Thursday, September 5, 2013

Video appears to show Syrian rebel forces threatening to pursue own chemical weapons

A newly discovered video posted on a pro-Syrian regime website shows rebel commanders talking about their own “red line” after the government allegedly launched a chemical attack against civilians there last month. The tape was reviewed by multiple analysts who said at the very least the rebels appeared to be issuing an ultimatum – if there was no military response to the attack by the West, they threatened to pursue their own chemical weapons. Last year, President Obama described any use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line” that would warrant a response. The four and a half minute video posted two days after the Aug. 21 Damascus attack features rebel commanders speaking while a black and white Islamist flag flies in the background. Fox News Middle East specialist Walid Phares, who reviewed the tape, said, "The narrative is jihadi and the red line they're talking about is about the use of weapons they have not used before -- and what comes to my mind would be chemical or biological." A separate analysis identified one of the men as a deputy to General Salim Idris, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, the same group some members of Congress describe as the moderate opposition in Syria. Yigal Carmon, the president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, who also reviewed the tape, said,"The message is if the West doesn't act, we (the rebels) too will have no red lines, and will use chemical weapons." While there is no evidence the opposition has chemical weapons, the possibility of their use has been discussed according to Phares. "A year ago on some of the jihadi chat rooms, including in Syria, there has been talks about using all of the weapons needed and it's ideologically permissible for them to use those weapons," he said. At the same time, and apparently compounding the situation, the flow of foreign fighters into Syria has grown significantly according to Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "This a dire situation where we have the Assad regime which is despicable in one hand and Al Qaeda and its allies on the other," Joscelyn said. He estimated there were 10,000 Islamist fighters in Syria and many are battle hardened and effective. "A big part of the problem here is the extremist groups, including Al Qaeda, basically have the best fighters, the best trainers, the best leaders for this type of jihad,” he said. “So even groups that are not extremist in nature tend to defer to them in the fighting because they're the most efficient. "What we're seeing inside Syria right now is very much a replay of what happened in Iraq. In Iraq, we underestimated Al Qaeda's designs on the country and what they were trying to do." The true composition of the rebels is a question the House and Senate intelligence committees, led by Republican Mike Rogers, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein respectively, continue to wrestle with according to a former senior staff member. "This is what the American people pay millions and millions and billions of dollars for -- to be able to ask of the intelligence community the very hard questions of who people are and what their motives are," said Michael Allen, former staff director of the House Intelligence committee. "It's an imperfect business, but I think we're getting there and we can have some confidence that there are elements of the rebels that we can support."
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Tough crowd heckles McCain in town hall meeting on Syria

