Thursday, June 20, 2013
http://www.pcworld.com/Web content filtering company Netsweeper has supplied its products to Pakistan, even as some top IT companies have refused to supply gear for a controversial filtering project, a Canadian research group has disclosed.
Pakistan's powerful military has played a central role in convincing Afghanistan's Taliban rebels to hold talks with the United States, U.S. and Pakistani officials said, a shift from widely held views in Washington that it was obstructing peace in the region. U.S. and Taliban officials were due to meet in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in the next few days, raising hopes for negotiated peace after 12 years of war between American-led forces and the Islamist insurgents. Neighboring Pakistan's role in the war has been ambiguous - it is a U.S. ally but has a long history of supporting the Taliban as its proxy in Afghanistan, part of its wider jockeying with regional rival India. Western officials believe Pakistan may now calculate that its interest is better served by helping to broker peace that would lead to the emergence of a friendly government in Kabul capable of stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing chaos spilling over the border. Several military and civilian officials told Reuters Pakistan helped persuade the "relevant Taliban commanders" to talk to the Americans and Afghans and also sought to convince them that getting into talks was in their interest. "It would not have been possible without our facilitation. Convincing the Taliban that it was in Afghanistan's interest and also convincing the other parties that this is what the Taliban actually have in mind," one senior army officer said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Pakistan has a civilian government but the military has ruled the nation for over half of its 66 years of independence and holds sway over large areas of policy, including relations with neighbors. A meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani in Brussels in April was a turning point in arranging the talks in Doha, said a former senior Pakistani official. "The key was the trilateral meeting hosted by Kerry in Brussels," said the former official. Pakistan helped get Taliban leaders to a series of secret meetings with representatives of the Afghan government in Europe in recent months that helped pave the way for the planned talks, Pakistan's foreign ministry told Reuters. "Many of them travelled to Doha and other places and things started moving. We hope this will move on to its ultimate phase where there will be an inter-Afghan dialogue," foreign ministry spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said. TERRORIST ORGANISATION The Taliban movement was born in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet Union's 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan. In 1996, Taliban soldiers swept through their nation and took control of Kabul, many say with the support of Pakistan's army and its ubiquitous spy agency, the ISI. After the 9/11 bombings and under pressure from Washington, then-president Gen. Pervez Musharraf officially distanced Pakistan from the Taliban and threw its lot in with the United States, making it a strategic ally in the "global war on terror" despite misgivings among his top military brass. But as late as last year, Washington said the Taliban, and the Haqqani faction linked to it, were allied to elements in Pakistan and the ISI. It declared the Haqqani group a terrorist organization in September. "There has in the past been skepticism about their support, but in recent months I think we've seen evidence that there is genuine support," a senior U.S. administration official told reporters on Tuesday about Pakistan's involvement. "The government of Pakistan has been particularly helpful in urging the other side - that is, the Taliban - to come forward and join in a peace process," another U.S. official said. With the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan firmly underway, U.S. officials have abandoned long standing demands that Pakistan crack down on Taliban safe havens, and instead sought to enlist Pakistan's help to promote dialogue. Pakistan military officials say they want to seal a deal in Afghanistan to avoid the risk that instability after the foreign combat mission ends in 2014 will spill across the border and energize a stubborn insurgency by Pakistani militants. However, the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai remains deeply suspicious, fearing Pakistan's military remains wedded to a time-worn strategy of backing militant proxies such as the Taliban and that it is extending minimal cooperation merely to appease the West. WARY OF INDIA Afghan officials are also concerned that Pakistan might use its influence over the Taliban to steer the shape of any future settlement of who comes to power in Kabul. Pakistan is wary of the close relations between Karzai's government and India, Islamabad's old rival. Privately many Pakistan officials admit the country's past support for Taliban came at an unbearable cost in blood and finance. Pakistani troops are now fighting an insurgency by the Pakistan Taliban, which wants to replace democracy with Sharia law. But some hawks in the security bureaucracy may cringe at the idea of supporting dialogue unless they can be certain that any future settlement will limit the influence of India in Kabul. Pakistan has also sought to bolster its influence in Afghanistan by building bridges with the Northern Alliance, a constellation of anti-Taliban warlords who have traditionally been implacable critics of Islamabad. "You cannot afford to side with one faction, then you turn everybody else against you," one senior member of the security forces told Reuters. Pakistan is keen to stress that it will remain neutral in substantive peace talks -- several officials said Pakistan did not want to sit at the negotiating table, and that such talks would be "Afghan-owned and Afghan-led." "Pakistan will go all out to support this process," said Col. Abid Askari, a spokesman for the armed forces, but added: "We don't want any region or country, including Pakistan, to impose a solution."
