EU to bar all member states from funding Israeli settlements

An EU directive will bar all 28 member states from dealings with Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem, sparking attacks from Israeli officials Tuesday.

The directive, due to be published on Friday and take effect from 2014, forbids EU member states from funding or dealing with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, according to Israeli media.

(Source : english.al-akhbar.com)

israel palestine news politics

Five reasons why Hawking is right to boycott

The Israeli government and various lobby groups use events such as the “Presidential Conference” to whitewash Israel’s crimes past and present, a tactic sometimes referred to as “rebranding”. As a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official put it after the 2009 Gaza massacre, it is the kind of approach that means sending “well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, [and] exhibits” in order to “show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war”. “Brand Israel" is all about creating a positive image for a country that is the target of human rights campaigners the world over - as if technological innovations or high-profile conferences can hide the reality of occupation and ethnic cleansing. 

(Source : aljazeera.com)

Israel palestine news politics

How the state makes militants of young men

Jammu and Kashmir may have failed to hog media headlines in recent times, but stories of personal tragedy have continued to unfold in the picturesque valley, without respite. These are stories of young men who the government and the army believe to be ‘terrorists’ who got what they deserved. But the relatives of these ‘terrorists’ insist it was atrocities by the State that pushed these men into the folds of militant outfits.

(Source : tehelka.com)

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Timeline: Hazara killings in Balochistan

2001: A vehicle was ambushed near Poodgali Chowk and eight Hazaras were killed.

June 2003: Eleven police officials were killed when two armed men opened fire at a van carrying police recruits to their training school in Quetta. Several officials were also injured and the incident was believed to be an act of sectarian violence as most of the officials in the van were Hazaras.

July 2003: Two people attacked a Hazara mosque on Mechangi Road in Quetta during Friday prayers, while a third person blew himself up, leaving 47 people dead. The police also defused two bombs.

March 2004: An Ashura procession was attacked in Quetta, which left 42 people dead, and many injured. The attackers first threw a hand grenade, followed by firing as the procession reached the main business district of the city. It was reported that most of the victims were Hazaras.

January 2009: Unknown assailants killed the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), Hussain Ali Yousafi.

September 2009: Engineer Ahmed Ali Najaf was killed at his workplace by armed men. He was pulled out of his car and shot dead, according to eyewitness accounts.

October 2009: Walayat Hussain, a Hazara lawyer, was killed while on his way from work after unknown men opened fire on him.

Mohammad Ashraf, the chief inspector of mines in Balochistan, was gunned down while he was going to work in an official vehicle.

February 2010: Mehmud Ali, a young Hazara boy, was killed by armed men on the Quetta-Karachi highway while another boy Mohammad Yousuf was injured in the same incident.

March 2010: Ghulam Rasool and Muhammad Ali, who were day labourers, were killed near Akhtarabad.

Shabbir Hussain, a shopkeeper, was killed by armed men while he was working in his shop in the Hazar Ganji area.
Muhammad Ali, Ghulam Raza and Ramzan Ali who were vegetable vendors were killed in the Hazar Ganji area.

May 2010: A young Hazara boy, Ali Murtaza, was shot dead on Sirki road.

March 2010: A suicide bombing during a Shia rally in Quetta killed around 50 people and injured many others. Later, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mohammad Ali Hazara, was kidnapped for ransom and later killed even though the amount had been paid.

October 2010: Four Hazaras were abducted and killed for ransom. Haji Ali Akbar, who was the owner of Al Abbas store was captured along with his son, bodyguard and an employee and later killed.

November 2010: Haji Idrees, the owner of Barkat medical store was kidnapped and his bodyguard Mohammad Ali was killed.

December 2010: Three people, including a four year old girl, were killed in a terrorist attack on Arbab Karam Khan Road in Quetta.

May 2011: Eight people, including children, were killed in a rocket and gun attack which targeted Hazaras in a park. After the rockets were fired, armed men on vehicles shot at people and fled. Banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangavi claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two Hazara policemen, Mohammad Musa and Ishaq Ali, were shot dead on Sipni Road while on their way home.

June 2011: Former Olympian and deputy director of the Pakistan Sports Board, Abrar Hussain, was shot by armed men on motorcycles as he was returning home.

