat.

Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman, said: "If the government launches an operation against us, we will give them a fitting reply, which it will remember for a long time."

Imtiaz Gul, head of the Centre for Research and Security Studies think tank in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera: "This is a time when people in Pakistan realise this has now turned into a war on Pakistan and for Pakistan.

"The Pakistani military is the key to winning this war ... There is quite a clear consensus within the Pakistani ruling elite that they need to act in unison, that they need to demonstrate to the world that they are sincere in this war against the militants, which are basically attacking the foundations of this country."

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, is in Washington DC for talks with Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai, his respective US and Afghan counterparts, on ending Taliban and al-Qaeda resistance in the Asian nations.

The US is said to want an increase in Pakistani pressure on "rogue elements" in Malakand.

The border region as a whole has been used by the Taliban and al-Qaeda to launch attacks in both nations since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 which removed the Taliban from power in Kabul.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 
 
 
 

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Manufacturing Consent For Attacks On Pakistan:


Pakistan threat ‘worst since Cuban missile crisis’

By James Lamont in New Delhi

Published: May 5 2009 15:40
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8d0ce1c8-397f-11de-b82d-00144feabdc0.html

Loss of control in nuclear-armed Pakistan threatened the world with the worst global crisis since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war, a senior former US diplomat warned on Tuesday.

The stark warning comes as US President Barack Obama meets the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan at the White House on Wednesday to discuss efforts to stabilise their countries in the face of Islamist insurgencies. It also comes as the international community fears a possible breakdown in the security surrounding Pakistan’s 100 warhead nuclear arsenal and their capture by religious extremists.

“For every good reason, the Obama Administration is devoting enormous thought to Pakistan, since it is the most dangerous foreign policy problem that Washington presently faces…The evolving situation in Pakistan is potentially the most dangerous international situation since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,” Robert Blackwill, the former US ambassador to New Delhi, said.

“Islamic extremism is systematically on the rise in Pakistan and elites there – both civilian and military – do not appear to have the will or the means to resist.”

Mr Blackwill warned that Mr Obama’s discussions with Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai were severely hampered by their lack of authority. Their weakness meant that the expectations of the meeting at the White House beyond a show of solidarity were very low.

 
Describing them as having the authority of city mayors rather than leaders of sovereign countries, the former US envoy told the Financial Times “maybe they should be talking about sanitation or bus routes”.

“I hope there’s something good [from the White House meeting], but I don’t expect much to come out of it,” Mr Blackwill said. “Events in Afghanistan and Pakistan are going to be settled on the ground.”

Pakistan’s past support of Islamist militants in insurgencies in India and Afghanistan has made it unwilling to confront the internal threat that it faces today. Defence experts within Pakistan and diplomats say the country’s generals do not recognise the serious threat within their country and remain obsessed with a view prevalent since partition at the end of British rule in 1947 that India is the arch enemy. They also say that the Islamist militants have discovered how little resistance there is to their advance and have taken territory largely unopposed.

Mr Blackwill, who is now a senior adviser to the Rand Corporation, the California-based global policy think tank, said US policy instruments were too weak to reverse “disturbing” societal trends in Pakistan. He cautioned that maladroit US actions were in danger of hastening the country’s internal collapse and took a dig at Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who testified in Congress on Tuesday.

“Some Administration officials opine that the US, India and Pakistan are now together facing ‘a common threat, a common challenge, a common task’ in seeking to defeat Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said. “Oh, if only that were so…There is no sign that the government of Pakistan has made a fundamental national choice to rid itself of Jihadism”.

In an address to business leaders in New Delhi, Mr Blackwill said the US’s preoccupation with Pakistan would lead to a straining of its relationship with India, undoing gains achieved by the signing of a civil nuclear agreement last year. Increasingly, the Obama administration would view India through the lens developments in Pakistan and would put pressure on New Delhi to resolve a territorial dispute over Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have gone to war three times. ends

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Offline bigron

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Pakistan to scrap peace deal, launch offensive, source says

5/7/09


Pakistan has mobilized its armed forces to combat the threat from Taliban militants in its tribal regions.


Story Highlights:

Source: Military plans major offensive in Swat, site of faltering peace deal with Taliban

Government began offensive in late April after Taliban militants moved into Buner

Kafayatullah, son of Islamist fundamentalist leader Sufi Muhammed, killed

Sufi Muhammed signed a peace agreement with Pakistani president in April


The fighting in the Swat Valley region has forced thousands of civilians to abandon their homes.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani government plans to scrap a tenuous peace deal with Taliban militants and launch an even more aggressive operation against them in northwestern Pakistan, a Pakistani military official said Thursday.