The traditional Turkish media’s poor coverage of police crackdowns on mass demonstrations in Turkey, in contrast to social media’s pivotal role, has repeatedly come up for discussion during a conference organized by the European Commission on freedom of expression and media in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The deafening silence of the mainstream media in the first days of the recent protests in Istanbul and in other places and the worrying use of police actions against the media only serve to underline how much this conference is needed, Stefan Füle. Strong democracy is a prerequisite for membership, and freedom of expression is one of the main pillars of democracy, according to Füle, who added that the state of the media provided an accurate index for the state of freedom of expression. He stressed there was a direct link between freedom of expression and the accession process. While he briefly mentioned self-censorship in Turkey, he also praised recent judicial amendments regulating the conditions according to which journalists can face imprisonment. Turkish news channels have received more criticism for not providing coverage of demonstrations in Istanbul and instead choosing to broadcast documentaries about penguins, this time from Fergus O’Dowd, the Irish minister of state. “It is clear that by choosing not to report, broadcasters end up being sidelined and citizens go elsewhere,” he said, addressing a conference on freedom of expression and the media in the Western Balkans and Turkey. As a result of the poor coverage in the early days of the demonstrations, social media has played a pivotal role in the organization of organizers and provided information to the wider world, said O’Dowd. The demonstrations show that Turkey is in transition and that the space for civil society is widening, which is largely due to the reforms of EU accession process, he said. Even pro-government journalists were able to expresses their criticism about the response to the demonstrations, according to the minister from Ireland, which currently holds the presidency of the 27 nation bloc. Meanwhile, Member of the European Parliament Jery Buzek also talked about Turkey in his opening speech, making particular reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s description of social media as a “troublemaker.” “When TV and radio do not report police brutality against demonstrations, you know something is wrong,” Buzek said. “We should be worried about this.” Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, recalled that 60 journalists were currently in prison in Turkey. While recalling the argument of the Turkish government that these were not in prison because of their journalistic activities, she expressed amazement at the fact that a great majority of them were facing terrorism charges. She also drew attention to the fact that 30,000 websites were blocked in Turkey.
(PCP) The Voice, a Christian human rights orgnization in Pakistan reports that there team was approached by the family of Parveen Bibi daughter of Kalu Masih residents ofMirzapur, Manawala Village; district Sheikhupura, about the illegal and illegitimate acts of sexual harassment from the sons of the Landlords of the Village named Rana Saeed mainlyagainst the Christian women of the Village. A team of The Voice Society reached the village on 8th of June 2013 at about 10:00am in the morning and met the family and few neighbors. They told us that Rana Saeed is a rich man andalways have bad sight for the Christian girls. He always along with his fellows uses to harass the Christian girls and develop illegitimate relations with them forcefully. He use to abduct the Christian girls and women forcefully and keep them in his illegal confinement for as long as he wants and then leave them after satisfying his lust. This time he have a bad eye on Parveen bibi and he demands from the family to leave Parveen in his custody for three days. Whereas parveen is getting married on Sunday 15th June. Rana Saeed have terms in police and as well as in the political parties.Amir Masih s/o Mushtaq Masih told the Voice that he is the first cousin of Parveen bibi, he saw Rana Saeed harassing and trying to kidnap his cousin sister Parveen on 6th June of when she was going to the tube well to wash the clothes. Rana was on his motor bike along with one of his friend and he stopped Parveen when she was going on tube well along with her sister in law to wash the clothes. Rana threatened her and forced her to sit on his motor bike. He said, I want to stay with me for three days and then I will let you go. Parveen tried to escape but Rana stopped her and pulled her, so her clothes were torn and she became half naked. Rana said you are a beautiful