Trying to reduce us to nothingness

By Dr. Shireen M Mazari
The present rulers have certainly tried to reduce Pakistan to a joke in the eyes of the world. Here we are confronting one of the largest natural disasters of the world, as even the UN has conceded, and our President has been busy frolicking in Europe with his team of loyalists who are giving out lies, half-truths and propaganda – in fact anything to conceal the truth. Take for instance, the claim that the President’s trip to the UK was an official trip. After being asked through an email from a Pakistani journalist, whether this was the case, the British Foreign Office spokesperson, Natasha Khan, responded (August 6th) with this one-liner: “President Zardari is not on an official state visit.”

President Zardari himself claimed that he was in the UK to develop trade links with the international community but ended up having only one official meeting – and that to with PM Cameron, not any trade delegation. As for the Marshall Plan he claims he got the UK to agree to, only he seems to be aware of it as there has been nothing coming out from the British government and apparently all that has happened is that we once again pleaded with the Brits to take up the case of access for Pakistani exports to the EU markets with Brussels.

Meanwhile, costs aside – and those too are substantial given the nightly rate at the London five star hotel the President and his entourage stayed at, plus the costs of the chartered flight to Birmingham, plus the costs of the dozen or so luxury limos that were hired and thousands of pounds paid for the hiring of the International Convention Centre in Birmingham and so on – it is what was said and left unsaid that was truly damaging for Pakistan. The first issue is of course the most critical – the unsubstantiated accusations uttered by UK Prime Minister Cameron in India against Pakistan, and his refusal to retract or even modify them. One had expected that at the very least President Zardari would take this issue up since he not only refused to cancel his trip, but also refused to cancel his meeting with Cameron. Unfortunately, in his meeting with Cameron, no protest was registered. To make matters worse, President Zardari actually seemed to be in agreement with Cameron’s remarks because in an interview given later to The Telegraph (August 7th), he made a reference to rogue spies when talking of the ISI whom he said were a thing of the past. So effectively he was echoing what Cameron had said, but to show how he was making the difference he added that he had full control over the intelligence agencies and only now “everybody is completely accountable!” So if the Pakistan nation or any state institution was expecting a strong defence against the Cameron remarks they were not going to get it from the Presidency! In fact, President Zardari did not even take up the issue of the Pakistani students who were arrested on alleged terrorist charges and then found not to be guilty but were still deported – thereby having their future all but destroyed. Yet, we heard nothing on this count either from President Zardari. If he saw the ISI guilty as charged by Cameron, surely he could have pleaded the cause of these innocent Pakistani youth at least?

It is no wonder, then, that the British political elite can ride roughshod over Pakistan and the British media can go to town ridiculing and lampooning the Pakistani head of state. Even someone who is considered a friend of Pakistan like Baroness Wasti made a strange defence of Prime Minister Cameron’s remarks in an article by declaring that friendship “is meaningless unless you can be honest with each other!” That is true but does honesty demand that you publicly level unsubstantiated allegations against your friend in the territory of the foe of that friend? Where was the mutual respect Wasti talked about in Cameron’s remarks and subsequent reiteration of that position? However, given President Zardari’s absurd remarks about the UK-Pakistan historical relationship – and one only has to go throw the history of Partition to realise this – obviously even Baroness Wasti feels she can pull a fast one on Pakistan while defending her Party leader and Prime Minister!

President Zardari’s tragedy is that no one is Pakistan, save his own loyal band, was in a mood to take the cudgels up in his defence or at least against the manner in which he was treated in the UK. After all, he defied his suffering nation to go on this jaunt at a time when he should have been offering succour and support to his flood-ravaged people. It is our tragedy that our leaders are in no mood to defend Pakistan, its people or its institutions against the negative agendas of external foes posing as friends. In fact, since successive governments have allowed the US to kill our people while violating our sovereignty at will, one can conclude that neither the previous uniformed dispensation nor the present civilian democratic dispensation is prepared to take up the cudgels for the Pakistani nation against the US and the agenda of the Indo-US nexus. As for the UK, it never befriended Pakistan, especially on the issue of Kashmir and if our leaders are not well-versed in our history, they need to get rid of this critical deficit. That is the only way they will finally realise who has truly been Pakistan’s friend in our times of need. Read more of this post

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KASHMIR – The Dispute That Continues to Rock South Asia

By Shahid R. Siddiqi

The Conflict

A cartoon published in an American newspaper in 2002 showed former president George Bush sitting behind his desk in the Oval Office, utterly confused by a news report he was reading about India and Pakistan going to war over Kashmir. “But why are the two countries fighting over a sweater,” he asked Dick Cheney who stood by with his usual sly smile on his face.