The military plans to begin a major offensive Thursday evening in Swat, the site of a faltering peace deal between the Pakistani military and the Taliban.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will announce the end of the peace deal and the military offensive Thursday night, the official said.

Between 12,000 and 15,000 Pakistani troops already are in Swat, according to the official. The official tells CNN more troops will be deployed in the Swat, Dir and Buner districts to fight the militants.

Pakistani fighter jets and helicopters pounded Taliban positions in the country's Swat Valley Thursday as the military continued its offensive against Taliban militants, the government said.

The bombing runs hit Taliban training and communications centers in Gath Peochar. Other operations hit an area of Swat called Qambar, where a "notorious militant commander named Shah Duran operates," said Maj. Naser Khan with the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Public Relations agency in Swat.

In other fighting, a son of a pro-Taliban cleric who negotiated the controversial peace deal in Swat Valley was killed Thursday morning, Pakistani and Taliban officials confirmed.

Kafayatullah, the son of Islamist fundamentalist leader Sufi Muhammed, died when mortar shells from Pakistani security forces hit a home in the Lower Dir district of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, said Mehmood Khan, a Taliban commander, and a Pakistani intelligence official who asked not to be identified.

The attack took place in the Maiden area.

Kafayatullah was not a militant and not part of the Taliban movement, both sources said.

Muhammed, his father, signed the peace agreement with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in April that allowed the Taliban to implement Islamic law, or sharia, in the region in exchange for an end to fighting.

Under the Taliban's strict interpretation of sharia law, women should not even be seen in public without their husbands or fathers.

The government began a military offensive in late April after Taliban militants moved into the Buner district and refused to disarm, in violation of the agreement.

The military accused the Taliban of putting civilians in harm's way.

"Every possible effort is made to prevent casualties of any innocent civilian but... the Taliban tries to put hurdles in their way and, when military fires... , there may be some civilian casualties... in the crossfire," Khan said.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States were "three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Obama, in remarks delivered with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at the White House, said the security of the three nations was linked.

Al Qaeda and its allies are responsible for killing innocent civilians and challenging the democratically elected governments in the nations, Obama said. The U.S. has made a "lasting commitment [that it] will not waiver" in efforts to defeat extremists and support the Afghan and Pakistani governments, he added.

All AboutPakistan • The Taliban • Swat Valley
 

 
 
 
Links referenced within this article

Pakistan's
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Pakistan
Taliban
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/The_Taliban
Pakistan
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Pakistan
The Taliban
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/The_Taliban
Swat Valley
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Swat_Valley

 

 
Find this article at:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/07/pakistan.swat.death/index.html 
 

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from the May 06, 2009 edition - http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0506/p06s01-wosc.html


Are Pakistani Taliban finding new foothold in south?



Analysts say political leaders could strengthen militants' appeal if they do not manage deep ethnic tensions – which resulted in clashes that killed 30 people last week.

By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
and Huma Yusuf | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
 
Karachi, Pakistan
Rows of jingle trucks and shanties line either side of the Super Highway as it pushes north from sea-swept Karachi into Pakistan's dusty interior. These are the homes and work vehicles of the city's growing ethnic Pashtun population – and, according to Haider Abbas Rizvi, they form a Taliban haven.

"I cannot dare enter this place. Nobody can, not even the police and the Rangers," says Mr. Rizvi, a member of Parliament with the secular MQM party. "This summer is going to be very hot – I don't know if [the fight] is going to be happening in the North [of Pakistan] or down here."

Though the Taliban operate mainly in Pakistan's northwestern tribal agencies and are battling the military near there, MQM leaders in this southern city are sounding the alarm that Pakistan's financial capital and main port will be the militants' next battleground.

They point to internal police memos and journalist reports that the Taliban are finding new sanctuary for their leadership, raising funds through criminal activities, and – with the influx of Pashtun refugees from Pakistan's war zones – deepening their pool of recruits by tapping into religious seminaries.

Some analysts caution that the MQM is overlaying anti-Taliban rhetoric on a long-running ethnic struggle within the city. Yet the ethnic divides here are cause for concern because they create rallying cries for organized violence, conditions the Taliban could exploit to disrupt this port on the Arabian Sea – and the nation's trade.

"If the Taliban wanted to destabilize Karachi, ethnic riots would be one of the first things they would do," says Ahmed Rashid, author of "Descent into Chaos." "By taking charge of the political leadership of that political movement, they could start taking over large chunks of Karachi."