woman I will make you happy. Amir said I could not bear all this, I tried to interrupt but Rana started firing bullets in the air and left saying that I will fulfill my wish at any cost, it is better for you to stay away from my matter or you will be killed. Kalu Masih Father of Parveen bibi told The Voice crying that,” I am a poor man, I have three children, two daughters and a boy. I want justice, is it a crime to live a respectful life. My elder daughter is married and so is my son. He is having two children and I don’t want to see him in trouble as well. Police is not listening to us, Rana is practicing this humiliation upon Christians from so many years. We are only three Christian houses in this whole village and we are all suffering pain, and humiliation. We do not work for the Muslims here. We use to work in the city, and our women are all alone in the house/village when we are out in city. They go to the tube well to wash the clothes because of load shedding. We have no light and therefore do not have enough water to do everything at home, so our women go out at tube well to wash the clothes. In such circumstances Who will protect us? Who will protect our respect and dignity? Rana and Muslim people like him in the village rape our daughters and we are unable to speak because of the life threats. Now my younger daughter Parveen is 24 years old and going to get married on this Sunday i.e. 15th june, but Rana and his friends threatened us that they will take my daughter for three days before marriage. He pleaded for help from God as well as from the Voice.Iqbal Bibi another Christian resident of the same village told the Voice that her daughter Najma was also abducted by Rana and he kept her for three years and during that time he kept on sexually exploiting her and raped her forcefully. We tried our best, we went to his family members, and other respectable Muslim people of the village but nobody helped us. Even the police did not listen to us. Instead of helping us police and his family members threatened us that they will kill all men of our family if we ever tried to raise hue and cry. “we will leave her when we feel like” Than after three years he released my daughter Najma. No body helped us and nobody came to save us. So it is a very common practice here, Rana will do whatever he wants and nobody will protect Parveen, because Rana have strong connections and he is very rich. The Voice team went to the police station and met the SHO who refused to register an FIR saying that there is no such incident happened. The Voice team than approached DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of Punjab and brought the situation in his knowledge. He ordered an immediate action and orders to register an FIR against Rana Saeed and Yasir his friend. The police lodged an FIR numbered 171/13 under section 365 B/ 511 Pakistan Penal Code upon The Voice’s efforts and arrested Yasir, co-accused of the case. Whereas Rana succeeded to get the pre-arrest bail (bail before arrest) . The voice also got the security for Parveen bibi from DIG’s office on the day of her marriage which was on 15th June. Thank God every thing went well and Rana couldn’t do anything. Parveen got married now and is safe, but the animal named Rana was still on bail, which was pending for 17th of july. By the grace of God the Voice lawyers contested the bail and the bail application was dismissed by the additional sessions Judge Sheikhupura on 17th June, but unfortunately Rana Saeed was escaped from the court room and was not arrested.The Voice teams is pursuing this case very keenly and hope that whenever he will go to the High Court he will be arrested and punished for his deplorable and Heinous offence. Please pray for the affected family, and all such women that are suffering by the hands of Evil like Rana. Please pray for the Voice team as well so that God keeps on helping us and we keep on helping his people, sons and daughters.
Religious minorities in Pakistan, are facing an increase in persecution at the hands of Takfiri Deobandi militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-LeJ) Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its other affiliate groups who believe the country is only made for Muslims and all other religious and sectarian minorities are Kafirs and wajabul qatal. Various media reports suggest that Pakistan Muslim League (N)nourishes the banned outfits in Punjab and recently in Punjab Budget 2013-14 it includes millions for Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Malik Ishaq self confessed killers of shias enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance and in election 2013 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists contested on PML-N tickets.