Besides reflecting the intellectual capacity of the American president of the time, the cartoon was a realistic portrayal of the understanding that American leaders have generally shown of this longstanding dispute between Pakistan and India.

The unresolved Kashmir conflict has rocked South Asia for six decades. It has created an environment of distrust and acrimony, forced the people to sink into poverty with bulk of the resources consumed by the war machines and claimed lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians as well as soldiers who died in the three wars fought between India and Pakistan. India, whose forcible occupation of Kashmir in 1947 created the conflict, refuses to settle it. The other stake holders, the Kashmiri people and Pakistan, insist on a fair solution. The international community including the US and the United Nations played little or no role in diffusing it either. Consequently, the conflict has developed into one of the most intractable problems of international politics that remains a continuing threat to peace of the region.

Indian Brutalities & The International Reaction

India has not hesitated to use brutal force to maintain its hold on Indian occupied Kashmir and suppress revolt. The US, UN and other international organizations failed to take note of grave human rights violations. They failed to provide any specific, actionable proposals for a permanent solution. All they extended were diplomatic courtesies, suggested vague formulas and generalities that are open to multiple interpretations.

Although the US considers South Asia to be a sensitive and strategically important region from its geopolitical, security and economic standpoint and has expressed the desire to see peace prevail, yet it has so far paid only lip service to finding a permanent solution. It would not chastise India for human rights violations, which would have attracted its immediate attention if these were taking place in a country that it had chosen to punish, for fear of displeasing or alienating India which it has aggressively been courting in recent years.

This situation was compounded by the Indian dreams of regional hegemony that led it to dismember Pakistan in 1971 and go on to become a nuclear power, which forced Pakistan to develop its own nuclear deterrent for safeguarding its security.

Consequently, India has consistently and blatantly refused to honor the will of the people, negotiate Kashmir’s future status and stop the use of brutal force.

The Conflict Leads To The First Kashmir War

In the wake of the August 1947 partition of British India that brought into existence two sovereign states of the Indian Union and Pakistan, the British left after having midwifed the Kashmir dispute that has since bedeviled peace between the two countries. Essentially, the agreed principle that governed partition was that Muslim majority states to the east and west of British India would form Pakistan, while rest of the subcontinent was to form Indian Union.

Decisions by several Muslim rulers for accession of their states to Pakistan that had Hindu majorities (Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manavadar being cases in point) were rejected on the grounds that a Muslim ruler did not have the right to overrule the will of the Hindu majority population. But the decision of the Hindu Raja of the princely state of Kashmir, which was predominantly a Muslim majority state and should have acceded to Pakistan, was immediately accepted by the British viceroy and the Indian government, despite a popular Kashmiri revolt against his decision. Although an agreement of non-intervention in Kashmir had been signed between India and Pakistan, the new Indian government sent troops into Kashmir at the request of the Hindu ruler to enforce the instrument of accession and forcibly occupy the territory, in disregard of the agreed principle of accession applied elsewhere.

This led to the first Kashmir war in 1947 between India and Pakistan. In 1948 India sought cease fire, taking the issue to the UN Security Council, which passed resolution 47 on 21 April 1948 that imposed an immediate cease-fire along the line of actual control of territory by both parties and called on them to withdraw their troops. It also ruled that “the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.” The cease fire was enacted in December 1948, with both governments agreeing to hold the plebiscite in areas under their control. Ever since, India has been rejecting all resolutions of the Security Council and the proposals of the UN arbitrators for demilitarization of the region – all of which were accepted by Pakistan.

The Security Council Steps In

Although the resolutions of the Security Council were regarded as the ‘documents of reference’ for a durable and internationally acceptable solution, no steps were ever taken for their implementation. This was because in technical terms these were not mandatory – not having been based under Chapter VII of the Charter. This allowed India to get away, dashing the false expectations of the Kashmiris as to the possible role of the United Nations as facilitator of a solution to the Kashmir problem.