Smiling, Obama and Putin Mask Their Disputes

President Obama and his advisers view the coming decision on military action against Syria as a potential turning point that could effectively define his foreign policy for his final three years in office.As he lobbied world leaders at a summit meeting here in person and members of Congress back in Washington by telephone on Thursday, Mr. Obama argued that a failure to act would be an abdication of the so-called indispensable role played by the United States since the end of the cold war, leaving no one to step in when international bodies fail to. In private, Mr. Obama and his team see the votes as a guidepost for the rest of his presidency well beyond the immediate question of launching missiles at Syrian military targets. If Congress does not support a relatively modest action in response to a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 people in Syria, Obama advisers said, the president will not be able to count on support for virtually any use of force. Although Mr. Obama has asserted that he has the authority to order the strike on Syria even if Congress says no, White House aides consider that almost unthinkable. As a practical matter, it would leave him more isolated than ever and seemingly in defiance of the public’s will at home. As a political matter, it would almost surely set off an effort in the House to impeach him, which even if it went nowhere could be distracting and draining. As a result, Mr. Obama would be even more reluctant to order action in the one case that has most preoccupied military planners: the development of a nuclear bomb by Iran. Any operation to take out Iranian nuclear facilities would require a far more extensive commitment of military force than the missile strike envisioned against Syria. Moreover, a rejection of the Syria strike would make Mr. Obama less likely to leave behind a robust force in Afghanistan after combat troops are withdrawn at the end of 2014. “I think this vote determines the future of his foreign policy regardless of whether it’s a yes vote or a no vote,” said Rosa Brooks, a former top Defense Department official under Mr. Obama. “If he ekes out a yes vote, he’s beholden to the Republicans.” But, she added, “if he gets a no vote and stands down on Syria, he’s permanently weakened and will indeed probably be more inward looking.” Already a sometimes-reluctant warrior, Mr. Obama pulled out all American troops from Iraq, ordered a withdrawal from Afghanistan and lately has talked about scaling back his aggressive use of drones in Pakistan and eventually ending the war against terrorism. Some critics have argued that in subcontracting the Syria decision to Congress, Mr. Obama was looking for an excuse not to act and someone else to blame. White House officials deny that, saying what the president really wants is a united front. But to opponents of a Syria strike, a retreat from further use of force in the wake of a Congressional rejection would finally reverse what they see as excessive militarism since Sept. 11, 2001. The restraint on future military flexibility that the White House professes to fear, in this view, would be something to celebrate. It may be that the dire talk from the White House reflects a strategy to muscle Congress into line: Vote against this, the message being, and you vote against protecting Israel from Iran. And it may be that even if White House officials believe it today, Mr. Obama would still act to stop developments in the Iranian nuclear program or to address some other threatening circumstance if the moment ever arrived. “Obviously defeat would be a blow to presidential leadership but I think not fatal to a decision to attack Iran because the stakes are different,” said Gary Samore, a former national security aide to Mr. Obama. “The danger is that Iran might misread Congressional opposition to a Syria attack as a green light to move toward building nukes, which would force Obama’s hand.” Nancy Soderberg, who was a diplomat at the United Nations under President Bill Clinton, said a negative vote would cut Congress out of foreign policy. “Rather than tying the president’s hands for the next three years, a failure in the House would leave him more reliant on his inner circle and a few key world leaders in making the difficult choices between force and diplomacy,” she said. But Mr. Obama and his aides are trying to thread a needle at home and abroad. Even as they argue that the stakes are profound, they assure that the intervention would be modest. While Mr. Obama argues that nothing less than world credibility is at stake, he is aiming only a “shot across the bow” to deter further use of chemical weapons not to end a civil war that has killed 100,000. That makes this situation different from, say, the circumstances surrounding Kosovo in the 1990s, when the United States led NATO forces to stop mass slaughter. Mr. Obama presented his case to leaders gathered here from the Group of 20 nations, but found as much wariness as he has in Congress. While France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia support such a strike, most of the others were more cautious, and the meeting’s host, President Vladimir V. Putin, was openly hostile. Chinese officials warned that a strike would raise oil prices and upset the global economy, while Italy’s prime minister said he worried that it widen the conflict. From the Vatican, Pope Francis wrote a letter urging the leaders “to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution.” Mr. Obama, who met separately with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, was hoping mainly to win support for the idea of holding Syria responsible even if not for his method. The Group of 20 meeting put on full display the increasingly awkward and tense relationship between Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin. To protest Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed secret programs, Mr. Obama last month canceled a separate one-on-one meeting in Moscow and declined even a private session here in St. Petersburg. As he arrived at Constantine Palace, Mr. Obama was greeted by Mr. Putin, and the two shook hands and smiled in a businesslike if not warm encounter lasting about 15 seconds. They did not pat backs or grab elbows as leaders often do, and at the opening session they sat separated by the leaders of Australia and Indonesia, with nothing to say to each other as long as the cameras were on. Diving into the meetings, Mr. Obama tried to manage dual audiences, the one in front of him representing the world’s greatest powers and the one back home that holds the fate of his foreign policy in its hands. “One thing for Congress to consider,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, his deputy national security adviser, “is the message that this debate sends about U.S. leadership around the world — that the U.S. for decades has played the role of undergirding the global security architecture and enforcing international norms. And we do not want to send a message that the United States is getting out of that business in any way.”

CNN vote count: Obama long way from congressional approval on Syria

President Barack Obama still has has a long way to go to secure congressional authorization for military action against Syria even after clearing a key hurdle in the Senate. According to CNN, there are 18 "no" votes in the Senate and 24 "yes." Fifty-eight senators -- almost the same number of votes needed to overcome any filibuster -- remain undecided. After changing an Obama-sponsored proposal authorizing a military response to alleged chemical weapons use by Syria, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Wednesday to approve it by a 10-7 margin. The outcome set up debate next week in the full chamber. CNN vote count: How the Senate will vote | House Three Republicans -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee -- voted in favor of taking action. And that's where the good news ends for the White House. Obama needs at least 217 votes in the House to secure his resolution. In that chamber, there are nearly four "no" votes for every "yes" at the moment. According to CNN's count, 109 members plan to vote "no," while 23 -- including a number of high profile Republicans -- plan to back it. More than 280 representatives remain undecided.
Of concern to the administration is a trend showing an increase in "no" votes, although lawmakers remain out of town until next week and many have yet to receive classified briefings where the administration says it can spell out more evidence and more candidly answer questions. Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Rep. Bob Gibbs and Rep. Cynthia Lummis are among those who have come out against the plan. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, signaled through a spokesman on Wednesday that she was planning to vote "yes." But the same official said on Thursday that she wanted to first see the resolution language and was now undecided. Those decisions put those lawmakers at odds with their leadership since House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have backed Obama. Boehner has said it is up to the White House to get the votes. House Democrats, too, have reservations about Syria. Many, especially liberals, cite war weariness and prolonged intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan as reasons to oppose new military action. Others want to hear more details in classified meetings or see resolution language, which in the Senate would limit any strike, set a time limit for action, and prohibit the use of American troops in Syria. "After 6,668 American troop deaths and tens of thousands of American wounded, after spending $2 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan representing $40,000 in debt for every American family, now is the time to nation-build in America and invest in the growth of the American economy," New York Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat, said in a statement to CNN. Despite the vocal opposition in Congress, Obama remained confident he'd get the necessary support. "I believe Congress will approve it because I think America recognizes that as difficult as it is to take any military action and even one as limited as we are talking about, even one without boots on the ground, that's a sober decision," he said at a news conference on Wednesday in Sweden.