Armed terrorists attacked a bus carrying Hazara pilgrims from Iran, killing three and injuring 11 others in the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta.

July 2011: Eleven Hazaras, including one woman, were killed when a Suzuki van was attacked on Spini road inQuetta.

September 2011: Thirteen people, including four women, were killed in a suicide bombing attack on Eid day.  The target was the Eidgah, however, the vehicle carrying the suicide bomber exploded a few yards before the target due to a collision.

Twenty-six people were killed when a bus carrying pilgrims from Quetta was attacked by armed men in Mastung. The attackers stopped the bus and shot the victims one by one.

Three Hazaras were killed when gunmen attacked a van. Three others, including a child, sustained injuries.

October 2011: Fourteen vegetable vendors were killed when gunmen attacked a van going to a vegetable market inQuetta.

January 2012: Walayat Hussain, inspector of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), TV artist Abid Hussain Nazish and Mohammad Anwar Hussain, a government official were gunned down near Mecongi Road, Quetta. The three were going home in a car when assailants on a motorcycle opened fire on them with automatic weapons in a street.

March 2012: Ejaz Hussain and Ali Asghar were killed on Sabzar Road when unknown men opened fire on them.

Seven Hazaras including women were killed when unknown gunmen opened fire on a passenger van.

April 2012: Two Hazaras, Ali Akbar and Ali Raza, were killed when unknown men opened fire on two shops on Meconghy Road, Quetta.

Mama Karim, Mohammad Hassan, Saeed Ahmed, Qurban Ali, Nadir Ali and Shabir Hussain were killed when armed assailants opened fire at a shoe shop on Prince Road, Quetta

Three men were killed when armed men on a motorbike opened fire at a tea shop.
Six Hazaras were killed when armed men ambushed a taxi on Brewery Road, Quetta and opened fire. The victims were on their way to Killi Ibraimzai from Hazara Town.

Unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a tyre shop situated at Quarry road, killing a business man, Salman Ali Hazara.

Two Hazara brothers, Baban Ali and Hussain Ali, were gunned down on Brewery Road, Quetta while they were on their way to a bazaar from Hazara Town.

May 2012: Mohammad Ali was killed by unknown gunmen while working in his tyre shop.

Two Hazaras, Mohammad Tahir and Mohmmad Qadir, were killed outside the passport office on Joint Road when armed assailants opened fire and fled.

June 2012: Fourteen people, including two policemen and a woman, were killed and many others injured in a suicide attack on a bus carrying pilgrims returning from Iran. The suicide bomber was in a private car which hit the bus in the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta.

August 2012: Three people of the Hazara community were killed and three others injured when gunmen opened fire on a taxi going to Marriabad from Hazara Town on Spiny Road in Quetta.

Three people going to Hazara Town in a rickshaw were killed when gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on them and escaped. Out of the three, two were identified as Ghulam Hussain and Khadim Hussain

September 2012: Gunmen on motorcycles shot dead seven Hazara Shia Muslims in two separate incidents.

October 2012: Four Hazara men were shot dead in an attack on a scrap shop. Men on motorcycles opened fire on the shop in Kabarhi Market on Sirki Road and fled after killing Ata Ali, Muhammad Ibrahim, Ghulam Ali and Syed Awiz.

December 2012: A man was killed and his brother injured when they came under fire on Airport Road near Askari Park.

January 2013: As many as 81 people were killed and 121 injured in suicide and car bomb blasts in Quetta’s Alamdar Road area on Thursday night.

Earlier in the afternoon, 12 people lost their lives when a bomb went off near a vehicle of the Frontier Corps at Bacha Khan Chowk.

A cameraman and a reporter of a private news channel, a computer operator of a news agency and nine police personnel, including two senior police officers, were among the dead, while 10 army and FC personnel were injured in the blasts.