Potential recruiting ground

For years, Karachi has been rocked by ethnic violence between Pashtuns and the dominant Mohajir community. Just last week, street fighting killed at least 30 people. Mr. Rashid echoes other analysts who see little new in this violence – but he would worry if the young men in religious seminaries, or madrasas, get involved.

"The madrasas are full of Taliban. The madrasas were not given a call to come out in the streets and take control of the streets, which they could do very easily," he says.

Karachi has an estimated 3,500 madrasas containing tens of thousands of students.

Mitigating the fears of Talibanization, though, is that madrasa students here come from other ethnic backgrounds, and that many Pashtuns have no use for the Taliban, notes Rashid.

"The majority of Pashtuns are moderates," he says. "They don't support the extremist Taliban."

Many of the 3.5 million Pashtuns in this city of 18 million have been in Karachi since the 1980s. They are primarily manual laborers and truckers running goods from the port to the rest of the country, including NATO supplies into Afghanistan.

Now, more Pashtuns are coming to Karachi due to the fighting in the Swat Valley and neighboring Bajaur. An additional half million civilians are expected to flee Swat following Tuesday's government-ordered evacuation. On Wednesday helicopter gunships and mortars pounded Taliban positions, with the military saying it killed about 35 militants in Swat and 27 in neighboring Buner. Four soldiers also died in the fighting.

Incoming Pashtuns have not been integrated smoothly into this deeply segregated city. Instead, ethnic-based land mafias battle in the streets over new areas to settle. In this struggle, the Pashtuns view the MQM-led government as stacked against them.

'Talibanization' as pretext?

Known as the Muttahida Quami Movement, the MQM rose to dominance over the city and wider region by representing the interests of the majority Mohajir community. The Mohajirs are Urdu-speakers who fled India when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.

"The MQM has been after our lands and jobs for years and now they're trying to make everyone scared of us," says Yahya Khan, a Pashtun truck driver who lives in Orangi – Karachi's largest slum, where both Pashtuns and Mojahirs live.

Some analysts agree. "It's the MQM and the government that are targeting Pashtuns in the name of the Taliban," says Riaz Ahmed, a Mojahir and local leader of the International Socialists of Pakistan.

Karachi's mayor, Mustafa Kamal, flatly denies that the MQM is using the warnings of Talibanization to pick an ethnic fight. He says that 90 percent of the $2.5 billion the city has spent on infrastructure in recent years has gone into Pashtun pockets.

But, he says, city leaders cannot just wait "for the disaster to take place," and have urged police and residents to work together to root out Taliban.

"I am not saying that the Taliban is here – everyone is saying that the Taliban is here," says the mayor.

He produces newspaper clippings over the past 14 months reporting the arrests of more than 75 Taliban, Al Qaeda, or other Islamist suspects.

He also points to a leaked memo sent by city police to their provincial superiors. The memo cites "reliable sources" that Taliban under the command of Naib Ameer Hassan Mehsood are taking shelter in a neighborhood called Sohrab Goth.

"After every 30 to 35 days, 20 [to] 25 Mehsood [Mehsud] terrorists come from Waziristan – for rest as well as for generating funds," reads the document, labeled "top secret." They raise money, the document charges, through kidnapping for ransom, bank robbery, and street robbery."

The report also warns of danger to the mayor and other MQM leaders, and says that late at night, everyone except Mehsud militants are barred from entering the Super Market area.

Pashtuns come for 'place to stay'

However, the police chief who oversees Sohrab Goth downplays the concerns.

"It is not true that militants have infiltrated this area," says Irfan Bahadur. "People think that all the refugees who have come [from FATA] are Taliban. But most of them are villagers who had family in Karachi and came here because they knew they would find a place to stay and help finding a job."

Despite the recent ethnic violence, he says, "no new elements are causing trouble [and] the situation has not drastically changed in recent weeks."

Still, there's a recognition on all sides that ethnic street violence should not be allowed to fester. To that end, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani came to Karachi on Friday to meet with politicians and police.

MQM wins anti-Taliban plaudits

Right now, the moderate Awami National Party (ANP) largely represents the Pashtuns in Karachi, and when it comes to Talibanization, the ANP and MQM disagree.

"There are no Taliban in Karachi," says Muhammad Amin Khattak, general secretary of the ANP in Sindh Province.

