Today marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. The devastations of the Great War and of WWII still send a chill down our spine. According to historical materials revealed later, no European powers anticipated a war of such scale. So what dragged Europe and the world into the meat-grinder? History has never stopped moving forward. Compared with the international relations after WWI, the post-WWII situation was more successful. The post-WWII structure has ensured general peace up to now; even though there was a period of Cold War, it was still a step forward compared with hot war. Today it is unimaginable for the world to fall back to the Cold War. The lessons learnt from the previous world wars have propelled the progress of humanity. Compared with a century ago, basic human nature has not changed much. The greed, selfishness, mistrust and contest for supremacy that triggered WWI, are still easy to find. What is different today is that these dangerous elements are facing more constraints. The globalization has made the nations more interdependent. The multiple modern communication channels make strategic miscalculations similar to that of WWI barely possible. The UN is playing a bigger role than the League of Nations that was created after WWI. And nuclear weapons offer the deterrent of mutual destruction. But history is full of surprises. We cannot overestimate humanity's wisdom and ability to control its fate. The world is never without problems, and humans always face challenges. As long as dangerous thoughts and the soil where they grow exist, the possibility of a new tragedy can never be excluded. The US is the most powerful country in the world and thus bears the biggest responsibility in peace keeping. However, it has launched wars several times against other countries, and in doing so harmed world peace and stability. Europe was the main battle field of the two world wars. Europeans have been active in pushing for world peace. But their reflections over the two wars have often been self-centered, and sometimes misleading. In recent years, there have been new theories saying that today's China strongly resembles Wilhelmine Germany, and that East Asia is like the Europe of that time. Some even say the Diaoyu Islands are like Sarajevo. This notion could confuse the already tense Asian situation. The world has made huge strides in the past century. We need to be more mature in reviewing history. The assessment of history must include non-Western perspectives, including those of China.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has strongly slammed Saudi Arabian authorizes for hacking into the mobile phones of dissidents to obtain data on anti-regime protests. A senior researcher at the New York-based organization said on Saturday that the Saudi regime should clarify whether it is infecting and monitoring mobile phones with surveillance malware. "We have documented how Saudi authorities routinely crack down on online activists who have embraced social media to call out human rights abuses,” said Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at the HRW, adding “It seems that authorities may now be hacking into mobile phones, turning digital tools into just another way for the government to intimidate and silence independent voices.” The spyware allows the regime to see a phone's call history, text messages, contacts, emails and files from social media. It also allows authorities to take pictures or record conversations without the owner's knowledge. The rights group accuses the Saudi regime of utilizing the surveillance software to mostly target individuals in the eastern city of Qatif, which has been the site of sporadic protests since February 2011. The HRW also criticized the kingdom for using surveillance software to target the Saudi Shia Muslims in various parts of the country. The latest developments come as Saudi Arabia has already been criticized by human rights organizations for cracking down on online activists. Last October, Amnesty International censured Saudi authorities for not addressing the “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom. The group also handed in a paper to the United Nations (UN), which included information regarding a “new wave of repression against civil society, which has taken place over the last two years.”
Vladimir Putin's rating grows. Most likely, the Russians will not wish to see another person as their president in 2018. It is quite possible that Putin will run for presidency for the fourth time. He has people's trust and many more plans. Mikhail Remizov, President of the National Strategy Institute "There is a strong political line on integration, social justice, public sector. These are important issues associated with the defense of priorities of the moral majority. These are some rhetorical moves in the direction of the status of the Russian majority in Russia. This is a conservative turn that meets the needs of the majority."
If Iraq collapses it could destabilize the entire Middle East and the adjacent regions, with unrest lasting for years, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. "If Iraq collapses – and considering that Libya has almost collapsed already, and someone apparently wants Syria to share a similar fate –
Lavrov also noted that during his last phone conversation with the US Secretary of State John Kerry they both talked "mostly about Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) rather than about Ukraine."
Not just the US and UK, but all of the region’s countries should participate in dealing with the Iraqi crisis, Lavrov believes. The governments of Iraq and Syria seek to contain the advance of ISIS militants who seek to establish control over a large oil-rich territory. "We urge others to make conclusions out of what happened in Iraq, Libya and Yemen – the countries where not all of the problems were dealt with. The country’s unity is still being severely tested. It’s not London and Washington that should make the decisions, like it was in Iraq in 2003, but all of the region’s countries, all of the neighbors of Iraq," Lavrov said. He also added that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China would also participate in "this contemplation." "Let me emphasize it once again, all of the Iraq’s neighbors should be at the negotiations table, just like Syria’s neighbors should all discuss the Syrian issue. And I believe that a similar approach should be adopted in dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan," Lavrov said. According to him, if the West agrees and "would stop thinking that it’s the only one capable of devising a strategy for the entire international community, the situation would develop in a much more positive way." Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_06_28/If-Iraq-collapses-whole-of-Middle-East-could-be-destabilized-Lavrov-6718/
Trenches and gas masks, spiked helmets and propaganda postcards: Newspapers, magazines and online media have been commemorating World War One for weeks as 2014 marks the centenary of the war's outbreak. Often, articles attest that our world today isn't that far off from 1914, stating a "haunting currentness of WWI," a "past that doesn't go by," and "the Great War's disastrous echo." And there are in fact similarities between 1914 and 2014. Back then, people also looked ahead to a rapidly changing future with new transportation means (like cars), new media (cinema) and new communication means (telephone). It was a time when people believed in modern times - times of new departures, the first waves of globalization and international travels. It was a first glance into a future that people wanted to shape according to their needs, by making use of the means available to them. But these aren't the means we have today. Separatists like Catalans in Spain or the Northern Irish in Great Britain are still fighting for independence within a united Europe - just like Serbian nationalists did back then. But most of them don't make use of violence to reach their goal, having turned to arguments instead. Terrorism then and now And just like Sarajevo's conspirators, there are indoctrinated people today who are willing to die for their extremist ambitions: the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks or suicide attackers who kill innocent bystanders in Baghdad on an almost daily basis. But such actions are ostracized by the international community today. And so is the dictum of war as "continuation of politics with different means" which was coined by the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz in the 19th century. On the eve of the First World War, he described a legitimate political course of action available to those in power. The dreadful face of war And it wasn't just for them. Many urban citizens and even artists and intellectuals in the German Empire were in favor of war in 1914, because they expected to be cleansed by it: "War! It was purification, liberation, what we felt was an immense hope," Thomas Mann wrote about the start of war. Mann would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Such thinking might sound naïve to us today, but at the time they had yet to experience millions of dead people in trenches, mentally wounded "shell-shocked" soldiers and brutally mutilated gas victims. Because we know the awful face of war all too well today, we can hardly imagine that European countries decided to stop negotiations and - as they did in 1914 - to recklessly plunge into war. At the beginning of the 20th century, militarism was deeply rooted in European societies; especially in German society. Today, in the Federal Republic of Germany, this is no longer the case. On the contrary: Since Germany abolished its compulsory military service in 2011, the military is having a difficult time recruiting young soldiers. Europe's long road to peace Most of those participating in talks ahead of World War I were older, aristocratic men with military backgrounds. Today's democratically elected European governments represent very different groups in society: Young and old, men and women. In 1914, women weren't even allowed to vote - today, a mother of seven leads the German Defense Ministry. Indeed, they are similarities between 1914 and 2014. But a lot has happened since then. Germany and its neighbors have learned from history and now stand for democracy and freedom of speech. Former enemies have become friends - friends who argue but friends nevertheless - who shape politics in democratic institutions such as EU and UN. That of course doesn't always go smoothly, but it's still a lot better compared to 1914 when EU and UN didn't even exist. It's not war, but reconciliation, understanding and negotiations that can secure lasting peace. That's a consensus for us today, and Europe has come a long way to reach it. We shouldn't forget this. Because 2014 isn't just the anniversary of the beginning of WWI, but also of the start of WWII (1939), the fall of the Wall (1989) and the EU enlargement to the east (2004). How once hostile countries were able to fulfill the vision of a joint Europe is the European success story of the 20th century.
