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  #71  
Old Thursday, May 02, 2013
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America doesn’t know its real enemies

By:Shahab Jafry


Every country where the US has intervened has been worse off because of it

It is surprising how US intelligence agencies’ inability to differentiate between Taliban and al Qaeda – despite 12 long years of war in Afghanistan – is confounding the road to disengagement in late 2014. It has also complicated shutting down Guantanamo Bay, something President Barack Obama promised on his first campaign trail. And much worse, it has led to near-complete breakdown in communication with the most important partner in the war – Pakistan. Hence the recent scramble towards a workable solution in Brussels.

Yet Brussels was predictably, perhaps deliberately, vague. Kerry thought, after “extensive talks”, that “results are what will tell the story, not statements and press conferences”. And Karzai’s “let’s hope forward for the best” was pretty much the same as our foreign secretary Jilani’s “We are looking forward to a very productive and forward-looking session”. If the past provides any insight into the present, Karzai and Pakistan’s foreign office exchanged accusations, Kerry sat wide-eyed, and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chain-smoked. The result? More power to the Taliban.

After ISAF lost steam on the field some years ago – British forces in Helmand even bribed local Taliban to the tune of some millions to point their guns the other way – the new approach has been reconciliation with certain pockets of Taliban. But which former Taliban chieftains to take on board and what to offer them, has only increased differences within the coalition. First the Americans and Afghans pressured Pakistan into releasing high profile detainees, then the Americans flew a few to Qatar, and then Karzai got upset over being kept in the dark about the Doha initiative, and then the process unraveled. All the while, Washington refused to entertain Kabul’s requests regarding Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo, even after the CIA cleared them of serious charges.

The lumping together of Taliban and al Qaeda is a throwback to the days when George Tenet headed the CIA, from a little before till a little after 9/11. And while the Americans could be forgiven for confusing the two groups back then, adhering to the same thesis shows they expect the on ground narrative to fit their understanding of things, instead of the other way around. This inflexibility has also led to sharp differences with Pakistan, and harmed Islamabad’s counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, which has focused on pitting militant groups against each other.

The Afghan Taliban, though subscribers to the same Wahabi extremism as al Qaeda, do not share the latter’s expansionism. Their “war with the West” is limited to Afghanistan, and will last only so long as foreigners occupy their country. The Americans still do not understand their widening cleavage with al Qaeda, especially since the ‘foreigners’ expanded the theatre of war into Pakistan and bankrolled the TTP. Mulla Omar forbade the Taliban from engaging with the Pakistani military. And the TTP, despite public allegiance to him, favour al Qaeda’s tactics.

The Pakistani intelligence realises that a post US withdrawal clash between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda is imminent, which is why it has exploited differences in the two groups, and their proxies, to contain al Qaeda advances in the tribal area. And the Americans, showing little appetite to such developments, have targeted both camps with drone strikes. Some of their initiatives, like focusing exclusively on ‘good Taliban’ pockets bolstered by Pakistan, indicate the CIA might even be deliberately sabotaging the ISI efforts of five or more years. The only outcome can be stoking the insurgency on the Pakistani side till at least the American drawdown.

More recently, the NYT’s report, and Karzai’s admission, of the CIA bringing “millions of dollars”, sometimes in plastic bags, to the Afghan presidential palace, only confirms doubts that the Americans have been without a workable strategy ever since they realised the limits of the military offensive. And since much of the money has gone to tribal chiefs as well as Taliban commanders – as per Kabul’s own admission – the disconnect between Washington’s stated goals and the ground reality has become more apparent.

This failure to really understand the war-on-terror enemy also led the Americans into far worse adventures in the Middle East as it tried to take control of the so called Arab Spring. Libya descended into Salafist chaos as soon as NATO strikes dislodged Gaddaffi, and Washington’s Gulf darlings spared little time in funneling jihadi armies into Syria as world focus shifted to Damascus. Again sticking to the old paradigm – that the old anti-Israel Iran-Syria axis is the biggest enemy – led the Americans to ignore the jihadi threat, and it turned a blind eye to Saudi/Qatari initiative of using religious extremists to unseat the Alawite Baathist regime and weaken their Shi’a nemesis Iran.

The GCC and US/Israeli interests may have been aligned initially, but if the al Qaeda aligned al Nusra front is able to dislodge the Assad regime, Israel and America will have the most to lose, placing them in the same camp as Iran. In one of modern geo-politics’ greatest ironies, the Israelis and their American friends will realise, as soon as petrodollar funded Salafi rockets start landing in Tel Aviv and Tehran, that they have more in common with the biggest regional enemy since the fall of the Shah’s peacock throne than oil monarchies they have held so dear all these years.

In all the wars and ‘interventions’ since 9/11, the Americans and their allies have left every country they have targeted worse off than before, be it Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. And little will change if they decide to indulge militarily in Syria. And in all these adventures, they have failed to realise that the biggest threat has come from al Qaeda fanatics, and those fanatics have had their bread and butter, and their arms, come from the Saudi establishment and its friends. Yet Washington continues to cajole Riyadh and its allies. It seems America does not understand who its real enemies are.