A natural follow-up question irritates ordinary PTI supporters and a common man ‘why were the choices so limited that Imran Khan had to rely on a traditional politician to lead the model government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? How can the problem (past political leadership) be a part of the solution? A little perspective to the dilemma may help readers understand why the face of change in KPK appears ‘more of the same.’ Chanting slogans for change, good governess and establishing Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, KPK Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak emerged the first to react against his party manifesto and the vision of Imran Khan. The chief minister transferred Swat DPO Gul Afzal Khan Afridi when he refused to bow to him. The CM showed the attitude of traditional politicians who opted to use their powers for personnel gain, showing that he had no intention for change. According to sources, Khattak called Swat DPO Gul Afzal khan Afridi and said: “Your behaviour is not good while answering the question of CM. The DPO replied: “Sir my behaviour is good enough.” But the CM repeated the same remarks. The DPO replied ‘if the CM has any doubt over his behaviour, he could consult his superiors’. The CM said: “You are not cooperating with my MPA’s. The DPO replied: “Sir I will treat everyone according to the law and will never violate merit for few.” The CM remarked: “You know I can sack you or transfer you.” The DPO bluntly said: “You will do your work and I will perform my duty with dedication and never bow to any influential”. Sources said that the CM was speaking in harsh tune and threatened the DPO of dismissal. It is learnt that after the conversation with the CM, the DPO received a phone call from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Inspector General Office and the registrar informed him that he was transferred and his transfer letter was faxed to him DPO Gul Afzal Afridi is a brave and duty full officer who performs his duties efficiently. During his tenure in Swat, he arrested many militants, strengthened the investigation system of police and brought the crime rate down. He maintained interaction with the people and made himself available to the media. He cleared Swat valley off dacoits and drugs sellers but was transferred due to political interference. The people are disappointed at his transfer and say that the system cannot be changed in Pakistan. The DPO told TheNation that after CM’s call, IGP Peshawar Office Registrar called him and said that his transfer order was faxed and he should leave his charge. When contacted on phone, Javed Khaki, press secretary of the CM, said that the CM was not available and he would check with him about the matter. But when called again, he could not get the opinion of the CM and said he was busy.
A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA called for the release of Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the man who gunned down Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in 2011. PTI MNA from Mardan, Mujahid Ali Khan made the demand during a debate on the budget in the National Assembly. Khan had won the NA-11 seat in the May 11 elections. Another PTI MNA Arif Alvi clarified that Khan had made this demand in his personal capacity, and this had nothing to do with the party. Earlier in 2011, PTI chairman Imran Khan had condemned Qadri’s reception as a hero on the premises of the Anti Terrorism Court, Rawalpindi. “Extremism and radicalism have penetrated our society deeply,” he had said, adding that it is especially harmful for the youth. Qadri never argued that he had not killed Taseer – shortly after he shot him dead, Qadri said his motive was Taseer’s apparent opposition to the country’s blasphemy law. But if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was the stringent defence put up by religious parties, whose activists showered rose petals on Qadri at his court hearing, brought him flowers on Valentine’s Day and set up Facebook pages glorifying him.
The Baloch Hal
By Muhammad Akbar Notezai
http://www.afghanistantimes.af/The attack on Jinnah residency in Ziarat—Quetta reveals much more than what we saw on television screens or in print news. For many it was a symbolic act of terrorism and vandalism. For many it was an act of registering their anger with Pakistan and an act of voicing their freedom or separation. It was also an act of showing the world that Balochis don't want Jinnah’s Pakistan anymore. It validates the concept that the two-nation theory was flawed. It also falsified the so-called ideology of Pakistan. It also has laid it bare that Pakistan faces existential threats from within. Pakistan, the progeny of the two-nation theory, has been struggling to survive as a nation but the attack on the residency of Jinnah—the founder of Pakistan, has proved that despite living together for more or less 65 years after its conception, Sindhis, Balochis, Punjabis and Pashtuns have failed to live together as a nation. Jinnah received what he had sown during his lifetime. He divided the Hindus and Muslims of the subcontinent on the basis of the two-nation theory. Then he took a sharp U-turn and announced before the members of the Constituent Assembly that Hindus and Muslims are not two nations but two communities, and in the state polity and policies there shouldn't be any discrimination between