Lahore Bombings: Indians Are Suspects, So Are Americans

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US Ambassador complains to Pakistani Government that media reports have exposed the location of American residences inside Lahore’s military zone, but fails to mention why US personnel with diplomatic cover have been found at wrong places, sometimes carrying weapons that diplomats are not supposed to

Lahore’s military zone is not only exposed to covert Indian operatives but also to undercover US agents with their suspicious heavy-duty equipment placed in several houses inside a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military area. This has been going on since 2007.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The eastern city of Lahore is exposed not only to the Indians who have been sending terrorists to plant bombs in public places for the past quarter of a century, but also to the Americans who expanded their covert presence inside Pakistan in the last three years of President Musharraf’s rule.  After the return to democracy in 2008, the US presence [beyond diplomatic requirements or disguised under diplomatic cover] is reported to have increased manifold.

Last year, Pakistanis were stunned to watch several incidents where US citizens were caught by the Military Police at checkpoints leading up to the city’s military zone known as Cantt.  Most of the time, these US individuals refused to say what business took them to the military area. The US Consulate in Lahore is located far away from this zone, which compounded the mystery. These US nationals also refused to allow the police to check their vehicles, which is a standard procedure that all Pakistanis undergo considering the terrorist attacks. On a couple of occasions, US vehicles whose drivers refused to cooperate with MP caused long queues at checkpoints. Military Police officers impounded these vehicles. This led to US officials complaining to their media that Pakistan was ‘harassing’ US diplomats.

But the truth is that the Americans have covertly maintained an outpost of several houses in a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military zone. This zone is so sensitive that a half-constructed Sheraton Hotel lies abandoned on one of Cantt’s main streets because the Pakistani military complained that the new hotel’s upper floors provided an easy view of the residence of the commander of the Pakistan Army Corp that guards Pakistan’s northeastern border with India.

This makes the covert US presence in this area intriguing to say the least. The exact location of these houses, in the elite Sarwar Colony, is shown in the pictures that accompany this report. Most of the residents of this colony are senior retired Pakistani military officers. A handful of them have apparently leased out their homes to the Americans at exorbitant rates that far exceed the normal level of leased property rates in the Colony, according to a fascinating expose published by TheNation and is reproduced below in full.

Why are we talking about a few houses rented out by Americans linked to US government in a sensitive part of the eastern city?

The reason is a wave of terror targeting Lahore over the past two years. This is not to suggest that the US government has something to do with this.  The suspicion centers on local terrorists indirectly or directly aided by intelligence operatives from multiple countries based in Afghanistan.  The point here is that the city of Lahore is exposed not only to local terrorists working with foreign handlers, but also to Indians and possibly to private American security contractors. These contractors expanded their presence in Pakistan in the past two years, mostly using diplomatic cover. The US Embassy in Islamabad under the incumbent Ambassador has been instrumental in pushing for an expanded role for private US defense contractors in Pakistan over the past two years.

Many Pakistanis feel that such penetration of Pakistan by foreign countries is detrimental to our national security and has unnecessarily exposed us to outsiders pursuing interests that may not overlap with our own.

Today, the US Embassy in Islamabad leaked key points of a letter that US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson has sent to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. In the letter, Ambassador Patterson complained about TheNation report on the American presence in Cantt, Lahore. More interestingly, she made a veiled threat that Pak-US relations would suffer if those Americans became targets for a terror attack. The letter was leaked to the Dawn newspaper.

The most interesting part of her letter was an acknowledgement on her part that the security of US diplomats in Pakistan is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. This is important because it was Ms Patterson who only a year ago was lobbying the Pakistani government to allow US private defense contractors into Pakistan and was running from one government office to another to ensure that these private US contractors are allowed to carry banned weapons anywhere in the country.

When Ms. Patterson was asked why she needed these private security contractors, she said it was to protect US diplomats. Critics said that was the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan and that the Ambassador should not cross a line. Her acknowledgement of this indicates a shift. Probably it has to do with recent understandings between Army Chief Gen. Kayani and US military officials where the army chief reportedly asked US to stop indirect methods of coercion, including media leaks, the role of private contractors in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the role of CIA in the region.