When it comes to World War I, Serbia sees itself as both a victor and a victim - but not as a culprit. The country considers any blame placed on it to be a distortion of facts. DW takes a look.
It is June 28, 1914. A young man is sitting inside a cafe in Sarajevo, the capital of Austro-Hungarian-ruled Bosnia. Under his coat he clutches a pistol. He has come here to end the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Suddenly, the royal party arrives. The young man doesn't hesitate and shoots both Ferdinand and his wife. The assassin is Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old Serbian student. He obtained the weapon from a secret military society known as Black Hand, which was out to create a greater Serbia. But, as it turns out, that goal diverged from Princip's original aspirations. As a member of the Young Bosnia revolutionary organization, Princip strove for liberation from Austro-Hungarian rule and the creation of a state of united South Slavic countries, i.e., Yugoslavia. To this day, he is revered in Serbia as a national hero - and viewed as a terrorist elsewhere. "What provided the spark for his bullets?" asked Serbian writer and historian Vladimir Pistalo: "It was because Princip had no influence on who ruled his country." For Princip, in other words, Franz Ferdinand was simply a tyrant. Following the assassination, Austria-Hugary presented the Serbian government with an ultimatum; 37 days later, World War I had broken out.
So, who is to blame? This remains the most crucial question in Serbia as this year's centenary draws nearer. The debate is flooding Serbian media. Was it the "war-thirsty Teutons" - i.e.,Germans and Austrians - as the official Serbian version tells it? Or was all of Europe simply a giant powder keg waiting to blow? That the keg was ignited by a Serb, does this make the Serbian nation guilty, as some historians suggest? Not at all, according to Serbian history textbooks. "After being unified in 1871, Germany was in a strong economic position. The military leadership in Berlin demanded a shift of power and colonial wealth," claims one standard account. It goes on to say that the central powers were simply waiting for an excuse to mobilize their troops. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic recently commented on the issue. He told the Belgrade daily Politika that attempts were being made to place blame on Serbia, to hold it responsible for triggering global-scale tragedies. A circle of Serbian intellectuals that include world-famous filmmaker Emir Kusturica are even demanding that the "unlawful" trial against Princip be annulled. And the first monument dedicated to Princip is being erected in a central park in Belgrade to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
A tragic victory
"The Hero of 1914" is the title of a new Serbian documentary by author and journalist Filip Svarm. It is not about Gavrilo Princip or the top politicians and officers of the time. The "hero" is embodied by Serbia's farmers, who made up close to 80 percent of the Serbian army. According to Svarm, the film is an attempt to put the "ordinary man" in the limelight, the Serbian farmer whose priority it was to protect his family, his property and his way of life. A quarter of Serbia's 4.5 million residents died in World War I. Most perished in combat, while 400,000 others died of typhoid, cold or hunger. German, Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian occupying forces executed around 60,000 Serbian civilians. This is one of the reasons why, according to Svarm, it is "unreasonable" to hold Serbia responsible. "Serbia was a victim of war - a testing ground for the power struggles between the great powers," he said. Many Serbians still see their country as a kind of eternal victim, a target of "Germanic hatred" that manifested itself later in the Second World War and the Yugoslav Wars and continues today. This view was recently illustrated by the "Vreme" magazine, which published a previously unreleased photo of Adolf Hitler gazing at a present he received for his 52nd birthday in 1941. It was a commemorative plate, confiscated by the Wehrmacht in Sarajevo, bearing the inscription, "On this historic square, Gavrilo Princip proclaimed freedom."
Sarajevo marked the centennial on Saturday of a prince's murder that lit the fuse for World War One, offering a message of unity to a divided country and a continent buffeted by deep social and economic strife. The centerpiece of a string of cultural and sporting events will be a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra in the Bosnian capital, where the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was shot dead with his wife on a bright June morning in 1914. The murder of Franz Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb called Gavrilo Princip set the Great Powers marching to war. More than 10 million soldiers died, as empires crumbled and the world order was rewritten. Sarajevo closed the century under siege by Bosnian Serb forces during Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration. Still coming to terms with that conflict, Bosnia's former warring communities met Saturday's centennial deeply at odds over Princip's motives and his legacy. Leaders of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, who consider the assassin a hero, are boycotting the official commemoration in Sarajevo, angered by what they say is an attempt to link the wars that opened and closed the 20th century, and to pin the blame on them. They will instead re-enact the murder and Princip's trial in the eastern Drina river town of Visegrad, scorched into the memory of many in the Balkans for some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 war by Bosnian Serb forces driving out Muslim Bosniaks. In Sarajevo, the Vienna Philharmonic will perform a repertoire harking strongly back to the days of the Habsburg Empire, including Haydn, Schubert, Berg and Brahms. The concert will take place in the capital's restored City Hall, known as Vijecnica, where Ferdinand attended a reception on June 28, 1914. He left in an open car with his wife, Sophie, but the driver took a wrong turn and Princip shot them from a Browning pistol on the banks of the river. The Austrians attacked Serbia a month later and the Great Powers, already spoiling for a fight, piled in. The neo-Moorish Vijecnica, which later became the National Library, went up in flames in 1992 under fire from Bosnian Serb forces in the hills, almost 2 million books perishing in the inferno. “Never again” “This is a symbolic concert in a symbolic location,” Professor Clemens Hellsberg, the orchestra's president and first violin, told a news conference on Friday. “We want to provide a vision of a common future in peace,” he said. The conductor, Franz Welser-Most, noted that the Austrian composer Alban Berg “was in favor of the outbreak of World War One”. But, he said, the “Three Pieces for Orchestra” that he wrote at the time and was to be performed on Saturday “describes the marching to war and what disaster it brings”. Asked about the significance of a Viennese orchestra marking the event, Welser-Most said: “You should not deny the burden of history.” The message, he said, was “never again”. Leaders of the 28-member European Union marked the centennial on Thursday in Ypres, the Belgian city synonymous with the slaughter of the war, papering over divisions borne of economic crisis and growing support for the anti-EU right. For visitors to the city, guides offered tours of Sarajevo, Princip's haunts and the key locations on the day he killed Franz Ferdinand. Performers rehearsed for a midnight musical planned on the bridge near where he fired the fatal shot. On Friday, Serbs in Bosnia unveiled a statue of Princip in East Sarajevo. They have rebuilt his family home, razed during the 1992-95 war, and will open it on Saturday as a museum. Serbs see Princip as a freedom fighter not just for Orthodox Serbs but for Bosnia's Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats too, his shot bringing down the curtain on centuries of imperial occupation over the Balkans. That was the official narrative for decades under socialist Yugoslavia. But the collapse of their joint state shattered perceptions of Princip, whom many Bosniaks and Croats regard as a Serb nationalist with the same territorial ambitions as those behind much of the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s. Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions after the war, in a highly decentralized system of ethnic power-sharing that has stifled development and, critics say, only cemented divisions. Asked about the absence of official Serb representatives from the Sarajevo commemoration, the city's Croat mayor, Ivo Komsic, told reporters: “They demonstrate their attitude not to the past but to the future.”
