His Maternal Instinct

Published: July 18, 2009

KARACHI, Pakistan: She is an illiterate woman from the tribal areas of Pakistan who almost died in childbirth a year after marrying at the age of 12. She suffered a horrific injury during labor called a fistula that left her incontinent and smelly, and for the next 13 years she was confined to her house — never stepping outside for shame at the way she was leaking wastes.

Dr. Shershah Syed with Ashrafi Akbar.

Dr. Shershah Syed with Ashrafi Akbar.

He is a famous Pakistani ob-gyn who was educated in Ireland. After spending eight years there, he returned with plans to set up a fertility clinic for rich patients and zip around in a Mercedes-Benz. But he was so shattered by the sight of women dying unnecessarily in childbirth that he decided to devote his career instead to helping impoverished women like her.

So they met in one of the hospitals established by the doctor, Shershah Syed, and he has been helping the young woman, Ashrafi Akbar. She is scheduled to undergo a final repair of her fistula in that hospital today.

People in the West are properly outraged by Taliban oppression of women in parts of Pakistan. But some of the greatest suffering of women here isn’t political or religious. It comes simply from the inattention to maternal health care.

Here in Pakistan, a woman dies every 35 minutes because of problems from pregnancy or childbirth, according to United Nations figures.

The underlying reason is that maternal health has never been a priority globally, either to poor countries or to foreign aid donors like the United States. The only exceptions are Britain and Norway, and I hope the Obama administration will back them up.

In this part of Pakistan, Sindh Province, there is a saying that goes: If your cow dies, that is a tragedy; if your wife dies, you can always get another.

“This is simpler than an atomic bomb,” Dr. Shershah said, speaking of improving maternal health in Pakistan. “We have an atomic bomb, but we haven’t done this because the government isn’t interested. The day the government decides it doesn’t want maternal deaths, we will have no more mothers dying.”

Ashrafi’s case was typical: She tried to deliver at home with the help of an untrained birth attendant. But her pelvis wasn’t big enough to accommodate the baby’s head, so four exhausting days of labor produced nothing.

Finally, the family took Ashrafi to a clinic, and the baby was delivered dead. Then she found that she was dribbling urine and stool through her vagina. She smelled, and the salts in her urine left sores on her thighs.

Ashrafi had heard that doctors in Karachi might be able to cure her, and she asked if someone could take her. Instead, Ashrafi’s husband divorced her. Embarrassed and humiliated, Ashrafi fell into a deep depression. She locked herself up in her parents’ home and refused to see anyone.

Thirteen years passed. Ashrafi says she didn’t leave the house once. I asked her, and a cousin of hers whom I reached by telephone, how she spent her days. The answer: sewing, caring for her sick mother — and crying.

Finally, she prevailed upon her brothers to take her to Karachi, where she was examined by Dr. Shershah. At 56, he is one of his country’s best-known doctors and is president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan. But three times he has been pushed out of his job, he said, for saying that resources would be better spent on education and health than on atomic weapons or F-16s.

With government support nine years ago, Dr. Shershah started a top-level maternity wing in a public hospital in Orangi, an impoverished Karachi neighborhood that by some reckonings is the largest slum in the world. The hospital now handles 6,500 deliveries a year — yes, 6,500 — and accepts women from hundreds of miles away. Several years ago, a half-dead woman came from Baluchistan Province — by camel.

In addition, Dr. Shershah is hitting up friends to try to build a new maternity hospital on the grounds of a former madrassa on the edge of Karachi. So far, he has built a wing to repair fistulas free of charge and to train midwives. He says that in five years or so, as the money trickles in, the hospital will be complete. (Friends in America have set up a tax-deductible charity, National Health Forum. For more information, please go to my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground.)

In addition to his regular work, Dr. Shershah repairs fistulas there every Sunday, and that is how he encountered Ashrafi. Her case turned out to require a series of operations because of the long wait. But after six months of surgeries, she should be repaired and ready to go home by the end of this month.

Already, the nurses say, she is different from the shy, morose young woman who arrived. Now she smiles and sometimes laughs, and she spends her days outside in the hospital courtyard, bathing in the sunlight that she missed for 13 years.

www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/opinion/19kristof.html

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NEARING THE COCKROACH STAGE

” Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.”

How many of us do really care, with a Blackberry in the palm, what our obsession with ‘one dimensional technological progress for its own sake’ is leading us to. Take this manifesto, the author of which was incarcerated for life for his labour:
“..we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would wilfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that we would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that the human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.”  Theodore Kaczinski aka Unabomber.
“But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon.”
More than likely. Note ‘autonomously’. Whether such is deployed first in Afghanistan or against Palestinians we will know soon. And to remind: Shimon Peres, the then Dy Prime Minister, in 2006 set up ‘a panel of 15 experts in security, high technology, business and academia to discuss and plan the battlefield nanotechnology weapons – such as bionic wasp  – destroying a cell of militants.  Well – if it is Allah’s will, so be it.

