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Posts from — September 2013

The revenge argument: op-ed by BABAR SATTAR The writer is a lawyer.

IN 2004 Corps Commander XI Corps decided to meet Nek Mohammad to seal a peace deal. The political agent responsible for South Waziristan warned against the enterprise.

He argued that there existed a civil administration in Fata and an established manner in which the state dealt with recalcitrant tribesmen. And that even if the corps commander wished to conclude a deal with the militant leader there was a way to go about it.

The political agent would have his naib tehsildar arrest and lock up Nek Mohammad for a few days before offering him a peace deal that could be formalised in the corps commander’s presence. He warned that if the state took the unprecedented step of a general showing up at Nek Mohammad’s place, it would embolden rebellious tribesmen, render the political agent’s office dysfunctional and wipe out the vestige of state authority in the tribal belt.

The political agent wrote this in a letter to the governor. The governor and the corps commander disagreed and the matter was referred to GHQ. Gen Musharraf apparently decided that he would let the corps commander run the show. The corps commander met Nek Mohammad and concluded the infamous Shakai peace deal in April 2004. (The political agent refused to accompany the corps commander and was transferred out.)

The very next day Nek Mohammad reiterated his commitment to Al Qaeda and Taliban in a media interview. The peace deal was dead in the water. On June 18, Nek Mohammad was killed in what was then claimed as a missile strike. Reportedly it was the first US drone strike in Pakistan killing an anti-state militant leader.

The political agent’s counsel was prophetic. It wasn’t the use of the drone that marked the end of civilian authority in the tribal belt, but the elevation of Nek Mohammad to an equal of a high state functionary such as the corps commander. We have had to rely on use of force to maintain peace in the tribal areas not because structures of political and social authority never existed there but because they were obliterated by flawed policies and not rebuilt.

Do the generals then have any justification to chide lack of resolve amongst politicos to fight terror? The only thing that the all-party conference — and the inane resolution it produced — established was that the civil and military leaders are indeed on the same page: they share confusion and pusillanimity in dealing with terror.

The argument that drones primarily ignite the sense of revenge within Pakhtuns, which then manifests itself in the form of suicide attacks within mosques and churches, schools and funerals targeting innocent civilians and state officials alike is mindless. That drones comprise a pre-emptive execution programme that is unjustifiable in view of basic rule of law and due process requirements is a separate issue.

But citing revenge as the prime cause of terror in Pakistan is obtuse and reckless. Have more Pakhtuns died at the hands of TTP-led band of terrorists or in drone attacks? Do drones contain a special collateral agent that triggers the sense of revenge within the victims’ survivors that suicide attacks lack? Do 15-year-olds blow themselves up along with others because they are mad at the state’s foreign policy?

The roots of terror have to be traced to the ‘Good Jihad’ of the 1980s and not the ‘Bad Jihad’ post-9/11 when national security was mixed with religion. The state created non-state actors, armed them with weapons and an ideology of hate inspired by the misuse of religious dogma, and employed them in pursuit of a national security policy. The non-state actors turned on the state in the post-9/11 phase when the state’s national security interests came in conflict with their worldview.

And what did the state do? Nothing. It didn’t abandon the use of non-state actors as a ‘safeguard’ — a back up plan — in its national security thinking. It didn’t shut down madressahs set up to infect impressionable minds with a religion-inspired ideology of hate. It didn’t shut down militant camps where non-state actors were trained as militants. So it neither admitted the design fault in the jihadi project nor shut down the assembly line. Instead, it drew an arbitrary line in sand: if non-state actors attack the state they will become an enemy. The flaw in this thinking (now adopted by pro-talks politicos) is that armed non-state actors coexisting and sharing the state’s monopoly over violence can be acceptable, and lasting peace can be built with the state negotiating a mutually acceptable code of conduct that will take away not the capacity of militants but their will to kill. Once a militant elite has grabbed and tasted power, will it give it up voluntarily just because the state is being nice?

Problems grow bigger if allowed to fester. The right time to clean up North Waziristan was after the Swat and South Waziristan operations. Lack of gravitas of the civilian set-up aside, the decision not to launch the operation in 2011-12 was that of Gen Kayani. The decision not to reclaim the TTP emirate was ultimately driven by the old desire to preserve whatever leverage the state believed it had with the Taliban to ‘safeguard’ Pakistan’s interests in post 2014 Afghanistan.

Now our ruling civilian leaders have bought into this mindset of giving up what we have in a bid to preserve what we don’t. Imran Khan’s suggestion of helping the TTP establish an office and recognise a terror outfit as a legitimate stakeholder reflects this blinkered thinking. Lionising terrorists as angry zealots, projecting surrender as restraint and labeling calls to defend foundational principles of polity as revenge or conspiracy is bad statesmanship even if not bad politics.

Integrity and good intentions define gentlemen; vision and judgement define leaders. Imran Khan is singularly deflating the resolve of this nation to stand up against vile terrorists. Our misfortune is that in facing an existential crisis our self-proclaimed agent of change suffers from warped judgement and everyone else lacks the vision or ability to challenge his noxious narrative.http://dawn.com/news/1046440/the-revenge-argument

September 30, 2013   No Comments

Punjabi Taliban, TTP and the APC – I: op-ed by Ali Salman Alvi in daily times, sept 30

The writer is a freelance columnist and a political activist

Pakistan is fast plunging into the hands of extremist and radical elements. The Taliban hold sway in the lawless territory of Waziristan and the tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The situation has deteriorated so much that we now have a state-within-the-state of Pakistan: the ‘Islamic Emirate of Waziristan’, a terrorist safe haven. In a report titled, “As if Hell Fell on Me: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan” released in 2010, the human rights group Amnesty International claimed that nearly four million people were effectively living under the Taliban rule in the north-western tribal belt and were abandoned by the Pakistani government.