Audit faults U.S. health spending in Afghanistan

An independent audit released Thursday accused the U.S. Agency for International Development of “reckless disregard toward the management of U.S. taxpayer dollars,” prompting an angry rebuttal from the agency leading American reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said the agency funded a $236-million health program without verifying the Afghan government’s cost estimate and provided the money directly to the Afghan Health Ministry despite its weak financial management capabilities. Agency officials rejected the audit's findings. In a letter, the agency’s Afghanistan mission director, William Hammink, said U.S. officials did verify the costs before launching the program and defended measures the agency had taken to reduce the risk that funds would be wasted or misspent.U.S. money isn’t provided directly to the Health Ministry but instead goes into an account at the Afghan Central Bank, where USAID and the ministry’s contract management unit must sign off before any funds are disbursed, officials said. “The report provides no evidence that the extensive measures taken by USAID to safeguard taxpayer resources have resulted in high risk of misuse of funds,” Hammink wrote. The agency has been the subject of a series of highly critical audits by the special inspector general, John F. Sopko, a hard-charging former prosecutor who has railed against the U.S. practice of funneling more aid money directly to the Afghan government. In recent months, Sopko has alleged major problems with a $47-million USAID stabilization program and said the Afghans probably won’t be able to maintain two agency-built hospitals. The reports grab headlines, but agency officials say the audits often overstate problems or cite shortcomings that have already been fixed. “We have a long-standing issue with the spectacular nature of the headlines of his audits,” said one agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They’re all sizzle, and when you get to audit there’s not much steak there.” To be sure, the agency’s decade-long, $15-billion reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is a juicy target for an auditor. Agency officials acknowledge missteps, primarily in the early years, but they say they and the Afghan government have improved oversight and accountability. The audit released Thursday focuses on a program called Partnership Contracts for Health, which helps provide basic health services in 13 provinces serving about half of Afghanistan’s population. USAID officials say the 4-year-old program is a success, citing improved health outcomes across the board in Afghanistan and polls showing that Afghans believe their government has improved health services.

Pakistani Insurgents Attack Kabul Mosque
In the early hours of Thursday morning, two Pakistani nationals, said to be members of the terrorist group Lashkar Jangawi, open fired on worshipers in a Shiite mosque in western Kabul. Three people were injured in the attack, but a nearby National Directorate of Security (NDS) patrol was able to arrive on the scene quickly and neutralize both attackers before anyone else was hurt. In a statement released later on Thursday, the NDS stated that the attack on the Imam Hassan Mujtaba mosque was an attempt by Pakistani intelligence officials to incite sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Afghanistan. "Pakistani fundamentalist groups are trying to start a religious conflict in Afghanistan, but they will never succeed," said Amrullah Saleh, former NDS Director. Nevertheless, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The mosque that was targeted was in the Dasht-e-Barche area of Kabul. Local residents and those who were worshipping in the mosque praised the way the NDS soldiers handled themselves and called for similar precision from security forces in the future. "The security forces prevented a catastrophe from happening," said Haqjo, a local resident. The attackers were reportedly disguised in Afghan National Police (ANP) uniforms. Following news of the attack, Dastagir Hedayat, along with other Afghan Islamic scholars, condemned the targeting of mosques, saying such acts were deplorable and a clear violation of Islamic values. In the past, the Taliban has targeted mosques, though know sectarian motivations have ever been attributed to such attacks. This incident comes just after President Hamid Karzai traveled to Islamabad to meet with newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The trip, which was intended to facilitate dialogue around bilateral relations between the two neighbors and the Taliban peace process, was considered a modest success. However, with incidents like the one on Thursday, and continued allegations from Afghan officials of Pakistan supporting insurgent and terrorist activities, it would seem a great deal still remains to be resolved between the two nations.