The writer is Middle East Correspondent, Pakistan Today, and can be reached at jafry.shahab@gmail.com

- See more at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013....RReQVpXq.dpuf
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Old Tuesday, May 07, 2013
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Causes of extremism in FATA and KP

Khubaib Usmani

Notwithstanding the unprecedented surge in violence that has gripped the country (excluding Punjab) due to electioneering the perpetual problems of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa are a mix of bad governance or complete lack of it, political exploitation, and patriarchal attitudes that have intricately woven into societal fabric over the decades.

Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and FATA are now denied the basic right of education. Peace and prosperity is a distant reality to them and they wake up to unending bomb blasts, suicide attacks and kidnapping for ransom cases every day. In a recent survey conducted in Peshawar, Charsadda, Swat and Mohmand Agency, respondents attributed lack of education, economic woes and justice as factors chiefly responsible for the growth of terrorism and extremism in the country.

To begin with Pakistan is a sorry tale of various education systems, running parallel to each other but none is capable of delivering any good to this hapless nation; we have system of seminaries that have mushroomed in nook and corner of the country and modest estimates show there are well over 35,000 seminaries in Pakistan and half of them are women seminaries. These seminaries are churning out fanatics who have very little or no knowledge of contemporary branches of science. They have no regard or tolerance for others and for them it is perfectly justified to kill others in the name of Islam.
The distraught infrastructure is the primary reason why our education system is in shambles; no attention is being paid on chronic capacity limitations of teachers who are unable to infuse a quest for learning among students; these semi-literate teachers in government and lower middle class institutions are further conditioned with their dogmatic beliefs which makes it even more difficult for students to achieve positive results and witness things in a free atmosphere. Then regional disparity is also a major cause.

The schools in Khyber-Pukhunkhwa are not that much groomed as that of the Punjab. In FATA, the literacy rate is deplorable constituting 29.5% in males and 3% in females. Out-of-place patriarchal values attach least importance to women or girls education; it is a sad reality that current primary school ratio of boys and girls is 10:4, which should be a cause of huge concern to policy makers but surprisingly it is not. Successive governments have not paid any attention to technical education and apparently literate people in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and FATA are without jobs both because fewer opportunities are available to them and because their education is worth nothing in job market.

The recent surge of extremism has pushed us into further isolation and economic quagmire. Our GDP growth rate is a dismal 2.4 percent and even this figure is hotly debated. Depreciation of rupee against dollar, energy crisis and upward inflation has increased the cost of doing business manifold. Business owners are shifting their capital to regional and African countries leaving Pakistan for good. In its Asian Development Outlook, the Asian development Bank has painted an extremely bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy that is “directionless” and immediate recovery chances are almost nil amid a worsening balance of payments position. According to the ADB, last year was the fifth consecutive year of low growth, falling investment, excessive fiscal deficits, high inflation and a deteriorating external position that weighed heavily on the economy.

Economically, FATA is completely in tatters where more than 75 percent people live below the poverty line. The poverty is absolute in FATA with no immediate chances of improvement. Per capita income is only half of that of Pakistan which is around 470 dollars. Tribesmen are enmeshed in abject poverty because they are earning less than a dollar a day; extensive agriculture, due to rocky and mountainous lands, is very little while the only other option that of manufacturing sector is almost non-existent.

This situation persists, despite of the fact that the strategic location of FATA gives it great economic advantage. In Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa the industries of beverage, ceramics, cement, cigarette, cotton, textile, matches, vegetable ghee and woolen textile are already on the brink of devastation. Most of them have been shut down and those that are still working find it increasingly difficult to survive.

Inhabitants of FATA are deprived of any positive approach towards the life; clerics in the conservative region have almost been on the pay roll of foreign masters. Extremists exploited this situation shrewdly and ruled the roost. The biggest manifestation of this situation has been the rise of terrorism from the region. Although tribesmen are not terrorists but certain terrorists have made tribal territories their permanent abode. Weak writ of the state has provided what has been termed as enabling or permissive environment to the terrorists.

Drone attacks are the basic source of new recruitment to militant groups based in FATA. According to TTP leadership Drone gave them more recruitments than that of their campaign. The survey conducted in three areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa also supports the view that indiscriminate drone strikes compel average inhabitants to convert themselves into living bombs since they do not have any other option. Even if drone strikes kill a few militants, they actually end up swelling the ranks of new recruits.

When people of Swat stood up in favour of Darul Qaza in troubled Malakand Division it was not without reason. The people who were used to the speedy resolution of their feuds and family issues under the legal and social framework of the pre-merger Swat felt frustrated with delay of justice in Pakistani courts, and the rampant corruption in government institutions broke their trust in the State.

Still some semblance of sobriety can be achieved if a clean leadership introduces better governance system with speedy justice and quality education.