July 26, 2009

Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man

This personal robot plugs itself in when it needs a charge. Servant now, master later?

This personal robot plugs itself in when it needs a charge. Servant now, master later?

A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.

As examples, the scientists pointed to a number of technologies as diverse as experimental medical systems that interact with patients to simulate empathy, and computer worms and viruses that defy extermination and could thus be said to have reached a “cockroach” stage of machine intelligence.

While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors.

The researchers — leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists who met at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on Monterey Bay in California — generally discounted the possibility of highly centralized superintelligences and the idea that intelligence might spring spontaneously from the Internet. But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon.

They focused particular attention on the specter that criminals could exploit artificial intelligence systems as soon as they were developed. What could a criminal do with a speech synthesis system that could masquerade as a human being? What happens if artificial intelligence technology is used to mine personal information from smart phones?

The researchers also discussed possible threats to human jobs, like self-driving cars, software-based personal assistants and service robots in the home. Just last month, a service robot developed by Willow Garage in Silicon Valley proved it could navigate the real world.

A report from the conference, which took place in private on Feb. 25, is to be issued later this year. Some attendees discussed the meeting for the first time with other scientists this month and in interviews.

The conference was organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and in choosing Asilomar for the discussions, the group purposefully evoked a landmark event in the history of science. In 1975, the world’s leading biologists also met at Asilomar to discuss the new ability to reshape life by swapping genetic material among organisms. Concerned about possible biohazards and ethical questions, scientists had halted certain experiments. The conference led to guidelines for recombinant DNA research, enabling experimentation to continue.

The meeting on the future of artificial intelligence was organized by Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft researcher who is now president of the association.

Dr. Horvitz said he believed computer scientists must respond to the notions of superintelligent machines and artificial intelligence systems run amok.

The idea of an “intelligence explosion” in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the “human era will be ended.” He called this shift the Singularity.

This vision, embraced in movies and literature, is seen as plausible and unnerving by some scientists like William Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Other technologists, notably Raymond Kurzweil, have extolled the coming of ultrasmart machines, saying they will offer huge advances in life extension and wealth creation.

“Something new has taken place in the past five to eight years,” Dr. Horvitz said. “Technologists are replacing religion, and their ideas are resonating in some ways with the same idea of the Rapture.”

The Kurzweil version of technological utopia has captured imaginations in Silicon Valley. This summer an organization called the Singularity University began offering courses to prepare a “cadre” to shape the advances and help society cope with the ramifications.

“My sense was that sooner or later we would have to make some sort of statement or assessment, given the rising voice of the technorati and people very concerned about the rise of intelligent machines,” Dr. Horvitz said.

The A.A.A.I. report will try to assess the possibility of “the loss of human control of computer-based intelligences.” It will also grapple, Dr. Horvitz said, with socioeconomic, legal and ethical issues, as well as probable changes in human-computer relationships. How would it be, for example, to relate to a machine that is as intelligent as your spouse?

Dr. Horvitz said the panel was looking for ways to guide research so that technology improved society rather than moved it toward a technological catastrophe. Some research might, for instance, be conducted in a high-security laboratory.

The meeting on artificial intelligence could be pivotal to the future of the field. Paul Berg, who was the organizer of the 1975 Asilomar meeting and received a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1980, said it was important for scientific communities to engage the public before alarm and opposition becomes unshakable.

“If you wait too long and the sides become entrenched like with G.M.O.,” he said, referring to genetically modified foods, “then it is very difficult. It’s too complex, and people talk right past each other.”

Tom Mitchell, a professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, said the February meeting had changed his thinking. “I went in very optimistic about the future of A.I. and thinking that Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil were far off in their predictions,” he said. But, he added, “The meeting made me want to be more outspoken about these issues and in particular be outspoken about the vast amounts of data collected about our personal lives.”

Despite his concerns, Dr. Horvitz said he was hopeful that artificial intelligence research would benefit humans, and perhaps even compensate for human failings. He recently demonstrated a voice-based system that he designed to ask patients about their symptoms and to respond with empathy. When a mother said her child was having diarrhea, the face on the screen said, “Oh no, sorry to hear that.”

A physician told him afterward that it was wonderful that the system responded to human emotion. “That’s a great idea,” Dr. Horvitz said he was told. “I have no time for that.”