Pakistan warns against attack on Syria

Pakistan has warned that any military attack on Syria will have serious consequences and plunge the already volatile region into deeper conflict. Speaking at his weekly news briefing in Islamabad Thusrday‚ Foreign Office Spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the approach to address the Syrian situation should be guided by principles enshrined in the UN charter like respect for sovereignty‚ territorial integrity‚ non interference in internal matters and resolution of disputes through peaceful manner. He said Islamabad remains opposed to the use of force‚ urges maximum restraint from all sides and dialogue among Syrians for peaceful solution of the problem. When asked about Pakistan s stance on use of chemical weapons in Syria‚ the spokesperson said we regard the use of chemical weapons by any side as a matter of grave concern and condemns it in clear terms. He said allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be interrogated. Report of the United Nations is very vital in this regard and its findings should be thoroughly examined for an acceptable way forward. When his attention was drawn towards Washington Post regarding Pakistan s nuclear arsenals‚ Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry dismissed the report saying it is based on incorrect assessment. He said Pakistan is committed to the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation. He said a robust command and control system is in place for safety and security of nuclear arsenals and installations. He said the US state department in a recent statement has also vindicated our point. He said Pakistan follows best international practices and standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He emphasized that Pakistan and the United States are engaged in a multidimensional cooperation. Both the sides have agreed to revive the work of working groups that will lead to the resumption of strategic level in early next year. On the expected meeting of the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on the sideline of UN General Assembly session‚ the spokesperson said both the countries are in touch and working out the date. He said the meeting will provide a useful opportunity to remove the existing trust deficit in relations. Emphasizing the need for dialogue for settlement of outstanding issues‚ he said disruption of dialogue benefits only those who do not want peace. On the tension at the line of control‚ Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Pakistan has expressed grave concerns over the violations on the Line of Control by India and urged it to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement. When asked about Pakistani prisoners in Bagram prison‚ the spokesperson said we are in contact with the Afghan and US authorities for the early release and transfer of these prisoners to Pakistan.