After all we are the ones who have to bring order out of this fiasco.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/category/40/
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Old Wednesday, May 08, 2013
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Sponsors of terrorism in South Asia

Dr Raja Muhammad Khan

In the last two decades, South Asia was worst hit by the terrorism. Indeed, the region has some unresolved issues, which constantly created an element of distrust between the rivals. Failure to resolve these issues through negotiations resulted into major wars and border clashes between the main rivals of the region; India and Pakistan.

The issues however, remain unresolved. Through another approach, the opponents resorted to promotion of insurgencies in the territories of each other. This phase has given the South Asian giant, India, an edge over its smaller and comparatively weaker neighbours. Through its large spying network (RAW), Indian agents intruded into its geographically contiguous neighbours, causing wide spread instability and terrorism. Since 1970s, India has been sending its terrorists in Pakistan and other neighbouring countries. Raising Mukti Bahini in former East Pakistan and its subsequent separation in the form of Bangladesh was the first major achievement of RAW.

The activities of the RAW continued persistently. In 1990s, following the re-start of freedom struggle of Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, RAW decided to target Pakistan by infiltrating hundreds of its agents in various parts of Pakistan to promote instability and terrorism. These agents of RAW carried out bomb blasts and other terrorist acts, throughout Pakistan. The 49 years old Sarabjit Singh, was one of those carried out bomb blasts in Pakistan. He was arrested in Pakistan after he conducted a series of terrorist attacks (bomb blasts) in Lahore and Faisalabad, killing 14 innocents in 1990. He was tried by Lahore High court and Supreme Court of Pakistan and sentenced to death in 1991. Owing to the nature of his offence (terrorism), the President of Pakistan even rejected his mercy petitions. His fellow inmates in Kot Lakhpat Jail attacked him on 26 April 2013. Following the attack, he was given the best medical treatment in Jinnah Hospital, Lahore, but he could not survive and died on May 2, 2013. His family was allowed to meet him in the hospital and they remained with him until his death.

Sarabjit Singh, a convicted terrorist had confessed his acts of terrorism in front of the courts and media even. He accepted that, he was assigned this mission of terrorism by Indian authorities and that he was an agent of RAW, the notorious Indian spying network. He was indeed assigned to undertake terrorists’ acts in Pakistan to create instability and lawlessness. There is no doubt that, Pakistani authorities have unnecessarily delayed his execution and that there were flaws in the security of the prisoners. However, the accidental death of Sarabjit Singh at the hands of his fellow inmates cannot make him innocent. He was a declared terrorist and a convicted offender, waiting for the execution in jail.

After his death, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh declared Sarabjit Singh as “a brave son of India” and decided to celebrate his death at national level. The Indian External Affairs Minister Mr Salman Khurshid said that, he was “extremely anguished” by this death. Both leaders from the centre clearly spelt out that, after the death of Sarabjit Sing, Indo-Pakistan relations would not remain cordial. Salman Khurshid even said that, Sarabjit Singh’s death has “hurt” people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan.” The Chief Minister of Indian Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, went further ahead and declared Sarabjit Singh as a national martyr and criticized Pakistan over the security arrangements made in jail. Mr Badal said that, Sarabjit Singh is a “National martyr who suffered unspeakable repression and torture with dignity.” The body of Sarabjit Singh was accorded state funeral and all major political leaders including Rahual Ghandi, the future Indian premier attended the funeral. Indian leadership and its media remained highly provocative and critical towards Pakistan.

This is very surprising that the Indian Government gave a terrorist, the heroic reception and state funeral. This means that, this so-called secular state and the biggest democracy of the world is truly sponsoring the terrorists and terrorist activities in its neighbourhood. As an immediate retaliation, a Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah, who erroneously crossed over the border and was, languishing in Indian Occupied Jammu jail was brutally assaulted by a former Indian soldier in the jail. His condition is said to be critical in Chindigargh hospital. It appears as if this is the state policy of India that after undertaking terrorist activities, the Indian terrorists once come back; alive or dead, will be given heroic reception. Kashmir Singh was another terrorist, who once freed by Pakistan after 35 years, was given extraordinary heroic welcome in March 2008. This indeed is the biggest incentive, probably India promises its terrorists, while sending them for conducting terrorism in its neighbouring states. They are promised huge financial incentives and heroic welcome upon return. While these terrorists are out on the missions, their families are given all necessities of life. In case these terrorists meet the fate of Sarabjit Singh, their funeral are given, heroic reception and their families are given huge sum amounts and employments to their children.

All these indicate that, India truly take care of its terrorists for killing citizens of its neighbours and destabilizing them to remain as a regional hegemonic power. Tracing the track record of India, one would find that, terrorism is being sponsored by India as a state policy. In the last four decades, this so-called secular state has “killed tens of thousands of Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, and other minorities.” Pakistan being a major target of its terrorist’s activities. Indian spying network, directly working under Premier has “created and supported the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” in Sri Lanka and Maoists in Nepal, besides destabilizing other neighbours. According to ‘India Today’ report by of well-known Journalist Tavleen Singh “Indian government created the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” which the US government has identified as a “terrorist organization”. Another journalist, Justin Raimondo, describes that, former Indian Defense Minister, George Fernandes, raised money and arms for the LTTE.