Our history teachers taught us that World War I began after a gunman killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The shooting acted as a trigger, metastasizing from a Balkan street corner into a continental crisis by releasing pent-up tension between rival blocs of Great European Powers: the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany on one side and France, Russia and Great Britain on the other. The name of the gunman was Gavrilo Princip, his first name meaning Gabriel in his mother tongue, Serbian. His mother had wanted to call him Spiro after her late brother, but the local priest intervened saying the boy should be name after the Archangel Gabriel.2. He was only 19 when he triggered the first global conflict.
Surely history's greatest teenage troublemaker, Princip was a student in his last year of high school -- the eighth grade -- when he fired the shot that sparked World War I. His exact age was a matter of intense legal scrutiny after the assassination because so many people in Austria-Hungary believed a death sentence appropriate for the assassin who had killed the heir to the Habsburg empire. But the Austro-Hungarian legal code was clear on capital punishment. Only those 20 years of age or older on the day of the offense could be executed. The recorded birth date for Gavrilo Princip was 13 July, 1894, making him 19 years, 11 months and 15 days on the day of the assassination, in other words just two weeks inside the deadline that would have seen him hanged. It all got a bit complicated when a council record was found by investigators that suggested he had actually been born on 13 June 1894, making him old enough to execute. But after much legal debate it was accepted that this record was a mistake -- the month of July in the Cyrillic script used by the parish can easily be mistaken for June. Princip was sentenced to 20 years in prison -- the maximum penalty for someone his age at the time -- but would be dead before the guns of WWI fell silent, dying of tuberculosis in the hospital at his jail on April 28, 1918.
3. He had the same nationality as Adolf Hitler.
00 years ago, at the twilight of the grand imperial era, the notions of the nation state and of nationality belonged to the future. Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria did not exist. Instead they were bundled together in the sprawling Habsburg Empire, also known as Austria-Hungary, a muddle of divergent ethnic groups often speaking very different languages, and of varying vintages, all under the imperial control of Vienna -- the system was so chaotic that in parts of the empire vehicles drove on the left, elsewhere on the right. Gavrilo Princip was born in a province of Austria-Hungary that had recently been acquired, an area known as Bosnia Herzegovina. For centuries it had been occupied by the Ottoman Empire but in 1878 it was "flipped," becoming Habsburg territory overnight. Its citizens did not have passports but they did have travel passes, and as a young man Gavrilo Princip qualified for the same type of pass as that given to Adolf Hitler, who was born further to the northwest, but still within the Austro-Hungarian empire.4. As an assassin, Princip had the luck of the devil.
The driver of the Archduke's car should have driven straight past Princip at speed but, because of a misunderstanding, he turned the car on the exact corner where Princip was standing and was immediately shouted at to stop. Princip found his target a sitting duck right in front of him. He fired only one shot at the Archduke with a pistol. By a fluke the bullet cut Franz Ferdinand's jugular vein. He was dead in a matter of minutes.5. He was not a Serb nationalist.
Princip was actually a south Slav nationalist; although ethnically a Bosnian Serb, he supported a group of activists calling for the unification of all local Slav people in Bosnia: Muslims, Croats and Serbs. Their dream was to drive out the Habsburg occupier, so shooting the Archduke was seen as a "grand gesture" to inspire others to rise up against the foreign power.6. The plan worked, but at a terrible price.
The shooting triggered a war that Princip could never have anticipated. Millions died and empires fell -- and eventually, the hated Austro-Hungarians were driven out of Bosnia. As a result, the local Slavs had the chance to unite in one country, later called Yugoslavia, meaning a nation for south Slavs. In the eyes of some locals there, Princip could be heralded as a "liberator."7: His legacy in the Balkans was toxic.
The wars that ripped Bosnia apart in the 1990s were driven by ethnic divisions between the local Slav communities: Serb, Croat, Muslim. The dream of all local Slavs living together was shattered. Though Princip fired his gun a hundred years ago in hopes of freeing his Slav kinfolk, today he is "blamed" for being an ethnic Bosnian Serb, tainted by association with those extremists responsible for committing atrocities during the Balkans war. The issue is so toxic that, as the centenary of the June 28, 1914 assassination approached, in Bosnia there was no national consensus on how it should be acknowledged. History's greatest teenage troublemaker is also, perhaps, history's most toxic teenage troublemaker.
The Express Tribune
Lateef Jauhar has lost too much weight and his skin its glow. But even then, he is stable and his body has begun to accept food again. Jauhar went on a 40-day hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club after his party leader Zahid Baloch was kidnapped by unidentified people. Even until now the whereabouts of Zahid are not known. This Baloch, who is now regarded as one of the heroes of his student party -- the Baloch Student’s Organisation-Azad (BSO-A), readily sat down to die for a cause, but ultimately survived to tell his tale.
Balochistan is one of the poorest provinces,” he said. “But the terror that our youths are facing has reached the roots of society. Even the student who goes out to buy a pen is apprehended by these elements and is then interrogated and given such a hard time that in the medium to long run it is hardly surprising that these young men turn towoards violence. Our libraries and our literature have been burnt, and I want to say we had no objectionable material, unless these people think sayings of Karl Marx and others go against the state.” Jauhar openly blamed the state for its incompetence and indifference. He went to the extent of saying many of these elements are directly linked to the state.
