Will “PakMil” recognise the real foe?

By Dr Shireen M Mazari

It is ISI bashing time again and this comes easy for the Western and Indian media especially, but also for the media at home since the ISI has figured as a larger than life organisation since the US-led war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. And undoubtedly the ISI has at times been highly controversial in the activities it has undertaken especially domestically. Both during period of civilian democracy and military rule, the ISI has been used by those in power and even today the ruling party is not devoid of this temptation, unfortunately.

Of course, like all intelligence agencies with an external agenda, such as CIA and RAW, the ISI has its own external agenda. But it needs to also be understood that the ISI is not an independent entity and the decision-making hierarchy of the organisation comes on routine postings from the military, primarily the army. So its external activities reflect the policies of the government, but especially the military. Be that as it may, post-9/11, the ISI has had to pay for its past sins in seeing itself demonised by the US and India – even though the former is supposed to be an ally of this country. Every time the chips are down for the US in Afghanistan, somehow or the other the ISI is lambasted by “leaks” to the Western, especially the compliant US media. It would appear that the CIA’s failures, as well as the US and NATO military failures, are all a result solely of the ISI! Now if only the ISI was really so effective, efficient and powerful, India’s occupation of Kashmir would have ended and Afghanistan’s future would have been moulded according to its desires! Unfortunately, that is not the case and the ISI is as riddled with inefficiencies as any large bureaucratic organisation is, but undoubtedly, it has better ground intelligence in this region than the US and its CIA since the latter has a blunderbuss approach to human intelligence gathering and has no sensitivity to nuances of any kind.

Be that as it may, the latest round of ISI bashing rather obviously sponsored by the CIA to hide its own failures in Afghanistan, once again, has come with the WikiLeaks’ story. Apart from The Guardian newspaper which showed some healthy scepticism about the leaked information, for the biased US media like The New York Times this was a journalistic feast – enough to feed the deep-seated anti-Muslim and especially anti-Pakistan bias that now dominates the American media. But let us get some facts straightened first and one has to concede that WikiLeaks itself is credible anti-war site. But what the media has done in terms of factual distortions of even these unverifiable leaks is dangerous and cannot simply be ignored by Pakistan because we are once again the targets. First of all, the leaked documents are based entirely on field reports filed by a variety of operatives in Afghanistan, allegedly primarily belonging to the Northern Alliance. Second, out of the 92,000 leaked documents, only 180 contain ISI references and of these only 30 mention the ISI in negative terms regarding Taliban-supporting activities. Third, of these 180 documents with references to the ISI, most of these reports have a disclaimer by the author at the end where the source was referred to simply as an “informant” and it was stated that this source was either not reliable or working only for monetary gains for either the Afghan intelligence, Indians or Afghan warlords! Or else the source was referred to simply by initials! Interestingly where the ISI is mentioned, it also states in the disclaimer that the information cannot be verified and therefore cannot be “used to make policies” (all this is on the website). So where does that leave the actual content of these leaked reports?

Officials in Pakistan are convinced that the CIA, when it found out about the leaks, sought to divert the expansive details of its own failures in Afghanistan by shifting the focus on to the ISI – a favourite bete noir of the Western media. According to WikiLeaks the source for the leaked documents sought to prevent the publication of some of them for fear of sensitive information! There is also a feeling in some quarters that the CIA has deliberately chosen to once again target the ISI because of the rising anti-war tide within the US. Most observers in the know now recognise that the US and NATO have lost the war militarily in Afghanistan and bad intelligence is certainly one of the causes. So what better way to escape blame than to put everything on the ISI. The timing of the “leaks” is not without purpose.