He says the MQM has latched on to the issue to raise their status from a regional party to one that can play on the national and international stage. Indeed, the MQM has already won recognition as the only party in Pakistan to vote against the government's peace deal with the Taliban in Swat, which is now defunct as the Army moves back into the area.

Yet the ANP and MQM did agree with Mr. Gilani to form a joint investigative team to more effectively crack down on criminal gang activity before it can escalate.

"We see a pattern emerging here, with small incidents building up to major conflagrations," says Javed Jabbar, a former federal minister and lecturer at University of Karachi. "Ethnic trouble in Karachi doesn't happen out of the blue. It is always part of a sequence of events."


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Pakistan 'to eliminate militants'
 
Mingora residents are fleeing as the situation deteriorates

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8038975.stm




Pakistan's PM says he has ordered the army to "eliminate militants and terrorists", apparently referring to operations against the Taleban.

Yusuf Raza Gilani made the announcement in an evening TV address to the nation.

Fighting has intensified in recent days in the Swat Valley and other parts of the north-west, and thousands of civilians are leaving the area.

US defence secretary Robert Gates earlier said he was satisfied with Pakistan's anti-Taleban moves.

He said there was "very little chance" of the Taleban achieving the kind of success in Pakistan that they would need to get access to the country's nuclear weapons.

At least 10 soldiers have been killed and nine wounded in the fighting in the past 24 hours, the Pakistani military says.

See a map of the region


At least seven of them were reported to have died when a troop carrier was ambushed near Mingora.

Appeal for help
    The time has come when the entire nation should side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint
Yusuf Raza Gilani

In pictures: Swat exodus
Disquiet over 'Af-Pak' strategy


Mr Gilani said efforts by the militants to disrupt peace and security had reached a point where the government had to take "decisive steps".

"In order to restore honour and dignity of our homeland, and to protect people, the armed forces have been called to eliminate the militants and terrorists," he said.

"The time has come when the entire nation should side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint," he added.

He also appealed to the international community to help Pakistan look after people displaced by the fighting.

A curfew has been lifted to allow civilians to leave Swat, prompting thousands to flee and join those already in camps or staying with relatives further south.

But around half a million people remain in Mingora, the main town of Swat, where there is no water or electricity.



Gates on "significant Pakistani military action against the Taleban"

Residents say at least 24 civilians have lost their lives in the past two days.

Some died when their houses were hit by artillery, while others were reportedly shot for defying a curfew.

The BBC Urdu service's Riffatullah Orakzai says that eyewitnesses in the Kanju area near Mingora have seen militants setting up checkposts on the main roads and not allowing people who want to flee the fighting to pass.

Witnesses say a large number of people, including women and children, are now stranded there.

Resistance to troops

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) says the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan is intensifying.

In a statement the ICRC said that it no longer had access to the areas most affected by the conflict and that precise statistics of the displaced were difficult to ascertain.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says troops moving into Swat face resistance all along the 40km (25-mile) road that heads in a north-easterly direction from Malakand to Mingora.

Our correspondent says that fighting has not only erupted in several areas around Mingora, but there are also reports of more clashes in the neighbouring area of Buner.

In another incident, militants overran a paramilitary fort in the Chakdara area of Lower Dir, officials say.

Three paramilitary soldiers were killed in the attack and 10 policemen were taken away as hostages.

STOP THE KILLING NOW
END THE CRIMINAL SIEGE OF GAZA - FREE PALESTINE!!!!!!!

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Published on Thursday, May 7, 2009 by Inter Press Service



Af-Pak Troubles Coming to a Head



by Ali Gharib

WASHINGTON - Despite an overhaul of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, it appears that the U.S. strategy there is running into obstacles as varied as the U.S. Congress and the leaders of those countries, who are both visiting Washington this week.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) walks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zadari before the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral consultations at the State Department in Washington May 6, 2009. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Before their arrival, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan were harshly criticised as incapable of acting as counterparts to boosted U.S. efforts to put down insurgencies in their countries, with their strategic priorities of fighting extremism and sound long-term development.

The result has been hesitation by both President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to throw full-fledged support behind the two, even as U.S. administration officials have publicly expressed confidence in them.

But both leaders received a strong welcome in a meeting with Obama Wednesday, where they met separately with the president for 20 minutes at a time, then together.

"I'm pleased that these two men, elected leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, fully appreciate the seriousness of the threats that we face and have reaffirmed their commitment to confronting it," Obama said at a brief press conference after the meetings.

He said they were united in "a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future."