“If students are bullied like this how is it expected that he will go forward and hold talks? They will become psychologically unstable and eventually this frustration will force them to take up arms. In a militant’s eyes, it is not wrong to take up arms against someone who has beat up his mother or killed his brother. In fact for him it will be justified. If he does not become a rebel, he will become a liability. Due to this insecurity, the BSO-A held its last meeting in the rugged mountains in secret.” He claimed Baloch activists are constantly being kidnapped, tortured and killed. Sometimes they are so brutally tortured and mutilated that they cannot be identified. “This sort of violence will only breed further violence. What is the use of this aggression, especially from state elements?” He said Baloch are e presented as unnecessarily fierce and brutal militants instead of showing that they want peace and stability in the region.
“If we do not allow more liberal and progressive people to rule, we in Balochistan fear the country will never find a turning point where the situation can be improved.” Jauhar also spoke about other matters in Balochistan, including growing militancy and how BSO-A was against it, and how state elements and terrorists in the weakening province were creating serious strife for the people. He condemned the level of sectarianism in the province and said it was a reflection of the state’s indifference to such major issues. “We have sacrificed so many of our people, including women. Now we want a stop to this violence. In Baloch history we have a woman leader for the first time whose house is attacked every single day.”
Pakistan Peoples Party Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo on Friday said he would like the government to send delegations to important countries to apprise them about the operation against terrorists. Wattoo, in a statement here, said the operation against terrorists was not only restoration of peace in Pakistan only, but for the protection of the world also. He said the neighbouring countries were worried as terrorism could affect them. The international community wanted to support Pakistan in the war against terror to restore peace in the region and in the world. He said the nation was united and it was supporting the Pakistan Army. The operation Zarb-e-Azb would be successful as the nation was behind it, he added.
Two government schools were blown up in separate areas of restive tribal region on Saturday, while 4 people killed including police personnel. According to sources, insurgents planted explosives at Government Girls Primary School in Mohmand Agency at night and later detonated them with a remote-controlled device. A solar water pump was also destroyed in the bombing later. It was set up by a private company just two days ago to provide clean drinking water to locals. Second primary school was targeted in Charsadda. Terrorists placed explosive material in the school at night and blew it up before sunrise. Police say that the school was completely destroyed after the explosion.
As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts from direct combat to the narrower mission of countering terrorism and training Afghan forces, some might think this is the time to declare “job done” and focus U.S. attention elsewhere. That would be a mistake. As the current violence in Iraq illustrates, the gains won by our military are fragile. Peace, once won, must be sustained. Afghanistan is now in the delicate process of laying the foundation for a democratic political transition – the first since President Hamid Karzai assumed the presidency. As many as 7 million Afghans, or around 60 percent of eligible voters, have twice defied the Taliban and cast ballots to select the country’s next president, first in the general election and again in this month’s runoff. The high turnout and lower level of violence than many had expected are a testament to how non-violent conflict resolution and peacebuilding can multiply and solidify the investments of the United States and the sacrifices made by American troops. The potential for international assistance to help resolve electoral disputes that have cropped up in the past week illustrates the need for continuing engagement. Organizations like the United States Institute of Peace, which we both serve, have been helping create the conditions for a peaceful transition that will make Afghanistan more stable and less violent, while improving the lives of the Afghan people. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan can be a vital ally of the United States in a troubled region, and will help ensure that al Qaeda and its associates never again gain a foothold in the region’s mountains and valleys. Investing in the powerful tools of peacebuilding is both effective and cost-effective, but peacebuilding takes time. Some of the best-spent dollars are those used to prevent or reduce conflicts that can engulf regions and threaten American interests, investments that foster strong allies and partners. We should heed the lessons of our experience in Germany and South Korea, where our unflagging, long-term commitments in the aftermath of war have established thriving partnerships with now-critical allies. For the past several years, U.S. and other international organizations in Afghanistan have been supporting local institutions and civil society groups, working hand-in-hand to develop and employ innovative approaches that would help ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent election. Afghans organized forums where women challenged presidential hopefuls on economic, political and social issues, and the country’s burgeoning media outlets promoted an almost non-stop run of televised candidate debates. At the grassroots level, activists organized poetry competitions that drew on treasured Afghan traditions, and ran a radio show to raise awareness about rule of law. There was even a rap video contest to devise an election anthem, and graffiti promoting a peaceful election, to engage the youth who are so important to the process and to Afghanistan’s future. The Afghan-led efforts were underpinned by research, expertise and financial backing from the U.S. and other international donors. The outcome might help U.S. troops and their NATO-coalition partners to withdraw most of their military forces, as planned, with greater confidence that the gains won by more than a decade of fighting can be sustained. Tools for preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict – national or interfaith dialogue, facilitation skills, multiparty negotiations, and education and training to build support for the rule of law are just a few – will become only more crucial as technology spreads and global power becomes more diffuse. And the costs of such tools are relatively modest. USIP’s recent annual congressional appropriations of about $35 million equals approximately the amount needed to field one light infantry rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Imagine what we could achieve with even more concerted efforts and funding for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Well-done and well-resourced, peacebuilding can help prevent the loss of American lives, enhance American security and preserve U.S. tax dollars, while relieving human suffering and demonstrating America’s commitment to peace. It maximizes other U.S. government investments in diplomacy, foreign assistance and the armed forces. It also strengthens local institutions around the world that can sustain long-term campaigns against deadly violence for decades after America’s investment ends.
In one of the most significant coordinated assaults on the government in years, the Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in northern Helmand Province, sending police and military officials scrambling to shore up defenses and heralding a troubling new chapter as coalition forces prepare to depart. The attacks have focused on the district of Sangin, historically an insurgent stronghold and one of the deadliest districts in the country for the American and British forces who fought for years to secure it. The Taliban have mounted simultaneous attempts to conquer territory in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki. In the past week, more than 100 members of the Afghan forces and 50 civilians have been killed or wounded in fierce fighting, according to early estimates from local officials. With a deepening political crisis in Kabul already casting the presidential election and long-term political stability into doubt, the Taliban offensive presents a new worst-case situation for Western officials: an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The battle in Helmand is playing out as, about 1,500 miles to the west, Iraq is losing ground to an insurgent force that advanced in the shadow of the American withdrawal there. The fear pulsing through Afghanistan is that it, too, could fall apart after the NATO-led military coalition departs in 2016. Already, areas once heavily patrolled by American forces have grown more violent as the Afghan military and the police struggle to feed, fuel and equip themselves. The lackluster performance of the Afghan Army so far in Helmand has also evoked comparisons with Iraq, raising questions about whether the American-trained force can stand in the way of a Taliban resurgence. Officials in Helmand say the answers may come soon enough. “The Taliban are trying to overrun several districts of northern Helmand and find a permanent sanctuary for themselves,” said Hajji Mohammad Sharif, the district governor for Musa Qala. “From there, they pose threats to the southern parts of Helmand and also pose threats to Kandahar and Oruzgan Provinces.”