Be that as it may, the fact is that it is time for Pakistan to sever its links and cooperation with the US. How can we have information and intelligence sharing with a country that has systematically done and continues to do a hatchet job on our premier intelligence agency, as well as the Pakistan military in general? From our nuclear programme to the ISI, there is a continuous ongoing war being waged on us by the US. It may not be a military war but it has economic, political, diplomatic and psychological components. What is simply absurd is why the “PakMil” – a term Mullen has coined to show his intimacy with General Kayani and is used only by him when he meets the COAS apparently – is not seeing the ground realities? Instead of the ISPR issuing press releases now suddenly condemning the drone attacks in an attempt to fool the Pakistani nation, when they know only too well that these are being carried out with the support of the Pakistan civil and military leadership, the military should take a long hard look at what the US is doing to Pakistan on all fronts. If the Pakistani government, including the military, sees the drones as doing more harm than good, why do they remain complicit in this policy? Should they not send a clear message to the US by downing one of these drones? Read more of this post

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Why Afghanistan?

There are other reasons for the US to be involved in Afghanistan,al Qaeda not being the most important.Control of Afghanistan give the United States access to Iran to the north are many of the ” Stans” Afghanistan is a very Strategic area.

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By Timothy V. Gatto

Lately, I’ve been listening to folks like Rachel Maddow and Richard Holbrooke talk about the situation in Afghanistan. I’ve been hearing that the rate of illiteracy in that country runs in the area of 70 to 80%. The government is having a hard time enforcing the law because in cities like Kandahar, there are only 9 magistrates to hear court cases. I’ve also heard about the government, along with the military forces from NATO, have seemingly stopped cutting down Afghan poppy and marijuana fields so that farmers can stay afloat selling these crops.

I’ve heard that the primary mission of the NATO forces is to prevent “collateral damage” to civilians as they relentlessly hunt down the Taliban. It’s been reported that the Taliban gave al Qaeda a free hand to operate in this poor, backwards country which led to the September 11th attacks on the United States in 2001, and that this is the primary reason that the United States and NATO operate on the premise that if we don’t develop a strong central government in Kabul, that more attacks will surely hit the United states “Homeland” after being planned in Afghanistan.

During an interview with Rachel Maddow, Special Envoy to the nations of Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard C. Holbrooke remarked that NATO must create a strong central government in order to get the majority of the populace to align themselves with the government in Kabul. This supposedly, would break the grip that the Taliban holds over the people that live in the rural areas. Since a hefty majority or the Afghan population live in the rural areas, this becomes a very tall order.

While listening to Holbrooke pontificate on the problems that the central government faces in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, I couldn’t help but remember the rhetoric that came out of Vietnam over 40 years ago. There too, we were involved in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and there too, Richard C. Holbrooke was involved in that strategy.

Listening to Holbrooke discuss the reasons we are in Afghanistan made me think about what a wonderful nation the United States truly is. Even though we are experiencing a recession that is akin to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, with official unemployment figures running about 9 percent on average (while the true figures are obscured because so many have come off the unemployment rolls due to these people no longer being eligible for unemployment benefits due to the length of time they have been unemployed and many have ceased looking for work, while some economists claim the real figures are between 20 and 25%), we valiantly spend our nation’s treasure to “help” these unfortunate Afghan people to build a nation free from corruption and rule by tribal warlords.

Holbrooke claims that we are making substantial progress in opening schools while training the Afghan Army and police forces to bring about a nation run by law. Even though the main cash crop in that country is opium that accounts for something like 95% of Europe’s heroin supply and most of its hashish, we are asked to believe that soon Afghanistan will be a major supplier of corn and other foodstuffs after the central government “rehabilitates” the farmers that make their livings off of narco-agriculture. After all, why would farmers willingly grow poppies and marijuana when they could grow eggplants, melons and corn?

Listening to government officials like General Ben Hodges describe the Taliban’s way of settling disputes in Kandahar made me wonder if the military leadership over there are sampling the hashish being grown by the farmers. (). The truth as I see it, there is so much corruption and so little support from the government in Kabul, the idea of bringing Afghanistan into the twenty-first century could take decades.