In his brief comments, Obama didn't mention the Taliban, but instead made references such as "al Qaeda and its allies." Responding to the absence of the name of the ethnic Pashtun group at the heart of the insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, National Security Council chief Gen. Jim Jones said that the administration was "focused on all extremism", but "especially" those looking to attack outside their nations' borders.

Part of Obama's strategy, as announced about a month ago, is to "peel away" reconcilable parts of the Taliban following the example of the "surge" strategy in Iraq, where insurgents were paid to abandon their anti-government fight.

Obama also spoke of providing a "spark" for development on the Pakistani side of the lawless border regions where the insurgency operates freely, and of helping development by providing alternatives to the poppy cultivation that feeds the drug trade and, through protection rackets, provides funding for the Taliban.

But efforts at aid, especially to Pakistan, are being held up in Congress as legislators seek to put conditions on the money as well as assurances about its use.

Well-respected Pakistani journalist and analyst Ahmed Rashid wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post Tuesday where he suggested that the aid be quickly pushed through Congress, with at least the first year being unconditional.

"I do not want to see my country go down because Congress is more concerned with minutiae than with the big picture," he wrote. "Yes, there must be a sea change in attitudes and policies in the army, intelligence services and civilian government. But tomorrow may be too late. Pakistan needs help today."

Both the foreign presidents also met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday, and deputies from all three countries are expected to have intensive meetings with their counterparts through Thursday.

After her meeting with Zardari and Karzai, Clinton said, "I am very optimistic that this process is making a difference."

But despite all the strongly supportive rhetoric, it's not clear that both men have the confidence of the Obama administration.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Obama intends to "maintain an arm's length relationship" with Karzai because of his inability to extend his power far beyond the capital, Kabul, some seven years after he was installed by the U.S. as president (subsequently winning elections in 2004).

Afghanistan has also recently been labeled one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and Karzai is sometimes seen as a problem in this regard. His powerful brother is alleged to be involved in serious corruption and Karzai has been friendly to warlords - he just chose an especially notorious one, Mohamed Fahim, as a vice presidential running-mate - who extort local populations, turning those locals against the government and pushing them into the hands of the insurgency.

But Karzai doesn't look like he's going anywhere. With no serious competition, he is widely expected to win the elections in August.

Zardari, on the other hand, has garnered more public shows of support for his young civilian government, but his political future is more unstable than Karzai's. He has already faced a serious political crisis from his main opponent, Nawaz Sharif of the powerful family from the Punjab region. The U.S. has also been speaking to Sharif, which it insists is only in his role as opposition leader.

And, though some deny an "existential threat" to Pakistan, as U.S. officials put in this week, Zardari is facing a brazen insurgency centred on the Taliban.

The main question floating in Washington is Zardari's ability to rein in the Taliban insurgency, raising concerns of U.S. officials. His government signed a peace deal with Islamists in the Swat Valley which Secretary Clinton said was the Pakistani government "basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists."

When Taliban forces then moved into neighbouring Buner province, less than 100 kms from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, it raised alarm bells both in the U.S. and, reportedly, in Pakistan.

But it's not clear that the Pakistani army, headed by General Parvez Kayani, is ready to make full-fledged war on the militants. After eight years of recent military rule in which Pakistan, under the military dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, allowed the Taliban to operate freely, Kayani appears hesitant to put the military stamp on any actions that could be perceived as taken against his own countrymen and is reportedly seeking political cover from the civilian government.

Notably, Kayani has not joined Zardari in Washington this week. The special U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, dubbed Af-Pak, Richard Holbrooke, told the House Foreign Relations committee that Kayani was at home in Pakistan "where he should be."

Nonetheless, the wake-up call from Buner appears to have lit a fire under Zardari and Kayani, and a military assault on Swat is expected. The army has not confirmed the attack, which press reports have called "imminent", but the military press office in Islamabad said that the Taliban was guilty of "gross violations" of the heavily criticised peace deal.

On the advice of Pakistani officials, as many as half a million residents of Swat have fled the region, known for its natural beauty, and are taking shelter in refugee camps. In their absence, the Taliban is reportedly occupying homes, patrolling streets, and laying landmines.

But Laura Rozen reported on her Foreign Policy blog that, in a background briefing for reporters ahead of the tripartite summit, unnamed U.S. officials "refused to comment...on whether they had seen signs that Pakistan was shifting its security posture by, for instance, redeploying troops from its border with India towards its border with Afghanistan to devote to the fight against militants."

The army is known to view the decades-long conflict with India as the primary security concern for Pakistan, even as the militant insurgency has grown over several years.