Ken Conley/Willow Garage

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Chinese Poll: 90% Say India Threatens China's Security

India used the distraction of North Korea’s recent missile tests to reinforce its military presence on China’s border in the disputed territory that India calls Arunachal Pradesh. Being a disputed territory pending settlement, observers are interpreting the Indian move as a sign of New Delhi’s lack of sincerity in its commitments with China. The move also underlines India’s longstanding policy of unilateral action against neighbors whenever a geostrategic chance offers itself. India has done this in China’s Tibet province. There is also evidence of close contacts between Indian intelligence officers and terrorists claiming to represent Chinese Muslims inside Afghanistan. Pakistan first identified this unique Indian style in managing relations with neighboring nations in 1956 when New Delhi backstabbed Pakistan and annexed Kashmir, and again in 1971 when India launched an unprovoked invasion of East Pakistan to help break up the country. And after 9/11, India is using Afghanistan to export terrorism into Pakistan in the guise of fake Taliban and fomenting separatism in other parts of Pakistan. India has accepted this Pakistani charge in the joint statement released in Egypt after the summit meeting between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers. Our advice to China: Do not trust the Indians. They are masters at this game, and they are getting emboldened thanks to full backing by the American and the British propaganda machine.
China India
BEIJING, China—An online poll conducted by huanqiu.com on June 10 shows that 90 percent of participants believe India poses a big threat to China after India announced it would dispatch 60,000 troops to the border with China.

The tension along the disputed border between the two countries has escalated in the last few weeks after India’s latest military move. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed that despite cooperative India-China relations, his government would make no concessions to China on territorial disputes.

The Indian government’s tough stance has won applause among Indian extremists, but it’s not well-received in China.

About 74 percent people in the poll by huanqiu.com believed China should not maintain the friendly relations with India anymore after its military provocation. And more than 65 percent of people taking part in the poll believed India’s actions were harmful to bilateral ties and it is more harmful to India.

India’s military moves could cast a shadow over bilateral relations, said Dai Xun, an expert in military affairs, who described India’s actions as “plundering a burning house”, when the international community was focused on a reported nuclear test in the DPRK, destroying the mutual trust between neighboring countries.

An expert in the Asia-pacific region, Sun Shihai, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times that the two countries share a lot of mutual interests, so India has to cooperate with China; but India also needs to show its “will and resolution” to both domestic politicians and the international community.

“It (additional deployment) is not helpful to resolve the border dispute, and could easily cause regional tension,” Sun said.

india_china_boundary
In 1962, India and China fought a brief war over the 3,500 km Himalayan border area. The two countries later signed a treaty and agreed to maintain “peace and tranquility” along the disputed frontier, but since then have made little progress.
This report was originally published by The Global Times in June 2009.

7,000 Pakistan villages to run on Solar energy

Solar Energy

SHARM-al-SHEIKH (Egypt): Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that the government has set a target to electrify 7,000 villages within next five years through solar energy. He was addressing the representatives of more than 120 countries in the second session of the preparatory commission of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), held here.

He said that Pakistan has also set a target to add 5% approximately 10,000 MW electricity through renewable energies by year 2030 besides replacement of 5% diesel with bio-diesel by year 2015 and 10% by 2025. Pervez Ashraf said “We need to develop global financial mechanism that responds to the special requirements of the renewable energy sector.”

He said that if level playing field is provided to the renewable energy sector, it will prove least expensive, environment friendly and the most sustainable resources of energy. He extended full support of Pakistan to the newly perceived IRENA. He also took part in the voting proceedings for the selections of the place for Headquarter of IRENA and the election of its Director General.

A newly conceived, carbon neutral and modern city of UAE, Masdar is also one of the hotly contested places for the IRENA Headquarter. The minister highlighted the commitment of Pakistan in the area of renewable energy. He said that renewable energy technologies would be an essential element in Pakistan’s energy future by making contribution to the diversity and security of energy supply. Solar energy to be provided to 7,000 villages in Pakistan, ‘Pakistan Times’ Business & Commerce Desk

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Obama’s Vietnam

Obama’s Vietnam
Senseless slaughter and anti-western hysteria are all America and Britain’s billions have paid for in a counterproductive war.

If good intentions ever paved a road to hell, they are doing so in Afghanistan. History rarely declares when folly turns to ­disaster, but it does so now. Barack Obama and his amanuensis, Gordon Brown, are uncannily repeating the route taken by American leaders in Vietnam from 1963 to 1975. Galbraith once said that the best thing about the Great Depression was that it warned against another. Does the same apply to Vietnam?