Challenges of News Media in Balochistan

The Baloch Hal
By Aurangzaib Khan
There aren’t any obvious parallels in the cases of FATA journalist Hayatullah’s murder and the Balochistan authorities’ action against ARY TV. On the surface, both case s are poles apart. And not just because they relate to regions that are as far removed from the national gaze as the distances that separate them. Except, in both cases journalists revealed versions of stories related to the thorny issues of drones in FATA and insurgency in Balochistan that contradicted the government’s. The mainstream media is often blamed – and not without a reason – for blinking on remote borderlands hit worst by militancy and insurgency, more so Balochistan. But unsung are the local journalists who dare break a story – they are our windows on the restive border areas that journalists from outside have virtually no access to. Local journalists walk the fine line, caught in the crosshairs of conflicting interests that the state and anti-state elements seek to propagate or protect through brutal tactics aimed at information control. Hayatullah was among the first of casualties caused by drones, in a manner of speaking. He died taking the lid off of a tacit deal between the Musharraf’s military government and the Americans to use drones against al Qaeda and Taliban targets in FATA. His pictures of Hellfire missiles hitting Abu Hamza Rafia’s house in North Waziristan, published in Ausaf and the European Pressphoto Agency, gave the lie to Musharraf government’s claim that the al Qaeda militant died in a blast of explosives stored in the house. With the drone deal out of the bag, Hayatullah was kidnapped and killed by unknown people that the judicial commission constituted for inquiry into the murder failed to identify. The commission’s brief was to probe the alleged involvement of security agencies in Hayatullah’s murder. According to Committee for Protection of Journalists, Hayatullah “passed his will to his tribe and explicitly stated, ‘If I am kidnapped or get killed, the government agencies will be responsible.’” We don’t know if the security agencies killed Hayatulllah. However, from the military officials’ refusal to cooperate with the commission to “get statements recorded despite directives of ministry of defense”, and the “cruel misinformation campaign during his six-month disappearance” that the government engaged in, there is one conclusion we can safely arrive at: The state certainly didn’t do much to protect him or bring his killers to justice. Even after his death – followed by the death of his wife killed in a bomb attack probably because she knew too much – the PPP government kept the commission’s report under wraps for five years. Now consider the case of ARY in Balochistan. ARY received a graphic video of the destruction of Ziarat Residency from the Baloch Liberation Army, one of the more vicious banned groups alongside Lasker-e – Jhangvi that can’t take no from journalists when it comes to their demand for media coverage of anti-state, sectarian activities. The cost of refusal, these groups have shown time and again, are high for the media and the journalistic community. ARY aired the BLA footage that contradicted the government version, not with words but visuals. Whether it was done out of journalistic responsibility or in the face of threat, it doesn’t matter because on both counts – for journalism or self- protection – the decision can be justified. Revealing lies and obfuscation that governments – military or democratic – engage in has consequences ala Snowden and Sergeant Manning. For ARY it came in the form of Supreme Court censure and police action. For Hayatullah, it was death delivered with a bullet to the head. In Balochistan, where authorities have failed to protect journalists from state agencies and the anti-state banned groups including insurgents and sectarian elements, the case against ARY points to a third front against media – a legal threat. The shadow of court and police action under the Anti-terrorism Act looms large over journalists and journalism in a province we see or hear little about in the mainstream media. In October 2011, while reporting on an incidence of sectarian massacre in Mastung in which 26 members of the Shia sect were killed, newspapers in Quetta carried statements from Lashkar –e –Jhangvi, the sectarian group that claimed responsibility. In the statement, the group has called Shias “Kafir” or infidels. The Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Issa took suo moto notice of the sectarian killings and during the hearing of the case, issued an order that “the press and the media are directed not to print or publish any propaganda of an organization that has been banned.” Media representatives summoned to the high court said they received threats from proscribed organizations that they would be targeted if the media didn’t comply with demands to publish their statements. It was out of fear that they carried such stories. The court order however said that it could not be a justification for violation of law and constitution of Pakistan – Section II of the Anti-terrorism Act that says “the printing, publishing and disseminating any material that instigates hatred or gives projection to any proscribed organization” will face the consequences provided in the law. Journalists guilty of committing contempt of the high court order would be sent to prison for 6 months whereas a court case registered under Anti-Terrorism Act could lead to 3 years in prison. The local newspapers have continued carrying statements from the banned organizations saying “6 months in prison are better than death at the hands of militant organizations.” After the High Court order, journalists met several times, only to decide that if they followed the court order, they could not possibly work. On the occasion they said no to underground groups, the response was, “if we can attack the DIGFC house and the Police Chief, we can attack your office which is far less secure”. To comply with the court’s decision, the local journalists formed an editorial board to edit stories for “sensitive” content and a uniform message before distributing them to media outlets. As expected, it hasn’t worked as newspapers tend to follow their own policies. The judiciary justified the order saying it is mindful of the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 19 but “the said Fundamental Right itself restricts such freedom if it results in incitement to an offence ” and that “it is not expected that media which is stated to be the fourth pillar of the State would undermine or weaken the integrity and the cohesion of the State and the people residing within it.” The court sources insisted that at a time when the media was concerned about safety, the court order ensured exactly. The see the order as a legal “protection” rather than hindrance – a reason that the journalists could offer to resist pressure and threats from militant organizations. However statements from judiciary that journalists “should close offices if they can’t stand up to threats” betrays ignorance and insensitivity towards media and the way it works. The ARY case was something waiting to happen. Since the Balochistan High Court order in 2011, the Quetta police has charged journalists and registered cases against media that continue to publish statements from banned groups. On any given day in any newspaper, there are a number of these that the insecure, threatened local media working in a volatile, unsafe Balochistan can’t say no. That said, there are concerns about practices within media that exposes it to threats and leads to restrictions on press freedom. While the media is quick to renounce moves threatening its independence, fact is, there is little soul searching or effort on part of media groups and owners to address the abysmal professional and ethical standards. “Journalism overall has deteriorated”, says a veteran journalist based in Quetta. “The standards have gone down due to absence of independent, professional editors. Partisan editors and media networks force journalists to do stories in keeping with their interest instead of the public’s.” Media professionals in the province recognize the fact that journalists – due to pressures, inducements or political loyalties – often side with militants, insurgents or the military. Certain journalists, especially those in the districts, identify with the cause and stance of combatants and fail to disassociate themselves from them professionally. A big threat to journalists stems from the fact that they become party to the conflict by siding or sympathizing with one group or another. In meetings with the government, judiciary and the military, questions about media focus on “bad” news, banned organizations and sensational reporting come up repeatedly. According to a court source, “it is the competition for breaking news that is the killer because the newspapers and tv networks compete through sensationalism. The militants dictate the headlines, even the pages the story should go on. This fear of the militants has also affected the standards of journalism because it is forced to promote violence and hatred.” However, when the chief justice is irked by the graphic display of the Ziarat Residency demolition at the hands of insurgents, and the police, getting their cue from the court’s disapproval, proceed to register a case against media, they are essentially displaying the same attitude as Hayatullah’s killers in a bid to control media. Only this time, they are not shooting the messenger but gunning for the medium. In doing that, they willfully ignore that the local media, the only source of information on the restive Balochistan, is besieged by pressures from all sides – the insurgents, the military, the political parties, the religious sectarian groups, the tribes and the government. While protecting the society (and the obfuscation of truths the governments engage in), aren’t the courts – and the state – responsible for protecting the journalist, also a citizen, and the people’s right to information? Can the journalist, working under hazardous circumstances in Balochistan, say no to BLA or LJ when they come, armed and dangerous, to their media offices, insisting on coverage of their activities? In the words of a local journalist, “The anti-state elements are not under control of the government, the state or the judiciary, whose writ is even weaker once you leave Quetta. The judiciary can ask for bullet-proof cars but the journalists have no protection.” While there is little that the local media can do to protect itself from militant organizations, the state – and the media owners – can help by seeking an end to impunity for media rights violations and providing journalists an environment free of fear and coercion. “The state”, says a local journalist,” knows we are only doing our job. It has a responsibility towards protecting us. The anti-state elements have none.”