Officials from the government and the international military coalition flew to Helmand on Friday to assess the situation. The military has sent in reinforcements, though early reports from residents indicate that those forces had made little headway in pushing the Taliban back. The police have fought ferociously to protect their areas and, in at least a few cases, succumbed only after running out of ammunition. While the government claims that none of the checkpoints attacked by the Taliban have fallen, district elders and villagers say otherwise, characterizing the situation as approaching a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of residents are believed to have been displaced in the fighting. “I see the people running everywhere with their women and children to take shelter,” said Hajji Amanullah Khan, a village elder. “It is like a doomsday for the people of Sangin. We do not have water, and there is a shortage of food. “The price of everything has gone up because the highways and roads have been blocked for the last week.” Northern Helmand is a small region with a history of troubles. Despite the recent Taliban gains, the area is far from lost. With its austere deserts interrupted by dense lines of foliage hugging the Sangin River, the district has long been marooned in a sea of Taliban support. It is also squarely in the heart of poppy country, a vital and growing source of income for the insurgents. Though positioned at a significant crossroads into the northern Helmand area, with access to neighboring provinces, Sangin also carries great symbolic weight. The Taliban have repeatedly used the area to make a statement about the limits of Afghan and Western government strength, and local officials fear a similar approach now. “The Taliban are planning to create problems in several northern Helmand districts to pave the way for their fighters to operate freely in the area and pose threats to Kandahar, Helmand and Farah Provinces,” said Muhammad Naim Baloch, the provincial governor in Helmand. Only now, the task to secure the district has fallen exclusively to the Afghans, and it is providing an early test of the forces the international coalition has spent years training to take over the fight. Last summer in Sangin, Afghan forces got their first taste of what that fight would look like. Struggling to keep the Taliban at bay, they lost checkpoints, hard-fought ground and more than 120 men. The government shuffled commanders, but it hardly mattered. By the end of the fighting season, the cowed Afghan Army unit there was mostly unwilling to leave its base to confront the threat. Late last year, reports of a deal between a local army commander and the Taliban began to surface, driven in part by attrition rates of nearly 50 percent and the near constant threat of death. Given the debacle last summer, the military’s lack of preparedness so far this year is all the more striking. Police officers ran out of ammunition, and in some cases bodies could not be recovered because of the fighting. Even though Helmand is the only province with an entire corps dedicated to it, the army has struggled to defend it. The fighting this summer appears to be worse. In just one week, the security forces appear to have sustained almost half the casualties they suffered in all of last summer, though reports differ on the exact toll. Last Saturday, as many as 600 Taliban insurgents stormed checkpoints through portions of Sangin, claiming wide tracts of land. On Sunday, the militants attacked the neighboring district of Now Zad. Violence erupted in Musa Qala on Monday, when the Taliban again stormed police checkpoints but were prevented from reaching the district center. The assault on Sangin seems the most concerted. On Friday night, according to the district governor, the Taliban advanced on the district center itself. The army repelled the attack through the district bazaar, while the police stopped an attempted breach from the north.
“Only the district center is under the control of government,” said Hajji Amir Jan, the deputy chief of the Sangin district council.
Though exact data is nearly impossible to obtain, in part because there is no longer a coalition footprint in the area, the extent of the attack offers a new perspective through which to view the Taliban’s ambitions, especially now that the militants no longer fear the dreaded American air support that has for years prevented them from massing in large groups. Although the military denied any collusion between the army and the Taliban, those questions have started to re-emerge because most of the casualties have been suffered by the local and national police forces rather than by the army. “The Taliban are not powerful enough to resist all of the Afghan forces,” Mr. Amir Jan said. “Sangin is not an easy district to control, and the Taliban have strong sanctuaries, but the Afghan National Army is just securing highways, and they are not really after the Taliban.” Coalition officials were reluctant to comment on the battles in Helmand because the fight now belongs to the Afghans. The United Nations, however, urged caution and respect for the lives of civilians. “The high number of civilians killed and injured in these ongoing military operations is deeply concerning,” said the secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis. Residents described a hellish scene for those trapped in the area. Some have started to question whether the fight, and its toll on the people, is even worth it. “If the government is unable to control and secure the lives of the ordinary people, I suggest they leave it to the Taliban,” said Matiullah Khan, a village elder in Sangin. “We are tired of the situation and would rather die than continue living in these severe conditions. It has been like this forever.”
Afghanistan is struggling to cope with about 65,000 Pakistanis who streamed across the border to flee fighting between the military and Taliban fighters that has displaced almost half a million people. About 11,000 families have arrived in the eastern provin-ces of Khost and Paktika this month as Pakistan's military fights militants in North Waziristan province. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to a city in the tribal area on Friday to visit some of the 450,000 Pakistanis displaced in the country. “This kind of migration had never happened previously,” Mohammad Nader Farhad, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said by phone from Kabul. “It could be the biggest migration of Pakistani refugees in Afghan history.” The flow of people into Afghanistan threatens to cause a humanitarian crisis as Asia's poorest country fights Taliban militants in the south. A disputed presidential election risks leading to further violence and delays in signing a security pact that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and secure billions of dollars in aid money. “Afghanistan is itself facing humanitarian crisis, and it's a big challenge for us to provide shelter and food for about 11,000 families,” Islamuddin Jurat, a spokesman for Afghanistan's ministry of refugees and repatriation, said by phone. “It's a huge number and a worst-case scenario.” Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of an Afghan presidential candidate who has alleged fraud marched on Friday in the capital, the Associated Press reported.
Pakistani jets killed another 17 militants in the latest raid on rebel hideouts in North Waziristan, officials said on Saturday. The planes bombarded hideouts in the Dargamandi and Chashma Gaon areas of the tribal agency late Friday, as aid agencies geared up relief efforts for refugees fleeing the military operation. Nearly half a million people have fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of families have fled to the town of Bannu, close to the tribal area, while hundreds more have moved further afield to the towns of Lakki Marwat, Karak and Dera Ismail Khan since the offensive began in mid-June. “Jet fighters bombarded militant hideouts, killing 17 rebels and destroying their six compounds,” said a senior security official. A local intelligence official confirmed the militant casualties in the aerial attack. A full assault by ground troops has been expected for some days and the intensive shelling in several areas could indicate that it is now imminent. Nearly 370 militants and 12 security personnel have been killed in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, although the number and identity of the victims are impossible to verify. Pakistan’s armed forces have used jet fighters, tanks and artillery in the operation that began almost two weeks ago. A major ground offensive is also expected to begin within a few days.