Copyright © 2009 IPS-Inter Press Service

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/05/07-1

Offline bigron

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Friday, May 08, 2009
14:56 Mecca time, 11:56 GMT   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA 
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/20095893550570406.html
 
Pakistanis flee Swat fighting 


 
Aid agencies say families escaping are very distressed [EPA] 

 
A humanitarian crisis is looming in Pakistan as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee fighting between the Taliban and government troops in the country's northwest.

Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said that about half a million people have been displaced by the fighting in the Swat valley in the last few days.

Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the UNCHR, told Al Jazeera that they had witnessed a "great many families arriving from Swat".

"I was in one of three refugee camps that the UNHRC has helped set up and people were arriving on trucks, rickshaws, cars, buses - any way that they can travel - and they were arriving very, very distressed," she said.

Government estimates suggest that 200,000 people have already fled. UNHCR officials said another 300,000 people were on the move or about to flee.

The latest exodus brings the number of people displaced in the region by sustained violence over the last few months to a million, UNHCR officials said.

Desperate civilians

Pakistan sent additional troops to the volatile Swat valley on Friday, a day after its prime minister ordered the army to eliminate the Taliban battling government forces for control of the key North Western Frontier Province (NWFP).

Swat is a part of the Malakand division of the volatile NWFP.

In a televised address on Thursday, Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, called for unity against "extremists" he said were threatening the nation's sovereignty and who had violated the deal.

"The armed forces have been called in to eliminate the militants and terrorists," he said.

In video :


 Swat fighting threatens Pakistan army unity:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/2009589540786818.html

 Behind Buner's frontlines:
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/200957172653698139.html
 

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, said: "Hundreds of thousands of people are stranded along the highway between Mingora and Malakani. [It is] a desperate situation ...

"The biggest concern as we spoke to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] this morning is the number of people moving.

"They said they were trying to help in whichever way they could ... Many people who are stuck inside Swat are asking the government why there was no plan; why they were not given adequate warning to get out and save their souls."

Sebastian Brack, a spokesman for ICRC in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera that their immediate concern was access to the victims of the fighting.

"Large number of people stuck in areas where fighting is taking place cannot escape," he said.

"We are preparing ourselves to be able to act as soon as the situation allows - hopefully by the end of next week - to be able to bring in help: emergency food, shelter, blankets and also medical care."

Mass exodus

On a visit to the United States, Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, said military operations would last until "normalcy" returns.

"It is going to carry on until life in Swat comes back to normalcy," he said after meeting influential US senators.


Pakistan's PM has said the offensive will last until "normalcy" is restored [AFP]

Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from Pakistan, said: "[There has been] a lot of pressure on the government that they have acted a bit too late in giving the army the greeen light.

"I think the army have been looking for official civilian backing for their action and the public perception would be that they would not be blamed for attacking the Taliban. It was a civilian decision made by the civilian government."

The latest bout of fighting has all but extinguished the peace deal between the government and the Taliban.

Rahman said: "The military operation continues and it is going to continue for sometime. These are not easy areas [where fighting is taking place].

"It is not a conventional war. It is very much a guerrilla war from the Taliban side, and therefore the military don't have specific targets to go for and that is why helicopter gunships are the main tool that the military are using.

"[But] they [the military] can only use them when the weather is good, and last weekend we saw very bad weather and a halt to those operations. They resumed again on Monday and Tuesday."

Gilani's accusation

In his address on Thursday, Gilani accused the Taliban of threatening Pakistan's sovereignty and violating the peace deal.

That agreement, brokered by a local religious leader, sought to put three million Pakistanis in a wide region of the NWFP under sharia law, in exchange for the Taliban agreeing to end a nearly two-year uprising.

"In order to restore honour and dignity of our homeland, and to protect people, the armed forces have been called to eliminate the militants and terrorists," Gilani said.

"The time has come when the entire nation should stand side by side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint."

The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 80 fighters in recent heavy fighting in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir, all part of Malakand.

The army launched its major offensive on Wednesday, with reports of aerial support being used overnight into Thursday.

Talat Masood, a retired general who worked in Pakistan's defence ministry, told Al Jazeera that Pakistan was "probably paying a price for the wrong policies it has pursued".

He said that if action had been taken much earlier - months before or even during former president Pervez Musharraf's time, the "state of affairs that we find today would not have happened".

"And these militant forces, they would not have been of much strength," he said.
 
 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies 
 
 
 
 
 

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Pakistani hospitals overwhelmed by wounded


These children are among the thousands of refugees at the Jalozai camp in western Pakistan.