them. This is where Pakistan’s problems started off. If a common man makes some mistakes, tells a lie and proved to be a turncoat, it is just he himself that reaps its outgrowth, however, when a leader commits some mistakes it is his nation that bears the downsides of his works. Pakistanis are now reaping what their leader has sown for them. The so-called ideology of Pakistan was very clumsy from the very beginning and it couldn’t last long but just fell apart in 1971 when eastern Pakistan became Bangladesh. This ideology has been responsible for desperation, religious bigotry, and political disharmony in the leftover-Pakistan. Religious intolerance and political discord have permeated in the lives of Pakistanis. Had Pakistan been a natural state, it wouldn’t have witnessed its breakage in form of Bangladesh—being a separate state now. And it wouldn’t have seen separatist movement in Balochistan. It is Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) that has claimed the attack on Jinnah Residency in Zairat—Quetta but the jingoistic Pakistani media and its military establishment will call it an act of foreign hands. The problem is they don’t see at their own faults as what made Bangladeshis alienated from western Pakistan and what distanced Balochis from Islamabad. They blame India for separating Bangladesh from Pakistan while concealing the fact that the very idea of Pakistan was clumsy having no capacity to remain intact for long. This is why its breakage for natural. A nation is a historically evolved stable community of language, territory, economic life, shared goals, and psychological make-up, and all of them should be manifested in a community of culture. Ideology is the very raison de’tre of Pakistan. It is the foundation, and it is the basis on which Pakistan stands and on which India was divided. It is such an idea that Afghanistan never subscribed to it. It was for two major reasons that Afghanistan opposed the idea of Pakistan. First, if a new state comes into existence in the subcontinent, majority of Afghan-Pashtuns will come under its subjugation. And indeed it happened when Pakistan came into existence. Second, Kabul believed that it would be a great injustice with those Muslims who will remain back in India. But the obdurate political genius Jinnah clung to his idea of ‘two-nation theory’ and eventually made Pakistan. His ideology is responsible for the bloodshed in the region. Had there been no two nation theory, no Pakistan, there wouldn’t have been any bloodshed in the name of religion particularly in this region.
Months-long painstaking and secret negotiations involving Islamabad and Washington have yielded a detailed roadmap for steering negotiations with the Afghan Taliban which will start to unfold with the release of five Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and the return of the captured US soldier PFC Bowe Bergdahl, at present in Taliban custody. While the opening of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, has captured headlines across the world, wide-ranging interviews with highly-placed diplomatic, military and foreign office sources reveal that this office is but one of the many elements of a complex process, the ultimate aim of which is for all stakeholders in Afghanistan to share power through an inclusive election process under a possibly modified Afghanistan constitution. “The journey begins now and if all goes well should co-terminate with the exit of the American combat troops and holding of elections in Afghanistan that brings everyone onboard,” says a diplomatic source who has been involved in this process. Other elements of this process are complete reconciliation with the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, multiple-level dialogue between the Taliban and non- Pashtoon groups, agreement on the constitutional framework to govern Afghanistan after safe and trouble-free exit of the US forces from the Afghan soil, gradual cessation of kinetic operations and crucially, dispensing with Hamid Karzai in the political sense in case he tries to subvert peace efforts. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that this road is slippery and with no guaranteed success. However, a near-complete and rare alignment of views between the US administration and Pakistan’s policymakers achieved through a robust and out-of-media-glare talks has created space for ‘pulling this one off’, says the source. “There has been some direct dialing between Pakistan and John Kerry, the US secretary of state, working under clear guidelines from president Obama,” says one of Pakistan’s top negotiators. This direct dialing sometimes bypassed the US embassy in Islamabad while Pakistan’s mission in Washington too stayed pretty much on the margins of what was transpiring between the two capitals. The main issues that the two sides have had to grapple with all centered around the Taliban’s core leadership led by Mullah Omar. “The Americans had three solutions for the Taliban problem. First, the Alpha solution, was to beat them into submission and retard their capacity to fight permanently. This failed. The Bravo solution was to fight them hard through a troop surge and force them to accept Afghanistan’s new realities like the presentday Afghan constitution and the leadership of president Karzai. That too did not work. The third, the Charlie solution, was more of a compulsion. Accept Taliban as