On another note, the Taliban are now infiltrating major cities of Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. During the Supreme Court hearings last year, judges had ordered the authorities to investigate reports that as many as 8,000 Taliban members were in Pakistan’s largest city and economic epicentre. In short, the writing on the wall is very clear for all those who have not turned a blind eye to it. The Pakistani Taliban are turning out to be more and more daring, making unprecedented inroads into the sovereignty of our homeland. On the other hand, the response of our nation to the Taliban’s aggression has been disoriented, indecisive and dishonest at large, thanks to two mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, and right-wing religio-political parties. While the aforementioned parties have acted as kind of a moderate mouthpiece for the Taliban, advocating their case in a bid to appease them, the right-wing religio-political parties portrayed the Taliban as righteous Muslims striving to establish ‘Shariah’ rule in the land of the pure. Consequently, the state of Pakistan, reeling from the relentless terrorist attacks, looks all set to bow down to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP’s) onslaught that has killed more than 49,000 Pakistanis in the last 12 years or so. From 2001 to 2008, more than 24,000 people — both civilians and military — were killed in terrorist attacks carried out by the TTP and company. The last five years turned out to be even more ruinous in terms of the loss of human lives. Since 2008, the TTP’s campaign of terror has killed well over 25,000 people and counting.

Mass killings aside, the TTP has been incredibly successful in breaking jails at will and getting its operatives free without even a shred of resistance from the security forces. The Dera Ismail Khan (D I Khan) jailbreak is one of the most violent attacks in recent times. Well over 100 Taliban fighters, armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, freed 248 prisoners, including more than 49 hardcore militants belonging to the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Not only did the militants manage to free their accomplices, but they also killed six policemen and two civilians. The terrorists had so much of inside information that they killed six Shia inmates after segregating them from other prisoners during the three hour-long attack. One of the Shia inmates was beheaded. Many of the high-profile inmates who fled from the jail belong to the LeJ, which signifies a strong bond between the Taliban and Haq Nawaz Jhangvi’s disciples.

In a blatant show of apathy, not a single quantum of armed reinforcements was sent to the scene though the attackers remained in the jail for a good three to four hours. Military helicopters remained firmly grounded. A large caravan of the Taliban sailed through dozens of army check posts, set up on the road leading to North Waziristan from D I Khan. Those responsible for the internal and external security of Pakistan did not even move or probably they did not bother to.

In a usual turn of affairs, the TTP claimed the responsibility for the devastating attack on DI Khan Central Jail. Six days later, a senior TTP commander revealed the details of the brazen siege, adding that all the freed TTP men were in safe locations and would resume their “routine responsibilities”. According to him, a total of 125 militants took part in the operation that was launched by three groups (the Punjabi Taliban, Halqa-e-Mehsud and a group from the Mohmand Agency). While the latter two groups are unheard of, the first one sounds quite familiar.

Who are the Punjabi Taliban? The term was first coined in 2011 by the then interior minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik, which received heavy criticism from the then Punjab chief minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif. He ‘warned’ Malik to avoid using the term because he was of the view that the term would tarnish the PML-N’s image. “It minimises our chances of coming into power because the Punjab province is being run by the PML-N,” said Sharif who was clearly more worried about the term than the growing militant threat in his province, especially southern Punjab.

That was not the only show of ‘parochial’ politics from the chief minister. This statement was equally bad as the well-known plea he made to the Taliban in March 2010. Speaking at a seminar held at the Jamia Naeemia mosque in Lahore, the Punjab chief minister had requested the Taliban to spare his province Punjab from terror attacks because his party shared a common cause with the Taliban. (To be continued)


September 30, 2013   No Comments

What must be done to stem the rising terror attacks: by Javed Aziz Khan in The News, Sept 30

PESHAWAR: The third major bombing in the provincial capital in only eight days not only speaks volumes about the failure of the government, security forces and intelligence agencies to protect the citizens, but also pose a tough challenge for the new Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief, who has been posted with high hopes pinned on him.

Over 140 people were killed and around 300 wounded in three terrorist attacks in Peshawar since September 22. At least 84 people were killed and over 140 wounded in the twin suicide attacks at the All Saints Church in Kohati Gate locality on September 22, followed by bombing of a Charsadda-bound bus carrying government employees. Around 19 persons were killed and 46 were wounded in the blast targeting the bus.

On Sunday, 40 persons were killed and around 100 were injured in a car-bombing in the historical Qissa Khwani Bazaar. The cases of these attacks were registered in the police stations concerned and as usual investigation was launched, but working out the incidents would remain a challenge. As per routine, the security of the sensitive locations and public places has been beefed up. However, the three major attacks have spread fear in provincial capital and people are concerned that they are once again faced with the 2009-like situation.

It remains to be seen if the new inspector general of police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nasir Khan Durrani is able to lead his force to stop the terrorists or he also gives an average performance like his several predecessors.

The previous IGPs did nothing significant against the terrorists except taking credit for the sacrifices of the policemen, who laid down lives in bombings and attacks during the last several years.

The preceding police chiefs and a number of senior police officers in the present setup have argued that the police force is not supposed to carry out operations against the terrorists.

Rather, they say its job is to eliminate criminal rings. However, providing security to citizens is the duty of the police whether or not the force is supported by army or any other force in such a troubled situation.

Nasir Durrani during his first interaction with the media rightly said the situation in the province was complex because the militants launch most of the attacks from the tribal areas where the police had no authority to carry out operations while the target area is parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The IGP rightly recommended modification of the laws so that the force could go after the criminals and terrorists without any let or hindrance. There must be improved coordination of the police with the security forces operating in the tribal areas in order to stop the attackers from entering Peshawar and to intercept them on their way to the tribal areas after carrying out attack.