Story Highlights :

Pakistan's offensive against Taliban militants overwhelms medical resources

Doctors say hospitals are ill equipped to deal with injuries from fighting

Pakistani officials expect as many as 500,000 civilians to flee the Swat Valley

Government has rejected peace deal with Taliban


Pakistani officials expect 500,000 civilians to flee the fighting in the Swat Valley.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's offensive against Taliban militants in the country's northwest is overwhelming medical resources in the Swat Valley, hospital officials said Friday.

Staff members from Mardan Medical Center have treated 2,124 patients from clashes between the Pakistani military and Taliban fighters in more than two weeks of fighting, according to Dr. Arshad Ahmed. Many had shrapnel wounds, he said.

Pakistani officials have said they expect as many as 500,000 civilians to flee the Swat Valley as fighting -- now into a third week -- expands.

The hospital has set up two treatment centers -- near the towns of Takhtbar and Shehzad, where refugee camps have been established for those displaced by the fighting.

District Headquarters Hospital in Mardan is "ill equipped to deal" with the people coming through its doors for treatment, according to Dr. Aziz, the hospital's chief medical officer. He said there are severe shortages of staff and supplies, including painkillers and antibiotics.

The hospital had not received any dead, according to Aziz, who said people with serious injuries were being transferred to a Peshawar hospital.

The United Nations' refugee agency warned Friday that a "massive displacement" of civilians in northwest Pakistan was under way.

It said 150,000 to 200,000 Pakistanis had already fled the military's operation against Taliban militants over the last few days. Another 300,000 Pakistanis were on the move or expected to flee the fighting.

The latest figures were in addition to 555,000 previously displaced civilians who have fled their homes in Pakistan's tribal region and North West Frontier Province since August, according to the U.N. agency.

Fighter jets and helicopter gunships pounded Taliban fighters in Swat Valley on Friday, and a Pakistani military official told CNN that more troops will join the 12,000 to 15,000 already in the region.

Fighter jets and helicopter gunships pounded Taliban fighters in Swat on Friday, and a Pakistani military official told CNN that more troops will join the 12,000 to 15,000 already in the region. Watch as CNN's Ivan Watson tours a refugee camp »

Government aircraft attacked a militant position in Tehsil Kabbel, where the Taliban was occupying two girls' schools. Helicopter gunships fired on the buildings, killing up to 15 militants and critically injuring four others, said Maj. Naser Khan, a Pakistani military spokesman.

Pakistani troops battled militants in Kanju after the Taliban attacked an outpost just across the Swat river. After a heavy exchange of fire between militants and government forces, Khan said, five "hard-core" militants -- including a commander named Akbar Ali -- were killed.

Thursday night, Pakistan's prime minister formally renounced a peace agreement with Taliban militants and announced "decisive steps" to expand the battle in the country's northwest.

"To restore the honor and dignity of our homeland and to protect our people, the armed forces have been called in to eliminate the militants and terrorists," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in a televised speech.

The agreement effectively ended several weeks ago, when Taliban militants violated the deal by refusing to disarm and by advancing within 60 miles of Islamabad, the nation's capital. Pakistani troops have battled the Taliban in the Buner and Lower Dir districts for more than two weeks.

The now-defunct peace deal allowed the Taliban to implement Islamic law, or sharia, in the Swat Valley region in exchange for an end to fighting.

"I regret to say that our bona fide intention to prefer reconciliation with them was perceived as a weakness on our part," Gilani said.

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Offline Ghost in the Machine

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we don't want these wars bring back the troops  :o
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Offline ConcordeWarrior

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They should send Hillary and the Obamas right on the grounds where the drones are hitting.  >:(
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  • RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT 2012
Weekend Edition
May 8-10, 2009
http://www.counterpunch.org/wolf05082009.html

Conflating Afghanistan and Pakistan

Obama's Axis of Obedience


By PAUL WOLF

The media missed the story on this week's "trilateral" summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari. Admittedly, speeches made by Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the meeting were nearly devoid of content. Reporters had little to work with. However, two significant goals were accomplished by the trilateral meeting, just by having the three men photographed together.

First was an emphasis on the central role of the United States in what Washington is now calling the "AfPak" conflict. China and Russia both want influence in Central Asia as well, and the still-nascient Shanghai Cooperation Organization is held out as an alternative to America's "unilateral" approach. After this meeting, the appearance is that Afghanistan and Pakistan accept the United States as the sole foreign arbiter of their internal problems.