The true nature of our involvement in Afghanistan is something that has yet to be defined. The obvious question is why are we there? What makes this nation (and I use the term loosely), so important that we need 150,000 troops from the U.S. (and almost as many mercenaries), and tens of thousands of troops from NATO as well as Mongolia, South Korea and other non-NATO countries, to perform the task of “nation-building”? Is it because of the TAPI petroleum pipeline that will run from the Caucuses to ports in India, thus bringing oil from the Caucuses without having to go through Russia, and insuring petroleum to Western Europe without the inconvenience of having it controlled by Russia and thus holding Western Europe hostage? Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the pipeline;

“The new deal on the pipeline was signed on 27 December 2002 by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen. ‘Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power,’ reported Forbes in 2005, “the project has been revived and drawn strong US support” as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets “without relying on Russian routes”. Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: “We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it.”[5] Due to increasing instability, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control.”

There are other reasons for the U.S. to be involved in Afghanistan, al Qaeda not being the most important. Control of Afghanistan gives the United States access to Iran to the west and China to the east whiles to the north are many of the “Stans”. Afghanistan is a very strategic area. Read more of this post

North Waziristan, Pakistan fixation betrays Washington’s sincerity of intentions

By Asif Haroon Raja

In accordance with the chalked out plan, terrorism was intentionally pushed into Pakistan to destabilize the country. The two extreme flanks of Pakistan , FATA and Balochistan were inflamed to make things difficult for Pak Army, fundamentally poised to guard eastern border. Apart from CIA and FBI gaining a strong foothold in Pakistan under the pretext of chasing and nabbing terrorists’ right up to Karachi , the US Administration increased its influence inside Pakistan so comprehensively that Boucher and Negroponte started to micro manage its domestic affairs including local bodies’ elections and 2002 general elections and reduced the parliament into a rubber stamp. American intelligence agencies helped RAW to make inroads in trouble spots.

Pakistan was first harried on account of nuclear proliferation in 2004. Hue and cry was made over AQ Khan Network, and Iran and Libya put under intense pressure to establish a connection. Although Pakistan refused to make available Dr AQ Khan for interrogation after he made a public confession under duress; Pakistan inadvertently accepted that nuclear proliferation had taken place. It assured USA and IAEA that network had been effectively disabled. Pakistan thought that the matter was closed but it was never let off the hook and its nuclear program came under unceasing vicious smear campaign.

After 2005, The US began to change colors and became more intrusive and difficult. This change occurred because of resurgence of Taliban in southern and eastern Afghanistan , development of Gwadar Port with Chinese assistance, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, and Pakistan economy getting robust. Pakistan was whipped by USA , India and even landlocked Afghanistan holding it responsible for their difficulties in Afghanistan . Pakistan bore the pain of whips and degradation to ensure US support and flow of US dollars. Pakistan kept chasing the faceless enemy without a comprehensive plan, intelligence, low intensity conflict training, counter terrorism equipment and motivational program. These shortcomings became serious impediments in tackling terrorism and allowed the Tehrik-e-Taliban to gather strength and expand its influence.

Having sufficiently embroiled the Army in war on terror and weakened its institutions the US started to inch closer towards achieving its goals and became more demanding. It repeatedly asked Pakistan to do more without compensating it for the immense sacrifices it was rendering. Instead of rewarding Pakistan for taking the main brunt of war on terror, the US awarded India in the form of lucrative civil nuclear and defence deals, well knowing that instead of curbing terrorism India had inflamed it through covert means. Ironically Pakistan didn’t raise even an eyebrow on this grave development. Its lackadaisical stance resulted in materialization of Indo-US nuclear agreement in 2008.

After vainly trying to put the ISI under Ministry of Interior in August 2008, the US exerted extreme pressure on Pakistan leadership to let its military intrude into FATA. Several aerial raids, artillery fire and a ground attack in Angoor Adda in September 2008 were carried out. These blatant intrusions indicated American growing impatience and their desperation to directly meddle in Waziristan . While Pakistan gave its tacit approval to drone attacks since this understanding had already been given by Gen Musharraf, Pak military under new commander Gen Kayani did not agree to the proposal of joint operation or any unilateral action and took a firm stand. Had this proposal been ceded to it would have amounted to allowing the head of a camel to enter the tent. Entry in FATA would have encouraged US military to keep creeping forward and to gradually envelope whole of Pakistan under the pretext of striking non-state actors. Mention of Quetta , Peshawar and Karachi as hiding places of high profile terrorists and main base of Al-Qaeda in FATA and Taliban Shura in Quetta exposed its intentions.