There is a dire need to make Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch of the Police active and effective besides improving the intelligence system at the police stations.Properly securing the boundary with the tribal areas, imparting specialised training to the Elite Force and personnel of the Directorate of Counter Terrorism, posting effective and senior officers to head ranges, districts and police stations are some of the measures that will help the new IGP to deliver. Posting specialist police officers at the Investigation Wing is badly needed to pursue the cases properly for getting the terrorists convicted.

Apart from getting more sniffer dogs, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police needs explosive detectors and scanners in large number to check vehicles and people at the entry points of the city. The sweeping by the sniffer dogs and explosive detectors must be randomly carried out throughout the city.

The government and the police force need to show the commitment and will by adopting other measures as well as getting the latest and sophisticated explosive detectors, not like the defective ones purchased by the previous police administration.

The police chief and the provincial government must ensure through the Home and Tribal Affairs Department the existence of quick response force in all the tribal areas to assist the police after a terrorist attack or criminal incident.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-205188-What-must-be-done-to-stem-the-rising-terror-attacks

Pakistan rots from the top down: By Mahboob A Khawaja in Asia Times Online

(The writer specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications)

Pakistan is fast becoming a deadly theater of the absurd, amid unknown hatred, ethnic flare-ups, flourishing greed and political vindictiveness. On September 22, another outrageous attack at a church killed 85 or so innocent citizens of the minority Christian community. A few weeks earlier, 10 international hiker tourists were kidnapped and massacred in the mountainous K-2 region, and earlier Muslims of Shi’ite minority were repeatedly bombed in Quetta. (Mourners kept the dead bodies on display for days as a protest, asking for the military to safeguard their lives from in-house terrorism.)

There is no sense to make out of these cruel developments. The global image of Pakistan and its political governance is under scrutiny. The scope of cruelty and viciousness is being enlarged everyday.

Are there any responsible people in governance who can be held accountable for the security of the nation? For a decade, Pakistan has endured senseless killings of the civilian population. Do the Muslim people of Pakistan have any collective consciousness still intact to realize that killing of one innocent person is equal to the killing of the whole of the mankind?

For what reason are these killings carried out and tolerated by political leaders? Is Pakistan governed by politicians with no awareness of the global reactions to their incompetence, foolishness and self-defeating criminal practices?

For more than a decade, Pakistan has been engulfed by a culture of deadly events, graft and gangster-dominated politics. It is as if society is embracing kidnapping, threats of violence, deaths of civilians and destruction of public security, and accepting diminishing trade, authoritarian trends in governance and intolerance.

There is no political, moral or religious justification for the on-going killings. These appear to be inhuman acts of psychopaths as part of a plan to undermine the future of the nation. If the sectarian violence is allowed to become a trend, it will dismantle the capacity of Pakistan to cope with a sustainable future.

If there any concerned and intelligent Pakistani politicians they should learn from history. Colin Wilson (A Criminal History of Mankind, 1984) explains how the Roman Empire declined once its sadistic and egomaniac leaders oversaw its collapse into chaos and ruin:

The Romans were slipping into violence by a process of self-justification, and once a nation or an individual has started down this particular slope,, it is impossible to apply brakes. The Roman people were too unimaginative and short sighted to realize that, once murder has been justified on grounds of expediency, it can become a habit, then a disease.

Pakistani politics does not seem form part of the 21st century knowledge-based age of reason and accountability. Those in the realm of power, are never open to listening and learning. The leaders are self-centered, ignorant and leave no room for reformation of the political process. For almost half of a century, the Pakistani nation has lived under the dark shadows of institutionalized corruption, crime-riddled political parties and its henchmen.

Pakistan continues to be governed by the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. Nawaz Sharif was twice dismissed as premier on corruption charges and tried by General Pervez Musharraf over hijacking charges in 1999. Sharif and his collaborators do not enjoy the moral and intellectual leadership qualities needed to lead the nation.

Sharif was groomed by military generals. Such rulers have nothing new and positive for the future of Pakistan. The solution must come out of the new thinking and new visions of the young – the new generation of Pakistani scholars and intellectuals who are able to think independently.

There are no honest and credible politicians in the Pakistani system of governance. The masses are helpless as self-made leaders incur unpayable foreign debts that will saddle the country for generations to come.

The original teachings of Islam contain no extremism nor condone acts of terror against other human beings, yet the media allege that Taliban groups of Islamic extremists plan and attack visible minorities and their places of worship and even the common people of Pakistan in the name of their religion.

To a rational thinker, there can be no grounds to justify such attacks on the citizens of the country. All the minority groups and their places of worship are sacred to the nation. There can be no distinction or expediency to let them down when such challenges occur across the society. All of the citizens regardless of their faith and individual identities, must be protected by law.

Believers in Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad (peace be upon all of them) all worship God and according to Islamic teaching, are part of the Islamic values and history. How dare the Taliban or any other group to attack their places of worship? Do the Taliban follow a new precept of Islam?

Khyber Pakthunwa Province is governed by Imran Khan’s Tehrek-e-Insaf. It seems Khan is unable to usher a new era of reformed politics and systematic accountable governance that protects human dignity and the minorities in that province. These dreadful killings do not set the stage for reformed politics. How strange that corrupt politicians should engage the Taliban in peace talks and expect the nation to accept their untimely and flawed gesture of peace.

Peace cannot be one-sided. Pakistani politicians and some of the military re notorious for their incompetence, treachery to national interests and shameful practices. This was clearly demonstrated when the American marines came in to kill Osama bin Laden and the case of Raymond Davis, who killed two Pakistanis but was freed by the direct intervention of former president Asif Ali Zardari and General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiani.

The Taliban and many affiliated groups are funded and supported by foreign interests – and Pakistani generals and politicians know it too well. For too long, Pakistan’s ruling elite has owed allegiance and loyalty to their foreign masters in Washington and London.

One of President Barack Obama’s advisers, Bruce Riedel, recently described the Pakistani rulers (both civilian and military) as dubious characters who deceive the nation and make money by trading in their own interests.