Vietnam began with Kennedy’s noble 1963 intervention, to keep the communist menace at bay and thus make the world safe for democracy. That is what George Bush and Tony Blair said of ­terrorism and Afghanistan. Vietnam escalated as the Diem regime in Saigon failed to contain Vietcong aggression and was deposed with American ­collusion. By 1965, despite Congress scepticism, American advisers, then planes, then ground forces were deployed. Allies were begged to join but few agreed – and not Britain.

The presence of Americans on Asian soil turned a local insurgency into a regional crusade. Foreign aid rallied to the Vietcong cause to resist what was seen as a neo-imperialist invasion. The hard-pressed Americans resorted to ever more extensive bombing, deep inside neighbouring countries, despite ­evidence that it was ineffective and politically counterproductive.

No amount of superior firepower could quell a peasant army that came and went by night and could terrorise or merge into the local population. Tales of American atrocities rolled in each month. The army counted success not in territory held but in enemy dead. A desperate attempt to “train and equip” a new Vietnamese army made it as corrupt as it was unreliable. Billions of dollars were wasted. A treaty with the Vietcong in 1973 did little to hide the humiliation of eventual defeat.

Every one of these steps is being re-enacted in Afghanistan. Every sane observer, even serving generals and diplomats, admit that “we are not winning” and show no sign of doing so. The head of the British army, Sir Richard Dannatt, remarked recently on the “mistakes” of Iraq as metaphor for Afghanistan. He has been supported by warnings from his officers on the ground.

Last year’s denial of reinforcements to Helmand is an open secret. Ever since the then defence secretary, John Reid, issued his 2006 “London diktats”, described in a recent British Army Review as “casual, naive and a comprehensive failure”, intelligence warnings of Taliban strength have been ignored. The army proceeded with a policy of disrupting the opium trade, neglecting hearts and minds and using US air power against “blind” targets. All have proved potent weapons in the Taliban armoury.

Generals are entitled to plead for more resources and yet claim that ­victory is just round the corner, even when they know it is not. They must lead men into battle. A heavier guilt lies with liberal apologists for this war on both sides of the Atlantic who continue to invent excuses for its failure and offer glib preconditions for victory.

A classic is a long editorial in ­Monday’s New York Times, congratulating Barack Obama on “sending more troops to the fight” but claiming that there were still not enough. In addition there were too many corrupt politicians, too many drugs, too many weapons in the wrong hands, too small a local army, too few police and not enough “trainers”. The place was damnably unlike Connecticut.

Strategy, declared the sages of Manhattan, should be “to confront the Taliban head on”, as if this had not been tried before. Afghanistan needed “a functioning army and national police that can hold back the insurgents”. The way to achieve victory was for the Pentagon, already spending a stupefying $60bn in Afghanistan, to spend a further $20bn – increasing the size of the Afghan army from 90,000 to 250,000. This was because ordinary Afghans “must begin to trust their own government”.

These lines might have been written in 1972 by General Westmoreland in his Saigon bunker. The New York Times has clearly never seen the Afghan army, or police, in action. Eight years of training costing $15bn have been near useless, when men simply decline to fight except to defend their homes. Any Afghan pundit will attest that training a Pashtun to fight a Pashtun is a waste of money, while training a Tajik to the same end is a waste of time. Since the Pentagon ­originally armed and trained the Taliban to fight the Soviets, this must be the first war where it has trained both sides.

Neither the Pentagon nor the British Ministry of Defence will win Afghanistan through firepower. The strategy of “hearts and minds plus” cannot be realistic, turning Afghanistan into a vast and indefinite barracks with hundreds of thousands of western soldiers sitting atop a colonial Babel of administrators and professionals. It will never be secure. It offers Afghanistan a promise only of relentless war, one that Afghans outside Kabul know that warlords, drug cartels and Taliban sympathisers are winning.

The 2001 policy of invading, ­capturing Osama bin Laden and ­ridding the region of terrorist bases has been tested to destruction and failed. ­Strategy is reduced to the senseless slaughter of hundreds of young western soldiers and thousands of Afghans. Troops are being sent out because Labour ministers lack the guts to admit that Blair’s bid to quell the Islamist menace by force of arms was crazy. They parrot the line that they are making “the streets of London safe”, but they know they are doing the opposite.

Vietnam destroyed two presidents, ­Johnson and Nixon, and ­destroyed the global confidence of a ­generation of young Americans. ­Afghanistan – ­obscenely dubbed the “good war” – could do the same. There will soon be 68,000 American troops in that country, making a mockery of Donald Rumsfeld’s 2001 tactic of hit and run, which at least had the virtue of coherence.

This is set fair to be a war of awful proportions, cockpit for the feared clash of civilisations. Each new foreign ­battalion taps more cash for the Taliban from the Gulf. Each new massacre from the air recruits more youths from the madrasas. The sheer counterproductivity of the war has been devastatingly analysed by David Kilcullen, adviser to Obama’s key general – David Petraeus – no less.