While attitude of US officials became belligerent, Indo-Israeli-US propaganda campaign became fiercer. Mumbai drama was stage managed on 26 November 2008 to give an excuse to India to heat up eastern border. Throughout 2009 India remained in a highly offensive mood. Pakistan’s policy of appeasement was taken as sign of weakness and subjected to unabated pressure to make Pakistan agree to Indian unfair demands of proceeding against suspects without evidence and to dismantle Indian specific terrorist network. The US instead of acting in a fair and unbiased manner brazenly supported Indian stance.

None of the accusers took into account the hard fact that Pakistan had suffered as no other country in the world had from foreign sponsored terrorism. Its economy suffered a loss of over $45 billion and it lost over 8000 lives in the blowback of the militants in retaliation to military operations. Pakistan bore maximum brunt of foreign sponsored terrorism during the years 2008-09 and is still suffering. After targeting Peshawar incessantly, Lahore is the current target of RAW. From March 2009 onwards, dozens of terrorist and suicide attacks have taken place in capital city of Punjab and hand of RAW was visible in each incident.

Slight change in Indo-US-Afghan belligerence occurred after Pak Army’s successful fight against well-entrenched militants in Malakand Division, Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan (SW) at a heavy price. These successes were achieved at a time when nothing was going right in Pakistan . Political situation was in a mess, economy had become fragile, law and order had worsened and Pak Army’s image had been badly dented due to an orchestrated smear campaign. Pakistan was being viewed as a failing state unable to protect its nuclear assets. Stories of balkanization or break up were in circulation and a very gloomy picture was painted. It was propagated that Pakistan ’s security forces were incapable of fighting the militants and protecting nuclear assets. US Special Forces started to fine tune their contingency plans to take away the nukes before falling into wrong hands. Indian strike formations had taken up a forward posture and Indian military had started beating drums of war. Read more of this post

Infocus (PRESS TV): India Pakistan relations and current political situation of the region

Zaid Hamid and General (R) Hamid Gul on Press TV discuss the current political situation of the region.



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Osama: Dead or alive?

by Yasmeen Ali

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on her recent visit to Pakistan that she believed Osama bin Laden was still in Pakistan, in a television interview between high-level talks in Islamabad. “I believe (bin Laden) is here in Pakistan and it would be very helpful if we could take them (al-Qaeda leaders),” Clinton said. The US secretary of state sought tougher action from Islamabad to combat militants ahead of a key conference in Afghanistan. The information that Osama Bin Laden is dead, first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan many years ago,the fugitive died in December [2001] and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan.

With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival? [New York Times. July 11, 2002]. Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years. According to Le Figaro, lin [2000] he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. [Guardian]. FBI: Bin Laden ‘probably’ dead; The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, says he thinks Osama bin Laden is “probably” dead. [BBC].

The editor-in-chief of a London-based Arab news magazine said a purported will it published in the year [2001] by Osama bin Laden, and shows “he’s dying or he’s going to die soon.” [CNN]. Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. “The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead,” the source said. [FOX News]. Yet, Secretary Clinton, has decided, to claim, that not only Osama Bin Laden is alive and kicking, but in Pakistan. Yet, Secretary Clinton gives no proof as to why, suddenly, she thinks he is alive. If there are clues, they must surely be shared with Pakistan for them to not only ascertain the veracity of the claim but to help them “find” Osama. Secretary Clinton is in a position where irresponsible statements can be ill afforded.