Bomb Attack At Pakistani Girls School
A bomb has exploded outside a girls school in the northwestern town of Bannu, wounding 14 people. Deputy Superintendent of Police Nematullah Marwat told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the bombing on September 5 occurred as classes were letting out for the day. The school is located in an area where there is a women’s market, but Marwat said it appeared the target was the school. Marwat said six of the people injured were students. There have been attacks in Bannu and other areas nearby that targeted girls schools, but the incidents usually happened at night or on holidays when there was no one present. Islamic militants in Bannu have stated they are against education for girls.

Pakistan: Ahmadi factory worker target-killed in Karachi allegedly due to his religious beliefs
A factory worker, Aijaz Ahmad, 36, was on his way to work in Orangi when two armed motorcyclist fired at him. With the murder of Aijaz Ahmad on Wednesday morning, the number of Ahmadis being killed in targeted attacks in a fortnight has risen to three. On August 21, Zahoor Ahmad Kiyani, 46, who also belongs to the Ahmediyya community was sitting outside his house with a neighbour when he was riddled with bullets. His neighbour was shot too when he attempted to catch the attackers. Last week, a homeopathicdoctor, Tahir Ahmad, also an Ahmadi, was murdered by armed men in his office when he was seeing his patients. Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan’s spokesperson Saleemuddin, while condemning the killings, said that incidents of target killings have increased ever since religious conferences have been held all over the country to celebrate the day, September 7, 1974, when Ahmadis were declared as non-Muslims. The past few months have been comparatively peaceful for the Ahmadi community except for a killing in June and the recent ones, which clearly indicate an alarming situation, he said. “It is the responsibility of the government to stop the people from spreading hatred through their literature and through their sermons.” An Ahmadiyya community member, Masood Ahmad, said that since two of the recent killings took place in Orangi, it shows that the residents have become intolerant towards the the community. “There are no-go areas in Orangi where criminals are stronger and the police are weak,” he said. Over the last few days, wall-chalking has also increased in this area and people are afraid to leave their homes and go out for work, he added. Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2013.

Secular Pakistan or dismemberment of Pakistan into very small states?

posted by Taj
Shehla Raza speaks from the heart. The crimes against Shia and Sufi Sunni (brelvi) which form about 80 percent of Pakistan’s population have been steadily increasing since 1985. Shia Muslims are especially targeted, Shia doctors even Shia prisoners are beheaded in Jail breaks. A minority powered by the ideology of the
British Saudi Arabia is out murder or convert the majority of Shia and Sufi Sunni (brelvi) to only follow their version of Islam. If we put a Bander (monkey) in charge of Kaaba should we follow that Bandar? Following the dictates of Hegelian dialectic, the Globalists have created two antagonizing forces, the “Liberal-Democratic” West, against Terrorism, or “political Islam”, to force us into the acceptance of their final alternative, a New World Order. The West and Islam have had a long era of compatibility, but this history has been denied to foster the myth of a “Clash of Civilizations”. In order to inflame the sentiments of the West against Islam, our attention has been focused on the specter of fanatical Wahhabism, and more specifically, its most notorious exponent, Osama bin Laden. However, as outlined in an excellent article by Peter Goodgame, The Globalists and the Islamists, the Globalists have had a hand in shaping and financing all the terrorist organizations of the twentieth century, including the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Hamas of Palestine and the Afghan Mujahideen. But the history of their duplicity dates farther back still, to the 18th Century, when British Freemasons created the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia itself, to further their imperialistic objectives. That a British spy by the name of Hempher was responsible for shaping of the extreme tenets of Wahhabism was mentioned in a Turkish work, Mir’at al-Haramain, by Ayyub Sabri Pasha between 1933-1938.
This pattern violence in Pakistan clearly signals the decline into an abyss. The globalist have been fueling the ugly face of Islam (Saudi) to justify global domination. So when a non muslim hears the Azan of Muslims or “Allah Hu Akbar” the first thing to come to mind is a beheading. There is no return from it unless Pakistan embraces what it was originally created for. A pluralistic place which would be a sanctuary for the minorities of India. This was the main reason the the Christians in Punjab Assembly cast the deciding vote in favor of the creation of the State of Pakistan. Why would they do that if they knew it would be destined to be the intolerant Islamic state with no clue what type of Islam it should follow or what it means. There is still time to revert to a pluralistic State, a democratic Republic or Pakistan or a Peoples Republic of Pakistan. Let people have the sovereignty not God, because God is hijacked by those (Wahhabis) that behead others and eat the organs of their victims. Failure to do so will only mean more blood shed and further dismemberment of Pakistan into very small states and enslavement to a new world order.
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Pakistan: Kayani meets President Zardari

Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardari here on Thursday. Issues related to national security and terrorism came under discussion during the meeting. Earlier, the president received a farewell luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, where he vowed to support the PML-N government in a bid to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions.

President Zardari stresses steps to remove hardships of FATA people
President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday said that tribal people are the worst sufferers of the fight against militancy and emphasized the need for more steps to remove their hardships and creating new vistas of economic opportunities for them. In a meeting with a delegation from FATA, which called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Zardari said that the previous democratic government attached highest priority to the socio-economic and political development of FATA and undertook all possible steps to bring the people of tribal areas into the mainstream of national life. The delegation included among others Dr. G.G. Jamal, Sajid Turi, Shahid Gul Afridi, Haji Bismillah Khan and Bial ur Rehman. The President also lauded the huge sacrifices rendered by the people of FATA in the ongoing fight against militancy. Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the delegation thanked the President and the previous democratic government for its efforts aimed at the welfare and uplift of the FATA region and mainstreaming the people of the area. The delegation particularly thanked the President for the various FATA reforms introduced during his tenure including amendments in the FCR and extension of the Political Parties Order 2002 to the tribal areas. The President said that we kept the promise made to the people of tribal areas and expressed hope that the legal and political reforms in FATA would help rid the tribal people from a century old bondage.

Pakistan: Farewell lunch: Outgoing president assures govt of PPP support

The Express Tribune
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will continue to support the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz-led (PML-N) government in the Centre during its five-year long tenure, Express News reported Thursday.
President Zardari said this at his farewell lunch hosted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister House. “Muslim countries around the globe are facing immense problems and in order to save ourselves from various threats, we have to join hands and stay united,” Zardari emphasised. President Zardari, while recalling Benazir Bhutto’s tenure as the prime minister, said: “I did not feel like coming to the PM house today as it reminded me of my wife and children who were arrested from this place.” Nawaz also spoke on the occasion and commended President Zardari and the role he played after Benazir’s death. He also said that he want President Zardari to leave with pleasant memories.