This injustice to the Kashmiri people was intrinsically linked to the veto privilege of the permanent members of the Security Council and the lack of unanimity between them for enforcement measures according to Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter. Their plight is similar to that of the Palestinians, in whose case also resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) that call upon Israel to withdraw from occupied Arab territories are not based on Chapter VII and have hence enabled the occupying country, Israel, to ignore them.

That the United Nations Organization follows double standards was clearly visible when it adopted compulsory resolutions in other conflict situations, such as in case of the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990-1991, where the US – a permanent member, having an interest in the matter, was able to force the hand of other permanent members to do its bidding.

The cease fire line between the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir has since become the Line of Control and continues to be monitored by UN observers. Read more of this post

Uncensored: Who is real Axis of Evil? (Episode-1)

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PAKISTAN ARMY IN WAR AGAINST TERROR

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(Abi Abdul Samad Bin Iftikhar)

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Afghan Resistance against US Invaders

Marjah is indeed Fallujah. Like Fallujah, it will become a symbol, the defining moment in the war against the Afghan people. US Marines may “mow the grass”, eradicate the “weeds”, and plant their sterile seeds of Western-style democracy and economic prosperity as much as they like. However, “the Taliban is the future, the Americans are the past in Afghanistan,” as former head of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Hamid Gul recently told Al-Jazeera. This is clear to any sensible observer.

by Eric Walberg:

Apart for Abu Ghraib, Fallujah is perhaps the Iraq war’s defining moment. The hatred and resentment of the occupied people found a catalyst in the four Blackwater mercenaries, who were killed and strung up, and no doubt deserved their fate, certainly as symbols of a cynical, illegal invasion. The US soldiers — who are just as mercenary, being a professional army invading a country sans provocation — came and “destroyed the village to save it.”

The “success” of the blitzkrieg war in Iraq has been difficult to duplicate in Afghanistan, “the heart of darkness”, one British commander quipped to his troops as they went into battle, despite dropping far more bombs — many of them radioactive. The unflagging resistance of the Afghans, their refusal to submit to the occupiers, is that because they realise the invaders are not there for their purported altruistic motives. The thousands of civilians and resistance fighters who have been killed by airstrikes — none of them guilty of anything more egregious than defending their homeland — is more than ample proof, as is the craven propping up of a US-imposed government, and the proliferation of US bases in the country. The unapologetically un-Islamic ways of the invaders, their lack of even the remotest understanding of the people they are occupying, is a constant insult to a proud and ancient people.

The new exit plan, so it goes, involves “clearing” all regions of Taliban — US Marines call it “mowing the grass”, acknowledging that as soon as they murder one group of resisters and leave, more pop up. The “new” strategy is to bring in ready-made Afghan administrators and police to create a prosperous, peaceful society once the “enemy” have been destroyed, “winning the hearts and minds” of the locals. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said chief honcho General Stanley McChrystal.

But wait a moment. Is it possible the invaders are the enemy? And who are these newly discovered Afghan officials? Are (famously corrupt) Afghan government officials and police nominally loyal to NATO forces, trucked in by the invaders, going to be welcome in remote villages as ready-made trusted representatives of the people? And wasn’t this precisely the failed policy the US followed in Vietnam ? This old “new” policy was what convinced United States President Barack Obama to go along grudgingly with the Pentagon’s demands to radically increase NATO force — though on the condition that the whole operation be complete by next year. He clearly was given no choice in the matter, and his “ultimatum” was dismissed by US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates moments after Obama made it.

Not surprisingly, NATO forces have met strong resistance in Marjah as their onslaught enters its second week, from both the incredible, ragtag resistance and from locals, who doubt that the postwar reality will correspond remotely to the picture the invaders are painting. Tribal elders in Helmand this week called for an end to the “Moshtarak” offensive, citing Western troops’ disregard for civilian lives. Realising their “shock and awe” bombing kills civilians and turns locals against them, the invaders have reluctantly cut back, now authorising them only under “very limited and prescribed conditions.” Even so, over 50 civilians are among the dead so far — 27 in an airstrike in Uruzgan Province — and “friendly fire” killed seven Afghan police. Six occupiers were killed in one day alone, bringing NATO losses to 18 at the time of writing.