Many claim, this desire to revive Osama is to justify the continuation of the War on Terrorism. Gordon Duff, Senior Editor Veteran News, USA, in a recent article states,” Has the United States established exactly what its strategic interests are in the region? Oil is flowing freely as is heroin. Money is flowing into the region by the plane load and back out, into banks in Dubai, Tel Aviv and Switzerland. Is $500 billion a year being spent to defend Israel from invasion by, well, we aren’t sure? What is being spent to secure Israel, or empower Israeli recklessness, is nearly one third of America’s entire budget. Wouldn’t it simply be cheaper to give Israel the United States or do they own it already? “ The Pakistani public is wary of these statements, as issued by Secretary Clinton, and are widely interpreted as self serving and nothing to do with ground realities. Pakistan is a country that has suffered tremendously in this War on Terror. If America has a genuine appreciation of the sacrifices made by Pakistan, she should make an effort to solve the issues being faced by Pakistan. One of the foremost is to intercede and stop India from violating the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. Read more of this post

Hillary widens Pak-US distrust

By General Retd Mirza Aslam Beg

Diplomats are very careful in their words while delivering political speeches and also dealing with the leadership of other countries. They are polite, articulate and courteous, and convey even very tough messages with a touch of grace. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her recent visit to Pakistan, appeared much emotionally disturbed, displaying a strange logic hit out to “decrease the historic distrust.” She said:

  • “Should an attack on the US be traced to Pakistan, it would have a very devastating impact.” This means, another demonstration of “shock and awe” over Pakistan as on Afghanistan in 2001, but with a mild difference. That India would also join the US, as it is also having jitters after the Mumbai attack.
  • “I believe, Mullah Omar and Osama are in Pakistan and you know they are here. Don’t double cross. Help us to get them.” For over nine years, the Americans and their allies have been trying to get them and having failed, now expect the Pakistan army to ‘produce the rabbits from the hat’, failing which Pakistan has to remain prepared to face the wrath of the sole superpower of the world.
  • Three: “Pak-China nuclear deal is a matter of great concern. We can trace the export of nuclear information and material from Pakistan, through all kinds of channels, to many different countries. We are fulfilling our commitment, but it is not a one-way street.” Since Pakistan and China have explained umpteen times that the nuclear deal is fully covered by the IAEA guarantees, it should not be a matter of concern for any one. But as this is a case of the ‘lion and the lamb’, Pakistan has to be prepared to face the onslaught of the “global-anti-nuclear-proliferation-regime comprising US, Israel and India”, ready to take out its nuclear assets and capabilities.
  • Four: “Pakistan is double crossing us in dealing with the terrorists. They are shielding the Haqqani group in particular, who are causing all the trouble for us in Afghanistan. It is time for Pakistan now to make sure that we are on the same page on Afghanistan” and “there is a gulf between how the Pakistanis define the good and bad Taliban and what Washington calls reconcilable and irreconcilable Taliban.”

As if, this was not enough, Pakistan and Afghanistan delegates were huddled together at Islamabad to sign the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement, while Hillary stood behind like a headmistress with a rod in hand, to ensure compliance. The entire process was completed in such a hurry, that the Pakistan’s representatives did not get the time to discuss the matter with Parliament, or at least with the members of the Cabinet. And our PM, who should not have been there, in any case, stood at the signing of the agreement with a cynical smile on his face.

Ms Clinton scored another point, by forcing the Pakistani government to restore the privilege of our Ambassador in Washington, to issue one year multiple visit visas’ to the Americans visiting Pakistan. This privilege was, however, misused in the past by the Americans working for Blackwater and other such shady organisations. It means that the old ‘cloak and dagger’ game is on, once again. Read more of this post

Pax Americana, a dream shattered by Afghans


by Dr S M Rahman

The reactionary power propensity represented by Bushes, Dick Cheneys, Rumsfelds, whom Robert Jensen in his article ‘N-Weapon abolition requires death of US empire (Dissident Voice, reproduced in the Nation, June 20, 2010) describes as Reckless Hawks, compared to Obama, Bidens and Clintons who are relatively Reasonable Hawks. Hawks nevertheless!! The Reckless lot is ‘psychotic, whereas the Reasonable ones are cynical. What is that impels US policy makers – Republicans and Democrats alike to follow Wilsonian security paradigm as against Jeffersonian. Dismayed by the over ambitious, awfully disastrous pre-emptive US doctrine propounded by George Bush and Co,, the new incumbent Obama has been advised by the ‘pundits’ and statesmen to steer foreign policy a bit different from that of his predecessor. Walter Russell Mead based on the Carter analogy argued in the recent issue of Foreign Policy; “Obama”, he says, “needs to reconcile a transcendent Wilsonian vision of US foreign policy, with a competing Jeffersonian world view that focuses on the pitfalls of imperial overstretch” (All the Presidents Dreams by Richard Bart, The National interest, No. 106, Mar-Apr 2010).