A second achievement was the public acceptance by the Pakistani President that the Afghan war has mutated into the "AfPak" war. Yes, Mr. Obama, you may now include Pakistan in your theater of operations and consider it to be one and the same war, just as you say, Sir. It is, after all, your war.

A weaker leader than Asif Zardari could not be imagined. He is not respected or liked by the Pakistani people, and came into power by way of the fact that he is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the most progressive President in Pakistan’s history. The Bhutto family has led the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) since the day its founder, Zulfikar Ali, was executed in 1979 following a military coup.

President Zardari does not share the Bhuttos’ popularity, however. Nicknamed “Mr. 10%,” Zardari is believed to have embezzled $1.5 billion dollars out of the country, and spent seven years in prison following his conviction. When General Pervez Musharraf, another military dictator, resigned from power in August of 2008, Zardari assumed the role of his recently-assassinated wife, and ran virtually unopposed. The New York Times reported that Zalmay Khalilzad, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, had been unofficially advising Asif Ali Zardari during his campaign.

Musharraf himself had come into power in 1999, in a US-backed military coup. Pakistan’s President at the time, Nawaz Sharif, earned America’s emnity by developing and testing nuclear weapons, and nearly using them in a confrontation with India centered in the Kargil district of Kashmir. Sharif fled the country and lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until September of 2007. Upon his return, Sharif was greeted by crowds of supporters. Having instituted a state of emergency and imprisoned numerous political opponents, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, General Musharraf decided it was better to leave Sharif and his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), alone. Musharraf’s new court barred Nawaz Sharif from holding public office, but permitted him to remain in Pakistan free from arrest. Needless to say, when Asif Zardari ran for President in 2008, there was no real opposition. The PML did not run any candidate and the PPP swept the election.

In the first six month’s of Zardari’s presidency, the relationship between the governments of America and Pakistan has been that of colonial power to colony. Zardari’s support of the American bombing campaign in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, and Pakistani military operations there, both resulting in disproportionate civilian casualties, have infuriated the Pakistani people and put the country on the brink of revolution. As another prominent Pakistani opposition figure, Imran Khan, has noted, “what country bombs its own people?”

To counter this growing insurgency, President Zardari has made some conciliatory moves to address the common grievances. These include reinstating Justice Chaudhry to the Supreme Court, various discussions with Nawaz Sharif on power sharing arrangements, and freeing Maulana Abdul Aziz, leader of the radical Red Mosque, who had been imprisoned since the Pakistani army’s bloody siege of the Mosque in July of 2007. Another, and more controversial gesture was an attempt to negotiate with tribal leaders in regions bordering Afghanistan, to get them to side with the government against the insurgents. These negotiations led to the announcement that Islamic courts would be set up in the troubled Swat region of the frontier, in a program called the Nizam-e-Adl. This step was apparently taken without consulting the Americans, who have now pressured the Pakistani government to retake Swat by force. A humanitarian crisis is in the making, converting hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis into refugees.

Had these gestures been made shortly after Mr. Zardari took office, and had he ignored Washington’s demands to use military force, Pakistan might have recovered from the disasterous rule of General Musharraf. As a reaction to a growing insurgency, however, these moves make Zardari and his government look weak and aimless. This is compounded by the impression that whatever Pakistan does can quickly be overruled by the United States, which can even order the Pakistani military to attack its own people. The image of weakness is made even worse by statements by Obama and others in his administration expressing a lack of confidence in the government it has so long manipulated and shored up.

Which brings us back to yesterday’s meeting. From Pakistan’s perspective, what did it achieve? Pakistan may receive billions more dollars in aid, along with an army of highly-paid consultants who cannot even speak Urdu. (Translators and babysitters are not included in the aid program.) No doubt there will be plenty of pork for Zardari to share
with the Pakistani parliament, and admittedly, this will help to stabilize Mr. 10% in his tenuous role as leader of a failed and failing state. Yet Pakistan will pay a higher price in the long run.

The question at hand is not whether Pakistan is on the verge of a takeover by reactionary religious extremists from Afghanistan. It is not. Conflating the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan only confuses people. Pakistan is, however, experiencing an extraordinary upheaval of popular discontent. In a word, it’s the emergence of democracy. Left on its own, the Pakistani army could probably crush the resistence. But with Washington’s help, nearly anything is possible. The real question is, what form will the next series of political changes take.

Paul Wolf is a lawyer in Washington DC, practicing international and human rights law. He can be reached at [email protected]