Obama is trapped by past policy ­mistakes. pkkh/Simon Jenkins

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Time Has Come For Pakistan To Decide

Gen Kayani - mullenHistory has proven that some of America’s most trusted friends and allies have been the recipients of her most insidious and deadly intrigues.  Pakistani leaders are delusional if they think that their friendship with the United States is stronger than that of Italy or Germany. The CIA turned Pakistan into the “epicenter of terrorism” for a reason.  The Army and the ISI were always intended to be America’s scapegoat.  That time has come. The recent assassination of Pakistan’s other “ace in the hole, Qari Zainuddin, has destroyed Pakistan’s last chance to restore the writ of the state without resorting to all-out civil war.  Either Gen. Kayani submits entirely to Obama’s will, including the planned submission to Indian domination afterwards, or he stands-up to the United States, meaning he stops the drone attacks and reveals the entire ugly scenario that the CIA cannot allow anyone to reveal.

The trusted watch-keepers of the world have turned their hearts to midnight plunder, while they carried-out their duty standing guard over mankind, who blissfully, unaware, continued to sleep.  Morning rapidly approaches and the householders are sure to demand an accounting.

The exploding world economy and the expanding war are but symptoms of the great mental sickness that afflicts society, waves of warning of the tsunamis that lie directly ahead.  The dominant

ideas and ideology that drive our world are all collapsing around us, falling from the weight of their own corruption and immoral baggage.

In the ongoing warfare of ideas, the selfish immorality of the old order is proving to be its downfall, as it meets the impenetrable resistance of the higher ideals of selflessness and human compassion.  When the heart of the people is exposed to the emotionally crippling images of the children of war, then and thereafter, their only concern becomes the ending of the scourge of war.

Human nature is naturally compassionate, no matter how much the person has changed from the innocence of their youth.  Even evil men must feel the heart’s emotional tugging at their consciences, no matter how deeply they have buried it, at the sight of such a suffering little one.  Knowing that you and your government did this to these children and thousands more just like them, just like your own children that you so dearly love.  We are the authors of what you see.

For God so loved the world that he sent us all sons and daughters, to melt our cold hearts and to expose our buried consciences.  Human suffering is probably the most powerful motivation for good on this earth.  It moves men to take-up arms to avenge it.  It motivates others to offer their own lives that others might suffer less.

Humankind has the means to save itself from itself, just as surely as it has the means to cause its own extinction, all that separates the two is the gulf of choice and human freewill.  Those of us who believe in a higher power, The One who created all things both great and small, know for certain that mankind will one day rise to the challenge before him.  We know that the promise of eventual world peace is a solid truth, just waiting for enough people to understand and choose to reach out with us.  Peace is truly just a handshake away, all that is lacking is the will to effect change and the desire to leave this world a better place.

The only question is how long before we as a people begin to care about our fellow man?  This is the one factor that determines how much the suffering will intensify before we arrive at our predetermined solution.  Efforts spent shoring-up the old collapsing political/economic structure only add to the suffering by adding to the length of the suffering and wasting limited resources in futile attempts to repair the rotten, immoral order that compelled mankind’s sprint to self-destruction.

Military adventures, intended to deflect the coming collapse merely increase our national guilt for having failed in our voluntary task of standing watch at the ramparts of freedom, guarding the rights of God’s creation with one arm, while we killed and indiscriminately erased both people and human rights with the other strong arm.  Our military became our means of plundering our brothers’ resources and rights, because we were trusted it to defend our friends against foreign aggressors.

We reach-out our hand to both friend and foe, expecting commerce, while preparing to wage covert war upon them.  We buy our friends in the world, the rest we simply intimidate or secretly undermine.  From behind the shield of nearly omnipotent military power we have bribed and browbeat the world into submission to our ideas, our ideology, our economic schemes.  Our cutthroat system of buying, selling and extorting our friends based solely on profit instead of need, therefore it is designed to weed-out everyone (regardless of their needs) who don’t have the cash to meet they need.  The “haves and have-nots” exclusionary economic system is about to be crushed under the impending weight of the hungry misery it spreads far and wide.

The immorality of the current system will bring forth a new moral economic system from the violence of the old one dying.  Each war or epidemic of violence that wracks the nations is a cry for help, as a segment of society explodes as a result of the local contradictions.