a legitimate power in Afghanistan, talk to them, accommodate their main demands even it meant abandoning assets like Karzai. I think you are looking at the Charlie solution being played out,” says a military official. The clearest indication of this radical shift in the US outlook towards the Taliban is in their acceptance that the onceroundly condemned Haqqani Network is essential to peace and deserves to be on the table in Doha. The Haqqanis, who dominate Afghanistan’s troubled and violence-infested eastern provinces, have been Washington hard-liners’ favourite punching bag and recipient of most of the military operations conducted by Isaf and Nato led by the US. Declared as international terrorists their leaders have also been the focus of drone attacks inside Pakistan besides being at the centre of the US accusations of Pakistan being a sanctuary and a safe haven for forces killing American soldiers in Afghanistan. “The Haqqanis are no longer the bull’s eye of US military operations. They are no longer in the ‘kill or capture and be rewarded’ category. They are part and parcel of the team that would represent Mullah Omar with which Washington is deeply engaged,” says another source at the foreign office. This ‘deep engagement’ is trilateral and would not have come about without Washington getting exhausted with its stand-alone efforts to cultivate the Taliban minus Islamabad. Pakistani officials say that Washington tried several dialogue processes, in many capitals of the world, some even with low-ranking members of the Haqqani Network, but each time they hit a dead end. No faction could move ahead without the sanction of the Taliban top leadership. As the costs of war in Afghanistan mounted, and the withdrawal deadline neared, the Obama administration found itself in a bind that could only be circumvented if Mullah Omar agreed to be part of the dialogue. “The hardliners among the Taliban ranks did not want to give any space to US forces. They had realised that by stalemating international forces they had actually won militarily. They would not concede an inch of diplomatic space to the US who, in their perception, had lost out in the battlefield,” explained a high-ranking foreign office official involved in talking to the Taliban. “It was then Pakistan’s turn to use its influence even though everyone in Washington had deep doubts about the Taliban showing flexibility. Our pitch to the Taliban was that by becoming part of the dialogue process they could gain international sanction, end conflict peacefully and achieve their goals of foreign forces exiting their country much more swiftly than through perpetual conflict that offered total victory to nobody. “We also had to argue long and hard with Washington to change the sequence of its demands and instead of asking for the Taliban to straightway accept the Afghan constitution and abjure violence let confidence-building measures take place that would start the process of reconciliation,” says the foreign office official. The same sources also said that the real breakthrough in these negotiations came through personal diplomacy between John Kerry and Pakistan’s Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. “With the election fever gripping the country the (outgoing) government in Pakistan had lost all interest in even looking at the notes of some of these important meetings much less taking active interest in spearheading the country’s role in this regard. Kerry-Kayani duo was the centerpiece of this heightened diplomacy. The two had an excellent equation even before Kerry became the secretary of state. Now they talk more frequently than anyone in the press gets to report on,” said the foreign office source. What transpires in these frequent calls is anybody’s guess, but this interaction did yield a crucial breakthrough a few weeks ago when the Taliban shared a draft of their statement with Washington which was seen and appreciated by everyone at the State Department and the White House. “The Taliban in that statement had shown an unequivocal commitment to peace and the constitutional process achieved through dialogue besides reiterating the stance that they would not let their soil be used for attacking the US. The same statement also included a critical element of the Taliban distancing themselves from al Qaeda,” says a diplomatic source who worked closely with Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and claims to have seen several drafts of that letter. This statement was to be followed by statements of approval from Qatar, Pakistan and of course Washington, joined in by other western powers. “This was much more than Washington was hoping to get out of the Taliban. Frankly, the situation that the US was in, they could have simply settled for the Taliban becoming part of the electoral process,” said a foreign office source. Washington’s glee was reflected in a string of congratulatory calls and messages senior diplomatic and military officers started to receive upon getting the final draft of the Taliban statement. “This showed what a big deal it was for them (in Washington),” said the same source. Prior to this engagement with Washington Pakistan also facilitated a quiet and effective dialogue process between the non-Pashtoon forces (the Northern Alliance) and the Taliban in which the two sides at a senior level agreed to bury the hatchet and work jointly for stabilising Afghanistan. “This