A majority of the people killed in the Alamdar Road blasts belonged to the Hazara Shia community.

pakistan news history violence politics

Total darkness descending on Pakistan

Under the favorable ideological environment created during the Zia-Ul-Haq period, as well as under active official patronage, the hate campaign emanating from Sunni madrassas in Jhang spread to other parts of Punjab and even to cities like Karachi. The main Sunni group based in Jhang is Sipah Sihaba which subsequently evolved into an armed group, allying itself with other Jihadi groups as well as with Taliban and Al-Qaida. After it being banned, its off-shoot Lashkar Jhangvi has become the main perpetrator of anti-Shia terrorist acts. The execution of Hazara Shiites in Quetta (around 700 Hazaras have been killed since 2002 and more than 80 this year alone) is attributable to the convergence of interests between Taliban (under whose rule in Afghanistan, Hazaras were one of the most victimized communities) and Lashkar Jhangvi. But what is intriguing is that Quetta is in Baluchistan where and has never been a stronghold of militant Sunni organizations. The killings of Hazaras have gained momentum since the increased deployment of the military and paramilitary forces in Baluchistan and the intensification of their war against Baluch nationalists. While hundreds of nationalists are picked up by the notorious Frontier Constabulary – a paramilitary force led by army officers – and murdered, no action has been conducted to find and arrest the killers who target the Hazaras. In fact, the Hazara community leaders pointed out, after the execution last September of 26 Hazara pilgrims proceeding in group by bus to Iran from Quetta, that two check-posts of the Constabulary were situated less than five kilometers on each side of the spot where the bus was stopped by armed extremists, passengers taken out and shot dead one by one. According to them, the traffic was stopped from each side while the killers accomplished their mission and made good their escape. Over and above that, the commander of Constabulary later incriminated that Hazaras were playing in the hands of Iran. If this unarmed community, who has only its dead to weep, is playing someone else’s game, then who is holding the reinsof the killers at large who have killed hundreds of them without being apprehended?

(Source : collateraldamagemagazine.com)

pakistan shia quetta politics news

Palestinian Legal strategy against Israel: The Real Prize is Europe

It seems to me that any court rulings against Israel will have their major effect through providing a basis for civil society organizations (unions, businesses, associations, NGOs) and parliaments to punish Israeli war crimes, Apartheid crimes, and crimes against humanity through boycotts. Over time, such steps could begin having a major impact on settler enterprises and even on the Israeli economy itself (which is fragile and highly dependent on foreign trade with Europe, since its goods are often shunned in the Middle East).

An example is the recent demand of the youth wing of the Swedish Social Democratic Party that Sweden boycott all settler-made goods. (Sweden, a little unexpectedly, voted for the UNGA resolution yesterday). If such demands proliferate, and the next generation of Europeans feels so strongly on this issue, the settlers could end up bankrupted.

How this could work is clear on a small scale is apparent in the 2010 European Court of Justice ruling that goods from the Occupied West Bank do not fall under the European Union’s preferential trade provisions for Israeli goods. What is important here is that German authorities declined to allow the British firm Brita to import mineral water tariff-free into Germany because they believe it originated with a settler company in the West Bank. The German decision was upheld by the ECJ.

Expect to see more such decisions by governments in Europe, and by its courts. The Palestinian victory at the UN will likely begin creating a whole set of new opportunities for the Palestinians to make their case in the most important Israeli market.

(Source : juancole.com)

Israel Palestine politics news law

As Gaza is savaged again, understanding the BBC’s historical role is vital

This is notably true in the Middle East where the Israeli state has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its people as an intractable “conflict” between equals. Standing in the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went further and referred to “Gaza’s strong culture of martyrdom”. So great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own country. The current BBC “coverage” of Gaza’s genocidal misery reinforces this.

The BBC’s “Reithian values” of impartiality and independence are almost scriptural in their mythology. Soon after the corporation was founded in the 1920s by Lord John Reith, Britain was consumed by the General Strike. “Reith emerged as a kind of hero,” wrote the historian Patrick Renshaw, “who had acted responsibly and yet preserved the precious independence of the BBC. But though this myth persisted it has little basis in reality… the price of that independence was in fact doing what the government wanted done. [Prime Minister Stanley] Baldwin… saw that if they preserved the BBC’s independence, it would be much easier for them to get their way on important questions and use it to broadcast Government propaganda.”