The June election was supposed to usher a new beginning of change and reformation (“islaha”) for the nation. Instead, Nawaz Sharif has simply replaced another well known thug and criminal, Asif Ali Zardari.

Change can only come through men of new ideas, a new visionary leadership of integrity. For almost two decades, Pakistan’s capacity for change has been badly fractured and its moral, intellectual and political consciousness and values derailed and has undermined by the few. There are three major contending forces escalating conflicts to degenerate the future and cripple the freedom and integrity of Pakistan:

Firstly, the generals, who have ruled the country for almost four decades and are not willing to relinquish their own strategic- political powerhouse, militarization of the nation.

Secondly, feudal landlords cum politicians, the systematic by-products of the military generals are the selected few families – Bhutoos- Zardaris, Sharifs and Chaudris of Gujarat – acting as accomplice to support the military-based indoctrination as and when required for all seasons.

Finally, there is the people, the besieged masses of Pakistan – the net participatory victims and reactionaries to all of the tragedies for over 40 years.

Politicians pretend to label Pakistan as an Islamic state. But there is no Islam in the governance of the political system; it is a shame and an insult to the educated new and conscientious generations and thinking people of Pakistan. Islam does not coerce or violate the rights of the minorities but has an obligation to protect them in all spheres of life.

If Pakistan had Islam leadership, would they be complacent in the killing of their own citizens?

No contemporary politician thinks of Pakistan and its original foundation, its national interests or the interests of the people – the logical legitimacy factor to the embodiment of Islamic Pakistan. More than 40 years of time and opportunities have been stolen from the precious lifeline of the nation of Muslim Pakistan; yet, nobody has been charged and convicted with any crime nor punished for their treachery and monstrous actions against the freedom and integrity of the country.

Pakistan embodies multiple self-inflicted tragedies unknown in modern history. Power politics in Pakistan have become an outcome of institutionalized corruption, conspiracies, killings, and treachery to the national interests. The generals, politicians and assemblies are all the by-products of this flourishing business.

Pakistan is fast drowning in its own dreadful act of indifference, faltering security and a sickening history of killings to support the foreign agendas of war and strategic priorities. To change and reform the political governance, Pakistani must pursue political activism to bring the educated and intelligent people into leadership roles.

The rulers hold the absolute power in Pakistan. There is no democracy, no political accountability and there is no legitimate political system. Do the politicians need a high power jolt to change the course of history? If so, such such a powerful jolt can only come from the determination, proactive vision and organization of the people.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.


September 30, 2013   No Comments

Police story: op-ed by Amir Zia in The News, Sept 30

Police story: op-ed by Amir Zia in The News, Sept 30

The writer is editor The News, Karachi.

When Shahid Hayat Khan took charge as additional inspector general of police in Karachi on September 12 in the wake of the massive reshuffle of the Sindh Police by the provincial government, he became the fifth officer to hold this highly politicised but coveted slot in a period of less than nine months.

Before Khan’s appointment as Additional IG Karachi, only one out of his four predecessors managed to last in this office for six months. This lucky officer was Iqbal Mehmood, who held this position from mid-Sept 2012 to mid-March 2013. But when Mehmood was again brought on the same slot after a five-week break – during which Ghulam Shabbir Shaikh held this position – his stint barely lasted eight weeks (April 23 to mid-June). Ghulam Qadir Thebo, who followed Mehmood, could survive in this position for only three months.

Ten officers have come and gone in the position of IG Sindh in less than six years. This means that the average lifespan on the top slot in the Sindh police force is less than seven months.

The other senior cadre positions in the Sindh Police – from deputy inspectors general to assistant superintendents – have similar short terms – both in the rural and urban areas. This stands in violation of the Police Order 2002, which says that cadre appointments should be for a three-year period. But our elected representatives are hardly fond of this police order and have already diluted it through a series of legislations. In fact, the 19th         century colonial-era police system has been brought back by our chosen ones.

The situation of the non-cadre police officials, especially the station house officer (SHO) – is even worse. Here, according to senior police officials, the average term lasts barely two months.

Most police officials have to perform a high-wire act not just to get key appointments, but also to maintain them under the PPP-led provincial government, which has been running the show here since early 2008 and has successfully managed to distort and destroy the system. Background interviews conducted with senior officials reveal that there remain only two options to get a position or survive in the Sindh Police under the people’s rule; first, through political connections and displaying and pledging loyalty to the elected masters and second, by paying them outright bribes. No wonder police stations are auctioned and sold and only those officers are selected for important assignments who serve their political mentors or are willing to pay the price in cash or kind. For upright and honest police officers options stand limited. Either you compromise or get sidelined. Senior police officials just don’t have to meet demands of the chief minister or the provincial home minister, but any lawmaker belonging to the ruling party worth his salt manages to interfere in department’s internal matters as well as policing.

Most PPP ministers and elected representatives even want SHOs of their choice in their areas, confides a former inspector general of police. Demands such as freeing, favouring and protecting criminals – from the dark alleys of Lyari in Karachi to the desolate wilderness of Dadu – remains an ongoing process and a favourite pastime of many of our elected representatives.

The irony for many police officials – themselves notorious for extracting bribes – is that they have to literally pay weekly or monthly sweeteners in cash to some of the PPP’s provincial lawmakers and local leaders to stay in their good books. According a PPP contact, some ward-level presidents of the party now demand gifts such as a car or motorcycle from SPs and DIGs of their respective areas.

This one may call a classical case of a predator becoming a victim – the ‘perfect revenge’ of democracy from its onetime tormentors.

But on a serious note, the people’s rule in Sindh has further eroded the credibility of the police and dragged it deeper into the pit of corruption and inefficiency. From the process of police recruitments to that of transfers – everything has become highly politicised under the PPP’s rule. “The police have directly become part of the nexus that exists between politics and crime”, said a senior serving police officer, requesting anonymity. “It has now become a force that is part of the problem rather than an institution focused on beating crime. The morale of the force is down and it is steeped in corruption.”