Zbigniew Brezezinski – who was serving as Security Advisor to President Carter – a Hawkish policy propeller, just as Henry Kissinger was to Richard Nixon. How to take full control of Eurasia, after the end of Cold War, was Brezezinski’s strategic ambition in order to perpetuate USA’s absolute control over the world through a Power Chess Board paradigm. He is a bit critical of Obama – perhaps being ‘wishy washy’ and raising lot of expectations rather than “strategic breakthroughs”. He needs to be, “tenacious” and ‘energetic’ according to him, to be ale to ‘realize’ the goals he has already elaborated. Left to himself, perhaps, he would have followed what Nixon did in the context of Vietnam under the advice of Henry Kissinger. It was although a painful decision, but he did extract USA from the “Vietnam morass”, as the useless war was exceedingly becoming unpopular, besides creating an economic nightmare, entailing colossal budget deficit. Obama’s oscillation between ‘power’ and prudence is due to the mounting pressures of the Hawkish groups – the remnants of Bush era and the Military Industrial Complex, which promotes military interventions, as its market strategy. The ‘merchants of death’, have led to the transformation for the world, as if it were a replica of Greek tragedy.

At the end of World War II, USA emerged as an undisputed global power, though through act of ‘nuclear barbarism’ on Japan, not due to military requirements but to convey a message indirectly to “Soviet Union” to accept a step lower than that of USA, in the ‘power-pecking order’ of the world. Is it not a pathological and a dehumanized sensibility that depicts the US strategic mind set? A military historian has calculated that there were 39 incidents of “nuclear black mail”, of which 30 were made by the US officials. This, in essence depicts the so called civilizational face of USA, which Bush was so boastful about in justifying his ‘pre-emptive military doctrine’, which essentially was predatory in nature, to defend the most exploitative economic system of Capitalism and the West’s over accentuating greed to consume disproportional share of the global wealth. What else is globalization?

“Strategic contentment” is not what US and its allies tend to pursue. Despite the affluence and military power, USA had attained, the State Department’s policy planning staff in 1947 (as quoted by Robert Jenson) very explicitly conveyed: “To seek less than preponderant power would be to opt for defeat. Preponderant power must be the object of US policy.” The ‘preponderant power’ essentially is that it rules the world and that USA calls the strategic shots and determine the “terms of the global economy, to others, who can not reconcile to the domination, must be prepared to face annihilation. No other system would be acceptable and therefore, throughout the Cold War the myth of Communism was created to make the gullible public phobic about the dreadful ideology. It was not the media onslaught that led to the fall of Soviet Union. The strategic blunder did it, which it committed by invading Afghanistan, not realizing that Afghan territory is predisposed to sucking great empires – sort of eastern version of ‘Bermuda triangle’ (Analogy made by General Asad Durrani) in his write-up Making Sense in AfPak (Newsletter, issue 8, Thinker’s Forum (TFP). Read more of this post

Europe’s stain

By Mowahid Hussain Shah

Among the recurring European themes of the post 9/11 era are lectures telling Muslims how to behave. It has become fashionable to lecture. Netherlands has been at the forefront of the lecturing spree.

On July 11 at Johannesburg, when Netherlands was playing Spain for the World Cup Soccer title, thousands of miles away in eastern Bosnia, on the same day, was being marked the 15th anniversary of the genocidal massacre of over 8,000 Muslims by Serb soldiers in the Muslim town of Srebrenica.