was a big breakthrough because this made our peace efforts truly all-inclusive and curtailed the voices of discord and divisiveness that could have raised questions about our motives”, said a senior military source. One such voice was and continues to be that of Afghanistan’s maverick president Hamid Karzai, who according to Pakistani officials, tried his level best to somehow prevent a direct interface between the Americans and the Taliban and create an impression that he and not Islamabad holds the key to the Afghan endgame. “Even in opening the office of the Taliban in Doha his concern was that this should be done through his offices in Kabul, an effort that had no takers from any other quarter and therefore fell flat,” says a senior foreign office official. Karzai’s increasing isolation was proven yet again when Washington, his main backer, stopped counting on him and accepted direct dialogue with the Taliban as the mainstay of their diplomatic push in Afghanistan. This fulfilled a major demand of the Taliban leadership that does not recognise the government in Kabul and wants to have no truck with Karzai. The beleaguered Afghan president got squeezed on the other fronts as well. As non- Pasthoons began to open up to the Taliban even the High Peace Council, headed distanced itself from the daily barrage of Karzai’s brutal criticism of Pakistan. A diplomatic source shared with this scribe some contents of recent meetings between Pakistani officials and members of the High Peace Council which clearly indicate a gaping chasm between them and Karzai. He is variously described as ‘unstable’, ‘a threat to Afghan peace’ and even as a ‘poisonous roadblock’. Unfortunately for Karzai Washington increasingly finds itself in agreement with these assessments, some of which echo those done by senior US officials themselves of the man. That is why when day before yesterday the Afghanistan president raised hell over the Taliban’s office in Doha styling itself as a mission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Washington calmed him down and itself downplayed this characterisation to dilute his accusation that the Taliban were ‘rogues only he could handle’, said a foreign diplomat. However, the Afghan president’s retribution has been swift. His suspension of talks with the United States on a new security deal, to protest the way his government was being left out of initial peace negotiations with the Taliban, is his most vocal statement of anger of so far. “In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently under way in Kabul between Afghan and US delegations on the bilateral security agreement,” Karzai’s statement said. But that might backfire because Washington is about the only international player willing to put up with Karzai. Pakistan has not pulled any punches against Karzai. Islamabad’s military negotiators have curtly told Washington that they “can either save their man (Karzai) or Afghan peace”. Pakistan has shared volumes of evidence with Washington of the Afghan president’s deliberate encouragement of forces operating against Pakistan from across the border including, more recently, the directions that came for Kandahar for the attackers of the Quaid’s residency in Ziarat. “We do not rule out the possibility of Kabul-sponsored elements making a last-ditch effort to inflict damage on Pakistan with the approval of President Karzai, whose recent conduct borders on strange behaviour, to say the least,” says a senior government official posted in Balochistan. Pakistan’s more subtle message to Washington about its aversion to Karzai has been just as firm. Last week’s trilateral meeting involving Afghan and Isaf commanders was supposed to take place in Afghanistan. Pakistan insisted that it should be relocated to Pakistan because Gen Kayani did not want to go to Afghanistan and pay even a courtesy call on Karzai. “We have left Karzai’s handling to the Americans. He is their man. They invested in him. They should tackle him. We are not pulling any stops for him,” said a high-ranking foreign office source. The newly-elected prime minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who is now in charge of the country’s foreign and defence policies, got an early indication of how complex the Afghanistan peace process has become and how central is the role that the country he leads is playing in taking it forward. He dropped the idea of visiting Kabul any time soon immediately after this proposal was floated in the media. Since then he has been holding regular meetings with the army chief in the presence of Sartaj Aziz, special advisor on national security and foreign affairs, and key members of his core team including Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. “Most of these meetings have been about the big events happening around us including the Afghan peace process,” said a federal cabinet minister. The prime minister’s briefings on Afghanistan have been detailed and a full extent of the background has been given to him. According to foreign office sources the prime minister is ‘fully clued up’ and on the day of the opening of the Doha office he was informed of all the developments on practically ‘minute-to-minute basis’. Pakistan Muslim League sources confirm that the first visitor to call on premier Sharif after he was sworn in was General Kayani and the major portion of this meet-up was ‘developments in Afghanistan’.