Unknown to the public, Reith had been the prime minister’s speech writer.  Ambitious to become Viceroy of India, he ensured the BBC became an evangelist of imperial power, with “impartiality” duly suspended whenever that power was threatened. This “principle” has applied to the BBC’s coverage of every colonial war of the modern era: from the covered-up genocide in Indonesia and suppression of eyewitness film of the American bombing of North Vietnam to support for the illegal Blair/Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the now familiar echo of Israeli propaganda whenever that lawless state abuses its captive, Palestine. This reached a nadir in 2009 when, terrified of Israeli reaction, the BBC refused to broadcast a combined charities appeal for the people of Gaza, half of whom are children, most of them malnourished and traumatised by Israeli attacks. The United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, has likened Israel’s blockade of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto under siege by the Nazis. Yet, to the BBC, Gaza - like the 2010 humanitarian relief flotilla murderously attacked by Israeli commandos - largely presents a public relations problem for Israel and its US sponsor.

(Source : johnpilger.com)

Israel Palestine news politics media

Pressure Madness Continues

Here we go with another round of Americans on different parts of the political spectrum trying to outdo each other in pushing for more pressure and punishment on Iran. As usual, all this pushing is almost totally devoid of any attention to exactly how the pressure and punishment are supposed to accomplish anything useful or to why they haven’t accomplished more than they have so far. In coverage of the most recent legislative intensification of the pressure—on which the White House cooperated with Republicans and Democrats in Congress—one searches in vain for any sign of understanding of the basic principle that sanctions can only be one-half of any attempt to influence another government and that as long as Western negotiators fail to couple Iranian concessions with any significant relief from sanctions, the Iranians lack incentive to make concessions no matter how much pressure they feel. And don’t even bother searching for signs of attention to why the contingency that supposedly is driving all this—a still nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapon—should be such an obsession, beyond repeated chants of the mantra that, to use the words of one presidential candidate, it would be “the greatest threat to the world.”

Pressure on Iran has long ago passed the point of becoming a seemingly mindless, endless exercise in pressure for pressure’s sake. In the absence of any attention to the role of Western negotiating rigidity or flexibility, we have the spectacle of people calling for more of something that they themselves acknowledge isn’t working. Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, for example, notes that the goal of the sanctions is to change the political calculus of Iran’s leadership and then observes, “There’s no evidence to date that the sanctions have achieved that objective.” A statement the White House released on Tuesday proudly enumerates at length all the ways the administration has inflicted pain on Iran but—apart from noting how a few of the more focused sanctions have directly impeded nuclear activities—says nothing about what any of this is accomplishing, or could hope to accomplish. There is not a word about the critical role of negotiating positions. It is as if the economic pain is a good in itself, which it isn’t—for Iran, for the United States or for anyone else.

The sanctions story has been pushed so hard for so long that politicians are running out of creative ways to exert more pressure. One of the latest offerings is from Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who, evidently stimulated by reports of military cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan, suggests stoking ethnic Azeri nationalism in northwest Iran as a way of frightening Iranian leaders with the threat of U.S. aid for “the legitimate aspirations of the Azeri people for independence.” The dumbness of this idea is explained by Farideh Farhi, who asks us to “imagine a member of a parliament from another country sending out a letter to their government asking for support to be given to Hawaiian nationalists or for the return of California to Mexico.” Another consideration is that most Azeri Iranians are far too integrated into the social and political fabric of Iran to think in separatist terms. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is half Azeri, and opposition leader and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi is wholly so. Perhaps an even better analogy in the U.S. context would be someone promoting the separation from the union of Massachusetts in order to realize the legitimate aspirations of Irish Americans for independence.

When future historians try to make sense of the pressure madness, a nonexistent nuclear weapon is not likely to be much of the explanation, because that simply does not make sufficient sense of the phenomenon. The current role of Israel in American politics clearly provides much of the explanation (and for an especially crisp description of that role, seeThomas Friedman’s latest column). Americans probably also are receptive to the Israeli message because the demonization of Iran helps to fulfill a historically conditioned need for foreign dragons to confront and to slay.