The 1995 Srebrenica slaughter was the largest mass murder, as well as the first legally established case of genocide, in Europe since World War II. Significantly, it occurred in a place which had been designated by the UN Security Council as a “safe area which should be free from any armed attack or other hostile act”, under the protection of the United Nations Protection Force. The Security Council directed that Srebrenica be protected using “the necessary measures, including the use of force.” A Dutch battalion operating under the auspices of the UN was assigned the responsibility for protecting Srebrenica and its inhabitants. Rather than safeguarding Srebrenica, the Dutch guardians, under pressure from Serbian forces, fled or stood by while their charges were butchered. The sense of angry humiliation left in the aftermath of the Srebrenica slaughter, and the Western indifference to it, was a key catalyst inflaming radicalism in Europe and beyond.

Srebrenica is not highlighted in the Muslim world because the Muslim elites neither have the pride, nor the drive to do so. And it is equally not highlighted in the Western world, where there is little incentive to illuminate facets of Western “civilisation” which have caused devastation to the lives of Muslim victims, when the constant commotion is about “Islamic” terrorism.

Today, xenophobic politicians in Holland and elsewhere in Europe – under the cover of freedom of expression – indulge in targeted vilification of the Muslim world without examining their own sorry performance. One politician in particular, Geert Wilders, showed his disdain when he wrote and commissioned the making of an unnecessarily provocative and insulting documentary called Fitna, in 2008, with full knowledge that Holland’s bigoted political climate and weak Muslim community would permit Wilders to get away with his attacks. Earlier, a Dutch movie-maker, Theo van Gogh (great-grandson of the brother of the legendary Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh) made a movie which outraged the Dutch Muslim community and led to his being slain on November 2, 2004, in early morning on a public street, by an enraged Dutch-Moroccan.

Seventy years ago, when Holland and much of Europe crumbled before the German blitzkrieg, the Nazis swiftly discovered how quickly many locals became eager collaborators and informers, turning on their own fellow Jewish citizens and neighbours. The famous diary of the 14-year-old girl Anne Frank was written in hiding in Amsterdam and starkly details the atmosphere of terror and treachery.

In Indonesia – where I spent a part of my boyhood – I heard plenty of stories of how the Dutch colonial rulers fled when the Japanese invaded Indonesia in early 1942. After atom bombs pulverised Japan in 1945, the Dutch re-surfaced to regain their colonial control of the mineral rich Indonesia, but then, the Sukarno-led nationalist movement thwarted it. Read more of this post

Pak Interests Differ from US on Substantive Issues

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari

The Americans cannot understand mainstream Pakistan because they never get beyond the selected few amongst even the elite, the rulers and the civil and military bureaucracies. Ms Clinton never got the real picture on her earlier visit and surely she will not understand the depth of the anti-American sentiment that prevails in Pakistan today, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive inflows of intrusive aid into this country.

We are told she has come with a $500 million aid package and apparently the aid will go into power, agriculture, health and dams also – but as we all know for the Americans there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – and already our country is bleeding because of the alliance with the US so we are going to be bled some more with this aid package which is believed to be part of the old $ 7.5 billion Congressional aid package.

So why is one seeing this as a “bribe”? Simply because it is intended to soften the blow that the US is trying to deal Pakistan in terms of altering what remains of our indigenous foreign policy. So much has also been admitted by the self-styled expert on Pakistan, like many others on Holbrooke’s team, Vali Nasr. In a talk with CNN while he admitted that there was a wide trust gap between Pakistan and the US, besides stating that changing the relationship would take time. But his assessment was that “We are not going to be able to change their foreign policy on a dime.” If he had been a proper expert on Pakistan and actually knew the country well, he would have realised that it is not money that will alter Pakistan’s thinking (leaving aside the fifth columnists) on the US, but actually policy changes in US strategic policy especially in this region.

What are the primary changes the US will need to make to allow Pakistanis to rethink their perceptions of the US?

One, a stop in drone attacks, which can in definitional terms be regarded as state terrorism against the Pakistani people. Let Pakistan talk to its militants – many of whom are Pakistani citizens – rather than demanding our military simply kill the people of FATA indiscriminately.