In its January 2, 2002, report, Tony Blankley wrote in the Washington Times that, “India is sponsoring cross-border terrorism in the Pakistani province of Sindh.” Canadian journalists Brian McAndrew of the Toronto Star and Zuhair Kashmiri of the Toronto Globe and Mail, wrote in their book, “Soft Target” that, “India blew up its own airliner in 1985, killing 329 people, apparently in order to blame Sikhs for the atrocity and create a pretext for more violence against them.” In yet another report, the US State Department reported in 1994 that, “the Indian government paid out over 41,000 cash bounties to police officers for killing members of the Sikh minority. It is reported by Indian newspaper Hitavada that the Indian government paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, and the equivalent of $1.5 billion to foment terrorist activity in Punjab and in Kashmir.” As revealed by a book entitled, ‘The Politics of Genocide’ “over 250,000 Sikhs have been killed by the Indian government’s forces” after murder of Indra Ghandi in 1984. Indian atrocities are unprecedented against Kashmiris.

There is nothing new and surprising in these incidents, as India does this all as a state policy. What in fact is surprising, the mysterious silence of international community. The international community is not quite only, but considers India as a civilized and secular state. Indeed, this very perception of international community is questionable. Giving state funeral to a terrorist by Indian authorities is a question; the civilized global community should ask Indian Government. If India has to continue its policy of supporting and sponsoring terrorists and terrorism, and declaring its terrorists as the national heroes and brave sons, the civilized nations of globe should reconcile their apparatus of judging the national character of states.

It is morale duty of all the civilized nations of the world to review their diplomatic and economic relationship with India, after it has given heroic status to a terrorist. After all, still there are nations in the world, which maintain their norms and reverence for humanity. Following the heroic reception of his body and state funeral given to Sarabjit Singh, even a layman can tell, as to who sponsor and promote terrorists and terrorism in South Asia.
(The writer is Islamabad based analyst of international relations)

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/category/40/
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Fighting the invisible enemy

Sajjad Shaukat


In the past few years, many serious crises erupted in Pakistan when leaders of some political parties and media anchors spread rumours that army will impose martial law in the country. But Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani acted upon the principle of non-interference in politics. While, people witnessed that the coalition government completed its tenure of five years. These internal elements also misguided the general masses that war against terrorism is American war, which our Army is fighting. However, these misperceptions need appropriate analysis.

In this regard, on April 30, this year, the most important speech, delivered by Gen. Kayani on the occasion of (Martyrs’ Day) Youm-e-Shuhada made clear the role of Army in relation to democracy and war against terrorism.
While referring to the sacrifices of the armed forces, Rangers, police, Frontier Constabulary, Levies, journalists and people who became victims of extremism and terrorism, Gen. Kayani said that the war the army was fighting was Pakistan’s war and that the anti-democratic forces would never be acceptable. He clarified that even in democratic states, treason and uprisings against the state have never been tolerated and in such struggles their armed forces have had unflinching support of the masses.

Regrettably, some senseless analysts presumed that Gen. Kayani said it in favour of former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s much publicized treason trial. Gen. Kayani explained, “I assure you that we stand committed to assist and support the free, fair and peaceful elections...this support shall solely be aimed at strengthening democracy and rule of law…linked to prosperity of the nation.” He stressed a greater political consensus and a clear policy to tackle extremism and terrorism.

It is mentionable that by following the realistic approach, after the 9/11 tragedy, like other small countries, Pakistan joined the US war against terrorism because the latter was facing multiple problems of grave nature besides hostile factor of India. In case of refusal, the US-led major states which have strong hold on the UN Security Council, and its financial institutes could impose sanctions on Islamabad. These powers could even attack Pakistan, and India could be beneficiary. Notably, every time, IMF and World Bank give loans to Pakistan after the green signal of America.

Since then, by setting aside the ‘real politicking’, and noting the bomb blasts, suicide attacks, targeted killings, sectarian violence etc., Pakistan’s political and religious leaders started propagating that under US pressure, Pak Army and country’s intelligence agencies have been waging American war against terrorism. In this context, instead of grasping reality, these internal entitles have neglected a number of factors. In fact, like other less developed countries, Pakistan has multiple crises of serious nature. Despite it, Islamabad has rejected American duress on a number of occasions.

Within a few years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they are failing in coping with the Taliban, they started false allegations against Pak Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the militants in Afghanistan, while emphasizing to ‘do more’ against the insurgents by ignoring the internal backlash. Differences increased between Islamabad and Washington because ISI thwarted the anti-Pakistan activities of the agents of Blackwater and CIA. In this respect, vacation of the Shamsi Airbase, closure of NATO ground supply routes through its territory to Afghanistan for seven months, refusal of military operation in North Waziristan, Pakistan’s inauguration the gas pipeline project with Iran in wake of US threat of sanctions and hading over the control of Gwader seaport to China show that Islamabad has rejected the US duress.