The war on Pakistan is a case in point.  Here we have compelled our most faithful ally to engage in full-scale civil war as the means to salvage our failing economic order, by way of seizing the Caspian oil and gas reserves.  We have forced Pakistan onto a path towards its own destruction as a feeble-minded calculated gamble to avert our own deserved dissolution. It seems only logical that a nation which feeds its own insatiable appetite for more of everything by depriving the poorest of the poor nations of the little that they have to call their own, would seek to avert its own profit loss by spreading death and suffering amongst the very people who have time and again proven to be among its best friends.

History has proven that some of America’s most trusted friends and allies have been the recipients of her most insidious and deadly intrigues.  Pakistani leaders are delusional if they think that their friendship with the United States is stronger than that of Italy, or Germany.

The CIA turned Pakistan into the “epicenter of terrorism” for a reason.   That reason went way beyond the mission against the Soviets, or else the training camps would have been shut-down and some attempt would have been made to clean-up the mess they had made when the Russians left Afghanistan.  The CIA kept the camps and the madrassas running, turning-out thousands of good jihadis.  By relying on the factor of “deniability,” they put the training camps in Pakistani hands.   This should have been understood by Pakistan’s leaders for what it was, a euphemistic way to express the reality that the Army and the ISI were always intended to be America’s scapegoat.  That time has come.

America has turned the tables on Pakistan.  Just as Pakistan has used their proxy army, the local Taliban to stage running battles (some were for real), in order to fool the United States about Pakistani intentions in the war on terror, the new administration is using their own creation, the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP), to call the Army’s bluff about its latest war in its tribal region.  The generals can no longer get away with merely chasing the local Taliban from one agency into another, or anything less than waging total war in all of FATA and the NWFP.  Pakistan’s “double-game” is over, while America’s double-games have barely begun.

Gen. Kayani has been trying to follow in Musharraf’s footsteps, running a limited pretend all-out war production, even following the same order of the previous war on Waziristan, tribal jirgas, lashkars, economic siege, etc.  The General’s neatly dressed, never dirty, determined-looking soldiers faithfully posed for countless publicity shots, putting on a great show for the international circus media.  Army spokesmen claim to have killed 1,500 terrorists in Malakand and elsewhere, always taking place beyond the range of the camera’s lens.  There are no “embedded reporters” in Pakistan.  The only news coming out of the region is approved after passing through several layers of filtering by the controlling governments there, especially by the one all-controlling super government.  If Pakistan is really out to get Mehsud, as Kayani boasted, then it is because that is what Obama wants Pakistan to do.

The Predator strikes are the Pakistani strategy, intended to ease their citizenry into a renewed fight in S. Waziristan.  (SEE: Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?)  The last two attempts to carry the operation into the militant home base were met by fierce resistance on the ground, as well as in Pakistan’s streets.  The people became so enraged that this path of slowly boiling Pakistan’s “frogs” became the only feasible alternative.  This theory means that Mehsud is either an asset of the ISI or their CIA bosses. And the regular terror attacks upon Shiites and their shrines, even attacks on outposts of the Frontier Corp are likely the work of the ISI, just as the militants have been claiming in various interviews.  As unlikely as this all seems, no other theory explains the curious behavior of Pakistan’s government and military and mountains of circumstantial evidence linking the ISI to the militants.

“So while Pakistan’s dysfunction is entirely Pakistan’s fault, American naivete cannot get a pass because Pakistan is a basket case. In the Age of Obama, America has to do better. Anyone that was really interested in debilitating the Punjabi-dominated, Hindu-hating, right-leaning, military-dominated Pakistani establishment would have to be recklessly foolish if it went and helped rebrand the Pakistan army in the wake of eight years of Musharraf and a devastating and humiliating defeat at the hands of the country’s lawyers. Yet that’s exactly what President Zardari has done since the May 8 offensive was launched into Swat. The Swat offensive has helped rehabilitate the image of the military.”

If Pakistan was really pursuing a policy of “divide and rule” in its negotiations with Mullah Nazir, seeking to separate the powerful warlord from Baitullah Mehsud before launching a new war in S. Waziristan against him, then the Army would not have allowed the continuing Predator attacks on Nazir to take place, or go unanswered.  None of this happened.  If they were serious about overtures made to the Wana warlord then they most certainly would not have shelled his offices.

Obama is driving the former enemies together.  This is Langley’s intention.  Mullah Nazir has not been the sole target of drone attacks for the past year to thwart Pakistan’s peace initiatives with the militants (since Washington controls everything Islamabad does), the reason is much more sinister than that.

If the United States government was truly at odds with the Army over American attacks upon Pakistani citizens, carried-out in order to sabotage Pakistan’s war plans, then there would be swift reprisals, because such an affront to Pakistan’s sovereignty would be far worse than merely “counter-productive.”  Everything is going according to the Imperial game plan–American drones attack all pro-Pakistani militant leaders, ignoring everyone who is killing Pakistanis.  The targeted leaders coalesce into a powerful, motivated union.