The latest propaganda ploy is to accuse the Taliban of using locals as “human shields” and of holing up near civilians. But surely it is the NATO forces that are using locals as human shields, invading their homes in search of the “enemy”, forcing them to betray their children and friends, often under torture in Afghan-run prisons. Even those Afghans who collaborate with the occupiers, taking their dollars, guns and uniforms, are in effect human shields for the troops. And when they realise their lives are on the line, they flee their paymasters. How else to explain the 25 police officers who left their posts last week and “defected” to the Taliban in Chak?

But Marjah is really just a microcosm for what the US is doing at this very moment around the globe — waging a veritable war on the world, in Iraq, Pakistan, expanding into Yemen, Somalia, Iran, supplementing bombs and soldiers with militarised sea lanes, forward military and missile bases on every continent, encircling “enemies” Russia and China.

The process is merely accelerating as the US loses its traditional edge in the world economy, outpaced by China . It is the logical next step for a deeply illogical economic system. It can’t be repeated too often: the US is frantically trying to consolidate its sole superpower status militarily before it loses the economic war. Read more of this post

Fear Is No Policy Surrender Is No Option: Gen (R) Hamid Gul

The former head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency – ISI – in conversation with Al Jazeera’s Kamahl Santamaria..

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Indian State Terrorism in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir

Disappearances and fake encounters of Kashmiris by Indian security forces and intelligence agencies in Indian occupied Kashmir.




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Crackdown against youth in Indian Occupied Kashmir, dozens arrested

ISLAMABAD : Indian police and paramilitary personnel have arrested dozens of youth from occupied Srinagar, Pattan, Sopore and other areas during the house raids in the past several days in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK).

According to Kashmir Media Service, the residents of Nowhatta, Hawal and Gojwara in Srinagar staged protest demonstrations against the arrests. They demanded removal of the bunkers of the paramilitary CRPF troopers from the areas.

Residents of Srinagar, Palhalan, Sopore and other areas said that police and paramilitary CRPF troopers during peaceful demonstrations barge into residential houses, beat up inmates and smash their windowpanes without any rhyme and reasons.

“The troopers and police want to crush the voice of the people by atrocities and harassments, which made the life of people unsafe and insecure,” they said.

The residents demanding removal of the bunkers said, “This is not the case in isolation. Every time there are protests in the areas, CRPF personnel from the nearby camps and bunkers damage houses and beat up locals.” APP

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Indian troops martyr two innocent youth in Indian Occupied Kashmir

ISLAMABAD : Indian troops, in their fresh act of state terrorism, martyred two innocent Kashmiri youth in Rajouri district of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK).

According to Kashmir Media Service personnel of 48-Rashtriya Rifles during siege and search operations killed Mohammad Aslam and Saddam Hussain Bakerwal in Kandi Kalar area of the district.

On the other hand, at least a dozen persons were injured when Indian police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers resorted to baton charge and fired numerous tear smoke canisters to disperse protesters at Nowhatta, Gojwara, Rajouri Kadal, Brein-Nishat, Palhalan and Sopore areas.

“The CRPF personnel hurled stones and smashed windowpanes of several residential houses, which created panic among the residents,” said residents of Nowhatta and Palhalan.

Meanwhile, a constable of BSF 68th battalion, Lakhvinder Kumar, involved in the killing of 16-year-old, Zahid Farooq on February 5 at Brain-Nishat, said before the police that he was forced by his senior to shot at the teenager.

“The BSF Commandant, R K Birdi forced Lakhvinder Kumar to shoot thrice at Zahid. The constable has disclosed before the police that he was forced by his senior to shoot the teenager. -APP

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Support to Palestinian statehood reaffirmed

Al-Quds to be capital ; Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories emphasised


Tanvir Siddiqi/ Sharafat Kazmi

Islamabad—Visiting Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas had meetings with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani here Friday.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan will continue to steadfastly support the total withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories.

Speaking dinner hosted in honour of Palestinian President Mehmood Abbas by him, he appreciated the Palestinians who have been subjected to decades of occupation and the worst of atrocities but have fought on.

He said seldom have a people kept the spirit of freedom alive and the flame of hope burning in the face of such great adversity.

The Palestinian struggle for statehood and for the right to self determination finds resonance in Pakistan, he added.

He said that our brothers in Kashmir face a similar occupation and are also struggling to realize their right to self-determination. Read more of this post

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