Although Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliated militant outfits have conducted high-profile terror-attacks on the civil and military installations of Pakistan including sectarian killings and assaults on the security forces, yet they have accelerated their subversive acts to sabotage the forthcoming polls by targeting the election-sites of the political parties and killing the independent candidates. They have killed many leaders and workers of the Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan Peoples Party through suicide attacks and bomb blasts.
While accepting responsibility, TTP not only felt pride for latest terror-assaults, but has also threatened to continue such attacks in future. Meanwhile, in the recent days, the TTP militants distributed pamphlets in Buner, Peshawar and different areas of Karachi, warning citizens against attending political rallies and casting their votes at polling stations. TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that democracy was un-Islamic, western system of government, and was the agenda of secular forces in Pakistan.
But, Islam is a religion of universal application, as it emphasizes peace, democracy, moderation and human rights including tolerance of political groups, religious communities and sects.

In this respect, addressing the Constituent Assembly on August, 11 1947, Quaid-i-Azam who wanted Pakistan as a democratic state, said that he did not want Pakistan to be a theocratic state. He wanted Pakistan to be a liberal, secular and progressive state.

Besides, Islamic laws can be implemented through a system of governance, hence, elections are essential for placing the elected representatives to make rules and govern in any part of the country. Laws of Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) can best be put to practice through democratic system which does not make us un-Islamic or anti-Sharia. In fact, it is a representative system which is based upon equality of all the people, ensuring enforcement of rule of law through an independent justice.

Pakistan has to move along with the demands of modern time. Therefore, periodic reinterpretation of Islamic teachings is essential. Such movement is called Ijtihad, which could provide new perceptions to Islam in accordance with the changed world vision.

Notably, by condemning the TTP insurgents’ inhuman activities, more than 60 Islamic scholars recently clarified in their joint fatwa (edict) that “killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings including sectarianism are nor Jihad”, and “are against the spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and digression from the actual teachings of the religion.” Unlike the Taliban, they elaborated; “Islam does not forbid women’s education.” No doubt, these Taliban and their linked groups are defaming Islam and are weakening Pakistan.

In fact, based in Afghanistan, secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are supporting TTP, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other similar militant groups to sabotage the democratic system and to create chaotic situation in Pakistan, as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. A continued wave of terror-assaults on the places of worships, security forces, sectarian violence etc. is also part of the same plot against Pakistan. For the purpose, especially, RAW has hired the services of Indian Muslims who have well-penetrated in the BLA, TTP, Jundollah, (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which have been conducting subversive acts in various regions of the country.

Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly disclosed that militants along with huge cache of arms are being sent to Pakistan from Afghanistan. So far, these terrorists have killed more than 5000 personnel of the security forces and 40000 innocent people including huge collateral damage. They have also destroyed thousands of schools.

Now, people from all segments of society including politicians have realized that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to impose their self-perceived ideology through acts of sabotage in the country. In this connection, in the same speech, Gen. Kayani pointed out, “I would like to ask that if a small faction wants to enforce its distorted ideology over the entire Nation by taking up arms…defies the constitution, the democratic process and considers all forms of bloodshed justified, then, does the fight against this enemy of the state constitute someone else’s war?”

Nevertheless, Pakistan’s security agencies are fighting a ‘different war’ with the invisible enemy. It is a war in which offence knows its target, but defence does not know. Army and security agencies cannot wage this war alone, as it is everyone’s war. This new style war demands strong cooperation of the media, political and religious leaders including general masses with the security forces and intelligence agencies in order to castigate the self-motivated designs of the Taliban and their affiliated militants.

http://www.thefrontierpost.com/category/40/
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Looking beyond terrorists


Terrorists Monday wreaked carnage of the innocent Muslims at a Madrassa in Sewak village in Kurram tribal region in which 23 people were killed and over 70 others injured leaving behind pools of blood and human organs scattered around. The participants of rally cried for loved ones falling victim to man-made havoc. Having no faith in the hapless and helpless political administration and the security forces, the local residents of Khurram Agency took bodies of their relatives to their villages instead of taking them to hospitals for pursuing further action against the attackers. What a shame! The political administration is in a shambles. The creditability of the security agencies or their security framework installed to protect the lives of the people has gone down the drain. At least this is a conclusion one comes to after watching so many unabated bomb attacks on the election rallies. It also badly exposed preparedness of the security force to meet any emergency and eventuality as after the explosion, by the time the security forces arrived in the remote and mountainous Parachamkani area.

The local people had already retrieved the bodies, and had shifted the injured to hospitals. After brutalizing the innocent people including children, the TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan, claiming the responsibility, says for a long time, the TTP had been trying to locate and kill Munir Orakzai. His name was even mentioned in the video massage of Hakimullah Masud yet the security offered to him seamed insufficient but to the utmost surprise of all, and for the reasons best known to the JUI-F, its candidate for NA-37, bailed out the terrorist outfit, saying that the TTP is not behind the Monday’s blast at their rally. He may have a reason to say this. His rhetoric should not be brushed aside rather it needs a careful consideration and analysis. Somehow, the target of the blast has escaped unhurt. Alas! His activists were not so lucky.
After Monday’s carnage, Tuesday too saw no respite in attacks. Three more people were killed in PK-96 constituency of Lower Dir. A curfew was imposed in Hangu district after an explosion targeting a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidate in the district’s Doaba town in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province killed ten persons and injured 22 others. The reports pouring out from Balochistan and Karachi are no different.