So how did the Pakistani military allow such a breach to occur in a sensitive area of Lahore?
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Iran Nabs Top NATO Terrorist With Pakistan Help

Webster Tarpley:

On Tuesday Feb. 23, Iran announced the capture of Abdulmalek Rigi, the boss of the terror organization Jundullah, which works for NATO. The capture of Rigi represents a serious setback for the US-UK strategy of using false flag state-sponsored terrorism against Iran and Pakistan, and ultimately to sabotage China’s geopolitics of oil. The Iranians claim to have captured Rigi all by themselves, but the Pakistani ambassador to Teheran is quoted in The Dawn as claiming an important role for Pakistan. The Iranians say that Rigi was attempting to fly from Dubai to Kyrgystan, and that his plane was forced to land in Iran by Iranian interceptors. This exploit recalls Oliver North’s 1985 intercept of the accused Achille Lauro perpetrators, including Abu Abbas, forcing their Egyptian plane to land at Sigonella, Sicily. But other and perhaps more realistic versions suggest that Iran was tipped off by the Pakistanis, or even that Rigi was captured by Pakistan and delivered to the Iranians.

Jundullah, otherwise known as the Rigi organization, is a clan-based Mafia organization that has long infested the Iran-Pakistan border. The Rigis are traditionally smugglers and drug pushers of royalist persuasion, and now they have branched out into terrorism. Jundullah is mounting a Sunni rebellion against the Shiite Iranian regime in Iranian Baluchistan. They have blown up a Shiite mosque, killing 25, and managed to kill 50 in a bombing in Pishin last October, where their victims included some top commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, against which Mrs. Clinton has now declared war. There is no doubt that Jundullah is on the US payroll. This fact has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC News, the London Daily Telegraph , and by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. Hersh noted that Jundullah has received some of the $400 million appropriated by the US Congress in the most recent Bush-era regime change legislation targeting Iran.

Jundullah is a key part of the US-UK strategy of fomenting ethnic and religious civil war in both Iran and Pakistan. Jundullah is a twofer in this context, since it can help destabilize both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border. Baluchistan has special importance because any oil pipeline linking Iran with China must go straight across Baluchistan. Jundullah’s false flag jihad is a means to make sure that strategic pipeline, which would help solve China’s energy problem, is never built.

There is also no doubt that Jundullah functions as an arm of NATO, a kind of irregular warfare asset similar in some ways to the KLA of Kosovo. Rigi is reported by the Iranians to have met with Jop de Hoop Scheffer when he was NATO Secretary General. Rigi has also met with various NATO generals operating in Afghanistan. Who knows — he may have met with McChrystal himself, a covert ops veteran from Iraq.

This capture comes at a moment when Baluchistan is the object of intense US-UK exertions. The current US-NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan targets Marjah and the rest of Helmand province, which directly faces Baluchistan. Many observers were puzzled when the US and NATO publicized the Marjah offensive in advance. Militarist talking heads like General Barry McCafferty responded that the main goal of the Marjah offensive was not to destroy the Taliban, but to drive them out of the province. It was thus clear from the beginning that the real goal was to drive the Helmand Taliban fighters into Pakistani Baluchistan. Why? Read more of this post

India’s dirty secret is flushed out at last

More Indian households have TV sets than have proper toilets

Times Online | It is possibly the worst job in the world, a task so disgusting, demeaning and dangerous that it has been illegal for 17 years.

However, at least 340,000 Indians (a conservative government estimate – other experts reckon the figure is close to a million) are forced to scrape a living by cleaning up other people’s excrement.

In 1993, the practice of employing a “manual scavenger” – a job description that masks the rank grossness of the work with an Orwellian flourish – was outlawed in India. So was the building of “dry latrines” – the kind that have no flush, have to be emptied by hand, and breed diseases.

The dirty truth, however, is that three government deadlines to eradicate manual scavenging, the most recent on March 31 2009, have passed. Dry latrines are still being dug all over the country, in both rural and urban areas.

A shortage of water and space and a lack of reliable sewage systems often make them the easiest, cheapest option.

At issue, however, is more than the woeful state of infrastructure in India, a country where 660 million people still defecate in the open and more households have TV sets than have proper toilets. For the persistence of scavenging speaks to the robustness of the centuries-old caste system as much as to a chronic lack of basic sanitation.

A new report by WaterAid, an NGO, highlights the how almost all manual scavengers are Dalits, the group at the bottom of the caste hierarchy, who were formerly known as Untouchables. About 80 per cent are women.

“They will often have inherited their ‘scavenging rights’ and been tasked from an early age with removing human waste from public or private toilets, which have no flushing system, to dispose of elsewhere. Men who are scavengers usually have to manually clean out sewers and septic tanks. Scavengers are paid a pittance and treated with disdain and social stigmatism,” the study says.