(Source : nationalinterest.org)

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The President, the Lady, and the Plight of the Rohingya

The more than 800,000 Rohingya that live in Myanmar today, most in western Rakhine state, are denied citizenship by the government and face a range of abuses including forced labor, marriage restrictions, and unlawful detention. Their suffering is so severe that many have sought refuge across the border in Bangladesh, while others have fled on dangerous voyages by boat to Thailand and Malaysia. Amnesty International July 20 noted that both security forces and Buddhists in Rakhine state have been carrying out “primarily one-sided” attacks, including massive security sweeps, detentions, and killings, against the Rohingya in the weeks after a wave of communal violence erupted between the area’s Buddhist and Muslim populations.

The impossible situation in which the Rohingya find themselves has been on display since the eruption of violence nearly two months ago. Many have attempted to flee to Bangladesh with their families, where they have been stopped at the border and refused entry. Those who made it across the border face detention and deportation back to Rakhine state. Myanmar’s president Thein Sein announced that only those with proof of citizenship would be permitted to return to their homes, but the government has long denied the Rohingya the right to legal documentation of any kind. The president said Myanmar will not accept “illegal immigrants” and has requested that the United Nations refugee agency either place the Rohingya in refugee camps or deport them to a third country, which the UN understandably refused.

(Source : csis.org)

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Pakistan: Balochistan’s Deepening Crisis – Analysis

Abduction and extrajudicial killing has become order of the day in the Province. The disappearances and killings are widely believed to be orchestrated by Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies, particularly including the FC and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), or by their proxies, particularly including the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Aman Balochistan (TNAB, Movement for the Restoration of Peace, Balochistan). Indeed, CJ Choudhary, on July 9, 2012, had noted that every third missing person in Balochistan had been picked up by the FC. The head of the rights group, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP), Nasrullah Baloch, stated, on July 11, 2012, that “every day Frontier Corps and secret agencies kidnap political workers in broad daylight and keep them in their illegal torture cells, and then we receive their bullet-riddled, mutilated dead bodies.” The VFBMP on January 16, 2012, claimed that 14,385 persons have gone ‘missing’ since 2005, while more than 400 bullet riddled and tortured bodies had been dumped just since July 2010. Earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), on December 10, 2011, reported that as many as 225 bullet-riddled bodies of missing persons had been recovered between July 2010 and November 2011. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), on January 31, 2012, estimated the number of executions of ‘disappeared’ persons at 271 in just six months, between July and December 2010. Similarly, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported, in April 2012, that at least 300 people had been abducted and killed, and their bodies abandoned, across Baluchistan since January of 2011.

(Source : eurasiareview.com)

pakistan Balochistan politics society war news

How to Be a ‘Reverse-Racist’: An Actual Step-by-Step List for Oppressing White People

White people who are confronted with their white privilege and the white supremacist acts they perpetuate have been known to cry, “You’re being a reverse-racist!” That is completely true: people of color have the power and control to create, perpetuate, and maintain brutal systematic reverse-racism that oppresses white people every day. As such, we have created this handy list on how to continue this oppression.

1. Enslave their bodies.

Ship them from Germany, Sweden, and other exotic countries. Force them to build entire cities, roads, bridges. Force them to plant and harvest all the food everyone eats. Let an entire economic system be built on their backs, with their blood and sweat. Later, deny them access to the system they have been used to build, and accuse them of being extremely lazy.

2. Steal their land.

If they were here before you, steal their land. This is essential. Basically, just go in there and take it. If you have to kill some of them to get it…no worries. If you have to kill almost all of them to get it…shit, no worries. After you steal their land, make sure you create laws to keep them from ever returning to it. If they try to return anyway, build fences, and let bands of POC vigilantes patrol the borders with guns. If they somehow get past the borders and into your country, no worries, you can always just deport them.

3. Enslave their minds.

From these systems, build a long lasting institution of reverse-racism until all the violence and microaggressions make many white people into suspicious people with a lot of internalized self-hatred, health problems, and mental illnesses. Then deny them access to adequate mental health care. Or, adequate health care of any kind, while you’re at it. ‘Cause, you know, fuck ‘em.

4. Wipe out and/or appropriate their customs.

Since many of their customs are savage and unworthy of preserving, wipe out their traditions of eating mashed potatoes and meatloaf, playing miniature golf, buying khakis at Banana Republic, and sleeping with thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets. For the customs you think are kinda cool, culturally appropriate from them. Sometimes wear a beret and lederhosen, because Swedish culture is really exotic even though it’s inferior to ours.