Two, a new approach to the Pakistan-India relationship and a more even-handed policy towards both states. As long as the Indo-US nuclear agreement remains and the US pressurises Pakistan on its civil nuclear agreements with China, the US will be suspect. Also, the supply of state-of-the-art conventional weapon systems to India with no restrictions on their use, and the highly conditional sale of F-16s to Pakistan also add to the suspicions about the US agenda for Pakistan. And let us not forget the missile defence system for India, which will compel Pakistan to increase the number of its warheads and missiles. On Kashmir also, the recent statement by the US State Department, echoing the Indian position and ignoring the disputed status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir within the UNSC, hardly creates confidence in Pakistan. Many are asking why this is so and what the secret clauses are to this Agreement since the US is desperately seeking access for India through the land route across Pakistan into Afghanistan?

Three, the US has to rid itself of its approach to the Muslim World, especially towards Muslim states that refuse to toe the US line. Its killings of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; its harassment of Muslims in the US itself all add to the anti-US sentiment. The US analysts are ignorant about the fact that Pakistan has since 1947 been in the frontline of assisting Muslim causes – be it our pilots flying Syrian planes against Israel or the Tunisian and Algerian leadership using Pakistani passports and our embassy in Paris as they struggled for independence from France – to cite a few examples only. Read more of this post

Double standards in nuke cooperation

By Fu Xiaoqiang (China Daily)

The civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Pakistan and Chinese companies has attracted wide attention, with some countries even questioning the legality of the deal.

The pact is however a routine development and is a sign of pragmatic cooperation that will in fact be closely supervised by the concerned international authorities.

The strategic cooperative endeavor is not intended at targeting any third party. China has been an important source of assistance to Pakistan in several fields and this cooperation is the result of comprehensive bilateral strategic relations based on mutual trust.

Energy shortage has restricted economic development in Pakistan. Building nuclear power stations is an important solution to this problem.
The first and second stage of construction of the Chashma Nuclear Power Station has already been completed due to this bilateral cooperation initiative.

Civil nuclear cooperation is the fruit of deepening bilateral ties and is not only a win-win choice for both nations but also contributes to the stability and prosperity of South Asia.

Chinese companies’ involvement in civil nuclear projects is a routine economic activity. The overall installed capacity of civil nuclear power in Pakistan will increase several-fold in the next decade, turning Pakistan into an important market for international nuclear power service suppliers.

In this context, China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) construction of two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan, which is being closely supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should be deemed normal entrepreneurial behavior that does not breach China’s promise of nuclear non-proliferation as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In fact, the US has already started talks with Pakistan about civil nuclear cooperation. Due to domestic political compulsions, the nuclear tycoons of the West cannot compete in Pakistan’s nuclear reactors market. This should not, however, be made into an excuse to stop other nations’ companies from initiating routine nuclear cooperation with Pakistan.

It is illogical to approach the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between China and Pakistan using double standards. To some extent, similar cooperation – between the US and India – has provided China and Pakistan with a practical model.

After signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with the US in 2006, India became free to accept civil nuclear fuel and core technologies from the US – as long as it separated its civil nuclear facilities from military ones – even though the country hadn’t signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The IAEA council agreed to provide supervision guarantees to India after the US and India lobbied widely for the same in 2008. Forty-five members of the NSG reached agreement to lift restrictions on nuclear export to India later in the same year, after which the India-US cooperation entered a crucial stage. The US has reportedly sold nuclear material to India ever since, while Russia is helping India build more than 10 reactors.

Since it initiated large-scale nuclear cooperation with the US and Russia, it is groundless for India to complain about similar cooperation – on a much smaller scale – between Pakistan and China. It is India and the US that has opened the so-called nuclear Pandora’s box.

Their cooperation has, in some degree, removed obstacles for the Sino-Pakistan pact. Anybody nodding to the US and India has no reason to dissent to China and Pakistan now. The international community should abandon its ideological prejudice towards China and Pakistan.

Some Westerners think the civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US will certainly help improve the lives of ordinary Indian citizens simply because of their shared identity as free democratic countries.

In contrast, the deal between China and Pakistan, so-called non-democracies, must be evil and threatening, they aver. These double standards are a typical legacy of the Cold War era power politics. Any conclusion drawn from such a mentality deserves second thought. Read more of this post

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