Having a total disregard for the rulers and security agencies, the TTP is ruling the roost and the rest are just chasing the shadow of the ghost having no clue what-so-ever. Thousands of the Army troops, Para-military personnel and police have been put on guard to make the environment in the country best suited to hold elections on May 11. But it looks like as if each of the security step taken so far has proved insignificant. Is that really true? No, it is not true. No one can believe that a handful of terrorists can sustain the military might that Pakistan has. There is something wrong some where else too. Now the people must stop running for life like herds of wild-beasts do in forests. The time is ripe to look around to flush out all sorts of militancy--be it exists amongst ranks of political parties or in religious outfits. Sooner or the later, the political parties and the religious organizations have to revisit their fund-raising policies and schemes under garb of donations. Sitting in nicely controlled temperatures, the rulers condemn the deadly incidents thereafter a dead silence prevails till something more heinous comes to fore for the people to mourn at. Sequence is continuing for a long time and it may not come to an end till the people of Pakistan stand up to fight for their lives themselves, forcing the political leadership to undertake a process of cleansing within their ranks.

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Dancing to the beat of a new drum twelve years after 9/11

Endy Bayuni


The Western and Muslim worlds drifted apart in the wake of 9/11. The 11 September 2001 suicide hijackings in the United States were followed by other equally devastating attacks in Bali, London, Madrid, Mumbai and elsewhere in the world, all of which were conducted in the name of Islam.
After more than 10 years and two bloody wars in Muslim-majority countries waged by the United States in the name of fighting terror, tensions remain high between Muslim societies and the so-called West.
Many people still subscribe to the view of a world divided by cultural affiliation or faith. They see two civilisations that are incompatible with one another and bound to clash. This view is not only flawed but also dangerous because it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One glaring flaw in the theory of two contesting civilisations is that there is no one single “Muslim world” just as there is no one single “Western world”. The world is not as black and white as this view portrays. There are as many different shades of Muslim culture as there are of Western culture. Those who have chosen to ignore this have played up the differences and helped contribute to existing tensions.
The world’s Muslim population, for example, is so diverse that it is hard to ascribe one single culture to it.
Geographically, it spans from Indonesia to Morocco, and includes substantial Muslim populations in countries like China, India and the United States, as well as throughout Europe. Other than some shared religious rituals, however, there is almost nothing linking Muslims in Indonesia with their brothers-in-faith in, for example, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Turkey. They have little in common, culturally as well as politically.
Politically, the diversity is even more pronounced within societies than between them. Muslim communities have their share of liberals, moderates, democrats, conservatives and fundamentalists. These societies have their share of extreme fringe groups too, but they could hardly claim to represent a majority.
Lumping all 1.6 billion Muslims together leads to misleading generalizations and dangerous stereotyping. One such stereotype is that all Muslims are violent – a perception that has further perpetuated Islam phobia in the West.
As long as people subscribe to a worldview divided along different civilisational lines – the West and the Muslim world – they are unlikely to bridge the gap or overcome mutual suspicions. The tension will not go away and instead will be constantly exploited by extremists in both camps, whose objectives are anything but peace. There are many groups in Muslim-majority countries which would profit politically by playing up the anti-West or anti-American sentiments, just as there are groups in the West who exploit anti-Islam sentiments in their societies.
While many people around the world have been working tirelessly to try to bridge the gap, by accepting the view that the world is divided along civilization lines, these well-intentioned people are essentially still dancing to the drum of war beaten by extremists.
Instead we must now dance to a new beat, one that promotes peace and unites the world as a single civilization with as many cultures as the world can take.
We can do this by ceasing the view of the world as divided between Muslims and the West. People in these two worlds may have different cultures and traditions and are at different stages of economic development. But on the other hand, they have other things in common.
They have the same aspirations when it comes to freedom, democracy, dignity and prosperity. The fact that Arab youth were willing to rise up en mass to fight for these aspirations during the Arab Spring in 2011 proved just that.
We have a much better chance of meeting these mutual aspirations by collaborating, than by competing or fighting one another.
There is only one civilization in place today, one that has evolved and developed over hundreds of years, and in which Muslims and Westerners have each played a leading role. Nations cannot and must not be defined only by the faith of the majority. The sooner we accept this, the better it is for the world to collaborate and address common problems and challenges together.