The generous benefactors of Maulana Fazlullah and his TNSM forces were sponsors of state terrorism, directed mostly at girls’ schools and CD shops in the North West Region.  Their murderous rampage and deceptive Shariah pacts forced Army intervention.  Predator attacks upon Mullah Nazir intensify, until he begins to fight back, forcing the Army to scrap plans to divide the Taliban as a means to avoid a massive tribal war, focusing only on Mehsud.  Meanwhile, some unknown outfit bombs Shia mosques and shopping areas (Nazir blames the attacks upon the Army), stoking the war in Kurram.  Bahadur honors his pact with Nazir and Mehsud; he fights back, forcing the Army to broaden their planned offensive to include N. Waziristan against their better judgment.

Never once, do the generals complain, or offer resistance to American violations of sovereignty. Instead, they follow the orders of their American masters, while the President of Pakistan continues to represent the President of the United States, instead of his own people, who are being killed by the dozens and the hundreds by the good old USA!

Hard as they may try to set their own course, Pakistan’s generals have surrendered their souls to the devil when they plotted with American generals to deceive their countrymen into passively, even enthusiastically accepting the new war.  The war in Waziristan (both North and South) will be fought on Obama’s terms.

According to Army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas:

“It was thus obvious that the confrontation between the militants and the military in North Waziristan would escalate because the US is unlikely to give up its policy of using drones to target militants positions.”

In other words, for the first time, one of the silent generals dared to explain the Army’s position. ISI concerns about “shaping the battlefield” and confining the war in Wana to Mehsud didn’t amount to a hill of beans to Petraeus and Mullen, Obama insists that Pakistan go against the generals’ better judgment and incite a “tribal uprising.

The attacks in N. Waziristan by Gul Bahadur and the artillery strikes upon Nazir’s headquarters, both a bi-product of the Predator prevarications, as well as the recent assassination of Pakistan’s other “ace in the hole, Qari Zainuddin, have destroyed Pakistan’s last chance to restore the writ of the state without resorting to all-out civil war.  Either Gen. Kayani submits entirely to Obama’s will, including the planned submission to Indian domination afterwards, or he stands-up to the United States, meaning he stops the drone attacks and reveals the entire ugly scenario that the CIA cannot allow anyone to reveal.  “Al Qaida” is fake.  The war on terror is a fraud.  The fraud is a plan for world war.  And we all know that neither Gen. Kayani, nor any other Pakistani official will ever reveal the “great game” or the plot to destroy the Islamic Republic.

The United States corporacracy is a monstrous devouring beast and “Islamist terror” is her illegitimate offspring.
Mr. P Chamberlin

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Quaid's 'missing' portraits

A private TV channel reported last week that portraits of the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had been removed from the Presidency and Prime Minister House. The report showed recent ceremonies including a reception in honour of Pakistan cricket team taking place at these state premises with the Quaid’s portrait blatantly conspicuous by its omission.

The allegation was promptly rejected by the Presidency spokesperson who described it as totally “false, mischievous, unethical and highly unbecoming of any professional media outlet and professional journalists.” Subsequently, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira also denied these reports and insisted that the Quaid’s portraits had not been removed from the President House and Prime Minister Secretariat. He described the story of the private TV channel as “baseless.”

The matter should have ended with this clarification. No one would have had any qualm with the government version despite the fact that the Quaid’s portrait was not visible anywhere in the visual footage of the report shown repeatedly by the TV channel in which it focused one by one in defence of its report on the portraits of the ruling party leaders, past, present and future. The guilt-conscious government, however, moved quickly to stage a spectacle to show its reverence for the Father of the Nation.

But in doing so, it inadvertently inflicted an indignity upon the Founder of Pakistan. By inviting Quaid-e-Azam’s great grandson, Aslam Jinnah and his family from Karachi to Islamabad as guests of Pakistan’s Bait-ul-Maal and presenting them with financial aid as state charity from the Bait-ul-Maal funds, it did no honour to the Quaid who lived with exemplary grace and dignity, and who would have never accepted his family members being treated as state mendicants.

If the government really wanted to do something for the Quaid’s poor and broken family, there were certainly other more dignified ways of doing so. The Jinnah family has been living in abject poverty and misery in the city of Karachi ever since the Quaid left this nation with a sovereign and independent country and every conceivable luxury and affluence. A report in this newspaper three years ago had highlighted their plight which was known to every successive government since Pakistan’s creation with no attention ever paid to provide them the needed relief.