5. Break their espresso machines.

With baseball bats or large hammers. Or, you know, just unplug them all.

6. Call them “cracker.”

As people of color, we have been rightfully accused of being racist to white people, especially when we call them “cracker”. As we all know, calling them “cracker” is egregiously offensive and horribly shocking because of this long, violent, reverse-racist history.

7. Just keep being terrible to them.

Do everything you can think of to make it so that white people make less money; their children are shot by cops; white women are at higher risk for assault and they are exotified until they no longer seem human; white men are beaten and thrown into jails because they look “suspicious” and “threatening”; they are racially profiled everywhere they go.

8. Make sure most representations of them in the media are negative.

They should almost always be portrayed as pasty, stringy-haired, rhythm-less, sexless, uptight, and booooring. Also, there should be very few representations of them and when they’re portrayed at all, they should always only be the comic relief, the silent exotic sex object, the Debbie Downer, or the incompetent sidekick. They are only allowed to be easily forgettable, one-dimensional characters. Sometimes use POC actors in white-face to portray these white people. By presenting this ONE image of them all the time, you will be able to convince the rest of the population that all white people are like this, thus ensuring a widespread belief in their inferiority.

9. Keep telling them how beautiful they are not.

White people know they will never be beautiful with their boring sour cream complexions and blonde hair (that was actually caused because of mutations). Plaster people of color on every magazine, show them in every television show and movie, and praise them as the most beautiful. When white people cry at these injustices, bottle their tears and sell them as health creams for people of color. Nothing like a soothing lotion made from the pain of white folks!

10. Go bananas!

Force them underground and away from the sun to become even whiter, while you laugh manically like the cruel, bloodthirsty, oppressive person of color you are! Take their thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets to make POC-supremacist flags and hoods and march through the streets, spreading fear and terror. Every time a white person thinks your behavior is unfair or wrong, tell them that they should stop being so sensitive! We live in a post-reverse-racial society now! Jeez.

(Source : jezebel.com)

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What is in the deal?

WHAT is being spun by Pakistani officials as a great diplomatic triumph is in effect an embarrassing climbdown. All it took was an ambivalent ‘sorry’ to melt our lofty claims of ‘honour’ and ‘sovereignty’.

After seven months of confrontation, Pakistan last week agreed to reopen the supply routes for the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan ending a bitter stand-off with the US.

The supply trucks got into action hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a telephone call to her Pakistani counterpart read out a calibrated statement saying, “we are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military”.

Not only did Ms Clinton avoid using the word ‘apology’ which Pakistan has sought after the death of 24 of its soldiers in American air strikes in November, she was persistent with the US position that the incident was the result of mistakes by both sides.

The Pakistani foreign minister reportedly agreed with the US assertion which is quite contrary to the military inquiry committee report that the US attack on the Salala post was deliberate.

Not to forget that this conflicting version of the incident was the major reason behind Pakistan’s decision to close down Nato supply routes and to review its relationship with Washington.

Have we now rejected our own report? If so, should we not acknowledge our mistake publicly and apologise to the families of the soldiers killed in the incident? That also raises questions about the actions we have taken following the fatal strikes resulting in a complete breakdown of our relationship with the US.

Indeed, the US statement exacted after weeks of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between the finance minister Hafeez Shaikh and the US undersecretary of state Thomas Nides was approved by the military leadership sitting on the Defence Committee of the Cabinet as well.

It was in the meeting between President Zardari and Hillary Clinton in Chicago in May that the two officials were assigned the job to thrash out a deal for the reopening of supply routes. In the following eight weeks, they worked on a compromise solution to what had become a very complex issue.

Only the top leadership including the president, the prime minister and the army chief were in the loop as the final text of the deal was discussed. With all the effort put into it, the agreed statement has nothing much to offer that will bring any dramatic change to the situation.

It is merely an acceptance of a status quo ante by Islamabad as Washington turned the screw on Pakistan. The government seemed to be so eager to wind up the deal that the US secretary of state was informed about the decision to reopen the ground lines of communication even before the DCC and cabinet meetings.