(Endy Bayuni is a senior Indonesian journalist at the Jakarta Post)

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Consensus needed to defeat terrorism

Ayesha Rana


Since the last few years, we annually commemorate Yaum-e-Shuhadha on 30th April to pay homage to our martyrs who laid their lives in war against terrorism. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, when Pakistan Army moved into FATA and Waziristan areas, it has been almost a decade.
In 2008, the army had to be deployed in Swat, where the situation was brought under control after three years of fierce counterinsurgency operations. In this war against terrorism, thousands of Pakistanis sacrificed their lives. The martyrs included members of armed forces, Frontier Corps and Constabulary, Police, leaders and workers of political parties and innocent civilians. Despite the achievements of the resilient armed forces and sacrifices made by our valiant soldiers, the end is not visible. There is a need to identify the causes and find remedies.
This war has caused pervasive damage to Pakistan in many spheres loss of precious human lives, erosion of writ of the government, damaged social fabric, devastated economy, smeared image of a society deemed earlier as tolerant, low national morale, serious damage to public property the list is endless. Despite the above started issues, there still exists a doubt in the society whether this is our war? Many political leaders and religious luminaries hold a view that we are fighting America’s war. We must remember that whatever is happening in Afghanistan is a larger issue therefore without taking refuge in those complexities we must look inwards to find homegrown solution to our own problems. It must be appreciated that on one hand our armed forces and other law enforcement agencies are fighting against these terrorists to establish the writ of the state, whereas on the other hand we continue to cast doubts on their Herculean efforts.
How can these soldiers continue to fight and lay their lives in the line of duty if they remain devoid of national support? How can we ignore that terrorists are often funded by foreign sources, with an agenda to destabilize Pakistan, for their ulterior motives. Under the garb of religion, they are spreading extremism and intolerance in the society. It is no rocket science to see that these elements are enemies of our country, sponsored by forces inimical to Pakistan, who have resorted to sub conventional warfare.
How do we deal with people who take law in their own hands, do not respect or accept the constitution of the country and try to impose their own distorted extremist views on the masses through rampant violence? Is there any justification whatsoever for attacking the armed forces, security establishments and innocent civilians? There should be no confusion and doubt in treating them as anti state elements. Regretfully the lack of unanimity in the Pakistani society has encouraged their liberty of action. Pakistani citizens are suffering continuously. Our next generation has literally grown under a combatant shadow of fear. Instead of a useless debate on the validity of war against terror, it is in our interest to join hands against these terrorists. We must remove the ambiguity by shunning this duplicity and state of denial. In order to fight this enemy, each and every Pakistani, without any segregation of political, ethnic or sectarian preference, must forge an alliance to rid the society of this menace.
These terrorists justify and try to impose their ideology in the name of Islam. But their agenda has nothing to do with the religion itself. Muslims do not attack each other’s mosques and kill innocent people including women and children.
Islam has never propagated the elimination of non-Muslims instead they have always supported peaceful co-existence. Islam is a religion of peace, love and harmony. Pakistan is our motherland we want it to be the safest place on earth not only for us but for our children as well. The sacrifice of martyrs who have laid their lives fighting and protecting the motherland should not go waste by casting doubts and wondering who is attacking Pakistan. Mustering all resources, which includes operations by armed forces, the tirade of print and electronic media, duly supported by national resolve, we will endure this tough test of time InshaAllah and emerge victorious and prosperous. Long live Pakistan.

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Muslims’ specific war on terror