For sixty-three years, it was no secret that the Jinnah family had been living in Karachi as its slum dwellers with no means of income or support. The only favour authorities did to them all these years was to take them as symbolic showpieces to Quaid’s mausoleum for annual wreath laying ceremonies on national days including the Quaid’s birth and death anniversaries. There could not be a worse case of state neglect of its subjects. In Quaid’s Pakistan, his own family didn’t even own a house to live.

The present government indeed deserves gratitude of the nation on waking up to this grim reality. But this is not the only case of depravity and hardship in our Land of the Pure. More than half the population of this country is living in abject poverty like the Jinnah family as totally underprivileged citizens with no government attention on alleviating their hardship. The Bait-ul-Maal is no remedy for their misery, despair and despondency.

President Zardari has promised to ensure free treatment of Aslam Jinnah’s disabled daughter Zainab in the US. It is very thoughtful of him but what about millions of other disabled children in the country? There are hundreds of million of our people who don’t even have access to one square meal a day. This is not what Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned about the country that he created for the Muslims of the sub-continent.

The Quaid’s mind was spoken truly by his great grandson when he made one thing clear about his life to the journalists in Islamabad. “I have no regret and I will never ask for any favour from anybody.” This is what his great grandfather would have said had he been alive today. Alas! Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not live long to personally steer Pakistan to be what he thought and aspired will be “one of the greatest nations of the world.” On our part, we are not even ashamed of what we have done to his Pakistan.

How many of us would remember or know that the Father of our Nation spent the last hours of his life on that fateful day of 11 September, 1947 lying helplessly in an ill-fated army ambulance which broke down due to “engine trouble” at a lonely stretch of the road while bringing him from the Mauripur Air Force Base to Karachi? Earlier on arrival from Quetta, no one from the government except his military secretary, Colonel Knowles, was present at the airport to receive him.

In her book, My Brother, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah recalled those agonizing moments: “Nearby stood hundreds of huts belonging to the refugees, who went about their business, not knowing that their Quaid, who had given them a homeland, was in their midst, lying helpless. Cars honked their way past, buses and trucks rumbled by, and we stood there immobilized in an ambulance that refused to move an inch…We waited for over one hour, and no hour, in my life has been so long and full of anguish.”

Does this painful recollection give us any food for thought or lead us to a feeling of regret and remorse? The answer lies in the barefaced contempt that we as a nation have shown to the Quaid’s vision of a “strong, stable and democratic” Pakistan and his ideals of peace, equality, tolerance, rule of law and human rights. Indeed, the Quaid’s vision of Pakistan remains unfulfilled.

Those of us who belong to the first generation that saw and experienced the formative phase of Pakistan and its creation as a dream of its founding fathers are indeed guilt-ridden at the thought of what Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned this country to be and where we actually stand today as a nation and as a state. We are no longer an independent, peace-loving democratic country that our Quaid had left for us as the fortress of our pride and dignity as a self-respecting nation.

Today, regretfully, Pakistan’s name raises instant fear and concern among the nations of the world. Terrorism is our sole identity now. We are described as the “most dangerous” and “most violent” nation on earth. We are also considered the “most insecure and most unsafe” country in the world. Ours is the only country where Muslims are killing Muslims. We have become a suicidal nation and are killing ourselves. We are also being rated as a failing, if not already a failed state.

Poor governance is our national hallmark. There is no law and order in the country. With our continued domestic political instability and the precarious extremism-led violence, we remain unable to harness the unique asset of our geographical location for our economic growth. Our economy is in shambles with no trust or credibility among world’s lenders and investors. The common man is suffering the worst ever hardship.

Meanwhile the plunderers, profiteers, and the looters, murderer and the killers could not have a safer haven anywhere else in the world. No other country is familiar with the normatic practice of forgiving as a matter of rule the elite loan-defaulters and the known highly placed plunderers of national exchequer. The culture of “power and privilege” is thriving on patronage, graft, bribery, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, influence-peddling, fraud and embezzlement.

Had the Quaid lived longer, he would have only been embarrassed to see how miserably his successors had failed to live up to his vision of Pakistan, and to protect and preserve its sovereignty independence and territorial integrity. He would have instantly suffocated to death at the sight of his nation left only as a mutilated and disjointed mass of people with no national unity or dignity. It is a mastless country looted and plundered by its own people and public dignitaries. It is a nation with no sense of direction.

No wonder the Quaid’s soul must have been agonizing over this deplorable scene. Surely, no one needed to remove his portraits from anywhere. Perhaps the Quaid’s soul itself found it necessary to be in peace by disappearing from the scene. After all, there is nothing left of what Quaid-i-Azam had hoped his Pakistan will one day be one of the greatest nations of the world. Shamshad Ahmad

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IRAN ( is Not the Problem)

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