There was never even a remote possibility that the Obama administration would relent on the issue of apology especially as the presidential elections came close.

Besides, the environment in Washington has turned increasingly hostile to Pakistan with growing voices in the Congress for cutting off aid to the country. That has also toughened the White House stance.

The closest the US came to apologising was in February this year when Ms Clinton was to meet Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar in London. There was a clear sign of softening in the White House stance. But then the Pakistani government advised Washington to hold on to it till the parliamentary policy review was completed.

Several months were then wasted in the parliamentary debate on guidelines for resetting bilateral relations. That prolonged process and the 35-point parliamentary recommendations made the negotiations more complex.

The window of opportunity was lost as the Obama administration took its apology off the table after the bloody attack in April on Kabul by the Haqqani network which American officials allege is being backed by the Pakistani military and the ISI.

In fact, Pakistan boxed itself into a corner from where it became extremely difficult for it to negotiate new terms of engagement with Washington.

The civil and military leadership watched helplessly as the CIA intensified drone strikes ignoring the parliamentary resolution that called for cessation of all such actions inside Pakistani territory.

Instead of taking a long-term strategic view of the critical relationship, Pakistani officials initially centred the negotiations on extracting higher transit fees on the supplies going through Pakistan.

That provoked a strong reaction not only from the US but also from other Nato countries. This mercenary approach diverted focus from other critical issues straining bilateral relations. The demand for a higher transit fees was finally dropped as part of the deal, but the damage had been done.

Similarly, an apology was important, but it was not the only issue the two countries needed to resolve to end the stalemate.

Salala was not the cause, but a symptom of a deep-rooted problem resulting in a complete breakdown in the relationship.

While the coercive policy of the Obama administration may have been a major reason for the estrangement, the miscalculations of the Pakistani civil and military leadership, a lack of a clear policy direction and ambivalence in cracking down on the Haqqani network in North Waziristan have also added to the widening trust gap.

The reopening of supply routes may help lower the temperature in bilateral relations, but the main sources of tension between Washington and Islamabad persist.

A double drone strike that killed some two dozen people in North Waziristan just a few days after the agreement does not give people much faith in the claims by the Pakistani officials that the relationship between the two countries are on the mend.
Relations will remain broken unless major policy differences are resolved.

(Source : dawn.com)

pakistan US Afghanistan politics news

No Country for Armed Men

The rock-bottom relations with the United States distract Pakistan from its real problem: its spiraling domestic crises. Pakistan desperately needs leaders who can bring a new narrative to the debate, who can effectively criticize the military for plunging us into this ideological backwater for the past 30 years.

(Source : foreignpolicy.com)

pakistan news politics

Political turmoil in Pakistan

What many people are missing is that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has the Army’s blessing in its case against the Pakistani Prime Minister. This is because it’s in Army’s interest to keep the civil government from functioning (leaving aside the fact that even when it functions, it’s not really functioning). It also comes at a point where the government was trying to improve relations with India. The last time Zardari cosied up to his Indian counterpart, he was almost blown up in an attack at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. The next day after the failed attack, the head of the ISI was fired. Anyone who knows anything about Pakistan knows that the raison d’etre of the Army is its anti-India ideology. If the imagined Indian enemy goes then the Pakistan Army goes with it. Also, this is a critical time in the Afghan war and the Army doesn’t want the government to interfere in this matter either. One last word about Mr.. Imran Khan: Whenever there is a circus there is a clown. Imran Khan is that clown. He doesn’t have enough intelligence to see what’s going on. In fact, he crusade against the current government just serves the Army’s interests, whether Mr.Khan knows that or not. 

- Jahanzeb Hussain

pakistan news politics

The Central Intelligence Agency’s 9/11 File: Top Secret CIA Documents on Osama bin Laden Declassified

Washington, D.C., June 19, 2012– The National Security Archive today is posting over 100 recently released CIA documents relating to September 11, Osama bin Laden, and U.S. counterterrorism operations.  The newly-declassified records, which the Archive obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are referred to in footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report and present an unprecedented public resource for information about September 11.