Asif Haroon Raja


Terrorism is the foremost problem of the world but ironically it is yet to be defined. What is the yardstick for defining a terrorist since ‘one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter’ and vice versa? Difference between terrorism and freedom struggle has also not been defined.
No explanation has been rendered as to how come religious extremism and terrorism have been exclusively confined to Muslim world and non-Muslim world exempted. On what grounds Hindu and Jewish religious extremism and terrorism been ignored? Aren’t Palestinians and Kashmiris the biggest victims of state terrorism of India and Israel respectively since 1947/48?
How come USA which many see as the biggest terrorist state been excused? How come terrorism suddenly became such a dreaded monster when America was struck and not before? Why the liberal writers never tire writing about the horrors of 9/11 and scourge of terrorism after 9/11 and not before? Was the world safe from the bane of extremism and violence before 9/11? Muslims ask whether 9/11 was more gruesome than nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why the axe has fallen only on Muslims? These pointed questions agitate the minds of the Muslims since the one who had vowed to eliminate terrorism from the face of the world has a tainted past and believes in dual standards.
Going by the theory of Newton Law which says ‘to every action there is equal and opposite reaction’, what is so odd if the attacked people resist and fight back? What is the rationale for condoning the attack and condemning the defender? Even this principle is selectively applied. When a group attacked the twin towers in New York and Pentagon building in Washington on 9/11, the Americans became an aggrieved party and the Muslims all over the world were put in the category of suspects. Al-Qaeda was branded as a terrorist group and Taliban regime in Kabul as their guardian. When the US and its western allies attacked Afghanistan, the roles changed. The attackers were declared as saviors and liberators, and defenders as terrorists simply because they refused to submit and dared to stand up to the challenge. Northern Alliance which collaborated with the invaders were befriended and rewarded.
In case of Iraq, Saddam neither had nukes nor had taken any offensive act against the west, yet Iraq was destroyed by US-NATO forces on a trumped up charge of WMDs. The defenders of their homeland were declared as undemocratic and fascists, while the invaders projected themselves as liberators and democracy lovers. Iraqi Shias and Kurds supporting the invaders were eulogized and Al-Qaeda supporting resistance forces were censured and declared as terrorists. Saddam was hounded in his homeland, arrested and hanged. His invasion of Kuwait was too horrendous and unforgivable and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were civilized acts.
Less than 3000 people died in the two US cities on 9/11 about which many in USA are convinced that it was an in-house neo-cons-Jewish conspiracy. In retaliation, the US-NATO forces destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq, killed over two million Iraqis, caused critical injuries to millions, rendered millions homeless. Likewise, unknown number of Afghans lost their lives and millions got displaced. Wanton slaughter of innocents who had nothing to do with 9/11 is not regretted by invaders. WMD fakery which got exposed didn’t shame them.
9/11 anniversary is solemnly held every year and bouquets and wreaths are laid on the graves of the dead. The world is reminded of the horrors of 9/11. This ritual is held as if those who died on that fateful day were chosen people and 2-3 million Muslims who were recklessly killed by the crusaders were sub-humans and children of lesser god.
Terrorism became the buzzword which justified Muslim bashing, gave a freehand to the counter terrorism forces to kill without making any distinction between terrorists and innocent onlookers. Infamous Bagram and Abu Gharib jails as well as scores of torture cells including Guantanamo Bay were setup in violation of international law. Having made good use of cluster bombs, daisy cutters, cruise missiles and other deadly war munitions, drones were added in the arsenal to slaughter Muslims without incurring any harm to the killers. Drone war has been extended to Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Fiji.
Arab spring was instigated in the Middle East to further divide the Muslims and under its garb Gaddafi was brutally murdered and a regime of choice installed. Syria is currently in the boiling cauldron. Sectarian war in Iraq fomented by the occupiers is still simmering after their departure in December 2009 and bloodshed is continuing. The bloody war is most likely to continue in Afghanistan after the exit of ISAF in December 2014. Pakistan which was peaceful before the occupation of Afghanistan has faced the main brunt of war on terror with over 40,000 fatalities. It will keep jolting because of instability in its neighborhood for a long time.
Turmoil in the Muslim world is a consequence of interventionism and imperialist designs of the sole super power. Afghan venture was undertaken not to avenge 9/11 incident and to save the world from the menace of terrorism, but to accomplish strategic and economic ambitions. Likewise, Iraq was not invaded and occupied to save the world from nuclear holocaust, but to gain control over oil of the Middle East. Islam was to be emasculated by wholly secularizing the Muslim world under the appealing slogan of enlightened democracy. The two military ventures were aimed at retaining global supremacy for next hundred years. Power and moneymaking ambitions blinded the American and western elites and they turned into insensitive robots deriving sadistic pleasure in killing Muslims. Bearded Muslims deeply attached with religion seen as scum of the earth and marked as prime targets.
To undermine Islam, western think tanks and intellectuals presented it as a religion espousing militancy. Perpetrators of crimes against humanity declared Islam and its followers as the real problem. Working on the successfully tried out strategy of divide and rule, cleavage between the seculars and Islamists was widened by describing the former as moderates, progressive and enlightened, and the latter as fundamentalists, extremists, bigoted and intolerant. The Taliban were also bracketed as good and bad Taliban.
For nearly 12 years the Muslims have been hounded, persecuted, tortured and killed by US-NATO forces. Yet the tormentors waging an unjust war are named as counter insurgents and not terrorists. Ignoring the horrendous death and destruction inflicted upon the Muslims, the US and the west never tire saying that Muslims are terrorists. Any act of terror taking place in any part of the world is promptly put in the basket of radical Muslims. Boston incident is the recent example. This stance remains unchanged despite the fact that no terrorist attack took place in USA after 9/11. 3-4 unsuccessful attempts by Muslim Americans were in reaction to unjust and biased US policies against the Muslims and US support to Israel. Those fiascos gave ammunition to the Islam bashers to further intensify their vilification campaign against Islam.
The root causes of growth of religious extremism in Muslim countries are insensitivity and apathy of their rulers who remain more occupied in fulfilling their selfish interests and in keeping Washington appeased; growing poverty and widening gap between rich and poor; sectarianism and ethnicity; lack of justice, cruel police station culture; rising obscenity, vulgarity and immorality promoted by liberals; West’s defamation of Holy Prophet through caricatures and movies; unjust and discriminatory US policies against Muslims; US outright leaning towards Israel and defending Israeli aggressive policies against Palestinians; US siding with India on issue of Kashmir.
So the real problem is US and its discriminatory policies and faulty policies of our ruling elite and not Islam. If the US revenge has not been sated after slaughtering 2-3 million Muslims, one wonders how much time will be required for the heirs of those who lost their near and dear ones in this unjust Muslim specific war, to get over this trauma? The issue is not whether it is our or someone else’s war. The real issue is that it is a bloody war in which none is a victor; the initiator has got exhausted and is going back home; the futile war must end at the earliest.

(The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist)

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