Ninety per cent of scavengers have no protective equipment. Diseases such as dysentery, malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis are common. Men sent down the sewers in T-shirts and loincloths often die from inhaling toxic fumes.

Social taboos complicate the business of rehabilitation. In a small village, it is hard for a former scavenger to shrug off her past. If she tries to start a small business, it is likely to be boycotted by members of higher castes.

Even before she gets that far, however, there is the issue of self worth to overcome. “Imagine how a life spent picking up s*** affects your confidence,” says Indira Khurana, the report’s co-author and WaterAid’s head of policy in India. “For these people to stand up for their rights is a difficult thing.”

Some activists suggest that what scavengers really need is relocation programmes, so they can start new lives in places where they are not known and not burdened by the accident of their birth. It sounds like something out of a spy novel, but the stigma that follows these people around is that great, they suggest.

In some areas, imaginative thinking has produced results. The mothers of the northern state of Haryana, for instance, have adopted a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet; no bride”.

The government-initiated slogan – often lengthened in Hindi to something like “if you don’t have a proper toilet in your house, don’t even think about marrying my daughter” – has been plastered on hoardings across the region’s villages as part of a drive to boost the number of proper flush lavatories.

The campaign is one of the most successful efforts to combat India’s chronic shortage of proper plumbing, local officials claim – probably because a skewed sex ratio (there are more 8 per cent more men than women) means brides are gaining more leverage in marital bargaining while women have come to resent having to defecate outside under the cover of darkess.

About 1.4 million toilets have been built in the state since it was begun in 2005, many of them with significant government subsidies. “We have more toilets, less shame among women and less disease,” said S. K. Monda, the local government official in charge of the programme.

The Haryana project offers a ray of hope that helps explain why Ms Khurana is optimistic. She says that the new India – the India that has a world-class IT industry and a space programme – is ashamed of its caste-defined past. She thinks that political pressure – Dalits constitute a powerful vote bank – is mounting and can force change – and that schemes where community members pitch in to build proper flush lavatories have been proven viable.

She also reckons that an extensive study that will document the number of scavengers in detail will expose false claims by several state governments that they have eradicated the practice and force them to act.

It is to be hoped that she is right. But even if she is, the world’s worst job seems certain to exist for some years yet.

Now, some interesting comments published in Times Online in response to this article:

Raju charles wrote:
I would like to congratulate the author of this study to expose the evil caste based system presently existing in India.Not only is this a evil but it is also a shame for the Indians to have and propagate this caste system It is not only
inhuman but also a national shame and international disgrace to the Indians all over the world.The caste minded people of India would rather have TV than toilets.It is in the Indian mentality to neglect the basic necessities of day to day living and amass materiel wealth.This is a shocking study that exposes the weakness of the caste system because the next generation inherits it due to the cultural pressures and various social taboos attached to the occupation. Then to impose on the Dalits this type of jobs.It is not by choice but by fate and the poverty of the nation that such types of living conditions exist.How can we strive for a seat in the UN security counsel? India space technology and computer technology is not match for this dry toilet technology.I wonder why this is not outsourced? The people who justify this type of primitive acts have maggots in their head and no sense of human dignity because their caste egos are shrouding their clear thinking. Truly but sadly,

Raju Charles
Washington DC

Mohanraj Vattampoil Moorkoth wrote:
Unfortunately, Manmohan Singh and his team are more interested in pacifying the quarreling Ambani brothers and helping the US by buying its nuclear reactors spending crores of rupees than in solving such problems. An increase in the number of millionnaires from ten to twenty is not an indication of progress. 70% of Indians living on less than RS.20/- (less than 50 cents) per day is the result of six years of a so-called economist at the head of the government. What a shame!

V.M.Mohanraj, India.

yongyuan dao wrote:

We chinese are forced by the evil Chinese communist government to use shining airplanes, magnetic elevated high speed trains, and clean houses, apartments, new high rise officies.
Indians should feel thankful that their democracy government which treasure equal rights of human beings did not force people to do these jobs. “people from low cast choose this profession voluntarily” according to sasidhar vasili.

plus,
Why bother getting a toilet? if you cannot feed your family with bread…
Sad…poor Indian people…
I feel sad for them.
Why didnot the holly Dalai Lama do anything to improve the living standards of the Indians? Oh, he is busy persecuting Doji shendeng worshipers in the Tibetan exile community.