The collection includes rarely released CIA emails, raw intelligence cables, analytical summaries, high-level briefing materials, and comprehensive counterterrorism reports that are usually withheld from the public because of their sensitivity.  Today’s posting covers a variety of topics of major public interest, including background to al-Qaeda’s planning for the attacks; the origins of the Predator program now in heavy use over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; al-Qaeda’s relationship with Pakistan; CIA attempts to warn about the impending threat; and the impact of budget constraints on the U.S. government’s hunt for bin Laden.

Today’s posting is the result of a series of FOIA requests by National Security Archive staff based on a painstaking review of references in the 9/11 Commission Report.

DOCUMENT HIGHLIGHTS

The documents released by CIA detail the meticulousness of al-Qaeda’s plot against the United States and CIA attempts to counter the rising terrorist threat. A previously undisclosed raw intelligence report that became the basis for the December 4, 1998, President’s Daily Brief notes that five years before the actual attack, al-Qaeda operatives had successfully evaded security at a New York airport in a test-run for bin Laden’s plan to hijack a U.S. airplane. [1998-12-03]. CIA analytical reports also provide interesting insights into al-Qaeda’s evolving political strategies. “In our view, the hijackers were carefully selected with an eye to their operational and political value. For instance, the large number of Saudi nationals was most likely chosen not only because of the ease with which Saudi nationals could get US visas but also because Bin Ladin could send a message to the Saudi Royal family.” [2003-06-01]

Reports on early attempts to apprehend bin Laden detail the beginning of the U.S. Predator drone program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “First Predator mission over Afghanistan [excised] September 7, 2000.”[1]”Twice in the fall of 2000, the Predator observed an individual most likely to be Bin Ladin; however we had no way at the time to react to this information.” [2004-03-19] American UAVs did not have sufficient weapons capabilities at the time the CIA likely spotted bin Laden in 2000 to fire on the suspect using the UAV.

Al-Qaeda’s ties to Pakistan before September 11 are also noted in several documents. “Usama ((Bin Ladin))’s Islamic Army considered the Pakistan/Afghanistan area one region. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan serve as a regional base and training center for Islamic Army activities supporting Islamic insurgencies in Tajikistan, the Kashmir region and Chechnya. [Excised] The Islamic Army had a camp in Pakistan [Excised] purpose of the camp was to train and recruit new members, mostly from Pakistan.” [1997-07-14] While, “UBL elements in Pakistan reportedly plan to attack POTUS [U.S. President Clinton’s] plane with [excised] missiles if he visits Pakistan.” [2000-02-18]

Similar to the 9/11 Commission Report, the document collection details repeated CIA warnings of the bin Laden terrorist threat prior to September 11. According to a January 2000 Top Secret briefing to the Director of Central Intelligence, disruption operations against the Millennium plot “bought time… weeks… months… but no more than one year” before al-Qaeda would strike. [2000-01-07] “A UBL attack against U.S. interests could occur at any time or any place. It is unlikely that the CIA will have prior warning about the time or place.” [1999-08-03] By September 2001, CIA counterterrorism officials knew a plot was developing but couldn’t provide policymakers with details. “As of Late August 2001, there were indications that an individual associated with al-Qa’ida was considering mounting terrorist operations in the United States, [Excised]. No further information is currently available in the timing of possible attacks or on the alleged targets in the United States.” [2001-08-24]

Despite mounting warnings about al-Qaeda, the documents released today illustrate how prior to September 11, CIA counterterrorism units were lacking the funds to aggressively pursue bin Laden. “Budget concerns… CT [counterterrorism] supplemental still at NSC-OMB [National Security Council – Office of Management and Budget] level. Need forward movement on supplemental soonest due to expected early recess due to conventions, campaigning and elections. Due to budgetary constraints… CTC/UBL [Counterterrorism Center/Osama bin Laden Unit] will move from offensive to defensive posture.” [2000-04-05]

Although the collection is part of a laudable effort by the CIA to provide documents on events related to September 11, many of these materials are heavily redacted, and still only represent one-quarter of the CIA materials cited in the9/11 Commission Report. Hundreds of cited reports and cables remain classified, including all interrogation materials such as the 47 reports from CIA interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from March 24, 2003 – June 15, 2004, which are referenced in detail in the 9/11 Report

(Source : gwu.edu)

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