Many of the reforms initiated under the former military-led rule, including the selection of lower cadre officials through the public service commission, have been scrapped by the elected government. Instead of encouraging merit, they want to dole out government jobs to favourites or simply raise money for themselves by selling them to the highest bidder.

And obviously when a police officer has to pay hundreds of thousands of rupees in bribes to political bosses, his first desire is to get this ‘investment’ back in the shortest span of time along with profit so he can bid for the next position. This has introduced a constant atmosphere of uncertainty and adhocism in the police force and wrecked its morale.

This kind of corruption and inefficiency was hardly expected from a party that once was led by Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But this is a different day and age and a different party.

In the complex world of Sindh politics, where crime and politics go hand-in-hand and all the major political parties remain deeply involved in patronising crime and criminals, patronising killers, kidnappers, extortionists, and encroachers’ mafias, this is another twist. It also casts shadows on the much-publicised operation in Karachi and establishment of rule of the law in the province.

Until the police force is free from political interference and can work independently, all operations and crackdowns on criminals and terrorists will remain symbolic and meaningless. The reshuffle of police officers would never do the trick until the rulers address the structural flaws in the police department and introduce reforms.

A small, but necessary step in this direction would be to make appointments for a fixed period of three years on both cadre and non-cadre positions – at least up to the SHO level. The officer should only be removed if found involved in misconduct, corruption or violation of law. And once removed after an independent inquiry, they should not be reinstated on any other position for a fixed term – depending on the gravity of the offence.

There is also a need to create an independent bipartisan commission to keep a check on the conduct of the force to ensure that it acts within the framework of law.

The recruitment and training process of the force also needs a major overhaul to ensure merit and efficiency. Today, police training – based on the 19th century colonial-era manual – has become a joke as many recruits manage to avoid it by paying bribes. Even positions in its examinations are doled out on recommendation or payments of hefty amounts of bribe. These corrupt practices need to be done away with. Instead, modern investigation and policing methods should be introduced to meet the current law and order challenges.

But more importantly, the police department needs sweeping reforms and fresh legislation where necessary which must include revising the pay scale of the force. A force that offers only peanuts as salaries to its low and mid-ranking members is bound to indulge in corruption and abuse of authority.

In any civilian setup, the police remain the vanguard in fighting crime. Its officers and men need the confidence that they can stand for the law without the fear of being victimised by their political bosses. They need to take pride in their uniform and be able hold the rich and the powerful accountable if they violate the law – from breaking a traffic rule to any bigger offence.

If our rulers are sincere about bringing peace and fighting crime, let’s make ‘freeing the police’ from the clutches of the politicians a top priority. This will be a step forward.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-205216-Police-story

External pressures on national issues: by Waqar Ahmed in The News, Sept 30

Each country in the world faces a host of issues whose nature and dynamics, as defined by cultural, religious, ethnic and geographical norms, are distinct and separate. The problems may be grave, serious or just superficial or cosmetic but may still appear on the surface due to a vibrant media and civil society. They may be about a rebellion, terrorism, social injustices, poor education, unemployment, severe weather hardships, unstable economy, inflation, crimes and what not. The list can be pretty long, unending and contentious.

However, solutions that may be applicable to one country may be partially applicable to another state. Recipe, strategy and methods that deliver in one country may not work in the other country at all though both countries may face a similar kind of problem. As such each country requires a solution that is internal whereas taking into consideration the local situation, conditions and circumstances.

Then there is the question of foreign vested interests that may be advanced through forceful application of a certain solution for a certain set of problems from the outside. Such solutions are generally non-transparent and are forwarded to implement foreign goals and agendas. As such, they may result in doing more harm both in the short and long terms and are thus undesirable and also unacceptable.

Accordingly, grave and vital national issues can only be sorted out by the Pakistani leadership and no outside pressure should be accepted for their resolution. The national leadership must show the political will and firm resolve to provide indigenous solutions to grave problems. They should not look to outside for resolving issues that can be tackled sensibly and prudently through introducing domestic strategies and policies. They must protect the interests of Pakistan and resist all external pressures with courage and tenacity.

Perhaps today the most important issue facing Pakistan is terrorism that has plagued the country with around 40,000 dead and thousands of more injured in its wake. The all-parties conference that developed a consensus on holding a dialogue with the Taliban presented a solution that underscored the fact that the government and army were on the same page.

At the same time, neither did it show that the army had surrendered before the militants nor it was not capable of undertaking any operation against militancy and terrorism. Such impression or reports are only a fallacious and misleading misinformation about the law-enforcement agencies, especially the army.

The Pakistan Army is a highly committed and fully equipped force that is unswerving and steadfast in the wake of challenges and has neither bowed before the enemies of the country nor it ever will. It can undertake any operation against the enemies of the country, if and when ordered. The above notion is often invoked by those quarters that are creating cynicism, suspicions and a sense of mistrust about the whole exercise. The game spoilers seeking failure at the political landscape should get their facts straight.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-205288-External-pressures-on-national-issues

September 30, 2013   No Comments

Azam Hoti may quit ANP after challenging Asfandyar: by Mohammad Riaz Mayar in the News, Sept 30

MARDAN: Senator Azam Khan Hoti has reportedly decided to quit the Awami National Party (ANP) over differences with the party’s president and his close relative Asfandyar Wali Khan, sources said on Sunday.

Azam Hoti, the sources said, was expected to announce his decision of quitting the ANP at a press conference in Peshawar today. They said he may also make some startling disclosures as he has been threatening to do so in his recent statements.The sources added that senior ANP leaders tried to pacify Azam Hoti and persuade him to set aside his differences with Asfandyar Wali but to no avail.