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan Though intensive operations against the TTP commenced on 23rd May 2014, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) formally christened the operation as “Zarb-e-Azb” on 15th of June. This was a week after the audacious attack by the TTP on Karachi International Airport on the morning of 8th June. The statement from ISPR said that “using North Waziristan as a base, the terrorists had waged a war against the State of Pakistan and had been disrupting our normal life in all its dimensions, stunting growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.” The Director General of ISPR added that the terrorists had also paralysed life and perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic population. He said that the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Border Police have been requested to help and seal the porous border. The irony is that such calls were coming from the other side-Afghanistan to their counter parts in Pakistan till recently! The Pakistan Army called it a “comprehensive operation” involving air force, artillery, tanks and thousands of ground troops. Unofficial estimates put the number of troops involved as much as 40,000. Nawaz Sharif accompanied by the Army Chief visited the Hqrs of the Peshawar Corps for a briefing on the continuing operations. Sharif had promised full financial support to ensure success of the operation. In the absence of independent information, one has to go by the official handouts of the ISPR. There are many varied reports on the casualties inflicted on the militants and adding up the daily figures published do not give a true picture. One report indicates that over 300 militants have been killed so far and twenty-three hideouts destroyed. The figure is high and it is suspected that the numbers in a few cases includes civilians too. On the Army’s side eight have been killed and seven injured. The reports significantly refer to the casualties inflicted on the foreign militants mainly the Uzbeks and the Uighurs but not to the Pashtuns. The attempt appears to be to indicate that the whole operation is directed against the foreign elements who had taken asylum in Pakistan and who are now responsible for the terrorist acts and disturbing the peace in the area. The operation has unfolded a huge human tragedy that is yet to be assessed. The ISPR reports indicate that a total of 454,207 have registered themselves officially for evacuation and the figure is expected to rise to 600,000 in the next few days. The Official Bulletin admits that over 80 percent of the population of Miramshah and Mir Ali have left their homes. The road Bannu-Miramshah is choked with thousands of displaced persons that include many women and children. Surprisingly the authorities (FDMA- Fata Disaster Management Authority) have made no request for humanitarian aid from international agencies. Since media is not allowed in the operational area, the extent of civilian casualties could not be ascertained and one has to depend on the official channels that are silent on this subject. Only for the past day or two, channels like Geo are gathering courage to report on specific instances of civilian casualties. Two cases were reported on 24th- the first was the death of seven civilians including women and children in Meraban Khel area when a mortar shell hit them. The second was the death of a family of six who were killed in an air strike at Pak Darra area of Tehsil Jamrud. The civilian casualties should have been enormous considering the fact that the operation is being mainly concentrated on air strikes on suspected concentrations of the militants. It is made out in Pak press that US had been unsuccessfully pressurising the Pak army to act against the militants in North Waziristan for quite some time and that it is being done now. From the trends available, it looks that the Pak operation was independent of US pressure. The US on its part had conducted three drone strikes for the first time this year- one on the 11th June and two more on 18th June. One of the targets was on the Haqqani group and the other two were against TTP . The strike near Miranshah killed four while the strikes on 18th killed another 16 that included four Uzbeks and 2 Punjabi Taliban. There has been no information on further strikes. The Governor of KPK pointed out that effectiveness of operation would largely depend on how highly the Afghan authorities would seal the border. Reports indicate that the bulk of the militants have already escaped to Khost and Kunar Province. Afghan President Karzai has promised complete co-operation for ensuring the success of the operations. Another point the Pak Governor made was the need for US to coordinate its operations with the Pakistan Army along the border which he said was not forthcoming. The TTP has continued to be defiant. Two recent incidents indicate that their strength has not diminished and that they would continue to operate despite the “total war” launched against them. One incident was the case of suicide bombing when a single cabin explosive laden vehicle exploded when it was stopped at a check point and two security personnel were killed. The other was more daring ( 24th June)- when the militants fired at a PIA Aircraft with its passengers that was landing at the Bacha Khan Airport of Peshawar. Two flight Stewards and one woman were injured. The woman succumbed to the injuries later. Some Observations can be made on the operations that have been going on so far: The Pakistan Army has relied on the familiar pattern of aerial bombing followed by ground sweeps- a pattern similar to what they did in south Waziristan a few years ago. The ground operations that would sweep the entire area are said to follow in a day or two. This kind of an operation may succeed in the short term of keeping the area clear of the militants, but may not be so in the long term. Though no information is forthcoming, the aerial strikes have inevitably caused enormous damage to civilian life and property. Certain areas in Miramshah and Mirpur Ali have been completely denuded of the civilian population. The extent of human tragedy that is unfolding is yet to be understood and the end result would be that the civilian population would bear the brunt of the offensive of the Pak army. The operations in the long run would only alienate the civilian Pashtun population further. Though all efforts are being made to show that the entire “comprehensive operation” is mainly against the foreign elements, the casualties and the extent of damage in North Waziristan” would only justify the feeling of the majority of Pashtoons that the operations are meant to continue the exploitation of the Pashtuns with the aim of keeping them “perpetually weak and tormented.” The TTP including the foreign elements do not appear to be resisting the ground operations and may have vacated the area. The bulk of the militants may have moved over to Afghanistan in Khost and Kunar provinces and some may even have gone to Karachi where over 4 million Pashtuns have taken up residence. Most of the foreign elements of IMU and the ETIM who have no where to go have already settled down in FATA marrying locally. To make a distinction now that only the foreign elements are being targeted may not work. The success of the operations would depend upon how successfully the border between N Waziristan and the neighbouring provinces of Afghanistan could be closed. This border all along was kept open by Pakistan to enable groups friendly to them to cross and cause depredations on the other side and return safely. It should have been known to them that open border works both ways and it is Pakistan that will now face attacks from the other side despite the fact that the insurgent group- the Haqqanis- the ones closest to them are still dominant on the other side. The TTP has so far shown great resilience and have despite the ferocity of attacks from the Pak Army have shown their ability to attack points of their choosing like the one on a PIA plane full of passengers at the Peshawar airport. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
Khyber Phakhtunkhwa police has contacted the political administration of Khyber Agency in order to launch action against terrorist involved in aircraft shooting. According to Police, Tehreek-e-Taliban Shahid group is involved in attack of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane shooting at Peshawar airport. KP police has contacted the political administration to arrest who were involved in attack, letter has been sent to the political agent of Khyber Agency and Darra Adam Khel to take action against these terrorist. During the search operation police have arrested around 200 suspects but they were released after questioning, while 3 suspects are still in police custody for further questioning.