Nitka Mila wrote:
There won’t be any progressive changes until the India population realise that all are equal in their land and all should have same human rights and access to same basics facilities. And there is no use of saying that because something had been going on for over 3,000 years it is still good enough to take place now in this high tech, high quality life style rich Indian’s and we in the west are having or have rights of obtaining it. I LOVE the slogans “no toilet – no bride”. It shows they have heaps of sense of humour even when tackling life’s most awful circumstances..;-)) I hope there will come the time when Indian as people can stand up and be counted on equal platform. On the other hand, I watched this archaeological piece done by BBC which showed and described the most amazing sewage system build by Chinese around 4,000 years ago. For them it was crucial thing to have – basic life’s necessity. It makes you wonder why other great civilizations of that time did not make or are still not making it their basic necessity.

Live well without fear

Akif Abdulamir | Everybody has a secret fear. It never surfaces until you are alone. You are then left to confront it in your own miserable way. Watching television never works but a quiet walk may help. The thing about fear is that it never gets better by brooding about it. Some find work a perfect way to forget but it is only a temporary solution. Besides, throwing yourself deep in your work can lead to health problems.

The worst thing about fear is that it isolates you from the rest of the world. You become incommunicable, irritable and self-destructive. You find you have many questions unanswered. When solutions are a luxury, you begin to lose interest in everything. So when it reaches a stage that we do nothing but stare on the wall all day, then it is ready to draw the final curtain.

It requires a strong family to get you out of misery. In its severest form, even families can do nothing but watch you go down. Conquering your worse fear is never easy but it helps to talk about it. Tapping the experience of people who were engulfed by fear and got out of it can help. One thing is for sure, you never get out of it unscathed. It will always be with you but the good news is that, once conquered, you are unlikely to suffer another attack.

I was talking to a few people who had the problem and each one of them convinced me that they are now better equipped to handle problems than they ever been before.


What really fuels fear then? The most common element is insecurity. It often hits people who are ambitious with long targets of success. When you have worked out a careful plan and are determined to see it through can lead to all sorts of anxieties.
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Is America a failed state?

Spengler | Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination and then the presidency by offering the same program that Peter Pan gave the Darling children: Close your eyes, think happy thoughts, and you will be able to fly. “Yes we can” in the meantime has changed to “No he can’t,” as America lost five million jobs in 2009 and its effective unemployment rate, including so-called long-term discouraged workers, rose to 22%, a level unseen since the Great Depression.

Within 24 hours, the voters of Massachusetts may turn the freshly-baked president into a prematurely lame duck, by electing an obscure Republican to the senate seat held for a generation by Ted Kennedy. If that occurs, Obama’s veto-and-filibuster-proof majority in the senate will disappear and faint hearts in his own party will hedge their bets on the proposed public healthcare program. The Republicans should be careful what they wish for: no one is voting for the opposition, for the Republican party has no economic program and no unifying theme except its objection to Obama. The voters are protesting a radical change in their status for the worse, and will penalize whoever has the misfortune to be in power. Read more of this post

Insanity is in my genes

Politics was never my favourite discussion. In fact, it is something I always felt reluctant to talk about. The reason wasn’t that I am not interested in current affairs. It was because I always fear reactions of people on topics related to politics or affairs of this country. For some reason, you get a strange kind of harshness in people when they talk about this country, its politics and current affairs. They are just not themselves.

Broadly you can come across three types of people when it comes to political discussions:

The first is the concerned type. They seem really concerned about this country and current affairs. Sometimes they’ll get you in hot arguments. Even if you’re not confronting them, they will get confronted themselves; and if you will, they’ll get even more confronted and will get you confronted as well. But you’re never sure what will come out of this hot argument except of the heat that will vanish the moment they’ll walk out of door.

You would also find a type of people who’re just made to speak and to be listened. They’re born leaders, as people would tell them. Because they sound really good, even if you’re not sure you’re quite getting what they’re saying. They talk about the higher purpose of life, something that is far higher than you your self and anything thing else that you think is important to you.

Then there are some people who’ll tell you they don’t give a damn about this country and whatever is happening in it. But if you look at the tone with which they say it, you’ll know how much damn they’re giving about it, in fact, far more than they were supposed to. This is the disappointed type. There was a time they loved this country and wanted everything to be alright but then something made them lose or they got better things to worry about. They’ll convince you to lose hope, or you can go to hell for all they care. But the funny part is they won’t let you live at peace in the hell as well and will keep poking you there from time to time.

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