The sources said Azam Hoti had influence over party workers in Mardan, Swabi, Buner and Swat districts. The ANP would suffer a major blow if Azam Hoti quit the party, the sources said, adding that he may join the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Azam Hoti always enjoyed cordial relations with Nawaz Sharif and had served as a federal minister during the latter’s earlier stint as prime minister.

The sources argued that Asfandyar Wali has seldom visited these districts and had no

coordination with party workers there.Meanwhile, former chief minister Ameer Haider Hoti, son of Azam Hoti, has announced his support for maternal uncle Asfandyar Wali over the differences between his father and uncle.

In a statement, he said that he would support Asfandyar Wali. He believed that ANP flourished under the leadership of Asfandyar. He said Asfandyar Wali was the symbol of unity among the Pakhtuns. He rejected the statement of his father Azam Hoti and said that Asfandyar Wali was the leader of the Pakhtun nationalist movement.

He said under the leadership of Asfandyar, the ANP implemented its constitution by getting NWFP renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and gained provincial autonomy through the 18th Amendment.Ameer Haider Hoti, it may be added, hasn’t been on the best of terms with his father.


September 30, 2013   No Comments

PTI comes under fire over Taliban stance

ISLAMABAD, Sept 29: The third terrorist attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a week brought the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the party leading the ruling coalition in the province, under severe criticism from almost all major political parties, with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl demanding removal of the provincial government over its failure to protect citizens.

Condemning Sunday’s bomb attack in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar in which over 40 people were killed, the political leaders particularly criticised PTI chief Imran Khan for his recent statement in which he had said that the Taliban should be allowed to open their offices in Pakistan.

On the other hand, Mr Khan termed it unfortunate that some parties were using the tragedy for making political gains.

Former president and Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari termed the blast “most barbaric, inhuman and reflecting the depraved mind of the militants” and called for “a collective national response to uproot the extremists from our midst”.

“The wages of appeasing the militants by asking for setting up their offices in the country are more than obvious and it is time that the nation and the state rise to give a befitting reply to them. Dithering and procrastination on our part will only further embolden the militants,” Mr Zardari said in a statement issued by the PPP’s media centre.

Mr Zardari’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar, when contacted, regretted that terrorist attacks had increased after the state “abdicated” its authority and declared the militants as “stakeholders” in the peace process.

He criticised the PTI chief’s statement regarding opening of Taliban’s offices, saying it amounted to equating “the terrorists, murderers, rapists and dacoits with judges, lawyers and other segments of the society”.

In reply to a question, Senator Babar said the PPP had supported the government in the all-party conference (APC) believing that the PML-N had been given a mandate by the people in elections and it should be given an opportunity to work for bringing peace to the country. The PPP, he said, believed that any political divide at this stage would only strengthen the hands of militants.

Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah in a statement said it appeared that terrorists were least interested in peace negotiations. He said it should also be a matter of concern for Mr Khan that his philosophy of negotiations for peace had badly failed.

A former minister and leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said Mr Khan should be held accountable for his failure to protect the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman termed the killing of innocent people in the blast tragic and said enemies of peace could take advantage of the “uncertainty” about the talks with the Taliban.

Commenting on Mr Khan’s statement citing an example of the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, he said the PTI chief should know the difference between Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. He said opening a Taliban office was an “immature concept” and a “poorly conceived idea”.

Talking to Dawn, JUI-F spokesman Jan Achakzai criticised the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for “not taking steps to protect the citizens” and taking refuge under the excuse of delay in the start of peace talks.

He said that police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not been given any guidelines by the new government about monitoring of the entry and exit points and searching of vehicles.

He alleged that the government had removed a substantial number of checkpoints in the province, allowing the militants to move about freely.

The JUI-F spokesman said the federal government should play its role under the constitution if provincial authorities failed to improve the security situation.http://dawn.com/news/1046471/pti-comes-under-fire-over-taliban-stance

September 30, 2013   No Comments

Supreme Court forms six benches to hear important cases

ISLAMABAD, Sept 29: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has constituted five benches and a larger bench at the principal seat to hear a number of important cases during the week starting on Monday.

The first bench comprises the chief justice, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Gulzar Ahmad. The second consists of Justices Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Mian Saqib Nisar and Amir Hani Muslim and the third comprises Justices Nasir-ul-Mulk, Sarmad Jalal Osmany and Mushir Alam.

Justices Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Ejaz Afzal Khan and Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman are members of the fourth bench and the fifth consists of Justices Khilji Arif Hussain, Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Sheikh Azmat Saeed.

The larger bench comprises Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Justices Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Nasir-ul-Mulk, Jawwad S. Khawaja, Mian Saqib Nisar, Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Amir Muslim Hani, Gulzar Ahmed and Mushir Alam.

The cases to be heard include a suo motu action about illegal construction of farm houses in Islamabad, withdrawal of millions of rupees by the government from Intelligence Bureau’s accounts, the firing incident in Blue Area of Islamabad involving Sikandar Khan, election matters of different lawmakers, fake degree cases, auction of the 3rd Generation of Telecommunication Services & Transparent Licensing and a suo motu notice for arrest of the accused involved in cases of torture and murder of lawyers.

According to cause lists, no adjournment on any ground will be granted and no application for adjournment through fax will be placed before the court. If the counsel is unable to appear for any reason, the Advocate-on-Record will be required to argue the case.http://dawn.com/news/1046465/supreme-court-forms-six-benches-to-hear-important-cases

September 30, 2013   No Comments

Musharraf penning ‘Why I returned to Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD: Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is writing another book titled “Why I returned to Pakistan”, sources told this news agency.

Sources quoted him as saying that “as the country was facing volatile situation, which the rulers seemed to be helpless in controlling hence I decided to return to Pakistan ostensibly to salvage the country out of crises”. The book, to make its entry into market soon, also entails Musharraf’s interaction with various global leaders and his close associates who have known to have advised him against returning to Pakistan.