Do you remember the joint press conference held by the Chaudharies of Gujarat and Mr Tahir-ul-Qadri on 31st May in London? The one in which they introduced their alliance and announced plans to form a grand alliance comprising of ‘patriotic parties and forces’ to topple the PML-N government. Yes, well, Mr Qadri would now like you to forget all about it. Never happened. He claims that forming a grand alliance was never his agenda, and once again proves that he is unreliable and unpredictable. It would be interesting to see what the PML-Q leadership and Mr Sheikh Rasheed have to say about this surprising development. Now that Mr Qadri has abandoned his earlier position, will they consider abandoning him? Or will they continue to desperately hold on to the dream that they shared not many days back? If an anti-government grand alliance is in fact off the table, it is difficult to imagine Mr Qadri’s allies will not ask themselves: what are we doing here, then? What could be the reasons behind Mr Qadri’s apparent change of heart? There are a few possibilities which may explain the situation. Could it be that the PML-N government has been successful in putting Mr Qadri on the back foot? The PAT chief and his supporters could be in serious trouble for the difficulties faced by Emirates Airline and passengers on the day of his arrival. Reportedly, Mr Qadri’s supporters blocked exits, forcing passengers to stay on the plane after landing at Lahore airport. Several PAT workers are facing charges for causing unrest and attacking Police personnel. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has now initiated a probe into Mr Qadri’s assets. Perhaps things didn’t turn out the way Mr Qadri envisioned, and now under pressure from the Nawaz government, he is retreating carefully. There is another possibility. Maybe those who have Mr Qadri’s ears have whispered new instructions: not yet. The revolution, the sort Mr Qadri wishes to bring, can be halted and restarted at will. That is the beauty of fake movements. They do not deliver because they are not supposed to. Promises do not need to be fulfilled, claims don’t have to be proven. There is no moral responsibility, no accountability. What does Mr Qadri really stand to lose if his ‘revolution’ fails? Credibility? Political space? Can’t lose what you don’t have. Therefore, if the idea is simply to cause havoc without any regard for the consequences, then Mr Qadri can do whatever he wants with the ‘revolution’. He wanted a grand alliance a few days back. He doesn’t want it today. He may want one tomorrow. The means are justified because there is no real end.
One visit by the prime mister is not enough either to realise the scale of the IDPs’ problem or to provide the displaced population a sense that those ruling the country care for them. There has already been enough mismanagement; there is room for no more. The military operation in the agency was on the cards since long. The lack of coordination between the law enforcers and the disaster management authorities is surprisingly visible at every stage from the transportation of the IDPs to their registration and provision of food and shelter. This has already caused enough bitterness. Urgent remedial measures are needed to stop the feeling from spreading. What is needed is continuous and vigilant oversight of the way the IDPs are handled and relief goods distributed. It is not enough to promise that the government and army would work together for rehabilitation and that money will not be spared to fulfill the needs of the IDPs. Relief matters, but equally important is the way it is administered. When people have to stand in long queues for hours, in sizzling heat that they are not used to, tempers are likely to rise. What is needed on the part of the administration is patience and understanding. In case the provisions are in short supply, protests could become a daily routine. The IDPs must not be made to feel that they are being neglected or humiliated. There is a need to analyse the causes that are giving rise to frustration. The distribution of relief goods could be slow and queues long either on account of the shortage of relief goods or paucity of volunteers. More relief goods with many more distribution counters may ease the situation. There is a need on the part of political parties and the NGOs to rise to the occasion. Duly screened volunteers provided by them should be allowed to work in camps.
With fuel stocks depleting to a critical level and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) facing five defaults on international payments, the country may be heading towards extended blackouts during Ramazan. Senior government officials told Dawn that PSO’s receivables had exceeded Rs200 billion and no fresh payments could be made to the country’s largest oil supplier over the next three days of the current fiscal year because power sector subsidies had already surpassed the budgeted amount.Fuel stocks at critical level
They said fuel stocks at various power stations have plummeted to less than three days of requirement and supplies were drying up because banks were not ready to open letters of credit for PSO for fresh imports. At a meeting of top officials of the ministries of finance, petroleum and water and power and PSO this week, Minister for Defence and Water and Power Khwaja Asif conveyed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s desire to ensure minimum loadshedding during Ramazan. And he asked representatives of the petroleum sector to ensure supply of 22,000 tons of furnace oil on credit and called for preparing a plan for its implementation by petroleum, finance and power companies. The PSO submitted a summary and said that its credit and supply lines were choked. To ease the situation, it proposed that the finance ministry should take steps for the opening of additional letters of credit (LCs). Sources said PSO’s receivables from power companies had risen to over Rs200bn. An amount of Rs22bn is required on an emergency basis to clear previous LCs for fuel the power companies had consumed two months ago.
Without fresh payments, PSO will not be in a position to open fresh LCs and order imports for Ramazan on credit. The PSO’s summary was explained to the ministries of water and power and finance for an immediate bailout package. The sources said the power companies were paying only eight per cent of their total collection while some subsidy payments by the finance ministry kept the PSO’s wheels moving. But since subsidies have already exhausted, fresh payments will only be possible after July 1 with the start of the new financial year. The finance ministry released Rs20bn to the power companies a couple of days ago for onward payment to PSO, but only Rs10bn reached the fuel supplier.
The officials said that even if payments were made to PSO after July 1, it would take more than 15 days to open LCs, order fresh imports and then ensure delivery of furnace oil at port given the fact that PSO had already lost its credibility in the international market. “In fact, PSO is on the verge of collapse and if this happens the consequences will be serious,” said an official, adding that the value of PSO’s total assets was not more than Rs20bn, but receivables were more than Rs200bn. Controlling more than 65 per cent of the market share, the entire fuel supply network and product chain could collapse and lead to an increase in blackout periods.
PPP Senator and former president Supreme Court Bar Association Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan doubted effectiveness of the judicial inquiry into the killings outside Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town. While talking to media persons here on Thursday at the Lahore High Court premises Aitzaz said many judicial inquiries held in past but failed to produce the required results. To a question about arrival of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Pakistan, he said the killing of innocent workers was highly condemnable but Dr Qadri would return to Canada soon. Replying to another media query about the ‘hijacking’ of the plane carrying Qadri, Aitzaz said technically both government and Qadri hijacked the plane. He said the whole episode brought a bad name to the country in the world. He said PPP was with army on Waziristan military operation. However, he stressed upon the need of facilitating IDPs in order to make the operation a success. He asked the government to expend public money for rehabilitation of the IDPs instead of Metro Bus in Islamabad.