Pakistan: Ground Zero for U.S. Counterterrorism

By Matthew Ernst
When Secretary of State John Kerry visited Pakistan last month, the media barely reported on the trip. With the ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt quickly spiraling out of control, those nations dominate the headlines. But Pakistan quietly remains at the heart of the U.S. fight against terrorism. And despite the renewal of the Strategic Dialogue, it remains obvious that Pakistan is not truly committed to eradicating terrorist groups within its borders. Pakistan is also providing us with a valuable lesson: establishing democracy is not the answer to fighting terrorism. While establishing democracy may be a noble and humanitarian goal, if it was the answer to fighting terrorism, then with the Mid-East on the heels of the Arab Spring, we should be finding violence decreasing in the region, not increasing.
Putting The Relationship in Perspective
Pakistan is truly a double-edged sword -- as both a nation where democracy has taken hold, yet still harboring Al Qaeda and countless other terrorist groups. On one hand we need Pakistani cooperation to help locate terrorist suspects, but on the other hand, it is often Pakistani government officials that are
supporting those same suspects.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. has provided approximately $23.55 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan. In exchange, Pakistani officials have arrested over 600 AQ members and 8000 terrorists are reported to be on death row. The U.S. has also received intelligence cooperation, resulting in the launching of 343 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006. These strikes have killed approx. 2,534 terrorist "leaders and operatives". Despite these successes, we must also be honest when analyzing current conditions in Pakistan and considering what our investment has yielded us in return. The conviction rate for terrorists in Pakistan is roughly 4%. The U.S. State Dept. recently issued a travel warning urging Americans to avoid all non-essential travel to Pakistan and the U.S. Consulate in Lahore remains closed. Kidnappings within the nation have increased dramatically. Over 40,000 people have been killed in the last ten years in attacks conducted by Islamic-inspired terrorists within Pakistan. Several recent terrorist plots against the U.S. have all been traced back to Pakistan. And it is not just Westerners being targeted either. In June, ten tourists were shot to death. Those killed included three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, one Lithuanian, one Nepalese and one Chinese-American. AQ Not the Only Threat While AQ remains the household name associated with Islamic-terrorism, many other Islamic-inspired terrorist groups find a safe haven in Pakistan as well. The following groups all operate in Pakistan and when an AQ member is killed in a drone strike, AQ often backfills the open positions with members of theses groups.
1. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan 2. The Islamic Jihad Union 3. Lashkar i Jhangvi (LJ) 4. Harakat ul-Mujahadin 5. Jaish-e-Mohammed 6. Pakistan Taliban (TTP) 7. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) 8. Haqqani Network
Currently of most concern is LT, which is believed to have been allied with AQ since 1998. In this recent Congressional testimony, Jonah Blank stated: "LT poses a grave danger to US interests and citizens in South Asia." Blank described LT as "one of the most capable, experienced, resourced, and politically-protected terrorist groups in the world." All Roads Lead to Pakistan In my own quick analysis, I compared the nationalities of known terrorists to the location where they had been killed/captured. I randomly selected 106 known terrorists. Out of those 106, only 6 were identified as having Pakistani citizenship (6%). However, 32 were identified who had been killed or captured in Pakistan (30%). It was also reported that hundreds of jihadi fighters are now traveling to Syria from Pakistan in order to fight against the Assad regime. However, reports are indicating that many of those leaving from Pakistan are not of Pakistani citizenship. We also know that several Al-Shabab leaders traveled from Somalia to Pakistan to receive training. This mountain of evidence clearly indicates that many non-Pakistanis are traveling to Pakistan. We must then ask ourselves some difficult questions:
Why are they traveling to Pakistan?
Why, after democracy has been established in Pakistan for 5 years, have the number of terrorist groups increased, not decreased? Why this result after we have spent $23.55 billion, and more than 11,000 have been arrested or killed?
No Coincidence
It is not simply a random occurrence that so many AQ members are showing up in Pakistan. Rather, it is part of a much larger strategy by AQ. Consider Yasin Al-Suri. When AQ prisoners are released from prison, Al-Suri facilitates their travel to Pakistan. Not only does this indicate that the AQ leadership is strongly rooted in Pakistan, it also indicates that AQ has not been dealt "severe blows" as so many have suggested. Interestingly, Canadian intelligence officials have a drastically different perspective of AQ than what U.S. officials have. In May, they released this report where they highlighted several key points, including: 1. AQ enjoys "an unmolested existence from authorities in Pakistan". 2. "Outside intervention" has been needed in order to remove AQ and their affiliates from power in every nation where they have become established. 3. AQ has spread, not diminished, its influence since 9/11 and has even expanded since OBL's death. Pakistani Counterterrorism Reforms Although Pakistan has taken several positive steps towards thwarting terrorist groups within its borders, it remains obvious that the Pakistani government is not completely dedicated to rooting it out in a substantial way. The latest example of this was when on August 9th, Hafiz Saeed, the leader of LT, led public prayers and a parade in Lahore. Despite the $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, Saeed clearly wasn't too worried about getting caught. Ironically, on July 26th, reports surfaced indicating that the U.S. was scaling back the number of drone strikes in Pakistan.
What the U.S. Needs to Change
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush signed into law Public Law 107-40, commonly referred to as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The AUMF states, in part, "...the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." We have given Pakistan 12 years to eradicate their terrorist groups, but they clearly lack the will to do so. We have tried diplomacy, and it hasn't worked. Pakistan has established democracy, but that hasn't worked either. Through the use of drone strikes, we have attempted to limit the U.S. presence on the ground inside Pakistan, and this hasn't been near effective enough either. Only increased U.S. military action in Pakistan will protect the U.S. The AUMF clearly justifies the use of an increased U.S. military engagement in Pakistan. What is lacking is both the political will and the will of the American people. Americans may be ready for U.S. troops to come home -- the only problem is that the mission isn't over and our enemies have not lost the will to fight.
Matt Ernst is a law enforcement officer and independent national security analyst. Matt writes and manages the blog, Straight Talk (
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