In his book, Musharraf would highlight the reasons of returning to Pakistan despite the threatening attitude of Taliban and political pressure.Former president Musharraf is currently interned at his farm house, which has been legally converted as a sub-jail, while undergoing trials for numerous indictments, which include the Benazir murder case, Akbar Bugti murder case, and illegal confinement of judiciary. There were earlier speculations about Musharraf’s possible slipping out of the country, after the victory of Nawaz Sharif in 2013 general elections.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25768-Musharraf-penning-Why-I-returned-to-Pakistan

September 30, 2013   No Comments

Not the will of the people: by S Iftikhar Murshed in The News, Sept 29

The writer is the publisher ofCriterion Quarterly.

Not the will of the peopleThe resolution unanimously adopted by the All-Parties Conference (APC) on September 9 is much more than a ‘document of surrender.’ It not only violates the constitution, which the prime minister and parliamentarians have solemnly sworn to preserve and protect, but is also completely at variance with the injunctions of the Quran relating to war. Events since then have proved how ill-founded the starry-eyed illusion of peace was.

The last two Sundays since the APC have been startling. The first, on September 15, witnessed the cold-blooded assassination of Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi and two members of his staff. The general was returning from a visit to a remote outpost in Upper Dir near the Afghan border when he and his companions were killed in a coordinated, perfectly timed IED detonation. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gleefully announced that it had masterminded the attack.

The three men were buried with well-deserved military honours. But the civilian leadership could do no more than issue vague cliché-saturated statements condemning the attack. The prime minister, for example, assiduously refrained from naming the TTP for the outrage even though it had proudly claimed responsibility. He did not want to jeopardise the initiation of peace talks with the killers. This was feckless appeasement carried to a giddy extreme.

The next Sunday – September 22 – saw the entire country reeling with shock when twin suicide bomb blasts devastated the All Saints Memorial Church in Peshawar in which 83 worshippers were killed and more than 170 were seriously injured. The leadership of the country, who are bending over backwards to initiate negotiations with the TTP, are probably not even aware the earliest injunction of the Quran urging believers to fight was in the context of protecting all places of worship.

The Quranic passage reads: “…For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, (all) monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques – in (all of) which God’s name is abundantly extolled – would surely have been destroyed ere now…” (22: 40). The unmistakable purport of the verse is that the defence of religious freedom – and this applies to all religions – is the foremost cause for which taking up arms is obligatory.

The Quran allows fighting but only in self-defence: “And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors” (2: 190). The fighting must continue till the aggressor sues for peace only then “all hostility shall cease, save against those who (wilfully) do wrong” (2:193).

The leaders who participated in the APC must, therefore, ask themselves whether peace negotiations with the TTP are at all permissible in terms of the clear injunctions of the Quran till such time as the outfit and its factions do not renounce violence and lay down their arms. This has to be the starting point of the dialogue with the TTP that the prime minister has been authorised by the APC to initiate.

The end objective of the TTP is the capture of political power through its terrorist outrages. The APC resolution has given it the legitimacy that it desperately craves. In order not to squander this gain, the TTP disassociated itself from any involvement in the heart-rending tragedy that visited Peshawar last Sunday. Its spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, telephoned a foreign news agency from an undisclosed location in the tribal regions and said: “We haven’t done this nor do we attack innocent people. Whenever we carry out an attack we claim it, but the Taliban are not involved in this attack. It was an attempt to sabotage the atmosphere of the proposed peace talks.”

This was belied by one of the TTP factions, Jundullah, which claimed responsibility. Though a segment of the print media has described the group as relatively “new and unknown”, it masterminded the attack on the ISI regional headquarters in Sukkur on July 24; the previous month it was involved along with the Jundul Hafsa of Asmatullah Muaviya – the leader of the Punjabi Taliban – in the killing of foreign mountaineers in Gilgit-Baltistan; in February last year it was responsible for the ruthless massacre of Shias in Kohistan; and, on June 10, 2004, it carried out an abortive assassination attempt on the corps commander in Karachi. After the attack on the All Saints Church, its spokesperson, Ahmed Marwat, declared that Christians were “the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them.”

What emerges is that the TTP operates through linkages with scores of terrorist outfits spread across the country – the estimated numbers vary from three dozen to more than 60. Although the TTP has a core group at the centre, the command and control mechanism is largely ineffective, and, as a consequence, its leadership, like that of Al-Qaeda, is compelled to allow considerable autonomy to its affiliates. Despite this, all groups are uncompromisingly wedded to the objective of transforming Pakistan into an Islamic emirate.

Against this background, it would have been tactically stupid for the TTP’s core leadership to own the suicide bombing of the All Saints Church. The reason is obvious. It has already been thoughtlessly accepted in the APC resolution as a ‘stakeholder’ that is entitled to have a say in determining the future of the country although it does not recognise the constitution, which it is determined to abrogate, and replace with its perverted interpretation of Islam.

In this context two articles of the constitution are relevant. The first is Article 6 which clearly enunciates: “Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.” This leaves no doubt that the TTP and its affiliates, which have been referred to in the APC resolution as “our own people in the tribal areas”, are guilty of high treason, and cannot therefore possibly be considered as one of the ‘stakeholders’ in the affairs of the country.

The next clause of the same article asserts that “any person aiding or abetting” the abrogation or the subversion of the constitution “shall likewise be guilty of high treason.” A Supreme Court lawyer said the other day that one of his “cranky clients who is in the habit of filing writ petitions at the drop of a hat” had asked him whether the provisions of this clause could be invoked against the APC participants because of their description of the TTP as a “stakeholder” even though its objective was to subvert the constitution.

The unnamed client must have hit the ceiling after Imran Khan’s preposterous statement on Wednesday urging the government to declare a unilateral ceasefire and allow the TTP to open a political office in the country!