It is no secret that many militant Islamic parties like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, use charity fronts to fund terrorist activities. As soon as one organization is banned, it changes its name and re-registers itself as a charity. The Let has many such names, the most heard of which is Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD). JuD denies it is a part of LeT and is just a charity organization, and is run by the same Hafiz Saeed who founded and led the LeT before it was banned. Even back in 2008, the UN declared the JuD a front for LeT and Pakistani authorities vowed to crack down. But Pakistan, it would seem, is a very tolerant country. Jamaat-ud-Dawa's listing will prohibit US entities or citizens from dealing with the organisation, but will probably have little effect on its operations or fund raising. The US’s annoyance over such charities is not new and US memos from 2009 state that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted Saudi Arabia to stop funding groups like the LeT. At the time, three other countries were also names: Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE. JuD has had people travelling to Saudi Arabia to gather funds for new schools which were never built. The Haqqani Network in the past has been earning significant funds though UAE based businesses, and the Taliban extort money from the large Pashtun community settled in the UAE to the extent of kidnapping businessmen based in Dubai. The whole thing is an international racket. None of these countries cooperate to try to catch these smugglers and militants when clearly they can help stem the funding of terrorism to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US can only freeze US held assets, but in the rest of the Gulf States and Pakistan, we allow these criminals to roam free. The problem is also that of legality and the right that is afforded to these organizations to freely associate in Pakistan. The flow of money is often illegal and hard to monitor. Often funds are smuggled to and fro from Saudi Arabia under the guise of cash for pilgrimage and checking is lax. Zakat collection by Islamic charities is another unmonitored activity, and sadly the lines are blurred between legitimate charities and militant organizations. The way that the government operates, people are responsible for their own survival and protection, and need to be on the lookout for terrorist charities. Zakat is a major help to the poor especially in the month of Ramazan, and people are encouraged to try their best to ensure they donate to the right people.
When the Finance Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province presented the budget on June 13, there was an interesting change from the last year -- no explicit mention of funds being sent to Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s charity branches. Last year, there was a mention of a Rs 3.73-crore grant-in-aid to the chief administrator of Muridkey Markaz, the headquarters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa headed by 26/11 attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, in the budget estimates for 2013-14.
However, in the budget document released this year, there is no mention of the infamous headquarters. Instead, the subheading LQ42350 has an ambiguous title -- grant to health and educational institutions. This is in contrast with the other listings in the same category which are marked to specific organisations or projects. Incidentally, the grant for LQ42350 under which Murdikey Markaz was listed in 2013 has increased to `3.81 crore in 2014-15. Jamaat-ud-Dawa runs various charities which operate schools, hospitals and dispensaries across the province. The province is ruled by a Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took up the issue of the funding to Jamaat-ud-Dawa when he met Nawaz in New York on September 29, 2013. This change in the budget could be because of the increased international pressure on Lashkar-e-Taiba. On Thursday, the US State Department termed Lashkar-e-Taiba a foreign terrorist organisation with four aliases, one of them being Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The provincial government could also have thought that mentioning Jamaat-ud-Dawa in the budget would be like a red rag to a bull, with a new government at the Centre in India. Even though there is no explicit mention of Muridkey Markaz, funds are likely to be diverted to the JuD headquarters through various projects. In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, the UN Security Council had designated Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a front organisation of Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2009-10, the Punjab government provided `82 million to the organisation. In 2010-11, `79.77 million was allocated for six organisations at Markaz-e-Taiba and a grant-in-aid of `3 million to Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s Al-Dawa school network. The Punjab provincial government had justified the allocation, saying that it had taken over Markaz and that welfare services had to be continued.
As the noose is tightening around LeT cheif Hafiz Muhammad Saeed after United States declared Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) as a terrorist organisation, onus is now on Pakistan Government to fulfil the promise of not letting anyone use their soil for terrorist activities. It is short in arm for India which stands vindicated on the whole issue. US State department also said that it was the LeT who masterminded last month's attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. The audacious attack, three days before newly elected Prime Minister's swearing-in ceremony, was an attempt to disrupt the widely acclaimed SAARC initiative taken by the Indian Government. India has reiterated the demand to book Saeed because of his involvement in various terrorist attacks on Indian soil, most importantly 26/ 11 in which 166 people were killed and 300 were injured. India has provided ample proof to convict LeT chief but Pakistan in turn has always turned a deaf ear to issue saying that the evidence is not sufficient. After facing heat from the International community, Pakistan arrested Hafiz in 2008. But within six months Saeed came out of jail. Since then Pakistan Government has claimed many times that they have arrested Saeed but because of lack of evidence they can't make a criminal proceeding against him. In 2012, the former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik on his Indian visit said, "The insufficient information you have given, which you call evidence, will not stand the test of our courts and the (Lahore) High Court bailed him (Saeed) out. Our courts have given bail to Hafiz Saeed and said not to arrest him because there is not sufficient evidence against him."Hafeez-led LeT which was declared a terrorist organisation by US in 2001 was also behind the 2012 attack on Army convoy in Kashmir and several other similar carnages in the State. Hafiz Saeed, on whose head US declared bounty of $10m founded LeT in 1990s for anti-terror activities. In 2002, when Pakistani Government banned LeT, Saeed revived JuD in Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed spews venom every other day and the Pakistani Government continues to watch it as a mute spectator. Instead of cracking down, Government provides monetary aide to JuD to bolster their misdemeanor against India. The PML-N Government of Punjab province, headed by Shahbaz Sharif allocated Rs 6.1 crore to the organisation in the 2013 budget. In addition to that, Rs 35 crore was also given for other development initiatives running under JuD. Similarly, in 2010-11, 2009-10 an amount of rupee Rs 7.98 and 8.2 crore was handed over by giving the reason that Islam seminary spends this money on development and social welfare scheme. The argument given by officials that major amount of money is used for maintenance of school and dispensary is a white lie. The fact of the matter is that they use this money for terrorist activities right under the nose of Pakistani Government and the authorities does nothing about it. Now this announcement of America has surely put Pakistan on rough wicket. The problem of Pakistan is that civilian Government acts at the behest of Military set up, ISI, and past has been a witness of it. But Pakistan must now realise that the monster they have been nurturing will ultimately eat them up and the recent spate of attacks in the country is a big example of that. What they should know is, if they will try to burn houses of others, theirs will not stay unharmed. They should not exhaust their energy and money on the terror front, rather they should use it for development purposes. Instead of raising defense budget every year, they should channelise the same money for providing goods and services to their masses who are living in a sorry state. India should also use the golden opportunity in putting up strategic pressure on Pakistan and denude them on the International map. The diplomatic channel is ok but time has come to make them realise that our silence is not our weakness. Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/feature/pakistan-stands-exposed-after-us-declares-jud-as-terror-outf-1473160.html