The second is Article 256 which unambiguously affirms: “No private organisation capable of functioning as a military organisation shall be formed, and any such organisation shall be illegal.” The TTP has demonstrated time and again that it is “capable of functioning as a military organisation” and, therefore, in terms of Article 256, it cannot be allowed to exist till it disarms and abandons its violent agenda. For this reason, the outfit has also been proscribed under Pakistan’s anti-terror law.

Yet despite the injunctions of the Quran and the stipulations of the constitution, the government is determined to forge ahead with the initiation of talks with an illegal entity. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan explained earlier in the week that this was in accordance with the APC’s consensus decision. A majority of Pakistanis, however, think differently.

This is evident from a recent Pew survey conducted in eleven Muslim countries which shows that Pakistan has the highest disapproval rate of any form of violence in the name of Islam. An impressive 89 percent of those surveyed rejected suicide bombings and 65 percent sternly disapproved of the Taliban. The implication is that the TTP’s ambition of establishing an Islamic emirate is unacceptable and, in this sense, the dialogue the government is so eager to start may not be in accord with the will of the people.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-205051-Not-the-will-of-the-people

September 29, 2013   No Comments

Understanding Imran: by CYRIL ALMEIDA in Dawn, Sept 29

The writer is a member of staff.EVERYONE thinks Khan is nuts. Even folk in his party. Talk to the Taliban? It’s madness, mishegoss, lunacy.

Yet he persists, insists. Few have bothered to ask why though. Why fight the logic of rationality and the truth? Why be Taliban Khan? Why traverse the distance from appeaser to sympathiser to accomplice?

It starts from the beginning. When Imran started out in politics, he knew nothing about politics. He was out to the change the world, or at least his little corner of it, but he didn’t have the slightest clue how.

Unhappily for Khan, his opponents knew exactly what to do to neutralise the World Cup-winning, hospital-building, upstart politician who was a national hero.

In the political arena, Khan became the Jew-loving, secular playboy with children out of wedlock. Every time Khan wanted to talk about politics, his opponents wanted to talk about paternity tests.

It worked. Khan’s politics of opposition were drowned out by the jeering and rumours and salaciousness. His past had followed him into his future; old facts incompatible with new ambitions.

So Imran did the obvious thing: he set about converting Playboy Khan into Muslim Khan.

By owning religion, by embracing it and carrying a bright, burning torch for it, the godless secularist slowly inched towards safer terrain: the good Muslim.

It took years, but eventually the transformation was complete. Now, every time the mullah tried to shout him down, Khan could roar back.

His born-again credentials were impeccable, his defence of religion strident, his spiritual anchor unshakeable. Khan could get on with the business of politics freed from the distraction of the politics of religion.

Except, somewhere along the way, his re-education made him a believer. Of the personal religious side we can never know, but certainly of the intersection of politics and religion we do know.

If religion could be used to keep a man down, it could also be used to pull a man up. Khan, the victim of the intersection of politics and religion in the beginning, realised, once he had broken through to the other side, just how useful a tool it is to build support.

Folk wanted a new leader who could drag the country in a better direction, but folk had also become a bit more conservative over Khan’s lifetime. New Imran offered the perfect mix: a do-er who wore his religion on his sleeve.

That’s the first part of the evolution into Taliban Khan.

The second part is Khan’s Pakhtun roots: he’s just really, really into them now. He’s come to believe he knows what makes the Pakhtun mind tick, the carrots that appeal to it and the sticks that can work.

The one-time male chauvinist discovered ethnic chauvinism: Khan as a Pakhtun could tap into the Pakhtun psyche, which, for Khan, was the crucial step to understanding the Taliban phenomenon.

There is a deep irony here: for long, the state here has believed that the Pakhtuns could be kept in line, manipulated by one of two levers, nationalism and religion. But the state understood that they are alternating levers, never to be pressed at the same time.

Nationalism had to be discouraged because the Pakhtuns straddle the Durand Line and too much of Pakhtun nationalism could give them funny ideas about carving out a land for themselves.

But the other lever — religion — if pushed too far could create blowback of its own. See, the Taliban, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That’s also why there are still incurable conspiracy theorists out there who see the MMA government in KP followed by an ANP government as the state playing its old game of alternating between the religion/nationalism levers.

But Khan is different: he thinks he understands both, religion and nationalism, and wants to apply them both at the same time to his theory of reining in the TTP.

There is a third element in the evolution of Taliban Khan: ignorance. Yes, ignorance of a general kind he’s often accused of, but this particular ignorance is of a specific kind in a specific context.

What lines does Khan have open to the TTP? Who does he have access to, behind the scenes, through discreet and secure channels?

The Sharifs have shown how it’s done. Punjab has been kept relatively safe and away from immediate harm, folk have long suspected, because of their policy of buying off or co-opting militant threats.

But while the contours of that policy can be guessed, the specifics have been much harder to pin down — because the Sharifs are discreet about the behind-the-scenes, back-channel stuff.

Then Mauwiya, he of the Punjabi Taliban fame, let the cat out of the bag, jumping the gun on talks and earning himself a temporary punishment from TTP central.

Khan insists that talks are the only option, but who’s he got on the inside? Who’s the guy who can give Khan the inside track on what’s going on in the TTP, who’s up for talks, who isn’t, who to approach first, whom to be wary of?

Khan has no one. It started to become apparent during the election campaign: if the idea of talks and only talks was a scary enough position Khan had staked out, what was scarier was the realisation that Khan was only speaking to the TTP through his speeches and TV appearances.

After the election, it became clearer still: Khan and co approached various obvious interlocutors and asked several to help put the PTI in touch with the TTP.

Khan has no one on the inside. Which is almost as horrifying as the idea of talks and only talks: Khan not only doesn’t understand the enemy, he doesn’t even know who it is.

He doesn’t know because he doesn’t care. Because he thinks he knows what the real problem is.

Which has created a problem for everyone else: how to rein in Taliban Khan?http://dawn.com/news/1046252/understanding-imran

September 29, 2013   No Comments